Antigay Activist Doesn’t Like Pride Parade Rules, Won’t March
Bill Donohue has nixed plans to march in New York City’s LGBT pride parade, saying he won’t attend a required ‘gay training session.’
BY TRUDY RING

Surprise, surprise — antigay Catholic activist Bill Donohue isn’t going to march in New York’s LGBT pride parade after all, even though organizers say he can.Donohue released a statement Friday saying he would not attend informational sessions that are required for all parade participants. “Today, I informed Heritage of Pride officials that I objected to their rule requiring me to attend gay training sessions, or what they call ‘information’ sessions,” Donohue, head of the Catholic League, said on his website. “’I don’t agree with your rule,’” I said. They responded by saying that attendance was ‘mandatory.’”Early in the week, Donohue had said he objected to sponsors such as Guinness pulling out of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade because LGBT marchers weren’t allowed to participate, at least not with any signage identifying them as such. He then said he would apply to march in the LGBT parade with a “Straight Is Great” banner, and Heritage of Pride, which runs the parade, said he was welcome to do so, if he went through the proper procedures.In his statement today, Donohue said the St. Patrick’s Day parade has rules as well. “It is hypocritical for gay activists to complain about having to abide by the mandatory rules of the St. Patrick’s Day parade, and then inform me that I cannot march in their parade unless I respect their mandatory rules, rules that I reject,” he said.Earlier in the day, after Donohue had hinted that he might not join in the parade, Village Voice blogger Anna Merlan wrote, “Donohue’s claim that the pride march organizers are throwing up unreasonable roadblocks to keep him from participating is a little disingenuous. It seems almost like an excuse to keep from having to march with a bunch of terrifying happy gay folks, does it not?”She noted that Donohue would have to “attend a training session where he can pick up his permit and hear from the parade marshal how the lineup for the event works. It’s not an LGBT Training Camp. Sorry to disappoint, Mr. Donohue.”After he confirmed that he indeed would not be in the parade, Merlan updated her post to say, “After a little bit of logical twisting and turning, he gets to do what he was really itching to in the first place and call the Pride folks hypocritical. It does seem like a man of Bill Donohue’s robust heterosexuality could withstand a few hours around gay people, but perhaps this is for the best.”

Antigay Activist Doesn’t Like Pride Parade Rules, Won’t March


Bill Donohue has nixed plans to march in New York City’s LGBT pride parade, saying he won’t attend a required ‘gay training session.’


BY TRUDY RING

Surprise, surprise — antigay Catholic activist Bill Donohue isn’t going to march in New York’s LGBT pride parade after all, even though organizers say he can.

Donohue released a statement Friday saying he would not attend informational sessions that are required for all parade participants. “Today, I informed Heritage of Pride officials that I objected to their rule requiring me to attend gay training sessions, or what they call ‘information’ sessions,” Donohue, head of the Catholic League, said on his website. “’I don’t agree with your rule,’” I said. They responded by saying that attendance was ‘mandatory.’”

Early in the week, Donohue had said he objected to sponsors such as Guinness pulling out of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade because LGBT marchers weren’t allowed to participate, at least not with any signage identifying them as such. He then said he would apply to march in the LGBT parade with a “Straight Is Great” banner, and Heritage of Pride, which runs the parade, said he was welcome to do so, if he went through the proper procedures.

In his statement today, Donohue said the St. Patrick’s Day parade has rules as well. “It is hypocritical for gay activists to complain about having to abide by the mandatory rules of the St. Patrick’s Day parade, and then inform me that I cannot march in their parade unless I respect their mandatory rules, rules that I reject,” he said.

Earlier in the day, after Donohue had hinted that he might not join in the parade, Village Voice blogger Anna Merlan wrote, “Donohue’s claim that the pride march organizers are throwing up unreasonable roadblocks to keep him from participating is a little disingenuous. It seems almost like an excuse to keep from having to march with a bunch of terrifying happy gay folks, does it not?”

She noted that Donohue would have to “attend a training session where he can pick up his permit and hear from the parade marshal how the lineup for the event works. It’s not an LGBT Training Camp. Sorry to disappoint, Mr. Donohue.”

After he confirmed that he indeed would not be in the parade, Merlan updated her post to say, “After a little bit of logical twisting and turning, he gets to do what he was really itching to in the first place and call the Pride folks hypocritical. It does seem like a man of Bill Donohue’s robust heterosexuality could withstand a few hours around gay people, but perhaps this is for the best.”

