Court of Appeals Marriage Ruling Could Come by Summer
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed its appeal of the Appellate Division’s February rejection of the right of same-sex couples to marry. The Court of Appeals, the state’s highest, has given Democratic Attorney General Eliot Spitzer until April 3 to answer this appeal and two other similar cases argued in the Third Department in Albany. The plaintiffs will then have until May 1 to reply to Spitzer.
This is the same schedule of briefing that was set in Lambda Legal’s appeal of Republican Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s successful overturning of a pro-same-sex marriage decision issued in New York City last February.
Sharon McGowan, staff attorney at the ACLU, said that the state’s high court has not set a date to hear oral arguments in the case. A fifth same-sex marriage case has not even been heard on appeal by the Second Department, though the Court of Appeals does not have to wait for that one to be resolved to move forward. McGowan, like the attorneys at Lambda, are hopeful that arguments will be heard by the high court’s last session in late May or early June and decided before the end of the summer.
Federal Hate Crimes Bill Scotched
“The United States Congress is not a card game,” complained Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “You can’t just keep re-shuffling the deck if you don’t like the first hand the majority deals you.” He added, “It is hypocritical to claim to promote child safety while squashing legislation that would keep millions of Americans, children included, safe from hate violence.”
Thirty Republicans voted for the amendment last year.
The Right Reverend Gene Robinson, Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, has returned to his job after a month in rehab for alcohol addiction. The out gay cleric checked himself into the program and intends to keep a low profile now that he is back.
On Valentine’s Day, Bill Mokeler of Malden, Massachusetts, donated one of his kidneys to Paul Sagon, making them the first husband-to-husband transplant in history, the Boston Herald reported. The men married two years ago.
“Words cannot describe what his sacrifice means to me,” Sagon told the newspaper.
Arline Isaacson of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Alliance said their example shows “how important lifelong commitments are” and that she would hold up their example to the Legislature and the voters as the state contemplates ending same-sex marriage through a constitutional amendment in 2008.
A gay man in Welch, West Virginia died because the police chief physically stopped his friend from giving him CPR, the American Civil Liberties Union alleges in a suit filed on behalf of Claude Green, Jr.’s family members. The cop, Robert K. Bowman, “falsely assumed” that because the 43-year old Green is gay that he was therefore HIV-positive and posed a health risk.
“I’m heartbroken that I have lost my son over such ignorance and bigotry,” the man’s mother said.
“Bowman’s actions were a frightening abuse of power,” said Rose Saxe, staff attorney with ACLU’s AIDS Project. The police chief pulled Green’s friend off him while he was performing CPR, demanding that no one help the dying man until the EMS crew arrived. They did 10 minutes later and Bowman told the EMS workers that Green was HIV-positive, though they ignored him and resumed CPR. Green, who did not have HIV, died shortly after arriving at the hospital.
Green is survived by his mother and a 19-year old son, as well as three sisters and a brother.
Out Gay Judge Dies in LA
Robert Sandoval, an out gay man who served as a prosecutor and Superior Court judge in Los Angeles, died on February 28 after a heart attack while undergoing treatment for leukemia, the LA Times reported. He was 56.
Sandoval was the first out gay jurist appointed by a California governor in 20 years when Governor Gray Davis picked him. “One of the changes he initiated was to ask whether prospective jurors had a domestic partner or a spouse,” the story said. He also ended the practice of announcing HIV test results for alleged prostitutes in open court. One of his more notorious cases was Hugh Grant’s arrest for lewd contact with a prostitute in 1995. He gave the actor a $1,180 fine and ordered him to attend an HIV education class.
Sandoval is survived by Bill Martin, his partner of 23 years, and their son, Harrison, 13. The couple was among the first gay couples to adopt a child in LA County.
