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Saturday, February 02, 2002

GLBT NEWZ 02/02/02 Information is power!

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Contact: Julian Potter
Phone: 202-216-1538
Friday, Feb. 1, 2002
Partners Add Momentum to Shareholder Resolution and Boycott
WASHINGTON - The Coalition to Promote Equality at ExxonMobil announced today
that 40 statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organizations have
joined its efforts to convince ExxonMobil to treat its employees fairly and
offer them equal benefits for equal work.
"This campaign against the corporate irresponsibility of ExxonMobil
is gaining momentum and will only continue to expand," said activist Julian
Potter, who is coordinating the coalition. Potter, former White House
liaison to the GLBT community, was hired last year by the Human Rights
Campaign to help manage its call for a boycott of ExxonMobil. As a result of
Potter's efforts, the boycott broadened into a wider call for basic equality
for GLBT workers at ExxonMobil, and a growing coalition of concerned
Americans has endorsed its goals.
"The participation of these key statewide groups will give our
campaign a jolt of energy, increase the number of supporters for the
shareholder resolution campaign, the boycott and other measures, and put
ExxonMobil on notice that our community's efforts are intensifying," Potter
"We will mobilize our members and let them know that ExxonMobil
devalues their relationships and that they should patronize other companies
that understand fairness and equality," said Diane Hardy-Garcia, executive
director of the Lesbian and Gay Rights Lobby of Texas, which has joined the
coalition. "Sending a clear message to ExxonMobil that we will not support
discrimination is especially important to our members because the company's
headquarters is in Texas."
The Coalition to Promote Equality at ExxonMobil, formed in October
2001 at the 11th annual Out & Equal Workplace Summit, consolidates the
independent efforts of seven national organizations that have been employing
a variety of means to convince the giant oil company to include sexual
orientation and gender identity in its written non-discrimination policy and
to provide domestic partnership benefits for its employees. The seven
national partners of the coalition are: The Equality Project; Human Rights
Campaign; National Gay and Lesbian Task Force; National Transgender Advocacy
Coalition; Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays; Pride at Work
and Out & Equal Workplace Advocates.
The coalition's efforts focus on two main initiatives led by
national coalition partners the Equality Project, a shareholder activist
group based in New York, and HRC, the largest national GLBT political
organization, based in Washington. For four years, the Equality Project has
mounted campaigns asking shareholders to approve a resolution that urged
first Exxon and now ExxonMobil to amend its written equal employment
opportunity policy to explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual
orientation. On June 11, 2001, HRC announced a nationwide boycott of Exxon
and Mobil gas stations and asks consumers to cut up their ExxonMobil credit
cards, sending half to ExxonMobil and half to HRC.
"For the last several years, the New York City comptroller has been
lead filer of the shareholder resolution urging ExxonMobil to reverse it
stance. This reflects the fact that New Yorkers -- whether they be straight
or gay -- overwhelmingly reject anti-gay discrimination in any form," said
Joe Grabarz, executive director of New York's Empire State Pride Agenda,
another coalition member. "The lesbian and gay community in New York is
strongly behind his efforts and is glad to join with other LGBT statewide
groups to let ExxonMobil know that there is a broad base of opposition
throughout the country to its anti-gay bigotry."
"We are proud to join the coalition because we believe anti-gay
discrimination is wrong," said Sean Kosofsky, director of policy for
Triangle Foundation, Michigan's statewide LGBT organization. "ExxonMobil's
policies directly affect the livelihood of gay, lesbian, bisexual and
transgender people. A person's sexual orientation has nothing to do with
their merit and should not be a factor in employment. In a world where you
have to work to survive, no one should lose their job or be denied equal pay
for equal work because of who they are. If ExxonMobil does not prohibit
anti-gay discrimination, then they permit it. We will be telling our members
to stop fueling discrimination."
The new statewide groups that have joined the coalition are:
Action Wisconsin: A Congress for Human Rights
Arizona Human Rights Fund
Arkansas Equality Network
Basic Rights Oregon
California Alliance for Pride and Equality
Cimarron Alliance Group
Coalition for Equality in New Mexico
Connecticut Coalition for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Civil Rights
Empire State Pride Agenda
Equal Rights Colorado
Equal Rights Nevada
Equality Florida
Equality Mississippi
Equality North Carolina
Equality Tennessee
Fairness Lobby
Freedom Coalition of Lawrence, Kansas
Free State Justice
Gay and Lesbian Alliance of Alabama
Gender Identity Center of Colorado
It's Time, Illinois!
Lesbian and Gay Rights Lobby of Texas
Louisiana Lesbian and Gay Political Action Caucus
Maine Lesbian Gay Political Alliance
Michigan Equality
Mississippi Gay and Lesbian Alliance
New Mexico Gender Advocacy Information Network
New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy (NYAGRA)
PRIDE Inc. (Montana)
PROMO (Missouri)
Rhode Island Alliance for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights
Statewide Pennsylvania Rights Coalition
Triangle Foundation
TS/TG Society
United Gays and Lesbians of Wyoming Inc.
Unity Utah
Vermont Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights
Virginians for Justice
West Virginia Lesbian and Gay Coalition.
Your Family, Friends, and Neighbors, Speak Out Idaho! Project
More information about the Coalition to Promote Equality at ExxonMobil is available at

