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15th April 2004 (# 5) News Clippings Digest

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  • Graham Underhill
    15th April 2004 (# 5) News Clippings Digest 1. SALT LAKE TRIBUNE Letter: Discrimination helps nobody 2. SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE Mayor Gavin Newsom faces
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 24, 2004
      15th April 2004 (# 5) News Clippings Digest

      1.  SALT LAKE TRIBUNE  Letter:  Discrimination helps nobody

      2.  SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE  Mayor Gavin Newsom faces wrath of God, fundamentalist leaders say

      3.  REUTERS  Gay rights advocates representing six same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses in Florida have filed suit asking a judge to overturn the state's ban on gay marriages

      4.  CANADIAN PRESS  Svend Robinson, Canada's first openly gay MP, quits politics after 25 years

      5.  BELFAST TELEGRAPH (Northern Ireland)  Londonderry man beaten up because he's gay

      6.  AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE  Gay Turks are tearing down walls in Berlin; Coming out can still be perilous, except for one night a month

      7.  WRAL-TV (North Carolina)  Chapel Hill Moves Forward With Plans To Recognize Gay Marriages

      8.  ASSOCIATED PRESS  Oregon:  Supporters and opponents of gay marriage filed briefs Wednesday for a lawsuit expected to decide the issue for Portland

      9.  ASSOCIATED PRESS  Oklahoma Senate Approves Gay Marriage Amendment Measure; Bill Calls For Public Vote On Same-Sex Marriage Ban

      10.  THE TIMES-PICAYUNE (New Orelans)  Poll finds Louisiana favors gay marriage ban; Nearly 2 in 3 back constitutional change

      Salt Lake Tribune, April 15, 2004
      P. O. Box 867, Salt Lake City, UT, 84110
      (Fax: 801-257-8950) (E-Mail: letters@... )
      ( http://www.sltrib.com )

      Letter:  Discrimination helps nobody
              Nice try, Karla (Forum, April 8).
              When it comes to drawing lines, the last time I looked, incest was outlawed because of its adverse affect on the gene pool.  (Even so, certain communities right here in Utah continue to practice it.)
              Obviously, marriage is a legal contract as well as an emotional one and, to that extent, it is the business of the government.  If I have a same-sex partner to whom I am legally bound, how does it harm society if I am entitled to the same tax breaks and inheritance laws that a mixed-gender couple has?  A heterosexual relationship in no way guarantees the success of marriage.
              Not too long ago in this country, marriage between blacks and whites was frowned upon, if not illegal.  Fortunately, no one jumped to rewrite the Constitution to define marriage as a legal contract between a man and a woman of the same race.  Racism, discrimination, where do you draw the line?  Who does it benefit to discriminate against gays and homosexuals?
              What rings true to me, and can't be reiterated too many times in this whole debate, is that the Constitution was written to protect individuals rights, not limit them.  The gender definition of marriage serves no one and hurts many.  Why draw the line there?
      - Melinda McIlwaine, Salt Lake City

      San Francisco Chronicle, April 15, 2004
      901 Mission St., San Francisco, CA, 94103
      (Fax: 415-896-1107 ) (E-Mail:  letters@... )
      ( http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle )

      The Battle Over Same-Sex Marriage
      Newsom faces wrath of God, fundamentalist leaders say
      Don Lattin, Chronicle Religion Writer

