Tuesday, April 30, 2013

THURSDAY: Ocean State To Tenth State

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Pat Robertson Praises ESPN Sportscaster

"Somehow we’ve said if it’s heterosexual fornication, it’s bad; if it’s homosexual fornication — that used to be called an abomination in the Bible — now it’s a protected civil right. And so somebody that says that that kind of conduct is sinful is now being pilloried in the press. He’s telling the truth! This is what the Bible says! These media types have chosen a lifestyle that takes them outside the protection of God. But don’t tell somebody that he can’t speak specifically about what the Christian faith says about certain conduct. There isn’t anything bigoted about that. So, our hat’s off to somebody who’s brave enough to say it. But, whew, let’s hope the people at ESPN will man up and defend their guy for speaking what is truth." - Pat Robertson, speaking today on the 700 Club.

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GENDA Passes In NY Assembly AGAIN

Via press release from the Empire State Pride Agenda:
For the 6th time, the New York State Assembly has just passed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), basic civil rights protections for transgender New Yorkers. Our pro-LGBT assemblymembers deserve our deep gratitude for continuing to make this bill a priority. Now, we need the State Senate to carry out the will of nearly four fifths of the population and ACT!
The bill has been stopped in the state Senate every time.

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Athlete Ally Thanks Jason Collins

Featuring Hudson Taylor and Brendon Ayanbadego.

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Paul Ryan Endorses Gay Adoption

At a Wisconsin town hall meeting, Rep. Paul Ryan said that while he still opposes same-sex marriage, he now supports gay adoption. Rebecca Leber and Zack Ford have the scoop at Think Progress:
Confronted by an audience member about his anti-LGBT voting record — Ryan earned a “zero percent” score on gay rights from the Human Rights Campaign — the House Budget Committee chairman admitted that gays and lesbians could provide a loving home to “orphans.” In 1999, Ryan voted against adoption for same-sex couples in the District of Columbia, but said he would vote differently today.
Ryan went on to restate his support for ENDA, although Think Progress notes that he initially lobbied against an early version that was trans-inclusive before voting for for the weakened 1997 bill. Hit the link for more.

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AIDS Walk NYC: May 19th

If you're walking this year, feel free to pitch your donation account in the comments.  Visit AIDS Walk New York for information about participating. 

RELATED: Check out my slideshow from AIDS Walk 2012, which featured speeches from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, and a galaxy of Broadway, Hollywood and television stars.

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Church Sign Of The Day


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Beni & Sam Sparro - Your Body

Australian gay pop singer Sam Sparro's Your Body track is back with a new house mix by Stereogamous. Lovely.

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Billboards Of The Day


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Obama On Collins: I Couldn't Be Prouder

Wingnut sites are losing their shit. Heh.

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Today's Gay Etiquette Question

From Steven Petrow's Civil Behavior column in the New York Times comes this question:
Dear Civil Behavior: I’ve been helping my daughter plan her wedding to her girlfriend and everything’s been going fine — until now. We’re about to address the invitations. The calligrapher is lined up and time is getting a bit short. Here’s the problem. My daughter insists on addressing the women with what I’d call a feminist version of their names. In other words, instead of writing “Mr. and Mrs. Richard Garcia” she wants to write: “Ms. Jane Garcia and Mr. Richard Garcia,” calling out the identity of the woman separately from her husband. I’ve explained that this is incorrect etiquette and that my friends will be confused if not offended. But she won’t listen to me. Do lesbians and gays have different rules for this sort of thing? — New York Mother-in-Law-to-Be.
Give us your answer then hit the link for Petrow's response.

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NEW YORK CITY: Gay Councilman Slams Queens Park Giveaway To Leader Of Anti-Gay Arab Nation

"I was shocked to read in the New York Times that the Bloomberg Administration is negotiating to give NYC parkland away to Sheik Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, an oil billionaire that helps rule a country where gays or lesbians is a crime punishable by death. This is outrageous. This is also a country where gay and lesbian people could be subject to chemical castration. It is totally unacceptable. I urge my colleagues in the City Council and elected officials across the state to join me in saying that New Yorkers won’t do business with a murderous regime and we won’t sell, trade or giveaway our public assets to those who discriminate and participate in human rights abuses." - New York City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Queens), on the plan to build a pro soccer stadium in Flushing Meadows.

