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Texas Marriage Ban Lifted; Saudi Fathers Sought

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Texas law banning same-sex marriage loses a round in court. Also this week, Saudi human rights activists are advocating the government find Saudi fathers of Syrian refugees and document the citizenship of the refugees.

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The Texas law banning same-sex marriage loses a round in court. Also this week, Saudi human rights activists are advocating the government find Saudi fathers of Syrian refugees and document the citizenship of the refugees.
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Credit: Roey Ahram on Flickr, under Creative Commons

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Cheers

A federal judge in San Antonio ruled Texas' ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, the Texas Tribune reported Feb. 26. The case was brought by two couples who say they faced undue hardships that others wouldn't have to face. But on Feb. 27 the state of Texas filed a notice of appeal in federal court in San Antonio, challenging U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia's ruling.

More News to Cheer This Week:

New Hampshire's Senate approved a proposal that would create a 25-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics as a method of preventing persistent anti-choice harassment against patients and staff, Think Progress reported Feb. 24. The proposal has been sent to the House of Representatives for approval.

Some 9 million poor women and young children who receive federal food assistance under the U.S. government's so-called WIC program will have greater access to fruits, vegetables and whole grains under an overhaul of the program unveiled Feb. 28, Reuters reported.

Five women took their seats at a meeting of NATO defense ministers at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, NBC News reported Feb. 26. This is the largest number of female defense ministers to serve at one time since the 28-nation alliance was founded in 1949.

Emna Mansour, chairwoman of Tunisia's Democratic Movement of Building and Reforms, announced Feb. 24 that she will be running for the presidency, Tunisie Numerique (French) reported. In an interview given to the radio station Mosaique FM, Mansour criticized the lack of women in decision-making positions.

A University of Virginia rape victim filed a civil rights action in an effort to halt the Campus SaVE Act, which is due to become effective March 7. If not halted by litigation, the act will increase the body of proof that a victim must have to prove her case, Wendy Murphy wrote in a commentary for Women's eNews Jan. 22.

Jeers

Local Saudi human rights organizations are demanding that government agencies track down the Saudi biological fathers of children born to Syrian women who have since become refugees in Jordan and Turkey in the wake of the Syrian civil war, Arab News reported Feb. 25. These citizens-turned-refugees have no documents to prove that they are Saudi nationals.

More News to Jeer This Week:

Japan will re-examine a landmark apology it made two decades ago to women forced to work in Japanese wartime military brothels, according to a government spokesperson, The New York Times reported Feb. 28. The move could further outrage South Korea, where many of the women were born.

Thirty-one current and former UC Berkeley students filed two federal complaints against the university alleging a decades-long pattern of mishandling sexual assault investigations by campus administrators, the Los Angeles Times reported Feb. 26. The complaints allege that officials for years have discouraged victims from reporting assaults, failed to inform them of their rights and led a biased judicial process that favored assailants' rights over those of their victims.

Virginia Republican Sen. Steve Martin backpedaled on his use of the word "hosts" to describe pregnant women, the NY Daily News reported. Feb. 25. Martin made the comparison in a Facebook rant against a pro-choice coalition.

A Georgia state Senate committee voted on a bill that would ban many health insurance plans from covering abortion care, RH Reality Check reported Feb. 25. The only exception to the proposed ban is in the case of immediate threats to a woman's health, not including complications from health conditions.

Education departments in a number of regions in Saudi Arabia have banned female employees and visitors who do not wear the veil from entering girls' schools, reported Al Arabiya Feb. 24.

Women hold less than 16 percent of the seats in Congress and about 24 percent of the positions in state legislatures, according to data compiled by the Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics, Lancaster Online reported Feb. 23. Ninety nations around the world have more women in their national legislature than the United States.

Noted:

The European Parliament is considering criminalizing the act of buying sex, RH Reality Check reported Feb. 25. This issue has been debated for more than a decade, with some arguing that the policy would only serve to drive sex workers underground and make them more vulnerable. Others believe that this is an opportunity to challenge the idea that it is natural and inevitable for men to buy access to women's bodies.

A Republican state lawmaker from Maine, Lawrence Lockman, regrets making decades worth of offensive comments about gay people, rape and abortion, Raw Story reported Feb. 27. His comments were recently compiled by blogger Mike Tipping. The post, published on the Maine People's Alliance website, has spurred Democratic calls for the lawmaker's resignation. In one of his comments in 1995, Lockman said "If a woman has (the right to an abortion), why shouldn't a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman?"

Medical advisors have begun discussions on whether having human trials for a new technique, known as three-parent in vitro fertilization, is scientifically justifiable, Reuters reported Feb. 27. The stated aim of this treatment, which is only in the research stage, is to give parents an option to avoid passing on incurable diseases to their children.

A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee met this week to discuss radical biological procedures that have the potential to produce genetically modified human beings, the New York Times reported Feb. 23. The controversial procedure could give women with mitochondrial disease the opportunity to give birth to healthy children to whom they would be genetically related.

A report suggests that women who have a genetic mutation that increases the risk of ovarian cancer, referred to as BRCA1, should have their ovaries removed by the age of 35, CNN reported Feb. 24. Researchers from the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that it can reduce the risk of cancer by 80 percent and the overall risk of death by 77 percent.

Only a small fraction of Army women--less than 8 percent--say they'd like to move into one of the newly opening combat jobs, according to preliminary study, the Associated Press reported Feb. 25.

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