Week in review
The Most Popular Gay Stories of the Week
Dolce & Gabbana Convicted of Tax Evasion
Designer duo Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana may have to continue their runway legacy under arrest.
The on-and-off gay couple behind the fashion powerhouse were sentenced to 20 months in prison for tax evasion in Italy, according to the Wall Street Journal.
An Italian court handed down the sentence on June 19, concluding a long investigation into the financial affairs of the designers that started back in 2004, when two of the company’s main brands were sold to a Luxembourg-based holding company, Gado Srl.
Dolce and Gabbana reportedly undervalued their company in order to avoid paying more taxes. The court found them guilty of bypassing about $1.3 billion.
The Journal writes that the couple probably won’t be facing jail time, as Italian law states that sentences of less than three years are served with house arrest or community service.
For their part, the designers will probably appeal the sentence, something which may delay imprisonment for years.
Advocates File Gay Marriage Ballot Initiative
LGBT advocates in Arizona are looking to repeal the state’s definition of marriage with a ballot initiative.
Equal Marriage Arizona launched a campaign on June 17 to modify the state’s ban on same-sex marriage and redefine it as the union between two adults, as opposed to the union between a man and a woman, The Arizona Republic reports.
In order to get Arizona residents to vote on it, activists need to gather 259,213 signatures by registered voters by the July 3, 2014 deadline in order to put the initiative on next year’s ballot. Arizona voters in 2008 passed a gay marriage ban defining marriage as a heterosexual union.
“This isn’t about politics,” said Phoenix Libertarian businessman Warren Meyer, who along with Arizona Log Cabin Republican chairwoman Erin Ogletree Simpson filed the paperwork. “This is about individual liberty.”
They said the plan was to wait for the outcome of the U.S Supreme Court cases before moving full force with their plan.”
Russia’s Foreign Adoption Ban Nears Passage
Russia’s lower house of parliament unanimously passed a bill banning gay foreign couples from adopting Russian children.
On June 18, legislators voted 443-0 to pass the bill, according to AFP. The bill will now go to the upper house and will then need to be signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Earlier this month the lower house, or Duma, voted to unanimously ban LGBT events or public discussion of LGBT issues that might be accessible to minors.
The European country started enforcing a ban on U.S. citizens from adoption Russian orphans on January 1.
The Gay Star News writes that the ban came as a result of the U.S. introducing visa and financial sanctions to Russia for its corruption and human rights violations.
Russian gay rights activist Nikolai Alekseev said that the ban will only harm the orphans.
“It will hardly have big consequences for foreign gays and lesbians but will harm Russian children who are kept in very miserable conditions,” he told GSN.
Orlando-based ‘Ex-Gay’ Group Apologizes to LGBT Community, Announces Disintegration
Exodus International, the conservative Christian ministry that battled homosexuality for nearly 40 years, has announced it plans to shut down.
According to a press release posted on their website on the night of June 19, the Orlando-based group will disintegrate alleging a “change in culture” in the last few years. Part of the organization may resurface as a separate ministry that aims to be more welcoming to gays.
“We’re not negating the ways God used Exodus to positively affect thousands of people, but a new generation of Christians is looking for change — and they want to be heard,” Exodus board member Tony Moore said.
The group gained national prominence as a place where gay people could be “cured.”
The announcement comes just hours after Exodus released a statement apologizing to the LGBT community for years of undue judgment.
“Exodus is an institution in the conservative Christian world, but we’ve ceased to be a living, breathing organism,” said Alan Chambers, president of Exodus. “For quite some time we’ve been imprisoned in a worldview that’s neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical.”
The Christian organization starting showing signing of shifting attitudes last year, when Chambers stopped endorsing gay “reparative therapy.”
Then last April, John Paulk, a former chairman of Exodus and the poster boy for the “ex-gay” movement renounced his past involvement with the organization and said he was still gay.
Over 135 LGBT Groups Join Forces Pushing for All-Inclusive Gay Rights Bill
Tired of having to wait years for bills to give partial rights to the LGBT community, a group of activists and organizations are launching a campaign to get Congress to draft and pass an all-inclusive bill.
Over 145 LGBT and LGBT-supportive organizations from 36 states have joined the Pledge for Full LGBT Equality campaign. The groups are calling upon the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus to file a national bill for full equality — something that would encompass, marriage, workplace protections, education, everything.
“To change course, it’s important that our existing strategy of filing multiple single-issue bills not be treated as a sacrosanct pragmatic legislative strategy, because it has not worked,” gay rights activist Todd Fernandez, who is working to advance the cause, wrote in a piece for The Huffington Post.
Some of the groups that have joined the effort include nationwide PFLAG groups, Equality Pennsylvania, Equality Nevada, Equality Nebraska, Equality Hawaii, Equality Illinois, and Equality Maryland. LGBT Pride committees supporting the cause include one from Jacksonville, Florida.
Fernandez writes the idea is to get get 250 groups from all 50 states to take the pledge by the end of Pride Month. And they hope for passage by 2014, the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
“We need to get to the root cause faster, because mothers rejecting their own children is barbaric, and children taking their own lives must end,” he wrote.
Florida Rep. Rep. Darryl Rouson Now Supports Gay Marriage
Florida House Democratic Leader-designee Darryl Rouson has changed his stance on gay marriage, throwing his support under the cause.
The Republican-turned-Democrat, who represents Florida’s district 70 in the State Legislature, told The Huffington Post that he has “evolved on the issue.”
“I have been listening to my constituents and to other members of the LGBT community, but the turning point came when I attended an Equality Florida event,” he said following the annual Jefferson-Jackson conference. “ … I will defend love. I will defend people’s right to love who they choose and to be proud of that love.”
Equality Florida is the state’s largest gay rights organization. Rouson said the turning point came after listening to a story of discrimination from a gay colleague.
“His pain was so real … and so unnecessary. Why should anyone be treated differently because of who they love? Because of who they are? I finally got it – this is the civil rights movement of our day,” he said.
In the past, Rouson has been quoted as saying: “I think lesbianism and homosexuality is morally wrong. The law is supposed to discriminate sometimes, in some respects, it is supposed to discriminate against social order and anarchy.”
Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida, commended Rep. Rouson for his evolution.
“Representative Rouson has shown time and time again his willingness to listen and have empathy for those harmed by discrimination. His leadership on this issue is in line with the evolving sentiment of Florida voters who now support equal access to marriage for gay couples.”
Olympic Champion Greg Louganis Announced Marriage
(AP) — Former Olympic diving champion Greg Louganis plans to get married this fall.
People magazine says the 53-year-old Louganis will marry paralegal Johnny Chaillot.
The four-time gold medalist is the only man to win consecutive Olympic titles in springboard and platform diving – in 1984 at Los Angeles and 1988 at Seoul.
After his diving career ended, Louganis revealed he was gay in 1994 and announced he was HIV-positive a year later.
Louganis is helping Olympic hopefuls as an athlete mentor for USA Diving. He’s also been featured as a coach on ABC’s reality diving competition “Splash.”