Gay Chat News: The Good, the Gay and the Ugly

Anne Hathaway – who is set to play Catwoman in the new Batman film next year – has spoken out about gay marriage. Being a New Jersey girl with a gay brother, she has called on her home state to follow New York’s lead. Quoted from Interview magazine, the Devil Wears Prada star said; “They need to get on the New York bandwagon and legalise gay marriage.” This is most prevalent as a lesbian was refused a wedding dress in New Jersey last week due to the fact she was marrying another woman.

A noted supporter of gay rights, the Hollywood star hopes other US States will follow suit. As well as her on-going support for gay rights, Hathaway has also recorded a video message for the It Gets Better campaign.

It isn’t very hard to understand why there is still so much prejudice and diversity inAmericawhen you think that there were still fifteen States that outlawed sodomy until 2003. Florida was one of those States and even though they still don’t accept it, they cannot legally enforce their own ruling on sodomy thanks to the government.

It’s strange to think of Florida clinging on to this law for so long, especially as the Sunshine State is home to a very large and diverse group of clusters such as Miami Beach, Key West, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach and even Disney World. But it must say something about the mentality and tolerance of some of the heterosexual populous. In fact a once celebrated teacher of Social Studies has recently been suspended from teaching after making anti-gay comments on his personal FaceBook account. “I’m watching the news, eating dinner, when the story about New York Okaying same sex unions came on and I almost threw up. And now they showed two guys kissing after their announcement. If they want to call it a union, go ahead. But don’t insult a man and woman’s marriage by throwing it in the same cesspool as same-sex whatever! God will not be mocked. When did this sin become acceptable???”

I am a big believer in freedom of speech, but this man is a school teacher (for Social Studies… maybe he needs to go back to school himself!) He is shaping young people’s minds and how they will perceive the world as adults. Closed-minded and bigoted people should not be allowed to teach in schools (or be in government… yes, I do mean you Michelle Bachmann!)

For as long as I can remember, gay men have been banned from donating blood in the UK. This has always been a bone of contention and just another shocking blow for equality. To say gay men are at a higher risk is factually wrong. There is a higher infection rate of STIs with heterosexuals, homosexuals are more likely to get checked out at the clinic than their straight counterparts – and we get free condoms and lube in every gay bar and club. The gay community is now more savvy when it comes to STIs and probably more cautious ever since HIV/AIDS hit our community three decades ago.

A new petition is currently online calling for an end to the gay blood donation ban. We here at Gay Chat Towers signed it today and know that there is an evidence-based review underway with an announcement of any changes from the health association likely to be soon.

But this is not the first time a call on the ban has been incited. In 2008 an identical campaign was put forward (bloodban) and still hasn’t achieved its goal of 5000 signatures. This new petition has already reached almost that in a matter of weeks. Maybe people have now realised that this on-going saga is not just about equality, but about saving people’s lives.

My boyfriend, best friend and I were watching old music videos on YouTube at the weekend. Late at night and rather inebriated, we danced around as we watched Club Tropicana and couldn’t believe just howcamp George Michael and Andrew Ridgley look in that video. How did we not know about George back then? (Okay, we kinda guessed.) Even though they are both very flamboyant, they are still surrounded by and flirting with scantily-clad women. It’s a little unsettling to look back at now!

Since the break-up of 80s pop sensation Wham! George began a successful solo career that wasn’t even damaged by his very public, gay outing in 1998. The music video “Outside” which played homage to and glorified his cruising habits was seen by most as harmless fun – all except Marcelo Rodriguez of course, who was the officer that caught George in the LA public toilet.

George has done a lot for gay rights and HIV/Aids charities over the years. Being a close friend of Elton John who runs the Aids Foundation; together they have performed at money-raising galas and many charity gigs. But George has never really being known as a gay activist even though he has been out of the closet for thirteen years. In NME Magazine recently, George addressed this point by saying he plans to release a gay album to make up for “letting the gay kids down”.

It’s pegged to be a dance album and will be a collaboration with gay/gay friendly artists. “I’ll be 48 when the album comes out, but I have to say that gay men’s relationship with dance music probably doesn’t end at the same time as straight people’s does.” Ain’t that the truth George!

Terry Gee

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UK Government Considers Gay Marriage Equality

The UK government has proposed lifting the ban on gay civil ceremonies being conducted in religious buildings. Amendments to the Equality Act that will allow religious elements in civil ceremonies will come into effect by the end of 2011.

In addition to the announcement the equalities minister, Lynne Featherstone, has divulged that a consultation will take place on the “next steps” towards marriage equality within England and Wales.

“Over the past few months I’ve spoken to a lot of LGB and T people and campaign groups, and it quickly became clear that there is a real desire to address the differences between civil marriage and civil partnerships,” the equalities minister said.

“I’m delighted to announce that we are going to be the first British government to formally look at what steps can be taken to address this.”

Gay rights campaigners welcomed the announcement but have criticised the amount of time it has taken the government to address the imbalances between civil partnerships and civil marriage.

Veteran gay rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell said there is no excuse for the delay in permitting religious civil partnership ceremonies.

“Allowing religious partnerships is long overdue. It was agreed by parliament nearly a year ago. There is no excuse for the government’s long delay in putting it into effect, “he said in response.

“Permitting faith organisations on making their own decision on whether to conduct same-sex civil partnerships is the democratic and decent thing to do. The current law prevents them from doing so, even if they want to.”

A recent poll taken by gay news website PinkNews.co.uk found that an overwhelming majority of its readers want the right to marry. Ninety-eight percent of the 800 readers polled said they wanted gay marriage equality with 77 per cent agreeing that the choice of marriage or civil partnerships should be open to all couples regardless of sexuality.

