VOLUME 2, ISSUE 49 | December 4–10, 2003
NEWS IN BRIEF
Sakia Gunn’s Alleged Killer Pleads Innocent
Richard MCCullough, the 29-year-old man accused of fatally stabbing Sakia Gunn, a 15-year-old African American lesbian in Newark, New Jersey in the early morning hours on May 11, waived his right to appear in New Jersey Superior Court on December 11, but had his public defender John McMahon enter a plea of innocent on his behalf, the Associated Press reported. McCullough has been charged with murder, bias intimidation, aggravated assault, and weapons offenses in an eight-count indictment issued in November. McCullough allegedly attacked Gunn after she told him that she and several friends with whom she was waiting for a bus were lesbian, in response to his sexual overtures.
Gunn’s death unleashed a waive of mourning among Newark young people, most of them also African American lesbians. Latona Gunn, Sakia’s mother, cried upon hearing that McCullough would not appear, but declined comment. Sakia’s aunt, Loren Gunn, said, “He can kill little girls, but he can’t come and face people?” Tom McTigue, an assistant Essex County prosecutor, told AP that McCullough had expressed concerns about his safety.
More Trouble for U.S. Marriage Amendment
Paul Cameron, an ultra-right anti-gay activist with the Family Research Institute, is throwing in the towel on the Federal Marriage Amendment, writing in Insight Magazine that federal judges “would make lamb stew of a marriage amendment in no time.” To save democracy from homosexuals and abortionists, he proposes electing federal judges in their districts and having them serve four-year terms. “Supreme Court justices would be elected by the whole of the American people,” he wrote.
Cameron said that legislators “do not have a dog in the hunt” for a marriage amendment because it “will not increase their power” and because “the country has lost its taste for Judeo-Christian crusades.”
New Canadian Leader Waters Down Marriage Push
Paul Martin, the new leader of Canada’s Liberal Party who will soon be prime minister, is planning to throw a roadblock on the path to equal marriage rights for gay couples. The current prime minister, Jean Chrétien, drafted countrywide legislation opening marriage to any two unrelated adults in the wake of court decisions in Ontario and British Columbia granting licenses to gay couples earlier this year. Chrétien sent the draft legislation to the high court for an advisory opinion.
Martin, more conservative than Chrétien and fearful of what this issue will do to his party’s election chances, wants the Ottawa court to consider a range of proposals, including civil unions. If his proposals are put forward, it will delay the April 16 date on which the court was to hear Chrétien’s legislation, thus putting the issue off until after the spring elections.
A new poll from the National Post (Ontario) asked Canadians to choose among three options. Thirty-one percent wanted to open marriage to gay couples, another 37 percent chose civil unions for same-sex couples, and 30 percent said that marriage should continue to be limited to sex discordant couples.
NJ Governor Supports Domestic Partnership Lite
Democratic New Jersey Governor James McGreevey, an opponent of same-sex marriage, has come out for a limited domestic partners bill that has been introduced in the state senate. He opposes the more “sweeping” Assembly version as “too expensive.” His spokesperson rated the chances of passing the watered down legislation as “excellent.”
Seven same-sex couples are suing the state of New Jersey for the right to marry. A lower court in Mercer Country declined to hear the case brought by Lambda Legal Defense, which is appealing that decision.
Rosie O’Donnell, Mike Signorile Make Up
In an interview to be broadcast Thursday, December 11, Rosie O’Donnell, who once called Michelangelo Signorile, a regular Gay City News columnist, a “moron” for his chiding of her before she came out, dishes up some friendly scoop on the gay journalist’s daily show on Sirius Radio OutQ. Explaining why she has suddenly become an advocate for same-sex marriage, O’Donnell said in reference to Gruner & Jahr’s lawsuit against her concerning the end of Rosie Magazine, “If you are a heterosexual talk show host and you’re sued by a major corporation, anything you have said to your husband is privileged information. But if you are a homosexual talk show host and you’re sued by a corporation, anything you have ever said and/or written to your spouse, partner, or wife is allowed to be entered into the record. It is totally unfair.” Lashing out at critics who panned “Taboo,” the Broadway show she produced, O’Donnell said she didn’t expect that “Ben Brantley and the Times… would ever get it” and charged that New York Post critic Michael Rider is “very self-hating in some capacity.” She denied widely circulating rumors that she plans to step into the show to replace Liz McCartney as Big Sue, when McCartney leaves next month on maternity leave. On the political scene, Rosie charges that Pres. George W. Bush, a “man [who] was not elected” and has now started wars, has staged a “a coup d’etat.” Her choice in 2004? A Gephardt-Dean Democratic ticket.
