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April 11th, 2012
04:00 PM ET

Opinion: Violence and race: a two-way street

Editor's note: LZ Granderson, who writes a weekly column for CNN.com, was named journalist of the year by the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and a 2011 Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary. He is a senior writer and columnist for ESPN the Magazine and ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter: @locs_n_laughs Watch him on Tuesdays on CNN Newsroom in the 9 am ET hour.

By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor

(CNN) – Within the next day or two we could hear from the special prosecutor's office about her decision on whether to charge George Zimmerman.
Regardless of what she says, chances are a lot of people are not going to be happy with the decision. It's an emotional story with many layers that will likely end with more questions than answers, and more division than unity along racial lines.

I know when I heard about Trayvon Martin's killing, the story immediately touched my heart because I could see my own 15-year-old son in Trayvon.

Similarly, when I heard about the apparent racially motivated killing spree in Tulsa, Oklahoma, last week, it angered me because I could see my brothers and uncles in the slain victims.

But something different happened inside when I saw the video of a white tourist being savagely beaten and stripped by a bunch of black thugs in

Baltimore over St. Patrick's Day weekend.

My heart wasn't touched.

I didn't get angry.

Instead, I just became cold.

Read LZ Granderson's full column

April 11th, 2012
01:51 PM ET

Program helps vets open franchises

Editor's note: Overseas, they fight for freedom. In America, they fight for jobs. “Voters in America: Vets Wanted?” is the first part of a CNN In America documentary series on American voters. Narrated by J.R. Martinez and re-airing May 19th at 8 p.m. ET on CNN.

The unemployment rate among veterans is 5% higher than last year, but initiatives in hopes of changing that are giving vets an opportunity to own their businesses through the franchising industry.

As more U.S. military members return from overseas deployments, they're trying to decide what's next. Thousands are going to school on the GI Bill and others are looking for new careers.

Some vets are finding opportunities through VetFran, which has helped more than 2,100 vets  since the 1990s. Even some who lack business experience are opening franchises - and taking advantage of programs that reduce the cost to do so.

UPS, for example, waived the near $30,000 franchising fee for 10 veterans. The franchisees still have to finance their own ventures, but UPS is guiding them on how to maintain and operate businesses on their own.

Engage: Is Ozzie Guillen's 5-game suspension fair?
Some didn't accept Ozzie Guillen's apology after a press conference held to retract his comments about Fidel Castro.
April 11th, 2012
01:13 PM ET

Engage: Is Ozzie Guillen's 5-game suspension fair?

Engage with news and opinions from around the web about under-reported stories from undercovered communities.

Would Marlins manager's 'I love Fidel' comments matter in a different city? - Christian Science Monitor

Wrestler takes anti-illegal immigration message to the ring  –The Los Angeles Times

Study: Food stamps decreased poverty during recession – The New York Times

Report shows education gap for Latinos - The Los Angeles Times

Same-sex couples in North Carolina prepare for marriage vote
Kelli Evans and Karen Wade were photographed with their triplets for Commitment NC.
April 11th, 2012
09:42 AM ET

Same-sex couples in North Carolina prepare for marriage vote

Editor's note: See more images from Justin Cook's Commitment NC project on CNN Photos.

By Stephanie Siek, CNN

(CNN) – Despite long-term relationships, shared children and steadfastness to each other in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer, same-sex couples like Heather McIver and Suzanne Lowe, Kelli Evans and Karen Wade, and J. Wesley Thompson and Trey Owen know that their commitments could be invalidated with enough ballots. They live in North Carolina, which will be conducting a referendum on gay marriage next month.

On May 8, voters in North Carolina will head to the polls to vote on Amendment 1, a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would define "marriage between one man and one woman" as "the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized." According to same-sex marriage advocacy group Marriage Equality, North Carolina is one of 20 states that are considering whether to allow or ban same-sex relationships. Twenty-one states recognize some form of same-sex relationships, either as marriage, civil union or domestic partnership. Thirty states ban same-sex marriage by law, constitutional amendment or both.

Each of the above couples participated in Commitment NC , a documentary photo project that aims to show the faces of the families that would be affected by passage of Amendment 1. It’s the brainchild of Justin Cook, an independent photographer based in Durham, North Carolina, who says he wanted to show the "real love and real lives" of gay and lesbian couples. Commitment NC has also grown to include images and stories from a similar project, Love for All, by another group of photographers capturing the lives of unmarried couples, gay and straight.

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