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Robert Colborn Jr. dies at 77

Robert J. Colborn, Bob Colborn, obituary, National Park Service, gay news, Washington Blade

Robert J. Colborn died after a battle with lymphoma.

Robert “Bob” J. Colborn, Jr., 77, died Jan. 23 after a battle with lymphoma according to his family. He was gay and had been a Cheverly, Md., resident.

Born March 12, 1936 in Salisbury, Md., to the late Robert J. and Marion (Tyler) Colborn, Colborn was a graduate of Washington College University, of Rhode Island and University of Virginia. As a member of the Maryland State Bar Association, he joined the Maryland Office of the Secretary of State and founded the Maryland Division of State Documents, where he served as administrator from 1974-2001.

He also founded the Administrative Code & Registers of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) where he served as executive secretary and became the namesake for the annual Administrative Codes & Registers/NASS Innovation Award. As historian for the National Park Service from 1963-’64, he published the two reports key to the 1976 bicentennial restoration of Congress Hall in Philadelphia, and the Old Senate Chamber and Old Supreme Court Chamber of U.S. Capitol Building in Washington.

Colborn was a gardener, a history/culture enthusiast and enjoyed traveling. Surviving are his former wife, Marilyn B. Colborn; daughter, Amanda G. Colborn; stepson, Geoffrey W. Schoming and his wife, Katherine; brother, George Colborn and his wife, Stacia; sister Meg Bond and her husband, Richard; two grandchildren, Molly and Julian; and friends Curtis Burris, James Hughs and Jason Amster.

A service celebrating his life will be held Feb. 7 at All Souls Memorial Episcopal Church (2300 Cathedral Ave., N.W.) in Washington. A reception will follow. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the church. Another memorial event is being planned for sometime in the spring.


Pennsylvania couple seeks marriage rights

Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, gay news, Washington Blade

Independence Hall in Philadelphia. (Photo by Rdsmith4; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

PHILADELPHIA—A married lesbian couple from suburban Philadelphia has filed a federal lawsuit against a Pennsylvania law that prohibits the recognition of same-sex marriages legally performed in other jurisdictions.

Isabelle Barker and Cara Palladino tied the knot in Massachusetts in 2005.

The couple moved to Pennsylvania shortly after their wedding when Barker accepted a position at Bryn Mawr College. Barker gave birth to the couple’s son in 2009.

“We took on the commitment of marriage in 2005 and have supported each other through life’s ups and down,” said Palladino. “We think it is wrong for Pennsylvania to void our marriage and treat us as though we are unmarried when we are very much a loving family.”

Equality Forum, a Philadelphia-based LGBT advocacy group, initiated the lawsuit that was filed on Jan. 13 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Mary Bonauto of the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders is among those who are co-counsel in the case.

“On behalf of Cara and Isabelle and other legally married same-sex families, we will take this injustice as far as is needed to affirm the nation’s 226-year-old history of recognizing marriages from sister states,” said Equality Forum Executive Director Malcolm Lazin.

The American Civil Liberties Union last July filed a lawsuit against Pennsylvania’s statutory gay marriage ban on behalf of 11 same-sex couples and a widow. State Reps. Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) and Steve McCarter (D-Montgomery County) and state Sen. Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery County) have introduced same-sex marriage bills in the Pennsylvania Legislature.


Study: HIV incidence 4x higher in people with mental health diagnoses

This study points out that those patients with mental illness may not be getting screened for HIV appropriately.


Philly trans conference expects thousands

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, gay news, Washington Blade

Philadelphia skyline (Photo public domain)

The 12th annual Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference is scheduled for June 13-15, Baltimore Gay Life reported this week. The event has grown substantially over the years and last year welcomed about 3,000 attendees. It’s free.

The event, produced each year by the Mazzoni Center, a Philadelphia-based LGBT health care provider, will feature many topics for discussion over the three-day event including navigating equal access to health care and insurance, faith and gender identity, sexual identities, the gender spectrum, youth and gender, parenting for trans people and more. It will also offer workshops on working to obtain a masculine voice; demystifying therapy; femmes, femininity and presentation; and writing for healing and laughing.

