poetics, time, body disruption and marginally queer solutions

Friday, June 18, 2004

Wave of outings hits Congress
Angry activists target closeted members, staffers with anti-gay records

The proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage has revived a debate over the ethics of outing those closeted gay men and lesbians in a position to affect public policy.

On the day after Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) reportedly told Christian leaders that the Senate will vote on the Federal Marriage Amendment in July, well-known D.C. activist John Aravosis issued a call for the names of gay congressional members, staffers and their associates to publicly out them.

“If you’re gay and you support making sexual orientation a political weapon, then your sexual orientation is fair game, and you will be outed to the rafters,” Aravosis said.

It’s a campaign predicted months ago by Steve Gunderson, the former Republican Congressman who came out a decade ago after facing outing threats, and one that other former members of the Austin 12 — the group of gay Republicans who met with President Bush during the 2000 campaign — tried to prevent.


GEICO corrects gay gaffe
Insurance provider softens stance on married gay couples

After complaints from a gay legal group, insurance provider GEICO Direct said this week it would reverse a decision made earlier this month to deny a married gay couple in New York the same joint coverage offered to married straight couples.

GEICO, the Government Employees Insurance Company recognizable by its green gecko mascot, will extend spousal automobile coverage to the husband of Thomas Hronrich, according to Christine Tasher, a spokesperson for GEICO.

“We are processing the change,” Tasher said in a written statement issued June 16. “The papers are going out in the mail in the morning, and we spoke to the policyholder this afternoon.”

Lambda Legal, the gay legal organization that approached GEICO on June 14 to represent Hronrich and his partner and to pursue spousal rights for all gay couples at GEICO, had not received notification from GEICO concerning the policy change at press time Wednesday.


New Paltz Resumes Same Sex Marriages

NEW PALTZ, N.Y. -- New Paltz Deputy Mayor Rebecca Rotzler and Village Trustee Julia Walsh presided over the marriages of four same-sex couples in New Paltz Thursday night.

The ceremonies began just a week after a judge dismissed criminal charges against Mayor Jason West.

West had faced the possibility of fines or up to a year in jail for 19 misdemeanor counts, stemming from the weddings of more than two dozen same-sex couples. The weddings drew the Hudson Valley village of New Paltz into the growing national debate over gay marriage.

West is still barred from performing the marriages, but New Paltz Town Court Justice Jonathan Katz ruled that prosecutors failed to prove the law that he was charged with violating was constitutional.


Liturgy for Gay Marriages Developed in Vt.
Associated Press Writer

BURLINGTON, Vt. -- Vermont's Episcopal Diocese has become the first in the country to develop a liturgy -- a script for a religious service -- in response to a state law making same-sex unions legal.

"We have been living with the legal reality of same-sex unions for over three years," Bishop Thomas Ely said in a statement made public Friday. "It is appropriate and timely for the Diocese of Vermont to prepare and use these services for members of our congregations."

In 2000, Vermont became the first state to offer legal recognition to same-sex unions. The state did not legalize same-sex marriage, but established a parallel system of civil unions to offer gay and lesbian couples most of the same benefits and responsibilities that married couples have.

Some Episcopal dioceses have already sanctioned same-sex unions. But Vermont's is the first to do so in a jurisdiction that offers legal recognition to such unions.


Strip Gay Bishop Of Office Church Commission Told

Gene Robinson must be removed as Bishop of New Hampshire if there is to be peace in the worldwide Anglican Church a commission appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury has been told.

The Eames Commission was created to seek unity between conservatives and modernists in the faith following the uproar over Robinson's election last year. This week it met in South Carolina where a position paper was presented by Archbishop Drexel Gomez, of the West Indies calling for Robinson's removal.

Gomez told the commission, headed by the Most Reverend Robin Eames, the Archbishop of Armagh in Northern Ireland, that as long as Robinson is allowed to remain as a bishop in the Episcopal Church the threat of a schism will grow.

Gomez, one of the leading conservatives in the Church said that the best remedy would be to annul Robinson's consecration, in effect declaring that it never occurred.


Ban on gay marriage heading to ballot
By Allison Farrell of The Standard State Bureau 4

HELENA — The Montana Family Foundation says it has collected a record number of signatures in its effort to place on the November ballot a constitutional initiative to ban gay marriage in Montana. The foundation reported Thursday that it secured just over 70,000 petition signatures from registered voters looking to write language into the Montana constitution limiting marriages to heterosexual unions.


Public Inquiry Ordered Into Police Conduct At Lesbian Bath Raid
By Jan Prout

(Toronto, Ontario) A public inquiry has been called to examine the way Toronto police officers behaved during a raid four years ago at a lesbian night in a gay bathhouse.

Police entered the Club Toronto in the early hours of Sept. 15, 2000 during a lesbian event known as the "Pussy Palace." More than 100 women, many naked, were in the building at the time. The officers, all male, spent 90 minutes walking through the facility in Toronto's gay village, opening doors to private cubicles and questioning the women.

At the time police insisted the raid was a routine liquor license inspection and claimed they gave the women an opportunity to dress.

Two women who had obtained a special occasion permit under the Ontario Liquor License Act were charged with several offences, including permitting disorderly conduct and serving alcohol after hours.


Same-sex couples in Albany, N.Y., sue over denial of marriage licenses

Two same-sex couples in Albany, N.Y., married by a Unitarian Universalist minister earlier this year have sued the city and state for denying them marriage licenses. Filed in state supreme court, the suit claims the Albany city clerk's office violated the couples' constitutional rights to equal protection when it refused to grant them marriage licenses. The action is the latest in a string of lawsuits aimed at forcing the courts to rule on the legality of gay marriage in the state.

Unitarian Universalist pastor Samuel Trumbore in March married two same-sex couples in Albany. The couples filled out marriage contracts and Trumbore signed an affidavit of marriage, all of which were notarized. But the couples were turned away when they tried to get a license. "These folks are entitled to the same legal recognition of their marriage as any heterosexual couple, and that's what we're asking for here, plain and simple," the couples' lawyer, Terry Kindlon, said Thursday in announcing the suit.

One of the couples, Elissa Kane, 41, and Lynne Lekakis, 43, have been living together since 1998 and are raising Kane's 7-year-old daughter from a previous relationship. They want their marriage recognized so they can qualify for family health insurance and file joint tax returns. "To us, it's an equality thing," Lekakis said. "We're just as responsible as any other married couple."

New York State became drawn into the national debate of same-sex marriage after New Paltz mayor Jason West performed weddings for 25 gay couples in February. A judge earlier this month barred West from performing future gay weddings, but the ruling sidestepped the issue regarding the constitutionality of gay marriage, effectively leaving it up to the legislature or the courts.


Slain cop's marriage to lesbian stands, judge says

A judge has rejected a family's request to annul their slain son's six-week marriage to a topless dancer.

Detroit Police Officer Matthew Bowens, 21, had filed for a divorce a few weeks before he and his partner, Jennifer Fettig, were gunned down Feb. 16 during a traffic stop. Because the divorce was never completed, Anya Bowens stands to receive a $350,000 death benefit.

In a suit filed in Wayne County Circuit Court, Matthew Bowens' father, James Bowens said Anya Bowens pretended not to be a lesbian when she wed his son. She has denied concealing her sexual orientation.

"James Bowens . . . has no standing to bring an action to annul the marriage," Judge Lita Popke ruled Monday.


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