July 14, 2011 | by Staff reports
National news in brief: July 15

Marriage equality in NYC

Marriage Equality in NYC. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

N.Y. clerks prepare for same-sex marriage

NEW YORK — As New York prepares to begin offering same-sex marriages July 24, government officials are making efforts to clarify the obligations of town and county clerks throughout the state.

Already, one clerk, Barbara MacEwan, clerk in Volney, N.Y., asserted in June she would refuse to sign any such licenses, though she has made arrangements for her deputy clerks to sign the documents. A second clerk, Laura Fotusky of the Town of Barker, posted her resignation letter to a religious conservative political group’s website this week. “I would be compromising my moral conscience by participating in licensing same-sex couples,” Laura Fotusky, told Politico.

In Nassau County, District Attorney Kathleen Rice clarified clerks’ obligations in that jurisdiction in a letter sent out Friday.

“The Marriage Equality Act provides that an application for a marriage license cannot be denied on the grounds that the applicant parties are of the same sex and the law affords no discretion to public officials charged with granting marriage licenses. Therefore, any such refusal may be subject to criminal prosecution,” the letter reads in part.

San Diego LGBT bookstore closes after fire

SAN DIEGO — Obelisk, a storied LGBT bookstore in San Diego, remains closed after the store’s contents were destroyed by smoke and water damage on July 6. The damage was done during efforts to battle a fire in the 15 apartments on the second and third stories of the building that houses the bookstore.

According to gay San Diego journalist Rex Wockner, who was at the location as the blaze was being brought under control, the fire was caused by a worker’s torch on the roof of an adjacent building. The owner of Obelisk, Brett Serwalt, plans to reopen the store and is investigating the possibility of doing so at the same location.

Six Atlanta cops fired over Eagle raid

ATLANTA — Six Atlanta cops, involved in a violent raid of an Atlanta gay bar in 2009, have been fired for destroying evidence and lying about the events of the night.

Four other officers were given written reprimands and six more have also been implicated in the imbroglio. Twenty-four vice unit officers raided the bar on Sept. 10, ordering the customers to the floor and mistreating many over the course of several hours. The firings come on the tail of a 343-page report on the raid finding that 10 of the officers destroyed evidence related to the raid in order to cover-up alleged misdeeds, gay slurs and excessive violence.

“Honesty goes to the very heart of a police officer’s credibility,” Chief George Turner told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “The public must be able to trust its police officers and expects them to tell the truth at all times. Failure to be truthful has serious consequences at the Atlanta Police Department.”

Denny’s, trans customer reach settlement

BOSTON — A transgender client of Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders has reached a settlement with the company that operates Denny’s restaurants throughout the state of Maine over a policy that had barred transgender customers from using the gender identity appropriate restroom. The restaurants will now allow customers to use bathrooms consistent with their gender identities.

Brianna Freeman was told in 2007 that she could no longer use the women’s restroom at a Denny’s restaurant in Auburn, Maine, because she had not yet undergone sex reassignment surgery. In 2009, after filing a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission, Freeman was unable to come to an agreement with the restaurant, and enlisted New England LGBT legal advocates Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders in reaching an agreement.

Realty Resources Hospitality, the operator of Denny’s in Maine, attempted to have the case dismissed in 2010, but their motion was denied, and the case went to trial opening the door for this week’s settlement.

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