Tag Archives: name

Smoke shop name drawing ire of New Jersey residents

Some northern New Jersey residents are fuming over a new smoke shop that’s about to open in their neighborhood.

It’s not the bongs and other paraphernalia that have them fuming. It’s the name: Fu King Smoke Shop. Picture the sign, then use your imagination.

The head of a parent teachers association at a nearby Hackensack elementary school tells The Record that the sign “is almost like an insult to the intelligence” of the community.

The store’s owner begs to differ.

Robert Reichert tells the newspaper he’s gotten the proper permits — although The Record reports he’s received a summons after a zoning official disputed that.

Reichert says “Fu” is Chinese for wealth or lucky, and is part of a theme.

Asteroid named for gay rights pioneer and astronomer Frank Kameny

A Canadian amateur astronomer has named an asteroid he discovered after U.S. gay rights pioneer Frank Kameny, who died last year in Washington, D.C.

Kameny, who earned a doctorate in astronomy at Harvard University, was an astronomer with the U.S. Army Map Service in the 1950s but was fired from his job for being gay. He contested the firing all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and later organized the earliest gay rights protests outside the White House, the Pentagon and in Philadelphia in the 1960s.

Kameny died last year at age 86.

When astronomer Gary Billings read Kameny’s obituary, he consulted with others in the astronomy world. They decided to submit a citation to the Paris-based International Astronomical Union and the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Mass., seeking to designate Minor Planet 40463 as Frankkameny.

It’s located in the asteroid belt, orbiting between Mars and Jupiter. The Kameny asteroid is visible through a telescope and was first discovered in 1999 using long-exposure photography.

“Frank would show up as a little dot that moves between two points,” Richard “Doc” Kinne, an astronomical technologist at the American Association of Variable Star Observers in Cambridge, Mass., said in an interview. He helped write the citation that would lead to the naming.

While comets are often named for their discoverers, those who discover asteroids have 10 years to suggest a name once the discovery is verified. The submission is subject to review by a 15-member international panel, said astronomy historian David DeVorkin at the National Air and Space Museum. Astronomers often use the names as an acknowledgement of someone’s contributions to science or culture.

A published citation officially naming the asteroid on July 3 notes Kameny’s history as a gay rights pioneer.

“Frank E. Kameny (1925-2011) trained as a variable star astronomer in the 1950s, but joined the Civil Rights struggle. His contributions included removing homosexuality from being termed a mental disorder in 1973 and shepherding passage of the District of Columbia marriage equality law in 2009,” the citation reads in the Minor Planet Circular.

Kameny also is credited with coming up with the slogan “Gay is Good.”

Kinne said he and Billings wanted to honor Kameny for his legacy, even though he was pushed out of the astronomy field.

After Billings read Kameny’s obituary, he wrote to Kinne.

“Hey, I have a few asteroids I discovered that I haven’t named yet,” he said. “What do you say we name one after Frank?”

“I was utterly floored,” Kinne said. “To me, this is a big deal.”

Billings told Kinne he was moved by hearing the story of how he had met Kameny about three years ago in Washington and many passers-by stopped to thank him for his advocacy.

“I concluded he was a man I would have admired,” Billings wrote to Kinne. “Add that to the fact that I have many friends and acquaintances who are members of the LGBT community, and I felt it was something I wanted to do to honour Dr. Kameny — and my friends!”

Before Kameny died, Kinne and others had been working to present him with a certificate of recognition from the American Astronomical Society and perhaps create and fund an award in his honor. Kameny also received an official apology from President Barack Obama’s administration for his firing years ago.

“He was an astronomer,” Kinne said. “The culture of the time took that away from him, and now he’s getting it back. He would have liked that.”

Kinne and Billings submitted the citation for the asteroid late last year. By July, they hadn’t heard whether it was approved and feared it had been rejected. On July 6, though, they got word that Kameny is an asteroid.

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South Dakota won’t use married names on lesbians’ driver’s licenses

Three lesbians legally married in Iowa are petitioning South Dakota courts to legally change their names after the state refused to issue them driver’s licenses in their married names, renewing debate over South Dakota’s ban on same-sex marriages.

Jessica Dybing and Andrea Jorgensen, of Sioux Falls, who changed their surnames to Dybing-Jorgensen, are petitioning in Minnehaha County. Amy Muston of North Sioux City, who took the last name of her partner, Ashley Stabe, has petitioned in Union County. Both petitions are backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Argus Leader reports.

“This is an emerging issue for states that have passed these constitutional amendments prohibiting same-sex marriage,” said Robert Doody, executive director of the South Dakota ACLU. “They’re being used to deny people really basic rights.”

The South Dakota Family Policy Council, which pushed for the constitutional amendment passed by South Dakota voters in 2006 that bans and refuses to recognize same-sex marriages and civil unions, said the license denials are proof that state government is taking the amendment seriously.

“Everyone did their job,” Hupke said. “The system worked.”

South Dakota’s Department of Public Safety last year began requiring drivers to provide legal documentation of a name change when applying for a license. A marriage certificate works as proof of a name change for heterosexual couples but not for homosexual couples. State driver’s licensing director Cindy Gerber says the agency sought legal advice from the attorney general’s office on the matter.

“If we get a court-ordered name change, we’d have to accept that,” Gerber said.

Doody said the question is whether the courts will approve such a request. He said the ACLU is involved in similar cases in Georgia and Virginia.

University of South Dakota family law professor Roger Baron said the South Dakota cases will turn on whether judges who evaluate the petitions see them as attempts to validate the marriages.

“This is a powder keg,” he said.

Stabe said her Social Security card and credit cards list her last name as Stabe but her license still reads Muston. That presents problems for such things as loan applications, and Stabe is worried about her ability to board a commercial flight.

“I have to explain myself to everybody,” she said.