VOLUME 3, ISSUE 340 | September 30 -October 6, 2004
Bigot’s Lesbian Daughter?
Gossip columnist Michael Musto wrote on the Village Voice Web site this week: “Some of the same columnists who are now either breaking that story [about Nixon] or jumping on it used to crucify the likes of me and outing-pioneer Michelangelo Signorile for routinely announcing the gay sexuality of celebrities. But years of whittling down at prejudices have made gayness more reportable.” He added that “leaving out homosexuality is hypocritical and biased” when reporting on gay celebs and that “it’s OK to be gay, so outing someone isn’t a condemnation at all, it’s just a fact!”
Pushing for N.Y. Marriage
Attorneys for Lambda Legal Defense filed court papers this week asking for a prompt ruling in its lawsuit seeking the right to marry for same-sex couples in New York State, answering New York City’s argument that the city has an interest in “preserving traditional marriage.”
Susan Sommer, Lambda’s supervising attorney, said, “New York City attorneys are asking the courts to ignore our state’s Constitution and instead use public opinion polls to decide people’s basic civil rights.”
In a release, Lambda notes that the city has “the largest percentage of same-sex households of any city in the country, with 8.9 percent of the country’s total.” The 2000 Census found 25,906 same-sex couples in “unmarried partner” relationships—15,016 gay, 10,890 lesbian partnerships.
“Marriage Equality” Crosses the U.S.
California activists promoting same-sex marriage are launching a seven-day caravan from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. to promote the cause, culminating in a rally on October 11, National Coming Out Day.
The “Marriage Equality Express” will stop in Sacramento, Reno, Salt Lake City, Cheyenne, Denver, Kansas City, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh before arriving in the District of Columbia.
“We want to put a face to the issue and explain how the Defense of Marriage Act and other state and federal discriminatory laws directly affect our lives,” said Davina Kotulski, one of the organizers and author of “Why You Should give a Damn about Gay Marriage.”
Robin Tyler, national co-chair of Don’tAmend.com, fighting the Federal Marriage Amendment, “Regardless of the presidential election, we need to confront bigotry and all politicians who continue to push marriage segregation.”
Among those traveling with the caravan will be same-sex couples and their families, including bi-national couples.
The ACLU is offering tools to those who want to try to defeat the 11 state amendment proposals that seek to ban same-sex marriage. The group has launched “Fighting for Marriage,” an online tool kit at aclu.org/getequal, providing “practical advice and resources designed to make the case for, and counter arguments against, marriage equality.”
“To win these fights, we must show America the truth about same-sex couples,” said Matt Coles, director of the ACLU’s Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. “Every conversation has the potential to change minds and win votes.”
The ACLU is also asking that members of same-sex couples fill out a Web-based survey that they’ve developed with Freedom to Marry to collect data for use in addressing the media on the subject as well as litigating. The survey is online at aclu.org/couples
Episcopalians Welcome Shunned Catholics
After Michael Sabatino and Robert Voorheis got married in Canada last year, they were forced to leave the choir at St. Benedict’s Catholic Church in Throg’s Neck where Michael had sung for 32 years and Robert for 20, the Journal News reported. Now the Yonkers couple has found a place in the choir at Zion Episcopal Church in Dobbs Ferry where last weekend the pastor, Rev. Richard McKeon, Jr. devoted his sermon to welcoming the men.
“It’s a great gift to be reminded of who we are and to be reminded that we should live a life that represents what Jesus lived, which is to be hospitable, compassionate, and nonjudgmental,” McKeon, who is gay, told his congregants.
Michael and Robert have been active in the movement for marriage equality in New York State. The archdiocese of New York refused to comment on their expulsion from the Bronx parish.
UK Gay Leader Under Death Threat
Peter Tatchell, whose militant gay activist group Outrage! has gotten him assaulted by anti-gay bigots, is now under 24-hour police guard due to threats from those opposing his campaign to stop “murder music” reggae artists from performing in Britain and elsewhere. Police are taking seriously word that a violent Jamaican gang called the Yardies has been paid to kill Tatchell, using a hit man from Jamaica.
365gay.com reported that on one reggae fan Web site, a message was posted saying, “Where are the shottas [gunmen] over in England? I bet if shottas dem kill a few a dem they will calm down, cause right now England battyman [gay man; Tatchell] dem ago start a world movement.”
Lesbian in Cal. Congressional Race
Last week, Washington, D.C. gay activist Mike Rogers on his BlogActive.com Web site exposed Republican anti-gay Rep. David Dreier as a gay man who lived with his chief of staff and paid him the highest salary for a congressional aide. This will make the November election in the district just outside Los Angeles the first gay versus gay contest in the nation because Cynthia Matthews, the Democratic candidate, is a lesbian. “If David Dreier is gay it is absolutely shameful to me that he would amass a 24-year voting record against his own community,” she told Rawstory.com .
