New Briefs

In and Out in Spain

Spain opened marriage to gay couples a year ago and just had its first gay divorce after 1,300 same-sex weddings. also reported that two male privates in the Spanish Air Force will marry this summer. They were told they could marry in uniform, but elected not to lest they “antagonize the military.”

Anglican Schism Coming

The Episcopal Church in America tried to finesse its differences with the worldwide Anglican Communion by adopting a policy June 20 urging its dioceses not to name bishops “whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church.” It is was a semi-atonement for all the trouble that confirming the out gay bishop of New Hampshire, Gene Robinson, has caused here and especially in Third World branches of the church.

Gay people in the church were hurt by the compromise—especially since the majority in support of the resolution suggests that no additional gay bishops that might be chosen by the officially autonomous diocese are likely to win national approval any time soon—and conservatives were not appeased. Right-wing dioceses are pressing for a split within the U.S. church.

The Episcopal Diocese of Newark wasted no time in ignoring the obtuse moratorium on gay bishops. It made Reverend Michael Barlowe, whose partner of 24 years is Reverend Paul Burrrows of San Francisco, a finalist in the search for a new bishop to be selected from four candidates on September 23.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the head of the Communion, has proposed that member national churches “sign a covenant stating that they believed in the defining biblical standards of Anglican doctrine,” the UK Times reported. Those that sign get full membership; those that don’t get “associate” status, reducing them to the place of Methodists who are “in communion with and recognized by the Church of England but not part of it,” and barring their vote in worldwide governing bodies, the Times said.

The primates, or national leaders within the church, will meet in February to discuss the proposal but final resolution cannot come before the worldwide Lambeth Conference in 2008.

Meanwhile, Presbyterians tried to fudge their gay controversy, voting to affirm a policy that limits clergy to sex within heterosexual marriage, but allows local congregations to install actively gay clergy if their consciences so dictate. They, too, made both sides unhappy.

NY Labor Comes Out for Marriage Equality

The Empire State Pride Agenda has rounded up 20 prominent labor leaders in support of the right of gay couples to marry, including powerhouses Dennis Rivera of 1199 SEIU, the service employees international, Randi Weingarten of the United Federation of Teachers, and Bruce Raynor of UNITE HERE, representing the needle trades.

Rivera acknowledged a diversity of views among his members on marriage, but said, “It is a fundamental, uniting principle of our organization that all people are entitled to equal rights.”

Slurs from Near and Far

Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen called a sports writer a “fag” and defended himself by saying, “That’s the way I grew up,” and that he wasn’t anti-gay, had gay friends, and went to a Madonna concert. The notoriously volatile manager apologized, but was fined and ordered to take sensitivity training.

At the Vatican, Cardinal Franc Rodé told Radio Cáritas, “It is simply ridiculous to say that same-sex unions should be called families” and insisted that the Catholic Church “cannot negotiate” over the issue.

Alabama: Transgender Wedding OK

Eighty-one percent of Alabamans voted to ban same-sex marriage in their Constitution on June 6. That’s the day Cherjyn Carson, a female, married Janus Carson, a pre-op MTF transsexual, but it wasn’t easy, the Decatur Daily reported. A judge in Elmore County refused to marry them because they both appeared to be female, so they went over to Chilton County where the judge had no problem with marrying a biological male to a female. Some states will not let transsexuals obtain new birth certificates to correspond with their new gender identity; others will. If Janus had tried to marry a man, she might have been stopped by the Chilton judge—though maybe not the Elmore official.

Lesbian College Chancellor a Suicide

Denise Dee Denton, chancellor of the University of California at Santa Cruz, jumped to her death on June 24 from the 42nd floor of the San Francisco apartment building where her partner, Gretchen Kalonji, lived. The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported she is remembered “as a woman who tackled a life-threatening illness, overcame sexual and gender discrimination, and smashed through the glass ceiling.”

No suicide note has been found, but the newspaper speculated that “an investigation into unreported pay and perks in the U.C. system” was a possible motive, given that Denton was under attack for making $600,000 in renovations to her official residence and getting Kalonji a $192,000/year job in the college system.

Right Wing Considers Con-Con on Marriage

Frustrated by Congress’s failure to produce a two-thirds majority for the federal Marriage Protection Amendment, some right-wing leaders are seriously contemplating getting two-thirds of the states to call a Constitutional Convention under Article V, the National Ledger reported. Leaders such as Phyllis Schlafly had dismissed the idea as dangerous since once a convention meets, the whole document is up for grabs even though three-fourths of the states must ratify each change. But the Family Research Council and Robby George, a Princeton professor, are said to be talking up the idea.

Correction: Larry Kramer’s Health

Last week in a brief on AIDS activist Larry Kramer, he was described as a longtime survivor of AIDS. He does not have an AIDS diagnosis, but was told that he has HIV in 1987.

Boy George Dodges Another Bullet

George O’Dowd, known as Boy George, got one more chance to do his community service for reporting a false burglary in his downtown pad last year. Manhattan Judge Anthony Ferrara promised him he’d go straight to jail if he fails to report for service again. Heaps of cocaine were found when police arrived at his apartment, but O’Dowd beat a drug charge, claiming none of the heaps was his. O’Dowd wanted to fulfill his service requirement at an AIDS group, but will probably end up raking leaves in a park. He left the assignment office joking, “I’m going to be teaching basketball in Harlem.”

Passport Troubles for Lesbian Marrieds

Joan and Vicki Bagnell, legally married in Massachusetts two years ago, have been put through the ringer by the U.S. Department of State in their attempt to renew their passports with their new last name. They managed to get updated Social Security cards and driver’s licenses, but the state department will not accord them the same right to change their name as married heterosexuals. The Bagnells were told they would have to apply for a renewal under their old names with their new one listed on the passport in a section called “also known as,” NewsCenter 5 reported.

Their application for a renewal under their new names was “filed without further action” and their $210 in fees will not be refunded. If they want new passports, they have to reapply under their old names and pay the fees again.

Happy Independence Day!