The sheik, who is worth an estimated $5B, is the deputy prime minister of the United Arab Emirates. Gothamist has more on the story.
Sheik Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan is close to paying $100 million to bring professional soccer to Queens.  The Times says, "The prospective owners are willing to pay a $100 million expansion fee for the league’s 20th team, which could be called New York City F.C. and begin play in 2016, the two people said. That would more than double the expansion fee of $40 million paid by the Montreal team that entered M.L.S. in 2012." If the deal goes through, MLS will take 13 acres in Flushing Meadows Corona Park—and this is contingent upon the City Council and State Legislature okaying it— with the league replacing the 13 acres of parkland to the community at a location yet to be identified.

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Quote Of The Day: Andy Roddick

"Yesterday was an incredible day for athletes everywhere. Jason Collin’s courage and leadership in coming out reminds me of how important it is for an athlete to be able to be true to him or herself. As an Athlete Ally, I want to support every athlete to feel comfortable and confident being themselves and to make sure that all people - players and fans alike – are welcome and included in tennis.” - Tennis superstar Andy Roddick, in a press release announcing that he and fellow tennis star Mardy Fish have joined Athlete Ally.

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Texas Attorney General: Domestic Partner Benefits Violate State Constitution

GOP Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott says that any city that offers domestic partner benefits is in violation of the state constitution.
Domestic partnerships, as recognized by the local governments, are close enough to the definition of marriage to violate a constitutional amendment banning same-sex unions that 76 percent of Texas voters approved in 2005, the opinion stated. “By creating domestic partnerships and offering health benefits based on them, the political subdivisions have created and recognized something not established by Texas law,” the opinion said. Lawyers for Austin and Travis County have begun researching the opinion to help political leaders determine if it should be followed. Attorney general opinions attempt to determine how Texas courts would rule on a legal matter, but only the courts have the definitive say on constitutional questions.
Travis County, which has offered such benefits for 16 years, will hold a meeting next week to discuss Abbott's claim.  The Austin City Council will meet with its lawyers but says it has no plan to change its benefits. (Tipped by JMG reader Jeff)

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Dan Savage On Jason Collins' Coming Out: This Feels Almost As Big As DADT Repeal

With Athlete Ally founder Hudson Taylor on the panel.

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Taxi Fares Compared By City

USA Today reports on taxi fares around the nation.
At USA TODAY's request, TaxiFareFinder.com calculated estimated one-mile, five-mile and 10-mile fares in the 60 largest U.S. metropolitan areas. Fares in Honolulu, San Jose and San Francisco are among the highest. Fares in Detroit, Dallas and Pittsburgh are among the lowest.

The most expensive one-mile estimated fares are $8.01 in San Jose and $7.78 in Honolulu and San Francisco. The cheapest? It's $3.70 in Tulsa and $4.35 in Detroit. Honolulu has the highest estimated five- and 10-mile fares — $24.92 and $41.61. The least-expensive estimated five-mile fare is $12.55 in Tulsa; the cheapest estimated 10-mile fare — $19.97 — is in Detroit.
Above are the five mile fares. Hit the link for an interactive chart and the other 40 cities. I'm surprised to see NYC so far down on the list.

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Jason Collins On Good Morning America

Jason Collins appeared on Good Morning America today.
Sitting down with ABC's George Stephanopoulos for his first interview since coming out in a Sports Illustrated editorial published on Monday, Collins admitted that he finds it "kind of mind-boggling" that he became the first active openly gay athlete in major U.S.team sports.

"I never set out to be the first," Collins told Stephanopoulos during an interview that first aired during "Good Morning America" on Tuesday. "You're sort of waiting around for somebody else to, you know, raise their hand. I'm ready to raise my hand but, you know, you still look around like, 'OK, come on, guys.'"
In the clip below, Collins talks about Matthew Shepard: "Every time I put on that jersey I was already making that statement to myself."

