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National News
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NATIONAL NEWS by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

Gay man likely to be elected to Congress
An openly Gay man won the Democratic primary in Colorado's 2nd Congressional District August 12 and is considered a shoo-in to win the general election in November.

If he does, Jared Polis, 33, will become the first openly Gay man elected to Congress who was out when elected for the first time. U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., holds the female distinction in that regard.

"At the Millennium March on Washington in 2000, Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin told hundreds of thousands of LGBT people gathered on the National Mall, 'If you dream of a world in which there are more openly Gay elected officials, then run for office ... and you will live in such a world,'" said Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund President Chuck Wolfe. "I thought of that quote this evening when I learned that Rep. Baldwin and Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) will be joined by another openly Gay colleague in the United States House of Representatives."

Wolfe called Polis' likely win in the heavily Democratic district an important Gay milestone.

"It sends an unmistakable signal that voters are willing to consider Gay people as leaders at the highest level of government, and brings us closer to the American ideal of a truly representative government," he said.

In his victory speech, Polis introduced his partner, made reference to being Gay, and said, "I always worried that that would get in the way [of] giving back and contributing to our society."

A millionaire who made his money in online ventures, Polis spent $5 million of his own funds in the primary campaign.

If elected, he will fill the seat of Rep. Mark Udall, who is running for the U.S. Senate.

Polis would become the sixth open Gay to serve in the House of Representatives, following in the footsteps of Baldwin, Frank, and former Reps. Gerry Studds, D-Mass., who is deceased, Steve Gunderson, R-Wis., and Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz.

Frank, 68, is now the powerful chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.

Frank told the Denver Post, "We are reaching that point where among Democratic voters sexual orientation of a candidate is not a factor."

He also said that once he's no longer the only Gay male congressman, he won't feel as much pressure to be a role model and plans to start smoking cigars in public again.

"I can start indulging some bad habits," Frank told the Post. "Let the young Gay people find someone else to emulate."

Ballot wording finalized in California marriage battle
California Attorney General Jerry Brown's rewording of the title and summary of the ballot measure that would amend the state constitution to re-ban same-sex marriage is good to go.

Activist opponents of marriage equality opted August 11 not to appeal the rewrite to the state Supreme Court.

Gay leaders and opponents agree the changed wording makes it more likely the amendment will fail at the polls November 4.

The measure originally was titled: "Limit on marriage. Constitutional amendment." And it was summarized, "Amends the California Constitution to provide that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

But afterward, the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, and weddings began on June 16.

Brown then retitled the measure: "Proposition 8. Eliminates right of same-sex couples to marry. Initiative constitutional amendment." And he summarized it: "Changes California Constitution to eliminate right of same-sex couples to marry. Provides that only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Fiscal Impact: Over the next few years, potential revenue loss, mainly sales taxes, totaling in the several tens of millions of dollars, to state and local governments. In the long run, likely little fiscal impact to state and local governments."

Opponents of same-sex marriage filed suit over the changes, saying they were not fair or impartial. But a Sacramento superior court disagreed and a state appeals court later rejected an emergency appeal.

"The Attorney General did not abuse his discretion in concluding that the chief purpose and effect of the initiative is to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry," Superior Court Judge Timothy Frawley determined. "The Attorney General's title is an accurate statement. ... It is not argumentative or inherently prejudicial."

Indonesian Transgender woman wins U.S. asylum
A 42-year-old Transgender woman from Indonesia won asylum in the U.S. based on Indonesia's treatment of Transgender people, the Jakarta Post reported August 11, citing activist reports.

Michelle Saraswati, who was a man named Michael Setiabudi until 2006, has been in the U.S. since 1998, remained in the country illegally when his work visa expired in 2001, and, as a Gay man, lost an asylum claim in 2005.

Saraswati then reapplied for asylum as a Transgender woman in 2006 and won her case at the San Francisco Immigration Court.

The Post said Saraswati convinced the court that Indonesia lacks legal protections and employment opportunities for Transgender people.

With assistance from Bill Kelley
pictures - top: Jared Polis
bottom: Jim Kolbe
 

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