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A Southern California teenager who shot a gay classmate to death three years ago avoided a retrial by pleading guilty to second-degree murder, a deal that will send him to prison for 21 years. Brandon McInerney (now 17) pleaded guilty to the murder charge, as well as one count each of voluntary manslaughter and use of a firearm. The case drew wide attention because of its shocking premise: McInerney, in a fit of homophobic rage, killed 15-year-old Larry King at school because he was offended by King's dress and how the victim interacted with him.
Melissa Gartner, 41, and Heather Gartner, 39, sued the state when the Iowa Department of Public Health refused in 2009 to list both names on the birth certificate of their daughter, Mackenzie. Iowa District Judge Eliza Ovrom heard arguments in the case recently and will issue a written ruling at a later date. Camilla Taylor, the Gartners' lawyer, argued that the state lists married men on birth certificates, even when it's impossible for them to be the biological father. She also cited the Iowa Supreme Court case that struck down a same-sex marriage ban in 2009.
Ricky Martin applied for Spanish citizenship so he can marry there. He wants to marry in Spain rather than a US state to pay tribute to prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's support for gay rights. In an unusual move, the government did not ask him to renounce his Puerto Rican or US citizenship. Ricky's a father to three-year-old twins Matteo and Valentino, and has been in a relationship with Carlos for four years.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) was booed during a speech at the Gerold Ford School of Public Policy, at the University of Michigan for opposing marriage equality. Asked how he reconciled his advocacy for states rights with support for the 1996 DOMA - which prohibits the feds from recognizing marriages performed in states that allow same-sex unions - Cantor replied, “I just believe in traditional marriage between a man and a woman.” Some audience members booed the Virginia Republican and shouted, “what about liberty?” and “none of your business!”
The ACLU says it questions whether special education teacher Viki Knox violated school policy regarding anti-bias rules. After her school designated October as "LGBT History Month", she went to her Facebook page and wrote, “homosexuality is a perverted spirit that has existed from the beginning of creation.” Garden State Equality calls for the firing of Knox from her job at Union High School in Union Township. No decision has been made yet on how the school district will deal with the controversy, according to Patrick Martin, Union’s superintendent of schools.
Before killing himself recently, a high school freshman talked to his mother about being gay, and he contributed an online video to “It Gets Better”. But the teasing that followed him was relentless. “Years ago, drunken driving wasn't viewed as a big deal, even though it has the potential to kill people. What we're doing with bullying is changing people's perception of it,” said a rep for NY state Senator Jeffrey Klein (pic), who supports legislation to stop cyber-bullying.
A Mississippi federal judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit brought by gay teenager Ceara Sturgis over the Copiah County School Districts refusal to include a picture of her in a tuxedo in the high school yearbook's senior section. The ACLU, which the lawsuit on behalf of Sturgis, claimed the school district discriminated against Sturgis on the basis of sex and gender stereotypes. Her photo and name were kept out of the senior section of the yearbook. However, Sturgis' photo in the tuxedo did appear on a personal page in the yearbook that was purchased by her mother.
The Matthew Shepard Foundation has been chosen to compete for grants ranging from $125,000 to $1 million through the American Giving Awards, presented by Chase. Winners will be selected based on the public’s votes on Facebook and Chase.com. The Foundation, founded by the parents of 1998 Laramie, WY hate crime victim Matthew Shepard, works to "Replace Hate with Understanding, Compassion and Acceptance" through community outreach, advocacy and by providing educational resources.
In 2010, more than 130,000 proud gay people recorded partners as husband or wife on the U.S. Census. And the number of gay Americans who report they're living with same-sex partners nearly doubled in the past decade, to about 650,000 couples. Marriage equality was legal in five states and DC when information was gathered. 2010 was the first time same-sex couples checked "husband" or "wife" on their census since marriage became legal for everyone in Massachusetts starting in '04.
Legal claims filed by the partners of two lesbians killed in the Indiana Fair stage collapse could make the state re-examine how it defines survivors in wrongful death cases despite the state’s unwillingness to recognize same-sex unions.
The courts could choose to define next of kin more broadly to include people who live together, share bank accounts, have children together or are otherwise committed to sharing their lives. Christina Santiago and Tammy VanDam were among seven people who died after Sugarland's stage toppled.