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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Obama Grants Hospital Rights to the GLBT Families

President Obama recently called on Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Thursday to expand hospital visitation rights to non-family members, a step that would aid same-sex couples who are often barred from their partners’ bedsides. For all our FamilyBlendz family (, we are seeing opening doors by leaps and bounds and it is because of your support that we continue to share each GLBT success.

In a presidential memorandum according to, Obama requested that Sebelius use her rulemaking authority to require all hospitals that participate in Medicare or Medicaid to respect the rights of patients to designate visitors.

He wrote that failing to respect patients’ wishes about who may visit them or make medical decisions of their behalf has “real consequences.”

“It means that doctors and nurses do not always have the best information about patients' medications and medical histories and that friends and certain family members are unable to serve as intermediaries to help communicate patients' needs,” he wrote. “It means that a stressful and at times terrifying experience for patients is senselessly compounded by indignity and unfairness. And it means that all too often, people are made to suffer or even to pass away alone, denied the comfort of companionship in their final moments while a loved one is left worrying and pacing down the hall.”

Obama said “uniquely affected are gay and lesbian Americans who are often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whom they may have spent decades of their lives” but are “unable to be there for the person they love, and unable to act as a legal surrogate if their partner is incapacitated.”

In addition, widowers are sometimes being denied the support of friends, and members of religious orders sometimes can’t let other members of their order make medical decisions on their behalf.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Politics of Equality: Seeing Rainbows Now

If he gets his way, Steve Pougnet, the gay mayor of Palm Springs, will unseat Chaz Bono’s stepmother from Congress.

Obama said it best, "We are no longer a red america or a blue america, but we are the United States of America". Well, even President Obama didn't see the wave of Rainbows stretching across the continent with a pot of gold at both ends.  If we play our cards, (that we've been delt) right, little leprechauns will be dancing all over opposition to family equality.  Familyblendz is working hard to get involved with legistlation as we speak to further educate the LGBT community on the real battles ahead. Steve Pougnet is going to be apart of that change we see sweeping across that rainbow.
Whether it was California’s Proposition 8 or Maine’s Question 1, opponents of gay marriage have embraced a winning mantra in recent battles: Think of the children! While previous generations of homophobic leaders may have spent time portraying gay people as pathological, sinful, and inherently self-destructive, their successors ignore the legitimacy of gay relationships themselves and instead play the fear card about children being raised by two parents of the same sex or being taught about gay families in school. This may be due in part to a lack of gay public figures—particularly men—who have children and who can normalize gay parenting for those unfamiliar with such family structures.

This is not why Steve Pougnet is running for Congress. But should the 46-year-old Democrat and current mayor of Palm Springs, Calif., prevail in November, he could become the first openly gay congressman who is both a father and legally married. He and his partner of 17 years, Christopher Green, tied the knot in California in 2008, and are parents to 3-year old twins Julia and Beckham. Though recent gay congressional candidates in California have failed to garner enough support and funding to be truly competitive, Pougnet’s money machine has kept pace with that of his opponent, Rep. Mary Bono Mack, who faces a right-wing tea party primary challenger in a district hobbled by high unemployment and home foreclosure rates. When canvassing in more conservative areas of the vast inland district, Pougnet is up-front. “Am I gay? Yes,” he says. “Am I a husband? Yes. Do I have children? Yes. Really, we are a family unit no different from any other. People will absolutely know who we are, and when I am standing there at the soccer games with moms talking about jobs and schools and the failings of our education system, they will know that it matters to us as well.”

The 45th congressional district, which covers a long, roughly rectangular section of California, including much of Riverside County and stretching to the Arizona border, was one of several Republican-held districts identified as potential midterm election battlegrounds by Democratic strategists. And though the Democrats have faltered in recent races (losing the late senator Ted Kennedy’s seat to Republican Scott Brown, who opposes marriage equality), the seat held by Bono Mack has been described by the Cook Political Report as “in play,” if leaning Republican. President Barack Obama carried the district in 2008.