The Home Secretary, Theresa May said: “No religious group will be forced to host a civil partnership registration, but for those who wish to do so this is an important step forward.”

While none of us here in the gay chat team are planning on getting hitched anytime soon (we’re having too much fun being single!) we’re ecstatic about the announcement. It’s another important step towards gay equality. Bravo!

Gary Cosby

London to protest over gay Malawi couples’ imprisonment

Malawi may have come to the world’s attention recently via a certain pop star’s adoption escapades; however a far more disturbing event is currently bringing it world-wide condemnation.

Two of the countries gay citizens, Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga have been held in police custody since last December – their crime? – holding a traditional wedding ceremony.

Being gay is a criminal offence in Malawi. The couple is now facing up to 14 years in jail if convicted.

Information Minister Leckford Mwanza Thoto defended the decision saying: “Our laws criminalise homosexuality and what the two did was clearly breaking the laws of Malawi.”

Malawi is a member of The Commonwealth.

Despite being dependant on foreign aid (mostly from the UK) the country’s government has rejected international concern saying that Malawi is a sovereign country with its own laws and that it will not be influenced by the West in the running of its affairs of state.

Amnesty International is calling for immediate release of the couple. The group’s UK Director Kate Allen said: “The arrest of the two men solely for their real or perceived sexual orientation amounts to discrimination and it is in violation of their rights to freedom of conscience, expression, and privacy.”

Having twice been denied bail Monjeza and Chimbalanga are pleading not guilty to charges of gross indecency.

A protest, organized by several gay groups, is being held in central London on Monday – the day a verdict on the case is expected.

“We want Steven and Tiowonge released, all charges against them dropped and the repeal of Malawi’s anti-homosexuality laws

“These laws violate the equality and non-discrimination provisions of Article 20 of the Malawian Constitution and Articles 2, 3 and 4 and the African Charter of Human and People’s Rights, which Malawi has signed and pledged to uphold,” said gay activist and co-organiser of Monday’s protest, Peter Tatchell.

“The Commonwealth Secretary-General, Kamalesh Sharma, has failed to speak out loudly against the arrest and jailing of Steven and Tiwonge, even though equality and human rights are supposed to be key Commonwealth principles,” he added.

The protest is scheduled to take place outside the Commonwealth Secretariat’s head office in central London.

By Gary Cosby

For weekly gay news, chat and dating hook up at www.maleforce.com

Ben & Jerry’s Gay wedding

In September last year Ben & Jerry’s sweetened up the gay marriage debate by rebranding their ‘Chubby Hubby’ ice cream as ‘Hubby Hubby’ in support of same-sex unions.

Back then, In a statement issued by the company, Walt Freese, Chief Executive Officer of Ben & Jerry’s said “At the core of Ben & Jerry’s values, we believe that social justice can and should be something that every human being is entitled to. From the very beginning of our 30 year history, we have supported equal rights for all people. The legalization of marriage for gay and lesbian couples in Vermont (Ben & Jerry’s home state) is certainly a step in the right direction and something worth celebrating with peace, love and plenty of ice cream.”

In honour of the legalization of gay marriage in Wahington D.C last week resident Ben & Jerry’s super-fans Keith Spangler-Vellios and Andreas Vellios decided to return the favour by tieing the knot at their local parlour.

The new law, approved in December, came into effect just last week. Ben & Jerry’s cofounder David Catania attended the ceremony.

“Equal rights and treatment for all people was a founding principle of Ben & Jerry’s when we started the company over 30 years ago,” Jerry Greenfield, cofounder of Ben & Jerry’s, said in a statement.

“We are proud that the District of Columbia is recognizing the rights of gay and lesbian couples to marry and are happy to celebrate the milestone with an ice cream wedding cake and best wishes for the happy couple.”

The district now joins Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont as the only places in America where gay marriages can be conducted.

By Gary Cosby

For weekly gay news, chat and dating hook up at www.maleforce.com

Gay church weddings get House of Lords blessing

Gay men and women can now marry in churches after the House of Lords voted in favour of lifting the ban on religious premises hosting same-sex unions.

An amendment to the Equality Bill, tabled by out Muslim peer Waheed Alli, received overwhelming support in the Lords which includes senior clergy in the Church of England.

Still pending House of Commons approval, the amendment gives religious venues the option to host civil partnership ceremonies.

Currently legislation forbids religious premises to conduct gay unions; however various liberal denominations have been blessing gay partnerships once a civil ceremony has already taken place.

In an interview with The Independent Lord Alli rebuked suggestion that the amendment means churches will be eventually forced to accept gay marriage.

“Religious freedom cannot begin and end with what one religion wants,” he said. “This amendment does not place an obligation on any religious organisation to host civil partnerships in their buildings. But there are many gay and lesbian couples who want to share their civil partnership with the congregations that they worship with. And there are a number of religious organisations that want to allow gay and lesbian couples to do exactly that.”

Although the amendment was backed by senior bishops in the Lords it has been strongly opposed by conservative Christians.

Andrea Williams, of the Christian Legal Centre told The Times: “What is being advanced as an issue of religious freedom today will be used to remove religious freedom in the future.

“Homosexual activists have made clear that this is not the end. It is a step towards forcing churches to conduct same-sex unions that would go against their beliefs. Changing the law will further blur the distinction between marriage and what the Government put forward as a purely secular ceremony.”

The Quakers, Liberal Judaism and The Unitarians have welcomed the amendment.

For weekly gay news, chat and dating hook up at  www.maleforce.com

By Gary Cosby

Related Link: 

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article7037062.ece