NEWSBRIEFS

VOLUME 3, ISSUE 320 | May 13 – 19, 2004

NEWS

News Briefs

Gay Group Rates Dem. Veep Choices

“To win in November, Sen. Kerry must have the enthusiastic support of the LGBT community,” said Matt Foreman, director of the Task Force. “Picking Sam Nunn would send a terrible signal to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.”

The full report is at www.ngltf.org.

Pollster John Zogby this week opined that the election is “Kerry’s to lose,” despite lackluster performances on the campaign trail of late. “Sen. Kerry is a good closer,” wrote Zogby, citing his come-from-behind victory over Republican Bill Weld, the governor who challenged Kerry for the Senate in 1996.

Methodists Could Divide Over Gay Issues

The conservative majority in the United Methodist Church, tired of continuing battles over acceptance of gay and lesbian clergy and relationships, may propose a schism to let the pro- and anti-gay sides go their ways. A motion at last week’s quadrennial convention to recognize that “Christians disagree on the compatibility of homosexual practice with Christian teaching” failed 527-423. A proposal to let local regions of the church decides on whether or not to let out gay or lesbian ministers serve was defeated 638-303.

“It is time for us to end this cycle of pain we are inflicting on each other,” said the Rev. William Hinson, leader of the conservative faction. “We have no desire to be the chaplain in an increasingly godless society.”

Progressive groups within the church, such as “We Are the Church,” do not want a split, noting that founder John Wesley called schism “sin.” They also feel that in time their more open views on gay issues will prevail.

The gay group SoulForce sent 400 protesters to the Methodist convention in Pittsburgh. “We want the delegates who voted against us to see the faces and the pain of those who they condemned this week,” said Rev. Marylee Fithian, a UMC minister with SoulForce.

Jersey Looks at Companionship Loss Benefits for Gays

A district court judge in New Jersey will allow a lesbian to proceed to trial with her claim of loss of consortium, a right traditionally granted only to married couples. Under a ruling from Essex County Superior Court Judge James Rothschild Jr., Judith Peterson will be allowed to present her case that she “lost the consort, companionship, society, affection, services, and support of her partner,” Linda Henry, who suffered a heart attack after allegedly being humiliated, forced to work overtime, and suspended from her job because she complained of sexual harassment and misdeeds by a colleague.

Peterson’s complaint was attached to complaints from four former employees, all emergency medical technicians, of Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville, a subsidiary of St. Barnabas Health Care System.

The plaintiffs’ lawyer, John Norton of Alpert Goldberg Butler Norton Bearg & Peach, predicts that Peterson’s complaint will be vindicated, even though loss of consortium rights were not included in the domestic partnership law enacted in New Jersey earlier this year.

Defense lawyer Mark Blunda, of Apruzzese, McDermott, Mastro & Murphy, said he will likely seek summary judgment dismissal of Peterson’s claim.

New Mexico last year became the first state to explicitly recognize loss of consortium claims for gay and lesbian domestic partners.

San Francisco Bishop William Swing has severed ties with gay retired Bishop Otis Charles over his marriage to his longtime male partner. “No longer is he an assisting bishop and no longer is he licensed to celebrate the sacraments here,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported Swing as writing in an e-mail message. To strip Charles, 78, entirely of his office would require a church trial and is not seen as likely. He will continue to be able to vote in the House of Bishops. A diocesan spokesman said a church blessing on the couple would have been OK, “but it’s not to look like a marriage.”

Clergy at St. Gregory’s where the wedding took place on April 24 said that Swing, considered a liberal, was made aware of Charles’ plan and “had been satisfied with them.”

Anti-Gay Crusader Dies

Knight’s son David was estranged from his father over the senator’s many anti-gay campaigns. David married his partner of ten years, Joseph Lazzaro, in San Francisco in March at City Hall.

