News Briefs

Weld Flip-Flops on Marriage

“His recent statements represent a complete and disappointing reversal of his original position,” said Alan Van Capelle of the Empire State Pride Agenda, the state’s LGBT rights political group.

Were Weld, a relatively liberal Republican, to win the 2006 Republican nomination, he would most likely face Eliot Spitzer, the Democratic state attorney general and a supporter of gay marriage rights.

Weld skipped a fundraiser for LGBT youth on Long Island on Sunday at the home of his next-door neighbor out there, despite having signed on as a sponsor of the event in Bellport. He sent his spouse in his stead, an option he would deny to gay people.

Massachusetts Legislature Returns to Marriage in September

Leaders of the Massachusetts Legislature announced Wednesday that a special joint session Constitutional Convention will be held on September 14 to take the next step in a process that could lead to a November 2006 voter referendum on the question of amending the state Constitution to bar same-sex marriage, and instead institute civil unions for gay and lesbian couples.

The ballot question was approved by a similar gathering last year, but needs passage in two successive terms of the Legislature before going in front of voters. The measure passed by a narrow margin in last year’s session, and several anti-gay legislators were replaced in the November elections by supporters of gay marriage. However, some of those who opposed the measure last year were holding out for a ban on marriage, with no compensating provision for same-sex marriage, and might decide to support it this year.

Marty Rouse, who heads up Mass Equality, an umbrella group working to protect gay marriage there, said the group is “not happy” about the surprisingly early date for the Constitutional Convention. He noted that the public tally on the amendment has changed by only two votes, not enough to defeat the effort, but would not speculate on how many other votes the group is hoping to change.

Support for the amendment converting marriages into civil unions seemed to lose steam several months ago when Republican Governor Mitt Romney, an ardent foe of gay marriage, pulled his support in favor of a measure, initiated by voter petition, that could not reach voters until 2008, but would eliminate same-sex marriage and provide no substitute. Progress on that effort, however, awaits a ruling from state Attorney General Tom Reilly, a Democrat. If Reilly’s ruling, expected by Labor Day, derails that effort, anti-gay forces might once again rally to the original amendment.

For information on the effort to protect gay marriage in Massachusetts, visit MassEquality.org. Financial donations are being sought.

Oral Arguments in City Marriage Case September 13

Appellate court oral arguments in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s challenge to a February State Supreme Court ruling ordering the city clerk to issue same-sex marriage licenses will be heard on September 13, which is also primary day in New York City. Justice Doris Ling-Cohan had ruled that the state Constitution’s equal protection guarantee required that gay couples enjoy the same access to marriage as heterosexuals. Bloomberg, even as he broke his long silence by announcing his support for same-sex marriage rights, said an appeal was necessary to avoid New York City marriages later being overturned by a higher court. In several other lawsuits filed around the state, gay plaintiffs have lost the first round, and the issue is expected to be finally decided by the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest. That court, however, earlier this year declined a request to immediately consolidate all the cases and bypass the intermediate appeals level.

Neil Giuliano, the former mayor of Tempe, Arizona, has been hired as the new president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, replacing Joan Garry who led the group for eight years.

Giuliano, a Republican, came out in 1996 after two years as mayor. During his tenure, he got an LGBT rights bill through as well as domestic partnership benefits for city employees. When the right wing mounted a recall campaign against him, 70 percent voted to keep him as mayor.

Lopez Receives Matching Funds

Lesbian City Councilwoman Margarita Lopez last week received public matching funds for her Manhattan borough president campaign—but she had to make a payment first equaling almost half of what she was awarded. Two weeks ago, Lopez’s campaign was jolted when the Campaign Finance Board withheld her funds, claiming she still owed the agency a “significant amount” of unspent funds out of the $143,682 in taxpayers’ money she received for her 2001 City Council reelection campaign. Some of Lopez’s qualified expenses weren’t adequately documented, according to CFB.

Tanya Domi, a CFB spokeswoman, said an agreement was reached under which Lopez paid the board $185,877, in return for which she was awarded $382,239 in matching funds.

As for where Lopez got the $185,877, Domi said this money was in the form of “personal loans,” and that she could not describe it anymore than that. Lopez declined comment on the source of the loan, saying it was “a private matter.”

Judge Roberts on AIDS

Evidence abounds that the Reagan administration fiddled while the AIDS crisis raged out of control. It emerged last week that John G. Roberts, nominated to the Supreme Court by President George W. Bush, contributed to the problem. He urged that a 1985 memo briefing President Ronald Reagan on AIDS delete the sentence, “As far as our best scientists have been able to determine, [the] AIDS virus is not transmitted through casual or routine contact.”