Mo. Baptist College Rejects Gay Student’s Readmission Application
Hannibal-LaGrange University initially accepted Chase Martinson’s application for readmission — but then administrators discovered he was gay.
BY SUNNIVIE BRYDUM

A gay college student in Missouri was denied readmission to the Baptist university he previously attended after he took time off to manage his health issues — during which time he also came out as gay on Facebook. After Chase Martinson took a leave of absence from his nursing studies at Hannibal-LaGrange University to deal with his health issues, he expected to be able to re-enroll at the school, since he was halfway through his studies. But after receiving an initial letter of acceptance in January, complete with an invitation to apply for the school’s honors program, Martinson received a second letter indicating that he was no longer eligible for admission — presumably because he’s openly gay, which the university’s student handbook describes as a “misuse of God’s gift.”"I just wanted to be me, and I never had any idea this would happen," Martinson told the St. Louis Riverfront Times. "I thought I was already in, but then they send me this letter saying, ‘Just kidding.’"That second letter, a copy of which Martinson provided to the Times, states that “Admittance is open to academically and morally qualified students. The University is committed to the spiritual, as well as the academic and social development of individuals.”The letter then notes that students must abide by the “student life guidelines,” and directs Martinson to see pages 20 and 27 of that handbook, which establish the school’s “standard of sexual conduct,” explaining that the university “upholds the traditional biblical view that it is God’s intent that heterosexual union is the only acceptable expression of sexuality and must be reserved for marriage.” The code goes on to list “misuses of God’s love” that are prohibited, including sexual assault, harassment, and abuse, incest, “fornication” outside marriage, and homosexuality. The secondary reference lists homosexuality among forbidden instances of “sexual impropriety,” but goes further to seemingly ban any positive discussion of LGBT identities: “The promotion, and advocacy of, or ongoing practice of a homosexual lifestyle is contrary to institution expectations and is therefore prohibited.” That same section also prohibits “Excessive public displays of affection,” and the viewing of pornography.For his part, Martinson is disappointed, but knows he has no legal recourse. Missouri’s antidiscrimination law does not include sexual orientation or gender identity, but even if it did, the private, religiously affiliated school would likely be exempt from adhering to such policies. Martinson says he will enroll at the University of Missouri-St. Louis for next year. “There’s really nothing I can do. It’s just really sad,” Martinson told the Times. “I have no desire to go back to that school.”

Mo. Baptist College Rejects Gay Student’s Readmission Application


Hannibal-LaGrange University initially accepted Chase Martinson’s application for readmission — but then administrators discovered he was gay.


BY SUNNIVIE BRYDUM

A gay college student in Missouri was denied readmission to the Baptist university he previously attended after he took time off to manage his health issues — during which time he also came out as gay on Facebook.

After Chase Martinson took a leave of absence from his nursing studies at Hannibal-LaGrange University to deal with his health issues, he expected to be able to re-enroll at the school, since he was halfway through his studies. But after receiving an initial letter of acceptance in January, complete with an invitation to apply for the school’s honors program, Martinson received a second letter indicating that he was no longer eligible for admission — presumably because he’s openly gay, which the university’s student handbook describes as a “misuse of God’s gift.”

"I just wanted to be me, and I never had any idea this would happen," Martinson told the St. Louis Riverfront Times. "I thought I was already in, but then they send me this letter saying, ‘Just kidding.’"

That second letter, a copy of which Martinson provided to the Times, states that “Admittance is open to academically and morally qualified students. The University is committed to the spiritual, as well as the academic and social development of individuals.”

The letter then notes that students must abide by the “student life guidelines,” and directs Martinson to see pages 20 and 27 of that handbook, which establish the school’s “standard of sexual conduct,” explaining that the university “upholds the traditional biblical view that it is God’s intent that heterosexual union is the only acceptable expression of sexuality and must be reserved for marriage.” The code goes on to list “misuses of God’s love” that are prohibited, including sexual assault, harassment, and abuse, incest, “fornication” outside marriage, and homosexuality.