“The reason Pougnet came on our radar was because of his solid record in Palm Springs, from a downtown hotel renovation incentive program to a sustainability program in Palm Springs,” says Andrew Stone, western regional press secretary for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Though Bono Mack had a sizable amount of cash on hand from her last race in 2008, Pougnet has gained fund-raising ground. He asserts the majority of campaign contributions have come from within the district (though he does make frequent westward trips to attract donors in Los Angeles, where he sat down recently with The Advocate). Campaign observers describe him as a gifted fund-raiser in his previous positions with the United Way, where he was associate director of national corporate leadership programs, and the Colorado School of Mines, where he served as vice president of development.

During the five-month window when California extended marriage rights to same-sex couples, Pougnet officiated at 118 such ceremonies—perhaps more than anyone in the state. But to portray the race as one between a gay rights activist and a right-wing obstructionist is arguably misleading. While not a leader on gay issues, Bono Mack, who was initially elected to fill the congressional seat of her late first husband, Sonny Bono, hasn’t been a true roadblock either. She broke party lines last fall to vote for hate-crimes legislation attached to a military spending bill and recently voiced support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (Bono Mack voted for ENDA in 2007). A spokesman confirmed that she also supports gender identity protections in the current ENDA legislation (the 2007 House bill passed with no transgender-inclusive language). Bono Mack’s stepson Chaz Bono revealed last year that he was a transgender man and had begun taking steps in transitioning. Bono Mack declined requests for an interview.

“Mary is highly respected in Washington and has always been a strong supporter of gay rights,” says Chuck Vasquez, president of the Riverside County-Palm Springs chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans, which has endorsed Bono Mack. “She’s not a candidate of political party lines, but of her own convictions. And with the economic state of the district, and with city and local governments in California trying to get everything they can from the federal government, which has raided our budgets, I don’t see how changing to an unknown [candidate] will lead to getting a better job done.”

Pougnet, who has the support of California senator Barbara Boxer and gay representatives Barney Frank and Jared Polis, further points out that his opponent did not take a public stance on Prop. 8, nor has she been a strong advocate for repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” one of Pougnet’s chief concerns among gay issues. Bono Mack has said she believes any changes must be made only with extensive consultation with the Pentagon—a strategy that many DADT opponents insist would fail to end the policy.

“To me, ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is something that should change as quickly as possible. If I were in Congress, I would have been cosponsoring the [repeal] bill with Rep. Patrick Murphy,” says Pougnet, referring to the lead sponsor of a House bill that would eradicate the 16-year-old ban. “Times are changing, and we’ll beat her.”

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Marriage...not all its Cracked up to be? Divorce Equality?

You would think from listening to right wing pundits that gay marriage is key to the breakdown of America’s moral order. But, If statistics are to be believed, that threat to marriage comes more from the break-up of heterosexual unions since the introduction of no fault divorce in the 1970s. Today close to half of marriages in the United States end in divorce (with 20% occurring during the first five years). Marriage, it turns out, is its own worst enemy.

Only on our twitta postings, have we been screaming to the top of our lungs about understanding what the real fight for equality is gearing up to be about...and its not marriage. Equality comes in a whole heap of dosages and marriage is just the pill, but legal separation, divorce, child custody and visitation represents that pill's jagged edges.

When Massachusetts approved gay marriage, that ruling came nearly six years ago, made gay divorce an inevitable progression from marriage, especially in the United States: gay divorce, yup-thats right!

While gay divorce statistics aren’t readily available, since gay marriage is still the flavor-flight of the day,the media coverage of same sex divorces leaves some wondering if this phenomena will be an additional argument for conservatives to use to deny equality. has been blasting this same point in defense of what will come from the right wing edges of the opposing views. Your distractions to push further into the marriage arguement will cause you to miss the next wave of the encroaching armies of disbelievers who just need one trending number of broken homes, disenfranchised minors and distorted lives. This will be the wind at their backs to continue to prevent equality in the homes of america.

What, though, is more pressing is the manner with which these divorces are handled across state lines, especially with most states not recognizing gay marriages in the first place.

First Comes Marriage...

Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same sex marriage, and in the first four years more than 10,000 marriages were performed for gay and lesbian couples. In the ensuing years a number of states approved gay marriage (New Hampshire, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Washington, D.C.); some approved then rescinded the decision (California, Maine); and a handful may not allow gay marriages to be performed within their borders, but recognize those from other states (New York, Rhode Island, and Maryland), While in California, following the passage of Proposition 8 in 2008, some 18,000 marriages (which took place over a short four-month window from June to November) are recognized by the state.

