News Briefs

Kerry Calls Gay Marriage “A Mistake”

Sen. John Kerry, doing what he thinks he has to do to keep his presidential aspirations alive, criticized the Democratic Party in Massachusetts for its resolution supporting the right of gay people to marry. Speaking at a forum in Louisiana, he said of the move by his home state party, “I think it’s a mistake. I think it’s the wrong thing, and I’m not sure it reflects the broad view of the Democratic Party in our state.”

State Democratic parties in New York and Iowa have also endorsed same-sex marriage.

Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Lesbian and Gay Task Force said, “Contrary to Sen. Kerry’s assertion, support is particularly high among Democrats, with a Boston Globe poll in March finding that 71 percent of Democrats surveyed statewide said they believed same-sex marriage should be allowed. Moreover, not a single Democrat in the state Legislature who supported marriage equality and voted against a proposed anti-marriage constitutional amendment lost his or her seat in the 2004 elections.”

A majority of Bay State voters overall now support the right of gay people to marry. A joint session of the Massachusetts Legislature meeting in Constitutional Convention, probably in the fall, will have its second and final vote on an amendment to their state Constitution to ban same-sex marriage and allow gay couples to sign up for civil unions with the same rights and responsibilities as marriage without the name or the transferability to other jurisdictions. If the amendment passes again—and the vote is expected to be close—the question will go to the voters in November 2006. If not, no challenge to the Massachusetts’ high court’s 2003 ruling could reach voters until at least November 2008. Far right activists have begun the process to put forth an amendment that bans both same-sex marriages and domestic partnerships for that later date.


Liberal Judges Worse than Nazis, Terrorists

Right-wing Rev. Pat Robertson told ABC-TV’s “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos last Sunday that the threat posed by liberal judges is “probably more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings.” When pressed by Stephanopoulos as to whether the threat he was describing is “the most serious threat America has faced in nearly 400 years of history, more serious than al Qaeda, more serious than Nazi Germany and Japan, more serious than the Civil War,” Robertson replied, “George, I really believe that.”


Win for Domestic Partner Survivor of 9/11

The New York State Appellate Division, 3rd Department, ruled last week that a domestic partner of a victim of the September 11, 2001 catastrophe was entitled to share in workers’ compensation benefits being paid to his child. Paul Innella died in the World Trade Center and left behind a 22-month-old daughter born of Jennifer Novara ,who applied for and obtained $400 in weekly benefits on behalf of the child, the New York Law Journal reported. But Innella had been living with and was engaged to be married to Lucy Aita who sued for her “spousal” share of those benefits. The state Legislature made an exception to the Workers’ Compensation Board exclusion of domestic partners in the case of 9/11 survivors, both gay and straight. Aita was awarded $220 a week and the child, now six, had her share cut to $180.


California Scuttles Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment

The Judiciary Committee of the California Assembly voted 6-3 against an amendment to the state Constitution that would limit marriage to opposite-sex couples and rescind the extensive domestic partner benefits available to same-sex couples. California voters went 60-40 for an initiative in 2000 barring California from recognizing same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. The Legislature is now moving a bill to allow the issuance of marriage licenses to gay couples in California.


Cheney Helps Congresswoman Who Won’t Let Mary Marry

Vice Pres. Dick Cheney says he does not support a federal constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. But that didn’t stop him from raising $200,000 for Colorado Republican Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, the chief sponsor of the amendment to do just that. Musgrave is considered one of the most vulnerable Republican incumbents in the country in the 2006 election. Cheney’s daughter Mary is in a committed relationship with another woman, Heather Poe.


Spanish Bishops Pile On

The Roman Catholic bishops of Spain are following the lead of the Vatican and demanding that faithful Catholics refuse to assist in any way with the implementation of the new law opening marriage to same-sex couples, saying it “subverts the most basic moral principles underlying the social order.”


Belgian Government to OK Gay Adoption

Belgium, the second country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage after Holland, is following the lead of its neighbor and moving a law to allow gay couples to adopt children, just as some U.S. states are heading in the opposite direction. The Belgian Minister for Equal Opportunities said that lesbian and gay couples raising children is a reality.


Canada’s Marriage Bill Advances under Cloud

The bill to make same-sex marriage legal nationwide in Canada survived its second reading by a vote of 164-137 last week. It needs to pass the House of Commons again and the Senate before it can receive royal assent. With the Liberal-led coalition government in jeopardy of losing a confidence vote any day now due to a corruption scandal, there may not be enough time left to finalize the bill before the government falls. The rival Conservatives have proposed overriding provincial marriage rulings and instituting civil unions instead of gay marriage.


Gay Tonys

It seems like only yesterday that John Glines drew gasps at the Tony Awards—and a scolding from Liz Smith!—in 1983 for thanking his then lover Lawrence Lane when accepting the award for “Torch Song Trilogy.” In 2005, you can’t swing a dead “Cats” costume without hitting a gay or lesbian nominee.