The secondary reference lists homosexuality among forbidden instances of “sexual impropriety,” but goes further to seemingly ban any positive discussion of LGBT identities: “The promotion, and advocacy of, or ongoing practice of a homosexual lifestyle is contrary to institution expectations and is therefore prohibited.” That same section also prohibits “Excessive public displays of affection,” and the viewing of pornography.

For his part, Martinson is disappointed, but knows he has no legal recourse. Missouri’s antidiscrimination law does not include sexual orientation or gender identity, but even if it did, the private, religiously affiliated school would likely be exempt from adhering to such policies.

Martinson says he will enroll at the University of Missouri-St. Louis for next year. “There’s really nothing I can do. It’s just really sad,” Martinson told the Times. “I have no desire to go back to that school.”

Large Christian Charity Embraces Gay Employees … If They’re Married
World Vision USA is updating its code of conduct to reflect changing marriage norms.
BY MICHAEL O’LOUGHLIN

World Vision USA, the American branch of one of the world’s largest evangelical Christian charitable organizations, says that employees are still expected to abstain from extramarital sex, but for the first time will consider sexual activity within a marriage between two men or two women to be in line with its rules.Rich Stearns, president of World Vision USA, told employees in a letter that the organization has “not endorsed same-sex marriage, but we have chosen to defer to the authority of local churches on this issue.”In an interview with Christianity Today, Stearns said that World Vision USA was not responding to a lawsuit or employee lobbying.“There is no lawsuit threatening us,” he said. “There is no employee group lobbying us. This is simply a decision about whether or not you are eligible for employment at World Vision U.S., based on this single issue, and nothing more.”"Changing the employee conduct policy to allow someone in a same-sex marriage who is a professed believer in Jesus Christ to work for us makes our policy more consistent with our practice on other divisive issues," he said. "It also allows us to treat all of our employees the same way: abstinence outside of marriage, and fidelity within marriage."Stearns lamented the impact same-sex marriage has had on Christian churches."It’s been heartbreaking to watch this issue rip through the church," he told Christianity Today. "It’s tearing churches apart, tearing denominations apart, tearing Christian colleges apart, and even tearing families apart. Our board felt we cannot jump into the fight on one side or another on this issue. We’ve got to focus on our mission. We are determined to find unity in our diversity."Criticism of World Vision USA’s action came swiftly. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said the heart of Christianity is in jeopardy because of decisions like this, The Washington Post reports. “At stake is the gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said.“If sexual activity outside of a biblical definition of marriage is morally neutral, then, yes, we should avoid making an issue of it,” he added. “If, though, what the Bible clearly teaches and what the church has held for 2,000 years is true, then refusing to call for repentance is unspeakably cruel and, in fact, devilish.”World Visions provides disaster relief to 250 million people each year, in nearly 100 countries, and has revenue of about $1 billion per year.  According to Christianity Today, the organization “has staff from more than 50 denominations — a handful of which have sanctioned same-sex marriages or unions in recent years, including the United Church of Christ, The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Presbyterian Church (USA).”

Large Christian Charity Embraces Gay Employees … If They’re Married

World Vision USA is updating its code of conduct to reflect changing marriage norms.


BY MICHAEL O’LOUGHLIN

World Vision USA, the American branch of one of the world’s largest evangelical Christian charitable organizations, says that employees are still expected to abstain from extramarital sex, but for the first time will consider sexual activity within a marriage between two men or two women to be in line with its rules.

Rich Stearns, president of World Vision USA, told employees in a letter that the organization has “not endorsed same-sex marriage, but we have chosen to defer to the authority of local churches on this issue.”

In an interview with Christianity Today, Stearns said that World Vision USA was not responding to a lawsuit or employee lobbying.

“There is no lawsuit threatening us,” he said. “There is no employee group lobbying us. This is simply a decision about whether or not you are eligible for employment at World Vision U.S., based on this single issue, and nothing more.”

"Changing the employee conduct policy to allow someone in a same-sex marriage who is a professed believer in Jesus Christ to work for us makes our policy more consistent with our practice on other divisive issues," he said. "It also allows us to treat all of our employees the same way: abstinence outside of marriage, and fidelity within marriage."

Stearns lamented the impact same-sex marriage has had on Christian churches.

"It’s been heartbreaking to watch this issue rip through the church," he told Christianity Today. "It’s tearing churches apart, tearing denominations apart, tearing Christian colleges apart, and even tearing families apart. Our board felt we cannot jump into the fight on one side or another on this issue. We’ve got to focus on our mission. We are determined to find unity in our diversity."

