The Board of Selectmen in Provincetown, Massachusetts has voted to issue marriage licenses to all out of state same-sex couples who sign an affidavit that their marriage does not break any laws, the Boston Globe reported.
Last month, Attorney General Thomas Reilly had ruled that only gay couples from the eleven states that do not explicitly ban same-sex marriage could legally wed in the Bay State due to a 1913 law barring licenses to out of state couples whose Massachusetts marriages would not be recognized back home.
Same-sex marriage becomes legal under court order in Massachusetts on May 17.
Clerks around the state are expressing frustration with “the lack of guidance from the state,” the Globe reported. Republican Governor Mitt Romney is an ardent opponent of same-sex marriage and has been looking for ways to resceind the May 17 marriage order.
Romney wants the issuance of gay marriage licenses delayed until at least 2006 when voters will likely decide on a state constitutional amendment banning. A state constitutional convention recently passed a measure that would institute civil unions for same-sex couples seeking marriage. That measure must be again ratified by another convention before voters ultimately decide the issue in 2006.
Laurence Pizer, clerk in Plymouth, said that he will ask for the same “Notice of Intention of Marriage” from gay couples that he requires of straight couples—no more, no less.
The Human Rights Campaign reported this week that there is action in 37 states on same-sex marriage, with 26 in the process of introducing amendments to their state constitutions banning it. More than half of the state legislatures have introduced measures protecting gay rights and relationships.
A new L.A. Times poll found that 24 percent of Americans support the right of gay couples to marry, another 38 percent approve of civil unions for same-sex couples, but not marriage, and 34 percent oppose any form of legal recognition. Seventy percent of Americans, the poll said, know someone who is gay, up from 45 percent in 1985.
Russell Henderson, convicted with Aaron McKinney in the 1998 slaying of gay Wyoming college student Matthew Shepard, is asking for a reconsideration of his sentence. To avoid the death penalty, Henderson, who pled guilty to felony murder and kidnapping and was given two life sentences without the possibility of parole, has stated that he was confused about the legal proceeding. He is citing the rape and murder of his mother while he awaited trial as an extenuating circumstance. The killer in that case got a five-year sentence.
Gay Asian Pacific Islander Men of New York and Asian Media Watchdog, an advocacy group, are co-sponsoring a demonstration against “Details” magazine to protest an article by Whitney McNally, “Gay or Asian?” that “exploits stereotypical images of LGBT, working class, and API people under the guise of ‘humor,’” the groups said in a release.
The protest will take place outside the magazine’s offices at 7 West34 St. beginning at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, April 16.
The protesters are demanding that Details “issue an apology and retraction, implement diversity and sensitivity training for all editors and writers, and incorporate diverse and inclusive images of LGBT’s, APIs, and gay Asian men.”
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry has won the endorsement of the National Stonewall Democrats, with 90 chapters around the country. The national Log Cabin Republicans are withholding their endorsement from Pres. George Bush for re-election after Bush announced his support for a federal constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.
Dave Noble, director of Stonewall, said Kerry has “a long record of support for GLBT families.” The group has criticized Kerry’s support for the proposed amendment to Massachusetts’ constitution that would limit marriage to opposite-sex couples, according all the rights of marriage to same-sex couples through civil unions.
Chrissy Gephardt, director of Stonewall’s Grassroots Campaign Corps and the lesbian daughter of former House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt of Missouri, told Planet Out, “Like I did with my own dad on the campaign trail, we will continue to educate him [Kerry] about why full marriage equality is crucial.”
Stonewall also announced that some former Republican gay leaders have joined the campaign to elect Kerry over Bush.
Sam Walls was expected to coast to victory in a runoff for the Republican nomination for state representative in Johnson County, Texas this week after coming in first in the March 9 primary.
However, photos of Walls dressed as a woman surfaced two weeks before the election and Rob Orr, who denies leaking the pictures, defeated Walls by 60-40 percent.
Walls, 64, who is married with children and a former G.O.P. county chairman, was revealed to have once been the treasurer of a cross-dressers support group, the Alpha Omega Society, where Walls was known as Samantha. Walls told the Fort Worth Star Telegram that cross-dressing was a “small part” of his past and that his family was accepting of it. County Republican leaders had urged him to withdraw from the race after the revelations.
One voter, a 60-year old farmer named Jim, told the paper, “You couldn’t get a dress on me if you hog-tied me, and I might hold a woman’s purse for a minute but I wouldn’t carry it around very long, and most men feel the same way.”
Brazil’s proposal to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on adding sexual orientation to the organization’s human rights concerns has been pulled back for the second year in a row. At their Geneva meeting, an unholy alliance of Muslim nations and the Vatican, which has observer status at the U.N., bitterly opposed the measure. The United States did not support the motion and was expected to abstain if it came up for a vote. Western European nations solidly supported the Brazilian proposal.
