Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Predictable poll: Nonreligious most likely to be pro-choice

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Here’s more of that “being on the right side of history” thing to make you proud:

Chart: “Americans' Own Views on Abortion -- by Major Subgroups” showing “No religion”, “Liberal” and “Democrat” groups with highest “Pro-choice” scores and “Catholic”, “Conservative” and “Republican” groups with highest “Pro-life” scores [May 2-7, 2013 by GALLUP]

That’s good company at the top.

Interestingly, the rest of the poll focuses on the curious tendency of Americans to overestimate just how many of their fellow countryfolk are pro-choice, when the research shows that the country is actually split pretty much evenly on the issue, with a slight majority favoring abortion rights with certain restrictions. (Better yet, the “legal under any circumstances” group is still more numerous – albeit barely – than the “unborn babies are sacred” camp.)

Why, it’s almost like removing objections rooted in religious dogma leaves people with few remaining reasons to argue against women’s right to bodily autonomy.

(via Friendly Atheist)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

This (non)religious Universe

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How silly is it when theists (particularly Bible-thumpers) claim that the fledgling inhabitants of one single little blue marble floating around in the unimaginably massive void of existence is the center of the entire Universe? This silly (large image below the fold):

Monday, May 13, 2013

Daily Blend: 05/13/13

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Monetized “NRC-CNRC Canada” logo (modified by Phil Plait)
  • I’m usually proud of my country, but less so when my government decides to sell out science. [pictured] (Doesn’t all research eventually lead to “social or economic gain”?)

  • So much for the idea that dropping from the blogosphere will remove Jen McCreight from the focus of obsessed slimeballs. How brazenly douchey does one have to be to lecture someone about safety whilst deliberately exposing their location?

  • It’s sad when a silly screed against “liberals” is too inane to even be worth fisking for the lulz.
    (via Right Wing Watch)

  • And finally, I am reaffirmed in my belief that babies are freaking weird.

  • If you have any story suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments or send them in.

    Minnesota passes gay marriage!

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    Same-sex marriage

    How’s this for a glorious turnaround? The same state that only months ago was deciding whether to impose a constitutional ban atop its existing laws against same-sex marriage now has the bicameral vote – and the governor’s promised signature – to grant marriage equality to LGBT folk:

    With deafening cheers and overwhelming emotion, the Minnesota Senate voted 37-30 to legalize same-sex marriage.


    The measure next moves to Gov. Mark Dayton, who will welcome it with his signature in a celebratory ceremony at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

    Once it is signed, Minnesota will become the twelfth state to legalize same sex-marriage.

    Yet one more state joins the right side of history. How long before the rest of the country – and someday, the civilized world at large – does the same?

    (via @breakingpol; RT: @BreakingNews)

    Saturday, May 11, 2013

    This Week in Creativitas: 05/11/13

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    Things are rolling in the revisions department! Here are links to updated songs over at my art blog, Creativitas:

  • UPDATE: ‘Dark Horizons’: Re-recorded and remixed with improved sounds, modified instrumentation, and various smaller tweaks.

  • UPDATE: ‘Death of Innocence’: Re-recorded and remixed with improved sounds (especially piano) and minor tweaks.

  • UPDATE: ‘Dreams’: Fixed a couple minor issues (equalized violin & flute volumes & fixed timpani).

  • UPDATE: ‘Guitar Rhapsody’: Re-recorded and remixed with various minor edits.

  • Remember, folks: Feedback nourishes me. (Hence the name.)

    Atmospheric carbon dioxide reaches new record high

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    Keeling Curve graph: “Carbon dioxide concentration at Mauna Loa Observatory” showing current peak of 400 ppm
    The Keeling Curve graph
    [source | full size (568×318)]

    How’s this for a cheery, not-at-all-foreboding milestone?

