Prominent conservatives are coming out in support of same-sex marriage. And gay issues haven’t played a central issue in the 2010 election cycle. Is this a change of course for the GOP?
http://www.britethorn.com First off, this is NOT a video meant to make fun of gays and lesbians. The target for our humor is the ridiculous position Ken Mehlman now finds himself in since he has come out of the Closet. He lead the Republican National Committee during years in which it sought to bar the way for gays and lesbians to ever marry through passage of a Constitutional amendment meant to make marriage between same sex partners illegal throughout the United State. How does he sleep at night knowing how much pain he inflicted upon other gays because he was following the GOP's orders? Have you ever wondered what it must be like for all those gay and lesbian children and family members of Republican office holders who have been relegated to the Closet for Life? They belong to a party which barely recognizes their existence, let alone their rights to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," but on they go supporting the party blindly working against their own self interest.
Martha Schaerr, the subject of this JewsOnFirst.org video, is a stealth school board candidate, according to activists in Montgomery County, Maryland, where she is running. Schaerr, critics say, is not telling voters that just a few years ago she played a major role in a bruising -- and losing -- legal battle by right-wing Christian groups to block a new sex education curriculum in the Montgomery County Public Schools. The groups primarily objected to high school lessons about homosexuality. Schaerr is also not revealing that she is on the board of the Family Leader Institute, which fights same-sex marriage and acceptance of homosexuality and appears tied to the Mormon Church. This video, shot at a September 20th candidates forum, includes an interview with Schaerr. Distributed by Tubemogul.
NEW YORK – Edith "Edie" Windsor, who shared her life with her late spouse, Thea Spyer, for 44 years, filed a lawsuit against the federal government today for refusing to recognize their marriage. The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA), a federal statute that defines marriage for all federal purposes as a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife. Edie and Thea were married in Canada in 2007, and were considered married by their home state of New York.
Thea died in 2009. Due to DOMA‘s discriminatory policies, Edie was not able to claim the estate tax marital deduction that is available when the surviving spouse is of the opposite sex. In her lawsuit, Edie is seeking to have DOMA declared unconstitutional and to obtain a refund of the federal estate tax that she was forced to pay following Thea's death. The lawsuit was filed with the assistance of the American Civil Liberties Union, the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP and the New York Civil Liberties Union.
"After Thea died, the fact that the federal government refused to recognize our marriage was devastating," said Edie. "In the midst of my grief at the loss of the love of my life, I had to deal with my own government saying that we weren't a family."
Edie, a senior computer systems programmer, and Thea, a clinical psychologist, met in the early 1960s, and lived together for decades in an apartment in Greenwich Village. Despite not being able to get legally married, they got engaged in 1967. Over 30 years ago, Thea was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and Edie helped her through her long battle with the disease. After building a life together for more than 40 years, they were finally married in Toronto in May 2007. Their relationship is the subject of a documentary entitled, "Edie & Thea: A Very Long Engagement."
"We treasured every moment of our 44 years together and were thrilled to be able to finally have the chance to spend our last years together as a legally married couple," said Edie. "It meant so much to us that our commitment to each other had finally been recognized."
Edie was the sole beneficiary of Thea's estate. Because they were married, Thea's estate normally would have passed to her spouse without any tax. But because DOMA refuses to recognize otherwise valid marriages of same-sex couples, Thea's estate had to pay more than $350,000 in federal estate taxes. Earlier this year, Edie requested a full refund from the government. The IRS rejected that claim, citing DOMA.
"Edie and Thea were together for 44 years, the last two of which they were lucky enough to spend as a married couple," said James Esseks, Director of the ACLU Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project. "All Edie is seeking is the same treatment for her marriage that the federal government appropriately gives to married straight couples. It is completely unfair for the federal government to pretend that Edie and Thea were strangers, and to tax them that way."
