Local NewsNational News

News Briefs: June 2007

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Compiled by Nancy Ford

LOCAL NEWS
Gay And Gay-Friendly Candidates Face Houston, Dallas Runoff Elections
Equality Texas Expands Board Of Directors; Houston Man One Of Three New Members
Film Festival Gets New Name
SPRY, Lawyers, Hold June 20 Estate Seminar
Giuliani Voices A Moderate Approach In Houston Speech

. Milestones
STATE NEWS
Austin Commemorates Pride With Parade, Celebrities, Festival

NATIONAL
Jerry Falwell Dead at 73
From His Mouth to God’s Ear: Falwell Words to Remember
Congress to Vote On Hate Crimes Legislation
LATE-BREAKING WEB EXTRA: U.S. House passes federal hate crimes legislation
New Jersey Pride Festivities Include Texans
Ohio Protects GLBT State Employees

INTERNATIONAL
Study: Children of Lesbians Perform As Well As Children Of Straights

WEB EXTRA NEWS BRIEFS
• Sen. Hillary Clinton salutes GLBT Pride Month
• Equal rights group founder calls for papal apology
• Flamboyant actor, Charles Nelson Reilly, dies in Los Angeles
• Son born to Mary Cheney, Heather Poe
• Civil unions recognized in New Hampshire
• Despite increase in support for GLBT equality, ExxonMobil upholds discrimination
• Former U.S. president condemns ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

 

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LOCAL NEWS

Gay and gay-friendly candidates face Houston, Dallas runoff elections

NoriegaParkerQuan
Melissa Noriega with Annise Parker and Gordon Quan.

In the May 12 Houston City Council special election, candidate Melissa Noriega led a field of 10 opponents vying for the at-large council seat vacated last year by Shelley Sekula-Gibbs to run for Tom DeLay’s congressional seat. (Sekula-Gibbs, the Republican, lost that race to Democratic candidate Nick Lampson.) Noriega, who was endorsed by the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, received 46.5 percent of the vote last month. On June 16, she faces Roy Morales in a runoff election. Early voting begins June 4 and continues through June 12.

Noel Freeman, an openly gay candidate defeated in the same election, has endorsed Noriega. Freeman is president of Log Cabin Republicans-Houston (profiled in “Gaywatch,” February 2007 OutSmart).

“While Melissa and I may disagree ideologically on several issues, we agree on a number of issues that are very important to me, and her relationships with state legislators of both parties will serve Houstonians well,” Freeman said in a statement. “We have also had the chance to get to know each other better over the course of the campaign, and I believe she is the candidate who really has Houston’s best interests at heart.”

In other Texas election news, Ed Oakley has advanced one step closer to becoming the first openly gay mayor of Dallas.

Currently representing District 3 on Dallas’ City Council, the openly gay Oakley—endorsed by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and the Stonewall Democrats in Dallas—emerged as one of two front-runners in a citywide election held May 12. If elected, Oakley will become the first openly gay mayor of a top-10 U.S. city. He faces Tom Leppert in a June 16 runoff election.

Equality Texas expands board of directors; Houston man one of three new members

FHood
Frank Hood

Frank Hood, an entrepreneurial business professional active in the Houston business community for over 25 years, has been named one of three new board members of Equality Texas, the state’s leading lobbying organization promoting GLBT equality.

Founder, president, and chief executive officer of Infovine, Inc., Hood’s extensive history of service to the Houston community includes an appointment by Mayor Bill White to the Miller Theatre advisory board, for which he now serves as chair. He has also served on the board of directors of the Houston Chamber Choir, the Center for AIDS, and Brigid’s Hope.

Dawnetta Miller of Plano has joined Hood on the Equality Texas board. Miller currently serves as secreta ry of the Plano school district Diversity Advocacy Committee and founded the Collin County Gay and Lesbian Alliance, a three-year-old organization with a membership of 120.

Douglas Plummer of Austin is the third new Equality Texas board member. Plummer is co-creator of the recent, successful Equality Texas fundraiser, the Merry Martini Mixer, and currently serves on the development and Pride committees.

