Maryland panel advances marriage bill

Sam Arora

After three days of drama, a Maryland House committee has finally advanced a marriage equality bill, voting 12-10 to send it to the floor.

Democratic Del. Tiffany T. Alston, once a co-sponsor of the bill, voted against it after attempting to amend it to establish civil unions instead of same-sex marriage. However, Democratic Del. Sam Arora, who’s also wavered in his support for the bill in recent days, voted for it and issued a statement saying he will also do so again on the House floor.

“I have heard from constituents, friends, and advocates from across the spectrum of views and have thought about the issue of same-sex marriage extensively,” Arora said in a statement before the committee vote. “I understand their concern—this is a very serious issue, and one that many people feel passionately about. As the vote drew nearer, I wrestled with this issue in a way I never had before, which led me to realize that I had some concerns about the bill. While I personally believe that Maryland should extend civil rights to same-sex couples through civil unions, I have come to the conclusion that this issue has such impact on the people of Maryland that they should have a direct say. I will vote to send the bill to the floor because it deserves an up-or-down vote. On the floor, I will vote to send the bill to the governor so that Marylanders can ultimately decide this issue at the polls. I think that is appropriate.”

—  John Wright

Will gay bird study lead to better gaydar?

Gay ibises

Of all the gay-related stories I’ve seen recently, this one is my favorite.

Increased exposure to mercury may cause homosexuality in ibises, according to a new study done at the University of Florida, in Gainesville, not South Beach. The study was published in Nature.

Male ibises that consumed toxic methylmercury were more likely to mate with other males. As the amount of mercury exposure increased, so did the same-sex pairings.

The researcher made clear no assumptions should be made about people.

Peter Frederick, a University of Florida ecologist involved in the study, said, “People will read this and immediately jump to the conclusion that humans eating mercury are going to be gay. I want to be very explicit that this study has nothing to say about that.”

But I wonder. Mercury is the substance in thermometers. I’ve always thought of gaydar as a sort of thermometer and I wonder if those of us with more mercury can just take the temperature of those around us with just a little more accuracy than those with less. I think it’s worth studying.

—  David Taffet

Atlanta police investigate fatal shooting of gay nightclub owner, black Pride organizer

Associated Press

ATLANTA —Police are investigating the shooting death of the co-owner of a popular gay nightclub.

Authorities say 50-year-old Durand Robinson was found shot dead in the middle of an Atlanta street early Wednesday, Aug. 25 following a possible carjacking. Robinson was co-owner of the gay nightclub Traxx and an organizer of the city’s black gay pride celebration.

Atlanta Police spokesman Carlos Campos says Thursday officers are “pursuing all possibilities at this time.” He said authorities have reached no conclusion “whether his sexual orientation or involvement in the gay community played a role in his shooting death.”

Witnesses tell Atlanta police he had gotten into an argument with someone just before shots rang out. Friends say they believe he may have been the victim of an attempted carjacking, but police say they don’t have a motive or suspect.

—  John Wright