In the first and, perhaps, only debate in the New York Democratic primary for governor, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer was asked why he argued that state law should not allow same-sex couples to marry when he believes that they should be allowed to. Spitzer said he was obligated as the state’s lawyer to do so, but then said that hiring outside counsel would cost “twenty to thirty million dollars.” Spitzer then reiterated his support for marriage equality.
Challenger Tom Suozzi, the Nassau County executive, said that he was for some rights for same-sex couples but opposed “gay marriage.” Pressed on why gay couples did not deserve equal rights, he said that, as a Catholic, he believed marriage was a “sacrament.” Domestic relations law governs civil marriage, not church laws which would continue to exclude gay couples — or divorced people for that matter — from marriage.
David Chauvin, spokesman for Suozzi, could not clarify why Suozzi was following his religion in opposing same-sex marriage but not on the abortion issue. Suozzi is a supporter of a woman’s right to choose. He did say that Suozzi supports giving gay couples “all the rights” of married couples though any rights for gay couples are strenuously opposed by the Catholic Church.
AIDS did not come up in the one-hour debate, but in a lightning round where host Dominic Carter of NY-1 demanded “yes or no” answers, Spitzer opposed and Suozzi supported legalization of medical marijuana, used by some people with AIDS to control the nausea induced by the medications they take.
In another marked contrast, Spitzer supported a return to the death penalty in New York and Suozzi opposed it. Both candidates opposed a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq even though Democrats overwhelmingly favor such a move.
WorldPride March Cancelled in Jerusalem; Gathering Still On
With war raging in and around Israel, organizers of the WorldPride march scheduled for August have once again cancelled it as they did in 2005 when Israel was leaving the Gaza Strip.
“These are not the times for festivities,” said Hagai El-Ad, co-chair of Jerusalem Open House, the gay group that was to host the march. Other WorldPride activities will continue August 6-12, including a multi-faith gay clergy conference and a gay film festival. The rightwing groups trying to get the march banned blamed the impending march for the war in the Middle East.
A full-page ad in the New York Times and 50 papers across the country supporting marriage equality was signed by mayors from Salt Lake City, Providence, West Sacramento, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Palm Springs, Portland, and Los Angeles, but not by New York City’s Michael R. Bloomberg, who claims to be a supporter of the cause but argued successfully in court that New York law was right to bar same-sex couples from marrying. Bloomberg was asked, but declined.
“We’re disappointed,” said Joe Tarver, a spokesperson for the Empire State Pride Agenda, the statewide gay lobbying group and one of the sponsors of the ad campaign. The ads cost $250,000 and its main sponsors were Freedom to Marry, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
No comment from Bloomberg’s office on why he refused to sign the ad.
Lead Plaintiffs in Massachusetts Marriage Case Separate
After being the first same sex couple to marry there, Hillary and Julie Goodridge, the lead plaintiffs in the successful court battle for same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, have “amicably separated,” according to a spokesperson for the couple. They have a daughter, Annie, 10, and the entire family spoke for the cause of same-sex marriage during the lengthy case.
New Poll Gives Some Hope in Wisconsin
Things are looking slightly improved in Wisconsin’s battle to become the first state to reject a constitutional amendment prohibiting government recognition of same-sex relationships. A week after the Badger Poll found 52.5 percent of voters in favor of the measure and 43.8 percent opposed, one conducted by WisPolitics.com was a dead heat with 49 percent in favor and 48 percent opposed.
The campaign to defeat the amendment got a shot in the arm from Dale Leibowitz, a Madison philanthropist, who donated $275,000 to Fair Wisconsin. The Human Rights Campaign, the national; gay lobbying group, has kicked in $80,000 and the state teacher’s union gave $25,000. Fair Wisconsin has collected a total of $1.3 million thus far.
Nurses Sue for Same-Sex Marriage Benefits in Massachusetts
The Massachusetts Nursing Association filed a suit in federal court because Merrimack Valley Hospital in Haverhill denied health benefits to the same-sex spouse of Maria Ciulla, RN. The suit, brought by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, said that the rejection violated the union contract banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. The hospital, owned by the Tennessee-based Essent Healthcare, cited the federal Defense of Marriage Act and insurance laws to deny the benefits. The discrimination was upheld in arbitration.
Outpouring of Concern for Maine Lesbians Whose Home Was Hit in Bias Attack
Two vandals, aged 12 and 14, broke into the trailer home of Keri Fuchs and Lina Boutaugh, a lesbian couple in Maine, and ransacked their home, destroying windows, their TV, and stealing property including family photos and the ashes of Fuchs’ dad. The two boys also defecated on the floor and scrawled anti-lesbian slogans.
Over the weekend, 200 people rallied to support the women, including Gov. John Baldacci who said, “What happened here is not indicative of Maine people or Maine values.” The teens have been charged with a bias crime.
First Transgender State Legislator Possible in Maryland
As the leading candidate for the Chevy Chase seat in the Maryland, Dana Beyer, 54, a former eye surgeon, may become the first openly transgender state legislator in the US. If Beyer wins the House of Delegates seat, being vacated by Richard Madaleno who is running unopposed for the State Senate, he will be the first out LGBT person in that chamber. It is a crowded field in the primary, Deb Price reported in her column, but Beyer is a “credible” candidate who decided to transition after the 9-11 catastrophe.
Boy Scouts Seek More Special Rights
The Boy Scouts Cradle of Liberty Council in Philadelphia is being told to vacate a city-owned building in Philadelphia because they will not relent on a policy excluding gay scouts and scoutmasters, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The council thinks they have a constitutional right to discriminate, but the 2000 Supreme Court decision that allowed them to exclude gays and atheists did not prevent local governments from ending their associations with the Scouts.
