Skip to comments.Gays Celebrate Recent Victories: "It was a very gay year" & "Dems go gay"
Posted on 01/03/2004 2:45:53 PM PST by nwrep
Gay news wasnt just made in the courts in 2003. Apart from the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning sodomy laws and rulings on same-sex marriage in Massachusetts and Canada that brought hard fought victories for gay rights proponents, there was big news out of Hollywood, New Hampshire and on the presidential campaign trail.
Five gay guys turned television on its head as Queer Eye for the Straight Guy became TVs most talked about show. Rev. V. Gene Robinson was consecrated in New Hampshire as the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, and Democratic presidential candidates campaigned hard for gay votes.
Below is a recap of the years most notable gay news events (in no particular order) that happened outside of the courtroom.
Must-see gay TV Things just keep getting better for Carson Kressley, Kyan Douglas, Ted Allen, Thom Filicia and Jai Rodriguez. The cast of Bravos Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, known as the Fab Five, went from obscurity to breakout stars of TVs latest reality makeover craze. Each week, the Fab Five take a frumpy straight guy in need of help in fashion, decorating, food, culture and grooming and transform him into a hip, well-dressed metrosexual. The cast of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy helped Bravo win record ratings. (Photo by Chris Haston/courtesy of Bravo)
The show debuted on July 15 and quickly became one of the most watched shows on cable television. The show is regularly watched by more than 3 million people, a record for Bravo. The ratings were so hot that NBC Bravos parent company aired some episodes during its popular Must See TV Thursday night lineup and has licensed the shows concept in Britain and Scandinavia.
More recently, the shows stars have cashed in on their success. The Fab Five negotiated a significant pay raise for the second season. Filicia has discussed as the new spokesperson for the Pier 1 retail chain, while Kressley is doing ads for Marshall Fields department stores and recently signed a book deal.
Bravo also hit paydirt in 2003 with the reality show Boy Meets Boy, in which a hunky gay suitor, James, had to narrow a field of 15 potential mates to win a prize. The surprise twist was that some of the mates were straight and out to trick James in order to win a prize of their own. In the end, Jamess gaydar proved sound and he chose 24-year-old gay Californian Wes as his mate. The series drew more than 1.5 million viewers, the second best-rated show in Bravo history behind Queer Eye.
Meanwhile, on CBS, a gay couple won the Amazing Race, a reality show where teams of two race around the globe competing for a $1 million cash prize. Reichen Lehmkuhl and Chip Arndt beat out 11 other teams and celebrated their one-year anniversary on the show. Lehmkuhl, 28, is a pilot and graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, while Arndt, 36, graduated from Yale and Harvard Business School and works as a financial consultant. The two broke up shortly after their victory. Gene Robinson became the first openly gay bishop in the worldwide Anglican Communion, causing a split in the church. He resisted calls to step aside saying that he believed he was answering Gods call. (Photo by Jim Cole/AP)
Episcopalians consecrate gay bishop For most of the summer the Episcopal Church was deeply divided over gay issues. In June, Episcopalian leaders voted to make Rev. Gene Robinson the next bishop of New Hampshire. Robinson is gay and lives with his partner.
In the months before the announcement, the worldwide Anglican Communion of which the Episcopal Church belongs had debated the issue of gays in the church after Dr. Jeffrey John was appointed to be a Bishop of Reading in England. John, at the urging of his friend Dr. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury and head of the 77 million followers of the church, declined the position to avoid splitting the church.
But Robinson consistently said that he felt a calling from God and overcame the pressure to step aside. Many of his followers said that the church was going through another step in its evolution, very similar to when it first ordained women. Robinson told the media that there have been many gay bishops before, but he was the first to live openly.
Since he was consecrated in November, a number of Anglican churches around the world have notified the Episcopal Church they are breaking ties. Other conservatives withheld their donations to the national church. Still, some people joined the church as a result of the publicity surrounding Robinson.
Newspaper outs Foley U.S. Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) was outed by a Florida weekly newspaper in May as he was gearing up to run for an open U.S. Senate seat. After the story was reported in this newspaper, Foley took the unusual step of staging a news conference to announce he wouldnt talk or answer questions about his sexual orientation, saying he believed that to be a private matter.