The event will be held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center (1200 Arch St.) in Philadelphia. Visit for more information.


HIV researchers use Grindr to recruit participants

Grindr, social media app, gay news, Washington Blade

Researchers are using Grindr to recruit gay and bi men for an HIV vaccine trial.

PHILADELPHIA — Researchers in Pennsylvania are using Grindr to recruit gay and bi men into a clinical trial for an HIV vaccine, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported last week.

Using a bounty of online techniques — Facebook, e-mail, Craiglist and more — researchers found Grindr to be the most effective, the article said. The project is HVTN 505 at the University of Pennsylvania’s HIV/AIDS Prevention Research Division

Recruiters for HVTN 505 cherry-picked times with peak traffic and for a total of 22 days since the fall, ads worth $9,400 were blasted to all users within 30 miles of the Penn clinic, the Inquirer reported.

Two types of ads appeared on Grindr: a pop-up ad that covered the entire screen when the app was first opened, and a banner ad at the bottom of the screen that rotated out after 30 seconds.

Grindr directed 18,000 visits to the trial’s website. More than 300 of those people who tapped the “See More” option registered online. After screening questions over the phone, 16 Grindr users ended up in Penn’s study of nearly 200 people — the highest enrollment rate of all social media used, the Inquirer article said.

In April, the National Institutes of Health discontinued HVTN 505 because preliminary data indicated the vaccine didn’t prevent HIV infection or reduce viral load. But that didn’t deter participants. Many who participated asked where they might sign up for another vaccine trial. Two trials at Penn are recruiting participants for other HIV vaccines; six more trials have completed enrollment. None has used Grindr, but the app is being employed in a trial testing the pill Truvada, which has shown promise in preventing HIV when taken daily, the Inquirer reported.


Judge halts gay marriages in Philly suburb

Kathleen Kane, gay news, Washington Blade, Pennsylvania, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, marriage equality

Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced she would not defend the state’s anti-gay marriage law. (Photo courtesy AG website)

A Pennsylvania judge on Thursday ordered a clerk in a suburban Philadelphia county to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, saying only the state legislature or a state or federal court had legal authority to overturn the state’s ban on gay marriage.

The ruling came two months after Montgomery County, Pa., Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes startled state officials by deciding on his own to begin granting marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

Hanes, who is in charge of the county’s marriage license office, said the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in June overturning a section of the federal Defense of Marriage Act on grounds that it was unconstitutional also invalidated the Pennsylvania law prohibiting same-sex marriage.

But Commonwealth Court Judge Dan Pellegrini ruled on Thursday that it was not up to Hanes to decide whether or not a state law is unconstitutional.

“Unless and until either the General Assembly repeals or suspends the marriage law provisions or a court of competent jurisdiction orders that the law is not to be obeyed or enforced, the marriage law in its entirety is to be obeyed and enforced by all commonwealth public officials,” Pellegrini said in his ruling.

The Associated Press reported that Hanes said he was disappointed by Pellegrini’s ruling but would abide by the judge’s order to stop issuing marriage licenses.

Earlier this year the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of same-sex couples challenging the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage. To the delight of LGBT activists, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced she would not defend the law.

Hanes cited Kane’s position that the state law was unconstitutional based on the Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling as justification for his decision to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples in Montgomery County, which touches on the northwest border of Philadelphia.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Hanes began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on July 24 with the full backing of the county’s Democratic commissioners. As of earlier this week, 174 same-sex marriage licenses had been issued and 118 of the couples that obtained their license had completed their weddings, the Inquirer reported.

Pelligrini issued his ruling ordering Hanes to stop issuing the licenses after the administration of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) filed suit against Hanes in Commonwealth Court on grounds that the state was obligated to enforces all of its laws.

It could not immediately be determined whether the marriages of the same-sex couples through licenses issued by Hanes would remain valid.

Vic Walczak, an attorney with the ACLU of Pennsylvania representing gay couples challenging the state’s gay marriage ban, told AP Pellegrini’s decision would have no impact on the ACLU case.

