News Briefs

Jail Time for Lesbian Leader’s Killer

William Parrott, Jr. was sentenced to 24 years in prison for stabbing to death his neighbor, Wanda Alston, a prominent lesbian political leader, in her Washington, D.C. home. Parrott said he acted during a drug binge and was “extremely remorseful.”

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force gave two informants a total of $10,000 for providing leads in the case. “Justice has been served,” Matt Foreman, director of the group told PlanetOut, “but Wanda Alston is still dead.”

Alston coordinated LGBT affairs for Democratic Mayor Anthony Williams and was a founding member of the National Stonewall Democrats and co-chair of the Coalition of Black Lesbian, Gay Men, and Bisexuals in Washington.

Lawmakers Protest Nigeria Death Penalty

Twenty-two members of the U.S. House, led by gay Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank, have called upon Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo to protest the sentencing of a 50-year-old Nigerian man to death by stoning for engaging in consensual adult sex with another man, calling the penalty “grossly inhumane and well below the standards that a civilized society should uphold.”

The federal legislators noted that they support U.S. aid to Nigeria, “but we must tell you that Americans are also entitled to expect that countries that benefit from our humanitarian and economic assistance will not tolerate practices that are so clearly in violation of basic human rights.”

Gay NYC Endorsements

Last week, the Out People of Color Political Action Club (OutPOCPAC) endorsed civil liberties lawyer Norman Siegel over incumbent Betsy Gotbaum in the New York City public advocate’s race.

In the highly contested Manhattan borough president’s race, where club co-president Doug Robinson noted “many of the candidates have proven themselves as effective leaders and valuable assets to our community,” the organization has endorsed City Councilwoman Margarita Lopez, a Lower East Side Democrat.

For Manhattan district attorney, the club voted for former judge Leslie Crocker Snyder, a death penalty supporter, over longtime incumbent Robert Morgenthau, a death penalty opponent. Gerard Cabrera, co-president of the club, said that Snyder came to their endorsement meeting and Morgenthau didn’t. “We asked her tough questions and we like what she said,” Cabrera noted. “She seemed more willing to listen to the intersection of criminal justice issues and LGBT people of color issues.” The club opposes the death penalty.

For Brooklyn district attorney, the organization endorsed Mark Peters who is challenging incumbent Joe Hynes.

In highly contested City Council primaries, OutPOCPAC endorsed a lesbian, Rosie Mendez, to succeed Margarita Lopez in District 2; Melissa Mark-Viverito to succeed Phil Reed, a gay city councilman whose district includes parts of Harlem and the Upper West Side; and Bryan Pu-Folkes, an immigration activist and city human rights commissioner, over incumbent Helen Sears in Queens District 25 that includes Jackson Heights, Corona and East Elmhurst.

Earlier this year, the club endorsed the former Bronx Borough President, Freddy Ferrer, for the Democratic mayoral nomination.

Bloomberg Welcomes Bigot’s Endorsement

Last week, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg welcomed the endorsement of Democrat Dov Hikind, a Brooklyn Assemblyman, despite his long record of virulent opposition to lesbian and gay rights. “His political acumen and skills are legendary,” Hikind said.

After the state Democratic Party’s endorsement of same-sex marriage last year, Hikind told the Daily News, “What’s next? Do we legalize bestiality? Do we legalize incest?” He made a similarly incendiary speech against the city’s lesbian and gay rights bill when it passed in 1986.

Hikind is a powerhouse in the Brooklyn orthodox Jewish community, but his attack on the police department for not engaging in profiling of Middle Eastern men in conducting searches of bags on mass transit may make Bloomberg nervous about his endorsement.

Stu Loeser, Bloomberg’s campaign spokesperson, said that the mayor disagrees with Hikind on these issues. Asked if Bloomberg would reject Hikind’s endorsement due to his anti-gay statements and his promotion of racial profiling, Stu Loeser, the campaign’s spokesperson said, “The Mayor has spoken out against racial profiling before and after Mr. Hikind’s comments.  No two people have the same view on everything, and the Mayor disagrees with some of Mr. Hikind’s statements and proposals.”

Sharpton Plans Gay and AIDS Initiatives

The Rev. Al Sharpton marched in his first LGBT pride parade this June. Now, the New York Sun reports, he is working with veteran gay activist Allen Roskoff on a movement to combat anti-gay bigotry in the African-American community, especially insofar as it contributes to the ongoing HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Sharpton’s associate Marjorie Fields-Harris, executive director of his National Action Network, will coordinate the initiative which will include public service announcements on African-American radio stations.

Gay Marriage Breakthrough in Alberta

The conservative province of Alberta fiercely resisted allowing same-sex couples to marry. Now that a national law is in effect ending gender discrimination in marriage, two lesbians have gotten married in Edmonton.

The predominately LGBT Metropolitan Community Church held its general conference in Calgary last week and 31 couples, all U.S. citizens, were married there. “It was a great conference,” said Rev. Troy Perry, founder of the denomination.

Alberta, like several other provinces, is working on legislation to shield public officials from prosecution if their consciences forbid them from performing weddings for gay couples. No such officials asked for legislation when asked to marry divorced people, a violation of Catholic doctrine.

