Wesley Clark on gays in the military, same-sex marriage
WASHINGTON – Former Gen. Wesley Clark would not completely end the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy against gays if he became president, but he would have the Pentagon review and change it, he said in an interview with The Advocate. The Democratic presidential candidate said it was “a bogus issue” to think that openly gay service members in the military would hamper combat readiness.
Clark criticized the current policy, instituted during the Clinton administration, which prohibits gays from serving openly, but he stopped short of outlining what sort of system he considers best.
Clark refrained from lending full support to gay marriage, a stand similar to his major rivals, but said he does support federal rights for gay couples.
“I think marriage is a term of art. It’s a term of usage. But the legal side of it is not: It’s not negotiable,” he said, adding that it should be up to state legislatures to determine what constitutes a marriage.
“If the state of Massachusetts says we’re going to form a civil union but we’re going to call it marriage, then as far as I’m concerned, that’s marriage.”
HIV-positive inmates admitted to education, work
ATHENS, Ala. – More than 200 male inmates who are HIV-positive at Limestone Correctional Facility in Athens will have a chance to earn GEDs, take part in vocational programs and spend time outside their dorms, ending the state’s practice of segregating them.
The only state prison system other than Alabama to retain total HIV segregation into the 1990s was Mississippi. The ACLU, which monitors state prison systems, said Mississippi opened up its programs in 2001.
DOC moved HIV-positive prisoners into better housing. The men live in modular buildings with two-man cells, as opposed to the open warehouse where they used to live.
The policy reversal does not include female inmates with HIV. They remain segregated and barred from classes at Tutwiler prison. Winters and representatives of AIDS Alabama have asked Prison Commissioner Donal Campbell to change Tutwiler’s policies.
Domestic partner registry opens in Ohio
CLEVELAND HEIGHTS – A domestic registry approved in November by voters in Cleveland Heights, an upscale Cleveland suburb of 50,000 residents, is now opened. It passed with 55 percent of the vote.
Domestic registries have been created by councils and state legislatures elsewhere, but this was the first through a ballot issue.
The opening of the Cleveland Heights registry comes less than a week after the Ohio Legislature passed one of the country’s most-far reaching bans on gay marriage.
The registry is not marriage and it’s not binding on courts, governments or companies. But supporters hope it will make it easier for couples to eventually share employment benefits, inherit property or get hospital visiting rights.
The registration costs $50 for residents and $65 for nonresidents. Eventually, the city will offer the registration online and by mail.
Poll: majority opposes same-sex marriage; but most oppose marrriage amendment
WASHINGTON – More than half of Americans say they oppose same-sex marriage, but most also oppose amending the Constitution to ban such unions, according to a poll released Jan. 21.
The ABC News poll found that 55 percent of people think it should be illegal for homosexual couples to get married. Almost that many, 51 percent, were opposed to allowing gay couples to form civil unions.
But when people are asked whether the Constitution should be amended or whether each state should make its own laws, six in 10 said states should make their own laws.
Asked whether it should be the role of the federal government to promote and encourage traditional marriage between a man and a women, 56 percent said it should not be a government role.
The poll of 1,036 adults was taken Jan. 15-18 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Bill seeking to impeach Virginia judges over gay marriage killed
RICHMOND – A House committee killed a bill that sought to impeach judges who rule that the state’s ban on gay marriages is unconstitutional.
Del. Robert G. Marshall’s bill failed to move out of the Courts of Justice Committee, 18-3.
Under the legislation, judges would have been deemed to commit “malfeasance in office” by ruling in support of gay marriages, making them subject to impeachment under the Virginia Constitution.
Marshall said the bill was intended to prevent gay rights activists from petitioning the courts to change the state’s law against gay marriage.
But Del. Brian J. Moran, D-Alexandria, said Marshall’s bill was “clearly unconstitutional.”
Conservative Episcopalians appear set to launch new protest
PLANO, Texas – Conservative Episcopalians appear to be on track to launch a new nationwide protest organization: The Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes.
The movement, which hopes for significant support from foreign Anglicans, was prompted by the decision of an Episcopal Church convention last August to approve openly gay Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire.
Organizers say the network is no schism but a “church within a church” whose followers will remain Episcopalians. One reason not to quit: most parishes would be forced to surrender their properties to the denomination.
The network hopes to become the American entity to which foreign Anglicans can relate. Canon Bill Atwood of the Texas-based Ekklesia Society, which aids churches in developing nations, said in a phone interview from Uganda that bishops who lead a majority of the world’s Anglicans are preparing a joint statement to recognize the network.
A leaked memo from one network activist said the ultimate goal is a “replacement” jurisdiction aligned with world Anglicanism. A key leader said that the concept originated with the overseas Anglican leaders and decisions on replacement are up to them.
In Other News
AIDS Quilt founder sues nonprofit he started over alleged firing
SAN FRANCISCO – Cleve Jones, the creator of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, is suing the Names Project Foundation alleging he was fired as the project’s spokesman after he raised concerns that the quilt has “languished” in an Atlanta warehouse under its current leadership.
Jones, who in 1987 stitched the first square of the quilt, maintains mismanagement and myopia by the Names Project Foundation doomed his hope of having the full 48,000-panel quilt displayed in Washington, D.C. this October.
Jones, who is infected with the HIV virus, founded the Names Project and served as its executive director until 1990, when he resigned due to his illness. Since then he has continued to serve as the organization’s public face while receiving a $41,500 salary and health benefits, an arrangement he said he was promised for life when he ceded his personal stake in the quilt to the foundation.
Edward Gatta Jr., president of the foundation’s board of directors, said he could not comment on Jones’ lawsuit because neither he nor the organization’s lawyer had seen it. He did say, however, that there were “a number of discrepancies” between Jones’ version of recent events and the board’s.
Besides compensatory and punitive damages, Jones said he is seeking to have both the quilt and the foundation’s headquarters moved back to San Francisco. Over the objections of many AIDS activists here, both were moved to Atlanta in March 2001.