News Briefs

VOLUME 2, ISSUE 49 | December 4–10, 20033


Miller Anticipates Delay on Equal Benefits Bill

“We’re going to get it done,” New York City Council Speaker Gifford Miller (D-East Side) told Gay City News of the Equal Benefits bill that would compel city contractors to treat the domestic partners of their employees the way they do spouses. But while chief sponsor Christine Quinn (D-Chelsea, Greenwich Village) had predicted a vote in the full Council by the end of the year, Miller said, “I’m not sure about ‘by the end of the year.’ The year is almost over.”  The bill had its first hearing in the Contracts Committee on November 13 and encountered no opposition except from the Bloomberg administration. Quinn and the Equal Benefits Coalition have secured 37 co-sponsors for Intro. 271, a veto-proof majority. The bill must have another committee hearing before going to the floor. There are two stated Council meetings remaining before the new year when a new (and scarcely changed) Council will be seated.

Seven-Year-Old Disciplined for Mentioning Lesbian Mom

Marcus McLaurin, 7, was asked by a classmate at the Ernest Gaullet Elementary School in Lafayette, La. about his mom and dad. When he said that he has two mothers because his mom is gay, the classmate asked for an explanation. “Gay is when a girl likes another girl,” McLaurin said. A teacher who overheard this told the kid that gay is a “bad word” and sent him to the principal’s office. The boy was forced to come to school early for the following week and write, “I will never use the word ‘gay’ in school again,” the AP reported. The ACLU wrote to school officials demanding that they remove the case from the student’s file and apologize to him and his mom.

“I was concerned when the assistant principal called and told me my son had said a word so bad that he didn’t want to repeat it over the phone,” Sharon Huff, the boy’s mother told the news service. “But that was nothing compared to the shock I felt when my little boy came home and told me that his teacher told him his family is a dirty word.”

Appeal of Kansas Gay Youth Heard by High Court

Matthew Limon, who at 18 was sentenced to 17 years in prison for having sex with a male underage teenager, got another day in court. The Kansas Court of Appeals heard arguments from the American Civil Liberties Union that the “Romeo and Juliet” law under which Limon was prosecuted is discriminatory because if he had sex with an underage female he would only have been subject to 18 months. The U.S. Supreme court vacated Limon’s conviction after issuing the historic Lawrence decision overturning sodomy laws in June.

Tamara Lodge of the ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project appeared before the court with Paige Nichols, an ACLU cooperating attorney, and John Simpson of the ACLU of Kansas and Western Missouri.

Those Darned Lucky Heterosexuals

The right wing doesn’t want to let gay people have any families, but Charles Lindbergh, a Nazi sympathizer famous as “Lucky Lindy” for being the first to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1927, had at least two. In addition to his U.S. marriage to Anne Morrow that yielded six kids, genetic tests now prove that he had three children with a Munich hat maker named Brigitte Hesshaimer. According to Reuters, they met when Lindbergh was 55 and she 32. Their spawn are now 45, 43, and 36. Hesshaimer did not tell her children about the nature of her relationship with the aviator, calling him “Mr. Carue Kent” around them when he visited three times a year from 1957 until he died in 1974. He did set up trust funds for his German children. After initial resistance, the Lindbergh and Hesshaimer families have established relations.

Limited Benefits for Colorado Springs

The city of Colorado Springs is known as a hotbed of the religious right and headquarters for some of its national groups. The current city council repealed domestic partner benefits that had been offered to city workers. But now they have voted to let city employees get benefits for a household member other than a spouse or child as long as the employee pays 100 percent of the costs.

