News Briefs

Studies: More Americans Know Gay People

In conjunction with National Coming Out Day October 11, the Human Rights Campaign touted two studies on advances of gay acceptance. Harris Interactive found that 70 percent of Americans know someone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered and that 83 percent of people who identify as such see themselves as “out” with 92 percent out to close friends, 78 percent to parents, and 66 percent to co-workers.

Also released was “‘Coming Out’ and American Attitudes on Gay Rights,” a report from Hunter College’s Ken Sherrill and Princeton University’s Patrick Egan that looked at data from multiple studies that people who have LGBT family members are 17 percent more likely to support marriage equality than those who do not know someone LGBT. These people with LGBT relatives are also 13 percent more likely to support the right of gay people to adopt kids.

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Judge Blocked for Marrying Lesbians

Senator Sam Brownback, a Kansas Republican, has placed a hold on the nomination of Janet Neff, a Michigan appellate judge, to the federal bench for presiding over the Massachusetts wedding of lesbian friends, Karen Adelman and Mary Curtin, who work at the Human Rights Campaign. Brownback said, “It seems to speak about her view of judicial activism.” Democratic Senator Carl Levin of Michigan said that Judge Neff, 61, did not do anything illegal by participating in the ceremony.

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Right-Wing Rally in Bay State Sunday

The Family Research Council is going to what they see as the belly of the beast on Sunday, October 15 for a live broadcast from the Tremont Temple Baptist Church in Boston to whip up opposition to same-sex marriage. “This is the source of the problem,” said Tony Perkins, president of the group, about Massachusetts. The Boston Herald reported that while Governor Mitt Romney, pursuing the Republican presidential nomination, cannot speak, his wife, Ann, will. Perkins said the rally will focus on how “the homosexual agenda has impacted religious liberties.”

Out gay Representative Barney Frank told his hometown newspaper that Romney “will stop at nothing to get to the right of John McCain,” a rival for the nomination.

A joint session of the state Legislature will convene in Constitutional Convention on November 9 to take up a citizen-generated proposal to ban same-sex marriage and domestic partnerships in the state Constitution. It needs 50 out of 200 votes from two successive conventions to get on the 2008 ballot. MassEquality, aided by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, has been working to educate legislators that “their constituents support marriage equality,” Matt Foreman, Task Force executive director, said.

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Rhodies Marry in Massachusetts

Wendy Becker and Mary Norton, the Rhode Island couple who won a case in Massachusetts to be able to marry there on September 29, did so on October 8 in front of 50 well-wishers. Rhode Island is the only state from which non-Massachusetts gay and lesbian couples can come to marry in the Bay State. The attorney general of Rhode Island has said that the state will not recognize their marriage, despite the fact that there is no law against same-sex couples marrying there.

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Jersey Guv Won’t Stop Same-Sex Nups

Governor Jon Corzine, a Democrat, said that if New Jersey’s high court rules that same-sex couples are entitled to marry, he will not support legislation or a constitutional amendment overturning the decision—despite his personal opposition to that right. A decision in the case, argued in March, is expected by October 25 when the chief justice reaches 70 and must retire.

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Clinton Signs on to Domestic Partner Bill

Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York’s junior senator, has become a sponsor of a bill to extend domestic partner benefits to federal employees. It was introduced by embattled Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut who is running for re-election as an independent after losing the Democratic primary to Ned Lamont, who ran, in part, on an anti-war platform. Among the other co-sponsors are Democrats John Kerry of Massachusetts and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin. Among the whole bunch of them, only Feingold supports the right of gay couples to marry. Clinton has refused, along with fellow Democrat Chuck Schumer, New York’s senior senator, to sign on as a sponsor of legislation that would allow the foreign-born same-sex partners of Americans to stay in the land of the free.

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Ex-Gay Shrink Says Slavery Good for Blacks

Gerald Schoenewolf, a psychologist who serves on the advisory board of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), a group that tries to turn homosexually-oriented people straight, said on the group’s Web site, “Africa at the time of slavery was still primarily a jungle… Life there was savage… and those brought to America, and other countries, were in many ways better off.”