Back in 2004, there was early on a lot of uncertainty following the Massachusetts ruling. Ken Harvey, author of the upcoming book A Passionate Engagement: A Memoir, remembers what it was like to get engaged and planning a wedding following the legalization.

"Those six months were fairly uncertain whether people going to get married," explained Harvey. "It was a time of being hopeful but not wanting to get crushed."

Harvey got married in January 2005 during Martin Luther King Jr. weekend.

But what of gay divorce in Massachusetts? Do the numbers match the national rates? Some early statistics have come out that those states with legalized gay marriage also have a lower divorce rate than other states. Massachusetts alone is the state that has seen the fewest divorces occurring over the last few years. In fact the state had the lowest divorce rate in the nation in 2007, revealed a report from the Division of Vital Statistics last October.

According to the Washington Post, "Nearly 10,000 gay and lesbian couples married after the ruling. Massachusetts does not keep records on the number who have divorced, but lawyers who specialize in family cases say it is in the dozens."

However, making a blanket statement that legalizing same sex marriage will lower the divorce rate in that state is too soon.

"We only have data back to 2004; six years isn’t enough to tell," Dr. Joni Frater, co-author of "Love Her Right: The Married Man’s Guide to Lesbian Secrets for Great Sex."

Daniel Clement, a divorce lawyer practicing in New York City, also warns against putting too much faith in the statistics because lower divorce rates have been a trend across the board.

"In states with same sex marriage, divorce has declined. I can’t explain it," Clement said. "The divorce rate as a whole has been down the same time the economy tanked.

"The statistics are skewed. In our society people move a lot, particularly in this economy and need to change jobs and find jobs in different states," concurs Steven Knowles, of Knowles Collum LLP in California. 

While the states are still arguing whether or not to even allow gay couples to get married, the first wave of same sex couples looking to divorce are making their way to the courts. But with no federal ruling, the divorce proceedings for some couples have made national headlines that would normally not even be mentioned in newspapers.

When Julie and Hillary Goodridge, lead plaintiffs in Massachusett’s landmark gay marriage case, announced they were seeking a divorce in February, 2009, the media treated the news as if they were Hollywood celebrities on the skids.

In Texas, a case involving a couple looking to get divorced made headlines late last year when Judge Tena Callahan ruled that the divorce proceedings could continue in the state that doesn’t even recognize the marriage.

The case brings to light another issue that hasn’t been discussed quite as much. If a couple gets married and then moves to a state that has either banned or not yet ruled same sex marriage, the law doesn’t quite know how to handle those relationships.

"It’s cause and effect. One can’t be divorced if not married," explained Clement. "The truth of the matter is there will be gay divorce. Every relationship ends - either through death, hopefully at a ripe old age, or break up."

There are currently three types of states. First, states like Massachusetts where marriage is legal and therefore the right to get divorced is treated the same way as heterosexual marriages. Second, states like New York where same sex marriage is not legal, but they recognize the marriages from other states. In this case divorces are also treated the same as have always been. Third are states like California and Texas were same sex marriages are not legal or recognized. It’s in the last set of states that things are trickiest.

"Divorce laws have trailed so far behind," explains Kathryn Dickerson, a partner at SmolenPrevy in Virginia. "It’s not a top priority for some people. When you think about the number of gay couples divorcing, there’s other things the government is working on."

Because the laws have trailed behind, there are loopholes for people who want to get a divorce. One such loophole is at the center of the Miller-Jenkins custody battle currently unfolding in Virginia.

The couple had committed in a civil union eight years ago. But then Miller, the biological mother, denounced her sexuality and became a devout Baptist. In doing so she also moved to Virginia, a state that doesn’t recognize any same sex unions.

"In family law, the heart of the matter is child custody battles," said Glenn Sacks, National Executive Director of Fathers and Families. "All play out very similar to Miller-Jenkins. The only difference is Miller has found God and God hates gays."

