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Four Couples File Suit Challenging Wyoming's Gay Marriage Ban

Four gay couples and Wyoming Equality filed suit today challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage, NCLR reports:

WyomingThe couples include a university professor, a Major in the Army Reserve, a sheepherder, and an attorney. Many of the Plaintiffs were born and raised in Wyoming.

The lawsuit challenges Wyoming’s statute barring same-sex couples from marrying and the state’s refusal to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who married in other states, arguing that they violate the Wyoming Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process.

The couples are Cora Courage and Wyoma “Nonie” Proffit of Evanston, Carl Oleson and Rob Johnston of Casper, Anne Guzzo and Bonnie Robinson of Laramie, and Ivan Williams and Chuck Killion of Cheyenne. Wyoming Equality is the state’s largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Wyoming’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. Its members include same-sex couples throughout the state.

The four couples and Wyoming Equality are represented by Cheyenne attorney Tracy Zubrod, the law firm of Arnold & Porter LLP, the law firm of Rathod Mohamedbahi LLC, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

Read the complaint and more about the case here.

Posted Mar. 5,2014 at 8:08 PM EST by in Gay Marriage, News, Wyoming | Permalink | Comments (7)

New Technique Offers Hope of Controlling HIV Without Drugs

A new report from the National Institute of Health  suggests that 'gene editing' — removing cells from HIV patients, modifying them and replacing the cells — offers new hope in controlling the virus without drugs.

HivThe NIH reports, via press release:

Scientists today report initial results from humans on the safety and tolerability of a novel strategy to curb HIV disease by removing key cells from HIV-infected individuals, genetically modifying the cells to resist HIV infection and returning them to those people. The basic and pre-clinical research on this strategy, which eventually might help people control the virus without drugs, was funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health. The Phase I clinical trial was funded by Sangamo BioSciences and was led by NIAID grantee Carl H. June, M.D., with co-investigators Bruce L. Levine, Ph.D., and Pablo Tebas, M.D., all of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.  

The trial built on the observation that people who naturally have a genetic modification in a protein called CCR5 are resistant to HIV infection, and when infected with HIV, progress to AIDS more slowly. CCR5 is a cell-surface molecule, or receptor, that most HIV variants must use to enter their primary target: the CD4T cell. In the trial, CD4+ T-cells were collected from each of 12 HIV-infected volunteers whose virus was controlled by anti-HIV therapy. These cells were then treated in the laboratory with molecular tools called zinc-finger nucleases (ZFNs). The ZFNs were designed to snip the DNA within the gene that codes for the CCR5 receptor. This process introduced a genetic mutation rendering CCR5 receptors non-functional. Subsequently, the cells were stimulated to multiply, and each patient received an infusion of 10 billion of their own CD4+ T-cells, with roughly a fifth of the CCR5 genes now mutated.

Four weeks later, in a planned interruption of anti-HIV therapy, half the study participants stopped taking their antiretroviral drugs for 8 to 12 weeks. Investigators found that the experimental treatment was generally safe, and that the genetically modified cells appeared to be protected from HIV infection. In one volunteer who naturally had the desired mutation in half of his CCR5 genes, HIV replication was controlled during the entire 12-week treatment interruption. Future research will include evaluating this experimental treatment in more volunteers, as well as maximizing the frequency of CCR5 disruption by ZFNs and increasing the persistence of the genetically modified cells in the body to achieve a therapeutic effect.

Said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the NIAID, to the NYT:

“It’s a great strategy. It’s exciting, interesting, elegant science. But a lot of ‘ifs’ need to be addressed before you can say ‘Wow, this could really work.’”

The paper adds: "Dr. Fauci also questioned whether patients would want this relatively complex treatment when many people can keep the infection under control with just one to a few pills a day."

In related news, a new study on viral load transmission reported some interesting findings:

The second large study to look at whether people with HIV become non-infectious if they are on antiretroviral therapy (ART) has found no cases where someone with a viral load under 200 copies/ml transmitted HIV, either by anal or vaginal sex.

Statistical analysis shows that the maximum likely chance of transmission via anal sex from someone on successful HIV treatment was 1% a year for any anal sex and 4% for anal sex with ejaculation where the HIV-negative partner was receptive; but the true likelihood is probably much nearer to zero than this.

When asked what the study tells us about the chance of someone with an undetectable viral load  transmitting HIV, presenter Alison Rodger said: "Our best estimate is it's zero."

Posted Mar. 5,2014 at 7:55 PM EST by in AIDS/HIV, News | Permalink | Comments (15)

'RT' Anchor Quits On-Air, Says She Can No Longer Be 'Part of a Network That Whitewashes' Putin's Actions - VIDEO


Liz Wahl, a news anchor for RT, the state-funded Russian TV network, resigned on-air today over the situation in Ukraine, saying she could no longer be "part of a network that whitewashes the actions of Putin."