Highest Military Leaders to Date Come Out
Three retired gay senior military officers, two generals and an admiral, publicly acknowledged their sexual orientation for the first time in a December 10 New York Times story. Brig. Gen. Keith Kerr and Brig. Gen. Virgil A. Richard, both of the Army, and Rear Adm. Alan M. Steinman, of the Coast Guard, all spoke out against the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell military policy, which went into effect ten years ago this month, saying it hurt military readiness by discouraging recruitment and retention. The three retired senior officers were joined by 13 other retired high-ranking officers in a joint statement that read, in part, “Today, no credible evidence exists to support a continued ban. Indeed, all studies, including those commissioned by the Pentagon, have come to that conclusion.”
In a statement to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, an advocacy group for gay, lesbian, and bisexual soldiers, marking the anniversary of Don’t Ask, former Pres. Bill Clinton, who signed on to the policy when his plan to eliminate restrictions on gays serving openly encountered fierce opposition, agreed that it “unfairly” restricts the military’s talent pool and added, “We should learn, too, from some of our most effective military allies, like Great Britain and Israel,” who allow open military service by gays and lesbians. In the ten years of the policy, nearly 10,000 soldiers have been discharged for being gay, lesbian, or bisexual.
Dean Not Amused by Bigoted “Humor”
The warm ups for Howard Dean at a fundraiser Monday at Chelsea’s Metropolitan Pavilion were comedians David Cross and Judy Gold who told “bawdy jokes and used epithets referring to African Americans and homosexuals,” according to the New York Times. Dean was so upset by the offensive material that he delayed his appearance on stage. “I just don’t have much tolerance for ethnic humor,” he said when he came out. “We are all one community.”
Dick and Jane (Gephardt) Headline Parents-FLAG Party
The national Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays’ holiday party in Washington is being chaired by Democratic presidential hopeful Dick Gephardt and his wife Jane. The December 11 event was scheduled to present awards to Elsie Frank, the 95-year old mom of out U.S. Rep. Barney Frank; Stephanie Haaser, a non-gay Maryland high school student whose “End Homophobia Now” project got her suspended; Senator Barbara Boxer of California, a strong supporter of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights; and singer Barbara Cook, who has an out gay son.
The Gephardt’s daughter Chrissy came out as a lesbian about three years ago. Chrissy has been active in her dad’s campaign, especially in LGBT outreach. She is trying to move him from support for civil unions to endorsing same-sex marriage.
Victory in Wyoming for Same-Sex Dating in High School
Two girls who danced together at the Big Piney (Wyoming) High School homecoming dance in September were thrown out by the police. Now, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), they have won the right for same-sex couples to participate in school dances.
Amanda Blair, a straight honor student at the school, brought a female date to the dance to make it safer for lesbian and gay students. “It’s good to know that you can make a difference by standing up for what’s right,” she said.
The school district was confronted by the ACLU with a 1980 federal case in Rhode Island where Aaron Fricke won the right to take Paul Guilbert (now Paul Philippe) to the Cumberland High School prom. The judge in that case said bringing a same-sex date was protected by the First Amendment and that the school had an obligation to ensure the safety of students who do so.
Mary Pinkett, Pro-Gay Council Member, Dies at 72
Brooklyn’s feisty Mary Pinkett, one of the leading advocates of lesbian and gay rights in the New York City Council from 1974 until 2001 when she was term-limited out, has died. A labor advocate, she was the first African American woman elected to the Council.
Pinkett was a vociferous support of the bill in the Council to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation that was brought up repeatedly during her tenure and finally passed 21-14 in 1986.
Dick Dadey Tapped For Citizens Union
Dick Dadey, the founding executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, who led the state’s gay rights lobbying group through its first six years until the end of 1997, has been selected to head Citizens Union, a 106-year-old nonpartisan citywide group that focuses on municipal and state government and voter participation, as well as publishing the political and policy website, gothamgazette.com.
Dadey will takes over the reins of the group on January 20 from Linda Stone Davidoff.
Robert Abrams, the former New York State attorney general who is president of the group’s board, said, “Dick will bring energy, experience, and commitment to our efforts at making New York City’s government more responsive and effective in dealing with the issues and problems that confront its 8 million citizens.”
Since his time at ESPA, Dadey has worked for M&R Strategic Services a government affairs and public relations firm, and as executive director of New Yorkers for Parks, which advocates for the city’s parks. He lives in Brooklyn Heights with his partner Leif Meneke.
Cardinals Fail More Often Than Condoms
That’s one of the slogans in a new ad campaign from Catholics for Free Choice to counter the Vatican’s mad assault on condom use, including the lie that HIV can penetrate an intact latex condom. “Abstinence has a high failure rate,” says another of the ads placed on the Washington Metro starting on World AIDS Day, December 1.
Newsweek reported that Bishop Kevin Dowling of South Africa spoke out against the Vatican anti-condom madness, writing in US Catholic magazine that the question of condoms “is not simply a matter of chastity but of justice.”