What Lisa Miller did in the custody battle is something called forum shopping, which is currently allowed with all same sex marriage disputes. Forum shopping allows the person to find the place where the filer would have the most favorable results. As it currently stands, if someone in a marriage they can move to another state and establish residency to get the results they want.

"They shop for the proper forum. If one state is legal. Kind of like Miller did; it opens things up to legal shenanigans," explains Sacks.

Dianna Gould-Saltman, a partner at Gould-Saltman Law Offices in California, agrees that forum shopping opens the couple to play games with each other. " When only six states are giving [marriage equality], there’s always going to have one partner benefitting.

Another loophole that exists is if a couple moves to a state that doesn’t recognize their marriage, the couple is actually free to just break up and walk away as if they were never married. However, for couples who move to a non-recognizing state, there are some steps that can be done to keep some aspects legal. The couple could look into contractual rights, such as Marvin claims, which puts things in a contract to be followed.

"You have to prove there was a contract. Sex doesn’t matter," explains Knowles. "It doesn’t have to be written. It can be implied by conduct."

Conservative Field Day

With a few notable cases making their way through the court system, same sex divorce has been making headlines - mainly because not all states know how to handle them if marriage equality hasn’t been granted in that state.

With these early divorces making headlines, the conservatives opposing same sex marriage could go on the attack pointing out how quickly the marriages are being dissolved. But some warn that if any kind of campaign was to be started it would actually have a negative effect on the conservatives groups making the claim.

"No question it will be used against us," said Harvey. But he warns, "When the divorce rate is 50 percent, not a lot of finger wagging can be done." 

Didn’t work for Segregation

One thing that most people are in agreement about is that letting states decide how to handle the issue of legalizing same sex marriage is not the way to achieve anything.

"Leaving it up to the state is crap. It didn’t work for segregation," explained Esther Lastique, co-author of Lover her Right. "When left to their own devices, small minds have so much power."

Knowles agrees that the red states who adamantly oppose same sex marriage will not go willingly into accepting all types of marriages. But if the federal government steps in it would speed up the process.

"Ultimately, it will take action on the federal. The very red states are not going to partake in same sex marriage until they have to," Knowles opines.

With the piecemeal way that marriage equality has been being granted, there is still a lack of acceptance of marriage as an expected progression in life within the LGBT community. In heterosexual relationships, it is expected that marriage is the ultimate endgame for a couple at some point. However the same isn’t necessarily seen in gay community.

"Marriage in the heterosexual world is an expected marker of life. I don’t know if it is with same sex couples," said Harvey.

It’s an opinion that Knowles agrees with.

"In heterosexual couples, it’s expected to get married sooner or later. Not so much in gay relationships," Knowles said. "It’s not as inevitable."

Friday, March 19, 2010

Koo Koo for Gaga!..."We can't help being gay"

Hey there 'Family...Lady Gaga has spoken about her "groundbreaking" new video and reactions to its gay themes.

The bisexual star's provocative video for Telephone, also starring Beyonce, is getting plenty of media attention.

The nine-minute film features a lesbian kiss, strippers, butch prison guards, cross-dressers and transgender women and Gaga said was "groundbreaking" in its portrayal of different sexualities and identities.

She told 2Day FM: "There are transsexual women and transgender women and suddenly it becomes poisonous and something else because there are some people in this world that believe being gay is a choice. It's not a choice, we're born this way.

She added: "Hearing people say the video is sadomasochistic or that the video promotes murder for young people, it's my personal belief that the video is getting so much attention, not because of those themes because I've done those themes before, haven't I?

"I've done those themes in many of my videos but it's because it's with Beyonce and it's because there are so many homosexual themes."

Major fight for the rights of our U.S. Soldiers

A lesbian Air Force sergeant from Fairbanks who was outed by local police in Rapid City, S.D., has returned to Alaska, and the American Civil Liberties Union has launched a campaign to encourage Rapid City to apologize to her and compensate her, reports The Associated Press.

The Rapid City police chief says his officers acted appropriately. They spotted the marriage certificate when they showed up at Newsome's South Dakota home in November with an arrest warrant for her wife, who was wanted on theft charges in Fairbanks. Now, I'm sure that I am not the only person who watched our president announce at his last State of the Union as well in front of the Human Rights Campaign National Conference that we would no longer do this to our soldiers?

