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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Update "Group Loses Tax Break Over Gay Union Issue"

"A boardwalk pavilion in the seaside town of Ocean Grove, N.J., that has been at the center of a battle over gay civil union ceremonies has lost its tax-exempt status because the state ruled it no longer met the requirements as a place open to all members of the public.
In a letter to the administrator of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, a Methodist organization that owns the pavilion property, the state commissioner of environmental protection, Lisa Jackson, declined to recertify the pavilion as eligible for a real estate tax exemption it has enjoyed since 1989 under the state’s Green Acres Program, but did renew the tax-exempt status of the rest of the boardwalk and the beach, also owned by the association.
The issue arose after the association, which has owned the land, the beach and 1,000 feet of the sea itself since 1870, rejected the requests of two lesbian couples to have their civil union ceremonies at the Boardwalk Pavilion.
The couples complained to the State Division on Civil Rights, which began a discrimination investigation. The association sued the state, claiming that the investigation violated its First Amendment rights because civil unions were contrary to the beliefs of the United Methodist Church…
In a letter dated Saturday that revoked the longstanding certification, Ms. Jackson, the environmental protection commissioner, wrote, “It is clear that the pavilion is not open to all persons on an equal basis.”
“When people hear the words ‘open space,’ we want them to think not just of open air and land, but that it is open to all people,” said Ms. Jackson. “And when the public subsidizes it with tax breaks, it goes with the expectation that it is not going to be parsed out, whether it be by activity or any particular beliefs.”
When the lawsuit was filed against the state last month, the assessor, Bernard Haney, estimated that the association was saving about $500,000 a year because of all of its Green Acres exemptions.
The case has drawn national attention, in part because Ocean Grove has long been considered a community that embraced gay residents. Steven Goldstein, executive director of Garden State Equality, a New Jersey gay rights organization, said he has gotten more e-mail messages on this issue than on any other cause his group has taken up.
“I’m hearing from gay people all over the country who thought Ocean Grove was the leading light for gay tolerance and that’s not the case anymore,” Mr. Goldstein said"

Friday, April 25, 2008

Friday Five-Pre-Post Modern

Singing Owl said: “Yesterday I had two separate conversations in which people were musing about how much change is occurring. The WW II generation, of which my mom is a part, went from horse and buggy to automobiles, saw the lessening, or even the end of many diseases, went from widespread use of kerosene lamps and outhouses (in the country, and most folks were rural)) to a totally electrified and plumbed society. The fastest means of communication was a telegraph. The second conversation--gulp--was about MY generation and how much change occurred in the last half of the 20th century. The person said his 13 year old had not seen a vinyl record album until a few days before, couldn't remember a time without cell phones, and on and on.”

1. What modern convenience/invention could you absolutely, positively not live without?

Well, how far are we going back? I could not do without indoor plumbing. Could not, could not. I do not camp. For that reason, and bugs.

2. What modern convenience/invention do you wish had never seen the light of day? Why?

I’m not a big fan of cell phones, although I have one. I’m tired of thinking that every other person in the street has schizophrenia because they’re talking to an unknown person only to discover the dreaded cell phone. And they talk loud because, you know, NY is a loud place. And more than once I’ve replied to someone who was actually talking to a phone. “and, hello to you too!”

3. Do you own a music-playing device older than a CD player? More than one? If so, do you use it (them)?

I just retired my turntable because of space issues, but does a first generation ipod count?

4. Do you find the rapid change in our world exciting, scary, a mix...or something else?
I find it Exciting, except for global warming and war. But war has always been with us, alas

5. What did our forebears have that we have lost and you'd like to regain? Bonus points if you have a suggestion of how to begin that process.
Well, my forbears had space and unfortunately for my family, that was the final frontier. I miss that. I guess we could move to a place where space is affordable, but I love NY.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Getting Married...again

To the same BL, just this time it's going to be legal. The first time it was at Congregation Beth Simchat Torah-the only and the biggest glbt synagogue in NYC. The rabbi wouldn't marry us as I'm not Jewish, so we had to find our own rabbi, Ellen Lippman.

In 1972 when I came to NYC from Ohio, homosexuality was still a mental illness. Who knew that a short 36 years later I would be able to legally marry my beloved of 17 years (even if I have to leave the country to do it,)

Anyone live in Toronto that can be witness for us (this means you Revgals!) It's going to be 1:00 on May 26th.

This time, the city of Toronto is delighted to marry us and it will be legal and recognized by both my (NY State) and the BL's employers. It'll be Mrs & Mrs. and I'm so excited!