New Briefs

NJ Supremes Hear Marriage Case

The New Jersey Supreme Court, considered one of the fairest to gay people in the nation, heard oral arguments Wednesday in a suit brought by Lambda Legal seeking the right of same-sex couples to marry.

New Jersey Deputy Attorney General Patrick DaAlmeida argued that it is up to the state Legislature to change the marriage laws. He was repeatedly asked why the court could not open marriage to gay and lesbian couples, the Courier Post reported. “To allow same-sex couples to marry would not be removing a barrier to marriage, but redefining marriage itself,” he told the court.

Chief Justice Deborah T. Poritz commented, “It’s not as if the institution of marriage hasn’t changed in rather dramatic ways.” Under gay-American Jim McGreevey, the former governor and a Democrat, the state extended 10 domestic partner benefits to gay couples, but not marriage.

Lambda attorney David Buckel had to fend off questions about whether an affirmative decision on its suit would open the door to polygamy. One of his plaintiffs, Marilyn Maneely, has died since the case, Lewis v. Harris, began. In June, a lower court ruled 2-1 against Lambda. A new poll commissioned by Garden State Equality found that 56 percent of Jersey residents support the right of gay people to marry.

After the arguments, Reverend Mark Lewis of Union City, a plaintiff who is seeking to marry his partner of 15 years, Reverend Dennis Winslow, a pastor in Chelsea, said, “We believe that the search for justice is the chief way of living a Christian life.”


Bishop Gene Robinson in Rehab

Out gay Bishop of New Hampshire Gene Robinson, 58, has checked himself into a rehabilitation center for a month, his diocese confirmed this week.

He wrote to his parishes, “I will be dealing with the disease of alcoholism—which for years I have thought of as a failure of will on my part, rather than a disease over which my particular body simply has no control, except to stop drinking altogether.”

His assistant told The New York Times that clergy in the diocese “had not seen any evidence of an alcohol problem, and knew of no precipitating event that drove Bishop Robinson to seek treatment.”


Cost of Military Bigotry

A University of California-Santa Barbara report found that the cost of expelling gay and lesbian servicemembers from the military was $190.5 million from 1994 to 2003, 91 percent more than the estimate made by the Government Accountability Office.

The commission, which included former Defense Secretary William Perry, a Republican who served under Democratic President Bill Clinton, looked at the money lost recruiting and training these servicemembers as well the prospective cost in losing their service. Charles Moskos, a Northwestern University sociologist who is the architect of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, told the Washington Post that letting gay soldiers come out would cost the military more in terms of losing recruits who did not want to associate with them. But recent polls of active servicemembers show a growing acceptance of gay soldiers.


Massachusetts Bar Victim Alleges Mistreatment by Paramedics

Robert Perry, who was shot and attacked with a hatchet by Jacob Robida, 18, at a New Bedford gay bar earlier this month, said that paramedics who arrived at the Puzzles Lounge abused him physically and verbally, shoving an oxygen mask on his injured face, calling his family, and discussing his medical information publicly without his permission.

"There wasn’t just hatred in the bar that night," he told the New Bedford Standard Times. "We had hatred in the ambulance, too." Perry has filed a complaint with the state Department of Public Health.

Robida, 18, killed a cop after being stopped in Arkansas, later shooting and killing himself and a companion.


Brinster Buys Oscar Wilde Bookshop

Kim Brinster, the long-time manager of the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop, the nation’s oldest such establishment founded in 1967 in New York’s Greenwich Village, has bought the store from Lambda Rising Bookstores based in Washington.

“Three years ago, Oscar Wilde was in imminent danger of closing forever when, at literally the last hour, Lambda Rising stepped in,” said Deacon Maccubbin, owner of the chain, noting that Brinster and her staff “restored sound financial operations” with them. The store is at 15 Christopher Street at the corner of Gay.