Despite the rumors, Foley was the leading candidate to win the Republican nomination for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), who was running for the Democratic nomination for president at the time but has since pulled out. Graham decided against running for his Senate seat even after his presidential campaign ended. While preparing for a run for the U.S. Senate, Congressman Mark Foley (R-Fla.) wouldnt publicly discuss his sexual orientation, despite a published report that revived previous accounts in the gay press that he is gay. (Photo by AP)
However, just as the controversy of Foleys outing and its aftermath died down, the congressman withdrew from the race in September after his father was diagnosed with cancer, saying he had to put family ahead of his career.
Gays against Iraq war Many gay rights groups decided to weigh in on issues outside the traditional gay rights arena by opposing the war in Iraq. The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force was the largest gay rights group to oppose the preemptive war to rid Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction. The United States invaded Iraq in April and President Bush announced an end to major hostilities in early May.
No weapons of mass destruction have so far been found.
Some gay groups tried to find links between the war and gay issues, most obviously that gay men and lesbians cannot serve their country openly. Others pointed to the gay linguists who were discharged by the military at a time when the nation lacked qualified linguists and the nation was at war.
Other gay groups that announced their opposition to the war were the Metropolitan Community Church; the Lavender Greens of the Green Party; and al-Fatiha, a Muslim gay group. Some of those groups were subsequently criticized by some observers for dabbling in issues not directly connected to gay rights.
But not all gay groups weighed in on the issue. The largest, the Human Rights Campaign, announced it would not be taking a position because the war fell outside the arena of gay rights cause. Similar sentiments led some to criticize the other gay groups for stepping into the Iraq debate.
DP bill in Calif. In September, former California Gov. Gray Davis (D), fighting for his political life after a successful and historic recall effort, signed legislation to extend to gay couples nearly the same state rights and benefits as married couples. The California Domestic Partner Rights & Responsibilities Act makes California the second state after Vermont to provide extensive protections for same-sex couples.
Under the law, partners will be eligible for each others health plans. There will be expanded benefits for property ownership, bereavement and family care leave and exemption from gift and estate taxes. In addition, partners will be required to cover each others debts and to pay alimony and child support if they split up.
A California superior court judge in December denied a request for a preliminary injunction against the new law, which is scheduled to take effect in January 2005. Davis subsequently lost the recall vote and his job to actor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), who took over the state in November.
Gay leadership changes There was turnover aplenty at the nations most prominent gay rights groups in 2003. Lorri Jean resigned as executive director of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force after two years on the job and was replaced by Matt Foreman, formerly of the Empire State Pride Agenda.
Rich Tafel left the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay GOP group, and was replaced as executive director by Patrick Guerriero, a former mayor, state representative and candidate for lieutenant governor in Massachusetts, who has increased efforts to partner with other gay rights groups and to criticize the right wing of the Republican Party. Meanwhile, on the other side of the political fence, Dave Noble took over as head of the National Stonewall Democrats, a gay partisan group.
But the most anticipated leadership change in gay activist circles occurs in January, as Mass. State Sen. Cheryl Jacques (D) takes over as executive director of the Human Rights Campaign following the departure at the end of 2003 of Elizabeth Birch after eight years of service. While some observers criticized the lack of progress on certain gay rights bills in Congress during Birchs tenure, she is credited with greatly expanding HRCs operations.
When Birch came on board, HRC had about 100,000 members, 40 staff members and a budget of $6 million. Today, the nations largest gay rights group boasts more than 500,000 members, a staff of 100 and a budget of $22 million. In addition, HRC moved into a new $25 million headquarters building in 2003.
Jacques leaves the Massachusetts Senate just as the state legislature begins debate over how to respond to a November ruling by the Supreme Judicial Court there that denying marriage rights to gays is unconstitutional.
Santorum slammed for anti-gay remarks Sen. Rick Santorum, the U.S. Senates third highest-ranking Republican, gave an interview in April in which he compared homosexuality to incest and bestiality, setting off a storm of controversy including calls for his resignation by the Log Cabin Republicans.
