Nadine Smith of Equality Florida said: Florida has changed dramatically since 2008, when just over 60 percent of voters embedded marriage discrimination into the constitution. In fact, Florida is a leader in the south, with 54 percent of voters in support of marriage for same-sex couples. In fact, only 23 percent of Floridians now oppose gay couples having all the rights and benefits of marriage.
Smith went on to say she was not sure if the campaign would push for a question of equal marriage at the 2014 ballot. John Stemberger, who ran the 2008 Amendment 2 campaign to ban equal marriage from his law firm, said he did not see the campaign as a threat. There s not much that can be done.
The people of Florida have spoken in an active, direct democracy, in a supermajority, and have codified the amendment into Florida law, he said. We would love to engage in some kind of discourse. To the extent that the polls have been moving against us, it s because we haven t had the opportunity to air our arguments in the public square.
I would love to see some kind of formal debate or panel discussion that s civil, in a neutral setting, without people ganging up screaming at you. Nine US states, and Washington DC currently allow equal marriage, and it will become law in Rhode Island, Delaware and Minnesota in the summer. The US state of Maryland in November 2012 became the first state to legalise equal marriage by means of a popular vote back in 2012.
The law came into effect on 1 January 2013. Washington and Maine also legalised equal marriage in referendums in those states on the same day. The US Supreme Court is expected to rule on two cases surround equal marriage, in the next two weeks, potentially making a groundbreaking ruling for equal marriage in the state of California, and the whole of the US.
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So I therefore took up an opportunity to visit Las Vegas for a gay themed fun trip built around MGM Hotels LGBT themed Fabulous parties with some anticipation. I wanted to know if there was something that I missed in a city associated so much in the popular imagination with gambling (I don t gamble), dance extravaganzas (they make me fall asleep) and hookers (don t even get me started). I arrived at McCarran International Airport a little later than I anticipated and struggled in a humungous queue to find a taxi.
The queue situation wasn t helped by the size of my suitcase, extra large because I had spent a week in San Francisco earlier. I also just simply pack way too much! When I arrived at THEhotel at Mandalay Bay, I was a little disappointed to learn that my suite, yes my suite, was not ready yet.
I politely turned down a 1am cocktail while I waited for them to clean the room, quietly pitying the poor man or woman who was having to clean it at such an ungodly hour. However, I then realised that time doesn t really mean anything in Las Vegas, it is a little strange like that. After three quarters of an hour or so, I made my way up to the 26th floor and into my suite.
Would this be the location some Prince Harry naked escapades? I wondered. Unlikely given that I was the inhabitant and I m not quite that exiting!
As I settled in, I suddenly thought that there was a helicopter buzzing past my room. I d seen the helicopter tours of the city advertised on my last visit. But the buzzing didn t disappear, after a little while, I realised that it was just the wind reverberating through the countless skyscraper hotels nearby.
theHotel itself is huge, sitting as part of the vast Mandalay Bay resort, there are copious eating, shopping, gambling and swimming opportunities to enjoy during your trip. The next morning I met with some other gay journalists at a nearby breakfast hangout Serendipity 3. Having had so little sleep, I have to admit the thing I was most interested in consuming was caffeine!
Shortly after we headed to the Qua Baths at Caesars Palace where each of the group would enjoy a massage. As men and women were hosted in separate spas, I wondered briefly if I was expected to completely strip off before say dipping into the jacuzzi, but we each looked at each other and donned swimming trunks. It was trunks that would be the mainstay of our fashion over the coming days, as pool party after pool party awaited us.
Although as we made our way out to the spa proper, it turned out it was the only occasion I ve seen gay men wearing more clothes than straight men as everyone else in the spa was naked. Duly trunked up, the ten of us were led to a steam room and told to wait for our masseur or masseuse. One by one, beautiful woman after beautiful woman arrived to take the party away for a massage, their beauty wasted on a load of gay men.
Then mine arrived, a stunningly attractive man. I ve never been massaged by a man other than my boyfriend before, so in some ways, I felt a little uncomfortable, particularly as the first thing he said to me was take off your clothes. A local Las Vegas law means that a masseur can never see your entire naked body while performing a massage, so as he shifted from position to position (that I must admit seemed to concentrate on my behind and groin), he was forced to perform an elaborate ritual with a sheet, covering some part of my body even if it meant the obvious was clearly exposed!
