Friday, August 28, 2009

SOS! Bi-national same-gender couples need your help!

By Madison Reed

The photo at the left is the person I LOVE, my #1, from the Republic of Belarus. We are a family unit.

But my country, the United States of America, forces me to either exile myself, end my relationship with him, or live in the United States without him. Why? Is this surprising to you? For 5 years we've lived apart - 5,000 miles away from each other. 

Love is the universal attractive force that knows no boundaries. Love goes beyond what we call sacred. I happen to believe that the force of Love alone is proof of the existence of a Creator. Because how could such a beautiful and perfect feeling just happen?

Americans fall in love with people all over our huge world of diverse cultures, religions and races. And the U.S. immigration law accommodates these new bi-national relationships, bringing the new couples together, uniting the American citizens or permanent residents with their foreign born loved ones. These happy couples are always guaranteed a home in the United States, where they can build their lives together. They are always grateful to the country that welcomed them.

But there is one group of Americans that the United States government bars from benefiting from the same fundamental human rights enjoyed by the rest of Americans; such as the right to legally live with your foreign partner in the United States, by sponsoring him or her to permanently immigrate to the United States.

We're business owners, soldiers, realtors, artists, doctors, judges, mayors, nurses, teachers, politicians, mothers, clergy, fathers, sons and daughters, and people of every faith. But we're gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (GLBT), and that alone denies us full equality and happiness.

Please help Americans like me who have foreign born same-gender partners. We are denied the same bundle of rights that has always been a given for heterosexual Americans. We are denied the right to bring our foreign loved ones to the United States for permanent residence and family unification purposes. U.S. immigration law is proclaimed to be a family uniting law first and foremost, created especially for uniting Americans with their foreign nationality loved ones, so that families won't be split up, such as parents with their children, fiances with fiancees, and spouses with each other. But that vital right is not extended to GLBT Americans (gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender). IT IS WILLFULLY AND DELIBERATELY DENIED TO US!

For more information about what you can do to help change the lives of hundreds of thousands of people like me who are adversely affected by this grotesque hateful discrimination and denial of our human rights, visit:

A Story of Two Couples:  For Gay Binational Couples, Defense of Marriage Act Leads to Deportations, Exile and Separation  (Mini documentary movie about the lives of two binational couples.   Please watch and share.)

The DOMA Project:

Watch: Excluded, the Movie (Please watch and share)

Inger and Phillippa's story (Movie; please watch and share)

Our Stories: United by Love; Divided by Law

More personal stories of binational couples separated or living in exile

LGBT Binationals Must be Included in ICE Deportation Guidelines


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

U. of Wisconsin scientist David Gamm announces success turning skin cells into light sensitive retinal cells

Eye cells that are sensitive to light have been produced from skin in a breakthrough that could eventually lead to treatments for blindness

By Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent

Scientists genetically “reprogrammed” human skin cells to possess the same properties as those that make up the retina.

The process involved first turning them into pluripotent stem (IPS) cells, which have the potential to develop into virtually every kind of tissue in the body.

By exposing the IPS cells to a specific cocktail of chemicals, the scientists then caused them to grow into partially developed retina cells – the light-sensitive cells at the back of the eye which transmit nerve signals to the brain.

Although the work, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is at a very early stage, it paves the way for treatments that allow retinas to be repaired with cells grown from a patient’s own skin.

In the more immediate future scientists could use the cultivated cells to study genetically-linked eye disorders, or screen new drugs for retina conditions.

Study leader Dr David Gamm, from the University of Wisconsin, said: “This is an important step forward for us, as it not only confirms that multiple retinal cells can be derived from human IPS cells. but also shows how similar the process is to normal human retinal development.

“That is quite remarkable given that the starting cell is so different from a retinal cell and the whole process takes place in a plastic dish.

“We continue to be amazed at how deep we can probe into these early events and find that they mimic those found in developing retinas.

“Perhaps this is the way to close the gap between what we know about building a retina in mice, frogs and flies with that of humans.”

Tests showed that the IPS cells gave rise to many types of retina cell, including the photoreceptors that turn light impulses into electrical nerve signals.

In previous research, scientists have succeeded in restoring vision to blind mice by repairing their retinas with stem cells.

Future treatments could help patients with conditions such as macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness among the elderly.

Another disorder involving damage to the retina is retinitis pigmentosa, which causes tunnel vision and blindness.

* Meanwhile, a new kind of "patch” made from stem cells that can mend a broken heart after an attack has been successfully tested by scientists.

Cells lost from the heart do not grow back naturally, leaving the organ in a weakened and vulnerable state.

Researchers in Israel demonstrated the new patch in rats with injured hearts.

Article from The Telegraph


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Crossing Borders

Gay Americans have long been denied the right to live at home with their noncitizen partners. But Congress may finally be on the verge of changing all that.

