The kiss seen around the world
VIRGINIA BEACH, VA—It was the kiss seen around the world. On a rainy day in mid-December, U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta descended from the USS Oak Hill amphibious landing ship and shared a quick kiss with her partner, Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell. Cameras rolled and onlookers cheered as the two women made history. "It's something new, that's for sure," Gaeta told reporters after the kiss. "It's nice to be able to be myself. It's been a long time coming." The two women sailors were the first same-sex couple to share the coveted "first kiss" on the pier after one of them returned from 80 days at sea. Sailors and their loved ones bought $1 raffle tickets for the opportunity. Under the U.S. military’s "don't ask, don't tell" rule, the kiss would never have happened. The policy, which was implemented in 1993, was repealed in September 2011. Both women are navy fire controlmen, who maintain and operate weapons systems on ships. They met at training school where they were roommates and have been dating for two years, which they said was difficult under DADT. "We did have to hide it a lot in the beginning," Snell said. "A lot of people were not always supportive of it in the beginning, but we can finally be honest about who we are in our relationship, so I'm happy." Snell said she believes their experience won't be the last one for gays and lesbians in the military. "I think that it's something that is going to open a lot of doors, for not just our relationship, but all the other gay and lesbian relationships that are in the military now," she said.
Petition seeks pardon for Turing
LONDON–An online petition calling for the government to posthumously pardon Alan Turing and quash his conviction for gross indecency has been launched. Turing worked as part of the team that cracked the Enigma code at Bletchley Park in the Second World War and went on to help create the world's first modern computer. The gay computer pioneer was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, when homosexual acts were illegal in the U.K. Two years later, he died from cyanide poisoning, ruled as a suicide. The Internet petition said his treatment and death "remains a shame on the U.K. government and U.K. history … Alan Turing was driven to a terrible despair and early death by the nation he'd done so much to save … A pardon can go some way to healing this damage. It may act as an apology to many of the other gay men, not as well known as Alan Turing, who were subjected to these laws.”
Obama links aid to GLBT rights
WASHINGTON–President Barack Obama has told officials to consider how countries treat gay and lesbian populations when making decisions about allocating foreign aid. This is the first time the American government has raised the issue of tying aid to GLBT human rights abuses and his memo instructs agencies offering foreign aid to promote such rights. Obama is among international leaders who have condemned a bill proposed in Uganda that would make some homosexual acts a crime punishable by death. Britain has also threatened to slash aid to actively homophobic counties but officials in Zambia and Zimbabwe say there is no chance their laws against homosexuals will be eased. In his memo to officials, Obama stated: "I am deeply concerned by the violence and discrimination targeting LGBT persons around the world, whether it is passing laws that criminalize LGBT status, beating citizens simply for joining peaceful LGBT pride celebrations, or killing men, women and children for their perceived sexual orientation."
21 years for gay slaying
VENTURA, CALIFORNIA–An American teenager has been sentenced to 21 years in state prison for killing a gay student during a computer lab class three years ago. Brandon McInerney’s defence lawyer said his client is deeply remorseful for the murder of 15-year-old Larry King. In a deal reached with Ventura County prosecutors last month, McInerney agreed to avoid a retrial and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, as well as one count each of voluntary manslaughter and use of a firearm. A September trial ended in a mistrial.
Mayor outed by sex shop purchase
SOUTHAVEN, MISSISSIPPI–A Mississippi mayor's mystery purchase at a Toronto sex store with public money has pushed him to reveal he is gay. Southaven Mayor Greg Davis' expense receipts showed he spent $67 of taxpayers' funds at Priape in Toronto, as well as thousands of dollars on liquor and expensive dinners. After details of the purchase at the Church Street store, described as "Canada's premiere gay lifestyle store and sex shop" on its website, emerged, the Republican politician conceded for the first time that he is gay. "While I have performed my job as mayor, in my opinion, as a very conservative, progressive individual — and still continue to be a very conservative individual — I think that it is important that I discuss the struggles I have had over the last few years when I came to the realization that I am gay," Davis told a local newspaper. Davis ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2008 on a conservative, family-values platform.
Water cited as cause of homosexuality
HUARMEY, PURU–The mayor of a small town in Peru is worried that mineral levels in the water could lead to an increase in homosexuality, LGBT Asylum News reports. José Benítez, the mayor of Huarmey, a coastal town in the Ancash Region of Peru, voiced his strange fears at the launch of a local project designed to increase access to water. Huarmey is famed for its abundant shrimp and long beaches, but the mayor worries it may gain a bad reputation due to high levels of strontium in the tap water. The metal, he claimed, reduces male hormones and might cause an increase in homosexuality among the population.
Lesbian leads Scottish Tories
EDINBURGH-–An openly lesbian woman has been elected leader of the Scottish Conservative Party after the membership rejected her leading rival's radical proposals to create a new centre-right party. Ruth Davidson, 32, widely seen as David Cameron's favourite, was chosen to lead the Scottish Conservative and Unionist party by a comfortable margin after a bitterly-fought and divisive leadership campaign. Officials in London believe Davidson, a lesbian and the youngest of the four candidates, will be able to freshen up the Tories' faltering appeal to Scottish voters.
Malta ponders more liberal laws
VALLETA, MALTA–Malta’s Nationalist Party, which holds a political majority in the country, has expressed a desire for some form of legal recognition for gay couples. Currently, the state does not recognize relationships between two people of the same gender. The central Mediterranean country has a strong Catholic base and only legalized divorce in a referendum this summer. The leading party’s general secretary says the country cannot not be “blind” to gay relationships. Paul Borg Olivier described it as a “renewed political vision”.
– Compiled by Peter Carlyle-Gordge