    On May 9, 2013, atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide hit a new record high. Announced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the levels of CO2 in the air on that day* reached a daily average of 400 parts per million (ppm). This is the highest level of atmospheric CO2 in human history, and in fact the highest level for at least 800,000 years. It gets worse: the amount of CO2 in the air likely hasn’t been this high since the Pliocene Epoch, more than three million years ago.


    • CO2 levels are rising, and they’re rising far faster than any time in human history (and at least for the past 11,000 years).
    • CO2 is for real and for sure tied to rising heat content of the Earth. For quite some time that heat has been going into the air, and we’ve seen rising temperatures around the world. At the moment, a lot of that heat is going into warming the oceans, but climatologists expect to see air temperatures increasing rapidly again soon.
    • This has direct impacts, like increased temperatures in the air and water, melting ice, and more severe weather. It also has indirect impacts, like fluctuating weather patterns. This makes it difficult to tag any freak storm to climate change, but it does mean that over time, we’ll see more and more. Worse droughts and floods, more forest fires, increased ocean acidification, and more are all expected due to increased carbon dioxide in the air.
    • All this is happening on a timescale hugely accelerated over natural cycles. The Earth tends to changes over millions of years; we’re doing this to it in just a century. Without time to adapt, this will have a profound impact on life around the globe.

    B-b-but it’s cold outside where I live at the moment!

    Friday, May 10, 2013

    Daily Blend: 05/10/13

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    Fr. Anthony Musaala
    Fr. Anthony Musaala
  • Obama administration worsens their crackdown on state-legal marijuana.

  • Ugandan priest [pictured]: “The Catholic Church is still covering up clerical child abuse.” Catholic Church: “You made us look bad! You’re suspended.”
    (via Freethought Blogs)

  • Why do police consult “psychics”? Because people are gullible and prefer false hope to realistic desperation.
    (via @radleybalko)

  • And finally, PZ Myers schools movement skeptics about science and why their mindless dismissal of atheism as “unscientific” is decidedly unskeptical.

  • If you have any story suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments or send them in.

    Why are school coaches the highest-paid public employees?

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    Here’s a rather damning illustration of one of the main problems with the US educational system:

    Highest-paid public employees by US state (most states = “Football coaches”; some states = “Basketball coaches”; few states = “Not coaches”)
    [full size (970×546)]

    Maybe those Right-wing/Libertarian cranks whinging about overpaid teachers have a point after all. They just need to specify they’re talking about those who teach sports, that sacred cow that no official or administrator apparently has the fortitude to gut in order to preserve resources better spent on proper academic instruction.

    (via Pharyngula)

    Wednesday, May 08, 2013

    Daily Blend: 05/08/13

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    Sylvia Browne
    Sylvia Browne
  • In case you needed more evidence that “psychics” [pictured] are bullshit-peddling vultures.

  • Vox Day says the whole idea of “warrior women” is totes ridiculous ’cause what woman would stand a chance against a dude, anyway? (Pay absolutely no attention to all these real-life warrior women who became legends for kicking [mostly dude] ass.)

  • Here’s a collection of 154 common global warming denialist claims and their easy refutations.
    (via Pharyngula)

  • Oh, noes! The awesome Eugenie Scott, scourge of Creationists everywhere as the head of the National Center for Science Education, retires.

  • And finally, here’s a dog who tries so hard to make that branch into his stick:
    (via @radleybalko)

  • If you have any story suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments or send them in.

    Current TV’s Fugelsang rips into Sanford and South Carolina

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    So, South Carolina voters revealed just where their “family values” lie yesterday when they took Mark Sanford, their disgraced adulterous former Governor, and made him their Congressional Representative instead. John Fugelsang of Current TV’s Viewpoint tears him and the state’s long, sad history of political duplicity to tiny pieces in this wonderful rant:

    Transcript: (click the [+/-] to open/close →) []

    Transcript via Current TV:

    JOHN FUGELSANG: Here’s a message from the South Carolina Board of Tourism: From the foothills of the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains to the cobblestone streets of historic Charleston, the Palmetto State is waiting for you.

