Compiled by Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
Anti-gay petition drive declared successful
AUGUSTA, Maine – Voters will decide in November whether to repeal Maine’s newly enacted gay rights law, the state’s chief elections officer said July 28 after qualifying the measure for the ballot.
As passed by the Legislature earlier this year, the law would protect people from discrimination in employment, housing, education, public accommodations and credit based on their sexual orientation. Twice before, Maine voters have rejected similar legislation.
San Diego appoints lesbian mayor
SAN DIEGO, Ca. – San Diego became the largest city in America with an openly gay mayor July 25 when the remaining members of the City Council chose lesbian Councilwoman Toni Atkins to fill the position until December.
Former Mayor Dick Murphy resigned July 15 amid a massive employee pension-funding debacle.
In an emergency vote July 19, Atkins was selected by the other five councilmembers to fill the mayor’s shoes for one week. Then, on July 25, her selection was re-affirmed and she will hold the job until a new mayor is elected in November and sworn in Dec. 5. Atkins is not a candidate in that election.
San Diego is America’s seventh-largest city.
Utah approves pro-gay license plates
SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah State Tax Commission has ruled that it will approve three personalized license plates with gay-positive messages after an earlier denial of the plates was appealed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah. The decision is a first for the commission, which, until this decision, had never approved a personalized plate containing the word “gay.”
Hate Crimes Watch
Mobile home belonging to gay couple torched
LAKELAND, Florida – A mobile home belonging to a gay couple was torched and an epithet was spray-painted on the front steps last week, authorities said.
Paul Day, 25, and Christopher Robertson, 23, returned home from errands July 25 to find their house in Lakeland burned and “Die Fag” spray-painted on the front steps.
Officials remained tightlipped about whether the incident was being investigated as a hate crime, which would allow for enhanced criminal penalties.
Bail set in hate crime case
LOCKPORT, NY – The Lockport Union Sun and Journal reported on July 19 that a man accused of beating a man with a hammer and holding him at gunpoint because of his sexual orientation appeared in court July 18 to ask for bail to be set in his case.
The man was charged June 24 with second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, second-degree assault as a hate crime and first-degree unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime. The victim suffered severe head injuries.
Signature-gathering can begin for marriage ban
SAN FRANCISCO – Anti-human rights advocates can now begin petitioning to ban equal marriage rights and rescind California’s domestic partner law.
California Attorney General Bill Lockyer has released a summary of a proposed constitutional amendment highlighting how the measure would ban equal marriage rights for same-sex couples.
Lockyer’s analysis makes it clear that if the amendment passed, it would go beyond limiting marriage to unions between a man and a woman.
While sponsors submitted a working title of “The Voters’ Right to Protect Marriage Act,” the attorney general has renamed it, “Marriage. Elimination of Domestic Partnership Rights.”
The group behind the amendment, VoteYesMarriage, is suing Lockyer to have the wording changed back.
The amendment states that the measure “voids and restricts registered domestic partner rights and obligations” in areas ranging from inheritance and adoption to insurance benefits and hospital visitation.
Two other anti-gay ballot proposals banning marriage and DP benefits have also been approved for circulation.
Initiative would strip benefits from gay partners
PHOENIX – If Arizona voters approve a constitutional amendment banning government-sponsored benefits to unmarried couples, more than 400 Arizonans would lose their medical insurance and other benefits. The initiative will go on the November 2006 ballot if the necessary signatures are gathered. It would not affect private businesses, but the measure would prohibit cities, towns, and counties from giving legal status to unmarried couples, gay or straight.
HIV positive aunt can see children again
JACKSON, Miss. – On July 25 a Mississippi court reversed a temporary custody restriction placed by a judge in the Chancery Court of Jackson County that barred a Mississippi mother from allowing her children to be in the presence of their aunt because she has HIV.
Lambda Legal represents Keri Rowell, who was granted an extension of the temporary custody of her three children in March 2005 contingent upon their being denied physical contact with their aunt, Tanya Wilkins, because Wilkins has HIV.
Prior to the original March ruling, Wilkins had always played an active role in the children’s lives, but since the ruling four months ago she had not been able to have any physical contact with them.
Complaints prompt early removal of gay Web site’s billboard
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A Cambridge billboard that prompted complaints from an anti-gay group was taken down July 28, one day earlier than scheduled.
The billboard is an ad for dating and news site Gay.com. It shows two bare-chested men embracing under an American flag.
Media giant Clear Channel removed the billboard after complaints from the anti-gay group Article 8 Alliance.
Let Clear Channel know how you feel about their bowing to the pressure of anti-human rights activists. Their corporate phone number in Arizona is 602-957-8116.
Billboard company refuses to run ads for gay and lesbian group
ATLANTA – An outdoor advertising company said July 29 it refused to rent billboard space in South Georgia to a gay and lesbian advocacy group because their sign didn’t meet “community standards.”
Lamar Outdoor Advertising’s South Georgia general manager said he turned the group down because of the wording that would have been used on the signs.
The proposed billboards featured images of professionals, such as a firefighter and a doctor, and include tag lines that read, “I protect you. And … I am gay. We Are Your Neighbors.”
Let Lamar Outdoor Advertising know that pro-equal rights messages do indeed meet the “community standards” of fair minded people. Their corporate phone number is 225-926-1000, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Perry to step down as head of MCC
LOS ANGELES, Ca. – Troy Perry, who founded the first Metropolitan Community Church in Los Angeles in 1968 and saw it grow to a worldwide movement of predominantly LGBT Christians, retired from his position as Moderator at the denomination’s General Conference in Calgary.
Perry will be succeeded by the Rev. Nancy Wilson, who has served on the Board of Elders since 1976 and at one time was the head of an MCC church in Detroit.
Bishops to take Connecticut cleric to church court
HARTFORD – Nine conservative Episcopal bishops said July 21 they will take Connecticut’s bishop to religious court over his suspension of one priest and threat to remove five others.
The conflict stems from Connecticut Bishop Andrew Smith’s support for the openly-gay Rev. V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.
Dubbed the “Connecticut Six,” the priests had asked to be supervised by a different bishop because they disagreed with Smith’s support for Robinson.
Earlier this month, Smith used his power to “inhibit” one of the six and appointed another priest to lead St. John’s Church in Bristol.