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September 13, 2002

Qu�bec court: Canada must allow same-sex marriage

Ruling mirrors July 12 decision in Ontario

Qu�bec�A third provincial superior court ruled September 6 that Canada�s ban on same-sex marriage is in violation of the country�s Charter of Rights and Freedoms� guarantees of equality.

Courts in Ontario and British Columbia earlier this year ruled separately that the marriage ban is discriminatory, but the British Columbia court decided that the discrimination was justified under the Charter. The Ontario court differed, saying that there was no justification for the unequal treatment of gays and lesbians, and gave the federal government two years to rewrite marital law to rectify the matter.

Qu�bec Justice Louise Lemelin�s ruling mirrored the July ruling in Ontario, approving its decision to give the government time to alleviate the law�s shortcomings. Lemelin suspended her ruling for two years to give the government time to act on the matter.

The federal government has already appealed the Ontario ruling, and it is likely they will seek to have the two cases joined in the Supreme Court hearings.

�In Qu�bec, the applicants have been able since July 2002 to solemnize their relationship by entering into a civil union, which provides all couples with similar rights and responsibilities,� Lemelin wrote in her ruling. �But they are still denied access to marriage, which is an important societal institution.�

�One cannot avoid the conclusion that offering benefits to gay and lesbian partners under a different scheme from heterosexual partners is a version of the separate-but-equal doctrine,� she continued. �That appalling doctrine must not be resuscitated in Canada four decades after its much-heralded death in the United States.�

Lemelin was faced, during the hearings, with strident protests from religious organizations claiming both that allowing gays to marry would destroy the institution of marriage and that procreation is a cornerstone of marriage itself. In her judgment, she dealt with both issues.

�We don�t deny marriage to elderly women!� she said, countering the procreation argument.

�The secularization of marriage requires government to recognize that the institution is a civil one, and cannot be defined exclusively by religion,� she continued. �We are no longer living in the homogenous society of a century ago . . . The Hon. Judge Dickson . . . wrote, �the Charter protects religious minorities against the threat of the tyranny of the majority.� �

Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chr�tien and Justice Minister Martin Cauchon have started holding public hearings to guide the government on the issue of same-sex marriage, although they are still appealing the decision to the Supreme Court.

Cauchon said that, since the rulings invalidate established law, the appeal is a matter of course, not one of conviction on the issue.

Some of the possibilities the government is investigating are allowing full marriage for same-sex couples, granting nationwide civil unions, already allowed in Nova Scotia and Qu�bec, or taking the government out of the marriage business by leaving �marriage� up to the churches and establishing a civil registry for both same-sex and opposite-sex unions.

The nationwide civil union concept, however, runs contrary to Lemelin�s statements comparing the structure to the �separate but equal� doctrine struck down in the United States during the civil rights struggle of the 1950s and 1960s.


 

Court asked to allow heterosexual couple to marry

Warren, Ohio--A heterosexual couple who was denied a marriage license because the groom-to-be is transgender had their day in court September 5.

Jacob Nash, 37, and Erin Barr, 30, of Howland asked Trumbull County Probate Judge Thomas A. Swift to grant them the license.

A magistrate had denied the license on August 8 because Nash was born female, and Ohio does not allow transsexuals to change their birth certificates to represent their new sex. Tennessee and Idaho are the only other states with similar laws.

The case is the flip side of same-sex marriages that Ohio has sanctioned because one of the partners was born the opposite sex. It has the potential to broaden the scope of who may obtain a marriage license in Ohio and advance transsexual case law beyond the current �chromosomes equal sex� rule now applied.

The September 5 hearing lasted more than 2� hours.

Nash and Barr�s attorney, Deborah Smith of Macedonia, has signaled to the judge that if he denies the couple a marriage license, she will take the case to federal court.

In anticipation of this, Judge Swift has sought legal counsel from the Trumbull County prosecutor, who represents all county employees, including judges. An assistant prosecutor was present for the entire hearing.

