Equality Roundup from Texas and the Nation

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In our ongoing coverage of equality news, here's the latest from Texas and the nation.

Hundreds of people fought back against the homophobic Westboro Baptist Church on Thursday by forming a human wall around funeral services being conducted for an Aggie soldier in College Station. The wall was formed in response to a threat from Westboro Baptist Church leaders to protest the funeral. The Westboro Baptist Church congregants protest funerals, because they believe God punishes soldiers by killing them in response to America's tolerance of gays.

The U.S. Presbyterian Church nearly approved marriage equality on Friday. A proposal by marriage equality proponents to redefine marriage in the Church's constitution as between “two people,” rather than between a woman and a man, was defeated by a vote of 338-308 at the Church's General Assembly in Pittsburgh.

As Joe Deshotel reported on Wednesday, the Obama administration has asked the Supreme Court to examine the Constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in its next term. The Federal Government will ask the Supreme Court to apply a heightened standard of scrutiny to the Defense of Marriage Act and rule it unconstitutional.

The former president of Exodus International, a network of ministries that holds gays can be “cured” through reparative therapy and Christian prayer, last week declared ex-gay therapies ineffective and potentially harmful. He also said he believed that gays can be saved by Christ and go to heaven.

As Edward Garris reported yesterday, Police released a sketch of the suspected shooter of Mollie Olgin and Mary Kristene Chapa (see below). The two women, who were romantically involved, were found shot in the head on June 23 in Portland, Texas.

A New York state appeals court dismissed an anti-equality lawsuit filed by a conservative group last week, refusing to nullify marriages between gay couples in the state. That suit challenged the process by which New York's same-sex marriage law was passed.

Anderson Cooper came out publicly last week on Andrew Sullivan's blog at the Daily Beast. Cooper's email to Sullivan is worth reading in its entirety, but here's an excerpt:

“…I've begun to consider whether the unintended outcomes of maintaining my privacy outweigh personal and professional principle. It's become clear to me that by remaining silent on certain aspects of my personal life for so long, I have given some the mistaken impression that I am trying to hide something – something that makes me uncomfortable, ashamed or even afraid. This is distressing because it is simply not true.

I've also been reminded recently that while as a society we are moving toward greater inclusion and equality for all people, the tide of history only advances when people make themselves fully visible. There continue to be far too many incidences of bullying of young people, as well as discrimination and violence against people of all ages, based on their sexual orientation, and I believe there is value in making clear where I stand.

The fact is, I'm gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn't be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud.

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