“It is full speed ahead for the ACLU lawsuit,” AP quoted him as saying.

Similar to the action by Hanes, several counties in New Mexico have begun issuing same-sex marriage licenses. New Mexico’s Supreme Court is deliberating over a challenge by state officials to the issuance of the licenses and a ruling on the issue was expected later this year.


Philly steel worker sues for spousal coverage

Schuylkill River, Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, gay news, Washington Blade

The Schuylkill River Trail in downtown Conshohocken, Pa. (Photo by Krimpet via Wikimedia Commons)

PHILADELPHIA — A Conshohocken, Pa., steel worker and his husband filed suit in federal court in February after he was barred from adding his spouse to his health insurance plan in a case that is thought to be the first of its kind in the state, the Philadelphia Gay News reported.

Bryce Ginther and Kit Kineef filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Feb. 11, the paper said. Named as defendants are Ginther’s employer, ArcelorMittal, USA, the Steelworkers’ Health and Welfare Benefit Plan and the board of trustees of the Steelworkers Health and Welfare Fund, the Philadelphia Gay News reported.

The case alleges a violation of the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, which governs the implementation of many private-sector plans.

Ginther and Kineef have been together seven years and married May 15 in New York. The same day, Ginther requested to add Kineef as a dependent to his plan, which does not limit the definition of “spouse” to an opposite-sex partner. Ginther is an industrial electrician at ArcelorMittal’s Conshohocken steel mill, and is a member of the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union, the Philadelphia Gay News said.

Kineef doesn’t have insurance, and Ginther began inquiring in early 2012 about adding him to his plan when they got married. Arcelor’s legal council declined the request citing the fact that state law in Pennsylvania doesn’t recognize civil unions and that even if it did, civil unions don’t render such a person eligible for spousal coverage.

The complaint requests that the court declare the defendants violated the plan, find that Kineef is an eligible dependent and enroll him in the plan retroactively to June 1. The filing also requests that the court award attorneys and litigation fees and that the board be liable to Ginther for $110 per day from Oct. 29, when he began requesting documents for an appeal.


Most in Philly who test poz for HIV have AIDS

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, gay news, Washington Blade

Philadelphia skyline (Photo public domain)

PHILADELPHIA — A majority of Philadelphia residents who test positive for HIV already have full blown AIDS by the time they’re diagnosed, a Centers for Disease Control study reported by a Philadelphia CBS news affiliate found.

The numbers are from the CDC’s HIV Surveillance Report, which comes out every three years, CBS said. The latest statistics are from 2011 and find Philadelphia ranked 24th among metro areas in terms of new diagnoses with about 12,000 people living with AIDS in the city. An ActionAIDS official told CBS about 75 percent of the new cases diagnosed were at “stage three” for AIDS.

“It means they have full blown AIDS when they find out they’re sick, which is way too late in terms of the disease progression,” Kevin Burns, executive director of ActionAIDS told CBS.

Early testing is the key to keeping patients healthy, Burns and other health experts said.


Philly college offers certificate in LGBT health

Sappho, Drexel University, gay news, Washington Blade

Statue of Sappho in the Main Building of Drexel University (Photo public domain)

PHILADELPHIA — The Drexel University School of Public Health has started what is believed to be only the second program in the country to offer a certificate in LGBT health, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported last week.

The University of Pittsburgh, in 2007, started the first, the report said. It’s the same program being taught at Drexel, a private research university in downtown Philadelphia. The certificate is available only to online students but should be expanded soon.

Faculty said medical schools typically teach very little on LGBT health issues, the article said.


Equality Forum starts next week in Philly

Equality Forum, gay news, Washington Blade

(Image via YouTube)

The Equality Forum 2013 kicks off in Philadelphia Thursday at 7 p.m. with the National Religious Colloquy at the University of the Arts (211 South Broad St.).

The forum is part of the group’s goal to advance national and international LGBT civil rights through education. The weekend includes several panel discussions along with dinners and parties in the evening. The panels discuss several subjects including LGBT Youth Advocacy and surrogacy for prospective LGBT parents.

Most events are free. For more information, visit