poetics, time, body disruption and marginally queer solutions

Friday, July 02, 2004

PM says gov't will not change anti-homosexual laws
Observer Reporter
PRIME Minister PJ Patterson made clear again this week that his government would not be forced into changing Jamaica's anti-homosexual laws because of agitation by the gay movement in England.

"We stopped being a British colony," Patterson told reporters Tuesday, when asked about the campaign by OutRage, the UK gay organisation.

OutRage and the human rights group Amnesty International have cast the recent murder in Kingston of Jamaica's leading gay rights activist Brian Williamson as a hate crime.

They also claimed that anti-gay killings are common in Jamaica and get little attention from the police, an argument rejected by the Jamaican authorities.

But OutRage, which has led a campaign to ban Jamaican dancehall DJs whose lyrics they consider gay-bashing and homophobic, has also pushed for Jamaica to remove its law against buggery.


Gay bashing victim fights back in Chelsea
Folsom Street East celebrant is attacked; police response criticized

Brooklyn’s John Solis, 39, was enjoying the debut of Folsom Street East at its new location in front of the Eagle on 28th Street at 10th Avenue on June 20. The event was moved there due to the closing of the Lure bar last year.

Solis left Folsom Street East with a friend sometime around 9:30 p.m. They were walking east on 28th Street from 10th Avenue when they approached about 15 young black men, ranging from late teens to early 20s, hanging around the park.

Because “everyone comes to Folsom Street East dressed as the Village People,” Solis said, the young men were verbally harassing many of the men as they were leaving the event. Solis’ outfit, accented with a leather cowboy hat, was tame compared to others.

Solis said he did not pay much attention to the young men until one of them sprayed water on him with a bottle. One of the young men then called him a “homo.” Solis turned around and began question the young men. According to Solis, two of them lifted sticks that looked like they would be used for stickball and began swinging at Solis.


New Suit Filed In Florida For Gay Marriage Rights
by Fidel Ortega Newscenter
Miami Bureau

(West Palm Beach, Florida) Ten West Palm Beach couples are suing a local court clerk for refusing to issue marriage licenses to them.

The suit asks the court to rule "that the right to marry is fundamental and that any restrictions on fundamental rights are presumed unconstitutional." It names 15th District Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy H. Wilken as a defendant.

Wilken refused to issue the licenses citing the 1997 Defense of Marriage Act which defines marriage as "a legal union between one man and one woman."

Among the plaintiffs are the subjects of the award-winning documentary "Ruthie & Connie: Every Room in the House." Ruth Berman and Connie Kurtz sued the New York City board of education in 1988 for domestic partner benefits, winning the case five years later. The couple moved to West Palm Beach last year.


Church opposes gay marriage ban

(Springfield-AP) -- Gay marriage continues to be a divisive issue in Missouri politics.

A question on the August third ballot will give residents of the Show-me State a chance to vote on whether the state constitution should essentially ban gay marriages.

One church in Springfield has gone on record as opposing the amendment. The National Avenue Christian Church says it hopes to get people in Springfield talking about the issue.

Many Missouri churches have gone on record as supporting the amendment.

But leaders of the National Avenue Christian Church say it's one thing for churches to oppose gay marriage, but it's another to legislate against it.


Ono gives equality a chance
World peace will always be job-one, but Yoko Ono is taking on a new cause, marriage equality for same-sex couples.

Legendary pop culture icon Yoko Ono shows no signs of slowing down. At age 71, she is enjoying a career renaissance with remixes of her classic “Hell In Paradise” hitting the top ten of the Billboard Club Play Chart.

Later this summer, the human rights advocate plans to release the controversial song, “Every Man/Every Woman,” which is a daring statement that tackles the gay marriage issue head-on.

The first thing Yoko Ono asked me when we spoke for an exclusive interview was to pray with her for world peace. Ever since her relationship with John Lennon in the late sixties, she has become a spokesperson for the peace movement. Her request seemed bizarre at first, but Ono’s relentless devotion to her ideals deserves nothing but praise.

Ono is now determined to take a stand in the national debate about equal rights for gays and lesbians in her ongoing pursuit of peace and justice. “A lot of people are testy and angry about the situation in the world and they’re trying to find a scapegoat,” argued a feisty Ono. “The result is that people focus on things that really are not an issue, like civil rights for gays.”


