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LGBT Rights Trip Up European Union Unity

EuropeanUnionLike the United States, with its federalist laws and Defense of Marriage Act, the European Union lacks unity when it comes to LGBT rights. One nation may recognize same-sex nuptials or the adoption of a partners' children, but others won't, leaving countless couples in legal limbo, the New York Times reports.

One story of discrimination abroad:

Brad Brubaker, an Ohio native, met his British partner, Paul Feakes, in California in 1995. Mr. Brubaker moved to London and eventually acquired British citizenship. They entered a civil partnership, identical in all but name to marriage. Three years ago they moved to Italy and decided to open an art gallery in the Tuscan seaside town of Pietrasanta.

Italy did not recognize their partnership. In contrast to the normal treatment for married couples working together, they were forced to register the gallery in Mr. Brubaker’s name alone, while Mr. Feakes had to be listed as an employee — with a contract and payroll and all the costly extra paperwork that entailed.

“That’s when we realized the discrimination of it,” Mr. Brubaker said. “People think Europe is so far ahead, and I guess in some ways it is. But it’s not quite there yet.”

The debate overseas parallels the one we hear here in the States: right wingers fear new marriage and family laws encroach on native, often religious traditions and constitutes an overreach of state power.

"A general application of the rule of mutual recognition of civil status documents will result in a situation where the political and social choices of some member states would be imposed on all the others," a Christian lobbying group called CARE for Europe said. And yet American conservatives continue to use the word "European" as a political attack.

European Commission: Gay Rights Respect Required for EU Entry

Respect for gay rights is a requirement for countries hoping to enter the European Union, the European Commission said in a note this week, EU Observer reports:

Eu"Rights of LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] people thus form an integral part of both the Copenhagen political criteria for accession and the EU legal framework on combatting discrimination. They are closely monitored by the EU commission, which reports annually on the progress made by enlargement countries with regard to the situation of the LGBT community," it said.

The commission note was sent to EUobserver in response to a question born of an interview with an Armenian cleric.

Armenia, a deeply Christian country where church teaching has more authority than in many EU states with Christian roots, is keen to become an EU member.

NEWS: Fathers, Rodney, Greece, Iran


Towleroad-roadicon Rodney King, dead at 47:

The police in Rialto, Calif., said they received a 911 call at 5:25 a.m. Sunday from Mr. King’s fiancée, Cynthia Kelley, who reported finding him at the bottom of his swimming pool. Mr. King, 47, had been living in Rialto, a small middle-class city, for several years.

Police arrived and removed Mr. King’s body from the pool and tried to resuscitate him. He was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead at 6:11 a.m.

Towleroad-roadicon On the "gift" of being a gay dad:

When I finally accepted in my 20s that I was gay and that in order to live a life true to myself I had to come out, I knew there were “risks.” When my mother let loose a stream of consciousness list of fears that the world would visit on me for being openly gay – including never finding happiness, or being bashed coming out of a bar with my lover – the one she settled on was “…and you always wanted to be a father.”

It was the thing that broke my heart: the feeling that by coming out, I was giving up the one thing I had always wanted since I was a kid – more than any profession or any pursuit – being a dad.

Towleroad-roadicon LZ Granderson breaks down the "super duper evil gay lifestyle" at TEDx.

Towleroad-roadicon Ahmadinejad to voluntarily leave politics in 2013 ...

Towleroad-roadicon ... though Nicholas D. Kristof doesn't think he'll have a choice. 

Towleroad-roadicon Greek exit polls show pro-stability, pro-bailout parties eeking a narrow lead.

Towleroad-roadicon Sandusky should just plead guilty:

Sandusky’s only real hope at trial was that Mike McQueary, the former Penn State quarterback who allegedly saw Sandusky raping a boy in a shower on campus in 2001, would stumble on the stand. He didn’t ...

... If any good can come out of this spectacle of a trial, it will be our increased awareness about why sexually abused children rarely come forward, and how adults, even well meaning ones, can fail them so terribly. But what matters right now is for Jerry Sandusky to admit to the wrongs the evidence unalterably shows he committed. He owes his victims much more. But this, at least, he could give them.

Towleroad-roadicon Joy McNair, daughter of astronaut and Challenger-disaster casualty Ronald McNair, discusses honor and remembrance.

Towleroad-roadicon Curiosity, NASA's new Mars-bound rover, will land in August and embark on an awesome off-road journey:

The summer landing will be the start of a Martian ... trip that will take months or possibly a year as Curiosity makes its way toward its final destination, the Gale Crater, said Curiosity contributor James Wray, an assistant professor of Earth and Atmospheric Science at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

... [a] new landing destination has been pinpointed with accuracy previously impossible and will shave several months off Curiosity's drive to Gale Crater. Strategically, the new landing site makes sense. But, "the public and scientists will have to be more patient to get the really juicy stuff," Wray said.

