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National News
National News
by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

Polis thought federal GLBT hate-crimes law had passed
Openly Gay freshman U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., thought there was a federal hate-crimes law protecting Gays and Lesbians, he said March 1.

There is no such law, although passing one is a priority of Gay activists under the Obama administration.

Speaking at the First Biennial Statewide Conference of the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus in Austin, Polis said: "This [anti-Gay hate crimes] is one of the reasons we have a federal hate crimes law, for that very reason. You know, sometimes in some conservative areas they don't prosecute hate crimes, so we have on the books a law that allows the federal government to prosecute those if your local DA refuses to, effectively. So you might want to report it to your federal attorney general for your area if you feel threatened and the local authorities are not investigating or don't seem to care. You can turn to the federal government for investigation of potential hate crimes. ... [T]here is a federal recourse for that. That's the very reason we did it."

At that point, Polis was informed by Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus President Daniel Graney that Gays are not included in federal hate-crime law.

"Oh, it didn't pass?" he responded. "OK. So we still need to pass it? OK. So we'll try to pass that one for you, too. But that's why we need it. And of course Obama supports that, our Congress supports that, our Senate supports that. I thought we did pass it, so we will try to get that. But that's exactly why we need it though, because in some of the areas where Gays and Lesbians do feel terrorized every day, the local authorities are in league with the forces of hate. And this would, when we pass it - thanks for pointing that out - give you recourse to go to the federal government to investigate hate crimes in your area."

Audio of the exchange, recorded by the Gay newspaper Dallas Voice, is at tinyurl.com/dee5t7.

Polis later told Towleroad.com that he had confused the United States with the state of Colorado, where a Gay hate-crimes bill passed and was allowed to become law without any action by the governor.

Polis also criticized Gay journalists for reporting the gaffe and suggested they should instead focus on doing what's best for the GLBT community.

"It's rather remarkable to me that this is getting so much play," he told Towleroad. "There's no excuse for the mistake, but anyone who speaks a lot is bound to make them from time to time. What surprises me is how eagerly some people have leapt on it. We are on the same side, fighting the same fight, and supporting our LGBT community, as I was in Austin for the Stonewall Dems."

Larry Kramer: Lincoln and Washington were Gay
Veteran Gay and AIDS activist, author and playwright Larry Kramer says he has evidence that Abraham Lincoln and George Washington were Gay.

Speaking to the Montreal newspaper Hour on March 5, Kramer said he will reveal the details in a book he's writing, The American People: A History.

"It's a monster book," Kramer said. "It's an attempt to put us [Gay people] back in history from the beginning. No history book ever recorded anything about us, and researching this book I found out that both Lincoln and George Washington were Gay. ... I have stuff that will go beyond anything that has ever been written or said."

Mayor Koch doesn't want to come out
Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch isn't interested in coming out of the closet, he told The New York Times February 28.

"I do not want to add to the acceptability of asking every candidate, 'Are you straight or Gay or Lesbian?' and make it a legitimate question, so I don't submit to that question," Koch said.

"I don't care if people think I'm Gay because I don't answer it. I'm flattered that at 84 people are interested in my sex life - and, it's quite limited."

Dolly Parton: 'I am not Gay'
Country-music legend Dolly Parton is straight, she told CNN's Larry King on February 21.

"I am not Gay," Parton said. "I have been accused of that. But I have been happily married for 42 years to the same man. And he's not the least bit, you know, threatened by the fact that I may be Gay. And he knows I have a lot of friends. But I love everybody. It doesn't matter to me."

Parton said Gay people like her because she's authentic.

"I think the Gay people have always liked me because I have always been myself, I'm not intimidated by how people perceive me, I don't judge nor criticize people," she said. "I think that's another reason they at least know that I'm sympathetic. I think all people have a right to be who they are. We're all God's children and God should be the one to judge, not other people. So I have a lot of Gay friends, Lesbian friends."