In the lawsuit, Edie alleges that DOMA violates the equal protection guarantee of the U.S. Constitution because it recognizes marriages of heterosexual couples, but not of same-sex couples, despite the fact that New York State treats all marriages the same.
"If Thea were 'Theo' instead of 'Thea,' then Edie, as Thea's spouse, would have inherited Thea's estate tax-free," said Roberta Kaplan of Paul, Weiss. "Edie and Thea were denied equal treatment, and it is obviously unjust that there should be a tax simply for being gay."
"No one should have to fight with the government after losing the person she's loved for more than four decades," said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. "Edie and Thea made the same life-long commitment that other married couples make, and their marriage deserves the same dignity, respect and protection afforded other families."
Another lawsuit raising the same legal challenge to DOMA is being filed today in federal court in Hartford, CT. Brought by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, that case includes five married couples and one widower from three states who are harmed by DOMA in a variety of significant ways, including denial of health care coverage and social security benefits.
Both of these cases follow similar litigation in Massachusetts, where a federal district judge ruled last summer that DOMA violates the federal constitution. That case, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, challenged the federal government's refusal to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples legally married in Massachusetts and is now on appeal. The case was also brought by GLAD. Edie's case pursues the same legal theory in the context of federal estate taxes.
Edie is represented by Kaplan and Andrew Ehrlich of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP; Esseks and Rose Saxe of the ACLU LGBT Project; and Arthur Eisenberg and Alexis Karteron of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
For more information on this case, please visit: www.aclu.org/Edie
For more information on GLAD's case, please visit: www.glad.org/doma
Robyn Shepherd, ACLU, (212) 519-7829 or 549-2666; mediaaclu.org
Brandy Bergman and Renée Soto, Sard Verbinnen & Co., (212) 687-8080
Prop 8 is crawling through the federal courts. A panel of judges took up the case – after another judge overturned the gay marriage ban earlier this year. There are two issues on the table. CNN has the details.
“The first set over the legal standing of the group appealing a judge’s earlier ruling that struck down Prop 8. The second set of arguments is over whether the same-sex marriage ban is constitutional.”
Cameras were inside the courtroom, streaming live across the country. ABC and Fox News picked up on one point of contention. This is Charles Cooper arguing against same sex marriage.
COOPER: “The key reason that marriage has existed at all, in any society and at any time, is that sexual relationships between men and women naturally produce children.”
To that – one of the judges asked: wouldn’t that rule out marriage for infertile couples?
COOPER: “It would have to have Orwellian measures designed to police fertility before marriage. Orwellian measures to presumably annul marriages that are not childless.”
The other issue is legal standing. Fox News explains, that’s because California’s top brass is refusing to defend Prop 8. Of course – there are two sides to the argument.
GALLAGHER: “Remember, those who filed this appeal—one was a deputy court clerk in Imperial County east of San Diego, along with the anti-gay marriage group Protect Marriage.com. But those who support gay marriage say an appeal can only be filed by the state’s governor or attorney general.”
GALLAGHER: “Of course, the other side says the judge who overturned Prop 8 also overturned the will of 7 million California voters.”
CBS court watchers now predict a narrow ruling – meaning it wouldn’t apply to all 50 states. Here’s why…
“It's one thing for the court [to] narrowly resolve the case by striking down an initiative because it took away a pre-existing right to marry. It's another to broadly declare the U.S. Constitution requires the state to issue marriage licenses to gays and lesbians -- a ruling that would be highly vulnerable to reversal in the US Supreme Court.”
Ultimately, the decision comes down to just three judges. MSNBC describes the men who will make the call.
HALL: “Many people have commented on the makeup of this three judge panel—two seen as liberal, one as conservative. What can you tell us about this showdown?”
WALKER: “Among those two that are seen as liberal, one is more of a conservative liberal—really considered more of a moderate. And legal experts say he’s really the one to watch. He could be the swing vote.”
Once the panel rules, analysts say the decision will likely be appealed to the full 9th Circuit—then eventually the Supreme Court.
