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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 gay man met killer on Grindr

Grindr, social media app, gay news, Washington Blade

Philadelphia police have issued a warning about criminals using dating apps to target potential victims.

CHESTER, Pa. — Police say a Philadelphia man was murdered by someone he met on a gay hook-up app.

WPVI reported a passerby found Dino Dizdarevic’s body in Chester on May 2.

Police told the Philadelphia television station the 25-year-old whose family fled Bosnia-Herzegovina during the country’s civil war in the 1990s suffered blunt force trauma to the head. WPVI also reported Dizdarevic likely met his killer on Grindr two days before his body was found.

Dizdarevic’s death comes less than a week after Philadelphia police issued a warning about criminals using dating apps to target potential victims.


Same-sex couples begin to marry in Pa.

Michael Nutter, Philadelphia, Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, gay news, Washington Blade, Pennsylvania

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter is expected to marry several gay and lesbian couples on Friday after a federal judge struck down Pennsylvania’s same-sex marriage ban. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Gays and lesbians have begun to marry in Pennsylvania after a federal judge struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that District Judge Hugh McGough on Wednesday married Jess Garrity and Pamela VanHaitsma of Pittsburgh after they received a waiver allowing them to forgo the three-day waiting period between the time a couple receives a marriage license and they can exchange vows under state law.

The newspaper said the women were the first same-sex couple in Allegheny County to receive a marriage license after U.S. District Judge John Jones, III, on Tuesday struck down Pennsylvania’s same-sex marriage ban.

Ashley and Lindsay Wilson exchanged vows on the steps of Philadelphia Museum of Art just after midnight on Friday as the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Eight same-sex couples exchanged vows at Philadelphia City Hall on Friday.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter is expected to officiate same-sex weddings this weekend.

“As elected officials, we must represent the interests of all of our constituents — every person, every family and every life,” said Nutter in a statement after Jones issued his ruling. “In Philadelphia, the birthplace of democracy, and Pennsylvania, a state founded on the basic tenets of tolerance, we all benefit when the rights of a group are attained or reaffirmed.”

Rue Landau, chair of the Philadelphia Human Rights Commission, and her partner, Kerry Smith, on May 20 became the first same-sex couple in Philadelphia to receive a marriage license — they applied for it shortly after Jones issued his ruling.

Rue Landau, Kerry Smith, Pennsylvania, gay marriage, same-sex marriage, marriage equality, gay news, Washington Blade

Rue Landau and Kerry Smith receive a marriage license in Philadelphia on May 20. (Photo by Ben Bowens)

The Philadelphia Register of Wills told the Washington Blade on Friday it has thus far issued 102 marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

An Allegheny County spokesperson told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that 160 marriage license applications had been filed by midnight on May 20. She said only 29 had been filed the day before.

Pennsylvania is among the 19 states and D.C. in which same-sex couples can legally marry.

Gov. Tom Corbett on Wednesday announced he will not appeal Jones’ ruling.

North Dakota is the only state in which same-sex couples cannot marry where gays and lesbians have yet to file a lawsuit seeking marriage rights since the U.S. Supreme Court last June struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act.


HIV virus removed from cells for first time

HIV, resistant, Human Immunodeficiency Virus, gay news, Washington Blade, cure

A team of researchers at Temple University for the first time developed a way to extract HIV from human cells in a lab setting. (Public domain image of a scanning electron micrograph of HIV-1 budding, in green, from cultured lymphocyte by the CDC/C. Goldsmith, P. Feorino, E.L. Palmer and W.R. McManus)

A team of researchers at Temple University in Philadelphia for the first time developed a way to extract the HIV virus from human cells in a laboratory setting, opening the way for further studies that could lead to a cure for AIDS.

In a study published July 21 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers said they developed a “DNA-snipping enzyme” called nuclease and a strand of RNA capable of targeting and removing the DNA of the HIV-1 virus from human cells.

“From there, the cell’s gene repair machinery takes over, soldering the loose ends of the genome back together – resulting in virus-free cells,” according to a statement released by the Temple University School of Medicine. A genome refers to the genetic material in cells.

“This is one important step on the path toward a permanent cure for AIDS,” said Kamel Khalili, professor and chair of the Department of Neuroscience at Temple and the lead researcher in the HIV “removal” finding.

“It’s an exciting discovery, but it’s not yet ready to go into the clinic,” Khalili said in the statement released by the Temple medical school. “It’s proof of a concept that we’re moving in the right direction.”

Khalili, who heads a team of researchers that worked on the study, noted that since the human immune system cannot now remove HIV-1, a means of removing the virus through medical intervention is needed to find a cure for AIDS.

His research team found that the technique they developed to extract HIV-1 from cells might also work as a “therapeutic vaccine.” Cells treated with the nuclease-RNA combination they developed “proved impervious to HIV infection,” the Temple statement says.

The statement points out that although anti-retroviral drugs are highly effective in controlling HIV-1 for infected people, the virus remains hidden in the body’s cells and can replicate in large numbers and cause serious health consequences if treatment is interrupted.

While promising, the new technique to remove HIV-1 from human cells faces a number of challenges before the technique is ready for patients, Khalili said in the statement. Among other things, he said researchers must develop a method to deliver the therapeutic agent to every infected cell as well as a means to countering the ability of HIV to mutate.

“We are working on a number of strategies so we can take the construct into preclinical studies,” he said. “We want to eradicate every single copy of HIV-1 from the patient. That will cure AIDS. I think this technology is the way we can do it.”


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 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.


Betty Miller, 78

Betty G. Miller, obituary, gay news, Washington Blade

Betty G. Miller

Betty Gloria Miller died Dec. 3 of sepsis, a toxic bacterial infection that led to kidney failure, according to her partner of 25 years, Nancy Creighton. She was 78. She had lived in Philadelphia for about eight years but spent most of her adult life in Washington.

Born in Chicago, she was the third child, and the only daughter of Ralph Reese Miller, Sr. and Gladys Hedrick Miller. Both parents were deaf and her two older brothers, Ben and Ralph, were hearing. Betty was hard of hearing much of her life; she lost her hearing completely in her 50s as a result of a high fever.

Betty was known as a pioneer in two fields. She was nicknamed the “Mother of De’VIA” (Deaf View Image Art), a genre that intentionally expresses the deaf experience through art. She was also a pioneer in counseling deaf alcoholics and substance abusers, and author of “Deaf & Sober: Journeys through Recovery,” published by the National Association of the Deaf.

She taught art at Gallaudet College (now University) in Washington for 17 years, and was the first deaf woman who graduated from Gallaudet (1957) to earn a doctoral degree (in Art Education, Pennsylvania State University, 1976). She co-founded Spectrum, Focus on Deaf Artists in Austin, Texas in the late 1970s.

Long active in civic endeavors, she worked for and supported Deafpride Inc. in Washington. She was a member of the first board of directors for Deaf Women United and designed its first logo. Later, she was president of D.C. Association of the Deaf.

She is survived by Creighton and many friends. She also leaves behind a large body of artwork —  paintings, drawings, mixed media artwork and neon sculptures — in private collections throughout the world.

An open Alcoholics Anonymous meeting will be held this month with a memorial service planned for later in the year.

Donations in her memory may be made to De’VIA (, the D.C. Association of the Deaf (, Gallaudet University ( or Deaf Women United (