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5 turning points in gay marriage debate
March 15th, 2013
02:22 PM ET

5 turning points in gay marriage debate

By Mariano Castillo, CNN

CNN) - Republican Sen. Rob Portman's flip-flop approval for same-sex marriage, is just the latest change of heart on the issue by conservatives.

Even Democrats like President Obama - have turned around after opposing it. This change in attitude is just one of many milestones for the movement.

Here are five of the most important turning points in the same-sex marriage debate:

1993: In a landmark case, Hawaii's Supreme Court ruled that the state can't deny same-sex couples the right to marry unless it finds "a compelling reason" to do so. It orders the issue back to the state legislature, which then voted to ban gay marriage. This was one of earliest debates on the issue at the state level, and was a precursor to the legal battles nationwide. Today, domestic partnerships and civil unions for same-sex couples are legal in Hawaii.

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Reporter’s Notebook: Facebook’s Sandberg delivers a noble message in a complicated conversation
CNN's Soledad O'Brien sits down with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg to talk about the reaction to her book "Lean In."
March 15th, 2013
10:30 AM ET

Reporter’s Notebook: Facebook’s Sandberg delivers a noble message in a complicated conversation

Editor's Note: Watch Soledad O'Brien's interview with Sheryl Sandberg on "Starting Point" at 7 a.m. ET on Monday, March 18th and Tuesday, March 19th.

By Soledad O'Brien, "Starting Point" anchor

When you walk into Facebook’s New York City office, you get a sweeping loft-like feeling from a beautiful courtyard with big open windows in the very modern Bank of America building on Madison Ave. You’re also faced with a message in massive red letters that you can only read at a distance:

“PROCEED AND BE BOLD.”

proceedandbeboldcropped

I was there for my sit-down interview with Sheryl Sandberg, the company’s chief operating officer. She walks me over to the wall of windows with red letters to make it clear that the message is the ethos of the social media company.

Sandberg is wearing a navy and red dress, with a dark navy cardigan, and comes across as professional and personable. She had just rushed from another interview with CNN sister company Fortune magazine. You may have also seen her in one of her other zillion interviews this week, with CBS’s “60 Minutes,” or on the cover of “TIME” magazine.

As we prepare for the interview, she tells me she doesn’t enjoy the process of talking about herself, and admits she finds it to be a bit of a struggle. But the struggle must be worth it, because Sandberg’s message is gaining traction as a result of her book “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” which was released on Monday.

The advice in “Lean In” is best when used to guide young women. In the book, Sandberg writes that women should strive to close the ambition gap with men, and to become leaders early in their careers to allow them flexibility later on.

“ 'Lean In' is not about fixing women,” she tells me. “'Lean In' is about all of us coming together to understand the stereotypes that are holding women back and fix them.”

However, that’s not how many have interpreted Sandberg’s points.

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Filed under: Gender • History • How we live • Women
March 14th, 2013
04:21 PM ET

Opinion: Pope pick a signal to Latino Catholics

Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a CNN contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. Follow him on Twitter: @rubennavarrette.

By Ruben Navarrette Jr., CNN Contributor
(CNN) - "It's about time!"

That was how a friend and fellow Mexican-American Catholic responded to the news that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina had been elected the first Latino pope in the nearly 2,000-year history of the Catholic Church. It was one of those spontaneous utterances that, while not politically correct, was at least honest and heartfelt.

It's about time.

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Violence Against Women Act shines a light on same-sex abuse
Protesters note the issue of domestic violence doesn't apply only to heterosexuals.
March 14th, 2013
11:00 AM ET

Violence Against Women Act shines a light on same-sex abuse

By Sarah LeTrent, CNN

(CNN) - Patrick Dati had reached his breaking point.

With a metal pin in his arm and Vicodin coursing through his veins, he picked up the phone to call his psychiatrist.

Dati had undergone surgery for a broken arm after his then-boyfriend allegedly threw him down the stairs when he tried to leave their home.

Now he sat on the phone with his doctor, explaining why he couldn't carry on, as he tried to overdose on painkillers.

The attempt to end his life, which landed him in a psychiatric ward for two days, resulted in part because he felt trapped in the abusive relationship and saw no way out.

"I couldn't let my boyfriend go because he wasn't allowing me to," Dati said.

Dati is one of an estimated 3.4% of adults who self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, referred to as LGBT, in the United States. He's also one of a quarter of gay men in America who report having encountered intimate partner violence.

