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April 5, 2013

News Briefs

New York health officials warn of deadly meningitis

New York City--A deadly outbreak of bacterial meningitis in New York is spreading among gay men, health department officials warn, and any man who has had sex with a man in New York City in the last six months has been urged to get vaccinated.

The strain currently making the rounds kills one in three people who contract it, compared to one in five for typical strains.

The warnings first came last fall, when the health department told HIV-positive, sexually-active gay men in New York City, or sexually-active, HIV-negative gay men in certain areas of Brooklyn, to get vaccinated.

That has now been expanded to all non-monogamous gay men living in the city, and any gay man who visited the city since September 1 of last year and had sex while there.

Santa Fe mayor declares vows legal

Santa Fe, N.M.--Officials in the capital city have once again declared that the ambiguity of New Mexico’s marriage law means that same-sex marriage is legal in the state.

New Mexico is one of two states whose laws neither expressly permit nor prohibit same-sex marriage; the other is Rhode Island. Santa Fe Mayor David Coss and other officials issued an opinion that it is permitted.

“If you look at the constitution, and you look at the statutes, there’s no prohibition,” Coss told the Washington Blade, “I think just as a matter of equal rights under the law, we ought to move.”

On March 19, he and city councilor Patti Bushee unveiled a resolution stating that same-sex marriage is legal in the state and county clerks should begin issuing marriage licenses. City Attorney Geno Zamora issued a concurring opinion the same day.

Nine years ago, the Sandoval County clerk reached the same conclusion and began issuing marriage licenses. On the same day, the state attorney general issued an opinion saying they were not valid.

The current attorney general, Gary King, has not issued an opinion on the matter, but Santa Fe County Clerk Geraldine Salazar has decided not to begin issuing marriage licenses.

“He’s the city attorney. I have a county attorney who I seek legal counsel from. In addition to that, the city attorney is not the attorney general,” she told Chris Geidner of Buzzfeed. “I, as a county clerk, do not have the authority in my eyes and in my interpretation and in my counsel.”

While not overstepping what she believes to be her bounds, however, Salazar supports same-sex marriage. A lawsuit against the Sandoval County clerk was dropped when she left office, so there has still been no judicial ruling on marriage in New Mexico.

Kasich backpedals civil union comment

Columbus--Although Gov. John Kasich told WEWS Channel 5 in a March 20 interview that he supports his colleague, Sen. Rob Portman, and that he supports civil unions, his staff was quick to backpedal on the second half.

“If people want to have civil unions and have some way to transfer their resources, I’m for that,” he said. “I don’t support gay marriage.”

“I think marriage is between a man and a woman, but if you want to have a civil union, that’s fine with me,” he said, noting that he has gay friends and that his position is not based in “anger or judgment.”

The next day, his staff told the Plain Dealer that no, kasich doesn’t support civil union.

“The governor’s position is unchanged,” Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said in a statement. “He opposes gay marriage and opposes changing Ohio’s constitution to allow for civil unions.”

Nichols said that Kasich “may have used the term ‘civil union’ loosely in this instance.” Kasich, according to Nichols, supports powers of attorney and other documents that can be used to grant a few protections to same-sex couples.

GLAAD changes its name to Glaad

New York City--The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has officially changed its name to its initials only, although they continue to capitalize the letters as if they still stand for the five words.

The organization is dropping the longer name, whose acronym is GLAAD, and their name will now officially be Glaad, the LGBT media advocacy organization. But their press releases still put the name in all capital letters, much like Fox News likes to be called FOX News, even though Fox is the surname of the company’s founder.

According to a Glaad press release, “Accompanying the change is a renewed commitment to incorporate bisexual and transgender people as well as allies from diverse backgrounds in GLAAD’s work to shape the media narrative and build support for LGBT people.”

Actor Wilson Cruz, a spokesman for Glaad, noted, “The enemies of the LGBT community have gotten louder and more desperate. As we move into a media cycle that will include decisions around marriage equality form the Supreme Court and on inclusion from the Boy Scouts of America, our community needs GLAAD to work overtime on fair and accurate media coverage.”