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Film festival gets new name

The local GLBT-interest film extravaganza formerly known as the Houston Gay and Lesbian Film Festival has adopted a new, longer name.

QFest 2007: The 11th Annual Houston Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival debuts, replete with its new logo, September 20 through 24. Kristian Salinas is the new executive director. Salinas, a consultant who currently lives in Los Angeles, worked for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston film department and for Rice Media Center when he lived in Houston.

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SPRY, Lawyers, Hold June 20 Estate Seminar

On June 20, the program Seniors Preparing for Rainbow Years (SPRY) and the Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program partner on an event to help individuals organize their estates. SPRY, jointly administered by Montrose Counseling Center and Legacy Community Health Services, and the lawyers host the GLBT Will-A-Thon and Estate-Planning Seminar at the United Way Building (50 Waugh Dr.) during GLBT Pride Week. The event, which is open to GLBT people regardless of age, begins with a 5:30 p.m. reception, followed at 6:30 by an hour-long presentation and a question-and-answer session.

During the seminar, attorneys from the Houston Volunteer Lawyers Program will provide information about wills and trusts, advanced directives (living wills), and medical and financial powers of attorney. They will also help participants determine whether they qualify for free estate planning or subsidized, low-cost estate planning. They can also refer participants to gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender or GLBT-friendly attorneys.

“Estate planning is beneficial for everyone, regardless of the size of your estate,” Sally Huffer of the counseling center says. “Even if you don’t own a home or have any investments, your estate planning documents can help you make sure that everything is taken care of—from your health-care decisions to asset distribution, including the care of your pets or children, if you have them—when you are not able to make those decisions for yourself. It also will help your loved ones handle your property more swiftly than having the state appeal to your next of kin, especially if that is not someone you want to receive an inheritance. If you have a sizeable estate, these documents may help you preserve your assets and distribute them in ways that can reduce the amount of estate taxes your survivors will have to pay.”

Reservations are encouraged for the free seminar. To RSVP, call 713/529-0037. (Return to top)

Giuliani Voices A Moderate Approach In Houston Speech

In a May 11 speech at Houston Baptist University, Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani stated that a moderate approach to social issues like abortion, gun control, GLBT equality, and immigration is essential to unifying the party in 2008.

“If we don’t find a way of uniting around broad principles that will appeal to a large segment of this country, if we can’t figure that out, we are going to lose this election,” he said.

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Milestones 
Goodbye to Sandy O’Daniel and Robin Utterbeck. Job/appointment transitions: Ken Malone, Rick Schroder, Deenis Beedon, Lilly Roddy.

Appointed Lilly Roddy as chair of the Houston Transgender Unity Committee. (Roddy is the astrology columnist for OutSmart.) Rose Wall is the new fundraising chair for the Unity Committee.

Hired Deenis Beedon as the development and marketing coordinator for the Houston Area Women’s Center. Beedon also organizes and promotes entertainment events through his Twisted Mister Promotions/Productions.

Hired Rick Schroder as diversity manager for Campbell Soup Company. Schroder who formerly was in private consulting after leaving Shell Oil in 2004, will be supporting Campbell’s global diversity efforts in the Americas, Europe, and Asia.

Resigned Ken Malone from his position as associate executive director of Legacy Community Health Services. Malone had served as the executive director of The Assistance Fund since 1993. The Assistance Fund merged with Montrose Clinic in 2005, creating Legacy Community Health Services. “Few people in this city have done more to provide medical insurance and medication assistance to people living with HIV and AIDS than Ken Malone,” Legacy Community Health Services executive director Katy Caldwell said in a statement. “His energy, spirit, and dedication built The Assistance Fund and played a crucial part in the merger of both organizations.”

Malone, whose resignation is effective June 1, said in the statement, “My work here has been completed, and I am thrilled to be able to pursue new and exciting opportunities.”

STATE NEWS

Austin Commemorates Pride With Parade, Celebrities, Festival

With its theme, United for Diversity: Deep in the Heart of Texas, the Austin Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce kicks off its 2007 Parade festivities at 4th St. and Congress Avenue on June 2, 6 p.m., with vendors, entertainment, and performers. The parade then begins at 8 p.m. A couple of top gay icons also are scheduled to join Austin’s celebration on June 2.

