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September 23, 2011

News Briefs

Britain plans to have full marriage by 2015

London--Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron is personally pushing a plan by Liberal Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone to introduce full same-sex marriage in Britain by 2015.

Featherstone carried the brief of Equalities Minister in Cameron’s cabinet, and said that a study will begin next March on allowing same-sex couples to marry, followed by a change in the law.

Couples in the United Kingdom currently can enter into civil partnerships, which, like many civil union constructs in the United States, carry all of the benefits of marriage but the name.

The plan would allow couples to marry in registry offices, but not in churches, despite the desire of some churches to perform marriages. The law was changed earlier this year to allow churches and other religious sites to solemnize civil partnerships, so the ban on church marriages would likely be temporary.

Featherstone announced the plan to her party, part of Cameron’s governing coalition, on September 17. Her quest for equality is backed up by polls showing that two-thirds of Britons support full same-sex marriage.

Gay pioneer Arthur Evans has died

San Francisco--Arthur Evans, a leading post-Stonewall New York City activist who became a scholar in history and philosophy in San Francisco, died on September 11 of cardiovascular disease. He was 68.

Evans was a founder of the Gay Activists Alliance, growing up in rural York, Pennsylvania before moving to New York. He was in the vanguard of gay activists who were only too happy to be identified as gay, unlike the then-pseudonymous leaders of the Mattachine Society.

Moving first to Washington state, then to San Francisco, he and friend Hal Offen opened a garage specializing in Volkswagen Beetles, called the Buggery.

Evans wrote a book on the historical connection between gay men and mysticism, Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture, which became almost a manifesto for the Radical Faeries. At the same time, he became involved in queer political groups in San Francisco like Bay Area Gay Liberation and the San Francisco Gay Democratic Club, which propelled Harvey Milk into office.

In more recent years, he worked on AIDS issues, a nine-year philosophical work entitled Critique of Patriarchal Reason, and championed San Francisco’s civil-sidewalks initiative, which was criticized by progressive leaders for its efforts to clean up the streets from the after-effects of the city’s homeless population.

NCAA adopts rules for TG players

Indianapolis--The National Collegiate Athletics Association adopted new rules to allow transgender athletes to compete in their sports.

The changes come after a 2010 think tank organized by the NCAA and the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

According to the new rules, transgender males on testosterone may compete on a men’s team, but competing on a women’s team will change its status to a mixed team. Similarly, transgender women will be allowed to compete on women’s teams, but only after having undergone hormone therapy to repress testosterone for at least a year.

Five years for McDonald’s beating

Baltimore--The 19-year-old woman who pleaded guilty to kicking and punching a young transgender woman in McDonald’s was sentenced to ten years on September 13.

Teonna Monae Brown pleaded guilty in August to first-degree assault in the assault, which occurred in April. Brown was sentenced to ten years, but five of them will be suspended, so she will serve five years in prison.

A 14-year-old who also pleaded guilty may stay in a juvenile facility until she turns 21.

The two teens attacked 22-year old Chrissy Polis in the bathroom, then dragged her by the hair across the floor and kicked and beat her.

The attack was recorded by an employee of the restaurant, who was fired for not intervening. Another employee and an older woman tried to break up the fight but were unsuccessful.

Brown cried at the sentencing hearing and begged for another chance and to apologize to Polis, who did not attend the hearing.

N.C. will vote on a ban amendment

Raleigh, N.C.--The state senate has approved a measure to place a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage on the May, 2012 primary ballot.

The 30-16 vote came on September 13, a day after the North Carolina House of Representatives approved the measure.

Democrats lost their majority in the legislature in the 2010 elections. They had fought off attempts to pass a ban amendment, making North Carolina the only Southern state without one.

A White House spokesperson issued a statement to the Washington Blade condemning the move.

“While the president does not weight in on every single action taken by legislative bodies in our country,” Shin Inouye said, “the president has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples. The president believes strongly in stopping laws designed to take rights away.”

Minnesota will also have a marriage ban amendment on the ballot next year, in November. Meanwhile, a Maine group is circulating petitions to put a measure allowing same-sex marriage on that state’s ballot, and activists in Oregon are looking at doing the same.

Anti-gay group got tax money for class

Washington, D.C.--Four Republicans in the House of Representatives used office funds to send staffers to a training held by an anti-gay organization in Indiana.

The Indiana Family Institute, which held the training, is the state affiliate of the Family Research Council, which has been declared a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The House members paid a total of $2,500 for the seminar, a legal expenditure that points to one of the ways they can funnel money to causes they support without violating the law.

The representatives were all from Indiana.

Rules prohibit the use of government funds for political causes, but paying for training seminars is allowed. However, it is quite unusual for those trainings to be held by political groups, and for money to be given directly to political groups like that.

The money, though, was given to the non-profit wing of the organization, not the political action committee, which last year funded an ad attacking a Democratic congressman in the state for supporting the health care bill put forward by President Barack Obama.

Australian passports can list sex as ‘X’

Canberra, Australia--Intersex people can now indicate their gender status on Australian passports, which will have three options: male, female and indeterminate.

The latter will be listed as “X” on the passports, although transgender people will not be able to use this designation. However, transgender people with a doctor’s statement of support can pick either male or female.

The change removes the black-and-white dichotomy of gender for those born with genitals that do not express their sex distinctly.

The change is possible in any country that uses the International Civil Aviation Organization’s guidelines for passports that can be read by machines.

The group A Gender Agenda requested the changes, which were announced September 15.

Compiled by Brian DeWitt, Anthony Glassman and Patti Harris.












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