PARIS - The lastest piece of good news for gay rights activists came from the Episcopal Church, which has become the largest U.S. denomination to bless same-sex unions. During the church's general convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, an overwhelming majority voted in favor Tuesday night of a blessing ceremony for same-sex couples.

The US Episcopal Church, which has over two million worshippers, also approved anti-discrimination language for transgender people that could lead some to become members of the faith's clergy.

Just past the midpoint mark of the year, 2012 is already shaping up to be the best year in memory for LGBT rights.

1. Barack Obama became the first President of the United States to publicly support same-sex marriage.

2. French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announces that French same-sex couples will get the right to marry and adoption in 2013.

3. A Canadian astronomer has named an asteroid after a US gay rights pioneer, Frank Kameny, who died last year.  In 1957, Kameny was fired from his job as an astronomer for the US Army Map Service in Washington, D.C. because of his sexual orientation, and subsequently became an early militant activist for gay rights in the 1960s. 

4. Denmark, the first country in the world to recognize same-sex civil partnerships back in 1989, passed a law to allow same-sex marriage in the country, including in the Church of Denmark, which came into effect on June 15.

5. In a landmark case, three men became the first people in Britain to be convicted for inciting hatred after distributing leaflets calling for gay people to be killed.  Two of the men were jailed for 15 months and one for two years.

The gay rights movement still has a long way to go, however, in reaching worldwide equality:

Russia passed a controversial law in February to ban, what it deemed as "propaganda", material to promote LGBT rights awareness among minors.  The Moscow Times reported that people from the LGBT community were attacked when protesting against the bill.

A similar proposed law to ban LGBT events, meetings and parades in the Ukraine was dropped at the last minute from parliamentary debate.

The 1980s action star, Chuck Norris was criticized last month for saying there is no place for gay people in the Boy Scouts.  In an article in AmmoLand.com, he blamed Obama for pushing a 'pro-gay' stance.


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