Thursday, April 30, 2009

Geneticists say that Africans possess the greatest variation of genetic diversity

Africans have more genetic variation than anyone else on Earth, according to a new study that helps narrow the location where humans first evolved, probably near the South Africa-Namibia border.

The largest study of African genetics ever undertaken also found that nearly three-fourths of African-Americans can trace their ancestry to West Africa. The new analysis published Thursday in the online edition of the journal Science.

"Given the fact that modern humans arose in Africa, they have had time to accumulate dramatic changes" in their genes, explained lead researcher Sarah Tishkoff, a geneticist at the University of Pennsylvania...[Story continued here]

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Same-Sex Bi-National Couples and U.S. Immigration Law

"United by Love" video, thanks to Lee Danner

Out of Germany we have a great video about how U.S. immigration law is applied differently to Americans in same-sex relationships with their foreign partners. Unlike their heterosexual American counterparts, gay and lesbian Americans are not permitted under U.S. immigration law to sponsor their foreign life partners to immigrate to the United States. They're either forced to uproot their lives and leave their families to live as exiles in a third country that will welcome them, or must endure the cruelty of forced separation living in two different countries.

Please watch "United by Love," along with "Uniting American Families Act - F.A.Q." video #2, and contact your representatives in the House and Senate of Congress to urge them to join in co-sponsorship of the Uniting American Families Act.

Useful links:

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

UAE Royal Sheikh Implicated by Video of Torture

Sheikh Issa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, brother of United Arab Emirate's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed, has been caught brutally torturing a man over a missing load of grain worth about $5,000. Sheikh al Nahyan record his torture himself. It was smuggled out of the UAE by Houston, TX businessman Bassam Nabulsi, a former associate of Al Nahyan's, who claims he was incarcerated and tortured by the UAE police, headed by the brother of the UAE's Crown Prince, in an attempt to get him (Nabulsi) to turn over his copy of al-Nahyan's torture video, to hide his crimes from the rest of the world.

The United Arab Emirates puts on the image of being a modern, tolerant business and investment mecca for western people and people the world over, in the midst of an otherwise risky or inhospitable Middle-East. Watch wealthy Sheikh Issa bin Zayed Al Nahyan mercilessly torture a helpless grain merchant from his royal ranch on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi and you be the judge about the United Arab Emirates. Please be warned that this video is brutal and very graphic. Parts of it have been removed because it was too shocking.

“The incidents depicted in the video tapes were not part of a pattern of behavior,” the Interior Ministry’s statement declared.

The Minister of the Interior is also one of Sheikh Issa’s brother.

The government statement said its review found “all rules, policies and procedures were followed correctly by the Police Department.”

Read the original story here, by Investigative News Correspondent Brian Ross

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

NC church OKs change to allow gay ministers

GREENSBORO, N.C. — A Presbyterian group representing 150 central North Carolina congregations has approved a constitutional change that could result in gays serving as ministers and elders.

The News & Record of Greensboro reported Thursday that the Salem Presbytery approved the proposed change Tuesday. The proposed amendment would remove language from the denomination's Book of Order that prohibits gays from serving [Story continued here]

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What kind of world do you want?

PHILADELPHIA, PA -- The National Park Service (NPS) has issued a First Amendment permit for a National Equality Rally at Independence Hall on Sunday afternoon, May 3, 2009 at Independence National Historical Park.

The goals of the National Equality Rally are:

-- Passage of trans-inclusive hate crimes legislation and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)

-- Repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)
-- Support for GLBT health issues
-- Equal benefits for same-sex families
-- Same-sex marriage equality

Regional, state and national organizations, people of color, progressive religious institutions, high school and college GSAs, and straight ally organizations will be represented as Co-Organizers. Over 100 organizations from across the nation will March for Equality on Independence Mall.

Leaders will carry their organization's name on pole-mounted placards. Activists, participants and straight allies will be offered American and rainbow flags. After completion of the March for Equality, activists, organizations, and allies will fill in Independence Mall for a one-hour high-impact Rally.

