News Briefs

Gay Man Murdered in Washington Heights

Police have arrested John Brandt, 51, and are seeking a second suspect in the stabbing death of Ismael Cortes in his Washington Heights apartment on Riverside Drive, El Diario reported. Cortes, a native of Puerto Rico, was found early on the morning of Sunday, September 17 by his partner of eight years, Oscar.

It is not known if the murder was gay-related. Hoy reported that the building superintendent last saw Cortes alive getting out of a cab the night before in the company of two men. According to police, Brandt has a rap sheet a mile long, including rape, sexual abuse, arson, and burglary.


Bay State Gay Marriage Opponents Routed

MassEquality, the group working to preserve marriage rights for same-sex couples in the Bay State, had reason to celebrate after Tuesday’s primary. State Representative Marie Prente of Milford, one of the most outspoken opponents of opening marriage to gay couples, was the only incumbent to lose a primary. She was defeated by town Selectman John Fernandes, a supporter of gay marriage rights. Two seats vacated by prominent opponents of same-sex marriage—Philip Travis of Rehobeth and Emile Gogueun of Fitchburg—were won by candidates backed by MassEquality, the Boston Globe reported.

“The symbolism of these races could not be more powerful,” said Marc Solomon, campaign director for MassEquality. “Even in conservative districts where seats were held by strong opponents, pro-equality candidates triumphed. This confirms what we know—voters throughout the state are comfortable with marriage equality and simply want to move on.”

The Legislature will meet in joint session later this year to vote on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions. It needs 50 out of 200 votes in two successive legislatures to go on the ballot in 2008.

MassEquality was also excited about the win of Deval Patrick, 50, former chief of the Justice Department’s civil rights division under President Bill Clinton, in the Democratic primary for governor. “For the first time in Massachusetts history, the gubernatorial candidate of a major party fully supports marriage equality,” Solomon said.

Goddess save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.


Out Gay Mayor Re-elected in Berlin

In the Berlin elections on September 17, the Social Democrats won 31.4 percent of the vote, but that was enough to let out gay Mayor Klaus Wowereit retain office handily. He had the support of 60 percent of city residents in a poll and is considered a leading future candidate for federal chancellor, though his party is now led by Kurt Beck. Gay City News’ recent profile on Wowereit and an exclusive interview with him can be found at and


AIDS Ride Raises $300K for Center

Braking the Cycle, a 275-mile bike ride from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to New York City, rolled into town this week with 119 cyclists who raised more than $300,000 for the LGBT Community Center’s HIV/AIDS Services. Among the riders was the Center’s longtime executive director, Richard Burns, who said, “These funds allow the Center to offer counseling services to thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS each year, and help us educate kids to be safe.”


Clinton and Schumer Still Mum on Immigrant Partners

Immigration Equality reports that Senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, both Democrats, are the 13th and 14th members of their chamber to become sponsors of the S.1278, the United American Families Act that would allow gay and lesbian Americans to legalize the status of their foreign-born partners living in this country. New York Senators Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer, also Democrats, have expressed vague support for the idea, but have so far refused to sign on as sponsors.

On Thursday, September 21 at 10 a.m. at 250 Broadway, the New York City Council’s Immigration Committee has scheduled a hearing on a resolution, introduced by Councilman Kendall Stewart, a Brooklyn Democrat, in support of the federal bill.


Harvey Milk Remembered in Film

The New York City public schools are not famous for integrating LGBT history into the curriculum, but in the film “Half Nelson,” about a troubled white junior high history teacher (Ryan Gosling) and his class of mostly African American kids in Brooklyn, among the turning points in history that the students talk about is the election of out gay Harvey Milk as a city supervisor in San Francisco in 1978. The student presenting on Milk also notes that his assassin, former Supervisor Dan White, was received a light sentence by using a “Twinkie Defense”—the argument that his responsibilities for his actions were mitigated by the fact that he had eaten too much junk food.


South African Government Moving Ahead on Civil Partnerships

The South African Cabinet is getting heat from tribal and Christian leaders about their bill to recognize same-sex partnerships, but its communications head, Themba Maseko, said that everyone needs to understand that “there is a Constitutional Court ruling that the current definition of marriage in the Marriage Act was unconstitutional. Participants in this debate should not conduct themselves in a manner that suggests that they want to defy the decision of the Constitutional Court on this or any other matter.”

The high court gave Parliament until December 1 to resolve the issue. While the right wing is talking about amending the Constitution, which forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation, to ban same-sex marriage, LGBT groups are angry that a kind of “apartheid” union for gay couples is being created, instead of just opening marriage to them.

Amstel Maboa, a gay celebrity singer, told the Citizen, “When gays love one another they should be allowed to get married because if they are rejected they end up being prostitutes.” He also said that the Christians opposing marriage equality are promoting living in sin. He wants to marry his foreign Muslim partner when the bill passes.


Jerusalem Gay Parade Set for November 10

A public LGBT parade during WorldPride this summer in Jerusalem was prevented by an anti-gay mayor and a government preoccupied by war. But now Jerusalem Open House, the leading LGBT group, has negotiated a November 10 date for the city’s gay parade. Last year’s parade drew 4,000 marchers, one of whom was stabbed by a right-wing protestor.


India Elites: Get Rid of Sodomy Laws

India’s intelligentsia of writers, lawyers, and artists is calling upon their government to end the nation’s 145-year old ban on gay sex, The New York Times reported. The government’s AIDS agency has also called for repeal of the Raj-era law, calling it a risk to public health in a nation with five million official HIV diagnoses. A lawsuit was brought in 2001 to challenge the rarely used law. The Supreme Court ordered a lower court hearing on the suit for October 4. The United States Supreme Court didn’t declare anti-sodomy laws unconstitutional until 2003.


Ten Percent of NYC’s “Straight” Men Only Bed Men

A phone survey or 4,200 men in New York found that 10 percent who identify exclusively as straight only had sex with other men in the last year and 70 percent of this group is married, WebMD Medical News reported. The survey was conducted by the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in a wide variety of languages in 2003.

Among the survey’s findings was that these men have fewer sex partners than gay men and fewer STDs, but are also less likely to use condoms. They are also more likely to be foreign born.

About four percent of the men surveyed identified as homosexual.