If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything, Santorum said in the interview published April 21.
The Pennsylvania senator later refused to apologize, telling Fox News, I think this is a legitimate public policy discussion.
In a subsequent meeting with members of the group Parents & Friends of Lesbians & Gays, Santorum reportedly became agitated and tripped over a chair as he stormed out.
FMA introduced in House, Senate In a year marked by unprecedented progress on gay rights initiatives, the Federal Marriage Amendment loomed like a storm cloud over the gay rights movement. Initially dismissed by many as a long-shot piece of legislation, the FMA now has more than 100 co-sponsors in the House and was introduced in the Senate just before Thanksgiving.
Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.) introduced the measure, which reads, Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this constitution nor the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require the marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups.
President Bush appeared to waffle on his position on the proposed amendment. In October, Bush announced his support of Marriage Protection Week, a weeklong series of events sponsored by 24 religious groups intended to mark a yearlong campaign to keep the marriage issue in the spotlight during the 2004 presidential campaign.
Then in an interview with ABC News in December, Bush criticized the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court for its ruling that denying marriage rights to gays is unconstitutional. In the interview, Bush said, If necessary, I will support a constitutional amendment which would honor marriage between a man and a woman codify that.
Some observers said the presidents language was deliberately vague, to allow room for support of states rights to grant civil unions. Other Republicans, including House Speaker Dennis Hastert, have indicated a preference for waiting to see if the federal Defense of Marriage Act holds up in court before announcing support of a constitutional amendment, a position that might also be consistent with Bushs oblique comments during the ABC interview.
Dems go gay The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force and the Human Rights Campaign issued reports showing the Democratic presidential candidates stand on gay issues and reached the same conclusion: This years candidates are the most supportive on gay rights than any field in U.S. history.
Most support allowing gays to serve openly in the military. Most want gay couples to have the same rights as straight married couples in the form of civil unions. A third of the candidates (Dennis Kucinich, Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton) even support gay marriage.
All nine candidates have denounced the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment, which would deny gay couples marriage rights in the Constitution. Even the likely Republican nominee, President Bush, is getting credit for being the most gay-friendly his party has ever nominated.
Seven of the nine Democratic candidates appeared for the first time ever before a gay rights group to talk about gay issues. The July forum, sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign, included all but John Edwards and Bob Graham (who has since pulled out of the race), who cited scheduling difficulties. Retired Gen. Wesley Clark had not yet announced he was going to run and was not invited to participate.
However, the candidate who appears to have gathered the largest gay following by the end of the year was former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean. Dean courted gays early in the campaign, championing his landmark signing of a law that provided civil unions to gay couples in Vermont. Gay supporters started a grassroots organization called Out for Dean to support his campaign.
Oh, Canada! Many gay American couples stormed across the border beginning in early June to get married, a dream many had feared was years away from becoming reality. Courts in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and British Columbia ruled that the government could not deny gay couples the right to marry and allowed same-sex marriages to begin immediately.
Michael Leshner and Michael Stark, a Toronto couple, became the first two people to be joined in a gay marriage in the Western Hemisphere. The government of then Prime Minister Jean Chretien said it would not challenge the ruling and took steps to have parliament vote to legalize gay marriage throughout Canada by the fall. However, many anti-gay groups protested and the legislation has bogged down.
Chretien stepped down in December and was replaced by Paul Martin, who seems less eager to embrace same-sex marriage. He asked the nations Supreme Court in December to consider if civil unions would be enough to avoid adopting gay marriage for the entire nation.
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A Muslim gay group? I would like to see them tour Saudi Arabia...
Gay America; shoved down your throat whether you like it or not. Thou shall not resist going down this dirt road.
This proves that the Democrats are desperate for every vote they can get. Everyone knows the 10% figure was exaggerated. It has been shown to be a lowly 3%, although that minority seems to be loudest and get preferential treatment on TV as though they are normal and the majority. They are neither.
But it's more of a case of where those fingers have been.
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