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by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

Michigan Supremes kill off Gay partners' health insurance
The Michigan Supreme Court took away Gay partners' employment-based health insurance May 7 in a 5-2 ruling.

The decision to block same-sex partner benefits prohibits all public employers, including state universities, from recognizing same-sex couples as such.

The court based its decision on a 2004 constitutional amendment passed by voters. The amendment not only banned same-sex marriage but also banned recognition of similar unions for any reason.

It states: "To secure and preserve the benefits of marriage for our society and for future generations of children, the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose."

Numerous individuals and the GLBT organization National Pride at Work had sued over the restrictions.

In the interim, however, some public employers - including the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and the Ann Arbor Public Schools - have tweaked their benefits policies to allow domestic partners to continue being covered.

The new policies let an employee designate any other adult as a beneficiary - when the two individuals live together, are not married, are not related and share finances.

It is unclear whether the court would also apply the sweeping language of the amendment to private companies and other situations if future legal cases move beyond the arena of public institutions.

Carly Simon: "I don't consider myself to be not Gay"
In an interview published May 1 in the San Francisco Gay weekly Bay Area Reporter, '70s pop-music legend Carly Simon said, "I don't consider myself to be not Gay."

The double-negative quasi-coming-out occurred when interviewer Gregg Shapiro inquired: "After speaking with you this morning, I'm going to be interviewing Cyndi Lauper regarding her True Colors tour, which features Gay and straight artists performing to raise money for the Human Rights Campaign and other LGBT organizations. I'm wondering if Cyndi called you and asked you to be a part of the True Colors tour, might you get involved?"

Simon replied: "Well, the part that I could be involved in is the Gay and Lesbian part. The part that would be hard for me is to commit to a tour because I'm not very comfortable being onstage. But the part that would be easiest for me would be singing on behalf of all of us. I don't consider myself to be not Gay."

Shapiro responded: "Wow! Well, it's great to have you as part of the family."

"Thank you!" Simon said. "I mean, I've enlarged all of my possibilities. There are a lot of extremely personal stories to tell about that, but we won't go into that right now. Let's just say that it just depends upon who I'm with."

Attempts to contact Simon through her publicist, record label and MySpace page were unsuccessful as of press time.

Congress' highest-ranking vet calls for DADT repeal
U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., whose military rank was the highest of any veteran now in Congress, has urged fellow lawmakers to join him in repealing the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy that bars open Gays from the military.

Sestak, a three-star admiral who spent 31 years in the Navy, is one of 17 congressional veterans co-sponsoring the repeal bill.

"It is easy for me to see why Don't Ask, Don't Tell should be repealed," Sestak said May 3. "Once you have served in war and faced danger with a Gay service member, how can you come home and say Gay people should not enjoy equal rights?"

Sestak's comments came at the Equality Forum, an annual GLBT conference and festival in Philadelphia.

The Military Readiness Enhancement Act (H.R. 1246), which would repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell and allow GLB personnel to serve openly, has 142 co-sponsors in total.

"Veterans like Adm. Sestak, who have dedicated their lives to serving this country, are leading the movement in Congress to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell," said Aubrey Sarvis of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. "These lawmakers agree with senior military officers, including former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili and retired Army Maj. Gen. Vance Coleman, that when it comes to defusing IEDs, tending to injured troops, deciphering enemy codes and flying reconnaissance missions - sexual orientation is irrelevant. Seventy-nine percent of the American people agree with them and it is time that Congress finally repeal this law."

With assistance from Bill Kelley
pictures: top - Aubrey Sarvis

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