June 3, 2010 | by Chris Johnson
National news in brief

Baldwin separates from longtime partner

WASHINGTON — The only out lesbian in Congress has separated from her domestic partner of 15 years.

Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and her former partner, Lauren Azar, ended their relationship and are terminating their registered domestic partnership in Wisconsin, according to a statement issued last week from Baldwin’s office.

According to the Associated Press, Baldwin and Azar were among the first same-sex couples in Wisconsin to sign up for the state’s domestic partnership registry when it was established last year.

Azar is a member of the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, which regulates the state’s utilities. She was appointed to the position by Gov. Jim Doyle (D) in 2007.

The statement from Baldwin’s office says neither Baldwin nor Azar would comment further on the separation.

Obama issues Pride proclamation

WASHINGTON — President Obama has issued a proclamation recognizing June as Pride month and commending LGBT people for their “immeasurable contributions” to the country.

“This month, as we recognize the immeasurable contributions of LGBT Americans, we renew our commitment to the struggle for equal rights for LGBT Americans and to ending prejudice and injustice wherever it exists,” Obama says in the proclamation.

Obama notes that LGBT people “have enriched and strengthened the fabric of our national life” and “have achieved success and prominence in every discipline.”

“They are our mothers and fathers, our sons and daughters, and our friends and neighbors,” Obama says. “Across my administration, openly LGBT employees are serving at every level.”

Obama also cites his administration’s accomplishments in advancing LGBT rights, including last year’s passage of hate crimes legislation and a recent presidential moratorium mandating hospital visitation rights for same-sex couples.

The president also notes that same-sex couples should have “the same rights and responsibilities afforded to any married couple” and reiterates his call to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

The proclamation is the second that Obama has issued during his administration commemorating June as Pride month. He issued a similar proclamation in 2009 during the first year of his presidency.

Miss. board denies staging ‘sham’ prom for lesbian

JACKSON, Miss. — A rural Mississippi school district that was sued by a lesbian student who wanted to bring a same-sex date to the high school prom is denying accusations it routed her to a “sham prom” at a country club while most of her schoolmates partied elsewhere.

The Associated Press reported that Itawamba County School District addressed the claims made by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Constance McMillen in papers filed May 21 with the U.S. District Court in Aberdeen.

It’s been two months since McMillen attended a prom at the Fulton Country Club that drew fewer than 10 other students from Itawamba Agricultural High School. Most of her classmates attended a separate event at the nearby Evergreen Community Center, to which McMillen was not invited, and later posted pictures from the dance on the Internet.

At the time, McMillen had already sued the district over its policy banning same-sex prom dates and for canceling an April 2 school-sponsored prom after the teenager pressed to bring her girlfriend to the event and wear a tuxedo.

U.S. District Judge Glen Davidson ruled in March that the district had violated McMillen’s rights, but he didn’t force the district to reinstate the prom. District officials had told the judge that McMillen was free to attend a parent-sponsored prom.

School District Superintendent Teresa McNeece and Attorney Michele Floyd have said little publicly about the issue despite numerous calls seeking comment. McMillen transferred to a school in Jackson, and was scheduled to graduate June 2.

The ACLU alleged that McNeece and Floyd attended a meeting March 29 with parent organizers, where the decision was made to hold separate proms. In court documents, the school district said McNeece and Floyd did attend a meeting, but officials “deny that the parents decided instead to hold two proms, one for the plaintiff and one for her classmates.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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