Hawaii to makes the lives of gay couples better

One of the most fundamentally dishonest positions of many marriage bigots is that marriage is all about children and reproduction. ‘Oh, we don’t hate da gays! We just want to create the best environment for children!’ I’m sure they are concerned with children, but that isn’t why they’re against gay marriage. We see this every time civil unions come up and they still oppose the measure. This is about not giving rights to a group of people based on who that group inherently is. That’s bigotry.

Now Hawaii has a chance to make the lives of gay couples better. (When put this way – an honest way – it’s all so clear.) The out-going governor, Linda Lingle, had this opportunity, but she instead decided to consult some wholly unqualified men who dress in silly garb. This undue respect given to the ignorant and silly resulted in less human happiness/more human suffering. It was unjustifiable by any reasonable measure.

But now this wrong has a good chance of being righted.

Hawaii voters opened the way for same-sex civil unions to become state law next year, with an election that gave victory to a pro-gay rights gubernatorial candidate and rejected many church-backed candidates.

The state House and Senate retained the Democratic majorities that approved a civil unions bill this year before it was vetoed, and Democratic Gov.-elect Neil Abercrombie has said he will sign a similar law if passed by the Legislature.

The move would make Hawaii, long a battleground in the gay rights movement, the sixth state to grant essentially the same rights of marriage to same-sex couples without authorizing marriage itself.

This doesn’t qualify as equality, but it is currently the best Hawaii can do. I hope 2011 will be the year gay Hawaiians are treated a little more like human beings.

Arguments against gay marriage

It’s funny because it’s true.

HIV: It’s still all about shape

The last time I wrote about HIV, I made the point that biology is all about shape; keep that idea in mind and a lot of things will suddenly start making a lot of sense. In that instance, I was writing about antibodies that were able to nearly universally attack HIV based upon one particular location on the virus which did not change shape. In this post I want to talk about a new study concerning protein differences.

To define host genetic effects on the outcome of a chronic viral infection, we performed genome-wide association analysis in a multiethnic cohort of HIV-1 controllers and progressors, and analyzed the effects of individual amino acids within the classical HLA proteins

HIV controllers are just what you probably think they are: they are people whose bodies are able to control the impact of HIV. They maintain healthy levels of helper T Cells. Progressors, on the other hand, are people who follow the expected course after they contract HIV. In this study, a large group of controllers were taken and had their genomes compared to progressor genomes. Researchers found more than 300 (313, to be exact) SNPs on the chromosome 6 that separated these two groups.

This is a pretty specific area with a small amount of difference. In fact, on the HLA-B protein, a difference of just 5 amino acids makes all the difference in a single groove. It appears as though this is one of the most important differences between controllers and progressors, constituting a significant region which enables the immune system to control and limit the proliferation of HIV. The amino acid sequence changes the shape of the groove in controllers as compared to progressors. This change protects the controller against HIV and its deadly consequences.

Precisely how this change in shape keeps HIV from turning into AIDS has not yet been made clear, but it is very promising. Given the current state of research, I’m willing to predict we’ll see a cure for HIV before we see a cure for cancer.

Refs not to be punished

Those high school refs who wore pink whistles to support breast cancer research have won the day. Todd Stordahl, former Internet villain, has made the situation right.

“The WOA did not have nor continues to have any intention to fine, take away games or deny pay checks to any member due to wearing a pink whistle,” Stordahl said in a message on the WOA website.

He said the WOA “completely supports” many worthy causes, such as breast- and prostate-cancer awareness, but added there is “a process to follow.” Representatives from the two organizations will discus that process at an upcoming meeting.

“The last thing we want is to be at odds with each other,” Stordahl said.