Monday, December 28, 2009

Senate OK's Gay Female as United States Marshal

Mark it down as one small step for women, one great step for America, and yet another proud leap for gay and lesbian rights under the Obama Administration.

Minneapolis assistant police Chief Sharon Lubinski has become the first openly gay U.S. marshal.

The U.S. Senate confirmed the Green Bay, Wis. native to be the U.S. marshal for the Minnesota district. Last week's confirmation also makes her the first female marshal in the state.

Lubinski has served a number of roles with the Minneapolis Police. She was also a sheriff's deputy in Wisconsin.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar recommended Lubinski to President Barack Obama, who formally nominated her to the marshal post in October.

The Democratic senator said Monday that Lubinski's breadth of experience makes her a highly qualified candidate.U.S. marshals oversee federal courthouse security, witness protection and the apprehension of federal fugitives.

Friday, December 25, 2009

SFGN: South Florida Gay News Will Debut in January

Marketwire Issued the Following Press Release for me this week. So I may be blogging less and newswriting a little more real soon.
Norm Kent Announces Debut of New GLBT Weekly, ‘South Florida Gay’

Gay News, Straight Facts

Fort Lauderdale attorney Norm Kent announced today the inauguration of a new GLBT newsweekly, published under the banner of “South Florida Gay”

Nicknamed ‘SFGN,’ Kent said he purposely chose a hard copy newspaper name with a “dot com” in the masthead “in order to accommodate and acknowledge; promote and link the diverse media platforms a 21st century newspaper has to deliver. Our website will be up and running before the paper is actually published and distributed.”

A South Florida attorney for 30 years, in 1999 Kent founded and published the very first credible GLBT weekly newspaper in Broward County, The Express Gay News. Mr. Kent sold The Express to Unite Media in December of 2003, which then published the paper under the banner of first The Express and then the South Florida Blade, until last month, when the corporation filed for bankruptcy protection in federal district court in Atlanta. Kent explained the name of his former paper, The Express, is tied up in the bankruptcy courts, and may be unavailable for months, as trustees sort out creditor issues.

Kent indicated that SFGN will be published and distributed on Mondays, tabloid size, commencing in January of 2010, and over 12,000 copies will be distributed to 300 plus locations in Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties. The paper will be published on high quality, heavy weight stock by Miami Offset. “We are going to deliver a handsome, local, hometown product, and our service providers will benefit our neighborhood businesses,” Kent stated, faulting the publishers of Unite Media for “losing touch with the community I intended the paper to serve.”

Kent stated that he had signed a long term lease for the primary newspaper office in the heart of Wilton Manors, at 2520 North Dixie Highway, adjacent to the CVS pharmacy at Five Points. The Manors is one of the fastest growing gay communities in the United States. Kent also indicated that “later in the year” there would be a satellite office in Dade County as well. “We have contracted for digital phones, modern computers, upgraded printers, and independent distributors. It’s a project, but we are getting there.”

Kent said the first issue of The Express was published January 24, 2000, and that he expects the first issue of SFGN is expected to be on the streets January 25, 2010, if not sooner. “It’s a kharma thing.”

Kent indicated that he will bring back some of his best feature columnists, who formerly wrote with the Express, along with the popular cartoonists and writers. Correspondents, such as Jesse Monteagudo, formerly with The Weekly News, are already working on features for the debut issue. The paper will include local writers such as Pier Guidugli, established columnists such as Jennifer Vanasco, and nationally known authors such as Wayne Besen. “We are a work still in progress. There are openings for creative talent.”

The web design for will be handled by Tom Forcella and the newspaper graphics by George Dauphin. News on the website will be updated daily with videos and interactive commentary.

Kent promised that “The bottom line is that we are going to publish a fiercely independent publication, a credible and legitimate weekly newspaper, which will feature topical news, cutting-edge issues, outspoken columnists, and articles capturing the breadth and diversity of gay life.” Kent added that “as The Express once was a hard-hitting meaningful paper people sought to read, so too will the SFGN soon be.”

