Friday News Bites: Equality Updates, World News, and More

Greetings, Persephoneers! Happy Friday to you all. There’s lots happening in the world of LGBT equality this week, and we’ve also got a handful of other stories that I thought might interest you. Let’s get started, shall we?

Wednesday was the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, in which people are encouraged to honor transgender people who have been killed or otherwise attacked for being who they are. Many cities have held events for several years already, but this year was the first time Dubuque, Iowa commemorated the day.

In other smaller city LGBT news: Missoula, Montana was one of 11 cities to receive a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index. I lived in Missoula for a few years, and it is still one of my favorite cities, so I’m pleased for them. To see if your city made the grade, check out the full report here.

In Illinois, Governor Pat Quinn signed marriage equality into law, saying, “We want to have a new birth of freedom in America.” Illinois becomes the 16th state to legalize same-sex marriages.

However, there’s still much work to be done: By some WTF-ery, Oklahoma decided to drop benefits for all National Guard members, instead of extending coverage to same-sex couples. After considerable outcry, the governor backpedaled:

Gov. Fallin has tried to distance herself from this story, using social media to say, “To set the record straight – no National Guardsman in Oklahoma is being denied marriage benefits. Stories that suggest otherwise are false.” This is technically true, but those benefits can now only be obtained at federal facilities in Oklahoma, which could require couples to drive extended distances even when there are are state facilities closer by.

Another interesting LGBT story: Meet Dorien Bryant, the first openly gay not-quite-NFL player.

In other news:

Northern Ireland attorney general John Larkin calls for end to Troubles prosecutions, saying, “More than 15 years have passed since the Belfast Agreement, there have been very few prosecutions, and every competent criminal lawyer will tell you the prospects of conviction diminish, perhaps exponentially, with each passing year, so we are in a position now where I think we have to take stock.”

Amsterdam is apparently paying alcoholics with beer to clean streets:

“This group of chronic alcoholics was causing a nuisance in Amsterdam’s Oosterpark: fights, noise, disagreeable comments to women,” said Gerrie Holterman, who heads the Rainbow Foundation project, financed by the Dutch state and donations.

“The aim is to keep them occupied, to get them doing something so they no longer cause trouble at the park,” she told AFP.

NPR photographer David Gilkey has documented the damage in the village of Barangay 68 in Tacloban City, Philippines. Four million people have been displaced by Typhoon Haiyan, and the exact death toll may never be known.

In lighter news: For Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary, the Countess of Wessex invited current and past cast members to Buckingham Palace, along with Cardiff children who participated in a “Design a TARDIS for the Queen” competition. I love how Matt Smith, Tom Baker, and Peter Davison are standing there like, “Best behaviour now. You’re in Buckingham Palace.”

Meanwhile, John Hurt is wearing a baggy velvet suit, drinking champagne, and leaning against a Dalek.

Finally, if you’ll allow me to direct you towards something that is less “news,” but still relevant in terms of the current healthcare system in the US: My friend Natalie Friedberg is just 33 years old, and she has cancer for the second time. This time, it’s in her lungs and her bones, and she doesn’t have health insurance. No one should die or receive inadequate care because they can’t afford their medical bills, so if you can donate anything to her Give Forward campaign, I encourage you to do so.

Thanks everyone, and see you next week.

By Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the co-manager of Electric City Creative.

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