WASHINGTON: Microsoft Heads Ballmer & Gates Donate To Marriage
Microsoft founder Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer have each donated $100,000 to Washington state’s marriage equality movement.The AP cites Zach Silk, campaign manager for Washington United for Marriage, who says the checks were cut on Friday and are being reported to the state Public Disclosure Commission Monday afternoon. The Washington state Legislature passed the law allowing same-sex marriage earlier this year, and it was signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire in Feb. But an effort to put that law up to a vote was successful, meaning Referendum 74 — seeking to overturn the law allowing same-sex marriage in Washington state — is on the ballot in November.
In November last year, Microsoft joined in the filing of an amicus brief supporting the overturn of DOMA.
WASHINGTON: Gay Marriage Blocked As [Homophobes] Submit Signatures For Referendum
The Huffington Post reports:
Washington’s gay marriage law was blocked from taking effect Wednesday, as opponents filed more than 200,000 signatures seeking a public vote on the issue in November.
Preserve Marriage Washington submitted the signatures just a day before the state was to begin allowing same-sex marriages. State officials will review the signatures over the next week to determine if proposed Referendum 74 will qualify for a public vote, though the numbers suggest the measure will make the ballot easily.
“The current definition of marriage works and has worked,” said Joseph Backholm, the chair of Preserve Marriage Washington, as he stood next to stacked boxes of petitions.
The law, passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire earlier this year, would make Washington the seventh state to have legal same-sex marriages.
National groups have already promised time and money to fight the law, including the Washington, D.C.-based National Organization for Marriage, which was involved in ballot measures that overturned same-sex marriage in California and Maine.
Gay marriage supporters, expecting that the referendum would qualify, have already been raising money to protect the law. Zach Silk, campaign manager for Washington United for Marriage, expects both sides to raise millions of dollars.
“It’s fair to say it’s going to be an extremely expensive race,” Silk said.
The issue has implications on ballots across the nation.
President Barack Obama recently declared his support for gay marriage. In Washington state, the referendum has split the state’s two candidates for governor. Maryland legalized gay marriage this year as well, but that state is also poised to have a public vote this fall.
A Monthly HIV Durg For Prevention? It Has Few Side Effects So Far
NAM AIDSMap reports:
The first trial in humans of an injectable, once-a-month formulation of an HIV drug has found that drug levels were maintained at a level that should in theory be high enough to protect recipients against infection, and that the drug has so far produced very few side effects. The research was presented at the 19th Conference on Opportunistic Infections (CROI), in Seattle.
The small trial at the St Stephen’s AIDS Trust (SSAT) at London’s Chelsea and Westminster Hospital gave 27 women and six men a single injection of the long-acting formulation of the drug rilpivirine, which was licensed as an oral HIV treatment last year as Edurant and is also in the tenofovir/FTC/rilpivirine pill Complera. Rilpivirine is a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor (NNRTI) drug and is especially suitable to be turned into a long-lasting injectable form because the daily dose of it required to suppress HIV is very small.
No other HIV drugs are currently in a usable long-lasting injectable form, which will limit the use of long-acting rilpivirine (RPV-LA) in combination therapy, but it could conceivably make an ideal candidate as a prevention drug, as people would not need to remember to take it every day. Other preventative drugs already formulated as monthly injections include the injectable contraceptiveDepo Provera and some anti-psychotic drugs.
SSAT recruited 27 HIV-negative women aged 18 to 50, more than 50% of them black African or Caribbean, for the trial and gave them one of three doses of RPV-LA as an intramuscular injection: 300, 600 or 1200mg (the oral dose of RPV is 25 mg/day). Drug levels were then measured over the course of the next twelve weeks in blood, vaginal fluid and in vaginal tissue samples. A substudy gave six men the 600mg dose and measured RPV-LA levels in blood, rectal fluid and rectal tissue samples.
Thirty days after injection, blood and vaginal fluid levels of rilpivirine were about 60 nanograms per millilitre (ng/ml) in both blood and vaginal fluid in women given the 600mg dose, and about 80 and 120ng/ml respectively in women given the 1200mg dose. Blood levels in men given the 600mg dose were about 70ng/ml at 30 days. For comparison, the trough levels of rilpivirine in people taking daily oral doses is about 140ng/ml; but the EC50 (the amount needed to reduce viral replication by 50%) in newly-infected T-cells is 27ng/ml. It is thought these levels should be adequate to prevent HIV infection.