Brazil asked that the resolution be put “under consultation” in requesting the postponement. The International Lesbian and Gay Association, which lobbied for the resolution in Geneva, has collected more than 44,000 signatures in favor of the gay rights measure and says it will continue to fight for it. For more information, go to ilga.org
The Vatican, and various Middle Eastern and African nations with large Muslim populations have been pressuring U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to rescind his order that U.N. gay employees get spousal benefits if their home countries sanction their relationships. Annan is reportedly standing firm on his decision.
Rev. Troy Perry, the L.A.-based founder of the Metropolitan Community Church, was in New York this week to establish two scholarship funds at the Union Theological Seminary, which trains many M.C.C. members for the ministry. One scholarship is named for the Rev. Howard Wells, the first M.C.C. student to go to Union in the early 1970s. Wells went on to be the founding pastor of M.C.C. churches in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and San Francisco. Wells died of AIDS 15 years ago. His mother, Virginia, was on hand for the announcement of the scholarship.
Perry also initiated the Rev. Dr. Karen Louise Ziegler Feminist Preaching Prize, a $1,000 award that will be given to “a graduating seminarian who preaches a sermon that best embodies the principles of liberation theology,” said the Rev. Jim Mitulski, M.C.C.’s director of development. Ziegler, M.C.C./N.Y.’s fourth pastor, and her partner, Randa McNamara, were present at the announcement.
Jamiel Terry, the 24-year-old son of radical anti-gay activist Randall Terry, has publicly come out in Out magazine. The elder Terry is also the founder of Operation Rescue, a group dedicated forcibly to stopping women from obtaining legal abortions.
Jamiel wrote, “My father seems to believe that the fact that I’m an adopted child may explain why I’m gay—not because of the adoption process itself, but because of the things that may have occurred before I was adopted at the age of 5.” Randall bitterly attacked Jamiel in an article in the Washington Times, insisting Jamiel was not adopted until 15 and calling him “the latest homosexual ‘trophy’” for the gay movement. Randall’s marriage fell apart two years ago when he ran off with a church secretary.
According to the Washington Times, the elder Terry said his son was “seduced” to write his story for Out with a $5,000 enducement. “Jamiel Terry contacted Out,” said Eric Chandler, a magazine spokesperson. “He informed us who he was and that his father was founder of Project Rescue.”
Chandler said that Jamiel was paid $2,500 to write the story, an amount Chandler said was commensurate to what “any other free lance journalist would make for a similar article.”
The local governing board in Tuscany has banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. ArciGay, the leading Italian LGBT rights group, told Agenzia Giornalistica Italia, “Tuscany confirms yet again that it is a land of freedom.” Another advocacy group, L’Altro Volto-Lucca Gay e Lesbica, said, “This puts our Region on a par with the rest of the European Union which has banned discrimination against homosexuals and had recognized their rights many years ago.”
Hundreds of friends, clients, and colleagues of Keith Cylar, 45, co-executive director of Housing Works and an ACT UP veteran, memorialized him this week at a wake and funeral at the Church of the Intercession in Washington Heights. Cylar was one of the leading advocates for people with AIDS and health care for all in the country.
Cylar, whose obituary ran in Gay City News last week, died of cardioarrhythmia on March 5. He had been living with HIV for 20 years and was diagnosed with AIDS in 1989.
Among those who eulogized Cylar over the course of two days of remembrances were former Mayor David Dinkins, Council Members Margarita Lopez and Christine Quinn, Assembly Member Dick Gottfriend, numerous colleagues from the AIDS service establishment, and Cylar’s life partner and Housing Works co-director, Charles King.
As Cylar requested, a dance party was held in his honor on Tuesday night at Webster Hall.
San Francisco AIDS activist Michael Petrelis, a shareholder of stock in the New York Times, attended the company’s annual shareholders’ meeting April 13 to challenge the paper’s conflicts of interest policy. Petrelis was motivated by the Times’ firing of stringer Jay Blotcher earlier this year after Times editors discovered Blotcher had been a spokesperson for ACT UP fifteen years ago. Petrelis has documented numerous conflicts by Times writers and executives in terms of outside activities and political contributions.
Petrelis especially focused on Dr. Lawrence K. Altman, the paper’s chief medical writer, who writes about the Centers for Disease Control and other health agencies but is also affiliated with the CDC, the Institute of Medicine, and NYU Medical Center among other such groups. The Times says that Altman’s work with these groups was cleared with his editors, but Petrelis says that’s not good enough. “His readers need to know about his associations,” he said. He also criticized Altman for often failing to quote critics of the CDC and its methods in his stories.
Petrelis formally proposed a Reporter’s Disclosure Page for the Times’ website as part of a ten-point reform program, especially as it relates to HIV/AIDS reporting. He also requested that the paper allow its AIDS stories to be archived at AEGIS.com, The AIDS Education Global Information System. The Times requires fees for Internet recovery of stories more than seven days old. The Wall Street Journal and many other publications waive these fees for AEGIS.
Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. acknowledged getting Petrelis’s demands and promised to get back to him, but did not respond publicly to the proposals.
