National News Briefs
Published Thursday, 09-Oct-2008 in issue 1085
Schwarzenegger vetoes bill commemorating Harvey Milk
SACRAMENTO, California (AP) – Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed a bill that would have made the birthday of gay political icon Harvey Milk a statewide “day of significance.”
In his veto message issued Sept. 30, the governor said that while he respected the measure’s intent, he thinks Milk’s “contributions should continue to be recognized at the local level.”
Conservative groups had lobbied Schwarzenegger not to sign the legislation, sponsored by Assemblyman Mark Leno of San Francisco.
Milk became the nation’s first openly gay man to hold a prominent political office when he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977.
He and Mayor George Moscone were assassinated by a fellow supervisor in 1978.
High court to hear case against same-sex marriage ban
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – The Iowa Supreme Court says it will hear arguments in a case challenging the state’s law banning gay marriage.
The court on Friday announced it will hear oral arguments in the case on Dec. 9. Both sides will be given 30 minutes to present their arguments.
The hearing follows Polk County District Court Judge Robert Hanson’s Aug. 31, 2007, ruling that the state’s law defining marriage as only between a man and woman was unconstitutional. The ruling stood long enough for one gay couple to get married before Hanson stayed his decision later in the day.
The national civil rights group Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit in Polk County in 2006 challenging the state’s marriage laws on behalf of six same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses in Iowa.
Man charged with criminal transmission of HIV
CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (AP) – A Plainfield man has been charged with allegedly exposing another person to the virus that causes AIDS.
Thirty-four-year-old Nick Rhoades is charged with criminal transmission of HIV. He was arrested on Sept. 29 at University Hospitals in Iowa City.
Police say Rhoades met a Cedar Falls man online and then traveled to the man’s home on June 26 where they had intimate contact. Police say the man later learned from a friend that Rhoades has HIV.
Police did not say whether the man was infected with the virus.
Rhoades is being held in the Black Hawk County jail under $150,000 bond.
Both party congressional candidates oppose federal marriage ban
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Both Democratic Congresswoman Nancy Boyda and Republican challenger Lynn Jenkins oppose amending the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage.
The 2nd Congressional District candidates agree marriage issues should be left to the states.
A viewer raised the issue during their first debate on Oct. 1.
Boyda endorsed anti-discrimination efforts and said lawmakers should avoid “tampering” with the U.S. Constitution.
But she also said, “I do believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.”
Jenkins also said she opposes same-sex marriage.
She added: “It’s a states’ rights issue, and Kansas spoke a few years ago.”
Kansas voters approved an amendment to the state Constitution in 2005 to ban same-sex marriage.
Same-sex partner gets parental rights
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) – A district judge on Sept. 29 ruled in favor of a Turah woman who sought parental rights to children adopted by her former same-sex partner.
Michelle Kulstad sought joint custody of two children – an 8-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl – adopted by Barbara Maniaci.
“To discriminate further against Ms. Kulstad because of her sexual preference in this day and age is no different than telling a person to go to the back of the bus because of her skin color,” Judge Ed McLean wrote.
Attorneys for both sides have said the same-sex parental rights trial was a first in Montana.
McLean said Kulstad was a legal parent, even though Maniaci adopted the two children – the boy in 2004 and the girl in 2006. The judge also ruled that Kulstad must receive joint decision-making authority in the children’s lives, including their “education, activities, health care and spiritual upbringing.”
Four NYPD officers with HIV get disability pensions
NEW YORK (AP) – Four NYPD police officers who contracted the HIV virus while on duty have been granted disability pensions.
The cases were disclosed as part of a lawsuit filed by a retired female officer who says she too was infected on the job and wants a tax-free pension.
Called Jane Doe in Brooklyn Federal Court, she alleges unfair treatment by the NYPD based on her gender.
One of the male officers told the NYPD pension board he was infected when he reached into a suspect’s underwear to retrieve drugs, the second that he was bitten by an HIV-positive suspect, the third that he was cut by a razor while frisking a suspect.
It’s not clear how the fourth got sick. He’s Officer Jane Doe’s ex-boyfriend; the city says he infected her.
Senator’s TV ad highlights gay rights
SALEM, Ore. (AP) – Republican U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith is airing a new TV ad touting his support for a law to protect gays from hate crimes.
The campaign ad highlights Smith’s work with Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts on the legislation, which would broaden the federal hate crimes law to cover violence against gays and lesbians.
It’s the latest TV spot by Smith in which he promotes his record of working with Democrats on key issues.
Basic Rights Oregon, the state’s largest gay rights organization, objected to the ad, largely on grounds that Smith continues to oppose same-sex marriage at both the state and federal levels.
Smith first co-sponsored the hate crimes bill with Kennedy in 1999, a year after Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old gay college student, was beaten to death in Wyoming in what authorities later determined was a hate crime.
The new TV ad by Smith, who’s in a tough re-election battle with Democrat Jeff Merkley, contains a video image of Kennedy as the announcer talks of “two senators … one Democrat, one Republican … fighting together for the Matthew Shepard Bill.”
The hate crimes legislation has never gained full congressional approval.
Minister on church trial for lesbian wedding
PITTSBURGH (AP) – The Pittsburgh Presbytery’s Permanent Judicial Commission is deliberating whether a Presbyterian minister violated church law by marrying two women.
The Rev. Janet Edwards and her attorneys contend she did nothing wrong by performing the 2005 ceremony.
But the Rev. James Evans, moderator of the prosecuting committee, says Edwards defied the church’s understanding of marriage. He says the trial is not the place to lay new theological guidelines for marriage.
The case wrapped up Oct. 2 with prosecutors calling no more witnesses. A decision by the Pittsburgh Presbytery’s Permanent Judicial Commission is expected today.
A similar complaint against Edwards was dropped two years ago on a technicality.
Gay rights group kicks off Southern tour
LYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) – A gay-rights group kicked off its national bus tour of 15 Southern faith-based colleges with a stop at Liberty University.
Members of Soulforce debated Liberty students during the stop on Oct. 1. But the meeting was quiet compared with a 2006 visit when two dozen members were arrested for violating Liberty’s order not to come onto the campus.
The organization’s Equality Ride is intended to spread a message of inclusion at schools Soulforce says have policies that discriminate against gay students.
Soulforce was started in 1999 by the Rev. Mel White, a former ghostwriter for the late Rev. Jerry Falwell, who founded Liberty University.