City Solicitor Romulo L. Diaz, Jr. told the paper, “They may discriminate if they choose to do so, but not with the city subsidy of free rent.”
The local council did adopt a policy in 2003 banning anti-gay discrimination only to expel an 18-year old scout a few weeks later for being gay. The national organization is adamant that local councils keep gays out.
The New York council has maintained for several years that it does not discriminate and continues to enjoy special privileges from city government since no gay scout or scoutmaster has tested their commitment to their stated policy. It is evident that if they did allow an out gay person in the Scouts, the national office would overrule them.
George Michael: No Apology for Sex in Bushes
Singer George Michael, 43, was caught in the bushes in London’s Hampstead Heath cruising at 2 AM on July 18 with Norman Kirkland, 58, an unemployed van driver, by the News of the World. Public sex is not punished in Britain if it is out of public view and no one complains. Kirtland, confronted by the press at his Brighton home 60 miles away, told the paper, “It wasn’t full sex, but it was fantastic.” He also said he was not a fan of Michael’s. The singer, who denied he had sex with Kirtland, is set to embark on a sold-out tour soon.
Michael’s longtime partner Kenny Goss is reportedly unperturbed by the incident and they are going ahead with a civil partnership after this brouhaha dies down. Michael told a UK TV show, “We had a lovely tenth anniversary party. My present to him was a million quid (about $1.9 million) so I think I should get away with so-called fooling around.”
Spokane Mayor Caught in Gay Scandal Dies
Republican Jim West, 55, who was recalled as Mayor of Spokane when it was revealed that he was offering government jobs to male tricks, died on July 22 from complications from cancer surgery, the New York Times reported. As majority leader of the Washington State Senate, he had an anti-gay voting record. No criminal charges were brought against West in the scandal.
Queens Leader Tom Manton Dies at 73
Thomas Manton, the Queens County Democratic boss who went from being an anti-gay Councilmember to the man who made out lesbian Christine Quinn speaker of the City Council, died after a long bout with prostate cancer on July 22.
Veteran gay activist Allen Roskoff said, “I have known Tom for over 30 years and he was the consummate New York politician. And even though I often disagreed with him on issues and his choice of candidates, he was a loyal friend. I must say that had he supported our community earlier, we would have had the gay rights bill passed in the 1970s. He did become a sponsor of ENDA [the Employment Non-Discrimination Act] while in Congress and that was wonderful.”
Lance Bass Finally Comes Out
Lance Bass, 29, formerly of the boy band *NSync, opens up about his gayness in the next issue of People magazine. He said he has known that he was gay “my whole life,” but had relationships with women and “don’t know if they ever suspected” his heart wasn’t in it. He was not out to his fellow band members and would deflect questions about why he wasn’t scoring with women more often by saying he was a “good Christian.” The story says he still goes to church.
Bass is dating “Amazing Race” winner Reichen Lehmkuhl, 32, “loving it,” and wants to adopt kids. When people ask, “Are you gay?” he tells them, “No, I’m also gay,” because it is only “one of the things that make me up.”
He is working with former bandmate Joey Fatone on a sitcom take-off on “The Odd Couple” in which he will play a gay character.
McKellan Breaks Ban on Gays in US Military
Georgia’s Republican and anti-gay Governor Sonny Perdue put his bigotry aside when stars got in his eyes at the Atlanta premier of “The Da Vinci Code.” Perdue made gay activist Sir Ian McKellan an honorary lieutenant colonel in the state’s National Guard. “So the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ rule obviously doesn’t apply to me,” McKellan told the Daily News. “I have a lovely certificate hanging in my office. So, inadvertently, they made me the poster child for having openly gay people in the military.”
Gay Student Pariah at Moroccan University
A 26-year old economics student, Ahmed (who asked his last name be withheld), at the University of Fez was tried and convicted by a kangaroo court of other students for being homosexual, having sex at his campus residence, and “provocatively flaunting his sexual orientation,” Diario El Pais reported.
“I said I was gay like thousands of others,” he told the paper, and that he “did no harm to anyone and never had sex around the university.”
While Ahmed was spared whipping, he was banned from living on campus and may only go to classes “for the minimum time necessary.” His family found out about the trial and will not speak to him. He is worried that if his employer discovers his homosexuality he will be fired. Morocco prohibits gay sex, though the law is rarely enforced.
Last week, we reported—based on an article in the New York Times—that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) accused Democrats of “wasting time” on social issues, such as same-sex marriage. As the Times noted in a correction, she was referring to the Republican majority in the Senate wasting time on divisive social issues, rather than such Democrat bills as those on making healthcare affordable and America energy independent.
Arkansas Bishop Greenlights Gay Ceremonies
The Rt. Rev. Larry Maze, Episcopal bishop of Arkansas, has given the go-ahead to local parishes that want to bless gay partnerships. Currently two do so.
Maze wrote that “seeking ways of recognizing and blessing faithful, monogamous same-sex relationships falls within the parameters of providing pastoral concern and care for our gay and lesbian members.” He was also approved of the consecration of the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, an out gay man in a partnership, as bishop of New Hampshire, an issue that has driven the worldwide Anglican Communion to the point of schism.
Closet Marriage for Slovenia
The good news is that Slovenia is recognizing same-sex relationships. The bad news is that the new law does not permit anyone to attend the union ceremonies except the couple themselves. A Slovenian gay group called the law “insufficient.” Partners must register 30 days before the ceremony and prove that they are “sane, healthy and unmarried,” the UPI reported. All New York heterosexuals have to be is unmarried.