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October 19, 2012

News Briefs

There are now a record number of out characters on TV

Los Angeles--LGBT characters have hit a record high on television, according to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s eighth annual survey.

Shows like The New Normal, a sitcom by Glee creator Ryan Murphy, and sitcoms starring Matthew Perry and Charlie Sheen add to the list of LGBT regular or recurring characters on broadcast and cable network television this season.

According to GLAAD’s count, there are 31 regular characters on scripted broadcast network shows, with 35 characters on cable television, up from 29 on cable last year.

In total, there are 111 LGBT scripted roles between the five broadcast networks and the cable networks.

Seven of those characters are African American. GLAAD says there were none last year on broadcast television.

Eight out candidates may win this year

Washington, D.C.--Eight out LGBT candidates are running for the House of Representatives, two as incumbents, making a record crop of candidates.

While two queer U.S. representatives are leaving, Barney Frank to retirement and Tammy Baldwin for a Senate run, Jared Polis of Colorado is expected to be easily reelected, and David Cicilline stands a good chance of retaining his Rhode Island seat.

Add to that Mark Takano of California, who could be the chamber’s first openly gay Asian American, and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who might be the first openly bisexual member of Congress. There is also Richard Tisei of Massachusetts, who would be the first out Republican elected to the House. (Jim Kolbe of Arizona and Steve Gunderson of Wisconsin were already in office when they came out in the 1990s.)

Despite the large number of out candidates, anti-gay campaigning in those races seems to be at a minimum, and their opponents are quick to disavow anti-gay attacks if they are made.

In addition, State Sen. Nicole Lefavour of Idaho is trying to take incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Simpson’s seat; her race is considered the toughest faced by a gay candidate.

In New York, Sean Patrick Maloney is running against Nan Hayworth, a first-term incumbent. Hayworth, however, has a gay son and is one of three Republicans in the congressional LGBT caucus, so it’s a choice of a gay man or a gay ally.

Boxer Orlando Cruz comes out

New York City--The fourth-ranked World Boxing Organization featherweight has come out.

Orlando Cruz, 31, came out on October 3.

“I’ve been fighting for more than 24 years and as I continue my ascendant career, I want to be true to myself,” he said, according to USA Today. “I want to try to be the best role model I can be for kids who might look into boxing as a sport and a professional career. I have and will always be a proud Puerto Rican. I have always been and always will be a proud gay man.”

He boxed for Puerto Rico in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, alongside champions Miguel Cotto and Ivan Calderon.

Cruz has held the International Boxing Association title and currently holds the North American Boxing Organization title for his weight class. He has an October 19 defense against Jorge Pazos that could put him in line for a more major title.

While he is the first professional boxer to come out while active, Emile Griffith, a welter- and middleweight champion in the 1950s and 1960s, came out after he retired. The openly bisexual Griffith, 74, now suffers from dementia from his boxing career.

Russian court upholds anti-speech law

Moscow--The Russian high court upheld St. Petersburg’s law against “homosexual propaganda,” but strictly limited its scope.

Lawmakers in the city said that the law was needed to protect children from homosexuals, who they equate with pedophiles. The court took that motivation to heart, ruling that the law can only be applied to “direct appeals to minors” to engage in same-sex sexual activity.

Pride parades, LGBT rights rallies and Madonna concerts are still legal under the court’s ruling.

The law went into effect on March 30 and levies fines up to $17,000 for the promotion of homosexuality and pedophilia among minors. It also carries the possibility of jail sentences.

In Moscow, however, a city court upheld a ruling banning gay pride parades for 100 years.

The laws have drawn strong criticism from European Union politicians and gay rights advocates across the globe. While Russia has become increasingly capitalistic since the fall of the Soviet Union, it has also become very theocratic and conservative.

Groups sues against ‘cure’ therapy ban

San Francisco--A right-wing Christian legal group filed suit on October 8 challenging California’s ban on “reparative” therapy.

The Pacific Justice Institute’s suit is on behalf of a church pastor and family therapist in San Diego, along with Aaron Bitzer, who claims that he was cured of his homosexuality by “reparative” therapy.

The therapy has been blacklisted by most mental health professional organizations as harmful, ineffective, and driven by anti-gay bias. The law, signed at the beginning of the month, takes effect January 1. It bars minors from being subjected to “reparative” therapy in California. A similar bill has been introduced in New Jersey.

Gambling firm paid for NGLTF mailer

Annapolis, Md.--The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has admitted that a gambling company executive paid for a mailing sent by the group that opposed an expansion of Maryland’s gaming laws.

The August mailer urged Marylanders to tell their legislators to vote against putting a bill to expand the number of casinos onto the November ballot. The NGLTF mailing said that a measure to allow full marriage equality, also on the ballot, could be harmed by having the gambling issue there as well.

The mailer cost almost $350,000, and the NGLTF initially refused to say where the money had come from. However, state Sen. C. Anthony Muse said on October 11 that Penn National Gaming, a company opposed to the plan, paid for it.

Muse said that a senior vice president at the company told him that they had provided the funds. Penn National gave $1 million to the DCI Group, a consulting firm in Washington, D.C. DCI would have been required to divulge its expenditures had they hired lobbyists; but since they instead paid for the mailing, they were under no legal obligation to disclose their $350,000 expenditure to the NGLTF.

Penn National owns a race track that would be eligible to apply for a casino license, but they believe that Prince George’s County executive Rushern L. Baker III’s support for another site for a casino would make it unlikely that they would be approved.

NGLTF at first refused to answer questions about who funded the mailing, but acknowledged in an October 12 filing with the Maryland State Board of Elections that it had accepted an in-kind donation for the mailer.

Gay men, bi women see more abuse

Los Angeles--A new study from the Williams Institute of the University of California-Los Angeles indicates that gay men and bisexual women face higher incidences of domestic violence than heterosexual men and women and lesbians.

The study by Naomi G. Goldberg and Ilan H. Meyer, published in the September 24 Journal of Interpersonal Violence, used a sample of the California Health Interview Survey from 2007 and 2008. It used a probability sampling technique that the researchers believe provides a more accurate representation of the entire population. This study also categorized people by sexual identity as well as sexual behavior.

The study found that gay men and bisexual women were at higher risk for domestic violence. Ninety-seven percent of male victims of domestic violence in the study were in a same-sex relationship.

Not only were bisexual women at higher risk for domestic violence, but responses showed that 95 percent of those reporting intimate partner violence were abused by male partners.

Compiled by Brian DeWitt, Anthony Glassman and Patti Harris.











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