NYC mayor to march in St. Patrick’s Day parade following gay ban drop

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New York (AP) – NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is ending a two-year boycott of the nation’s largest St. Patrick’s Day parade now that it has fully dropped its longstanding ban on allowing gay and lesbian groups to march under their own banners.

De Blasio, a first-term Democrat, told The Associated Press that for the first time he will take part in the parade along Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17. He skipped the parade in 2014, when no gay groups were allowed to openly march, and he skipped again last year, when only one small lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender group was permitted.

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FL Senate moves toward striking anti-gay adoption ban

By : Jamie Hyman
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Tallahassee – The State Senate has taken a small step toward striking the outdated language that prohibits adoption by gay people in the State of Florida.

The ban has been obsolete and unenforced since 2010, when it was ruled unconstitutional. The move to scrub the gay adoption ban language is part of a larger adoption bill that provides adoption benefits to state employees and incentive payments to community-based care groups. Of the 20 pages of bill language, just a single line applies to deleting the ban on adoption by gays.

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Federal judge rules Oklahoma marriage equality ban unconstitutional

By : Wire Report
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TULSA, Okla.- A federal judge struck down Oklahoma’s gay marriage ban, ruling that it violates the U.S. Constitution.

U.S. District Judge Terrence Kern handed down the ruling Jan. 14 in a lawsuit filed by two same-sex couples. Kern immediately stayed his ruling pending appeals, meaning gay marriages won’t happen in Oklahoma right away.

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Boy Scouts lift ban on gay scouts, keep ban on gay leaders

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After lengthy and wrenching debate, local leaders of the Boy Scouts of America have voted to open their ranks to openly gay boys for the first time, but heated reactions from the left and right made clear that the BSA’s controversies are far from over.

The Scouts’ longstanding ban on gay adults remains in force, and many liberal Scout leaders – as well as gay-rights groups – plan to continue pressing for an end to that exclusion even though the BSA’s top officials aren’t ready for that step.

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Mormons give blessing to Boy Scouts proposal to partly lift gay ban

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The Mormon church has given its blessing to the Boy Scouts of America on its latest proposal to lift the gay ban for youth members but continue to exclude gays as adult leaders.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints posted a statement on its website Thursday saying it is satisfied with the proposal, which the Boy Scouts announced last week and will submit to its National Council at a meeting in Texas the week of May 20.

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Boy Scouts propose lifting gay ban… for Scouts only

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Under pressure over its longstanding ban on gays, the Boys Scouts of America is proposing to lift the ban for youth members but continue to exclude gays as adult leaders.

The Scouts announced Friday that it would submit this proposal to the roughly 1,400 voting members of its National Council at a meeting in Texas the week of May 20.

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Bill pushing Boy Scouts to lift gay ban clears first vote

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A bill aimed at pressuring the Boy Scouts of America to lift its ban on gay members by making the organization ineligible for nonprofit tax breaks cleared its first vote on Wednesday in the California Legislature.

The Senate Governance and Finance Committee voted 5 to 2 to move the first-of-its-kind bill to the Senate Appropriations Committee for review.

The Youth Equality Act, sponsored by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Long Beach, would deny tax-exempt status to youth groups that discriminate on the basis of gender identity, race, sexual orientation, nationality, religion or religious affiliation.

That means those groups would have to pay corporate taxes on donations, membership dues, camp fees and other sources of income, as well as sales taxes on food, beverages and homemade items sold at fundraisers.

The proposal was written with the Boy Scouts and its exclusion of gay members and troop leaders in mind, but its language also would require other youth groups to revisit membership policies for transgender and atheist members.

If the Appropriations Committee passes the bill, it would require two-thirds approval from the full Senate before it could be sent to the California Assembly for consideration.

There was no immediate comment from the Boy Scouts of America. Conservative legal aid groups have said they would sue if the bill gets enacted into law because it penalizes groups based on their beliefs.

The Boy Scouts of America has said it plans to submit a resolution on rescinding its gay ban to the group’s national council in May.

