NEWSBRIEFS

VOLUME 3, ISSUE 329 | July 15 – 21, 2004

NEWS

News Briefs

Exposing Hill Hypocrisy

Washington, D.C. gay activist Michael Rogers launched a blog this past week to expose congressional staff members, including closeted gays and lesbians, who work in senior positions for senators and representatives who support the Federal Marriage Amendment.

An e-mail message containing the website address, michaelrogers.us, was sent to Capitol Hill offices on Tuesday and Wednesday. “I’m trying to stop codification of anti-gay hate in our nation’s Constitution,” Rogers said.

Rogers will use donations to purchase advertising for the campaign. Donations can be made at the website.

New “Marriage Protection” Act

House Republicans, frustrated over the lack of support for the Federal Marriage Amendment that seeks to permanently outlaw same-sex marriages in the Constitution, have introduced legislation, The Marriage Protection Act, which would remove the jurisdiction of federal courts over cases arising from the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Unlike the amendment, which needs a two-thirds majority in both houses, this bill requires only simple majorities.

DOMA, passed in 1996 by a 5-1 margin in both houses and signed by President Clinton, bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages and allows states the power not to recognize legal same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Michael Schwartz of Concerned Women for America wrote that “Congress has the right to limit the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and all inferior courts, and this legislation invokes that right.” Schwartz noted that if passed the new law would not stop individual state courts from recognizing same-sex marriage, but would limit their spread from one state to another via the federal courts.

Eight lesbian and gay couples from outside Massachusetts who either married there or planned to had their day in court challenging the state’s 1913 law that refuses licenses to couples from states where their marriages would be “void.” Michele Granda, staff attorney with Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, which won the historic Goodridge decision that opened marriage to same-sex couples in the state, argued that the 1913 law, which was apparently never invoked before, was discriminatory. Attorney General Tom Reilly argued the state’s case.

Since the case could take years to work its way through the state court system, GLAD asked for injunctive relief for the couples. A decision on that motion is expected within weeks, but any decision is likely to be appealed.

Bush Wants it Both Ways on Sodomy

As governor of Texas Pres. Bush called the state’s sodomy law “a good statement of traditional values.” In a July 9 speech pushing a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage, Bush said that “if people decide to—what they do in the privacy of their house, consenting adults should be able to.” At the same time, Bush’s campaign at the Republican National Committee issued an attack on Sen. John Edwards, after Sen. John Kerry picked him to be his Democratic running mate, because he “believes in the right to privacy when it comes to state sodomy laws.” The GOP.com website of the R.N.C. quotes Edwards from a Democratic debate earlier this year: “I believe there is a fundamental right to privacy. I do not believe the government belongs in people’s bedrooms. I think that applies to both gay and lesbian couples and heterosexual couples.”

Meanwhile, Rosie O’Donnell, leading her R Family Vacations cruise for gay and lesbian families, said to Florida Today, “I think this cruise comes at the perfect time, when they’re considering an amendment making it illegal for us to have families. This is a cruise where everyone is welcome.” An integrated society, O’Donnell added “is what America is all about. With liberty and justice for all, not just the white friends of George W. Bush.”

Bush also used his weekly radio address on Saturday to attack the marriage rights of gay people.

While Vice President Dick Cheney is supporting the Federal Marriage Amendment, his wife Lynne has said that when it comes to “conferring legal status on relationships,” that should be “a matter left to the states.”

Lynne Cheney is a conservative activist in her own right. She and Dick are the parents of a lesbian daughter, Mary, who once was a gay spokesperson for Coors Beer and now works for the Bush/Cheney 2004 campaign. Mary has refused to speak out against her father’s support for the Federal Marriage Amendment.

Divorce Lawyers Support Same-Sex Marriage

Two-thirds of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers voted to endorse same-sex marriage, with 80 percent supporting equal rights for gay couples through civil unions or domestic partnerships. Ninety percent of the members say that the children of same-sex couples “should have the same protections as children of man/woman relationships.” Finally, the group urged a “no” vote in Congress on the Federal Marriage Amendment.