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Let’s call it a non-traditional family. Scientists have created mice with two fathers, by a very complex stem cell technology. It opens up the possibility for same-sex couples to have their own genetic children. The Daily Mail explains how it works.
1) First, the researchers used Father A’s skin to create stem cells
2) then they grew the stem cells over and over in a dish until some naturally lost their male Y chromosome
3) These cells, are injected into young embryos which were carried through pregnancy by surrogate mothers.
4) The female mice with these ‘male eggs’ were then mated with another male – Father B.
The offspring therefore carried genes contributed entirely from two males.
Dizzy? So are we. Even Richard Berhringer, the lead author of the study at M.D. Anderson in Houston admits to Pink News that the process was complicated; but says, if it was refined, it could save endangered species and benefit same-sex couples.
“Someday two men could produce their own genetic sons and daughters… It may also be possible to generate sperm from a female donor and produce viable male and female progeny with two mothers.”
Trying this in humans? That’s a much bigger challenge. Despite the technical problems... here comes the controversy. A CBC viewer writes:
“For this to work in same sex human couples you'd have to wait until you were old enough to be a grandfather to have children with your partner's female child clone. “
The Examiner warns of possible legal and ethical issues:
“European, Asian and Indian medical facilities will offer the procedure to persons in the United States that could spawn a new definition of citizenship and even question the validity of the child as a human being (the X-Man of the future.)”
In fact, previous research has found ways to create mice with two mothers. TG Daily says:
“2004 Japanese scientists successfully created mice with two mothers. The achievement led to panic in the right-wing press - and perhaps slightly nicer behavior from men worried about being made evolutionarily redundant.”
So what do you think? Is this another creepy bio-technology advancement, or new hope for same-sex couples.
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In a new public service announcement, Barbara Bush supports gay marriage in New York. No, we’re not talking about mother Bush --- we’re talking about the quiet, conservative, Ivy-league educated twin, so rarely heard from. Here’s the video:
“I’m Barbara Bush, and I’m a New Yorker for marriage equality. .. New York is about fairness, and equality. And everyone should have the right to marry the person that they love. Join us.”
Bush’s father, former president George Bush -- was outspoken against legalizing gay marriage, having pushed for a constitutional amendment banning such unions. But Barbara is joining a growing movement of young women from prominent Republican families who support gay marriage:
Women like Meghan McCain, daughter of senator John McCain and Mary Cheney, former vice president Dick Cheney’s openly lesbian daughter.
The Republican party still officially opposes gay marriage. But President Obama and former president Bill Clinton have also been hesitant to legalize gay unions. This has many media outlets saying -- this is no longer a PARTISAN issue. Politico calls it a “generational divide.”
Which seems to be backed by a CNN poll:
“Among those 18 to 34 years old, 58 percent said same-sex marriages should be legal... 42 percent among respondents 35 to 49 years old, and to 41 percent for those 50 to 64 years of age... Only 24 percent of Americans 65 and older support recognizing same-sex marriages as valid.”
A New York Times writer says this video is important for another reason -- Jenna Bush is often in the spotlight -- but Barbara is the quiet twin.
“[Bush] rarely speaks out on American political issues, making her foray into the same-sex marriage debate so striking.”
Fox News dubs Bush the “Power Player of the Week,” and goes beyond the PSA to detail her other passion: Global Health Care, her project to provide better health care around the world. FOX’s Chris Wallace asks Bush if these are stepping stones to a bigger career move:
WALLACE: “Do you have any interest... in running for office?”
BUSH: “Jenna and I both grew up with our grandfather in politics, and our dad in politics, and I just don’t see that being a decision I would want to make for myself in the future.”
Bush is just one of many high-profile New Yorkers featured in the videos -- aimed at state legislators debating a marriage equality bill in Albany. So what do you think about this new wave of young Republicans with more liberal social views? Are Barbara, Meghan, and Mary setting the tone for a new generation of GOP?
