News Briefs

Volume four, Issue 25 | June 30 – July 6, 2005

News Briefs

Spain Legalizes Gay Marriage

Spain’s Congress of Deputies is expected to give final approval to a gay marriage bill on June 30, overriding the upper-house Senate that last week rejected the measure. Spain will follow Holland and Belgium in legalizing marriage for gay and lesbian couples. The Canadian marriage bill passed its final reading in parliament this week and is expected to get formal Senate approval shortly.

The Roman Catholic Church and the opposition Popular Party are expected to stage a second big demonstration against the legislation before its passage. Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has refused to meet with Catholic bishops on the issue.

LGBT People of Color Group Endorses Ferrer

In its June 22 meeting, the Out People of Color Political Action Club, a citywide bipartisan political group gave its mayoral endorsement to former Bronx Borough Pres. Fernando Ferrer.

“We’re delighted to support Freddy Ferrer, who has been a great ally of the LGBT community,” declared OutPOCPAC co-president Gerard Cabrera. Doug Robinson, the group’s co-president added, “Importantly for members of our club, which has a firm commitment to a progressive political agenda, Freddy has also articulated a broad vision of social and economic justice as well as LGBT rights.”

The evening included a candidate forum, at which both Ferrer and C. Virginia Fields, the Manhattan borough president, were present. Brooklyn Congressman Anthony Weiner sent a representative, but City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, the fourth Democrat in the race, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, though invited, neither attended nor sent surrogates.

The club was formed in 2001 and in that year’s Democratic primary also supported Ferrer.

Brenda Howard, Bisexual Activist, Dies

Brenda Howard, who was a leader of the Gay Liberation Front and Gay Activists Alliance in the early post-Stonewall movement, died of cancer on June 28 in Queens.

She is survived by her partner of five years, Larry Nelson. She was 58.

A militant activist who helped plan and participated in LGBT rights actions for more than three decades, Howard was especially known for her work in the bisexual and leather communities, including coordination of BiNet, the bisexual rights group. She was one of the organizers of the first Christopher Street Liberation Day march in 1970 to commemorate the Stonewall riots, now celebrated as LGBT Pride Day.

Steve Ault, who worked with Howard in the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights and gay rights marches on Washington, remembered her as “politically astute, very bright, and extremely principled person—and a damned good editor

A funeral service will be held Sunday, July 3 at 10 a.m. at Schwartz Brothers Memorial Chapel, 11403 Queens Blvd. in Forest Hills. The burial will be private. A memorial service will be planned for a later date

An appreciation of Howard’s life will be published in a future issue of Gay City News.

Gay Bush Aide Elevated

Israel Hernandez, 35, an out gay man and aide to both President George W. Bush and his top advisor Karl Rove, has been nominated to be director of the United States and Foreign Commercial Service in the commerce department, the Daily News reported.

During Bush’s 1994 run for governor of Texas, the nickname-loving Dubya dubbed Hernandez “Altoid Boy” because he provided the candidate with breath mints.

A source told the paper that Hernandez waited until Bush got re-elected before coming out to him and has since brought his partner to “official events.” But when asked at his Senate confirmation hearing if he wanted to introduce anyone, only mom, dad and his sister got the nod.

Mike Rogers, who runs the Web site that exposes closeted political figures who are anti-gay, told the News, “You know if he were married to a woman and she was there, he would specifically mention her. This is typical of the Bush administration and its anti-gay, anti-safe-sex agenda.”

NY Lawmakers Pass Remains Bill

Under a bill passed by both houses of the Legislature last week, domestic partners will be afforded the same legal prerogatives as spouses in determining the disposition of their partners’ remains. The Empire State Pride Agenda and the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, which worked together closely on the bill, are calling on Republican Gov. George Pataki to sign it quickly.

The “Death Care Proxy” bill allows New Yorkers to designate anyone they want to carry out their wishes about what to do with their dead bodies. If no proxy has been completed, relations have the legal right to make those decisions, now starting with spouses and domestic partners if the governor signs the bill.

