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National News
National News
by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

PlanetOut, GLAAD, HRC punish hotel
In apparent response to media inquiries, PlanetOut Inc., the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, and the Human Rights Campaign acted swiftly April 22 and 23 to dissociate themselves from the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego.

PlanetOut, GLAAD and Global Hyatt Corp. have partnered to offer a Pride 2008 "GLAAD Package" rate at 26 hotels nationally and to stage "Pride Rocks" parties at three hotels, in San Diego, San Francisco and Boston.

But the San Diego party now will be moved to another location in protest against a $125,000 donation by the owner of the San Diego hotel, Doug Manchester, to the ongoing campaign to amend the California Constitution to permanently ban same-sex marriage.

In March, Manchester told the San Diego Union-Tribune that his Roman Catholic faith drove him to donate to the anti-same-sex-marriage movement.

"When they say that we cannot say that a marriage is between a man and a woman, that's where I draw the line," Manchester said.

Donations such as Manchester's helped the amendment campaign pay signature-gatherers - and the coalition announced on April 21 that it has collected enough petition signatures to force a ballot vote on changing the Constitution, a claim that now must be verified by state officials.

GLAAD was first to bolt from any association with Manchester, on April 22.

"GLAAD & does not and will not have a relationship with the individual hotel property owned by Mr. Manchester," said President Neil Giuliano. "Mr. Manchester's decision to fund an initiative that would hurt loving, committed Gay couples makes it impossible for us to continue to be associated with any promotion of his venue. GLAAD strongly encourages members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community to speak as one and to withdraw their support from this venue's event as well."

A day later, the Pride Rocks parties co-host, PlanetOut Inc., decided to move the San Diego event.

"We put together a program with Hyatt at the corporate level," marketing vice president Kevyn Aiken said in an interview. "Upon learning about this, we have decided to move the event to a location that is more supportive and more appropriate."

PlanetOut Inc. owns The Advocate, Out magazine, Gay.com, PlanetOut.com and other Gay media properties.

The Human Rights Campaign took action against Global Hyatt on April 23, demanding that its "Best Companies for GLBT Equality 2007" logo be removed from Hyatt material referencing the San Diego hotel.

"We do not condone his [Doug Manchester's] participation in any efforts to write discrimination into the California state constitution," the nation's largest Gay rights group said.

"Permission to use HRC's 'Best Places to Work' service mark is given based on a Corporate Equality Index score of 100 percent received by the parent corporation and not individual properties. In granting a score of 100 percent, HRC investigates financial contributions to anti-GLBT organizations by officers, board members and significant shareholders of the parent corporation, but not individual franchises. Chicago-based Global Hyatt Corporation has received a score of 100 percent for the past three years. The company continues to be a strong supporter of the GLBT community."

The San Diego Pride Rocks event, which will take place the night before the city's pride parade, is not affiliated with San Diego LGBT Pride, which runs the pride parade and festival.

"Not only do we not have anything to do with it, we've never been contacted by PlanetOut, HRC or the Manchester Grand Hyatt to even talk about such a thing," San Diego LGBT Pride Executive Director Ron deHarte said April 22, as the controversy began to unfold.

"We're very concerned that the wrong impression is being made & that there is a connection between the Manchester Grand Hyatt and San Diego Pride."

DeHarte said Doug Manchester "basically has said & he welcomes [Gay] people to go eat and drink and stay at the hotel and at the same time he's writing a check to fund the constitutional ban. We want the public to be aware of Manchester's role in funding the constitutional amendment."

Brothers & Sisters actor comes out
Actor Luke MacFarlane, who plays Scotty Wandell, the boyfriend of Kevin Walker on ABC-TV's Brothers & Sisters, came out April 15 in an interview with Toronto's Globe and Mail newspaper.

"I don't know what will happen professionally & that is the fear, but I guess I can't really be concerned about what will happen, because it's my truth," MacFarlane said.

"There is this desire in L.A. to wonder who you are and what's been blaring for me for the last three years is how can I be most authentic to myself - so this is the first time I am speaking about it (being Gay) in this way."

The newspaper said Kevin and Scotty will marry each other on the Brothers & Sisters season finale May 11.

Harvey Milk holiday bill passes committee
A bill to make Harvey Milk's birthday a state holiday passed the California Assembly's Education Committee April 23 in a 7-3 vote.

If the measure clears both houses of the Legislature, the date May 22 will become a "nonfiscal" holiday, meaning it should not cost the state money.

"Harvey Milk knowingly risked his life because he believed that by living as an openly Gay man he would help achieve full equality for all people," said Equality California Executive Director Geoff Kors. "His courageous leadership and vision has inspired three decades of progress in the fight to protect (LGBT) people across the nation. A statewide day of recognition in his honor would remind us that we all have the power to create positive social change and that we all have the right to live openly and with dignity and respect."

The bill also encourages public schools and educational institutions to teach students about Milk, who often is missing from history lessons.

The bill's author, Assemblymember Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, called Milk "a true American hero who gave hope to a generation of Gay and Lesbian individuals."

Born in 1930, Milk settled in San Francisco's Castro district in 1972 and opened a camera store. He went on to pioneer a populist Gay-rights movement in the city and, in 1977, was elected to the Board of Supervisors, the equivalent of a city council.

Milk was the first openly Gay candidate elected in any large U.S. city and only the third openly Gay candidate elected in U.S. history - after Elaine Noble, who was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1975, and Kathy Kozachenko, who was elected to the Ann Arbor, Mich., City Council in 1974.

Milk and Mayor George Moscone were shot to death inside San Francisco City Hall on November 27, 1978, by then recently resigned city Supervisor Dan White, who was angry that Moscone wouldn't let him un-resign and that Milk had lobbied Moscone not to reappoint White.

White's lenient sentence for the killings (seven years and eight months with parole) led to the famed White Night Riots in San Francisco on May 21, 1979.

White was convicted of voluntary manslaughter on the grounds of diminished capacity, which, his lawyer argued, resulted from depression exacerbated by eating too much junk food. This unusual argument became known as the "Twinkie defense."

In the White Night Riots, a large crowd of Gay people gathered at City Hall the evening of White's sentencing and burned police cars, broke windows of cars and stores, and destroyed the overhead electric wires that power city buses. More than 160 people were hospitalized as a result of the melee.

With assistance from Bill Kelley
pictures: top - GLAAD President Neil Giuliano
bottom: Leno announcing Milk bill
 

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