Ireland Poised to Recognize Partnerships

Michael McDowell, the Irish Minister of Justice, said this week that it was a question of “how” not “if” same-sex couples would be provided legal recognition. He ruled out opening marriage to them, but is expected to come up with something similar to the United Kingdom’s Civil Partnership Act that goes into effect in December.

Qatar’s Prince in Gay Bar Dust-Up

Tameen Bin Hamad Al-Tani, the Crown Prince of Qatar where homosexual activity is punishable by death, is barred for 30 days along with his male partner from entering the London gay club G.A.Y. (for “Good As You”) in Soho. The men got involved in a drunken brawl in the popular nightspot.

English Church’s Gay Controversy

Last week, the Church of England, mother church in the Anglican Communion, gave tepid support for the UK government’s Civil Partnership Act, allowing same-sex couples some legal recognition. Now Archbishop Peter Akinola of Nigeria, the largest Anglican Church, wants the Church of England suspended from the Anglican Communion as the American Episcopal Church has been for consecrating a gay bishop and Canada has for allowing the blessing of same-sex unions.

“Must I come to Lambeth Palace in order to go to heaven?” asked Akinola in reference to the London seat of the archbishop of Canterbury. “The answer is no!”

Most bishops of the Church of England did vote for the partnership law in the House of Lords. The church did say its gay priests could be united under the law, but that they had to take a pledge of celibacy.

Was Alec Guinness Gay?

The new “authorized” biography of the late British actor Sir Alec Guinness by Pers Paul Read describes him as an “agonized homosexual,” according to the New York Times, who “tormented his adoring wife” and “terrorized his son.”

“Guinness,” the review said, “enjoyed the friendship of glamorous women, was attracted throughout his life to young men, whom he often hired as dressers or assistants.” Read also says that Sir Alec regretted missing out on the role of Aschenbach in Zeffirelli’s film adaptation of Thomas Mann’s novel “Death in Venice.” The part went to Dirk Bogarde, another closeted actor.

Gay Writer Finds Romance

Scott Pomfret is the first out gay novelist to become a full-fledged member of the Romance Writers of America (RWA), the professional association for writers of Harlequin-style romance novels. “It’s nice to see that an organization like RWA is open to recognizing that romance is not a ‘hetero-only’ institution and that gay men have romantic lives and needs,” he said.

Pomfret’s latest novel, co-authored with Scott Whittier, his real-life romantic partner, is “Hot Sauce” (Warner Books) that Publishers Weekly called “fun, fast-moving, fairy tale fluff custom-built for the softhearted gay beach set.”

Whittier said that RWA is a conservative, Texas-based group, “but we were pleasantly surprised that there was room at the table for Romentics,” the word for gay male romance novels.

Bush Wants Creationism Taught

President Bush told reporters this week the right-wing Christian-promoted “intelligent design” theory of the origins of human life should be taught in schools along with evolution. “I think that part of education is to expose people to different schools of thought,” he said.

No word from the White House on whether that means kids should learn that homosexual orientation is a natural variation in human sexuality as many believe.

Dueling Anti-Gay Amendments in California

Two groups will try to get referenda on the June 2006 ballot in California for constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage and domestic partner rights. has accepted Democratic Attorney General Bill Lockyer’s summary wording of their amendment and is proceeding with collecting the nearly 600,000 signatures needed for it. is going to court to challenge Lockyer’s summary of their amendment as limiting marriage to “one man and one woman” and that it “voids and restricts registered domestic partner rights.” California law gives almost all of the rights of married couples to domestic partners.

Gay Bashing Link with SUVs

A new study of Cornell undergraduates found that when men’s masculinity is challenged, they are more likely to engage in compensating behaviors such as acting more anti-gay, supporting the Iraq War, and showing more willingness to buy an SUV, Men’s Health News reported.

Robb Willer, doctorate student in sociology, found, “Masculinity-threatened men also reported feeling more ashamed, guilty, upset and hostile than did masculinity-confirmed men.”

Indian Same-Sex Marriage Woes

Nitima Birna and Laxmi Bai, lesbian lovers, married in the village of Bharbaria in the Indian district of Jharkland last month. But now, reports, “the marriage is on the rocks” because the family of Nitima, who is considered the husband, is demanding a “fat dowry” from the family of Laxmi, the wife.

Laxmi said she left Nitima’s family over their greed and now her dreams and relationship with Nitima have been “shattered.”

Local leaders had not given legal recognition to the marriage, which was performed in a Hindu ceremony.

Screenwriter Queasy about Gay Brits’ Sodomy

Alan Hollinghurst, author of the Booker Prize-winning “Line of Beauty,” told a New York audience in December that he was excited that Andrew Davies was adapting the book for a BBC film. Davies is known for “sexing up” literary works from “Vanity Fair” to “Moll Flanders,” the UK Times reported. But Davies would not write sex scenes for this gay-themed work, simply writing “they make love” in the script whenever it was to occur.

Kate Lewis, producer of the project, called Davies “coy” about gay sex. Davies himself told the paper it “makes me rather queasy” and that he suspects the TV audience will find it “awkward.” He wants “soft focus” on the gay love scenes.

Davies said that he knew director Saul Dibb “thinks the scenes could be more explicit.” Dibb said he didn’t want the scenes “to be less open than if it was heterosexual.”