Massaged to within an inch of my personal dignity, we headed for a pool party at Planet Hollywood. The weather in Las Vegas in the summer is a little odd, never cold, it isn t possible to guarantee sunshine. For us this pool party, like much of the time we spent outside was in a hazy/ overcast glow.
It is bright enough to warrant sunglasses and definitely sunscreen, unless you wish to endure an unexpected splodge of sunburn, as one of my traveling companions endured. For the rest of my trip, afternoons, meant pool parties, our others being hosted at Landshark Lagoon and at the Luxor, Las Vegas s huge tribute to Egypt and the pyramids. They were held as part of last year s Fabulous LGBT party season hosted at MGM s resorts.
2013 s season is being held in September across MGM s properties. The evenings of my trip focused on huge Vegas shows, so on my first proper evening, after an meal of delightful sushi at Mizumi at the Wynn, we headed to see Le Reve (the Dream), at the Wynn s theatre. This was a huge, water based dance based performance with some of the most spectacular staging that I have ever seen.
I have to admit though, that it wasn t for me. I m more of a straight theatre person and I certainly prefer some dialogue in a performance. If it is your cup of tea, then I certainly do recommend it though.
The following day, after the pool party at the Landshark Lagoon, we headed to a quite amazing place, the Chandelier, at the Cosmopolitan. At points it felt like we were inhabiting some sort of bizarre alternative reality, a 1980s vision of the 2010s. The bar, as the name might suggest is a giant chandelier, with each level boasting a different cocktail menu, most of which you will never have drunk before in your life.
Dinner was at Jaleo by Jos Andr s at the the Cosmopolitan. This tapas bar was certainly in the more reasonable price range in Las Vegas and it coped amiably with me, a non-dairy eating vegetarian. Perhaps the most interesting part of the dining experience was the fact that many dishes are served in shoes, something I have certainly never done before in my life.
After dinner, we headed not to an aquatic performance, but instead to Zumanity, a raunchy cabaret show by Cirque du Soleil at New York-New York. At times funny, the performance was also at other points pretty offensive, but I guess that was the point. Much like Le Reve, this wasn t quite me, I suppose I just found it a little crude.
I might however, have enjoyed it more had it included more gay references, but this might have been a little too much for the almost exclusively straight audience. The following day, after a gay pool party at the Luxor, we headed to Gordon Ramsay s steak restaurant in Paris. The restaurant is an odd tribute to Britain in a hotel themed as the French capital.
I guess it was an odd dinner choice for myself too given that I do not eat meat and it s not where I would have chosen to dine if given the choice for myself. However, judging by my dining companions, the steaks were good. In the spirit of any good restaurant, the staff, all be it with a little prodding, produced food that met my strict dining requirements.
That evening, we headed to my favourite show during my trip, Frank Marino s Divas Las Vegas at the Quad. It s hard for me to explain exactly why I loved this, drag queens are not normally my favourite past time, but then this was probably the best drag queen show in the world. Marino, dressed as Joan Rivers comperes the show which features drag versions of some of the world s biggest female stars.
The show was funny, engaging and completely enhanced by the cocktails being served to us throughout. What I think I liked the most about this evening s performance over the two previous nights was that it seemed down to earth the performers came out afterwards to pose for photographs and raise money for charity and everyone seemed to be having a good time. I felt that in someways the shows I had seen earlier seemed less human.
The following morning I checked out of theHotel and departed the alternative reality of Las Vegas for the more mundane world of London. This trip showed me another side to Sin City, avoiding the casinos and conference facilities and instead enjoying the pools, the restaurants and the performances. We were there for a gay themed weekend, but many weeks there are gay themed pool parties to enjoy so it is certainly somewhere that should be considered as a gay travel destination.
As I left, I wondered if the experience would have been different if rather than a trip away with a collection of gay men and women, it had just been with my usual traveling companion, my boyfriend. For tourists, Las Vegas seems to be a destination for stag parties and couples. I d certainly like to return with my other half, a trip that might even see me drop my long standing aversion to gambling, probably though because he s a lot more impulsive than me!
