September 16, 2010 at 3:34 pm EDT | by Joey DiGuglielmo
National news in brief

Celebs debut ads promoting marriage in N.Y.

NEW YORK — Gay marriage activists in New York are unveiling a series of ads targeted at ordinary voters featuring several A-list actors, according to a New York Times report.

The videos, released this week, are an attempt to persuade state lawmakers to legalize same-sex marriage, which the legislature voted down last year despite polling that showed a slight majority of New Yorkers support it. Celebrities such as Julianne Moore, Kyra Sedwick and leaders like Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Rev. Al Sharpton recorded spots.

In her video, Moore introduces herself then says, “We all deserve the right to marry the person we love … We are so close to equal marriage rights in New York but we need your help.”

The timing of the commercials is deliberate, the Times reported. With the front-runner in the governor’s race, Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic attorney general, pledging his support for same-sex marriage, and the legislature in Democratic hands, advocates are pushing for a new vote early next year. Human Rights Campaign and its allies are spending heavily to oust three New York state senators, all Democrats, who voted against the marriage bill last year: William Stachowski, Shirley Huntley and Ruben Diaz.

Tenn. lesbians’ home destroyed by arson

VONORE, Tenn. — Two Tennessee lesbians who say they’ve had a history of anti-gay harassment in their neighborhood saw their house destroyed by fire this week.

Investigators aren’t releasing details of the fire, according to the Daily Times, a Tennessee newspaper, but the women have previously been the victims of arson and have had the word “queers” spraypainted on their garage.

They say they’re now fearful for their safety, according to the Times report. “We would love to stay [in the area],” Carol Stutte told the Times, “but we will never, never rebuild [on that property] again. I take someone with me constantly — one or two people to make sure I’m OK while I’m up there.”

The fire happened on Sept. 4 about 10 p.m. Detective Travis Jones of the Monroe County Sherriff’s Department said the fire was arson but declined to provide further details because an investigation is underway. The couple, who were in Nashville at the time of the fire, lost everything. They’ve been together 16 years.

Rapper 50 Cent in Twitter spat with Perez

LOS ANGELES — Rapper 50 Cent is being criticized for an anti-gay Tweet he posted Sept. 6 about gay blogger Perez Hilton.

50’s post read “Perez called me douchebag so I had my homie shoot up a gay wedding. wasn’t his but still made me feel better” (sic) A photo of two men in suits running from a crowd was linked to the Tweet.

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has publicly urged the rapper to apologize but he has not responded.

Ind. teen commits suicide after anti-gay bullying

GREENSBURG, Ind. — A 15-year-old Greensburg, Ind., student committed suicide on Sept. 9 according to several media reports.

Billy Lucas, a student at Indiana’s Greensburg Community High School, was found hanging in a barn his family owned last week. Reports said Lucas made no reference to bullying in his suicide note but several classmates said he was harassed repeatedly by classmates.

He never said he was gay, but classmates reportedly taunted by calling him “fag” and other anti-gay slurs. Student Dillen Swango told an Indiana-based Fox station, “People would call him fag and stuff like that, just make fun of him because he’s different basically.”

According to Swango, students told Lucas Thursday he should kill himself. “They said stuff like, ‘You’re a piece of crap’ and ‘you don’t deserve to live.’ Different things like that. Talked about how he was gay or whatever,” Swango told Fox.

Joey DiGuglielmo is the Features Editor for the Washington Blade.

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