While Dati reached out to LGBT resources for help while he was ensnared in the abusive relationship, including the Center on Halsted Anti-Violence Project's 24-Hour crisis hot line in Chicago, many in his position find that help is hard to come by.

Now, thanks to new LGBT-inclusive language in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, signed into law this month, domestic violence victims like Dati will have access to many of the same abuse and trauma services as victims of heterosexual partner violence.

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Filed under: How we live • Politics • Sexual orientation
March 13th, 2013
12:00 PM ET

Survey asks whether gay and straight Boy Scouts can share tent

By Ed Payne and Devon Sayers, CNN

(CNN) - The questions go to the heart of the issue, presenting scenarios some may find challenging.

The Boy Scouts of America, now considering a change in the group's longstanding policy against allowing openly gay members, has sent out a questionnaire that goes beyond a simple yes or no on the subject.

Among them: Is it acceptable for a gay scout and a straight scout to share a tent on an overnight camping trip?

The survey sent to leaders and parents includes five multiple-choice answers ranging from "totally acceptable" to "totally unacceptable."

Listening phase

In February, the Boy Scouts of America's national executive board postponed a vote on lifting its outright ban on openly homosexual scouts and troop leaders.

The decision will be made at the organization's annual meeting in May, where about 1,400 members of the group's national council will take part, the board said.

The organization said at the time that it would "further engage representatives of Scouting's membership and listen to their perspectives and concerns."

Read the survey (pdf)

The Boy Scouts said in a statement Tuesday that they're in the "listening phase" and are "reviewing a number of issues and how they will impact the BSA, including youth, chartered organizations, parents, and financial, fundraising, and legal concerns."

The questions

The survey's nine questions directly address those concerns and point to the complexities of the issues involved.

Here's one of the questions from the survey:

"David, a Boy Scout, believes that homosexuality is wrong. His troop is chartered to a church where the doctrine of that faith also teachers that homosexuality is wrong. Steven, an openly gay youth, applies to be a member in the troop and is denied membership. Is it acceptable or unacceptable for this troop to deny Steve membership in their troop?"

Another question asks if a lesbian mom should be allowed to be den leader, if the church it's chartered to has no problem with homosexuality.

The issues are challenging for an organization that has many ties to organized religion, many of them conservative.

FULL STORY
March 13th, 2013
08:17 AM ET

Devoted New Orleans teacher vanishes without a trace

By Holly Yan and Vivian Kuo, CNN

(CNN) - Terrilynn Monette had no problem uprooting her life to help children.

When the California native learned of the "teachNOLA" program, which sends educators to New Orleans to teach in impoverished areas, she packed her bags and headed to Louisiana.

"I always wanted to be a teacher, and what better place to teach than New Orleans, where passionate teachers are needed most?" Monette said in a 2011 video.

Her dedication and excellence in the classroom earned her a "Teacher of the Year" nomination in her district.

But after a night celebrating the accolade with friends, the 26-year-old vanished.

That was almost two weeks ago. With each passing day, her family's anxiety compounds.

"There's total emptiness in my life right now. I miss my daughter so, so much, no one can hardly believe the impact that she has had on our family," said Monette's mother, Toni Enclade.

"She's a beautiful person. She walks in the room, she lights up with her beautiful smile. I can't imagine anyone that would take her away from us."

Hundreds of volunteers and police have scoured New Orleans, but are no closer to finding Monette.

She left no clues behind.

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Report spurred by New Black Panther charges find polarized Justice Dept.
A report issued Tuesday found voting rights staffers in the U.S. Justice Department displayed a lack of professionalism.
March 12th, 2013
08:20 PM ET

Report spurred by New Black Panther charges find polarized Justice Dept.

By Terry Frieden, CNN Justice Producer

Washington (CNN) - Staffers in the voting rights section of the U.S. Justice Department - during both the Bush and Obama administrations - took political potshots at each other and often displayed a lack of professionalism, according to a report issued Tuesday.

The department's inspector general found camps within that office battled over priorities and cases for most of the past decade.

But the report found that there was "insufficient support for a conclusion that Civil Rights Division leadership in either the prior or current administration improperly refused to enforce the voting rights laws on behalf of any particular group of voters or that either administration used the enforcement of laws to seek improper partisan advantage."

The report covers a series of controversies during the years 2001 to 2011, when first George W. Bush, and then Barack Obama controlled the Justice Department.

The voting rights pot boiled over on November 4, 2008, when two members of the New Black Panther Party stood outside a polling station in Philadelphia dressed in boots and berets and carrying a nightstick. Civil charges for attempted intimidation were filed, but then dropped against three of four defendants.