Joe Solmonese of the Human Rights Campaign told PlanetOut, “That he counseled President Reagan against using sound science to reassure a fearful nation is a concerning revelation.”

African American Gay Men Speak Up on HIV

Fifty-one prominent black gay men from Hollywood director Paris Barclay to Phill Wilson, founder of the Black AIDS Institute, headquarter in Los Angeles, signed an “Open Letter to Black Gay and Bisexual Men,” expressing alarm at a near-50 percent infection rate among them and calling for the creation of a “cultural shift to where knowing your HIV status is the norm, where those of us who are not infected are committed to stay that way, and where those of us who are positive refuse to engage in behaviors that might expose our brothers to the virus.

“How many black gay men have to get infected, get sick, and die before we—not CDC, not the Congressional Black Caucus, not the large AIDS organizations, but us—mobilize and take action?”

The Cause of Lesbianism

Grammy-award winning rapper Kanye West, 27, called for an end to hip-hop’s war on gay people. During an MTV interview, he admitted that he has been anti-gay himself, but was healed by his cousin’s coming out to him. “Not just hip-hop,” he said, “but America discriminates. And I wanna just, to come on TV and just tell my rappers, just tell my friends, ‘Yo, stop it.’”

The two men who killed Steven Goedereis, 29, in 1998 in West Palm Beach, Florida, because he was gay dropped their not guilty pleas during their retrial on Monday and “apologized to the dead man’s family,” the Palm Beach Post reported.

Bryan Donahue, 23, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for second-degree murder. William Dodge, 24, got 16 years for third degree murder “with hatred.”

Steven’s father, also named Steven, said, “We’re satisfied. The system works. We can move on with our lives.”

Aruba Ordered to Recognize Lesbian Nuptial

Charlene and Esther Obuder-Lamers were married in the Netherlands in 2001, but when they returned to Aruba and tried to register their marriage in the Dutch territory, they were denied and had such violence heaped upon them that they fled to Holland. Now Aruba’s Superior Court has ruled that their marriage must be “inscribed in the register” to “comply with the demands of the Kingdom” of the Netherlands.

Dutch law mandates that all “members of the Kingdom” give efficacy to each other’s contracts, including marriage licenses. Last week, a spokesman for the Aruban government, Ruben Trapenberg, said, “If we accept gay marriage, would we next have to accept Holland’s marijuana bars and euthanasia? They have their culture, we have ours.”

Crystal Meth Use Linked to HIV Infection

A new study of gay men in San Francisco found that those who used meth had three times the rate of HIV infection than those who did not. “Crystal meth use is the newest and most important threat to [sic] the HIV epidemic in the United States,” said Dr. James Dilley of the AIDS Health Project at the University of California-San Francisco.

DC Comics has told the Kathleen Cullen Fine Art Gallery in Manhattan to “cease and desist” from displaying paintings by Mark Chamberlain showing Batman and Robin both naked and kissing. Graphic artist Chris Cooper said that in the past, DC Comics has been “relatively pro-gay” and “had openly gay characters long before their rivals… But it’s fairly standard for a media company like DC to try to protect their franchises.” The move is unlikely to stop rampant speculation about Bruce Wayne and his young ward Dick Grayson.

Star Plays Gay Role for Peanuts

Ewan McGregor, a big star in Hollywood, has agreed to play a gay man in the dark comedy “Scenes of a Sexual Nature” for $510 a week. The film about seven couples on one afternoon is shooting in London and will also feature Eileen Atkins and Sophie Okonedo, nominated for an Academy Award for “Hotel Rwanda.” Aschlin Ditta, who wrote the script, said, “We were a bit cheeky, writing to everybody that we did. But we ended up getting our first choices.”

Princess Margaret Pic Tells of Lesbian Affair

A Channel Four UK movie about the late Princess Margaret, the only sibling of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, will feature scenes from her rumored two-year affair with Sharman Douglas, daughter of the U.S. ambassador to the Court of St. James. “The Queen’s Sister,” due in November, will also show her engaging in “fierce lovemaking” with Lord Snowdon, the husband she divorced in 1978, now 75, who is “livid” about the movie according to the Telegraph.

“If you knew somebody was making a film in which your wife was portrayed as having lesbian affairs, drinking too much and having rows, what would you do?,” said Snowdon, the former Anthony Armstrong Jones,

Lucy Cohu, who plays the princess, said, “Margaret had a lot of sex, but who doesn’t?”

Margaret died in 2002 at age 71.

Lord Olivier’s Gay Loves

Liz Smith reported that “Olivier, the Authorized Biography” by Terry Coleman deals with the great actor’s “homosexual liaisons.” This is being done with the consent of his widow, actress Dame Joan Plowright, and son, Richard, but over the objections of Tarquin Olivier, a son from an earlier marriage.

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