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Posts for October, 2010

More Fallout from Paladino’s Anti-Gay Remarks

Jim Burroway

October 14th, 2010

Carl PaladinoFallout over Tea Party-backed Republican candidate for New York Governor Carl P. Paladino’s anti-gay remarks continue to roil the campaign. Last weekend, Paladino said that gay people were “perverts who seek to target our children and destroy their lives,” by “brainwash[ing them] into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option.” After trying to excuse his remark — and following pointed distancing from fellow Republicans — he finally issued a letter of apology.

But that doesn’t seem to be doing much the close the issue. Yesterday, Paladino’s nephew, who Paladino pointed to as proof that he’s not anti-gay, told reporters that he was “very offended” by his uncle’s remarks and campaign staff say that he hasn’t shown up for work since last weekend’s remarks became public.

Meanwhile, Rabbi Yehuda Levin, who reportedly wrote the offending speech that Paladino delivered last weekend, blamed Paladino’s nephew for the apology. Levin is also withdrawing his support for Paladino:

“Mazel tov. We’ll have a coming out party. But when he came to me three days ago, he didn’t know that? I find this to be condescending,” said Levin, who is now withdrawing his support for Paladino.

The latest uproar has heightened scrutiny into Paladino’s dealings with the gay community. Yesterday, we learned that Paladino, who condemned Gay Pride parades because men wear “little Speedos and they grind against each other,” was the landlord for two gay nightclubs in Buffalo. This morning, there are allegations that Paladino’s son, William Paladino, ran Cobalt, one of the two gay bars. When the younger Paladino decided to convert the club into a straight bar, he fired every single gay bartender in the joint while retaining the three straight bartenders:

Ex-Cobalt bartender Kevin Van Wagner told The News the management unceremoniously “got rid of” the gay workers. “We were watched,” he remembered. “You could tell there was a vibe that they got rid of us and didn’t want us back.”

GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Apologizes for Anti-Gay Remarks

Jim Burroway

October 13th, 2010

Tea Party-backed Republican candidate Carl P. Paladino, whose anti-gay remarks to Orthodox Jewish leaders sparked outcry in New York and embarrassment among fellow state Republicans, has finally issued a letter of apology for his outburst.

In remarks delivered to Orthodox Jewish rabbis, Paladino called gay people “perverts who seek to target our children and destroy their lives,” and said that gays were trying to “brainwash [them] into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option.”

The following morning, Paladino appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America, where, incredibly, he tried to paint his remarks as being empathetic to LGBT people who experience discrimination. He also insisted that he was not anti-gay and would hire gay people in his administration.

Later, in Paladino’s letter of apology, he wrote, “I sincerely apologize for any comment that may have offended the Gay and Lesbian Community or their family members.” He also said that he was a “live and let live person,” and that “I am 100% against discrimination of any group. I oppose discrimination of any kind in housing, credit, insurance benefits or visitation.”

Elsewhere, Paladino has said that he would veto a marriage equality bill if it should reach his desk as governor and has called for a statewide referendum on the subject.

The most incredible admission in his letter is this:

Yesterday I was handed a script. I redacted some contents that were unacceptable. I did also say some things for which I should have chosen better words.

We know that one redacted content was the line, “There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual.” The Jewish Week reports that it was Rabbi Yehoda Levin who prepared the remarks. Which, if true, means that Paladino will mostly read whatever words anyone thrusts in front of him.

Meanwhile, the laws of unintended consequences continue to hold sway. In reaction to the backlash against Paladino’s comments, New York state Senate GOP leader Dean Skelos said that if the Republicans win control of the chamber, he would bring the marriage equality bill to the floor again for an up-or-down vote, although he remains opposed to the bill.

Also, the New York Daily News reports that Paladino has made quite a lot of money off of gay people as the landlord of a couple of Buffalo gay clubs.

Paladino’s letter of apology after the jump

Tenth “Wolf Pack” Suspect Arrested As Victim Describes Ordeal

Jim Burroway

October 13th, 2010

One of the seventeen-year-old victims of the vicious “Wolf Pack” attacks has spoken about his ordeal to New York reporters on Monday. He told reporters at ABC7:

They put me in the middle of the chair. They asked me “are you gay?” I was like “nah”, They was like “you did this?” I said “yea.” “You did this with the gay guy?” I was like “yea.” That’s when they started hitting me. Like beating me up. I was there for like an hour.

