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Monday Speed Read: Mary Yu, Gene Robinson, Indiana, Wisconsin, HUD Discrimination, Akie Abe, Russia

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

LESBIAN TO WASHINGTON SUPREME COURT: Yu

Washington State’s Democratic Governor Jay Inslee appointed openly lesbian Judge Mary Yu to the state supreme court May 1. In making the announcement, Inslee noted that Yu, 56, a native of Chicago, becomes the first openly gay, the first Asian-American, and the first Latina on the state supreme court. She will be sworn in next month and must run for election this fall in order to serve out the two years remaining in the six-year term of the retiring justice she is replacing. Yu has been reelected four times for her current seat on the King County Superior Court.

RobinsonGAY BISHOP ANNOUNCES DIVORCE:

The Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, announced in an email to his diocese and a column in the DailyBeast.com Sunday that he and his husband, whose civil union automatically became marriage under New Hampshire law in 2010, are divorcing. Robinson offered no details for why the couple is splitting after 25 years together, except to say “gay and lesbian couples are subject to the same complications and hardships that afflict marriages between heterosexual couples.” The Episcopal denomination’s General Convention affirmed Robinson’s election as bishop in 2003.

INDIANA DECISION COMING ‘SOON’:

A federal judge in Indiana heard oral arguments for two hours May 2 in Baskin v. Bogan, a case brought by Lambda Legal on behalf of three lesbian couples in Evansville. U.S. District Court Chief Judge Richard Young (a Clinton appointee) said he would rule soon on a motion for summary judgment in the case, reports the Indianapolis Star, but both sides intend to appeal if they lose at this level. Such an appeal will be the first marriage ban lawsuit to reach the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which covers Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. The Baskin case is one of five currently pending in federal court in Indiana.

ON WISCONSIN, ON WISCONSIN: Crabb

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb (a Carter appointee) last week denied Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s request to dismiss an ACLU-led lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on marriage licenses. The lawsuit, Wolf v. Walker, also challenges the state’s ban on civil unions and its prohibition against same-sex couples obtaining marriage licenses from other states.

COMMENT ON HOUSING SEARCH:

The Federal Register today announces the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is extending by another 30 days its public comment period on housing discrimination against LGBT people. The notice, originally published in January, says HUD is preparing to do focus group studies and is “interested in the manner in which people identify themselves as lesbian, gay, or transgender when searching for rental housing.”

JAPAN’S FIRST LADY JOINS PRIDE EVENT:

First Lady Akie Abe, wife of conservative Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, participated in the annual Tokyo Rainbow Pride parade April 27, according to Japan Daily Press. At a speech before the UNAIDS-Lancet Commission in London last February, the First Lady said, “I have made up my mind that throughout the rest of my life, I should work as a self- appointed, public amplifier, amplifying the voice of the voiceless, and the cause that in our life time we must work to end AIDS.”

RUSSIAN LGBT MARCH ALLOWED:

Russian authorities took no action May 1 to stop a contingent of 300 people marching behind a rainbow banner that said “Love is Stronger than Hate.” A report in GayStarNews.com said the march took place in St. Petersburg during a May Day parade in which many groups participated. Laws passed by Russia last year prohibit any public expression of support for LGBT people and authorities stopped similar demonstrations previously.

© copyright 2014 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Japan's First Lady Akie Abe Joins Tokyo Gay Pride Parade: VIDEO

Akieabe

Japan's first lady Akie Abe participated in Tokyo's Gay Pride parade on Sunday to show her support for LGBT people, AFP reports:

The 51-year-old wife of conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe donned a white suit to stand on a float with a drag queen, as some 3,000 participants marched through the trendy Shibuya business and shopping district.

Akie, known for her liberal inclinations, wrote on her Facebook page later that she has been involved in the issue since joining a commission set up by UNAIDS and the Lancet medical journal last year.

“I want to help build a society where anyone can conduct happy, enriched lives without facing discrimination,” she wrote.

Watch Akie on her float, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Gay Artist's HIV Awareness Billboard Censored In Japan For 'Indecency'

Murata_hiv_billboard

Last December, an HIV-awareness billboard commissioned from gay artist Poko Murata appeared in the Tokyo gay district of Shinjuku Ni-chome. The billboard — advertising the AIDS pharmaceutical company Viiv Healthcare — featured a ring of Japanese men alongside the text, "There are people living with and without HIV and we're all already living together."

In January, Murata received a complaint from the Shinjuku district office that his billboard was "contrary to public order and morality" because of one of the men in his ad was wearing only underwear. After re-drawing the man in a slightly unzipped pair of shorts, the office continued to complain because the man's underwear was still visible.

