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The Washington Blade
McCain stumbles over HIV prevention question

March 23, 2007
Washington Blade - March 23, 2007

Sen. John McCain, campaigning for the Republican nomination for president in 2008, had trouble answering a question about condoms and HIV on March 16 during a bus ride in northern Iowa. The exchange was reported by several media outlets including the New York Times. McCain was asked if he supported the distribution of taxpayer-subsidized condoms in Africa to fight the transmission of HIV. A Times reporter described an awkward scene after the question was posed. "What followed was a long series of awkward pauses, glances up to the ceiling and the image of one of Mr. McCain's aides, standing off to the back, urgently motioning his press secretary to come to Mr. McCain's side," wrote the Times' Adam Nagourney. "I haven't thought about it," the Times quoted McCain as saying. "Before I give you an answer, let me think about. Let me think about it a little bit because I never got a question about it before. I don't know if I would use taxpayers' money for it." When asked if he thought contraceptives help prevent the spread of HIV, McCain paused for several seconds, then said, "You've stumped me." A few seconds later he said he wasn't "informed enough on it" and "Let me find out. You know, I'm sure I've taken a position on it [in] the past. I have to find out what my position was." McCain's press secretary, Brian Jones, later reported that McCain had a record of voting against using government money to finance the distribution of condoms.

Fla. authorities say man was killed because he was gay BARTOW, Fla. (AP) - Authorities are investigating the killing of a central Florida man as a hate crime after interviews with people who knew him revealed he was gay, officials said. William David Brown Jr., 20, and Joseph Bearden, 21, were being held without bond in the Polk County Jail last week after being charged with first degree murder in connection to Ryan Keith Skipper's death, authorities said. They are also charged with the armed robbery of Skipper's car and computer. If convicted of murder, the two men would be eligible for the death penalty under Florida law. The body of the 25-year-old Winter Haven man was found on a rural road in Wahneta, Fla., early on the morning of March 14, said Polk County Sheriff's spokesperson Donna Wood. He had been stabbed about 20 times, she said. A witness came forward and said Skipper was killed because he made an advance toward Brown, Wood said. Skipper was driving around Wahneta on the evening of March 13 and offered Bearden a ride around midnight, the statement said. The two went back to Skipper's house, where they smoked marijuana and discussed using Skipper's computer to copy checks, the report said. The two left Skipper's house and went to another home where they met Brown and they all left in Skipper's car, officials said. Once at the remote location, Brown and Bearden allegedly attacked Skipper in his own vehicle, stabbing him and leaving him along the roadside, Wood said.

Ark. governor mum on gay adoption, foster parenting ban LITTLE ROCK (AP) - Gov. Mike Beebe of Arkansas said last week his comments last year supporting a ban on gay foster parents did not include banning homosexuals from adopting children, as a bill that has passed the Senate would do. Beebe would not tell reporters whether he supports a bill that has passed the Senate that would ban gays and other unmarried couples living together from fostering or adopting children but did say gay foster parents "wouldn't be in [the child's] best interest." The bill by Sen. Shawn Womack (R-Mountain Home) is a response to a state Supreme Court ruling that overturned Arkansas' ban on gay foster parents. During the gubernatorial campaign, Beebe said he would support reinstating the ban if it were constitutional.

Hate crimes bill introduced in House WASHINGTON - A bipartisan group of members of Congress on Tuesday introduced federal hate crimes legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that include protections for Americans based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The bill is sponsored by U.S. Reps. John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.), Mark Steven Kirk (R-Ill.), Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), and Mary Bono (R-Calif.) and has bipartisan support. If passed, the legislation would make violent crimes prosecutable as hate crimes when the victim is targeted because of his or her gender, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity. Similar legislation was passed by the House last year but was blocked by the Senate despite the Senate's earlier support of a similar bill.

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