News Briefs

Bloomberg Continues Fight Versus Gay Marriage

New York City is no longer citing Genesis in its bid to block same-sex couples from marrying, but it did reach back to a 1972 case based on the Bible in telling the New York State Appellate Division that Justice Doris Ling-Cohan was wrong to order Mayor Michael Bloomberg to start issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.

“I think they are not doing a service to the people of New York City,” Susan Sommer who is arguing the case for Lambda Legal Defense said of the resources being put forth by Bloomberg’s Law Department in his appeal.

The city’s brief notes repeatedly that the mayor is now a supporter of same-sex marriage—though he avoided taking a position on the issue for years—but that the lower court was “usurping the Legislature’s authority” in ordering him to issue the licenses.

Since the mayor is arguing in court that only the Legislature has the power to let gay couples marry, why isn’t he lobbying forcefully for a change in the law now? Jordan Barowitz, Bloomberg’s spokesman, said, “You don’t want to create confusion. The mayor’s position has always been that we would wait until the courts” make a final ruling in this case. If Bloomberg wins in court, “he will lead the charge in Albany” for the necessary legislation, Barowitz said, but not now.

“It would have been great if after the decision [of Ling-Cohan] the mayor had let the couples in our case and others marry,” said Sommer. “We would have had their families protected and respected.” Gay U.S. Rep Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat, has, for this reason, called Bloomberg’s appeal “terrible for us.”

All four of Bloomberg’s Democratic rivals—former Bronx Borough Pres. Fernando Ferrer, Manhattan Borough Pres. C. Virginia Fields, City Council Speaker Gifford Miller and Rep. Anthony Weiner—have vowed to drop the appeal and commence issuing licenses immediately.

When Bloomberg announced his support for same-sex marriage in conjunction with his decision to fight against that right in court, the Empire State Pride Agenda invited him to join them in Albany to lobby for the Equal Marriage Bill and got no response.

“We will continue to ask the mayor to work with us and lobby legislators on this issue,” said Joe Tarver, spokesman for the group. “We have a tremendous amount of education work that needs to be done. The mayor’s voice would be a tremendous asset in this process.”

It will be at least several months before the Appellate Division hears the case and years before it is resolved by the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest, which refused to take the case on an expedited basis.

Sommer said in a release, “The city is basing its appeal on the assertion that it is important to support heterosexual procreation—but in so doing the government turns its back on children raised by same-sex couples who must go without the protections that come with civil marriage. Over half of all the same-sex couples in New York are raising children.”

More than 100 groups have filed amicus briefs on Lambda’s side, including the New York County Lawyers Association, the Metropolitan Black Bar Association, NOW-NYS, the Pride Agenda, the American Psychological Association, and Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, the LGBT synagogue.

The city’s brief argues that gay people are not members of a “suspect class” entitled to heightened scrutiny regarding questions of discrimination. Sommer said this assertion failed to acknowledge the “history of discrimination” to which LGBT people have been subjected.

Pioneering Gay Grooms Finally Marry

Carl Trickey and James Crook first married in 1996 in Saint John, Canada at the Centenary Queen Square by the United Church with an “angry mob” outside the Wentworth Street United Church protesting, CBC New Brunswick reported. The couples said they have received death threats on their anniversary each year and a stone thrown through their window.

Now that same-sex marriage is legal throughout Canada and things have cooled down a bit, the men tied the knot legally at their home on Wednesday.

Referendum on Civil Unions Considered in Oregon

The bill granting civil unions and rights protections for LGBT Oregonians passed the State Senate but was blocked in the Republican House. Now Basic Rights Oregon is contemplating putting the measure on the ballot. “We’re not giving up and we’re not going away,” said Roey Thorpe, executive director of the group.

Imus Still Insulting Gay People

Don Imus from time-to-time has pledged to stop the anti-gay slurs on his WFAN radio show that is simulcast on MSNBC. Last week, Bernard McGuirk, appearing on the show, characterized a movie review by A.O. Scott of the New York Times as sounding as if it had been written “by a bitter homo.” The crew also trashed Harvey Fierstein and Rosie O’Donnell, set to co-star in Broadway’s “Fiddler on the Roof” in September. “Wear a Hazmat suit to that show,” Imus said.

Journalist Philip Nobile, who monitors the show for bigotry, brought these quotes to light. Cindi Creager, national news director for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, said the group would start tracking the show “to see it ourselves,” and would not comment on Nobile’s report.

NBC, MSNBC, and WFAN would not return calls as to whether describing gay men as “homos” met their standards.

Straight Men Look at Marrying in Toronto

Bill Dalrymple, 56, and best friend Bryan Pinn, 65, are looking to get married in Toronto—despite being heterosexual—for tax purposes, the Toronto Sun reported. “I think it’s a hoot,” Pinn told the newspaper. Neither can find “a good woman to love.”

Gay rights lawyer Bruce Walker said, “People who don’t marry for love will find themselves in trouble,” but the law essentially says, what’s love got to do with it?

British Priests to Defy Sex Ban

Gay priests are being allowed by the Church of England to unite with their partners under the U.K. Civil Partnership Act if they pledge to abstain from sex. Rev. Stephen Coles, a London vicar, told the Telegraph, “If a bishop asks me if I am having sex, I will say, it’s none of your business. Frankly, it’s a breach of my human rights for him even to ask.”

The story said that 20 priests have promised to bless legally partnered couples “despite the bishops’ ban on the practice.” One of them, Rev. Ian Stubbs, wrote, “Jesus nowhere teaches that same-sex relationships fall short of God’s purposes.”

The controversy over these issues is triggering a worldwide schism in the Anglican Communion.

Gay Guv to Write Book

James McGreevey, who resigned as governor of New Jersey last year after it was revealed that he had inappropriately hired a boyfriend for a sensitive security post, is writing a book that will describe “how he wrestled with his sexuality and his faith,” Judith Regan, who will publish him, told Reuters.

The self-proclaimed “gay American” politician has not given any interviews since his downfall and will likely not until he hits the book promotion circuit. New Jersey gay activists said in a recent newspaper story that they can’t forgive him for failing to support equal marriage rights as governor—okaying very limited domestic partnerships instead—and refusing to come forward and change his position on the issue since his departure.

Phelps Now Going After Dead Soldiers

The anti-gay Rev. Fred Phelps, who picketed the funerals of Matthew Shepherd and Al Gore’s father, will now protest at the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq. “Our attitude toward what’s happening with the war is the Lord is punishing this evil nation for abandoning all moral imperatives that are worth a dime,” Phelps told the Casper Star Tribune.