August 25, 2011 at 6:00 pm EDT | by Staff reports
National news in brief: August 25

Gay country singer Chely Wright is no longer a ‘single white female,’ after marrying Lauren Blitzer this week. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Chely Wright marries partner in Connecticut

HARTFORD, Conn. — Country singer Chely Wright, who came out in early 2010, married Lauren Blitzer in a small, private ceremony at the Connecticut home of Blitzer’s aunt on Aug. 20, according to People magazine.

Wright met Blitzer shortly after coming out. The two women wore matching gowns by J. Crew Bridal and exchanged vows before both a rabbi and a Christian minister, reflecting both women’s religious beliefs.

Blitzer, who is Jewish, is the development director at Mitchell Gold’s LGBT religious civil rights advocacy group Faith in America. Wright — who speaks openly about her strong Christian convictions — sits on the organization’s Board of Directors.

George Michael announces split from partner

PRAGUE — Meanwhile, while on tour in Europe, gay singer George Michael announced mid-concert to fans that he and long-time partner Kenny Goss have been separated for more than two years, despite denying allegations on many occasions.

According to the Associated Press, Michael announced to the opening night of his “Symphonica” tour, “Kenny and I haven’t been together for two and a half years… It’s time to be honest.”

Iowa teen killed by attackers shouting ‘faggot’

WATERLOO, Iowa — A deadly mob beating of an Iowa teen will not be ruled a hate crime by police because of “bad blood.”

Though two friends witnessed 19-year-old Marcellus Richard Andrews being attacked by a large group of men and women who kicked and punched the defenseless teen while shouting “faggot” and feminizing the teen’s name to “Mercedes,” police blamed the attack on a longer-running feud, the Des Moines Register reported.

Police spokesperson Lt. Michael McNamee told the Register that the fight was unfortunate but not a hate crime.

“We’ve done multiple interviews and we have heard those allegations, but this was not because of his persuasion or the perception of his persuasion,” McNamee told the Register. “These were all people who knew each other, and there was some bad blood between the two parties involved.”

Civil rights groups across Iowa expressed outrage this week over the decision not to pursue hate crime charges.

Illinois college first to ask orientation of applicants

ELMHURST, Ill. — A private four-year college in Illinois will become the first in the nation to ask new applicants about sexual orientation to better understand the school’s population.

According to Campus Progress, an organization dedicated to studying LGBT populations on college campuses, Elmhurst will add the voluntary question to applications this year alongside other voluntary questions like religious affiliation.

“Being able to reach out to LGBT students intentionally will allow us to connect to students earlier, help ease the transition to college and provide valuable resources on campus,” Christine Grenier, Elmhurst College associate director of Admission told Campus Progress.

Justice Dept.: grant Edith Windsor estate tax refund

NEW YORK — In a brief citing the unconstitutionality of section three of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, the Department of Justice asked the Federal Court of the Southern District of New York to grant Edith Windsor’s requested estate tax refund, in Windsor’s case against the federal government.

Windsor — who married her long-time partner Thea Spyer in Canada — was taxed an additional $351,000 in estate taxes after Spyer’s death in 2009 because the federal government is compelled by the Defense of Marriage Act to refuse to recognize same-sex marriage. Windsor filed suit claiming the law is unconstitutional and requested to have the taxes refunded.

Last year the Department of Justice decided not to defend the 1996 law known as “DOMA” in court, but this marks the first time the Department has affirmed in a brief that cases such as Windsor’s should succeed due to DOMA’s unconstitutionality.

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