News Briefs

Cirque du Soleil Rehires Man with HIV

Lambda Legal Defense brought suit against the organization for its discrimination and last week the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, after an investigation, proposed that the case go to the mediation table.

Supporters of Cusick had been picketing Cirque du Soleil performances and celebrities including Nathan Lane, Tony Kushner, Bebe Nuewirth, Chita Rivera, and Rosie O’Donnell were going public with criticism of the circus’ discrimination. “It’s a learning procedure, and we’re going to keep learning,” said Menard.

Comptroller Secures Gay Protections in Corporations

New York City Comptroller Bill Thompson announced that four Fortune 500 companies have endorsed shareholder resolutions submitted by the New York City Employees’ Retirement Fund to include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policies. The companies are Goodyear, El Paso, Smurfit-Stone Container, and Masco. They notified the comptroller that they will amend the EEO policies to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, so he is withdrawing the shareholder proposals. Ninety-six Fortune 500 companies have such written non-discrimination policies protecting gay employees, 17 at the behest of the City.

LGBT Firefighters to Meet with Commissioner

Fire FLAG/EMS, the organization of LGBT firefighters and emergency medical service workers, has been granted a meeting with New York City Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scopetta to discuss doing something about the pervasive anti-gay atmosphere in city firehouses. The meeting, prompted by reports of homophobia being a factor in a recent Staten Island firehouse beating, was set for February 5, the day this paper comes out.

Michele Fitzsimmons, president of the group, wrote to her members last month, “Things need to change and change immediately,” citing the need for sensitivity training on LGBT issues in “proby school, one-the-job training in the firehouses, officer training, and a general change in FDNY and firehouses all over the country, both professional and volunteer.” We will report on the results of the meeting next week.

Marriage Pioneers Will File Joint Return

Jack Baker and Mike McConnell were denied a marriage license in Minnesota in 1970 and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear their plea for justice. Now they intend to test the law again by filing joint tax returns, the Minnesota Daily reported. “Their position is that they were legally married back in the ‘70s,” said their friend and fellow activist Tim Campbell, though the couple did not comment for the story.

Out gay University of Minnesota law professor Dale Carpenter is not optimistic about their chances of challenging the constitutionality of the state’s marriage law. When the men married in 1970, McConnell said it would take 30 years for it to be recognized by the state. It is taking a bit longer.

Kate Not Straight

A. Scott Berg, the out gay writer who wrote a recent best-selling remembrance of Hepburn, did not comment for the News’ story.

Cruiser’s Rights

Lambda Legal Defense has published a “Little Black Book,” part of a national campaign to inform gay men about “their legal rights if they are harassed or arrested while cruising for sex in public.” It is meant especially to help men who are victims of police sting operations and is in response to the many calls Lambda gets from men subjected to such entrapment. The book is available online at LambdaLegal.org

Ricky Martin, who deals with his sexuality much the way Peter Allen did, is being looked at as the successor to Hugh Jackman in the lead Allen role in Broadway’s “The Boy From Oz” when Jackman bows out in September.

Gay Twist on New Reality Show

Fox-TV’s “Playing it Straight” gives the bachelorette, Jackie, the chance to pick from 14 guys, some of whom are gay. Unlike the “Boy Meets Boy” show on Bravo, she knows ahead of time that there is a mix of sexual orientations among the men, though she is not told who is gay or straight. If she picks a gay man, he wins the $1 million prize. If she falls for a straight guy, she and the man spilt the jackpot.

Presidential Hopeful Joins Parents-FLAG

The Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays invited all the presidential candidates, including President Bush, to join their group to “assure and reaffirm to our families and loved ones that you are ready and willing to fight for their freedom.” The only one to respond so far is Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio who is running last in the Democratic field. Kucinich wrote to the group, “In his State of the Union address, President Bush said of gay marriage, ‘On an issue of such great consequence, the people’s voice must be heard.’ And he was right about one thing: we need to hear from all Americans on the issue of gay marriage,” which Kucinich supports.

Vice-President Dick Cheney was also sent the invitation to join Parents-FLAG but has not responded, despite having an out lesbian daughter, Mary, who is working on his re-election campaign.

Merle Miller, Parent Activist, Dies

Merle Miller, the treasurer of the New York chapter of the Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays for more than ten years in the 1980s, died on December 27. He was the father of the late Terry Miller, noted gay author (“Greenwich Village and How it Got that Way”) and activist, and is survived by his wife Sally, also a Parents-FLAG activist. The Millers lived in Huntington Station, Long Island.

Andy Humm is the co-host, with Ann Northrop, of “Gay USA” on MNN-TV, seen in Manhattan 11 PM Thursdays on Time-Warner 34 and RCN 107. It is seen nationally on Directv’s “Free Speech TV.” He can be reached at Andyhumm@aol.com

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