Gay journalist Doug Ireland wrote about the Dreier story for L.A. Weekly. On his Direland.com Web site, he said he spoke to a gay congressman who is 100 percent sure that Dreier is gay.
BlogActive.com also noted this week that two of the top operatives of the Republican National Committee are gay and unconcerned that the party is working to ban gay marriage rights in the U.S. Constitution. Dan Gurley is the deputy political director and national field director and Jay Banning is the chief financial officer and director of administration. Both acknowledged being gay in phone conversations with Rogers.
“HRC Reconsiders Stance on Gay Rights”
That was the headline in The Harvard Crimson this week, but it wasn’t the Human Rights Campaign doing the reconsidering, it was the Harvard Republican Club. Moderate members of the campus G.O.P. organization drafted, but did not vote on a proposal to withhold support for the Federal Marriage Amendment, a break with the national party’s platform and President Bush’s position. Under the club’s rules, it supports all platform positions unless a differing proposal is approved.
Schwarzenegger Signs Hate Crimes Bill
Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed his second piece of LGBT-inclusive legislation, the Omnibus Hate Crimes Act, that creates a uniform definition of a hate crime, including against people based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and people who associate with gay or transgendered people as well as other groups. He previously signed one enhancing insurance protections for same-sex partners and, on the AIDS front, allowing drug users to purchase sterile needles at pharmacies. The religious right is in a tizzy about the California governor’s opposition to their agenda, with the Campaign for California Families trying to whip up protests to dissuade Arnold from signing the remaining pro-gay bills on his desk.
The hairstyles of some of Nigeria’s top soccer stars—braided and sometimes dyed in the national colors—have some sports officials charging that it is not culturally acceptable and “promoted homosexuality,” Ananova.com reported. One senior administrator banned the braids from a junior tournament. A Nigerian information minister, Otunba Olusegun Runshewe said in the TV interview, “Our youths are now taking after our great football stars. Don’t forget that in the developing world that the braiding of hair and earrings has a sense of homosexuality.”
Tobias and Musto on “Gay USA” TV
The weekly “Gay USA” cable TV news program I co-host with Ann Northrop expanded to an hour last week. Produced by Manhattan Neighborhood Network, the show is seen in Manhattan Thursdays at 11 p.m. on Time-Warner 34 and RCN 107. Thereafter, it is picked up nationally through Free Speech TV and shown around the country on Directv. The show is also simulcast at MNN.org channel 34 on Thursdays at 11 p.m.
Guests this Thursday, September 30 are Andrew Tobias, the out gay treasurer of the Democratic National Committee who is a financial writer and author of “The Best Little Boy in the World,” a memoir of growing up gay. He will tell us why he is sure John Kerry is going to be elected president. Also featured is Village Voice gossip columnist Michael Musto who will give his take on Cynthia Nixon’s coming out among other matters.
Ferry Named for Staten Island Bigot
Guy Molinari, former congressman and Staten Island borough president, said in 1994 that Karen Burstein, the Democratic nominee for state attorney general, was “unfit to hold public office” because she is a lesbian. Burstein narrowly lost that race and Molinari has never retracted his bigoted statement, but that didn’t stop our city from naming one of the new Staten Island ferryboats after him this week.
Mayor Mike Bloomberg presided over the ceremony, calling Molinari a “tireless public servant.” Democratic U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer said, “If there ever was a Mr. Staten Island, it is Guy Molinari. There is not a name more deserving to go on this ferry than Guy’s.” These are the same people who rightly excoriated former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott in 2002 for praising retiring Sen. Strom Thurmond for his 1948 Dixiecrat run for president, a campaign that tried to preserve racial segregration.
While at 50 I haven’t quite reached the median age that frequented Regents bar and restaurant on E. 53rd St., I was sorry to read in the N.Y. Times that this haven for gay gentlemen of a certain age has ceded the ground floor restaurant to a non-gay specific Mexican chain eatery, keeping the piano bar on the second story open. Regents had inherited some of the menu and wait staff from the Mayfair, a venerable nearby gay restaurant that gave up its lease a couple of years ago. About all that’s left in this category is The Townhouse Restaurant on E. 58th and Fedora’s in the Village, now that we’re welcome everywhere and more integrated.
Byrony Lavery Plagiarism
Playwright Byrony Lavery has been exposed as having lifted wholesale passages from the work of psychiatrist Dorothy Otnow Lewis in writing her gripping play, “Frozen,” about a child murderer. The N.Y. Times reported that Lavery, who once identified as lesbian but now describes herself as “retired,” also stole a Malcolm Gladwell piece from The New Yorker on the subject. Lewis discovered the theft when she was invited to participate in an audience discussion after the play and read the script. “She lifted my life,” Lewis told the Times. Attorneys are working on a settlement in the case.
Lavery, a prolific playwright who often wrote on lesbian themes, has a new comedy-drama opening in New York, “Last Easter” at the Lucille Lortel on Christopher Street.
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