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Wednesday Speed Read: Pennsylvania, Vietnam, Ted Osius, Primary Results

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

PENNSYLVANIA MARRIAGES: Jones

A federal judge on Tuesday declared a ban on same-sex couples marrying in Pennsylvania to be a violation of the equal protection and due process guarantees of the U.S. Constitution. U.S. District Court Judge John Jones III (an appointee of President George W. Bush) said the plaintiff couples suffer “a multitude of daily harms” from the ban. “We are a better people than what these laws represent,” wrote Jones in Whitewood v. Wolf, “and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.” Republican Governor Tom Corbett’s press office said Tuesday evening the governor had not yet made a decision regarding whether to appeal the ruling. Last November, he vowed to defend the ban.

OsiusAMBASSADOR NUMBER SIX:

President Obama this month nominated an openly gay State Department fellow to serve as the U.S. ambassador to Vietnam. Ted Osius has 25 years of experience as a State Department officer in Asia, including years advising the ambassador to India and serving as deputy chief of the U.S. mission in Jakarta. He had a stint as political and management officer at the U.S. Embassy in Vatican City. And he is currently an associate professor at the National War College in Washington, D.C. The State Department website profiled Osius and his spouse, Clayton Bond, last June as part of its Pride Month recognition. Bond is a foreign service officer at the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs. Osius and Bond were married in Canada. Previously, President Obama named openly gay men as ambassadors to five other countries.

AT LEAST SIX OF EIGHT GAYS WIN RACES: Sims

Of eight openly LGBT candidates on primary ballots yesterday, six are confirmed winners, one lost, and for one the results were not yet in at midnight. In Georgia, incumbent State Rep. Simone Bell easily won her Democratic primary with 64 percent of the vote; incumbent Democratic Rep. Karla Drenner was unopposed. In Fulton County, incumbent county commissioner Joan Garner coasted to the Democratic nomination with 70 percent of the vote. But newcomer Kyle Williams fell short in his Democratic primary race for a state senate seat, taking on 34 percent of the vote compared to winner Elena Parent’s 66 percent. In Pennsylvania, Democratic incumbent Brian Sims ran unopposed. The results for newcomer Josh Young for a Pennsylvania House seat were not yet in at deadline. In Idaho, newcomer Democrat John McCrostie beat out two other candidates for the nomination to a House seat, taking 53.5 percent of the vote. And in Oregon, Rob Nosse was the top vote getter in a field of six Democratic candidates for a House seat, earning 48 percent of the vote.

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Obama Nominates Gay Man as U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam

President Obama has nominated Ted Osius for U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam.

Thanh Nien News reports:

OsiusIf officially appointed, Osius will replace David Shear, who has held the position since 2011 and been recently nominated to be the next Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs in the Department of Defense.

...A known gay politician, Osius is now married to Clayton Bond, who is an officer with the US Department of State’s Bureau of African Affairs.

From the State Department announcement:

Ted Osius, a career member of the Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, is an Associate Professor at the National War College, a position he has held since 2013.  He was a Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies from 2012 to 2013.  Prior to that, Mr. Osius served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, from 2009 to 2012.  Before that, he was Political Minister-Counselor at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India from 2006 to 2009.  Mr. Osius also served as Deputy Director of the Office of Korean Affairs in the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the Department of State from 2004 to 2006.  Prior to that, he was Regional Environment Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand from 2001 to 2004.  From 1998 to 2001, he was Senior Advisor on International Affairs in the Office of the Vice President at the White House.  He served as Political Officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City and at the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam from 1997 to 2001.  Other positions he has held include: Staff Aide and Political Officer at the United States Mission to the United Nations, Political and Management Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Vatican City, The Holy See, and Political and Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines.  From 1985 to 1987, he was a Legislative Correspondent in the Office of U.S. Senator Al Gore, Jr.  Mr. Osius received an A.B. from Harvard College and an M.S. from the School of Advanced International Studies at The Johns Hopkins University.


Same-Sex Ceremonies Legalized In Vietnam But Marriages Will Not Be Recognized

Vietnam made important strides toward same-sex marriage equality this week when it legalized same-sex wedding ceremonies. Although the unions formed out of these ceremonies will not be recognized by the country as marriages, the news is welcome and exciting for the southeast Asian country. 

VietnamFree District reports:

The decision comes after two fines were imposed last year to two same-sex couples who held weddings ceremonies in Vietnam.

The couples were charged with holding a ceremony “contrary to the habits and customs of Vietnam” and violating the Law on Marriage & Family of Vietnam, which outlaws same-sex marriage, said reports.

