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Find Out If Your Mayor Signed The Supreme Court Brief In Support Of Same-Sex Marriage

Rawlings.Mike

Hundreds of mayors from across the country have signed an amicus brief in support of same-sex marriage to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Freedom to Marry reports: 

Mayors-for-the-Freedom-to-MarryThree years after its launch in 2012, Mayors for the Freedom to Marry today signed onto a friend-of-the-court brief urging the Supreme Court to end marriage discrimination nationwide. The brief includes 226 individually named mayors as well as 40 cities across the country, from towns as small as Thompson, North Dakota, to the five largest cities in the nation, as well as the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities, and the International Municipal Lawyers Association.

“We launched Mayors for the Freedom to Marry three years ago because mayors are closest to their constituents and communities and singularly able to make the case that marriage makes for stronger families and a more vibrant economy,” said Marc Solomon, national campaign director of Freedom to Marry. “We’re very proud of the 700 mayors who have been a part of Mayors for the Freedom to Marry over the three years of this campaign. This brief demonstrates the diversity of leaders across the country who know that America is ready for the freedom to marry and want the Supreme Court to bring our country to national resolution.”

Perhaps most notable among mayors who signed the brief is Mike Rawlings of Dallas (above), who created a firestorm in 2012 when he refused to sign the pledge to join Mayors for the Freedom to Marry. Rawlings also later scuttled a City Council vote on a marriage equality resolution. But The Dallas Morning News reports that Rawlings has finally evolved to the point of taking a public stand on the issue: 

“I am not a big fan of signing toothless pledges because I don’t find them very significant,” Rawlings said. “But this is significant and I feel like I am speaking for hundreds of thousands of citizens of Dallas, Texas. I wanted to make sure the Supreme Court knows that there is mayor in Texas, and in one of the top 10 cities in the country, that feels that the city of Dallas will be better off (with gay marriage.)” ...

“This is a personal issue for me,” Rawlings said. “I have so many friends in the LGBT community and this is really a moment of truth for them and for me. I am so proud not only to be rooting for this case to succeed, but also to be actively petitioning the Supreme Court on their behalf.”

(On a side note, as the reporter who broke the story about Rawlings' refusal to sign the pledge, and relentlessly hounded him for years afterward, I called him on his cell phone this morning to personally thank him.) 

According to Freedom to Marry, other key signers of the brief include: 

Mayor Michael Duggan of Detroit, MI; Mayor John Cranley of Cincinnati, OH; Mayor Michael Coleman of Columbus, OH; Mayor Kevin Faulconer of San Diego; Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles; Mayor Michael Nutter of Philadelphia; Mayor Muriel Bowser of the District of Columbia; Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore; Mayor Mayor Karyn Hippen of Thompson, ND; Mayor Johnny Ford of Tuskegee, AL; and Mayor Madeline Rogero of Knoxville, TN

Read the full amicus brief and find out if your mayor signed on by scrolling to the bottom, AFTER THE JUMP ...

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Dallas To Recognize Same-Sex Marriages

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After three hours of debate, a Dallas pension board voted Tuesday to recognize the same-sex marriages of city employees — contingent on approval from the City Council and the city attorney. 

Despite a lack of leadership on the issue from Mayor Mike Rawlings, the board voted 6-0 to approve the compromise between members who wanted to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages, and those who felt the decision should be left up to voters. 

The city attorney and City Council are expected to sign off, paving the way for Dallas to join Austin, Fort Worth, Houston and Plano in recognizing same-sex marriages and providing equal retirement benefits to the spouses of gay employees. 

The Dallas Morning News reports: 

Again and again, different variations of the effort to include same-sex marriages in spousal benefits failed in deadlocked votes. Then, after three hours of discussion and some harsh words, a deal was struck. ... 

Dallas’ two pension boards — the Employees’ Retirement Fund and the Police and Fire Pension Board — have been among the last city entities to extend same-sex benefits, after the City Council passed a resolution nearly a year ago calling for LGBT equality in all city operations. ... 

