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PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2014 8:29 pm 
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Survey: 39% of single men say oral sex is appropriate on first date
9 February 2014

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DALLAS (UPI) -- Nearly 4-in-10 single U.S. men say oral sex or intercourse is appropriate on a first date versus fewer than 1-in-10 women, a survey by Match.com indicates.

The online dating service found 39 percent of single men say oral sex is appropriate on a first date versus 7 percent of women. When it comes to intercourse, the breakdown is 37 percent of men and 8 percent of women. Match.com says in its fourth annual "Singles in America" survey, 85 percent of men say kissing is appropriate on a first date versus 70 percent of women.

U.S. singles are more than three times more likely to have met their most recent first date online than the 8 percent who say they met at work or the 6 percent who say they met at a bar or club. First dates may be more serious than many think -- 51 percent of singles say they imagined a future together while on a first date -- 56 percent of men and 48 percent women. On a first date, both sexes agree they would rather not discuss past relationships, politics or religion.

Sixty percent of singles had sex at least once last year, but about two-thirds of singles say they desire more sex this year, the survey found. However, the ideal frequency of sex for both men and women with a familiar partner is two or three times per week. Only 15 percent of men and 12 percent of women say they'd ideally want to have sex every day. Sixty-five percent of men and 69 percent of women say 10 p.m. is the ideal time to have sex.

Singles spend nearly $61.53 per month on dating-related activities, totaling about $738.36 each year per individual. With 111 million singles in the United States, this amounts to about $82 billion annually, Match.com says. Seventy-five percent of singles would date someone from a different ethnic background, while 70 percent of singles would date someone of a different religious background and more half of singles approve of partners having children out of wedlock.

The survey was conducted by Research Now in association with anthropologist Helen Fisher and evolutionary biologist Justin R. Garcia of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction at Indiana University. The 2013 study is based on the attitudes and behaviors taken from a representative sample of 5,329 U.S. singles ages 18 to 70. No margin of error was provided.

Source: UPI.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2014 3:45 am 
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'Days of Our Lives' to Make TV History With Gay Male Wedding
by Kimberly Nordyke
31 March 2014

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The soap is set to air the ceremony uniting Will Horton (Guy Wilson) and Sonny Kiriakis (Freddie Smith) this week.

NBC's long-running daytime drama is set to air the first wedding between two males with the marriage of Will Horton (Guy Wilson) and Sonny Kiriakis (Freddie Smith). The wedding will take place over the course of three consecutive episodes. Days began the storyline back in 2011 when Smith (90210) joined the show.

However, this isn't the first same-sex wedding to air on a soap. ABC's All My Children was the first to air one back in 2009, with the nuptials of Bianca Montgomery (Eden Riegel) and Reese Williams (Tamara Braun).



Source: Hollywood Reporter.

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PostPosted: Wed May 07, 2014 8:08 pm 
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Hook Up Truck Hits The Street Offering Haven For Casual, Safe Sex
May 1, 2014



SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The Hook-Up truck – a conceptual “art” installation consisting of a box truck converted to a sex suite on wheels, including temperature controls, birth control, safe sex accouterments, and a camera option, in case you and yours decide to make the escapade a YouTube sensation, is finally open for service the weekend of May 2nd and 3rd.

The “Hook-Up Truck” is the brainchild of artist Spy Emerson. According to their website, the box truck is a car service, like a mobile hotel room, available for short-term rentals.

“The room is designed with cleanliness in mind. I’ve created a very minimalist room. Everything is wiped down and cleaned before and after every person. It’s probably cleaner than the BART or any public toilet you’ve used.” The room has no bed or bedding. Instead, there’s a custom-built metal-and-wood bench covered with vinyl, which is stain-resistant. “Instead of a traditional bed – which is bedding and absorbent – this is a bench, in the shape of a ‘C’, and designed to facilitate positioning for the average-sized bodies,” Emerson said.

Emerson said her lawyer has checked, and as far as he can tell, the hook-up truck is legal. No permits or inspections needed. But until they’re sure, the use of the truck will be free of charge. “It’s not necessarily a grey area. It’s an unlegislated area,” Emerson said. “It hasn’t been done yet. I’ve got a wonderful attorney who has consulted with all the legal people who could guide us. He’s really putting out the effort to find where we need to register or what we need to do to make this legal. So there isn’t a place for us yet. This weekend, we’re starting out free. I’m not accepting any money yet.”

Emerson said she knows there are people who are upset about the hook up truck. Her message to them: “they need more fun in their lives.” “I think a lot of this finger-wagging and blaming and anger comes from jealousy. This is great. It’s making people feel really happy. It isn’t anything nefarious or ugly. It’s making sex safer and more fun. Anyone who finds something ugly about this is looking for something negative. I’m sorry for them.” Emerson says she does have some rules, though, including “No drunks!”

Saturday, from 6-9 p.m., it will be in Oakland’s Uptown neighborhood for the Art Murmur, before heading to San Francisco’s Mission District where Emerson will be on the air with Radio Valencia at 10 p.m.

The truck also can be reserved through mobile dating apps “for immediate dispatch.” It can also be pre-booked for festivals, weddings, or holiday parties. Users of the truck must be at least 21 and registered with the service online.

Source: CBS.

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PostPosted: Sun May 11, 2014 5:33 am 
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Chlamydia Sets U.S. Record For Most Cases of Reportable Disease
April 8, 2014
By Barbara Hollingsworth

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Chlamydia trachomatis bacterium (National Institutes of Health)

(CNSNews.com) – A total of 1,422,976 new cases of Chlamydia trachomatis were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2012, “the largest number of reported cases for any notifiable disease in the U.S.," a CDC spokeswoman told CNSNews.com.

A list of the National Notifiable Infectious Conditions that are reported by 57 state and territorial jurisdictions can be found on CDC's website.

Approximately 110 million Americans – more than a third of the entire U.S. population - were infected with a sexually transmitted disease (STD) as of 2008, the latest date for which figures are available, the CDC spokeswoman confirmed. That includes more than a million Americans living with HIV.

CDC estimates that nearly 20 million new STD cases are contracted annually, including gonorrhea (334,826 new cases reported in 2012), HIV (47,500 new cases reported in 2010), and primary and secondary syphilis (15,667 new cases in 2012). They cost the nation nearly $16 billion in health care costs annually.

Young people aged 15 to 24 account for 50 percent of all new venereal infections even though they make up just 25 percent of the sexually active population, the CDC notes. “STDs are hidden epidemics of enormous health and economic consequence in the United States,” the health agency stated in its annual “Sexually Transmitted Disease Surveillance 2012” report, which was released in January. But “the annual surveillance report captures only a fraction of the true burden” of STDs in America because other common venereal diseases such as human papillomavirus (HPV), herpes, and trichomoniasis are not routinely reported to the agency, the CDC spokeswoman confirmed.

