January 6, 2011 at 4:41 pm EDT | by Staff reports
National news in brief

Palin’s re-Tweet sparks speculation about LGBT views

WASHINGTON — Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has inspired speculation about her stand on gay issues and “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” since she re-Tweeted a post from a gay talk radio host criticizing opponents of the repeal of the anti-gay policy, several media outlets reported this week.

At issue is a Tweet posted early Tuesday by Tammy Bruce, a conservative talk radio host that said, “But this hypocrisy is just truly too much. Enuf already — the more someone complains about the homos the more we should look under their bed.” Palin, who uses Twitter often to send out announcements and commentary to her 350,000 followers, posted Bruce’s comment on her own account but didn’t elaborate. She hadn’t commented on it publicly as of Blade press time Wednesday.

Bruce’s comment referred to a Navy captain who was relieved of his command for making a series of lewd videos that were shown to those serving under him on the USS Enterprise.

Palin’s opinions of gay issues have been unclear at times. She told Fox News last year that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” wasn’t a pressing issue and that the military had more pressing matters to deal with. But she didn’t say she disapproved of repeal either.

In other gay matters, Palin opted not to veto partner benefits legislation when she was governor of Alaska, but has repeatedly said that marriage should be reserved for opposite-sex couples.

N.C. commissioner calls gays ‘sexual predators’

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A North Carolina county commissioner last week said that gays are “sexual predators,” according to reports from NPR, MSNBC and other media outlets.

The comment came from an e-mail Mecklenburg County Commissioner Bill James sent to board chair Jennifer Roberts. She wanted to send a letter on board stationary congratulating Sen. Richard Burr on his vote to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” James replied saying that not every homosexual is a predator but as a group, they are.

His comments, which received national attention, inspired a resolution from the commission that calls for tolerance, inclusion and civility. James voted for it but did not apologize for his earlier e-mail. He said he didn’t think the resolution would have much impact but said it was a nice gesture he could support because he believes in kindness.

Some of his fellow board members said his remarks are “beyond reproach” and “out of line.”

Minnesota town passes pro-gay ordinance

ST. LOUIS PARK, Minn. — The St. Louis Park City Council unanimously passed an ordinance Monday that will allow domestic partners — opposite- and same-sex — to register their partnerships with the city.

The ordinance won’t supersede any state or federal laws nor will it grant couples any new legal rights. The state of Minnesota doesn’t recognize gay marriage, but proponents tout it as a step in the right direction.

The ordinance will go in effect in February if it passes a formal second reading in two weeks, which is expected to easily pass.

Registration will ensure domestic partners the same family rates and benefits at city events and at area businesses. Another Minnesota town, Rochester, passed a similar ordinance.

N.M. official says gay marriages should be recognized

ALBUQUERQUE — New Mexico’s attorney general this week issued an opinion stating that same-sex marriages from other states would be legal in his state. He came to that conclusion after an in-depth legal analysis, the New Mexico Independent reported.

“While we cannot predict how a New Mexico court would rule on this issue, after review of the law in this area, it is our opinion that a same-sex marriage that is valid under the laws of the country or state where it was consummated would likewise be found valid in New Mexico,” Attorney General Gary King wrote.

While 40 states explicitly bar same-sex marriage, King says that New Mexico’s law does “not explicitly address the recognition of same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions,” according to the release announcing the opinion.

Senate confirms lesbian for Employment Commission

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate has confirmed a lesbian for a full term as a Commissioner of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Chai Feldblum had been blocked previously by Republican senators but President Obama used a recess appointment to make her temporarily a commissioner last March. That temporary appointment would have expired at the end of 2011 but Feldblum will now serve through July 2013.

Prior to her recess appointment, Feldblum served as a professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center. Throughout her career, she has worked to enact protections for some of the most stigmatized populations in America. As legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union in the 1980s, she worked to secure legal protections for people with AIDS at a time when the disease was vilified and poorly understood. Feldblum also played a leading role in the drafting and negotiation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

The Commission was established as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Its mission is to promote equality of opportunity in the workplace and enforce federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination.

Anti-gay group may end CPAC sponsorship

COLORADO SPRINGS — Colorado-based Focus on the Family is considering ending its sponsorship of a national conservative political action rally because of the involvement of a gay conservative group, the Associated Press and several media outlets reported.

The lobbying arm of Focus on Family, CitizenLink, is a co-sponsor of the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington next month.

CitizenLink senior vice president Tom Minnery told the Gazette that the group is participating partly to help offset the influence of the gay group, GOProud. But he says this may be the last year it’s a sponsor, the AP reported.

Sarah Palin and Mike Hucakbee are among those scheduled to speak at the conference.

Report focuses on suicide, risk among LGBT people

MIAMI — An expert panel of 26 leading researchers, clinicians, educators and policy experts have released a comprehensive report on the prevalence and underlying causes of suicidal behavior in LGBT adolescents and adults. The report was published online this week.

Titled “Suicide and Suicide Risk in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Populations: Review and Recommendations,” the report makes sweeping recommendations for closing knowledge gaps in what is known and not known about LGBT suicide behaviors and calls for making LGBT suicide prevention a national priority. This is especially timely in light of multiple suicide deaths among LGBT youth in recent months.

Despite four decades of research pointing to elevated rates of suicide attempts among LGBT people, national suicide prevention initiatives, including the 2001 U.S. National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, have given scant attention to suicide risk in sexual minority persons.

“With this report and recommendations, we hope to move LGBT suicide prevention squarely onto the national agenda and provide a framework for actions aimed at reducing suicidal behavior in these populations,” said Ann Haas, lead author and director of prevention projects for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

The report found strong evidence of significantly higher suicide rates for gays of all ages compared to their straight counterparts and that increased depression and substance abuse problems among sexual minorities do not account for the higher rates but stigma and discrimination play “key roles.”

Most NOM money came from a few donors

WASHINGTON — The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has released a partial version of its 2009 tax return, which shows that most of the more than $7 million it received that year came from a small number of large donors, NOM Exposed (which Human Rights Campaign sponsors) reported this week.

According to the report, three wealthy donors contributed 68 percent of the organization’s donations. The top five donors accounted for 75 percent of contributions. The donors were not identified and could be individuals or corporations.

The sites pointed out that NOM doesn’t represent a grassroots constituency but a small group of wealthy anti-gay supporters. NOM had kept its returns private until HRC reps visited their D.C. office twice in person.

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