Black Church Condemns Gay Marriage

The national convention of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church voted without dissent to forbid its ministers from presiding over same-sex weddings. “This is not a matter of major contention,” Rev. Joe Darby, a Charleston pastor in the mostly black denomination, told Knight Ridder Newspapers. “We have greater fish to fry than the same-sex marriage thing.”

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also known as the Mormon Church, issued a statement last week endorsing amendments to the federal and state Constitutions banning same-sex marriage, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. “There is no justification to redefine what marriage is,” church President Gordon Hinckley wrote. “Such is our right, and those who will try will find themselves answerable to God.”

A new attack on same-sex marriage appeared this week in the Vatican newspaper, “L’Osservatore Romano” where commentator R.M.T. Schmid of St. Hugh’s College of Oxford wrote, “To deny driving licenses to the blind does not assume they do not deserve equal respect and consideration as persons, but they are different from other persons in respects relevant to driving,” by way of saying gay people have no right to marry each other.

A group of progressive church groups came out in Chicago against the Federal Marriage Amendment, notably the National Coalition of American Nuns and Protestants for Common Good.

Yoko Ono Sings Out for Same-Sex Marriage

Yoko Ono has taken her 1980 song “Every Man Has a Woman Who Loves Him” and recorded gay and lesbian versions to promote the right of gay people to marry. The new “Every Man Has a Man Who Loves Him,” which she recently performed at a gay pride rally here according to the A.P., is “moving up Billboard’s dance club charts.”

Insurers to Recognize Same-Sex Marriages

Lambda Legal Defense has obtained assurances from three big auto insurers in New York State that they will recognize gay couples legally married outside the state. Allstate, Geico and State Farm got on board.

“Not all the benefits and protections of marriage come from the government,” said Lambda staff attorney Alphonso David, noting that many come from private businesses.

Diversity at Dem. Convention

The Washington Post reported that almost half the delegates this month to the Democratic National Convention in Boston are “minorities,” with more than 20 percent African American, 11 percent Latino, 4 percent Asian/Pacific Islander, and 1.7 percent Native American. Alice Germond, the secretary of the Democratic National Committee, said that the party is slightly behind the 3.7 percent of delegates who were gay, lesbian or transgendered at the 2000 convention, but that data for the 2004 delegates is still incomplete.

One gay delegate, David Catania, a Washington, D.C. city councilmember, has already been booted from the Republican National Convention for speaking against George W. Bush’s re-election after the president came out for the Federal Marriage Amendment. New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg, another Republican, will host the gay Log Cabin Republicans, who have yet to endorse Bush, in Bryant Park on August 29. Log Cabin is not bothered by Bloomberg’s recent veto of a City Council bill to require city contractors to provide domestic partner benefits.

Among those invited to the gay event are former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Patrick Sammon of Log Cabin told Reuters that he was “unsure” whether the Bush would be invited.

Bloomberg was a Democrat until he ran for mayor in 2001, but since then he has become the nation’s largest individual donor to the Republican Party.

Conservatives in the Republican Party are condemning the rosters of speakers at the Republican convention for including people like Giuliani and Schwarzenegger, supporters of abortion rights and gay rights, and not leaders of the right-wing base. They say that the most conservative prime time speaker will be Georgia Sen. Zell Miller, a Democratic supporter of Bush.

Gay Concert Wins Park Permit

The Summer of Love Concert for Equality, which was slated to be the biggest gay protest event at the Republican National Convention, has finally gotten a permit for the East Lawn of Central Park, but for Wednesday August 26 from 6-10 p.m., not the weekend just before the convention as planners intended nor the Great Lawn as they requested. The event will feature headline entertainment in support of family diversity and was prompted by Republican attempts to amend the Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. More information is available at summeroflove04.com and contributions can be made to Film/Video Arts, 426 Broadway, Suite 520, New York, N.Y. 10013.