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BY ZHENG HWUANG CHIA
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Zach Wahls loves his two moms – and for that – he is now a YouTube star. The 19-year-old University of Iowa engineering student defended same-sex marriage in front of the Iowa House of Representatives. Here’s a portion of Wahls’ testimony.
“I’m raised by a gay couple, and I am doing pretty well. I scored a ninety-ninth percentile on my ACT. I’m actually an Eagle Scout. I own and operate my own small business. If I was your son, Mr. Chairman, I believe I would make you very proud. I’m
His speech went viral -- receiving half a million hits on YouTube in two days... but the Iowa House of Representatives was unmoved by the plea – and voted 62-37 to ban gay marriage. The liberal blog – Friendly Atheist calls this infuriating.
“What a sad state of affairs when Zach’s parents could lose official state recognition for being in love, but the Republications (and a few Democrats) in the Iowa house can get married and divorced as many times as they want without any problems at all.”
Wahls said being raised by lesbian parents had zero effect on his character -- but The Christian Post isn’t buying it.
The paper references a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, which found: “Children reared in homosexual households are more likely to experience sexual confusion, engage in risky sexual experimentation and later adopt a homosexual identity ... [Anchor: and concluded] children fare best when reared by their two biological parents in a loving, low conflict marriage.”
In an ABC article, the American Sociological Review chimes in, saying – Yes – kids with lesbian or gay parents are more likely to have an open mind towards homosexuality – but that’s because...
“A University of Southern California study [concluded] that children with lesbian or gay parents show more empathy for social diversity [and] are less confined by gender stereotypes.”
But back to Wahls and his mothers -- does this mean same-sex marriage is over in Iowa? Mother Jones says not quite.
“State Senate Majority leader Mike Gronstal, a Democrat who has the final say on what reaches the floor has repeatedly said [he] will never allow this to happen. Even if he allowed it, an amendment wouldn’t appear on ballots until at least 2013.”
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Call it a legal mess. California voters passed it- a federal judge overturned it- and now- Prop 8 is stuck in the appellate court. But a decision by the California Supreme Court might get it moving again.
After the judge ruled the measure unconstitutional, Prop 8’s backers wanted to appeal the decision- but the state refused to do so. That’s when the group Protect Marriage stepped in - hoping to defend Prop 8 in the appellate court.
But does that group have legal standing to appeal the ruling? That’s what California’s high court will decide... but not for another 10 months. One LA Weekly blogger says- that sucks.
“…overall, the...decision, which is being reported as some kind of victory, was a complete buzzkill (especially for all those couples who were hoping to get hitched anytime in the next year anywhere outside Massachusetts). In short? Summer 2011 same-sex weddings now a no-go. And that, your honors, is lame.”
Oakland’s KTVU reports- the case is moving forward- great, but the court is stalling on answering the big question.
“Is there a constitutional right to gay marriage or is there not, that’s the big question that’s the one that everyone would like to see answered, so this is a year long detour.”
And MSNBC reports - if the Protect Marriage group isn’t approved to defend Prop 8- the California courts may never have to reconsider the measure.
“But it would end the appeal it would mean the case would not be coming to the US Supreme Court, if on the other hand the California court takes it and says these folks can appeal then that keeps it alive for a while longer.
A blogger for the blog National Center for Lesbian Rights argues- since California officials already decided to drop the case- Protect Marriage shouldn’t be allowed to jump in.
“...in several well-known cases, California’s elected officials have refused to defend voter-enacted initiatives on appeal.… In these cases, California officials were doing what the voters elected them to do — deciding whether these laws could and should continue to be defended on appeal after courts decided that they were unconstitutional.”
If Prop 8 gets through the appellate court- the case will probably make its way to the California Supreme Court- and then ultimately to the U.S. Supreme Court. A Wall Street Journal blogger says- well- at least the decision will be thorough.