New York State has yet to establish a domestic partners’ registry, but many localities, including New York City, do.

Get Married “Today”

NBC’s “Today” show is finally opening its annual marriage contest to same-sex couples. For six years, it has limited applicants who want to win opulent wedding packages on the show to heterosexual couples. This year, however, rather than hold the weddings in the street outside their New York studio, the contest is called “‘Today’ throws a hometown wedding” and the winners could have their ceremonies in Massachusetts where same-sex couples can legally marry.

After protests by GLAAD and some out NBC employees, the policy was changed last week.

Entries are due on July 5 and the ceremony will take place on September 16 on the show. To apply, visit

This Year in Jerusalem: Pride

The ultra-Orthodox mayor of Jerusalem, Uri Lupolianski, tried to block the fourth annual Gay Pride March from taking place on June 30, calling it “a provocation” that would “upset the sentiments of the wider public who live in or are visiting the city.”

Jerusalem Open House sued for the parade to go forward and won, the District Court ruling, “The city is not permitted to discriminate against any sector of the public due to disagreement of any of its officials to the views or sexual orientation of a particular sector.” The city also must pay the group’s legal costs of $6,000.

WorldPride was supposed to take place in Jerusalem in August but was postponed by gay groups until next year because of the conflict with the Israeli evacuation of the Gaza Strip.

Argentine Actor with HIV Denied Visa

Fernando Pena, a famous actor and comedian in Argentina, was denied renewal of his visa by the U.S. consulate because he is HIV-positive, prohibiting him from visiting relatives and furthering his career. He was recently in Miami to perform at the Latin American MTV Video Awards, Immigration Equality said in a release.

Victoria Neilson, legal director of the group, said that U.S. immigration policy with respect to people with HIV is “one of the worst among all developed nations. Not only are the laws discriminatory, they are also ineffective in terms of prevention.”

Just this past week, the Canadian visa application form was revised no longer to require disclosure of HIV status. The 16th International AIDS Conference is set for Toronto in August 2006.

“You’ve Got Clap!”

More than 20,000 people in San Francisco have sent anonymous “greeting cards” to their sex partners after testing positive for a sexually transmitted infection, letting them know that they may have been infected. The Internet Notification Service for Partners and Tricks (InSPOT) was initiated in October by the city’s Department of Public Health and most of those using it are gay and bisexual men, PlanetOut reported.

Among the lines in the cards: “I got screwed while screwing, you might have, too.” There is no card for potential exposure to HIV, but there will be soon. It is also to be extended throughout California in September and other cities are expressing interest.

Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, director of STI prevention for San Francisco, noted that syphilis cases there have jumped from 10 in 1998 to over 600 last year.

George Ayala of GMHC’s Institute for Gay Men’s Health in New York told PlanetOut, “My concern is that sites like this may let men off the hook from having deeper conversations about sexual exchange.”

Anecdotal evidence suggests that people receiving the cards are seeking STI testing at an encouraging rate.

Mass. Defends Jim Crow Law

Democrat Thomas Reilly, the attorney general of Massachusetts, filed court papers last week defending the state’s 1913 law prohibiting town clerks from marrying out-of-state couples whose nuptials would not be recognized back home. He claims the law is applied evenly to same-sex and heterosexual couples.

Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, the legal group that won the historic gay marriage decision there, say it was not enforced until gay couples won the right to marry. The law, resurrected by Republican Gov. Mitt Romney to stop gays from outside the state from marrying there, was originally enacted to prevent interracial couples from flocking to Massachusetts from the majority of states that forbade miscegenation.

Some out-of-state couples were married in Massachusetts by clerks defying Romney until Reilly issued an opinion that they could not.

Buckeyes for Bigotry

Fresh from banning same-sex marriage in Ohio’s constitution, anti-gay activists now are looking to bar “homosexual, bisexual, transsexual, or transgender individuals” from being adoptive or foster parents, the AP reported. “If it happens, we’re gone,” gay dad Rodney Sweigart told the news service.

A bill to effect the ban has yet to be introduced. Florida is the only state with a statutory prohibition against adoptions by gays and lesbians, a law that has been upheld in federal court.

