News Briefs

Arrest in Murder of Ex-Giuliani Aide

Police on Tuesday arrested a suspect in the murder of a former Rudy Giuliani aide found choked to death in his bed in his apartment at 23 East 10th Street on Monday evening, August 21.

The victim, Martin Barreto, 48, an out gay man who worked in the mayoral press office in 1994 and 1995, was found naked with KY jelly and a condom next to his body. The building doorman and the superintendent found Barreto’s body after his public relations business partner, Roxanna Brightwell, reported that he had not been answering his phone.

Police arrested Edwin Ramos, 26, at 30th Street and Lexington Avenue. just before 4 p.m. on August 29, and charged him with murder.

“He’s homeless. The two had met near the victim’s apartment, they went back to the apartment together, and the victim was eventually killed,” said Detective Kevin Czartoryski, a police spokesman.

“He was still using the victim’s cell phone,” said a police source, explaining that the signal from the phone’s antennae was used to pinpoint the suspect’s location.

Barreto, a former journalist and native of Nicaragua, lived with a cousin but was alone when two unidentified men visited him separately in succession two days before his body was found, according to reports. Those two men have now been eliminated as suspects.

Nothing was taken from the apartment and investigators are working on the theory that the death was the result of a sexual hook-up gone violently out of control.

Barreto has family connections with the former Nicaraguan president, Violeta Barros de Chamorro, according to the New York Post. He attended prep school in New England and graduated from Brown University.


Motion Filed in Washington State Gay Marriage Rejection

Lawyers for the plaintiffs in the Washington State lawsuit seeking marriage rights for same-sex couples have asked the high court there to reconsider its 5-4 decision in July finding no right for gay couples to marry under the state Constitution. Though such motions to reconsider are rarely granted, Nancy Sapiro of the Northwest Women’s Law Center said, “We felt we had to use every option available to us to show the justices the logic behind our arguments and how their decision, as it is currently reasoned, falls short.” Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union are also involved in the case.


Archbishop of Canterbury Caves to Anti-Gay Crowd

Worried about schism in the Anglican Communion, the Right Reverend Rowan Williams condemned homosexual behavior, despite having founded the Institute for the Study of Christianity and Sexuality to make his Church more welcoming to gay people in 1989. In an interview with a Dutch journalist, the Archbishop of Canterbury said, “I don’t believe inclusion is a value in itself. Welcome is. We don’t say, ‘Come in and we ask no questions.’ I do believe conversion means conversion of habits, behaviors, ideas, emotions.”


New York Court of Appeals Grows Redder

Republican Governor George Pataki has appointed Eugene V. Pigott, Jr., a Democrat-turned-Republican, to replace George Bundy Smith on the state’s high court when Smith’s term ends next month. Five of the seven members of the Court of Appeals will now be Pataki appointees. Assuming Eliot Spitzer becomes governor next January 1, he will not be able to achieve a Democratic majority again until the end of a second term.

Bundy Smith, the only African American on the court, voted with the 4-2 majority in limiting marriage to man-woman couples this year, despite an otherwise liberal reputation. His vote was seen by some as an effort to get Pataki to reappoint him, even though he could only serve for one more year until reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70.

Pigott, now serving in the Appellate Division’s Fourth Department, can serve until he turns 70 in 2017. Vincent

Bonaventure of Albany Law School, an expert on New York courts, told The New York Times that Pigott is not “rigidly conservative in the civil realm.”


Lesbian Candidate Reinstated in Alabama

One week after her local Democratic Committee ousted her as a candidate for state Legislature for not filing a form on time, Patricia Todd of Birmingham was reinstated as a candidate by the state party in a close vote. The locals had also ousted the woman Todd beat by 59 votes because she, too, had not filed the reporting form. The local committee was going to pick another nominee for the post, but the state party learned that no candidate for statewide office had filed the form on time.

Todd’s election was contested by the mother-in-law of the defeated candidate who claimed that voters would not have elected Todd if her contribution from the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund had been reported on time.


Anti-Gay Bill Killed in Alberta; Canadian Gay Marriage Safer

The Canadian province of Alberta has been most resistant to same-sex marriage, but the Parliament there nevertheless blocked legislation that would have allowed civil officials to refuse to wed gay people and permit them to speak out against such nuptials. Meanwhile, Conservative Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s quest to revisit the same-sex marriage issue, settled on the federal level prior to his tenure , has hit another roadblock. Harper promises a free conscience vote for members of his party, but the pro-marriage Bloc Quebecois and New Democratic Party both are cracking the whip on the issue, requiring party line votes against the prime minister’s effort. No decision has been made by the Liberals, the number-two party, whose leader, former PM Paul Martin, introduced the marriage bill last year but whose members were badly divided over the issue.

A recent poll found that 62 percent of Canadians oppose re-opening the issue.


South African Cabinet Okays Same-Sex Marriage

The cabinet of President Thabo Mbeki has approved a bill “that will legalize same-sex marriage in compliance with the Constitutional Court ruling,” spokeswoman Themba Maseko told Reuters. No word on when the bill will come before Parliament, but the high court there gave the government until the end of this year to comply with its order.


King Crowned

The National Tennis Center in Queens was named in honor of the legendary Billie Jean King, 63 and an out lesbian, as the U.S. Open got underway Monday. A trailblazer who made women’s tennis what it is today through acts of rebellion against the tennis establishment, King declared, “I’m one of the suits now.”

