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National news in brief: Jan. 14
‘Prophet’ claims animal deaths due to ‘Don’t Ask’ repeal
WASHINGTON — The deaths of thousands of blackbirds in Arkansas may have been caused by the recent repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” according to a self-described “prophet” who once claimed the ability to banish “gay demons,” the Raw Story, a D.C.-based alternative news site, reported.
Evangelist Cindy Jacobs said on a video posted over the weekend that the strange phenomenon, that has now occurred in various places around the world, was an “answer” from God for violating his principles concerning homosexuality,” Raw Story reported.
“According to biblical principles, marriage is between a man and a woman, so we have to say ‘What happens when a nation makes a decision that’s against God’s principles?’” she said in the video. “Well, often what happens is that nature itself will begin to talk to us – for instance, violent storms, flooding.”
During an evangelical conference in 2008, Jacobs conducted a mass exorcism of the audience to cast out the spirits of pornography, addiction, lust, bisexuality, homosexuality and perversion.
Model charged in death of Portuguese TV star
NEW YORK — A 21-year-old man has been charged with murder for allegedly beating and choking a Portuguese journalist and television personality inside a Times Square hotel room last week, authorities said Monday according to a Wall Street Journal report.
Renato Seabra, who has been described as a male model in his native Portugal, had been taken into custody and placed under psychiatric care at Bellevue Hospital after the body of Carlos Castro, 65, was discovered beaten and sexually mutilated inside the InterContinental Hotel on Friday night, police said.
The pair had been vacationing in New York when the incident unfolded, and statements Seabra allegedly made to authorities reveal the young man was conflicted about his sexuality and his relationship with Castro, a prominent gay rights activist in Portugal, a law-enforcement official familiar with the matter said. Other media outlets reported that Seabra castrated Castro with a corkscrew.
Seabra was taken into custody at Roosevelt Hospital in Midtown, where he went after the slaying for treatment of apparently self-inflicted wounds to his wrists and face, the official said.
Seabra will be arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court once he is cleared by doctors, the official said. If he is not cleared, he will be arraigned in a bedside hearing at the hospital, the official said.
Gay White House hopeful excluded from forum
CLEVELAND — The only openly gay Republican exploring a presidential bid is fighting to be included in an upcoming candidates forum hosted by the Iowa Christian Alliance, On Top magazine, a gay news outlet in Cleveland, reported.
Fred Karger, a retired GOP consultant from California, told the Ballot Box he’s been excluded from the March 7 event because of his sexual orientation. But Steve Scheffler, president of the Iowa group, said Karger wasn’t among the 15 potential candidates invited to attend because he only talks about one issue — gay rights.
“We’re inviting all potential candidates who are legitimate candidates,” Scheffler told the Ballot Box. Karger “is not a legitimate candidate.”
“That’s code for homophobia,” said Karger, who worked as a consultant on the late Ronald Reagan’s campaigns for governor and president. “I’m going to send him a letter and ask that I be included, and I’m going to look to the [Federal Election Commission] to see what the rules are.”
Payroll error gives gay Yale employees New Year’s surprise
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A group of 61 employees of Yale University in New Haven, Conn., who’d registered as having same-sex partners with their employer learned in December that a payroll error means they’ll have thousands of dollars in extra taxes taken out of their paychecks this year, the New York Times reported this week.
Because the employees are considered married by the state of Connecticut but not by the federal government, a programming error failed to withhold income for taxes owed on the value of domestic partner health coverage. The value of the benefits is taxable by the federal government but not on state income tax returns.
“Unfortunately, the payroll system inadvertently treated those benefits as nontaxable for Connecticut and federal purposes for the entire calendar year of 2010,” said a letter, dated Dec. 22, from Yale’s payroll department to employees with same-sex partners who were affected by the error. To correct the error, the university went on to say, it would pay the tax and deduct the amount it paid from employees’ paychecks — in equal amounts over the first three months of 2011, the Times reported.
The university, which has extended health insurance to its same-sex employees’ domestic partners since 1994, typically withholds those taxes from employees’ paychecks over the course of the year. But due to the programming error, employees will be responsible for paying the taxes for both years in 2011, the Times said.
Those costs can be significant. According to one employee who did not want to be publicly identified criticizing the university, paying the tax back over a three-month period would reduce take-home pay by 33 percent — and that doesn’t even include the taxes owed for this year.
State Department policy change a small gay rights advance
WASHINGTON — The State Department’s December decision to make passport applications more gender neutral is a small but notable gay rights advance, activists have said citing media coverage of the change in several news outlets.
The change, unveiled quietly last month but reported widely last weekend, means the forms required for first-time passport applicants younger than 16 will ask for “mother or parent one” and “father or parent two,” a more gender-neutral reference sought for same-sex parents.
Palm Springs police chief resigns over sex sting
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. — Palm Springs Police Chief David Dominguez, who last year was caught on tape using an anti-gay slur and accused of entrapment when a June sex sting resulted in 19 indecent exposure arrests — has resigned, the Los Angeles Times reported this week.
Activists have said the sting was absurd in the heavily — some say half the residents are gay or lesbian — gay town. Many harbor resentment toward the mayor and even the gay-majority City Council who had defended him.
During the sting, undercover officers urged men to expose themselves. An indecent exposure conviction requires defendants to register for life as sex offenders.
Tagged with Carlos Castro, Cindy Jacobs, David Dominguez, Don't Ask Don't Tell, Fred Karger, Palm Springs, Renato Seabra, State Department, Yale
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