Looks like we're still doing it Mr. President. So lets get this right; Jene Newsome did not commit a crime, she performed honorably and because she was found to be gay, she was FIRED. Something is wrong with this situation.

Jene Newsome's honorable discharge [after nine years in the Air Force] under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy came after police officers saw an Iowa marriage certificate in her home and told officials at the nearby Ellsworth Air Force Base. The ACLU complaint claims the officers violated Newsome's privacy when they informed the military about her sexual orientation.

Folks, we have to remember what the "family" is for. We are here to bring this message of equality to all those who will listen and support those who are being disenfranchised. I hate to sound as if there are other options...because there are none. We speak out, live Outloud and stand together as a family. As a former military veteran myself, this is wrong. To think that someone can enter my home and without cause, notify my job to inform them of who joins me in my bed....exactly. UNFAIR.

Miss. Ends HIV Prisoner Segregation

The Mississippi Department of Corrections has agreed to stop segregating prisoners with HIV, ending a practice that ostracized inmates and prevented them from accessing resources available to other prisoners. According to a joint news release from the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch, which advocated for the change, corrections commissioner Christopher Epps made the decision.

The move leaves Alabama and South Carolina as the only states that continue to segregate prisoners with HIV, a practice more common during the early days of the HIV epidemic. “Public and correctional health experts agree that there is no medical basis for segregating HIV-positive prisoners within correctional facilities or for limiting access to jobs, vocational training and educational programs available to others,” said the news release on Wednesday.

“Since 1987, however, MDOC has performed mandatory HIV tests on all prisoners entering the state prison system, and has permanently housed all male prisoners who test positive in a segregated unit at the Mississippi State Penitentiary, the state’s highest security prison. As a result, prisoners with HIV have been faced with unjustified isolation, exclusion and marginalization, and low-custody prisoners have been forced unnecessarily to serve their sentences in more violent, more expensive prisons.”

As you know, Familyblendz maintains a vigil on equality for all people, bound or free. My goal is to prevent anyone from having to place themselves in positions whereby others can further segregate them, malign them or worse, treat them unfairly.

The change means that HIV positive prisoners now can participate in training programs and jobs like kitchen work, and avoid public disclosure of HIV status that results from being housed in a separate unit. A desegregation policy will be phased in for prisoners currently in the separate HIV unit, and new prisoners will be incorporated into the general population immediately.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Gay and Lesbian Wedding Expos Set Sights on Capital

Following a dynamic series of Gay & Lesbian Wedding Expos in 2009, set in cities including Chicago, Hartford, Seattle and Las Vegas, is for the first time planning an event in the heart of the nation’s capital.

The extensive gay & lesbian wedding resource, Rainbow Wedding Network, has produced over 35 events in fifteen states since 2003, developing the events out of the company's online successes over the past decade in bridging gay-friendly businesses with the gay & lesbian wedding market. The upcoming 'Same Love, Same Rights' LGBT Wedding Expo is scheduled for Sunday May 2, 2010 from 1:00-4:00 pm at the distinctive Renaissance Washington, DC Dupont Circle Hotel, and is free for the public to attend.

"A wonderful addition and we're glad to be apart of it", Elle Froneyberger, founder of The Little White Box Company".

Asheville, NC (PRWEB) March 2, 2010 -- As the nation's capital begins to provide the full rights and responsibilities of marriage to its LGBT citizens, the founders of proudly announce plans to produce their latest Gay & Lesbian Wedding Expo in Dupont Circle later this Spring. (The December vote by the DC Council) is an important victory not only for the gay and lesbian community but for everyone who supports equal rights,” said Councilman David A. Catania, an independent and the author of the bill, which then passed by an 11-to-2 vote. (NY Times) Rainbow Wedding Network's upcoming LGBT Wedding Expo on May 2nd will be a timely resource for same-sex couples planning their weddings as a result of the legislation, as well as all those who support marriage and family equality.

Since 2000 The trusted gay and lesbian wedding resource. The Same Love, Same Rights® LGBT Wedding Expo will be held on Sunday May 2, 2010 from 1:00-4:00pm at the Renaissance Washington, DC Dupont Circle Hotel. Over forty local Wedding-related exhibitors who actively support equal rights in marriage and adoption will participate, as well as those representing the Travel, Gift, Legal, Real Estate and Family-related industries.