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Filed under: History • Politics • Race
March 12th, 2013
12:20 PM ET

Undocumenteds' hope for next pope

(CNN) - CNN's Miguel Marquez says immigrants hope the next pope will focus on issues like human rights and economic justice.

How Marissa Mayer writes her own rules
March 12th, 2013
09:57 AM ET

How Marissa Mayer writes her own rules

By Breeanna Hare, CNN

(CNN) - To become Google's first female engineer in 1999 - and, eventually, one of the most powerful women in tech - Marissa Mayer had to get comfortable with risk.

"I always did something I was a little not ready to do," she said last year while speaking on her best decisions in a talk with NPR Correspondent Laura Sydell. "That feeling at the end of the day, where you're like, 'what have I gotten myself into?' I realized that sometimes when you have that feeling and you push through it, something really great happens."

If the 37-year-old still makes career moves by her tried-and-true process, then she's likely anticipating something great to occur in her new role as Yahoo's CEO.

Mayer's hiring last summer, which accordng to Fortune made her the youngest head of a Fortune 500 company, came as a surprise, and her high-wire decisions since have spread far wider than Yahoo's campus.

First, there was her brief maternity leave after she gave birth to her son in September. When the Silicon Valley star first announced that she was pregnant, on the very same day Yahoo revealed she was the company's new CEO, some saw it as a progressive move and hoped Mayer would set a new standard for mothers trying to balance the competing demands of their corporate and familial roles.

What they saw instead was a businesswoman eager to get back in the office and who said that having a new baby in her life wasn't as difficult as she'd been told.

But the real critiques came last month when Yahoo's HR department issued an e-mail telling staff that they will no longer be able to work from home, prompting an angry backlash and leading some to question Mayer's judgment.

While some found her position just, others hoping the new mom would create a more reasonable corporate culture interpreted the move as unfair, noting that Mayer approved the edict while building a nursery next to her office - not an option for most working parents.

But over her nearly 14-year career in the tech world, Mayer has consistently shaken up expectations. If we've learned anything about this influential computer engineer-turned-corporate executive, it's that she plays the game of business by her own rules.

1. She doesn't do stereotypes

Part of the legend of Marissa Mayer is that she doesn't fit into our assumptions of what it means to be a tech geek.

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Filed under: Age • Gender • How we live • Who we are • Women
'Don't feed the trolls': Racism on YouTube
On YouTube's "Black Nerd Comedy," Andre Meadows often focuses on '80s and '90s pop culture such as the Power Rangers.
March 11th, 2013
05:22 PM ET

'Don't feed the trolls': Racism on YouTube

By Doug Gross, CNN

Austin, Texas (CNN) - In five years on YouTube, Francesca Ramsey says, only one of the nearly 200 videos she's posted has been explicitly about race.

Yet when the actress, comedian and video blogger hosted a meet-up with fans here at the South by Southwest Interactive festival, only three out of about 300 of them were white.

Of course that one video, "S**t White Girls Say ... to Black Girls," has accounted for nearly 10 million of the roughly 18 million views her videos have gotten, combined.

"It's a double-edged sword," said Ramsey. "It's opened a lot of doors for me, but I know that because of that video, there are some people who are never going to watch my videos and are never going to give me a chance and see that I'm so much more than that video."

Ramsey spoke Sunday on a panel addressing racism and race issues on YouTube, the Web's No. 1 video site. Viewing of online video has surged, with YouTube attracting 800 million unique visitors a year. In 2011, the site saw a mind-boggling 1 trillion-plus views.

But among the content creators posting to YouTube who are ethnic minorities, race remains a troubling issue. Drawing a large fan base is a challenge, and commenters on YouTube videos can be vicious.

Of the top 100 most popular YouTube channels that aren't industry-sponsored, there is one black creator, four Asians and one of Middle Eastern descent, according to Web researcher Jenny Unghba Korn. Expanding that to the top 200 adds two more African-Americans, two Asians and one user from India.

"Everyone gets hate comments on YouTube," said Andre Meadows, the creator of the Black Nerd Comedy channel. "You can make the most wonderful video in the world and you will get 'Fake!' and 'Gay!'"

But for minority creators, "when you get comments, it seems to be targeted toward race almost immediately. A lot of people get 'dumb video, stupid video' - but with mine it immediately goes to racial slurs."

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Filed under: How we live • Race • Technology
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