New Briefs

Shades of 1933

A hundred books in the gay and lesbian section of the Chicago Public Library branch in Lakeview were destroyed by an arsonist on June 13, a probable hate crime say local activists though the police are reserving judgment, WBBM Radio reported. There were no injuries. The infamous Nazi book burnings began in 1933 with a bonfire made out of the library of gay leader Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institute for Sex Research, a conflagration captured in newsreels.


Westchester Recognizes Same-Sex Marrieds

County Executive Andrew Spano has issued an order that gay couples legally married elsewhere should be recognized as legally married by the county. New York City also provides this kind of recognition, even though Mayor Michael Bloomberg has so far fought successfully in court to overturn an order to make the city clerk open marriage to gay couples, a case now before the state’s highest court. Nyack, under Mayor John Shields, a plaintiff in a same-sex marriage case still working its way up the state courts, was the first to grant married status to gay couples wed elsewhere, followed by Buffalo, Albany, and Rochester.

Spano’s order does not apply to municipal employees of the towns and cities of Westchester, just workers and retirees of the county itself.


Catholic Cardinal Withdraws Support for Civil Unions

Recently retired Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C., was asked on CNN if he could support civil unions while working for a federal amendment to ban same-sex marriage. “We can live with that,” he said to Wolf Blitzer’s surprise last week. Two days later, McCarrick was in full retreat. “I’m afraid that I misspoke,” he said in a statement, insisting he was “in no way in favor of a lifestyle that is contrary to the teaching of the Church and Scripture.”

Thwarted proponents of the federal amendment told the New York Sun that they will not try to end run Congress by getting two-thirds of the states to call a Constitutional Convention to pass it. Right-wing leader Phyllis Schlafly called it a “stupid idea,” telling the newspaper, “I don’t see Ben Franklin, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson around today, and I’m not encouraged by the people who think they are.”


The Bar Celebrates LGBT Pride

So what else is new, you ask?

This time, it’s the New York City Bar Association’s Committee on LGBT Rights and Committee on Sex and Law along with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Law Association of Greater New York (LEGAL) who are celebrating. The event takes place next Thursday, June 22, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the House of the Association, 42 West 44th Street. Admission to the cocktail party and reception is free and no reservation is required.


Pennsylvania Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment Hits Bump

The Pennsylvania Senate Judiciary Committee modified the House version of a state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in a way that may kill it. The House measure, passed handily, bars gay couples from marriage or any legal recognition. The Senate version now only bans same-sex marriage and is opposed by the right-wing groups pushing for an amendment. If the two houses cannot agree on the same language by June 30, the amendment will not stay on track for a November 2007 referendum.

Meanwhile, the Minnesota amendment was opposed in the Democratic Party platform adopted last weekend. And in Wisconsin, all but 20 of 433 delegates to the annual meeting of the United Church of Christ opposed the amendment there.


Right Wing Throws Block at Bloch Investigation

Twenty-four leaders of the religious right have written to President George W. Bush’s Office of Management and Budget demanding it call off its investigation into complaints against Scott Bloch, director of the Office of Special Counsel, who has done all in his power and then some to end policies that protect federal employees against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, The Hill reported. Brad Luna, spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, assailed the pressure from these leaders, calling “Bloch a renegade employee who must be reined in,” the story said.


Forum on Crystal Meth and LGBT Latinos

A summit on “Crystal Meth and Other Drug Use in the Latino LGBT Community” is set for Thursday, June 22 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Columbia University’s School of Public Health at 701 W. 168th St. on the third floor. It is co-sponsored by the school and the Crystal Meth Awareness Campaign of the Latino Commission on AIDS. For more information, call James Lopez-Acosta at 212-584-9318.


Vatican: Two Snaps Down to Transgendered Folks

Benedict XVI, in his sophomore year as pope, still isn’t missing a trick when it comes to shining a light on the worldwide conspiracy of LGBT people to destroy civilization. This week the Vatican attacked the region of Tuscany for covering hormone treatments for transgendered people.


BYE to Gay Friendly Prof at BYU

Hardly surprising, but a Mormon professor at Brigham Young University has been fired for coming out against the federal Marriage Protection Amendment. Jeffrey Nielsen wrote an op-ed in the Salt Lake Tribune calling the measure “immoral.” His department chair wrote him, “Since you have chosen to contradict and oppose the Church in an area of great concern to Church leaders, and to do so in a public forum, we will not rehire you after the current term is over.” Nielsen told the newspaper, “I have no desire to be anything but a member of the Church.”


St. Maarten Attacker Back in Custody

Duracell, the 21-year old who was among those charged with brutally beating Dick Jefferson and Ryan Smith, gay New Yorkers vacationing in St. Maarten, is back in the custody of Dutch officials after having escaped the island. Jefferson wrote in an e-mail that the case will be decided “under the Dutch system by a single judge.”

Jefferson is back at work as a news producer at CBS. His colleague Smith, also a CBS News employee, “continues his rehabilitation” after having his skull crushed in the anti-gay attack.

Jefferson has complained bitterly about the “contempt” shown for this case by St. Maarten Chief Police Commissioner Derrick Holliday who has refused “to explain why his department repeatedly denied an attack took place or would not even take my statement before I was airlifted to the safety of Miami,” he wrote.


The Times and “Queer”

It seems like just yesterday that The New York Times refused to use the word “gay,” sticking with “avowed homosexual” until 1987—the same year President Ronald Reagan finally got around to speaking about AIDS. In Sunday’s Book Review, Garrison Keillor of “Prairie Home Companion” fame, writes about Harper Lee and Truman Capote going to Kansas to work on “In Cold Blood,” describing him as “a rather pushy self-centered New York queer.” The epithet was not in quotes, so I called The Times about their policy re the q-word.

Diane McNulty, director of media relations, replied in an e-mail, “The NYT Stylebook says this: ‘queer, in the sense of homosexual, should be treated as an offensive slur, but with a limited exception. Some gay men and lesbians have rehabilitated the term as an ironic badge of pride. In that sense it may be used when the viewpoint is unmistakable.’” She added, “I think the way Garrison Keillor used it, in the context of the whole review, qualified for the ‘unmistakable viewpoint’ exception.” Keillor is an avowed heterosexual.