“But at least in regard to the litigation surrounding Proposition 8, you can be sure that when the dust settles, it’ll have been given a good hard look by not one, not two, but possibly dozens of judges.”
The California Supreme Court says it will hear oral arguments in September about whether Protect Marriage can defend the Prop 8 decision.
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Facebook users can now declare their relationships in a few new ways. The options -- “in a civil union” and “in a domestic partnership.” This decision came after consulting with Facebook’s Network of Support - a partnership with gay and lesbian groups designed to help fight cyberbullying against the LGBT community.
A blogger for Forbes says -- this is a big step toward changing LGBT norms.
“... with more than half a billion users across the world, Facebook is larger than all but a few governments on the planet. Facebook’s policies start to become a new norm and help define what people think should be POLICIES.”
And PC World notes - other aspects of social media have already embraced the gay community...
“ ...social gaming is making strides as well. ... Facebook game ‘FrontierVille’ boasts roughly 650,000 same-sex marriages. While same-sex avatar marriages may not spell ‘inclusion’ or ‘social change’ to you, to me it is an indication that the perception of homosexuality is changing for the better.”
But Mashable says -- in the long run, this change may not mean much.
“... the civil union/domestic partnership distinction is one that many LGBT groups are currently trying to erase. In fact, marriage equality is one of the key campaigning points for many groups in the [Network of Support] ... And many couples in same-sex relationships who have already defined themselves on Facebook as ‘married’ aren’t necessarily eager to adopt the new nomenclature.”
And XTRA!, a Canadian gay and lesbian news site, says that if Facebook were trying to reach the LGBT audience, they really missed the mark in the ‘transgender’ category.
“Before we start congratulating Facebook for this relatively insignificant change, let's compare the social networking site's gender options with those of a few other popular social media sites:”
Flickr lets a user choose from “female”, “male”, “other” or “rather not say”. Twitter doesn’t ask for a gender and YouTube lists “No gender” as an option.
For now, these options are available in the Australia, Canada, France, the US and the UK. However, if there are enough requests in other countries, they too will have these options.
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BY CHRISTIE NICKS
ANCHOR CHANCE SEALES
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Texas OK’ed transgendered marriages with proof of sex change just two years ago, but now Republican lawmakers are working to repeal that decision.
Here’s HLN with the break down.
“Now the legislature is saying that was a mistake, that 2009 little rule that little law was a mistake we want to change it back, we want to clarify it to make sure that folks that are transgendered cannot marry members of the opposite sex even though their sex now is the opposite sex, so it’s kinda confusing but very very, legally very, interesting.”
So why the flip-flop? One of the Republican lawmakers behind the bill, Tommy Williams, tells the Associated Press, it goes back to the Texas constitution- defining marriage as one man and one woman. That’s a point one Dallas Voice blogger says is a little ironic.
“if it becomes law, it will indicate that the Texas Legislature thinks it’s perfectly fine for transgender people to marry people of the same sex. And yet, Williams and others are citing their opposition to same-sex marriage as the reason for supporting the bill. … But you can’t have it both ways...”
In a 1999 Texas state appeals decision, the court said gender is assigned at birth in cases of marriage- but - in a 2009 Texas law, the state said it would recognize sex change documentation for marriage... confusing, right? William’s says his proposed legislation would simplify the mess.
But in the wake of a beating of a transgender woman at a Baltimore McDonalds, A blogger for Unicorn Booty says....
“The passage of this law will only lead to homophobia and discrimination in Texas and beyond. Elected officials have a responsibility to protect and serve all of their constituents. This law will do neither.”
But a commentator on conservative blog GOP USA says, the legislature is changing the law back to the way it should be.
“These groups that wake up one day and start screaming that they have this right and that right that they can overturn thousands of years the institution of marriage, or morality… are dangerous and deserve a good outing. When outed you see that they have an agenda and it is not one that most people would find very appealing but rather disturbing.”
With the debate headed to the Senate, a blogger for Austinist says- the legislation probably won’t go much further.
