News Briefs - Pride 2006
Depeche Mode Cuts, and Runs
Local fans of Depeche Mode were sorely disappointed on May 10 when lead singer David Gahan left the Starlight Theatre stage after performing only a handful of songs, supposedly due to laryngitis. The band's songwriter, Martin Gore, unsuccessfully attempted to take over for Gahan, and the concert was abruptly ended. Depeche Mode has long had a large gay fan base, and many had paid a substantial price for the Wednesday night show. Said Gore of the predicament, "Have you ever had your worst nightmare?"
Missouri Lawmakers Thumb Noses at Supreme Court
When the Supreme Court of the United States decided Lawrence v. Texas in June 2003, that decision essentially voided portions of all state sodomy laws that criminalized consensual sexual activity between persons of the same gender. Now the Missouri General Assembly has the chance to revise the statutory wording to make the state statute comply with current case law, but lawmakers have instead--as a matter of continued bigotry--decided to leave the wording in tact.
UPDATE: Missouri Legislation
In the 2006 Pride Edition of Camp, News Briefs reported ("Missouri Lawmakers Thumb Noses at Supreme Court") that the Missouri General Assembly was set to pass legislation that would reaffirm the unconstitutional wording in the state sodomy statute. However, the final version of the bill passed without the outdated language. An effort led by PROMO was successful in stripping out the language that ran afoul of current case law (Lawrence v. Texas).
PROMO reports that two other anti-LGBT bills never made it out of committee. One would have removed all of the protected classes from Missouri's Hate Crimes Law, including sexual orientation and gender identity. The other was a resolution sponsored by Rep. Jane Cunningham that would have urged Congress to pass the federal Marriage Protection Amendment.
Danforth Opposed to Anti-Gay Amendment
Former Republican senator from Missouri, John Danforth, voiced his opposition to the soon-to-be-proposed federal constitutional amendment that would redefine marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Danforth, who is also an ordained Episcopal minister, asked regarding the Marriage Protection Amendment proposal, "Whose marriage is this going to protect?" during a speech addressing the Log Cabin Republicans National Dinner April 29.
Illinois Extends Benefits to Domestic Partners
On May 8, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich signed an executive order that extends domestic partner benefits to state employees; this extension includes lesbian and gay couples. With this move, he Prairie State becomes the thirteenth state to extend DP benefits to all state workers, joining California, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.
Alabama School Pamphlet Calls Gays Unnatural
A Dothan, Alabama middle school sex education pamphlet characterizes same-gender sexual orientation as not a "legitimate lifestyle." The lesbian mother of a 12-year-old girl who received the tract was astounded at the answer to question number 8 in "The Top 10 Questions Teenagers Ask about Sex." That question about being gay is answered partly by stating that same-sex attraction is "contrary to the laws of nature." The pamphlet's authors, Molly Kelly and Mark Houck, also support the extremely misguided and harmful "ex-gay" movement.
LGBT Hate Crimes Amendment Withdrawn
An amendment to a Senate bill, that would have added gays and lesbians to federal hate crimes legislation, was dropped after Republicans threatened to block the sex offender registry bill to which it was attached. Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) promised to reintroduce the provision in the future.
Kraft, Ford, AmEx, & ExxonMobil Shareholders Vote on Policies
Confronted with a proposal to withdraw their support for this summer's Gay Games VII in Chicago, 99% of Kraft shareholders voted to keep the donation of $25,000 in tact. The funding rubbed Dr. Marcella Meyer the wrong way, and she asked shareholders to end it, saying gay activity increases the likelihood of transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. The vote took place On April 25 in East Hanover, NJ.
Ford Motor Company and American Express shareholders voted down proposals to rescind protections for LGBT workers, and ExxonMobil--the only major American company to repeal a non-discrimination policy regarding these matters--will hold a shareholder vote on a proposal to reinstate the policy.
Ninety-nine Total Arrests for Freedom Riders
With 21 arrests at West Point Military Academy, the Soulforce freedom riders ended their nation-wide bus tour of anti-LGBT colleges and universities. In total, there were 99 Soulforce arrests during the road trip. Thirty-two adults participated in the Soulforce Equality Ride, which was a grassroots effort to confront anti-gay bigotry in higher education enrollment. See equalityride.com for details.
Mary Cheney Appears on Primetime
Mary Cheney, the lesbian daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney, appeared on ABC's Primetime on May 4. Diane Sawyer interviewed the 'second daughter' for the evening news magazine after years of silence regarding her father and his leadership in the decidedly anti-gay Bush Administration. Cheney spoke about her partner, the 2004 campaign, and her new memoir "Now It's My Turn: A Daughter's Chronicle of Political Life."
Rosie O'Donnell to Join The View
Comedian, actress, and talk show host Rosie O'Donnell will replace the exiting Meredith Vieira on ABC's "The View." Vieira is leaving the all female panel to assume Katie Couric's co-anchor role on NBC's "Today" show. Couric is taking over as anchor of the "CBS Evening News." Reports have O'Donnell beating out Connie Chung, Patricia Heaton, and Soledad O'Brien for "The View" spot.
