New Poll: Majority of Americans Oppose DOMA

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According to a recent survey conducted by The Center for American Progress, 53 percent of Americans support the repeal of the discriminatory so-called “Defense of Marriage Act.”

The poll shows an even greater majority of Americans no longer supporting section 3 of the act, which unfairly denies legally married same-sex couples the same rights and benefits as their straight counterparts.

According to the poll, 59 percent of Americans oppose section 3. Only 34 percent say they still support same-sex couple discrimination.

Race wise, the poll shows Blacks and Hispanics leading the way when it comes to opposing section 3. The poll says an overwhelming 65 percent of Black Americans surveyed oppose section 3, followed by 61 percent of Hispanic Americans. 57 percent of white Americans say they also oppose the measure.

A whopping 62 percent of all Americans surveyed say they believe DOMA is discrimination. Only 34 percent of Americans believe the  act is fair.

The nation’s highest court  will hear two days worth of oral arguments in cases challenging DOMA,  as well as California’s Prop 8 measure, next month.

The arguments are set for March 26th and 27th.

Click HERE to see the full survey.

Mormon-Owned Marriott joins DOMA repeal effort

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Marriott International Inc. has joined a coalition of companies calling for the repeal of the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act.”

According to the L.A. Times,”David Rodriguez, an executive vice president at Marriott and its chief human resources officer, was quoted by the HRC as saying, “We are proud of our longstanding commitment to diversity, inclusion and equal treatment of all our employees within our benefits programs. Joining the business coalition for DOMA repeal affirms that commitment.”

The company’s support for the repeal may or may not raise eyebrows depending on the circles you swim in. On one hand current CEO Bill Marriott as well as several other controlling parties are devout members of the LDS church. On the other hand, “Marriott has explained that he personally believed that marriage was between a man and a woman. But he said he does not mix his views on the subject with operation of the business.”

“We have to take care of our people, regardless of their sexual orientation or anything else,” Bill Marriott told the Business Insider last year .”We have all the American values: the values of hard work, the values of integrity, the values of fairness and respect.”

According to the HRC,”The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) singles out lawfully married same-sex couples for unequal treatment under federal law.  This law discriminates in two important ways.  First, Section 2 of DOMA purports to allow states to refuse to recognize valid civil marriages of same-sex couples.  Second, Section 3 of the law carves all same-sex couples, regardless of their marital status, out of all federal statutes, regulations, and rulings applicable to all other married people—thereby denying them over 1,100 federal benefits and protections. ”

The Times article goes on to point out that,”The official stance of the Mormon church is against gay marriage, and Mormons poured a lot of money and other resources into backing Proposition 8, the 2008 California measure that banned gay marriages in the state.”

Interestingly, according to The Christian Post, former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney rejoined the board of directors of Marriott International in December. “Marriott International, known as the Marriott Corporation until 1993, was founded in 1927 by John Willard Marriott, a close friend of Romney’s father,” the Post reports.

Click HERE to learn more about the coalition.

a.l.p.h.a. to Offer HIV Testing at the College of Southern Idaho

a.l.p.h.a. (Allies Linked for the Prevention of HIV and AIDS) will be offering rapid oral HIV testing on the CSI campus in Twin Falls on Wednesday, April 4th, from 11:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., room 247 inside the Student Union Building.

There is no charge for the test and clients can know their results in 20 minutes. No appointment is necessary and the event is open to the public.

Allies Linked for the Prevention of HIV and AIDS opened its doors on September 1st, 2003, located in a tiny space above the Flying M Coffeehouse in downtown Boise. a.l.p.h.a. became a comfortable referral center for HIV testing and counseling, STD/STI screening, support groups, workshops, and training. a.l.p.h.a. developed an educational outreach program approved by the Idaho Department of Education, and has helped thousands of people in Idaho “Know Their Status.”

In late 2009, a.l.p.h.a. opened its first satellite office in Twin Falls. Since opening its doors, it has grown from a small storefront on Main Street to its current multi-room office located at 213 3rd Ave East.

Besides HIV testing, the all volunteer led organization also offers free education classes regarding HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), support programs and free prevention materials.

Over the past three years a.l.p.h.a. has participated in several events on the CSI campus including World AIDS Day activities and testing, an AIDS walk and volunteers have made several classroom presentations regarding HIV and AIDS.

Wednesday’s event will mark a new partnership between CSI’s Community Service Council and a.l.p.h.a. in order to provide once-a-month on campus testing at the college and its satellite locations.

To set up an appointment or to find out more call 734-3842.

Speaking of a.l.p.h.a., you might have noticed all the dust flying at its Boise location. Recently the decision was made to combine the Exposure thrift shop with the a.l.p.h.a. office, located at 1009 W. Bannock St.