Without a marriage license, the couple had a non-legally-binding commitment ceremony on August 31.

Nash and Barr met in a Christian chat room on the Internet in 1999 while Nash was completing his transition to male. Nash, a Massachusetts native, changed his birth certificate to male according to Massachusetts law. He then moved to Ohio to be with Barr. Once Ohio residency was established, Nash legally changed his name from Pamela to Jacob in Trumbull County.

Magistrate Thomas Norton granted the name change, which was then ordered by Swift.

It was Norton who discovered that Nash was transsexual and later denied the marriage license.

While questioning Norton and Probate Court deputy clerk Lyda Vigorito, Smith established that the court only requires a photo ID such as a driver�s license to establish identity for processing marriage license applications.

Because Ohio law allows transsexuals to change the sex marker on their driver�s licenses, Nash�s identifies him as male.

Through their testimony, Smith also established that if Nash had not completed his name change in Trumbull County, the court would have had no knowledge he is transsexual, and the license probably would have been issued.

Smith told Swift that if he distinguished Nash from all other marriage license applicants by ruling against the couple, it would be enough for a federal suit against him under the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

If Swift decides not to recognize Nash�s amended Massachusetts birth certificate, that would violate the �full faith and credit� clause of the U.S. Constitution, Smith told the judge.

Magistrate Norton, who was forced to testify under subpoena, appeared irritated that he had to do so. His answers to Smith�s questions were notably evasive, curt, and often accompanied by sarcasm.

At one point, Norton said the case stood out in his mind because �it was a case of first impression,� yet he said he could not remember the conversation he had with Nash when he told Nash he could not issue the marriage license.

Nash later recounted the conversation in great detail, saying Norton told him the �court cannot issue licenses to two females� and �In Ohio, we go by chromosomes, not birth certificates.�

Norton testified that he did not know of the Massachusetts law allowing the altering of birth certificates.

By questioning Norton, Smith also established that the court relies on visual appearance of marriage license applicants to determine identity and sex.

Smith asked, �Did [Nash] look male?� �Probably, yes,� replied Norton.

�Would you have been shocked to walk into a restroom and see Mr. Nash in there?� asked Smith.

�I don�t believe I would have been in the women�s restroom,� quipped Norton.

Norton then said that Nash�s appearance was �irrelevant� because �there is no need to examine appearance to determine sex.�

�What proof other than a birth certificate and a drivers license could you have wanted from Mr. Nash to prove he�s a man?� asked Smith.

�I don�t know,� replied Norton.

Smith then presented Norton with a copy of Barr�s birth certificate issued by the state of West Virginia. West Virginia birth certificates do not note sex or gender.

�Would this be acceptable to you?� asked Smith.

After long hesitation, Norton answered, �I�m not sure. I�m not sure what is required. Bottom line.�

At that point, Judge Swift, seeing the possibility of future federal litigation, told Smith he would not allow questions requiring the witness to speculate, and directed her to change her direction of questioning.

Swift, realizing the full faith and credit issues involved, would also not allow Smith to establish through questioning of Norton that the court recognizes divorce decrees and wills probated in other states.

The issue arose over Nash�s previous marriage to a man while he was a woman. That marriage ended in divorce. Nash and Barr had not included Nash�s divorce certificate with their original application as required by the court.

Barr testified that she knew Nash was married when he was a woman, but said that submitting the divorce decree �slipped [her] mind� because, she said, �I know of his previous life but I don�t think about it, because I now know him as the person he was meant to be.�

Barr and Nash amended their original application to reflect Nash�s prior marriage. Judge Swift questioned Nash intensely about the earlier marriage.

�Do you remember Lyda asking you if you were previously married?� asked Swift.

