The House voted today to reject a measure that would have banned sex-selection abortions in the United States, pitting Republicans and Democrats in a showdown over a woman’s right to choose, which opponents contended was “intended to chip away at woman’s right to obtain safe, legal medical care.”
The measure, known as the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), was defeated 246-178. Under suspension of the House rules to permit consideration of the bill more quickly, approval of the measure was subject to a two-thirds majority, and with 414 members voting Republicans fell 30 votes short of passage.
The bill was perceived by Democrats as political maneuver to coax liberal lawmakers into supporting the bill or face the prospect of an onslaught of campaign advertisements this fall highlighting a lawmaker’s vote to support sex-selection abortions.
Still, only 20 Democrats took the bait and broke from their party to vote with the majority of Republicans. Seven GOPers opposed the measure.
The House debated the bill Wednesday, but a vote was postponed until Thursday afternoon.
After the plight of blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng captured international headlines this month, Republicans had hoped to capitalize on the momentum of that awareness to ensure that sex-selection abortions are not legal in the United States.
Many nations with staunchly pro-choice/pro-abortion rights laws and protections nevertheless ban sex-selection abortions. Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Finland and the Netherlands all have laws banning sex-selection abortions.
Earlier this week, a pro-life group released an undercover video purportedly showing a Planned Parenthood counselor in Texas assisting a woman seeking a sex-selection abortion. Gendercide, the practice of killing baby girls or terminating pregnancies solely because the fetus is female, is estimated to have produced a “gender imbalance” of more than 100 million girls around the world.
“For most of us, Mr. Speaker, ‘it’s a girl’ is cause for enormous joy, happiness and celebration,” Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., said on the House floor Wednesday. ”But in many countries including our own, it could be a death sentence. Today the three most dangerous words in China and India are, ‘It’s a girl.’ We can’t let that happen here.”
Source: ABC News
Speaking at the launch of Connect Out, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender network set up by Arup, the engineering and design consultants, he said:
"My sense is that the business world remains more intolerant of homosexuality than other worlds such as the legal profession, the media and the visual arts… I am one of a handful of publicly gay people to have run a FTSE 100 company.
"In some industries, the situation is particularly bad. Among the many people I know in private equity, where I now work, fewer than 1% are openly gay."
He therefore wants "leaders in companies, and not just in human resources" to "think about inclusion in every decision they take". He says: "It comes down to a simple maxim - don't do anything that excludes people."
And he feels that change requires "rigorous performance measurement", the establishment of "concrete targets".
Lord Browne, who has never before spoken publicly about sexuality in the workplace, says it can be what he describes as "the smallest things" that can discourage gay people from being open with their colleagues about their sexuality:
"It is things like homophobic jokes that you somehow get used to, but never accept. Or it's the conversational assumptions about spouses and children. Perhaps, even, it's the games of golf at the weekend."
It was not until the end of his 41-year career at BP that he came out. Looking back on it, he says:
"Hiding my sexuality did make me unhappy and, in the end, it didn't work. People guessed, and it was only a matter of time before it came out. I realise now that the people we dealt with certainly knew I was gay. Putin had files on everybody. But at the time I was trapped by the fear of exposure."
He goes on:
"In fact I was trapped for most of my adult life, unable to reveal who I was to the world. I lead a double-life of secrecy, and of deep isolation, walled off from those closest to me".
Just over five years ago, Lord Browne quit as BP's chief executive in painful and humiliating circumstances. He admitted that he had lied to a court about the circumstances in which he had met a former boyfriend.
He told me, when I interviewed him on Tuesday, that he had got so use to lying about his sexuality that he didn't think through what he was doing when he misled the court.
Lord Browne points out that when he first realised he was gay, in 1960 at boarding school, homosexuality was illegal, though the law was abolished when he went to Cambridge.
He says: "After Cambridge, when I joined BP as a graduate, it was immediately obvious to me that it was unacceptable to be gay in business and most definitely the oil business. It was a very macho and sometimes homophobic environment; I felt I had to conform."
Also, he did not want to upset his Jewish mother, who had been in Auschwitz: "My mother, whom I dearly loved, rejected any discussion of my sexuality… With her background of being persecuted she was sure that the same would happen to me."
Lord Browne believes the UK has a duty to promote sexual and gender equality internationally.