Gay Pioneers Frank Kameny and Lilli Vincenz will lead grassroots activists, organizations, and straight allies in the March for Equality on Independence Mall from the National Constitution Center to Independence Hall.

The Rainbow Chorale of Delaware will open the Rally with a choral tribute, and 100 members of the Philadelphia Gay Men's Chorus, Anna Crusis Women's Choir and the Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia will sing a special rendition of "America the Beautiful" to end the Rally.

The Philadelphia Freedom Band and members of the national Lesbian and Gay Band Association will join the March for Equality on Independence Mall. The Lesbian and Gay Band Association marched in President Obama's Inaugural Parade. There will be participants from the New York Big Apple Corps, D.C.'s Different Drummers, North Carolina Pride Band, and Flamingo Freedom Band of South Florida, among others, marching past the Liberty Bell Center and the Gay Pioneers Historic Marker to Independence Hall.

Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell are where the Gay Pioneers held the first organized gay and lesbian civil rights demonstrations called "Annual Reminders" each Fourth of July from 1965 to 1969. The Annual Reminders laid the groundwork for the Stonewall Riots in 1969 and the first New York Pride Parade in 1970.

"Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell are where the movement was launched. With a new Congress and a President who describes himself as a 'fierce advocate' of our civil rights, it is the right moment for us to join hands at an iconic location to demand Equality," stated Malcolm Lazin, Executive Director of Equality Forum.

Equality Forum is a national and international GLBT civil rights organization with an educational focus. The National Equality Rally at Independence Hall will be held on the concluding day of Equality Forum 2009 (April 27 to May 3), the largest and premiere annual national and international GLBT civil rights forum.

For more information about the National Equality Rally at Independence Hall, visit For more information on gay-friendly Philadelphia or to book a hotel stay, visit the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation's website at

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Iraqi Militia Killing Gay Men with Painful Anal Glue Torture

By Ali Hili

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission writes: "The following is a translation of a story from Alarabiya, a UAE-based media network, which was published on its Arabic website a few hours ago. While IGLHRC has not verified all of the allegations, many are consistent with patterns of human rights violations being reported from within the country."

If you are able to read Arabic, the original is here:

The translation:

"A prominent Iraqi human rights activist says that Iraqi militia have deployed a painful form of torture against homosexuals by closing their anuses using 'Iranian gum.' ... Yina Mohammad told that, 'Iraqi militias have deployed an unprecedented form of torture against homosexuals by using a very strong glue that will close their anus.' According to her, the new substance 'is known as the American hum, which is an Iranian-manufactured glue that if applied to the skin, sticks to it and can only be removed by surgery. After they glue the anuses of homosexuals, they give them a drink that causes diarrhea. Since the anus is closed, the diarrhea causes death. Videos of this form of torture are being distributed on mobile cellphones in Iraq.' According to this human rights activist, for the past 3 weeks a crackdown on homosexuals has been going on based on a religious decree that demands their death; dozens have been targeted. She says that the persecution of homosexuals is not confined to the Shiite clerics. Some Sunni leaders have also declared the death penalty for sodomy on satellite channels."

(source: )

Please, contact US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton (or your country's appropriate Minister or Representative) and urge her to intervene:**
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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Dividing America with Hate

By Bob Burnett

Six months after a sweeping defeat in the Presidential election, Republicans have taken on an unlikely political persona, Oscar the Grouch. And judging from their muddled "Tea Parties," the GOP has adopted their new Ideology from a familiar Sesame Street Song: We're mad. Very angry, very, very angry. Real mad. Very angry, very, very angry.

While 88 percent of Democrats approve of President Obama's job performance, only 27 percent of Republicans share that perception. This 61-point difference of opinion is the largest spread since Pew began conducting its poll in 1969, when 84 percent of Republicans approved of Richard Nixon's job performance and 55 percent of Democrats agreed.