CDC to Recommend Routine HIV Testing
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is expected to issue guidelines sometime this summer that will call for HIV testing for all teens and adults--aged 13 to 65 years--during their routine health examinations. CDC decision-makers claim around 250,000 Americans are unaware that they are HIV-positive. There is concern that the proposed recommendations do not include adequate counseling and informed consent. Knowing one's HIV status is an important health datum, but until the government can ensure nondiscrimination for those testing positive, its plan falls short of perfection.
In a related story, the HIV Law Project, the New York Civil Liberties Union, et al, demanded that the New York State Department of Health stop illegally collecting medical information on people with HIV, and stop subverting informed consent laws.
Vatican May OK Condoms for HIV Prevention
The Roman Catholic Church has long opposed to any form of artificial birth control; this opposition includes the use of condoms. Pope Benedict XVI is now considering allowing condom use by those with "grave diseases, starting with AIDS." The Vatican remains adverse to same gender lovemaking, sex outside of marriage, and many assisted fertility procedures. The Holy See is expected to release a document soon that details this very specific allowance of the use of condoms.
Our Families to be Election Wedge Issue...Again (opinion)
With right-wing policy failures and dissolute clergy at saturation points, political and religious conservatives have joined forces once again to distract voters from real issues like the deficit, healthcare, and perpetual war, so that they might strike an uncivil blow against LGBT citizens and their families. Southern Baptist, other Protestant, and Roman Catholic leaders--including cardinals and archbishops--have signed a petition supporting a federal Constitutional amendment to ban same-gender marriage. Assistants to Senators Bill Frist (R-TN), Rick Santorum (R-PA), and Sam Brownback (R-KS) were also involved in the petition drive. Frist Is expected to reintroduce the amendment June 5, just as Gay Pride celebrations get underway.
Majority in US Oppose Marriage Amendment
According to a poll commissioned by the Human Rights Campaign, only thirty-three percent of those questioned feel the fate of marriage equality should be decided via a federal Constitutional amendment. Even Laura Bush thinks the issue mustn't enter into upcoming political races. If you have not done so already, please go to hrc.org/voteno to make your voice heard. Send your allied friends there also, before the scheduled June 5 vote.
Howard Dean Once Again Infuriates LGBT Groups
Not only has Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean eliminated the party's lesbian and gay outreach director post, and fired the its gay outreach adviser, on May 10 he appeared on Pat Robertson's "700 Club," and misstated the DNC's position on same-sex marriage. According to the Washington Blade, Dean claimed the DNC platform states "marriage is between a man and a woman." The official plank is inclusive, saying, "We support full inclusion of gay and lesbian families in the life of our nation and seek equal responsibilities, benefits, and protections for these families." Gay rights advocates were justifiably outraged. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) is returning a $5,000 donation from the Democratic National Party due to Dean's remarks.
Churches, Civil Rights Groups Support Marriage Equality
Fourteen friend-of-the-court briefs have been filed in four cases involving marriage equality set to be heard by the New York Court of Appeals on May 31. According to the ACLU, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the National Organization for Women, the Asian American Bar Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the New York County Lawyers Association, et al, have filed amicus briefs. Other signatories include Episcopal, United Methodist, Presbyterian, Church of Christ, Unitarian, and Jewish organizations.
Methodist Panel Says Excluding Gays OK
The Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church let stand a decision by Rev. Edward Johnson of the South Hill, Virginia United Methodist Church. Johnson had refused to admit a gay man to church membership because of his sexual orientation.
GayHarmony.net Debuts Gay Christian Personals
Justin Cannon announced the launch of GayHarmony.net, a website devoted to gay and lesbian Christian dating. Says Cannon, "Most GLBTQ Christians are excluded from joining Christian personals sites, and gay and other personals sites aren't structured to meet their specific needs."
Judge Throws out Don't Ask Lawsuit
On April 24, Federal District Court Judge George A. O'Toole threw out a lawsuit brought by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). The suit, Cook v. Rumsfeld, was filed in Massachusetts by 12 plaintiffs in an attempt to overturn the Pentagon's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that forbids open gays and lesbians from serving their country in the military. Judge O'Toole said the policy's constitutionality was not affected by 2003's Lawrence v. Texas, and he claimed that the Judiciary has traditionally deferred to Congress on matters military. SLDN is appealing the ruling.
Iraqi Teen Murdered by Police Over Gay Sex
A fourteen-year-old Iraqi adolescent male, who slept with men in order to feed his family, has been murdered by Baghdad police. According to witnesses, four police officers pulled Ahmed Khalil from his house, and shot him at point blank range in the head and body. An Iraqi gay group called Rainbow for Life blamed the killing and others on the military arm of a Shiite Muslim group known as Badr Corps. On May 10, the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani withdrew a fatwa calling for the killing of gays in the "worst, most severe way possible."
Gay Couples May Now Move throughout Europe
On May 2, new residency requirements went into effect in the European Union; within the new rules in a stipulation that guarantees the right of same-gender couples to live anywhere in the EU with their relationships "facilitated" even in countries that do not recognize such unions.
International Day Against Homophobia
May 17 marks International Day Against Homophobia. OUTfront and several Latin American international sections of Amnesty International campaigned against the sodomy laws of Nicaragua. LGBT activists in Russia are appealing to the Council of Europe with respect to repression in that country and the refusal of the government to allow a gay pride parade. Polish gays and lesbians continue to suffer under the Kaczynski brothers, and LGBT persons in many African and MidEast nations live in dread fear daily. See idahomophobia.org for details.