VOLUME 3, ISSUE 327 | July 1 - 7, 2004
The Republican-led Senate remains on course to force a vote on the Federal Marriage Amendment, a proposal that seeks to ban same-sex marriage, the week of July 12, even though, as Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told Gay City News, there may be a substantial majority of senators opposed to the measure.
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) is saying he won’t bring up the amendment unless he has the two-thirds majority needed to pass it. But he is looking at scheduling votes on stripping the federal courts of jurisdiction over the Defense of Marriage Act (invoking the “exception clause” in Article 3) and codifying a ban on same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia.
Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote to the Senate this week formally endorsing the FMA. Matthew Gallagher of Dignity, the gay Catholic group, said the bishops “continue to seek ways to deflect attention from their massive failure to protect children.”
On Monday, the U.S. Conference of Mayors voted 46-44 to table a resolution opposing the Federal Marriage Amendment, a measure that was sponsored by Democratic Mayors Richard Daley of Chicago, Tom Menino of Boston, and Gavin Newsom of San Francisco.
Beating other states to the question this year, Missouri will conduct a statewide vote on August 3 on a state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Other states are slated to vote on Election Day in November.
Anti-gay activists in Benton County, Oregon, were unable to muster the 5,000 signatures needed to force a recall vote on County Commissioner Linda Mondrell, who not only voted to extend marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but led a unanimous vote to issue no marriage licenses at all when the courts ordered a stop to licenses for gay couples. But the Defense of Marriage Coalition in that state turned in more than 240,000 signatures—twice the number needed—to put a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage on the ballot in November. Basic Rights Oregon will fight it.
Here in New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg remained non-committal on the right of same-sex couples to marry, using the occasion of the Gay Pride March to suggest that those who support such equality go to Albany to lobby lawmakers.
Pres. George W. Bush gave a major address on AIDS last week in Philadelphia and got credit for mentioning the c-word—condoms. But as reported in Gay City News, just the week before, the Bush administration’s Centers for Disease Control issued guidelines for funded groups requiring them to print in all safe-sex material “the lack of effectiveness of condoms.” The guidelines also forbid material that is “suggestive” or “obscene.”
Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Barney Frank told Doug Ireland of the Nation, “One has to reach back to Stalin and Lysenko to find an ideological distortion of science this complete.”
Bush is asking for a fraction of the funds needed to reach all needy people with HIV in the AIDS Drug Assistance Plan and to combat the worldwide pandemic, Frank and other critics say. His real purpose in giving these speeches, they add, seems to be to win over some undecided voters rather than to end the AIDS crisis.
Former Pres. Bill Clinton’s best-selling “My Life” includes no mention of former gay aides, including David Mixner, with whom he was once close, or the controversy over nominating James Hormel to be the first out gay ambassador. While Clinton deals with the controversy of banning gays from the military, even admitting that he buckled to military leaders and anti-gay senators like Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), he does not address his signing of the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996.
This week, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry told the Army Times that if elected he would review the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy enacted by Clinton.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune turned down an ad for a city gay pride festival because it showed two men kissing. Ben Taylor of the newspaper told KSTP-TV that the ad “was clearly meant to be inflammatory.” Jim Kelley, president of the festival, called the decision “appalling,” given that the Star Tribune contains many images of straight people kissing or embracing. Minneapolis bans discrimination based on sexual orientation, and Minnesota was the first state in the nation to do so.
Gay activists are divided over a proposal from Los Angeles health officials to get the Board of Supervisors to regulate gay bathhouses and sex clubs, the L.A. Times reported. Steve Afriat, representing the clubs, told the newspaper the idea is “discriminatory.” Ged Kenslea of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, said, “A business license is not a right, it’s a privilege,” and urged more regulation that would allow the county to close a club where unprotected sex was taking place.
Rick Ufford-Chase has been elected moderator of the 2.4 million-member Presbyterian Church U.S.A. Besides being a peace activist, he is a supporter of ordaining gay and lesbian ministers, an issue still being debated by the denomination.
A frontally nude shot of Colin Farrell has been removed from the film, “A Home at the End of the World,” based on a book by gay author Michael Cunningham and starring Farrell as a bisexual man in a love triangle.
“All you could hear were gasps when Colin appeared” in the scene, a source told the U.K. Sun, making it “difficult to concentrate on the plot.”
According to Farrell, the scene will be restored in the film’s DVD release.
Canada’s Liberal Party, which supports same-sex marriage, even if somewhat haltingly, had its parliamentary sails trimmed in this week’s elections. Prime Minister Paul Martin now presides over a minority government, requiring a coalition with smaller parties to hold on to power.
It could have been worse for the Liberals, gay leaders there said, asserting that the party only held on to power because voters did not like the anti-gay social conservatism of the opposition. The Conservative Party had resolved to invoke a provision in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to block a nationwide extension of same-sex marriage from Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia, where officials, following orders from provincial courts, now license such unions.
Bishop Howard Hubbard, 65, of Albany, recognized as a liberal among the church’s leadership, was exonerated by an independent investigation that examined accusations that he had engaged in sex with several men, including a male street hustler, The New York Times reported. Hubbard said he has never had sex with anyone, upholding his vow of celibacy. Former federal prosecutor Mary Jo White conducted the investigation and concluded that a gay priest who posed as a bishop was likely the person Hubbard’s accuser was referring to when he mentioned sexual liaisons that occurred decades ago.
Last week, I celebrated the June 25 birthday of author and activist Larry Kramer. Turns out Larry just turned 69, not 70, as I reported. Happy birthday, young man!
Andy Humm is a co-host of “Gay USA” seen Thursdays at 11 p.m. on Time-Warner 34 and RCN 107, simulcast at mnn.org channel 34, and on Directv nationwide._
Andy Humm can be contacted at AndyHumm@aol.com