Because President Obama's popularity ratings are so high, Democrats tend to dismiss Republican sentiments. After all, a recent New York Times/CBS News Poll found that while two-thirds of Americans approved of Obama's job performance, only 31 percent had a favorable view of the GOP.

Americans are abandoning the Republican Party. The latest Gallup Poll found that 35 percent of respondents identified as Democrats, an equal number as Independents, and only 28 percent as Republicans. But rather than propose ideological alternatives to Obama's policies, the GOP has responded with anger and dogmatic negativity......[Story continued here]
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Friday, April 17, 2009

Ex-McCain aide says Republican Party must embrace gay marriage

Steve Schmidt, a key architect of John McCain's presidential campaign, is making his first public return to Washington a bold one.

Schmidt will use a speech Friday to Log Cabin Republicans, a gay rights group, to urge conservative Republicans to drop their opposition to same-sex marriage, CNN has learned.

"There is a sound conservative argument to be made for same-sex marriage," Schmidt will say, according to speech excerpts obtained by CNN. "I believe conservatives, more than liberals, insist that rights come with responsibilities. No other exercise of one's liberty comes with greater responsibilities than marriage."

Schmidt makes both policy and political arguments for a Republican embrace of same-sex marriage.

On the policy front, Schmidt likens the fight for gay rights to civil rights and women's rights, and he admonishes conservatives who argue for the protection of the unborn as a God-given right, but against protections for same-sex couples.

"It cannot be argued that marriage between people of the same sex is un American or threatens the rights of others," he says in the speech. "On the contrary, it seems to me that denying two consenting adults of the same sex the right to form a lawful union that is protected and respected by the state denies them two of the most basic natural rights affirmed in the preamble of our Declaration of Independence — liberty, and the pursuit of happiness..[Story continued here]

For more detailed information, read the Washington Blade's expanded story.

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Fear the rainbow! A storm IS gathering. Are you afraid, Christian? Are you afraid *enough*?

By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist

My favorite part has got to be the lightning.

The fake lightning, that is, flashing just off to the side, a cheap 'n' cheesy special effect that momentarily lights up the actors' faces in the most sweetly melodramatic way as they stand there against the dark 'n' stormy backdrop like devout Christian zombies, delivering delightfully weird and wooden lines about being openly terrified of those openly terrifying gay married people.

Yes, it's merely another series of strange, alarmist, deeply homophobic ads from yet another seething anti-gay group you've never heard of (the National Organization for Marriage, or NOM), ads which are running right now in five states in response to two stunning, watershed gay marriage upheavals in Iowa and Vermont, AKA two more states now shamelessly roaring down the highway to hell.

Have you heard? Turns out the married gays are still on the march. No longer merely a coastal phenomenon, undeterred by the economic recession, as yet unsmited by God's redneck fury, these bizarre, relentlessly loving creatures are now invading the heartland. Will the nightmare of love never end?

You just gotta see these strange, hateful little ads (as of this writing, the unintentionally hilarious audition reels of the terrible actors reciting the fake lines have been, alas, taken down).

The ads emphasize how the gays are moving closer to Christian homes....[Story continued here]

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Opinion: Obama can give gay families equal immigration rights

By Chris Waddling

The recent case of the deportation order against Jay Mercado's partner, Shirley Tan of Pacifica, and the deportation in 2007 of Tim Coco's partner, Genésio de Oliveira of Boston, make a clear point: Individual, time-consuming, last-ditch private bills such as the ones by U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier and Sen. John Kerry are not a realistic or viable solution to the blatant and cruel discrimination written into U.S. immigration law.

There is a proposal to deal with the larger problem. The Uniting American Families Act would fix a serious omission in our immigration system that blatantly discriminates against gay and lesbian American citizens and their families. It is moving through Congress, but President Barack Obama should make it law now through an executive order.

