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I am a mess at the moment, but this is vitally important to me. I have been getting very little sleep, and too much exercise and rain while without shelter. I'm in Salem today after biking down yesterday.

Hopefully I will be able to share at least part of what I wrote to the hearing.

A state House panel heard testimony on the measure, which is being promoted by Basic Rights Oregon, a nonprofit gay and transgender advocacy group from Portland.

The measure is part of a national push to prevent mental health care providers from practicing so-called conversion therapy. Laws banning the practice have passed in New Jersey, California and Washington, D.C., and a dozen other states, including New York and Florida, are pushing for similar legislation.

Under the bill, social workers and licensed medical health care professionals, such as psychologists or psychiatrists, would be barred from practicing conversion therapy on children under age 18.

My two cents below:
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Mon Mar 09, 2015 at 12:46 PM PDT

Boycott Jamaica

by Horace Boothroyd III

TRIGGER WARNING after the fold.

Tourism is tied with remittances as Jamaica's top source of revenue. The tourism industry earns over 50 percent of the country's total foreign exchange earnings and provides about one-fourth of all jobs in Jamaica. Most tourist activity is centered on the island's northern coast, including the communities of Montego Bay, Ocho Rios, and Port Antonio, as well as in Negril on the island's western tip. In 2013 Jamaica received 2.09 million visitors from January to August 2013.This meant that Jamaica has many pulling factors that attract visitors. A Caribbean island located roughly about 90 miles away from Cuba, Jamaica has many different tourist sites that attract millions yearly.
Tourism is one of their main sources of revenue. But as you can see in the following article most tourists would not survive Jamaica's rigid gender rules. The video is linked to the artice linked below.

I'm sure the stochiastic terrorism of American christians in the last two weeks probably has a very strong influence on why the people of Jamaica feel it is proper to murder those that are different.

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Reposted from Chrislove by Chrislove

Here's some (very) breaking news coming out of Alabama, reported by Equality Case Files. U.S. District Judge Callie V. Granade just ruled that the "Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment" and "Alabama Marriage Protection Act," both of which bar marriage between same-sex couples, are in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses and are therefore unconstitutional.

The case was brought by Cari D. Searcy and Kimberly McKeond, who married in California six years ago. Searcy is unable to gain full parental rights over McKeond's child because of Alabama's anti-gay laws.

The opinion and order can be found here. From the opinion:

Defendant contends that Alabama has a legitimate interest in protecting the ties between children and their biological parents and other biological kin. However, the Court finds that the laws in question are not narrowly tailored to fulfill the reported interest. The Attorney General does not explain how allowing or recognizing same-sex marriage between two consenting adults will prevent heterosexual parents or other biological kin from caring for their biological children. He proffers no justification for why it is that the provisions in question single out same-sex couples and prohibit them, and them alone, from marrying in order to meet that goal. Alabama does not exclude from marriage any other couples who are either unwilling or unable to biologically procreate. There is no law prohibiting infertile couples, elderly couples, or couples who do not wish to procreate from marrying. Nor does the state prohibit recognition of marriages between such couples from other states. The Attorney General fails to demonstrate any rational, much less compelling, link between its prohibition and non-recognition of same-sex marriage and its goal of having more children raised in the biological family structure the state wishes to promote. There has been no evidence presented that these marriage laws have any effect on the choices of couples to have or raise children, whether they are same-sex couples or opposite-sex couples. [...]

If anything, Alabama’s prohibition of same-sex marriage detracts from its goal of promoting optimal environments for children. Those children currently being raised by same-sex parents in Alabama are just as worthy of protection and recognition by the State as are the children being raised by opposite-sex parents. Yet Alabama’s Sanctity laws harms the children of same-sex couples for the same reasons that the Supreme Court found that the Defense of Marriage Act harmed the children of same-sex couples. Such a law “humiliates [ ] thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples. The law in question makes it even more difficult for the children to understand the integrity and closeness of their own family and its concord with other families in their community and in their daily lives.”

There does not appear to be a stay on the order. I'll update the diary as more information on the scope of the ruling becomes available.