�I don�t recall,� said Nash, �that�s why we made the amendment.�

Smith objected twice to Swift�s asking Nash to detail his surgeries and tell who his surgeons were, saying that the state of Massachusetts had already determined Nash�s sex, and it was not within his right to evaluate their determination. Both times, Smith told Nash not to answer the judge�s questions.

Smith presented Swift with a copy of the birth certificate of Michael Kantares, a transsexual Florida man whose birth certificate was altered from female to male by the probate court of neighboring Mahoning County. That alteration allowed Kanteres to marry a woman, whom he later divorced and is now involved in a nationally televised child custody dispute over.

A friend of the court brief was filed in opposition to the marriage license by the anti-gay American Family Association of Ohio and Rev. David R. Black, pastor of the Cavalry Presbyterian and Covenant Presbyterian churches of Warren.

The brief was written by anti-gay activist and Ohio �Defense of Marriage Act� author David Langdon.

Langdon requested to argue the case as a friend of the court as though it was an opposed marriage. Swift denied that request.

Swift has given Smith 14 days to file a memorandum with him detailing the Massachusetts law on transsexuals and the changing of birth certificates. He indicated that he would rule on the matter shortly after the memorandum was filed.

 

 


 

 

Religious rights trump fair housing rights in Akron case

Akron--In a case that could have adverse ramifications for same-sex couples, and single gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, the Ohio Civil Rights Commission ruled August 19 that religious rights trump housing rights.

The commission ruled that because neither Ohio law nor Akron ordinance name �marital status� as a protected class in housing non-discrimination, landlord David Grey has the right to refuse to rent to an unmarried couple because their living arrangement violates his religious beliefs.

Grey was represented by Cincinnati attorney David Langdon, who authored Ohio�s �Defense of Marriage Act� passed by the Ohio House of Representatives.

The complaint against Grey was brought in February by Danielle Levingston, Todd Roberts, and their children Regina Levingston, Maritza Boone, McCayla Connors and Jacob Roberts.

At the time of filing, Livingston and Roberts were engaged. The couple has since married.

Initially, the commission ruled that Grey had wrongfully denied the couple housing based on his religious beliefs.

Grey appealed the decision March 5, but decided to withdraw his appeal and file a lawsuit against the commission May 29 because the commission acted too slowly on his appeal.

Grey argued in the suit that it was his right as a property owner to refuse to rent to people in a living arrangement he found morally objectionable.

The commission then reversed its earlier decision on June 13, saying that �it was not probable that [Grey] had engaged in practices that were unlawful.�

The case pitted the two equally significant but conflicting constitutional rights: property rights and the right to live where one can afford to--against each other, and the commission�s ruling emphasizes the need for housing non-discrimination laws, like employment non-discrimination laws, to specifically name those who are protected.

Langdon, who specializes in cases affirming what he believes is the state�s policy against any cohabitation outside legal marriage, was asked if he would have involved himself in this case had the perspective tenants merely been students, and not in relationships.

�That�s good question,� replied Langdon. �It would depend on the circumstances, I suppose.�

Langdon added, �If the decision was based on the landlord�s religious beliefs, I would defend his property rights.�

The commission�s decision allows landlords in cities such as Akron that do not specifically include designations for �marital status� and �sexual orientation� to legally refuse to rent to or to sell to unmarried couples, same-sex and different sex.

Vincent Curry, executive director of Akron�s Fair Housing Advocates Association, which was a party to the complaint, said that because �marital status� like sexual orientation and political affiliation, is not a protected class, �the commission made the right decision per se.�

�We knew that was a hurdle when we filed the initial complaint,� said Curry.

�But,� added Curry, �I get nervous when landlords don�t have to use objective criteria like credit history and employment to deny housing. As an African-American, I can tell you that religion can be used to support denial of a lot of things.�

�This decision has cemented the commission�s belief that in Ohio religious beliefs are above housing,� said Curry.

