News Briefs

Pope Benedict XVI is sitting on a blockbuster document from the Vatican mandating that gay men be barred from Catholic priesthood. The paper argues that it is “unfair” to gay men to put them into all-male seminaries, subjecting them to temptation, The Observer (UK) reported.

Benedict, a conservative hardliner, is said to be worried about issuing the edict at this early stage of his papacy as he tries to cultivate a more pastoral image. He may also be worried about who will be left to say mass.

“Transgender Panic Defense” Prevails in Fresno

Estanisloa Martinez was sentenced to four years in prison for killing Joel Robles after he discovered Robles was biologically male. His lawyers used a “transgender panic defense.” Martinez stabbed Robles 20 times last year.

Geoffrey Kors of Equality California condemned the light sentence, demanding reform of the criminal justice system to end such defenses.

On another California case involving the murder of a transgendered individual, Chris Daley of the Transgender Law Center praised the work of the Alameda County district attorney’s office for its handling of the re-trial of the alleged murderers of Gwen Araujo, a 17-year-old brutally slain in 2002, which should wrap up this week.

Maryland Marriage Case Heard

The American Civil Liberties Union asked a Maryland circuit court in Baltimore to strike down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage Tuesday. “Our children need the same family protections that all families need,” said Alvin Williams, one the plaintiffs.

More than 100 religious leaders signed a friend-of-the-court brief for the ACLU in the case. It will take more than a year for the case to be resolved by the state’s high court.

Republicans on Same-Sex Marriage

Former U.N. Ambassador John Danforth told the Log Cabin Republicans in Missouri that he opposed an amendment to the federal constitution to ban same-sex marriage and voted against a state amendment to do the same in Missouri. The Episcopal priest and former U.S. senator doesn’t support marriage for gay couples, but believes in “some sort of method of honoring and respecting” these relationships.

A constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions in Massachusetts would not invalidate gay marriages licensed before the voters could adopt such a measure in 2008. More than 6,500 gay and lesbian marriages have already been certified there. To get the ballot measure approved by Democratic state Attorney General Thomas Reilly, the right wing has to show that it wouldn’t reverse a judicial decision, a no-no in the state Constitution. Reilly has to rule on the validity of the amendment by September 7. State legislators meet September 14 for a second vote on a different amendment, which they gave first round approval to last year and if endorsed again would go before voters in November 2006, to limit marriage to male-female couples but also create civil unions with all of the state prerogatives of marriage. For more information on the battle to protect gay marriage in that state, visit MassEquality.org.

Nigeria Delays Capital Trial of Gay Men

Two men on trial for having sex in a toilet in Nigeria had their case adjourned until September 8 when the complaining cops didn’t show up. They face death by stoning if convicted under Sharia law, which claims as its basis the Islamic Koran. The case has attracted international protests, including from members of the U.S. Congress led by gay Congressman Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts.

Gay Adultery Recognized in Canada

It had to happen. Up until this week, Canadian law said adultery had to involve people of different sexes. A woman in Vancouver charged her husband with adultery for cheating on her with another man, and a British Columbia court ruled that he had. Her lawyer, barbara finley, told the Globe National the “increasing number of same-sex marriages would inevitably lead to same-sex affairs.” When adultery is proven, couples can divorce without a one-year waiting period.

Dad Who Killed ‘Gay’ Toddler Sentenced

Ronnie Paris, 22, who beat his three-year-old son because he perceived the child to be gay was sentenced to 30 years in prison on August 26 in Tampa. Paris slammed the boy’s head into a wall, sending him into a coma. He died six days after the attack.

Hong Kong Anti-Sodomy Laws Struck Down

The High Court in Hong Kong invalidated the province’s laws against sodomy last week, calling them “demeaning to gay men.” One of the laws struck down mandated a life sentence if either of the participants were under 21. William Roy Leung, 20, who challenged the law, said, “I can finally have a loving relationship without being scared of [being] thrown into jail for life.” In the past five years, 63 men were arrested for “gross indecency.”

Breakthrough in Fiji

The high court in Fiji has ordered the release of an Australian man sentenced to prison for having sex with a man from the islands. The trial judge had said that the consensual gay lovemaking would cause “any sane person to vomit.” The high court said that this judge did not take into consideration the fact that the men were not offered legal representation before their guilty pleas. It also said that the sodomy law violated the right to privacy and equality.

Army in Gay Recruitment Drive

Not here, silly—in Britain. Soldiers marched in Manchester’s Gay Pride parade on August 27 and ran a recruitment booth at the festival. The ban on gays and lesbians in the military was lifted in Britain five years ago after a case was won at the European Court of Human Rights.

Gay Bills to Arnold

The California Legislature sent three pro-gay bills to Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, one protecting the domestic partners of public employees from losing state retirement benefits when a partner dies. Also passed were measures to strengthen protections in jobs and public accommodations against sexual orientation, gender identity, and marital status bias and another to prevent discrimination against LGBT folks in political campaigns.

Mayor Welcomes Leather Festival

Not here, silly—in Berlin. Out gay mayor Klaus Wowereit, 51, wrote the opening greeting for “Folsom Europe Fest,” saying, “The first weekend in September will be marked by pure joie de vivre. The international leather and fetish scene is meeting for the second time in Berlin.”

Communists Give Crucial Support to Czech Gay Bill

The Czech Republic has three times rejected legislation to give same-sex partners some legal recognition. Now the Communist members of Parliament have thrown their support behind the bill and it is expected to pass before the end of the year.

Bye-Bye Big Cup

Farewell to the Big Cup java joint on Eighth Avenue in Chelsea, which brought a West Coast style to the New York gay scene. Rising rents forced the owners to close after 11 years of providing a laid back place to take your caffeine, chill, cruise, or chat with friends. The New York Times reported that some employees are trying to reopen it “under new ownership.”

Naked Boys Suing

Vice cops in Milwaukee closed down a production of “Naked Boys Singing,” the long-running revue featuring lots of what the boys themselves call “gratuitous nudity.” The city was acting on a complaint from a local right-wing minister. Neither the police nor the minister had seen the show. Now the Milwaukee Gay Arts Center is suing the city for $634,420 in damages, claiming that the anti-obscenity law was used against them because of their sexual orientation. The local law that forbids frontal nudity—abundant in the show—is supposed to exempt productions with “serious artistic merit,” which the show also has in abundance.

Fred Phelps Goes Abroad

The Rev. Fred Phelps of God Hates Fags Ministries continues to outdo his own perverse self. He is now picketing U.S. military funerals because this country has turned from his God. Now he is off to Sweden where, he said, “The king looks like an anal-copulator and his grinning kids look slutty and gay.” On his Web site, the Topeka, Kansas, preacher said to the Swedish people: “You are drippings from the Devil’s penis—a veritable sperm bank for Satan’s queers.”

No word on the festivities planned for his arrival.

Correction

A couple of weeks ago in a story about anti-gay bigotry on the “Don Imus Show” on WFAN radio and MSNBC-TV, we reported that one of the I-man’s sidekicks derided a movie review by A.O. Scott of The New York Times as sounding like it was “written by a bitter homo.” We reported that Scott is gay. He is not. Scott did not ask for a correction, but we want to keep the record “straight.”

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