Federal judge upholds Puerto Rico’s gay marriage ban

131024100102-puerto-rican-bonds-620xaA federal judge upheld Puerto Rico’s ban on same-sex marriage on Tuesday, Oct. 21.

According to the Los Angeles Times, U.S. District Judge Juan M. Pérez-Giménez based his decision on the dismissal of appeal in Baker v. Nelson, a 1971 case in which two men sought to marry in Minnesota. By dismissing the appeal, wrote Pérez-Giménez, ”the Supreme Court bound all lower courts to assume bans on same-sex marriage do not violate the Constitution. The high court could choose to overrule itself but has not.”

Evoking his inner Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.), he wrote legalizing same-sex marriage will lead to bestiality and to polyamorous and incestuous marriages.

“Ultimately,” he wrote, “the very survival of the political order depends upon the procreative potential embodied in traditional marriage.”

Talk about activist judges.

—  James Russell

Puerto Rico’s first gay Supreme Court justice sworn in today

Oronoz 2

Puerto Rico Associate Supreme Court Justice Maite Oronoz Rodriguez

Maite Oronoz Rodriguez was sworn in today to become the youngest person and the first openly gay person to serve as an associate justice to the Puerto Rico Supreme Court. Oronoz Rodriguez, 38, is the fourth woman on the nine-member court.

Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla nominated Oronoz Rodriguez to the court last month. He called her “an example of what this generation has to offer Puerto Rico. This is a brilliant young woman who will contribute from the Supreme Court in defining the guidelines for our society in this new century.”

Oronoz Rodríguez has been serving as chief legal counsel to the city of San Juan under Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz since 2013. She earned her law degree, magna cum laude, from the University of Puerto Rico, where she was a member of the Law Review and was recognized for outstanding achievement, both academically and in community service. She holds a master’s in law from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in history from Villanova University in Pennsylvania. She also studied history, literature and Italian at the University of Florence in Italy.

Oronoz Rodríguez fills the associate justice spot left vacant by the appointment of Liana Fiol Matta as chief justice in April.

—  Tammye Nash

Gay is OK on plenty of Caribbean islands, so why do gay cruises choose the homophobes?

Ships in Dominica dock at the end of a long pier

With the arrest of two men on an Atlantis cruise in the harbor in Dominica, the question isn’t whether they were having sex, as police claim, or just sunbathing nude, as the couple claims. The question is why a gay cruise is visiting islands where homosexuality is illegal, rewarding these places with tens of thousands of dollars of purchases on each visit when there are more places in the Caribbean where homosexuality is legal and places that even recognize same-sex marriage.

And whether or not they were engaging in sexual activity, the couple was told, “You are being arrested for being gay,” according to the Washington Post. As far as the police on Dominica were concerned, every person on that ship was guilty of crime. Why didn’t they arrest them all? Because they wanted them to come ashore and spend a lot of gay dollars.

While the Caribbean has an anti-gay reputation, the laws vary from island to island. Actually, homosexuality is perfectly legal in more places than not. The differences range from recognizing same-sex marriage to life in prison. Most perplexing, perhaps is that on some islands, lesbians are legal and gays get 10 years in prison.

French and Dutch territories have the longest history of nondiscrimination. Puerto Rico’s laws were struck down along with Texas’ sodomy law in the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision.

One other thing — in Dominica, the ship does not dock at the shore, but down a long pier. Someone on shore was looking for trouble with binoculars to catch this couple. See which islands welcome the LGBT community after the jump:

—  David Taffet

Karger tops Paul in Puerto Rico primary

Fred Karger

Although Mitt Romney won Saturday’s Puerto Rico primary with more than 80 percent of the vote, gay candidate Fred Karger out-polled Ron Paul.

Karger received 1.43 percent of the vote, while Paul received 1.22 percent.

In his third primary appearance, this is the first time Karger received more votes than one of the top-tier candidates.

“We spent the past six days campaigning hard in Puerto Rico and it worked,” Karger wrote in a campaign email. “Ron Paul has been in all 20 debates, raised $35 million and has 80 percent name identification, and it looks like we beat him with our message of jobs now, moderation and inclusion.”