              Dozens of fundamentalist preachers from across California came to San Francisco City Hall on Wednesday and told Mayor Gavin Newsom to repent or face the wrath of God.
              Repentance would involve a reversal and renunciation of same-sex marriage, something the mayor says he will not do.
              The Rev. David Innes, pastor of Hamilton Square Baptist Church in San Francisco, led a delegation of conservative evangelical leaders who met with Newsom and handed the mayor a letter signed by 200 pastors.
              By issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples, the pastors said, the mayor has violated state laws limiting marriage to heterosexual couples.
              "More serious," their letter states, "is your brazen defiance of God's holy immutable law."
              After the meeting, Newsom gathered for another meeting with his department heads.  "My friends of the church were just lecturing me," the mayor quipped.
              As Newsom went on with his day, more than 100 evangelicals stood on the City Hall steps and unfurled a banner that proclaimed, "We All Agree - Marriage = 1 Man and 1 Woman."
              Many of them yelled "Amen!" when Innes called on the mayor to repent.
              Another speaker, the Rev. Chuck McIlhenny, the pastor of the First Orthodox Presbyterian Church in San Francisco, said government-sanctioned same-sex marriages are what happens "when the wicked seize a city."  McIlhenny is one of the preachers who has filed a lawsuit seeking to halt the marriages.
              "Anyone who speaks out against homosexuality is discriminated against.  Churches are firebombed.  It happens in San Francisco," said McIlhenny, who has battled the local gay rights movement for more than two decades.
              The Rev. Arthur McKay, president of the San Francisco Baptist Ministers Conference, said he and other African American church leaders resent it when comparisons are made between the same-sex marriage crusade and the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s.
              "They (gay rights leaders) have hijacked the civil rights train," McKay told the crowd.  "This is not a civil rights issue.  It's a moral issue."
              Many of the protesters outside City Hall were Asian American Christians, including the Rev. Thomas Wang of the Bay Area Chinese Ministerial Prayer Fellowship.
              "Even the great majority of nonchurched Asians, Afro Americans and Hispanics are for traditional marriage and are offended that radical gay rights activists have hijacked the civil rights movement," Wang said.
              Darlene Chiu, a spokeswoman for the mayor, said Newsom was not converted by his evangelical visitation.
              "The mayor believes marriage is between two people who love each other," Chiu said.
              Earlier this year, Newsom allowed his staff to issue 4,037 marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
              City Hall workers have suspended the practice pending a court ruling on the legality of Newsom's action.
              But in the end, the pastors say, the real judge will be God in heaven.
              "We pray for the mayor every day," said the Rev. Bud Silva, pastor of the Fundamental Baptist Church of Santa Maria.
              � Chronicle staff writer Ilene Lelchuk contributed to this report. 
      E-mail Don Lattin at dlattin@...

      Reuters, April 15, 2004

      Couples Sue to End Florida's Gay Marriage Ban
      By Laura Myers

              KEY WEST, Fla. (Reuters) - Gay rights advocates representing six same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses in Florida filed suit on Thursday asking a judge to overturn the state's ban on gay marriages.
              The lawsuit was filed in state court in Key West and followed similar efforts in Massachusetts, California and several other states.
              It set the battle for same-sex marriage rights in heavily populated Florida, where Gov. Jeb Bush, the brother of President Bush, favors a national constitutional amendment defining marriage as a legal union between heterosexuals.
              The lawsuit was timed to coincide with the April 15 deadline to file U.S. income taxes.
              "Today is the first time in our nation's history that we, having been legally married in Canada and in cities throughout the nation, are being told by the federal government to lie and file 'single' on our tax returns," said Stratton Pollitzer, regional director for Equality Florida, with 30,000 supporters statewide.
              Florida's 1997 Defense of Marriage Act defines marriage as a union of a man and a woman and bars recognition of same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.
              The complaint said marriage restrictions based on gender and sexual orientation violate the Florida Constitution's guarantees of equal protection, due process and privacy rights.
              At a ceremony outside the Monroe County Courthouse in Key West, plaintiff the Rev. Geoff Leonard, a pastor at Key West's Metropolitan Community Church, choked back tears and said, "I want to marry my partner Steven."
              "We're not going to change people's minds," he said, kissing his partner on the cheek.  "We are asking the state to treat us equally."
              A spokeswoman for Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist said she could not comment because she had not seen the lawsuit.
              "The governor of Florida is wrong," said Karen Doering, staff attorney for the Tampa-based National Center for Lesbian Rights.  "The denial of these rights has real consequences on real families."
              Earlier Thursday, Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney filed emergency legislation to freeze a court order that directs his state to issue marriage licenses to gay couples on May 17.
              Key West has a large gay population and its city commission adopted a resolution last month supporting same-sex marriages.
              "Key West is about equality and equal rights for everyone.  We're a very inclusive community," said Mayor Jimmy Weekley.  "I look forward to the day when I can perform a marriage and not a commitment ceremony."

