New Briefs

Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment Fails in U.S. House

While war raged in the Middle East, the U.S. House of Representatives took time out to debate President George W. Bush’s Marriage Protection Amendment to the Constitution that would ban same-sex marriage nationwide and bar courts from granting any of the “incidents” of marriage to gay couples. It needed 290 votes to achieve the necessary two-thirds supermajority and got 236 from 202 Republicans and 34 Democrats. The amendment was opposed by 159 Democrats and 27 Republicans. Representative Jerry Nadler, a West Side/Brooklyn Democrat, led the fight on the floor against the measure, calling it “election-year demagoguery,” especially since it did not even achieve a majority last month in the Senate. “Shame on this House for playing politics with bigotry,” he said.


Newsom Says Democrats Need Some Spine on Marriage Issue

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom told Rolling Stone this week that the “vast majority” of Democratic congressmembers are in support of same-sex marriage, but don’t have “the moral courage” to be out about it. “As long as we allow this to be dangled in front of us because of our unwillingness to say publicly what so many of us are saying privately, it will haunt the Democratic Party,” he told the magazine.


Hillary: Democrats “Wasting Time” on Social Issues

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York, an opponent of same-sex marriage, told an Arkansas Democratic women’s group on July 15, “We do things that are controversial. We do things that try to inflame [the Republican] base. We are wasting time,” the New York Times reported. While the paper noted that she did not mention, “specific subjects like gay marriage,” observers got the message that it was the kind of issue she was talking about. Perhaps if Clinton had supported same-sex marriage, the New York Court of Appeals would have looked more kindly on the right to it. Now the LGBT community will all be “wasting time” on a costly and lengthy battle to win that right in the Legislature.


Spitzer and Clinton Nixed by Gay Democratic Club in New York City

The citywide Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, founded last year and named for the late gay activist, withheld its endorsement from Attorney General Eliot Spitzer in his bid for the Democratic nomination for governor, attacking his role in successfully arguing against same-sex marriage before the Court of Appeals in May. They also are unhappy with his support for the death penalty. The club voted “no endorsement” in the gubernatorial primary, noting that the other contender, Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, “has shown no support for the LGBT community.” Suozzi opposes same-sex marriage and Spitzer supports legislation to allow it, though he told the Daily News editorial board last week that it would not be a priority for him. In the Senate primary, the Owles club chose labor organizer Jonathan Tasini over incumbent Hillary Rodham Clinton, citing her opposition to same-sex marriage and support for the Iraq War and “the so-called Patriot Act.” Tasini, an ardent foe of the war, supports marriage equality. While most of the LGBT Democratic clubs and the Pride Agenda have endorsed out gay Sean Patrick Maloney, who served President Bill Clinton as White House staff secretary, for attorney general despite the fact that he lags far behind in the polls, the Owles club went with former New York City Public Advocate Mark Green, who is second in the polls to former Clinton Housing Secretary Andrew Cuomo, the choice of such LGBT leaders as Speaker Christine Quinn. “We believe Green is a perfect fit for the office of attorney general,” said Allen Roskoff, the club president and a longtime Green supporter.


Scouts Want Special Privileges

The Boy Scouts of America won the right to keep gays and atheists out of their group from the U.S. Supreme Court. Now they want to go to the high court to demand special privileges—the right to freebies from the Berkeley, California city government. When the Scouts would not certify that they are not a discriminatory organization, the Berkeley City Council voted to end free marina privileges for the Sea Scouts in 1998. At first, the Scouts argued that they did not discriminate and it was “a private matter,” but they refused to add sexual orientation to their non-discrimination policy. Three California courts have ruled that the group’s First Amendment rights are not being denied because they no longer get a public subsidy, PlanetOut reported.


Wisconsin Poll: Majority Want Gay Marriage Ban

National LGBT groups are pouring resources into Wisconsin hoping to make it the first state to defeat a referendum banning same-sex marriage in their constitution. But this week the statewide Badger Poll brought bad news. The measure is supported by 52.5 percent of voters and opposed by 43.8 percent, despite the fact that most recent governors—Republican and Democrat—oppose it.


Oprah and Gayle: We’re Not Lovers

In her magazine, O, Oprah Winfrey addressed rumors that she and her protégé Gayle King are lovers. “I understand why people think we’re gay,” she wrote. “There isn’t a definition in our culture for this kind of bond between women. So I get why people have to label it—how can you be this close without being homosexual?” King, who is an editor at O, added, “The truth is, if we were gay, we would tell you, because there is nothing wrong with being gay.” On Ellen Degeneres’ coming out episode on her sitcom, Winfrey played her therapist.


Darren Hayes Comes Out, Gets Hitched

Australian Darren Hayes, 34, former leader singer of Savage Garden, who has dodged questions about his sexuality in the past, got a civil partnership with his boyfriend of two years, Richard Cullen, in London he reported on his Web site. “I can honestly say it was the happiest day of my life,” he wrote. “I feel lucky to live in an era where my relationship can be considered legally legitimate and I commend the UK Government for embracing the very basic Civil Liberty.” Hayes was married to a woman at 22.


Hertz Sued by Chelsea Gay Man

James Green, 41, of Chelsea has filed sued against the Hertz rental car firm alleging that he was fired in 2002 for being gay and was subjected to anti-gay humiliation and sexual harassment including being groped and shown pornography, the New York Post reported. Hertz maintains he was fired for getting into an argument with a customer, but Green, who worked in locations in Manhattan, said the incident was “minor” and that action was taken against him only after he complained about the mistreatment to senior management.


Domestic Partner Benefits in Kentucky

The University of Louisville’s board of trustees voted 14-1 to extend health benefits to the domestic partners of both gay and non-gay employees. The University of Kentucky is still considering it, five years after it was proposed. A Republican state senator, Richard Roeding of Lakeside Park, is drafting a bill to prohibit public institutions from providing such benefits, reported. “I don’t want to entice any of these people into our state,” he said. “Those are the wrong kind of people.”


Soulforce Focuses on Dobson

Twenty-five Soulforce members are marching from Denver to Colorado Springs this week to protest James Dobson’s Focus on the Family group and its obsession with anything homosexual. On July 22, they will “prayerfully” call upon the right-wing leader to “end your religion-based discrimination against our community,” PlanetOut reported. They will stage a candlelight vigil, led by Judy Shepard of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, out gay actor Chad Allen, and Broadway’s Billy Porter.


Those Darned Heterosexuals

Former New York Giants football star Michael Strahan is an ugly divorce from his wife of seven years, Jean. At the trial in Newark, it came out that he paid his wife $30,000 after she caught him videotaping her younger sister while she was undressing in a guest bedroom in their home, the New York Post reported.

Dr. Nicholas Bartha, 66, the man who blew up his East Side townhouse rather than let his wife get the $6.4 million pad in a divorce settlement, died of injuries from the blast. He used to torture his wife, Cordula, who is Jewish and from Nazi-occupied Holland, by putting up “swastika-adorned articles and notes” around the house, according to filings in the divorce case.