Historic gay shop to close
NEW YORK CITY — The nation’s oldest gay and lesbian bookstore has announced it will close as the American and global economies continue to spiral out of control.

Oscar Wilde Bookshop, just yards from the Stonewall Inn on Christopher St. in Greenwich Village, opened in 1967. Since then it has come close to shutting down several times, including once in 2003 when the owner of the Washington, D.C. Lambda Rising Books swooped in and saved the failing business.

In its early days and throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Oscar Wilde served as a community center and meeting place. Newly out LGBTs, youth and others wanting to get connected with New York City gay society went to the bookstore for conversation, news and friendship.

The store’s current owner, Kim Brinster, says she will close the shop on March 29. They’ll keep taking online orders through mid-March.

Anti-gay marriage bill defeated
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The Wyoming State House of Representatives on Feb. 6 voted down a proposed anti-gay, anti-family marriage amendment.

A two-thirds majority was needed to pass the amendment. Wyoming law already prohibits recognition of same-sex relationships.

Thirty states nationwide have adopted constitutional bans on same-sex marriage. North Carolina remains the only state in the Southeastern U.S. without such an amendment, although state law currently forbids gay marriage.

Blade owner in Fed receivership
WASHINGTON, D.C. — An investment firm with a controlling share of an LGBT news and magazine publishing company has been forced into a receivership by the Small Business Administration, as originally reported by New York City’s Gay City News on Feb. 6.

Avalon, which holds a majority share of Window Media, owner of several publications including The Washington Blade, The Southern Voice and Genre magazine, has consistently borrowed money from the SBA since 2000, acquiring some $38 million to buy more properties and finance its already existing publications. In the deal with the SBA, Avalon was to have at least half of the loan value in assets.

The SBA has filed suit against Avalon and records indicated that the investment firm’s assets had fallen below the required $19 million value. The receivership will split Avalon’s assets. According to the Gay City News report, the SBA might be able to collect as much as 63 cents per dollar for investors and taxpayers with the process lasting three or more years.

Avalon also holds a non-majority share in HX Media, owners of HX magazine and The New York Blade.

Gay man appointed to Faith Office
WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Barack Obama has appointed an openly gay man to help lead the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Fred Davie, director of Public/Private Ventures, was appointed to the office’s governing council at the beginning of February. He’ll be one of 25 appointees and serve a one-year term alongside secular and religious leaders.

The Office on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships assists the White House in promoting local and community improvement.

“There is a force for good greater than government,” Obama said after the appointment. “It is an expression of faith, this yearning to give back, this hungering for a purpose larger than our own, that reveals itself not simply in places of worship, but in senior centers and shelters, schools and hospitals, and any place an American decides.”

The President added, “If you get a federal grant, you can’t use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can’t discriminate against them — or against the people you hire — on the basis of their religion.”

Employment protections nixed
RICHMOND, Va. — The GOP-controlled Virginia House of Delegates has staved off an attempted passage of LGBT employment rights.

A bill sponsored and introduced by openly gay Del. Adam Ebbin would have protected employees in the public sphere from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In the General Laws subcommittee of the House, Republicans managed to effectively kill the bill for the rest of the legislative session.

Republican Del. Todd Gilbert said the measure “may not be in the best interest of our society.” A majority of the House of Delegates’ Democrats had signed on to support the bill.

Ebbin’s bill would have made it illegal to discriminate against public employees on the basis of “race, color, religion, national origin, sex, pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, age, marital status, disability, sexual orientation, or status as a special disabled veteran or other veteran covered by the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Act of 1974, as amended.”

Anti-gay student group loses
SAN DIEGO, Calif. — A Christian student group discriminating against Jews and gays has lost a court battle in which they argued their public schools had no right to ban them from campus.

Every Nation Campus Ministries had attempted to gain official student organization recognition from San Diego State University and Long Beach State University. The two campuses originally refused to recognize the groups because they would not conform to the campus’ non-discrimination policy.

Federal District Judge Larry A. Burns decided that the non-discrimination policy does not infringe on the rights of religious or faith groups who deny openly gay students membership in their organization. The student group had argued that complying with the non-discrimination policy would have violated its rights to free speech, freedom of religion and free association.
The case is likely to be appealed.

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