King also said to the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium, “My mom, Betty Moffitt, always told me to follow the Shakespeare saying, ‘To thine own self be true.’ I hope to continue to always do that.”


Katherine Harris Wants Theocracy

Congresswoman Katherine Harris, the Florida Republican who stage-managed the series of events that gave George W. Bush the undeserved ability to claim that it was he who won the 2000 presidential election—and Al Gore who was the complainer—told the Baptist Convention there that God picks our leaders and that failing to elect Christians leads to legislatures “legislating sin” such as same-sex marriage. She also claimed that God does not want this country to be “a nation of secular laws.”

Tireless in her effort to prove the Peter Principle, she is running for her party’s nomination for U.S. Senate.

State Representative. Irv Slosberg, a Boca Raton Democrat, told the Orlando Sentinel that Harris’ statements were “outrageous, even by her standards.” Jerry Nadler, the West Side Democratic congressman, said, “Representative Harris owes Americans of all faiths an apology, not just excuses. I call on President Bush, and other leaders of the Republican Party, to make clear that there is no room in American politics for this disgraceful religious bigotry.”


Right Challenges Violence Protections for Ohio Unmarrieds

Citizens for Community Values, the ultra-right group that led the fight for an anti-gay constitutional amendment in Ohio banning recognition of legal status for unmarried couples, is invoking that amendment in a lawsuit challenging the application of the domestic violence law to an unmarried heterosexual couple. They filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case of man who allegedly beat up his live-in female partner. It is a crime in Ohio to physically harm a “spouse, a person living as a spouse, or a former spouse of the offender.”

Ralph Neas, president of People for the American Way, said in a release, “It is not surprising that this group would push to deny legal protections to unmarried couples, but it’s striking that they would choose to do so in a case involving such an abhorrent crime as domestic abuse.” He added, “It is a reminder that in their rush to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples, right-wing activists pushed destructive measures that have broad reaching consequences for all families. All families, gay and straight, deserve equal protection under the law.”


Wal-Mart Deal with Gay Group Criticized

Wal-Mart entered into a partnership last week with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce to buy from LGBT-owned and gay-friendly businesses, but the deal was immediately attacked by Pride at Work, the LGBT labor group, because of Wal-Mart’s employment practices. “We’re not sure how Wal-Mart fits into anything worker friendly,” Jeremy Bishop of Pride at Work told


New LGBT Protections in California

The California Legislature just passed a bill allowing registered domestic partners to file joint income tax returns and have their earned income treated as community property for state tax purposes. It now goes to Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger who has stated his support for domestic partnerships. He vetoed the only equal marriage bill ever passed by a state legislature last fall. He has signed a law forbidding anti-LGBT discrimination by state agencies in the provision of services.


John Wilson, NLGJA Co-Founder, Dead at 56

John Wilson, who held editorial positions at several newspapers—most recently the New York Times—died of either a heart attack or stroke at his Manhattan home on August 25. Wilson was a founding member of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, though he never held a formal office in the organization.

His friend Jamie Leo wrote, “Through his insistence on dialogue with colleagues, John pursued a vision of equality and freedom from religious tyranny, influencing numerous high-visibility straight and gay journalists through his insistence on defiant, playful, and exuberant discussion.”

Wilson was 56 and is survived by his partner, Richard Poirier.

A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Friday, September 1, 2006, at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Charleston, West Virginia, his hometown. A celebration of his life will be held in New York at a date to be determined.


New Group Fights “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

Youth activists from SoulForce who toured the country to protest anti-gay policies at conservative colleges have begun a Right to Serve campaign to get the U.S. military to end its ban on out gay and lesbian servicemembers. In non-violent protests at National Guard recruitment centers in Philadelphia and Minneapolis last week, 11 of them were arrested for sitting in when they were refused enlistment.

The group intends to take its protest to Austin, Chicago, Oklahoma City, and New York. The action in New York is set for Wednesday, September 20 at the Times Square military recruiting booth at a time to be announced. For more information, go to There will be civil disobedience by some young people seeking to enlist, but not everyone who participates in the action has to risk arrest.


News from the All-Hetero Military

An investigation by the Associated Press found more than 100 young women who were abused sexually by military recruiters. The abuses included rape in recruiting offices and government cars. More than 80 recruiters were disciplined in 2005 for sexual misconduct with those they were recruiting. In the Army alone, since 1996 there have been 722 recruiters charged with rape or sexual misconduct. Few cases are prosecuted by civil authorities.


Boy George Pays His Debt to Society and Then Some

Boy George did his community service for making a false report to the police by picking up trash on the streets of New York amidst a media frenzy. He finished the experience with some serious blisters, but was unbowed. “I have nothing but good things to say,” he told the New York Post. “The treated us with kindness and they treated us with respect.” George told the Irish Examiner that his experience with the NYPD was another matter, calling the police “really hideous to me.” He said, “They wouldn’t even give me water so I had to drink my own urine in the cells.”


Another Out Network Star

Sam Champion, the local weatherman at WABC-TV, is being promoted to do the forecasts for “Good Morning America,” Liz Smith reported. She said that the network was “nervous about putting him on a national show” in the past because he was “too good looking.”