�A landlord could use his religious beleifs to deny housing to someone say, celebrating Halloween if it is against his religious beliefs, or, to a divorced woman on moral grounds,� said Curry. �I don�t think those things should come into play with housing.�

Akron City Council president Marco Sommerville introduced a bill to add both sexual orientation and marital status to Akron�s fair housing codes June 2000. The measure also adds sexual orientation in employment and public accommodations to the measure.

The bill was assigned to committee and has not moved.

Curry said he hopes the commission�s ruling �gets people to thinking� and sees it as a possible case for passage of the Sommerville bill.

 

 


City misquoted charter to high court, benefit foes say

Columbus--An anti-gay group attempting to repeal same-sex partner benefits for Cleveland Heights city employees says that attorneys representing the city and the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections are attempting to rewrite the city�s charter to keep the issue from coming to a vote.

The argument was made in an Ohio Supreme Court case brought by the group, Families First, after their referendum petitions fell short of enough signatures on May 15. The group contends that the number of signatures needed is inflated.

The city and county say benefit opponents needed the signatures of 15% of the city�s registered voters, but the group argues that the city charter only calls for 15% of those who actually voted in the last municipal election.

The high court will decide the matter without oral arguments. Written briefs have been filed by Families First, the city and the county. Families First�s reply brief, filed September 6, is the last one before a ruling is made.

The reply brief was prepared by Columbus attorney Donald C. Brey of the firm Chester, Wilcox, and Saxbe. Brey is serving as counsel to Cincinnati anti-gay attorney David Langdon, who is representing Families First.

Brey is most noted for representing the Ohio Republican Party before the Ohio Elections Commission.

�[The city and Board of Elections] attempt to change the subject by discussing and parsing phrases and terms other than the critical phrase �registered voters at the last general election,� wrote Brey.

Brey says that in his brief for the city, Cleveland Heights Law Director John Gibbon attempted to change the meaning of the charter by deleting the word �at� and inserting the phrase �as of� in the description and qualifications of registered voters.

�Receiving four different--always increasing--numbers [from the Board of Elections] led [Families First] to believe that [the city] would use tactics fair or foul to keep the issue off the ballot,� wrote Brey.

In arguing that the standard should be the number of people who actually voted, Brey wrote, �The number of names on the books can be inflated when not timely reviewed and updated. Thus, a referendum franchise that depends on the number of �names in the book� makes voting rights dependent on the relative attention or inattention given to the records by the board of elections.�

The court does not have a deadline for a decision. Since the suit originated in the state�s highest court, there will be no appeal.

 


Womens music light Kay Gardner dies of heart attack

Bangor, Maine�Kay Louise Gardner, a leading light in the women�s music community for over 40 years, died of a heart attack on August 28.

Gardner had most recently performed in the opening ceremonies of the Michigan Womyn�s Music Festival last month.

Gardner was a noted flautist, pianist, composer and conductor who advocated for women in music and led by example. Over 20 years ago, Gardner sued the Bangor Symphony Orchestra after learning that the orchestra had circulated a questionnaire asking members if they would feel comfortable performing under a female conductor, a position for which she had applied. Her suit was unsuccessful, but she returned to conduct the orchestra two years ago in a concert written and performed exclusively by women.

The Bangor Symphony Orchestra will open their season this year with Gardner�s �Lament for Thousands,� her musical reaction to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

Gardner, ordained both as a Dianic high priestess and as a priestess in the Fellowship of Isis, believed in the use of music as a tool of healing and founded the Temple of the Feminine Divine in Bangor.

Women with Wings, a singing circle open to all women, revolved around Gardner�s efforts. They have just recorded its first professional CD, comprised of 26 member-written songs, to be released on Ladyslipper Records.

Gardner is survived by her partner Colleen Fitzgerald, daughters Juliana Smith and Jenifer Wilson Smith, mother Enez Gardner, a brother and two grandchildren.

 


West Hollywood bashing leaves
man in a coma

West Hollywood, Calif.�Three gay men were attacked in two separate incidents on Labor Day, leaving one in a coma.