Women aged 20 to 24 have the highest chlamydia infection rate (3,695.5 cases per 100,000), more than twice the rate as men of the same age (1,350.4 cases per 100,000), according to the report, which added that “during 2008-2012, the chlamydia rate in men jumped 25%, compared with an 11% increase in women during this period.”

However, “for the first time since nationwide reporting of chlamydia began, the rate in women did not increase” in 2012, while “the rate in men increased 3.2%.” Blacks were 6.8 times more likely than whites to contract the disease.

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Chlamydia rates by sex (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention)

Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that can be treated with antibiotics. However, it is often asymptomatic, and untreated infections can result in pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which the CDC points out is “a major cause of infertility, ectopic pregnancy, and chronic pelvic pain.”

In 2012, the average chlamydia infection rate in the U.S. was 456.7 per 1,000 population. Mississippi had the highest rate (774.0 per 1,000) while New Hampshire had the lowest (233.0 per 1,000).

CDC also reported 334,826 new cases of gonorrhea (up 4.1% since 2011) and 15,667 new cases of primary and secondary syphilis (up 11.1% percent since 2011, primarily among gay and bisexual men, who account for 75% of all new cases), noting that “antimicrobial resistance remains an important consideration in the treatment of gonorrhea.” “Surveillance data from several major cities throughout the country indicate that an average of four in 10 MSM [men who have sex with other men] with syphilis are also infected with HIV,” the agency reports.

Syphilis can lead to visual impairment, stroke and make victims more susceptible to HIV infections, according to the CDC. Black youth aged 15 to 19 were 16 times as likely to contract syphilis as their white counterparts. “Because STDs and the behaviors associated with acquiring them increase the likelihood of acquiring and transmitting HIV infections, STDs among MSM may be associated with an increase in HIV diagnoses,” the report stated.

Although syphilis plunged 89.7% between 1990 and 2000, largely due to the National Plan to Eliminate Syphilis From the United States, it inched its way back up between 2001 and 2009, the CDC reports. “In 2010, the overall rate decreased for the first time in 10 years” and remained at that level in 2011. But in 2012, “the rate increased 11.1% from that of 2011.”

Gonorrhea and syphilis can also be treated if diagnosed early enough, which is why the CDC recommends screening for all sexually active individuals at least once a year. Men who have sex with other men should be screened every three to six months, the agency advises.

CDC pointed out that STDs can be prevented by not having sex or being in a “long-term monogamous relationship” with a partner who is not infected.

Source: CNS.

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PostPosted: Fri May 23, 2014 5:56 am 
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More than half of gay employees are closeted at work
9 May 2014
By Joe Morgan

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More than half of gay employees are closeted at work.

The majority of LGBT Americans are closeted at work, a new poll has revealed.

53% of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees say they feel uncomfortable to come out, despite support for LGBTI rights continuing to grow. According to the poll of 806 LGBT people published the Human Rights Campaign, the percentage has barely budged from 51% in 2009.

One in four LGBT responds said they continue to hear offensive comments, including ‘that’s so gay’, in the workplace. 20% of employees have said they looked for a new job because their work environment was not accepting. As a result of that workplace culture, around 35% of LGBT employees say they actively lie about their personal lives.

‘It's not enough to simply implement inclusive policies -- those policies need to be augmented by training and accountability, and [leaders] need to be on the lookout for unconscious bias,’ said Deena Fidas, director of HRC's Workplace Equality Program. ‘Employees are getting married without telling their coworkers for fear of losing social connections, or they're not transitioning even though they know they need to for fear of losing their jobs.’ She added: ‘The inclusive policies coming from the boardroom have not fully made it into the everyday culture of the American workplace.’

Source: GayStarNews.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 06, 2014 6:24 pm 
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Verbal or Written Permission Could be Required For College Sex
By Dennis Romero
June 4, 2014

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Terrence S. Jones/Flickr

You're in the heat of the moment, rounding third, but then you must stop and ask, Can I have your verbal or written consent to have sex with you?

Sounds quite un-spontaneous. But a law co-authored by L.A. state Sen. Kevin de Leon would have state-run college campuses establish an "affirmative consent" standard for its students.

According to the language of the bill, SB 967, students who want to have sex must essentially establish that there has been "an affirmative, unambiguous, and conscious decision by each participant to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity." In fact, the legislation says, ...

... It is the responsibility of the person who wants to engage in initiating the sexual activity to ensure that he or she has the consent of the other person to engage in the sexual activity. Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent.

No more making sexy faces and sounds for you. You've got to verbalize. Or get it on paper.

A rep for De Leon said that the University of California system, as well as other noted institutions around the nation, have already adopted a similar policy. And she emphasized that this was just one aspect of a law aimed at changing the culture of California campuses when it comes to sexual assault and harassment.

The legislation, which was recently approved by the Senate, would also require state colleges and universities to establish standards for student or campus sex that already exist under California law: People accused of assault, for example, couldn't use being drunk as an excuse. And it would be assault to have sex with someone who's asleep, unconscious or otherwise unable to give consent.

De Leon's rep explained that while this is also part of current law, campuses have their own systems of student discipline, and without expressly laying down the rules for colleges as well, some suspects could fall through the cracks. And some victims could shy away.

With this law, it would all be there in black and white for each and every state campus. They would have to abide. The bill appears to be a response to last month's release of a U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights roster of 55 schools that face inquiries over their handling of the sex-assault reports.

De Leon says:

The federal government is currently investigating 55 colleges and universities. Obviously, there is a problem. SB 967 will change the equation so the system is not stacked against survivors by establishing an affirmative consent policy to make it clear that only 'yes' means 'yes.'

Bill co-author Hannah-Beth Jackson, a state Senator from Santa Barbara, adds:

... Events in Isla Vista confirm that misogyny exists on and around our campuses, and we need to confront it. This bill makes a strong statement that California is moving from a culture of acceptance to a 'no excuses' culture. No excuses for rape. No excuses for blaming the victims of rape. No excusing for not supporting these victims. And no excuses for colleges and universities turning a blind eye to the problem of campus sexual assault and violence.

Source: LA Weekly.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 12, 2014 3:57 am 
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Huge advances for gay marriage in an eventful year
By DAVID CRARY
June 26, 2014

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FILE- In this June 26, 2013 file photo, gay rights advocate Vin Testa waves a rainbow flag in front of the Supreme Court in Washington.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

One year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a pair of landmark rulings, one striking down the statute that denied federal recognition to same-sex marriages and the other clearing the way for gay couples to wed legally in California.

In the 12 months since then, the ripple effects of those rulings have transformed the national debate over same-sex marriage, convincing many people on both sides that its spread nationwide is inevitable.

