Double Dose: Gay Marriage Legal in CT; Ad Council Introduces First Campaign on Gay/Lesbian Issues; CCR Sues Over Required Ultrasound in Oklahoma; South Dakota Abortion Ban 2.0; One-Year Update on Gardasil

By Christine Cupaiuolo — October 11, 2008

Gay Marriage Legal in California, Massachusetts and now Connecticut: The Connecticut Supreme Court on Friday struck down the state’s civil union law with a 4-3 ruling that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. From The New York Times:

The ruling, which cannot be appealed and is to take effect on Oct. 28, held that a state law limiting marriage to heterosexual couples, and a civil union law intended to provide all the rights and privileges of marriage to same-sex couples, violated the constitutional guarantees of equal protection under the law.

Striking at the heart of discriminatory traditions in America, the court — in language that often rose above the legal landscape into realms of social justice for a new century — recalled that laws in the not-so-distant past barred interracial marriages, excluded women from occupations and official duties, and relegated blacks to separate but supposedly equal public facilities.

View the full ruling here (PDF). Opponents spoke of steps to enact a constitional ban on same-sex marriage, but on Friday night the plaintiffs in the original court case filed four years ago and their supporters were jubilant.

Garret Stack, 59, introduced his partner, John Anderson, 63, and said: “For 28 years we have been engaged. We can now register at Home Depot and prepare for marriage.”

Group Sues Over Required Ultrasound: The Center for Reproductive Rights has filed a challenge to an Oklahoma law that mandates a woman must have an ultrasound and listen to the doctor describe what her fetus looks like before she have an abortion. And that’s not all:

At the same time, the law prevents a woman from suing her doctor if he or she intentionally withholds other information about the fetus, such as a severe developmental defect. The statute also requires doctors to use a specific regimen for administering the medical abortion pill, despite that regimen being less effective and more costly than the one strongly recommended by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in Oklahoma County District Court, says the requirement intrudes on a woman’s privacy, endangers her health and assaults her dignity.

Set to go into effect on Nov. 1, the law would make Oklahoma the fourth state to require the viewing of ultrasounds before an abortion. The other states are Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.

South Dakota Abortion Ban 2.0: Lynn Harris of Broadsheeet offers a full, and funny, assessment:

Remember how South Dakota’s 2006 Margaret Atwood honorary abortion ban was defeated in referendum by a (none-too-cushy) 55-44 margin?

The ban’s primary liability, according to polls, was that it contained virtually no exceptions. But as ringleader Leslee Unruh of Vote Yes for Life said at the time, like Jason popping up out of Crystal Lake, “We started something here in South Dakota.” And now, as you may have heard, abortion opponents there are aiming to get the job done. Which means: The ban is back (PDF), in sheep’s clothing. It now makes convoluted exceptions for rape, incest and, when there is a full moon and Mount Rushmore spouts Strawberry Quik, the health or life of the woman.

Unruh (who says that over 90 percent of women seeking abortion are using it as “birth control”) calls Abortion Ban 2.0 “more moderate, more reasonable, more of a middle ground.” Yeah … no.

Plus: Visit South Dakota Campaign for Healthy Families for more information.

Birth Control Watch: While some voters think access to birth control is not a political issue, those of us who follow the activities of the Bush administration and legislatures around the country know better. Birth Control Watch has a great section on federal and state proposals that will limit our individual decision making and access — it’s called extreme schemes.

An excellent resource to pass along, it includes information on Colorado Proposition 48, a constitutional amendment that seeks to establish legal personhood from the moment of fertilization (which even self-described “pro-life” Catholic Gov. Bill Ritter opposes), and the proposed HHS regulations that would limit patients’ access to information and services.

The two-minute activist gives a concise run-down of actions you can take, and the press room tracks related stories.

Speaking of the HHS regulations, more than 150 Congressional Democrats stated their opposition in letters to HHS. The Senate letter concludes that the proposed rule is “damaging to the health care needs of women, their families and all Americans and will only serve to cause havoc, not clarity, among employers and employees in the health care field.”

Courts Failing Domestic Violence Victims: “For every man convicted in a Cook County court of beating his wife or girlfriend, five men brought in on similar charges walk away legally unscathed. And despite official promises to help women pursue abuse complaints, that conviction rate is only getting worse,” reports the Chicago Tribune.

The Trib also looks at a specialized unit of the Cook County state’s attorney office with a much higher conviction rate. The unit, Target Abuser Call, employs a more intensive investigatory approach for the most serious cases.

Plus: Programs for batterers are underfunded but should be supported to break the habit of abuse, say domestic violence experts. “No matter how many women you take in, it isn’t going to cure the problem,” said Toby Myers, vice chair of the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence.

Plus: A judge in Canada tells a woman not to bother calling police if she goes back to her partner. via Feministing

Nobel Prize Winners: The 2008 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine went to Harald zur Hausen of Germany, who discovered the human papilloma viruses that causes cervical cancer, and Luc Montagnier and Francoise Barre-Sinoussi, French researchers who discovered HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Montagnier and Barre-Sinoussi later told President Nicolas Sarkozy that they fear the world financial crisis will affect funding to fight AIDS.

One-Year Distribution Update On Gardasil: “About a quarter of the nation’s teenage girls received the controversial cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil last year in its first full year of distribution, federal authorities said Thursday,” reports the L.A. Times.

The Realities of Addiction: Writing in the Washington Post, Jacqueline M. Duda shares the painful story of her daughter’s drug addiction and death — including the difficulty the family had finding adequate medical treatment for addiction.

“Surely, we thought, college-educated suburbanites like us could locate professional help: drug counselors, doctors, therapists specializing in addiction. Surely detoxification centers would treat desperate addicts and work out a payment plan. Surely we could check her into some kind of residential treatment program with a minimum of delay,” writes Duda. “We were wrong.”

PSA to Raise Awareness Around “That’s So Gay”: “For the first time since the Advertising Council was founded in 1942, the organization — which directs and coordinates public service campaigns on behalf of Madison Avenue and the media industry — is introducing ads meant to tackle a social issue of concern to gays and lesbians,” writes Stuart Elliot in The New York Times.

The campaign, created pro bono by the New York office of Arnold Worldwide, urges an end to using derogatory language, particularly labeling anything deemed negative or unpleasant as “so gay.” That is underlined by the theme of the campaign: “When you say, ‘That’s so gay,’ do you realize what you say? Knock it off.”

There will be television and radio commercials, print and outdoor ads and a special Web site devoted to the campaign ( Some spots feature celebrities, the young actress Hilary Duff and the comedian Wanda Sykes, delivering the message.

Check out the Wanda Sykes PSA below:

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