NBC, HBO spar over Shepard films / Network
Friday, February 1, 2002 / 03:23 PM
SUMMARY: Coming to your television screen next month: two new films based on Matthew Shepard's death on two different networks on the same night.
Coming to your television screen next month: two new films based on Matthew Shepard's death on two different networks on the same night.
Two weeks after HBO announced its March 16 premiere date for "The Laramie Project," the NBC television network has scheduled its own film, also based on the slaying of Matthew Shepard, for the same evening.
The Los Angeles Times reports that NBC executives were unaware of HBO's schedule when they decided on the premiere date for "The Matthew Shepard Story," starring Stockard Channing and Sam Waterston as Shepard's parents.
Executives at the pay channel Home Box Office (HBO), however, told the Times that NBC was trying to either undermine "The Laramie Project" or "piggyback" on HBO's publicity for the film.
"The Laramie Project" is adapted from Moises Kaufman's stage play about the 1998 murder of gay college student Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyo.
HBO announced the film's March 16 premiere date in a Jan. 18 press release.
Scott Seomin, entertainment media director of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, praised both films and told the Times he was disappointed about the networks' scheduling conflict.
"If they're competing against each other, no one wins," he said. Executives from both networks hinted that their March 16 schedules may not be final.

Six men booked in Bourbon St. bashing

Police in New Orleans have charged six men with a hate crime after a Saturday night incident on Bourbon Street, where they say two other men were verbally and physically gay-bashed, The [New Orleans] Times-Picayune reports. Police say the perpetrators--John Jordan (19), Justin McGee (19), Shawn McGee (21), and Alan Case (20), all of Slidell; Richard McGee (19) of Baton Rouge; and Austin Levalley (18) of New Orleans--approached the two victims, a 20- and 29-year-old, and called them "fags." When one of the victims denied being gay, Jordan stepped forward and punched the 20-year-old in the face, police said, adding that the other five men then surrounded the victims and called them "fags" and "queers" while beating and kicking them. The victims did not require hospitalization, although one of them had an inch-long cut on his nose. The accused men are scheduled to appear in court for a preliminary hearing on March 27.


Columbia U. coach apologizes for slur

Armond Hill, head basketball coach at New York's Columbia University, has issued an apology after calling a trombone player from Cornell University a "faggot" during a recent game between the two schools, University Wire reports. In a letter addressed to the communities of both schools, Hill admitted that he used the slur and called his actions "inappropriate," "thoughtless," and "offensive." "This kind of behavior is unacceptable," he said, "and it is not representative of me or the way I think or conduct myself on a daily basis." The slur followed heckles from the Cornell pep band during a recent basketball game. Hill said he heard derogatory comments from the band and then confronted trombone player Chad Potocky and asked him to repeat the comment. When Potocky refused, Hill aid, "That's what I thought, faggot."


Spanish priest comes out

A priest in Andalusia, Spain, has come out in the Madrid gay magazine Zero, Agence France-Presse reports, becoming the first Catholic official in Spain to acknowledge his homosexuality. "I Thank God for Being Gay," the headline reads on the story featuring 39-year-old Father Jose Montero. Montero told the magazine that he loves the church but is disgusted by the "silence and guilt" it imposes on its gay members. "At first my life was full on contradictions, but I'm happy with the situation now," said Montero, who is photographed sporting a trimmed beard and an earring in one ear. "You have to defend such issues from inside," Montero continued. "It's impossible from outside. And the love of [the church] is an essential factor in this internal struggle."


New TV series from Rupert Everett, Will & Grace creators delayed

Syndicated columnist Romeo San Vicente reports that Rupert Everett's new sitcom, Mr. Ambassador, has been pushed back by NBC from fall 2002 to mid season. Sources say that Everett isn't entirely satisfied with the show's premise and that he is still looking for writers who can fix things to his liking. There exists the possibility that the show's concept--a British diplomat based in Washington, D.C.--may be overhauled completely by the time the show airs. NBC has committed to producing 13 episodes of the series. Also going back to the drawing board at NBC is an untitled sitcom from Will & Grace creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick. The series was originally about three couples, two straight and one gay, but now it's a backstage comedy about a downtrodden TV producer who takes over a failing morning news show. While the lead character on this new show--which also has a 13-episode commitment from the network--will not be gay, sources did not rule out the possibility of gay supporting characters.

