Tag Archives: gay sex

Florida high court to define ‘sexual intercourse’ in HIV case

The Florida Supreme Court is considering the definition of sexual intercourse in a case involving a gay man charged with not letting a partner know he was HIV-positive.

Arguments were held on Feb. 4 in the case involving Gary Debaun, who is trying to have a charge dismissed under a 1986 law designed to prevent the spread of the human immunodeficiency virus.

Lawyers for Debaun argue that the law says it’s illegal not to disclose an HIV infection before “sexual intercourse,” but that the definition in Florida applies only to traditional sex between a man and a woman — not two men.

A lower-court judge dismissed the charge against Debaun, but an appeals court reinstated it, saying the law was clearly intended to include other sexual activity with a risk of transmitting the virus.

Wisconsin Sen. Joe McCarthy to be put ‘on trial’

U.S. Joseph McCarthy, R-Wis., and two other former members of the U.S. Senate will go “on trial” in Washington, D.C., for their alleged roles in the 1954 suicide of Sen. Lester C. Hunt of Wyoming. Sens. McCarthy, Styles Bridges, R-N.H., and Herman Welker, R-Idaho, all deceased, are “charged” with a criminal conspiracy to blackmail Hunt, who died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his Senate office in 1954.

The mock trial of the three senators will be held at All Souls Church Unitarian on Oct. 23.

The “trial” is a readers’ theater presentation based on research conducted by Rodger McDaniel for his book “Dying for the Sins of Joe McCarthy-The Suicide of Wyoming Senator Lester Hunt.” Retired U.S. Alan K. Simpson of Wyoming will open the proceedings with an address to the mock court, jury and audience. Simpson’s father Milward L. Simpson, also a U.S. senator and a governor of Wyoming, was a close friend of Hunt.

Alan Simpson wrote the foreword to McDaniel’s book, saying it offers “a level of empathy to Lester Hunt’s life story that he richly deserves. The result is this book that finally offers Lester Hunt’s remaining family some form of justice – though belated.”

The Mattachine Society of Washington is sponsoring the event. MS president Charles Francis said, “What these men did to Lester Hunt was not just sharp-elbowed politics. This is the true story of a long covered-up criminal conspiracy to blackmail a sitting U.S. senator and take over the leadership of the United States Senate. It is time for this conspiracy to go before a jury – even in a mock trial – in Washington, D.C.”

McDaniel’s book includes never-before published evidence of the conspiracy against Hunt. He said, “This mock trial will leave no question a serious crime was committed. This was not an ordinary attempt to blackmail. This was an attack on our democracy and the U.S. Senate itself. The goal of the perpetrators was not simply to force a colleague to resign. It was a political take-over of one of the most important and revered institutions of our government. In some countries it would have rightly been called a ‘putsch.’

“In 1954 there was no investigation of the facts leading to Sen. Hunt’s death. Although nearly six decades have passed, newly discovered evidence calls for a formal review of the matter by the US Department of Justice.”

Retired Wyoming Supreme Court Justice Michael Golden will preside over the trial.

Trevor Potter, the Washington attorney widely known for the creation of the Colbert Super PAC, will play the part of the prosecuting attorney. Potter was general counsel for the 2000 and 2008 presidential campaigns of U.S. Sen. John McCain. He was deputy general counsel for the 1988 presidential campaign of George H.W. Bush.

Mindy Daniels, a prominent Washington criminal defense lawyer and a former president of the Gay and Lesbian Activist Alliance of Washington, D.C., will serve as defense counsel for the three former senators.

A jury of local citizens will hear the case and render a historic verdict.  Robert Raben, former U.S. assistant attorney general and longtime counsel to retired U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, will play the role of jury foreman. Verizon legislative affairs executive Ed Senn will play McCarthy.

The public is invited to attend free of charge.

Some more background on the case: Lester Hunt, a Democrat, was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1948. He was twice elected governor and twice elected secretary of state after serving in the Wyoming legislature. He committed suicide on June 19, 1954, a year after his son and namesake was arrested in Lafayette Park for soliciting sex from an undercover male policeman. McCarthy, Bridges and Welker attempted to leverage young Hunt’s arrest into Sen. Hunt’s resignation at a time when the shift of one seat would give control of the senate to the GOP.

Alan Simpson, in the foreword for McDaniel’s book, wrote, “When Lester Hunt arrived in Washington in 1949, he witnessed the rising tide of McCarthyism. His was one of the few early voices to call it for what it was.” Speaking of the events leading to Senator Hunt’s suicide Simpson wrote, “What was done to Lester Hunt passed all boundaries of decency and exposed an evil side of politics most would always seek to avoid.”

McDaniel said, “Holding the mock trial in Washington finally allows long-hidden senate history to be revealed. Homophobia combined with the stigma of suicide to hide the facts surrounding Senator Hunt’s suicide for six decades. The legacies of Senators Bridges, Welker and McCarthy are incomplete unless the shameful history of the scar they inflicted on the integrity of the United States Senate is told in the nation’s capitol where these events took place in 1953 and 1954.”

Sen. Simpson said, “This book finally offers Lester Hunt’s remaining family some form of justice – though belated.”

Montana governor signs bill decriminalizing gay sex

An obsolete law deeming gay sex as deviant – akin to bestiality – was stricken from Montana code on April 18, prompting gay rights activists to say they hope that full legal equality may be close at hand.

