News Briefs

Giuliani Continues to Oppose Same-Sex Marriage

Novak wrote, “Giuliani protested that he never supported same-sex marriage, only civil unions. Lott then advised that in Mississippi, they don’t see any difference” between the two.

Gay Man Killed in Bronx

The Daily News reports that police are investigating whether Marvin Page, 54, of Ryer Avenue in the Tremont section of the Bronx was killed and set afire by a robber or a “male lover.” The murder occurred on Sunday night. Page’s throat was slit, he was stabbed in the back and the perpetrator set his body on fire “to cover up the slaying,” according to police.

The victim worked for a Harlem drug treatment center and “always had different men coming and going from his home, neighbors told detectives,” according to the newspaper.

Police said, however, that the killing could also have resulted from a robbery. They are asking anyone with information to call 800-577-TIPS.

Disabled Gay Veteran Wins Full Tax Break

Gay rights advocates in New Jersey are hailing a ruling by a state tax judge that found that Louis Paul Hennefeld, a disabled gay veteran who served during the Korean and Vietnam Wars, will not have to pay property taxes on the home that he owns jointly with his domestic partner, Blair William O’Dell, in Montclair. Married disabled veterans in New Jersey who share ownership of their homes with their spouse similarly enjoy a 100 percent exemption from property taxes on their primary residence.

Judge Vito L. Bianco announced the decision on Wednesday, based on the state’s Domestic Partnership Act signed into law by then-Gov. James McGreevey a year ago. The ruling overturned an Essex County Board of Taxation judgment that said Hennefeld was eligible for only a 50 percent exemption. Bianco noted that it would be counter to the “express intent” of the new partnership law were the couple required to transfer full ownership of the home to Hennefeld in order to qualify for a full exemption.

Steven Goldstein, the chairman of Garden State Equality, commended Bianco on establishing a right not specifically articulated in last year’s law.

“This is another tremendous day in civil rights history in New Jersey, which once again proves to be the state that doesn’t hate,” Goldstein said in a written statement.

Lambda Sues School District Over Marriage Recognition

Duke Funderberke, 72, who worked as a teacher in Uniondale, Long Island for 20 years before retiring in 1986, married his partner of 42 years, Brad Davis, 67, last October in Ontario. He has since asked that his retirement health benefits be extended to his husband. The school district refused and Lambda Legal has filed suit against it on his behalf.

Alphonso David, staff attorney at Lambda, said, “These couples are constantly having to prove that they’re married and argue about state law with their employers. With this lawsuit, we’re seeking a definitive court ruling that should keep any state government entities from questioning the validity of these couples’ marriages once and for all."

Attorney Gen. Eliot Spitzer issued an opinion last year that said while New York State law does not currently provide for same-sex marriages, it does recognize legal same-sex marriages contracted elsewhere.

Lambda won a lower court decision in Nassau County in 2003 on behalf of a man in a Vermont civil union suing St. Vincent’s Hospital for the wrongful death of his partner. That decision was appealed by St. Vincent’s and has not been resolved.

Last month, Lambda asked that the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance allow same-sex married couples to file jointly on their state tax returns. David said the group is still waiting for a response. “We hope we get a ruling before tax day,” he said.

Tennessee Blocks Anti-Gay Adoption Bill

Legislation to prevent gays and lesbians from adopting children was defeated by a vote of 11-9 in a committee of the Tennessee House of Representatives on Wednesday. Proponents of the bill are looking for a way to circumvent the committee vote, but it does not have the support of House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh, a Covington Democrat, Out and About reported.

Naifeh told members of the Children and Family Affairs Committee that he had spoken to his own daughters as well as high school students in his district and they told him that the bill was “wrong,” the newspaper said.

To soften the bill, chief sponsor Chris Clem, a Lockwood Republican, amended it to allow for gay adoptions, but only after all heterosexual parent possibilities had been exhausted, an approach Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis used in the 1980s when he wanted to show he could stand up to the gay lobby in preparation for a run for president.