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Ellen Cheers Jason Collins

"I'm gonna hug your knees so hard."

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2013 Tony Award Nominees Announced,
Cyndi Lauper Scores Big For Kinky Boots

The 2013 Tony Award nominees were announced in NYC this morning at a press conference hosted by Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Sutton Foster. Topping the list with 13 nominations is the Cyndi Lauper-scored Kinky Boots. Notably shut out was Bette Midler and we've got dueling gays in the Best Leading Actor In A Play category. Via Broadway.com:

Best Musical
A Christmas Story
Bring It On
Kinky Boots

Best Play
Lucky Guy
The Assembled Parties
The Testament of Mary
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Best Revival of a Play
Golden Boy
The Trip to Bountiful
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Best Revival of a Musical
The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Best Leading Actor in a Play
Tom Hanks, Lucky Guy
Nathan Lane, The Nance
Tracy Letts, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
David Hyde Pierce, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Tom Sturridge, Orphans

Best Leading Actress in a Play
Laurie Metcalf, The Other Place
Amy Morton, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Kristine Nielsen, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
Holland Taylor, Ann
Cicely Tyson, The Trip to Bountiful

Best Leading Actor in a Musical
Bertie Carvel, Matilda
Santino Fontana, Cinderella
Rob McClure, Chaplin
Billy Porter, Kinky Boots
Stark Sands, Kinky Boots

Best Leading Actress in a Musical
Stephanie J. Block, The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Carolee Carmello, Scandalous
Valisia LeKae, Motown: The Musical
Patina Miller, Pippin
Laura Osnes, Cinderella

Gay authors Harvey Fierstein (Kinky Boots) and Douglas Carter Beane (Cinderella) are nominated for Best Book. Hit the link for the full list.

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Pet Shop Boys Announce Two NYC Dates, Release First Video From Coming Album

Pet Shop Boys have announced concerts at the Upper West Side's gorgeous Beacon Theatre on September 16th and 17th.  Tickets go on sale this Friday.

RELATED: The Presets and Dragonette will play Terminal 5 on May 8th. Get tickets here.

UPDATE: Via Towleroad, there's the first video from the coming Pet Shop Boys album, Electric, which is due out on July 15th.

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FRC Petitions Pentagon: Don't Stop Christians From Proselytzing Troops

From a Family Research Council petition to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel:
Reports indicate that senior Pentagon officials have recently consulted with radical secularists to formulate a policy that would put military chaplains and other leaders who "promote their personal religious beliefs to their subordinates or to extend preferential treatment for any religion" in danger of court-martial.

Our brave troops deserve better. Subverting the religious freedom of our troops both hurts the morale of our troops and puts our nation at risk by labeling courageous military personnel as enemies.

I urge you to resist the demands of anti-Christian activists who are calling for a court-martial order upon chaplains and service members who share their faith. If Christian chaplains and other troops are censored from offering the full solace of the Gospel, there is no religious freedom in the military.
The attached action alert warns: "If this policy goes forward, Christians within the military who speak of their faith could now be prosecuted as enemies of the state."

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UFO Believers Convene In DC

Do you believe?

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Mariela Castro Gets Her Visa

Cuban LGBT rights activists Mariela Castro has been granted a visa to attend a Philadelphia gay rights forum after having first been denied one by the State Department.
Initially not expected to receive a visa, the official said the case was "looked at again" and "the restriction on her visa has been lifted, which will allow her to travel" to the event on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. Mariela Castro is the director of Cuba's National Center for Sex Education and the niece of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Although she is not gay, she has lobbied for gay rights in Cuba, including the right for same-sex couples to marry and for AIDS awareness. The global conference, sponsored by the Equality Forum, a Philadelphia-based LGBT organization, will highlight the status of gay rights in Cuba.