…They said, “You a faggot or something?” What’s wrong with you? You crazy?

Surprisingly, the gang members told the victim, who had been a recruit into the gang, not to take the assault personally. They told him that he could still remain a member of the gang.

Meanwhile, a tenth suspect, José Dominguez, 22, was arrested yesterday. He will face charges of assault, unlawful imprisonment and aggravated assault, all as hate crimes.

New York Republicans denounce Palidino’s anti-gay remarks

Timothy Kincaid

October 12th, 2010

Earlier this week, Republican nominee for New York Governor, Carl Paladino, called gays “perverts” and said they “seek to target our children and destroy their lives.” While that sort of language may seem normal for Republicans in Oklahoma, New Yorkers are a different breed. (Boston Herald)

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani Monday called on Paladino to apologize for his “highly offensive remarks.” Paladino’s opponent in the GOP primary, Rick Lazio, said the speech was “counterproductive and an embarrassment.”

Dan Donovan, the GOP candidate for attorney general, and Harry Wilson, the Republican running for comptroller, both issued statements denouncing Paladino’s comments.

Meanwhile Paladino thinks that he deserves an apology from the media for including a line that was in the draft but which he didn’t say. And he attempted to hide behind a gay nephew (which seems to be the latest trend in “some of my best friends are…”) (CBS)

“I want to clearly define myself. I have of no reservations about gay people at all, none, except for one thing, their desire to get married. … I feel that marriage is only between a man and a woman. Very clearly, I wanted to state that.

“Now, in addition, I have a nephew and … I have people working for me who are gay. Never had a problem with any of them, never had a problem in any sense with their lifestyle and we’ve talked about it often. … I talk to them about the discrimination that they suffer and I’m sensitive to it.

He went on to say that homosexuality was “not an easy life.”

“It’s a very, very difficult life. Most of them don’t choose it. … The discrimination that they suffer is very, very difficult and I’m totally sensitive to it.

No, Mr. Paladino, it’s not a “difficult life.” Or, at least, it wouldn’t be without the interference of individuals such as yourself.

Staten Island Teens Arrested For Bullying

Jim Burroway

October 12th, 2010

At least some local authorities are starting to take bullying seriously:

A Muslim boy says four bullies made his life a living hell in the halls of a Staten Island public school, calling him a “terrorist” and beating him every chance they got.

The victim, a 16-year-old high school freshman, told his father and the police of the constant abuse he endured, prompting the arrests Sunday of his teen tormenters on suspicion of hate crimes.

“[They] punched me in my groin, and I fell to the floor. They started kicking me, and calling me ‘You f—in’ terrorist,’ ‘You f—in’ Muslim,’” the victim, Kristian, told the Daily News. …”I think I can’t go through a year like this again,” said the soft-spoken victim.

Ninth Bronx Assault Suspect Arrested

Jim Burroway

October 11th, 2010

The New York Daily News reports that the ninth suspect in the vicious “wolf pack” assault against three gay men in the Bronx has been arrested. Rudy Vargas-Perez, 22, was captured by New York Police today and taken to the Bronx. Details of his arrest have not been released. He had been expected to turn himself in over the weekend, but reneged on the promise.

Bronx “Wolf Pack” Attackers Arraigned

Jim Burroway

October 10th, 2010

Eight of nine suspects in last week’s brutal attack on three gay men in the Bronx were arraigned on Sunday morning in Bronx Criminal Court on several criminal charges, including gang assault, sexual abuse and unlawful imprisonment, all as hate crimes. As part of the hearing, more gruesome details of the attacks came to light:

After he had been punched, kicked and stripped of his clothes and jewelry, the 17-year-old man was given a choice: the bat or the pipe.

… Before the night was out, the victims would be tortured with burning cigarettes, box cutter blades, plunger handles and more, prosecutors charged. But first, the 17-year-old had to make his selection.

“I guess the bat,” he said.