Study: Start HIV Drugs Earlier

Research from the University of Colorado and sponsored by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that people with HIV are better off taking retroviral drugs early rather than waiting until they get sick. Current practice advises waiting to avoid the ill side-effects of the drugs. The study found that those who initiated treatment early “had 28 percent fewer cases of kidney failure and peripheral neuropathy,” the Associated Press reported. Dr. Kenneth Lichtenstein, the lead researcher, said, “If you didn’t develop toxicity in the first six months to a year [of taking the drug cocktail], your risk of toxicity went down, rather than up.” The study has yet to be peer-reviewed and published.


Giant with AIDS Charges Discrimination

Roy Simmons, the former lineman for the New York Giants, said that he was denied access to the media center at the Super Bowl in Detroit because he is gay and has HIV, Sports Illustrated reported. With lawyer Gloria Allred, he called on the NFL to investigate the alleged slight. “I was once part of the inner circle,” he said. “Now I’m standing on the outside looking in.” He had wanted to speak to the media about being HIV-positive. In a letter, Simmons asked Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who himself has a gay son and has been honored by Parents-FLAG, if the league “is inherently homophobic and prefers that a gay football player remain in the closet.” In a statement, the NFL said Simmons’ request for access and tickets was one of many last-minute requests that “inundated” the league and that they want him to speak to their rookies in June. Meanwhile, the United States has once again agreed to a waiver for people with HIV from abroad who want to attend the Gay Games in Chicago July 15-22, as was done for the New York games in 1994.


Just Don’t Make It a Cartoon

Sandi Dubowski, who took the lid off gay people in Orthodox Judaism in his documentary “Trembling before G_d,” has no fear. His new production, “In the Name of Allah,” is about gay and lesbian Muslims to be directed by Parvez Sharma, an out Indian Muslim. “The world needs to understand Islam,” he told Variety, “and these are the most unlikely storytellers.” He hopes to screen it in every Muslim nation. Just last week, the United Arab Emirates sentenced 26 people to five years in prison for being gay and attending a party for cross-dressers at a hotel.


Polish President on Gays

Lech Kaczynski, the new rightwing president of Poland, visited Chicago last week, answering questions about his anti-gay views. “Contrary to what people say, I am not for discrimination against gays. They have a right to participate in public life. However, I am against the public display of their sexual preferences.” As mayor of Warsaw, he banned a gay pride parade. “We should not forsake family values,” he said.


Israeli Court Allows Lesbian Second Parent Adoption

The Israeli high court voted 7-2 to allow lesbian partners to adopt each other’s biological children, a first in the nation. Tal and Avital Jarus-Hakak have lived together for more than 15 years when Tal had a son, Arel. Avital then had a son, Yahel in 1994 and Avital a third son, Yuval in 1997. Despite lower court rulings that said the country’s adoption laws did not allow for the adoptions by the non-biological lesbian parents, the justices ruled that the family court should determine what is in the best interests of the children. After listening to a report from social workers, the family court okayed the adoptions.


Czech President May Veto Civil Partnerships

The prime minister of the Czech Republic, Jiri Paroubek, finally got a civil partnership bill for same-sex couples through Parliament, but now the nation’s president, Vaclav Klaus, is threatening to use his power to veto the legislation. If Klaus just fails to sign the bill, it will go into effect. If he affirmatively vetoes it, a supermajority in the Parliament could override him, but those votes are not believed to be there. Klaus has called the bill “a tragic mistake” that gives gay people “unjustified privileges,” even though the rights in the bill fall far short of marriage. A poll found that 62 percent of Czechs have no objection to the bill.