Gay City News asked Sulzberger what guidance he would give to young people about what affiliations they had better avoid if they aspire to write for the Times someday, given the fate of Blotcher. He started by relating the “misery” the Times went through after the Jason Blair scandal, then, reading from notes, insisted that Blotcher was not fired because he was a member of ACT UP, but because he was a spokesperson for it. He said the same policy would apply to someone who had been a spokesperson for AARP.
When told that all ACT UP members are considered spokespersons for the egalitarian group, Sulzberger said, “Perhaps you ought to consider changing that policy.”
Petrelis said, “I imagine the Times will reject my proposals,” but felt it was important to raise them because the paper “has so much influence.”
Mayor Bloomberg has named the Rev. Michael Faulkner, a former vice president of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University in Virginia and an active opponent of gay rights, to the board that helps determine policy and service decisions for the city’s Department of Youth and Community Development. On March 29, Faulkner was one of the leaders at a City Hall rally of 300 members of the clergy against gay marriage.
Faulkner is also a former co-chair of the Board of Education’s HIV/AIDS Task Force, during the Giuliani administration, and his tenure was noted for his opposition to explicit AIDS education in public schools.
Faulkner is senior pastor of the Central Baptist Church in Harlem.
“Bloomberg must be totally writing us off,” said Tom Smith, president of Stonewall Democrats. “Young people are the fastest-growing group of new HIV infections and many of them are gay. To appoint someone who has a history of working against gay inclusion in AIDS education is an outrage.”
There are two out gay members of the 28-member advisory youth board: Nancy Wackstein, director of United Neighborhood Houses and a former director of the Mayor’s Office of Homelessness under David Dinkins, and Rev. William Franc Perry, a minister in the Metropolitan Community Church who is the principal court attorney to Judge Peter Moulton in state civil court. Wackstein was appointed by the mayor, Perry by the City Council’s recommendation.
Neither the mayor’s press office nor the Department of Youth responded to questions about the appropriateness of appointing an anti-gay campaigner to the youth board. Michael Ognibene, deputy chief of staff at the agency, responded via e-mail. “Much care and thought went into identifying quality candidates of the many disciplines directly concerned with the development and welfare of youth, ” Ognibene wrote.
A City Council bill to require contractors to provide the same benefits to domestic partners as are accorded to spouses has its final hearing on Friday, April 16 at 10 a.m. at 250 Broadway on the 14 floor. Intro 137 is opposed by Mayor Bloomberg, but has a veto- proof majority. The state’s Roman Catholic bishops, who are seeking a religious exemption, something sponsors have said they will not grant, raised late objections. Chief sponsor Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) said she was meeting with officials of the archdiocese this week to discuss their concerns, but did not call back by press time on the results of that meeting.
The Dignity in All Schools Act will have its final hearing and an expected positive vote in the education committee on Monday, April 26 at 10 a.m. at City Hall. This anti-bullying legislation includes protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Again, the Bloomberg administration has weighed in against the bill, which also has a veto-proof majority.
Similar legislation has been pending at the state level for several years now, with the Democratic-led Assembly and the Republican-led Senate unable to reconcile their differences over the bill.
The Gay Officers Action League (GOAL) has chosen Ninfa Segarra, director of the city’s police museum, as one of their honorees at their annual dinner dance on April 16, despite Segarra’s record as an ardent opponent of AIDS education and gay inclusiveness in public schools curricula when she was a member of the Board of Education in the 1990s.
Segarra was appointed to the Board of Education as the representative from the Bronx by Borough President Fernando Ferrer in 1990. She initially supported efforts to expand AIDS education and make condoms available in high schools, but after a falling out with Mayor David Dinkins, she turned on the Democratic Party and aligned herself with Republican mayoral candidate Rudy Giuliani. She also became a persistent opponent of gay and AIDS initiatives, voting to ban condom lessons in classrooms and remove sexual orientation from the Multicultural Education Policy of the schools.
Giuliani rewarded her by making her a deputy mayor and one of his appointments to the Board of Education where she eventually became president. At the time of that appointment, lesbian Assemblymember Deborah Glick and gay state Senator Tom Duane, then a city councilmember, held a press conference saying the appointment was a “telling sign” of Giuliani’s less than “gay-friendly” intentions.
Vivian Rodriguez, president of GOAL, said that Segarra has been “very supportive” of the organization, making museum facilities available for GOAL’s LGBT pride celebration and for meetings. Rodriguez also said Segarra is supportive of the Harvey Milk School, that serves mostly lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered students. Asked if she was aware of Segarra’s record as an obstructionist on gay and AIDS issues in the schools, Rodriquez said, “That’s your opinion.”
Retired police Sgt. Edgar Rodriguez, a former GOAL president who is not related to Vivian, said that the announcement of Segarra’s honor “raised an eyebrow” for him, but he, too, felt she had “become more supportive” since the controversies of the 1990s.
Andy Humm can be contacted at AndyHumm@aol.com