Hastert dismisses call for his resignation over Foley coverup
WASHINGTON – Republican House Speaker Dennis Hastert brushed aside any suggestion of resignation on Tuesday as House Republican leaders struggled to contain the fallout from an election-year scandal involving sexually explicit messages from former GOP Rep. Mark Foley of Florida to underage pages.
Hastert issued a written statement as Majority Leader John Boehner said the speaker had assured him months ago the matter had been taken care of. “It’s in his corner, it’s his responsibility,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said in an interview on radio station WLW in Cincinnati.
Foley resigned abruptly on Friday and has since checked himself into an alcohol rehabilitation program at an undisclosed location.
Hastert and other Republican leaders are dismissing suggestions that they should have done more to investigate Foley’s emails and instant messages to the pages. Hastert said his top aides and Rep. John Shimkus, a fellow Illinois Republican overseeing the page program, acted appropriately by trying to resolve the matter as an internal party problem. Hastert said his aides and Republican Congressman Rodney Alexander heeded the wishes of the parents of the former House page, who wanted such questionable e-mails to stop but did not want the matter pursued publicly. Democrats contended that the matter should have been brought to the attention of the page board or the House Ethics Committee.
The conservative Washington Times called for Hastert to “resign his speakership at once” for not doing enough to investigate questions about Foley’s e-mails.
“Either he was grossly negligent for not taking the red flags fully into account and ordering a swift investigation, for not even remembering the order of events leading up to last week’s revelations, or he deliberately looked the other way in hopes that a brewing scandal would simply blow away,” The Times’ editors wrote in Tuesday’s editions.
The FBI has begun an inquiry into Foley’s computer contact with pages.
Ohio voters care more about schools, jobs than social issues
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Fewer than 1 percent of likely Ohio voters will judge candidates for governor this fall on their stands on abortion, guns, equal marriage or even the government corruption, a poll released Sept. 27 found.
Instead, 63 percent will be looking to the candidates’ stands on everyday issues such as education, jobs and taxes in making their choice, according to the University of Cincinnati’s latest Ohio Poll.
McGreevey’s book a best seller
NEWARK, New Jersey – A steamy memoir by former New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey, who left office amid a gay sex scandal, has become a best-seller on two lists.
Released Sept. 19, “The Confession” will be ranked No. 3 in nonfiction hardcover sales in The New York Times book review in the Oct. 8 issue, the newspaper said. The review does not disclose sales figures.
The book ranked No. 1 in biography-autobiography and No. 4 in adult nonfiction based on first-week sales of 15,000 recorded by Nielsen BookScan U.S., The Star-Ledger of Newark reported in Thursday’s newspapers.
Poll shows opposition to both equal marriage and proposed ban
ST. PAUL – Minnesota voters oppose allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, according to a new poll, but a narrow plurality of them don’t want to change the state constitution to ban equal marriage, either.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press-Minnesota Public Radio survey published Thursday also found decreasing opposition to allowing gay and lesbian couples to enter into legal agreements that would give them many of the same protections as marriage.
The poll found that 54 percent of voters surveyed oppose legalizing same-sex marriages while 29 percent support doing so. By a 47 percent to 40 percent margin, however, those polled oppose a constitutional amendment that would prohibit legalizing same-sex marriages, including those performed in other states. Forty-nine percent of those polled supported legalizing civil unions.
Opposition to civil unions has fallen from 47 percent in a January 2004 Pioneer Press-MPR poll to 39 percent today, while opposition to equal marriage has dropped from 63 percent in 2004 to 54 percent now.
Supreme Court rejects Texas sex-toy case
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court refused Monday to consider whether a Texas law making it a crime to promote sex toys shaped like sexual organs is unconstitutional.
An adult bookstore employee in El Paso, Texas, sued the state after his arrest for showing two undercover officers a device shaped like a penis.
The employee, Ignacio Sergio Acosta, says a Texas law outlawing the manufacture, marketing or dissemination of an “obscene device” including those shaped like sex organs is unconstitutional because it prevents individuals from using such devices, violating their right to sexual privacy.
Colorado, Kansas and Louisiana have held such laws unconstitutional, while Georgia, Mississippi and Texas have upheld them.
Acosta also said the Texas law should be examined in light of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down a Texas criminal law banning gay sex as an unconstitutional invasion of privacy.
The case is Ignacio Sergio Acosta v. state of Texas, 05-1574.
