Cheers and Jeers



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More strides were made this week towards legalizing same-sex marriage across the United States. In Maine, lawmakers voted in favor of same-sex marriage on April 6 and Maine Gov. John Baldacci signed the same-sex marriage bill less than an hour later, CNN reported. This makes Maine the fifth state in the U.S.–in addition to Vermont, Connecticut, Iowa and Massachusetts–to allow same-sex marriage. However, a possibility remains that a voter-initiated referendum in Maine could invalidate the legislation.

On the same day, April 6, the New Hampshire Legislature also voted to legalize same-sex marriage. The bill has yet to be signed by the governor, though, and it is not yet clear what Gov. John Lynch will do.

Also this week, the District of Columbia Council overwhelmingly approved a bill to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, though the city doesn’t itself give marriage licenses to gay or lesbian couples. This vote could be a precursor to a debate later this year over whether to legalize same-sex marriage in the city, The Washington Post reported.

More News to Cheer This Week:

  • U.S. insurance companies offered to end the practice of charging higher premiums to women than to men for the same coverage this week, The New York Times reported. This may be in response to a bill introduced by Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts that prohibits insurers from considering sex as a factor in setting premiums for policies in the individual insurance market. Women are often charged 25 percent to 50 percent more than men for insurance providing identical coverage, the articled reported.
  • The writer Carol Ann Duffy was appointed as Britain’s poet laureate earlier this month, becoming the first woman to take the 341-year-old job, The New York Times reported. Her most popular collection of poems, “The World’s Wife,” gives overlooked women in history and mythology a chance to tell their side of the story. It’s not clear yet what Duffy will do with the laureateship.
  • The head of the all-male Vatican’s Swiss Guard, the world’s smallest army that defends the pope, said this week that women may be allowed to join the force, reported the BBC. Commander Colonel Daniel Anrig made the comments to an Italian television station. His predecessors have fiercely opposed such a move.


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The recession is pushing women to opt out of reproductive health care and parenting, various sources have reported. A Gallup survey showed that 1 in 7 women have cut costs by postponing her annual obstetrics-gynecology checkup and foregoing breast cancer exams and Pap smears.

Unintended pregnancies worry 1 in 5 women and 17 percent of married women said they delayed pregnancy in response to the recession, U.S. News and World Report reported. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists conducted the survey among 1,031 women ages 18 to 44.

The National Abortion Federation, a hotline providing information on abortion, reported a spike in phone calls with “phones ringing off the hook,” Metro reported.

“We are currently getting more calls from women who report that they or their partner have recently lost their job, and we are also hearing from more women facing eviction,” said Vicki Saporta, the federation’s president.

More News to Jeer This Week:

  • More than 100 Iranian labor activists, including women’s rights activists, were detained on May 1 in Iran, Radio Free Europe reported. Among them is Jelveh Jahaveri, a member of the One Million Signatures Campaign, which calls for an end to discriminatory laws in Iran, and Maryam Mohseni, a labor activist. The activists had gathered in observation of International Workers’ Day.
  • A federal court in Kentucky found a former U.S. soldier guilty for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl on May 7. Steven Green, 24, was also convicted for the murder of her family and faces a possible death penalty, BBC reported. Four soldiers involved in the attack will serve sentences between five and 110 years.