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Rex Wockner
International News

by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

Norway plans to legalize same-sex marriage
Norway's government announced plans March 14 to open marriage to same-sex couples. The nation has had a registered-partnership law that gives Gay couples the same rights as marriage since 1993.

The government's minister of children and equality, Anniken Huitfeldt, said letting Gay couples marry "won't weaken marriage as an institution; rather, it will strengthen it."

"Marriage won't be worth less because more can take part in it," she told Aftenposten.

The law would permit same-sex couples to marry in churches, adopt children and receive state-funded medical assistance in getting pregnant.

The bill is expected to pass Parliament before summer, although two government ministers - Minister of Local Government Magnhild Meltveit Kleppa and Transport Minister Liv Signe Navarsete - said they oppose the part that would fund assisted fertilization for Lesbian couples.

The state Lutheran Church of Norway, which counts 85 percent of the population as members, is conflicted on same-sex marriage and likely will allow parishes to choose whether to perform Gay weddings.

Full marriage is open to same-sex couples in Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, South Africa, Spain and Massachusetts. Numerous nations have civil-union or registered-partnership laws that grant same-sex couples some, most or all rights and obligations of marriage.

302 couples register in Mexico City
Exactly 302 couples have taken advantage of Mexico City's civil-union law since it came into force in March 2007.

Unions have been registered in 15 of the city's 16 boroughs, led by Cuauhtémoc, with 59 unions, and Iztapalapa, with 46.

Some 94 percent of the unions were between people of the same sex.

The law allows Gay and straight couples - as well as two friends, roommates or extended family members - to register their relationship and receive spousal rights in areas such as inheritance, pensions, property, co-parenting and medical decisions.

Only one couple has dissolved a civil union, and one union ended when a partner died.

The state of Coahuila, which borders Texas, is the only other locale in Mexico with a civil-union law.

Guadalajara wants to relocate Gay bars
The Mexican city of Guadalajara is threatening to move Gay clubs out of the city center in advance of the 2011 Pan American Games that will take place in the city, according to Carlos Oceguera, who owns two such clubs.

A February story in the daily newspaper La Jornada Jalisco made the same claim, with the headline "Guadalajara mayor's office attack against Gay clubs; it doesn't want them in the Historic Downtown."

Oceguera said city officials believe the presence of businesses catering to Gays gives the city a "bad and promiscuous image" for tourists.

"They claim that our lifestyle is offensive to the clean conscience of the citizens of Guadalajara and that we have to sacrifice our personal economic interests to the good citizens of Guadalajara," Oceguera said. "In order for us to have a presentable face to visitors, homosexuals have to go out of the center."

Oceguera said that while local media have reported on Gay business owners' "discontent" with the apparent plan, "we now need some international help since the local authorities are not paying attention to our protests."

Among the clubs possibly threatened are Caudillos, Circus, La Prisciliana, Club Ye Ye, Azul, Azul Vip, El Aposento, Mundo Cool, Máskaras and Red Light, La Jornada Jalisco said.

Aussie officials told to detail homosexual experiences
Some 300 ministerial staffers in need of security clearances in the government of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd have been told to fill out a 25-page form detailing their sexual partners, extramarital affairs, homosexual experiences, personal finances and drug use.

The questions allegedly are designed to ferret out individuals who might be vulnerable to blackmail.

Government officials also plan to interview friends of the staffers to attempt to confirm the accuracy of the self-reported information.

Special Minister of State John Faulkner told The Sunday Telegraph: "I'm ensuring the government makes the obtaining of these security clearances a high priority, given the nature of the work and the sensitivity and classification of material that is handled. ... The higher level of clearance is more intrusive."

Ministers' chiefs of staff and media advisers are among those who have been told they need clearance.

Activist files complaint against Polish president
Well-known New York City Gay activist Brendan Fay filed a complaint with the Polish consulate general after Polish President Lech Kaczynski displayed a photo and video clip from Fay's 2003 Canadian wedding during a March 17 nationally televised address in which Kaczynski denounced same-sex marriage.

The Polish broadcast also showed Fay's and husband Thomas Moulton's marriage certificate.

In the speech, Kaczynski urged that Poland not adopt the European Union's Charter of Fundamental Rights because it might force Poland to recognize or legalize same-sex marriages.

"This could clash with the prevailing moral order in Poland and force us to accept an institution which contradicts the convictions of the great majority," Kaczynski said.

In a letter to Poland's consul general in New York, Fay protested: "We are frustrated to hear that images from such a joyous day are used to spread intolerance. I request a meeting to discuss the matter of civil rights raised by the Polish political leader's remarks and the uses/misuse of our wedding photographs. ... We would never have agreed to permit our photographs as part of a homophobic campaign."

Consul General Krzysztof Kasprzyk has agreed to meet and called Kaczynski's actions a "pitiful incident."

The Polish Gay group Campaign Against Homophobia commented: "The message and the choice of images used in the address is a clear sign of ignorance and overt homophobia. It is an embarrassment that an image of a foreign, happily married couple ... should be used to promote hatred and misconceptions in our country by the head of state.

"[I]n light of Lech Kaczynski's decision to ban the [Gay] Equality Parade twice [when he was] mayor of Warsaw, we worry that the president is consciously capitalizing on the fears of a certain part of Polish society towards Lesbians and Gays."

ILGA-Europe to meet in Vienna
The European branch of the International Lesbian and Gay Association will stage its annual conference in Vienna this year October 30 to November 2.