Criticism of World Vision USA’s action came swiftly. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said the heart of Christianity is in jeopardy because of decisions like this, The Washington Post reports. “At stake is the gospel of Jesus Christ,” he said.

“If sexual activity outside of a biblical definition of marriage is morally neutral, then, yes, we should avoid making an issue of it,” he added. “If, though, what the Bible clearly teaches and what the church has held for 2,000 years is true, then refusing to call for repentance is unspeakably cruel and, in fact, devilish.”

World Visions provides disaster relief to 250 million people each year, in nearly 100 countries, and has revenue of about $1 billion per year.  According to Christianity Today, the organization “has staff from more than 50 denominations — a handful of which have sanctioned same-sex marriages or unions in recent years, including the United Church of Christ, The Episcopal Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Presbyterian Church (USA).”

Miss. Couple Creates First Record of Same-Sex Marriage
The couple’s registration of their New York marriage license doesn’t mean Mississippi will recognize their union, but it’s part of a push for marriage equality in Southern states.

BY TRUDY RING
In a first for Mississippi, a same-sex couple has created a public record of their marriage, which still does not give it legal standing in the state but lays the groundwork for further progress.Anna Guillot and Chrissy Kelly, who were married in New York in 2012, paid $12 Tuesday to record their marriage license from that state at the Rankin County Chancery Clerk’s Office in Brandon, Miss. They live in Rankin County.Their action is part of the Campaign for Southern Equality’s We Do Campaign, an effort for marriage equality in Southern states, which came to Mississippi this week. “Couples like Anna and Chrissy are doing everything in their power to have their marriage recognized — including creating a public record of their marriage,” Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, said in a press release. “Now no one can deny the reality of their marriage, their love or their commitment. We are calling for Mississippi to treat LGBT people equally under the law.”Added Kelly: “We want people to know they are not alone. There are gay couples here in Rankin County.”In a follow-up move today, five same-sex couples applied for marriage licenses at the Hinds County Courthouse in Jackson. All were denied.Four of the five couples have children, said Beach-Ferrara, who hopes the action will point up that lack of marriage recognition harms children. Mississippi, she said, has the highest percentage of same-sex couples raising children — 26 percent — in the nation.Other events scheduled in Mississippi include a lecture on the LGBT equality movement by Beach-Ferrara at Milsaps College in Jackson tonight at 7; an LGBT rights rally in downtown Jackson at noon tomorrow; and a community organizing dinner in Hattiesburg from 7 to 9 p.m. tomorrow.In previous We Do actions, same-sex couples have registered their marriage licenses in 17 counties in North Carolina and one county in Alabama. Like the registration by Guillot and Kelly, this does not give the marriages legal recognition in those states, but it does create a public record.The next stop for the We Do Campaign will be May 8 in Raleigh, N.C., said Beach-Ferrara. The date is the second anniversary of North Carolina’s adoption of Amendment One, writing a ban on same-sex marriage into its constitution. Find more information on the Campaign for Southern Equality’s Facebook page.

Miss. Couple Creates First Record of Same-Sex Marriage


The couple’s registration of their New York marriage license doesn’t mean Mississippi will recognize their union, but it’s part of a push for marriage equality in Southern states.

BY TRUDY RING

In a first for Mississippi, a same-sex couple has created a public record of their marriage, which still does not give it legal standing in the state but lays the groundwork for further progress.

Anna Guillot and Chrissy Kelly, who were married in New York in 2012, paid $12 Tuesday to record their marriage license from that state at the Rankin County Chancery Clerk’s Office in Brandon, Miss. They live in Rankin County.

Their action is part of the Campaign for Southern Equality’s We Do Campaign, an effort for marriage equality in Southern states, which came to Mississippi this week. “Couples like Anna and Chrissy are doing everything in their power to have their marriage recognized — including creating a public record of their marriage,” Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, said in a press release. “Now no one can deny the reality of their marriage, their love or their commitment. We are calling for Mississippi to treat LGBT people equally under the law.”

Added Kelly: “We want people to know they are not alone. There are gay couples here in Rankin County.”

In a follow-up move today, five same-sex couples applied for marriage licenses at the Hinds County Courthouse in Jackson. All were denied.

