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National News
National News
Massachusetts opens marriage to out-of-staters
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick signed a bill July 31 repealing a 1913 law that prohibited people from other states from getting married in Massachusetts if the marriage wouldn't have been allowed where they live.

The Massachusetts House of Representatives passed the bill in a 118-35 vote July 29 and the Senate passed it with no objections on a voice vote July 15.

The 95-year-old law - which stopped interracial couples who couldn't marry in their own states from marrying in Massachusetts - was resurrected after Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage in 2004.

"The 1913 law, a shameful vestige from another wrong-headed time of denying marriage to interracial couples, became [former] Gov. Mitt Romney's archaic tool in his unsuccessful bid to deny the freedom to marry to same-sex couples," said National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey. "Not only does today's House vote repudiate Romney's efforts to block our marriages in Massachusetts, it also invites couples from around the United States to experience the joy and happiness of celebrating their lives by becoming married in the Bay State."

MassEquality Executive Director Marc Solomon commented, "We've ridded our state laws of the last vestige of discrimination against same-sex couples, and we once again lead the way for equality for all people."

"Massachusetts is taking down the 'Do Not Enter' sign that applied only to same-sex couples," said Lambda Legal. "This is thrilling news to the same-sex couples we hear from in other states, especially New York, who are seeking a place where they can marry under the law without leaving the country or traveling to the other side of the continent."

New York recognizes same-sex marriages entered into in other jurisdictions.


Knoxville shooter hated Gays
A man who killed two people and injured seven in a shooting at a Unitarian Universalist church in Knoxville, Tenn., on July 27 did so because he hated "the liberal movement" and "Gays," Police Chief Sterling P. Owen IV said, quoting a letter found in Jim David Adkisson's car.

Adkisson, 58, has been charged with first-degree murder.

According to a report written by police officer Steve Still, and obtained by local media, Adkisson targeted the church "because of its liberal teachings and his belief that all liberals should be killed because they were ruining the country, and that he felt that the Democrats had tied his country's hands in the war on terror and they had ruined every institution in America with the aid of media outlets."

"[Since] he could not get to the leaders of the liberal movement," Still said, Adkisson decided to "target those that had voted them into office."

Inside Adkisson's house, police found the books Liberalism Is a Mental Health Disorder by talk show host Michael Savage, Let Freedom Ring by talk show host Sean Hannity, and The O'Reilly Factor by talk show host Bill O'Reilly.

The Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church had a sign outside welcoming Gays, and ran announcements in local media advertising meetings of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.


PG&E donates to same-sex marriage campaign
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. has donated $250,000 to the campaign to defeat the effort to amend the California Constitution to re-ban same-sex marriage.

The measure will appear on the November 4 ballot.

"We are proud to join NO on 8 and Equality California to protect the freedom to marry for all Californians," said Nancy McFadden, senior vice president of public affairs.

"PG&E is honored to be a founding member of the Equality Business Advisory Council and urge our business colleagues to join us as we work to guarantee the same rights and freedoms for every Californian."

On July 26, the founder of the WordPerfect software company, Bruce Bastian, wrote a $1 million check to the campaign against Proposition 8.

"If people are shown the truth and have fear taken out of the equation, I believe they will stand up for what's good and fair," Bastian said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Among other donors, the Human Rights Campaign has given $570,000, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has given $200,000, and Cleveland businessman David Maltz has donated $500,000.


Ballot wording changed in California marriage battle
California Attorney General Jerry Brown has changed the title and summary of the November 4 ballot measure that would amend the state constitution to re-ban same-sex marriage.

Petitions circulated to qualify the initiative for the ballot said only that it would amend the constitution "to provide that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

But afterward, the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, and weddings began on June 16.

The new title is: "Proposition 8. Eliminates right of same-sex couples to marry. Initiative constitutional amendment." And the summary states: "Changes California Constitution to eliminate right of same-sex couples to marry. Provides that only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Fiscal Impact: Over the next few years, potential revenue loss, mainly sales taxes, totaling in the several tens of millions of dollars, to state and local governments. In the long run, likely little fiscal impact to state and local governments."