UPDATE: Freedom to Marry weighs in:

UPDATE #2: Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange is vowing to seek a stay (H/T Joe My God):
The Alabama Attorney General's Office indicated it would continue to fight the case. "We are disappointed and are reviewing the Federal District Court's decision," read a statement from the office "We expect to ask for a stay of the court's judgment pending the outcome of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling which will ultimately decide this case." It is the first of several pending same-sex marriage cases in Alabama to be ruled on. The decision adds to a growing list of decisions across the country in favor of same-sex marriage.
UPDATE #3: The Alabama House Speaker and Governor are both very, very sad. Poor things. H/T Joe My God again. Speaker Mike Hubbard:
It is outrageous when a single unelected and unaccountable federal judge can overturn the will of millions of Alabamians who stand in firm support of the Sanctity of Marriage Act. The Legislature will encourage a vigorous appeals process, and we will continue defending the Christian conservative values that make Alabama a special place to live.
Can somebody please call the waaaaambulance?

UPDATE #4: The AG has officially requested a stay. The motion can be found here. H/T librarisingnsf.

UPDATE #5: GOD HELP US! ALCAP, a local group of haters, responds (H/T Joe My God):

UPDATE #6: Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council (the SPLC-certified hate group) also has teh sadz. Oh noes (H/T Joe My God):
This federal judge is throwing out the votes of the people of Alabama and attempting to shut down the debate over marriage. In exercising their right to vote, Alabama voters overwhelmingly sent a message that that they want to see society rebuild and strengthen marriage - not have it redefined by unelected judges. As one judge after another has robbed the people of their voice, the U.S. Supreme Court's intervention last week was long overdue. It is time that the courts respect the freedom of the people to uphold the timeless and natural definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman. There is nothing in the U.S. Constitution that empowers this federal judge to overturn Alabama's marriage amendment nor any basis for the U.S. Supreme Court to impose a 50 state same-sex "marriage" mandate.
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Reposted from Chrislove by Chrislove

It's likely going to be a bad 84th legislative session for all Texans with Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick taking the helm, but it's shaping up to be a particularly defensive one for the LGBT community. Two "license-to-discriminate" amendments have been filed seeking to gut local LGBT non-discrimination ordinances that have been passed in cities such as San Antonio, Houston, and Plano. And now we can add a batshit bill introduced by State Rep. Cecil Bell, Jr. (R-Magnolia) to the mix: House Bill 623, or the "Texas Preservation of Sovereignty and Marriage Act," which seeks to amend the Texas Family Code to prevent same-sex marriages from taking place in the extremely likely event the state's marriage ban is struck down.

Of course, the ban has already been struck down, but the ruling was stayed pending appeal. Which Greg Abbott couldn't file fast enough. Tomorrow, the Fifth Circuit is hearing oral arguments in the marriage equality cases from Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, and despite the conservative reputation the court has earned, there just may be a swing vote that will deliver an unexpected pro-equality ruling. If that doesn't happen, the Supreme Court is likely to eventually hear a case and is widely expected to strike down marriage bans nationwide. Whether it's sooner or later, marriage equality is coming to Texas. Even right-wingers like Bell are starting to get that. But they'll be damned if they don't go down swinging.

Just how crazy is HB 623? From the Texas Observer:

HB 623 would amend the Texas Family Code to prohibit the use of  taxpayer funds for the “the licensing or support of same-sex marriage.” It would also bar government employees from recognizing, granting or enforcing same-sex marriage licenses. Any government employee who violates the provision would be barred from collecting “a salary, pension, or other employee benefit.”

HB 623 would also require Texas courts to dismiss challenges to the law and award attorneys’ fees to defendants. And it would grant Texas sovereign immunity under the 11th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution when it comes to enforcing the law, “regardless of a contrary federal court ruling.”

