News Briefs

Gen. Clark Has Gay Pals

Former General Wesley Clark, the Democratic presidential candidate, was asked at the “America Rocks the Vote” debate Tuesday what his “comfort level” is with gay people. “I do have gay friends,” he said, “and there are gays who serve in the United States armed forces, and they do a very good job,” General Clark said. “But when they are – when they acknowledge who they are and their sexual preference, they leave.”

The out gay CNN moderator, Anderson Cooper, asked Clark if he ever served with soldiers he knew who were gay, and turned them in because they were serving in violation of the military’s policy on homosexuality. General Clark said he had never turned anyone in.

“I had people who came to me after they had turned themselves in,” Clark said. “And it’s a very sad thing because a lot of these people wanted to serve.”

Clark just named out gay political operative Mark Benoit to be the state director of his New York campaign. Howard Dean’s state director is Ethan Geto, an out gay political consultant.

The forum covered other gay topics as well. For the transcript, go to www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A64721-2003Nov4.html

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Dean vs. Gephardt on Anti-Gay Slur

Hunter Allen, a 24-year-old gay aide to Howard Dean, alleged that Mike Kelley, a Gephardt staffer, called him a “faggot” during an Gephardt event at an Iowa senior citizens center. The Gephardt campaign denies Kelley used the epithet and Chrissy Gephardt, the Congressman’s out daughter, said, “I know just from knowing Mike that he would not have said that.” Dean’s campaign manager, Joe Trippi, wrote a letter to Steve Murphy, Gephardt’s campaign manager, calling for Kelley’s firing, but the Gephardt people are calling the accusation “a dirty trick.”

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Bush Nominee’s Queer Vocabulary

Claude Allen, another far right nominee to the federal appeals court, is denying that he used the word “queer” in a discriminatory way when he was an aide to former Sen. Jesse Helms, a North Carolina Republican known for his anti-gay statements. In 1984, Allen said that Helms’ opponent, Gov. Jim Hunt, was vulnerable because he could be “linked with the queers.” Now Allen is saying to the Senate Judiciary Committee that he meant the word queer in the sense of “odd, out of the ordinary, unusual.” (As in: “It would be queer for Senator Helms to respect the rights of gay people.”)

Even though Allen insists that he was not being anti-gay, he apologized to “anyone who misunderstood him.”

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Mass. Bishop Coerced by Vatican

Last week, the Boston Globe reported the statement of Roman Catholic Bishop Daniel Reilly’s that “there should be a way for the state to provide the benefits [to gay couples] they have a right to like other citizens.” That earned Reilly the headline, “Church Open to Same-Sex Benefits Talks.” The Vatican has apparently contacted Reilly because this week he came out against even domestic partner benefits for people in “homosexual relationships” and repeated the Vatican doctrinal line that homosexuals are “intrinsically disordered.”

According to some reports, up to two-thirds of American Catholic bishops covered up acts of child sexual abuse by diocesan priests.

Meanwhile, Democrats in the Massachusetts House are busily trying to craft some kind of partnership bill for gay couples that is short of marriage. The Supreme Judicial Court may nevertheless order the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples if it ever gets around to issuing its decision that had been expected in July. 

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Lesbian Grave Sculpture Adorns Bronx Plot

Patricia Cronin’s life-size sculpture of herself and her partner lying in bed, “Memorial to a Marriage,” ranks just behind the graves of Miles Davis and Duke Ellington as the most visited spot in the Bronx’s Woodlawn cemetery, the Village Voice reported. Jerry Saltz called the sculpture “bittersweet, but also filled with an outlaw’s outrage.”

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Merv Griffin Defends Reagan

TV personality and gambling mogul Merv Griffin, once sued by an ex-boyfriend, went back on the tube to attack the makers of “The Reagans,” the TV movie that CBS has canned for network viewing but may show in expurgated form on its Showtime cable station. Appearing on the right wing MSNBC show “Scarborough Country,” Griffin claimed that the film’s depiction of President Ronald Reagan as anti-gay and evil on AIDS was inaccurate. “He issued a public statement saying the greatest enemy in America is AIDS,” Griffin asserted.