Kansas Votes April 5 on Same-Sex Marriage

A constitutional amendment to ban gay people from marrying or obtaining the “rights or incidents of marriage” is on the ballot in Kansas on Tuesday, April 5. Passage is seen as almost a foregone conclusion, but leaders of Equality Kansas, the state gay rights lobby, are hopeful that they can build on a recent victory in Topeka where voters defeated a proposal to ban gay rights laws. The strategy then and now is to link the anti-gay proposal with Rev. Fred Phelps, the Topeka-based leader of God Hates Fags Ministries, who travels the country protesting any hint of fairness for gay people, usually with signs saying Matthew Shepard is burning in hell, “AIDS is God’s Curse,” and “Thank God for September 11.”

AFL/CIO Opposes Federal Marriage Amendment

The executive council of the AFL/CIO passed a resolution March 3 opposing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning same-sex marriage, saying its passage would mean that “unions will have an increasingly difficult time making gains in domestic partner benefits, and preserving those benefits they have already won at the table.” The union has long supported the “full inclusion and equal rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the workplace and society.”

Pride at Work credited the leadership of union President John Sweeney and the work of Vice President Linda Chavez-Thompson for passage of the resolution.

World Pride in Jerusalem Opposed by Religious Right

InterPride’s second World Pride celebration is scheduled for Jerusalem August 18-28. Now a coalition of American Christian fundamentalists and Orthodox Jews in Israel have begun a campaign to stop it from taking place, saying they will collect a million signatures opposing it. But the mayor of Jerusalem, Uri Lupolianski, himself Orthodox, told Ha’aretz he has no legal way to stop it.

Gay pride marches began in Jerusalem two years ago over the mayor’s objections. The last World Pride festivities were held in Rome in 2000 over the protests of Pope John Paul II, who tried to get the city government to block them.

Boy George is still steaming over Elton John’s duet with Eminen at the 2001 Grammy Awards. “It’s like me singing with Pol Pot,” George told The Times of London. “People will call you ‘fag’ or whatever, occasionally, but it’s more prevalent, and he has to take some responsibility.” He called John “an arsehole, and I think every gay person with a brain cell found it hideously offensive to see Elton performing with [Eminem].”

John made news this week when he dumped his publicist, Barbara Charone, just weeks after firing his manager Derek MacKillop who had been with him for five years.

Czechs Check Mates

The Czech Parliament this week rejected rights for same-sex couples for the fourth time, denying gay people the legal status of “close persons,” Gay.com UK reported. The nation’s Gay and Lesbian League has vowed to continue the battle for partner rights in the Czech Republic, hoping to use the country’s membership in the European Union as leverage to win their struggle.

Gay Couple Beheaded in Saudi Arabia

Two Saudi men who killed a third man because he saw them having sex were executed in Arar, Saudi Arabia on Sunday. The couple feared that their Pakistani victim would expose their relationship in a country where homosexual activity itself is punishable by death.

Deadly Dangers of Pumping Parties

Guadalupe Camarena, a transgendered woman in Houston, has been sentenced to five years in prison for giving a fatal injection of liquid silicone to another transgendered woman, Delfino Gonzalez, 21, in 2003. Camarena delivered the injection at a “pumping party” where industrial-grade silicone was used. Such silicone is not sterilized in the way it would be in medical facilities. Guests pay $200 for the injections at the parties, PlanetOut reported.

The Houston district attorney said there were four such injection-related deaths in Houston in 2003.

Christopher Daley of the Transgender Law Center told PlanetOut that the “health care industry largely excludes transgendered people from a regulated environment and that’s why so many people seek other alternatives.”

ADL Distributes Tolerance Video

The Jewish Anti-Defamation League has sent its “We are Family” video to 60,000 schools across the country, prompting protests from the religious right who say it promotes acceptance of homosexuality. The video features more than a 100 characters from children’s TV, including SpongeBob SquarePants, singing “We are Family,” a 1979 pop hit.

Ed Vitagliano, of the right-wing American Family Association, told the San Jose Mercury News that “a short step beneath the surface reveals that one of the differences being celebrated [in the video] is homosexuality.” He said that while that is not explicit in the video, the accompanying teacher guide “distorts the definition of family to produce a non-traditional model.”

Nile Rodgers, who produced the video, said, “We’re not talking about sex at all. This is for young children.”

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