“Given that the Lege is only five weeks away from [adjournment], when the session ends, both bills could well end up by the wayside.”
If the legislation does make it through, some already married transgendered couples fear any legal dispute could nullify their marriage.
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BY JENNIFER MECKLES
ANCHOR JENNIFER MECKLES
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As the Defense Department prepares to end its ban on openly gay and lesbian service members -- the Navy is the first branch with a plan to allow same-sex marriages.
“Navy chaplains are going to be cleared to perform same - sex marriages in Navy chapels. So this starts once the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ policy is officially lifted, but only in states that recognize same-sex marriage.”
The Navy’s Chief Chaplain Rear Admiral Mark Tidd addressed the issue in an official memo to other Navy chaplains in April. Here is an excerpt from that release:
"Consistent with the tenets of his or her religious organization, a chaplain may officiate a same-sex, civil marriage: if it is conducted in accordance with a state that permits same-sex marriage or union; and if that chaplain is, according to the applicable state and local laws, otherwise fully certified to officiate that state's marriages."
Tidd also writes that on-base, facility use is found to be “gender neutral.” But it’s an “I do” that has translated into an “I don’t” from dozens of members of Congress. HLN has that report:
“A Missouri Republican congressman says more than 60 members of congress have signed a letter to the Navy secretary denouncing that plan. He says that it violates a federal law that only recognizes a marriage between a man and a woman.”
That federal law is the Defence of Marriage Act, or DOMA. Conservative, Catholic news analyzer Spero News says, with this decision, the Navy has jumped ship.
“Offering up federal facilities and federal employees for same-sex ‘weddings’ flies in the face of DOMA, which--last time I checked--was still the law of the land. The administration may be operating as if DOMA doesn't exist, but the Navy and Marines are bound to obey the law.”
In response to that argument over the law and new policy, a Pentagon spokeswoman tells the Navy Times...
“DOMA does not limit the type of religious ceremonies a chaplain may perform in a chapel on a military installation. Chaplains are authorized to perform religious ceremonies consistent with the practices of the chaplain’s faith group in chapels on military installations.”
But liberal magazine Mother Jones advises everyone to just chill out already and look at the REAL impact, because in practice -- it’s not that significant for gay military communities.
“There's no naval base, for example, in Iowa, one of five states (along with the District of Columbia) that recognize same-sex marriages. And until the DADT repeal is certified by the Pentagon, no service members are likely to be hitching up at the Washington Navy Yard. Not only that, chaplains who disagree with gay marriage on theological grounds are under no obligation to perform the ceremonies, which shrinks the pool of willing wedding officiators to virtually nil.”
Of the four OTHER states that allow same-sex marriage -- Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont -- only Connecticut has a Navy base.
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Pope Benedict XVI has consecrated Antoni Gaudi's unfinished church, the Sagrada Familia, as a basilica in the Spanish city of Barcelona.
The Pope sprinkled holy water on the altar before a congregation of more than 6,500 people.
Gaudi's greatest work has been under construction for more than a century, and will not be finished before 2026.
The current chief architect said he hoped the Pope's visit would provide the boost needed to finish the work.
Before leaving for Rome from Barcelona's El Prat airport, Pope Benedict called on Europe's Catholics to renew their faith.
"May this faith find new vigour on this continent and become a source of inspiration," he said at the end of the two-day visit.
In his earlier homily, he again criticised divorce, same-sex marriage and abortion.
He was seen off by dignitaries including Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia.
Mumbai is definitely a city of dreams for many and once again Mumbai has proved it. This time, the lucky ones is the gay couple from NY USA, Alan and Brian, a deaf-and-mute gay American couple, who was trying for a baby in the US for about six years but failed, post which, they decided to visit Mumbai in India to get the IVF done enabling them to complete their family.
US President Barack Obama may not recommend "cheap healthcare" in India for his countrymen but Alan and Brian, a deaf-and-mute gay American couple couldn't find a better place to have their twins, a girl and a boy.