"Homosexuality remains illegal in more than 70 countries. In seven countries, it can carry the death penalty. That injustice is primarily a British export, shipped abroad in the days of the empire. In my view, we should be working overtime to correct it."
Source: BBC News
Suanyot, a former beauty pageant winner, has been a photographic model and a member of the singing group Venus Flytrap, a Spice Girls–like act made up of transgender women. She also does commercial voice-overs and runs a jewelry business and a home-shopping TV channel. She is founder of an activist organization, the TransFemale Association of Thailand, working for greater rights for transgender people, including public funding for gender-reassignment surgery.
“We barely have any rights at all at this point,” she told a Global Postinterviewer shortly before the election. “Our genitalia is not recognized as female (even after surgery) so, if we’re jailed, we’re put in prison with the men. We can’t get proper health insurance. We can’t get married. We have problems traveling outside the country and trouble dealing with banks and government offices.”
Her gender identity, however, did not figure prominently in the campaign, she said. “As far as I can see, the people of Nan are believers in human rights,” she told the Global Post. “They examine my ability to develop the province more than my gender.”
It's possible the streak could end in November, when Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington state are likely to have closely contested gay marriage measures on their ballots.
For now, however, there remains a gap between the national polling results and the way states have voted. It's a paradox with multiple explanations, from political geography to the likelihood that some conflicted voters tell pollsters one thing and then vote differently.
"It's not that people are lying. It's an intensely emotional issue," said Amy Simon, a pollster based in Oakland, Calif. "People can report to you how they feel at the moment they're answering the polls, but they can change their mind."
California experienced that phenomenon in November 2008, when voters, by a 52-48 margin, approved a ban on same-sex marriage in the state constitution. A statewide Field Poll that September indicated Proposition 8 would lose decisively; an updated poll a week before the vote still showed it trailing by 5 percentage points.
California is an unusual case. It's one of a few reliably Democratic states that have had a statewide vote rebuffing same-sex marriage. The vast majority of the referendums have been in more conservative states, which have a greater predilection for using ballot measures to set social policy. The 32 states that have rejected gay marriage at the polls make up just over 60 percent of the U.S. population.
Voters in liberal states such as Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York, where gay marriage was legalized by judges or legislators, might vote to affirm those decisions but haven't had the opportunity.
Most of the states that voted against gay marriage did so between 2004 and 2008. Since then, only Maine in 2009 and North Carolina on May 8 have rebuffed same-sex marriage in referendums, while legislatures in Washington state, Maryland, New Jersey, Hawaii, New York, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Illinois and Delaware have voted for same-sex marriage or civil unions.
In all, there are now six states with legal same-sex marriage and nine more granting gay and lesbian couples broad marriage-style rights via civil unions or domestic partnerships. Together, those 15 states account for about 35 percent of the U.S. population.
Over the past year, there's been a stream of major national polls indicating that a majority of people support same-sex marriage. According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released Wednesday, 53 percent of those questioned say gay marriage should be legal, a new high for the poll, while 39 percent, a new low, say it should be illegal.
Political consultant Frank Schubert, a leading strategist for campaigns against same-sex marriage in California and elsewhere, said such polls are misleading and he asserted that same-sex marriage would be rejected if a national referendum were held now.
"The pollsters are asking if same-sex marriage should be legal or illegal, and that phrasing is problematic because it implies some government sanction against same-sex couples," Schubert said. "People want to be sympathetic to same-sex couples, so polls that use that language aren't particularly useful."
The more useful question, Schubert said, is whether marriage should be defined as the union of a man and a woman — the gist of the constitutional amendments approved in 30 states.
"If you ask that question, you get strong majorities," Schubert said.
Mark DeCamillo, director of the Field Poll in California, agreed with Schubert that same-sex marriage probably would lose in a hypothetical national referendum now. One important factor, he said, is whether there would be more intensity among supporters or opponents.
In California, same-sex marriage has such overwhelming support today that Prop 8 almost certainly would be overturned if a new state referendum were held, DeCamillo said.
The latest Field Poll, in February, measured voter approval of gay marriage among registered California voters at 59 percent, which was the highest in 35 years of polling on the issue, while only 34 percent disapproved. In the first Field Poll on the topic, in 1977, 59 percent opposed gay marriage and 28 percent were in favor.
Nonetheless, the largest gay-rights group in the state, Equality California, remains cautious and isn't yet ready to begin a campaign to overturn Prop 8. A federal court has struck down the law, but that ruling has been appealed.