From the East Coast to the Midwest and the Pacific, seven more states legalized same-sex marriage, boosting the total to 19, plus Washington, D.C. The Obama administration moved vigorously to extend federal benefits to married gay couples. And in 17 consecutive court decisions, federal and state judges have upheld the right of gays to marry. Not a single ruling has gone the other way.

A look back at some of the notable developments since June 26, 2013:

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In this June 26, 2013 file photo, American University students Sharon Burk, left, and Mollie Wagner, embrace outside the Supreme Court in Washington. On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a pair of landmark rulings, one striking down a law that denied federal recognition to same-sex marriages and the other clearing the way for gay couples to wed legally in California. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)

JULY

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In this Oct. 21, 2013 file photo, Newark Mayor and Senator-elect Cory Booker, right, officiates the ceremony for the same-sex marriage of Liz Salerno, left, and Gabriela Celeiro, at Newark City Hall. Moments after midnight on Oct. 21, gay couples began exchanging vows in New Jersey as their state became the 14th to allow same-sex marriages. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

On July 1, five days after the high court rulings, two men who had been partners since 1989 tried to obtain a marriage license at a courthouse in Norfolk, Virginia. Timothy Bostic and Tony London were turned down, and filed a lawsuit a few weeks later arguing that Virginia's treatment of gays and lesbians was unequal in depriving them of the many benefits of marriage.

Another gay couple was later added to the case, and in February a federal judge, Arenda L. Wright Allen, ruled in their favor, saying Virginia's ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional.

OCTOBER

Moments after midnight on Oct. 21, gay couples began exchanging vows in New Jersey as their state became the 14th to allow same-sex marriages. A state judge, in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court decisions, had ruled in September that New Jersey's provisions for civil unions were not adequate to ensure equality for gay couples. The state's politically ambitious Republican governor, Chris Christie, had fought for years against gay marriage, but within hours of the first weddings he dropped his still-pending appeal of the court ruling.

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In this Nov. 5, 2013 file photo, Illinois Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, left, is congratulated by lawmakers as same-sex marriage legislation passes on the House floor during veto session in Springfield, Ill. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, top center, looks on. Quinn signed the gay marriage bill on a desk once used by President Abraham Lincoln. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)

"The governor will do his constitutional duty and ensure his administration enforces the law," a statement from his office said.

NOVEMBER

In the span of a week, the governors of Hawaii and Illinois signed laws passed by the legislature legalizing same-sex marriage. In Hawaii, tourism officials looked ahead to the possibility of becoming a gay wedding mecca. Some activists looked back — recalling that Hawaii was an early battleground in the gay marriage debate.

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In this Dec. 2, 2013 file photo, Shaun Campbell, left, and Tony Singh are congratulated by guests after their wedding at the Sheraton Waikiki in Honolulu. Hawaii became the 15th state to legalize same-sex marriage. In the span of a week, the governors of Hawaii and Illinois signed laws passed by the legislature legalizing same-sex marriage. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia, File)

The state Supreme Court had ruled in 1993 that gay couples should have marriage rights, triggering a backlash that included congressional passage of the Defense of Marriage Act in 1994. It was a key part of that act — forbidding the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages — that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a year ago.

In Illinois, Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn signed the marriage bill on a desk once used by President Abraham Lincoln. Among those speaking at the ceremony was state Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka, a Republican. "History will show that we got it right on this one," she said. "I am available to be a flower girl, and I'll even waive the fee."

DECEMBER

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In this Dec. 19, 2013 file photo, Miriam Rand, left, and Ona Porter, both of Albuquerque, N.M., talk to the media after the New Mexico Supreme Court declared it was unconstitutional to deny marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples in the state. New Mexico became the 17th state to legalize same-sex marriage. Some opponents of same-sex marriage talked of trying to overturn the ruling with a ballot measure, but that effort did not gain traction. (AP Photo/Russell Contreras, File)

New Mexico became the 17th state to legalize same-sex marriage on Dec. 19, through a unanimous ruling by the state Supreme Court. Some opponents discussed trying to overturn the ruling with a ballot measure, but that effort gained no traction. The Republican governor, Susana Martinez, urged New Mexicans to "respect one another in their discourse" and turn their focus to other issues.

A day after that ruling, a federal judge in Utah created even bigger waves, striking down the ban on gay marriage that voters in the conservative state had approved in 2004. It was the first of more than dozen similar rulings to follow by judges in other states. U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby, a former Army combat engineer, said in his 53-page decision that Utah failed to show how allowing same-sex marriages would harm opposite-sex marriages in any way. "In the absence of such evidence, the state's unsupported fears and speculations are insufficient to justify the state's refusal to dignify the family relationships of its gay and lesbian citizens," he wrote.

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In this Feb. 4, 2014 file photo, plaintiff in the Bostic v. Rainey case, Tony London, waves to the crowd as he and his partner, Tim Bostic, right, leave Federal Court after a hearing on Virginia's ban on gay marriage in Norfolk, Va. On July 1, 2013 five days after the high court rulings, Bostic and London, who'd been partners since 1989 tried to obtain a marriage license at a courthouse in Norfolk, Va. Bostic and London were turned down, and filed a lawsuit a few weeks later arguing that Virginia's treatment of gays and lesbians was unequal in depriving them of the many benefits of marriage. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

More than 1,000 gay and lesbian couples wed in Utah before Shelby's ruling was stayed.

MAY

Late in the afternoon of Friday, May 9, a county circuit judge in Little Rock struck down Arkansas' 10-year-old ban on gay marriages. A week passed before Judge Chris Piazza's ruling was stayed by the state Supreme Court, creating an opening in which more than 540 gay couples received marriage licenses — the first batch of gay weddings in the former Confederacy.

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In this Feb. 21 2014 file photo, Cook County Clerk David Orr, left, performs a marriage ceremony for Theresa Volpe, second from left, and Mercedes Santos in Chicago. In Illinois, Gov. Pat Quinn signed the same-sex marriage bill on a desk once used by President Abraham Lincoln. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)

In Oregon, U.S. District Judge Michael McShane threw out the state's same-sex marriage ban on May 18. Oregon swiftly became the 18th state to allow gay marriage, since top government officials had refused to defend the ban. The next day, on the other side of the country, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III struck down Pennsylvania's marriage law. "We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history," Jones wrote in his decision.

Republican Gov. Tom Corbett, though opposed to gay marriage, said he would not appeal, and Pennsylvania became the 19th state where gay couples could wed.

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This June 25, 2014 file photo shows Jolene Mewing, left, and her spouse Collen Mewing as they gather with about 300 people in a park to celebrate the same-sex marriage ruling in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

JUNE

As the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's marriage rulings approached, marriage-equality lawsuits were pending in all 31 of the states that still barred gays from marrying.