PinkNews Facts Las Vegas is situated in Nevada Gay sex has only been legal in Nevada since 1993 LGBT people have been protected against employment discrimination since 2011, following the passing of laws 1999 Same-sex couples cannot marry but can enter into domestic partnerships that have many but not all of the rights of a marriage within the state. Like all LGBT relationship structures in the US, lack federal recognition Las Vegas has a developed gay scene, although same-sex couples should feel comfortable in most locations throughout the city Virgin Atlantic flies to Las Vegas from London Gatwick daily. Discuss this Get the latest LGBT headlines in your inbox with our free daily newsletter!
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When asked about Islam s view of homosexuality, Mr Hendricksi said: The Koran only speaks about the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. The Koran doesn t use the word homosexuality. It s only a term that was coined in the 18th century, and the Koran was a 7th century book.
The story has been interpreted for years to refer to the atrocities of Sodom and Gomorrah as homosexuality so what I do is I unpack it. One of the principles that we learn when we study the Koran is that you can t quote a verse from the Koran out of context. It has a context, it has a history, there s a real particular purpose.
So, I say, Let s do the same with the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. We look at the archaeological findings, we look at what historians say about Sodom and Gomorrah, and once we piece that together we find that the story was really about economic exploitation, inhospitality to guests, rape, molestation, homosexual practices that were related to idolatry. So then I ask in my conclusion, If you look at that and if you look at who you are in terms of your sexual orientation, do you think that story talks about you?
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Following shortly afterwards, Senator Mark Kirk also came out in support. I am a life-long Republican because I believe in promoting freedom and limiting the reach of government, Murkowski wrote. When government does act, I believe it should encourage family values.
I support the right of all Americans to marry the person they love and choose because I believe doing so promotes both values: it keeps politicians out of the most private and personal aspects of peoples lives while also encouraging more families to form and more adults to make a lifetime commitment to one another. The president of the Human Rights Campaign, a leading human rights organisation, commended the Alaskan Senator for coming out in support of equal marriage. We hope other fair-minded conservatives like Senator Murkowski stand up and join her, HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement.
Alaska may be nicknamed the Last Frontier, but we ve got to make sure that LGBT Alaskans don t have to wait to find justice. Murkowski previously described her views on equal marriage as evolving . Cindy McCain, the wife of former GOP presidential nominee Senator John McCain, yesterday said she thought there would be a major turn , and that both major parties will support equal marriage by the next US presidential election.
Her husband, Senator McCain said in March that he didn t think he would be following the lead of fellow Republican Senator Rob Portman. Mrs McCain, however, said she thinks that her husband will eventually change his mind on the issue. Discuss this Get the latest LGBT headlines in your inbox with our free daily newsletter!
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South Australia officially congratulates New Zealand on equal marriage, ahead of introduction of its own bill
The bill carries no legislative force, but that it was intended to send a strong message of solidarity, and comes ahead of the introduction of a bill to legalise equal marriage in the state, in its lower house, on Thursday, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. Labor MP Susan Close, will bring the bill to the lower house, with government minister to be given a conscience vote on the issue. Premier Jay Weatherill has indicated he will vote in favour of the measure.
Harley Schumann, said the bill to legalise equal marriage would allow South Australia to achieve what it had congratulated New Zealand on achieving. We look to South Australia leading the way on this important reform should similar legislation continue to fail in the federal parliament, he said. Some have commended the upper house for passing the bill on Wednesday, arguing that it showed cross-party support for measures to legalise equal marriage.
Gay rights campaigners in Australia praised New Zealand after it became the 13th country to legalise equal marriage, back in April. Earlier in June, a Green Party MP in Australia accused the Labor Party of delaying a vote on a private members bill to legalise equal marriage. Following the first same-sex wedding to take place in France, Australian advocates of equal marriage have now begun to call for the recognition of overseas same-sex marriages.
Despite that many in Australia commended New Zealand for its equal marriage bill, Australia s Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, said she wouldn t be dropping her opposition to marriage equality.
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Dr Muscat said that the consultative council which has been appointed by the government to work in the LGBT sector, would begin to prepare a bill to be debated and approved by parliament by the end of this year. Before being elected in March, Dr Muscat had already promised to allow gay couples to have civil unions, a gender identity law for trans people, and said that he would appoint a minister for civil rights and equality. At the end of August, the Malta Gay Rights Movement expressed disappointment at a bill to regulate cohabiting couples, which had just been launched in the country.
Earlier in 2012, the Maltese parliament did extend its hate crime laws for the first time to protect citizens on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.
