VOLUME 3, ISSUE 314 | April 1 – 7, 2004
House Minority Leader Comes Out for Same-Sex Marriage
Newsom has stated that his motivation to marry gay couples arose from Pres. Bush’s State of the Union address last January when Bush denounced same-sex marriage. Newsom was present in the House gallery as a guest of Pelosi, whose district encompasses a large part of San Francisco. Last week, Pelosi brought Newsom to the Gridiron dinner in D.C. and introduced the mayor to Bush. “He said he’s proud of me,” Newsom told The San Francisco Chronicle. According to Newsom, Bush then said, “I won’t be coming out there son, hah, hah, hah,” reported the paper. “He said being mayor of San Francisco has to be one of the toughest jobs outside of president,” said Newsom. “The issue of gay marriage did not come up. I know that’s disappointing to you.”
Ireland to Get Partners Bill
While a positive reception is anticipated for the bill, Norris vows to “take [it] all the way to the European Court of Human Rights” if the Irish Parliament balks.
Brazil Withdraws U.N. Gay Rights Resolution
A resolution to make sexual orientation an international human rights concern was withdrawn by Brazil at the U.N.’s Commission on Human Rights meeting in Geneva this week. The resolution was tabled last year (with the United States abstaining) and withdrawn this year due to the opposition of an “unholy axis” of the Vatican, which has U.N. observer status, and the Muslim nations.
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission said they are trying to rally nations, especially in Western Europe, “to step forward as prime sponsors” now that Brazil has ceded its sponsorship. Michael Cashman, a gay Labor Party activist from the European Parliament said that the Vatican and the Organization of the Islamic Conference should “hang their heads in shame for having reduced their beliefs to the gutter of bigotry and discrimination,” CNS News reported.
J.J. Redick of the Duke Blue Devils, acknowledges that he is a controversial player who inspires strong feelings, but feels that his team’s success (they are in the Final Four this weekend) has led to “jealousy” from players on competing teams. The Associated Press reported that North Carolina State’s Scooter Sherrill said before a game that Redick “acts like he’s gay.” Sherrill had to apologize.
Gay Bills Advance in Maryland
While most state legislatures are working on enshrining anti-gay bigotry into their state constitutions, Maryland’s House of Delegates passed a “life partner” registration system that will let gay partners make medical decisions for each other, the Washington Post reported. The bill passed 103-30 and now goes to the Senate, which will have two weeks to act on it before the legislative session ends.
Maryland’s Republican Gov. Robert Ehrlich, Jr. is a strong opponent of same-sex marriage, but his spokesman did not rule out support for this limited bill. Among its provisions is one that forbids the state to “recognize, condone, or prohibit” same-sex marriages or civil unions performed elsewhere.
The House also voted to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s bias crimes law.
HIV Rate For Older Americans Rising
HIV infections have doubled in Americans aged 50 and over in the last five years. “We have failed to put an older face on AIDS,” Frances Johnson, an associate professor of nursing at Oakland University told CBS News. “We don’t want to think of older people having sex, so we don’t want to talk about it.” Other factors cited by health officials are more active sex lives for older people and the belief that HIV/AIDS is a disease of the young.
Married in Canada, Lesbians Sue in U.S.
Prudential Financial is denying medical insurance to Kathy Adelsheim, the spouse of Laurel Awishus, a retired Prudential employee, despite the women’s marriage in Canada. The women have been together for 22 years and now live in New Mexico. Lambda Legal Defense is working on behalf of the couple and has “formally” asked the New Jersey-based company to reconsider.
Prudential does offer benefits to the domestic partners of retirees, but only those who retired after January 1, 2000. Spouses, however, get those benefits regardless of retirement date.
In its refusal to accord the benefits, the company cited the IRS definition of marriage. Lambda responded in a release that the IRS “does not decide who is married.”