Two of the men, Trev Broudy and Edward Lett, were attacked shortly after midnight on September 2. After having dinner together, the two men hugged on the street before parting company. Before either of them left, a car pulled up and two men jumped out. They began beating the victims, one with a baseball bat or metal pipe.

Lett was able to get to his car, and the assailants broke two windows and hit his arm before he could escape. As the attackers carried on their assault on Broudy, passengers in a nearby car, witnessing the battery, flashed their headlights, causing the assailants to flee. The witnesses in the car then called police.

A third gay man was attacked nearby an hour later, and escaped with minor injuries. Police have not released his name, but confirm that his description of the perpetrators matches that of Lett and other witnesses.

Police are investigating the attacks as hate crimes, and have released a description of the car and composite sketches of the suspects.

While Lett and the unidentified third victim escaped their attackers with minor injuries, Broudy has not regained consciousness since being brought to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

A $50,000 reward is being offered by Broudy's family and West Hollywood novelist Christopher Rice, son of Anne Rice.

--Associated Press

 


News Briefs

Compiled from wire reports by Brian DeWitt, Anthony Glassman, Patti Harris and Rex Wockner.

Benefits to continue ruling appealed

Philadelphia�Domestic partner benefits in the city will continue while a state court�s decision striking them down is appealed, the city announced September 5.

The Commonwealth Court ruled August 29 that two of three ordinances adding same-sex partners under marital status were illegal attempts on the part of the city to define marriage.

One of the embattled provisions exempts same-sex partners from paying a 3% city real estate transfer tax, from which married couples are automatically exempt. The other ordinance grants health benefits to the partners of city employees.

Lazar H. Kleit, executive director of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, said that the law department had earlier that day assured him that the benefits would continue unchecked for the duration of the appeal.

Mayor John F. Street, who came under fire when he served as city council president for opposing pro-gay measures, has voiced his support for the benefits.

School must allow student alliance

Indianapolis�A federal judge has ruled that high school administrators acted improperly in blocking students from forming a gay-straight alliance as an official club.

The attempt in 2001 to form the club at Franklin Central High School as a forum for homosexual and heterosexual students to discuss gay issues was led by Amy Obermeyer, who was then a junior and has since graduated.

School officials said Sept. 5 the students interested in the club had graduated and no one wants to start it any more. School officials have also vowed to appeal the decision.

At the time of Obermeyer�s application, school officials suggested that the group�s name be changed to the Diversity Club instead, and include a range of minority students, such as those who are overweight.

At the time 19 students asked to form the group, school officials had expressed concern that gay and lesbian members of the club would be singled out as targets.

The school later said that the group was denied permission to meet because Obermeyer did not follow proper procedure and her club sponsorship form was not filled out entirely by her faculty sponsor.

But federal Judge Larry McKinney determined that there was no such policy.

�The Constitution does not permit government officials, even if well-intentioned government officials, to decide how individuals may best express themselves in a public forum,� McKinney wrote.

Mormons back marriage ban

Carson City, Nev.�As it did with similar initiatives in California, Hawaii and Alaska, the Mormons are actively promoting Nevada�s �Protection of Marriage� initiative.

The state constitutional amendment would deny Nevada recognition of gay or lesbian marriages licensed elsewhere. No state currently allows same-sex marriage.

The church made direct contributions of $500,000 and $600,000, respectively, to anti-marriage ballot measures in Alaska and Hawaii in the 1990s. Both were successful.

In most states, the church enlists its local congregation leaders and other local church leaders to encourage members to volunteer and donate privately to the campaigns.

It has been doing that in Nevada, where a ballot drive that began two years ago was successful in passing its first general-election vote in 2000 with 70 percent support. Amending Nevada�s constitution requires approval in two consecutive elections, so the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage is gearing up again for the Nov. 5 election. By the end of August, the group had $523,000 in the bank and was busy raising more.

