Pope Criticizes Spain for Gay Marriages
United Press International
Pope John Paul II criticized the Spanish socialist government's plans for social change, including same-sex marriages, faster divorces and abortion.
The pope used the presentation of credentials of a new Spanish ambassador to the Vatican to express his displeasure at Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's social policy package considered radical by its critics which includes liberalizing abortion rights, developing embryonic stem cell research and a freeze on an education bill that favored Catholic religious teaching in schools.
Zapatero also faces opposition from the Catholic church in Spain over these issues.
Public authorities, in their role as the guarantors of everybody's rights, have the obligation to defend life, especially the life of the weakest and the most defenseless members of our society, he told Ambassador Jorge Descaller de Mazarredo.
A town to honor same-sex milestone
A domestic-partnership law takes effect in the state July 10. Maplewood will celebrate officially.
By Steve Strunsky
MAPLEWOOD, N.J. - Approval of a domestic-partnership bill was hardly unanimous in the state Legislature last winter: 37 lawmakers dissented from the measure that was signed into law Jan. 12.
But among the teens, mothers, athletes and same-sex couples picnicking at Maplewood Memorial Park on Friday's muggy afternoon, support seemed undivided.
"I'm for it," said Van Betta, 22, a recent college graduate who was working out at the park with other Ultimate Frisbee players.
In a strong show of support, Maplewood's Democratic mayor and Township Committee last week agreed to open Town Hall the day the law becomes effective. A party is also planned.
Transgendered workers gain protection
By Deb Price / The Detroit News
A series of trailblazing rulings is sending employers the unmistakable signal that, if they want to stay on the proper side of the law, they need to make their workplaces ready to welcome transgendered workers.
Breaking away from the backward rulings of the 1970s and ’80s, early 21st century courts are quickly making clear that employers will not be allowed to discriminate against transgendered workers — or anyone else — simply because they do not conform to traditional gender roles.
This legal trend in federal and state courts will greatly benefit workers who, through surgery and hormone treatments, have changed or are in the process of changing from male to female or vice versa. It will also protect workers whose clothing, mannerisms or other personal traits depart from rigid gender stereotypes.
In embracing transgendered workers, courts are largely relying on a groundbreaking 1989 U.S. Supreme Court ruling — Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins — which declared a top-notch accountant’s bosses had no right to harass her over what they saw as unfeminine behavior. The new rulings also rely on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlaws job discrimination based on gender, and the Constitution’s equal protection guarantees.
Virginia limits on gays stir debate
By David Lamb
Los Angeles Times
RICHMOND, Va. — When it comes to adapting state laws to reflect social change — such as women's suffrage, school desegregation and gay rights — Virginia always has been a laggard.
Still, many were stunned by the recent passage of a bill that ended all contractual rights between same-sex partners.
Critics say the law — which takes effect July 1 and reaffirms the state's ban on gay and lesbian marriage — could negate powers of attorney, wills, leases, child-custody arrangements, joint bank accounts and health insurance granted by companies that recognize domestic partnerships.
Henry Fradella, a College of New Jersey law professor who tracks gay-rights issues, said: "Nothing so homophobic has ever been enacted into law in this nation's history." The Washington Post called the bill "jaw-dropping." Gay-rights groups call it discriminatory.
New Zealand snubs gays in new Marriage Act
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) - A new bill aimed at guaranteeing that non-married couples have the same rights as their wedded peers will not make gay marriage legal in New Zealand, Prime Minister Helen Clark said Monday.
"The government is not - underline not - changing the Marriage Act. That will remain as an option only for heterosexual couples," Clark said, seeking to defuse conservative criticism of proposed Civil Union legislation that lawmakers are set to vote on this week. The long-delayed bill creates a new form of legal relationship - a registered civil union - that can apply to same-sex and heterosexual couples.
