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National News

by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

Miss California USA fired; New queen also thinks marriage is between a man and a woman
Controversial Miss California USA and Miss USA first runner-up Carrie Prejean was stripped of her California crown June 10.

Pageant officials said she wasn't fulfilling her duties.

Prejean had become an unofficial spokesperson for the anti-Gay-marriage movement after the brouhaha at the Miss USA pageant April 19, where she had said, in response to a question from Gay judge Perez Hilton: "Um, we live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage and - you know what? - in my country and in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman - no offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised and that's how I think that it should be: between a man and a woman."

Later that evening, Hilton posted a video on his popular blog in which he called Prejean "a dumb bitch" and said, "If that girl would have won Miss USA, I would have gone up onstage - I shit you not - I would have gone up onstage, snatched that tiara off her head and run out the door."

The blog video caused the story to mushroom, as did Prejean's comment to this news column a week later that people aren't born Gay but rather "it's a behavior that develops over time."

Prejean later appeared at a press event and in a TV ad for the National Organization for Marriage, an activist group opposed to same-sex nuptials. Numerous national TV appearances followed, along with a revelation that she'd recently had breast implants. And topless photos of her appeared on the internet.

In firing Prejean, the Miss California USA organization said: "This was a decision based solely on contract violations including Ms. Prejean's unwillingness to make appearances on behalf of the Miss California USA organization. ... It has become abundantly clear that Carrie is unwilling to fulfill her obligations under our contract and work together."

Miss USA pageant owner Donald Trump said he supported her firing.

"I told Carrie she needed to get back to work and honor her contract with the Miss California USA organization and I gave her the opportunity to do so," Trump said. "Unfortunately it just doesn't look like it is going to happen and I offered [Miss California USA Executive Director] Keith [Lewis] my full support in making this decision. Carrie is a beautiful young woman and I wish her well as she pursues her other interests."

Prejean and her lawyer have publicly contested the charge that she violated her contract.

The new Miss California USA is Miss Malibu, Tami Farrell, who had been first runner-up in the state pageant.

In an interview with Fox News on June 11, Farrell, when prodded, very reluctantly said she also thinks marriage is between a man and a woman.

She also said: "You know, I think it's hilarious right now that the world is turning to beauty queens for the answers for this. I think it's an important issue and I think that it's one that I don't think I can win a battle. I don't want to be any more divisive than it's already become. ... I don't think that I have the right or anybody has a right to tell somebody who they can or can't love. And I think this is a civil rights issue. And I think the right thing to do is let the voters decide."

CALIFORNIA HIV EMERGENCY: Schwarzenegger, Legislature may slash HIV funding
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed, and the California Legislature is considering, draconian cuts to all types of HIV-related funding in the near-bankrupt state.

In the worst-case scenario, which is still not off the table, slashes to the AIDS Drug Assistance Program could result in thousands of Californians who make less than $41,600 per year losing access to the state-provided drugs that suppress HIV and keep them alive.

In the apparent best-case scenario, not all HIV drugs would be available via ADAP and patients would have to pay part of the cost of the ones they could get. That is problematic because some HIV-positive people have developed resistance to some HIV drugs and need access to the full arsenal of therapies to stay alive.

Further, the current plan apparently completely eliminates state funding for the tests that determine if a patient is responding to treatment - such tests as CD4 counts, viral-load measurement and drug-resistance monitoring.

These tests are essentially mandatory in HIV treatment. Doctors use them so they can change a nonresponsive patient's drug combination to another combo that works in that patient - before the patient's immune system breaks down further and the patient develops a life-threatening opportunistic infection.

The current plan apparently also dramatically slashes funding for education, prevention, counseling and testing programs.

Some 35,000 working- and middle-class Californians who don't make enough money to pay for their own treatment could be adversely or dangerously affected by the possible cuts to ADAP and elimination of monitoring testing.

Gay and HIV advocates have strongly denounced the budget proposals, and a large rally was held at the state Capitol in Sacramento on June 10.

Americans do not support "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
Americans overwhelmingly want to see the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban on open Gays repealed, a new Gallup poll has found.

Sixty-nine percent told pollsters it's time for the ban to go - including 58 percent of Republicans, 58 percent of self-described conservatives and 60 percent of weekly churchgoers.

Eighty-six percent of liberals oppose the DADT policy, along with 82 percent of Democrats and 78 percent of people between age 18 and 29.

Even people over age 65 (60 percent), Southerners (57 percent) and people who didn't finish high school (57 percent) said it's time to dump the ban.

Said Gallup: "President Barack Obama will be well-positioned to forge ahead with his campaign promise to end the military ban on openly Gay service members."

Gallup polled 1,105 adults nationwide between May 7 and 10. The organization said it was 95 percent confident that the maximum margin of sampling error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Tenn. schools remove filtering in response to ACLU suit
Dozens of Tennessee schools have restored access to online information about GLBT issues after the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against two Tennessee school districts for blacklisting the websites of major Gay organizations.

The company that provides internet filtering for more than 100 Tennessee schools adjusted its software to allow access to a variety of educational and political GLBT websites that were blocked before the lawsuit was filed.

"All we ever wanted was to be able to get information out about LGBT issues, like what our legal rights are or what scholarships are available for LGBT students," said Bryanna Shelton, a 16-year-old student at Fulton High School in Knoxville and a plaintiff in the case. "These websites were never something dirty or inappropriate in any way and shouldn't ever have been treated like they were."

The ACLU said the filters, which were separate from porn filters, amounted to "unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination" since they didn't also block anti-Gay sites.

About 80 percent of Tennessee public schools use the Education Networks of America filters, which had been set by default to block sites categorized as "LGBT." The filters blacklisted the websites of the Human Rights Campaign; the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network; Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays; and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, among numerous others.

With assistance from Bill Kelley

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