"We aren't confident that the level of support is stable enough to withstand the rigors of a referendum," said spokeswoman Rebekah Orr. "We know that people are conflicted. Their intellectual position can show up in a poll and their emotional position shows up in the voting booth."
California is among 30 states where voters have approved amendments limiting marriage to unions of one man and one woman. In Hawaii, voters passed an amendment in 1998 empowering the Legislature to ban gay marriage, which it proceeded to do. The ban remains in effect, though Hawaii lawmakers approved civil unions last year.
The other statewide vote was in Maine in 2009, when 53 percent of the voters overturned a law that would have legalized same-sex marriage.
The issue is back on Maine's ballot for Nov. 6, with voters getting another chance to approve same-sex marriage. Schubert, who is advising gay-marriage opponents in Maine, depicts it as the toughest contest for his side among the four statewide elections this fall.
In Minnesota, voters will be deciding whether to approve a gay-marriage ban similar to those in the other 30 states. In Maryland and Washington, assuming enough valid signatures are gathered by gay marriage opponents, there will be ballot measures seeking to overturn same-sex marriage laws passed by legislators this year.
However those four referendums turn out, there's widespread belief among gay rights activists and many pollsters that support for same-sex marriage will continue to grow nationwide.
"The numbers are inexorably moving in one direction," said DeCamillo. "Older folks, who are more in opposition, are dying out and younger folks are more inclined to support it. It's not rocket science."
He said support for gay marriage is surging in California among young Latinos and Asian-Americans. Nationally, according the recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, support has risen among blacks since President Barack Obama's endorsement of same-sex marriage on May 9.
Phyllis Watts, a consulting psychologist from Sacramento, Calif., has worked with several recent ballot-measure campaigns, including the failed effort to defeat Prop 8 in California and a successful drive last year to defeat an anti-abortion "personhood" measure in Mississippi.
She believes a statewide vote in favor of same-sex marriage is likely to come soon. But she suggests that any particular poll should be viewed with caution.
"People are in a fluid state around same-sex marriage. They really can feel one way one day and another way another day," she said. "I don't think the polls are able to track, with a level of nuance, what's actually occurring inside people's hearts."
Source: ABC News
The activists gathered outside the Moscow city council building, where they were accosted by Orthodox Christians before being detained by the police. The Christians attempted to break up the gathering, throwing water, attacking protesters, and grabbing the demonstrators’ rainbow flags.
Gay rights opponent Dmitry Tsarionov spoke to the crowd in front of a sign that read, “Moscow is not Sodom.”
“I will not allow perverts to bring the wrath of God onto our city,” he said, according to The Associated Press. “I want our children to live in a country where a sin that so awfully distorts human nature is not preached in schools.”
Gay activists tried to hold another protest at city hall, but were again detained, including Moscow Gay Pride founder Nikolai Alexeyev, who led the protests.
“It’s sad that Russia has completely turned into a totalitarian state. I was arrested because I opened my mouth in front of a group of journalists,”tweeted Alexeyev today. He also expressed frustration that more members of the gay community did not come out for the march.
“Once more today I was convinced of the bravery of a couple dozen activists and the complete cowardice of all gay partiers. They are the real pederasts,”read another tweet.
He told Interfaks that he was satisfied with the result of the “gay parade.”
“It again seemed to me that the government acted illegally,” he tweeted. He plans to hold another gay pride parade next year, to mark the 20-year anniversary of the 1993 lifting of the law that made being gay a crime.
Alexeyev was the first person fined for spreading “gay propaganda” to minors, which under a new law in St. Petersburg is a crime. Alexeyev stood outside St. Petersburg’s city hall with a sign that read, “homosexuality is not a perversion.”
The law, enacted in March, effectively bans homosexual publications, protests and events, such as parades. The Russian parliament is considering making the law a national one.
Source: ABC News
Man Admitted to Hospital for Kidney Stone, Discovers He’s a Woman
A Colorado man who was admitted to the hospital for a kidney stone received surprising news when the nurse came back with test results revealing he was actually a woman.
“When I was about 6 years old, I started having these feminine feelings, but that was in the ’60s. Wearing my mom’s makeup, I thought I looked pretty,” Crecelius told ABC News.
So when he went to the emergency room five years ago, he wasn’t too shocked when the nurse told him she found traits of both genders in his ultrasound results.
He was intersex, meaning he had both male genitalia and internal female sex organs.