These Americans are in long term, loving, and committed relationships with foreign-born partners. But because our federal government does not recognize their relationships, an estimated 36,000 Americans around the world are unable to permanently and legally keep their families together in the United States. Thousands have been forced to leave this country, often with their children in tow, to live in exile with the person they love. They leave behind brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers, simply to keep their own nuclear families together.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., is the sponsor of the Uniting American Families Act (H.R. 1024) in the House of Representatives. He says this discrimination is "gratuitous cruelty." Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the sponsor of S. 424 in the U.S. Senate, says that it forces a choice with which "no American should be faced — to choose between the country they love and the person they love."

Marriage Equality USA is a national grass-roots organization advocating for access to all 1,138 rights and benefits of marriage for all Americans. We've called on the president to issue an executive order that will bestow just one of those rights, that of immigration sponsorship of one's life-partner, and make the Uniting American Families Act law....[Story continued here]

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Oklahoma asserts sovereignty: House orders federal government to "Cease and Desist" its grab of state power

By Jerome R. Corsi

© 2009 WorldNetDaily

Photo, Oklahoma Republican

state Sen. Randy Brogdon

NEW YORK – Oklahoma's House of Representatives is the first legislative body to pass a state sovereignty resolution this year under the terms of the Tenth Amendment.

The Oklahoma House of Representatives passed House Joint Resolution 1003 Feb. 18 by a wide margin, 83 to 13, resolving, "That the State of Oklahoma hereby claims sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States."

The language of HJR 1003 further serves notice to the federal government "to cease and desist, effectively immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope of these constitutionally delegated powers."

The sponsor of the resolution, state Rep. Charles Key, told WND the measure was a 'big step toward addressing the biggest problem we have in this country – the federal government violating the supreme law of the land."

"The Constitution either means what it says, or it doesn't mean anything at all," Key said. "The federal government must honor and obey the Constitution, just like the states and this citizens of this country are obligated to do, or our system of government begins to fall apart."

The Ninth Amendment reads, "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." The Tenth Amendment specifically provides, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

As WND reported, eight states have introduced resolutions declaring state sovereignty under the Ninth and Tenth Amendments to the Constitution: Arizona, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Washington.

Analysts expect 12 additional states may see similar measures introduced this year, including Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Nevada, Maine and Pennsylvania....[Story continued here]

Lawmakers in 20 States Move to Reclaim Sovereignty

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Harassment by Family Policy Council of West Virginia, Delays Gay Rights Bill

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Local and national politics doomed a bill that would have protected gays and lesbians against discrimination at work and in housing, supporters of the measure say.

Last month, a divided state Senate passed the bill (SB238), which would have added sexual orientation to the state's existing civil-rights laws. Since then, it's been stuck in the House Judiciary Committee.

Supporters realized Monday the bill wouldn't make it to the House floor for a vote, said Seth DiStefano, a lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia.

He and others say state and national attention to gay marriage - including last week's Iowa Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage there - overshadowed the discrimination issue in West Virginia.

When the Iowa court issued its ruling, House Minority Leader Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, gave a floor speech urging a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman. That was a few days after House Republicans unsuccessfully tried to force a floor vote on a resolution against gay marriage.

"I think the opposition definitely took advantage of the microphone," DiStefano said.

House Judiciary Chairwoman Carrie Webster also said she believed the marriage amendment was intended to distract from the anti-discrimination bill. Opponents used the issue as a "scare tactic," the Kanawha County Democrat said.

In March, the Family Policy Council of West Virginia targeted Webster and Delegate Barbara Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, in a phone campaign. The group claimed the two women were blocking a ban on gay marriage.

On Tuesday, Webster - who sponsored the House version of the bill - said the issue was one of her top priorities this session. The proposal likely would have made it out of her committee, but then would have failed, she said....[Story continued here]

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Tony Blair Tells the Pope He's Wrong About Homosexuality

Tony Blair has challenged the “entrenched” attitudes of the Pope on homosexuality, and argued that it is time for him to “rethink” his views.

Speaking to the gay magazine Attitude, the former Prime Minister, himself now a Roman Catholic, said that he wanted to urge religious figures everywhere to reinterpret their religious texts to see them as metaphorical, not literal, and suggested that in time this would make all religious groups accept gay people as equals.