GOP adopts weaker FMA resolution
Catania meets McAuliffe, will work to defeat Bush

The D.C. Republican Committee voted unanimously on June 22 to recommend that the Republican Party’s national platform refrain from calling for a constitutional amendment “regarding the family and marriage.”

Brian Pruitt, president of the Log Cabin Republicans of D.C., a gay group, called the recommendation a “strong statement” by the GOP panel against a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

But local gay Republican activists who were unable to persuade the committee to pass a more strongly worded resolution condemning a constitutional amendment on gay marriage said the committee’s recommendation did not go far enough.

“District of Columbia Republicans respect and appreciate the diversity of the American family,” the DCRC stated in its marriage recommendation, which was part of a series of platform recommendations on a variety of issues.


Signatures offered in bid to ban same-sex unions in state charter

Supporters of an Arkansas constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex unions said they submitted to the state Thursday more than double the petition signatures needed to get the proposal on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Leaders of the Arkansas Marriage Amendment Committee said they handed over petitions signed by 200,693 Arkansans, which they say is a strong sign that voters will approve the measure if given the chance this fall.

Jerry Cox, the committee president, said the proposed amendment defining marriage as "consisting only of the union of one man and one woman" would put the state’s existing law banning gay marriage out of the reach of state courts. "Unless we pass this amendment, Arkansas will continue to be vulnerable to state court challenges seeking to legalize samesex marriages," Cox said at the state Capitol. "Either the people of Arkansas will define marriage at the ballot box, or the court will do it for us."

For the measure to qualify for the ballot, the committee needs Secretary of State Charlie Daniels to validate 80,570 of the signers as registered voters


Outing rumor sparks panic on Capitol Hill
Closeted staffers scrambling in wake of activist campaign

WASHINGTON — Their center of operations occupies not one, but two top-floor apartments located directly across from each other in a nondescript Adams Morgan high-rise, where the two friends and activists have both lived for years.

Their information comes to them via a network of insiders, mostly planted at various gay and lesbian bars across Washington. And their modus operandi for fighting a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage consists of well-placed phone calls to closeted congressional aides who work for members supportive of the amendment, declaring their intent to publicly reveal the aides’ sexual orientation.

From that high-rise, with a view of the nation’s epicenter of public policy, the ongoing outing campaign loosely headed by gay activists Michael Rogers and John Aravosis evoked panic and precaution behind the Capitol’s closed doors last week, signifying the resurrected, yet still controversial, tactic’s scope and impact.

The reactions on the Hill came in various formats: e-mails from staffers of prominent gay advocacy groups to anonymous lists of Hill employees warning them of impending outings; admonitions against the practice in public forums and on television; and meetings between Senate chiefs of staff and aides that reaffirmed office nondiscrimination or zero-tolerance policies.


As Pentagon Calls to Duty Inactive Reserve Specialists, Trained Lesbian & Gay Personnel Continue to be Fired, Says SLDN

WASHINGTON, July 1 /U.S. Newswire/ -- As military leaders begin re-calling to duty thousands of inactive reserve specialists, lesbian, gay and bisexual service members trained in the same fields continue to be fired simply because of their sexual orientation.

"Army officials on Wednesday announced that 5,674 former soldiers -- mostly people who recently left the service and have up-to-date skills in military policing, engineering, logistics, medicine or transportation -- will be assigned to National Guard and Reserve units that are scheduled to deploy to Iraq or Afghanistan," the Associated Press reported on June 29th. Sources also report that some veterans specializing in combat operations, mechanical fields and legal affairs will also be recalled. This is the first activation of the inactive reserves since the first Persian Gulf war.

According to Pentagon data, the military has discharged almost ten thousand service members for being gay during the past decade.

"The Pentagon is sacrificing national priorities for federal discrimination," said C. Dixon Osburn, Executive Director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN). "This administration's continued refusal to accept the talents of Americans who want to serve is irresponsible and has dire consequences. Repealing the gay ban is essential to preserving the fighting ability of our armed forces."


Judge's comments on gays protected

A George County Justice Court judge who publicly expressed his opinions about homosexuals will not be sanctioned because his comments are protected by the First Amendment, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

In a 5-2 decision, Mississippi's high court chose not to sanction Judge Connie Glenn Wilkerson for saying "gays and lesbians should be put in some type of mental institute... " Wilkerson made the statements in a March 2002 letter to the editor of the George County Times.