The change was announced on the MSNBC show hosted by Melissa Harris-Perry, who received a Glaad Media Award for Outstanding TV Journalism-Newsmagazine this year.

Time couples have already won

New York City--Time magazine’s cover following the Supreme Court hearings on Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act features a couple kissing.

Well, two couples. Two covers. One features a gay male couple, the other a lesbian couple, including the band Antigone Rising’s Kristen Ellis-Henderson.

It also bears the headline, “Gay Marriage Already Won. The Supreme Court hasn’t made up its mind--but America has.”

Until very recently, mainstream newspapers and magazines avoided showing same-sex kisses on their covers, as they would generate a flood of complaints and sometimes worse. In years past, when the Gay People’s Chronicle has shown a kissing couple on the front page, especially if it’s two men, vandals have taken hundreds of copies from newsstands and thrown them in the trash.

Former Lt. Dan Choi fined $100

Washington, D.C.--Dan Choi, the former Army lieutenant whose protest of “don’t ask, don’t tell” found him handcuffed, not to the White House fence to which he had affixed himself but in the back of a police car, was found guilty on March 28.

He was arrested in a November 2010 direct action at the White House. Magistrate Judge John M. Facciola said that Choi and two others refused to leave the area when told to by officers, which meant the conviction was consistent with Choi’s First Amendment protections.

Facciola fined him $100. He faced the possibility of six months in jail for the misdemeanor charge.

Choi served as his own attorney, dressed in his military uniform. He was discharged under the DADT policy and led the charge to get it repealed.

Fired den mom joins Freedom Ohio

Columbus--Jen Tyrrell might not be wanted by the Boy Scouts as the den mother of her son’s Scout group, but she has found someplace that wants her: Freedom Ohio, the organization pushing the pro-marriage amendment currently gathering signatures across the state.

Tyrrell will be the co-chair of the steering committee for Freedom Ohio, which is the driving force behind the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment.

“I know first-hand the pain of having your basic rights denied,” she said. “For this reason, I’m joining the Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom campaign as a co-chair of the Steering Committee.”

“We’re talking about changing the Ohio Constitution with just 46 words so that a loving couple can get married legally,” she continued. “And the beauty of this amendment is that is also guarantees religious freedom as well. Religious institutions will be free to choose to marry or not marry.”

The Bridgeport mother was booted as den mother of the Tiger Scouts in Pack 109 last April. All the parents of children in her troop knew she was gay, and none of them cared. Her 7-year-old son Cruz was in the troop as well.

The parents held a protest demanding her reinstatement, and a member of the Ohio River Valley Council’s board resigned to show his opposition to her removal.

ENDA is back up this month

Washington, D.C.--The Employment Non-Discrimination Act is being reviewed before being reintroduced in the House of Representatives this month.

Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado, the most senior LGBT representative in the House, said he will reintroduce the bill in April.

Some of the changes possible in it might be stronger protections for LGBT people and a change to the religious exemption. However, it is unlikely to pass with the current makeup of the House of Representatives.

“We’re going through ENDA now and have been working with many of the advocacy groups and my staff, and the [LGBT] Equality Caucus staff to make sure that concerns are addressed, and we’re going through that now,” Polis told the Washington Blade on March 20.

Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon is introducing a version in the Senate, although it may differ from Polis’ version. Merkley’s office said a bipartisan group of lawmakers is working on his version, including Illinois Republican Mark Kirk, who has sponsored previous versions.

It is also not yet known whether this version will protect on the basis of gender identity and expression, an omission that earned now-retired Rep. Barney Frank ire in 2007. He later recanted his belief that an ENDA bill should be passed without those protections. Every version since then has included them.

There are presently no equal rights protections in federal law for LGBT people, nor in the laws of 29 states, including Ohio.

Compiled by Brian DeWitt, Anthony Glassman and Patti Harris.









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