Manhattan borough president candidate Brian Ellner made history last week by coming out with a TV ad that featured his gay partner, beau Simon Holloway, a fashion designer whom he lives with in Chelsea. Rupert Murdoch’s Fox television affiliate in New York, Channel 5, refused to run the ad. Ellner said that his office was told by WNYW that the ad was turned down because it was “disrespectful to the president.” It features a picture of George W. Bush’s head mounted on a naked torso with the message that “The Emperor has no clothes.”
“What is truly disrespectful to Manhattan voters is to deny them the chance to hear a serious message from a candidate for public office. This is censorship and it’s un-American.” The campaign is contemplating legal action. Federal law prohibits media censorship of campaign ads for candidates for federal office, but local law is less clear.
Anti-Gay Marriage Referendum Drive Certified in Massachusetts
Attorney General Thomas Reilly, a Democrat, ruled today that a right-wing initiative aimed for the 2008 ballot that would ban same-sex marriage outright can go forward with collecting signatures. Proponents of that effort must gather 66,000 signatures by the end of November to put the measure in front of the state Legislature, which would only have to give the amendment a 25 percent vote of the combined Senate and House in two successive sessions for it to go in front of voters.
Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders argued that the referendum was illegal because it would overturn a decision of the Supreme Judicial Court, the 2003 marriage ruling won by that legal advocacy group.
The Legislature will meet in joint session on September 14 for a second vote on another amendment to the state Constitution to ban same-sex marriage and place it with civil union rights for gay and lesbian couples. That proposal passed the Legislature last year and must be approved again in the exact same language in order to go before the voters in 2006. Some supporters of the 2006 initiative were replaced in last November’s elections by legislators who favor gay marriage.
In a special election on August 30 for an open state Senate seat, a Somerville Democrat, Representative Pat Jehlen, who is a supporter of same-sex marriage rights, prevailed over three other candidates, two of whom voiced their strong opposition. As a result of the string of electoral victories the same-sex marriage forces have won since last November, Marty Rouse, who heads up MassEquality, a coalition of pro-gay groups, says he is “increasingly confident” that the 2006 amendment will be defeated next week by a wide margin. Rouse said that the political success that gay marriage advocates have demonstrated through intensive, door-to-door campaigning for the past year has not gone unnoticed by the state Legislature.
Responding to Reilly’s decision to let the 2008 effort go forward, Mass Equality issued as statement saying, “We are profoundly disappointed that Attorney General Reilly did not stand behind the plain and direct language of the Constitution which expressly forbids any initiative petition that would overturn a judicial decision. Reilly had the opportunity to save Massachusetts from a terrible, ugly public fight filled with toxic rhetoric that will harm gay and lesbian couples, their families and all citizens of the Commonwealth.
For more information on the battle to defend gay marriage in Massachusetts, visit massequality.org.
Former Governor James McGreevey of New Jersey, the “gay American” who resigned last year in the wake of charges that he gave inappropriate preference to his lover Golan Cipel for a sensitive state job, has kept a low profile since resigning leaving office in November. But he surfaced on Fire Island in late August at a fundraiser for Lambda Legal Defense where he was photographed with its executive director, Kevin Cathcart, the Newark Star-Ledger reported.
Steven Goldstein, president of Garden State Equality, the New Jersey LGBT lobby, told the newspaper, “My jaw dropped at the man’s chutzpah. Here’s a guy [McGreevey] who lied all through his administration about being gay while putting his male lover on the payroll. As governor, he fought gay marriage tooth and nail and now he’s on the gay social circuit at a party sponsored by the very organization that sued him for his position.”
Cathcart said he and McGreevey “didn’t talk about” his opposition to same-sex marriage. “We were not in a position to have a real conversation,” he said. “It was a major donor reception before a fundraising event. It wasn’t a setting that would lend itself to a political conversation.”
Asked if he would like McGreevey to reverse himself and support marriage rights for gay people, Cathcart said, “That would be a good thing. I think there will be conversations with him in the future. I hope his position evolves.”
McGreevey is planning to write a book and has not made himself available for interviews on that or any other subject.
No Anti-Gay Initiative in Spokane
Spokane, Washington has generated intense press scrutiny this year because of charges that Mayor James West, a foe of gay rights, had offered city jobs to young men he courted for sex online. Several accusers have also come forward alleging the mayor sexually abused them as youths decades ago. West is facing a recall vote this fall. In the wake of that flap, the City Council has stood up to a right-wing demand that it hold another ballot referendum seeking to repeal domestic partner benefits for municipal employees. The anti-gay forces failed to get enough signatures to put that question to the voters and appealed to the Council to do it for them. The request was rejected 5-2.
Utah Supremes Hear Lesbian Custody Case
Cheryl Pike Barlow says she has left “the gay lifestyle” and lesbian activism and been born again. She appealed to the Utah Supreme Court this Tuesday to give her sole custody of her three-year old daughter, cutting out her former partner, Keri Lynne Jones with whom she had entered into a civil union in Vermont.
