News Briefs

Federal Domestic Partners Bill

Though he voted for the federal Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT), running as an independent versus same-sex marriage supporter Democrat Ned Lamont for Lieberman’s U.S. Senate seat, introduced a bill this week extending federal benefits to same-sex partners who are “unrelated by blood and living together in a committed, intimate relationship.” The bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Gordon Smith, Republican of Oregon. Rep. Barney Frank’s (D-MA) companion bill in the House, introduced last year, has 81 co-sponsors, but has not been allowed a hearing in the Republican-controlled body.


Connecticut Anniversary

Civil unions had their one-year anniversary in the Nutmeg State on September 29. A total of 1,072 were performed in the state as of the end of July, the last time stats were updated. Eighteen same-sex couples have dissolved their unions. The clerk in Norwalk estimated that 18 percent of the couples came from out of state.

Gay couples are still suing for the right to marry. Gov. Jodi Rell insisted the legislature limit marriage to man-woman couples in exchange for her support for the civil union bill.


Bullied Kid Kills

Eric Hainstock, the 15-year old Wisconsin kid who killed his principal, John Klang, at Weston HS, told police that “students regularly bullied him, calling him ‘fag’ and ‘faggot’ and rubbed up against him,” reported. He told authorities that he snapped when school officials wouldn’t do anything about the harassment and after the principal disciplined him for bringing tobacco to school. The boy’s sexual orientation was not known. Surveys show that anti-gay harassment is common in US.


Anti-Gay Amendments Lead in Most State Polls

Seven states will vote on amendments to their constitutions to ban same-sex marriage in November and most are expected to pass. Twenty such amendments have been enacted to date. A Wisconsin amendment leads 53-to-39 percent in the latest poll. A Colorado amendment, which does not ban domestic partnerships, is also expected to pass but so is a referendum mandating gay partner rights. An early poll showed a South Dakota amendment as the only one that might not pass while the vote in Arizona is expected to be close. And an egregious Virginia measure, banning virtually all contracts between people of the same sex, is still leading. The Idaho referendum is seen as a shoo-in.


Justice Sought for Trans Victim at McDonald’s

The Audre Lorde Project is calling on the community to stand up for Christina Sforza, a transgender woman who was assaulted on July 10 by a manager at a Manhattan McDonald’s for using the women’s bathroom. Sforza had permission from another employee. The manager threatened to “kill her” and beat her with a lead pipe while other staff shouted “kill the faggot.”

Sforza’s friends, with whom she was eating, called the police. Cops refused to take a complaint and instead arrested the victim for assault. Her subsequent attempts to file a complaint against the manager were unavailing and she was threatened with a “filing a false report” charge. She has filed a civilian complaint, a long process that usually produces nothing.

Advocacy groups including TransJustice are demanding the NYPD take her complaints and calling on Sforza’s supporters to call Midtown South Precinct at 212-239-9846 to demand that they do so. They are holding a community meeting on the case at Housing Works on October 11 at 6:30 PM at 320 W. 13th St. on the 4th floor. Sforza’s court date is at 100 Centre Street, Part C on October 26 at 9 AM and the community is urged to attend.

A call to the Midtown South Precinct for their side of this story was not returned.


Banner Year for California Legislature

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) vetoed the big enchilada–a bill opening marriage to gay couples–earlier this year, but he signed 10 of 14 pro-gay measures passed by the Democrat-controlled legislature. This past week he signed three: one allowing registered domestic partners to file joint state tax returns, another to curb domestic violence in same-sex relationships, and a third that mandates the California Department of Aging to include programming gay seniors as part of its services.


Sony Ready to Dump George Michael

After out gay singer George Michael got arrested for the second time this year on “suspicion of being unfit to drive,” sources at Sony/BMG, his record label, are telling the press they are “exasperated” with him. Michael’s world tour, his first in 15 years, starts next month.

“He is an adult and free to behave how he likes, but he must remember that the more indiscreet he is, the more he will be caught out,” the source said. “None of this looks very good to his fans.”

Michael denies having a drug problem, but was once again caught with marijuana in his car.


LA Gay Center: “HIV is a Gay Disease”

It’s hard to get people to pay attention to AIDS in this country anymore, but the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center found a controversial way to try. Their message, to appear on billboards and in print, is that “HIV is a Gay Disease. Own it and End It.”

Lori Jean, director of the center, said that “most people in our community do not understand the degree to which this epidemic continues to be in Los Angeles largely an epidemic among gay and bisexual men.”

Michael Weinstein of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, also in LA, countered, “I applaud the desire to have more personal responsibility in the gay community, but this is not the way to achieve it.” He said that AIDS is not a disease of any group, but of “the immune system.” Activist Cynthia Davis called the campaign “ludicrous.”


Center Forum on NY Courts October 11

In the wake of the New York state’s highest court decision banning same-sex marriage, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center is sponsoring a forum, albeit a little late, called, “Why the Make-Up of the Court of Appeals Matters to LGBT People: Lessons from Hernandez v. Robles.” It will take place on October 11 at 7 PM at 208 W. 13th St.

