VOLUME 3, ISSUE 323 | June 3 – 9, 2004
Kansas High Court Takes Gay Teen Appeal
Now the Kansas Supreme Court will hear Limon’s case argued by the Lesbian and Gay Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
“The only reason Matthew Limon is still in prison is because he’s gay,” said Tamara Lange, an ACLU staff attorney. If Limon’s sentence is upheld, he could be in prison until he is 35 for the oral sex.
Gay Republican Delegate Barred from Convention
Catania, 36,who had raised $80,000 for Bush, said he would have fulfilled his duty to vote for Bush’s nomination at the convention, but will not vote for him in November.
“I have to look in the mirror and say, ‘Are you at home behind your eyes supporting a person who would write discrimination into the Constitution? There is simply no way I could rationalize that,” he told the Post.
Bush gay buddy Carl Schmid will replace Catania as a delegate. Schmid says he is “not happy with the president,” but thinks it is “important for a gay person to be there and to speak out.”
Catania has yet to say whom he will vote for in November.
Transgender Win in Federal Court
The Fire Department in Salem, Ohio, tried to terminate the employment of firefighter Jimmie Smith, a pre-operative transsexual when he informed them he was transitioning to a woman. Now the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, covering Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee, has ruled that federal civil rights law banning sexual discrimination “protects transsexuals and that sex stereotyping doctrine covers people who change their sex,” marking the first such ruling by a federal appeals court,” the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) noted in a release.
Randi Barnabee represented Smith in court.
“They can no longer get away with sex discrimination against a gender non-conforming person simply because that person can be labeled transgender or transsexual,” she said.
HRC hailed the ruling, despite the fact that the group has so far been unsuccessful in fulfilling a commitment made to transgender rights groups a year ago to press for incorporation of “gender identity” in the protected categories of either the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), or an alternative measure yet to be developed. Congressional sponsors of ENDA, most prominently out gay Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Barney Frank, have resisted broader language of this sort. Transgender rights activists visiting House and Senate offices in April, however, said they spoke to members of Congress supportive of transgender inclusion, and questioned HRC’s commitment to pressing the issue.
Countdown on Bloomberg Contractor Veto
On May 5, the day that the New York City Council, by a margin of 43 to 5, approved legislation that would require contractors doing business with the city to offer their gay and lesbian employees domestic partner benefits on par with that given to married spouses, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, “I will veto it. You cannot use the city’s procurement policies to promote social issues. The city has an obligation to get the best services at the best price.”
During the 2001 mayoral campaign, Bloomberg voiced support for the measure, though he indicated he might support religious exceptions. By the fall of 2002, however, when he spoke to ESPA’s annual dinner, the mayor had come around to his free market critique of the idea.
Bloomberg has said if the measure becomes law over his veto, the city might challenge it in court.
Chief Justice Marshall Accused of Collusion
Massachusetts State Representative Emile J. Goguen, a Democrat, has accused Chief Justice Margaret Marshall of the Supreme Judicial Court of conspiring with homosexual activists before ruling in favor of same-sex marriage rights last November. The Cybercast News Service, a conservative outlet, reported on June 2 that Goguen has accused Marshall of “aiding and abetting” Mary Bonauto, the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders attorney who argued on behalf of same-sex marriage plaintiffs before the high court.
Critics have also alleged that in a 1999 speech before the Massachusetts Lesbian and Gay Bar Association, Marshall praised the “growing body of gay-friendly international jurisprudence.”
Goguen has said that Marshall should have disqualified herself from the oral arguments in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, the landmark case that paved the way for marriage for Massachusetts.
Goguen has called on Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican, to remove Marshall from the bench and in a “bill of address” has asked his colleagues to also remove three other Supreme Judicial Court Judges who voted in favor of same-sex marriage. The measure awaits action in the House Rules Committee.
Romney Keeps Up Pressure Against Out-of-State Couples
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is making good on his vow to invoke a 1913 law, designed to prevent interracial marriages by couples from other states, to stop gay couples from marrying in the one state where it is now legal.
“We certainly won’t record on our public health records marriages that are on the face of them not consistent with the law,” he said.
The Democratic Attorney General, Tom Reilly, who originally said that Massachusetts should allow couples from the 11 states that don’t have state Defense of Marriage Acts to wed there, is backing up Republican Romney now, but not saying what action if any he will take against the six or so clerks who have been issuing licenses to out-of-state gay couples.
Mary Bonauto of Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, who successfully argued the case that won gay couples the right to marry, said that they are considering a legal challenge to the 1913 law. The Massachusetts Senate voted overwhelmingly in May to repeal the law, but the more conservative House has yet to act. Provincetown, among other communities that originally defied the governor, suspended issuing licenses to out-of-state gay couples in the wake of Romney’s action, even though the chair of the Board of Selectman believes the law is unconstitutional.
Youth Movement for Same-Sex Marriage
In the Westwood section of Los Angeles this past Saturday, more than 100 teenagers, many of them members of high school Gay-Straight Alliances, demonstrated in favor of the right of gay couples to marry, the Los AngelesTimes reported. “They are part of changing America,” said West Hollywood Mayor John Duran, an out gay man.
G.O.P. Senate Candidate Matches Schumer on Unions
Pennsylvania Puts Off Anti-Gay Amendment
The House of Representatives in Harrisburg voted 96-94 last week to postpone action on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and bar Pennsylvania from recognizing “spousal equivalent relationships” by cohabitating couples of any kind. The next time they could take it up is on November 8, after the election. Pennsylvania already has a state defense of marriage law.
D.C. Episcopal Bishop to Bless Gay Couple
Bishop John Clane of the Diocese of Washington will become the first bishop there to perform a same-sex union ceremony when he conducts a service for Rev. Michael Hopkins and John Bradley on June 12. Hopkins is a past president of Integrity, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender group within the Episcopal Church. The church’s official wedding rite, however, will not be used for the ceremony.
“We can’t at this point sacramentalize it, but we can bless it,” a diocesan spokesperson told the Associated Press.
Communion Wars in Catholic Church
While some bishops around the country are speaking out about whether politicians or voters who support abortion rights and/or gay rights should be able to receive communion, the issue revolved around a fashion statement last weekend. In Chicago’s Holy Name Cathedral, Cardinal Francis George ordered priests not to give what they believe is the body of Christ to Catholics wearing rainbow sashes, a symbol of protest against the anti-gay stance of the Church. Those in sash who went forward for communion were given a blessing instead.
In St. Paul, Minnesota, people wearing the sashes were given communion, though some lay parishioners tried to block them from getting to the altar rail.
Catholic Olive Branch to Gays in U.K.
A statement by the Catholic Church of England and Wales that gay sex is wrong, but that Catholics should not see gay folk as sinful marked a move away from the even harder line of the Vatican. But Terry Sanderson of the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association told Gay.com UK, “The Vatican has declared war on gay rights and we shouldn’t be distracted by this supposedly placatory document. The velvet glove conceals the same old iron fist.”
Australia Set to Ban Same-Sex Marriage
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