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Posted 11/24/2005 10:25 PM Updated 11/24/2005 10:40 PM
Britain's gay, lesbian couples soon can walk down the aisle
By Ellen Tumposky, Special for USA TODAY
LONDON — Normally, a Wednesday in December would be a slow day for weddings at Brighton Town Hall.
But there will be lots of confetti and rice on Dec. 21. Debra Reynolds and her colleagues who conduct civil ceremonies for Brighton and Hove City Council are booked starting at 8 a.m. for 16 sets of vows — all gay or lesbian couples entering into civil partnerships under a law passed last November.
Beginning Dec. 5, same-sex couples older than 16 can give legal notice of their intention to form a partnership. Ceremonies can be held after a 15-day waiting period.
Hundreds of couples across Britain are expected to register as soon as the law comes into effect. Among them: singer Elton John, 58, and his longtime partner David Furnish, 43, a Canadian filmmaker. In an interview published Thursday, John told the magazine Attitude that he plans to wed Furnish; the magazine said the ceremony would take place Dec. 21. (Related: Elton John plans ceremony)
Britain joins a number of other European countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, France and Belgium, in recognizing same-sex unions either as civil partnerships or gay marriages. Despite opposition from some Christian groups, the issue is far less contentious here than in the USA, where only Massachusetts allows gay marriage, and Vermont and Connecticut permit civil unions.
The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act allows U.S. states to refuse to recognize gay marriages or civil unions of other states or countries.
"I'd welcome Americans with open arms," says Richard Jones, 33, whose company Modern Commitments specializes in planning partnership ceremonies. "But it doesn't mean anything back in the U.S."
Public generally tolerant of new law
British same-sex couples who enter into civil partnerships will have the same rights as married heterosexual couples, including inheritance and pension rights, bereavement benefits and next-of-kin standing.
"There's very little difference apart from the name," says Richard Hogwood, a London lawyer. Still, gay partnerships are not marriages. Pre-nuptial agreements will be known as pre-registration agreements. Split-ups will be called dissolutions; adultery cannot be cited. "A civil partnership is a non-sexual thing in a way, because there is no need to consummate it as there is with a marriage," Hogwood says.
In Britain, the public appears to be relatively tolerant of the law. "In the UK, the average person in the street is more secular than in the U.S.," says Mike Judge, a spokesman for the Christian Institute, which opposed the measure.
"Society has evolved to a point where people accept people for who they are, not what they are," says wedding official Reynolds, 46, who last weekend staffed one of 100 displays at the Modern Life exhibition in London — a full-scale gay wedding show.
"A lot of people in the UK wish to formalize their relationships. It's about time it happened," says Paul Roseby, 39, a broadcaster visiting the show with his partner, James Tod, 38, a theater producer. They plan a partnership ceremony in two years.
Don Rainbow, 46, and Malcolm Higgs, 39, are registering on Dec. 5 and will say their vows at 8 a.m. in Richmond, London, on the 21st. The couple plan midmorning champagne and canapés on the London Eye (a type of Ferris wheel also called the Millennium Wheel) with 30 friends and relatives, followed by a wedding breakfast and an evening Winter Wonderland-themed reception for 220 guests at a Holiday Inn in Shepperton south of London.
"We like to be over the top," says Rainbow, a home-care manager.
Some think the partnership pacts open up opportunities for people to cash in. "Another way of making money out of the pink pound," said Gaby Dalena, 39, as she looked skeptically at the wedding fair's displays of chocolate fountains and fuchsia "commitment stationery." She came to the fair with her partner for a day out. They don't plan to register a partnership. Dalena said she is concerned about homophobia. "My family, my friends, everyone is aware of my sexuality. I don't want it on a national register," she said.
Legislation had 'a sense of urgency'
The fact that Britain — unlike Spain, Canada and Belgium — does not allow civil unions to be called marriages angers many gay activists. Andy Forrest, a spokesman for Stonewall, a gay rights lobby group that was prime mover behind the legislation, says it would have been far tougher to get same-sex marriage through Parliament. "We thought there was a sense of urgency in getting the legislation through. What it's called can be argued about later."
The Christian Institute says what the unions are called is just a subterfuge. "We feel that it's gay marriage in all but name," spokesman Judge says. "It changes the nature of what we understand marriage to be in society: ... The lifelong union of a man and woman."
"It's not in law a marriage, but people who matter will consider it a marriage," says Adrian Stones, 25, who is planning a summer 2007 ceremony with partner Andrew Burton, also 25. He wants the partnership for recognition and legal rights.
Burton has other motives: "I want the party and the presents."
France concerned over rise in HIV infection
November 26, 2005
The French government expressed concern over a 16 percent rise in the HIV transmission rate in the country, with 7,000 people infected with the deadly virus last year, according to figures released.
"I am worried. Worried about the increasing transmission, worried about the decrease and even the absence of preventative behaviour," said French Health Minister Xavier Bertrand said.
"One person in two who are infected with the virus are not aware" that they are HIV positive said the minister, adding that the number of people having unprotected sex had doubled in 10 years.
According to the French health monitoring institute InVS, some 7,000 people contracted the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in 2004 compared to 6,000 in 2003, when reporting new cases became mandatory.
Some 1,500 HIV-infected people developed last year the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), the potentially fatal stage of the infection which attacks the immune system.
There are 150,000 people with HIV living in France.
The group most affected by HIV infection are people from sub-Saharan Africa at 32 percent of new HIV cases in 2004, the majority by heterosexual sex and two-thirds of them women. Twenty-four percent of new cases were among homosexual men.
The InVS said the number of people of French nationality infected by heterosexual sex was 17 percent in 2004.