Over the time period, levels of drug seen were about 80% higher in vaginal fluid than in blood in women taking the 300mg dose and about 20% higher in the other two doses: conversely, drug levels in vaginal tissue were about 25% lower than in blood, and 50% lower up to day 14 in the 300mg dose group.
Drug levels in rectal fluid were low but it is thought this was due to sample contamination: concentrations in rectal tissue were about the same as concentrations in blood.
The trial participants complained of very few side-effects apart from tenderness and some swelling at the injection site. There were no allergic reactions, psychological symptoms or effects on heart rate. Safety is of course a major consideration in a drug that remains in the body for up to twelve weeks.
Researcher Akil Jackson said, “There is an obvious need in HIV prevention and treatment for formulations that reduce the need for the user to depend on daily administration,” but added that these were very preliminary results and did not establish what dose would actually be protective. Further safety and drug-level studies in HIV-negative volunteers are to be conducted at the University of Pittsburgh, home of the Microbicide Trials Network, before the drug is given to volunteers with HIV.
WASHINGTON: Protesters Tasered At Rick “Frothy Mix” Santorum Event In Tacoma
WASHINGTON: “Moron Of The Week” Inductee Rick “Frothy Mix” Santorum Plans To Protest Marriage Bill Signing By Gov. Gregoire
USA: WA Gov. Chris Gregoire Talks Marriage Equality, NJ Gov. Chris Christie
WASHINGTON: Westboro Baptist Cult Opts Out Of Protest At Two Young Brothers
The Advocate reports:
The Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church, known for its protests of funerals and LGBT-related events, has now reneged on protesting the funerals for two young brothers.
Church leaders initially said that the deaths of Charlie Powell and Braden Powell was a retaliation from God over the passage of marriage equality laws in Washington state. A Seattle radio DJ gave Fred Phelps Jr., the founder of the church, a chance to present his views, but MSNBC reports that Phelps could only speak on air if he agreed to call off the protest. Phelps tweeted after his interview that the protest would no longer be taking place.
The Powell boys were killed Sunday during a supervised visit with their father, Josh Powell. Powell blew up the home, resulting in their deaths.
WASHINGTON: State House Passes Marriage Equality Bill 55-43
The Advocate reports:
Following the Senate, the Washington House voted 55-43 today to approve marriage equality and send the bill to the governor, who has said she will sign it.
A spokeswoman for Gov. Christine Gregoire said Wednesday afternoon that she expects to sign the bill early next week, making Washington the seventh state plus the District of Columbia to legalize same-sex marriage.
A round of amendments from Republicans looking to stop the bill all failed. One of the failed amendments had tried to require a referendum before same-sex marriage could be approved.
Sen. Ed Murray, the gay man who has led much of the push for same-sex marriage in the state, said he and others are already gearing up for an expected referendum in November spurred by a petition drive. He told TVW that first a “decline to sign” drive would try to keep a repeal measure off the ballot.
Republican representative Jay Rodne delivered an impassioned condemnation of the marriage equality bill, reminding the House that “what we do today can be undone by a future legislature” or at the ballot box.
Rodne called the bill “progressive reengineering” and “an exercise of power that contravenes human nature.” He claimed it harms children and families.
“Children who are going to be brought into this world in the context of a same-sex marriage will have their relationship with one of their biological parents forever severed by force of law,” he lamented.
Democratic representative Jamie Pedersen, who is gay, is in a domestic partnership, which Washington approved under a law known as “everything but marriage.” He said his four children deserve to know “their daddy and their papa have made that kind of a lifelong commitment to each other.”
“Marriage is the word that society uses to describe a committed lifelong relationship,” said Pedersen.
Democratic representative Laurie Jinkins said the bill will strengthen families, especially hers. She said her partner of 23 years and their son helped motivate her yes vote.
“All we do here — education, health care, jobs — we do all of those things for one simple beautiful reason,” she said. “It’s for our families.”
WASHINGTON: Cashmere’s Gay Teen Rafael Morelos Took His Own Life After Anti-Gay Bullying
The Advocate reports:
Friends and family gathered to mourn a 14-year-old student from Cashmere, Wash. who committed suicide last week after he was bullied for being gay. His death is at least the fourth suicide reported this year among LGBT youth.
The Wenatchee Worldreports that Rafael Morelos hanged himself in late January after enduring repeated bullying, including a fake Facebook page reportedly set up to taunt him online. His mother, Malinda Merelos, said she had known her son was gay for a few years, but didn’t know he was being bullied.