Issue 20.07: Jillian Michaels

By : Anonymous
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Jillian Michaels will Maximize Your Life in Clearwater and Melbourne, Hillsborough kills DPR talks-again, Group supports Scouts’ gay ban in Orlando, Darden Rice seeks St. Pete Council seat, local news, celebrity interviews, and much, much more!

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Chipotle pulls Boy Scout sponsorship over gay ban

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Chipotle Mexican Grill has pulled its sponsorship of Utah’s upcoming “Scout-O-Rama” due to the Boy Scouts of America policy excluding gays and lesbians.

The popular Colorado-based restaurant chain initially signed on to provide about $4,200 worth of coupons to the Utah Boy Scouts’ annual event. Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold says the company rescinded the offer Tuesday due the Boy Scouts of America’s long-standing ban on gays.

Chipotle’s anti-discrimination policy states that the company should not support organizations that exclude based on sexual orientation. Arnold said the sponsorship pledge slipped through the cracks. When company leaders found out, they nixed the idea.

The executive of the Boy Scouts’ Great Salt Lake Council, Rick Barnes, says he respects Chipotle’s decision. He says sponsorship for the May 4 Scout-O-Rama remain strong even without the restaurant’s coupons.

Madonna urges Boy Scouts to lift anti-gay ban

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Wearing a replica of one of the organization’s uniforms, Madonna called on the Boy Scouts to lift its ban on gays while also calling for a “revolution” to prevent discrimination and abuse of the gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual community.

Speaking Saturday night at the GLAAD Media Awards, Madonna started off in a mischievous mood. She joked that she wanted to become a part of the Boy Scouts herself, but was turned down, even though she had the qualifications.

“I can build a fire. I know how to pitch a tent,” said Madonna, sporting a Boy Scouts troop leader hat and a blue shirt and shorts set that included replicas of Boy Scout badges.

“I can rescue kittens from trees. Most importantly, I know how to scout for boys,” she said, before adding, “I think they should change their stupid rules.”

(MORE: Madonna’s Iconic Conical Bra Goes On Display)

The Boy Scouts of America does not permit openly gay people to serve in the organization - a decision that has come under increasing fire over the years.

Later, she got serious as she talked about the conflicts in the world and of the bullying of young gay, lesbian and transgender people.

“When I think about young kids in America who are being bullied and tortured, who are taking their own lives because they feel alone and judged, outcast and misunderstood, I want to sit down and cry a river of tears,” Madonna said.

Noting that she has teenagers herself, she said, “It’s an atrocity to me, I don’t accept it.”

Later she said, “I don’t know about you, but I can’t take this (expletive) anymore. That is why I want to start a revolution. It’s 2013 people. We live in America, land of the free and home of the brave? That’s a question, not a statement.”

(MORE: A Q&A with the Oscar-nominated director of How to Survive a Plague)

Madonna was on hand to give the Vito Russo Award to CNN anchor Anderson Cooper. She lauded Cooper for standing up for the rights of others.

Also honored by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation was the NBC musical series Smash, the documentary How To Survive a Plague, and The Amazing Race. Brett Ratner was also given the Ally Award - a turnaround from 2011, when the organization condemned the director for using an anti-gay slur, and he stepped down from a plan to direct the 2012 Academy Awards in the ensuing controversy.

Since then, Ratner has worked with the organization and made a public service announcement to promote equality.

June 2010: N + W Briefs

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Surgery not required to change passport gender
Transgender travelers no longer will need surgery in order to change their stated genders on U.S. passports. A transgender person will just need to show a physician’s certification that the applicant has “undergone appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition’’ to declare a new gender on a passport, according to the State Department.

Gates: Veto possible of military gay ban bill
President Barack Obama could end up vetoing legislation that would lift the ban on gays serving openly in the military. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters that Obama probably still would veto an upcoming spending bill that includes a repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”—if the bill also contains money for defense projects Obama believes are wasteful.

