VOLUME 4, ISSUE 1 |Jan 06 – 12, 2005

News Briefs

Director for Nationwide LGBT Coalition

The Equality Federation, a national coalition of states’ gay rights groups, has named Toni Broaddus as its first director.

“My number one priority is to ensure that activists in every state and territory have the tools and resources they need to educate American voters about how discrimination harms our families, our communities, and our country,” Broaddus said in a release.

Ian Palmquist of Equality North Carolina, who co-chairs the national group, said, “For too long, our movement has directed the majority of its resources to the national level.” Now, he said, “the key battles facing LGBT people today occur—and must be funded—at the state level.”

Broaddus was a co-founder of the Oklahoma Gay & Lesbian Political Caucus in 1985. She played a lead role in the unsuccessful defeat of the 2000 California ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriage and was Equality California’s first director. Last year, she coordinated the federation’s Marriage Summit of the States.


A Nebraska man who was beaten to death at a motel in Iowa met his killer on the Web site, police in Clive, Iowa said.

Terry Graham, 52, of South Sioux City, Nebraska, was stabbed to death at the Fairfield Inn. Police have arrested Jon Matthew McGee, 23, of Urbandale, Iowa, who reported the crime from inside their room.

The Des Moines Register reported that Graham, who was in a heterosexual marriage, used the name HiWayGuyUSA on the Web site and posted his picture. He last visited the site Sunday, the night he was killed. The paper said that he described himself as 47 years of age and “not out at all yet” about his homosexuality.

McGee’s profile was also posted at He is being held on half a million dollars bail and will be arraigned on February 11.


Gay Medical Group Fighting Disbanding of Catholic College Gay Group

The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association is petitioning New York Medical College and local politicians for the school’s termination of its recognition of its gay student group because it changed its name from “Student Help” to “NYMC Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People in Medicine.” The school is affiliated with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York.

Dr. Kenneth Haller, a past president of GLMA, is an assistant professor of pediatrics at the St. Louis University School of Medicine run by the Jesuit order of the Catholic church. “It is disheartening that New York Medical College should take this position,” he said in a release. “An institution that says to LGBT persons, ‘You have no right to be fully yourselves in this place,’ does not provide an example of compassionate care to their students, gay or straight.”

Dr. Jane Petro, a former board chair of GLMA and a tenured faculty member of New York Medical College, said that they are now the only medical school in the state without a gay group and that the decommissioning of the group may be a violation of state and Westchester County law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, though those statutes include limited religious exemptions.

GLMA’s director, Joel Ginsberg, asked in November to meet with the dean of the college but has received no response. “We are concerned that NYMC does not seem to recognize the gravity of this issue,” noting that the Standards of Accreditation of the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, responsible for accrediting U.S. medical schools, requires that there be no discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation at the institution.

The only statement that the school has made about the controversy says while that it has not been their “practice” to “discriminate in any way on the basis of sexual orientation,” they “will neither sponsor not support an organization whose objectives are incompatible with our institutional values.”


AIDS Action Pulls Out of Salute to Bush

As Gay City News reported last week, AIDS Action, which represents hundreds of AIDS service organizations in Washington, D.C., was much criticized when their director’s name, Marsha Martin, turned up on the host committee for a fund-raiser for the Bush-boosting AIDS Responsibility Protect on Inaugural Day and billed as a salute to the second term of the president. The group did not take action by last week’s press deadline nor did they return telephone calls from a reporter seeking comment. Late last week though, a statement from the board co-chairs was sent out announcing their withdrawal from the event because the invitation “did not maintain the spirit of non-partisanship under which AIDS Action agreed to participate.”

The letter said, “In our work with the current Administration and Congress, and in spite of our differences with them from time to time, AIDS Action is proud of its collaborative advocacy approach.”


Parents Want Child Expelled

Eighteen parents at St. John the Baptist School in Costa Mesa, California, have signed a petition demanding that two kindergarten sons of gay male parents be expelled. “The teachings of the church seem to have been abandoned,” they wrote.

The head of the school, Rev. Martin Benzoni, told the Los Angeles Times that he will accept the children: “I firmly believe that this policy is in line with the teaching of the Catholic church.”

The right-wing Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights is siding with the school. William Donohue, the director of the New York-based group, said, “The innocent should not be punished for the transgressions of the guilty,” citing Ezekiel who “taught that it was wrong for children to suffer for the sins of their father. Applied in this instance, we can amend that to ‘fathers.’”