On Wednesday, a federal judge in Indiana struck down that state's ban. And more notably, the first ruling was issued at the level of the federal appellate courts. A 2-1 decision from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Shelby that Utah's gay-marriage ban was unconstitutional. It's possible that in another year, the issue could be back before the U.S. Supreme Court — with the justices facing a clear-cut choice on whether to rule that gay marriage must be allowed in every state.

Image

Source: Yahoo! AP.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 7:55 am 
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Sex website seizure spurs San Francisco bid to decriminalize prostitution
By Mary Papenfuss
July 29, 2014

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Carol Leigh, a long-time sex worker and advocate for decriminalizing prostitution, poses for a photograph in her office in San Francisco, California July 18, 2014. REUTERS-Robert Galbraith

(Reuters) - The head of San Francisco’s Erotic Service Providers Union has been a sex worker for 24 years — and "I hope to be doing it for another 24," says Maxine Doogan.

But she dreams of a future when she won’t be treated like a criminal and could earn a little respect in the city that launched the fight for sex worker rights 41 years ago.

Calls by Bay Area sex workers for decriminalizing "consensual" prostitution have been spurred anew following the FBI seizure of a West Coast sex services website that prosecutors say hooked up clients with prostitutes and which sex workers saw as a vital forum to screen dangerous clients. The shutdown in June of website myredbook.com left local sex workers scrambling for business and worried about their safety. It drove them to launch new Web forums as they seek independence from pimps, traffickers and intimidating customers.

The famously tolerant San Francisco Bay Area would seem like an easy battleground for amending prostitution laws. The fight for sex worker rights was first launched in the United States in San Francisco in 1973 by feminist and self-described prostitute Margo St. James with the organization COYOTE, “Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics.” In the mid-1970s, COYOTE got prostitution in Rhode Island reduced to a misdemeanor crime, until 2009.

But the battle in San Francisco has lost ground in recent years in the face of the increasing influence of religious conservatives, continued opposition by some feminists and the repeated link made by law enforcement between prostitution and sex trafficking of children and immigrants, activists say. Sex workers argue that decriminalizing prostitution would be the best way to fight trafficking by ending the black market, and giving women the ability to report crimes against them.

Myredbook.com hosted coded customer reviews and advertisements for sexual services, according to prosecutors, and its operators have been charged with facilitating prostitution. The website was linked to mypinkbook, where sex workers shared information about violent clients, health and financial concerns, and community resources. "The site functioned as a platform for valuable information for this community," Nadia Kayyali of the advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation told Reuters. "With no place to interact with clients or one another online, workers are driven back to the street where they’re far more vulnerable to violence."

TRAFFICKING CONCERNS

However, Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Casey Bates said myredbook.com played a key role in sex trafficking, often of young teenage runaways. “Almost every one, if not all, of our underage victims were sold on myredbook,” he told Reuters. It’s easier for child traffickers to operate online where a minor’s age is not as obvious as on a street corner, said Bates, who heads his office’s exploitation and trafficking unit. He believes the vast majority of females on myredbook were victims of traffickers.

Efforts to pass a referendum in San Francisco to decriminalize prostitution failed in 2008. But Maxine Doogan’s sex worker group has since teamed up with noted First Amendment lawyer H. Louis Sirkin to launch a strategy to challenge anti-prostitution laws in court. The issue has been complicated by public fascination with the story of escort Alix Catherine Tichelman, 26, who was charged in July with prostitution and injecting a fatal dose of heroin into a Google executive on his yacht. Tichelman has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and activists see the publicity as a salacious distraction.

Meanwhile, they are launching new forums to fill the gap left by myredbook that may better serve sex workers. Myredbook was started by customers to rank sex workers, and they sometimes threatened bad reviews to obtain lower rates or pressure compliance with a demand for unsafe sex, Doogan said. New forums could represent another step in women taking greater control of their work. "'Force' is a term that's used against us, linked to attitudes about gender and sex that punish women for a business that will never vanish,” said retired sex worker and activist Norma Jean Almodovar. “I chose to be a sex worker. And I don’t believe I have to give it away for free no matter how many district attorneys and politicians say I do,” she said.

(Reporting by Mary Papenfuss; Editing by Cynthia Johnston, Jill Serjeant and Eric Beech)
Source: Reuters.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 6:47 am 
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Colorado birth control scheme causes drop in teen pregnancy
By Aleem Maqbool
10 August 2014

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An IUD An intrauterine device is very effective at preventing pregnancy but has a high up-front cost

What impact would giving teenagers free birth control have on American society?

A ground-breaking programme in Colorado aimed to reveal just that, and has led to a dramatic reduction in the rate of teenage pregnancy and other benefits as a consequence. But moral opposition to the scheme, and the nature of the project's funding - a large anonymous donation - leaves it unclear whether it could work across the country.

Dianzu Mosqueda Salinas is a young woman working at a family planning centre in the Colorado town of Boulder. In 2010, she had walked into the very same centre as a nervous teenager, curious about birth control options. "One of my friends from school had an unplanned pregnancy, and at the time I was studying and was not looking to be pregnant," Salinas tells me. "A 20-minute conversation turned into me having an insertion that day."

Salinas neither had to tell her parents nor had to find the money for the birth control device, all because of a programme started five years ago. In 2008, an anonymous donor made a $23m (£13.7m), five-year commitment to provide long-term contraception such as intrauterine devices (IUDs) or implants for teenagers who needed them, for free or at very low cost. The state's health department rolled out the programme, called the Colorado Family Planning Initiative, through clinics that were already offering family planning services.

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Dianzu Mosqueda Salinas now works at the same clinic where she received birth control free of charge

In less than five years, the Colorado teenage birth rate has declined by 40%. "We really strongly believe that adolescents need access to contraception," says Liz Romer, a family planning nurse at Denver Children's Hospital. "It needs to be readily available, the same day, and it needs to be free." Romer says IUDs normally cost between $500 and several thousand dollars up front. She says that is prohibitive to teenagers who either cannot pay themselves, who feel they cannot ask their parents to pay for contraception, or whose families could not afford it in any case.

When Greta Klinger, the director of the programme, got the first results back about how the initiative was working, she and others were stunned. "The demographer whom I worked with on the analysis of the data kept coming into my office and saying, 'Look at this, I've never seen this before.'" Klingler says. "It's really incredible. From the public health perspective, it's pretty rare to have a programme that produces such dramatic results."

The US birth rate for teenagers is decreasing across the country, but Colorado has seen a quicker drop - between 2008-12, it jumped from 29th-lowest teen birth rate in the nation to the 19th lowest.

Not everyone is happy. There is fierce opposition to the idea of offering birth control to teenagers from groups like Colorado Right to Life.