Posted Mar. 5,2014 at 7:41 PM EST by in News, News Clips, Russia, Ukraine, Vladimir Putin | Permalink | Comments (17)

Towleroad Guide to the Tube #1532

CARPLAY: Apple's automobile iOS in a Ferrari.

FANCIER WORDS: For everyday things.

THE BIG BANG: Explained.

GRAHAM GREMORE: The moon is gay.

For recent Guides to the Tube, click HERE.

Posted Mar. 5,2014 at 5:10 PM EST by in News, Towleroad Guide to the Tube | Permalink | Comments (0)

News: Europa, Daniel Baer, Cheeto, Kenneth Walsh, Cook County

RoadI see what you did there.

RoadRuPaul trolls pirates with album leak: "You done stole my album! Uh uh, no you better don’t, hooker! You better get your tail on over to iTunes, baby!"

SnowRoadHere's a very cool animated infographic of the persistent blanket of snow in the NYC area this winter.

RoadChelsea Handler says she's not a racist.

RoadGay U.S. Ambassador Daniel Baer takes center stage in Russia-Ukraine crisis: "Daniel Baer, who was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in August to his seat at the Vienna-based international conference, has his work cut out for him in one of the most daunting foreign policy challenges faced by the Obama administration. "

RoadKenneth Walsh talks to Mark Allen about his new memoir Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful?

RoadBob Shrum: How 'religious freedom' is hurting everyone's freedom.

RoadNathaniel Frank: The shamelessness of anti-gay crusader Mark Regnerus. "What makes this all the more galling is that the Michigan couple is raising three special-needs children the women are trying to adopt from the foster care system. Research shows that gays and lesbians are more likely to adopt difficult-to-place children from foster care. It’s bad enough to claim, incorrectly, that straight couples make better homes for kids than gay couples. But it’s an outrage to support policy that could let kids languish in group homes rather than live with loving, capable parents. Indeed it’s a shocking goal for conservative Christians claiming to care about vulnerable children to be pursuing."

RoadFrontiers' Karen Ocamb reports from the LGBT Media 2014 Convening.

RoadUh oh, the Back to the Future LEGO playsets have arrived.

CheetoRoadThis Cheeto looks like a guy getting off.

RoadU.S. evangelicals on the defense over Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Act: "Media reports have connected the bill to a 2009 conference in Uganda, at which three Americans condemned homosexual behavior and promoted therapy for same-sex attraction. One of the men, Scott Lively, a Massachusetts pastor and head of Abiding Truth Ministries, said that he is not responsible for the bill. "

RoadDemi Lovato talks about playing a lesbian on Glee.

RoadMale passenger leaves note in WestJet flight with female pilot: Cockpit is "no place for a woman".

RoadThe Cook County Clerk's office has issued more than 250 marriage licenses to same-sex couples: "According to a news release from the clerk's office, a total of 258 couples -- 137 male and 121 female couples -- were issued marriage licenses in the clerk's offices in Chicago and five suburbs between Feb. 21 and Feb. 28. Most of those couples applied at the clerk's downtown office, the release said."

RoadRobert Pattinson and Dane DeHaan are shooting a movie together in chilly Toronto.

RoadHere are Lena Dunham's SNL promos, and surprise, there is nudity.

EuropaRoadNASA plans robotic mission to search for life on Jupiter's moon Europa:"Yesterday, NASA announced an injection of $17.5 billion from the federal government (down by $1.2 billion from its 2010 peak). Of this, $15 million will be allocated for "pre-formulation" work on a mission to Europa, with plans to make detailed observations from orbit and possibly sample its interior oceans with a robotic probe." Meanwhile, volcanoes are erupting on Io.

RoadA pizza ranks the celebrities who ate it at the Oscars.

RoadMark Bingham documentary to premiere: "Now, 13 years later, his story has its homecoming when the documentary 'The Rugby Player,' which traces Bingham's life from his rowdy frat boy days at UC Berkeley to his harrowing final moments, arrives at the Cinequest Film Festival in San Jose."

RoadMaira Kalman: Can do.

RoadGay rights documentary chronicling battle with Anita Bryant premiered Tuesday, to be broadcast in South Florida on Thursday. "Its title, The Day It Snowed In Miami, serves as a metaphor: the ordinance that sparked the outrage was debated by commissioners on an uncharacteristically frigid night and some opponents at the time remarked that the ordinance would pass 'when hell freezes over.' The morning after the ordinance was approved — Jan. 19, 1977 — Miamians woke up to snowflakes for the first and so far only time."

Posted Mar. 5,2014 at 3:41 PM EST by | Permalink | Comments (11)

Katy Perry Does the Australian Weather Forecast: VIDEO


Katy Perry offered her help with the Australian weather forecast on a morning show down under, but seemed to get its cities confused with places in a Harry Potter novel.


Posted Mar. 5,2014 at 3:00 PM EST by in Australia, Katy Perry, News, weather | Permalink | Comments (2)


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