Randy Johnson, the original cowboy from The Village People, the ’70s-era super disco legends, is set to attend a special screening of Can’t Stop the Music, the 1980 movie that starred the group. Presented by Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival, the film screens at 7 and 9:45 p.m.

On June 3, the Austin Film Society and BookPeople sponsor a visit from actor and author Tab Hunter. The now-openly gay, ’60s-era movie heartthrob (“Fab Tab,” November 2005 OutSmart) signs copies of his autobiographical tell-all, Tab Hunter Confidential, and offers live commentary during a clip show of his myriad film roles at 7 p.m., followed by a 9:45 p.m. screening of Polyester, the 1981 John Waters camp classic with Hunter and Divine.

Both movie events take place at Alamo Downtown. Details: www.austinfilm.org, www.orginalalamo.com.

Also on June 3, Texas Monthly editor Evan Smith is keynote speaker at the Pride Texas Brunch hosted by Equality Texas. Smith will speak on the changing nature of Texas politics and the future of the progressive movement in the state at the event at the Dell Jewish Community campus.

“We are thrilled to have Evan Smith as our featured speaker, and are grateful to him for the magazine’s recent article, ‘Family Values,’ on LGBT parenting,” Equality Texas executive director Paul Scott said. “A supporter of equality for all Texans, Evan Smith and Texas Monthly help to put human faces on the ongoing political struggle for LGBT civil rights.” Tickets: www.equalitytexas.org.

The following Saturday, June 9, Equality Texas and the Equality Texas Foundation present its annual Pride Texas Festival at Waterloo Park. Beginning at noon, the festival, replete with Austin musicians, restaurants, businesses, and community organizations coming together to show their pride, is headlined by Cap City’s own award-winning rocker, Patrice Pike. Details: www.austinprideparade.org or www.PrideTexas.org.

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NATIONAL

Jerry Falwell dead at 73
GLBT leaders react to passing of conservative religious leader

Outspoken televangelist and political gadfly, Rev. Jerry Falwell, 73, was found unconscious in his study at Liberty University and was pronounced dead May 15.

After opposing racial integration in the 1950s, Falwell, who referred to himself as a doctor though he had earned no advanced degree, created the Moral Majority in the late 1970s. He entered the national spotlight when losing Hustler Magazine, Inc. vs. Falwell, a landmark Supreme Court case concerning free speech, and became infamous for his condemnation of homosexuals, feminists, Hollywood, in specific, and biblical non-literalists, in general.

Falwell’s May 15 death sparked tolerant reaction from leaders of those equal-rights organizations he worked to discredit.

“We extend to Reverend Falwell the simple dignity and deference that our own families seek as part of the American family,” commented National Stonewall Democrats executive director, Jo Wyrick. “Reverend Falwell may have attempted to make himself our adversary with his own personal attacks and political campaigns, but we remember that he remained our neighbor. As we understand that each American should be treated equally under the law, we recognize that each neighbor should receive our respect.”

Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, responded similarly.

“The death of a family member or friend is always a sad occasion and we express our condolences to all those who were close to the Reverend Jerry Falwell,” he stated.

“Unfortunately, we will always remember him as a founder and leader of America’s anti-gay industry,” Foreman continued, “someone who exacerbated the nation’s appalling response to the onslaught of the AIDS epidemic, someone who demonized and vilified us for political gain and someone who used religion to divide rather than unite our nation.”

Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said Falwell’s death caused him to reflect upon those hurt by Falwell’s work and teachings.

“As I remember Reverend Falwell’s life, I also remember all of the families of people who have died of AIDS,” he said. “Reverend Falwell’s legacy is not about the tenets of Jesus’ ministry, such as healing the sick and standing with the disenfranchised, but about shunning and ridiculing those who have suffered and died of AIDS and their families. Many faith leaders today are moving away from his divisive approach and toward the compassion and inclusiveness that Jesus modeled every day of his ministry.”

