Most Popular Gay Stories of the Week
Robbie Rogers Could Make a Comeback
Robbie Rogers, a U.S soccer player who made headlines in February when he came out, could soon become the second active gay athlete in a major league.
After a two-month hiatus, Rogers was seen training with two-time defending Major League Soccer champions the L.A. Galaxy, the Advocate reports.
Galaxy coach Bruce Arena said Rogers is looking good, despite not being on the pitch for over two months.
The midfielder wrote a blog post entry on Feb. 15 on his website where he explained his decision to come out of the closet and take a break from the sport
“Secrets can cause so much internal damage,” he wrote. “Try explaining to your loved ones after 25 years you are gay.”
If he comes back, Rogers would become the second active gay athlete in U.S. history. NBA player Jason Collins became the first after he came out on April 29.
Plan B Ready in Case DOMA Upheld
LGBT activists and lawmakers are already devising a backup plan in case the U.S. Supreme Court decides to uphold a federal law that defines marriage between the union between a man and a woman.
According to the Washington Blade, a bill known as the Respect for Marriage Act, designed to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, would be introduced in Congress if the Supreme Court decision, set to be announced in June, is not in favor of the LGBT community.
The lead sponsors of the bill are Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) in the House and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) in the Senate. Log Cabin Republicans’ Gregory Angelo told the Blade they expect Republican Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), whose son recently came out, to sign on as a co-sponsor.
“Given his recent evolution on marriage equality, we expect Republican Senator Portman to be a co-sponsor in the Senate,” Angelo said.
Northern Ireland’s Gay Marriage Bill Defeated
Political parties couldn’t come together and a bill to legalize gay marriage in Ireland has been closely defeated.
The final vote on April 29 was 53 to 42 against the bill. The Democratic Unionist party and Ulster Unionist party helped defeat the Sinn Féin motion backed by the Social Democratic and Labour Party, Alliance and the Green party, The Guardian reports.
Both the Presbyterian and Catholic Church had written to members of the Unionist party in government to oppose same-sex marriage.
Those in favor of the bill are considering a legal challenge in the British and European courts if Northern Ireland is the only part left without the right to marry for LGBT people in the UK.
“States may not discriminate with regards to the right to marry and found a family, on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. That obligation is clear in international law,” said Patrick Corrigan of human rights group Amnesty International.
West Palm Beach Refunds Insurance Tax to Couples in Domestic Partnerships
West Palm Beach city commissioners approved on April 29 an ordinance to refund taxes paid on health insurance to unmarried domestic partners. West Palm Beach is the only city in Florida to pass such legislation.
Robert Telford, a broadcast coordinator for the city’s television station, told the Palm Beach Post he decided to work for the city 17 years ago because of the city’s “progressive attitude toward domestic partner benefits.”
“No matter what happens this summer with the Supreme Court this tax equity ordinance is a huge step in the right direction for potential businesses and employers who want to live here,” Telford said at the commission meeting.
Currently, federal laws state that straight couples who are married and receive health insurance from their employers are not taxed on the value of the coverage. Federal laws do not recognize unmarried domestic partners.
The new ordinance creates a formula by which the city will reimburse the employees for the money they would have received if the federal government recognized domestic partnerships, according to the Post.
The city has 16 employees enrolled as having domestic partners and the ordinance will cost West Palm Beach nearly $18,000 over the next year, or more than $1,100 per employee.
Research Suggests Marijuana Helps Fight HIV
According to a report published by the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, new research shows that compounds related to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, appear to weaken HIV-1 infections. The study also suggests that killing HIV-1 in this manner may actually strengthen current anti-retroviral therapies making them more effective.
“The synthetic compounds we used in our study may show promise in helping the body fight HIV-1 infection,’” said Dr. Yuri Persidsky, a researcher involved in the work from the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Temple University School of Medicine. “As compounds like these are improved further and made widely available, we will continue to explore their potential to fight other viral diseases that are notoriously difficult to treat.”