Justices reject lawsuit over anti-gay ads
WASHINGTON – On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider a lawsuit by a religious-right group blocked from airing anti-marriage ads.
Last spring, the Christian Civic League of Maine attempted to run ads about the state’s two U.S. senators, but a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., halted the effort and the Supreme Court refused to step in at the time.
On Monday, the court issued a one-line order saying the appeal is dismissed as moot.
Federal election law bars corporations or labor unions from paying for any radio or TV broadcast referring to a candidate for federal office within 30 days of a federal primary election or 60 days of a general election. The league had wanted to run the ads in time for the Senate debate on a constitutional amendment to ban equal marriage.
Judge halts anti-protest law
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A federal judge has temporarily suspended Kentucky’s law forbidding protests within 300 feet of military funerals and memorial services.
U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell said that the law goes too far in limiting free speech. The law aimed at Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., which is known for its anti-gay protests, is too broad, the judge said in issuing an injunction.
AIDS awareness campaign calls HIV a “gay disease”
LOS ANGELES – One of Southern California’s most influential gay institutions has launched a controversial ad campaign that describes HIV as a “gay disease.”
The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center’s departure from 20 years of countering the idea of AIDS as a gay plague is designed to reach gay men who have grown complacent about the illness.
The message “HIV is a gay disease” and the tag line “Own It. End It” will appear on billboards and in magazines.
The amount of attention from AIDS awareness groups paid on minority women and others has left gay men – who still represent most of those infected in the U.S. and Western Europe – feeling a false sense of security, proponents of the campaign said.
Dennis Vercher, III
DALLAS – Dennis Vercher III, editor of the Dallas Voice and a former National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association Dallas Chapter president, passed away Sept. 27. He died from an HIV/AIDS-related illness.
Vecher, editor of the Voice since 1986, was NLGJA Dallas Chapter president from 1999-2002. He also served as a co-chair of NLGJA’s national convention in that city in 2001. Prior to joining the Voice, his work included positions as news director and public affairs director for radio stations in Beaumont, TX, as well as an adjunct instructor at Lamar University in Beaumont.
Vercher is survived by his life partner, Farron Campbell, his father, Dennis Vercher II, and two brothers and their families.
Lesbian asks Canadian court to grant status as boy’s third parent
TORONTO – A Canadian woman wants the Ontario Court of Appeal to recognize her as the third parent of a five-year-old boy she’s raising with her lesbian partner.
Final submissions in the case were heard Tuesday and a decision is expected within six months.
The application, if allowed, would be believed to mark the first time in Canada a child would legally have more than two parents, and would fundamentally change the legal definition of the word “family.
French court drops high-profile case of attack on gay man
LILLE, France – A court in northern France has thrown out a case involving an attack on a gay man that drew nationwide attention and helped lead to a law penalizing homophobic statements, judicial officials said Sept. 26.
Attackers allegedly doused Sebastien Nouchet with gasoline in his garden and setting him ablaze in the January 2004 incident. He was hospitalized for several weeks with severe burns. He told investigators that the aggressors used anti-gay epithets during the attack.
After more than two and a half years of investigation and court proceedings, the judge in Bethune dropped the case Sept. 25, court officials said.
No reason for the decision was given, though the defense has long cited the lack of witnesses or solid evidence in the case. A suspect was detained in May 2004 and placed under investigation, but he was later released for lack of evidence.
New Zealand Presbyterians ban gays from church leadership roles
WELLINGTON, New Zealand – New Zealand Presbyterian Church leaders voted Friday to bar gays and people having sex outside of marriage from taking leadership roles in the church.
The church’s general assembly voted 65 percent to 35 percent to forbid the church from training, licensing, ordaining or inducting as ministers gays and people living together outside of marriage.
The rule does not apply to any church member licensed, ordained or inducted as a minister prior to 2004.
Almost half of EU population ignorant on AIDS transmission
BRUSSELS, Belgium – Almost half of the European Union population continues to have misconceptions about the ways in which HIV/AIDS can be spread, the European Commission said Monday.
A survey by the EU executive found that although many know that sharing needles, receiving infected blood and having unprotected sex were the three most prominent ways to get infected, 45 percent also believed donating blood, sharing glasses and sitting on a toilet seat could spread the disease.
Only 40 percent knew the virus could not be passed by kissing on the mouth.