News Briefs

Local Political Advances Across the Nation

Christine Quinn’s rise to speaker of the New York City Council comes in a week with significant gay and lesbian political strides nationwide. In Suffolk County on Long Island, John Cooper, a six-year gay veteran of the County Legislature from Huntington, was elected majority leader of the 10-member Democratic conference. Cooper is the first Democratic majority leader in the 36-year history of the County Legislature. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, Ken Reeves, a board member of the Bay State Stonewall Democrats, was elected mayor by the City Council. Reeves, who served in the same position during the 1990s, was the first openly-gay African-American mayor in the U.S. Paula Aboud, a founder of the Southern Arizona Stonewall Democrats, has been selected as the new state senator from Tucson by a unanimous vote of the Pima County Board of Supervisors who were filling a vacancy created by a resignation, PageOneQ.com reported. Two out gay men serve in the Arizona Legislature, both Phoenix Democrats—Senator Ken Cheuvront and Representative Robert Meza.

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National Black Gay Summit Planned

The National Black Justice Coalition is convening a summit meeting in Atlanta January 20 and 21 to “develop specific strategies that will challenge homophobic attitudes in our nation’s black religious institutions from the seminary to the pulpit,” according to Dr. Sylvia Rhue, the group’s director of religious affairs. Among those who will participate in the summit is the Reverend Al Sharpton who pledged last year to make issues relating to LGBT people in the African American community a priority.

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Gearing up for Alito

Groups for and against President George W. Bush’s choice of Samuel Alito to replace Sandra Day O’Connor on the U.S. Supreme Court shifted into high gear as the Senate Judiciary Committee plans to open hearings on the nomination next Monday. Among the Democrats on the panel are New York’s Chuck Schumer and Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts. National right-wing groups are planning a “Justice Sunday III” rally in Philadelphia on Sunday to fulminate against “activist judges” and in favor of Alito. AIDS activists plan a protest rally against the event at 7 p.m. outside the Greater Exodus Baptist Church at 714 North Broad Street.

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Massachusetts Gays Seek to Block Amendment

Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, the legal group that won the historic 2003 decision opening marriage to same-sex couples in Massachusetts, filed suit this week to challenge the legitimacy of a proposed amendment to the state constitution banning it. The group says that it is illegal to bring an amendment that “relates to the reversal of a judicial decision.” State Attorney General Tom Reilly, a Democrat and gubernatorial hopeful who says he personally supports same-sex marriage, certified the language of the amendment as legitimate. Despite evidence of widespread fraud in the signature collection process, it is not believed that enough of the signatures gathered can be invalidated to stop the amendment that way. If GLAD’s suit is unsuccessful, the amendment needs just 50 of 200 votes in the state Legislature in two successive sessions to get on the November 2008 ballot.

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Right Wing Pissed at Romney

Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has been trying to parlay his opposition to same-sex marriage in the only state where it is legal into a bid for the Republican nomination for president. But some conservative members of his party are troubled that he has been facilitating some gay weddings by granting one-day waivers to out-of-state ministers who come to the Bay State to perform them. Joan Wheeler, chair of the GOP in Cherokee County, South Carolina, told the Boston Globe, “I think it will be difficult for him, because in my opinion it looks like he’s doing just the opposite from what he believes.” Romney’s office says he is just applying the law equally. Meanwhile, Romney is vigorously enforcing a 1913 law—originally enacted to protect the racist miscegenation laws elsewhere—that bars the state from marrying out-of-state couples whose marriages won’t be recognized in their home states. New York couples are barred by the 1913 law, even though Democratic Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has ruled out-of-state gay marriages must recognized by New York State, and that city law says the same thing. The 1913 law is being challenged in Massachusetts’ highest court.

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Eyes on Washington State

A decision from the Supreme Court of the state of Washington is due any Thursday now as to whether same-sex couples have the right to marry there. That suit was argued by the American Civil Liberties Union Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. The state Legislature will again take up an LGBT rights bill this year. It was narrowly defeated in the last session after the Microsoft Corporation withdrew its support for it, bowing to right-wing pressure. The company, which has strong pro-gay employment policies, has since reversed itself.

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Brit Muslim Leader: Homosexuality Harmful

Sir Iqbal Sacranie, leader of the Muslim Council of Britain, condemned the new Civil Partnership Law as “harmful” to the family and said “there is a good reason” that homosexuality is unacceptable, noting in a BBC interview “scientific evidence” that it causes “illnesses and diseases.” Peter Tatchell of the gay rights group Outrage! called Sacranie’s comments “tragic,” adding, “Both the Muslim and gay communities suffer prejudice and discrimination. We should stand together to fight Islamophobia and homophobia.”

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Poet Tory Dent Succumbs to HIV

East Villager Tory Dent, who learned she was HIV-positive at 30, has died at 47 of complications related to the syndrome. Among her published works of poetry related to her disease were “What Silence Equals” and “HIV, Mon Amour” that The New York Times said “contained unflinching graphically detailed verse accounts of her fight with the disease.” She is survived by her husband, Sean Harvey.

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Author Marjorie Kellogg Dead at 83

Marjorie Kellogg, author of the 1968 best-selling “Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon,” about disabled people living together, has died at 83 in California after being a longtime Manhattan resident. The cause was complications from Alzheimer’s. Liza Minnelli starred in the 1970 film version of “Junie Moon,” directed by Otto Preminger. Kellogg is survived by her partner, actress Sylvia Short, The New York Times reported.

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Memo to John Tierney: Not All Women Want Men

Conservative New York Times columnist John Tierney wrote a column this week lamenting the gender gap in education, asking, “When there are three women for every two men graduating from college, whom will the third woman marry?” He made no acknowledgment that a god number of those women will marry or partner with other women and that others are happy on their own.

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LGBT Midseason TV Replacements

Four network television series are being launched with gay characters in the mix. NBC’s “The Book of Daniel,” condemned by religious right groups for being anti-Christian, stars Aidan Quinn as an Episcopal priest with a gay Republican son portrayed by Christian Campbell. It premieres on January 6. ABC’s launches “Emily’s Reasons Why Not” on January 9. It revolves around a young single woman played by Heather Graham, but she has a gay best friend and he has a boyfriend, the couple played by Khary Payton and Michael Benyaer respectively. Also on ABC is “Crumbs” starting January 12 about a whacky family whose most sane member will be the gay son portrayed by Fred Savage, star of “The Wonder Years.” CBS gets into the act with “Love Monkey,” bowing January 17, features Christopher Wiehl as a gay sidekick to star Tom Cavanagh. In addition, out gay actor Alan Cumming becomes a regular in the third season of Showtime’s “The L Word,” kicking off on January 8. In May, NBC’s “Will and Grace” will end its eighth and final season.

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