VOLUME 3, ISSUE 348 | Nov. 25 – Dec. 01, 2004

News Briefs

Oregon Strategy Change: Civil Unions, Not Marriage

Basic Rights Oregon and the American Civil Liberties Union are pulling back from their lawsuit demanding full marriage rights for same-sex couples in the wake of the voters’ adoption on a state constitutional amendment against it. They will still push to see to it that the 3,000 same-sex marriages already performed in Multnomah County, where Portland is, are not nullified, but going forward the groups want the state to provide gay couples the same benefits and responsibilities as marriage by enacting civil union legislation. The Oregon Supreme Court will hear the case on December 15.

State Sen. Ben Westlund, a Republican who voted in favor of the constitutional amendment, now wants to introduce civil union legislation, telling the Associated Press, “It’s the right thing to do.”

The Partners Task Force for Lesbian and Gay Couples of Seattle in neighboring Washington State said, “We are appalled to hear of this change in legal tactics,” claiming it “only leads to apartheid.”


Anti-Gay Marriage Pol Toasts Gay Marrieds in Bay State

Massachusetts state Sen. Jarrett Barrios married his longtime partner Doug Hattaway in Cambridge on Sunday. Offering the toast at their wedding reception was Senate Pres. Robert Travaglini, who led the constitutional convention this year toward first-stage passage of an amendment to the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage while mandating civil unions be opened to same-sex couples. State Rep. Michael Festa, a supporter of same-sex marriage, said, “It was one of the most poignant toasts I have ever seen at a wedding. He spoke of the importance of family, and he recognized that Jarrett and Doug’s family is also a beautiful thing.

Travaglini would not tell the Boston Globe whether his participation in the wedding festivities meant he would now move to block the constitutional amendment when it comes up for its second vote this spring, but his actions have conservative religious leaders upset. They staged a rally this week calling for a “bill of address” to remove the State Supreme Judicial Court justices who voted to open marriage to gay couples.


Tug of War in Virginia-Vermont Custody Battle

A Vermont judge has ruled that a lesbian couple who had a civil union and where one of the partners conceived a child artificially have the same legal status as “husband and wife” under state law and that the partner who did not conceive the child is entitled to joint custody of their child. The case of Lisa and Janet Miller-Jenkins has become a battle between Vermont and Virginia, where Lisa, the biological mother, won a ruling that she is the “sole parent” of their daughter under Virginia law that forbids same-sex unions.

The Washington Post noted that the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act usually resolves such disputes, but that case law around how gay partnerships are regarded across state lines is scant.


Cincinnati: Please Come Back!

Now that the voters of Cincinnati have repealed their 1993 anti-gay charter provision that prohibited protections for gay rights, the Convention and Visitors Bureau there is writing to the 200 groups that boycotted the city for conventions since then. Of course, Ohio was one of 11 states that voted to ban same-sex marriage in its constitution in November, but with more than 40 states banning same-sex marriage in either law or constitutionally, there has as yet been no call for a national boycott of all of them.


New Zealand Civil Union Bill on Track

While neighboring Australia banned same-sex marriage this year, the New Zealand Parliament is set to pass its Civil Union Bill by the end of the year, permitting the first legal gay unions to be certified in the spring. The adoption of Civil Partnerships in Britain last week is said to have greatly increased the chances for the New Zealand legislation. Both opponents and supporters have taken out full-page ads in newspapers on the bill, with more than a thousand supporters signing on to the Campaign for Civil Unions.


Norway: No to Same-Sex Marriage

In Norway, where civil unions are already law, the Parliament defeated legislation that would have opened marriage and adoption to gay and lesbian couples. It was pushed by the Labor Party there, but opposed by the ruling Christian Democrats who are aligned with the Lutheran Church.


Christian Warns of Gay Shark

Lenny, the young shark who hates meat and dresses like a dolphin in “A Shark’s Tale,” has set off alarm bells in conservative Christendom. Ed Vitgiliano, a reviewer for Agape Press, wrote that the Disney cartoon feature “comes far too close to taking a bite out of traditional moral and spiritual beliefs. And that’s probably swimming a bit too close to shore for many parents.”

Lino, Lenny’s mobster father, tells him at the end of the film, “I love you, son, no matter what you eat or how you dress.” The reviewer from Premiere magazine called it “a weak allegory about a macho dad accepting his gay son.”


“Alexander” Flap Intensifies

With Oliver Stone’s movie about Alexander the Great set to open this week, the controversy over his depiction as bisexual has broken out into the open. A group of Greek lawyers are threatening to sue the filmmakers, saying that this aspect of the movie is “pure fiction,” equivalent to saying Pres. John F. Kennedy “was a shooting guard for the Los Angeles Lakers.” The New York Times did a big story about how showing Colin Farrell as the warrior Alexander in an intimate relationship with Jared Leto as Hephaistion was a risky business move for Hollywood, given that these blockbuster films target teenage boys as their primary audience. Though the gay love scenes are not nearly as explicit as Alexander’s heterosexual clinches, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation is praising Stone, saying the film “breaks new ground” with the “sexually charged moments” between Alexander and Bagoas (Francisco Bosch), as well as portraying Hephaistion as “the true love of Alexander’s life.”


Producers Worried Over Gay Kiss on Broadway

The New York Post’s theater reporter Michael Riedel is stirring the pot by writing that the Broadway revival of “La Cage aux Folles” is in some sort of turmoil over a planned kiss by the gay couple at the end, asserting, “The money men think the kiss should be cut.” He added, “The kiss, which lasts about 30 seconds and is described as wet and sloppy, is new to the show.” In the original hit 1983 production, the men just walked off together arm in arm.

Harvey Fierstein, who wrote the book for the musical, composer Jerry Herman and director Jerry Zaks are insisting the kiss will stay. Riedel uses unnamed “production sources” to say that the “money men think the kiss should be cut” for fear of offending “older ladies from the suburbs.” But Herman said that he has sat with some of those women at previews and that “they cheer” the kiss.

Fierstein told Riedel that with the government’s crusade against same-sex marriage, “I don’t think the situation has really changed, do you?”


Gay Pig Murdered

Most pigs end up being eaten anyway, but there is something disturbing about the story of the Bulgarian farmer this week who slaughtered his prize-winning porker before his time, claiming in a lawsuit that the 220-pound pig was homosexual and no good for breeding. Once other farmers heard that the pig was gay, his owner was unable to sell him. But the breeder says if the farmer had waited until the pig sexually matured, it would have “performed perfectly normally,” reported.

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