On Tuesday, the FDA approved OraQuick, the first ever fully-private, over-the-counter HIV test. The test, which relies on a mouth swab and delivers results in 20-40 minutes, should be available in some 30,000 stores by October, according to an executive at OraSure, the company that manufactures OraQuick.
A marriage equality bill is all but ensured to be passed in the Washington state legislature and will be signed into law by their governor, making it the seventh state in the country to allow gay men and lesbians to get married (well, to members of the same sex, that is). Congratulations, Seattle, you're about to get that much more self righteous.
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords made her first public appearance on Monday since being shot in the head in January, standing and waving to the crowd at a NASA awards ceremony held at Space Center Houston. She didn't speak publicly, but "appeared to chat with people sitting around her, and laughed" at the introduction of her husband's crew. As encouraging as the appearance might have been, Giffords' staff has been attempting to manage over-optimistic expectations; her doctors have said that it'll be at least a year before they have a sense of the extent of her recovery. [ABC News]
Connecticut became the 13th state to decriminalize marijuana on Tuesday with the passage of new legislation in the House of Representatives. Possession of less than a half-ounce of pot will garner you a $150 fine (one that increases with subsequent offenses); if you're under 21, you'll get a two-month suspension of your driver's license. Connecticut could save some $885,000 in court costs and attorney salaries, and make as much as $1.4 million in fines and fees, not to mention the obvious economic benefits for convenience stores. [Hartford Courant; image, of a Connecticut State Police officer removing a pot plant in 1996, via AP]
The wretched anti-gay bill that's been bumming around Uganda's parliament since 2009 came perilously close to passage today, the last day of the country's legislative session. This, again, is the one that would jail for life those who participate in "homosexual acts," and also imprison landlords who rent rooms to known homosexuals. The original version of the bill mandated the death penalty for "active homosexuals living with HIV," but that has since been dropped. Still, kind of a rough bill! Good thing they decided to shelve it today.
One of the House Republicans' budget cuts that got the most attention while they were crafting their spending bill for the next six months was the elimination of all federal funding to Planned Parenthood. The organization, which provides women's health and family planning services up to and including scary abortions, was obviously a popular target for the Republicans to satisfy their base with. Go to any conservative protest, over health care reform, taxes, Mexicans, whatever, and the anti-abortion folks are always the last ones there, screaming and hollering deep into the night.