April 5, 2012 at 11:22 pm EDT | by Phil Reese
National news in brief: April 6
North Carolina,same-sex marriage,gay marriage,gay politics dc,gay news

Recent polls have shown North Carolina may have a shot at turning back a ballot measure barring state recognition of same-sex couples in the constitution. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Majority of N.C. voters oppose marriage ban

ELON, N.C. — A new poll out this week shows that 60 percent of North Carolina voters oppose the language that will be used on the May 8 ballot to pass a proposed constitutional amendment banning state recognition of same-sex relationships.

The same poll by Elon University indicated that when the exact impact of the ballot measure — known as Amendment One — was explained to voters, the number opposed rose to 66 percent.

Poll findings have fluctuated in recent weeks in the state, with several showing majority support for the ban, but all have shown that the electorate seems confused about the impact of the law, especially in terms of whether or not it bans all state recognition, including domestic partnerships and civil unions.

Activist uses ‘sunshine laws’ to change minds

SEATTLE — A gay Washington man has found a novel way to advocate for LGBT rights after the state made available the names of the signatories of a petition that put same-sex couples’ rights up for vote in 2009.

After the state released the names of the signers of the petition that put Referendum 71 on the ballot, Paul Thomasson began to send letters to people on the list.

“You don’t know me,” the letter always begins, according to the Seattle Times, “but you may soon be in a position to have an effect on my life.”

Thomasson’s letters tell his personal story, and entreat the recipients to vote against an upcoming referendum — Referendum 74 — that would undo the state’s recently passed same-sex marriage law.

“People are basically good and tolerant,” Thomasson says. “My intent was to let them know there’s an actual human being affected by their decision.”

Chicago clinic repays $715,000 to feds

CHICAGO — The Chicago Dept. of Public Health will proactively address disparities faced by the city’s LGBT population, according to the Windy City Times.

The 22-point plan will ramp up tobacco cessation efforts, as well as the collection of hate crime statistics for this higher risk population. The department will also do more to collect sexual orientation and gender identity statistics, and develop cultural competency training for health care providers.

However, the announcement comes on the heels of a report by the Chicago Tribune that Chicago-based LGBT clinic Howard Brown Health Center will pay back $715,000 to federal agencies to settle claims former executives misspent grant money.

“This is all behind us now,” Howard Brown CEO Jamal Edwards told the Tribune. Edwards took over in 2010 after the organization was put in the spotlight for violating federal law.

Acclaimed lesbian poet Rich dies at 82

LOS ANGELES — One of the nation’s most celebrated poets died last week. Lesbian poet and Baltimore native Adrienne Rich died in her Santa Cruz, Calif., home from complications of long-term rheumatoid arthritis, according to the L.A. Times. (Read the Washington Blade’s own tribute.)

Rich was a highly acclaimed poet, known for writing about women’s rights, the poor and especially for her anti-war poetry. She made headlines in 1997 for refusing to accept the National Medal for the Arts from then-President Clinton — a plotline later explored on the iconic White House drama ‘The West Wing,’ with Laura Dern playing a poet turning down the position of U.S. Poet Lauriat during wartime.

Rich is survived by her long-time partner Michelle Cliff, and three sons from her first marriage.


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