Sodomy law is back in court

New Orleans�Louisiana�s nearly 200-year-old ban on oral and anal sex is as discriminatory against gays as the segregation of public facilities was against blacks, a lawyer told a trio of appeals court judges September 4.

John D. Rawls, an attorney for the Louisiana Electorate of Gays and Lesbians, urged the state Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to add Louisiana to the 37 other states which have ended laws banning consensual oral or anal sex between adults.

The Fourth Circuit got the case after the Louisiana Supreme Court in late March ruled the sodomy ban does not violate anyone�s right to privacy, one of the grounds on which LEGL initially filed the civil lawsuit.

After ruling on the privacy matter, the Supreme Court asked the lower appeals court to decide whether the law discriminates against gay men and lesbians. The high court also left open ten other questions, including whether the law is arbitrarily enforced against gays and lesbians, and whether it constitutes a state endorsement of religious beliefs against homosexuality.

Rawls argued that the original wording of the 1805 law used the words �abominable� and �detestable,� which came from biblical passages. Some translations of Leviticus 18:23 state, �You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.�

The appeals court panel did not say when it would rule.

Governor candidate reverses himself

Los Angeles�A Republican group dropped GOP gubernatorial nominee Bill Simon from a fundraiser with Vice President Dick Cheney�s lesbian daughter, saying Sept. 3 that he had reneged on promises to support a variety of gay issues.

The Republican Unity Coalition, which was formed to promote ties between gays and heterosexuals, said Simon would not be welcome at the Sept. 5 fundraiser in Los Angeles. He had been scheduled to speak along with Mary Cheney.

Coalition officials said they made the move after Simon distanced himself from a questionnaire in which he pledged to declare a Gay Pride Day if elected, said he supported domestic partnership laws if they�re not based on sexual orientation and promised to uphold a variety of gay-friendly laws and regulations.

Simon said he never saw the questionnaire, which bore his signature.

�The questionnaire had not been reviewed completely by myself, I didn�t see it,� he told KRLA-AM radio. �There were certain statements in there that I just can�t support.�

Simon ran in the GOP primary as a �conservative Republican,� but must gain support from moderates and independents to unseat Democratic Gov. Gray Davis in November.

Asked about the controversy, the governor said: �Mr. Simon doesn�t seem to know where he is on most of the major issues. I think consistency is important.�

Police must testify in Queen Boat case

Cairo, Egypt�The three police officers who arrested over 50 men at a Nile riverboat nightclub in 2001 will appear in court to be cross-examined by defense attorneys, presiding judge Hassan Al Sayess ruled on September 7.

Fifty men are being retried in criminal court on a variety of charges relating to alleged gay sex in the Queen Boat nightclub. While Egyptian law does not specifically outlaw homosexuality, it does provide punishment for an array of charges that are used in cases involving same-sex activity.

This is the second trial for the men. The first trial, held in a state security court, resulted in 29 acquittals and 23 convictions, most of which brought one- or two-year sentences. President Hosni Mubarak exercised his powers to overturn judgments, decided that the security court did not have jurisdiction over the case, and ordered new trials, which began on July 27.

The two lead defendants, however, had their sentences for �scorning religion� upheld by Mubarak.

The men currently being tried are no longer in custody, having been released to their families.

Labor Day bashing is a hate crime

Shelton, Conn.�The beating of a gay man whose facial bones and ribs were broken by three attackers at a Labor Day party has been classified as hate crime.

�What he is alleging is [the assailants] were making derogatory remarks about his sexual orientation,� said Detective Sgt. Michael Madden. �That kind of behavior is sickening.�

The victim was kicked and punched repeatedly shortly after midnight in the waning hours of a party at a Shelton home, police said.

Police say the party, which began at about 6 p.m., drew between 50 and 100 people. The party continued into the night, and many people had left by the time the assault occurred.

