Compiled by Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
Feingold says he supports equal marriage rights
WASHINGTON – Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin), a potential presidential candidate, said April 4 he supports giving gays and lesbians the right to marry.
“Gay and lesbian people in our country are fighting a mean-spirited movement to harm them and to discriminate against them,” Feingold, said in a telephone interview. “I stand with them against that movement, and I’m proud to stand with them.”
Feingold said he decided to express his support in response to a November Wisconsin constitutional amendment to ban equal marriage and civil unions.
Gay adoption policies not uniform in New Hampshire
CONCORD, N.H. – Although the state Legislature repealed a ban on adoptions by gays in 1999, gay parents in some counties cannot adopt a partner’s children because of varying interpretations of the law by probate judges.
Single men and women, gay or straight, are allowed to adopt children in all counties under state law. But probate court judges in four counties do not allow gay or lesbian couples to adopt children together or allow one to adopt the child of the other because the law specifies that married couples and single adults can adopt. Gays and lesbians are not allowed to marry in New Hampshire.
In the state’s other six counties, judges have interpreted adoption law and court rulings more broadly to allow adoptions by gay and lesbian partners, as long as they can show they have a stable and loving home.
There are no bills pending to clarify the law.
Lawsuit says Oregon discriminates against same-sex parents
PORTLAND, Ore. – A lawsuit filed by a same-sex couple charges that Oregon has broken the law by recognizing only one of them as the parent of their child.
The couple, Jeana Frazzini and Kristan Parman, had a child two years ago through artificial insemination. They say the child’s birth certificate recognizes only Parman, the birth mother, as the child’s parent. As a result, Frazzini has to legally adopt the child to be recognized as a legal parent.
The couple and the group supporting their case said heterosexual married couples would not have to go through the same process.
The lawsuit is the first of several that Basic Rights Oregon, the state’s main group for advocating gay human rights, plans to file against the state. The group said other lawsuits will address issues such as health benefits, retirement benefits and workers’ compensation.
Catholic group sues city over gay adoption remarks
SAN FRANCISCO – A Catholic civil rights group has sued the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for allegedly violating the separation of church and state by criticizing the Roman Catholic Church’s position on adoption by gay couples.
The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights sued April 3 in federal court after the board’s nonbinding, but strongly worded resolution condemned a plea by the Vatican urging the bishop to stop facilitating adoptions to gay couples.
The resolution last month said that it was an insult to San Franciscans when the Vatican “meddles with and attempts to negatively influence this great city’s existing and established customs and traditions.”
Senate gives OK to discriminatory adoption plan
PHOENIX – The Arizona Senate gave preliminary approval April 3 to a proposal that would give married couples preference over single people in adopting children.
Gay rights advocates say the measure would make it harder for gay and lesbian couples to adopt because Arizona law outlaws equal marriage rights.
Catholic advocacy for federal marriage amendment urged
WASHINGTON – The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is urging all Roman Catholics to fight for a proposed federal constitutional amendment that would prohibit equal marriage rights.
Bishop William S. Skylstad wrote in a letter to his fellow church leaders that there is a growing consensus among religious leaders that only action on a federal level will preserve “traditional marriage.”
The amendment is expected to go before the Senate in June.
Student who wrote he was gay dismissed from school
WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. – A University of Cumberlands student who revealed he was gay on a personal Web page has been expelled.
Jason Johnson, 20, of Lexington, was asked to leave the small Baptist school during the week of April 3. The university has a policy that says it reserves the right to expel a student who “promotes sexual behavior not consistent with Christian principles,” including homosexuality.
A friend of Johnson’s said that other students are printing T-shirts that say, “Jesus loves gay people, too.”
Araujo murder to be made into TV movie
NEWARK, Calif. – The life of slain transgender teen Gwen Araujo is being made into a television movie starring Academy Award-winning actress Mercedes Ruehl as Araujo’s mother and J.D. Pardo from “A Cinderella Story” as Araujo.
Filming for “The Gwen Araujo Story” began April 2 in Vancouver and the movie is expected to debut in June on the Lifetime channel, said executive producer Philip Krupp.
The attorney for Araujo’s mother, Sylvia Guerrero, said she pitched the film to Lifetime executives hoping it would draw attention to Araujo’s difficult decision to live as a female and the conflict it created within her family.
New seminary leader favors openly gay rabbis
NEW YORK – Jewish Theological Seminary of America, the prime school of Judaism’s Conservative branch, has named Arnold M. Eisen it’s new chancellor.
Eisen said that he personally supports ordaining openly gay seminarians, though he’ll abide by whatever the movement decides. The Rabbinical Assembly’s committee on Jewish law has postponed proposing any decision on the issue until at least December.
Panel proposes ‘caution’ in electing gay bishops
NEW YORK – An Episcopal Church panel studying the furor over the denomination’s first openly gay bishop proposed April 7 that dioceses use “very considerable caution” from now on in electing bishops with same-sex partners, but stopped short of the moratorium critics demanded.
The commission also recommended that the American church offer “apology and repentance” for the turmoil its actions caused within the global Anglican Communion, and said dioceses should stop creating blessing ceremonies for same-gender couples, at least temporarily.
The suggestions are among several that will go before a June meeting of the top Episcopal legislative body, called the General Convention.
On May 6, the Diocese of California is scheduled to elect a new bishop and three of the seven candidates for the post have same-sex partners. The winner of that election cannot be consecrated without approval from the General Convention.
Hate Crimes Watch
Six sentenced in attack on gay men
SANTA FE – A judge told the two men deemed most responsible for last year’s beatings of two gay men in Santa Fe that “you need to see the inside of the penitentiary.”
“The viciousness of this attack warrants you going to the penitentiary to see where you will live your life if this type of activity continues,” the judge told them April 5.
James Maestas, 22, and Joshua Stockham, 24, were beaten Feb. 27, 2005, in the parking lot of a motel. Maestas spent eight days in a coma; Stockham received minor injuries.
Council agrees to host Gay Games event
CRYSTAL LAKE, Illinois – The city council agreed to host a rowing event for gay athletes this summer, despite opposition from residents who see it as a threat to their small-town way of life.
Opponents have argued that the games are an inappropriate attempt to legitimize and celebrate the “gay lifestyle,” and that organizers are more interested in making a social statement than competing.
Supporters have criticized the resistance as discriminatory and hateful, and say such opposition underscores the Gay Games’ mission of tearing down stereotypes.
Court rules sex abuse statute unconstitutional
HARTFORD, Conn. – The Connecticut Appellate Court has ruled that a state statute on sexual assault involving stepchildren is unconstitutional because it seems to endorse homosexual relationships.
The court, in a decision April 5 overturning the third-degree sexual assault conviction of a New Haven man, said the statute violated the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, dealing with equal protection.
The court ruled that the state law barring a stepparent from having sex with a stepchild of the opposite sex who is over 16 years old violates equal protection rights, because the statute does not prohibit the same relationship with a stepchild of the same sex.
Prison officer to be disciplined for showing ‘Brokeback’
NORFOLK, Massachusetts – A Massachusetts prison officer faces punishment for showing “Brokeback Mountain” to inmates at the state’s largest prison.
A Massachusetts Department of Correction spokeswoman said the recreation officer, whose name was not released, had not followed standard procedure for screening the movie for excessive violence, assaults on correctional staff, nudity or explicit sexual content.
“I want to make it clear, it wasn’t the subject matter – it was the graphic nature of the sexually explicit scenes,” the spokeswoman said.