In other words, Bell's idea is to proclaim that the state of Texas does not have to--and will not--comply with impending federal court rulings legalizing marriage between same-sex couples. And if a clerk actually, um, follows the law (the real law, not this nonsense)? They lose their paycheck. That crazy. From Bell's press release:
When I was elected, I made a promise to my constituents to fight to protect our traditional values and to stand strong in the defense of our constitutional rights as Texans and Americans. Texas is a sovereign state and our citizens have the right to define marriage. We as Texans voted in 2005 to define marriage as being solely between a man and a woman. In Texas marriage is sacred and traditional families are recognized as the fabric of our society.
Daniel Williams, legislative specialist for Equality Texas, responds to HB 623 in the Texas Tribune:
This bill is retreading very well-established precedent here. In 1869, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Texas v. White that no, Texas may not ignore federal law whenever it wants. Beyond ignoring federal law, it would actually punish state employees who follow the law.
As for its chances of actually passing? Williams again:
It’s certainly far outside the mainstream, but it’s something we’ll be watching very carefully. The Legislature can always pass unconstitutional laws, and then it’s litigated in the courts. I’m guessing Cecil Bell wants to make sure Ken Paxton has plenty of work to do in his new job as attorney general.
Equality Texas has put out an action alert on HB 623.

As for Bell, it won't surprise you to know that he was one of the 63 Texas legislators who signed a court brief to the Fifth Circuit linking marriage equality to incest and pedophilia. Because of course.

Meanwhile, also from the Tribune:

Other lawmakers have filed bills to recognize same-sex marriage in Texas, allow same-sex parents to put both of their names on their child’s birth certificate and prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
My guess is that Bell's bill has a much better chance of passing than any of those do. It's going to be a long legislative session.
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Reposted from Chrislove by Chrislove

You may remember that, back in December, the conservative Dallas suburb of Plano saw a glimmer of progress when it extended limited anti-discrimination protections to LGBT people. In a 5-3 vote (which included the mayor), the city council moved to amend the Non-Discrimination Ordinance (now known as the Equal Rights Policy) to include sexual orientation, genetic information, and gender identity. The ordinance protects residents from discrimination in public accommodation, employment, housing transactions, and city contracting. The news wasn't all good, of course, as there are huge, gaping loopholes in the ordinance that prevent it from having the effect it should:

City Attorney Paige Mims said the ordinance also includes a waiver process for businesses to be exempt if the owners feel the policy would not allow them to conduct business based on their personal faith. Individuals and organizations found in noncompliance to the ordinance would be charged with a Class C misdemeanor, the least severe class of misdemeanor. While the ordinance does make it illegal to discriminate against gender identity in a public place, Mims said that would not extend to public restrooms and locker rooms which would still be segregated based on physical anatomy.

“We realize that privacy interests need to be balanced with equality interests,” Mims said at the meeting. “We took a lot of care to look at constitutional issues and freedoms that people have that are protected under the law ... We’ve recognized in this ordinance that due process needs to be allowed and if people do have those [religious] defenses, they’re required under law to give the city notification ... and we’re going to evaluate that.”

In addition, religious and political groups and nonprofit organizations are exempt from the ordinance. Not exactly a sweeping victory for the LGBT community, but nevertheless a welcome advance, especially given Plano's politics and the fact that the city is home to the right-wing Liberty Institute.
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Reposted from SoCalLiberal by FogCityJohn

On June 3rd of this year, voters in California's 26th State Senate District (which covers much of West Los Angeles and the South Bay and includes parts of Central Los Angeles) did something rather remarkable.  

In a dual upset, they sent two young, articulate, and unapologetic progressive Democrats, Santa Monica - Malibu Unified School District Board Member/UCLA Law Professor Ben Allen and Social Justice Attorney Sandra Fluke, into a runoff against each other.  In doing so, they quite possibly created the first ever general election match-up for major office between two Generation Y/Millennial candidates between Allen (born in 1978) and Fluke (born in 1981).  

There are few Millennials in office.  We only saw the first Democratic Millennials elected to Congress in 2012 (there are six total in Congress) and given the crushing economic burdens and environmental problems we face, we need far more). Generally, what few Millennial politicians who hold public office fall into the following three categories: (1) they come from political families with big names, (2) they come from very wealthy backgrounds, or (3) both.  But what makes this runoff all the more remarkable is that both Allen and Fluke do not fall into any of these categories.  

