BigGayNews from the United States:
REI Endorses Marriage Equality
On Top Magazine reports that sporting goods and camping retailer Recreational Equipment Inc., REI, has endorsed gay marriage and in particular Referendum 74, the ballot question which will ask Washington state voters in November to either uphold or overturn a gay marriage law approved by lawmakers.
REI President Sally Jewell said in a statement: “REI is taking a position in support of marriage equality – an issue that is important to the co-op as an inclusive organization and a welcoming place to work and do business”.
“Marriage equality is important to the co-op because the benefits, legal clarity and societal understanding that (my husband) Warren and I have enjoyed these past 34 years should be available to any two people who want to express their love and make a permanent commitment to each other that is so clearly provided for in the legal definition of marriage.”
The Kent-based retailer maintains 110 stores in about 30 states.
Police Assault And Detain Gay Activists in Zimbabwe
All Africa reports that a team of about fifteen riot squad police, some of them visibly drunk, disrupted a meeting at the offices of the Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) on Saturday, assaulting and arresting a total of 44 members.
Marufu Mandevere, from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), told SW Radio Africa that the group had gathered for a workshop on the draft constitution and to launch their “Violations Report”, detailing abuses against GALZ members and stated that “after the workshop they had a party and that is when police cordoned off their offices. They took almost everyone there to Harare Central Station and detained them without charge.”
A statement from GALZ said four policemen had attempted to gain access to the premises and called for riot squad backup when they failed, and said: “Police, some of them visibly drunk, assaulted most of the members using baton sticks, open hands and clenched fists before detaining them without charge”.
Homosexuality is illegal, according to Zimbabwean law. Amendments introduced by government in 2006 defined sodomy as any ‘act involving contact between two males that would be regarded by a reasonable person as an indecent act’. The amendment also criminalized a simple show of affection such as holding hands, hugging or kissing.
Gays and lesbians in Zimbabwe live in a culture that publicly discriminates and openly despises their sexuality.
BigGayNews from Great Britain
Ten Openly Gay Olympians Win Medals
On Top Magazine reports that ten openly gay Olympians won medals at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
A majority of the medals won by out athletes competing in London are gold.
The statistics were compiled by sports site SBNation.com, which wrote: “If Team Gay was a country, it would have finished 31st overall with seven medals, tied with Mexico, Ethiopia and Georgia. They would have beaten the medal count of such countries as Jamaica, Ireland, Argentina and India. They would have finished 21st overall for most golds (four), tied with Iran, Jamaica, Czech Republic and Korea.”
Eagle Scouts Return Medals
The Miami Herald reports that for a physician in Illinois and an attorney in Kentucky, Eagle Scout medals were treasured reminders of youthful achievement. Yet each is parting with his medal out of dismay over the Boy Scouts’ recently reaffirmed policy of excluding gays.
Dr. Robert Wise of Chicago wrote to Scout headquarters in Irving, Texas: “I can no longer maintain any connection to an organization which actively promotes such a bigoted and misguided policy.”
Wise, 59, is among dozens of former Eagle Scouts who have taken such steps following the July 17 announcement that the Boy Scouts of America, after a two-year review, were sticking with the longstanding policy of excluding openly gay youth and adults as members and leaders.
Eagle Scout Zach Wahls, a 21-year-old activist raised by lesbian mothers in Iowa, has become a leader of the campaign against the membership policy, though he says he doesn’t plan to return his own Eagle Scout medal. He said the best chance for change lies with local Scout councils, some of which have signaled their commitment to an inclusive approach that would accommodate gays.
BigGayNews from Wisconsin:
Paul Ryan on Gay Rights: “I Don’t Know Why We Are Talking About This.”
Huffington Post reports that Mitt Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan once supported equal rights, but is behaving differently since voting against ending “don’t ask, don’t tell” in 2010.
In 2011, Ryan backed a Wisconsin constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality in the state’s constitution.
When gay rights come up, Ryan tries to change the subject, accusing the media of focusing on a meaningless issue.
BigGayNews from Virginia:
With Promotion, U.S. Army Welcomes First Openly Gay General
The Los Angeles Times reports that Tammy Smith is getting promoted less than a year after the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” the policy that banned gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military.
General Smith is the highest-ranking GLBT person to acknowledge her sexual orientation while serving.
Smith’s wife Tracey Hepner is active in gay and lesbian rights.
BigGayNews from Washington D.C.:
Democrats Officially Include Gay Marriage Plank in Platform
The Washington Times reports that Democratic Party becomes the first to add a plank endorsing marriage equality.
President Obama has yet to say he backs adding gay marriage in as part of his party’s platform.
Opponents of marriage equality are still able to say that voters of any state have yet to adopt gay marriage.
BigGayNews from Russia:
St. Petersburg Lawmaker Says Madonna Broke Anti-Gay Law
The Moscow Times reports that a municipal legislator called for Madonna and concert organizers to be brought to justice saying that she violated a St. Petersburg’s anti-gay propaganda law.
Madonna said on stage “We want to fight for the right to be free, to be who we are. I’ve traveled the world a lot and seen that people are becoming more and more intolerant, but we can change that.”
Madonna called on fans to raise their arms and pink wristbands “to show your love and appreciation for the gay community.”
BigGayNews from Jerusalem:
Gay Travel Helps Boost Tourism in Israel
The Miami Herald reports that hundreds of thousands of tourists are flocking to Israel each month despite the region’s turmoil.
Israel is enjoying an unexpected tourism boom with 2012 shaping up to be a record year featuring 300,000 tourists in July.
Tel Aviv was recently crowned by a gay group as the “Best Gay City of 2011,” ahead of New York, Toronto and London.