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Frank Bruni Knows When Gay People Will Stop Talking About People Coming Out

"Many of us want to, and will: when a gay, lesbian or transgendered kid isn’t at special risk of being brutalized or committing suicide. When the federal government outlaws discrimination against people based on sexual orientation, which it still hasn’t done.

"When immigration laws give same-sex couples the same consideration that they do heterosexual ones. When the Defense of Marriage Act crumbles and our committed relationships aren’t relegated to a lesser status, a diminished dignity.

"When a Rutgers coach doesn’t determine that the aptly ugly garnish for hurling basketballs at his players’ heads is the slur 'faggot. When professional football scouts don’t try to ascertain that potential recruits are straight.

"When an athlete like Collins can be honest about himself without he and his co-author having to stress that he’s a guy’s guy, a godly man, someone who stayed mum about himself before now precisely so he wouldn’t disrupt his teams or upset his teammates, someone who’s inhabited locker rooms for 12 seasons already without incident.

"When a gay person’s central-casting earnestness and eloquence aren’t noted with excitement and relief, because his or her sexual orientation needn’t be accompanied by a litany of virtues and accomplishments in order for bigotry to be toppled and a negative reaction to be overcome." - Frank Bruni, writing for the New York Times.

Read the full essay.

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Matt Baume: Marriage News Watch

Clip recap: "We're celebrating some major victories with week, with two more states about to gain the freedom to marry. Civil unions begin in Colorado, and voters appear ready to upgrade that to marriage. Plus, legislation advances in Pennsylvania and Nevada."

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AIDS Group Slams Danish "Cure" Report

Treatment Action Group has a lot of problems with yesterday's story about a possible HIV cure presently under research in Denmark.
Sadly, it seems that one of the authors of the Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics review, Dr. Ole Søgaard, has rather shot himself in the foot by contributing to a wildly irresponsible article in the UK newspaper the Daily Telegraph regarding his group's ongoing research. The article misstates the mechanism of action of HDAC inhibitors (stating that they "strip" HIV DNA from latently infected cells when, at best, they prompt the HIV DNA into transcribing proteins) and uncritically reports Dr. Søgaard's apparent confidence in the ability of panobinostat to reactivate latent HIV; as noted in the Nature Medicine news article linked to above, there are many outstanding questions regarding the ability of HDAC inhibitors to accomplish this task.

The Telegraph also mentions the use of immune-based therapies to prompt the killing of latently infected cells (assuming the cells are successfully induced to express HIV); my best guess is that, in the case of Dr. Søgaard's group, this is a reference to their data on the TLR9 agonist CPG 7909, although the article is unconscionably vague on this point. Also cited, again vaguely, are plans by Lucy Dorrell's research group in the UK to conduct a trial in which HDAC inhibition is combined with therapeutic vaccination.

This research is undoubtedly very important but for the article to suggest that it means that scientists are on the brink of an HIV cure is shockingly erroneous and misleading. The promise of these approaches can only be evaluated when the results of the studies become available. Since the trials combining HDAC inhibitors and immune-based therapies (whether TLR agonists or therapeutic vaccines) have yet to start it is extremely unlikely that the data will be available in "months" as the subhead of the article claims.
The full reaction is at the bottom of this post.

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Bryan Fischer: Don't Sign Jason Collins, He'll Be Eyeballing Players In The Shower

He's already been in the showers for 12 years, Bri-Bri.

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Spotted Last Night In Chelsea

My photo came out lousy so I pulled this from their blog.

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Larry Kramer To Get Special Tony Award

Larry Kramer will be honored this year with a special Tony Award.
Kramer will receive this year’s Isabelle Stevenson Award, a non-competitive Tony award given to an individual from the theater community who has made a substantial contribution on behalf of humanitarian, social service or charitable organizations. “Writers who are activists are very rarely taken seriously as artists,” Kramer said in an interview. “I look upon this recognition as acknowledgment that a serious writer can also be a serious activist, and no less an artist for it.”
This year's regular Tony Award nominees will be announced this morning.

