Category:  Politics

Obama’s got his gays for transition team

Officials with President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team this week named at least seven openly gay people to transition panels assigned to review federal departments and agencies.

Three of the seven gays named to the transition panels — businessman Fred P. Hochberg, former San Francisco Supervisor Roberta Achtenberg, and labor attorney Elaine Kaplan — held high-level positions in the Clinton administration.    READ MORE »

Obama transition teams bans gay bias

The Obama-Biden transition team is telling prospective employees in the new administration it will not discriminate against LGBT workers.

“The Obama-Biden Transition Project does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or any other basis of discrimination prohibited by law,” the Transition team says on its official Web site.

Although the commitment pertains only to transition team workers, LGBT civil rights activists say they believe Obama will issue an Executive Order shortly after being sworn in to extend that throughout the administration.

   READ MORE »

The gay mafia that’s redefining politics

A few weeks before Virginia's legislative elections in 2005, a researcher working on behalf of a clandestine group of wealthy, gay political donors telephoned a Virginia legislator named Adam Ebbin. Then, as now, Ebbin was the only openly gay member of the state's general assembly. The researcher wanted Ebbin's advice on how the men he represented could spend their considerable funds to help defeat anti-gay Virginia politicians.

Ebbin, a Democrat who is now 44, was happy to oblige. (Full disclosure: in the mid-'90s, Ebbin and I knew each other briefly as colleagues; he sold ads for Washington City Paper, a weekly where I was a reporter.) Using Ebbin's expertise, the gay donors — none of whom live in Virginia — began contributing to certain candidates in the state. There were five benefactors: David Bohnett of Beverly Hills, Calif., who in 1999 sold the company he had co-founded, Geo-Cities, to Yahoo! in a deal worth $5 billion on the day it was announced; Timothy Gill of Denver, another tech multimillionaire; James Hormel of San Francisco, grandson of George, who founded the famous meat company; Jon Stryker of Kalamazoo, Mich., the billionaire grandson of the founder of medical-technology giant Stryker Corp.; and Henry van Ameringen, whose father Arnold Louis van Ameringen started a Manhattan-based import company that later became the mammoth International Flavors & Fragrances.    READ MORE »

Austria faces leader’s sexual orientation

There were rumors for years, but they were widely ignored in Austria, a conservative nation not much interested in prying into the private lives of its leaders. Now, grieving over the death of Jörg Haider, the charismatic far-right politician, the country has been forced to confront directly the question of his sexuality after his political successor asserted that Mr. Haider had been “the man of my life.”

“We had a special relationship that went far beyond friendship,” the successor, Stefan Petzner, a former fashion and cosmetics reporter, said Sunday in a highly emotional interview on Austrian Radio 3. “Jörg and I were connected by something truly special. He was the man of my life.”

Mr. Petzner, 27, took over the Alliance for the Future of Austria after Mr. Haider, 58, died in a car crash on Oct. 11. He had been drinking at what has been reported as a gay club before flipping his car at nearly twice the legal speed limit.    READ MORE »

Georgia delegation scores poorly

imageOnly one member of Georgia’s 15-member Congressional delegation — Rep. John Lewis, a Democrat from Atlanta — scored a perfect 100 on a new report tracking their votes and sponsorships of gay and transgender issues. Six members of the state’s delegation received a score of zero.

The scores are part of the biennial scorecard from the Human Rights Campaign for the 110th Congress, which for the first time included both the Senate and House passing hate crime legislation that includes provisions for sexual orientation and gender identity. In the 110th Congress, senators increased their average score from 41.7 percent to 55.4 percent, while House members upped their scores from 40.5 percent to 47.9 percent.

There's more after the jump.    READ MORE »

Gay pioneer, ex-legislator Allan Spear dies

Allan H. Spear, a former Minnesota state senator who was one of the nation's first openly gay legislators, has died. He was 71.

He died Saturday of complications after heart surgery performed Thursday, said Don Jorovsky, a longtime friend who used to work for Spear.

Spear, a member of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party — Minnesota's version of the Democratic Party — was first elected in 1972 and was state Senate president from 1993 to 2000, when he retired. He was the first non-attorney to lead the Senate Judiciary Committee.    READ MORE »

Marriage measure in Ariz. gets big bucks

While many of the citizens initiatives on Arizona's November ballot have been bankrolled by special interests, a measure to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman has received an influx of campaign contributions from individuals in recent weeks.

The Yes for Marriage campaign pulled in more than $2.3 million from 160 donors across the state since the secretary of state's reporting period that ended Aug. 13. That brought the campaign's total to about $3 million.

Most contributions have been between $10,000 and $25,000. But Jeff and Holly Whiteman of Mesa gave $100,000, as did Gary and Lori Wagner of Peoria and the Pete King Corp. of Phoenix.

Read the full story from the Arizona Republic.    READ MORE »

Deb Mell wants to be first lesbian in Illinois legisature

imageDeborah Mell was expecting a peaceful event when she joined hundreds of demonstrators in downtown Chicago for a pro-gay marriage rally in March 2004.

Instead, things got rowdy, and Mell was arrested. A female police officer said Mell attacked her, and Mell was taken away in a paddy wagon.

Within 15 minutes her father, Richard Mell, a powerful Chicago alderman, came to her rescue—and soon found himself addressing some 300 polarized protesters on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate.

“I love my daughter Deb,” the alderman told the incensed crowd. “She believes fervently in a cause, and she stands for that cause—and I will support anybody who does that.”

Deb Mell was launched that day—and in November she is set to become the first open lesbian to serve in the Illinois general assembly.

For the full story from 365gay.com, go here.    READ MORE »

 
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