Donohue added, “There is no fundamental tension between opposing gay marriage as a matter of public policy and accepting the children of gay parents in a Catholic school.”

Katie Flores, the mother of a classmate of the boys of the gay couple said, “Let he who is without sin case the first stone.”


Viva Zapatero

As the Socialist government of Spanish President José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero moves to open marriage to same-sex couples, a new poll gave him high marks. Fifty-six percent of Spaniards rate his performance as good or very good and 38 percent bad or very bad. The actions of his government were rated positive by 59 percent and negative by 39 percent.

Zapatero’s cabinet approved the same-sex marriage bill this week. It goes before parliament in February for debate. Gay couples should be able to marry in 2006.

Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez said, “The right to marry is a right for everyone. It cannot be understood as a privilege.”


Joint Returns in Massachusetts

Married same-sex couples in the Bay State must file joint state tax returns, file separately to the IRS, and compute their state tax based on a theoretical married filing to the IRS, the Boston Globe reported. The paper also found that just a third of employers in the state are giving retirement benefits to same-sex spouses.

The Globe also reported that when Marianne Leahy went to return something to Bloomingdale’s and have it credited to the account of her wife, Lori Weissberg, the saleslady at first said she could not. When Leahy explained it was her wife, the clerk called the credit company to put it through. “To the person on the other end of the phone,” the story said, “she explained, ‘No. It’s OK. It’s her wife,’ and then, ‘Yes, that’s right. Well, we can do that here in Massachusetts.’” After the credit was applied, the clerk turned to her and said, “I’m sorry to have put you through that. And by the way, I think it’s great.”


Attack on Disney Gays

The Orlando, Florida, offices of Gay Days, the outfit that organizes annual gay outings to Disney World, was sprayed with nine to 10 bullets and hit with eggs and paintballs last Wednesday night, Local 6 News reported. Chris Alexander told the station that he is glad it was after hours, but worries about the safety of staff in the parking lot. The group is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the attack. Police are treating it as a possible hate crime.


Yukon Resistance to Marriage

In most of Canada now, same-sex couples can obtain a license to marry. But the government of the Yukon Territory is making it a special challenge, granting local commissioners the right to refuse to perform gay weddings, CBC North reported.

Dan Steyn told the news service that his “Christian faith” would have required him to resign his post rather than marry gay or lesbian couples. No word on whether Catholic commissioners can decline to marry people who have been divorced, a non-no in that faith, nor if they have had any such concern before the issue became marrying gay people. The story did say that the refusal of a civic official to perform a ceremony for anyone legally entitled to marry could trigger a human rights lawsuit.


Bigots Praise Tsunami Deaths

Rev. Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka shouted “Thank God, for tsunami and 2,000 dead Swedes!” The homophobic minister wrote that Swedish tourists formed a disproportionate number of Western victims of the deadly wave because “Sweden sent Pastor Ake Green to jail for preaching in his own church to his own people that homosexuality is abnormal and sinful.” A release from the church asked, “How many tsunami-dead Swedes are fags & dykes vacationing on their fat expendable incomes without kids to bother with and spend money on?”

Meanwhile, a Saudi professor, Sheik Fawzan Al-Fawzan, of Al-Imam University, said in a TV interview that the disaster in South Asia was caused by “fornication and sexual perversion” that is rampant at beach resorts at Christmas “when fornicators and corrupt people from all over the world come.”


Cardinal Ratzinger as Pontiff?

Time magazine reports that 77-year-old Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, architect of the Catholic church’s shift to the right and its vehemence against gay people, may be elected a “transitional” pope should John Paul II die anytime soon. The newsweekly says that Ratzinger has been trying to moderate his image of late, deflecting a call from some American bishops to deny communion to pro-choice political candidates.

Ratzinger authored a 1986 Vatican document blaming anti-gay violence on gay activists who were demanding things “to which no one has any conceivable right.”

Andy Humm is co-host, with Ann Northrop, of Gay USA on MNN-TV, seen in Manhattan on Time-Warner 34 and RCN 107 on Thursdays at 11 p.m. and thereafter on the Dish Network through Free Speech TV. Their guest on January 6 is James Essecks of the ACLU’s Lesbian and Gay Rights Project.