Gay councilman won't discuss Prop 8
Carl DeMaio, an openly Gay Republican member of the San Diego City Council, won't say what his position is on Proposition 8, the voter-passed constitutional amendment that re-banned same-sex marriage in California, CityBeat magazine reported March 10.

"DeMaio has steadfastly refused to speak out for or against the law," the publication said. His spokesperson told CityBeat that DeMaio is focused instead on the city's dire financial situation.

The openly Gay chair of the county Democratic party, Jess Durfee, told CityBeat that DeMaio "can't be Gay part of the time."

"If he's going to sit this one out, he should not be showing up at The [Gay] Center and he should not be showing up to LGBT events acting like he wants to be embraced by the Gay community when he's not ready to lead on an issue that's critical to the community," Durfee said.

The editor of the Gay & Lesbian Times, Randy Hope, said DeMaio should "answer the question."

"If ... DeMaio were Asian and there was a measure not allowing Asians to marry, we would expect him to be held to the same accountability," Hope told CityBeat.

Republican San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders and his openly Lesbian daughter Lisa have taken a very public role in the fight to overturn Prop 8.

"Proposition 8 threatens the liberties guaranteed by our state constitution," Mayor Sanders said March 4. "It undermines the fundamental rights that we stand for, and it's been a misuse in the worst way of the initiative process."

[Reporter Rex Wockner and Jess Durfee were domestic partners in the 1990s and have been housemates during some years since then. Wockner has been a freelance contributor to the Gay & Lesbian Times for 22 years.]

British PM opposes Prop 8
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown opposes Proposition 8, the California ballot measure that last November re-banned same-sex marriage after the state Supreme Court had legalized it.

"This Proposition 8, this attempt to undo the good that has been done, this attempt to create divorces among 18,000 people who were perfectly legally brought together in partnerships, this is unacceptable and shows me why we always have to be vigilant, why we have always got to fight homophobic behavior and any form of discrimination," Brown said March 5 at a Downing Street reception for GLBT VIPs.

On March 4, the California Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case seeking to overturn the constitutional amendment. It is widely expected that the effort will fail, with the justices deciding, in effect, that the right of the voters to amend the constitution is more sacrosanct than the constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the law.

The court must issue its decision by early June.

Hillary Clinton will fight for Gay rights worldwide
Meeting with young people at the European Parliament in Brussels on March 6, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised to fight for Gay rights on the world stage.

At a question-and-answer session, Clinton called on Maxim Anmeghichean, programs director for the European Region of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, after commenting on his "I Love Hillary" T-shirt.

Anmeghichean said: "My name is Max. I am from Moldova, and I am a Gay rights activist. In seven countries in the world homosexuals are sentenced to death and many more to prison. A lot of Gay men around the world die because of the HIV/AIDS policies that the Bush administration had that did not allow to spend money on prevention for men who have sex with men. How do you see the foreign policy of the United States changing in the coming years in the field of human rights and in particular sexual rights and Gay and Lesbian rights?"

Clinton responded: "Human rights is and will always be one of the pillars of our foreign policy. And in particular, the persecution and discrimination against Gays and Lesbians is something that we take very seriously. It is terribly unfortunate, as you just recited, that, you know, right now in unfortunately many places in the world violence against Gays and Lesbians, certainly discrimination and prejudice, are not just occurring but condoned and protected. And we would hope that over the next few years we could have some influence in trying to change those attitudes."

Clinton continued: "Specifically, with respect to HIV/AIDS, we have made a very big treatment commitment, as some of you know, through our program called PEPFAR. And it is an important part of the American approach toward trying to deal with the HIV/AIDS pandemic. But we haven't done enough on prevention, and we haven't done enough on outreach or testing. We're beginning to, and under our administration we will do much more. And I can only hope that we all live long enough - certainly I hope I live long enough; I think you all will - to see the end to this kind of discriminatory treatment, and recognition that human rights are the inalienable right of every person no matter who that person loves, and that's what we should be trying to achieve."

With assistance from Bill Kelley
pictures - top: Larry Kramer bottom:March 4 Prop 8 demonstration
 

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