VOLUME 4, ISSUE 3 |Jan 20 – 26, 2005
Bush Flip Flops on Marriage Amendment
Pres. George W. Bush, in an interview with the Washington Post, said that he would not “press” U.S. senators on the Federal Marriage Amendment that would limit marriage to opposite-sex couples and bar courts from providing marriage-like rights to same-sex couples. He said that until the Defense of Marriage Act was struck down by a court, the requisite two-thirds of the Senate wasn’t there for the amendment.
The same day the story came out Dan Bartlett, a Bush top aide, appeared on “Meet the Press” and insisted that the White House will spend “political capital” on the amendment fight, something that the religious right is demanding.
Tony Perkins, leader of the Family Research Council, told the Post, “I believe there is no more important issue for the president’s second term than the preservation of marriage.”
Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family said Bush had sent the wrong signal.
“We would like him to stoke this first, so when there is this precipitating event, we can hit the ground running,” Minnery said.
DOMA Upheld in Federal Court
For the first time, a federal judge has upheld the constitutionality of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that bans U.S. recognition of same-sex marriages and allows the states to withhold recognition of legal gay marriages sanctioned elsewhere.
U.S. District Court Judge James Moody in Tampa dismissed a suit by two Florida women who had married in Massachusetts and wanted recognition by their home state. Their lawyer is Ellis Rubin, a former anti-gay activist who claims to have taken up their case and others like it to make amends for his past. Leaders of mainstream gay legal groups have criticized Rubin for his rogue lawsuits, concerned that they will set bad precedents. Ellis has vowed to appeal Wednesday’s decision to the Supreme Court.
Kansas Amendment Clears First Hurdle
“What’s the matter with Kansas?” a hot 2004 book asked. Well, this week, the Kansas Senate voted to add a ban on same-sex marriage to the state’s constitution. If the state House concurs, it will go on the ballot April 5.
U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, Republican of Kansas, told the Topeka Capital that the more states that pass these amendments—and 15 have so far, with Louisiana’s upheld by that state’s Supreme Court just this week—the better the chance of passing the Federal Marriage Amendment.
Annals of the War on Terror
News surfaced this week that between 1998 and 2004, 20 Arabic and six Farsi speakers were discharged from the U.S. armed forces for homosexuality, more than the nine that were previously reported—expulsions that syndicated columnist Richard Cohen called, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Think.”
Gay Survivor Winner in Big Tax Trouble
Richard Hatch, 43, the gay man who won the first “Survivor” reality show in 2000, did not declare his million dollars in winnings nor $300,000 that he received in 2001 for radio appearances. He will plead guilty in Providence, Rhode Island, on Monday to two counts of filing false tax returns and faces up to $500,000 in fines and ten years in prison.
Episcopal Leaders Feel Anglican Communion’s Pain
U.S. Episcopal bishops meeting in Utah issued a statement expressing “our sincere regret for the pain, the hurt, and the damage caused to our Anglican bonds of affection by certain actions of our church.” They emphasized that the statement of regret was not an apology for having consecrated Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, gay man, as bishop of New Hampshire.
The statement was a response to the Windsor Report to the archbishop of Canterbury that called for a moratorium on blessing gay couples and elevating gays and lesbians to be bishops. The presiding bishop of the U.S. church, Frank Griswold, has formed a committee to answer the report’s call for an examination of the theology behind consecrating an active gay person as a bishop.
Lutherans Stay Anti-Gay
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will keep its policies banning the blessing of same-sex partner commitments and the ordination of out gays and lesbians. That was the recommendation of a task force of the sixth largest Christian denomination in the nation. The group waffled a bit by suggesting that “the church consider not enforcing sanctions against those who acted outside the policy,” The New York Times reported, a compromise that has outraged church conservatives.
Lutherans Concerned, the denomination’s gay caucus, said it was “dismayed and deeply saddened by the recommendations because we felt they perpetuate a system of selective discrimination of gays and lesbians,” Emily Eastwood, the group’s executive director, told the newspaper.
Meanwhile, the Presbyterian Church’s Baltimore presbytery rescinded its support for an amicus brief in favor of opening marriage to gay couples in Maryland, saying it went against the policies of the national church.
Rabbi in Hot Water for Same-Sex Marriages
Rabbi Ayelet S. Cohen, a straight woman who serves Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, the city’s lesbian and gay synagogue, has been threatened with expulsion from the Conservative movement for “defying long-established rules for taking a job at a synagogue,” The New York Times reported. Cohen believes they’re after her because she has publicly officiated at same-sex weddings, including one on the City Hall steps last March.
The Rabbinical Assembly of the Conservative Movement said that Cohen needed to obtain a waiver to work at an unaffiliated synagogue and did not initially. After finally obtaining covering her first two years on the job at the Village congregation, she failed to apply for an extension last July.
Cohen was on vacation in Spain after the story broke and was not available for comment to Gay City News.
Gay Flags Threatened in London
The Westminster Council has told businesses in London’s gay Soho district that they cannot fly rainbow flags without approval, noting that it is a “conservation” area and that many businesses want to put advertisements outside, the BBC reported.
Establishments such as the Admiral Duncan bar, hit by a nail bomb attack that killed three and injured scores in 1999, faced fines of £250 (about $468) a day if they do not remove the flag.
London Mayor Ken Livingstone called the council’s action “deeply offensive to lesbian and gay people.” He wrote to them, “I am astounded that a flag designed almost 30 years ago as a symbol of lesbian and gay community pride, as an optimistic alternative to the more common pink triangle symbol, is to be removed as it is deemed advertising.”