Asked about the Pope’s stance, Mr Blair blamed generational differences and said: “We need an attitude of mind where rethinking and the concept of evolving attitudes becomes part of the discipline with which you approach your religious faith.”

The Pope, who is 82, remains firmly opposed to any relaxation of the Church’s traditional stance on homosexuality, contraception or any other area of human sexuality. He has described homosexuality as a “tendency” towards an “intrinsic moral evil”.

Mr Blair, who now travels the world on behalf of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, which aims to promote understanding of the main religions, left the Church of England for Rome soon after leaving office in 2007.

In the interview Mr Blair spoke of a “quiet revolution in thinking” and implied that he believed the Pope to be out of step with the public...[Story continued here]

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Jesus' Love Resurrecting: Veto Override Makes Vermont the 4th State to Welcome Gay Marriage

Gay marriage advocate Beth Robinson, center, holds back tears following the passage of a gay marriage bill in Montpelier, Vt., today.

Photo thanks to TOBY TALBOT/Associated Press

Article by Associated Press reporter DAVE GRAM

MONTPELIER, Vt. – Vermont has become the fourth state to legalize gay marriage — and the first to do so with a legislature's vote.

The Legislature voted Tuesday to override Gov. Jim Douglas' veto of a bill allowing gays and lesbians to marry. The vote was 23-5 to override in the state Senate and 100-49 to override in the House. Under Vermont law, two-thirds of each chamber had to vote for override.

The vote came nine years after Vermont adopted its first-in-the-nation civil unions law.

It's now the fourth state to permit same-sex marriage. Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa are the others. Their approval of gay marriage came from the courts....

Read history of the developing story about Vermont's historical move to support full equality, here.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Reverend Gene Robinson says Religion is the Single Greatest Obstacle to Gay Civil Rights

As the first openly gay bishop in a mainline Christian denomination, the Right Reverend V. Gene Robinson wants to assure other gays and lesbians that they are not “abominations,” despite the persecution they may have experienced.

“Let’s be honest, most of the discrimination . . . has come at the hands of religious people, and the greatest single hindrance to the achievement of full civil rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people can be laid at the doorstep of the three Abrahamic faiths: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam,” said Robinson, who spoke at Emory University’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion (CSLR) on Monday evening to an overflowing crowd of approximately 700. “I believe it will take religious voices and religious people to undo the harm and devastation.”

Robinson, who delivered the CSLR’s annual Currie Lecture in Law and Religion, has been open about his homosexuality since the 1980s and has been in a committed relationship with his partner for two decades. But it was his investiture as bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire in 2003 that catapulted him into the center of a near-global controversy over his sexual orientation.

“Why would my election as bishop of a reasonably conservative, rural, and small-town diocese in New England become such a world-wide controversy? How could it spawn thousands of hateful letters and emails?” asked Robinson. “Why would I, a Christian called and elected by the clergy and people of a diocese to be their bishop, receive death threats from other religious people and have to wear a bulletproof vest for my own consecration?"

CSLR Senior Fellow and Harvard Divinity Professor Mark Jordan, who served as respondent at the lecture, said it was vital to remember that Robinson is “not the first gay man in the apostolic succession. We find fragments of a long history across many churches. There have been—there are—other gay Anglican bishops, including gay Anglican bishops with long-term partners. But they feel compelled to keep silent.”

Keeping silent, says Robinson, is no longer an option for him. Growing up in a family of tenant farmers in rural, segregated Kentucky, he never imagined a world “in which we would be talking openly about homosexuality, much less having a national and international debate.”

But his dual commitments as a Christian and a citizen, he says, compel him to work toward social justice for all. He quoted Harvey Milk, the gay San Francisco politician assassinated in 1978, who once said: “Coming out is the most political thing you can do.”

Perhaps even more important, Robinson adds, is the quiet revolution going on privately within families whose sons and daughters are telling their parents, “Yes, I too am gay.” A cultural shift to tolerance and respect “allows parents to continue loving their children,” he says.

