The Most Popular Gay Stories of the Week
Melissa Etheridge to Wed in California
Lesbian rocker Melissa Etheridge announced she’ll be getting married to her longtime girlfriend, sitcom writer and producer Linda Wallem, following the U.S. Supreme Court historic decisions on two gay rights cases.
“I look forward to exercising my American civil liberties…and getting fully, completely and legally married this year to my true love of over three years, Linda Wallem,” Etheridge tweeted on June 26.
The 52-year-old singer later talked to CNN about her decision, which was prompted by the repealed of the Defense of Marriage Act, and the high court’s dismissal of Proposition 8, the referendum banning gay marriage in California.
To top off the celebration, Etheridge said California is exactly the place where they’ll get married.
“I’m going to get married in the state of California. I woke [the kids] up this morning telling them the Supreme Court ruling on DOMA. I love everybody out there. It’s a great day,” she said.
Democrats Looking to Repeal Rest of DOMA
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Jerrold Nadler have reintroduced a bill that would repeal the rest of DOMA; the Supreme Court only struck down section 3 of the law, which prevented over a thousand federal benefits going to married gay couples.
Feinstein and Nadler are specifically trying to repeal section 2 of DOMA, which would allow the government to recognize a legal gay marriage even in a state where gay marriage is not allowed.
Feinstein said that even after the Windsor case, there still remain inconsistencies with the law.
“Veterans benefits are based on the law of the state where the parties resided at the time of the marriage, or when the right to benefits accrued. So, different veterans benefits might be granted or denied, depending on where a couple lived at different times, without any rhyme or reason,” she said in a statement on June 26.
The bill has 161 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives and 41 co-sponsors in the Senate.
Australia Passes Historic LGBT Protections
The Australian House of Representatives passed its third reading of a national bill that will protect LGBT and intersex people against discrimination.
According to Gay Star News, the Sex Discrimination Amendment showed overwhelming support from the country’s parliament.
Once the bill becomes law, care providers who are owned by religious groups, for example, won’t be able to exclude people from aged care based on the sexual orientation or gender identity.
The legislation provides a milestone for the Australian intersex community as they are also included under its protections.
“We acknowledge with great thanks all of those who helped, particularly our LGBT allies, who went to the trouble of understanding and including intersex in their own efforts to bring about this historic legislative change,” said Gina Wilson, president of the group Organization Intersex International Australia.
Religious nonprofits are still mostly exempt from the law.
Miami Judge Rejects Plea Deal in Fake Transgender Doctor Case
Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Ellen Sue Venzer rejected a plea deal as “too light” for Ron Oneal Morris, the trans fake doctor accused of killing two patients with hazardous cosmetic fillers.
On June 25, Judge Venzer nixed a plea deal that would have sent Morris to 180 days in jail. Morris injected Fix-a-Flat, Super Glue and mineral oil into women’s bodies for cosmetic purposes, causing the death of Shatarka Nuby, one of the victims who went to the police after receiving injections filled with a concoction of products bought at Home Depot.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate, not for the charges, not for second-degree felonies. These charges carry 30 years,” Venzer told The Miami Herald.
Morris operated her illegal business in both Miami-Dade and Broward County. In Broward, she faces a manslaughter count in connection with Nuby’s death.
According to SFGN trans columnist Victoria Michaels, Morris gained popularity among members of the transgender community eager to transition, but who did not have the funds to seek treatment at a certified clinic.
“This is an overwhelming problem that plagues our transgender community as there just aren’t any LGBT organizations willing to assist transgenders in their desperate need to transition,” Michaels wrote in a 2012 column.
Department of Defense to Provide Equal Benefits to Married Gay Couples
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the Department of Defense will begin to provide full equal benefits to the spouses of gay military personnel, following the Supreme Court’s decision.
“The Department of Defense intends to make the same benefits available to all military spouses, regardless of sexual orientation, as soon as possible,” Hagel said in a statement. “That is now the law, and it is the right thing to do.”
