Monday, June 22, 2009

Top 5 Surprisingly Gay Small Towns

Brought to you by Out Traveler

If you're up for downsizing when it comes to planning your next vacation destination, consider these diminutive gems. Keep clicking to find who’s number 1!


5. PORTLAND, MAINE

Home to one of the biggest per capita LGBT populations on the east coast and now host of the entirely enticing Frostbite ME weekend (early March, dates TBA), a LGBT winter celebration with an alluring array of homo hijinks, activities, and events that launched in 2008, Portland is Maine's captivating largest city (population 65,000). Portland has a venerable gay bar, Blackstones, and Styxx Video Club (3 Spring Street), where the dance floor and pool tables are popular with women on Thursdays and Saturdays. For more information on the city's gay goings on, contact Visit Portland.




4. EUREKA SPRINGS, ARKANSA

A pint-sized piece of perfection, Arkansas' Eureka Springs (population 2,350) is a charming tiny town with Victorian architecture, twisting streets, and easy going, laissez fair attitude that has lured a diverse community. "Diversity Weekends" run four times a year and gay-owned businesses, including bars, hotels, and guesthouses have proliferated in the town. Check in to gay-owned, fabulously kitschy Tradewinds Motel or lesbian-owned Pond Mountain Lodge and Resort to stay gay. The resort spa town nestled in the Ozarks has gained quite a reputation over the years and answers to nicknames such as "Haven for the State's eccentrics," "The place where the misfits fit," "The hole in the Bible Belt where the buckle goes through," and "America's largest open-air asylum."



3. ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN

An upbeat college town, the home of Edmund White's alma mater, the University of Michigan, is a haven of tolerance, just 35 miles west of Detroit (population 115,000). Women drink, play pool, and have dinner at the miniscule, two-level, lesbian-adored Aut Bar. Thrilling restaurants abound and once you're ready to up the ante, head to gay-friendly club Necto. Ann Arbor is also home to a slew of LGBT groups, from Ann Arbor Queer Aquatics to the Lesbian Moms Network.



2. ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA

Set in the midst of the Blue Ridge Mountains and Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Asheville (population 73,000) is home to an excellent choice of gay and lesbian-owned inns and guesthouses, such as gay-owned 1899 Whitegate Inn and Cottage. For more choices, contact Explore Asheville. There's also a smorgasbord of thrilling, locally owned restaurants, gay bar Smokey Tavern (18 Broadway Street), hot LGBT dance spot Club Hairspray, lesbian-owned bookstore Malaprops, and a constellation of galleries.



1. BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA

This accepting, forward-thinking, progressive college town (population 70,000) is home to Indiana University and the famed Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction (itself home to one of the world's largest porn collections). Filled with hip caf├ęs and funky stores, Bloomington markets its many merits to lesbian and gay travelers. For more information on Bloomington, visit www.visitgaybloomington.com.



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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

N.H. legalizes same-sex marriage

By (Contact) | Thursday, June 4, 2009

New Hampshire became the sixth state to recognize same-sex marriage Wednesday after the state legislature agreed to include changes protecting religious institutions from being forced to marry gay couples.


Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat, signed the bill just hours after the state House voted 198-176 and the Senate voted 14-10 to legalize gay marriage.


"Today, we are standing up for the liberties of same-sex couples by making clear that they will receive the same rights, responsibilities and respect under New Hampshire law," Mr. Lynch said.


Mr. Lynch, who has stated he believes personally that marriage should be between a man and a woman, had said that he would veto the bill unless protections for religious groups were added.


New Hampshire joined Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and Maine in legalizing same-sex marriage, and is the fourth to do so this year. The Vermont and Maine legislatures approved bills recognizing same-sex marriage earlier this year, while the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in March that not performing such unions is unconstitutional.


The only surprise surrounding the New Hampshire action was its timing.


Both state houses approved a same-sex marriage bill earlier this year, but the governor sent it back in May, asking the legislature to include language making it clear that religious organizations and their employees have the right to refuse to participate in same-sex marriage ceremonies.


