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National News
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National News

by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

NGLTF endorses march on Washington
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has endorsed the National Equality March scheduled for Washington, D.C., October 11.

NGLTF joins a small number of other national GLBT groups - among them the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches and Join The Impact - that are formally supporting the grassroots/netroots GLBT march.

"The Task Force will be there at the march to support the voices of new activists, LGBT people and our allies who push and push for the end to hatred, discrimination and unjust laws," said Executive Director Rea Carey. "The Task Force is excited to support a new wave of activists and advocates."

Marchers will "demand action from the federal government to protect our rights in all 50 states," said organizer Kip Williams. "Real equality can only come from the president, the Congress and the Supreme Court."

Vocal supporters of the march include veteran activists David Mixner, Torie Osborn, Cleve Jones, Ann Northrop and Nicole Murray-Ramirez, along with newer activists such as Dustin Lance Black, Lt. Dan Choi, Corey Johnson and "Meet in the Middle" organizer Robin McGehee.

Black, who won an Academy Award for writing the Milk screenplay, said: "The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees equal protection under the law, but LGBT Americans are still denied that protection. Now is the time to push for real equality, in all matters governed by civil law."

The Human Rights Campaign has not endorsed the march but did issue a statement saying it has an "obligation to ensure that in October, we amplify our energy not divert it."

"With thousands of LGBT people and allies coming to Washington to make a difference, it's our mission to help them become the citizen lobbyists that they want and need to be," said President Joe Solmonese.

The weekend also will feature workshops, trainings, seminars and teach-ins, but no official parties, concerts or entertainment. The march route still is not finalized. For more information, see nationalequalitymarch.com.

Mass. has nation's lowest divorce rate
Massachusetts, the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, has the nation's lowest divorce rate - and it's continuing to fall.

The rate in 2007 was 2.3 per 1,000 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control's Division of Vital Statistics. Preliminary data for 2008 show the rate has dropped further, to 2.0.

"Despite all the dire warnings [about Gay marriage], the sky did not fall down," noted lesbian MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. "In fact, Massachusetts divorce rates are now down to pre-World-War-II levels: 1940."

"So, awkwardly, it turns out Gay marriage is a defense of marriage act," Maddow said.

Arizona state workers stripped of partner benefits
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed a budget September 4 that, among other things, stripped away health coverage for state employees' domestic partners.

Some legislators had been working to kill the benefit since former Gov. Janet Napolitano approved it last year. Napolitano is now the federal secretary of homeland security.

"This is a cruel and cynical ploy by the far right to target and hurt the families of Gay and Lesbian state employees under the guise of cost-cutting," said Tara Borelli, staff attorney for Lambda Legal. "The cutting of benefits pulls the rug out from underneath hardworking state employees and saves the state next to nothing."

Calif. Assembly tells FDA to end gay blood ban
In a 41-28 vote September 8, the California Assembly told the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to end the 26-year-old ban on blood donation by Gay men.

The ban applies to any man who has had sex with another man at any point in the past 31 years.

"The law prevents innumerable Gay and Bisexual men who are otherwise healthy from contributing to the nation's blood supply, which faces chronic shortfalls due to a lack of donations," said Equality California. "Adopted in 1983, the rule targeted Gay and Bisexual men because of fear over HIV/AIDS transmission. [Today,] significant innovations in blood-screening technology make the fear of HIV/AIDS spreading through the blood supply nearly nonexistent."

The resolution was sponsored by Gay Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, who commented: "The FDA is well aware of this technology as well as the erroneous and unscientific belief that the virus is only spread by Gay and Bisexual men. I hope President Obama hears our call to change this shameful and discriminatory practice immediately, so we can save more lives."

The measure now advances to the state Senate.

With assistance from Bill Kelley

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pictures - top: Dustin Lance Black
above: Kip Williams
bottom:6-93 March on Washington
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