OUR NEWS CORNER by Sally Miller
We can always complain that there is so far to go toward full equality and that so many barriers still exist against gay rights. But I would rather stress how much progress is being made. President Obama has signed an order declaring that any facilities receiving federal funds, such as Medicare or Medicaid, must give full visiting rights to partners. And the U.S. House leadership has announced that it intends to pass legislation banning employment discrimination for all LGBT folks, the first measure that has included transgender people. On the other hand, something discouraging: a few Catholic officials are trying to blame homosexuals for the pedophilia scandal in the Catholic church worldwide. The Vatican secretary of state, a cardinal, has blamed gay priests for the scandal, and called homosexuality a “pathology.” Complaints rained down on him, especially from France, for some reason, and this outcry resulted in a Vatican spokesperson distancing the Church from this cardinal, stating that clergy are not qualified to make medical statements.
DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act has been challenged in a Massachusetts court a lesbian couple who married in that state in 2004 have challenged the section of the law that explicitly denies marriage-related benefits to gay married couples, There are other couples who are plaintiffs to the suit arguing that they are being denied equal protection of the laws And how could that be disputed? Let’s watch this case.
Sad news out of Sonoma County: the facts are unclear but in Sonoma County, two aged, longtime male partners were separated by local authorities amid not yet proven charges akin to spousal abuse by the younger man, 78, of the older man, 89.. This sensational case includes the forced separation of the couple, and the sale of the couple’s house and possessions by the County to pay for their separate upkeep. The older man is now deceased, and the younger man has filed a complaint of ‘callous and unlawful behavior’ by the officials who separated them. It basically accuses Sonoma County employees of elder abuse and fraud. The County defends itself by stating that neither man was capable of taking care of himself anymore, each suffering from different degrees of dementia. It also maintains that violence between the couple was a concern, and so Sonoma County stepped in for their own good. Whatever the facts turn out to be, it is clear that aging gays can be isolated and without resources as time goes on. The solution? Policies need to be developed in regard to resourceless seniors without family. But the Bay Area population has an answer already: some are proposing a boycott of Sonoma wines and cheeses!! That will certainly help seniors like these two men, right?
Uganda may finally have abandoned its effort to pass unusually brutal anti-gay legislation which had been spotlighted here a few months ago. Homosexual acts are already illegal in Uganda, but this year visiting anti-gay American evangelicals have been promoting very serious penalties against anyone known to be gay, including even the death penalty. (One of them during the Prop 8 election in California labeled homosexuality the embodiment of a “spirit of lawlessness.”) To publicize their agenda, a mini-conference was held to discuss ”voodoo, witchcraft, and homosexuality” in that country. Proposed legislation would ban discussion of allowing gay rights, and offer the death penalty for gays with AIDS who engage in sex. Condemnation from human rights groups and western governments were followed by threats of cuts in international funds to Uganda, and led to its chief sponsor agreeing to remove the harshest penalties in the bill. The President of Uganda calls many of the bill’s clauses unconstitutional and predicted that it would fail.
Finally, concluding again with theater news, a musical about gay adoption is opening Off Broadway in New York this month. It is called “The Kid.” The creative team behind it -- book author, composer, lyricist, etc. – are all gay men. In the play, the two main characters go from a one-night-stand to a committed relationship after they bond over their mutual fascination with the pioneering gay author, Gore Vidal. Later they have a big fight over Bjork. A high point is when the mother of one of the men sings a song called ”I Knew,” in which she remembers that very early in her son’s life she guessed that he was gay, and she never tried to modify him into a straight child. Let’s hope this show is a success, and then maybe it will become a movie, and we can see it.
And do you know that Kelsey Grammar (Frasier) is now on Broadway as one of the leads in a revival of La Cage aux Foiles?