The pension boards have grappled with what they say is a legal gray area between a Texas ban on gay marriage and a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling requiring the Internal Revenue Service to recognize same-sex marriages from any state, regardless of where the couple lives.

A federal district judge struck down Texas' marriage ban last year, but stayed his decision pending the state's appeal to the 5th Circuit, which heard oral arguments last month. 

In Houston, anti-LGBT activists sued the city and Mayor Annise Parker over her decision to recognize employees' out-of-state same-sex marriages. But that lawsuit is on hold pending the outcome of the Texas marriage case. 

Tuesday's vote would provide equal pension benefits to gay civilian employees in Dallas, but not police or firefighters. The city's Police and Fire Pension Board is scheduled to discuss the issue Thursday. 


Gay Sugar Daddies, Sugar Babies Comprise Over 10% Of Popular 'Sugar Dating' Site's Membership

SeekingArrangement

The worsening student-debt crisis reportedly is fueling a surge in the number of college students seeking "sugar daddies" to help them pay their way through school. 

The Atlantic reported last month on the latest numbers from SeekingArrangement.com, which bills itself as "the world's largest sugar dating dating site":  

What might have been little more than a nuisance in the past has turned into an outright hindrance to many students’ financial security: It takes about 14 years on average to pay off the debt. As a result, young women across the country are turning to sugar daddies in droves. ... More than 1.4 million students have signed up as members, including nearly 1 million in the U.S., according to the company. The website claims that 42 percent of its members are students, many of whom are incentivized by SeekingArrangement to join; people who sign up with a .edu email address or show proof of enrollment, for example, receive "premium memberships" for free.

SugarBabyYou wouldn't necessarily know it from the many news stories about the trend — or even from the promotional images at SeekingArrangement.com, most of which feature younger women and older men — but many of the site's sugar babies, sugar daddies and sugar mommies are in fact LGBT. 

Back in 2008, SeekingArrangement.com reported that it had reached 250,000 gay members, announced an LGBT landing page (above) and released a promotional video from a gay sugar baby (right):  

Unlike normal gay dating sites that feel more like meat markets than places to find “true love”, SeekingArrangement has a professional, warm, sincere feel to it. Here older and wealthy gay Daddies or Mommas are looking for more than intimacy. They are actually interested in helping grow young men and women into successful adults.

Gay Sugar Daddies don’t necessarily fit your average gay stereotype, as many married heterosexual men are experimenting here for their first time as well. Here on SeekingArrangement, about half of the gay Sugar Daddies are bisexual or closeted men in heterosexual relationships.

In 2010, SeekingArrangement.com released its Top 10 Cities For Gay Sugar Daddies, led by New York City.  

So, in the wake of recent news reports about the site's growth, Towleroad reached out to SeekingArrangement.com for the latest numbers on LGBT members. Spokeswoman Angela Bermudo responded by providing this breakdown:  

• 280,000 Gay Sugar Baby Males
• 60,000 Gay Sugar Daddies 
• 8,400 Lesbian Sugar Mommies
• 40,000 Lesbian Sugar Babies 
• 75 Trans Sugar Babies 

All told, that means 388,475 of the site's 3.6 million members worldwide are LGBT — or about 11 percent. 

SeekingArrangement.com recently released figures on the fastest-growing schools for sugar babies — with the University of Texas leading the way — but Bermudo declined to provide those breakdowns for LGBT members, citing privacy concerns because numbers are small at some schools.  

Some have accused SeekingArrangement.com of promoting prostitution. But the site says it conducts background checks, and for some LGBT sugar babies, sugar daddies and sugar mommies, it may provide a viable alternative to hookup apps. 

Watch the site's promotional video fearing a gay sugar baby, AFTER THE JUMP... 

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WATCH: Seniors Offer Advice to Today's Gay Youth

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These LGBT seniors have been through quite a lot and have some great advice to give to today's youth.

