News Briefs

Tyron Garner Cremation Delayed

Tyron Garner, one of the gay men whose arrest for sodomy in Texas led to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in 2003 that such laws are unconstitutional, died on September 11 but had not been buried as of early this week. That led black bloggers Keith Boykin and Jasmyne Cannick to suggest that Lambda Legal, which won the case, had not followed through on a commitment to cover his burial expenses.

Dennis Coleman, the director of Lambda’s South Central Regional office, told Gay City News that the burial fund had been established by Garner’s private lawyer and that he had solicited funds for it from Lambda’s Texas donors. After he was made aware that the burial had not taken place late on October 17, Coleman learned that Harris County, which had prosecuted Garner for sodomy, had stepped in and done the cremation for free. He said, “Lambda employees with those of the National Black Justice Coalition have pledged to make up any more costs” associated with Garner’s remains such as an urn or a burial. “We’re deeply saddened that he has gone without burial for so long,” he said.

Boykin and Cannick are on the board of the National Black Justice Coalition.


NY Undercover Cops Nab Gay Basher

Police arrested Tyrone George, 20, for a hate crime midday on October 16 in Union Square Park when he attacked two undercover male officers who were posing as “snuggling paramours” while on the lookout for drug activity, the New York Post reported. George called the tow cops “homos,” ordered them out of the park, and called them “faggots,” then threatened to “to assault them and spat on the sergeant’s foot,” the newspaper said. While being placed under arrest, the suspect allegedly fought back, saying he did not want “faggots touching him,” according to court papers.


FBI: No Foley Crime Yet

The FBI has not turned up any evidence that Mark Foley, who resigned from Congress after being confronted with salacious instant messages he had sent to a former page, engaged in sexual activity with any underage former pages, ABC News reported. The agency has interviewed 40 former pages and found “a pattern emerging of seduction by Foley when the boys were 16 and 17,” and not having sex until some turned 18.

One former page told the network, “He spotted me when I was a page and set the hook while I was still in high school. He didn’t reel me in until he showed up on my college campus on a congressional visit. We had sex.”

Foley was said by a law enforcement official to know “exactly what he could get away with” since he wrote some of the child protection laws himself. But former FBI agent Brad Garrett told ABC News that some of Foley’s Internet messages would cause some officials to “have him arrested tomorrow, and there are others who would seek actual contact.”


Ex-Gay Leader: Let Kids Harass Cross-Dressers

Last week, the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), a group that purports to change homosexually oriented people into heterosexuals, got in trouble for countenancing a “scientific adviser” who said that Africans were better off as slaves in antebellum America. Now, the Los Angeles Times reported, Canadian psychiatrist Joseph Berger has written on the group’s Web site that instead of tolerating cross-dressing in a California kindergarten, schools “should let the other children ridicule” those who do not conform to gender stereotypes. “It is very healthy to be able to draw the line between what is healthy and what is sick,” he wrote.

Joseph Nicolosi, president of NARTH, called the comments “poorly phrased,” but will not remove either man from his board. He did remove the offending articles from the Web site.


South Africa Civil Union Bill Knocked

The Dutch Reform Church of South Africa wants same-sex couples to be able to marry, not be relegated to civil unions as they are under the government bill that may not pass muster with the nation’s high court, which last year ordered the government to grant gays and lesbians the same marriage rights as heterosexual couples. “We have a history of discriminating against people based on differences people have no control over,” a church statement said. “We cannot afford to again create a situation in which the law discriminates between people, compromising their dignity and equality.”

The Roman Catholic Church and some tribal leaders are opposing any form of legal recognition of gay relationships.

In Pretoria on October 17, a coalition of LGBT groups protested the bill as Parliament discussed it. Alex Ringlelman of a gay student group called Up & Out told the Independent that civil partnerships “entrench institutional segregation in our law and a separate, inferior status for gay relationships.” They want access to marriage.

The less-than-equal bill was also slammed by the nation’s Human Rights Commission.


Minnesota Bus Driver Exempted Over Gay Ads

A Metro Transit driver in the Twin Cities is being allowed not to drive buses that advertise for a local gay newspaper, the Star Tribune reported, in order to accommodate his religious beliefs. The law there allows employers to make such accommodations unless it causes “undue business hardship,” the newspaper reported.

The driver’s union said that the bus company was condoning “intolerance” and has never given an exemption based on the content of an ad.


Stonewall Man Won’t Marry Gays

Kevin Kisilowsky, 36, of Stonewall, Manitoba, lost his commissioner license when he refused to perform a same-sex marriage last year, the Winnipeg Sun reported. Now he is suing to be reinstated under the same Charter of Rights and Freedoms provincial courts used to open marriage to gay couples, claiming “freedom of conscience and religion.” No word on whether Kisilowsky ever hesitated to marry a couple in which one of the partners had been divorced, also a violation of many religious laws.


Fierstein Goes from Rags to Rags

Harvey Fierstein, most recently on Broadway in “Fiddler on the Roof” singing, “If I Were a Rich Man,” is set to headline in a concert production of “Rags,” the 1986 Strouse-Schwartz musical, at the Fourth Annual World AIDS Day Concert to benefit the Joey DiPaolo AIDS Foundation. The show is set for December 11 at 7 p.m. at the new Nokia Theater in Times Square and also features Lanie Kazan and another out gay Broadway star, Max von Essen.


Homosexuality in 1,500 Species

The Oslo Natural History Museum has mounted an exhibit called “Against Nature,” documenting homosexual behavior in animals from giraffes to penguins. The project leader, Geir Soeli, said, “Homosexuality has been observed for more than 1,500 animal species and is well documented in 500 of them.” Aristotle noted homosexual behavior in hyenas 2,300 years ago, the Guardian reported, but such evidence “has often been ignored by researchers.”


Getty, AIDS Activist, Dies

Jeff Getty, a longtime AIDS activist and person with AIDS, died at 49 last week in Joshua Tree, California. He is survived by Ken Klueh, his partner of 26 years, ABC News reported. Getty gained prominence in 1995, just before drug cocktails proved successful in sustaining people with HIV, when he received the first bone marrow transplant from a baboon to treat his immune deficiency. While the marrow cells quickly disappeared from his blood, his health did improve.

“He is emblematic of a whole group of men who survived AIDS in the early 1980s and 1990s and made it into the HAART era, but had developed so much resistance to the drugs that they never got their virus fully under control,” said Dr. Steven Deeks of the University of California/San Francisco, who supervised the baboon experiment.

State Senator Carol Migden, an out lesbian, told the Associated Press, “He was the bravest of the brave.” Michael Lauro, a comrade from ACT UP, said, “He wasn’t easy to work with. That’s how people with great vision, great hearts, and great drive are like. He could get things done.”


Condi, Laura Hit for Gay Acceptance

The Family Research Council is expressing “disgust” that U.S. Secretary of State acknowledged the gay partner of Mark Dybul at his swearing in as U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and also nodded to “his mother-in-law.” First Lady Laura Bush also attended the ceremony last week and smiled as Jason Claire, the partner, held the Bible.

Peter Sprigg of the Council called Rice’s comments “profoundly offensive” and called putting a gay man in this post, “like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse.”