Although an editor has not been hired yet, Kent said he is conducting exhaustive interviews after receiving over 150 replies from a Craigslist advertisement he posted last Friday. “Interested writers and salespersons, full time or part time, should send their resumes and credentials to my email, for now. I do not have six figure salaries to pay out, but like The Express was once before, this is an opportunity for young people to come forward and create career opportunities for themselves.”

Kent noted that former staffers at his old paper have reached significant stature: “Ian Drew is an editor at US Weekly, Andy Zeffer has published a book, Kevin Hopper went on to become a publisher, and Jeff Palmer and Drew Middleton have started their own design and IT companies. Mike James, though he sadly passed away just a few weeks ago, became a film producer. Mary Damiano is an established critic. In fact, one of our very first issues at SFGN will feature the achievements of those past contributors.”

A constitutional rights and criminal defense attorney in Broward County, Kent has been a legal advocate of gay rights in South Florida for three decades. Recently, his law firm, Kent & Cormican, P.A., won a $45,000 judgment against the State of Florida for domestic partners who were falsely arrested in a state park. In 2007, he won an acquittal for numerous gay men who were unlawfully entrapped by law enforcement agencies by illegal undercover activities. In 1991, when 200 gay men were improperly detained by the Broward Sheriff’s Office in a bar raid at the Copa, he successfully brought a class action on behalf of those patrons, securing a consent judgment which led to BSO donating money to an AIDS agency.

The law offices of Norm Kent and Russell Cormican (Kent & Cormican, P.A.) are located in the 110 Tower in Fort Lauderdale, directly opposite the courthouse at 110 S.E. 6th Street, Suite 1970. Their telephone number is 954 763 1900, and they provide legal services in the field of criminal defense and constitutional rights.

Kent stated that “The Express was the culmination of my life as a gay rights advocate. I let it go in order to preserve it for posterity, and the big-shot corporation with its fancy budgets blew it and went broke. I learned a life lesson again- that if you love something, keep it close to your heart, invest in it with sweat and tears, and don’t let it go.”

Acknowledging the downturn of the economy and the decreasing market for newspapers, Kent added that the newspaper, which will be free, needs the support of the GLBT business community. “The gay community is more than bars and bathhouses. We are businesspersons and professionals. If I deliver a quality product, the community will make it work.”

Kent is also well known for his long time experience as the highly rated morning drive talk show host for WFTL-850 AM. He later hosted a weekly radio show titled 'Weekend Legal' on WWNN-1470 AM. Today, he publishes his comments about South Florida justice on The Broward Law Blog at and writes weekly commentaries for the popular online liberal newsletter, Counterpunch, at

Headquartered in Wilton Manors, at 2520 North Dixie Highway, the phone number for SFGN is 954-530-4970.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Houston Elects Gay Comptroller to City Mayor

Annise Parker's comfortable rise to mayor is drawing attention from national news outlets who are noting the significance of the nation's fourth largest city making history by electing an openly gay leader.

The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor and MSNBC, for instance, emphasized that Parker won the race in a state that outlawed gay marriage and in a city that defeated a referendum granting benefits to same-sex partners of city workers.

With Parker winning nearly 53 percent of the vote late Saturday, Houston became the largest city to elect an openly gay mayor. Others include Cambridge, Mass., Portland, Ore., and Providence R.I.

From The Christian Science Monitor: “The distinction neatly sums up the American mood. As gays and lesbians become broadly accepted in society and politics, that acceptance is marked by a firm boundary beyond which voters do not yet appear willing to cross: same-sex marriage.”

Parker's sexual orientation became an issue in the final stretch of the race, after anti-gay activists and conservative religious groups endorsed Parker's opponent, 61-year-old Gene Locke, and sent out mailers condemning Parker's sexual orientation.

The New York Times, which started following how Parker's sexuality was playing out politically in October, described her win a “milestone for gay men and lesbians around the country.”
In a post-election piece, the Times presented Parker as a charming victor who throughout the campaign tried unsuccessfully to stay away from discussing her sexuality, instead focusing on her accomplishments. pointed out that Parker highlighted her sexual orientation in her victory speech and opened the door to her personal life, quoting Parker: “This election has changed the world for the lesbian, gay and transgendered community, just as it is about transforming the lives of all Houstonians for the better,” Parker told supporters last night before introducing “the person who has shared my life for more than 19 years.”