Lawmakers expected the governor's amendment to sail through the legislature easily, and thus were stunned when the House rejected it in a May 20 vote by a margin of 188-186.


New Hampshire political analyst Dean Spiliotes chalked up the vote to a large number of absences the legislature meets year-round and pays only a pittance, thus many lawmakers miss votes due to their jobs and to qualms over the speed at which the bill was moving.


Legislative leaders met Friday in conference committee to tweak the governor's language. Meanwhile, Democrats rallied support for the bill while stressing the importance of high attendance.


"What played out last week is that they decided to do a do-over," Mr. Spiliotes said. "There was no huge sea-change; they just needed to get their ducks in a row."


Gay-rights advocates hailed the New Hampshire action as another important step in securing equal rights for same-sex couples.


"I think that ever since the legislature began grappling with this issue earlier this year, we've been hopeful that they would move past civil unions and go for the real thing," said Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry.


Kevin Smith, executive director of Cornerstone Policy Research Action in Manchester, N.H., which opposes gay marriage, said the governor and some legislators would likely pay a political price for the move in the 2010 election.


"The governor said as recently as April that marriage is reserved for a man and a woman," Mr. Smith said. "This is a stark departure from everything he's said in the past. I wouldn't call it squishy I'd call it completely misleading the voters."


He said conservatives would attempt to repeal the same-sex marriage law, while acknowledging that it wouldn't be easy. Even getting a referendum onto the ballot requires a two-thirds vote in both the Democrat-controlled House and Senate.


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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

President Obama issues LGBT Pride statement

By Jennifer Vanasco
06.01.2009

From the White House:
LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, AND TRANSGENDER PRIDE MONTH, 2009 BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA A PROCLAMATION


Forty years ago, patrons and supporters of the Stonewall Inn in New York City resisted police harassment that had become all too common for members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Out of this resistance, the LGBT rights movement in America was born. During LGBT Pride Month, we commemorate the events of June 1969 and commit to achieving equal justice under law for LGBT Americans.


LGBT Americans have made, and continue to make, great and lasting contributions that continue to strengthen the fabric of American society. There are many well-respected LGBT leaders in all professional fields, including the arts and business communities. LGBT Americans also mobilized the Nation to respond to the domestic HIV/AIDS epidemic and have played a vital role in broadening this country’s response to the HIV pandemic.


Due in no small part to the determination and dedication of the LGBT rights movement, more LGBT Americans are living their lives openly today than ever before. I am proud to be the first President to appoint openly LGBT candidates to Senate-confirmed positions in the first 100 days of an Administration. These individuals embody the best qualities we seek in public servants, and across my Administration — in both the White House and the Federal agencies — openly LGBT employees are doing their jobs with distinction and professionalism.


The LGBT rights movement has achieved great progress, but there is more work to be done. LGBT youth should feel safe to learn without the fear of harassment, and LGBT families and seniors should be allowed to live their lives with dignity and respect.


My Administration has partnered with the LGBT community to advance a wide range of initiatives. At the international level, I have joined efforts at the United Nations to decriminalize homosexuality around the world. Here at home, I continue to support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans. These measures include enhancing hate crimes laws, supporting civil unions and Federal rights for LGBT couples, outlawing discrimination in the workplace, ensuring adoption rights, and ending the existing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy in a way that strengthens our Armed Forces and our national security. We must also commit ourselves to fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic by both reducing the number of HIV infections and providing care and support services to people living with HIV/AIDS across the United States.


These issues affect not only the LGBT community, but also our entire Nation. As long as the promise of equality for all remains unfulfilled, all Americans are affected. If we can work together to advance the principles upon which our Nation was founded, every American will benefit. During LGBT Pride Month, I call upon the LGBT community, the Congress, and the American people to work together to promote equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.


NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2009 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to turn back discrimination and prejudice everywhere it exists.


IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of June, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.