May 5, 2011 at 5:57 pm EST | by Staff reports
National news in brief: May 6

N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo says same-sex marriage is a priority. (Photo by Pat Arnow; courtesy of Wikimedia)

Cuomo ‘optimistic’ N.Y. will legalize marriage

ALBANY, N.W. — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, closely allied with the Senate Republican majority that once blocked gay marriage, said Tuesday he’s now optimistic it will be legalized in New York, the AP reported. “I know it’s failed before, but I think this is a different day,” Cuomo was quoted in the AP story as saying. “I’ll bring more urgency in the next few weeks.” The Democrat says he believes the Senate will produce the 32 votes needed for passage in the six weeks remaining in the legislative session. The GOP majority in the Senate has strongly supported Cuomo’s fiscal platform, including cutting state spending, a 2-percent cap in the growth of property taxes and rejection of tax increases. Now Cuomo needs help to pass what he has identified of his highest priority policy goals, the AP said. Cuomo said talks with legislative leaders as well as the rising public poll numbers for gay marriage are among his reasons for optimism. Both sides are girding for a showdown after the bill’s surprising defeat in 2009, the AP wrote.

R.I. gay marriage advocates not giving up

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Advocates of gay marriage delivered a message to Rhode Island state lawmakers who blocked a same-sex marriage bill this year, informing them they’re being targeted for defeat in the next election, the Associated Press reported this week. Hundreds of Rhode Islanders rallied at the Statehouse Tuesday in favor of gay marriage — despite legislative leaders who say they’ll consider a compromise measure to create civil unions instead. Those at the rally vowed political revenge on those lawmakers who opposed making Rhode Island the sixth state to recognize gay marriage, the AP reported. “The 2012 election cycle starts now,” Kate Brock, executive director of the group Ocean State Action, told a cheering crowd on the Statehouse steps. “We start recruiting candidates now. We start building our war chests now. Don’t get mad. Get elected.” Meanwhile, House lawmakers introduced civil union legislation designed to give gay couples the same state rights afforded to married couples. Rep. Peter Petrarca, D-Lincoln, the bill’s sponsor, said he supports gay marriage but that it has no chance of passing this year. He said the rights granted through civil unions are a better than none at all.

Gay alumni group of religious college forms

CHICAGO — A group of LGBT alumni of conservative evangelical school Wheaten College in Illinois have formed a group that bucks the school’s theology and says gays don’t have to be celibate to be in good standing with their faith. OneWheaten members told the Chicago Daily Herald they felt isolated as students there and are trying to help current students who feel the same. The report says after launching a website last weekend with about 100 members, the number has quickly quadrupled. They’re not trying to convince the school to change its teaching but want LGBT students to realize they can “lead vibrant lives while remaining true to who they are.” A Wheaton rep said it’s trying to respond “with truth and grace.”

New York gay murder not a hate crime: police

ELMIRA, N.Y. — Police aren’t disclosing a possible motive for the murder of a gay nightclub owner in Elmira, N.Y., but it does not appear to be a hate crime, the Corning Leader reported this week. 

Louis Duffy, 20, of Horseheads, is charged with second-degree murder for allegedly shooting Clinton “Billy” Lewis, 53, early Sunday morning at Lewis’ apartment on North Main Street in downtown Elmira, the Leader reported.
 Lewis owned Chill, a gay bar at the corner of West Fifth and North Main streets, and had organized events in the gay community. Lewis previously owned another gay bar, Angles, now closed. 

Duffy and Lewis were acquaintances, police told the Leader. “I really can’t disclose the actual motive, but I will say it was a personal issue,” said Capt. Joseph Kain of the Elmira Police Department. “The victim was not killed as a direct result of being gay, it does not appear to be a hate crime.  Police found Lewis shortly before 4 a.m. Sunday. He was found shot and died while receiving medical attention at a nearby hospital.

Dallas gay couple found murdered inside burned apt.

DALLAS — Two men found dead inside a burned Northeast Dallas apartment last week were an interracial gay couple, Dallas police confirmed to the Dallas Voice, a gay paper there. Michael Humphrey, 59, and Clayton Capshaw, 61, were found inside their first-floor unit at the Villa Joya Apartments on Woodmeadow Parkway. After responding to a fire call at about 4:10 a.m., Dallas Fire-Rescue crews extinguished the flames before finding the victims inside the apartment. Authorities say the men appeared to have died in a violent attack before the fire was set in an attempt to destroy evidence from the murders. Sr. Cpl. Kevin Janse, a spokesman for Dallas Police Department, said detectives have no reason to believe the murders were a hate crime, but he added that the motive is unknown, the Voice reported. It’s not being investigated as a hate crime.

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