Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
Bollywood star Abhishek Bachchan wants to be gay icon
NEW DELHI – Indian star Abhishek Bachchan, a rising Bollywood leading man with a growing female following, says he’s ready to be an icon for homosexuals as well.
Asked by the Times of India newspaper if he would feel comfortable having a big following among gay men, Bachchan responded: “Great! Why not?”
“Appreciation and love from any quarter is welcome,” he was quoted as saying in Sept. 4’s edition of the daily.
Homosexuality remains taboo among most of India’s billion people. Even in Bollywood’s relatively liberal social circles, there are few openly gay personalities.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The law doesn’t require Gov. Phil Bredesen to sign a proposed constitutional amendment to ban equal marriage, but his opponent is criticizing him for not signing it anyway.
Republican gubernatorial nominee Jim Bryson says Bredesen’s decision not to sign the anti-marriage amendment shows the Democrat’s true feelings about the proposal.
According to the Secretary of State, the amendment was presented to the Governor as the result of a clerical error.
The proposed Tennessee amendment, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman, passed the Legislature in 2005 and will be voted on Nov. 7 in the statewide general election.
Missouri equal rights group marks 20th anniversary
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – PROMO, Missouri’s gay rights organization, celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. The organization, which started as an all-volunteer group, now has four paid staff members and offices in Springfield and Kansas City.
“The past 20 years have made a world of difference,” PROMO head Julie Brueggemann said at a recent anniversary celebration. “Even though people can face discrimination in the workplace, and there’s discrimination coming from the state in the foster care system, I think on the whole that things are definitely moving forward.”
Sarah Finken, head of the Kansas City office, said the organization has grown from 400 member households five years ago to 1,200 households in 2006.
The group also had its own lobbyist in Jefferson City for the first time this year.
Wash. governor offers Plan B compromise for pharmacists
OLYMPIA, Wash. – Gov. Chris Gregoire has crafted a compromise rule for pharmacists opposed to selling the morning-after birth control pill, officials say.
Under Gregoire’s proposal, individual druggists could avoid filling prescriptions that conflict with their personal beliefs – but only if the patient is able to get a lawful medication without leaving the pharmacy.
That would mark a significant change from the Pharmacy Board’s previous stance, which could have allowed pharmacists to refuse a prescription for personal reasons if they took specific steps to help a patient get it elsewhere.
Gregoire’s proposed policy also would apply to over-the-counter sales of the drug, sold commercially as Plan B.
Plan B is a heavier dose of a drug used in many regular birth-control pills. If a woman takes Plan B within 72 hours of unprotected sex, she can lower the risk of pregnancy by as much as 89 percent.
Plan B is not an abortion pill. If a woman is pregnant, the pill will have no effect.
Episcopal bishops set urgent church crisis meeting
The spiritual head of the Anglican Communion has set the dates for an urgent crisis meeting of American Episcopal bishops to be held from Sept. 11-13.
The meeting will convene in New York with the firm focus set to be the accelerating demise of the Episcopal Church of the USA, as tensions continue to build up between liberal and conservative members of the Church with regards to homosexuality.
The Episcopal Church of the USA is the American wing of the worldwide Anglican Church, which has been steeped in controversy since the consecration of the first openly gay bishop Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003.
The situation has deteriorated even further since the members of the Church have continuously refused to bow to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s requests to show “repentance” for operating entirely against the traditional biblical views of the Church on the issue. The June General Convention, rather than allaying fears and divisions, actually increased tensions with the election of Katharine Jefferts Schori – an outspoken supporter of gay relationships – as the Church’s next Presiding Bishop.
Seven conservative dioceses have rejected Jefferts Schori’s leadership and asked Williams for oversight elsewhere and some individual parishes have also announced plans to leave the American Episcopal Church.
Polish prime minister: Gays enjoy equal rights
BRUSSELS, Belgium – Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski on Aug. 30 sought to dispel concerns over Warsaw’s stance on gay rights and the alleged rise in xenophobia in the country, saying homosexuals were not persecuted in Poland.
The new Polish leader, the identical twin brother of Polish President Lech Kaczynski, also called Poland’s two-year membership in the European Union a “success,” and said his government would push for the dismantling of market barriers within the EU to enhance the 25-nation bloc’s economic potential.
Poland has been criticised over issues from Warsaw’s position on gay rights to the death penalty.
The governing coalition includes populists and ultra-Catholics. The inclusion of the right-wing League of Polish Families, whose members have spoken out against homosexuality, has sparked protest because of its close links with a far-right radical youth movement.
When Lech Kaczynski was mayor of Warsaw he refused permits for gay pride marches in 2004 and 2005. He once said that “it would be very dangerous for our civilization to put homosexual rights on an equal footing.”
A recent European Parliament resolution warned of rising intolerance in Poland and even raised the possibility of sanctions.
South African government to introduce civil-union law
South Africa’s cabinet will introduce a bill in Parliament to create same-sex civil unions.
Government spokesperson Themba Maseko said the proposed law will complement the Marriage Act, giving same-sex couples the same rights and obligations as married people.
But that may not go far enough. On Dec. 1, 2005, the nation’s Constitutional Court gave lawmakers one year to change laws to allow gay couples to marry under the Marriage Act itself. It said if Parliament failed to act by the deadline, the court would rewrite the act.
The court said prohibiting same-sex marriage violated South Africa’s post-apartheid Constitution. The ruling was essentially unanimous, with the sole dissenter opposing only the one-year delay, arguing that the ruling should take effect immediately.
“The exclusion of same-sex couples from the benefits and responsibilities of marriage is not a small and tangential inconvenience resulting from a few surviving relics of societal prejudice destined to evaporate like the morning dew,” the majority said.
Currently, same-sex couples have access to traditional marriage in Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Spain and Massachusetts. Numerous nations, states and provinces around the world have enacted civil-union or domestic-partnership laws that grant registered same-sex couples some, most or all of the rights of marriage.
Nepali gays lobby for constitutional protection
Gays, lesbians and transgender people in Nepal are seeking protection in the new constitution that is being prepared, the Indo-Asia News Service reported Aug. 24.
They have demanded decriminalization of “unnatural sex,” political representation, access to marriage or civil unions, and the addition of a transgender category – in addition to male and female – on the citizenship card and other government certificates.
Organizations pushing for the changes include the GLBT Blue Diamond Society and the lesbian group Mitini Nepal.
Canadian party to stand firm on same-sex marriage
Canada’s Bloc Quebecois political party has promised to stand united against Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s plan to initiate parliamentary reconsideration of the 2005 vote that legalized same-sex marriage.
All of the party’s 51 members in the 308-member House of Commons will be expected to vote in favor of same-sex marriage in any reassessment of the matter.
The 29 members of the New Democratic Party are planning to do the same.
Recent polling found that 62 percent of Canadians oppose any attempt to take away same-sex couples’ access to marriage.