Drop in new San Francisco AIDS cases gives hope in prevention battle
November 26, 2005
San Francisco is the only US city to report a drop in new AIDS cases this year, prompting hopes that it signals a decline in risky, drug-induced gay sex.
"San Francisco and California led the way in the epidemic, so our leading the way in the reduction is a good thing," Steven Tierney, director of HIV prevention for the city of San Francisco, told AFP.
"I think people are hopeful."
Statistics indicate that half as many new HIV infections were reported among San Francisco gay men in 2004 as compared to the previous year, according to Jason Riggs of the STOP AIDS Project in San Francisco.
The ratio of HIV infected gay men in San Francisco has dropped from one-in-three to one-in-four for the first time on record.
"We are the only (US) city reporting a downward trend in the country," Riggs said as World AIDS Day neared.
New cases of syphilis, seen as a strong indicator of unprotected sex, dropped about 27 percent among gays, Riggs said.
A key factor in the turn-around has been a drop in the use of methamphetamine as an "aphrodisiac" by gay men, prevention experts agreed.
"We went from being one of the top cities for seeing crystal meth abuse among gay and bisexual men to being on par with Chicago and Los Angeles," Riggs said.
"We are still not out of the woods yet, but the trend is pointing in the right direction."
Statistics indicated that a gay man in San Francisco using methamphetamine was four times as likely to get infected with HIV as a drug-free peer, according to STOP AIDS.
Methamphetamine relaxes gay men and banishes inhibitions that sap pleasure from sex, Riggs said.
"Imagine never in your life being able to have sex without guilt or shame, or fear of infection, and then having a magic potion you could take that makes you absolutely free," Riggs said. "That is what you have."
"The problem is that magic potion is more addictive than crack cocaine or heroin, and you burn out all the pleasure centers in your brain. It's a lot quicker and cheaper than therapy, but much more destructive."
Gay men that use methamphetamine tend not to be natural risk-takers, and would likely avoid unprotected sex if they weren't using drugs, according to Riggs.
Methamphetamine has been in the gay community for at least 40 years, but it seems to be going out of vogue, some prevention experts said. One reason, experts said, is gays have seen friends destroyed by the drug.
"It definitely helps that crystal meth is really cycling out," Tierney said. "The combination of crystal and Viagra made you very horny and able to perform for a long time, it cycling out is a good thing."
San Francisco has thrown financial and political support behind education and medical programs aimed at promoting safe sex practices and convincing those who inject methamphetamine or other drugs not to share needles.
"I don't think we are lucky," Tierney said. "I think we have done a lot of community-based work to get people to thing about personal responsibility."
More gay men are "serosorting," having sex only with men with matching HIV status, according to Tierney.
HIV-positive men are also savvier about using "retroviral" medicines that suppress virus levels in their blood and reduce the potential to spread it to partners, prevention experts said.
Friends are being encouraged to watch out for each other in ways that include thwarting stoned pals from having dangerous sex, just as people might stop intoxicated friends from driving, Riggs said.
"The whole act of safe sex is a moving target at best," said Doctor Eric Goosby, head of Pangaea Global AIDS Foundation. "It is a sustained battle."
"In San Francisco, the convergence of treatment and prevention is the winning strategy."
定価（税込） 2100 円
本体価格 2000 円
Transgendered Professor Becomes a Woman
Wife Stays With Spouse Despite Gender Change - ABC Good Morning America
Nov. 26, 2005 — - Often it's the students who undergo changes over the summer. But this fall, at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, a longtime professor of political science arrived with a new identity.
Wally M. Bacon had transformed into W. Meredith Bacon after undergoing 12 hours of sexual feminization surgery.
"I feel as if this huge burden has been lifted off of my shoulders, that instead of darkness I see mostly light. And I'm happy," Bacon said. "Making a transition has empowered me to be a better teacher, to be a better researcher, to be a better spouse."
Meredith Bacon said she knew by age four that "something wasn't right." But, she said she still chose to live a traditional life, with a traditional marriage "basically because that was custom."
"That was convention," she said. "And I deeply loved my spouse and we have been happy together."
Four years into the marriage, she told her wife, Lynne, about her gender identity. They decided to stay together and have been married for 36 years. The couple said that they haven't been intimate for nearly 20 years, but they are still affectionate and cuddle.
Despite this recent huge change, Lynne, who remains Meredith's wife legally, said their relationship thrives.
"That's what a lot of people really don't understand," Lynne Bacon said. "They can't imagine why would I want to stay in this relationship. And it's because my happiest times have always been with my spouse.
"I couldn't ask for a better person to spend the rest of my life with," she added. "We have a beautiful home. We have lots of wonderful friends. We have the same kind of interests that we still enjoy. I can't imagine all of that coming to end."
The Nebraska students have been very accepting of the professor's change.
"Her personal choices really weren't any effect on me," said Damian Ullman. "She is a teacher. She's a very capable teacher. She understands her materials. She's good at communicating it. I'm learning a lot in this class. I don't really care what she does in her off-time."
Meredith Bacon's off-time -- and money -- is going to include a lot more surgery.
So far, Meredith Bacon has spent $45,000 on the surgery, which includes facial electrolysis and facial bone rearrangement. In December, she will have a face lift to get rid of the extra skin that is a result of the facial bone rearrangement surgery, which will cost $16,000. She will also have a breast augmentation for $7,000.
In June, Meredith Bacon plans to have gender re-assignment surgery, which also is known as genital reconstruction surgery. That will cost another $16,000.
She expects to spend a total of $85,000 on the surgeries, which aren't covered by insurance.
2005年11月27日07時23分 - 朝日