When Democratic Montana Gov. Steve Bullock signed Senate Bill 107 decriminalizing gay sex, cheers erupted in the Capitol’s Rotunda. It had been 16 years after the state Supreme Court ruled the law unconstitutional and 24 years after gay rights activists began their fight to take government out of the bedroom.

“I am not going to speak too long because, frankly, the longer I talk, the longer this embarrassing and unconstitutional law stays on the books,” Bullock said.

The victory, though a powerful one for the gay community in Montana, is highly symbolic with no tangible benefits aside from striking the obsolete law condemning gay sex from Montana code. The outdated code has not been used to prosecute individuals for years. And previous efforts to offer gays and lesbians protection under the law, including a push to prohibit civil discrimination, have been thwarted by a GOP-controlled Legislature.

Rep. Jerry Bennett, R-Libby, said he holds no ill will toward gay people, but he and other Republicans opposed the legislation and similar efforts along religious lines. He added that there is a bi-partisan movement to “protect the family,” defining marriage as between a man and a woman, and gay rights efforts could have “long-term ramifications.”

“This isn’t over,” he said. “We will see a continual push for recognition of unions … for health insurance. All kinds of things will come out of this.”

The decriminalization bill passed the House on a 64-35 vote, and it cleared the Senate 38-11. In both cases, Republicans joined minority Democrats to advance the legislation, as gay rights activists hailed their success as a sea change within the GOP.

“In the past we’ve seen members of the Republican caucus say, I can’t stand with you because it will cost me my re-election,” said activist Jamee Greer, a lobbyist with the Montana Human Rights Network.

Gay rights activists are hopeful the bi-partisan effort is a catalyst for further change. They say that gay equality aligns itself with the fundamental libertarian values of privacy and a live-and-let live attitude pervasive in Montana – especially among Republicans who subscribe to a strong Libertarian undercurrent.

This year an effort to prohibit discrimination against gays and lesbians in housing and employment was tabled by a conservative House committee. That plan and another to legalize gay marriage remain priorities in future sessions, Greer said.

“As more and more LGBT people come out to their friends and their neighbors,” Greer said, “it’s going to be harder to discriminate against them.”

Montana Senate moves to strike unconstitutional provision criminalizing gay sex

The Montana Senate this week overwhelming backed a measure to strike an obsolete state law that criminalizes gay sex – a proposal that still faces an uncertain path in the House.

Senate Bill 107 repeals an anti-gay law that was ruled unconstitutional in 1997 by the Montana Supreme Court. But the state’s deviate sexual relations law still makes illegal “sexual contact or sexual intercourse between two persons of the same sex.”

Democrats argued that it is time to remove the hurtful language from the statutes, even if it is not enforceable. The Senate backed the plan 38-10 in an initial vote.

“I have chosen Montana as my home for the last 30 years because it feeds my spirit. But there is one thing that grieves my spirit and that is this law on the books that says I am a felon,” said state Sen. Christine Kaufmann, a Helena Democrat and lesbian. “It says I deserve to be in prison for 10 years for making a family with the woman I love.”

No one spoke in opposition of the bill, and it passed with little fanfare by a chamber that would clearly like to stop debating the bill.

Advocates said that Montana is one of 18 states that still have such laws on the books even though courts have ruled them unconstitutional.

Kaufmann said she first started pushing such a bill 22 years ago at the Legislature – only to see it die year after year. Even though some states are now allowing gay marriage, she said Montana is still debating a law thrown out long ago in the courts.

“The law of course is unconstitutional,” Kaufmann said. “But words do matter, and those words are there in our law. And I don’t know any reason why they are there but to remind me and people like me that we are despised.”

But the bill will likely head to the conservative House Judiciary Committee. A similar measure cleared the Senate in 2011 only to die in that House committee.

Democrats, who have picked up a few seats in that chamber, hope this year will be different. Advocates also point out that since then, the Montana Republican Party has removed from its platform the position that it seeks to make homosexual acts illegal. The party remains opposed to gay marriage.

Another gay-rights measure heard this week in a House committee likely faces a tougher road.

House Bill 481 would extend anti-discrimination protections, like those that protect many minorities, to sexual orientation and gender identity.

“These are our sons, our daughters, our neighbors, our constituents, and our friends,” McClafferty said. “And they are entitled to live a life free from discrimination.”

Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau said her student advisory board deals with bullying in schools.

“They are really waiting for adults to model the way, and to reflect the values of every Montanan in this state,” Juneau said. “This bill goes a long way to do that.”

Previous efforts have stalled amid criticism from social conservatives.

CDC partners in largest gay sex survey in the U.S.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has partnered in what’s considered the country’s largest gay health survey.

An introduction to the survey at http://www.sexisthequestion.org says, “We all know how to keep ourselves safe. Yet, guys continue to test positive. We need your help to figure out why.”

The confidential survey, led by the CDC behavioral and clinical research branch in Atlanta and researchers Craig Sineath, Patrick Sullivan and Travis Sanchez at Emory University, offers immediate feedback on answers.

The data, according to the researchers, will be used by the CDC and state and local health departments to better understand patterns of behavior and develop prevention resources.

In other survey news, the researchers involved with the Caribbean Men’s Internet Survey are reporting that one in four men in the Caribbean identifies as bisexual.

More than 2,500 men in 33 regions were surveyed for the study.

“We have a fair population in the Caribbean that identify as bisexual. Across the entire sample … about 20 to 23 percent say they are bisexual,” researcher Ernest Massiah told the Antigua Observer.

He said another 15 percent of the male population refuses a sexual identity label.