On election night as the results, completely unexpected by most political observers, became clear, I had this feeling of joy.  I realized that the voters of West and Central Los Angeles had rewritten the script.  They decided not only to vote for unapologetic liberals but more fundamentally, they made the decision to hand over the keys of government power to the Millennial Generation.  

Of course, with this remarkable result, comes the difficult decision.  Which one of these two incredible, talented, intelligent, and promising young progressive leaders do I vote for in the general election?  

I've decided on Ben Allen.  

Poll

Who are you voting for in the 26th State Senate District

53%14 votes
34%9 votes
11%3 votes

| 26 votes | Vote | Results

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Sat Oct 11, 2014 at 07:32 AM PDT

Happy National Coming Out Day!

by vacantlook

Reposted from vacantlook by Horace Boothroyd III

Today is October 11, 2014. It's National Coming Out Day. Happy day to everyone. There's been quite a lot of good advancement in the cause of equality this past week, and one of the most important things that has helped us get here is that we came out. We dared to tell people that we exist. As we refused to hide ourselves, people have gotten to know us. They see how we're just folk who want to live our lives and try to find some measure of happiness. Fewer people are scared of us. Fewer people hate us. And it took our having courage to identify ourselves.

I've actually seen some ask if coming out is still necessary. Duh, of course it is. One, the cause of equality is not over. Two, even if full legal equality had been achieved, we would still have to come out, if for nothing else than we're a less-obvious minority. That it can be possible that we can hide this aspect about ourselves will always necessitate that we come out in some form or another. In our society, being straight is the default, so if we're not straight, we dispel that assumption by coming out. Now, hopefully in the future coming out will be a far less scary, stressful process, but we'll still have to come out. But also, coming out is not a one-time event. Every time you meet someone new, we face that question again: do I tell them or not? The ultimate challenge is allowing ourselves to live as open around others, in public, around strangers, as we would if we were around people whom we know won't reject us or attack us. So, we constantly evaluate new people, and thus we come out again and again.

Today, we celebrate coming out. We celebrate being who we are and being unashamed of it. We celebrate courage and strength and openness.

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Reposted from Chrislove by Chrislove

The horrific bashing of a gay couple in Philadelphia by a mob of men and women has been well covered here, particularly by librarisingnsf, mconvente, and Jen Hayden. If you're not familiar with the case, please visit the links to get caught up.

Today, in response to the hate crime--which, under Pennsylvania law, is not technically a hate crime--lawmakers and supporters rallied at the capitol in Harrisburg to push for legislation to add protections for LGBT people to existing state hate crimes law. The Ethnic Intimidation Act currently on the books protects race, color, national origin, and religion, but not sexual orientation or gender identity. In 2002, the law was amended to include sexual orientation, gender identity, and physical/mental disability as protected categories, but the Pennsylvania Supreme Court tossed the amendment in 2008 on procedural grounds. LGBT people remain unprotected in every way except marriage in the state of Pennsylvania. While the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009 extends federal hate crimes protections to LGBT people, the high-profile gay-bashing in Philadelphia has refocused attention on stalled legislation in Harrisburg and underscored the need for state-level protections.

Led by Democratic Representatives Brendan Boyle and (openly gay) Brian Sims and Senator Larry Farnese, there are renewed efforts to pass LGBT-inclusive protections as early as this legislative session. While Sims has not been optimistic about passage this session (which is in its final days) and has been making plans to bring hate crime victims to Harrisburg to testify next year, Boyle is more hopeful, even claiming to have potential support from some Republicans:

It has been a year-and-a-half since I introduced it, and the Republican leadership has shown no willingness to move any piece of legislation that touches sexual orientation. But in the wake of this event, there's a better chance of it happening now than months from now, when this issue will have receded from the news.
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Reposted from Chrislove by Chrislove

Well here's an infuriating story from the Texas Observer sure to add a little piss to your cornflakes this morning.

