June 24, 2010 at 2:14 pm EDT | by Staff reports
National news in brief

Gates: Veto possible of military gay ban bill

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Robert Gates says President Barack Obama could end up vetoing legislation that would lift the ban on gays serving openly in the military.

Obama supports repealing the law, and the White House has pushed for quicker congressional action than the Pentagon has favored. Gates also supports repeal.

But according to an Associated Press report, Gates told “Fox News Sunday” on June 20 that Obama probably still would veto an upcoming spending bill that includes the repeal — if the bill also contains money for defense projects he says are wasteful.

Gates wants to get rid of an aircraft engine and additional transport aircraft that some lawmakers want to keep. They generally represent areas with defense contractors that would stand to lose business from the cuts.

Philadelphia: Scouts should confront anti-gay rule

PHILADELPHIA — City lawyers called on local Boy Scout officials to muster “the courage of their convictions” and challenge their national group’s ban on gays as a trial over government funding opened last week.

The city of Philadelphia wants to end its $1-a-year lease to the local Boy Scouts chapter unless it rejects a Boy Scouts of America policy banning “avowed” gays. The city says the national rule violates a local law banning discrimination on sexual-orientation and other grounds.

Local scout chapters, including the Cradle of Liberty Council in Philadelphia, have struggled in recent years to satisfy both public and private funders as well as their national leadership’s dictums, the Associated Press reported. The Boy Scout oath calls for members to be “morally straight,” which the national group interprets to mean that gays cannot participate.

In 2004, the Philadelphia chapter agreed to ban any “unlawful” discrimination. But the city said the policy didn’t go far enough, given that the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000 had said scouts and other private organizations can legally restrict membership.

“The city tried for years to get them to (muster) … the courage of their convictions,” lawyer David Smith, representing the city, told jurors June 14 in opening statements, according to the Associated Press. “You can’t go on speaking out of both sides of your mouth because we, the government, cannot subsidize that kind of conduct.”

The Cradle of Liberty Council sued the city in federal court two years ago, on grounds the threat to rescind the 1928 lease violated its rights of free speech and freedom of association.

Chapter leaders also accuse the city of applying its lease rules selectively, since at least two other groups with limited membership rules — a Roman Catholic parish and a Colonial Dames of America chapter — also enjoy subsidized leases in city-owned buildings. Smith countered that those groups pledged to open the doors of those buildings to all.

“They want us to change the policy and they know they can’t make us do it. And the only leverage they have is this building,” said lawyer Jason Gosselin, representing the Cradle of Liberty Council, according to the Associated Press.

Minn. state senator dined with gay adult film star

ST. PAUL, Minn. — A two-term Minnesota state senator facing a Republican primary challenger says he went on a date with an adult film star.

Sen. Paul Koering confirmed a report in the Brainerd Dispatch that he dined with Brandon Wilde on June 13, according to the Associated Press. Koering revealed to his Fort Ripley constituents in 2005 that he is gay.

He said he met Wilde at a diversity picnic, and that media interest in his social life is “just ridiculous.”

Koering’s re-election bid is unfolding in a socially conservative north-central Minnesota district that sent him back to the Minnesota Senate in 2006. GOP primary voters will make their choice Aug. 10.

The Associated Press reported that GOP Chairman Tony Sutton says Koering has shown “incredibly poor judgment.”

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