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Liz Romer said getting contraception to teenagers the same day they make their appointment is crucial

"When you teach children that they're animals - that they have evolved from pigs and dogs and apes - then they act like animals," says Bob Enyart, a spokesman for the group. Enyart says offering IUDs and other devices sends the message that teenagers can "have all the sex you want". He believes it has led to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and is immoral. "We are made in God's image, and God's likeness and for 13-, 14-, 15-year-old girls to be having sex is destructive for them," he says.

Salinas, who got her contraceptive implant in 2010, says her peers who are on birth control are more likely to be relaxed about having sex. That, she says, was the point. But she also says that those who, like her, have taken advantage of the contraceptive scheme have also been exposed to more information about the risks and ways to prevent STDs, through visits with a family planning practitioner.

Klingler believes the programme's importance is much broader. "We had a young woman come into one of our clinics - she was 17. Her mom and all of her sisters had been pregnant as teens and she didn't want that to happen, so she came in and got an IUD fitted straight away. She came back three years later. She had been the first in her family not only to graduate high school but was now enrolled in college. She said this had been a life-changer for her."

Those involved in the project say it is showing the rest of the country the huge benefits of offering birth control for free - to public health and to the economy - both in savings to government-funded healthcare schemes and gained productivity of those who did not get pregnant as teenagers. That was the reason the anonymous donor chose to invest in the vision, Klinger says.

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Greta Klingler says the programme has changed lives - and saved Colorado money

Other states are certainly taking notice of what Colorado has achieved. But to some extent the state was able to quiet conservative opposition because the scheme relied on private money. Using public funds to give teenagers free contraception in America could well be a very different prospect.

Source: BBC.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 23, 2014 6:31 pm 
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US announces protections for transgender workers
18 December 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Justice Department is now interpreting federal law to explicitly prohibit workplace discrimination against transgender people, according to a memo released Thursday by Attorney General Eric Holder.

That means the Justice Department will be able to bring legal claims on behalf of people who say they've been discriminated against by state and local public employers based on sex identity. In defending lawsuits, the federal government also will no longer take the position that Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act, which bans sex discrimination, does not protect against workplace discrimination on the basis of gender status.

The memo released Thursday is part of a broader Obama administration effort to afford workplace protection for transgender employees. In July, President Barack Obama ordered employment protection for gay and transgender employees who work for the U.S. government or for companies holding federal contracts.

The new position is a reversal in position for the Justice Department, which in 2006 stated that Title VII did not cover discrimination based on transgender status. "The federal government's approach to this issue has also evolved over time," Holder wrote in the memo, saying his position was based on the "most straightforward reading" of the law. The memo covers all components of the Justice Department as well as all U.S. Attorneys' offices. The Justice Department does not have authority to sue private employers, and the new memo does not affect that.

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, welcomed Holder's memo but said that rather than break new ground, it mainly affirms a position the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has been taking since 2012. Keisling said it is also consistent with how the Education Department has applied Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education, to discrimination complaints brought by transgender students.

"It's just another message to employers, whether they are public employers or private employers, that it is illegal in every state in this country to discriminate against transgender people in employment," she said.

Source: AP.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2015 5:34 am 
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Medicare Spending Cuts on Erection Aids Would Save $444 Million
By Alex Wayne
December 3, 2014

Congress is poised to prohibit Medicare from spending an estimated $444 million for vacuum pumps used to treat erectile dysfunction in the next decade, a cost-saving move that may frustrate people who can’t afford drugs such as Pfizer Inc.’s Viagra.

Medicare’s prescription-drug benefit, created in 2003, generally isn’t permitted to cover Viagra or other erectile-dysfunction medicines. A bill under consideration by Congress would put a similar ban on the pump devices some people use as an alternative. The spending estimate was published yesterday by the Congressional Budget Office.

Cutting Medicare coverage of the pumps will help offset the cost of creating new tax-advantaged savings accounts for severely disabled people. The accounts would help them qualify for programs for low-income people, such as Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income, because most of the savings wouldn’t be considered assets.

Medicare spent $172 million on the devices from 2006 to 2011, the inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services found in a December 2013 report. The payments were “grossly excessive,” the deputy inspector general, Gloria Jarmon, said at the time, because Medicare paid more than twice retail prices for the pumps.

The legislation to create the accounts and cut Medicare coverage of vacuum pumps is scheduled to be considered by the House this week and combined with year-end tax measures. The bill, introduced by Representative Ander Crenshaw, a Florida Republican, has 380 sponsors.

Source: Bloomberg.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 10, 2015 9:02 pm 
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Syphilis spikes among sexually transmitted diseases in U.S.
By David Beasley
December 16, 2014

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Syphilis is rapidly spreading among gay and bisexual men in the United States, leading to the highest new case numbers reported in two decades, while other common sexually transmitted diseases appear to be under control, a federal study found on Tuesday.

In 2013, the number of syphilis infections reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rose by more than 10 percent to 17,535 cases, according to the agency's annual report card on diseases commonly spread through sexual contact. That is the most syphilis cases since 1995, the CDC said, with men having sex with men accounting for 75 percent of infections.

"We're concerned about this increase," said Gail Bolan, director of the CDC's division of sexually transmitted disease prevention. "The traditional tools we have been using do not seem to be as effective." The report also found that gonorrhea transmission was stabilizing, while new cases of Chlamydia declined from the levels seen in 2012.

Federal health officials called for better screening of syphilis, which can lead to blindness and stroke if untreated. Half of the men with syphilis are also infected with HIV, according to the CDC. The CDC recommends at least annual tests for men having sex with men. Men having sex with anonymous partners may require more frequent screenings, such as every three to six months, Bolan said, calling for more awareness among medical professionals. "We have a lot of providers that don't realize that syphilis is back," she said. "They think this is a disease of years past. It's critical that they do a sexual history so that they can improve screening for these men."

(Editing by Letitia Stein and Christian Plumb)
Source: Reuters.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 26, 2015 5:37 pm 
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Deeply conservative Oklahoma adjusts to sudden arrival of same-sex marriage
By Monica Hesse
January 24, 2015

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Kathryn Frazier and Tracy Curtis wondered if anyone would come to their wedding in red Oklahoma. Sixty people did.

The “polite gays,” was how Tracy and Kathryn described themselves.

Not political or loud, not obvious or overt, but understated, in keeping with their Oklahoma surroundings. Never asking anyone to think too hard or talk too much about the fact that they were gay at all. Except now they were about to ask everyone they knew to think about it, because they’d decided to have a wedding.

“Okay, here are our wedding plans, right here,” Tracy Curtis said, opening her notebook at the Hideaway Pizza and scanning the friends she and her partner, Kathryn Frazier, had invited to their inaugural planning session. “If you’ll notice, this notebook’s empty. We need help.” “Tracy, I don’t know.” Across the table, one friend half-raised her hand. “I just haven’t been to many gay weddings. And I’m gay. We’re in kind of uncharted territory.”