“The nurse is reading the ultrasound and says, ‘Huh, this says you’re a female,’ Crecelius said. “It was very liberating. I had spent so much energy after the age of 13 constantly evaluating how people looked at me and acted towards me.”
Steve, who now goes by “Stevie,” said his wife and their six children accepted his new identity right away.
“We told them individually. Some were in person and some weren’t,” Crecelius said. “Every one of them said, ‘We don’t care one way or the other. We love you for who you are and you’re still my dad.’”
Crecelius and his wife, Debbie, have been together for 25 years and she’s supported him every step of the way, including taking him to buy his first bra.
She told Crecelius, “You know, when I first saw you, I said to myself, ’He runs like a girl.’”
“I think we were pretty good when she began to mourn the loss of her husband,” Crecelius said. “We worked through what we needed to. The concept of unconditional love is a larger story.”
Intersex is a term used to describe people who bear both external genitals and internal organs, such as testes and ovaries.
A person with the condition may have male genitals along with fallopian tubes and ovaries.
“The condition used to be called hermaphroditism, meaning that person can’t be identified as male or female,” Crecelius said.
According to the Intersex Society of North America, more than 1,500 children a year are born intersex.
For Crecelius, he hopes he can be an advocate for those born intersex and same-sex couples.
“I think of bullying, because I haven’t heard anyone talk about this. It’s important to talk about,” Crecelius said. “People need to be accepting and understand. I was born this way, and loving each other and supporting each other will always be the main factor in our household.”
Source: ABC News
|+ | by Admin | Date May 25, 2012 | Time 02:58 | Comments (0)|
The prime minister of Croatia has announced plans to recognise same-sex marriages.
Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic told reporters that registered partnerships would be ‘a somewhat higher standard than what we have now,' according to the Associated Press.
Improving the legal rights of same-sex couples was promised during the election campaign of the Milanovic’s Social Democratic Party. The Social Democratic Party is the largest part in a coalition that took over from the socially conservative Croatian Democratic Union in December 2011.
‘I hope that the people of Croatia accept it,' said Milanovic. 'It’s simply a form of social empathy and decency and expanding freedom.'
The recent Rainbow Europe Map and Index published by IGLA Europegave Croatia ten points, immediately below Austria, Iceland and Finland and immediately above the Czech Republic, Denmark, Ireland, Slovakia and Slovenia.
Croatia won points for a constitution that prohibits discrimination on sexual orientation and gender identity, and lost points over the fact that the first Pride parade in Split in June 2011 was attacked by homophobic yobs, who threw weapons at the parade, injuring nearly all 300 Pride participants.
A week later the Zagreb Pride 2011 parade was the biggest ever in Croatia, with over 1,000 participants and ‘proceeded without violence or any major homophobic/transphobic incident’ the IGLA report said.
Source: Gay Star News
"The mission of the NAACP has always been to ensure the political, social and economic equality of all people," said Roslyn M. Brock, chairman of the NAACP's board of directors, in a statement. "We have and will oppose efforts to codify discrimination into law."
"The NAACP's support for marriage equality is deeply rooted in the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and equal protection of all people," said Benjamin Todd Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP, in a statement.
The announcement from the civil rights organization arrived on the heels of President Barack Obama's own recent statement in support of same-sex marriage in the United States.
NAACP's statement on Saturday, when paired with recent endorsements by President Obama and rapper Jay-Z, could indicate that the tide in the black community is flowing in the direction of marriage equality.
In an ABC News/Washington Post poll following President Obama's announcement of his support for same-sex marriage, 54 percent of African-Americans agreed with him. But in similar polls in mid-2011 and early 2012, just 41 percent of African-Americans took the same stance.
Prior to issuing the blanket statement in support of marriage equality, the NAACP had opposed legislation that would prevent same-sex marriage, including California's Proposition 8 and North Carolina's Amendment 1.
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation issued a glowing statement following NAACP's announcement, saying, "We applaud President Ben Jealous and the NAACP Board of Directors for their leadership on this issue."
GLAAD President Herndon Graddick said in a statement: "Across races, faith traditions, and political persuasions, a majority of our culture recognizes that denying gay couples the chance at happiness that comes with being married is unfair and un-American."
Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker also tweeted his support of the NAACP's position, writing, "'Arc of the universe is long but it bends toward justice' RT @dawnnozziwitter: It's on NAACP website under press release WOOHOO! About time!"