Hear how far we've come as a community, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Dear Abby Defends Gay Grandmother Shunned By Homophobic Son And Daughter-In-Law

Screen Shot 2015-01-22 at 7.12.07 AMA gay grandmother wrote a heartbreaking letter to Dear Abby asking for advice on how to reconcile with her homophobic son, and religious daughter-in-law, who is keeping her from seeing her grandchildren claiming that he needs to protect his children from people that are gay and that he doesn't want them to know anyone who's gay, including their own grandmother. 

"Heartbroken's” letter reads:

I came out of the closet when my son was 4. I thought I had taught him not to judge because of a label.

He is now 30, with a wife and two adorable children who own my heart.

When my granddaughter was born, my partner and I were at the hospital. We have visited them often, and they have visited us.

But after my grandson was born last year, my son quit speaking to me.

I have asked him numerous times what the issue is.

His response is: "I have to protect my children from people who are gay. I don’t want them to know anyone who is gay."

His wife and her family are very religious, and I think this is the real reason. What can I do?

-Heartbroken Gay Granny

Dear Abby wisely responded, telling the heartbroken grandmother to redirect her maternal instincts toward LGBT youth whose parents have rejected them after coming out and justly commented on her son’s homophobic antics with Abby’s signature wit.

Abby’s response:

Dear Heartbroken: If your son is under the mistaken impression that he is going to somehow "protect" his children by isolating them from gay people, he must be living in an alternate reality.

Does he also plan to immigrate to the moon?

I suspect that you have put your finger squarely on the reason why your son is now ostracizing you.

His wife seems to wield the power in that family, and she could benefit by learning more about homosexuality and her religion, which I assume preaches love and tolerance for one’s fellow man rather than judgment and exclusion.

You can’t force your son and his wife to have contact with you if they don’t want to.

Leave open the possibility that they may, over time, reconcile their love for you with their faith.

For your own emotional well-being, it’s important that you find other outlets for your maternal instincts and go on with your life because any child would be blessed to be a part of it.

Sadly, a large number of LGBT young people are rejected by their parents when they come out.

These kids would benefit greatly from having a positive adult mentor such as you.

This could be your golden opportunity to make a significant, positive difference in someone’s life. Contact Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays at pflag.org to find out how to get involved.

Dear Abby, aka Jeanne Phillips, is known for her staunch support for LGBT people backing same-sex marriage and justly taking homophobic submitters to task while simultaneously offering polite, but direct constructive criticism.


Russia Ends U.S. Student Exchange Program, Blames Elderly Michigan Gay Couple

Russia’s children’s rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov

Russia has canceled a foreign exchange program with the U.S., alleging that a gay couple persuaded a man to stay with them and apply for asylum, reports The Guardian.

FlexSince 1992, the state department-financed Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) has brought 23,000 students aged 15 to 17 from Russia and former Soviet countries to study in U.S. schools and live with local families for one academic year.

Human rights organisations have accused the Russian government of promoting discrimination following the introduction of a "gay propaganda" law last year.

Announcing the end of the country’s participation in FLEX, Russia’s children’s rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov [pictured above] said the couple became the legal guardians of the Russian student, after the student left his host family and stayed in the U.S. when the school year ended in May.

According to Russian state news agency Itar-Tass, the student met the couple - elderly veterans who had previously adopted two American boys - in church and the men offered to become his immigration sponsors and pay for him to study at Harvard University.

Astakhov explained on Twitter that the cancellation came about because of a “gross violation by the host country, the United States, of the obligation to unconditionally return students from Russia who travel there to study.”

In an interview with the official government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta, he added that the student moved in with the two men in Michigan, “and they gradually developed – how can I say this carefully – close friendly relations.”

Anton Meshkov, a former FLEX student, said the fact that 15 young people are thought to have stayed in the U.S. after the program ended was not a “serious reason to take away the chance to travel from hundreds of kids”.

“It’s absurd to suppose that the program could facilitate the seduction of young Russians. As a participant in this program myself, I know what a serious selection process host families go through.”

Last year, Astakhov vowed he would do everything possible to ensure that Russian orphans were only adopted by heterosexual couples. 


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