Puerto Rico panel to investigate hate crimes
A special committee to investigate hate crimes has been created in Puerto Rico. Pedro Julio Serrano, spokesman for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said 25 slayings of gay and transgender people in the past eight years may have been motivated by bias. “It’s sort of an epidemic,’’ Serrano said. “It’s too much to be ignored.’’

Candidate for Senate tells Watermark his stance on LGBT issues

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KendrickMeekAbstr_104878742.jpgWith another election year upon us, television campaigns and newspaper ads for politicians running for various positions have flooded our daily lives. While Florida faces many issues important to all residents, Watermark wants to focus on specific LGBT issues.

Congressman Kendrick Meek, Democratic candidate for the United States Senate took a few minutes to speak with Watermark to discuss some of the tough issues that are important to our readers. Here are his answers to questions pertinent to Florida’s LGBT community:

WATERMARK: What is your position on repealing the Gay ban in the military?
Kendrick Meek: The last three years, I’ve supported repealing “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” General Colin Powell said that it was the wrong decision when they made the decision [to implement it]. The Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mullin has said that it has nothing to do with the defense of the country. If we ask our men and women to be honorable and to be truthful with the people that they serve within this country, the last thing that we should ask them to do is lie about their orientation. That has nothing to do with their commitment and level of service to the country. So, I believe it will make it through the Congress. I’m in support of [repealing] it..

Why do you support same-sex adoption?
Florida is the only state in the union that denies (same-sex) couples from adopting children. Florida has one of the largest waiting lists on homes to place kids out of foster care. I don’t agree with the gay adoption ban. I think it has nothing to do with having a child grow up in a home where people love that child and are willing to take care of that child and are willing to make sure that child goes to college and become an adult.

To have adults willing to raise children in this state is far better than having a child in a foster home. All due respect to foster parents. Eight and nine kids in a house that are going to be released at the age of 18—I can tell you that at age 18 I wasn’t ready to be released from anything. I needed that parental involvement. If adoptions [by same-sex couples] can take place in states like Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia—and Florida seems to be the only hold out—It speaks more to political agendas versus making sure that those children are taken care of.

How do you compare to Jeff Greene (D-Palm Beach) when it comes to the economic struggles facing middle class families today?

Well, I’m proven. I’ve taken the tough votes and I’ve taken the tough positions in creating job opportunities. I have a 100% Sierra Club rating which will give me more credentials than anyone else in this race, including Jeff Greene who has no credentials. He just moved to the state of Florida in 2008. He’s only voted four times in the history of his life and has only voted once democratic and he’s going to ask democrats to go out and vote for him?

When you look at this, you have to look at it from the standpoint: Can you trust those that are running? Can you trust them to do what they said would do? We’ve amended the state constitution to make class sizes smaller for children and for teachers. I’ve gone out there and I’ve fought on behalf of the stimulus package and never backed away from the stimulus package as being a part of bringing about equal opportunities here in the state. I took the step on healthcare. I said that it was important that we pass healthcare legislation. I am on the only major candidate in this race who not only said it, but did it.

[Republican Senate candidates] Gov. Charlie Crist and Mark Rubio want to see it repealed. I have good history on my side and also a bright future on my side. With Mr. Greene, there’s a question mark. He says that he can create jobs because he knows what it means to sign the front of a paycheck.

Well guess what, being the representative on behalf of the people of the state of Florida is not just about signing the paycheck because the people you’re going to be representing are going to be signing the back of the paycheck. You have to understand the struggles of their family, you have to understand the struggle of their community, you’ve got to  understand the challenges to veterans, all of these things.

Why do you support a woman’s right to choose on abortion?
I support a woman’s right to choose because I think it’s hypocritical for a male dominated legislature or Congress to have extra steps for women but not extra steps for men. We should allow women to make their own decisions on what they do with their bodies and we should stay out of it. I have a 100% Planned Parenthood record and I can’t say the same about my opponent because he has no record.