Michael Sam drafted by St. Louis Rams, becomes 1st openly gay player drafted by NFL

From thegrio.com (MSNBC)
Sunday, May 11, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — Michael Sam waited and waited. Hours passed, rounds came and went, and eventually, there were only eight more picks left on the third and final day of the NFL draft.

For just a moment, it looked as if his chance of being picked by a pro team and becoming the league’s first openly gay player might take a detour. Or at least be delayed.

The call finally came in Saturday from the St. Louis Rams, the team right down the road from where Sam played his college ball at the University of Missouri.

Sam was selected in the seventh and final round and admitted it was a frustrating wait. He said teams that passed on him chickened out and he should have been drafted sooner.

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Laverne Cox To Produce ‘Trans Teen: The Documentary’ With MTV And Logo

From Huffington Post
April 29, 2014

Transgender actress and activist Laverne Cox is embarking on a new endeavor that aims to bring light to issues surrounding transgender identity for teens and young adults.

The “Orange Is The New Black” star is slated to produce and host a television documentary titled “Trans Teen: The Documentary” that will air this upcoming fall.

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Arkansas Judge Strikes Down Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

From NBC News

An Arkansas judge on Friday declared the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, the second such ruling in the South.

Though certain to be appealed, Friday’s decision is a victory for 21 gay and lesbian couples who challenged an Arkansas constitutional amendment, adopted by 75 percent of voters in 2004, stating that “marriage consists only of the union of one man and one woman.”

Referring to the US Supreme Court’s decision in Loving v Virginia, the 1967 ruling that invalidated bans on inter-racial marriage, Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Chris Piazza said, “It has been over forty years since Mildred Loving was given the right to marry the person of her choice. The hatred and fears have long since vanished and she and her husband lived full lives together; so it will be for the same-sex couples.

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UMass’ Derrick Gordon says he’s gay

From ESPN.com
Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Derrick Gordon, a sophomore starter for the University of Massachusetts men’s basketball team, stepped forward Wednesday as the first openly gay player in Division I men’s college basketball, sharing his story with ESPN and Outsports.

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Methodist Bishop to End Trials for Ministers Who Perform Gay Weddings

From The New York Times
Monday, March 10, 2014

The head bishop of the United Methodist Church in New York on Monday committed to ending church trials in his region for ministers who perform same sex-marriages, essentially freeing them to conduct a ceremony still prohibited under his denomination’s laws.

As the first sitting United Methodist bishop to publicly make such a pledge, Bishop Martin D. McLee instantly became a leading figure in a decades-old movement within the United Methodist Church, the country’s second-largest Protestant denomination, to extend equal recognition and rights to gay and lesbian members. Though Bishop McLee said that he hoped his approach would heal the church’s deep divisions over homosexuality, more conservative Methodists warned that his actions would push the denomination closer to an irrevocable split.

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Studies show big promise for HIV prevention injections

From LGBTQ Nation
Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Research suggests that a shot every one to three months may someday give an alternative to the daily pills that some people take now to cut their risk of getting HIV.

The experimental drug has only been tested for prevention in monkeys, but it completely protected them from infection in two studies reported at an AIDS conference on Tuesday.

Read more here >>

Whoopi Goldberg Speaks Out On Anti-Gay Laws In Uganda & Nigeria

From Instinct Magazine
Monday, March 3, 2014

whoopieWhoopi Goldberg is speaking out on the anti-gay legislation that’s passed in Uganda and Nigeria. Check out her message in this video for the Human Rights Campaign.

Whoopi told us to share this. We’ll just do what she says!

See article with video here >>

Texas Gay Marriage Ban Ruled Unconstitutional By Federal Judge

From Huff Post
Wednesday, February 26, 2014

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled Wednesday that Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

Garcia issued a preliminary injunction on the state’s ban, citing Supreme Court precedent. However, Garcia issued a stay on his order, meaning the ban will remain in effect pending appeal.

“Today’s court decision is not made in defiance of the great people of Texas or the Texas Legislature, but in compliance with the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court precedent,” Garcia wrote in the order. “Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our U.S. Constitution.”

Read article and full ruling here >>

Mayor Fulop Triples Annual Number of Park Projects with Nearly $6 Million in 2014 Investments

city-of-jc

Mayor Fulop Triples Annual Number of Park Projects with Nearly $6 Million in 2014 Investments; Renovations to 13 Parks Across All Wards & Accelerated Construction of Berry Lane Park

JERSEY CITY – Mayor Steven M. Fulop announced today that Jersey City will triple the annual number of park projects and invest nearly $6 million in city parks in 2014, with renovations to 13 parks across all wards using a combination of capital dollars and grant funding to improve both the quality of life and expand recreational opportunities for residents.