George Hamilton, who hosted the party, said he hosts the Labor Day picnic annually and invites friends, many of whom bring guests.

Police received a call from the victim on his cell phone from the back yard of the residence. He was taken to Griffin Hospital in Derby, then transferred to Yale-New Haven Hospital.

Madden said police have talked to a number of people who attended the party.

�We have interviewed several witnesses and arrests can be expected,� he said.

Police plan to lodge charges of first-degree assault and first-degree bias, Madden said.

School head says GSA �promotes sex�

Boston�The chancellor of Boston University ordered a support group for gay students at a college-run preparatory school to disband, saying he believes it encouraged premarital sex.

Chancellor John Silber gave the orders to the BU Academy headmaster James Tracy, who complied.

The outspoken Silber, who ran for governor in 1990, said the student-organized group didn�t belong at BU Academy. He said he wants the elite school for students grades 8 to 12 to focus on education.

�The last thing in the world we want to do is to introduce these children to the importance of premature sex,� he said. He opined that children get messages about sex �pounded� into them �from the time they�re 6 years of age.�

Gay civil rights advocates reacted angrily, as did Newton North High School�s gay-straight alliance adviser, Michael Quinlan.

�Our gay-straight alliance is not about teaching safer-sex practice, it�s about providing a safe environment for any adolescent,� Quinlan said.

Statistics compiled by the Massachusetts Department of Education indicate that in the 1998-99 school year, 24 percent of gay students reported being threatened with a weapon and 20 percent reported being involved in fights that required medical attention.

Hungary equalizes age of consent

Budapest--Hungary�s Constitutional Court on Sept. 4 equalized the age of consent for both gay and straight sex at 14. Gay and lesbian sex was previously illegal prior to age 18.

The move is a response to demands made by the European Union of nations that want to join the EU, which forbids members from discriminating against gays.

The EU also recently persuaded Cyprus to equalize its age of consent.

�The criminal code discriminated against homosexuals in an arbitrary and objectively unjustifiable way,� the court said in its verdict.

The court reportedly also deleted some passages in the criminal code that labeled gay sex �lewdness against the order of nature.�

In 1995, the Constitutional Court extended the rights and obligations that apply to unmarried opposite-sex couples to cover same-sex couples as well, creating a kind of common-law gay marriage.

According to the International Lesbian and Gay Association, Hungary needs to repeal one additional law. It prevents people under age 18 from joining gay-rights groups.

Reform Party to drop anti-gay plank

Aurora, Colo.�Ross Perot is gone. So is Jesse Ventura. Pat Buchanan has bolted to form his own party.

With their most prominent icons no longer around, delegates of the National Reform Party gathered Sept. 6 for a convention aimed at returning to their roots and creating momentum for candidates in November.

During their three-day convention, delegates planned to dump the platform planks against gay rights, abortion rights and immigration bequeathed by Buchanan when he left earlier this year.

�Hopefully we can focus on that and get back to our grass roots,� party national vice chairman Tom McLaughlin said.

Party officials plan to approve a revised platform that calls for a balanced budget, campaign finance reform, tax simplification and support for the Constitution.

At their convention two years ago, the party deadlocked over a candidate for president, with one faction backing Buchanan and the other John Hagelin.

12,900 registered for Gay Games

Sydney--Registration for the Gay Games is approaching 13,000 participants. The quadrennial event will be held in Sydney, Australia November 2 to 9.

A few sports are still accepting competitors: field hockey, ice hockey, netball, marathon, men�s billiards, judo, aerobics, triathlon and some track and field events.

Some participatory cultural events also are still open, including draw inspiration, open stage, writing for performance, poetry slam, concert and marching bands, bridge, chess, and video games.

Organizers are waiving late registration fees.

