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VOLUME 3, ISSUE 333 | August 12 - 18, 2004

NEWS

News Briefs

Florida Lawyer Irks Gay Marriage Leaders

Ellis Rubin, the former anti-gay campaigner who has filed more than nine lawsuits on behalf of 40 gay and lesbian couples challenging Florida and U.S. law against same-sex marriage, continues to antagonize mainstream LGBT legal groups and roil the waters around this issue.

Two weeks ago, he dropped a Fort Myers gay couple, Fred Bloomberg and Pete Costello, from his roster of clients because “they said they were doing this for the cause,” he told the News-Press. “That’s not good enough. I don’t represent people who are not sincere.” The couple denied they are anything but sincere in wanting to wed.

Rubin filed the first same-sex marriage suit in Lee County, Florida on behalf of Margaret Kelly and Cynthia Koenig who have been partners for ten years, the paper said.

Gay legal experts have criticized Rubin’s strategy for not coordinating with movement strategists and for prematurely challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Meanwhile, the county clerk in Holmes County has filed seven lawsuits throughout the state Thursday asking the courts to uphold state law limiting marriage to heterosexual couples, Herald Wire reported. The Liberty Counsel of Orlando, a conservative religious group, as well as notary publics and owners of wedding chapels and churches who oppose the right of gay people to marry, joined Cody Taylor, the clerk. Cody said that if Florida law changed, his religious views would compel him to refuse a marriage license to a gay couple.

No Amendment Backlash in Kansas

While 71 percent of Missourians voted for a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, the failure of legislators in neighboring Kansas to advance such an amendment did not lead to any serious retribution at the polls despite threats from religious right groups. The Kansas City Star reported that, in last week’s primary election, “out of 18 area incumbents who voted against the marriage amendment and ran for re-election, only one, GOP Rep. John Ballou of Gardner, was defeated.” The Kansas House had voted 79-45 for the amendment, short of the two-thirds necessary to send it to the voters.

Support from Wine Country

The Sonoma, California City Council voted unanimously on August 4 in favor of a resolution supporting civil marriage rights for same-sex couples. The issue was presented by Anne McGivern of Marriage Equality California, the Sonoma Index-Tribune reported.

Linda Kelly, the lesbian mayor of Sebastapol, testified in favor of the resolution, putting the matter in the tradition of the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

In the county, same-sex marriage has now been endorsed by two other cities—Cotati and Santa Rosa. The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors also supports it.

Meanwhile, New York City’s City Council has yet to take action on a resolution supporting marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples.

Taking the High Road in Scotland

The Scottish Museum of Country Life in East Kilbride is welcoming same-sex couples who want to rent their site for their weddings, the Glasgow Daily Record reported. The National Trust earlier made a commitment to open some of its sites to gay nuptials, in collaboration with Pink Weddings, which specializes in such functions. Some religious leaders are calling the museum’s move “blasphemous.”

Anti-HIV Drugs Help Lower Infection Spread

Researchers in Taiwan have found that providing AIDS drugs to people who have HIV has cut the rate of new infections there by half, BBC News reported. Since rates of the spread of syphilis and gonorrhea have remained constant, the National Taiwan University researchers reasoned that the slowdown in HIV infections was not due to changes in behavior by the infected, but to their lower levels of virus due to the drugs.

Jo Robinson of the Terrence Higgins Trust, an AIDS service organization in the U.K., told the BBC, “This research shows that HIV treatment can play an important part in reducing HIV transmissi­on.” But she also stressed the importance of providing “good quality health promotion information to people who are most at risk for HIV, as well as making condoms readily available.”

Feds Ignore AIDS “Price-Gouging”

The National Institutes of Health ruled last week that Abbott Laboratories was within its rights when last year it quintupled the price of Norvir, its AIDS drug. Abbott increased the price dramatically when it was learned that a far smaller dosage of the drug was appropriate, a move advocates for people with AIDS condemned as “price-gouging.”

“The issue of drug pricing has global implications and thus is appropriately left for Congress to address legislativ­ely,” said Dr. Elias Zerhouni, director of NIH. Abbott used a $3.5 million grant from NIH to develop Norvir, giving the government the right to claim the patent—a right the U.S. has never used.

Rep. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, sarcastically noted to the Associated Press, “It doesn’t matter what drug makers charge for a taxpayer-subsidized drug, as long as they continue to sell it.”

Brown is appealing the NIH’s decision to Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson.

Bush Aide Permits Discrimination

Knights of Columbus Applaud Bush

Pres. George W. Bush got a standing ovation at the Knights of Columbus convention in Dallas on August 5 when he thanked the group for endorsing his support of the Federal Marriage Amendment. The Knights also condemned abortion, but did not vote to expel from its ranks politicians who support abortion rights or gay rights, nor did it approve of denying Communion to such leaders.

“We don’t tell the clergy their business, and who gets Communion is their business,” said Patrick Korten, a Knights spokesperson told the Dallas Morning News.

L.A. Supports Bi-national Couples

Rep. Jerry Nadler, a New York Democrat, introduced the Permanent Partners Immigration Act, allowing gay Americans to bring their foreign partners to the U.S., several years ago and it hasn’t moved an inch in the Republican-led House. However, the bill got a boost last week from the Los Angeles City Council, which voted unanimously to endorse it and urged Congress to pass it. The bill has 123 sponsors. Other nations, like Britain, have taken the step of recognizing bi-national partners before moving on to granting other same-sex partner rights to their citizens.

Four in Austin Charged in Brutal Assault

Police in the university town of Austin, Texas announced the arrest of four young men in connection with the July 16 attack on a 32-year-gay man that they met in a gay bar, according to Planetout.com. Darren Gay, 21, and Donald Bockman, 24, have been charged with aggravated sexual assault and aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. Both charges are felonies which carry a maximum punishment of life in prison. Shawn Michael Regan, 21, and an unnamed 16-year-old man have also been arrested in the case.

The Texas Triangle reported that the four men approached the victim in the bar and one of them pinched his nipple and said, “You’re cute.” When the group asked where they could go after the bar closed, the victim invited them to go to his home.

The Daily Texan, the student newspaper at the University of Texas, reported that in the victim’s home, the suspects broke a glass over his head, ripped his clothes off and beat him for two hours. The newspaper reported that the assault included forcing the victim to sodomize himself with an object at knifepoint and an attempt to choke him with an electrical cord.

GaysAgainstBush.com

Gays Against Bush, a group organizing a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) presence in demonstrations at the Republican National Convention, has a website, GayAgainstBush.com The group meets Tuesdays from 6 to 8 p.m. at the LGBT Community Center at 208 W. 13th Street until the convention gets underway in New York. They’re working on an LGBT feeder march from Sheridan Square into the big United for Peace and Justice anti-war march on Sunday morning, August 29, the day before the convention. The group also plans to protest at Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s reception for the Log Cabin Republican Club, mainly to draw attention to Bloomberg’s vetoes of the City’s Equal Benefits Bill and Dignity in All Schools Act and his lack of support for the right of gay couples to marry. A separate marriage action is also contemplated.

Anti-Gay Keyes Will Oppose Obama

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