New Briefs

Student Mob Tries to Kill Gay Man

A Jamaican man, 22, who allegedly came on to a male student at the University of the West Indies was set upon by a mob of students who tried to kill him, the Daily Gleaner reported. Police in riot gear intervened and were able to extricate him from the situation, despite being outnumbered by the students. The victim was charged by police with “being in a restricted area.”


Canada to Vote on Same-Sex Marriage in Fall

Despite pleas from the right wing to vote now, Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper of Canada has promised a free vote on the ending same-sex marriages in the fall. Canadians for Equal Marriage have urged him to drop the matter entirely. Harper leads a minority government and is not expected to succeed on the vote. If he does, he said it will not apply to same-sex couples already married. Legal experts also question whether such a vote would be effective, even if successful, arguing that Harper would have to invoke the Notwithstanding Clause of the Constitution—which stymies court review—in order to stop same-sex marriage. Harper has repeatedly ruled out taking that extraordinary step.


Tax Day Demonstration April 17 at Post Office

As thousands of people show up to file their taxes at the last minute on Monday, April 17, Marriage Equality will be rallying for equal rights for same-sex couples outside the Main Post Office on Eighth Avenue and 31st St. at 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. The New York State Department of Taxation and Finance ruled this month that legally married same-sex couples may not file their taxes as married, despite the fact that many other New York government agencies—including the pension systems of both the state and the city—do recognize them as married.


Gay Parents to Join White House Egg Roll on April 17

The idea for gay and lesbian parents to participate in the White House Easter Egg Roll, always held on the Monday after Easter, came from two New Yorkers, Colleen Gillespie and Alisa Surkis of Park Slope, Brooklyn, The New York Times reported. The couple brought their three-year old daughter, Ella, to the capital for the event last year but they were turned away when it was curtailed due to rain. That’s when they decided to come back in 2006 with more LGBT parents from Family Pride.


Nadler: Share Social Security

Congressman Jerry Nadler, the West Side Democrat, has introduced the Equal Access to Social Security Act adding the term “permanent partner” to the places where “husband” and “wife” are in the program’s code in order to let gay partners and their children benefit from the system in the same way that married couples do. The bill has 17 co-sponsors, including Joseph Crowley of Queens, Carolyn Maloney of the East Side, and Charles Rangel of Harlem.


Kentucky’s GOP Guv Rescinds Gay Rights Order

Governor Ernie Fletcher, Republican of Kentucky, this week signed an executive order removing protections for state government workers on the basis of sexual orientation. It undoes an executive order signed by Democratic Governor Paul Patton in 2003. Fletcher signed the order on Kentucky Diversity Day. In an incomprehensible explanation for his anti-gay move, he said, “We have not discriminated against the gay community. We are recruiting affirmative action based on race, ethnicity, and gender.” The National Stonewall Democrats, which sharply criticized the revocation order, noted that the governor’s poll numbers “have dramatically dropped over the last year after an investigation was initiated into corruption and hiring practices” in his office.


Spitzer Lets Diaz Walk

Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor, has ended a two-year investigation of anti-gay state Sen. Ruben Diaz, a Bronx Democrat, without filing charges, the New York Post reported. Diaz, a fundamentalist minister who has led many anti-gay rallies, was being probed for improprieties at Soundview Community in Action where he put his wife and ex-wife on the payroll and used staff “to perform political and personal work” for him, the newspaper reported.

Diaz was allowed to repay a couple of thousand dollars misappropriated funds using his own campaign funds. The Post said that he is being let off the hook because Spitzer “needs the powerful Latino politico and Pentecostal minister in his campaign.”

Edward Padilla, the executive director of Soundview, told the newspaper that a special prosecutor should have been assigned to the case. Dick Dadey, director of Citizens Union, called the failure to assign the case to another prosecutor “disturbing.”


Ford Vote on Gay Rights

The Security and Exchange Commission has ruled that a shareholder resolution calling on the Ford Motor Company to end job protections on the basis of sexual orientation can go forward. The SEC said that this would not violate the regulation that resolutions not interfere with “ordinary business operations.” Ford, which got into hot water with the gay community when it dropped its ads in gay publications due to right-wing pressure, reversed course and restored the ads last year. That led to a call for a boycott from the right-wing American Family Association.


No DP Benefits at BMW

BMW is under fire for refusing to provide domestic partner benefits for its employees, though it does advertise in the gay community. The company’s excuse is that New Jersey, where they are based in the U.S., does not require it, according to the Bay Area Reporter. Almost half of Fortune 500 companies offer domestic partner benefits now.


Free Speech at Notre Dame

Father John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame University, has decided not to interfere with a school production of “The Vagina Monologue” or with an annual gay film festival. “I am very determined that we not suppress speech on this campus,” he said. “I am also determined that we never suppress or neglect the gospel that inspired this university.” The local Catholic bishop, John M. D’Arcy said he was “deeply saddened” by Jenkins’ refusal to ban the shows, claiming “sacred responsibility” for the souls of “the young men and women at the University,” WNDU-TV reported.