The event will include Music, Ceremony Tips, Samples and interactive Presentations, specifically aimed to inspire the community's ongoing efforts in seeking greater equality in the District and throughout the nation. Admission is free, and all supporters of marriage rights are encouraged to attend.

"It is truly a victory for our minority that same-gender marriage is being recognized in our country's capital," states RainbowWeddingNetwork co-founder Cindy Sproul . "It's a time to celebrate, for all citizens to actively and enthusiastically join together and envision the next steps for the LGBT community. This Expo will provide a forum in which advocates and allies, both gay and straight, from all walks, classes and backgrounds... can communicate, become more cohesive, and realistically connect with others who seek to end discrimination."

Attendees of the Same Love, Same Rights® LGBT Wedding Expo will receive a complimentary Walkaway Bag brimming with valuable contacts for planning their own Special Day, along with fresh ideas regarding upcoming ceremony trends anticipated for 2010. Couples will also be invited to add a photograph to the Commitment Photo Album,™ an ongoing project to document LGBT couples and their families throughout the nation.

All LGBT couples throughout Washington, DC, Maryland, Delaware and beyond are encouraged to attend, as well as allies interested in the issues of equal marriage & family rights. The event is free to the public.

Launched in 2000, (RWN) has grown to become the most extensive wedding resource for the gay and lesbian community in the United States. Following the success of its first LGBT Wedding Expo in Minneapolis in 2003, RWN has produced over thirty-five such events in fifteen states throughout the nation. In 2006, the company began publication of the first wedding magazine specifically dedicated to gay & lesbian weddings. An updated version of the main website, offering a high degree of social networking and other interactive features, was launched in 2009.

For more information about nationwide events visit and for more same-sex wedding resources, visit For assistance with Washington events,

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Halt Anti-Gay Campaign - KENYA


Protect Health Workers, Activists; Condemn Mob Violence, Incitements to Hate
-February 17, 2010

Kenya's government should act quickly to protect people accused of homosexual conduct and groups offering HIV/AIDS services from vigilante attacks, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to Kenyan authorities.

The vigilante violence has hit Mtwapa, a coastal town northeast of Mombasa, in recent days and appears to be spreading to Mombasa and elsewhere. Human Rights Watch called on Kenya's government to speak out against the voices that incite hatred and foment the attacks.

"The government is sitting silent while mobs try to kill human rights defenders and assault people they suspect are gay," said Dipika Nath, researcher in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) rights program at Human Rights Watch. "Inaction is complicity, and silence can be lethal."

In late January, 2010, unsubstantiated rumors about a "gay wedding" scheduled for February 12 started circulating in Mtwapa, in Kilifi District. Local and national radio stations picked up the unconfirmed story. On February 7, several imams and muftis (Islamic scholars) told their congregations during Friday prayers to be vigilant and to "expose" homosexuals in Mtwapa.

On February 11, Sheikh Ali Hussein of the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya and Bishop Lawrence Chai of the National Council of Churches of Kenya held a news conference. As reported by Daily Nation and by other witnesses who have spoken to Human Rights Watch, the two religious leaders demanded an investigation of the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), a government health center that provides HIV/AIDS services to the community. They criticized the government for "providing counselling services to these criminals" and demanded that the KEMRI office in Mtwapa be shut down, the reports said.

Local activists told Human Rights Watch that, in a statement after the meeting, the religious leaders promised to "flush out gays." The Daily Nation reported that Chai is the leader of a network called "Operation Gays Out," whose actual numbers and aims are not known.

On February 12, an armed mob of 200 to 300 people surrounded the KEMRI health center. Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that a man called "Faridi," an organizer of the mob, said a KEMRI staff member was homosexual because he wore a T-shirt promoting safer sex. In response, police who were at the scene took him and another KEMRI staffer into custody.

Earlier the same day, Faridi, with police, forcibly entered another private individual's home, claiming that the two people in the house were homosexual. Police took the two into custody, too. Local activists have informed Human Rights Watch that none of the men were charged and they have all since been released, and that the police were attempting to protect them from violence by taking them into custody.

