News Briefs

Weld Worsens

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Plaintiff in NJ Gay Marriage Case Dies

Marilyn Maneely, who has been participating since 2002 in Lambda Legal’s lawsuit seeking same-sex marriage rights in New Jersey, in an effort to marry her partner Diane Marini, died last week of ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The couple’s attorney, David Buckel of Lambda, said, “Diane tried to carry out Marilyn’s wishes to donate her body to research, but the hospital refused to let Diane sign the form because they were not married.”

Earlier this year, Lambda lost in an intermediate court in New Jersey. Their briefs to the state Supreme Court, noted for its openness to gay rights, are due in early October.

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It’s nice to have friends that big.

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Study: Marriage Aids Couples and Kids

A new report from the Brookings Institute and Princeton University says that marriage, including same-sex marriage, increases the wealth of the couple and improves the well-being of their children, Reuters reported. “Same-sex marriage may benefit children by increasing the durability and stability of their parents’ relationship,” the report, “The Future of Children,” stated.

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Zanzibar Backlash Against Gay Sex

Zanzibar is looking to bar gay couples from marriage and vastly increase the penalties for engaging in homosexual activity. Deputy Attorney General Omar Makungu told the BBC, “We have heard that same-sex marriages have taken place here and we wish to guard against this trend.” He has proposed raising the penalty for male-male sex to life imprisonment and for lesbian sex to seven years.

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Fiji: Gay Rights, But No Gay Sex

Fiji followed the example of South Africa in 1997 and became the second nation to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in its Constitution. But Tomasi Vakatora, who worked on the commission that drafted the new Constitution, told the Fiji Times that the commissioners did not consider the possibility that this move meant having to rescind the island nation’s sodomy laws.

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Up with Zapatero, Down with Berlusconi

A new poll put the favorable rating of Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero at 55 percent versus 35 percent for Mariano Rajoy, leader of the conservative opposition. Zapatero’s Socialist government legalized same-sex marriage this year and liberalized divorce laws. George W. Bush, who wants to ban same sex marriage in the U.S. Constitution, has a favorable rating somewhere between 39 and 42 percent, the lowest in his presidency. In Italy, right-wing Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will be faced next year with a challenge from Romano Prodi, the opposition leader who now leads in polls. Prodi promised ArciGay, the country’s LGBT rights group, that he would support legal recognition of couples “that are based on a bond other than marriage.”

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Gay Servicemembers May Cohabit

The British Ministry of Defence will permit member of the armed forces with same-sex partners to live together in housing set aside for married couples once they register under the Civil Partnership Act beginning in December.

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Leader in Fight for Gays in Military Dies

Theodore Sarbin, who wrote a 1988 Pentagon report calling on the U.S. military to drop the ban on gays and lesbians in the armed forces, died August 31 at the age of 94. A leading social psychologist and expert in “role theory,” according to The New York Times, he found that gay soldiers and sailors posed no security threat. He was denounced by Pentagon leaders, who tried to suppress the report. But it was leaked to Congress.

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Richard Hatch Faces Big Jail Time

The first person to win the jackpot on CBS’s “Survivor” show in 2000 faces up to 75 years in prison and a one million dollar fine for failing to pay taxes on his million-dollar prize and other income. Richard Hatch, 44, and gay, turned down a plea deal on the case earlier this year. He said that he believed it was CBS’s responsibility to pay the taxes.

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Equal Benefits for Miami Beach

Following the lead of San Francisco and the New York City Council, commissioners in Miami Beach gave a first round OK to a law that requires city contractors in most cases to provide domestic partner benefits to their employees. It is slated for a final vote on October 19. New York’s law never went into effect after Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg succeeded in challenging it in court. He won in the Appellate Division and attorneys for the City Council are appealing that decision to the state Court of Appeals.

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Edna/Harvey Plays Vegas

Harvey Fierstein will reprise his Tony Award-winning role as Edna Turnblad for 12 weeks as “Hairspray” opens in Las Vegas in January, along with Dick Latessa, as Edna’s husband, Wilbur. Fierstein, soon to be joined by Rosie O’Donnell in “Fiddler on the Roof” on Broadway, was said by Patrick Pacheco on NY-1 to be raking in $2 million for the three-month gig in Vegas in the musical inspired by the John Waters movie, which would make him the highest paid stage performer in history.

Fierstein himself quipped on NY-1, “I can be bought.” He also said that some of the worst comments about his teaming with O’Donnell have come from “self-hating” gay people.

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No Gay Seminarians, Says Archbishop

Edwin O’Brien, the Catholic archbishop who is set to conduct a purge of U.S. seminaries, told the National Catholic Reporter, “I think anyone who has engaged in homosexual activity, or has strong homosexual inclinations, would be best not to apply to a seminary and not be accepted into a seminary.”

A Vatican edict mandating the removal of gays from the priesthood is said to still be under wraps in Rome as Pope Benedict XVI, known for his anti-gay bigotry as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, decides when to reassert his bona fides as a doctrinal right-winger.

O’Brien was once a leading figure in the Archdiocese of New York, spearheading anti-gay political campaigns by the church here in the 1980s. He later became archbishop for the Military Services, USA. Purges he knows, apparently.

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