      Canadian Press, April 15, 2004

      Svend Robinson, Canada's first openly gay MP, quits politics after 25 years

              OTTAWA (CP) - Svend Robinson, Canada's first openly gay MP, is poised to quit politics after 25 years as a New Democrat.
              Robinson, 52, was set to announce he's giving up his Burnaby-Douglas seat in Vancouver on Thursday afternoon.  The reason for the popular MP's departure was not immediately known.  Insiders insist he's not switching parties.  NDP Leader Jack Layton called a news conference in Ottawa for later Thursday to discuss Robinson's decision.
              An outspoken figure on Parliament Hill, Robinson became Canada's first openly homosexual MP when he publicly declared his sexual orientation in 1988.
              His aggressive stands on same-sex marriage, charter protection of gay rights and Palestinian autonomy - among other issues - have made Robinson a lightning rod for critics.
              He's represented the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby since 1979, winning the last election in 2000 with just 37 per cent of the popular vote.
              Party officials and a spokesman in his office appeared caught off guard by his departure.
              "It's very sudden," said one insider.
              Robinson was an active advocate in the Commons until two weeks ago and his April riding newsletter appeared as usual on his web site, including a call for submissions by April 15 for the next edition.
              Last October, Robinson won the NDP nomination in Burnaby-Douglas for the coming federal election and told supporters he was "looking forward to continuing as your member of Parliament."
              At the time, Layton lauded Robinson as someone whose "many contributions to Parliament and Canada are recognized, not only by the people of Burnaby-Douglas, but by people from coast to coast to coast."
              But Robinson, with his flair for dramatic self-promotion and penchant for over-heated rhetoric, has ruffled feathers even within his own party.
              He once tried to out gay MP Scott Brison by falsely stating at a news conference that Brison would second Robinson's private member's bill legalizing same-sex marriage.  Brison's local newspaper, the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, ran the story on its front page, only to have Brison respond he had nothing to do with the bill and had never been contacted by Robinson.
              In 2001, Robinson was ridiculed in the Commons after complaining that a police rubber bullet had torn his pants during demonstrations at the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City.  Robinson later launched a lawsuit against the RCMP and the National Post newspaper over the incident and its public belittlement.
              He was demoted from his international affairs critic's role two years ago after travelling to the West Bank, staging his own televised detention at an Israeli checkpoint as he attempted to visit PLO leader Yasser Arafat and then accusing the Israeli military of murder and torture.
              "I plead guilty.  Yes, I am taking sides," Robinson said then.
              "I am taking the side of peace over war.  I am taking the side of the oppressed over the oppressor."

      Belfast Telegraph, 15 April 2004
      124-144 Royal Avenue, Belfast  BT1 1EB Northern Ireland
      (E-Mail: editor@...  )( http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/ )

      Man beaten up because he's gay

              Police in Londonderry today revealed that a man attacked last weekend was targeted because he is gay.
              Police are appealing for information about the homophobic assault in Queen's Quay at 12.30am on Saturday, April 10.
              A PSNI spokesman said: "A man was approached by two other men and a woman in the Queen's Quay area.  He was asked if he was gay and when he confirmed that he was one of the men head butted him.
              "He fell to the ground and was further assaulted causing a black eye swollen face, and various scrapes and bruises."
              Anyone who saw the assault should contact police at Strand Road on 028 7136 7337 or with guaranteed anonymity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

      Agence France-Presse, April 15, 2004

      Gay Turks tearing down walls in Berlin
      Coming out can still be perilous, except for one night a month
      By Deborah Cole, Agence France Presse