Falwell was buried on the campus of Liberty University, the college he founded in 1971, on May 22.

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From his mouth to God’s ear: Falwell words to remember

“[I]f Chief Justice Warren and his associates had known God’s word and had desired to do the Lord’s will, I am quite confident that the 1954 decision would never have been made… The facilities [for the races] should be separate. When God has drawn a line of distinction, we should not attempt to cross that line.”

“In my age, we laughed at queers, fairies, and anyone who was thought to be a homosexual. It was a hideous thing, and no one talked about it, much less ever confessed to being a homosexual…. I believe the United States will be destroyed if we permit homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle.”

“Remember, homosexuals do not reproduce! They recruit! And many of them are out after my children and your children.”

“[T]his deadly plague [AIDS] is already spreading into the heterosexual community, because of bisexuals who are carriers—even affecting innocent young children. This is sexual terrorism—and even more deadly than a gun or bomb. Across the country the militant homosexuals—carriers of this deadly disease—have gained civil rights advantages which seriously compromise the health and safety of Americans everywhere…. You and I are the innocent victims of this perverted and deadly lifestyle—and we have no place to hide.”

“We would not be having the present moral crisis regarding the homosexual movement if men and women accepted their proper roles as designated by God. God’s plan is for men to be manly and spiritual in all areas of Christian leadership. In the Christian home the woman is to be submissive.”

“He [Tinky Winky, a fictional children television character] is purple—the gay-pride color, and his antenna is shaped like a triangle—the gay pride symbol.”

“I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way—all of them who have tried to secularize America—I point the finger in their face and say ‘you helped this [the 9/11 attacks] happen.'” (Return to top)

Congress to vote on hate crimes legislation

As OutSmart goes to press, Congress is considering the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, also known as the Matthew Shepard Act. (See below for update on outcome: U.S. House passes federal hate crimes legislation.) The legislation seeks to give the federal Justice Department the power to investigate and prosecute bias-motivated violence, the Human Rights Campaign website explains, by “providing the department with jurisdiction over crimes of violence where the perpetrator has selected the victim because of the person’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability.”

Congressman John Lewis of Georgia endorsed the bill in a May 11 column published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “This legislation allows local law enforcement officers who want to uphold the law, the resources and the federal help they need to do so,” Lewis, a prominent African American political leader, wrote.

On May 3, the House of Representatives passed the bill by a vote of 237-180, with 25 Republicans voting affirmatively. The Senate is expected to vote on its version of the bill in the near future. Both the Senate and House have previously voted in favor of legislation to combat bias-motivated violence in prior Congresses.

“I would love to see the day when justice is evenhanded in America, but the evidence still reveals a great judicial inequality in this country,” Lewis continued in his Journal-Constitution piece. “We may not agree with all the ways some of our fellow citizens live. We may not agree with everything they think. But I want to live in a truly just society, one that values the dignity and the worth of every human being, regardless of our differences. And I think most Americans do, too.”

The LLEHCPA/Matthew Shepard Act provides the Justice Department with the ability to aid state and local jurisdictions either by lending assistance or, where local authorities are unwilling or unable, by taking the lead in investigations and prosecutions of violent crime resulting in death or serious bodily injury that were motivated by bias. The LLEHCPA also makes grants available to state and local communities to combat violent crimes committed by juveniles, train law enforcement officers, or to assist in state and local investigations and prosecutions of bias-motivated crimes.

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LATE-BREAKING
WEB EXTRA
U.S. House passes federal hate crimes legislation

On May 3, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act, (H.R. 1592) in a vote of 237 to 180. The proposed legislation was introduced in March by congressmen John Conyers (D-Michigan) and Mark Kirk (R-Illinois), with the support of more than 100 other members of Congress. The Senate will now consider an identical companion bill called the Mathew Shepard Act.

“This is a historic day that moves all Americans closer to safety from the scourge of hate violence,” Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese said in a press statement. “Today, legislators sided with the 73 percent of the American people who support the expansion of hate crimes laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity.”