�It�s now clear we will reach 13,000 participants, which by anyone�s standard is an outstandingly successful number,� said Sydney 2002 co-chair Peter Bailey. �We can say unequivocally that Sydney 2002 is on-track--financially and logistically--and participants and spectators should expect the time of their lives.�

Registration can be completed online at www.sydney2002.org.au.

Conservative church leader defrocked

Philadelphia�An Episcopal priest who says the church has become too liberal on issues such as the ordination of women and recognition of same-sex unions was defrocked Sept. 5 by the bishop of Pennsylvania.

David Moyer is a leader of Forward in Faith, a movement that sought to make him a bishop for more conservative congregations within the church.

Bishop Charles E. Bennison Jr. said it was not Moyer�s beliefs but his rejection of the bishop�s authority that prompted his dismissal from the ministry.

Bennison supports the ordination of women and of gay men and lesbians who are in committed relationships.

Nationally, the Episcopal Church allows the ordination of women. It officially opposes same-sex relations, but in practice it brings no sanctions against those who ordain gay clergy or conduct same-sex unions.

 


Notoriously funny

Last November, Margaret Cho brought her hysterical stand-up to Ohio State Univerity�s Mershon Center in Columbus for one night. Ten months later, the rest of Ohio can see Notorious C.H.O., her latest one-woman show.

Better yet, they can all see it at once.

Following the success of the filmed version of her previous show, I�m the One that I Want, Cho�s performance was filmed when she stopped in Seattle, and will be released to theaters across the state this month.

Cho�s brand of comedy, self-deprecating yet also somehow self-assured, brought her to fame around a decade ago, landing her in history as the first Asian-American around whom a show was built with her short-lived sitcom All-American Girl.

While her comedy has often focused on her outsider status, partially due to her ethnicity, partially due to her zaftig physique and partially due to her love of gay men, her message is always one of self-acceptance.

�For some strange reason, I�m finding that peace within at a faster rate than others,� she noted.

�I think therefore that my goal is to share that with others,� she continued. �I am very happy with myself, but I also realize that that is my own choice.�

Notorious C.H.O., conceived while she was living in the gay hotspot of Provincetown, deals a lot with Cho�s love of the gay community and her friendships with gay men, dating back to the time her parents owned a store in San Francisco. Her mother was in charge of ordering the gay pornography.

Cho detailed that situation in an earlier show, hilariously imitating her immigrant mother: �Moran [Cho�s Korean name], what is an Assmaster? Is it a master of the ass?�

Since childhood, in fact, Cho has been surrounded by gay men, with whom she feels a great affinity.

�I got a chance in Provincetown to do a show every night in front of a supportive and energetic audience,� she enthused.

Cho has also been an ardent supporter of gay pride festivals, performing and taking part in events across the country.

In addition to her two cinematic one-woman shows and her sitcom, Cho has also appeared in the AIDS-related sobfest It�s My Party and the bizarre Gregg Araki film The Doom Generation. There she playing the wife of a shopkeeper portrayed by Dustin Nguyen of 21 Jump Street and VIP in one of the strangest cameos ever committed to an independent film.

No matter what she does, however, the humor that led her out of the period of self-destructive behavior she experienced after the cancellation of All-American Girl shines through.

Notorious C.H.O. opens September 13 at the Cedar-Lee Theater in Cleveland Heights. The Drexel East in Columbus, the Esquire in Cincinnati and the Neon in Dayton will all open the film in either late September or early October, depending on screen availability. Unlike the mall megaplex, art theaters generally have only a few screens, and when an independent or foreign film does unusually well (in this case, My Big Fat Greek Wedding), it has a tendency to push back the showings of other films that would play at that theater. Patience is a virtue that will be rewarded with a heaping helping of Margaret Cho.

For those who cannot wait until the film opens, I�m the One that I Want is available on VHS and DVD, most likely at your friendly neighborhood LGBT video or bookstore. Buy it. In fact, buy two and give one to a friend.

Kaizaad Kotwal contributed to this article.

 

 

 

 

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