On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional, which gave legally married gay couples the same rights as straight couples at a federal level.
What this means for gay couples in the military is that spouses will now enjoy all the benefits as the spouses of straight service members, including medical, dental, interment at Arlington National Cemetery, and with-dependent Basic Allowance for Housing.
The DOD said it hopes to begin to update and process ID cards for same-sex military spouses within six to 12 weeks.
“For civilian employees, the Department will look to [the Office of Personnel Management] for guidance. For civilian employees who are eligible for ID card-related benefits, the Department intends that ID cards will be made available to same-sex spouses of civilian employees at the same time as same-sex spouses of military members,” a department spokesman said in a statement.
Researchers Attempt to Cure Cancer with HIV Cells
A team of doctors at the University of Pennsylvania are giving the deadline HIV virus new meaning: they are using it to save lives.
The researchers, led by Carl H. June, say they have been successful in genetically engineering HIV to target cancer cells, as reported by HIV-Plus Mag.
The treatment being developed by these doctors injects patients’ T cells with the modified form of HIV, disabling some parts of it some that it can’t cause AIDS, but still using it to attack cancerous cells in the body. They claim that one such HIV cell can kill up to 1,000 cancerous cells.
Patients like 7-year-old Emma Whitehead, a girl from Pennsylvania who was fighting leukemia, were “infected” with the reprogrammed HIV virus. Months later her leukemia disappeared, doctors say. A total of 12 patients have been subjected to the treatment; nine of them are in full or partial remission, June said.
The team now wants to see how their treatment can fight other types of cancer, like pancreatic cancer.
“We want to cure cancer, we do,” June said. “I think sometimes it’s hard to think that you might actually succeed.”
Gay Designer Narciso Rodriguez Marries Partner In New York City
Out fashion designer Narciso Rodriguez has tied the knot to longtime boyfriend Thomas Tolan, People magazine reports.
The wedding took place on June 22 at the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York City. High profile friends and clients like actress Jessica Alba and Jessica Seinfeld were in attendance.
“Tom makes Sunday gravy, meatballs and the whole deal. He’s a good cook, too. So we’ll cook together, open a bottle of red wine, and if it’s nice, we’ll sit on the terrace and watch the sunset,” Rodriguez told the New York Times about his new husband in 2011.
According to People, Rodriguez is best known for designing the iconic minimal bias-cut white silk sheath that Carolyn Bessette wore for her wedding to John F. Kennedy Jr. in 1996.
“You search your whole life to find that person who is your soul mate,” Rodriguez later said of Bessette Kennedy. “She’ll always be my muse.”
Before hitting it big, Rodriguez worked for Anne Klein under Donna Karan. Later, he moved to Calvin Klein. In 2005, Time Magazine named him one of the“25 Most Influential Hispanics in America.”
The designer has also made his mark in the fragrance industry, winning several awards.
Ireland to Let People Vote on Gay marriage in 2014
Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said the country will let its people decide whether gay marriage should be legalized in a referendum next year.
The Labor Party leader said so during an event organized by the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network on June 22.
“The commitment we have given is that once the Constitutional Convention presents its report in respect of the part of the Constitutional Convention dealing with same-sex marriage, that report is going to be tabled I think this month, formally tabled,” Gilmore said as quoted by Gay Star News.
The Irish Constitutional Convention is a committee made out of politicians and randomly selected citizens appointed to discuss to discuss proposed amendments to the Constitution of Ireland. In April, the convention voted overwhelmingly in favor of same-sex marriage.
“There is then a four-month period for the Government to consider the report of the Constitutional Convention,” Gilmore added.
If everything goes well “realistically we’re probably looking at next year sometime,” the politician said regarding the referendum.
Earlier this year, the country’s neighbor, Northern Ireland, voted against same-sex marriage.
“I would like to think if Northern Ireland was the only jurisdiction in these islands without marriage equality, it would be a great embarrassment,” Gavin Boyd, from Equal Marriage Northern Ireland, told GSN.