Four of the five couples have children, said Beach-Ferrara, who hopes the action will point up that lack of marriage recognition harms children. Mississippi, she said, has the highest percentage of same-sex couples raising children — 26 percent — in the nation.

Other events scheduled in Mississippi include a lecture on the LGBT equality movement by Beach-Ferrara at Milsaps College in Jackson tonight at 7; an LGBT rights rally in downtown Jackson at noon tomorrow; and a community organizing dinner in Hattiesburg from 7 to 9 p.m. tomorrow.

In previous We Do actions, same-sex couples have registered their marriage licenses in 17 counties in North Carolina and one county in Alabama. Like the registration by Guillot and Kelly, this does not give the marriages legal recognition in those states, but it does create a public record.

The next stop for the We Do Campaign will be May 8 in Raleigh, N.C., said Beach-Ferrara. The date is the second anniversary of North Carolina’s adoption of Amendment One, writing a ban on same-sex marriage into its constitution. Find more information on the Campaign for Southern Equality’s Facebook page.

Appeals court keeps stay on Michigan gay marriages

DETROIT — An appeals court put an indefinite halt Tuesday on same-sex marriages in Michigan though lawyers for the couple who challenged the state’s gay-marriage ban had asked the judges to allow them while the state appeals the ruling.

The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals granted the state’s request 2-1 to suspend Friday’s ruling from U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman, who had declared Michigan’s gay-marriage ban unconstitutional. On Saturday, the appeals court had granted an emergency stay.

"The Supreme Court has already determined that a stay pending appeal is warranted when a district court strikes down a state constitutional amendment defining marriage," Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette wrote Tuesday in asking for the extension. The high court ordered a halt to same-sex marriages in Utah in January while that state appeals a December federal court ruling.

Also Tuesday, lawyers for plaintiffs April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse had asked the court to lift its emergency stay while the state appealed.

In 2004, Michigan voters amended the state constitution to defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The state has claimed that children thrive best when mothers and fathers raise them and has argued that’s why it wants to preserve the traditional definition of marriage.

After Friedman’s ruling Friday, clerks in Ingham, Muskegon, Oakland and Washtenaw counties opened their offices Saturday and issued 321 marriages licenses to same-sex couples; at least 299 weddings were performed before the appeals court issued its first stay. The stay leaves those couples in a sort of limbo, waiting to see if their vows are legally recognized.

Rowse and DeBoer didn’t get married Saturday. They said they want to wait to see if Friedman’s decision is upheld after all appeals.

The American Civil Liberties Union said Tuesday it is preparing to launch its own set of legal challenges if Michigan doesn’t recognize the validity of the weddings of same-sex couples performed Saturday.

The challenges could come if Michigan refuses to grant benefits to a spouse in a same-sex marriage, blocks adoptions from those couples or does not allow a couple to file state income tax forms jointly, said Jay Kaplan, a lawyer for the ACLU of Michigan.


“I truly don’t understand the rabid resistance from some people,” said Glenna DeJong, who with Marsha Caspar was the first same-sex couple to get married Saturday in Michigan. “I do know we’ll be on the right side of history.”

DeBoer and Rowse’s lawyers had argued that denying the stay best meets the public interest.

"There are times when maintaining the status quo makes sense," their filing said. "There are also times when maintaining the status quo is merely a kinder label for perpetuating discrimination that should no longer be tolerated."

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia issue licenses for same-sex marriage. Since December, bans on gay marriage have been overturned in Oklahoma Texas, Utah and Virginia, but appeals have put those cases on hold.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This is a joke right? Like they’re joking. Obviously, they are.

This is a joke right? Like they’re joking. Obviously, they are.

Sometimes I love stupid logic. Don’t allow something because we will be terrible awful people/parents if it’s allowed. If only they couldn’t vote

Sometimes I love stupid logic. Don’t allow something because we will be terrible awful people/parents if it’s allowed. If only they couldn’t vote

Judge overturns Michigan’s ban on marriage equality!

Judge overturns Michigan’s ban on marriage equality!

Fred Phelps Dead: Westboro Baptist Church Founder Dies At 84

It’s interesting how people credit him with actually helping gay and lesbian rights groups. And how he was voted out of his church. An interesting read.