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Red Sox Make Pitch To Jason Collins

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Haters Rally Around ESPN Sportscaster As He Flails About To Save His Job

"Today on OTL, as part of a larger, wide-ranging discussion on today's news, I offered my personal opinion as it relates to Christianity, a point of view that I have expressed publicly before. I realize that some people disagree with my opinion and I accept and respect that. As has been the case in the past, my beliefs have not and will not impact my ability to report on the NBA. I believe Jason Collins displayed bravery with his announcement today and I have no objection to him or anyone else playing in the NBA." - ESPN sportscaster Chris Broussard, flailing desperately to save his job.

Hate group leaders are spearheading the hashtag #IStandWithChris and there have been hundreds of ugly tweets.

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Collins: I Secretly Chose #98 As A Tribute To Matthew Shepard & Trevor Project

The parents of Matthew Shepard say they are floored at the news that Jason Collins secretly chose 98 as his uniform number as a tribute to Matthew Shepard and the Trevor Project, which was founded in August 1998 two months before Shepard was murdered.
“It made me cry,” Judy Shepard told FOXSports.com during an interview Monday afternoon. “It was really quite a tribute, and I was very honored. And I know Matt would be thrilled.” And the Shepards hope, someday, to be able to thank Collins personally for his bravery in opening himself up to the world and honoring their son’s name in the process.   “I would really love to speak to him, because I know Judy and I would just like to thank him,” Dennis Shepard said. “Because, No. 1, he had the courage to come out, period, and No. 2 that he wore 98 in honor of Matt, the year that he died. “(Collins) couldn’t have been that old (when it happened), so it must have had a tremendous impact on him, the story behind Matt, for him to want to do that. And then to wear it all this time without telling people why until today, that’s incredible.”
The head of the Trevor Project says they plan to reach out to Collins about working together.

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Jason Collins Tweets Appreciation

Guess which word the haters are pouncing upon?

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Monday, April 29, 2013

President Obama Calls Jason Collins

Via Raw Story:
President Barack Obama called NBA player Jason Collins on Monday to praise his courage after he became the first star in big-time American professional team sports to come out as gay.  Collins, currently a free agent who has played for six teams over 12 seasons, made the announcement in a blockbuster article in Sports Illustrated. “The President called Jason Collins to express his support and said he was impressed by his courage,” said a White House aide, on condition of anonymity.
The First Lady also tweeted her support.

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ESPN Sportscaster Attacks Jason Collins:
The Bible Says He's Not A Christian

Think Progress notes that the attack came in front of openly gay fellow ESPN sportscaster LZ Granderson, who fired back: "I really don’t need Chris or anyone else telling me if I’m a Christian because Jesus tells me I am."

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TMZ: Boston Pride Wants Jason Collins

In today's interview with Sports Illustrated, Jason Collins said that he was partially inspired to come out after watching Boston's gay pride parade, an event he had longed to join. Long no longer, Mr. Collins:
Well, that was quick ... TMZ has learned Jason Collins has officially been asked to lead Boston's pride parade this summer, hours after the NBA star announced that he's gay. A rep for parade tells TMZ, “Boston Pride is formally inviting Jason Collins to be a Marshal in the 2013 Boston Pride Parade ... Boston Pride is proud that our annual celebration helped to inspire Jason Collins to make his groundbreaking decision to come out."

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Athletes Cheer Jason Collins

Navratilova's responses are especially interesting.

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Mika - Popular

A take on the Wicked classic.

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Breitbart Editors Mock Jason Collins

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Obama Nominates Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx As Transportation Secretary

President Obama has taken some flak over the lack of diversity in his Cabinet, including a dig delivered from the Nerd Prom podium this weekend by Conan O'Brien. Today he nominated Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx to succeed Ray LaHood as Secretary of Transportation. Foxx gained national prominence last year as the official host of the Democratic National Convention. During today's announcement LaHood urged Foxx to continue his campaign for high speed rail.  LaHood, incidentally, is a Republican.