The rainbow flag was designed by Gilbert Baker in San Francisco in 1978.
New Director for MCC
Dr. Cindi Love, the former executive dean of Brookhaven College in Dallas, has just begun serving as the new executive director of the international Metropolitan Community Church whose primary ministry is to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) folks. Her appointment was hailed by Rev. Troy Perry, the founder of the denomination in 1968 in Los Angeles, who said, “Cindi’s organizational expertise, management background, and deep spiritual values will help lead into a new chapter of mission and ministry.”
MCC’s Los Angles headquarters has an annual budget of $3 million. Its local congregations, serving more than 43,000 people in 23 countries, have a combined annual budget of $21 million.
Love succeeds Kerry Lobel, the former head of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, who was serving as interim executive director.
Condoms Si, Say Spanish Bishops
Roman Catholic Bishops in Spain have been lobbying hard to stop the Socialist government there from legalizing same-sex marriage soon. But whether in response to polls showing resentment toward their interference in state matters, the intervention of the Holy Spirit or a new openness to scientific truth, the Spanish Bishops Conference has come out in favor of using condoms to stem the spread of HIV.
Juan Antonio Martinez Campos, a spokesman for the conference, met with the health minister and concluded that the church’s new stand “was backed by the scientific world,” citing a Lancet article supporting the “ABC” approach to prevention—abstinence, being faithful, and using condoms, The Scotsman reported.
As recently as November, Campos said the idea that using condoms prevented HIV transmission was “gravely false, ”which is the Vatican line. Catholic hospitals in New York are forbidden from distributing or even recommending condom use.
The shift was welcomed by the Spanish Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Transsexuals and Bisexuals whose president, Betriz Gimeno, said it was “inevitable.”
Indian, Canadian Pols Spar on Same-Sex Marriage
During a joint press conference during Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin’s visit to India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a Sikh, was asked about the recent Sikh edict against same-sex marriage and the fact that it’s now legal in most of Canada. “I do not think it proper for me to comment on internal Canadian affairs, but certainly, such a thing would not have, I think, wide appreciation.”
Martin strongly defended his government’s moves toward changing the federal definition of marriage to embrace gay and lesbian couples, following court rulings in most Canadian provinces opening marriage to gay people starting in 2003 under the Charter of Rights.
“We are a country of minorities,” Martin said, adding that the purpose of the charter “is to protect minority rights.”
There was speculation in the Canadian press that the Sikh pronouncement against gay marriage could affect some constituencies in Canada with Sikhs voters.
A new poll out from Environics Research Group in Canada found 54 percent of Canadians wanting Parliament to pass the gay marriage law with 43 percent opposed.
Last weekend, Ronald Fabbro, the Catholic bishop of London, Ontario, sent a letter to all 145 of his parishes asking his flock to take an active role to defeat the bill, calling same-sex marriage “an experiment of social engineering which we don’t know the consequences of,” though he suggested it would contribute to the falling Canadian birthrate. He also reminded Catholics, “Our church teaching is one of respect for gays and lesbians,” just not gay and lesbian rights.
HRC TV Ad Appealing to Bush’s Better Angels
On January 20, the date of Pres. George W. Bush’s second inaugural, the Human Rights Campaign began running TV spots asking which George Bush would be taking the oath that day. The ad notes that despite Bush’s statement that he doesn’t “fire somebody based on sexual orientation,” he has jettisoned more than 1,500 members of the armed forces for being gay.
And despite a statement Bush made that he is “going to be respectful for people, I’ll tolerate people,” he has “refused to crack down on anti-gay hate crimes,” the 30-second ad says.
The ad concludes, “There’s what George Bush says… and what George Bush does. What will he do the next four years?”
New Zealand Down with Civil Unions
The New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs is having no problem recruiting officials to administer civil union ceremonies in the wake of the government’s enactment of a partnership bill for gay couples that takes effect April 26. Existing marriage celebrants do not qualify to celebrate civil unions unless they apply, Stuff.co.nz reported. The department has received 138 applications to perform the civil union ceremonies one week after publishing an ad soliciting them.
Bush I Cabinet Member’s Daughter Weds Woman
Dr. Diane Mosbacher, a psychiatrist and award-winning documentary maker, has married her longtime partner, Dr. Nanette Gartrell, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California at San Francisco. The wedding ceremony took place in Victoria, British Columbia, where same-sex marriages are legal.
Mosbacher is the daughter of Robert Mosbacher, secretary of commerce under Pres. George H.W. Bush.
The couple originally married at San Francisco City Hall last February when Mayor Gavin Newsom ordered the marriage bureau to allow gay and lesbian couples to wed. Those marriages were invalidated by the California State Supreme Court.
Among Diane Mosbacher’s more notable films are “Straight from the Heart,” about religious parents dealing with having gay and lesbian children, and “Radical Harmonies: The Story of the Women’s Movement Cultural Movement.”
Straight Guy for the Queer Tie
The movement for same-sex marriage in Russia has been started by a non-gay man. Eduard Mishn, a Bashkiria regional state assembly deputy, filed for a marriage license in Moscow with the male editor of a gay Web site.
“I do not belong to a sexual minority,” Mishin told MosNews, “but I am ready to stand up for the civil rights of gays and lesbians in Russia.”
Mishin introduced an amendment to the marriage law in Bashkortostan last year to allow gay couples to marry, but got nowhere.