News Briefs

Gay Man Murdered in Iowa

Police have arrested Joseph Lawrence, 23, for the murder of Jason Gage, 29, who was found beaten with a bottle and stabbed in the neck in his Waterloo, Iowa, apartment two weeks ago.

Lawrence has been charged with first-degree murder and seems to be trying to mount a homosexual panic defense. His fiancé, who is six months pregnant, has said that the suspect told her that Gage made sexual advances on him. The men met at a bar several days before the killing and went on a pub-crawl, including the gay bar Kings and Queens, the night of the slaying.

A popular, well-liked hairdresser, Gage’s funeral was attended by hundreds of mourners. His friends and family are trying to raise money to establish a scholarship in his name.

Life for Arizona Killer

David A. Higdon, 22, received a life sentence for the brutal murder of Philip Walsted, 24, in Tucson in 2002. What began as a robbery ended with the neo-Nazi Higdon bludgeoning Walsted 20 times with a baseball bat.

Maine Passes Gay Rights Law Again

A Massachusetts Move to Ban Gay Marriage

Kansas Votes on Marriage Amendment

Kansans go to the polls on April 5 to decide whether or not to ban same-sex marriage and all “the legal incidents of marriage” for unmarried couples. Opponents of the measure hope to persuade voters that the broadly written ban will have unintended consequences and to link it with the ultra-right antics of Topeka minister Fred Phelps, but it is widely expected to pass as it has in all 15 other states it has been proposed.

Kansans for Fairness got 50 clergy members to sign on to a statement opposing the amendment.

Elsewhere, a similar amendment in South Carolina gets its first state Senate hearingon March 31. The measure has already passed in the House.

Yalies Barred as Clerks over Gay Issue

Federal Judge William M. Acker, Jr., 77, of the U.S. Court for the Northern District of Alabama in Birmingham, has told Yale University he will no longer accept any of its law students as clerks because the school limits access to military recruiters due to the Pentagon’s policy excluding gay people.

“Some of my very best law clerks have been from the law school from which I proudly graduated,” Acker wrote to Dean Harold Hongju Koh. “I hereby recognize that this publicly announced decision will hurt me more than the allowing of military recruiters would hurt Yale Law School.”

Lesbian Couple Barred, then Accepted at a Church

Mary Horon and Cheryl Mathers, who had a Vermont civil union in 2000, have been barred from St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in St. Claire Shores, Michigan after they tried to register as a couple. “The priest said he couldn’t have any gay people in his church,” Horon told the Macomb Daily. “He called us ‘sinners.’”

The Archdiocese of Detroit issued a statement saying, “To register in a parish as a ‘gay couple’ provides, in fact, a recognition the Church cannot concede.”

Mathers said, “We called 20 other churches and they all said they would welcome us.” They chose St. Basil the Great Roman Catholic Church in Eastpointe.

Mary Cheney’s Silence to Be Broken

The lesbian daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney has been signed by his former aide, Mary Matalin, to write a book on the campaign in which the younger Cheney’s sexuality became an issue. Mary Cheney refused to comment publicly while President Bush came out for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Mr. Cheney opposed it, and Democratic candidates John Kerry and John Edwards referred to her lesbianism in debates with Pres. Bush and Cheney.

Wisconsin Partner Benefits in Doubt

State legislative leaders have moved to delete a line in Gov. Jim Doyle’s budget for domestic partner benefits at the University of Wisconsin, calling it a “fiscal issue.” Wisconsin is the only Big-Ten school not to offer the benefits and several prominent gay and lesbian faculty members have resigned in recent years because of the inequity.

The governor was asking for half a million dollars to fund the benefit program. The Legislature typically allocates $5 million so that state university campuses can make counter offers to faculty members who might go to competing institutions, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

South Africa: Inmates Sex Rights

The Judicial Inspectorate of Prisons in South Africa says that sex between inmates is “a basic right and could help root out widespread rape behind bars,” 365Gay.com reported. It may also help reduce the spread of AIDS in prisons.

Correctional officials disagree with the finding, contending that the line between consensual sex and rape in prison is “vague,” the story said.

Child Porn Rap for Scout Head

Douglas B. Smith, national director of Youth Protection for the Boy Scouts of America, pleaded guilty on March 30 to charges of collecting and distributing child pornography on the Internet. Smith, 61, a 39-year veteran of Scouting, was a defender of the group’s policy of excluding gay scouts and masters. He lives in Colleyville, Texas, near Fort Worth.

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