Retired professional tennis star Billie Jean King speaks to a luncheon at the National Press Club, May 9, 2012 in Washington, DC. Photo: Shutterstock

Feb. 6: King Withdraws From Sochi, UN Dings Vatican, Clay Aiken Runs ...

Daily Spead Read Feb. 6, 2014

Keen News Service

KING HAS TO WITHDRAW: Tennis legend Billie Jean King announced Wednesday that she must withdraw from the presidential delegation to the Winter Olympics this week. "With my mother in failing health, I will not be able to join the U.S. Presidential Delegation at this week's opening ceremonies of the Sochi Olympics," said King, through a spokesperson. "It is important for me to be with my mother and my brother at this difficult time. I want to thank President Obama for including me in this historic mission and I look forward to supporting our athletes as they compete in Sochi." The White House announced that hockey player Caitlin Cahow, the lesbian hockey player named originally to the closing ceremony delegation, has agreed to participate in the opening ceremony. -Keen News Service

UN REPORT DINGS VATICAN: A United Nations report released publicly yesterday criticized the Vatican strongly for its inadequate response to the Catholic Church's child abuse scandal, and also for its pronouncements against LGBT people. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child stated, "While also noting as positive the progressive statement delivered in July 2013 by Pope Francis, the Committee is concerned about the Holy See's past statements and declarations on homosexuality which contribute to the social stigmatization of and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adolescents and children raised by same sex couples," stated the report. "...The Committee also urges the Holy See to make full use of its moral authority to condemn all forms of harassment, discrimination or violence against children based on their sexual orientation or the sexual orientation of their parents and to support efforts at international level for the decriminalization of homosexuality. -Keen News Service

CLAY AIKEN RUNS FOR CONGRESS: He became famous for his performance on the popular television talent show "American Idol," but openly gay singer Clay Aiken showed considerable finesse in his first campaign video, announcing that he is a candidate for a U.S. House seat representing North Carolina. Aiken, 35, is one of three Democrats seeking to unseat Republican incumbent Renee Ellmers who represents the heavily Republican Second District. The Democratic primary is in May. Aiken is the second openly gay candidate to announce a run for Congress. Marcus Brandon is running in the 12th Congressional District.

OBAMA TRIES AGAIN IN MIAMI: President Obama Wednesday nominated another openly gay African American man, Darrin Gayles, to serve on the U.S. District Court bench for the Southern District of Florida, Miami. The president's previous nominee for the Miami seat was another openly gay African American man, Judge William Thomas. Thomas was blocked by Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, who said he had objections to how Thomas handled two cases. But some critics of Rubio said they believe he objected to supporting an African American gay man to the seat. A graduate of Howard University and George Washington University Law School, Gayles, 45, was first appointed to the state court position by then Republican Governor Charlie Crist. He earned the support of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund when he ran for re-election in 2012.

A MARRIAGE OF ONE'S OWN: The case is Virginia Wolf v. Scott Walker, and it's the latest of at least 36 lawsuits around the country that are now pending against statewide bans on same-sex couples obtaining marriage licenses. The Wolf challenge was filed by the ACLU of Wisconsin on behalf of four same-sex couples -three of whom seek to marry in their home state, one of whom seeks to have their marriage license from Minnesota recognized. In addition to the ACLU lawsuit, Lambda Legal is awaiting a decision from the Wisconsin Supreme Court on whether the state's domestic partnership law violates the state's constitutional ban on same-sex couples marrying.

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