Massachusetts Court Delays Decision on Out-of-State Gay Marriages

The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts announced that it will not have a decision ready by its usual 130-day deadline on the case, argued in October, on the constitutionality of a law banning marriages of non-Bay Staters whose marriages will not be recognized back home. After a few out-of-state gay couples were married in May 2004, Governor Mitt Romney, who is seeking the Republican nomination for president, invoked the 1913 law, despite the fact that some state attorneys general, including Eliot Spitzer, had opined that while their states don’t perform same-sex weddings, they should recognize legal ones performed elsewhere. The case was brought on behalf of eight couples by Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, the Boston-based group that won the 2003 marriage ruling. Meanwhile, the US Department of Health and Human Services last week ruled that none of the $500 million budgeted to “promote and strengthen marriage” may be used to support same-sex marriages where it is legal in Massachusetts. They cited the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that bans federal recognition of same-sex marriages.


Duane to Pataki: Don’t Host Scouts

Out gay state Senator Tom Duane, a West Side Democrat, wrote to Republican Governor George Pataki, urging him not to allow a reception for the anti-gay Boy Scouts to be held at the Executive Mansion in Albany. “It sends a terrible message to allow the Boy Scouts—or any discriminatory organization—to use the executive mansion,” he said. Kevin Quinn, a spokesman for Pataki, told the New York Post that the Scouts “are an American institution” and that although the governor won’t be attending the reception, he “will not be banning them.”


“Brokeback” Good and Bad

Willie Nelson has released a 1981 song he wrote called “Cowboys are Secretly, Frequently (Fond of Each Other)” in the run up to the Match 5 Academy Awards where “Brokeback Mountain” is up for nine Oscars. He said, “The song’s been in the closet for 20 years.” Among the lyrics, first sung on Howard Stern’s show, are: “There’s many a cowboy who don’t understand the way he feels toward his brother/Inside every cowboy there’s a lady who’d love to slip out.” Nelson’s manager, David Anderson, came out two years ago. At Gonzaga University in Spokane Washington, administrators are urging fans of their #5-ranked basketball team to stop chanting “Brokeback Mountain” as a slur at opposing players. Student Callie Monroe wrote in the school paper, “I simply do not understand how a student body claiming to live by Jesuit principles of acceptance and respect for all can allow an incident like this to happen and remain silent.”


Sir Ian: Hollywood “Old-Fashioned” about Gays

Out gay Sir Ian McKellen, 66, told BBC News, “It is very, very difficult for an American actor who wants a film career to be open about his sexuality—and even more difficult for a woman if she’s a lesbian. The film industry is very old-fashioned in California.” The British actor said that his career “really took off” after he came out in 1988. He added that while “Brokeback Mountain” may lead to more gay themes in film, Hollywood was still reluctant to cast out actors in lead roles.


Cruising Tom

Tom Cruise is threatening to sue Andrew Morton, author of the best-selling Princess Diana biography, if he tries to imply that the star is gay. WENN reported that Morton has hired a private investigator and a male porn star, Paul Baressi, to look into the rumors about Cruise. Bert Fields, the actor’s lawyer, wrote Morton, “Make sure you check your facts,” adding, “If he tries to use my letter to create the impression that Mr. Cruise did have a gay affair, we will certainly sue… because the story is false.”


Christian: Kill the Gays

Gary DeMar, president of American Vision, a Christian Reconstructionist group that wants to make the U.S. a theocracy, was the guest of American Family Association president Tim Wildmon on his radio show February 2, condemning such gay themed media as “Will and Grace” and “Brokeback Mountain.” But Wildmon, who has praised DeMar’s writings, did not ask him about his call for “theocratic dominion” which “would extend capital punishment beyond such crimes as kidnapping, rape, and murder to include, among other things, blasphemy, heresy, adultery, and homosexuality." In 2001, President George W. Bush was forced to withdraw the nomination of an American Vision board member, J. Robert Brame III, from the National Labor Relations Board when the extremism of the group came to light.


Denver Mayor: Gay = $

John Hickenlooper, mayor of Denver, told the city’s GLBT Commission this week that increased tolerance for gay folks is good for business in town. “Economic potency is where everybody is welcome,” he said, referring to Richard Florida’s book, “The Rise of the Creative Class” which argues the presence of gay people is an indicator of a creative town.