Fierstein Makes History as Mrs. Claus

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was more than dull background to Thursday breakfasts when “Hairspray” star Harvey Fierstein appeared on a float dressed as Mrs. Santa Claus. His appearance became a topic for national debate when he mentioned how he would be dressing up in a New York Times op-ed piece the day before the parade and asked, “But what if Santa really was gay? Could there be another Mr. Claus?” It was a brilliant and witty piece on the need for acceptance of gay people and same-sex marriage, but it got Macy’s in a tizzy. “The parade has never and will never be a platform for political and social issues and opinions,” (except consumerism, of course) the company’s statement said, claiming that Harvey was not portraying Mrs. Claus, “his beloved character Edna Turnblad” of “Hairspray” was and that “Mrs. Claus herself” would be on Santa’s sleigh. 

Fierstein said in an e-mail the parade “was an absolute blast” and that the crowds “were incredibly supportive. In fact, I had to remind myself that it was the Macy’s parade and not gay day! The only negativity seems to have come from the press who could not separate what I wrote from my clothing. In one fell swoop I went from ‘Four time Tony award winner’ to ‘Crossdresser.’ So sad that they are blind to their own homophobia. The truth is that we are all the same. The lie is that we threaten each other by being ourselves.”

Big Win in Brazil

A judge in Curitaba, Brazil has ruled that the British male partner of a Brazilian man can stay in the country despite the fact that his visa has expired. Judge Ana Carolina Morozowksi said that David Dian Harrad and Antonio Martins dos Reis “live in a state of matrimony.” Their lawyer, Silene Hirata, told Reuters that “the stable union between two homosexuals must be recognized in the same way as heterosexual relationships,” even though the government has yet to extend such recognition. The couple contended in court that their relationship constituted a common-law marriage. Harrad, who had been making due with tourist visas since 1996, can now obtain a permanent visa. They had met in England in 1990 and lived there until 1996, with Reis, a gay and AIDS activist, getting by on tourist visas.

Montreal Games to Go Forward

The organizers of Rendez-Vous Montreal 2006 have lost the sanction of the Federation of Gay Games, but they are pressing forward with an international LGBT sporting event for 2006 and are now hoping to combine it with an international conference on the rights of gays and lesbians, seeking to present “the most progressive public policies in the field of lesbian and gay rights.”

Partner Rights for South Australia

The state of South Australia is taking up a bill to extend some 52 rights to same-sex partners, but is withholding adoption rights or use of reproductive technology, the Adelaide Advertiser reported. Due to be debated in February, it will not authorize same-sex marriage because that is beyond the scope of state law. Most Australian states have some form of same-sex partner recognition.

British Partnership Bill Formally Goes to Parliament

Queen Elizabeth II opened the UK parliament last Wednesday saying, “My government will maintain its commitment to increased equality and social justice by bringing forward legislation on the registration of civil partnerships between same- sex couples.” The Civil Partnership Bill of Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair will give most marital benefits to same-sex couples and bring Britain more into line with the policies of the rest of Western Europe.

Another Good Reason Tory Leader was Deposed

Former UK Conservative Party leader William Hague, often rumored to be gay until he married late in life, embarrassed his audience at the Society of Motor Manufacturers with a speech laced with bigoted “jokes,” the Observer reported. Referring to former Labour cabinet minister and Tony Blair confidante Peter Mandleson, an out gay man, Hague said, “I agree with a lot of the things the Prime Minister says, particularly that I have no reverse gear. I, too, wouldn’t have a reverse gear if Peter Mandelson were standing behind me.”

Hague was replaced by Iain Duncan Smith who was just replaced by Michael Howard who is allowing a “free vote” of his members on the upcoming gay partnership bill. Howard’s predecessors enforced party discipline in votes against gay rights.

Midler Disses Same-Sex Marriage

Appearing on “Larry King Live,” Bette Midler, who got her start singing at a gay bathhouse in New York, expressed doubts about whether gay men would be faithful in marriage. “Many of the homosexual men that I know… like to move around. That’s part of the fun of being a gay man. I’m really wondering how-what that commitment [same-sex marriage] is going to be about. Does that mean they’re not going to cheat, they’re going to be with only one?”

Same-sex marriage activist Michelle Adams said, “How many people has Bette Midler slept with? Yet there are no laws prohibiting her from marrying a man.”

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