January 2nd, 2012
03:49 PM ET

Two more states allow same-sex civil unions

(CNN) - Several same-sex couples came together in the first minutes of New Year's Day in Honolulu to become the first in the state's history to enter into civil unions.

"We really don't want to wait any longer because we have been together for 33 years waiting for the opportunity and our rights and everything that goes with it," said Donna Gedge, who was with her partner Monica Montgomery, speaking to CNN affiliate KITV. "So why wait?"

The couple told CNN last week about their plans to stay up late for the ceremony.

With Hawaii and Delaware joining the list Sunday, five states now recognize same-sex civil unions, while six other states and Washington, D.C., allow same-sex marriage, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Read the full story

Engage: Gay rights activists finish 2011 with major victories
January 2nd, 2012
10:57 AM ET

Engage: Gay rights activists finish 2011 with major victories

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

2011: An Extraordinary Year For Gay Rights - NPR

Seniority, effectiveness in teaching leads to large rewards - New York Times

Getting ready for the 2012 Pow Wow? Here is your check list - Indian Country

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Memories of a home run scene stealer
Hank Aaron -- and two young men -- rounded the bases after Aaron's record-breaking home run in 1974. Courtenay (l), Britt (r)
January 2nd, 2012
07:00 AM ET

Memories of a home run scene stealer

By Alyse Shorland, CNN

(CNN) - The night of April 8, 1974, Braves outfielder Hank Aaron hit home-run number 715, broke the record held by the legendary Babe Ruth and became, at that time, the home-run leader in baseball.

But two other men were enshrined in history with him – Clifford Courtenay and Britt Gaston. They were students, just 17 at the time. They leaped from their seats and bounded onto the field and ran to third base with Aaron. Images from the game show them circling the field together.

Clifford Courtenay is now Dr. Courtenay. He’s 55, an optometrist in Valdosta, Georgia. Courtenay’s life wasn’t changed by that home run almost 38 years ago. At the time, he says, he and Gaston didn’t really understand that the moment was bigger than baseball - Aaron was an MVP, All-Star and long-time Braves player, but he'd come to the Major League from the American Negro League, and still received death threats from fans who didn't want to see a black man break the Babe's record. In the moment, many weren't sure how to interpret the actions of the young white men on the field.

The guys running the bases with him were “dumb 17 year olds," Courtenay said.

Over time, Courtenay came to resent the photo as it followed him to school in Memphis, to Tucson and back to Georgia. Reporters would call him at all hours of the night and ask him the same questions, over and over.

“It wasn’t like I felt what it was like being a celebrity, but it was what it would be like to be in the fishbowl and what it would be like to be in the spotlight,” he said.

When a CNN reporter called him this time, something was different. FULL POST

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Filed under: Black in America • History • Pop culture • Who we are