Opponents of the proposed amendment cheered the change, while proponents denounced it and filed suit. Both agreed the new language would make the measure more likely to fail on Election Day.


U.S. repeals law banning HIV+ foreign visitors, immigrants
The U.S. law banning HIV-positive foreign visitors and immigrants was repealed by Congress in July and President George W. Bush signed the measure July 30.

The repeal, inserted in legislation to reauthorize PEPFAR, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, passed the Senate 80-16 on July 16 and the House of Representatives 303-115 on July 24.

But Bush's signature does not do away with the ban just yet. Instead, it returned authority for determining whether HIV is a "communicable disease of public health significance" to the administrative level, at the Department of Health and Human Services.

"The HIV travel and immigration ban performs no public health service, is unnecessary and ineffective," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese. "We ... ask Secretary of Health and Human Services [Mike] Leavitt to remove the remaining regulatory barriers to HIV-positive visitors and immigrants."

The administrative ban has been in place since 1987, and the statutory ban came into existence in 1993.

PEPFAR will send $48 billion to Africa over the next five years to fight AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., called the bill "the single most significant thing the president has done."


L.A. mayor pulls out of HRC event
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa pulled out as keynote speaker at the Human Rights Campaign's July 26 San Francisco Bay Area Gala in protest against the group's support last year for a version of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act that will protect Gay and Bisexual people but not Transgender people.

The measure has passed the House of Representatives and is pending in the Senate. It is opposed by some 400 local, state and national GLBT organizations because of the Transgender exclusion.

Villaraigosa's spokesman, Matt Szabo, said the mayor was swayed by a call from the San Francisco Labor Council for a boycott of the event.

The gala also was boycotted by San Francisco Supervisors Tom Ammiano and Bevan Dufty, state Assemblyman Mark Leno and state Sen. Carole Migden, among others.


USOC makes Northwest Bears change name of camping trip
Lawyers for the U.S. Olympic Committee forced the Northwest Bears group to change the name of its annual summer campout, the Seattle newspaper The Stranger reported July 23.

The name "Kamp Kodiak 2008 'Olympic Village'" violated the USOC's "exclusive right to control all commercial use of Olympic imagery and terminology in the United States," said lawyer Carol Gross.

Among other things, Gross demanded that the bears "ensure that all steps have been taken to remove the Olympic imagery and terminology from any internet site, advertisement enrollment form or signage that is in place to promote this event" and "refrain from using Olympic terminology in reference to the specific competitions by renaming such festivities as: Big Ass Bear Olympics with Dr. Bob and the Olympic Board Game Competitions."

In a letter back to Gross, Brendan McDonald, a member of the bear group, wrote: "It is with bewilderment and amusement that we received your letter asking our friendly local club to refrain from using the term 'Olympic' for our annual camping trip at the Miller River Campground August 7-11.

"I was born in a small logging town on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State at Olympic Memorial Hospital. My family and I enjoyed spending vacations at Olympic National Park, where our favorite spot was the Olympic Hot Springs. I was able to finish high school one year early due to credits earned through Olympic Community College in Bremerton. I then attended college in Olympia, the capital of Washington State since 1889, where I belonged to a club that spent weekends hiking in the Olympic Mountains. I earned my way through college by working at the Olympic Boat Center, knowing more about boats than cars due to my upbringing in this Olympic environment. Upon graduation, I moved to the community of Bellingham, where I lived on Olympic Drive, until I moved near Seattle, where I enjoy having guests stay at its premier hotel, the Olympic Four Seasons."

"We consider anything 'Olympic' to be our birthright, our heritage, and part of our local culture, and...we balk at anyone who suggests that we have no inherent right to this term," McDonald said. "We also understand that you have the law on your side. Remove the name 'Olympic' from our website? Done. The Olympic Torch? The rings? Even Dr. Bob's Big Ass Bear Olympics? Done, done, and done. We are 100% clean, and now you can check us off of your hit list."

With assistance from Bill Kelley
pictures: top - Robin Tyler, Diane-Olson
bottom: Bob Lehman, Tom Felkner
 

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