“One of the reasons I’m in this precarious position is that 19 years ago I moved with Laurel to New Jersey when the company transferred her,” Adelsheim said. “I left a promising career behind that included benefits. I wasn’t treated like a spouse then because we weren’t married. Now we’re married and that should be respected.”
Lynne Cheney Profits from Lesbian Romance
Right wing political activist and wife of the vice president Lynne Cheney is going to make some more money off her 1981 pulp romance novel “Sisters,” which features “a juicy lesbian subplot,” according to Publisher’s Weekly. Penguin Group USA is bringing it out as a trade paperback this month.
The Cheneys have a lesbian daughter, Mary, who previously was actively campaigning for the Bush-Cheney re-election effort, but has lately disappeared from the stump.
Mrs. Cheney does not list the book on her curriculum vitae and denies even remembering what it was about. One woman in the novel says to another, “Let us go away together, away from the anger and the imperatives of men. We shall find ourselves in a secluded bower where they dare not venture.”
Left Bank Books in St. Louis, the host city of next fall’s NGLTF Creating Change conference, has ordered 25 copies and will donate 10 percent of the sales to scholarships for those wanting to attend the conference.
U.K. ‘Civil Partnership’ Bill Comes Out
The British Labor government’s legislation to grant limited rights to gay and lesbian couples was published Wednesday. While specifically not endorsing gay marriage, the measure stipulates that for couples to enter into a civil partnership they have to publicly announce their intentions beforehand as married couples do in traditional wedding banns, The Observer reported. The bill mainly affords pension and property rights, especially inheritance. But there is a differential between the pensions available to gay partners and spouses.
Ben Summerskill, head of Stonewall, the national LGBT lobby, told the newspaper, “Most people’s objective for civil partnership is full equality. It is not something we can introduce gradually.”
Alan Duncan, the only out gay member of the opposition Tory party, said conservatives may attack the bill over the unequal pension provisions. While most Tories are expected to oppose the bill in a free vote, the party’s new leader Michael Howard supports it. But Summerskill said, “I’m not sure that gay electors will be skinny-dipping with Michael Howard just yet.”
The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement isn’t happy with the bill, which does not require local authorities to perform ceremonies for gay couples, with religious ceremonies explicitly excluded. Still, the group’s Rev. Richard Kirker called the legislation “a first though welcome step in the full recognition and celebration of same-sex unions.”
The Catholic Church in Scotland is urging local councils not to support the bill. Rev. Jim Cowie of the church’s Board of Responsibility told The Herald, “The church is happy for gays to have equality of rights, but marriage is something particularly for a man and a woman. It is not appropriate to be extended to gays.”
West Hollywood Mayor Gets Hitched
Jeffrey Prang, 41, the gay mayor of West Hollywood, is frustrated that he can’t perform same-sex weddings like Mayor Gavin Newsom, because unlike West Hollywood, San Francisco is also a county. Prang did make a public example, however, of gay partnerships, registering as domestic partners with Raymundo Vizcarra, 25, this week. “I wanted to make a statement, here in my own city hall,” Prang said.
The men met at a gay pride event last June, the L.A.Times reported, where Prang staffed a “Meet the Mayor” booth. Vizcarra thought Prang didn’t look very mayoral and was sitting in until the mayor came back. But within weeks, they were attending ceremonial events together. Vizcarra came out to his parents just two years ago and they came to the partnership ceremony with Prang’s folks.
Kansas Narrowly Stops Anti-Gay Amendment
The Kansas Senate voted 17-16 against a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. It needed two-thirds of the 40-member chamber or 27 votes to go to the voters in November. Some of the amendment’s supporters voted against it when it was “softened” to allow for civil unions someday if the legislature willed it, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported. The hardliners hope to bring up their original amendment in May. It passed the House 88-36 earlier in March.
Andy Humm is co-host, with Ann Northrop, of Gay USA on MNN. It can be seen Thursdays at 11 PM on Time-Warner 34 and RCN 107 and is simulcast at mnn.org
Andy Humm can be contacted at AndyHumm@aol.com