They were at this restaurant because in October the Supreme Court decided to let several lower court marriage rulings stand, which made same-sex unions legal in some of the country’s reddest states, including theirs. The next day, Tracy and Kathryn picked up a marriage license on the advice of a lawyer friend who told them to hurry before this suddenly opened window closed. But after a two-minute ceremony, Kathryn, 39, went to work and Tracy, 44, went to a doctor’s appointment, and then went home and cried because what they’d just experienced felt like checking something off a list, not like getting married.

And so now, in November, they were at the Hideaway to plan an actual wedding, to take place in a state where 62 percent of people in a recent poll said they didn’t approve of same-sex marriage — and 52 percent said they felt that way strongly.

One friend suggested that the reception could have a casino night theme. A teenager at the table wondered why the couple hadn’t chosen their outfits a long time ago — “Because, honey, we didn’t think we could ever get married in Oklahoma,” Kathryn explained — and someone else started ticking off venues. Tracy had a vision of guests holding candles. But centerpieces? Flowers? Music? Thinking of it all made them feel overwhelmed, especially when it came to one question above all: Who would come to this wedding?

A few nights later, the couple sat at their dining room table and went over prospective guests. They still didn’t have a venue, but they’d chosen a day, in January, and they’d made enough save-the-date cards to send to 86 people, a list Tracy had written on the bottom of her Bible study worksheet and kept re-counting. “Are they coming?” Kathryn asked, pointing to one of the names in surprise. “I don’t think they’ll come,” Tracy said. “We’re just sending a postcard to be polite.” She looked at another name and laughed. “I just cannot imagine inviting her to this wedding.” But they would, they decided. They would invite everybody to this wedding and let them decide for themselves whether to come.

“It feels very emotional and vulnerable to be inviting all these people,” Kathryn said. “But that’s why you have a wedding,” Tracy replied. So the next week, they put the save-the-dates in the mail, and soon after, the invitations, and then they waited.

image
Wilson Curtis, left, sits next to his sister, Tracy Curtis, along with their niece, Kate Burkert, sister Trish Burkert, their mother, Diana Lobrano, and their father, Bill Curtis, at Hideaway Pizza in Oklahoma City. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

****

Oklahoma

This was a place where Kathryn’s workplace had a cussing jar, a quarter per swear, and the words written on it, “Let Go and Let God.” Here, Christianity was the religion — Tracy and Kathryn were believers — and Oklahoma football was the religion — Tracy and Kathryn were believers — and people could be decent and kind and judgmental, sometimes all at once, which was why, when Tracy told some Rotary Club friends that she and Kathryn were getting married, she kept her eyes planted above their heads so she wouldn’t have to look at their faces.

Tracy and Kathryn had been together for seven years and known each other for 18, but they began worrying about everything in their lives that could be disrupted by this ceremony. They worried about offending people. They worried when Tracy called their top choice for a venue. At first the woman who answered the phone said the location was available, then she asked for the bride’s name — “Kathryn” — and the groom’s name — “Tracy” — and then, when she figured out that Tracy was not a man but a woman, she explained that they didn’t do same-sex weddings and wouldn’t accommodate the party after all.

“We had our first run-in with meanness the other day,” Kathryn told her mother, Jane Webb, the next morning when they met for breakfast at a Cracker Barrel. “Well, did you have to tell them it was a gay wedding?” Jane brainstormed. “Couldn’t you just say you were having a beer fest?” “No, Mom.” “Now, I haven’t told him about the wedding, and I’m not sure that I intend to,” Jane said a few minutes later, bringing up her own worries about her husband, Kathryn’s stepfather. He hadn’t reacted well to learning she was gay.

Kathryn wondered: Would her stepfather come to the wedding? Tracy wondered: Would her parents come? Her empathetic mother and her ex-military father? What about Kathryn’s boss, Tim? He and Kathryn talked all the time about homosexuality and the Bible, and his wife, Kelly, was the leader of Tracy’s Bible study. The two couples had eaten dinners at each other’s homes and been friends for more than a decade — but would Tim and Kelly come to the wedding?

The person Kathryn wondered about most was her biological father. He had raised her; after his divorce from Jane, it was the two of them alone in a small, boxy house in the middle of open plains. He was a rural postman and the job suited him — a solitary route that took him down the same path, every day, a hundred miles of roads. His world was predictable and contained, and Kathryn hadn’t found the right way to talk to him about the wedding.

Tracy didn’t know they hadn’t spoken. She sent his invitation in a batch with all the others — and now Kathryn had no choice but to call her father, or he would learn about the ceremony by checking the mail. As the words about the invitation came spilling out, they became words about why she and Tracy had decided, despite all their worries, to have this wedding. She told him that she didn’t think there was anything wrong with the way she and Tracy felt about each other. She said that marriage was an important rite in the history of humanity, something people had been doing throughout time, and something she wanted to be a part of. She told him that marriage, as a value, was American. He didn’t say anything. There was only silence on the other end of the line. “I’d like for you to come,” Kathryn said after a while. She left it at that.

****

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A photo of Kathryn Frazier, left, and Tracy Curtis sits on a table at the couple’s wedding Jan. 3 in Norman, Okla. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

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Returned wedding RSVPs begin to pile up in Curtis and Frazier’s home in Norman in December. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

The first RSVP arrived in the middle of December, addressed to “Bride Central.” Tracy saw it in the mailbox but made herself wait until Kathryn was home to open it. Inside was a response from a teenage girl Tracy had mentored at a homeless shelter. “This will be my first wedding!” the girl wrote, and the couple took the card inside and started to make a pile: three more “Will Attends” arrived the next day, five the day after that. By then they’d found a venue, a tea house on Main Street, whose owner recalled telling them, “I haven’t been exposed much to that life, but I love all God’s children,” and by then Tracy’s mother had phoned with a request.

“Tracy,” Diana Lobrano asked her daughter in a serious voice. “Would you consider wearing your grandmother’s wedding dress?” Tracy snorted before she could help herself. The gown may have been an heirloom, but her grandmother was a diminutive size six and Tracy was a tall 14 — it would never fit. But in that moment, Tracy began to realize that other people were taking this ceremony seriously.

They ordered trays of cupcakes and truffles, downloaded dance tutorials and made multiple trips to Dillard’s, where a white-haired clerk sold Kathryn a gray blazer and helped Tracy find an evening gown, then a different gown, and a different gown when she still couldn’t make up her mind. They told the clerk they needed the clothes for a wedding; they were too worried about what she might think to tell her the wedding was theirs.

