Duane: Stop Bullying, Not Cell Phones
Senator Tom Duane, the gay Chelsea Democrat, wants the New York City schools to enforce the city Dignity in All Schools Act to reduce bullying, not continue the ban on cell phones. Duane’s remarks are from testimony prepared for a Department of Education hearing on a new school discipline code on August 9.
“Unfortunately,” Duane wrote, “Mayor Bloomberg refuses to recognize the [anti-bullying] law, even though it was passed again over his veto.” Bloomberg claims to support a state version of the Dignity law, which is stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate (because of language regarding gender identity and expression) while passed overwhelmingly by the Democratic-led Assembly. Bloomberg could order the implementation of the state’s proposed bill tomorrow given his control over city schools. The mayor has said the City Council bill is “illegal.”
New York Civil Liberties Union legal director Arthur Eisenberg said that his group is opposed to the new discipline code because it “gives schools a mandate to punish students for statements posted on the Internet or stated anywhere else outside of school. Such overreaching is unconstitutional under the First Amendment and misguided as a matter of public policy.”
LGBT Asian Americans to Be Surveyed
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is conducting an online, anonymous survey of LGBT Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and hopes 500 will log on to the “largest ever” such study. Alain Dang, a policy analyst with the Task Force, said the community is “under-served, under-researched, and under-studied” and “caught in the margins.” To participate in the study, go to thetaskforce.org/apisurvey.
Indiana: Gay Couples Can Adopt Jointly
The Indiana Supreme Court ruled 4-1 last week that an April mid-level court ruling allowing unmarried couples of the same or opposite sex to adopt jointly should stand. Patricia Logue of Lambda Legal’s Midwest office said, “Not only is this a decision that will keep our clients’ family intact, but this is a victory for the thousands of children in Indiana desperately in need of a home.”
The Court of Appeals ruling upheld by the state Supreme Court was reported by Arthur S. Leonard in April (gaycitynews. com/gcn_516/bigadoptionadvance.html).
Colorado Ballot Has Three Gay Measures
The most radically anti-gay initiative under discussion did not qualify for the Colorado ballot this November, but voters will still get to decide three gay-related issues. One would amend the state Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. The Legislature initiated one granting domestic partnerships. And the LGBT Coloradans for Fairness and Equality qualified theirs to certify that domestic partner benefits would not be banned if same-sex marriage were. The one that failed would have banned any government recognition for gay relationships, though waving to gay neighbors would have remained legal.
South Dakota Anti-Gay Amendment Flagging
While initiatives to ban same-sex marriage in state constitutions are ahead in the polls in Virginia, Wisconsin, and Tennessee, 49 percent of those questioned in South Dakota oppose their amendment, with 41 percent in favor. A rep for the state Family Protection Council said, “The results may be a little shot in the arm that we need to work on getting our message out.” National LGBT groups have been focused on Wisconsin as the possible first state to defeat such an anti-gay amendment, but the latest poll has it passing with 53 percent of the vote.
California Scales Back Gay School Bill
State Senator Sheila Keuhl, a Santa Monica Democrat and an out lesbian, removed a provision from her education bill that would have mandated teaching gay history in California schools because Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said he would veto it. The bill now “bars teaching anything that ‘reflects adversely’ on people because of their sexual orientation,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
$1 Million Bail in San Diego Gay-Bashings
The three men accused of a brutal gay-bashing after a pride celebration in San Diego last month are pleading not guilty to felony charges. Lyonn Taz Tatum, 18, had bail set at a million dollars. Kenneth James Lincoln, 23, is being held without bail due to a parole violation. Also charged is James Carroll, 24. Another suspect is 16 and will appear in juvenile court, The Advocate reported. The anti-gay attacks left one man unconscious with a fractured skull.
Irish Lesbians Want Marriage Recognized
A similar effort didn’t work in the United Kingdom, but Irishwomen Katherine Zappone and Ann Louise Gilligan are hoping that the high court of the Republic of Ireland will recognize their 2003 marriage in Canada. The lesbian activists say their rights have been violated under the Irish Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights. A hearing is set for October 3. The Irish government is moving toward adopting a civil partnership law similar to the one adopted by their old oppressors in Britain.
Call for Investigation into Murder of Two Women in Jamaica
Human Rights Watch says that more needs to be done to investigate the murders of Candice Williams and Phoebe Myrie, found in a septic pit in Bull Bay, St. Andrew in Jamaica on June 29 after the two went missing since June 18. HardBeatNews.com wrote, “Police have pinpointed an estranged male partner of Williams as the prime suspect, and said the apparent relationship between the women was the likely motive for the crime.” Jessica Stern of the LGBT Rights Program at HRW implored the government to do “a full and impartial investigation” and to end “the continuing climate of violent homophobia” in Jamaica.
George Michael Sues Alleged Trick
Singer George Michael, 43, is not apologizing for cruising the Hampstead Heath in London at 2 a.m. a few weeks ago, but he is suing the photographers from the uber-tabloid News of the World who snapped him coming out of the bushes for harassment and the 58-year-old Brighton man who claims to have had a wank with him, calling the individual someone “I have never, ever seen, let alone wanted to have any kind of sexual encounter with.” Michael is also contemplating suing whoever told the newspaper that his civil partnership with longtime love Kenny Goss was off until he allegedly gave Goss a million pounds.
McGreevey to Speak
“Gay American” and ex-New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey has not given any interviews since resigning his office under a cloud in 2004. He is now scheduled to do “Oprah” when his book, “The Confession,” comes out in September and also a Times Talk event on the 26th of that month here in New York. McGreevey opposed same-sex marriage as governor, but signed a domestic partners law that accorded gay couples a handful of rights and responsibilities. He has yet to repent that position, despite the pending New Jersey high court decision on same-sex marriage.
Last week, we reported that Urvashi Vaid, former executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and now head of the Arcus Foundation, a philanthropic group that focuses considerable attention on education around LGBT issues, was a signatory to the “Beyond Marriage” vision statement. She is not. The full statement and list of more than 250 endorsers is at beyondmarriage.org.
Two weeks ago, we reported that Sir Ian McKellen was made an honorary member of the Georgia National Guard by the governor in conjunction with the opening of “The Da Vinci Code” there, breaking the ban on gays in the US military. The story, reported in the New York Daily News, turns out to be false. McKellen was made an “aide-de-camp” by Governor Zell Miller in 1995 for the opening of “Richard III.”