By Stephanie Siek, CNN
(CNN) - Salt Lake City, Utah, is known for breathtaking mountain scenery, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the 2002 Winter Olympics.
But today it was also named the Gayest City in America by The Advocate magazine.
The Advocate ranked cities according to its own admittedly nonscientific criteria, including the number of gay and lesbian bookstores, elected officials who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, and some edgier metrics like the number of International Mr. Leather competition semifinalists and the presence of nude yoga classes. This year’s list intended to examine cities that are outside the usual orbit of San Francisco, Boston, Miami and New York, and came up with several surprises - Grand Rapids, Michigan, Knoxville, Tennessee. Even Little Rock, Arkansas, ranked 11 out of 15.
Salt Lake City LGBTQ advocates were pleasantly surprised by the rankings.
“Well, you know, we’re all very proud of our community here, and we’ve done a lot of growing and empowering of each other and our allies in the community,” said Valerie Larabee, the executive director of the Utah Pride Center, but “we probably wouldn’t have a higher ranking if the homework was done … We don’t have naked yoga, or at least none of us know about it.”
(For the record: The Advocate counted one nude yoga class there, and one Mr. Leather semifinalist, too.)
By Bill Mears, CNN
Washington (CNN) - Election politics almost always creates unhappy drama for the Supreme Court's nine members, and a thorny appeal heard Monday from Texas officials over the state's controversial redistricting plan more than proved the point.
The court struggled mostly in vain to try and get its arms around a complex, time-sensitive dispute. At issue are competing maps for the Texas state legislature and Congress – created first by Republican lawmakers that favored their political base and later by a federal judicial panel to give minorities greater voting power.
Atlanta (CNN) - Andono Bryant shuffles across an old shuffleboard court to pick up groceries at the food co-op.
"This is the real Occupy," she says.
The 44-year-old mother of five grown children scoops up boxes of food. She doesn't have time to go a mile away to the Occupy protests and shake her fist. She's just trying to make sure her family can eat today.
A few miles north of the Georgia Avenue Food Cooperative, Andono's husband, Alan, 47, serves steaks to some of the targets of the Occupy movement: the 1% of Americans who have enjoyed nearly 60% of all gains in income over the last three decades.
Alan Bryant mans the grill at Ruth's Chris Steak House, where a well-marbled cowboy ribeye fetches $44 and a fully loaded 1-pound potato goes for $7.
He prides himself on providing a good meal to customers.
"Once you get a person to smile as they eat, my day is fulfilled," the line cook says. "When I see other people happy, it makes me happy.
"Even though on the inside, it really hurts."
It hurts because it's a constant reminder of the couple's shattered dreams. The Bryants used to make $40,000, lived in their own home and gave to others. Now they live below the poverty line in the city with the widest income gap between rich and poor than anywhere else in the nation.
They're among the millions of Americans who fell out of the middle class.
Engage with news and opinions from around the web about under-reported stories from undercovered communities.
The life and death of Army Private Danny Chen - New York Magazine
U.S. Supreme Court to hear Texas redistricting dispute; possible change to voter ID laws? - The Christian Science Monitor
Newt Gingrich grilled on 'food stamp' comments, immigration reform at town hall - The Los Angeles Times
Report: 'The State of African-American Consumer' highlights blacks' shopping characteristics and buying power - The Grio
Catching up with Native Americans relocated from reservations to cities - National Public Radio
Editor’s note: Readers had a lot to say about Kris Marsh’s post about the composition of the black middle class, and particularly on the black and single portion of that group. Marsh decided to respond to several of the comments.
Kris Marsh is on the faculty at the University of Maryland, College Park. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Southern California and was a postdoctoral scholar at the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is on Facebook and on Twitter@drkrismarsh.
(CNN) - Kris Marsh started her piece this way: “While sharing coffee one day with a colleague and friend, William 'Sandy' Darity Jr., we coined a new, emerging group of single and living-alone (SALA) households in the black middle class: the “Love Jones Cohort.” Personal experiences as a member of the Love Jones Cohort help shape, inform and drive my research on this emerging group within the black middle class.
Historically, the quintessential black middle class consisted of a married couple with 2.5 children, a dog, and 'Black Picket Fences' – in reference to the book written on the black middle class by Mary Pattillo-McCoy.
Where is the black middle class now, you ask? We are right here, but look demographically different than we did years ago.”
For starters, many readers asked if Kris Marsh was against marriage or arguing that the black and single professionals she called the “Love Jones cohort” were better off than their married peers.
TMac wrote: "Kris Marsh, obviously a learned black woman, presents a tragically, dissociative view of the black middle class. Whatever her "Love Jones Cohort" morality represents, it is not the structure of a family, nor a model for the black middle class family. Family is a word she does not mention. I am a black principal of a high school, and there are serious family foundational issues with many of our black teenage students that represent much dissembling of the black family. Her approach perpetuates the single parent trap and is really destroying the black middle class."
MDH wrote: "This is a thought provoking, but uninspiring article. While I applaud not throwing a pity party because you are black, educated, and happen to still be single; I did not agree black should accept the decline of the black nuclear family. Education and family stability are the only effective methods blacks can turn their communities around. Black kids are suffering from a value deficit, which in turn is leading to high crime and incarceration rates. Unfortunately, only improving the two parent household rates will turn this around."
Kris Marsh responds: TMac and MDH, I appreciate your comments. I am not anti-marriage or anti-black family. In no way am I suggesting that SALA households are better than traditional families. In no way am I suggesting that marriage or family is not a positive thing for black America. I am simply stating the demographic trends that are taking place among the black middle class and trying to provide a positive slant for these trends. I am not making any value judgments about those who are married, never-married, or even single parents.
I agree that a black married couple (assuming it is a low conflict couple) provides tremendous advantages for children. However, the empirical data shows that black marriage is declining and there is a rise in SALA households in the larger black community and the black middle class. My goal is not to focus on the negative consequences of this trend, but to attempt to move the discussion forward.