Santorum, who said last week that if Puerto Ricans want to be Americans, they should learn English, received 8 percent of the vote. Karger ran TV commercials in Spanish. So some Puerto Rico Republicans are so extreme they would rather vote for a candidate who tells them to change their native, local language than for someone who is gay and moderate on all other issues.

Fewer than 100,000 people are registered as Republicans in Puerto Rico, but 20 delegates were at stake. With more than 50 percent of the votes, Romney gets all of the delegates.

From here, Karger next competes in the April 3 Maryland primary. He also will appear on the ballot in his home-state California primary on June 5.

Later that month he will be one of five candidates on the June 26 Utah ballot. He credits his inclusion there as a result of the work of Utah Log Cabin. Results of that primary will be interesting in the state with the largest Mormon population. After that church funded much of the support for Prop 8 in California that stopped same-sex marriage, Karger started the website Top 10 Craziest Mormon Beliefs.

—  David Taffet

What’s Brewing: Anti-gay lawmaker resigns amid Grindr scandal; Santorum accuses gays of ‘jihad’

Sen. Roberto Arango on Grindr

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. An anti-gay Puerto Rico lawmaker has resigned after he was caught posting nude pics on Grindr. In what has to be one of the worst defenses ever, Republican Sen. Roberto Arango initially tried to claim that he took the photos — which included one taken from behind with him on all fours — to document his recent weight loss. Not surprisingly, Arango has opposed both same-sex marriage and civil unions in Puerto Rico, and he once mocked a political opponent with an anti-gay epithet.

2. Not to be outdone by Texas Gov. Rick Perry — who signed an anti-gay marriage pledge on Friday and has raised eyebrows for comparing homosexuality to alcoholism in one of his books — GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum is accusing the gays of conducting a “jihad” against him.

3. Lady Gaga performed as drag persona/male alter ego Jo Calderone to open MTV’s Video Music Awards on Sunday night. Gaga also took home the Best Video With A Message Award for “Born This Way.” Gaga even tried to kiss Britney Spears, who wasn’t having it. Watch Gaga perform “You and I” as Calderone below.

 

Get More: 2011 VMA, Music, Lady Gaga

—  John Wright

‘Drag Race’ contestants named; none from Texas

OK, everyone knows the best drag queens between the coasts — maybe including them — are in Dallas. So how come none of the new season’s RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants are from the Lone Star State? It’s an outrage!

Well, we can take comfort in knowing that it means we didn’t have to give up any of our talent for a few weeks of filming … and it makes it easier to meow about who deserves to go.

Two (Mariah and Phoenix) are from Atlanta (Ru’s hometown), two from L.A. (Raja and Venus D-Lite), one (Yara Sofia) from Puerto Rico like last season’s Jessica Wild, with the remaining seven scattered around the country. Get ready to watch these girls lip synch … for their lives.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Trans women murdered in Puerto Rico

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This morning I got an e-mail from Oscar Lopez with the Latino Commission on AIDS regarding the recent murders of two trans women in Puerto Rico.

Angie Gonzalez Oquendo’s body was found Monday, May 24 in Caguas, and Ashley Santiago was murdered in her home in Corozal on April 19. Lopez says police are investigating both murders and have not ruled out the possibility that these were hate crimes.

If these latest killings are determined to be hate crimes, Lopez says, they will be “the continuation of a disturbing trend,” noting that these murders come less than a year after gay teen Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado (right) was murdered, dismembered and his body set on fire by a man who said the teen was wearing a dress when he picked him up looking for sex, and he thought the young man was a woman.

Juan Jose Martinez Matos confessed to killing Lopez Mercado and earlier this month was sentenced to 99 years in prison.

The e-mail from Oscar Lopez included a statement from Latino Commission on AIDS President Guillermo Chacon, who urged his fellow Puerto Ricans to fight the violence by working to end homophobia, transphobia and all kinds of discrimination.

Chacon said: “I urge the Latino community to be united as one voice and with our personal actions reject any type of homophobia, transphobia and discrimination. We are one family; we must pursue the well-being of all our members. We must address homophobia and transphobia by putting a stop to the jokes, slurs, discrimination and hatred faced by our LGBT brothers and sisters, not just in Puerto Rico but across the entire country. Hatred and violence are never the answer.”