“The justices must now decide if Utah visitation laws protect gay or unmarried couples raising children related by blood to only one partner,” the Salt Lake Tribune reported. The right-wing Alliance Defense Fund is representing Barlow. Jones has the National Center for Lesbian Rights on her side.
“I did not find happiness or much health [in the lesbian community],” Barlow told the court. “I pray that I will meet a man that will be able to understand my past.”
Jones was awarded visitation rights in December. Barlow fled to Texas to avoid letting her ex see their child and now faces a charge of custodial interference, a third-degree felony.
Ang Lee’s film adaptation of Annie Proulx’s New Yorker story, “Brokeback Mountain,” about cowboys who fall in love in Wyoming, is creating Oscar talk. It stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger and was recently screened at the Telluride and Venice Film Festivals. Tom O’Neil, an Oscar prognosticator, wrote at GoldDerby.com, “Looks like Ledger has finally ditched that dark cloud looking over everything he stars in.” The Guardian (UK) gave the film four stars.
Also of gay note at the festivals was Philip Seymour Hoffman’s portrayal of the late Truman Capote in “Capote.”
Hawaii Sued over Treatment of LGBT Youth in Detention
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit on September 1 on behalf of young people “who say they’ve been abused and harassed because of their sexual orientation and gender identity while at the state’s juvenile detention facility,” the group said in a release.
Officials at Hawaii’s Youth Correctional Facility “ignored and sometimes even participated in an atmosphere of anti-gay harassment, humiliation, and fear… despite repeated pleas by doctors and psychologists” concerned about the well-being of the youths, the suit charges.
The plaintiffs also charge that correctional officers referred to the relationship between two girls as “this butchie shit” and made lewd remarks to them such as, “You two eating fish earlier?”
Other charges lodged in the complaint include male wards threatening a boy perceived to be gay with rape in the shower and rubbing semen into his face; a head administrator calling a meeting of all girls in the facility to chastise a female couple as “disgusting;” and a male-to-female transgendered student being harassed and transferred to the boy’s unit where she was assaulted and groped in front of guards who did nothing.
Kansans Approve of “Pedophiles Marrying their Prey”
Matthew Koso, 22, moved to Kansas with his wife, Crystal, 14, to avoid prosecution for statutory rape in Nebraska. They started dating when Crystal was 12 and married when she got pregnant. Her parents gave their blessings and so do the people of Kansas, the same ones who overwhelmingly banned same-sex marriage in their Constitution.
“Kansas approves of pedophiles marrying their prey,” wrote Alfred Doblin, editorial page editor of the Herald News in New Jersey. “There is nothing healthy about a grown man pursuing a little girl, impregnating her, and then walking down the aisle. Crystal Koso, the mother of Matthew’s baby girl, is in the ninth grade. But in the same state that united them in matrimony, two adults of the same sex cannot legally wed.”
Katrina May Have Destroyed Pope’s Gift to Confederacy
Just a few days after the flood in New Orleans, John Zmirak, author of “The Bad Catholic’s Guide to Good Living,” a native of the city, wrote in the New York Post about the cultural artifacts that may have been lost. He made special note of the Confederate Museum which housed “a crown of thorns woven by Pope Pius IX, sent to an imprisoned Jefferson Davis,” the former president of the Confederate States of America. That’s a hell of a thing to be worrying about at this time.
Ohio Anti-Gay Amendment Voids Domestic Violence Cases
Buckeyes also blithely banned same-sex marriage and the incidents of marriage for unmarried couples in their Constitution last year. Now judges are being forced by that amendment to throw out charges of domestic violence in cases where the couple is not married. Fifteen cases have been voided so far and sent to the Court of Appeals.
The Legislature is looking at closing the loophole this fall, though politicians are pledging not to give even the hint of sanction to any gay relationships.
Gay Characters Down on TV
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation reports that less than two percent of the 710 fictional “series regulars” on broadcast television are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered. “This is a shocking misrepresentation of reality and of the audience watching these programs,” Damon Romine, entertainment media director for the group told PlanetOut. He said that there is a particular dearth of lesbians and LGBT characters of color. Richard Kravitz of TVgayguide.com told the Web news site that GLAAD could have better balanced its assessment by taking into consideration the wealth of gay folks on reality shows and the trend of out gay actors playing non-gay roles.
Copenhagen Gets Outgames
The Gay and Lesbian International Sports Association has awarded the 2009 Outgames to Copenhagen. The group will hold its first games in Montreal July 26-August 5, 2006. Montreal had been set to host the Gay Games, but lost them in a dispute with the Federation of Gay Games. Chicago will host the Gay Games July 15-22, 2006. No host city for the 2010 Gay Games has yet been selected.