New Briefs

Reversals in Pennsylvania, Rhode Island

The House of Representatives in Pennsylvania voted 136-to-61 for a state constitutional amendment that would limit marriage to man-woman couples and ban state and local governments from providing any recognition to unmarried gay or heterosexual couples. The bill now goes to the Senate. If approved there, it would still have to pass the next session of the Legislature as well to qualify for the 2007 ballot. Pennsylvania law already bans same-sex marriage.

In Rhode Island, the Legislature adjourned without taking action on a bill to open marriage to gay couples. The state is one of five, including New York, that does not have a specific law banning it.


Pride Protested in Romania

Participants in the second annual LGBT pride march in Bucharest were protested by 1,000, including adherents of the Romanian Orthodox Church this past Saturday. The protesters clashed with police. Ten people were injured and dozens of arrests were made. LGBT marchers were hit with eggs, bottles, and other items, PlanetOut reported. They were supported by activists from around the world, including Reverend Elder Diane Fisher of the Metropolitan Community Church who called the Romanian Orthodox leaders “inflammatory.” She said, “The real question for any faith group is this: Would Jesus discriminate?”


Gay Massachusetts Mayor Marries

Kevin Dumas, mayor of Attleboro, Massachusetts, married John McFeeley in February, making him “quite possibly the nation’s first mayor legally married to someone of the same sex,” the Providence Journal reported. Dumas had wanted to “keep his private life private, and not use his office for promoting gay rights,” the newspaper said, but “is bound to become a poster child for the cause of same-sex marriage.”


Macy’s Rains on Parade

In Boston, a window display featuring, among others, a male mannequin with a rainbow-flag skirt was yanked by Macy’s after complaints from the right wing. Brian Camenker of MassResistance, an anti-gay marriage group, called it “disgusting,” particularly focusing on the “enlarged breasts” of the dummies. The display, developed in cooperation with the Boston Pride Committee, also included a list of pride events. The mannequins were removed; the list will stay. A spokesperson for Mayor Thomas Menino expressed disappointment in the removal, stating that the display “reflected the diversity of our city.” A spokesperson for Macy’s said that while the store believes in “diversity,” the display “did offend a few of our customers, and we had to re-examine it.”


Lambda Gets Chicago School to Accommodate Gay Group

Lambda Legal prevailed upon the Noble Street Charter School in Chicago to settle a federal lawsuit brought by the school’s Gay Straight Alliance to treat the club equally, including being able to advertise their meetings, meet in classrooms, hold fundraisers, engage in community service, and be included in the yearbook. Lambda sued under the First Amendment and the federal Equal Access Act, which says that secondary schools that receive federal funds may not discriminate against clubs based on viewpoint. While the school had been supportive of clubs dealing with AIDS, it resisted the Gay Straight Alliance.


Update on St. Maarten Gay Bashings

Dick Jefferson, a CBS news producer in New York, who was gay-bashed in St. Maarten in the Caribbean along with Ryan Smith, a fellow CBS employee, on April 6, wrote in an e-mail, “The tire-swinging animal that crushed my skull is still on the prowl—ready to kill again. Only he is no longer on St. Maarten/St. Martin. He escaped the island!”

Jefferson wrote, “His escape should embarrass all those who let him flee and scare away all thinking about visiting the island. Most of the others who also attacked my friends and me are still on the loose.” He noted that the attack took place on the Dutch side of the island and police ‘have known the assailants were hiding on the French side” and that “neither side has come up with a solution to one crime, two nations.”

His said his assailant, whom he identified as “Duracell,” used a machete in a previous assault and is now believed to be on the island of Guadeloupe. Jefferson is urging supporters to write to the director of tourism on the French side, Bernadette Davis, “if you want to let the French know how you feel about letting a criminal escape.” She is at

Jefferson wrote that he has had another surgery and Smith, “who also had his skull crushed in this attack, is scheduled to get his steel plate this week. It is not fun, but it is progress.”


BBC: “Gay” Equals “Rubbish”

The Board of Governors of the British Broadcasting Corporation ruled that presenter Chris Moyles was not offensive to gay people when he said on his Radio 1 morning show of a ringtone, “I don’t want that one. It’s gay.” The complaints committee found, “The word ‘gay,’ in addition to being used to mean ‘homosexual’ or ‘carefree,’ was often now used to mean ‘lame’ or ‘rubbish.’ This is a widespread current usage of the word amongst younger people.” Moyles’ show targets a young demographic. The committee said he was not being homophobic, but advised on-air talent to be cautious in using “gay” in a derogatory sense as “it could cause offence to some listeners.”

Earlier this year, the station did ban American rapper Jayceon Taylor (aka “The Game”) after he called gay men “faggots” during a live interview. The BBC board upheld that decision.


Speaker Quinn Celebrates Gay Rights Law Anniversary

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, both out lesbians, are dedicating their pride event at City Hall on Tuesday, June 13 to marking 20 years since the city first passed a bill banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. It will take place from 6-8 p.m. in the Council Chamber. Among those being honored at the event are Joyce Hunter and the late Betty Santoro, who were spokespersons, as was this reporter, for the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights that led the fight for the bill from 1977 to 1986. The bill was conceived by the Gay Activists Alliance in 1971, the first of its kind in the nation but one of the last to pass in a big city.

Also being honored are former City Councilman Philip Reed and Gary Parker of Lambda Independent Democrats.