After trying for a baby in the US for about six years, the couple decided to come to Mumbai. Had the in-vitro fertilization (IVF) did not work out in Mumbai, they would have given up on their dream to have a complete family.
However, their life changed after they landed the "city of dreams".The gay couple has been able to complete their family at the Rotunda center for surrogacy in Bandra.
When the couple visited the Rotunda center for surrogacy in Bandra, they found that they could have a child in a lower budget, and moreover, they could provide good care for the surrogate mother. "We typed in a couple of keywords like 'gay' and 'surrogacy' and found this center. After visiting the place, we decided to go ahead with the procedure," explained Brian.
Boy and girl born to first such couple who used interpreters to communicate with doctor at top IVF clinic in Mumbai,specialist of surrogacy in India
“They reached India in August 2010. We created embryos using the eggs and Alan’s sperms, and then transferred them into a gestational surrogate,” said Dr Gautam Allahbadia, medical director, Rotunda Centre for Human Reproduction. “We have the embryos stored in vitrified (frozen) state which they can use any time to expand their family.”
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Kenneth Cole Talks 'Antisocial' Social Media, New 'Where Do You Stand' Site And More
Fashion designer Kenneth Cole’s latest project isn’t a line of shoes or a fall collection: it’s a new site, “Where Do You Stand,” that aims to spark debate on social issues, from gun control to same-sex marriage.
Where Do You Stand marks a continuation of Cole’s socially conscious—and sometimes controversial—ad campaigns that have promoted not only bags, shoes and apparel, but also political issues. For example, a past ad featured an illustration of a condom with the caption, “Our shoes aren’t the only thing we encourage you to wear.
On the Where Do You Stand website, visitors are prompted to select one of two portals: What You Stand For, where people can participate in varying degrees of debate on several topics, and What You Stand In,” which is the more fashion-oriented portion of the site consisting of video style guides hosted by editors from GQ and Vogue. A link to Kenneth Cole's online store is featured throughout.
Cole, who regularly tweets from the official KennethCole account, notes that social media has been a game changer when it comes to raising awareness for both brands and social issues. (He adds that his two favorite people to follow on Twitter are Barack Obama and Newark Mayor Cory Booker.)
The world moves so quickly today, and social media is the best way to communicate the message, Cole said. I feel very in the moment [when using Twitter], which makes me feel very empowered.”
While Cole and his company have embraced tools like Twitter and Facebook, their foray into social media hasn’t always been problem free. The designer committed a highly-publicized Twitter gaffe earlier this past spring when, during the protests in Egypt, Cole tweeted, “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at http://bit.ly/KCairo -KC.”
I've struggled to find the right voice to reach people, and I paid for it when I tweeted about the Cairo uprising earlier this year, Cole said of the incident. It's critical to our brand though…Nothing is black or white here. We are trying to figure it out, as is everyone else.
Even as he praises the positive influence social media has had on social awareness initiatives, Cole reminisces about the days when social had a very different meaning.
Is social media antisocial? Yes,” he said. “How are we defining social these days? We had a dinner for the blogging community a year ago, and everyone at the dinner table took out their cell phones. Not that long ago, that would have been considered rude.
In spite of such nostalgia, Kenneth Cole is a gadget lover at heart. He owns an iPhone, a Blackberry, and an iPad, which have contributed to some information overload.
“I'm perpetually overwhelmed, Cole said. I used to try and consolidate, and now I just can't do it anymore. I spend a lot of time with each of them.
At its launch, the Where Do You Stand platform, which was developed by Kenneth Cole’s internal marketing team and Intersect, a web production agency, features four main discussion topics--marriage equality, gun control, abortion, and “war”--that the site’s creators say will evolve over time.
“Already, we’ve started looking at more provocative debates. As the national dialogue changes, so will we,” Cole said. “It’s sensitive to what people are talking about at the moment.