    So maybe it’s time you explored South Carolina’s greatest tourism attraction: our bottomless supply of duplicitous, double-talking, political tea-bags.

    From our beloved and racist senator Strom Thurmond, who fought for segregation while secretly fathering a child he had with the family’s black maid — I’m sure it was consensual — to our beloved homophobe and longtime bachelor Sen. Lindsey Graham. From politician Joe Wilson screaming “You lie!” at America’s first black president during a State of the Union address to Sen. Jim DeMint opposing the Matthew Shepard / James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act before quitting his post to be a lobbyist to Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, comparing starving poor Americans to stray animals that breed too much.

    In South Carolina, we’ve got a proud heritage of putting our faith in soulless fascists who feed us empty lines about the Bible, patriotism and fiscal responsibility, and that pride flies as high as the flag of the anti-American, enemy nation that rests majestically atop our state’s capitol.

    And nowhere are our values more evident than in the political resurrection of former governor and newly elected congressman — and deeply repentant Christian — Mark Sanford, who South Carolina voters have returned to the House of Representatives, where he previously served three terms, in a special election tonight.

    Now, lots of politicians commit adultery. But only one voted to impeach Bill Clinton while he was in Congress, then became governor and abandoned his post to visit his Argentine girlfriend using taxpayer funds to subsidize the trip while lying about his whereabouts to his staff, his wife and the entire state. Talk about a multitasker.

    And after, he was charged with breaking 37 state ethics laws, was unanimously censured in lieu of being impeached, violated his court orders and child support agreement, publicly humiliated the mother of his children, and trespassed into her home to watch the Super Bowl.

    Yes, this man brought sleaze to public life and remained faithful and true to it in the private sector too.

    This same governor did all he could to keep federal stimulus funds from helping South Carolina’s unemployed folks and our crumbling public education system and then used taxpayer funds to pay for family vacations and book-signing travel. All this while we ranked No. 2 in unemployment and No. 11 in child homelessness.

    But he did the right thing. He told us that Jesus forgave him and said mean things about Nancy Pelosi and Obamacare, proving that it’s OK to be a horrible Christian as long as you’re a good Christian.

    So, come on down to South Carolina. And if you’re a lying, cheating, swindling, heartless, hypocrite, political empty suit who tells us what we want to hear, we just might elect you to office too.

    And if you ever make a real mistake — like working with Democrats — well, we’ll give you a chance to mend your ways. Take Lindsey Graham, America’s sweetheart. Lindsey used to work with the Democrat Party on issues like immigration and climate change, so we censured him twice as public humiliation. And now he’s like an obedient, right-wing Tennessee Williams heroine who can’t stop screaming, “Benghazi!”

    And while we may be ranked the fifth-worst state to make a living, ninth-lowest median household income, ninth-highest percentage of residents living below the poverty line, second-worst graduation rate, second-worst in women killed by men and worst in the so-called union at reprimanding bad doctors — we’ll never hold our Republicans responsible because they tell us who to blame and hate the same people we do.

    Because from being the first state to quit America so we could keep slaves to cutting our state’s entire HIV/AIDS budget, we’ve got a breathtaking history of being manly men with a manly devotion to man’s inhumanity to man.

    Our politicians believe Darwin was wrong, and we here in South Carolina are here to prove it.

    You know when people wryly lament how “these people vote”? This is what they’re talking about.

    (via Political Irony)

    Tuesday, May 07, 2013

    Delaware reaches same-sex marriage equality

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    Coming less than a week after the last US state passed gay marriage:

    Headline: “Delaware Senate Passes Marriage Equality Bill, Will Be Law: The vote was 12-9. Gov. Jack Markell will sign the bill into law, making Delaware the 11th state, plus DC, to allow same-sex couples to marry. [@ 05/07/13 5:07 PM EDT]”

    Zoom, zoom, zoom!