"The theme ... is 'think globally, act locally,' and reflects the work of ILGA-Europe and its members on advocating for international human rights standards and practices and their implementation at the local level," the group said.

The Council of Europe's commissioner for human rights, Thomas Hammarberg, will take part in the gathering, and Austrian President Heinz Fischer and Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer are serving as honorary organizers.

For more information, see ilga-europe.org/conference.

With assistance from Bill Kelley

pictures:





"quote unquote" by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

"I think you can judge the level of success for any group of people by the reaction against it. And given the reaction of the so-called Christian Right - I would put that in quotes because I don't believe they're Christians at all - I would have to say that [Gay] people have been wildly successful."
-Rubyfruit Jungle author Rita Mae Brown to Time magazine, March 18.

"I don't believe in straight or Gay. I really don't. I think we're all degrees of Bisexual. There may be a few people on the extreme if it's a bell curve who really truly are Gay or really truly are straight."
-Rita Mae Brown to Time magazine, March 18.

"We called it the Friday Night Special ... a hardcore consensual sex orgy."
-Teddy Pedersen, 29, a former driver for now-Gay former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey, claiming he had three-way sex with McGreevey and his wife, Dina, multiple times from 1999 to 2001, to the New York Post, March 16.

"He liked watching me, and she would watch me while she was [performing sex acts] with Jim. In my opinion, me being a part of their sexual relationship enhanced it for both of them."
-Teddy Pedersen to the New York Post, March 16.

"This happened, this happened in the past, and now we need to move on with our lives. For all of our sakes, particularly our daughter, we need to close this chapter and look toward the future. This was referenced in an earlier draft of my book, and I had it removed. I still hope Dina and I can resolve our issues privately."
-Jim McGreevey, confirming Pedersen's story in a March 17 statement.

"Theodore Pedersen's claims ... are completely false and were prompted by Jim McGreevey. This all has to do with the publicity I have received since Gov. Spitzer resigned. Jim has enlisted one of his cronies in trying to distinguish that situation from his own, and to discredit me in the media. He cannot stand it when I am receiving attention in the media rather than him."
-Dina Matos McGreevey to ABC News, March 17.

"You journalists like to think that when we talk to you, that is our official coming out, but we have been out for ages before that. Brad and I support many nonprofits in Los Angeles and appear together on annual dinner programs as sponsors or various other events where we are listed together. Our names are carved in granite on the donor wall of East West Players; we have been out. You don't have your names carved in granite and say you are not out."
-Actor George Takei, who played Sulu in the first Star Trek series, to the Florida Gay magazine The Gazette, February issue.

"It was super complicated for me in the '80s. I was totally open with the band and my family and my friends and certainly the people I was sleeping with. I thought it was pretty obvious. ... I'd just never felt strongly enough about a particular relationship to say, 'Yeah, he's my boyfriend, that is what it is.' Now I recognize that for public figures to be very open about their sexuality helps some kid somewhere."
-R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe telling Spin magazine that he's gay, March 18.

"I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States because we believe that homosexuality is destructive to society."
-Peter Sprigg, vice president for policy at the Family Research Council, speaking against a pending bill that grants immigration rights to Gay Americans' foreign partners, to Medill News Service, March 19.

"Why should we try to maintain something that is actually impossible to maintain, which also causes little bother for others and, for a certain group, actually signifies much pleasure?"
-Alderman Paul van Grieken of Amsterdam's Oud-Zuid district discussing new regulations that will legalize having sex in cruisy Vondel Park if it is done after dark and out of view and if the parties don't leave used condoms lying around, to De Telegraaf, March 7.

"While I must confess I'm less than enthusiastic about the candidacy of Barack Obama, I ardently hope that he will defeat Hillary Clinton. I can't forget Hillary's position in support of the Defense of Marriage Act and her scabrous abstinence-only preachings while first lady, any more than I can erase from my brainpan Obama's using Gay-hostile preacher Donnie McClurkin to shill for votes in South Carolina, or his refusal to be photographed with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom because he feared that might be interpreted as support for Gay marriage."
-Longtime independent journalist Doug Ireland writing in New York City's Gay City News, March 13.

"We argue about immigration but we don't try to solve the immigration problem. It's an argument that is all about people's passions instead of trying to figure it out. We argue about Gay marriage. In the meantime the planet is ... potentially being destroyed. We've got a war that is bankrupting us. And we're going to argue about Gay marriage? I mean, that doesn't make any sense."
-Presidential candidate Barack Obama speaking in Medford, Ore., March 22.

"I now think it's time for the politicians to catch up to the public. The notion that you lock people up for smoking marijuana is pretty silly. I'm going to call it the 'Make Room for Serious Criminals' bill."
-Gay U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., announcing he will introduce a bill to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, according to Politico.com, March 22.

"I don't think my generation is better or had it better. The one thing you'll never see again - and I'm not so sure it's bad you missed it - was the sexual revolution. You can't imagine what it was like to go home and have sex with someone different every day. ... People really did! In Provincetown there was a bar called Piggies, totally mixed, Gay and straight, but it was outside of town and everyone had to walk home and every person would just have sex in the graveyard along the way. I mean, those days will never happen again. Going to places like Hellfire in New York City, you look back and it's so amazing, and that certainly did lead to terrible things like AIDS - and AIDS ruined everything for the rest of our lives. It ruined people taking chances. That's over. You missed that."
-Gay filmmaker John Waters to New York magazine, March 24.

With assistance from Bill Kelley
pictures: James McGreevy, John Waters

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