While Pete Knight remained opposed to same-sex marriage until the end, he recently conceded that some form of partner recognition might be acceptable and dropped plans to overturn California’s far-reaching domestic partner law. He recently told the Associated Press that “nobody cared” about people being gay “as long as they did their work and didn’t flaunt their sexuality,” but now “they want to be classified as normal and I can’t accept the fact that two men, married, is normal.”

Asylum Denied to Gay Man Not “Visibly Effeminate”

Canada has rejected a Mexican gay man for asylum because he is too butch in the judgment of the Immigration and Refugee Board. “I know some gay refugees who put on lipstick and dressed effeminately for their hearings because they thought that would help their case,” Fernando Enrique Rivera told the Canadian Press, “but that is not who I am.”

Rivera’s lawyer told the newspaper that the review board’s “reasoning was, ‘You don’t act or look gay. Just go back and no one is going to bother you.’ It’s like telling him to go back and live in the closet.” Rivera, 30, worked as a statistician for the Puerto Vallarta police force where he was blackmailed by a cop who threatened to out him.

Papal Nuncio Easing Up on Gays?

Given Pope John Paul II’s outspoken opposition to any form of legal recognition for gay relationships, it was shocking to read in The Guardian (UK) last week that the papal nuncio to Spain, Monsignor Manuel Monteiro de Castro, told a bishops’ conference that while marriage is between a man and a woman, “there are other forms of cohabitation and it is good that they be recognized.” The article also said that the nuncio believed gay couples should be given rights within the social security system.

LifeSiteNews.com, however, is reporting that The Guardian took De Castro’s comments out of context and that he may have been referring to “cohabitation between siblings or elderly mother and daughter.” The site says that he “clearly” stated the church’s opposition to legally recognized civil unions for gay people.

The Answer is Blowing

When young people are educated about forms of sexual intimacy short of vaginal intercourse, teen pregnancy rates drop as much as 20 percent, a British study found. The curriculum, designed by Exeter University, teaches students under 16 that there are “stopping points” on the way to “full sex,” The Observer (UK) reported. Girls trained this way develop a “more mature” attitude toward sex, the newspaper said. It also teaches assertiveness skills and being “as intimate as they feel comfortable with,” Dr. John Tripp of the school’s Department of Child Health said.

The government intends to implement the curriculum, called “A Pause,” for schools throughout England and Wales.

Libya Solves AIDS Crisis with Executions

When 400 children were discovered to have been infected with HIV in Libya due to gross negligence in Libyan hospitals, the government at first tried to blame the CIA and Israeli intelligence. But this week they settled on blaming five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor who will be executed by firing squad.

Brooklyn Bridge March for Marriage Equality

The next public demonstration for the right of same-sex couples to marry in New York is set for Sunday, May 23. “The Wedding March,” sponsored by Marriage Equality and a host of co-sponsors, is set to step off from Cadman Plaza in Brooklyn (near the High Street stop on the A or C train; 2, 3, M or R to Borough Hall) at 11 a.m. and proceed across the Brooklyn Bridge to Battery Park for a rally. “With the momentum on our side,” the group’s flier says, “now is the time to send the message that LGBT New Yorkers demand to be recognized and to receive equal treatment for their families under the law.”

For more information, go to www.theweddingmarch.org

CDC Wants Names

AIDS is a reportable illness in this country, but the Centers for Disease Control only keeps HIV statistics from states that record the names of those who test positive. This leaves out states such as California and Massachusetts that use identification numbers to protect the confidentiality of those tested. Democrats in Congress are calling upon the CDC to include data from the 14 states and the District of Columbia that use identifiers other than names, complaining in a letter that the current counting system “undermines the national effort to win the battle against HIV/AIDS” by misallocating resources to fight the syndrome.

Andy Humm is co-host, with Ann Northrop, of Gay USA on MNN. It can be seen Thursdays at 11 PM on Time-Warner 34 and RCN 107 and is simulcast at mnn.org

Andy Humm can be contacted at AndyHumm@aol.com

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