              BERLIN:  Two men with black moustaches and muscle shirts dance cheek-to-cheek as a group of drag-queen belly dancers mount the stage.  A rousing mix of Turkish, Arabic, Greek and Israeli music throbs from the speakers.
              "Gayhane (Gay Space)," the monthly party for Berlin's burgeoning gay Turkish community, has grown so fast since it was founded six years ago that its venue in the diverse Kreuzberg district can barely contain the partygoers.
              A winding line of lesbians, gays, transvestites and transsexuals outside the SO36 venue has become a fixture the last Saturday night of each month on Oranienstrasse, the main drag in Kreuzberg.
              Organizer Hakan Tandogan, one of the renowned cross-dressing belly dancers, says the queue out front is a sign that at least for one night a month, gays have an accepted public role in Germany's large Turkish community.
              "If we were a few streets north or south of here, I'd have my face beaten in," said Tandogan, dressed in a revealing black lace number with earrings as big as saucers.  "Here, I feel free and safe."
              Over a vodka tonic at SO36 as the party was starting, Tandogan explains the battle he and other gay Turks have fought for acceptance.
              "In the beginning - we're talking eight years ago - everybody led a double life," he said, referring to gays passing themselves off as straight, often in the context of a marriage, and living out their homosexuality in secret.
              "But the more there are of us who have come out, the easier it is for people to see they are not alone.  Growing up, I thought I was the only one."
              Tandogan is part of a growing number of homosexual Turks who consider Germany - home to 2.3 million Turkish immigrants - something of an oasis where they can live openly.
              The number of Turkish gays and lesbians in Germany who are "out" is estimated at up to 15,000.  But the count of those still in the closet is thought to be far higher.
              Although there is a tiny homosexual minority in Turkish cities such as Ankara and Istanbul, gays who know the scene say the deeply conservative society considers homosexuality at best a disease.
              Many in Germany's Turkish community - most of whom are descendants of guest workers who arrived in the 1960s - come from rural regions like Anatolia where being openly gay would be unthinkable.
              Hakan Tan, a journalist who moved to Germany at the age of 14 and is still in close contact with his family in Turkey, said it was unrealistic to hope a predominantly Muslim country could match Western Europe in its sexual tolerance - yet.
              "You can't expect Turkey to be as far along as Western Europe.  The gay and lesbian movement has only existed there for the last 10 or 12 years.  It's all pretty new," said Tan, 37, who had his coming-out in Germany two decades ago.
              The German scene now has all the fixings of a community - websites, AIDS help groups, magazines and even its own float at Berlin's giant annual gay pride parade.
              But as rosy as things can seem in anything-goes Berlin, Turkish gays and lesbians say they still are hit by discrimination on several fronts.
              "We still face racism in the (gay) scene," Tan said, lamenting that Turks are often viewed as "pickpockets or call-boys."
              "There are still loads of gay bars that don't even let Turks in the door," Tandogan added.
              He said Turkish gay men in particular are also often fetishized in the German gay scene, falling into the category of the "exotic lover" to be seduced but never considered a potential partner.
              And for many, there is still the threat of severe reprisals from relatives who learn they are gay, including violence, expulsion to Turkey and forced marriage, said Deniz Guvenc, a lesbian who works with a Berlin-based self-help group for homosexual Turks.

      WRAL-TV (North Carolina), April 15, 2004

      Chapel Hill Moves Forward With Plans To Recognize Gay Marriages

              CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - The Chapel Hill Town Council voted unanimously Wednesday to ask state lawmakers to repeal the Defense of Marriage act.
              That means the town council is moving forward with its plan to recognize gay marriages, even though North Carolina does not under the act.
              That would allow towns like Chapel Hill the option of recognizing legal gay marriages from other states.
              Openly gay town council member Mark Kleinschmidt has spearheaded the effort to recognize gay marriages.  He realizes the request may fall on deaf ears in the legislature.
              "I suspect it won't come up even in a committee," Kleinschmidt said.  "That's fine.  What we have now is the town of Chapel Hill saying 'its our public policy, here in our community, that we desire to treat all married people the same.'"
              Lawmakers who represent the Chapel Hill area will take a look at this request.  The real test comes when the Legislature reconvenes this spring.