Boy George Dodges Bullet
When police came to Boy George’s downtown Manhattan pad in October after his 911 call, they didn’t find the burglary the stoned singer reported but did find 13 small bags of cocaine. In a plea bargain to get authorities to drop the charge of possession of cocaine, O’Dowd accepted a $1,000 fine and agreed to enter a drug treatment program. He was given a conditional discharge by the court on Wednesday after pleading guilty to one count of falsely reporting an incident. Proclaiming himself “relieved and happy,” O’Dowd must also pay court costs of $160 and do five days of community service in New York.
Anti-Oral Sex Law Shot Down in California
The California Supreme Court ruled 6-1 that a law putting adults over 21 who had oral sex with 16 or 17-year olds on a sex offender registry was unconstitutional because adults who had intercourse with the same age group were not automatically placed on the registry. Adults who have sex with those younger than 16 must register, but it will now be left to a judge to decide whether those who have either oral sex or intercourse with a 16 -or 17-year-old should be placed on the registry.
Row Over Gay Row in Illinois Town
The Gay Games in Chicago July 15-22 almost had to scramble for a new place to hold the rowing event when suburban Crystal Lake’s park district board killed approval with a 2-2 vote last week. On Tuesday, a fifth board member, Jerry Sullivan, returned from vacation and broke the deadlock. He told the Chicago Sun-Times, “I think it shows our openness as a community and our fairness.” Larry Reyer, 55, a longtime resident of the town, told the newspaper, “I do not want these queers coming to my hometown. What revenues are they bringing in?”
Ameringen Funds Field Organizers for ESPA
The Empire State Pride Agenda is partnering with LGBT groups throughout New York to hire regional field organizers based with Long Island Lesbian and Gay Youth, the Lesbian and Gay Community Services Center in the Lower Hudson Valley, and the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley in the western part of the state. The funding came from the H. van Ameringen Foundation. This is a big year for the LGBT movement in New York, with a decision expected this summer from the state’s high court on whether same-sex couples can marry here and a gubernatorial election in which the likely Democratic nominee, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, supports that right.
NJ Gears Up for Marriage Ruling
Now that the Supreme Court of New Jersey has heard Lambda’s case seeking marriage rights for same-sex couples, Garden State Equality has opened an office in Trenton across from the State House, its second in the state. Steven Goldstein, chair of the group, said the expansion reflects its “skyrocketing growth.” He added that if the marriage case is won, “it is crucial that our community have a war room from which we can instantly triage activists to educate public officials just a few moments away.”
A poll commissioned by the group found in February that 56 percent of New Jersey residents support marriage equality with 39 percent opposed. In addition, 67 percent said they would oppose a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
“Heteros Only” in Idaho
To protest the Legislature’s passage of a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, gay and lesbian activists affixed “Heterosexuals Only” stickers to bus benches and water fountains, KBCI reported, in an attempt to recall the American apartheid days of “Whites Only” facilities. The group acted on March 6, the 41st anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery march for civil rights in Alabama.
Spitzer at LID March 21; AG Candidates at Center March 28
The races for statewide office are heating up in New York. Lambda Independent Democrats has invited the candidates for their party’s nod for governor to a forum on Tuesday, March 21 at 7 p.m. at the Old First Reformed Church at 136 Seventh Avenue at Carroll Street in Park Slope. Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has confirmed. His opponent, Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, has been invited.
Greater Voices, the coalition of most of the LGBT Democratic clubs in town as well as the Out People of Color Political Action Club, will sponsor a forum for all the candidates for the Democratic nomination for state attorney general on Tuesday, March 28 at 6 p.m. at the LGBT Community Center. The candidates are Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, Andrew Cuomo, the federal housing secretary in the Clinton administration, Mark Green, the former city public advocate, Charlie King, a non-profit housing executive, Sean Patrick Maloney, a former top Clinton White House aide, and Denise O’Donnell, the former U.S. prosecutor in Buffalo.
Advocate Editor Out
The longtime editor of the Advocate, Judy Wieder, is stepping down from her post as executive vice-president and editorial director of LPI Media, publishers of Out magazine and the Advocate. She joined the group in 1993. She will not be replaced.