In their discovery, scientists used a cell culture model to infect human macrophages with HIV-1 and added the synthetic THC compounds to activate the cannabinoid type 2 (CB2) receptor in white blood cells. Samples from the culture were taken to see if the replication of the HIV virus was decreased. The researchers observed diminished HIV growth and a possible protective effect from some HIV-1 complications.
Yale to Add Sex-Reassignment Surgery to Student Healthcare Plan
In a campus-wide email sent last week to over 11,000 Yale students, the Ivy League school announced its plan to add sex-reassignment surgery to the healthcare plan offered to students, according to Huffington Post. Yale joins a list of 36 other colleges and universities that already cover the procedure, including Brown University and Duke.
University spokesman Tom Conroy told the Yale Daily News the decision came after similar coverage was provided to the school’s staff.
“This additional student coverage follows a period of several years when similar coverage was provided to Yale employees,” Conroy said. “It made sense, after appropriate study, to bring the student coverage in line with Yale’s belief that, in some circumstances, sex-reassignment surgery is medically necessary and appropriate.”
The Daily News reports that each procedure will be approved on an individual basis, but the school will use commonly accepted guidelines that generally require a mental health assessment and a period of hormonal therapy and/or living in the desired gender role.
The coverage change will go into effect August 1.
Ethiopian Religious Groups Want Death Penalty for Gays
Government officials, religious leaders, leading health professionals, charities and members of the public attended an event at the Bethel Teaching Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia last week to discuss the “evils” and “disastrous effects” of homosexuality in their country.
During the workshop, led by evangelical organization United for Life Ethiopia, participants agreed that homosexuality nothing to do with nature and the “born this way” motto has no place in Ethiopia. Police at the workshop alleged homosexual family members and neighbors have sexually abused 117 boys last year, according to Gay Star News.
At the conclusion of the workshop, a representative from the Ethiopian Inter-Religious Council Against Homosexuality (EICAH) stated that the council is “making progress” in convincing the government to be stricter on homosexuality and introduce the death penalty to punish it.
The director of Rainbow Ethiopia, identified as “Mercy,” told GSN that the trend of homophobia and hate crimes are increasing in the country because organizations like EICAH create a “moral panic” and “feed the public false information and wild allegations.”
“They scare the public [into thinking] that homosexuals are raping children and then ‘recruit’ them into homosexuality,” Mercy said. “These groups even present some of the LGBTI members of the community as mercenaries, trained and sponsored by the West to ‘promote homosexuality’.”
Ethiopia isn’t alone in its persecution of gays. Uganda has unsuccessfully tried to pass a “Kill the Gays” bill.
Mercy is calling upon human rights organizations and the international community to do everything in their power to cut the Western funding to these organizations while supporting organizations that protect and promote the rights of LGBT people.
Petition Starts to Urge Georgia’s Governor to Recognize Homophobia
For the second year in a row, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has ignored requests of the LGBT community to recognize the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO). Instead, Gov. Deal has decided to sign a proclamation recognizing May 13 as “Mistreatment Awareness Day” in the state of Georgia.
A petition on Change.org was started to encourage Gov. Deal to reissue a proclamation that recognizes IDAHO and not a proclamation that “sanitizes the word ‘homophobia’.”
“By issuing the proclamation as ‘Mistreatment Awareness Day’ instead of the requested, ‘International Day Against Homophobia,’ the Governor’s Office has done a great disservice to the very purpose of IDAHO events and the worldwide organizers who seek to advocate against homophobia,” the petition reads.
International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia Georgia organizer Betty Couvertier was the one who petitioned the Governor’s office last year for the proclamation, and the one who was most disappointed in what the proclamation read.
“They couldn’t even use the word homophobia,” Couvertier said according to the Georgia Voice. “This [proclamation] is a documentation of homophobia.”
Georgia Voice Editor-in-Chief Laura Douglas-Brown also reports Gov. Deal ran a homophobic campaign citing the governor’s unwillingness to support gay adoptions and domestic partner benefits.
The petition has 144 supporters as of publication time.