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Head Of U.S. Agency For International Development Says Human Rights 'Essential' In Fight Against HIV/AIDS

Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 1.01.30 PMRajiv Shah, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, linked human rights to the fight against HIV/AIDS during remarks he made during a World AIDS Day forum reports the Washington BladeThe forum highlighted a USAID-backed initiative through President Obama's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to combat the global epidemic among gay men, transgender people and other affected groups. 

Said Shah:

"Getting to where we need to go to a genuine AIDS-free generation will perhaps require even more determination, innovation and capacity to link the fight against HIV and AIDS to a broad range of critical issues, including the very basic and unassailable fight for human rights for all individuals.

"The only way to achieve the end goal of an AIDS-free generation is to more systematically embrace and empower this broader range of partners in this fight."

George Ayala, the executive director of the Global Forum on MSM and HIV, said that the U.S., Canada, Russia and Australia are among 61 countries with laws that criminalize people who have the virus. Lisa Carty, the director of the U.S. Liaison Office of U.N. AIDS, added that an estimated 80 countries have a policy or statute that, "Is a barrier to the communities we care about to get the services they need."

The State Department announced on Monday a $210 million public-private partnership with Bill and Melinda Gates and Nike Foundations through PEPFAR that is designed to lower new HIV infections in girls and women in 10 countries; an additional $116.5 million is going toward African nations' healthcare systems as well. However, the Associate Press reported that USAID hired nearly a dozen men from three Latin American countries to undermine the Cuban government through an HIV prevention workshop, among other means. U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), co-chair of the Congressional HIV/AIDS Caucus, expressed dismay about the actions of USAID in the matter.

Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 1.05.05 PMSaid Lee:

"I am appalled by recent reports that the U.S. government orchestrated and funded clandestine democracy promotion efforts under the guise of public health and civic programs.

"I am particularly concerned by the revelation that HIV-prevention programs were used as a cover. This blatant deception undermines U.S. credibility abroad and endangers U.S. government supported public health programs, which have saved millions of lives in recent years around the world." 

Shah made no references to Cuba in his speech. The head of international development continued to discuss helping marginalized populations and linked human rights to national security.

Said Shah:

"Efforts that we will discuss today and take forward will help not only address HIV in marginalized populations, but will help society after society through that experience recognize that the universal reach of human rights is in our collective social and national security interest."


Bill Gates Says Boys Scouts Should 'Absolutely' Lift Gay Ban: VIDEO

Gates

Why? "Because it's 2013."

Gates was asked about the Boy Scouts and its ban on gays during the first installment of Politico’s new interview series, Playbook Cocktails, at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday night.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Bill Gates Says Boys Scouts Should 'Absolutely' Lift Gay Ban: VIDEO" »


150 Game Changing Wins that Made 2012 the Gayest Year Ever

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A remarkably short four decades ago, the Stonewall Revolt of 1969 opened the flood gates for LGBT rights. The closet, so sturdy for so long, started being swept away in a rush of pride. Still, LGBT Americans lived in a culture of "tolerance," a popular euphemism for enduring.

There have been momentous years since then — both Barney Frank's 1987 coming out and the 2003 Supreme Court ruling overturning anti-sodomy laws come to mind — but when we look back in twenty years time or ten or even five, 2012 will be remembered as quantum leap for LGBT rights in the United States of America. It's the year that equality went from being a far-off dream to becoming an inevitable, immutable and irreversible reality. Even Newt Gingrich agrees!

This was the year of equality, the year the American dream came into sharper focus and the nation crossed from begrudgingly tolerating gays, and sometimes even acknowledging their relationships, to demanding our inclusion in the greater American family. Coming out is for the large part no longer a big deal, which is a big deal in and of itself.

There have never been as many out and proud elected officials; never before has Wall Street embraced us with such force; never before have so many conservatives admitted they need to shift gears on marriage equality and embrace change. This was a year of "never before" and "never again."

AFTER THE JUMP, 150 reasons why 2012 was a year of permanence for LGBT Americans, a year that the next wave of rights began its swoop across the purple mountain majesty and above the fruited plain.

And for more of our 2012 Year in Review, be sure to read "I'm Gay: 50 Most Powerful Comings Outs of 2012" HERE.

Continue reading "150 Game Changing Wins that Made 2012 the Gayest Year Ever" »


Bill Gates Gives $500K to Washington State Marriage Equality Fight

Bill and Melinda Gates have given half a million dollars to the battle to approve Referendum 74, the ballot measure that would put the state's legislatively-passed marriage equality law into effect, the AP reports:

GatesThe donation was announced Tuesday by Washington United for Marriage, which is working to approve Referendum 74. The donation was made on Oct. 15, but didn't publicly post online with the Public Disclosure Commission until Tuesday. Referendum 74 asks voters to either approve or reject the law allowing same-sex marriage that was passed by the Legislature earlier this year.

Bill Gates had made a $100,000 contribution to the campaign earlier this year.

Meanwhile, the bigoted Vermont innkeepers Jim and Mary O'Reilly, who appeared in an anti-gay marriage ad for Maine which came out this week, are now also appearing in a reject R-74 ad.

Check it out, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Bill Gates Gives $500K to Washington State Marriage Equality Fight" »


Second Anti-Gay Measure Fails Signature Test In Washington State

WashingtonStateA Washington State campaign defining marriage as being between one man and one woman failed to gather the necessary signatures to get on the November ballot.

The Olympian reports:

The citizen initiative that would spell out that marriage is only between a man and a woman won’t qualify for the November ballot. Its sponsor, Stephen Pidgeon of Everett, says Initiative 1192 is more than 140,000 signatures short ahead of Friday’s deadline for turning in petitions to the Office of the Secretary of State in Olympia, and he concedes it won’t happen.

“I hate to say it … but we’re just not going to cross the threshold. We’re not going to make it. This measure is not going to be on the ballot,” Pidgeon said of I-1192.

But Washington voters still have to decide on Referendum 74, which will decide whether or not to allow a legislature-approved marriage equality law to go into effect. The push to pass the referendum ("Yes" vote means equality law remains in place) has massive funding from people like Bill Gates and marriage equality has majority of public support.


Microsoft's Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer Both Donate $100K To Washington Marriage Fight

GatesBallmerMicrosoft executives Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer are using their respective fortunes to help defeat an anti-gay marriage referendum in Washington State.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer are each donating $100,000 to support the campaign to uphold Washington state's new gay marriage law, according to The Associated Press.

That law, which was passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire in February, faces a referendum vote in November.

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.

There's good reason to expect a win for equality in November: 51% of voters told Public Policy Polling they support same-sex marriage. Only 42% said they oppose it.

(h/t JMG)


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