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It states: This House believes that being lesbian, gay or bisexual is not a disease or illness and that therapy which attempts to cure or change a person s sexual orientation is both ineffective and potentially extremely harmful. The motion calls on the government to investigate any NHS links with conversion therapists, ensuring that NHS medical professionals cannot inflict this cruel treatment on their patients and to take steps to ban conversion therapy for under-18s.
25 MPs including Conservative backbencher Sir Peter Bottomley and Labour veteran Sir Gerald Kaufman have announced their support for the motion. Writing for PinkNews.co.uk last month, Diane Johnson, the Labour MP for Kingston upon Hull North, said: Parliament, and the government, needs to give the issue of conversion therapy much more attention than it has thus far.
There hasn t been a single Select Committee investigation, House of Commons Library publication nor indeed any government statement whatsoever on conversion-related issues. Last September, Lib Dem Health Minister Norman Lamb stated that the government had no plans to introduce statutory regulation for psychotherapists . Lesley Pilkington, the Christian psychotherapist who was found to be providing gay conversion therapy, was struck off by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) in the same month.
She was initially found guilty of malpractice by the BACP in July 2011, following an undercover investigation by the journalist Patrick Strudwick, but had subsequently appealed the decision.
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Michelle Shocked to return to San Francisco during Pride Week, to clarify her feelings following anti-gay rant
51-year-old Shocked went into a full hate speech said one attendee, Matt Penfield, leaving audience members in disgust. Appearing on Piers Morgan since, Shocked apologised for the rant, but claimed that she was attempting to present the reality of the situation to the audience who were not ready to hear it.
Todd Vogt, president and publisher of the San Francisco Examiner, said he, and several other smaller newspapers, had invited Shocked to perform a free concert, in order to clarify her position, after he turned down her request to take out an advert in the paper. He said he did not think the advert would appropriate, and feared that it would express homophobic beliefs. For all the money in the world, we weren t going to take some hate-mongering homophobic ad, he said.
But then she said, no, she really wanted to apologise and clarify what exactly happened at Yoshi s, he continued. So we talked, and we decided the only way we d do this is if you d come to San Francisco, put on a free show, be honest and up front about it. She spoke to her people and decided to do it.
He said the performance was booked for 30 June, but that he was still negotiating with venues, reports CBS. He continued to say he was unsure whether Shocked would turn up for the concert. We think this is a good thing for the city, the LGBT community, and an opportunity for Ms.
Shocked to do a little mea culpa and face up to whatever she thinks, Vogt said. If she s afforded the venue and she still can t explain herself, then people can judge, he said. Shocked has taken to Twitter recently tweeting strong support for Bradley Manning, strongly against censorship , and repeatedly tweeted a picture of herself wearing white dungarees, rainbow tie-dye and a hat with lights on, which she called her world s greatest homophobe costume.
Following her outburst, Shocked said in a statement that she believed her comments were misinterpreted. She said: I do not, nor have I ever, said or believed that God hates homosexuals (or anyone else). I said that some of His followers believe that.
She responded to the cancellation of dates of her tour following a recent show, by turning up at a venue anyway and staging a sit-in.
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The MP strenuously denies the claims. A Lancashire Constabulary spokesperson said: He will be interviewed about these allegations at a police station in Lancashire during the course of the day. We take all allegations of a sexual nature extremely seriously and understand how difficult it can be for victims to have the confidence to come forward.
As a Constabulary, we are committed to investigating sexual offences sensitively but robustly recognising the impact that these types of crimes have on victims. We would encourage anyone who has experienced sexual abuse, or who has information about it, to have the confidence to report it to us knowing that we will take it seriously, deal with it sensitively and investigate it thoroughly. Mr Evans, Conservative MP for Ribble Valley since 1992, has been excused from his parliamentary duties while inquiries continue.
The original rape and sexual assault allegations are said to have happened in Pendleton between July 2009 and March 2013.
The new indecent assault allegations are claimed to have occurred in Blackpool and London between 2003 and 2011.
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Her performance will be one of the most memorable in the history of this world-class party , said Chris Frederick, Managing Director of NYC Pride. He added: Now in its 27th year, the Dance on the Pier continues a proud tradition of partnering with all-star talent to create a high-quality event that raises funds to support local LGBT non-profits and New York City s annual Pride festivities. Artists such as Whitney Houston, Jennifer Lopez, Janet Jackson, Jennifer Hudson and Cyndi Lauper have taken part in previous years.
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