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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

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At her old school, 16-year old Katie Johnsen says she couldn't walk down the hallway without someone calling her a "dyke." After she cut her hair off, things just got worse. Johnsen is now a student at Arts and College Preparatory Academy, a Columbus charter school where about a third of the students identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender.

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The school had gained a reputation as a place welcoming to gay students, and to other students who don't quite fit in. It offers classes in gay history, and students write and perform plays about tolerance. Founded in 2002 with about 60 students, Arts and College Preparatory Academy, or ACPA, now has 240 students and an"A" rating from the state for its academic performance. The school is expanding. And students and school leaders alike say that's a good thing.

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"The fact is, I'm gay." Anderson Cooper's long-awaited announcement sums what it meant to come out in 2012. Again and again we heard the same sentiment — from pop singer Mika's equally anticipated confirmation, "If you ask me am I gay, I say yeah," to actor Andrew Rannells casually remarking about relating to a gay character, "I am gay in real life, so I definitely get it." — proving that coming out today is in many cases a non-event, and certainly secondary to other achievements.

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Yes, a lot has changed in the 15 years since Time magazine ran that cover of Ellen DeGeneres declaring, "Yep, I'm Gay," and even in the six since Lance Bass told People, "I'm Gay." Entertainment Weekly published a cover story this summer called "The New Art Of Coming Out," concluding, "The current vibe for discussing one's sexuality is almost defiantly mellow." Yet most of this positive change has happened in familiar territory.

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The Supreme Court has struck down the Defense of Marriage Act providing equal rights to same sex marriages in more than one thousand federal government programs including taxation and health care.  The Court also ruled Against Proposition 8 on the basis that they can not take the challenge to California's Proposition 8 making same-sex marriage legal once again in California. The highest Court decisions on both cases represents a major step forward in the fight for equality in the United States where same sex marriage is legal in 13 states (including California) and the District of Columbia.
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The Defense of Marriage Act, the law barring the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages legalized by the states, is unconstitutional, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday by a 5-4 vote. "The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in person-hood and dignity," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. "By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment."

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Minnesota has voted down Amendment 1, a constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as being a union solely between a man and a woman. The state became the first in the country to vote against such an amendment on the ballot when results were announced early Wednesday. In Washington, the state is all but certain to legalize same-sex marriage with the passing of Referendum 74, though due to the state's mail-in voting system, a final tally may not come for another day or two. On Election Day Tuesday, voters in Maine and Maryland chose to legalize gay marriage. This marks the first time marriage equality has been legalized via the ballot. 

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In many cities around the world buildings and monuments are dressed in pink during the month of October in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Making sense of the ever-changing world of breast cancer can be overwhelming.

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Are you newly diagnosed with breast cancer or has a friend or loved one shared the news that they have breast cancer? Have you heard some news about a new treatment and have questions about it? Or are you just looking for some information about breast cancer?  It is estimated that there will be more than 200,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer among women in the United States in 2011, 57,000 of less invasive cases and 40,000 deaths.