This shift is slowly occurring in churches as well, Robinson adds, with some Roman Catholic priests acknowledging, often privately, that they are gay; a few Southern Baptist congregations offering blessings to same-sex couples (and risking expulsion from the denomination); and conservative Jews admitting gay and lesbian rabbinical students to their seminaries.

“Many Anglicans from around the world continue to call on me to resign my position, naively believing that if I went away, this issue would go away,” he says. But while he may have become the personal symbol of the conflict, the struggle for rights and recognition by gay congregants and clergy in Christian denominations, as well as other world religions, demands resolution.

While translations of the Bible, indeed, state in Leviticus that “you [men] shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination” worthy of capital punishment, many things people now do routinely as a modern society, including eating pork, were seen as an “abomination” to God, or were strictly forbidden, such as wearing two kinds of cloth, tattoos, eating shellfish, or planting two kinds of seed in the same field. “Yet, these few verses of scripture are quoted as if nothing has changed in our understanding since biblical times,” says Robinson.

In this public conversation about gay civil rights, he says, “we are talking about the way we change our minds—as a culture, a nation, and religious communities—about something we’ve been very sure about for thousands of years.

To some, this may seem like a discarding of ancient truths, Robinson says, but to him, it is the “Holy Spirit unrelentingly teaching and guiding us” toward inclusion, respect, and equality for all.

“More and more people are feeling kindly toward gay and lesbian people,” Robinson says, “but that will never be enough.

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” laws of all stripes remind gays and lesbians that their identities, lives, and relationships are second-class. “Over one thousand rights are automatically granted to a couple who marries,” he says. “Britney Spears received those one thousand rights on the night she decided on a lark to get married in Las Vegas—yet the gay couple who has been faithfully together for 30 years is denied them.”

While, as a nation, we have never been very comfortable talking about sex, Robinson says, he believes the “fierce resistance” to gay rights has its roots in something much deeper and broader. “I believe with my whole heart that what we are up against in this struggle is the beginning of the end of patriarchy,” in churches and in society. “For a very long time now, most of the decisions affecting the world have been made by white, heterosexual, educated, Western men. Ever so gradually, people of color have been invited to the conversation; then women, and now gay and lesbian people. And things are never the same when the oppressed get their voice.”

The civil realm, Robinson says, is tied intimately to moving forward in the religious realm. “I am hopeful about the future. My faith tells me that God is always working for the coming of the kind of Kingdom in which we all are respected, all are valued, all are included,” he says. "And in the end, God wins."


Story taken from Emory University's Center for the Study of Law and Religion website.

The Center for the Study of Law and Religion (CSLR) at Emory University ( is home to world-class scholars and forums on the religious foundations of law, politics, and society. It offers first-rank expertise on how the teachings and practices of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam have shaped and can continue to transform the fundamental ideas and institutions of our public and private lives. The scholarship of CSLR faculty provides the latest perspectives, while its conferences and public forums foster reasoned and robust public debate.


Friday, April 3, 2009

Iowa Supreme Court unanimous decision: "Ban on gay marriage violates Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution"

Laura Fefchak, right, and Nancy Robinson, center, of Urbandale, Iowa, reacted to the ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court on Friday.

Photo, courtesy of David K. Purdy, Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa – Iowa's Supreme Court unanimously struck down the state's gay marriage ban on Friday, making Iowa the third state where same-sex couples can tie the knot.

In its decision, the court upheld a 2007 district court judge's ruling that the law violates the state constitution. It strikes the language from Iowa code limiting marriage to only between a man a woman.

"The court reaffirmed that a statute inconsistent with the Iowa constitution must be declared void even though it may be supported by strong and deep-seated traditional beliefs and popular opinion," said a summary of the ruling issued by the court.

The ruling set off celebration among the state's gay-marriage proponents.

"Iowa is about justice, and that's what happened here today," said Laura Fefchak, who was hosting a verdict party in the Des Moines suburb of Urbandale with partner of 13 years, Nancy Robinson.