The artist himself considers the complaint "an obvious prejudice and discrimination against gays," especially considering that the district has numerous advertisements for straight bars featuring real-life women in skimpy underclothes. Journalist Dan Littauer also notes that the Tokyo police have arrested gay bookstore employees in the past for selling obscenity even though one can easily find similarly "obscene" books in hetero sex shops.

A clothed version of Murata's sign was placed over the original earlier this week.


17-Year-Old Japanese Student Comes Out In Inspiring 'I Have a Dream, Too' Speech: VIDEO

Japan

This past December, a seventeen-year-old Japanese student entered the Hokkaido Prefectural English Speech Contest, held in Sapporo, Japan and gave a rousing speech on LGBT rights. Little is known at this time about the young man who gave the oration which began with an examination of Russia’s recently enacted anti-gay laws and the controversy over the then-upcoming Sochi Olympics. The student asked, 

Why do gay people have to face discrimination? Is it because they are not heterosexual? Is it a sin to love somebody of the same gender? The law cannot control love or people's feelings.

However, what began as a more academic examination of persecutions LGBT people face quickly became personal:

I have faced discrimination too. I am gay. I realized this when I was a junior high-school student, although I never told anybody somehow my classmates guessed that I was. They rejected me and treated me like I was not a human being; one girl said to me "I can't believe someone like you exists". It made me feel like I was completely alone. In high school I decided to keep my secret safe and never tell anyone about who I really am on the inside. But this year I wanted to stop hiding that part of myself.

The student went on point out the differences between attitudes towards LGBT person in the United States and Europe and the rest of the world, particularly Japan:

In Japan, we are afraid of being different, but we don't show our hate so openly. It is silent discrimination. If nobody talks about the problem then it doesn't exist. Many gay people in Japan hide who they really are because they are afraid of being rejected, not with angry words or threats of violence, but with isolation. Being gay in Japan is a very lonely existence.

Maybe it will be difficult for me to live my life just like other people. But this is my life. I'm going to live it no matter what people say. Martin Luther King once said "Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step." When I feel scared I often think of this quote. Making this speech was my first step, I never thought that I could tell people that I am gay.

 I too have a dream. One day down in the meadows of Hokkaido, gay people and straight people are chatting together and eating BBQ in the sunshine. I have a dream of a world without any prejudice, hate or ignorance which causes blind discrimination against what we can't understand. I can see the road ahead will be difficult, but I must be brave. Not just for myself, but for other young people like me.

You can read the full transcript of the speech and watch the video, AFTER THE JUMP…

Continue reading "17-Year-Old Japanese Student Comes Out In Inspiring 'I Have a Dream, Too' Speech: VIDEO" »


Japanese Government Defends Mass Dolphin Kill: VIDEO

Dolphinkill

The Japanese government Monday defended its practice of dolphin killing on Monday after U.S. ambassador Caroline Kennedy tweeted objections to it, the NYT reports:

DolphinMs. Kennedy objected to a form of fishing called “drive hunt” killing, in which dolphins are herded together by boats into an area they cannot escape, resulting in the capture of scores, if not hundreds, of dolphins. Critics have called the practice inhumane for the sheer number of dolphins killed and the threat it poses to the animal’s populations.

“Deeply concerned by inhumaneness of drive hunt dolphin killing. USG opposes drive hunt fisheries,” Ms. Kennedy said in her post on Saturday, referring to the United States government’s position on the issue.

On Tuesday, responding to the criticism, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, defended the practice.

“Dolphin fishing is a form of traditional fishing in our country,” he said, responding to a question about Ms. Kennedy’s criticism. “We will explain Japan’s position to the American side.”

Watch a Euronews report on the cull, AFTER THE JUMP...

The Sea Shepherd conservation society has been monitoring the slaughter with a livestream and on Facebook.

Continue reading "Japanese Government Defends Mass Dolphin Kill: VIDEO" »


Watch As Scientists Levitate Objects With Incredible Sound Wave Technology: VIDEO

Tokyolevitation

Researchers at the University of Tokyo have created sound wave technology powerful enough to levitate small objects in three dimensions, and the resultant images are fascinating. Using four sets of speakers aimed directly at each other, the scientists are able to create an "ultrasonic focal point" and move small, bead-like particles around in the air. Though levitation via sound waves has been achieved before, this research ups the ante by allowing the particles to move up and down, side to side, and at different angles, their varied movement dictated by shifts in the output of each speaker set. 

Check out an informative, awesome video of the levitating action, AFTER THE JUMP...

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