In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, the Illinois Senate has approved marriage equality by a vote of 34-21. Once the law is officially written in the books, those who are in civil unions will be able to convert them to gay marriages within a year.

Although the Illinois legislation is one step closer towards marriage equality in America, there are still people protesting against the idea. Many Superman fans are outraged that DC comics have hired Orson Scott Card, author of the sci-fi series Ender’s Game, to write for the Adventures of Superman series. The reason? Card has been a long-time denouncer of homosexuality, calling gay marriage “the end of democracy in America.” He is also on the board of the National Organization for Marriage, a group that protests same-sex marriage. Actor Michael Harney seems to capture most intimately why Card has so many comic fans turning heads. In a letter to DC comics, he wrote:

And of all the characters Card could have been hired to write, you give him Superman? The character that taught me to lead by example? To do the right thing, even when it was hard? To keep going, even when it seemed hopeless?

On a more humanitarian note, since 1996, Poets & Writers has presented the Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award to “authors who have given generously to other writers or to the broader literary community.” Nominations for the award are solicited from various literary organizations, past winners and other established writers. This year’s recipients are Steve Berry, the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of twelve novels and three e-book short stories, Rigoberto González, author of fifteen books of poetry and prose and editor of Camino del Sol: Fifteen Years of Latina and Latino Writing, and Judith Kelman, founder of the Visible Ink writing program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, a program that allows cancer patients to work with experienced writers, editors and teachers.

Meanwhile, in the theater industry, the Tectonic Theater Project has brought The Laramie Project back to New York to be performed through February 24th at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The play is based on the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, and on interviews with residents of the town after the murder, including police officers, university faculty and one of Shepard’s killers, Aaron McKinney. Since its first production in 2000, The Laramie Project has gone on to be one of the most performed plays in the country, with around 200 shows in the past year alone.

And lastly, another interesting production in the works is a new musical called Upstairs, written by playwright and composer Wayne Self. The musical is based on a fire that broke out in June of 1973 at a gay bar in New Orleans called the Upstairs Lounge. The fire, which was thought to be an arson attack, claimed thirty-two lives. Self became interested in the idea for the musical because he felt the tragedy had not been as well documented over the years as events like the Stonewall Riots, despite its large death toll. Self hopes the musical will spread awareness and honor the victims.

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