Connie Wilson, who just moved from California to the Houston area with her wife Aimee and their three children, received a hell of a welcome from the Department of Public Safety (DPS). The couple has been together nine years, and they finally tied the knot last year in California, after which Connie took Aimee's last name. Connie was able to get all of her records updated with her new name, from her California driver license to her Social Security card to all of her financial and medical records. And then, upon moving to the Houston area, she visited the DPS office in Katy to obtain a Texas driver license. No big deal--when I moved to Texas, aside from waiting in a horrendous line at DPS, getting my driver license was painless. But I also didn't have my name changed to that of my same-sex spouse. Wilson's experience with DPS in Texas, where gays are barred from marriage by both statute and constitutional amendment (just to be safe, you know), has been quite different:

With her California driver’s license nearing expiration, Wilson took her documents to a DPS office in Katy last week to obtain a Texas driver’s license. When a DPS employee noticed that Wilson’s name didn’t match her birth certificate, she produced the couple’s California marriage license identifying her spouse as Aimee Wilson.

“Her only words to me were, ‘Is this same-[sex]?'” Connie Wilson recalled. “I remember hesitating for probably 10 seconds. I didn’t know how to answer. I didn’t want to lie, but I knew I was in trouble because I wasn’t going to be able to get a license.”

[...]

“She immediately told me, ‘You can’t use this to get your license. This doesn’t validate your last name. Do you have anything else?’” Wilson said. “She told me I would never get a license with my current name, that the name doesn’t belong to me.”

Emphasis fucking mine. The name doesn't belong to her.

The employee, who turned out to be a DPS supervisor, recommended that Wilson use her maiden name, which she lacks the proper documentation to do. Then--get this--the supervisor told her that she could obtain an order from a state court to change her name, a move that would cost at least $500. Says Wilson:

My name is already legally Wilson. I don’t know if a judge will even grant me a name change from Wilson to Wilson.
Fucking madness. More:
In response to inquiries from the Observer, DPS confirmed that people moving to Texas from other states can’t obtain driver’s licenses listing their married names using same-sex marriage licenses.

“To receive a Texas Driver License or Identification Card reflecting a name change from a same-sex marriage, a court order is required,” a DPS spokesman said in a statement.

Wilson claims that this batshit policy and the impending expiration of her California driver license could possibly threaten the family's ability both to close on a house and to obtain disability benefits for one of their children, who has autism and Down syndrome.

More from Wilson:

I’ve been deprived the freedom to drive a vehicle once my current California driver’s license expires. I’m further being deprived the freedom to use air travel, make purchases that require a valid photo identification, seek medical attention for myself or my children, as well as other situations that would require proving who I am legally as an individual.
Like I said, a hell of a welcome.

Wilson has been in contact both with Equality Texas and the office of State Senator Sylvia Garcia. Garcia's office is awaiting a written explanation of the DPS decision, while Equality Texas field organizer Daniel Williams has this to say:

This is a disappointing incident and certainly not reflective of Texas hospitality or values. Equality Texas is working to resolve this matter quickly.
Disappointing indeed. Another clear reason this clusterfuck of a patchwork quilt we have going on in this country regarding marriage equality cannot work.
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Reposted from Philly Kos by Horace Boothroyd III

A positive update to this horrific story.  User librarisingnsf posted a diary on Monday detailing the event:

From NBC 10 Philly:

A violent attack on two gay men in Center City Thursday night left one of those men in the hospital with multiple fractures, according to sources. Sources tell NBC10 the 27-year-old and 28-year-old victims were walking from a restaurant in the area of 16th and Chancellor around 10:45 p.m. Thursday. Suddenly they were approached by a visibly intoxicated group of two men and six women.

Witnesses say someone in the group asked, "Is this your fucking boyfriend?" When one of the victims told them yes, the group allegedly attacked them, punching and kicking them in the face, head and chest. Police say one of the suspects then snatched a victim's bag containing a cellphone, wallet and credit cards. The group then fled in an unknown direction. "It was a bunch of screams at first," said witness Geoff Nagle. "...a lot of punching and kicking." Another witness, who asked to remain anonymous, says he heard the group screaming homophobic slurs.