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White House Praises Jason Collins

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REPORT: Cuomo Won't Run If Hillary Does

So claims an unnamed source in the Cuomo administration.
“The governor has told people in recent weeks that there’s not a chance for him to run if Hillary gets in the race because she’ll easily wrap up the Democratic nomination,’’ said a Cuomo administration insider with direct knowledge of the situation. “He knows that and he accepts that, and so he won’t even be thinking at all in those terms — unless Hillary decides not to run, which seems unlikely,’’ the source continued.

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Spike Lee Defends Jason Collins

Filmmaker Spike Lee, a rabid basketball fan often seen courtside at Madison Square Garden, is battling haters on Twitter after announcing his support for Jason Collins.

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Northern Ireland Rejects Marriage

The Northern Ireland Assembly today rejected a marriage equality bill by a vote of 53-42. Via the Belfast Telegraph:
Today's petition of concern at the Assembly tabled by the largest unionist party, the Democratic Unionists, ensured Sinn Fein's motion would be defeated after a majority of unionists failed to back the change. John O'Doherty, director of the Rainbow Project health organisation for gay men and a rights campaigner, said he would continue to press for change.

"This will be won slowly so we appreciate every vote that we got. We are disappointed with the outcome. It has always been a difficult march towards equality here but we will continue to fight the good fight." A total of 95 members voted, 42 in favour including all nationalists. Three unionists out of 50 voted Yes. Former Ulster Unionists Basil McCrea and John McCallister voted Yes.

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Clintons: We're Proud Of Jason Collins

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Ben Cohen Cheers Jason Collins

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Kobe Bryant Praises Jason Collins

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HRC Praises Jason Collins

"Jason Collins’ commitment to living openly is a monumental step forward toward greater equality and he immediately becomes a role model for youth all across this country. His actions today tell LGBT young people that what will define our success in life is our character and dedication, not our sexual orientation. At a moment when millions are reflecting on the life and legacy of Jackie Robinson, Jason Collins is a hero for our own times. Today's announcement again shows that gay Americans are our teachers, police officers, nurses, lawyers and even our professional athletes. We contribute to every aspect of our American community and deserve the same equal rights as every American." - Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin, via press release.

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Twin Brother Of NBA Player Jason Collins:
I've Never Been More Proud Of Him

"I won't lie. I had no idea. We talked, he answered my questions, I hugged him and I digested what he had told me. At the end of the day, this is what matters: He's my brother, he's a great guy, and I want him to be happy. I'll love him and I'll support him and, if necessary, I'll protect him.

"What does Jason want out of this? He wants to live his life. He wants a relationship, he wants a family, he wants to settle down. He wants to move forward with his personal life while maintaining his life as a professional basketball player. That's all, really.

"This announcement will be surprising to some people. I already anticipate the questions: 'Are you the gay twin or the straight one?' This is uncharted territory, and no one can predict how it will play out. It's a big deal -- but it's also not a big deal. When the media crush is over, Jason will have the strength to deal with whatever challenges come from being openly gay. Today, Jason has taken a huge weight off his shoulders. And I've never been more proud of him." - Jarron Collins, who was drafted by the NBA in 2001 with his brother, speaking to Sports Illustrated.

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NBA Player Jason Collins Comes Out, First Openly Gay Still-Playing Male Pro Athlete

America finally has its first openly gay and still-playing male major professional sports athlete.  Jason Collins writes today for Sports Illustrated:
I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay.

I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn't the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, "I'm different." If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand.

My journey of self-discovery and self-acknowledgement began in my hometown of Los Angeles and has taken me through two state high school championships, the NCAA Final Four and the Elite Eight, and nine playoffs in 12 NBA seasons.

I've played for six pro teams and have appeared in two NBA Finals. Ever heard of a parlor game called Three Degrees of Jason Collins? If you're in the league, and I haven't been your teammate, I surely have been one of your teammates' teammates. Or one of your teammates' teammates' teammates.

Now I'm a free agent, literally and figuratively. I've reached that enviable state in life in which I can do pretty much what I want. And what I want is to continue to play basketball. I still love the game, and I still have something to offer. My coaches and teammates recognize that. At the same time, I want to be genuine and authentic and truthful.

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