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National News Briefs

By | 2006-03-23T09:00:00-05:00 March 23rd, 2006|News|

Compiled by Dawn Wolfe Gutterman

Politics

Romney will fly to Rome

NASHUA, N.H. – Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who recently filed a bill that would allow a Catholic social service agency to deny adoptions to gay couples, will fly to Rome week to attend Archbishop Sean O’Malley’s elevation to cardinal at the Vatican.

The trip is further evidence of a growing relationship not only between Romney and the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Boston, but also of the importance he gives to Catholics and social conservatives in the potential presidential campaign he is contemplating for 2008.

He denied seeking any political gain from the trip, saying he was invited because of his office, not his politics.

Utah governor signs hate crimes bill

SALT LAKE CITY – Gov. Jon Huntsman has signed into law a compromise hate crimes bill that focuses on a crime’s impact on the community.

Previous bills sought to increase the punishment of those whose criminal acts stemmed from hatred based on such issues as race, religion or sexual orientation. Much of the opposition was against increasing the penalties for persecutors of gays.

The bill that was passed does not mention the specific categories, such as race or sexual orientation.

Instead, it focuses on the impact of a crime on the community, not what motivated the crime.

And it does not raise the level of the offense, but does allow judges and the parole board to consider it as an aggravating factor.

Santorum’s primary challenger drops out

WASHINGTON – A Philadelphia real-estate broker who was Sen. Rick Santorum’s only Republican primary challenger is dropping out of the race.

John Featherman said March 15 he determined it wasn’t worth the money to fight the state Republican Party, which had challenged his application to be on the ballot. The party cited errors such as blank boxes and Democrats who signed the petitions.

Featherman is a moderate Republican who supports abortion rights, equal marriage and a flat tax.

In the Democratic Party, state Treasurer Bob Casey is considered the leading candidate, and he consistently has been ahead of the right-wing Santorum in polls.

Civil Rights

City Council votes to extend gay, transgender protection

CINCINNATI – The City Council voted March 15 to extend protection against discrimination to gay and transgender people, the city’s first action to provide such protection since the repeal of Cincinnati’s ban on gay-rights laws in 2004.

Family Rights

Blue Cross to extend DP coverage to small business

HELENA – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Montana plans to make its domestic partners insurance coverage available to employees of small businesses starting in July.

The domestic partner coverage will be available to same-sex or opposite-sex partners of the covered employee if the business buying the policy decides to offer it.

Blue Cross already has large-group policies that cover domestic partners of the insured employee, regardless of sex.

Religion

Gay married Mormon faces excommunication

SALT LAKE CITY – A gay man who is a lifetime member of the Mormon church could be facing disciplinary action and excommunication after legally marrying his partner in Canada.

Buckley Jeppson, 57, said he’s been informed verbally that his life is incompatible with the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and that a disciplinary council will address the matter.

It is believed that if Jeppson is excommunicated, it would be the first time a Mormon in a legal same-sex marriage would be punished by the church. In the past, members have been excommunicated for reasons ranging from criminal acts and feminist beliefs to scholarly works in history and theology that contradicted church claims.

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.