The law will extend the same rights enjoyed by married couples to unmarried partners in dozens of areas, ranging from child custody and property rights to tax, welfare and retirement benefits. It will even allow for civil union partners to be buried in the same plot of land - something barred under current law.
"Nobody should be disadvantaged," Clark told radio station NewstalkZB on Monday. But she added, "Marriage is only for heterosexuals."
Seeking a home in the gay village
Non-whites say they feel rejected
Program helps them find friends
They are social outcasts just about everywhere they go.
Their family and own communities reject them because they are queer. They feel the gay community doesn't really embrace them as its own because of their race. And to top it off, some of them aren't Canadians but migrants taking refuge in this country.
As Pride Week kicks off in Toronto today, meet Aamer, Asam, Janet and Dolores, all gay or lesbian and all non-white.
Aamer Esmail, who had lived underground in Miami with his Pakistani family for nine years, came to Canada 18 months ago as a refugee. He was forced to leave the United States because of the U.S.A. Patriot Act, which requires adult male non-citizens from 25 mostly Muslim and Arab countries to register with the government.
The 22-year-old man is used to living a double life, becoming his gay self away from home and pretending to be straight at home and in Muslim mosques.
U.S. soldier says he was fired for being gay
SAN FRANCISCO — Brian Muller, a U.S. Army bomb squad team leader who served on a security detail for President George Bush, said he was dismissed from duty after deciding to tell his commander he's gay.
"I didn't do it to get out of a war — I already served in a war," Muller, 25, said in an interview. "After putting my life on the line in the war, the idea that I was fighting for the freedoms of so many other people that I couldn't myself enjoy was almost unbearable."
The exodus of soldiers like Muller continues even as concerns grow about military troop strength, according to a new study. Some 770 people were discharged for homosexuality last year under the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.
The figure, however, is significantly lower than the record 1,227 discharges in 2001 — just before the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Since "don't ask, don't tell" was adopted in 1994, nearly 10,000 military personnel have been discharged — including linguists, nuclear warfare experts and other key specialists.
Gay is OK in Zagreb
Between 200 and 300 participants of the “Zagreb Pride” gay parade gathered last Saturday on Zrinjevac and proceeded, with strong police protection, through the streets of downtown Zagreb.
Yelling “Gay is OK” and “Love is Love” slogans, the participants in the parade promoted the rights of homosexual, bisexual and trans-sexual persons.
The parade lasted about half an hour, after which the participants talked against homophobia and intolerance of the catholic church and other denominations in Croatia.
They stood for the right for homosexual and lesbian marriages and to the right to adopt children for partners in such marriages. The establishment of advisory centres was announced, to work on the prevention of AIDS and the participants promoted the use of condoms as the best way of protection.
O'Toole aims for gay cops' acceptance at powwow
By Laurel J. Sweet
Having helped Connecticut State Police through a rough patch last year after a homophobic joke was cracked at a roll call, Boston police Commissioner Kathleen O'Toole has been asked to take the gay sensitivity message global.
``I couldn't think of a better leader. She's absolutely committed to making sure every law enforcement officer is treated equally,'' said Michael Carney, president of the Gay Officers Action League of New England.
Carney, an openly gay Springfield police detective, requested O'Toole join members of his support group at a first-of-its-kind workshop in Los Angeles this November for the 111th annual conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
O'Toole, who sits on the IACP's terrorism committee, happily agreed.
In Plymouth, gays make a historical pilgrimage
By Paysha Stockton, Globe Correspondent
PLYMOUTH -- Nearly 100 gay and lesbian men and women paraded down the main street of ''America's Hometown" yesterday, waving rainbow flags and dancing to the sounds of ''I'm Coming Out."
What would the Pilgrims have thought? Hard to say.
But Selectman Christopher Lombard said the town's first gay pride parade, which drew little opposition as it wound through downtown yesterday afternoon, is definitely in step with the town's hallowed history.
''That's why the Pilgrims came here, for religious freedom and to show individuality," Lombard said. ''It's all very symbolic."