A few weeks before the wedding, Tracy’s parents arrived from South Carolina, where they’d moved several years before. On their first night in town, her father came into the kitchen while Tracy and Kathryn were washing dishes. He told them he had a question he felt a little awkward about asking.

Bill Curtis was politically conservative. A retired technical sergeant with the Air National Guard, he thought that things might have been easier before the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, when someone would know another person was gay but not talk about it. He questioned news polls that said that the majority of Americans supported same-sex marriage. People on the coasts might, he thought, but he wasn’t sure about people in the middle of the country.

He also thought that his daughter was a good person who deserved to be happy, with the same rights as everyone else, and so he had packed a gray suit and a selection of ties and driven 17 hours with Diana to be at the ceremony. Now, in the kitchen, he asked, “Is there a role you would like me to have in this wedding?” He didn’t mean to presume or impose, he said — he just wanted to offer.

****

image
Tracy Curtis, left, and Kathryn Frazier prepare for their wedding Jan. 3 in Norman, Okla. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

A week before the wedding, the pile had grown to 67 affirmative RSVPs: Tracy’s sister, in California. An old friend in Washington state. Brandon, the 22-year-old Tracy and Kathryn gained custody of after his mother died five years before, would be driving up from Florida. There were a handful of no’s — “This is our annual duck hunt weekend,” one invitee apologized — but Tracy and Kathryn were starting to feel optimistic. “Maybe I underestimated the people around me,” Tracy said. They still hadn’t heard from Kathryn’s boss, Tim, though, and they still hadn’t heard from Kathryn’s dad. They’d visited him for the holidays, but he didn’t bring up the wedding then and neither did they, and finally, with six days to go, Kathryn telephoned and asked whether he was coming. There was another uncomfortable silence.

“I don’t want you to hate me, and I don’t want you to disown me,” she would remember him telling her. “But I just want things to stay as they are.” He would not be coming. Kathryn didn’t ask him why. “Mad is not the right word,” she told him. “But I am disappointed.” Two days later, Kathryn’s mother called. She would not be coming either — a medical procedure had been scheduled for a few days before the wedding and she didn’t know whether she’d be recovered in time. “It’s really okay,” Kathryn told herself.

A few hours after that call, Tim stopped by Kathryn’s office to ask about a service request in Prague, Okla., several miles out of their normal coverage area. “I told them I’d have to bill them double,” Kathryn said. “At least,” Tim said. “It’s about a 50-minute drive.” “I trust you,” he said, and soon after he left, Kathryn’s cellphone rang. Tracy was on the other end. She’d just gone to the mailbox and found an RSVP, she said. It was from Tim and Kelly. They wouldn’t be coming.

“Mmm-hmm,” Kathryn said, staring at the window in front of her as Tracy told her about the thoughtful card the Lashars had sent along with their RSVP. A few minutes later, Tim came back in. “Where is Prague, anyway?” he joked. “Isn’t that in Europe?” Kathryn took a deep breath. She laughed, and meanwhile, back at the house, after Tracy talked with Kathryn, Tracy’s father pulled her into the kitchen and asked that his daughter hear him out on something.

Don’t recite vows, he suggested. Have a party, not a wedding — it just seemed like that might be the sensitive thing to do. Besides, he pointed out, they were technically already married. That wasn’t the point, Tracy remembered telling him. Their ceremony in October had been done in haste with court decisions in mind. They wanted, she told her father, to feel married.

****

image
Tim Lashar and his wife, Kelly, at their home in Norman, Okla. Kathryn Frazier, who works for Tim, invited the Lashers to her wedding, but they decided not to attend. “I’m sure we’ll discuss it at some point,” Tim Lashar says. “Because I have to wonder if they think, deep down, that we don’t accept them.” (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Two days to go now, and across town Tim and Kelly were waiting for Kathryn to come by to pick up a projector they’d said they would lend her for the ceremony.

They cared about Kathryn, they explained, and they cared about Tracy, too. They said they believed that if Kathryn got sick, Tracy should be allowed to visit her in the hospital. They thought everybody should be allowed to designate one “person” — the loved one with whom they’d legally decided to share their lives. It was obvious to them that Tracy and Kathryn could be each other’s “people.” But marriage, they said, was something holy and biblical, something whose definition shouldn’t be changed.

In the greeting-card section of the store, Kelly said, she had hesitated over which card she should buy to accompany the RSVP saying they wouldn’t be attending. A card with bride and a groom seemed insensitive. She ended up choosing one with a dog holding a glass of champagne, after which she and Tim crafted the message inside together: “The two of you have been special to our family in many ways, and we pray nothing but happiness for you.”

And then the greeting card and the RSVP card sat, unmailed, on Tim and Kelly’s kitchen counter, until they were a full week late. Kelly liked to include notes on her RSVPs — saying that her family was looking forward to attending an event, or that she was sorry they couldn’t come — but for this wedding, she hadn’t been able to think of a message she could honestly write. “Sorry this is so late!” she wrote finally, underneath the box checked “Cannot Attend.”

They knew the card had probably arrived by now, but Tim still hadn’t talked with Kathryn about it at work. “I’m sure we’ll discuss it at some point,” he said. “Because I have to wonder if they think, deep down, that we don’t accept them.” Kelly was silent for a moment. “I do think that deep down, in the quiet of their hearts, they might wonder that.” A few minutes later, there was a knock at the door, and Kathryn came into the foyer to examine the projector with Kelly. “They have a big white wall there, and that’s where you’re going to want to project it,” Kelly suggested. She knew the tea house — it was the same place she held her Bible studies. “Is it going to be a thing where people are looking at it, or is it just looping?”

“Just looping,” Kathryn said. She explained that the reception would have tables with games, and the slideshow would be playing in the background. “It’s a good, strong bulb,” Kelly said. “It shouldn’t burn out. I would hate for you to take it and then have it burn out in the middle.” “Are you planning on coming in to work tomorrow?” Tim asked. “I’m not sure.” “Don’t make a trip in,” he said. “I’ll handle the calls.”

****

image
Kathryn Frazier, left, and Tracy Curtis prepare to leave their home for their wedding. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Less than 24 hours left, and Kathryn and Tracy were staying up late with Tracy’s family, checking off last-minute details and talking about the final guest count. “Every solitary day here, there is someone disapproving of my life,” Kathryn said to Tracy’s mother, who was upset with some of the people who weren’t coming. “Every minute, probably,” Diana responded. “Every second,” Tracy said. “But to some degree,” Kathryn said, “if you’re a gay person living in Oklahoma, you’re just going to have to decide how to respond to that.” “It’s a process,” Tracy said.

“Maybe this is not the ending journey for some people,” Kathryn said. “Maybe this is the beginning. Maybe our wedding will be useful for later in their journey.” Her father wasn’t coming, her mother and stepfather weren’t coming — perhaps nobody in her family was coming, but she didn’t want to lose relationships over this wedding. “Sometimes I do feel like an abomination,” Tracy said, a few minutes later. Diana shook her head. “Don’t. Don’t you ever let people say you’re an abomination.”