According to a recent newsletter, the move is a win-win for  the organization,”We not only save a money, but now 100% of Exposure sales revenues will directly benefit a.l.p.h.a. programs. Plus, Exposure has already introduced a.l.p.h.a.’s mission to new supporters whom may otherwise not have heard of us. Really, any way you look at it – this is a GREAT move!”

There will be a open house on Thursday, April 5th, from 5-8pm to celebrate the changes. No RSVP necessary!

Besides the thrift store, a.l.p.h.a. also operates a food bank for HIV+ individuals in the Treasure Valley. a.l.p.h.a. is a safe place for those who are HIV+ to gather and collect weekly nutritional items as well as socialize.

Monetary donations  to help support a.l.p.h.a. and its mission are always welcome.

For more information call 208-424-7799 or visit the a.l.p.h.a. website by clicking HERE.

Watch: Parents of Transgender Youth Say “It Gets Better”

In what is being touted as the first “It Gets Better” video of its kind, the In the Life Media produced video features,”parents from PFLAG’s support group for families of transgender children sharing their personal struggles to understand their child’s needs and find support for both themselves and their families.”

According to the producers website,”In The Life Media was founded in 1992 on the premise that visibility in media is vital to achieving equality and social justice for LGBT people. IN THE LIFE, produced by In The Life Media, was the first and remains the only national LGBT issue-oriented television program to feature the faces, voices and stories shaping the gay experience.”

Ron Paul: No Real Threat To LGBT Community But Not a Friend Either

Make no mistake about it: Idahoans love Ron Paul. Gay people, straight people, libertarians, conservatives and even a few progressives agree that he’d make a great candidate if he weren’t so, as one friend put it, “out there.”

It’s kind of hard to argue with a guy who believes that the government should get out of the drug war business, a guy who opposed the occupation of  BOTH Afghanistan and Iraq and who believes in maximizing personal freedom.

When it comes to issues of equality though, Paul has been kind with his votes, but not so kind with his political philosophies.

Paul’s LGBT supporters are quick to point out that he not only voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2004, he also voted to repeal the Pentagon’s discriminatory  Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.

Dig a little deeper though and one finds enough material to set off a glitter bomb.

John Becker with Truth Wins Out writes,”On his best days, Ron Paul supports the so-called “states’ rights” position regarding marriage equality. On his worst, he has specifically bragged about his efforts to obstruct and attack LGBT people’s civil rights and gone out of his way to slander and mischaracterize LGBT people.”

Becker then goes on to list a few less-than-LGBT-friendly facts:

1. “Paul’s Iowa state director is Mike Heath, a long-term Christian-right activist who formerly served as the board chairman of an SPLC-certified anti-gay hate group known as “Americans for Truth About Homosexuality.”

2. “Paul has a long history of racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic comments.”

3. “Paul supports the so-called “states’ rights” approach to marriage, but interestingly, only for LGBT couples.”

4.”Paul’s presidential campaign issued a flyer that boasted about the candidate’s efforts to introduce legislation that would remove challenges to the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act from the federal court system.”

5. “Paul has a long history of racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic comments.”

6. “Paul opposes the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would prohibit discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity by civilian, nonreligious employers.”

That last item should ring a bell to Idaho’s LGBT community. It’s the federal version of the same policy that we have been fighting for here in Idaho for the past six years.

According to Gay City News,”Paul’s scores on a number of issues with Human Rights Campaign have averaged just over 33 out of 100 over the past five Congresses and ranged from zero in the 107th Congress to 59 in the 111th Congress, which included 2009 and 2010.”

Slate Magazine’s David Weigel writes,” In 1994 Paul argued that “those who don’t commit sodomy, who don’t get blood transfusions, and who don’t swap needles, are virtually assured of not getting AIDS unless they are deliberately infected by a malicious gay.” The same year, he doubted that older gays worried too much if they got AIDS; “sex is the center of their lives,” he explained, and anyway, “they enjoy the attention and pity that comes with being sick.”

Not exactly the type of guy you would want hanging out at your PFLAG group.

Still, most LGBT leaders consider Paul a small threat when it comes to more mainstream candidates like Rick Santorum.

Sex advice columnist Dan Savage tells Weigal,“There is no comparing Paul and Santorum,  because Paul is a leave-us-alone libertarian. Ron is older than my father, far less toxic than Santorum, and, as he isn’t beloved of religious conservatives, he isn’t out there stoking the hatreds of our social and political enemies.” he explained. “Ron may not like gay people, and may not want to hang out with us or use our toilets, but he’s content to leave us the fuck alone.”

Idaho’s LGBT community will get their chance to mingle with Paul and his supporters twice this week. The first, this Thursday, February 16th at Roper Auditorium. Doors open at 10:45 a.m., and Paul is scheduled to speak at 11:30 a.m.

Paul will also be speaking in Boise this Saturday at a yet-to-be scheduled event.
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