The court-appointed lawyer for one of the defendants, seventeen-year-old Denis Peitars, said that his client agreed to testify before the grand jury. A ninth suspect, Rudy Vargas-Perez, 22, is still at large.

NY GOP Gubernatorial Candidate: Gays “Seek To Target Our Children And Destroy Their Lives”

Jim Burroway

October 10th, 2010

The race for New York’s governorship took a particularly nasty turn when the Tea Party-backed Republican candidate Carl P. Paladino spoke to Orthodox Jewish leaders in Brooklyn, saying that gays (or “perverts,” as he referred to them) “seek to target our children and destroy their lives.”

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We must stop pandering to the pornographers and the perverts who seek to target our children and destroy their lives. I didn’t march in the gay parade this year, the Gay Pride parade this year. My opponent did. And that’s not the example we should be showing our children, and certainly not in our schools.

And don’t misquote me as wanting to hurt homosexual people in any way. That would be a dastardly lie. My approach is live and let live. I just think my children and your children would be much better off and much more successful in getting married and raising a family. And I don’t want them to be brainwashed into thinking that homosexuality is an equally valid or successful option. It isn’t.

Carl PaladinoAccording to the New York Times, Paladino’s prepared remarks also included the sentence, “There is nothing to be proud of in being a dysfunctional homosexual,” but he omitted that line during his talk.

Following those remarks, Paladino’s campaign manager had the audacity to deny that Paldino is anti-gay, saying that Paladino employed a gay man on his campaign staff.

No, he’s not anti-gay. He just thinks that gays are a bunch of perverts who are targeting children to destroy their lives.

Paladino’s vicious remarks came on the heels of several teen suicides, including that of Tyler Clementi, who jumped off the George Washington Bridge last week. It also accompanies fresh reports of horrific anti-gay attacks by nine gang members against three gay individuals in the Bronx last week.

Eighth Suspect Arrested in Bronx “Wolf Pack” Assaults

Jim Burroway

October 10th, 2010

The New York Times reports that an eighth suspect in what police described as a brutal “wolf pack” style attack against three gay men in the Bronx last weekend has turned himself in to police. Elmer Confresi, 23, turned himself in on Saturday night, while a ninth suspect, Rudy Vargas-Perez, 22, reneged on a promise he made through his lawyer to turn himself in. Vargas-Perez remains at large.

The Times included that information in a larger article about the shock and sadness that is reverberating through the Bronx neighborhood where the attacks took place.

The most severely brutalized victim was a gay 30-year-old Hispanic immigrant known in his Bronx neighborhood as “la Reina,” Spanish for “the Queen.” He was playful, flirty and always ready for a party, neighbors said.

…Every day, he stopped by El Tio grocery, the bodega on the ground floor of his building, for juices, sandwiches and small talk, according to the manager, Xavier Peña. “He was a good friend,” Mr. Peña said. “He’s a very, very nice guy. He called me Papi, Papi.”

Many in the neighborhood used female pronouns to refer to the man, though they said he dressed in men’s clothes. “She’s gay, she’s like a woman, we think of her like a woman,” explained one neighbor, speaking on the condition that he not be named for fear of reprisals.

“She’s a very good person,” he added. “If you were ever hungry or thirsty, you could go to Reina, and she would help you.”

Meanwhile, the New York Daily News says that several of the arrested gang members are pinning the blame for the attacks on the gang’s leader, Ildefonso (Cheto) Mendez, who they say threatened them if they refused to participate.

Bronx Gang Tortures Two Teens, Man For Being Gay

Jim Burroway

October 9th, 2010
Suspected Bronx Gang members being led to a police station after a series of anti-gay attacks in the Bronx.

Six of seven suspected Bronx gang members being led to a police station after a series of anti-gay attacks in the Bronx.

Nine men ranging from ages 16 to 23 years old abducted two teenage boys, and took them to an abandoned apartment in the Bronx, where they beat them and sodomized one until the boys admitted having sex with a 30-year-old man.They then lured the 30-year-old man to the same apartment, by telling him there was a house party going on and instructed him to bring plenty of liquor. Once the man arrived:

The attackers forced the man to strip to his underwear and tied him to a chair, the police said. One of the teenage victims was still there, and the “Goonies” ordered him to attack the man. The teenager hit him in the face and burned him with a cigarette on his nipple and penis as the others jeered and shouted gay slurs, the police said. Then the attackers whipped the man with a chain and sodomized him with a small baseball bat.