—  admin

Another murder in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rican officials are investigating the murder of an unidentified man found stabbed to death in a motel in Ponce, according to a post today on the Boy in Bushwick blog.

Just about a month after gay teen Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado was murdered, dismembered and set on fire in Caguas, Puerto Rico, the unidentified man’s nude body was found inside a room at Motel Las Colinas in Ponce on wednesday, Dec. 16. Police said the man’s throat had been slashed, and he had been stabbed about 20 times in other parts of his body, injuries apparently incurred as he tried to defend himself.

Boy in Bushwick reports that the man, believed to be gay and between 40 and 45 years old, had checked into the motel the day before with a second man. The second man, also unidentified, left the hotel about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Puerto Rican gay activist Pedro Julio Serrano has called on police to treat the murder as an anti-gay hate crime. In a statement released to the Spanish-speaking media on Thursday, Serrano said: “Through the particular circumstances of his arrival at the motel with another man, the brutality of his murder, the hate with which [the second man allegedly] committed it and through clear signs of cruelty, we ask the authorities to investigate the hate angle in this case.”

—  admin

Lopez murder to be tried as hate crime

Murder victim Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado, right, and Juan Martinez Matos, left, the man accused of killing him
Murder victim Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado, left, and Juan Martinez Matos, right, the man accused of killing him

The U.S. Attorney for Puerto Rico, Rosa Emilia Rodriguez, has said that her office will be filing hate crime charges against Juan A. Martinez Matos in connection with the murder last month of gay teen Jorge Steve Lopez Mercado, if local authorities do not charge him with a hate crime, according to reports today on Edge.com.

Martinez Matos has reportedly confessed to stabbing Lopez Mercado, dismembering his body and then setting him on fire. If he is tried on federal hate crimes charges, he will be the first person to face such charges since President Barack Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Act into law in October, according to Edge.com. That act added sexual orientation and gender identity to the federal hate crimes law.

The gay news site also reports that a judge in Caguas, Puerto Rico has ordered that Martinez Matos undergo a psychiatric evaluation to make sure he is competent to stand trial.

—  admin

'If they suffer because of society, they suffer even more when the family condemns them'

Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado, the openly gay teen who was murdered and dismembered two weeks ago in Puerto Rico, was laid to rest Monday. Above is footage from Lopez’s funeral. In case you can’t bear to watch, here’s what Lopez’s mother says, according to the subtitles:

“I said to him, ‘Steven, tell me the truth, trust in me. What’s going on?’ And he lowered his head and started to cry and told me, ‘Mommy, I am gay.’ And I said to him ‘Aw, son, if I loved you, now I will love you even more. … I will love you more.’

“I said to him, ‘What gives me fear is what’s waiting in the streets, the rejection, the stares.’ But he said, ‘Mommy, now YOU know, and that is enough.’ And he was happy for that reason. It took a weight off his shoulders. … And I urge everyone, particularly parents, that if they suffer because of society, they suffer even more when the family condemns them. Steven was happy, I know, he loved me and I loved him. I, who am dumb. But I also gave him advice, because I told him, ‘Steven, there is a lot, a lot of perversion here and there,’ but I loved him. I loved him.”

Michael Lavers, national news editor for Edge Publications, has a post about the funeral on his Boy in Bushwick blog. Lavers says about 1,000 people attended the event in Toa Alta.

El Nuevo Dia further reported López’s aunt and his ex-boyfriend, Luis Rivera, opened the urn that contained the murdered teen’s ashes and placed a necklace and a white rose inside it at the end of the funeral Mass. The newspaper further reported López’s parents hugged their son’s friends and cried.

“We definitely hope people and society wake up and demand justice,” López’s friend José Alicea told el Nuevo Dia (as translated from Spanish into English.)

López’s friends carried balloons and white roses as they walked to the cemetery. Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” played during the procession.

Lavers follows up today with a post saying that Puerto Rican authorities, after meeting with the ACLU, have agreed to investigate the case as a hate crime.

—  John Wright