Sorry for not posting much lately! It’s finals week! *dies*

Homophobic and gay strangers are asked to hug each other. Pretty interesting to watch! A film by Gay Women

John Kerry Condemns New Law on Phone Call With Uganda President

 Secretary of State John Kerry hopped on the phone with Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni. 

BY Michelle Garcia

February 28 2014 4:33 PM ET

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke on the phone Thursday with Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni to voice concern over the African nation’s discriminatory law, known as the “jail the gays” law, which was officially enacted earlier this week.Kerry expressed the American government’s displeasure with the law, while also raising the concern that the “law poses a threat to the safety and security of Uganda’s LGBT community, and urged President Museveni to ensure the safety and protection of all Ugandan citizens,”  according to a statement from the White House. The law makes homosexuality punishable with prison sentences, up to life in some cases.Museveni and Kerry also discussed how the law would negatively affect public health efforts, including those to address HIV and AIDS, as well as on tourism, and foreign investment in Uganda.Shortly after the bill was signed into law, several other governments made the decision to cut or suspend aid to Uganda, which relies heavily on foreign assistance. Early this week, the Norwegian, Dutch, and Danish governments canceled a total of $26 million in aid to Uganda. Days later, the World Bank indefinitely delayed action on a $90 million loan to the nation because of the legislation.As reported Thursday, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress as well as former member Barney Frank had spoken to World Bank president Jim Yong Kim to share their concerns about the law. “While we appreciate the difficult decisions President Kim has to make and their impact on the lives of many in the developing world, many members believe that such a blatant act of discrimination should not go unnoticed,” Pelosi aide Drew Hammill told BuzzFeed.
Yesterday the State Department released its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, and this year’s report had a greater focus on LGBT rights than past ones. Also, earlier this week Kerry likened the new Uganda law to Nazi Germany’s persecution of Jews and South Africa’s apartheid policy.

John Kerry Condemns New Law on Phone Call With Uganda President

Secretary of State John Kerry hopped on the phone with Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni.

BY Michelle Garcia

February 28 2014 4:33 PM ET

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke on the phone Thursday with Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni to voice concern over the African nation’s discriminatory law, known as the “jail the gays” law, which was officially enacted earlier this week.

Kerry expressed the American government’s displeasure with the law, while also raising the concern that the “law poses a threat to the safety and security of Uganda’s LGBT community, and urged President Museveni to ensure the safety and protection of all Ugandan citizens,”  according to a statement from the White House. The law makes homosexuality punishable with prison sentences, up to life in some cases.

Museveni and Kerry also discussed how the law would negatively affect public health efforts, including those to address HIV and AIDS, as well as on tourism, and foreign investment in Uganda.

Shortly after the bill was signed into law, several other governments made the decision to cut or suspend aid to Uganda, which relies heavily on foreign assistance. Early this week, the Norwegian, Dutch, and Danish governments canceled a total of $26 million in aid to Uganda. Days later, the World Bank indefinitely delayed action on a $90 million loan to the nation because of the legislation.

As reported Thursday, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi and other members of Congress as well as former member Barney Frank had spoken to World Bank president Jim Yong Kim to share their concerns about the law. “While we appreciate the difficult decisions President Kim has to make and their impact on the lives of many in the developing world, many members believe that such a blatant act of discrimination should not go unnoticed,” Pelosi aide Drew Hammill told BuzzFeed.

Yesterday the State Department released its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, and this year’s report had a greater focus on LGBT rights than past ones. Also, earlier this week Kerry likened the new Uganda law to Nazi Germany’s persecution of Jews and South Africa’s apartheid policy.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

WATCH: Married Lesbian Politico Couple Launches Politics/Pop Culture Series

Politics and pop culture in this lesbian couple’s Politini!

By: Tracy E. Gilchrist

There’s just something about a smart lesbian politico couple, which is why we’re excited for married couple Danielle and Aisha Moodie-Mills’ new web show Politini on TheGrio.

The couple aims to get at the intersection of pop culture and politics, including comparing House of Cards and Scandal to what really happens on The Hill.

Watch the first episode here.

Federal judge strikes down Texas gay marriage ban

A federal judge, saying he was complying with the U.S. Constitution and not trying to defy the people of Texas, struck down the state’s ban on gay marriage Wednesday but left it in place pending a ruling by an appeals court later this year.