The beatings and robberies went on for hours. They were followed by a remarkably thorough attempt to sanitize the house — including pouring bleach down drains, the police said, as little by little word of the attacks trickled to the police. A crucial clue to the attackers was provided by someone who slipped a note to a police officer outside the crime scene, at 1910 Osborne Place in Morris Heights, near Bronx Community College.

The apartment building where the attacks took place

The apartment building where the attacks took place.

Police commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said, ““These suspects deployed terrible, wolf-pack odds of nine against one, which revealed them as predators whose crimes were as cowardly as they were despicable.” Police say that that attacks were motivated by hatred towards the homosexuality of the victims, and was not a part of an initiation.

Seven suspects have been arrested on Thursday an Friday, and two are still being sought by police. According to the New York Times, the group were not part of a formal gang, but adopted the nickname of Latin King Goonies. They hatched the plan last Saturday after one member of the group saw the 30-year-old man, who was known as being gay, with a 17-year-old who wanted to join the group. (The age of consent in New York is seventeen).

That first 17-year-old was abducted at about 3:30 am on Sunday morning, taken to an abandoned apartment, made to strip naked, beaten, slashed with a box cutter, and sodomized with the wooden handle of a plunger, and hit in the head with a can of bear. After the teen admitted having sex with the 30-year-old, the gang let him loose and warned him not to say anything. The teen walked to a hospital for treatment, where he said he had been jumped by strangers and robbed.

Later on Sunday evening, the gang abducted a second 17-year-old and beat him until he admitted to having sex with the 30-year-old. They held him while they lured the older man to what they said was a party. He brought with him ten large cans of Four Loko malt liquor. As soon as he arrived he was seized, stripped to his underwear, and tied to a chair opposite the teen. The gang then ordered the second teen to beat him and burn him with a cigarette. The gang joined in the beating using fists and chains. The beating reportedly lasted for hours as the attackers forced the man to drink all ten cans of malt liquor.The man was also sodomized with a baseball bat.

During that ordeal, five of the gang members went to the man’s house which he shared with his 40-year-old brother. They got inside using a key they got from the 30-year-old, where they found his brother in bed. They put a blanket over his head, beat him, and demanded money. The man complied when they put a cell phone to the his ear and he heard his younger brother on the line who pleaded, “Give them the money.” The brother was then tied with rope and tape.

About three hours later, he was able to free himself and call police, but he left out the fact that his brother was being held. As detectives were later leaving the older brother’s home on Monday morning, they saw the 30-year-old brother on the landing where he  had been dumped. He was passed out from the alcohol, and police say he was unable to tell them what had happened to him. It wasn’t until later on Monday that he began to remember what had happened.

It wasn’t until Tuesday when the second teen went to a Bronx police station to describe a version of what happened. Like the others, he wasn’t fully forthcoming with the details our of fear of reprisal and wanting to keep his sexuality a secret. But the second seen gave the address of the abandoned apartment. Police found an immaculate apartment that had been freshly painted and washed with bleach. One detective called it “the cleanest crime scene I’ve ever seen.” Despite the elaborate attempt to conceal the crime, police were still able to find cans of alcohol and hair at the scene.

The plot fell apart on Wednesday night when someone in the crowd of onlookers provided the name of the man believed to be the group’s ringleader. Later, all three victims gave full statements of the attack. Arrested were Ildefonzo Mendez, 23; David Rivera, 21; Nelson Falu, 18; Steven Carballo, 17; Denis Peitars, 17; Bryan Almonte, 17; and Brian Cepeda, 16. Two others, Elmer Confessor, 23, and Ruddy Vargas-Perez, 22, are still being sought. They all face charges of unlawful imprisonment, abduction, assault, robbery, sodomy and menacing, all as hate crimes.

Prop 8 Rallies Planned

Jim Burroway

August 4th, 2010

As Timothy mentioned yesterday afternoon, we received word that a decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger is expected this afternoon between 1:00 and 3:00 pm (PDT). Already, Prop 8 supporters have already filed a request for stay of judgment pending appeal, in case Judge Walker strikes down Prop 8. If granted, this would prevent any marriages taking until the Court of Appeals hears the case.