“There is no deeper question that they can have about me that I haven’t had about myself,” Kathryn said. “I’m a gay Christian in Oklahoma — there is no greater cosmic joke than for me to be a gay Christian.” “You have to understand,” Tracy told her family, finally. “For some of these people, we’re the only gay people they’ve ever met.”

Tracy and Kathryn went to bed, and in the middle of the night Kathryn woke Tracy up, twice, to shake her arm and say, “We’re getting married today, can you believe it?” — and in the morning Kathryn’s stepsister called. She wouldn’t be coming — she had the flu. A good friend in Texas called — he was sick, too. Not coming.

Mid-morning, Kathryn made a final run to Dillard’s to buy a different shirt to wear under her blazer. The same clerk was there, the tiny white-haired woman who had helped on their previous shopping excursions, and with whom Tracy and Kathryn had avoided talking about the ceremony. This time, however, the clerk asked directly: The wedding Kathryn had bought clothes for — who, exactly, was getting married?

Kathryn later remembered bowing her head to her chest, not wanting to make eye contact. She felt her muscles tense as she decided whether to set herself up for another possible rejection. “Do you know that woman I’ve been coming in here with?” she finally said. “I thought that might be it, but I wasn’t going to ask,” the clerk said. Then she started jumping up and down in the middle of the store, grabbing Kathryn’s arms, saying, “I’m so excited for you!” Kathryn looked into the elated face of the clerk whose name she didn’t know, and she burst into tears.

****

image
Kathryn Frazier, center left, marries Tracy Curtis on Jan. 3 at Joy's Tea Palace in Norman, Okla. Sixty people attended the ceremony. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Tracy painted her toenails, hobbling around the living room to dry them, and then carefully slid on her new high heels. One hour before the ceremony was scheduled to begin, Kathryn put on her own shoes — sparkly Vans sneakers — and showed them to Tracy’s father. “I know you’re jealous of my footwear,” she said. “I can just tell.” “I wouldn’t exactly call it jealous,” Bill said. She beckoned him into the kitchen. “I have a boutonniere for you, Mr. Curtis.” He fumbled with the rose and then handed it back to her. “Can you put it on?” he asked. Kathryn pinned the flower to Bill’s lapel. “That looks fine,” he told her. “That’s just fine.” “You’re all set.”

And then there was almost nothing left to do and almost no time left to worry. Tracy’s parents left for the venue so they could greet early guests. The couple was alone in the house. “Are you happy with how I look?” Kathryn asked. “Is my hair good?” “I think you look fantastic,” Tracy said. “How do I look?” “You look beautiful.” “I have lots of crying things — if we start to cry, I can whip some Puffs out of my bra.” “Okay,” Kathryn laughed. “I want you to know that I have prayed for us many times today, because I’m so excited,” Tracy told Kathryn as they got in their truck to drive to the ceremony. “I just — I hope I don’t miss our moment.” “You won’t,” Kathryn said. “We won’t. Because we are going to take a deep breath. And we’re going to be fine.”

They breathed.

Kathryn pulled into a parking space a block from the tea house, and as they got out of the truck, her phone beeped with a message. “I just got a ding,” she said. It was a text from Brandon saying that everyone had arrived, and Tracy and Kathryn could come inside whenever they wanted. They walked toward Main Street in Norman, Okla. When they got all the way to the door, they looked inside and saw the dim glow of candles held by the 60 guests who had decided to come. “Ready?” Kathryn asked, and they went inside and had a wedding.

Image
Kathryn Frazier, center, hugs Brandon Anderson at her wedding. Frazier and her wife, Tracy Curtis, gained custody of Anderson, 22, after his parents died when he was 17. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Image
Tracy Curtis, dances with her father, Bill Curtis, after the wedding ceremony. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Source: Washington Post.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2015 10:07 pm 
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Mystery behind rising syphilis rates in New York City
By Michael Gartland
March 24, 2015

Syphilis in the city is on the rise, and health officials aren’t sure why.

Instances of the chancre-causing disease spiked 8 percent in the first half of 2014, from 585 to 628 cases. The disease has shown a steady increase long-term as well with 1,167 reported cases in 2013, compared with 117 cases in 2000.

Chelsea is the most hard-hit area. The most recent statistics showed an infection of nearly six times the citywide average. Officials are scratching their heads, since studies show condom use is remaining steady.

Deputy Health Commissioner for Disease Control Jay Varna conceded Monday that the data is based on self-reporting, a potential flaw. He said anonymous sexual hook-ups through the Internet are a hurdle to prevention because partners often don’t stay in touch. Officials said the “vast majority” of syphilis cases are among men “who have sex with men.”

Source: New York Post

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 16, 2015 12:47 pm 
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Americans Vastly Overestimate Size of Gay and Lesbian Population
May 22, 2015
by Ben Brody

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Same-sex marriage is one of the fastest-moving social issues in U.S. history, having become legal in state after state as Americans cheer it in ever-growing numbers.

But one thing is slightly off-kilter: Americans seem to have absolutely no idea just how many of their fellow citizens are lesbians or gay men.

In fact, they think that 23 percent of Americans, or almost one in four, are are gays or lesbians, a Gallup survey released Thursday revealed. That's way off: The polling organization most recently found that less than 4 percent self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

A third of people surveyed believed that lesbians and gays made up more than 25 percent of the population. Just 9 percent of those in the survey correctly stated that they thought the group made up less than 5 percent of the population.

It's unclear why people think there are six times as many lesbians and gays as there actually are.

"Part of the explanation for the inaccurate estimates of the gay and lesbian population rests with Americans' general unfamiliarity with numbers and demography," Gallup ventured, noting that people also overestimate the size of the African-American and Hispanic populations in the U.S., although usually only by a factor of two. "The overestimation [of the size of the gay and lesbian population] may also reflect prominent media portrayals of gay characters on television and in movies, even as far back as 2002, and perhaps the high visibility of activists who have pushed gay causes, particularly legalizing same-sex marriage."

Several gay, lesbian, bisexual, and even transgender characters have become prominent in recent years on TV shows such as “Modern Family,” “Scandal,” “Degrassi,” and “Glee,” as well as in movies including “Brokeback Mountain” and the Academy Award-winning biopic “The Imitation Game.”

Those who oppose same-sex marriage give slightly lower — but still way-too-high — estimates of the lesbian and gay population than those who support it do, but the difference between the two groups’ estimates was within the margin of error of 4 percent.

In a separate Gallup poll released Tuesday, the organization found a "record-high" 60 percent of Americans favoring the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Source: Bloomberg.

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