Blair’s Son to Intern for Republican

In a move that has stunned Democrats in Congress, Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair has obtained an internship for his son Euan, 21, with Republican Congressman David Dreier of California, chair of the rules committee.

“It is extremely surprising that the son of a Labor prime minister would intern with the Republican majority staff on the committee,” said Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York, the ranking Democrat on the committee.

Journalist Doug Ireland, writing in his Web site, was less surprised: “The [UK] Independent growled that Tony Blair ‘is essentially a con man.’ So is the two-faced Dreier, who keeps his male lover on the Congressional payroll at a salary higher than Karl Rove’s, but continues to step on the rights of gays to full equality before the law.”

School Bans Effeminate Dad

St. Mary’s Star of the Sea pre-school in Oceanside, California, has refused admission to a three-year old girl because her father wore a tied-dyed tunic and pants when dropping her off and was deemed to be too feminine.

“My lifestyle is so average,” the father told the North County Times. “I’m a married, heterosexual working parent.”

Riki Wilchins, director of Gender PAC, said, “If a dad in a tunic is too feminine, is a mom in jeans and sneakers too masculine? I’ve heard of dress codes for students, but I’ve never heard of dress codes for parents.”

Another Catholic school in Southern California recently accepted the kids of a gay male couple, but forbade the men from attending school functions.

Farm Workers Endorse Ca. Gay Marriage

The United Farm Workers has endorsed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in California. In July, the State Senate plans to take up the measure. Christine Chavez, the union’s political director and granddaughter of its late founder, Cesar Chavez, says that he was a strong supporter of LGBT rights. Indeed, Cesar once helped carry the lead banner in a national march on Washington for LGBT rights.

Support from the union—comprised mainly of Latino workers—is seen as especially critical because the measure’s failure by four votes earlier this month in the Assembly were cast by dissenting or absent Latino legislators.

Oregon Gay Bills Together Again

Bills to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and create civil unions will soon be combined and voted on by the Oregon State Senate. The combined legislation is expected to pass the Democratic-led Senate, but faces uncertainty in the Republican-dominated House. Democrat

Gov. Ted Kulongoski supports the bill. Voters in Oregon banned same-sex marriage in a referendum this past November in the one state where gay advocates planned to defeat such a measure.

European Developments in Gay Partner Recognition

Slovenia’s parliament voted 44-3 for limited property rights for same-sex couples in a measure that does not include Social Security, health insurance, or the right to be next-of-kin. It explicitly states that gay couples are not entitled to marry and the Association for the Integration of Homosexuality has called upon gay couples not to register under the new law. They also promised a suit to gain equal relationship rights.

Tatjana Greif, a lesbian activist in Slovenia, said the debate on the bill was “humiliating” and “offensive” and that the government would not consult gay activists in drafting it. She did, however, call the bill “the first and fundamental step towards introducing more equal legislation for sexual minorities.”

The Czech parliament approved a limited partnership bill for gay couples by a vote of 82-16, with 9 abstentions. It does include equal inheritance and health care benefit rights, but also forbids marriage and adoption to same-sex couples. It requires another vote in the parliament to become law.

Gay couples can now adopt foreign children in Holland after a vote by the Dutch cabinet. It also lets gay stepparents co-adopt their partner’s children without having to spend three years on probation.

The Berlin Administrative Court said last week that the gay partnership law in Germany “entitles a same-sex spouse to receive the pension benefits of a deceased partner,” Expatica reported. More than 6,000 gay couples have registered in the country since 2002.

In London, Mayor Ken Livingstone, of the Labour Party, is calling upon Michael Howard, the Tory leader, to get the borough of Bromley in line. Conservative administrators of the London borough are threatening not to cooperate with the gay Civil Partnership Act that goes into effect in December.

Gay Kiwis Balk at Partnership

Fifty-six lesbian and gay couples have taken advantage of the civil union law enacted in New Zealand on April 26 in a country where 1,700 couples marry each month. In addition, ten heterosexual couples have signed up for what for them is “marriage lite.”