Meanwhile, a large number of rallies are planned in California and across the U.S., forty so far and counting. Rex Wockner is keeping up to date with the latest additions.

God hates jointly filed tax returns?

Timothy Kincaid

June 29th, 2010

The New York Democratic leadership is at war. With itself. Again.

This time Governor Paterson and the legislature are battling over control of the state’s budget. Paterson, a Democrat, is vetoing spending and tax hikes while the House and Senate, led by Democrats, fear that Paterson’s methods will set a precedent that will shift power to future governors. And as the Democratic Party holds a very narrow majority in the Senate, any defections can turn the whole thing over to Republicans in the Senate to advance their spending priorities.

So Ruben Diaz, one of the less ethical players in Albany, has taken opportunity of the situation and threatened to deny his vote to Democrats in the legislature unless he be allowed to dictate tax policy for gay couples.

Same-sex marriages conducted in New York State are not recognized. However, if another state allows same-sex marriage, then New York will honor and recognize that marriage. Thus, those who marry in Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Washington D.C., or Iowa can return home as a happily married couple.

But that doesn’t mean that all things are equal. For example, couples do not have the right in the State of New York to file a joint tax return. The state says, in effect, “Yes, we recognize that you are a married couple, but lie and tick the “single” box and pay the higher tax rate.”

So Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell proposed an amendment to the appropriations bill to allow legally recognized same-sex married couples to file their state income taxes in exactly the same manner as opposite sex couples. Well that was just too much for Senator Diaz.

Because Diaz answers to his God. Or his ego… which might be the same thing. But anyway, his theocratic impulses tell him that God wants gay people to pay higher taxes.

“That’s something I’m not comfortable with and we are working on it,” said Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., concerned about a provision allowing married same-sex couples to file joint tax returns. “Right now we are working something out….we have 32 Democratic senators. Next year we may have 34. We might have 30. Next year things might change. As long as we have 32, as long as we have 32, each member should be respected.”

Earlier, Diaz Sr. stormed out of conference saying “stupid, stupid, stupid.” A few minutes after saying the above, he said he had the provision excised from the budget bill.

As usual, the leadership caved to Diaz.

NY Catholics March Despite Ban

Jim Burroway

June 28th, 2010

Marchers from St. Francis Xavier, a gay-welcoming Catholic church which had been participating in New York City’s Gay Pride parade for several years, were forbidden by NYC Archbishop Timothy Dolan from marching with a banner identifying their parish’s name in last weekends parade. Their response? They marched with a blank banner. Here’s CNN’s coverage:

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New York passes LGBT anti-bullying bill

Timothy Kincaid

June 23rd, 2010

From the Gothamist

In a 53-3 vote last night, the state Senate passed the Dignity for All Students Act, which prohibits harassment in school based on “actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex.”

“Perceived… gender” is understood to include transgender students. Such a strong bipartisan support is a sign of strong support and gives encouragement for future advances in the state Senate.

The Assembly has already passed the bill and the Governor is expected to sign it into law.

“Not Equal” Flag Debuted in New York DADT Protest

Jim Burroway

March 19th, 2010
"Not Equal" Flag (Gay City News)

"Not Equal" Flag (Gay City News)

Protesters carried this banner at a small protest in New York City’s Times Square today against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”.  I don’t know if this one will catch on, but given the rising anti-HRC sentiment I wouldn’t be surprised if this starts to become the new rainbow flag, especially given the new flag’s lineage:

Rainbow flag creator Gilbert Baker, himself a Vietnam-era veteran, was on hand with a yellow “is not equal to” symbol he had sewn onto a blue banner. The new flag was commentary on the logo long used by HRC, whose efforts to get Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repealed and advance other goals are viewed as inadequate by direct action groups emerging nationwide. “HRC isn’t pressing the issue or demanding equality,” Dillon said. “It’s not working.”

Three members of Queer Rising tried to gain access to the Midtown Manhattan Armed Service Career Center, but were blocked. About 20 protesters were on hand altogether.

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