The mob beat senseless another man who was approaching the health center and was about to set him on fire when the police arrived and took him into custody as well. Folks this is really happening on a governmental level with top officials sanctioning this.

A large crowd gathered outside the police station where the five were being held. A religious leader addressed the mob, saying all homosexuals should be driven out of Mtwapa, and another speaker encouraged the mob to not bother bringing homosexuals to the police but rather to take the law into its own hands, witnesses said. Other speakers said that homosexuals had appeared in Mtwapa when KEMRI opened its offices there. Smaller groups reportedly went to the homes of other people suspected of being gay and threatened them.

Local sources told Human Rights Watch that the mob attacks appeared planned rather than spontaneous. According to reports received by Human Rights Watch, none of the attackers have been arrested.

A mob attacked and severely beat up another KEMRI volunteer on February 13, and the police again took the victim into custody. The same day, a person was beaten up in Mombasa on suspicion of being gay, and a second person was attacked in Mombasa on February 16.

"The police need to arrest the attackers and put a halt to what appears to be a coordinated nationwide attack on people perceived to be homosexual," Nath said. "The disruption of lifesaving HIV/AIDS work could mean a public health catastrophe as well as a human rights disaster."

Although the declared reason for the six men's detention was to protect them, news reports said authorities asked the men to submit to forensic examinations to determine if they are homosexual. Five of them refused and the sixth consented and was examined, although no "evidence" of homosexuality is reported to have been found. Forensic medical examinations to "prove" homosexual conduct are archaic and discredited. If conducted without genuine consent, they may constitute torture or inhuman or degrading treatment, Human Rights Watch said.

Monday, February 22, 2010

We at Familyblendz enjoy bringing you stories like this one. It screams of hope and optimism that comes through research, activism and funding. Following a stem transplant from a donor carring a gene mutuation that provides natural resistance to HIV a 42 year old man who has leukaemia now appears to have no detectable HIV in his blood.

A report on the stem cell transplant in the New England Journal of Medicine says that since it has occurred the patient has not tested positive for HIV, with the Dr. Gero Hutter of Charite Universitatsmedizin Berlin in Germany confirming:

“Today, two years after his transplantation, he is still without any signs of HIV disease and without antiretroviral medication.”

Performed in Germany on an American, the transplant was performed not to treat the HIV, but the man’s leukemia, however they did deliberately chose the donor with the naturally occurring gene mutation that confers resistance to HIV. Causing the resistance via a mutation (CCR5 delta32) which cripples the CCR5 receptor on the surface of T cells, that is normally attacked by HIV, this is a mutuation found only in 1 percent to 3 percent of white populations of European descent. Some people only have one copy of CCR5 delta32 which results in them taking longer to get sick or develop AIDS if infected with HIV. If they however have two (a copy from each parent) then they may not become infected at all.

The patient in this case was given a transplant with two copies of CCR5 delta32 and whilst his findings are very promising, the reality according to Dr. Jay Levy, a professor at the University of California San Francisco, is that it won’t help the majority as the treatment is too extreme to be used as a routine treatment. He also believes that the transplant won’t have completely cured the patient as it is likely the HIV may infect other cells and resurface at a later time. Although this may be true, it is important to note that the patient was also found to be infected with low levels of a type of HIV known as X4 that does not require the CCR5 receptor before the surgery , but these have shown no sign of developing.

Admitting they had no real explanation for what has happened, Hutter said the “… finding is very surprising.”, however he has agreed with other researchers that it shouldn’t be used to treat HIV alone, with Levy suggesting “A more logical — and potentially safer — approach would be to develop some type of CCR5-disabling gene therapy or treatment that could be directly injected into the body”.

We pass this stuff on to you all to further help you understand the real fight. Its not in talking or even blogging, solely, yet, Familyblendz and other organizations like ours are better equipped to address the real concerns and fears of the masses by keeping only the relevant information in the mainstream.

At the end of the day, whether this patient shows signs of HIV resurfacing today or next year, unless you are currently living with this infection, none of us may ever truly know the benefit he has gained TODAY alone just by knowing that as of right now...there is no detection. Lets support or brothers and sisters who are out there on the frontlines keeping us current.