News Briefs

Gay Man Beaten in New Mexico Released from Hospital

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Bloomberg Caved to Advisers on Gay Marriage

Michael Bloomberg portrays himself as a determined leader who is not controlled by anyone. But when State Supreme Court Justice Doris Ling-Cohan ordered him last month to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, it seems he let his political handlers and attorneys talk him out of a more pro-gay stance.

New York magazine reported this week that Bloomberg strongly considered not appealing the decision in its immediate aftermath.

“I don’t know why I need the grief,” the story quotes him as saying. “If I’m pro-gay marriage, then why am I saying one thing while my lawyers are fighting it in court? It doesn’t make sense.”

Bloomberg now insists that he had “no choice” but to appeal the decision, even though there are several other court cases on the marriage issue. In announcing his challenge to the ruling, Bloomberg for the first time stated his personal support for same-sex marriage.

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Washington High Court Hears Gay Marriage Case

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Gay Israeli Pol to Marry

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Cerner Corporation Protects Gay and Transgender Rights

City Comptroller Bill Thompson announced Wednesday that the Cerner Corporation, a supplier of health care information technology, has adopted a policy banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The company acted after prompting by the city’s pension funds, over which Thompson presides and which have an $8.5 million investment in Cerner. The funds asked them to adhere to the 10-point “Equality Principles” on the treatment of gay and transgendered employees.

Thompson said he is asking a wide range of other companies in which the city invests to follow Cerner’s example. The company was trading at $51.41 after the announcement, down 33 cents for the day, but up from a one-year low of $40 a share in June.

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Demonstrations March 16 and 17 for St. Patrick’s Day

Irish Queers and “other non-right-wingers, rudely insisting on existing” are staging two protests of the exclusion of Irish gay groups from the Ancient Order of Hibernians Parade. On Wednesday, March 16 from 6:30 to 8 p.m., there’s a demonstration in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue at 50th St. “Come in drag or just as you are: that pesky queer who won’t disappear on cue,” the flier says. The main event is the 14th annual protest against the big parade, starting at 10:30 a.m. at Fifth Av. at E. 58th St. At 11:30 a.m., the groups plan a “winding protest” through the spectators. If you’re late and want the location, call 917-517-3627.

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Updates on State Action on Gay Marriage

Ten states are in the process of amending their constitutions to ban same-sex marriage and, in most cases, any other benefits for gay couples.

In Indiana, hundreds of protesters on both sides of the issue demonstrated outside the Statehouse in Indianapolis as an amendment to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions overwhelmingly passed the Senate and went to the House. It will have to pass another session of the Legislature before it can go to the voters in 2008.

An amendment to the Alabama Constitution passed its House by an 85-to-7 vote and returns to the Senate for a vote on Thursday. It will be on a referendum in June of 2006.

South Carolina’s House voted 96-to-3 on an amendment to void all gay unions. If it clears all legislative hurdles, which it seems to well on the way to doing, it goes on the November 2006 ballot.

The Iowa Legislature is deadlocked on a proposal to ban same-sex marriage in the state’s constitution. As in all these states, it is already banned in state law.

A New York Times-CBS News poll found that 23 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage, up from 21 percent late last year. Another 34 percent support civil unions, up from 32 percent in November.

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Canadian Same-sex Marriage Developments

The Liberal Party government in Canada has stacked a key parliamentary committee with pro-same-sex marriage members to ease passage of its bill legalizing it. Liberal members are divided on the bill and are being given a free vote it unless they are members of Prime Minister Paul Martin’s cabinet. All six Liberals appointed to a special committee that will work on the bill favor it. They are joined by four members of minority parties who also support it and four Conservatives who do not, Canadian Press reported.

At MarriageVote.ca, the count of where members stand on the bill is 164 in favor out of 308, 134 opposed, and nine undecided. The right wing plans an intense media campaign to move votes, running ads showing members who voted against gay marriage a few years ago but are supporting it now. The Catholic Church is also stepping up its opposition to the bill, with some local pastors denying communion to members who support it and the Bishop of Calgary threatening Martin with excommunication. Pete Vere, a church canon lawyer, said on Lifesite.net that the Vatican requires Catholic politicians “to withstand any legislation that would corrupt the natural definition of marriage” and that a vote in favor of the bill would be “gravely immoral.”

The government hopes for a vote before Parliament recesses in June, the Canadian Press reported.

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Foreign Adoptions for Dutch Gays

A majority of Dutch lawmakers support a bill to allow gay couples to adopt foreign children. In 2000, when the Netherlands became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage, it allowed for gay adoption of Dutch children—a right that had been withheld under the old civil partnership law. Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner told the Associated Press that while his government will make the change, there are no countries that will allow cross-border adoption of their children by Dutch gay couples, who will instead have to adopt as single people and bring the children home to complete a joint adoption.

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Gay Couple Sues Anti-Social Security Group

USA Next, the rightwing group that brought you the anti-Kerry Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads, is being sued by a gay couple for $25 million for misappropriating their image in an ad against the AARP, which opposes Pres. George W. Bush’s plan to divert Social Security funds into private accounts. The ad charged that AARP, the nation’s largest senior lobby, opposes American troops and favors same-sex marriage, showing a check mark on a picture of Rick Raymen and Steve Hansen of Portland, OR kissing after their wedding.

“We have been harassed and humiliated by this hateful campaign,” Raymen said, “and by the bigotry and anger is has generated nationwide,” adding that it portrayed them as “treasonous, unpatriotic, and a threat to American troops.”

USA Next based its claim that AARP supported same-sex marriage because a state chapter came out against a November referendum that would have banned all right for same-sex couples, including elderly people living together for support.

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NYU Dodges Ban on Gender Identity Discrimination

New York University’s Senate on Organization and Governance refused to act on a policy to ban discrimination based on gender identity after three years of consideration, the Washington Square News reported. The school has a policy of not discriminating against people of transgender experience in employment and admissions, but does not include the category in its “general anti-discrimination policy,” the story said.

Committee chair Javier Martinez told the newspaper “that enacting such a policy change is not a major student concern and would require dynamic changes in various areas.”

New York City law has forbidden discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression since 2002.

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