    (via @BuzzFeedAndrew)

    Catholic Church still covering up child abuse in New Jersey

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    New Jersey Archbishop John J. Meyers
    Abp. John Meyers
    Rev. Michael Fugee (in court in 2007)
    Rev. Michael Fugee

    The popular excuse by defenders of the Catholic Church is that, sure, there might have been some priestly misconduct around minors, but that all happened decades ago and the Church hierarchy has been really super good about stopping it ever since. Except, of course, when it hasn’t.

    Case in point: The Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, which is still quietly shuffling child-abusing priests around without doing anything to punish them, much less turn them over to the proper authorities:

    Six years ago, to avoid retrial on charges that he groped a teenage boy, the Rev. Michael Fugee entered a rehabilitation program, underwent counseling for sex offenders and signed a binding agreement that would dictate the remainder of his life as a Roman Catholic priest.

    Fugee would not work in any position involving children, the agreement with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office states. He would have no affiliation with youth groups. He would not attend youth retreats. He would not hear the confessions of minors.

    But Fugee has openly done all of those things for the past several years through an unofficial association with a Monmouth County church, St. Mary’s Parish in Colts Neck, The Star-Ledger found.

    He has attended weekend youth retreats in Marlboro and on the shores of Lake Hopatcong in Mount Arlington, parishioners say. Fugee also has traveled with members of the St. Mary’s youth group on an annual pilgrimage to Canada. At all three locations, he has heard confessions from minors behind closed doors.

    What’s more, he has done so with the approval of New Jersey’s highest-ranking Catholic official, Newark Archbishop John J. Myers.

    Tell me again, dear apologists, how “the Catholic Church has the best record of any institution” in dealing with child abuse within its own ranks? Or does that just mean they’re the most experienced at keeping it out of sight while victims continue to suffer in their “care”?

    In the end, the Church didn’t need to do anything, as the Internet promptly did the job for them:

    The Roman Catholic priest at the center of a public furor enveloping Newark Archbishop John J. Myers has resigned from ministry, a spokesman for the archdiocese said tonight.

    Monday, May 06, 2013

    Daily Blend: 05/06/13

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    USAF Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski
    Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski

    I’m too bored/lazy/busy reading/excited about tomorrow/tired from “work” to blog much, so here’re some links.

  • US Air Force officer [pictured] in charge of responding to sexual assaults arrested for drunken sexual assault, underlines the US Military’s generally appalling handling of sex crimes.

  • Good Riddance: Fox Cancels Long-Running, Drug War-Glorifying, Abuse-Excusing Reality Series COPS
    (via @AndrewKirell; RT: @radleybalko)

  • Those who slime together, stay together: Anti-Freethought Blogs/Atheism Plus hater encourages Westboro Baptist Church to picket upcoming Women in Secularism conference.
    (via Pharyngula)

  • And finally, how much do you know about science and religion? (I scored in the 15th and 13th percentiles, respectively. Which is probably more of an implicit condemnation of the US educational system than anything else.)
    (via Bad Astronomy)

  • If you have any story suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments or send them in.

    Saturday, May 04, 2013

    This Week in Creativitas: 05/04/13

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    Below are links to new, revised and updated works over at my art blog, Creativitas.

  • SITE: I changed my file hosting service from FileDen to Google Drive … and then to Dropbox. Seems to work dandy for now.

  • UPDATED: ‘Climax’ – Re-recorded and remixed with improved instrument sounds (especially for brass), added tubular bells, and made various minor edits.

  • UPDATED: ‘A Morning by the Sea’ – Re-recorded and remixed (again) with improved panning.

  • Remember, folk: Feedback feeds me. (Hence the name.)