Judge Orlando Garcia issued his ruling in Austin in response to a suit by two gay couples. They challenged the state’s constitutional amendment, which had been approved by 76% of voters in 2005, and a 2003 law banning gay marriage.

Garcia’s decision rejected the argument by the Texas attorney general’s office that each state has the right to define marriage in the traditions of its citizens. Texas also argued that traditional marriage best supports the state’s interest in procreation and child rearing.

"After careful consideration, and applying the law as it must, this court holds that Texas’ prohibition on same-sex marriage conflicts with the United States Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process," Garcia wrote in a 48-page opinion. "Texas’ current marriage laws deny homosexual couples the right to marry, and in doing so, demean their dignity for no legitimate reason."

He continued that regulation of marriage “has traditionally been the province of the states and remains so today,” but “any state law involving marriage or any other protected interest must comply with the United States Constitution.”

"Today’s court decision is not made in defiance of the great people of Texas or the Texas Legislature, but in compliance with the United States Constitution and Supreme Court precedent," said Garcia, who was nominated to the federal bench by President Clinton in 1994. "Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our United States Constitution."

Under federal court rules, a judge may suspend a law if he or she believes the plaintiffs have a strong case and will suffer if the law is enforced.

Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, indicated the state would appeal. He issued a statement that Texas would “continue to fight for the rights of Texans to self-determine the laws of our state.”

"Texans spoke loud and clear by overwhelmingly voting to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman in our constitution, and it is not the role of the federal government to overturn the will of our citizens," he said.

Nicole Dimetman and Cleopatra De Leon, one of the couples who filed suit, were wed in Massachusetts and want Texas to recognize their marriage. The other plaintiffs, Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes, have been together 17 years and want to get married at home in Texas.

"We are extremely happy — happy beyond words — with Judge Garcia’s decision," Phariss and Holmes said Wednesday in a joint statement with Dimetman and De Leon, the San Antonio Express-News reported. “Today, Judge Garcia affirmed that the Equal Protection Clause applies to all Texans. We are delighted by that decision, and we expect that, if appealed, it will be upheld.”

Dimetman and De Leon called the ruling “a great step towards justice for our family.”

"Ultimately, the repeal of Texas’ ban will mean that our son will never know how this denial of equal protections demeaned our family and belittled his parents’ relationship," they said. "We look forward to the day when, surrounded by friends and family, we can renew our vows in our home state of Texas."

Michael Diviesti, state lead organizer of GetEQUAL TX, a gay rights group, said, “It’s a sure sign that things are changing in Texas for the better. We’ve got a few more steps to go on the marriage front, but I think we’re all pretty prepared to keep up the fight.”

He added, “I wish we could start planning our weddings right now. Unfortunately, we can’t, but now there is an end in sight. A lot of us were thinking it would take five to 10 years before we could get married in our home states. But seeing this happen in our state shows us that we’re not as far away from that as we thought we were.”

Cece Cox, CEO of Resource Center Dallas, a community services agency for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, said, “Even though today nothing is exactly different, there are a lot of conversations that are going to be had about discrimination. And that’s where a lot of progress is made — not just in the courts.”

"This ruling by an unelected federal judge is the most egregious form of judicial activism in our generation," said Jonathan Saenz, president of Texas Values, an organization that promotes religious liberty. "This is only the beginning of an epic battle that the Texas people will ultimately win in the name of the only true and lawful definition of marriage: one man and one woman."

Federal judges also struck down bans on gay marriage in Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia, but the Texas ruling — if upheld on appeal — would have stronger reverberations coming from the nation’s largest, most influential red state.

Lawsuits are pending in at least 20 other states that ban gay marriage, including Michigan, where a federal judge is currently hearing arguments about a constitutional amendment that limits marriage to heterosexuals.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriages.

Wednesday evening, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a Republican-backed measure that would have allowed individuals and businesses to invoke their religious beliefs as a defense against claims of discrimination against gays.

Senate Bill 1062, which passed both houses of the Legislature last week, came under a withering assault from major corporations, organizations, politicians, professional sports and individuals.

Three of Brewer’s fellow Republicans who voted for the measure also urged her to not sign the bill into law, saying that although its intent was “to create a shield for all citizens’ religious liberties, the bill has been mischaracterized by its opponents as a sword for religious intolerance.”

Contributing: Talia Richman

Federal judge strikes down Texas gay marriage ban

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