News Briefs

Brooklyn Gays Protest Religious Bigotry

Markowitz told Crain’s Business New York that many groups use Borough Hall.

Catholic Flip-Flop in San Diego

The Catholic Church’s leaders usually say that they are espousing eternal truths, but the position of one California bishop turned around completely within a few days.

Brom was being fed the dirt by James Hartline, a local anti-pornography activist who has AIDS and has renounced his homosexuality. "I used to go to Mr. McCusker’s clubs, I know what goes on there," he told the Los Angeles Times.

McCusker’s funeral was held at the Episcopal Cathedral of St. Paul and was attended by 500 mourners. San Diego activists plan a memorial vigil for him on Friday to press for more dialogue with religious leaders on the controversy. This past Monday, Brom had a change of heart and met with McCusker’s parents and apologized “for the anguish this has caused them.” While not saying he was wrong to block the funeral, he offered to say a mass of thanksgiving for the bar owner’s life. That didn’t go far enough for some gay leaders and was interpreted as a betrayal by the right wingers who had lobbied him to deny the funeral rites.

Mike Portantino, publisher of San Diego’s Gay and Lesbian Times, told the Los Angeles Times, “I think in [Brom’s] mind, John was just a sleazy bar owner and he could do this to make a point. What he didn’t realize was what a bright, fun, decent person he was and how many lives he had touched." McCusker, 31, died of a heart attack while on a ski trip.

State Action on Same-Sex Marriage

Michigan’s Attorney General Mike Cox issued an opinion that governmental entities in the state can no longer provide domestic partner benefits for their employees under the new state constitutional ban that said the “only relationship that may be given any recognition or acknowledgement of validity is the union of one man and one woman in marriage.” Proponents of the measure had argued it would only ban gay marriage, but are using it to knock off municipal domestic partner rights. Cox’s ruling will be challenged in court.

New Mexico’s House adjourned without acting on a defense of marriage act passed by the State Senate. It was considered likely to be pass if it got to the floor, but the clock ran out on it for this year. Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat who was the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations during the Clinton administration, had said he would sign a bill defining marriage as just between men and women, but preferred a bill that would also grant civil union benefits to same-sex couples as an alternative.

Indiana’s House voted 76-23 for an amendment to the state Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Already passed by the Senate, the amendment has to be approved again by the Legislature elected in 2006 before it can go before Hoosier voters in 2008.

The Board of Regents in Montana voted to extend insurance coverage to gay and lesbian domestic partners of employees of the state university system, responding to a court decision striking down the board’s exclusion of such benefits.

Frist: Accept Scouts or Else

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican, wants to make it illegal for public facilities to deny meeting space to the Boy Scouts of America. While the Scouts won a constitutional right to discriminate against gays in a 2000 U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned the unanimous verdict of New Jersey’s highest court, some local governments that protect gay rights have banned the group from special treatment like free meeting space or sponsorship.

A story on 365gay.com noted that the Scouts have lost membership since gaining a reputation as an anti-gay outfit and that the FBI is investigating whether the group has been inflating its membership numbers “to gain funding.”

Canada Marriage Bill Has Votes

The titanic battle over a same-sex marriage bill in Canada’s Parliament will not be resolved until a late June vote. But marriagevote.com, a Web site tracking the vote, reports that 164 members of Parliament are now on board with the bill, with 154 votes needed for passage. The site says that 134 members are open in their opposition, even though gays can marry in most parts of Canada under provincial and territorial court rulings.

Unitarian Church Vandalized Upstate

Matthew Fox, 49, has been charged with spray painting anti-gay messages outside the Unitarian Universalist Church in Binghamton, NY. The alleged perpetrator has been a member of the congregation for 30 years, but had become agitated about its increasing acceptance of gay people and rights, including civil marriage for gay couples.

Episcopal Scots OK Gay Priests

The Scottish Episcopal Church’s bishops said they had “never regarded the fact that someone was in a close relationship with a member of the same sex as in itself constituting a bar to the exercise of an ordained minister,” The Guardian reported. The bishops said that their priests bless gay couples from time to time and are “indebted” to “persons of a homosexual orientation.”

The stance is a rebuke to conservative forces in the Anglican Communion, of which the Scottish church is a part, who have fomented schism over the U.S. Episcopal Church’s consecration of a gay man, Gene Robinson, as bishop of New Hampshire and the practice of blessing gay unions in parts of the U.S. and Canada.

Earlier this month, American bishops voted in response to the crisis not to consecrate any new bishops for a year rather adopting a new policy to not confirming gay men or women as bishops.

Bisexual Harassment in TV Land

Pat O’Brien, host of TV’s “The Insider,” has checked into a rehabilitation center after his “taste for hookers, cocaine, and adventurous (if possibly unhygienic) sex” was exposed this week, the New York Post reported. The story noted that O’Brien was reprimanded for sexual harassment in his “Access Hollywood” days, including for licking co-host Nancy O’Dell’s face and groping Shaun Robinson.

In addition to harassing those women, O’Brien was said to have offered a gay male producer a “gift,” by asking him to “bend over.” He also asked the man, “What would you do if I masturbated in front of you?”

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