    Doggycide Roundup: 05/04/13

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    Dog chalk outline
  • Crystal Falls, CA (04/14/13): Highway Patrol officer approaches a home, then immediately shoots & kills Osa the rottweiler when she allegedly “lunge[s] at his legs”. Includes a blatant lie by a Highway Patrol spox about how a dog wouldn’t be incapacitated when Tased or pepper-sprayed.
    (via Dogs Shot by Police | Facebook)

  • Toledo, OH (04/22/13): Police shoot & kill a family bulldog after it escapes its chain and bites four assholes who were allegedly throwing bricks at him in his yard.
    (via Dogs Shot by Police | Facebook)

  • San Lorenzo, CA (04/27/13): Deputies searching for a suspect approach a home, then immediately shoot three pitbulls that allegedly “c[a]me at the[m]”, killing one immediately and one later; animal control finished off the third. Family says dogs had never attacked anyone before.
    (via Dogs Shot by Police | Facebook)

  • Statistics:
    Shootings: 3 · Victims: 5 · Deceased: 5 · Survivors: 0 · Power Breeds*: 5

    Study: Conservatives actively prefer wasteful tribalism

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    Compact florescent light bulb

    I neglected to blog about this when I first heard about it earlier this week, but an interesting and revealing (if not entirely surprising) new study seems to confirm that not only do more hardline conservatives care little about preserving the environment, they’ll actively go for the more wasteful and inefficient route in order to spite ’em some tree-huggerin’ librulz, even if it means paying more out of their own pocket for it:

    A study out today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences examined attitudes about energy efficiency in liberals and conservatives, and found that promoting energy-efficient products and services on the basis of their environmental benefits actually turned conservatives off from picking them. The researchers first quizzed participants on how much they value various benefits of energy efficiency, including reducing carbon emissions, reducing foreign oil dependence, and reducing how much consumers pay for energy; cutting emissions appealed to conservatives the least.

    The study then presented participants with a real-world choice: With a fixed amount of money in their wallet, respondents had to "buy" either an old-school light bulb or an efficient compact florescent bulb (CFL), the same kind Bachmann railed against. Both bulbs were labeled with basic hard data on their energy use, but without a translation of that into climate pros and cons. When the bulbs cost the same, and even when the CFL cost more, conservatives and liberals were equally likely to buy the efficient bulb. But slap a message on the CFL's packaging that says "Protect the Environment," and "we saw a significant drop-off in more politically moderates and conservatives choosing that option," said study author Dena Gromet, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business.


    Gromet said she never expected the green message to motivate conservatives, but was surprised to find that it could in fact repel them from making a purchase even while they found other aspects, like saving cash on their power bills, attractive. The reason, she thinks, is that given the political polarization of the climate change debate, environmental activism is so frowned upon by those the right that they'll do anything to keep themselves distanced from it.

    Friday, May 03, 2013

    Easter Bunny: Origins

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    Researchers have finally identified the birthplace of the Easter Bunny:

    Small rabbit in an eggshell

    (What? A slow blogging day, you say? How dare you.)

    (via @EmergencyPuppy)

    Thursday, May 02, 2013

    Rhode Island passes same-sex marriage

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    Same-sex marriage

    And Li’l Rhody makes ten (for now):

    Capping a battle that began 16 years ago, the Rhode Island House of Representatives voted 56 to 15 Thursday to pass legislation to legalize same-sex marriage.


    With the bills headed to the south steps of the State House for a public signing by Governor Chafee, Rhode Island joins its five New England neighbors in legalizing same-sex marriage and becomes the 10th state in the nation to do so.

    My upcoming weekend plans now include making a beat from all the exploding heads on the homophobic Right. How about you?

    (via @breakingpol; RT: @BreakingNews)

    Wednesday, May 01, 2013

    Daily Blend: 05/01/13

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    Kiera Wilmot (16)
    Kiera Wilmot

    How the hell can it be this hot this early in the year? This can’t bode well.