Wilkerson could not be reached Thursday for comment. However, he said in 2002 that the letter represented his feelings as a human, not as a judge.

Wilkerson, who has served as a justice court judge for eight years, said in 2002 the letter was in response to a national news story published in The Mississippi Press about a lesbian suing the owners of a dog that attacked and killed her partner. He said he was expressing his opinion about a California law that grants partners the same right to sue as spouses or family members.


Conservative Pak a minefield for gay lovers
Press Trust of India/Agence France-Presse

Islamabad,: Aamir is in love and wants to marry, but Pakistan is not among the places where gay marriages are legal. As in other conservative Muslim nations, the Koran’s condemnation of homosexuality makes it a crime.

Death by stoning is one of the punishments suggested in Pakistan's religiously influenced legal code for anyone caught in a homosexual act.

But Pakistani society's strict gender segregation and cultural taboo on discussions about sex mean that same-gender sexual activity has become an open secret.

It was common at Aamir's all-male high school. "It's not considered homosexual. It's just considered a fun thing and doing the best with what you have," the 23-year-old told AFP.


Conservatives issue warning over gays

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Conservatives in the Presbyterian Church warned that a vote in favor of gay ordination at the national legislative assembly this week could cause the largest schism in the church since the Civil War.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) national assembly is scheduled to vote today on a measure that would allow individual presbyteries to dismiss an interpretation of church law that forbids gay clergy and lay officers. Opponents of gay ordination liken it to eliminating the case law that supports the Constitution.


Poll: Canadians Overwhelmingly Support Gay Marriage
by Jack Siu Newscenter
Toronto Bureau

(Toronto, Ontario)  A new survey shows that support for same-sex marriage continues to grow in Canada and for the first time an overwhelming majority supports the idea.

The poll, for Research and Information on Canada and Environics showed that 57% of Canadians favor equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians, 38% are opposed.

A September 2003 Environics poll showed that Canadians were equally divided on the issue with 48% in favor of equal marriage and 47% opposed.

The new survey was conducted last weekend, just before Canadians went to the polls to elect a new national government.


Gay priest installed as Dean

Gay clergyman Dr Jeffrey John is being installed as the new Dean of St Albans amid protests from conservatives within the Church of England. 

About 2,000 people are expected to attend the service in the cathedral in which he will formally become rector of the parish of St Albans Abbey and Dean of St Albans Cathedral.

Dr John will be led to his "stall" or seat in the cathedral by the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Rev Christopher Herbert, to mark his new position as dean of the cathedral.

The lay and clergy members of the chapter of the cathedral will also join together to present Dr John with the dean's red velvet embroidered cope.


Anger over Lord's link between gay men and child abuse
Ben Townley, UK

A member of the House of Lords has angered the gay community by drawing links between sexual diversity and child abuse during the Third Reading of the Civil Partnership bill.

The comments came from Lord Maginnis of Drumglass as the peers discussed the bill in light of the protests surrounding the recent support for an amendment that many claim would destroy the bill and make it "unworkable".

The Tory backed amendment suggested extending the bill from the recognition of same-sex couples, to also include siblings and carers. It has been the subject of fierce debate in the house - and within the gay community - with opposing sides arguing over whether the extension would be detrimental to the bill's effectiveness.

The peer originally behind the amendment, Baroness O'Cathain, had also previously raised an issue of whether Northern Ireland should be included in the bill, claiming the region has too few same-sex couples for it to be an issue.


Appeals court tosses out order in lesbian custody case

An appeals court threw out a lower court order Thursday that barred a woman who left a lesbian relationship from teaching her adopted daughter anything that might be considered "homophobic."

The ruling by the Colorado court of appeals did not settle the case but instead sent it back to the lower court to determine whether antihomosexual religious instruction by one adoptive parent violates the First Amendment rights of the other.

The ruling came in a custody case that has drawn national attention from conservative groups and led to an unsuccessful attempt to impeach the Denver district judge who issued the order. Judge John W. Coughlin granted joint custody of the girl to Cheryl Clark, who had raised her with Elsey McLeod until Clark converted to Christianity and left the relationship.

The appeals court upheld the lower court's decision to grant McLeod joint custody, even though the adoption papers list only Clark as the adoptive parent. The appeals court said McLeod has become the child's "psychological parent" and that ending or curtailing visitation would put the girl at risk of "emotional harm."


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