The act would strengthen the ability of federal, state, and local governments to investigate and prosecute hate crimes based on race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, disability and gender identity.

“No one can deny the reality of hate violence against LGBT people –in fact, almost everyone has seen it firsthand growing up,” National Gay and Lesbian Task Force executive director Matt Foreman said in a May 3 statement. “For the last 25 years, since the Task Force created our groundbreaking Anti-Violence Project in 1982, we have been working to get the federal government to take a stand against this scourge. Until today, little progress has been made in the 17 years since Congress passed the Hate Crimes Statistics Act, because right-wing forces would rather see anti-LGBT crimes go unaddressed by law enforcement than have the words ‘sexual orientation’ or ‘gender identity’ appear alongside other protected classes in federal law.

“This bill is important for the entire country because it adds or improves federal hate crimes protections based on race, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability. Local law enforcement authorities who lack the resources or the will to investigate hate crimes will now receive much-needed support from colleagues at federal agencies.”

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New Jersey Pride festivities include Texans

The Houston Flyboys Flag troupe didn’t wait until June to celebrate Pride. The colorful, highly visual flag choreography group unfurled its stuff at the annual GLBT Pride Weekend, dubbed Somewhere Over the Rainbow, in New Hope, New Jersey, held May 18-20.

The Flyboys, frequently a favorite at the Bunnies on the Bayou Easter event, joined Jimmy James as Texas-based entertainers performing for New Hope’s fourth annual Pride celebration.

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Ohio protects GLBT state employees

Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland signed an executive order on May 17 prohibiting state government from discriminating against its employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The order adds sexual orientation or gender identity to existing law, which already protects Ohioans against discrimination on the basis of race
or religion.

The legislation restores protections for state workers that existed for 15 years in Ohio but were struck down by then-governor Bob Taft in 2000.

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INTERNATIONAL

Study: Children of lesbians perform as well as children of straights

According to a published report on www.365gay.com, a 74-page study reveals that the vast majority of studies indicate that children living with two mothers and children living with a mother and father have the same levels and qualities of social competence. The research was obtained from approximately 100 studies on parenting by the Canadian government.

“A few studies suggest that children with two lesbian mothers may have marginally better social competence than children in ‘traditional nuclear’ families, even fewer studies show the opposite, and most studies fail to find any differences,” the study says.

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WEB EXTRA NEWS BRIEFS

 

Sen. Hillary Clinton salutes GLBT Pride Month

WASHINGTON—An official proclamation recognizing June as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month hasn’t been released from the White House since 1999, so there was no reason to believe 2007 would be different. But on June 1, presidential hopeful, Senator Hillary Clinton [D-NY] issued the following statement:

“As we celebrate Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, I want to commend the LGBT community on a historic year that brought our country closer to equality and closer to ending discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. Just a year ago, I worked with my Democratic colleagues in the Senate as well as with LGBT leaders to defeat the divisive and discriminatory Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA). Since then, we not only defeated FMA, but we have been able to make real progress in achieving fairness for all Americans. In fact, since June 2006, New Jersey and New Hampshire became the third and fourth states to adopt civil unions and Washington and Iowa were added to the list of states that outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. A similar bill in Colorado is expected to be signed into law soon. And in Congress, we are finally on the verge of passing the Matthew Shepherd Act, which would expand hate crimes laws to include sexual orientation and gender identity. What a difference a year makes.

“The start of Gay and Lesbian Pride Month is a great time to celebrate these recent victories but also to reflect on all the work that still needs to be done. Unfortunately, while this is the first time in years that hate crimes legislation has a strong chance of passing both houses of Congress, President Bush has already signaled that he would veto this landmark bill. The truth is we will see little progress for the LGBT community at the national level until we have a new Democratic president. For six long years, the Bush Administration has only seen the families that matter to them. It’s been a government of the few, by the few, and for the few. And no community has been more invisible to this administration than the LGBT community.

“I’m running for president to replace the divisive leadership of the past six years—leadership that views no issue and no family above the reach of politics. America deserves a president who appeals to the best in each of us, not the worst; a president who values and respects all Americans, gay and straight; a president who treats all Americans equally no matter who they are or who they love.