Catholic Anti-Gay Leader in Scandal

The pastor of St. John the Martyr Catholic Church, Monsignor John Woolsey, who once led the Office of Family Life for the Archdiocese of New York and was a leading opponent of gay rights and AIDS education in the public schools, has been accused of bilking a wealthy parishioner out of half a million dollars, including money for a luxury condo he bought on the New Jersey Shore. The suit was brought by Janet Naegele, once the executor for Rose Cale, who died in 2003 at the age of 88.

The archdiocese is dodging responsibility in this case like it has in many of the molestation lawsuits, calling Woolsey “an independent contractor” for whom they have no responsibility.

The estate wants Woolsey to return the money he took from the woman. The suit alleges that the priest saw nothing wrong with accepting money from the widow.

Austrian Seminary Scandal

At the Catholic seminary for the diocese west of Vienna, police have found computers loaded with both child pornography and photos of the seminarians having sex with their instructors. A full investigation is underway and the seminary director has resigned, but the local bishop, Kurt Krenn, has refused to. “Anything to do with the practice of homosexuality or pornography has no place at a seminary for priests,” the Austrian Bishops Conference said in a statement.

Krenn, who has seen the photos, tried to publicly dismiss them as a “prank” that had “nothing to do with homosexuality.” But Thomas Huber, a local Green politician, told the Associated Press, “Collecting child pornography cannot be dismissed as a prank.” The story said the Vatican had no comment on the scandal, also noting that the late Austrian Cardinal Hans Herman Groer had to resign in the mid-1990s for molesting students at a boys Catholic boarding school 20 years ago.

Anti-Gay Terrorist Gets Five-Year Sentence

Stephen Jordi, convicted in Fort Lauderdale of attempting to torch an abortion clinic, got the lightest sentence possible from Judge James Cohn. Jordi entered a guilty plea to this one charge, though he had been accused of also planning to fire bomb churches and gay bars as well, following the lead of Atlanta Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph.

Jordi could have received ten years under the federal terrorism law, but was given five in a federal prison.

South African Gays Seek Right to Marry

South Africa was the first nation in the world to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in its constitution, but has only slowly been recognizing gay partner rights. Now gay and lesbian groups are asking the Johannesburg High Court to “declare the common law definition of marriage formula in Section 30 as unconstitutional,” as it prohibits same-sex couples from marrying, SABC News reported.

WNBA Player Comes Out

Virtually no professional athletes in team sports have come out during their playing days. But now Michele Van Gorp, the 6’6” center for the Minnesota Lynx of the WNBA has told the Minnesota Star Tribune, “I’ve never been in the closet,” making her the only active player in the heavily lesbian-supported league to come out. Sue Wicks of the New York Liberty came out two years ago, but is no longer playing pro hoops.

Van Gorp, 27, entered into a civil union with her partner four years ago.

Dead Gay Director Wasn’t Happy with Madonna

Letters of out gay director John Schlesinger (“Midnight Cowboy”) have been found that make public his displeasure with Madonna. Gay.com UK reports that Schlesinger wrote that Madonna forced his film, “The Next Best Thing,” starring her and Rupert Everett, to be changed too much, bringing him closer to a heart attack. He accuses her of cutting scenes she deemed to be “too gay,” in the flop pic in which she played a woman who raises a child with her gay best friend and then sues for custody when they split.

“I am outraged that Madonna is expressing an opinion of what works and doesn’t and what is too gay when she wasn’t even present at the previews,” Schlesinger wrote.

A spokesperson for Madonna told the Daily Mirror the charges were untrue. “No one has ever questioned her level of professional behavior,” the flak said.

Andy Humm is a co-host of “Gay USA” seen Thursdays at 11 p.m. on Time-Warner 34 and RCN 107, simulcast at mnn.org channel 34, and on Directv nationwide._

Andy Humm can be contacted at AndyHumm@aol.com

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