Robinson added: "To tell the truth, I didn't think I'd see this day."

Richard Socarides, an attorney and former senior adviser on gay rights to President Clinton, said the ruling carries extra significance coming from Iowa.

"It's a big win because, coming from Iowa, it represents the mainstreaming of gay marriage. And it shows that despite attempts stop gay marriage through right-wing ballot initiatives, like in California, the courts will continue to support the case for equal rights for gays [Story continued here]

Video address by Iowa State Senator Matt McCoy

Prop 8 Opponents Cheer Iowa Decision (Video)
Read copy Iowa Supreme Courts decision on marriage equality here.
Read 6 page summary of decision by Iowa Supreme Court Office of Communications, here.


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Urgent action need to stop imminent executions of innocent Iraqi Gays and Lesbians

Story from Iraq LGBT Community in exile in London

Urgent action is needed to halt the execution of 128 prisoners on death row in Iraq. Many of those awaiting execution were convicted for the ‘crime’ of homosexuality, according to IRAQI-LGBT, a UK based organisation of Iraqis supporting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in Iraq.

According to Ali Hili of IRAQI-LGBT, the Iraqi authorities plan to start executing them in batches of 20 from this week.

IRAQI-LGBT urgently requests that the UK Government, Human Rights Groups and the United Nations Human Rights Commission intervene with due speed to prevent this tragic miscarriage of justice from going ahead.

“We have information and reports on members of our community whom been arrested and waiting for execution for the crimes of homosexuality,’’ said Mr Hili. “Iraqi lgbt has been a banned from running our activities on Iraqi soil.”

“Raids by the Iraqi police and ministry of interior forces cost our group the disappearing and killing of 17 members working for Iraqi lgbt since 2005,” added Mr Hili.

“Death penalty has been increasing at an alarming rate in Iraq since the new Iraqi regime reintroduced it in August 2004.

In 2008 at least 285 people were sentenced to death, and at least 34 executed. In 2007 at least 199 people were sentenced to death and 33 were executed, while in 2006 at least 65 people were put to death. The actual figures could be much higher as there are no official statistics for the number of prisoners facing execution,” he said.

IRAQI LGBT is concerned that the Iraqi authorities have not disclosed the identities of those facing imminent execution, stoking fears that many of them may have been sentenced to death after trials that failed to satisfy international standards for fair trial.

Most are likely to have been sentenced to death by the Central Criminal Court of Iraq (CCCI), whose proceedings consistently fall short of international standards for fair trial. Some are likely to have. Allegations of torture are not being investigated adequately or at all by the CCCI. Torture of detainees held by Iraqi security forces remains rife.

Iraq’s creaking judicial system is simply unable to guarantee fair trials in ordinary criminal cases, and even less so in capital cases, with the result, we fear, that numerous people have gone to their death after unfair trials.

The Iraqi government must order an immediate halt to these executions and establish a moratorium on all further executions in Iraq, particularly since due process cannot be guaranteed. The state executing people for ‘morals’ crimes is also obviously unacceptable and deplorable.

Amnesty International has called on the Iraqi authorities to make public all information pertaining to the 128 people, including their full names, details of the charges against them, the dates of their arrest, trial and appeal and their current places of detention.

The immediate urgent priority is to Support and Donate Money to LGBT activists in Iraq in order to assist their efforts to help other Lesbians, Gay, Bisexuals and Trans gender Iraqi's facing death, persecution and systematic Targeting by the Iraqi Police and Badr and Sadr Militia and to raise awareness about the wave of homophobic murders in Iraq to the outside world.
Funds raised will also help provide LGBTs under threat of killing with refuge in the safer parts of Iraq (including safe houses, food, electricity, medical help) and assist efforts help them seek refuge in neighboring countries.

Iraqi Lgbt
22 Notting Hill Gate
Unit # 111
London , W11 3JE
United Kingdom
Mob: ++44 798 1959 453
Website :
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