Source: ABC News
The Philippine National Police (PNP) is showing a more accepting attitude towards homosexuality by stating it is open to recruiting gays into its ranks.
PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Agrimero Cruz Jr. notes the PNP does not discriminate against anyone interested in joining, reported the Philippine Star.
‘As long as there is a law passed by Congress, then we will abide by it,’ said Cruz. He points out the police force will be accepting any group or gender so long as they follow any rules laid out.
However, he has made an exception of cross dresser gays, stressing the PNP will definitely not take them.
Cruz’s comments come after a senator calls on the PNP to scrap its height thresholds, which he says the authorities are willing to accept since the capability of an individual is not measured by his or her height.
The Southeast Asian country does not fire gay officers, but caused heated controversy in 2007 when Samuel Pagdilao, another chief superintendent, said they could be given the ax for ‘swinging their hips or engaging in flamboyant behaviour.’
Ladlad, the country’s LGBT political party, then criticized the PNP for deepening the stereotype of gay men and forcing gay policemen back into the closet, but Pagdilao maintained he had never heard of any Philippine officer being gay.
Source: Gay Star News
It is important to "speak out" and acknowledge the problem in order to tackle it, she added.
Lady Warsi, the daughter of Pakistani immigrants, is co-chair of the Conservative party.
Her comments follow the jailing of nine men, eight of whom were of Pakistani origin, in Rochdale for sexually abusing young girls.
Speaking to the London Evening Standard, Lady Warsi said: "There is a small minority of Pakistani men who believe that white girls are fair game.
"And we have to be prepared to say that. You can only start solving a problem if you acknowledge it first.
"This small minority who see women as second class citizens, and white women probably as third class citizens, are to be spoken out against."
Earlier in May, a group of Rochdale men were found guilty of a number of offences including including rape and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child, after exploiting vulnerable girls as young as 13.
David Cameron has described the case as "truly, truly dreadful".
Following the trial, Greater Manchester Police (GMP), which led the investigation, played down suggestions there was a racial element to the case.
GMP Assistant Chief Constable Steve Heywood said: "It just happens that in this particular area and time, the demographics were that these were Asian men."
And head of the Crown Prosecution Service in the North West, Nazir Afzal, said it was wrong to put race at the centre of the case.
But Baroness Warsi said she had decided to speak out after her father urged her to "show leadership" on the controversial issue.
She said it was important for communities to take responsibility for condemning this kind of behaviour.
"In mosque after mosque, this should be raised as an issue so that anybody remotely involved should start to feel that the community is turning on them,"
"Communities have a responsibility to stand up and say, 'This is wrong, this will not be tolerated'", she added.
A spokesman for the Conservative Party said Baroness Warsi's comments spoke for themselves and they did not want to elaborate on them.
BNP leader Nick Griffin, who is also an MEP for the area, has called for a public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the Rochdale case.
He said his party's supporters had demonstrated throughout the trial to draw attention to the issues it raised.
Lady Warsi echoes comments made by Rochdale MP, Simon Danczuk who said it would be "daft" to ignore a "race element" to the case.
Trevor Phillips, chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said it was "fatuous" to deny racial and cultural factors.
But Labour MP and chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee Keith Vaz has said it is wrong to focus on a particular racial or religious group.
"There is no excuse for this kind of criminality, whoever is involved in it but I don't think it is a particular group of people, I don't think it's a particular race or religion," he said.
Last year former home secretary Jack Straw caused controversy when speaking about a similar case of abuse in Derby.
Mr Straw suggested some men of Pakistani origin see white girls as "easy meat".
"There is a specific problem which involves Pakistani heritage men... who target vulnerable young white girls", he said.
Meanwhile, Samantha Roberts, a rape victim who has waived her right to anonymity, has written to David Cameron asking for a parliamentary inquiry into child exploitation.
Ms Roberts was attacked by 39-year-old Shakil Chowdhury and three other men in 2006 at the age of 12. He was later sentenced to six years in jail, but her other attackers have not been caught.
She told her local paper the Oldham Chronicle: "It's ridiculous that it has to take five girls, as in this case, for people to take notice.
"People have now realised that things like this do go on in places like Oldham and Rochdale. There are cultural problems."
Since the conviction of the nine men, further arrests have been made in a second sexual grooming inquiry in Rochdale.
Source: BBC News