“I’m proud of my record standing up for the LGBT community during my years as First Lady and as a U.S. Senator. But when I take office in January 2009, we’ll finally be able to define success by more than the bigotry we stopped and the bad decisions we prevented. America will finally have a president who moves this country forward. When I am president, we will work together to make sure that all Americans in committed relationships have equal benefits and that nothing stands in the way of loving couples who want to adopt children in need. We’re going to finally expand our federal hate crimes legislation and pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. It is just plain wrong that in the year 2007, people who work hard and do a good job every day can still be fired because of who they love. And finally, we will put an end to the failed policy of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Courage, honor, patriotism and sacrifice—the traits that define our men and women in uniform—have nothing to do with sexual orientation.

“I am honored to have the support of so many people in the LGBT community and look forward to working with the community closely throughout the campaign. Together, we can continue the journey America has been on from the very beginning—to form a more perfect union and realize the goals and values we believe in. That’s the promise of America—and that’s why I’m running for president.”

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Equal rights group founder calls for papal apology

On Memorial Day, Pope Benedict XVI’s apologized to Latin American indigenous people for remarks he had made earlier in the month, calling the evangelizing work of the Catholic Church in the Americas during the late 1400’s as “glorious.”

But Mitchell Gold, furniture store mogul and founder of Faith in America, called on the pope to broaden his apology.

“Pope Benedict’s recognition of past atrocities to the native people of Latin America at the hands of the Roman Catholic Church is a needed and welcome step on the long road to justice and healing these communities continue to travel,” Gold said in a statement to the press. “We applaud his courage to admit the Church’s responsibility for such great human suffering. However, we call upon him to have the courage also to acknowledge the enormous harm the Roman Catholic Church is doing to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and their families.

“Pope Benedict should learn from the Church’s past mistakes he now admits and not repeat them today,” Gold continued. “As happened to other groups of people in centuries past, misguided religious teachings are causing immeasurable suffering and injustice to millions of gay individuals, their families and society as a whole. Such teachings weaken the bonds of community, religion, friendship, and family. The world should not have to sit by and wait centuries for religious institutions and their leaders to right the wrongs they’re perpetuating today against gay people.

“We challenge Pope Benedict, the Roman Catholic Church and leaders of every religion to renounce bigotry and foster an environment where love, acceptance and understanding of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people flourish.”

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Flamboyant actor, Charles Nelson Reilly, dies in Los Angeles

Charles Nelson Reilly, the Tony Award winner who later became known for his outlandish television appearances, has died in Los Angeles as a result of complications from pneumonia. He was 76.

After winning a Tony award in 1962 for his portrayal of Bud Frump in the original Broadway production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, Reilly became known for his over-the-top portrayal of effeminate characters in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, The Dean Martin Show, and as a staple of several game shows.

Reilly is survived by his partner, Patrick Hughes.

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Son born to Mary Cheney, Heather Poe

Samuel David Cheney, son of Mary Cheney and her partner of 15 years, Heather Poe, was born May 23 in Washington DC. He is the sixth grandchild of Lynn and U.S. vice president, Dick Cheney.

Following the news of Cheney’s pregnancy, conservative groups criticized the couple’s decision to raise a child.

“We should not enter into yet another untested and far-reaching social experiment, this one driven by the desires of same-sex couples to bear and raise children,” said James Dobson, founder of the conservative group, Focus on the Family, stated on the organization’s web site.

President George W. Bush congratulated the couple, telling People magazine, “I think Mary is going to be a loving soul to her child. And I’m happy for her.”

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Civil unions recognized in New Hampshire

CONCORD, NH—New Hampshire became the most recent state to enact legislation recognizing civil unions between same-sex couples, with governor John Lynch signing it into law on May 31.

National activists and politicos were quick to comment on the move.

“New Hampshire has not only provided family protections in the form of civil unions, but the Granite State has just given us an example of why it is important to elect Democrats to public office,” said Jo Wyrick, National Stonewall Democrats executive director. “This important step towards equal access and responsibility in marriage was only taken after voters elected Democratic majorities this past year to both the New Hampshire Senate and House of Representatives.”