The City will invest approximately $2.65 million of capital funds from the 2014 budget and will utilize $1.475 million of Green Acres funding, as well as $435,000 in Hudson County Open Space dollars.  The City will also utilize $1.3 million of Green Acres funding to acquire the final parcels of lands to complete Berry Lane Park in Bergen-Lafayette.

“Investing in parks in urban areas is key to improving the quality of life for residents and to making Jersey City the best mid-size city in America,” said Mayor Fulop.  “Since we took office we have been restructuring our recreation department and expanding opportunities and programming.  The next step is improving our parks so that all of our families throughout the city have safe and enjoyable places for both passive and active recreation.”

Berry Lane Park is an ambitious project will ultimately transform more than 17 acres of property – including former rail yards, junkyards, auto repair shops, industrial facilities, and warehouse – into a recreational amenity in the heart of the Bergen-Lafayette community. When complete, the project will result in a nine percent increase in the amount of recreational open space in Jersey City.

During summer 2013, the first phase of environmental remediation grading, demolition, and drainage installation was completed.  The administration is moving quickly and Phase II, which includes the installation of new curbs and sidewalks along Woodward Street, along with an additional parking lane, is currently underway.

In the spring, the City will commence on the building out of the majority of the park – Phase III – which will include two basketball courts, two tennis courts, a baseball field, a soccer field, and a playground. These active recreation components will provide opportunities to this neighborhood where more than 60 percent of residents are children under 18 years of age.

Additional passive recreation areas – including a total of 600 new trees a rain garden – will also be included in the park. In November, 73 trees were planted and another 100 will be planted in the fall with the remainder being planted as the park is constructed. The park’s design also considered existing site features that were incorporated into the design.

For example, existing concrete silos, remnants of the former rail yard, will be outfitted with water spraying mechanisms and will serve as a spray park for children and their parents.

“Creating and maintaining quality open space in densely populated urban areas is paramount for well-rounded, healthy living and for the safety of our families,” said Jersey City Parks Coalition President Laura Skolar. “The creation of Berry Lane Park will transform more than 17 acres of former industrial property into a vibrant recreational facility. Equally important is the upgrading and maintenance of our neighborhood parks, and the JC Parks Coalition looks forward to working with Mayor Fulop on all of these exciting park projects.”

In addition to Berry Lane Park, which will be a newly created park in the heart of Ward F, the twelve parks slated for renovations are the following:

PARKS IMPROVEMENTS:

Berry Lane Park, Ward F, 17 acres of park space that will include two basketball courts, two tennis courts, a baseball field, a soccer field, and a playground, as well as a passive recreational area with a rain garden.

Mary Benson Park, Ward E, which will see the installation of new playground equipment, new fencing, new benches, and landscaping and site remediation.

Leonard Gordon Park, Ward C, which will see the replacement of vandalized playground equipment.

Reservoir #3, Ward C, for the stabilization of deteriorating, historic structures.  (Additional renovations to follow)

Van Vorst Park, Ward E, the installation of a new spray water feature.

First Street Park, Ward E, passive park renovations to include new lighting, fences, benches, irrigated lawn panels and planters, and landscaping.

Boyd-McGuiness Park, Ward B, children’s amphitheater, playground, spray ground, seating, gardens, shade trees, lighting, fencing, and security cameras, as well as ADA compliance to coordinate with adjacent senior building.

Riverview-Fiske Park, Ward D, repairs to the gazebo which was destroyed during Hurricane Sandy.

Religious Right in Arizona Cheers Bill Allowing Businesses to Refuse to Serve Gays

From The New York Times
Friday, February 21, 2014

In New Mexico, a photographer declined to take pictures of a lesbian couple’s commitment ceremony. In Washington State, a florist would not provide flowers for a same-sex wedding. And in Colorado, a baker refused to make a cake for a party celebrating the wedding of two men.

The business owners cited religious beliefs in declining to provide services celebrating same-sex relationships. And in each case, they were sued.

Now, as states around the nation weigh how to balance the rights of same-sex couples with those of conservative religious business owners, Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona must decide whether to sign legislation that would allow business owners to cite religious beliefs as a legal justification for denying service to same-sex couples.

Read full story here >>

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