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October 7, 2011

News Briefs

Pentagon: Weddings will be allowed on military bases

Washington, D.C.--The Department of Defense on September 30 issued memos saying that same-sex weddings may be performed on military bases, and that chaplains may perform them.

The memos, one dated September 30, the other September 21, specify that chaplains can refuse to perform the weddings if their religious beliefs preclude it. They also say that the weddings can be performed on base, with or without a chaplain, as long as the state in where it is located does not prohibit same-sex weddings.

No state prohibits them, although a majority do have legislative or constitutional bans on the recognition of same-sex marriages.

The memos follow one in April from the Navy saying that chaplains could officiate at same-sex weddings, which could be held on bases. That memo was pulled after conservatives made a fuss, with the Pentagon’s promise that it would put out further information later.

Rep. Polis and partner are new dads

Boulder, Colo.--Rep. Jared Polis, the third out gay or lesbian person currently serving in Congress, announced on October 1 that he and his partner are the proud parents of a newborn baby boy.

The baby was born on September 30, and Polis and his partner, Marlon Reis, named him Caspian Julius. The baby weighed in at 8 lbs, 12 ounces.

Polis is now the only openly gay parent serving in Congress.

Man gets 2 years in Stonewall attack

New York City--The second defendant in an October 2010 attack on a gay man in the restroom of the Stonewall Inn has been sentenced to two years in prison.

Matthew Francis, 21, and Christopher Orlando, 18, had a run-in with Benjamin Carver at the bar, known as the birthplace of the modern gay civil rights movement. The two men went into the bathroom where Carver was, and asked him about the establishment.

Carver told them it was a gay bar, and Francis turned violent, saying he didn’t like gay people.

According to prosecutors, Orlando then restrained Carver while Francis punched him in the face. Prosecutors said that Francis also demanded money during the attack.

Francis pled guilty to hate crime assault and attempted robbery, and will face a two-year jail sentence. Orlando, whose case comes before the court in January, is set to plead to lesser charges and will likely get a six-month sentence. Prosecutors said he had a smaller role in the attack.

Court vacates ‘don’t ask’ ruling

San Francisco--A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals vacated a lower court ruling on September 29 that the military’s former ban on openly gay and lesbian service members is unconstitutional.

The court ruled that, since “don’t ask, don’t tell” was repealed nine days earlier, the 2010 ruling by U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips is moot.

Attorneys for the Log Cabin Republicans, which filed the suit claiming DADT violated the constitutional protections, had argued that the ruling should be kept in place despite the repeal of the law. As it stands, Phillips’ ruling no longer presents a precedent, and a future administration could reinstate a ban on gay and lesbian personnel in the military.

A number of Republican presidential candidates have indicated in debates that they favor reinstating a ban, and some members of Congress tried to derail the repeal of DADT in its final weeks.

Log Cabin’s attorneys indicated that they would appeal the ruling to the entire circuit court.

‘L Word’ star kicked off plane for kiss

Los Angeles--Leisha Hailey, the singer-actor who starred on The L Word as Alice Pieszecki and is at the heart of the band Uh Huh Her, was kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight with her bandmate and girlfriend Camila Grey.

Hailey tweeted on September 27 that they were told that Southwest is a family airline and that their kissing was unacceptable.

Southwest, meanwhile, claims that their crew had received a number of complaints about the couple, and it was the amount of public display of affection that engendered the request from the crew to tone it down.

Hailey and Grey denied this on the band’s Twitter account, noting, “I didn’t realize a small peck on the lips is regarded as excessive and never once did your stewardess mention other passengers.”

Hailey says she has video and audio recordings of the incident, which is the third celebrity gaffe for Southwest--the official airline of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

They most famously kicked director Kevin Smith off a flight when he refused to pay for a second ticket for himself. The airline said he was too rotund to fit in one seat.

Over Labor Day weekend, a flight attendant told Green Day lead singer Billy Joe Armstrong to pull up his saggy pants. When he refused, she had him removed from the flight.

In the earlier two incidents, Southwest issued apologies to the celebrities, both of whom are supporters of the LGBT community.

LGBT center has Marine Recruiting Day

Tulsa, Okla.--The end of “don’t ask, don’t tell” was made evident on September 20 as the United States Marine Corps staged an invasion of Tulsa’s LGBT center.

Well, it wasn’t an invasion. A Marine Corps’ recruiting trainer was invited, along with recruiters from other branches of the military, to set up tables at the center following DADT repeal. Master Sgt. Anthony Henry was the only one to show up, and discussed with the handful of people who approached him whether they would be good Marine material, what the Corps is like, and what the repeal means to those on the ground.

“If we’ve been fighting for 15 years for the right to be in the military, we said, ‘Let’s just ask military recruiters if they’d be available,’ ” Toby Jenkins, the executive director of the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center told the New York Times. “But no one was prepared for that question. It was like I was talking to people like they were deer in the headlights.”

More media outlets than potential recruits showed up, with five television stations, three newspaper reporters and a National Public Radio correspondent there.

“My take is, if they can make it through our boot camp, which is the toughest boot camp in the world, then they ought to have the opportunity to wear the uniform,” Henry said of gay and lesbian Marines.

Teen is still bullied, after suicide

Buffalo, N.Y.--A gay 14-year-old who committed suicide last month is still being harassed even after his death, according to his parents.

Jamey Rodemeyer was discovered in his home on September 18. Shortly after that, his sister was attending a dance at their school when a Lady Gaga song was played.

Rodemeyer’s friends chanted in his honor, but the bullies who had tormented him started a counter-chant, saying, “We’re glad you’re dead” and “You’re better off dead,” according to the Today morning news show.

“My daughter came home all upset,” said her mother, Tracy Rodemeyer. “It was supposed to be a time for her to grieve and have fun with her friends, and it turned into bullying even after he’s gone.”

Jamey Rodemeyer had contributed a video to the “It Gets Better” project, in which people post videos telling victims of bullying that things will improve. Unfortunately for Rodemeyer, he could not wait that long.

Compiled by Brian DeWitt, Anthony Glassman and Patti Harris.
















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