“He pretended everything was OK,” she said. “Sometimes he acted strong, but inside, he was dying, little by little.”
Rob Cline, principal at Cashmere Middle School, where Morelos was enrolled, said school officials had taken “appropriate action” earlier in the year when Morelos was bullied, but declined to say what action the district took to combat antigay attacks.
“Student discipline is not something I am at liberty to share,” Cline said.
The investigation is currently closed, but local police officials have said it would be reopened if the school or family presents evidence of bullying.
WASHINGTON: State Senate Passes Marriage Equality Bill 28-21
The Huffington Post reports:
The Washington state Senate on Wednesday passed a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage, setting the stage for the state to become the seventh to allow gay and lesbian couples to wed.
The measure now heads to the House, which is expected to approve it. Gov. Chris Gregoire supports the measure and has said she will sign it into law, though opponents have promised to challenge it at the ballot with a referendum.
The packed public galleries burst into applause as the Senate passed the measure on a 28-21 vote Wednesday night after nearly an hour and a half of debate. Four Republicans crossed party lines and voted with majority Democrats for the measure. Three Democrats voted against it.
Democratic Sen. Ed Murray, the bill’s sponsor, said he knew same-sex marriage “is as contentious any issue that this body has considered in its history.”
Lawmakers who vote against gay marriage “are not, nor should they be accused of bigotry” he said.
“Those of us who support this legislation are not, and we should not be accused of, undermining family life or religious freedom,” said Murray, a gay lawmaker from Seattle who has spearheaded past gay rights and domestic partnership laws in the state. “Marriage is how society says you are a family.”
Nearly a dozen amendments were introduced, including several that passed that strengthen legal protections for religious groups and organizations.
Sen. Dan Swecker, R-Rochester argued that the proposed law alters the definition of marriage and “will lead to the silencing of those who believe in traditional marriage.”
Even though a referendum clause amendment was rejected, opponents have already promised to file a challenge, which can’t be done until after it is passed by the full Legislature and signed into law by Gregoire. Opponents then must turn in 120,577 signatures by June 6.
If opponents aren’t able to collect enough signatures, gay and lesbian couples would be able to be wed starting in June. Otherwise, they would have to wait until the results of a November election.
Before last week, it wasn’t certain the Senate would have the support to pass the measure, as a handful of Democrats remained undecided.
But after the first public hearing on the issue Jan. 23, a previously undecided Democratic senator, Mary Margaret Haugen of Camano Island, said she would be the 25th and deciding vote in support of the bill, all but ensuring its passage.
Gay marriage opponent Jane Sterland, 56, stood outside the Senate gallery before the debate started. Sterland said she was disappointed by the light turnout of same-sex marriage foes.
“It saddens me that there aren’t more Christians here tonight,” she said. “I’m just very grieved about this whole thing. I want to be here for prayer support against this issue.”
Alex Guenser, a 26-year-old engineer, drove down to Olympia from his Redmond home with his boyfriend to watch the Senate debate.
“I feel like this is the hill, the crest of the marriage equality fight. And after this passes (in the Senate), it’s all going to be smoother sailing from now on,” Guenser said. “I’m really excited to have Washington pass this. I’m excited for my state.”
Same-sex marriage is legal in New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia.
Lawmakers in New Jersey and Maryland are expected to debate gay marriage this year, and Maine could see a gay marriage proposal on the November ballot.
The debate over same-sex marriage in Washington state has changed significantly since lawmakers passed Washington’s Defense of Marriage Act in 1998, which banned gay marriage. The constitutionality of DOMA was ultimately upheld by the state Supreme Court in 2006, but earlier that year, a gay civil rights measure passed after nearly 30 years of failure.
The quick progression of domestic partnership laws in the state came soon after, with a domestic partnership law in 2007, and two years of expansion that culminated in 2009 with the so-called “everything but marriage law” that was upheld by voters after opponents filed a referendum to challenge it.
Under the measure that passed Wednesday, the more than 9,300 couples currently registered in domestic partnerships would have two years to either dissolve their relationship or get married. Domestic partnerships that aren’t ended prior to June 30, 2014, would automatically become marriages.
Domestic partnerships would remain for senior couples where at least one partner is 62 years old or older. That provision was included to help seniors who don’t remarry out of fear they could lose certain pension or Social Security benefits.
The gay marriage bill is Senate Bill 6239.