By Andrew Harmon

From The Advocate September 2009

Jet-lagged and nervous, Matthew lands at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport dreading the next leg of the journey. He’s traveling home with his partner, a man with whom he’s spent the last 22 years in the capital of an undisclosed Middle Eastern country not known for its social tolerance. The drill is always the same: Somewhere between stumbling off the plane, shuffling through the jet bridge with passports in hand, and entering separate lines at immigration (“U.S. Citizens Only” and “Noncitizens”), the men go from intimates living in a strange land to strangers who avoid making eye contact through the glass wall that divides them. They take these precautions, Matthew says, because he fears that his partner could be barred from entry if there’s any evidence suggesting he might be enticed to stay in the United States.

[Advocate story continued here]


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

U.S. military begins probe of anti-gay atrocities by U.S. soldiers

From the Washington Blade

The U.S. military is investigating claims that U.S. service members were involved in committing atrocities against gays in Iraq, although at least one activist is skeptical about the veracity of the allegations.

The U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Command, the service’s primary criminal investigative organization, is looking into the allegations, which were first reported by the Blade last week. An investigator contacted the Blade seeking information on the story.

Army CID spokesperson Chris Grey said he couldn’t discuss details of the investigation at this point.

The longest-serving gay member of Congress also has pledged to investigate. Harry Gural, a spokesperson for Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), said the congressman is “concerned” about the allegations and “the charge is serious enough that he’s going to urge a full investigation.”

Gural said he didn’t immediately know what steps Frank would take in looking into the matter.

The charges surfaced when a gay Iraqi refugee, who uses the alias “Hussam,” made the claims July 24 at a fundraiser held at the Human Rights Campaign headquarters. The event was intended to raise money for Helem, a Lebanon-based center that works to address the plight of LGBT people in the Middle East.

Calling on his audience of about 80 people to donate to the organization, Hussam delivered a presentation that included gruesome photographs, including images purportedly showing a beheaded gay Iraqi lying in the street and the victim’s brother mourning over the severed head.

But Hussam’s audience became even more alarmed when he claimed that U.S. service members were involved in anti-gay attacks and had detained Iraqi civilians perceived to be gay and executed them.

He then showed an image that he claimed depicted an American soldier standing in front of a group of four or five kneeling naked men. Hussam said that the men were gay Iraqis and that he possessed an image of U.S. soldiers executing them, but didn’t show the picture to the audience...[Blade story continues here]

See related stories:

News just in(2009/11/08): Gay Iraqi Changes his tune

Gay Iraqis raise grave allegations

U.S. Accused of killing gay Iraqis

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


Monday, August 3, 2009

Amnesty International: Nine Iraqi Women face imminent execution

One of condemned women says she was tortured into falsely confessing

Amnesty International is warning that at least nine women in Iraq are facing imminent execution after recently having their death sentences confirmed.

Amnesty has learnt that Iraq's Presidential Council has ratified death sentences against the women and that a number of women prisoners have recently been transferred to the 5th section (al-Shu'ba al-Khamisa) of Baghdad's al-Kadhimiya Prison, where condemned prisoners are usually held immediately before execution. At least three women have already been executed since early June.

Amnesty International UK Media Director Mike Blakemore said:

'We are very concerned that these women could be executed at any moment.

'It is not known whether the women had fair trials, though recent trials involving capital charges in Iraq have been far from fair.

'The Iraqi authorities should halt these executions, commute the sentences and guarantee that no-one else in the country is dragged to the scaffold.'

Iraq's use of capital punishment became notorious after the botched hanging of Saddam Hussein in late 2006. Since Iraq reinstated capital punishment in 2004 (the US-controlled Coalition Provisional Authority suspended the death penalty after the fall of Saddam Hussein), the country has sentenced to death approximately 1,000 people. Scores of people have been executed, with at least 34 killed last year alone. There are no official figures for the number of prisoners now facing execution.

One of the women in imminent danger is Samar Sa'ad 'Abdullah. She was sentenced to death in August 2005 for the murder of her uncle, his wife and one of their children. Samar has protested that her fiancé committed the killings in order to rob her uncle. It is not known whether he has been arrested.

Samar Sa'ad 'Abdullah's death sentence was upheld by Iraq's Cassation Court in February 2007. At her trial, she alleged that after her arrest she had been held at a police station in Hay al-Khadhra in Baghdad and tortured by being beaten with a cable, beaten on the soles of her feet (falaqa) and subjected to electric shocks to make her "confess." The judge failed to order an investigation into her allegations, and sentenced her to death after two hearings.

Among the other women who have been transferred to the 5th section of al-Kadhimiya Prison are Shuruq Hassun, Sabrine Nasser, Samira 'Abdullah, Um Hussain ("Mother of Hussain" - real name not known), Hanan (full name not known), Dhikra Fakhry and Wassan Talib. Other women, in addition to these, are also under sentence of death in Iraq.

In Iraq all death sentences must be confirmed by the Cassation Court, after which they are referred to the Presidential Council, composed of the President and the two Vice-Presidents, for ratification and implementation. The President, Jalal Talabani, opposes the death penalty and delegates his ratification powers to the two Vice-Presidents. All prisoners whose death sentences have been ratified by the Presidential Council are transferred to the 5th section of al-Kadhimiya Prison in Baghdad before they are executed.

In March the Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council confirmed to Amnesty that the Presidential Council had ratified the death sentences of 128 people, 12 of whom were executed on 3 May.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]