At the great risk of leaving somebody in, some of the out nominees include Cherry Jones for best actress in a play for “Doubt,” Gary Beach for leading actor in a musical for “La Cage Aux Folles,” Christopher Sieber for best featured actor in a musical for “Spamalot,” Joe Montello for best direction of a play for “Glengarry Glen Ross,” and Jack O’Brien for best direction of a musical for “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.”

Craig Lucas’ book for “The Light in the Piazza” is up for an award. The best revival of a musical gave nods to “La Cage Aux Folles” by Jerry Herman and Harvey Fierstein and “Pacific Overtures” by Stephen Sondheim.

Edward Albee, who will get a special Tony for lifetime achievement, has his “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” nominated for best revival of a play. And William Finn’s “Putnam County Spelling Bee” is up for best musical.

And that doesn’t include all the gay scenic, lighting, and costume designers or the choreographers.


You Are What You Smell

The New York Times gave front-page play to a study out of Sweden that found that gay men and straight women have the same brain response when exposed to the scent of male sweat. The researchers at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm looked at these brain scans and found them to be different from the scan produced in a straight man who sniffs male sweat.

“It is one more piece of evidence that is showing sexual orientation is not all learned,” Sandra Witelson, an expert in brain anatomy and sexual orientation at McMaster University in Ontario told Newsday. Dr. Ivanka Savic and her fellow researchers in Sweden said that the anterior hypothalamus, a region associated with sexuality, got activated in the brains of gay men when they were exposed to the pheromones or male sex hormones. Dr. Dean Hamer, a geneticist at the National Institutes of Health who has done research into the brain and sexual orientation before, told The Times, “The big question is not where homosexuality comes from, but where does sexuality come from.” The newspaper noted, “The different pattern of activity that Dr. Savic sees in the brains of gay men could be a cause of their sexual orientation or an effect of it.”


Goulet Wanted to Dodge Male Kiss

Robert Goulet, now starring as Georges in the revival of “La Cage aux Folles” on Broadway, told The New York Times that he turned down the role of the more effeminate, cross-dressing Albin in the original Broadway production. “It would not have been right for me,” he told the newspaper.

In the 1982 version, the male couple walked off hand and hand at the end; now they exchange a kiss. “I asked the director if the kiss was really necessary,” Goulet said. “Couldn’t we just hold hands? He said it was. So I took the bull by the horns, so to speak, and I think I almost broke Gary’s [Beach] nose.”


FDA Guidelines Discourage Gay Sperm Donors

A story broke last week that the Food and Drug Administration was instituting a ban on anonymous sperm donation by men who have had sex with other men in the last five years. The idea was condemned by Lambda Legal’s director Kevin Cathcart as not being based on “good science” given the rise in heterosexual HIV and the fact that men have sex with men without transmitting HIV. The FDA subsequently acknowledged that they were not issuing a regulation with the force of law, but a guideline.


WorldPride Off, Then On Again

The second WorldPride celebration, set for August 18-28 of this year in Jerusalem, was the subject of some back and forth stories this week. The Jerusalem Post reported that organizers were canceling the event because it coincided with the pullout of Israelis from the Gaza Strip and security forces would be overwhelmed. But Hagai El-Ad, director of Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, called the report false because the exact date of the pullout has not been set. El-Ad acknowledged that having the pride event “on the dates that coincide with the pullout would be highly inappropriate.” A refundable plane ticket might be the best plan for pride tourists.


John Simon Canned

Theater critic John Simon once dismissed a PJ Barry play called “The Octette Bridge Club” as “faggot nonsense” in 1985 in New York magazine. There was an uproar and a delegation from the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights met with editor Ed Kosner to ask for his head. Kosner started the meeting saying he would not fire Simon, much to the relief of the critic who was spotted lurking at his boss’ door. Now New York has an out gay editor, Adam Moss, and The New York Times reports that Moss fired Simon, 79, this week, saying “he wanted to go in a different direction” after almost 38 years of reviews by Simon.


Bestial Anti-Abortionist

Neal Horsley, a rabid anti-abortion crusader, acknowledged having sex with animals in a radio interview this week. Alan Colmes, the host, asked him if it was true if he had admitted to having sex with men and animals.

“Hey Alan,” he said, “if you want to accuse me of having sex when I was a fool, I did everything that crossed my mind that look like I…”

Colmes interrupted, “You had sex with animals?” Horsley replied, “Absolutely. I was a fool. When you grow up on a farm in Georgia, your first girlfriend is a mule.” He later added, “You experiment with anything that moves when you are growing up sexually. You’re naïve… If it’s warm and it’s damp and it vibrates you might have sex with it.”

The account of the interview on noted that Colmes once asked anti-gay zealot Fred Phelps if he had every engaged in sex with men. “Phelps blustered,” the story said, “but never said no.” Phelps believes the proper Bible-based penalty for sodomy is death.