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The L-Word is a monthly publication based out of Humboldt County, CA written by and for local queers highlighting local and international events and hot topics.

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Queer News

the other Barb (t.o.b.) has been giving us highlights of what's happening in queer life all over for most of the L-Word's existence. And we're finally getting that on line. We'll put last month's queer news here somewhere close to the beginning of every month (we hope!)--so if you want to really be current you'll have to subscribe but if you don't mind being a little behind you can get it here.

January 2014

2013: The Avalanche Began: 18 States Now With Marriage Equality

History books may say that it was one woman, a lesbian widow, who dislodged one stone on the mountainside and started the avalanche. When the Supreme Court in 2013 ruled in the case of United States v. Windsor (Edith Windsor, who lost her spouse Thea Spyer in 2009), it declared that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional under the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment (for denying her the tax and inheritance benefits of an opposite-sex spouse). Many other cases had challenged DOMA, but the Windsor ruling was the first to identify so clearly the heart of government discrimination against gay people. In his angry dissent in the Windsor case, conservative Justice Antonin Scalia warned that the ruling would lead to state after state having their same-sex marriage bans invalidated. Scalia has been proven right. In the past six months, six states have joined the list of those allowing gay marriage. An avalanche compared to the slow dribble of states In the decade since 2003 when Massachusetts led the way: only nine states followed in that ten year period. In 2013, three states gained marriage equality through popular vote, and five more joined the list in a rush of court decisions based on the Supreme Court’s DOMA overturn. One exception, California regained legality for same-sex weddings by its own separate Supreme Court decision in 2013 that nullified Proposition 8. States gaining same-sex marriage in 2013 include Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Utah. Utah? Yes, that very conservative Mormon-governed state tumbled onto the list in December following a judge’s ruling that overturned their ban on same-sex marriage. Within days, clerks were issuing licenses, and in one week in December 1,225 licenses were issued in the state, 74% to same-sex couples. Coming in 2014, expect action in Idaho, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Nevada. Happy New Year! Sources: SF Chronicle, Wikipedia, NY Times, Time, Salt Lake Tribune,, Washington Post

Putin, Pussy Riot and an Olympic PR Battle

As the opening of the 2014 Winter Olympics approaches in February, the issue of LGBT rights in Russia looms larger and larger in world news. The venue for the winter games is Sochi, a resort town along the Black Sea in Russia. President Vladimir Putin wants Sochi to succeed, not only for the financial windfall, but also as a symbol of his leadership. Yet his leadership has led Russia to become an anti-gay state. In 2013 Putin and his party backed stricter laws against “homosexual propaganda,” which among other restrictions, prohibits the rainbow flag and writings that contain “homosexual content.” Putin tolerates no dissent. . In 2012 he arrested members of a women’s feminist musical collective, Pussy Riot, for performing an anti-Putin song, three among the hundreds who have been sent to jail for protests. Such an atmosphere of repression and hatred causes concern for the safety of LGBT athletes, supporters, and reporters coming to Sochi. Many in the U.S. are campaigning for a boycott of Sochi, foremost actor George Takei (Sulu of “Star Trek”), who advocates moving the Winter Olympics back to Vancouver, where they were held in 2010. (To sign his petition, go to Actors Harvey Fierstein and Stephen Fry have also argued that the Olympic Committee needs to demand the retraction of Russia’s anti-gay laws, which Putin defends as being a bastion of conservatism and morality. A shift in his strategy came In December when Putin and his party passed an amnesty law that released the three members of Pussy Riot, who immediately announced their release as a public relations stunt related to the Olympics. Also released were 30 members of Greenpeace, arrested in December for protesting Russian drilling in the Arctic Circle. The charge against the environmentalists and the feminists was the same: hooliganism. If Putin is sending a message to the world, then so is President Obama, who in December selected the official U. S. delegation to the opening ceremony at Sochi: First of all, the delegation contains no high ranking officials: second, it does contain two out-gay athletes, tennis great Billie Jean King and figure skater Brian Boitano. The delegation for the closing ceremony includes Caitlin Cahow, ice-hockey Olympic medalist, who is also openly gay. Sources: Huffington Post, msnbc, The Guardian (UK),, SF Chronicle, NY Times

Lesbian Couple in New Orleans Gets Instant Family: 5 Babies!

Liz and Nadia Harris wanted kids and were working with a New Orleans fertility clinic to get Nadia pregnant. Eight attempts resulted in no baby, but the ninth try hit the jackpot. In October, they had quintuplets: Dawson, Maxwell, Micah, Joseph, and their sister Elizabeth. Sources: Advocate, Daily Mail

Rights of Transgender Students

California schools are preparing for the new transgender rights law going into effect Jan. 1, studying such matters as sensitivity training, locker room layouts, field trip guidelines, and dress codes. But it may be suspended Jan. 8 if opponents are able to get enough signatures to put it on the November ballot. Sources: S F Chronicle, towleroad.

Methodist Minister Defrocked for Performing Ceremony for Gay Son

The Reverend Frank Schaefer was stripped of his credentials in mid December for presiding at his son’s same-sex wedding. The United Methodist Church had been divided over issues related to homosexuality, and now Schaefer’s defrocking galvanizes a segment of the church that believes same-sex unions need to be sanctified the same as opposite-sex unions. A retired bishop of the church recently flew to Alabama to conduct a same-sex wedding against the will of the local bishop. Half a dozen ministers are facing church trials. Schaefer says, “The church needs to recognize that things have changed and times are changing and people are changing.” Schaefer has been invited by a California bishop to serve in her region. Sources: NY Times, SF Chronicle

Pope Recognized as Person of Year by Gay Magazine

The Advocate, America’s oldest gay news magazine, has chosen Pope Francis as his Person of the Year for statements that indicate a more tolerant view of GLBT people. When a reporter asked him about gay priests, he said, “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?” The Catholic gay organization Equally Blessed called that answer “some of the most encouraging words a pontiff has ever spoken about gay and lesbian people.” Source: Advocate

Gay Computer Genius Pardoned By Queen After 60 Years

Alan Turing was one of the best minds of the 20th century. A British mathematician and pioneer computer scientist, he volunteered in World War 2 to head up Britain’s codebreaking mission. One of his achievements was the invention of a machine that could decode cyphers made by the German’s Enigma machine. He formalized the concepts of the algorithm, and his device (called now the Turing machine) is considered by some to be the first general purpose computer. In 1952, with the pressure of wartime lessened, the British police prosecuted him for homosexuality. In 1954, he died of poisoning, declared at the inquest to be suicide. A 2009 internet movement in England resulted in PM Gordon Browne making a public apology for the way Turing was treated. A 2012 bill pardoning him passed the House of Lords and was headed to the House of Commons. But the bill was obviated by the “royal prerogative of mercy.” The Queen on December 24 signed an immediate pardon of Turing. Sources: NY Times, Wikipedia

Venezuela Prepares To Shelter Refugees from Anti-Gay Uganda

Having threatened for several years to strengthen its already strict anti-gay laws, Uganda now has a new law: 14 years for first conviction and imprisonment for life for “aggravated homosexuality.” The new bill extends the penalties to women who have same-sex relations Gay organizations and periodicals are also banned. Offering health services to LGBT people is prohibited. The original 2009 version called for the death penalty and was inspired and encouraged by conservative American missionaries from the U.S. According to CNN: “The witch hunt has already started.” President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela has offered political asylum to any LGBT refugees from Uganda. Sources: SF Chronicle, CNN,

Queer News is collected and written by “the other barb” ®, who encourages you to send in any news items or issues you think worthy of inclusion, and welcomes your comments and criticism. Email her at

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