After the law was challenged, however, the government backed down, and has decided to allow same-sex weddings.

As Towleroad previously reported, the Vietnamese government has been scheduled to look at a bill which would legalize same-sex marriages as well, but the vote, which would likely have its supporters, has been delayed. 

For now, congratulations to Vietnam and the same-sex couples who are able to have the ceremony of their dreams! 


One of World's Rarest Mammals Spotted for First Time in 15 Years: PHOTO

Saola

The saola, a rare cousin of cattle that looks a bit like an antelope, has been spotted using a camera trap (above) set by the World Wildlife Foundation and the Vietnamese government’s Forest Protection Department in the Central Annamite mountains of Vietnam, WWF reports:

2_saola“When our team first looked at the photos we couldn’t believe our eyes. Saola are the holy grail for South-east Asian conservationists so there was a lot of excitement,” said Dr. Van Ngoc Thinh, WWF-Vietnam’s Country Director. “This is a breath-taking discovery and renews hope for the recovery of the species.” ...

“In Vietnam, the last sighting of a saola in the wild was in 1998,” said Dang Dinh Nguyen, Deputy Head of Quang Nam Forest Protection Department and Director of Quang Nam’s Saola Nature Reserve. “This is an historic moment in Vietnam’s efforts to protect our extraordinary biodiversity, and provides powerful evidence of the effectiveness of conservation efforts in critical saola habitat.”

The saola was discovered in 1992. Little is known about its ecology and it is not known how many survive because it is so elusive, living in a remote wooded habitat on the Vietnam-Laos border.


Hundreds Witness Staged Gay Wedding Ceremony in Vietnam to Support LGBT Rights: VIDEO

Hanoi

Approximately 300 people came out to the center of Hanoi to show support for same-sex marriage on Sunday, Voice of America reports. The supporters also witnessed a “staged” wedding ceremony for two couples (one gay, one lesbian) who, dressed as grooms and brides respectively, exchanged rings and threw bouquets to the crowd. The event was part of the “Toi Dong Y” festival, (translated, it means “I do,” or “I agree”) put on by LGBT groups from across the country.

2_hanoiWatch videos, AFTER THE JUMP...

The rally comes as the Vietnamese Parliament is set to begin debate next month on legalizing same-sex marriage. Last year the Vietnamese government announced it would consider granting same-sex couples the right to marry as part of its overhaul of the country’s marriage laws. Though the current draft of the proposed legislation does not explicitly legalize same-sex marriage, it does remove a provision that makes it specifically illegal and also provides protections for same-sex couples living together.

Many activists are hopeful that Vietnam will soon legalize gay marriage. Said Le Quang Binh, director of the Institute for Studies of Society, Economy and Environment (iSEE),

"I believe in people and I think that when everybody speaks out, everyone has to listen whoever you are. So that’s why we do it this way. We mobilize public opinion, LGBT, students, young people so when people speak their opinion, politicians will have to listen," Binh said. "And I believe that politicians are also human beings. They need time to understand."

Vietnam stands out from many other countries in the region for its attitudes on homosexuality. While in many neighboring countries, “simply being gay can result in jail sentences or whippings with a rattan cane,” Vietnam has been more accepting. As for the reasoning behind this, some point to the country’s political landscape and the role of the media: “Vietnam's state-run media, unable to write about politically sensitive topics or openly criticize the one-party government, have embraced the chance to explore gay issues.”

You can check out Toi Dong Y’s Facebook page HERE.

(Below photo via Facebook)

Viet2

Continue reading "Hundreds Witness Staged Gay Wedding Ceremony in Vietnam to Support LGBT Rights: VIDEO" »


The Gay Rights Push (And Push Back) In Southeast Asia: VIDEO

Screen Shot 2013-07-09 at 5.54.44 PM

For one day in June, the tiny city-state of Singapore brims with bright pink clothing, banners, and festivities to mark the annual "Pink Dot" gathering, a celebration in support of inclusiveness, diversity and the freedom to love. This year's celebration, the fifth such event, was the biggest so far; at 21,000 people it was the largest civil-society gathering in Singapore history.     

But for all Pink Dot's success, the Singapore government's official ambivalence regarding gay rights reflects a common hesitation among Southeast Asian countries when faced with this new notion of human sexuality. Like our own 50 state variety of attitudes towards LGBT rights, some Southeast Asian countries are beginning to take their first hesitant steps towards equality, while others seem to be reinforcing their disapproval of homosexuality.

Continue, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "The Gay Rights Push (And Push Back) In Southeast Asia: VIDEO" »


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