PHOENIX REPORT – February 09 2012

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Howard Brown Health Center has started a new project that allows gay and bisexual couples to get tested for HIV in a new way, together. The project called, Testing Together allows couples to get tested and receive their HIV test results with one another. In the past, due to confidentiality restrictions, significant others were not allowed to be present when someone got their test results, but in the new research project started by researchers at Emory university, couples are allowed to not only receive their test results but to work with a counselor to talk about sexual health in a relationship and work out a strategic prevention plan. I spoke to Beau Gratzer, the researcher overseeing the project, who said that having this option allows couples to open a dialogue about their sexual relationship that is often avoided. To find out more about the project go to Testingtogether.org or go to Howard Browns walk in clinic at 4025 N. Sheridan Road to get tested, together.

Equality Illinois appointed its first communications liaison last week according to Chicago Phoenix. Illinois largest LGBT rights advocacy group brought Chicago Native Mitchell Locin (Low-sin) into the position. A former White House correspondent and an editor at Chicago Tribune, he will assume the role in a move to signal the organizations efforts to share the challenges they face in expanding LGBT equality. Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois. Said He will help carry our advocacy for LGBT equality to all media in print and broadcasting, on the Internet and through social media. We are pleased that he is coming out of retirement for this important mission.

Illinois Representative Greg Harris introduced a bill Wednesday that would allow same-sex marriage in Illinois. The Religious Freedom and marriage Fairness act also co-sponsored by Rep. Deb Mell and Kelly Cassidy is the latest of Harris’ attempts to introduce a bill for marriage equality in the state. If passed, the new law would amend the Illinois Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act, allowing the voluntary conversion of a civil union to a marriage.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional serving no purpose other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians. The ruling was made by a three-judge panel on a 2-1 decision and reaffirms the now-retired U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walkers 2010 decision to strike down the ban. Proposition 8 is the 2008 measure banning same-sex marriage in California. The decision, while great news in California, limits the chances that the case will see the U.S. Supreme court who may wait until a more sweeping case comes along. The decision comes more than a year after the appeals court panel heard arguments in the case.

In Cleveland Ohio two men are suing the city, saying they were punched and pinned to the ground by an off-duty police officer before being called offensive names and jailed without pants. Steven Ondo and Jonathan Simcox were reportedly attacked by an off-duty officer- who was also a neighbor-who had them arrested after he complained about an argument in the street. A week later the men were arrested by a SWAT team in their home who denied them the chance to get dressed, using derogatory terms and telling the men that gays dont get to wear pants to jail. Ondo, 22, and Simcox, 25, filed the U.S. District Court lawsuit against the city and its police last month and asked for unspecified damages. They said their goal was to deter biased treatment by police.

With Washington State poised to legalize same-sex marriage, one well-known US business icon has publicly endorsed the legislation. Coffee giant Starbucks announced at the end of last month that it supports the same-sex marriage legislation. Executive Vice president, Kalen Holmes made a statement that the company is proud to join other leading Northwest employers in support of equality for same sex couples. Not everyone is excited about the company’s announcement. Pastor Steven Andrew of USA Christian Ministries has called for a boycott of the company by all Christians according to King Five News, in Seattle. In a letter on the ministries website the pastor calls for all churches to cease carrying the brand and for Christians to stop supporting stores as the company has quote turned against god with the support. Starbucks is one of more than 100 Washington businesses, including Microsoft and Nike, who pledged support of the legislation.

One of Wall Street’s most high-profile executives has joined the ranks of those speaking out in favor of same-sex marriage. Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of Goldman Sachs, released a new video for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy group,

According to HRC the rare public display of support on a highly controversial issue. is further proof that a diversity of Americans are coming to the same conclusion. To view the full video visit HRC.org

In International News:

According to a study in China There may be as many as 16 million women on the Chinese mainland who are married to homosexual men. Professor Zhang Bei-chuan of Qingdao (Queeng-dao) University, an authority on AIDS and HIV, says that due to traditional family values in China, about 90 percent of homosexual men get married because of pressure to conform. The wives of these men often suffer in silence and as a result, a 29-year-old magazine editor in Xi’an (Shi-an), Shaanxi(Shan-zee) province named Xiao (Show) Yao started the website Homeland of gays’ wives to establish support and public awareness. While the contrys profile on the GLBT community has risen over time, social restrictions often trump this progress. Homeland of Gays wives has 1200 registered users.

In Entertainment News:

A division of the American family Association called onemillionmoms.com is asking for JC Pennys to replace Ellen DeGeneres as the companies new spokesperson because she is a lesbian. JC Penny recently rebranded itself and hired DeGeneres to represent the change. Onemillionmoms.com said in an online statement, Funny that J.C. Penney thinks hiring an open homosexual spokesperson will help their business when most of their customers are traditional families. JC Pennys stood up for the decision when Company President Michael Francis called her one of the most fun and vibrant personalities in entertainment. GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian rights group launched a counter-campaign which has attracted more that 25,000 signatures to keep the talk show host. On the Ellen show, DeGeneres made a statement saying, Here are the values that I stand for, I sand for honesty equality, Kindness, compassion, treating people the way you want to be treated, and helping those in need, to me those are traditional values, thats what I stand for. Visit GLAAD.org to show your support.

The New York Giants made a last-grasp victory over the New England Patriots on Sundays Super Bowl 46, bringing in 111 Million viewers. Madonna’s halftime performance made its own victory bringing in 114 million viewers. On the heels of her halftime performance at the most watched Super Bowl of all time; Madonna has announced a tour that will cover five continents and more than 20 cities. The tour will start in on May 29 in Tel Aviv and run through November, ending in Miami. Chicago fans beware, madge will come thought the windy city on September 19. Tickets go on sale February 13 on Ticketmaster and Livenation.

For more information please visit http://www.gaychicagotv.com

 


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