      Associated Press, April 15, 2004

      Gay-marriage court briefs filed

              PORTLAND - Supporters and opponents of gay marriage filed briefs Wednesday for a lawsuit expected to decide the issue for Portland.
              The documents cited human-sexuality experts and explored the intentions of Oregon's founders in making their cases.
              Oral arguments are set for Friday, and a judge is expected to rule by the end of April on whether Multnomah commissioners acted lawfully when they decided to issue same-sex licenses.
              "If the court finds the law unconstitutional, the judge only has two options: to order the county not to issue licenses to anybody or to continue what it is doing now," said David Fidanque, Oregon director of the American Civil Liberties Union.

      Associated Press, April 15, 2004

      Senate Approves Gay Marriage Amendment Measure
      Bill Calls For Public Vote On Same-Sex Marriage Ban

              OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma voters would decide whether to enact a constitutional ban on gay marriages under a measure approved Thursday in the Oklahoma Senate.
              Senate Republican leader James Williamson offered an amendment to a bill on the Senate floor that would define marriage as only between one man and one woman and prohibit the state from recognizing homosexual marriages performed outside the state.
              The amended bill, which passed on a final vote of 38-7, now heads to the full House for consideration.  If approved, the issue will be placed on the November general election ballot.  State law already prohibits gay marriage, but the constitution can only be amended by a vote of the people.
              "I am thankful to the Senate's Democrat leadership for finally giving up their efforts to keep the people from voting on the marriage protection amendment," said Williamson, R-Tulsa.  "All we wanted all along was for the Democrat leadership to allow an up or down vote on this issue, and to allow the Senate to work its will."
              Opponents of the measure argued the ban restricted the civil rights of Oklahoma citizens.
              "Gay people want to have some type of civil rights just like the rest of us," said Bernest Cain, D-Oklahoma City.  "If you're not for gay marriage, don't marry someone of the same sex."
              Sen. Frank Shurden, D-Henryetta, attempted to insert language that would allow voters to determine whether cockfighting should be a county option, but that amendment was narrowly tabled.

      The Times-Picayune, April 15, 2004
      3800 Howard Ave., New Orleans, LA, 70140
      (Fax: 504-826-3369 ) (E-Mail:  jdonley@... )
      ( http://www.nolalive.com/t-p )

      Poll finds La. favors gay marriage ban
      Nearly 2 in 3 back constitutional change
      By Ed AndersonCapital bureau

              BATON ROUGE - Almost two-thirds of Louisiana voters favor an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would prohibit same-sex marriages, according to a poll released Wednesday.
              The survey, conducted among 700 registered voters by Southern Media and Opinion Research of Baton Rouge, shows that 62 percent favored the federal ban, 30 percent opposed it and 8 percent expressed no opinion.
              President Bush recently voiced support for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriages.
              The poll was conducted March 17 and 18 and from March 22-29 for the lobbying firm of Harris DeVille and Associates and a consortium of television stations in the state.  The poll has an error margin of 3.8 percent.  Pollster Bernie Pinsonat said the poll was unusually long, containing 41 questions and took more time to complete than typical polls.
              Although Louisiana has a ban on same-sex marriage in state law, several lawmakers at the current legislative session have proposed locking it into the state Constitution.  One lawmaker has also proposed a statute that would prevent Louisiana from recognizing "civil unions, domestic partnerships or similar relationships" approved in other states.
              It takes a two-thirds vote of Congress to approve an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and three-fourths of states must ratify it once it passes.
              While all parts of the state favor an amendment, the New Orleans area registered the softest support:  57 percent of those polled supported it, 36 percent were against it and 7 percent were undecided.
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