Earlier this year, the second most populous county in Florida, Broward, where Fort Lauderdale is based, selected as its Mayor, Kenneth Keechl.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Rock Hudson's Lover Dies: A Quarter Century Later

The Rock:

Rock Hudson has been dead for years but the man who made his death more famous was alive until yesterday. Hudson, for our younger readers, was a classic Hollywood film star. Male, stunning, well-built. Always playing the role of happily married straight man, on film and in real life. But those who knew him knew better. Rock Hudson was gay. And he died of AIDS in the height of the epidemic, 1985.

Marc Christian MacGinnis was Rock Hudson’s secret lover. McGinnis made legal history by suing Hudson’s estate in 1991, winning a multimillion-dollar settlement, after convincing a jury Hudson had knowingly exposed him to AIDS. He too, has now died, at the age of 56. Christian, who went by his mother's maiden name, made headlines in 1985 when he sued Hudson's estate for $10 million, alleging that he had suffered severe emotional distress after learning about his condition the way the rest of the world did- on a news broadcast that the former matinee idol and television star had AIDS, which was claiming lives throughout the gay community.

Hudson was diagnosed in 1984 but did not publicly acknowledge his illness until July 1985; he died three months later at age 59. Christian tested negative for acquired immune deficiency syndrome several times after learning of Hudson's diagnosis but legally he contended that the star put him at risk of contracting the disease by concealing his illness and continuing to have sexual relations with him.

In 1989, a Los Angeles County Superior Court jury said Hudson had displayed "outrageous conduct" and awarded Christian $21.75 million in damages, later reduced to $5.5 million. The $5.5-million award was upheld by a state Court of Appeal, which called it just compensation for the "ultimate in personal horror, the fear of slow, agonizing death." A private settlement was then reached. That is the way America thought of HIV a quarter century ago.

McGinnis never came across as a hero or whistle blower. Instead, twenty-seven years younger than Hudson, he was portrayed by many as a gold digger. It was a time though, when few had a full grasp of understanding of the need for sexual responsibility. There were no laws on the books making failing to disclose your HIV status a crime. That would come later. But this case opened the door to groundbreaking laws and higher standards.

Several years after the sensational case ended, Christian told People magazine that his purpose was "not to sleaze Rock;" that he even wanted to privately settle. Christian argued that his suit "was to say that if you have AIDS, you ought to tell your partner, whether you're a movie star or a postman." Duh! The significant thing, years later, a few days after World AIDS Day, is that we are still fighting the disease. And no one should be 'sleazed' by getting sick.
Larry King interview in 2001 with McGinnis

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Meredith Ties Her Family to Another Woman

"Family Ties" actress Meredith Baxter made the media rounds Wednesday confirming the rumors that she is a lesbian. For me, the real news story will arrive the day that the 'coming out' of a TV star is inconsequential and barely newsworthy.

Baxter, who had been married three times to different men, went on the Today show and explained to Matt Lauer homosexuality 'was a later in life recognition.'

The National Enquirer recently ran a story about Baxter being spotted on a lesbian cruise through the Caribbean with a "female friend," which was then picked up by celebrity blogs. As a result, the 62-year-old decided to tell her fans herself.

"I didn't want some tabloid to take the story and make it up," Baxter said in the interview. "I wanted it to be in my own words." Good for her. Almost. She complained that "to come out and disclose stuff is very antithetical" to who she is. Well, sometimes, for the greater good, you stand naked before the cannon. Or in her case, semi naked in a bathing suit on a cruise ship in the Caribbean with her partner.

"We live a very open life at home," Baxter said of her life with Nancy Locke. "Anyone who's a friend of mine, anyone who knows and cares about me knows. It's no secret that I'm gay, but it has been to the greater world." Now we know, and the Earth will still turn on its axis, and Ms. Baxter will find the rotation more stable, her life more honest, the secrecy less necessary.

Her 25-year-old son Peter summed it up best for everyone.
He told the National Enquirer that he "just couldn't stop smiling, because she finally figured it out." Meaning, of course, how nice it is that Mom caught on, sailing on a ship called Honesty. It was probably the best cruise she ever had.