His essay was titled, “Gay Rights and Political Correctness.” The New York-based psychologist runs The Living Center, “an online therapy center for people in the arts.” He told the Southern Poverty Law Center that the American Psychological Association, of which he is a member, “has been taken over by extremist gays.”

H. Alexander Robinson of the pro-gay National Black Justice Coalition called on Schoenewolf to apologize “in the name of propriety, respect, common decency, and professional integrity.”

NARTH has not removed Schoenewolf from their advisory committee, though David Blakeslee, another member, resigned in protest on September 29. A NARTH administrator said, “Just because Schoenewolf said some good can come out of a bad situation [slavery], does not make him a racist.”

Like the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins, mentioned above, Schoenewolf did not star in the original (Hitchcock) version of “Psycho,” though perhaps both men wished they had. And NARTH is not to be confused with the evildoer in the “Star Wars” films, though perhaps it would like to be.

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South African Partnership Bill Advances

The African National Congress approved a civil union bill this week, virtually assuring its passage in the Parliament where they occupy two-thirds of the seats, but that may not please the Constitutional Court that ordered equal marriage rights for gay couples last year, gay people who see it as sexual apartheid, or a populace uncomfortable with any form of recognition of gay relationships. Jacob Zuma, the deputy president, apologized for calling same-sex marriage “a disgrace to the nation and to God.” His anti-gay outburst may have queered his chances to succeed Thabo Mbeki as president.

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Global AIDS Coordinator Gay and Pro-Abstinence

Dr. Mark Dybul was sworn in as America’s global AIDS coordinator by Secretary of State Condi Rice on October 10 in a ceremony attended by Laura Bush and NIH’s AIDS director Dr. Anthony Fauci. Rice acknowledged Dybul’s partner, Jason Claire, along with the rest of his family at the ceremony.

In a Boston Globe story this week on how the U.S. is steering international aid money through religious conservative groups, Dybul called faith-based groups crucial partners and “stressed that he supports [President] Bush’s strategy of using abstinence, faithfulness, and condoms to fight AIDS,” but felt there has been too much reliance on condoms.

James Waggoner, president of Advocates for Youth, an international group promoting sex education for teens, lost $800,000 in federal grants overseen by Dybul because “it had been critical of the administration’s emphasis on abstinence.” Waggoner called the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, “a political slush fund for organizations that are ideologically aligned with the administration rather than public health organizations with a proven track record.”

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High Cost of Marriage Rights

The English lesbian couple that lost a suit to get their marriage in Canada recognized by the U.K. Court of Appeal will not appeal the decision due to the costs. Sue Wilkinson and Celia Kitzinger, both in their early 50s, were ordered to pay the equivalent of almost $50,000 to cover the government’s legal costs, Pink News reported.

The court said that they could only be recognized as a civil partnership. Their case is documented at EqualMarriageRights.org

Meanwhile, Ireland’s Supreme Court this week heard the appeal of Ann Louise Gilligan and Katherine Zappone, an Irish couple who married in British Columbia in 2003 and want their homeland to recognize it. The Irish Parliament is working on a civil partnership law similar to Britain’s.

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Prince Charles Praises Gay Cleric

The heir to the British throne and the title Defender of the Faith made waves by heralding a prominent late out gay clergyman amidst a row in the Anglican Church over gay issues, Pink News reported. Prince Charles wrote the forward to a book on the Reverend Harry Williams, who was a dean at Cambridge when the young Mr. Windsor was there, saying, “His courageous willingness to open up his inner soul and being and to speak from the heart about his own experience of the vicissitudes, complication, and agonies of life struck a powerful and immediate chord with huge numbers of undergraduates.” In a 1992 autobiography, “Some Day I’ll Find You,” Williams “caused shock in the Church” by writing openly of his gayness.

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