3. FBI director expands the definition of rape
FBI Director Robert Mueller changed the agency’s present definition of rape to more accurately bring it in line with how local police describe and define the crime in their reports. The new definition is far more explicit than the past one. It now defines rape as “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina, or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” It will take effect sometime in the spring. It could not come fast enough or soon enough for those working to punish rapists and educate the public about rape more thoroughly. Accurate data could lead to more resources to fight this brutal crime and bring perpetrators to justice.
2. The Administration will no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act
Gay rights advocates scored a major victory when President Obama ordered the Justice Department to no longer defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The law, passed in 1996, states that the Constitution defines marriage as “a union between a man and a woman.”. At present, 44 states do not recognize gay marriage and look to DOMA for protection. Should Congress repeal the law and pass the recently introduced, “Respect for Marriage Act,” [link to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Respect_for_Marriage_Act] more states might recognize gay marriage. And more people would be free to marry whom they love. What a giant step toward the equality that the founding fathers and the Declaration of Independence promised to all who live in America.
1. President Obama—working with Republicans, Democrats, and world leaders— starts an initiative to end the global scourge of AIDS
On World AIDS Day, President Obama announced “The Beginning of the End,” an effort to wipe out the global AIDS plague that has claimed 30 million lives. The president committed another $50 million to prevention and treatment programs in the U.S. and pledged to provide antiretroviral treatments to more than six million people worldwide. He urged U.S. prevention and treatment programs to focus on those with the “greatest need”: black men, Latinos, and black women. (In 2009, black women accounted for 30 percent of new HIV infections and the rate was more than 15 times as high as the rate for white women and more than three times as high as that of Latina women. They acquire the infection primarily through heterosexual sex [link to: http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/aa/].) The president believes that by working together, regardless of political persuasion, we can raise an “AIDS-free generation.” This would indeed be a major triumph for humanity. Yes, we can.
Best wishes to all for a happy and healthy new year and to sharing more stories during it that are worthy of the gift of human sexuality.