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Proposition 8 struck down, declared unconstitutional

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Chief Judge Vaughn Walker declared Proposition 8 unconstitutional in a landmark decision today. From New York Magazine:

In a decision just handed down to lawyers for both sides, Walker ruled in that Proposition 8 is “unconstitutional under both the due process and equal protection clauses.” The court, therefore, “orders entry of judgment permanently enjoining its enforcement.” We’re staying tuned for more updates and details on the 136-page decision, but these two sentences from the conclusion are critical:

“Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California constitution the notion that opposite sex couples are superior to same sex couples.”

The supporters of Proposition 8 will of course appeal the decision.

Prop 8 “Day of Decision” rallies are occurring through out the nation later today. A list of them can be found here.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “I would never worship a homophobic God”

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In a strongly worded op-ed in the Washington Post published today, Nobel Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu condemned the anti-gay legislation under consideration in Uganda and Rwanda.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people are part of so many families. They are part of the human family. They are part of God’s family. And of course they are part of the African family. But a wave of hate is spreading across my beloved continent. People are again being denied their fundamental rights and freedoms. Men have been falsely charged and imprisoned in Senegal, and health services for these men and their community have suffered. In Malawi, men have been jailed and humiliated for expressing their partnerships with other men. Just this month, mobs in Mtwapa Township, Kenya, attacked men they suspected of being gay. Kenyan religious leaders, I am ashamed to say, threatened an HIV clinic there for providing counseling services to all members of that community, because the clerics wanted gay men excluded.

Uganda’s parliament is debating legislation that would make homosexuality punishable by life imprisonment, and more discriminatory legislation has been debated in Rwanda and Burundi.

These are terrible backward steps for human rights in Africa.

Our lesbian and gay brothers and sisters across Africa are living in fear.

And they are living in hiding — away from care, away from the protection the state should offer to every citizen and away from health care in the AIDS era, when all of us, especially Africans, need access to essential HIV services. That this pandering to intolerance is being done by politicians looking for scapegoats for their failures is not surprising. But it is a great wrong. An even larger offense is that it is being done in the name of God. Show me where Christ said “Love thy fellow man, except for the gay ones.” Gay people, too, are made in my God’s image. I would never worship a homophobic God.

Archbishop Tutu has a long standing record supporting LGBT human rights. In 2008 he was honored in San Francisco by the International Gay and Lesbian Rights Commission for that support. Watch:

Philippine health secretary condemned for condom distribution

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Philippine Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral has come under fire recently from the Roman Catholic Church for having government health workers hand out roses and condoms on Valentine’s Day.

Bishops issued angry statements slamming the Valentine’s Day distribution as immoral and called for the resignation of Health Secretary Esperanza Cabral, who ordered the campaign. One archbishop said that Cabral already “has one foot in hell.”

The bishops called for a ban on condom advertisements last week.

“The condom business is a multimillion dollar industry that heavily targets the adolescent market at the expense of morality and family life,” said Bishop Nereo Odchimar, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines. He called fidelity and premarital chastity “the only effective way to curb the spread of AIDS.”

Cabral, the health secretary, said she doesn’t take the church’s word lightly. “They are very powerful and they can sometimes be vicious,” she said.

But the Harvard-trained cardiologist, who was reshuffled to the Health Department from the Social Welfare Department in January, shrugged off the flak as something that comes with the territory.
“I feel it is just a job that I have to do because as the secretary of health I know that it is going to be very difficult for our country if we let … (AIDS) become an epidemic,” she told The Associated Press.

The church is also opposed to a reproductive health bill introduced in 2008 which would permit the distribution of contraceptives in government hospitals and allow public schools to teach sex education classes. This bill has yet to leave the House of Representatives.

Anti-gay cartoon triggers protest by Notre Dame students, faculty

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Spurred by an ant-gay comic strip which appeared in a student paper a few weeks ago, hundreds of students and some faculty members gathered on the Notre Dame campus to demand more equality for LGBT students. Watch:

The original comic strip which promoted gay-bashing below.

Anti-gay comic strip