  • Animal liberation activists in Milan, Italy, heroically sabotage years’ worth of mental health research by releasing scared and helpless lab animals that cannot survive on their own.
    (via Pharyngula)

  • Who made the “bad choices” here: the model high-schooler [pictured] who created a tiny pop in a bottle by mixing chemicals in an experiment*, or the dumbass school and police officials who got her expelled, arrested and are dragging her to court for “possession/discharge of a weapon”?
    (via @radleybalko)

    • Better yet: The school then respond to criticism by declaring that “there are consequences to actions”. Indeed, and those consequences are that students will refrain from ever exhibiting any curiosity or scientific interest at Florida’s Bartow High School in order to avoid violating their ridiculous zero-tolerance policy.
      (via Pharyngula)

  • Wait, hydrogen peroxide doesn’t work? Dammit, Cracked, stop exploding my beliefs.

  • And finally, happy decaversary to MythBusting! Even though I only started watching in 2005 (“Steel Toe-Cap Amputation, Bottle Rocket Blast-Off”)
    (via @MythBusters; RT: @JamieNoTweet)

  • Justice Dept. to appeal FDA order on morning-after pill

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    Birth control

    Less than a month after a federal judge tried to rectify the US government’s pointless mucking by striking down age restrictions on the morning-after pill, the meddlesome fools are at it again:

    The Justice Department said on Wednesday that it would appeal a federal judge’s order to make the most common morning-after contraceptive available without a prescription for girls and women of all ages.

    The announcement came a day after the Food and Drug Administration said that one well-known morning-after pill, Plan B One-Step, would be made available without a prescription for girls as young as 15 — instead of only to girls ages 17 and over, as has been the case.

    The Justice Department’s action will not affect that F.D.A. decision. Rather, the department is seeking to overturn a much broader order by the judge that removed restrictions for all ages and for generic versions of the pill, not just Plan B One-Step.

    This is ridiculous. The FDA first advised that the pill should be made available for all ages in 2011 after declaring it safe and effective. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius apparently took exception this, as she then overruled the FDA because “the pill had not been studied for safety in girls as young as 11”. Not yet clear is why Sebelius apparently finds fault with the findings from the government branch strictly dedicated to studying and certifying the safety of ingestible substances, nor why a pill that has no serious or lasting side-effects would somehow be perfectly safe for 15-year-olds but not 11-year-olds, nor why a drug that’s already been in use around the world for years with zero reported casualties of any kind suddenly requires further testing before we can finally be certain of its safety.

    There’s a fine line between security-conscious pedantry and playing politics under the guise of medical rigor. Does anyone else detect a whiff of ideological resistance, here?

    (via @BreakingNews)

    Same-sex marriage sweeps across three more Brazilian states

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    Same-sex marriage

    Though the Brazilian government already allows same-sex couples to marry through a two-step process that involves entering a “stable union” and then petitioning a judge, a rapidly growing number of states are doing away with the needless complication:

    Yesterday, marriage continued moving forward in Brazil when the Corregedor Geral de Justiça in two additional states - Paraíba and Santa Catarina (Articles in Portuguese) - authorized marriages between same-sex couples. Now, fourteen of the 27 jursidictions in Brazil (13 states and the Federal District) have approved the freedom to marry. Earlier this month, Rio de Janeiro and Rondônia saw similar developments.


    In these states (and the federal district), couples can marry in Brazil without the two-step process: Alagoas (December 2011), Sergipe (July 2012), Espíritu Santo (August 2012), Bahía (November 2012), the Brazilian Federal District (December 2012), Piauí (December 2012), São Paulo (December 2012), Ceará (March 2013), Paraná (March 2013), Mato Grosso do Sul (April 2013), Rio de Janeiro (April 2013), Rondônia (April 2013), and now Paraíba and Santa Catarina (April 2013).

    Now, nearly 60% of the population of Brazil live in states where same-sex couples can marry without the two-step process.

    An increasingly large part of the rest of the world is looking at you, “Land of the Free”.

    (via Joe. My. God.)