California OKs gay marriage measure
SACRAMENTO, Calif. The state Assembly voted Tuesday, June 5, to allow same-sex couples to marry, challenging Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has said he will veto the bill if it passes the full Legislature.
Legislators approved the measure on a party-line vote of 42-34, with the majority saying lawmakers should not to wait for the state Supreme Court to act on the issue.
A debate about California’s one man-one woman marriage law of 1977 is likely to be decided this year or early next year by the high court.
The bill now goes to the Senate, which adopted a similar measure in 2005. Schwarzenegger vetoed it.
California in 2003 recognized domestic partners, creating a registry that affords same-sex couples many of the rights given to married couples.
Democrats support “‘DADT’ repeal
A Democratic presidential candidate debate on Sunday, June 3, and a debate Tuesday, June 5, between Republican presidential hopefuls highlighted a glaring difference between candidates in the two parties on the subject of gays in the military.
During the Democratic debate, all the candidates raised their hands when asked by moderator Wolf Blitzer if they would get rid of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on gays in the military instituted by President Bill Clinton in 1993.
Two days later, when the Republican candidates were asked to speak up if they supported allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military, not one candidate spoke up.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, the apparent Democratic frontrunner at this point in the race, said the policy, formulated by her husband “was a transition policy,” but that it is no longer valid.
She said DADT is being “implemented in a discriminatory manner” and has been used to discharge Arabic linguists when such translators are in short supply.
Other candidates at the Democratic forum were former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, Sen. Barack Obama, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Sen. Joe Biden, Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, former Sen. Mike Gravel of Alaska and Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut.
At the Republican debate, participants were Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, the former Virginia Gov. James Gilmore, the former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, Rep. Duncan Hunter of California, the former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, the former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado, and the former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson.
Gay teacher suspended for racial slur
NASHVILLE, Tenn. A middle school teacher has been suspended three days without pay after he used a racial slur while trying to illustrate a point about a derogatory reference to gays.
Last month, Stephen Henry, a sixth-grade teacher at Creswell Arts Magnet School and the newly elected vice president of the Metro Nashville Education Association, overheard a black student describe something as “gay.”
In a note explaining the incident to the principal, Henry said he was trying to “address [a] teachable moment” and explain why such language was hurtful. In doing so, he asked the student how she would feel if he referred to her with the N-word.
The student’s mother said she doesn’t believe Henry intended the question to be an insult and she does believe his apology was sincere. However, she said, her daughter was “very hurt” and she herself was “very upset” by the incident.
Maine includes domestic partners in FMLA
AUGUSTA Maine’s Family Medical Leave Act will be expanded to include domestic partners. The bill has been sent to Gov. Baldacci and a spokesman says Baldacci will sign it.
The law already protects employees of many companies who take time off to care for spouses, parents and children with serious health conditions.
The bill enacted by the Legislature would also allow employees to take time off from work to care for a sick domestic partner.
Maine’s Family Medical Leave law allows those who’ve been employed for 12 consecutive months by the same employer to receive up to 10 weeks of family medical leave.
The bill was supported by gay and lesbian activists, but other supporters said it was not just a gay rights measure because it applies to all domestic partners.
Kalamazoo rescinds partner benefits
LANSING, Mich. The city of Kalamazoo no longer will offer health insurance benefits to the partners of gay workers, becoming Michigan’s first public employer to take away existing benefits in the wake of a 2004 ban against gay marriage.
Kalamazoo City Manager Kenneth Collard confirmed Monday, June 4, that the city will eliminate domestic partner benefits for four non-unionized employees effective June 30. He cited a May 23 order from the Michigan Supreme Court.
The high court agreed to hear an appeal of a state Court of Appeals decision blocking same-sex benefits, but it also let the earlier decision take immediate effect.
The affected employees were informed last week and their partners have about a month to get other insurance, Collard said.
Also Monday, the Ann Arbor school district said it will not include domestic partner benefits in future union labor contracts. About 15 employees will not lose those benefits now, though they will end when existing contracts expire, The Ann Arbor News reported.
The appeals court in February said Michigan’s 2004 voter-approved constitutional amendment against gay marriage also bars domestic partner benefits for the same-sex partners of public employees.
Ex-Marine gets 15 years for murder
San Diego A former Marine has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for the murder last year of gay San Diego man, 39-year-old Raymond Catolico.
Catolico was found in his San Diego apartment in February, 2006. He had been choked to death and his body was then stuffed under a bathroom sink. A coroner determined Catolico had been killed three days earlier.
When he was arrested James Hardy, 20, had been absent without leave from the Marines. Hardy originally was charged with murder with a hate crime enhancement. The hate charge was later dropped in return for a guilty plea.
Hardy said he met Catolico at a downtown bus station and later spent an evening drinking at Catolico’s apartment. He told police he returned to the apartment a week later, got a massage and then passed out drunk.
When he woke up, Hardy said, Catolico was trying to have sex with him. Hardy said he felt violated and ended up choking Catolico to death.
Nixon lawyer who became activist dies
ROANOKE, Va. Samuel Alexander Garrison III, who defended President Richard Nixon in impeachment hearings in 1974 and later became a gay activist, has died. He was 65.
Garrison died Sunday, June 3, after a long battle with leukemia, said Mark Harris, his partner of 17 years.
Garrison served as the deputy minority counsel for the House Judiciary Committee and later was the chief Republican counsel. Following Watergate, Garrison returned to Roanoke to practice law. He was disbarred and served four months in prison for embezzling $46,000 from a bankruptcy account in 1980.
The Virginia Supreme Court reinstated his law license in 1993.
The Roanoke native was not only a major force in the gay, lesbian and transgender movement, but also advocated for the civil rights of all groups of people.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, June 8, 2007.