In point of fact, Reagan made no public statement on AIDS until 1987, fully six years into a crisis that has turned into a worldwide pandemic that is killing hundreds of millions of people. GLAAD has launched a campaign to get journalists to deal with the real record. Reagan’s daughter Patti Davis, who despite once writing a scathing memoir about her parents defends her father in Time magazine against charges of being anti-gay. Whether or not Reagan used epithets against gay people in private is irrelevant. His presidency was marked by unrelenting hostility to the rights of LGBT people, particularly in the darkest days of the AIDS crisis.

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Innovative AIDS Fundraising

Pieter-Dirk Uys, the South African performer and AIDS educator appearing at LaMama this week in New York, ends his show by displaying colorful beaded trinkets made by women with AIDS in his devastated country to raise money for everything from HIV drugs to personal care products that will give them some dignity. Audience members who line up to buy them with donations from $1 to $60 and more have raised $140,000.

Meanwhile, Hugh Jackman was raising more modest sums for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. At the curtain for “The Boy from Oz” recently, Cindy Adams reported, he raffled off a pumpkin autographed by the entire cast for $3,000 and a towel soaked with “Eau de Hugh” for $1,500, as well as letting audience members have their pictures taken with him for $200, a thrill many queued up for.

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HIV Transmitter to Prison

Mohammed Dica, 38, of London was convicted of knowingly transmitting HIV to two of his female sex partners without warning them. This week, Dica was sentenced to eight years in prison, a development that concerns the Terrence Higgins Trust, Britain’s equivalent of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis. A spokesman for the Trust told the Guardian that Dica’s sentence might discourage many people living with HIV “from being open about their status for fear of a backlash” and discourage others from getting tested.

Dica was the first person in the United Kingdom in over 100 years to be convicted for sexually transmitting a disease, the paper said. His lawyers vowed an appeal with prosecutor Mark Gadsden calling Dica “cold and callous.”

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Brother Killer of Gay Sentenced

Ian Bishop hated his brother so much for being gay that he killed him with a claw hammer and wooden club, then went out with a friend and laughed about it. This week in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, Bishop, 16, was sentenced to 20 to 40 years. Bishop claimed that he was on some combination of crack, cocaine, Ecstasy, and Coricidin when he committed the crime. An accomplice, Robert Laskowski, 15 at the time of the crime, will now be tried as an adult.

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New Polls on Same-Sex Marriage

The latest CNN/USA Today Gallup poll found a huge gap between younger and older Americans on support for the right of gay couples to marry. Fifty-three percent of 18-29 year-olds are in favor of it, with just 32 percent of those 30 years of age or older on board.

In Arizona, where an ill-advised same-sex marriage suit was thrown out recently, 54 percent oppose the right and 42 percent support it. However, support for “civil unions” is at 53 percent with 43 percent opposed. We’re getting there.

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Anti-Gay Monument Moves to Idaho

Rather than accommodate Fred Phelps of “God Hates Fags” Ministries in his quest to put a stone monument that planned to announce Matthew Shepard’s “entrance into hell” five years ago, the Casper, Wyoming, City Council has decided to remove a monument to the Ten Commandments. Phelps had argued that the First Amendment demanded that other messages like his had the right to equal space on public property.

Now Phelps is trying to buy a plot on the property of the Minidoka, Idaho courthouse for his bigoted granite message, citing the attempt of the American Legion to buy a plot for the Ten Commandments.

Activists from Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas brought their “God Hates Fags” message to the consecration of out gay Bishop Gene Robinson in New Hampshire on Sunday.

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Yalies Assail Campus Military Recruitment

The Defense Department has been able to compel law schools and universities to allow recruiters from the U.S. armed forces on campus, despite the anti-gay policy of the military, by threatening to cut off federal funding. At Yale, the Student/Faculty Alliance for Military Equality and the Outlaws, a group of LGBT law students, filed the fourth suit in recent months against the federal law that cuts off funds to schools that reject military recruiters, a 1996 statute that is being vigorously enforced by the Bush administration.

According to PlanetOut, the litigants are citing a loophole in the law exempting religiously pacifist schools as a form of “viewpoint” discrimination disadvantaging their belief in equality for gay people. 

Andy Humm is co-host, with Ann Northrop, of “Gay USA” on MNN-TV. It is seen Thursdays at 11 PM on Time-Warner 34 and RCN 109 in Manhattan, as well as on Free Speech TV for those who have DirecTV. It is simulcast at www.mnn.org.

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