Video from Fox 29 Philly:

The attack occurred on the evening of September 11th.  This attack is particularly shocking because the area of the attack - 16th and Chancellor St. - is in the heart of Center City and reasonably close to the Gayborhood.

Over the last day since the Philly PD released a surveillance video of the suspects, the public has been hard at work trying to identify the group of attackers.  Apparently, they have been successful.

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Reposted from Chrislove by Chrislove

It's 2017 in Ireland, two years after the 2015 public referendum that brought marriage equality to the country. In dramatic found-footage fashion, a heterosexual couple document their struggle to resist the Armagayddon that followed. Boarded up in their home, homeschooling their son in the ways of heterosexuality, and avoiding their neighbors Adam and Steve (yes, really) who terrorize them by buying them groceries, the family is in a struggle for survival following the onslaught of equality in Ireland. Somehow, amazingly, they have been able to remain heterosexual and married in the midst of it all.

Seriously, though, watch every last second of this Irish marriage equality PSA. You won't regret it.

The PSA may be Irish, but it's certainly applicable to "arguments" put forth by NOM, the Family Research Council, and our own evangelicals here in the United States. Thankfully, it is becoming harder and harder for Americans to take the sky-is-falling rhetoric of this dwindling minority seriously. In Ireland's own struggle for marriage equality, may those on the right side of history--estimated at over 70 percent of the country's population--carry the day in 2015. As the end of the PSA makes clear,

Marriage equality: It's not the end of the world, lads.
H/T Joe My God
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Reposted from LGBT Kos Community by Dave in Northridge
The gay community has a large number of corporate supporters including AT&T. The corporate giant has received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign list of corporate supporters in every year since 2004. But, that doesn't mean that they always support the candidates that are friendliest to us, and this is one glaring example of that. It is just something that the gay community should keep in mind, in my opinion.

From The New Civil Rights Movement:

AT&T (NYSE:T), an international telecommunications monolith with revenue last year of over $128 billion, has donated $75,000 this year to help elect Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott the Governor of Texas.

The Dallas-based telecom corporation also donated $50,000 to the Texas AG's campaign last year, when it was expected Abbott would enter the gubernatorial race.

John Wright of Lone Star Q first reported the news, after investigating public records from the Texas Ethics Commission.

And, from that same article, here is a quote from an AT&T spokesperson indicating their support for the gay community, but also not giving the reason for supporting Greg Abbott and not Wendy Davis for governor of Texas.
“The PAC supports a variety of candidates for a variety of reasons,” AT&T spokesman Marty Richter said in an email to Lone Star Q, in response to an inquiry about the contributions to Abbott. “The PAC does not comment on reasons for contributions, but publicly discloses contributions consistent with state requirements.

“Diversity and inclusion are part of AT&T’s culture and operations, and we’re proud to be recognized as a leader in this area,” Richter added. “DiversityInc recently named AT&T No. 1 on its 2014 Top 10 Employers for LGBT Employees. And every year since 2004 we’ve received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for our fair treatment of our LGBTQ employees, including protection against discrimination, parity of health care benefits for domestic partners and other criteria.”

And, also from the article, Greg Abbott's position on certain issues of importance to the gay community,
Greg Abbott and his office are actively defending Texas' ban on same-sex marriage, claiming the ban is best for children -- all children.

In January, Abbott joined a lawsuit trying to force Houston Mayor Annise Parker to rescind the benefits the city has extended to its gay and lesbian married employees, as The New Civil Rights Movement reported. In February, Abbott received the endorsement of Sarah Palin, who said, "If he is good enough for Ted Nugent, he is good enough for me!”

On the other hand, Wendy Davis enthusiastically supports marriage equality and LGBT rights.

News of this donation comes on the heels of the discovery that Facebook (another pro LGBT corporation) had contributed 10K to the campaign of anti-gay Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes.

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