Legal Briefs
Newark Priest Alleges in Suit That N.Y. Cardinal Is Gay

Washington Blade
February 17, 2006

NEW YORK—A Roman Catholic priest who is suing the church claims Cardinal Edward Egan is gay, the Village Voice reported last week. The lawsuit, pending in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, was filed on Dec. 13 by Bob Hoatson — a 53-year-old New Jersey priest considered a stalwart ally among survivors of sexual abuse by clergy. Hoatson, the now-suspended chaplain for Catholic Charities in Newark, is suing Egan and nine other Catholic officials and institutions, claiming a pattern of "retaliation and harassment" that began after Hoatson alleged a cover-up of clergy abuse in New York and started helping victims. The priest-turned-advocate claims in his 44-page lawsuit that Egan is "actively homosexual," and that Hoatson has "personal knowledge of this." The lawsuit names two other top Catholic clerics in the region as actively gay: Albany Bishop Howard Hubbard and Newark Archbishop John Myers. Hoatson claims that as leaders of a church requiring celibacy and condemning homosexuality, actively gay bishops are too afraid of being exposed themselves to turn in pedophile priests. Joseph Zwilling, Egan's spokesperson, denies the allegations, saying, "There is no truth to any of the statements he has made concerning Cardinal Egan," reported the Village Voice. His counterpart in the Newark archdiocese, James Goodness, calls the charges "patently untrue."

N.J. high court hears gay marriage case

TRENTON, N.J. (AP)— The New Jersey Supreme Court heard arguments Feb. 15 on whether the state can constitutionally exclude gay couples from marrying. Activists on both sides of the issue held rallies outside the court. The state Attorney General's office, which is defending New Jersey's straight-only marriage law, argued the Legislature should make such important and controversial decisions. Supporters of gay marriage say the court is the appropriate venue. "Courts get involved when there is a problem with a constitutional line," said David Buckel, the lead counsel for Lambda Legal, which is representing the seven same-sex couples suing the state for the right to marry. Denying marriages to two men or two women is akin to denying a man and a woman of different races the right to marry, Buckell argued.

N.Y. high court rules D.P. benefit law invalid

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) —The state's highest court, dealing a victory to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, on Feb. 14 ruled an anti-discrimination law passed by the City Council over the mayor's objections was invalid. The Equal Benefits Law, enacted by the council over the mayor's veto in June 2004, had required the city to do business only with contractors and property owners that provide the same benefits for the domestic partners of employees as they do for the spouses of employees. Bloomberg initially refused to enforce the law but was ordered to do so after the Council sued in Supreme Court. The council argued that the mayor's refusal to carry out the law had upset the separation of powers. The high court, in a 4-3 vote, upheld an appeals court ruling that the city statute conflicted with competitive bidding requirements in state law and was invalid.

Fla. high court hears marriage amendment case

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — An anti-gay marriage amendment in Florida should be thrown out as unconstitutional because it "deceives the voter," the ACLU argued before the Florida Supreme Court on Feb. 8. Backers of the amendment, the Florida Coalition to Protect Marriage, failed to get the 611,009 certified signatures they needed by Feb. 1 to qualify the measure for the 2006 ballot. But they have now set their sights on placing the same amendment on the 2008 ballot. "The amendment tries to trick the voter into thinking they're just voting on marriage when, in fact, it goes much further, putting a range of protections for relationships at risk," said ACLU attorney Leslie Cooper. The amendment reaches not just marriage but "the substantial equivalent."

Hawaii agrees to protect gay youth in prison

HONOLULU (AP) — The state announced an agreement with the Department of Justice last week to make "sweeping and comprehensive changes" at Hawaii's only youth prison. The deal came after U.S. District Judge Michael Seabright granted a preliminary injunction against the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility. A lawsuit against the prison was brought by the ACLU on behalf of gay, lesbian, and transgender youth. The injunction said court records were "replete with documents and testimonial evidence demonstrating verbal harassment and abuse'' of inmates by prison officials." Lois Perrin, the legal director for ACLU Hawaii, said the injunction would ensure that inmates "are free from discrimination and abuse, which is rampant at that facility."


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.