The 'juicy stuff' that Curiosity seeks to uncover is evidence of the ability for life as we know it - past or future - on the Martian surface.

Gale Crater was created more than 3 billion years ago when Mars was struck by a meteorite and now houses three miles of sediment, providing the perfect location for such an investigation. Wray said examining Gale Crater will be similar to going through Earth's history by examining the layers of the Grand Canyon and learning, by the thickness and make up of the rocks, if they were once carved by oceans, lakes or air.

"We'll start down at the base, and we'll just climb up as high as we can during the mission and move forward in time in Martian history and see how the environment changed," Wray said.

Towleroad-roadicon Club where Chris Brown and Drake got into scuffle is closed indefinitely.

Towleroad-roadicon Earnestine Shepherd, 75-year-old body-building grandma. She's fabulous.

Belarus Strongman Lukashenko: A Childish Dictator Prone To Schoolyard Taunts

Screen Shot 2012-03-04 at 1.40.41 PM copyThe formerly Cummunist Belorussian strongman Alexander Lukashenko has always been a uniquely childish presence on the world stage -- he is, for example, the only European leader who enjoys being called "daddy" by his subjects -- but never moreso than this weekend. Responding to a recent EU censure, in which Lukashenko was referred to as a "dictator" by German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, Lukashenko told a crowd gathered at a ski event in Minsk: "Better a dictator than gay."

It wasn't the first time Lukashenko had gone after Westerwelle. From Raw Story:

Lukashenko last year said he had once told Westerwelle, who is openly gay, during a meeting that “he must lead a normal life”.

He later apologised for his remarks but added that he “did not like gays.”

The 57-year-old former collective farm boss — once identified as Europe’s last dictator by Washington — has left his ex-Soviet nation in growing diplomatic isolation over his nearly 18-year rule.

Recent months have seen a withdrawal of Belarussian representatives from EU states and European ambassadors booted from Minsk, the Belarussian capital, in protest over EU sanctions against the formerly Soviet "republic."


European Parliament Condemns LGBT Censorship in Russia: VIDEO


The European Parliament today adopted a resolution condemning a recent bill passed on its second reading in St. Petersburg and under consideration in Moscow and proposed federally in Russia that bans LGBT organizations, Gay Pride events and and so-called 'promotion' of homosexuality.

The Intergroup on LGBT Rights reports:

Presented by five political groups, the resolution recalls that Russia is subject to several international human rights agreements, including the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

With this text, the European Parliament “strongly condemns the adoption by the Legislative Assembly of St Petersburg of a law against propaganda on sexual orientation”, and “equally condemns similar laws adopted in the Ryazan, Arkhangelsk and Kostroma regions”.

The Parliament further “calls on all Russian authorities to stop restricting freedom of expression in relation to sexual orientation or gender identity”.

On Monday, MEP Michael Cashman ripped the bills in a floor speech.

Said Cashman, speaking on behalf of those against the legislation: "It's starting point is that homosexuality is wrong. What is wrong is the promotion of intolerance and discrimination, precisely what these repressive laws set out to achieve."

Watch Cashman blast the bill, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "European Parliament Condemns LGBT Censorship in Russia: VIDEO" »

EU Official to Raise Issue of Draconian Anti-Gay Legislation with Russian PM Vladimir Putin

Activist group AllOut delivered almost 250,000 signatures to the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton today, urging Russia to back down on proposed legislation that would ban any gay rights protests or marches and in its language compares homosexuality to pedophilia. Ashton promised to address the issue with PM Vladimir Putin.

EuThe European Parliament's Intergroup on LGBT Rights reports:

Today, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton, the Presidents of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT rights Michael Cashman and Ulrike Lunacek received more than 246,245 signatures from around the world urging them to support the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in Russia.

Catherine Ashton assured to European Parliament Members that she would raise the issue directly with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Michael Cashman and Ulrike Lunacek both declared in a release from Strasbourg, “We warmly welcome Catherine Ashton’s assurance that she will raise the issue directly with the Russian Prime Minister. The issue of equal rights for LGBT people and freedom of expression (as well as fair elections) is very dear to all Europeans - and Russians are Europeans too.”

“This is a great victory, because hundreds of thousands around the world joined to raise their voices.  Russian activists have been heard at the highest level of international community.”  Andre Banks, co-founder of said, “But we need to continue the fight, and stay mobilized with our friends in Russia until this homophobic bill is repealed.”

The Russian bill, currently pending in St. PEtersburg and Moscow, is now being pushed at the federal level by Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak.


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