Democratic presidential nominee hopeful, John Edwards, also saluted the New Hampshire legislation.

“Governor Lynch and the state of New Hampshire have shown true leadership in the ongoing battle against discrimination that so many Americans face every day in this country. By recognizing that committed same-sex couples should have the same rights and responsibilities as other citizens, New Hampshire has taken an important step in the name of two of the most fundamental American ideals—fairness and equal rights.”

Republican presidential hopeful, Rudy Giuliani, was more nebulous in his reaction to the legislation. The website for the former New York City mayor state he believes “marriage is between a man and a woman.

“He does not—and has never—supported gay marriage. But he believes in equal rights under law for all Americans,” the site continues. “That’s why he supports domestic partnerships that provide stability for committed partners in important legal and personal matters, while preserving the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman.”

New Hampshire joins Connecticut, California, Maine, New Jersey, Vermont and Washington State, which offer similar protections. Oregon will join New Hampshire in offering similar protections in January. Two neighbors of New Hampshire, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and Canada, allow same-sex couples to legally marry.

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Despite increase in support for GLBT equality, ExxonMobil upholds discrimination

DALLAS—At its annual meeting held May 30, ExxonMobil shareholders voted with record support for a resolution to add “sexual orientation” to the company’s written equal employment opportunity policy. Regardless of the increase of shareholders’ support, the resolution was defeated.

The percentage of shares voted in favor of adding the phrase has grown each of the last eight years, with 37.8 percent of shares voting in favor of the policy this year, an increase from 34.6 percent in 2005. The tally represents about 1.78 billion total shares voted in favor of the proposal.

ExxonMobil stands alone as the only Fortune 50 company that refuses to write sexual orientation protections into its primary non-discrimination policy. The oil giant’s competitors, BP Corp., Chevron Corp., Dow Chemical, and DuPont all have non-discrimination statements inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity. ExxonMobil does not provide domestic partner health insurance to all of its employees.

“With a record number of shareholders voting in favor of equal protections and siding with the overwhelming majority of Americans supporting the right of all employees to earn a living free of discrimination, it is irresponsible for ExxonMobil not to join the majority of companies that provide equal protections and benefits to all families,” said Human Rights Campaign president, Joe Solmonese.

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Former U.S. president condemns ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

PLAINS, GA—Former president and human rights champion, Jimmy Carter, called for a revisitation of the U.S. Department of Defense’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, banning gay and lesbian personnel from serving openly in the military.

On April 30, Carter released the following statement:

“It is my long-held belief that every human being deserves dignity and respect. I often heard that phrase during my years at the United States Naval Academy, I carried it out as Commander-in-Chief, and it continues to animate my human rights work around the globe today. The nation’s commitment to human rights requires that lawmakers revisit “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the current policy that prevents lesbians, gays, and bisexuals from serving openly in our armed forces.

“’Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is the only law in America today that regulates a group of citizens then prohibits them from identifying themselves and speaking up on their own behalf. Gay soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines are unable to tell their Member of Congress or their commander that he policy is an abject failure and they are living proof because they will face discharge. Those who defend our liberties and freedoms deserve better.

“As I wrote about in my book Our Endangered Values, there are great differences in public opinion on social issues today compared to 20 years ago. When I served as president, the majority in our country did not support equality for gay Americans, but that has now changed.

“More than 25 nations have ended their bans, including the United Kingdom and Israel. In Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world, our troops serve along side our NATO allies who allow gays to serve openly. As far as I can tell, our troops have not weakened or wavered despite the increasing integration of openly gay troops from our allies.

“Since the current policy has been implemented, over 11,000 individuals have been removed from their positions in the military as soldiers, translators, and medics. Our military can be most effective if these dedicated individuals are allowed to serve.

“The estimated 65,000 gay men and women who are currently serving our country honorably deserve our full respect. America has always been a beacon of hope for those who believe in human rights and individual dignity. The brave and dedicated men and women of our armed services also must benefit from this fundamental ideal.”

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