The forum may be just in time to influence state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer if he becomes governor, to appoint out gay and lesbian judges to the appellate courts of the state. Democratic Gov. Mario Cuomo named one lesbian to state Supreme Court and no out gay people to the appellate courts. Republican Gov. George Pataki made 305 appointments to judicial posts — none out gay.

A stellar panel of gay legal eagles will present: Roberta Kaplan who argued the Hernandez case, Matt Foreman of National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Judge Marcy Kahn, and the legal director of Lambda Legal, Susan Sommer. Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry will moderate.


Bishop to “Values” Voters: Gays are “Faggots”

The rightwing Family Research Council held its “Value Voters Summit” in DC September 21-24 and heard from Bishop Wellington Boone of Wellington Boone Ministries who told the audience, “Back in the day when I was a kid, and we see guys that don’t stand strong on principle, we call them ‘faggots.’” Another speaker said the gay rights movement came “from the pit of hell itself” and that the anti-Christ is gay.

Among the fine, upstanding Americans who participated in the conference were Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, White House flak Tony “Naughty E-mails” Snow, and Senator George Allen (R-VA).


Alison Bechdel’s Witch Trial

Missouri’s Marshall Public Library board held a public hearing on October 4 on the acceptability of Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel, “Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic” for their shelves. Bechdel is the out lesbian creator of the “Dykes to Watch Out For” comic strip that has been running for 25 years. Her book is about her life growing up in a small town with a closeted father who commits suicide.

Also on the hit list is “Blankets,” a graphic novel by Craig Thompson. The board, acting on the complaint of a patron named Louise Mills, will vote on October 11, National Coming Out Day.


Kate’s Mates–and Spencer’s

“Kate,” the book on Katharine Hepburn by William J. Mann, deals with her close friendship with gay director George Cukor and, according to a New York Times review, “a man called Scotty who ran a gas station near Cukor’s house and dispensed more than gas. Scotty claims even Spencer Tracy as one of his sexual partners.”

The book also treats Hepburn’s “lifelong affection for women” including Laura Harding, who called herself “Miss Hepburn’s husband, and Phyllis Wilbourn who had a 40-year relationship with the screen legend and of whom Hepburn said, “Phyllis and I are one.”


Discipline for Canadian Archbishop

Terence Finlay of Ontario, a retired archbishop in the Canadian Anglican Church, had his license to perform weddings suspended until January because he officiated at the wedding of two women in British Columbia. One spouse was the daughter of one of Finlay’s former theology professors. Back in 1990 as metropolitan of the diocese of Ontario, Finlay suspended one of his priests who was in a gay relationship, but he has obviously evolved on the issue.


Hundreds Protest Dobson in Minnesota

More than 300 gay protestors and their supporters demonstrated in St. Paul against James Dobson, who was holding a Focus on the Family Action rally there on October 3. “Can any family be excluded from the human family?” asked a PFLAG mom from Chaska. Dan McGrath of Take Action Minnesota, whose mother is a lesbian, said, “The reason my mother is my moral compass is because she came out as a lesbian to be who she is.”

Focus on the Family Action, created to comply with IRS regulations prohibiting most political activities by tax-exempt groups, is the advocacy offshoot of Dobson’s anti-gay Focus on the Family.


Ivy League Unites vs. Anti-Trans Discrimination

Yale has become the last Ivy League school to ban discrimination on the basis of “gender identity or expression.” Brown was the first in 2002.

GenderPAC, the transgender advocacy group, says that 75 colleges or universities in the US have adopted such policies.


Bet Mark Foley Voted for This One

The House of Representatives passed the Student Teacher Safety Act on September 20, allowing school officials “to conduct random, warrantless searches of every student, at any time, on the flimsiest of pretexts,” the Drug Policy Alliance reported. This includes strip searches.

The Alliance said the bill was rushed to the floor to help its chief sponsor, Kentucky Republican Geoff Davis “who is in a tight re-election race,” but “would be surprised” to see it prevail in the Senate. Groups including the ACLU and the National School Boards Association oppose the legislation.


Honors for Kameny and Gittings

The Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists is presenting the first John E. Fryer, MD Award to gay pioneers Frank Kameny and Barbara Gittings whose activism in the 1960s paved the way for the repeal of the American Psychiatric Association’s classification of homosexuality as a mental illness in 1973.

Dr. Fryer famously spoke at the 1972 APA annual meeting as Dr. Anonymous on a panel with Kameny and Gittings.


A First for Westchester

Westchester County is set to get its first out gay mayor this November as Bill Hanauer, 59, is expected to take the helm in Ossining. According to the Journal-News, the Democrat has “been open about his sexuality since serving as an adviser to a gay student club at the College of Staten Island in the 1970s.”

The paper wrote, “But along Main Street on a recent afternoon, it was hard to find a voter who even knew that he is gay or who cared.”

Hanauer resigned as executive director of the New York chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences last year and became a village trustee.


“Talk About It” on October 11

The Human Rights Campaign is urging gay and lesbian folks to “Talk About It” on October 11, National Coming Out Day. “By being open with the people around us, we begin to change minds and open the hearts of our families, friends, coworkers, neighbors or even the local mailman,” said Joe Solmonese, president of the gay lobby–a message he doesn’t seem to have delivered to Mark Foley before handing over campaign donations to him.

You can download a Coming Out Action kit at