Ads Attack RC Condom Ban

by Jack Siu Newscenter in Toronto
(February 2, Toronto) An international billboard campaign condemning the ban on condoms by the Roman Catholic Church was unveiled Friday in Toronto.
"Because the bishops ban condoms, innocent people die. Catholic people care. Do our bishops?" the billboards say, accusing the church of helping spread AIDS.
The campaign is sponsored by an American liberal Roman Catholic group, Catholics for a Free Choice.
The first two billboards went up in prominent areas. One, near Skydome in the Entertainment District, the other in the west end in an area frequented by prostitutes.
They will stay up for three months, but Catholics for a Free Choice say later this month the ads will go up in a dozen other countries where AIDS is on the rise including Mexico, Belgium, the Philippines, Italy, Bolivia, Kenya, South Africa, Chile and Zimbabwe.
The group said it chose Toronto to launch the campaign because Pope John Paul will visit the city in July to mark Catholic World Youth Day.
She said there likely will be a stepped-up campaign in Toronto -- with transit advertising -- when the estimated 400,000 to 500,000 young people arrive for the event.
Catholics for a Free Choice launched a test campaign in the Washington, DC transit system in January and ran into vehement opposition from the Roman Catholic archdiocese, which attempted to have the advertisements removed.
Joanna Manning, a former nun who is a Canadian member of Catholics for a Free Choice, said the church -- by banning condoms which contributes to the spread of AIDS -- sends young people the message that it encourages death. "The Pope will say that safe sex is not to have sex at all, but that's unreasonable," Manning said.

South African Military Fights Gay Order

by Jon ben Asher Newscenter in London
(February 2, Durban) An order opening South Africa's military to gays and lesbians is not sitting well in the ranks.
A survey has found that less than a quarter of SA National Defence Force members are comfortable with the idea
Almost half of the army strongly oppose the notion.
The survey done at the request of the Equal Opportunities Chief Directorate and published in the latest edition of SA Soldier, the official monthly magazine of the South African National Defence Force.
The researchers conclude: "There is still a lot of prejudice regarding gays and lesbians in the military" and recommended a major education campaign.
A total of 2,448 members completed a questionnaire on their attitude on the issue. They were asked to respond to the following statement: "I feel good about the integration of gays and lesbians in the military".
About 24 percent agreed or strongly agreed, while 48 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed. Another 27 percent were not certain. About 47 percent felt the integration of gays and lesbians would lead to a loss of military effectiveness.

Suit Against Gay Bank To Proceed

by Newscenter Staff
(February 2, Miami) A U.S. District Court Judge is refusing to drop a suit by the founder of GL Bank against the current officers of the company.
Judge Roger Vinson denied a motion by the bank and its officers to dismiss Steven Dunlap's lawsuit against them.
Dunlap has filed two lawsuits against G&L Holding Group Inc., president Kay Griffith and officer Keith Cotham, alleging, in the first, "breach of an employment agreement and the ownership and right to use a federally registered trademark" and in a second suit, "misappropriation and conversion of a banking concept and related causes of action for unfair and deceptive trade practices, fraud and civil conspiracy." The suits were later combined.
Dunlap, a businessman but not a banker, was advised prior to opening that to raise capital he needed to hire an experienced banking officer, resulting in the hiring of Griffith. He was later moved from chairman to business development and marketing director, and then ousted.
Dunlap earlier lost a round in the legal sparring when a judge denied his request for a temporary restraining order to prevent the owners from selling off the bank's assets.
Meanwhile, the bank may be closed before the issue gets to trial. Its board of directors voted last summer to liquidate the bank unless it could be sold. Papers filed with the Office of Thrift Supervision gave March 31 as a tentative closing date, but Griffith said Wednesday, "That's not what that date means.
"We're still looking at a variety of things," she said.
Dunlap said he's tried to contact directors and bank attorneys with a purchase offer but has gotten no response. The bank is sound but unprofitable. In proposing its dissolution, the bank advised the Office of Thrift Supervision in a letter Oct. 1 that it was losing approximately $280,000 a month and had lost $10 million since opening in 1999.

Enza Pulls Out

February 1, 2002
This morning (January 31) at a Media Conference in Toronto, ENZA SUPERMODEL ANDERSON, Canada's only Drag Queen politician officially withdrew from the Canadian Alliance Leadership race.
Here are excerpts from her remarks...
" You know, back in December, just six weeks ago, who would have thought that a Drag Queen could run for Stockwell Day's job? Probably very few!
Who would have thought that a Drag Queen would have the balls to speak in front of 400 staunch Canadian Alliance members in Chatham, Ontario? To hold them accountable for their past sins of racism, bigotry and homophobia? Probably very few!
Yet dozens of these people came up to me afterwards to congratulate me and say, "this was what the Canadian Alliance Party really needed to hear!"
Folks, this has been an incredible ride, and I truly believe that I've already made a big difference in Canadian politics.
My website, , has had over 200,000 visitors.. and I've received well over 6,000 emails in support of my campaign.
In just six weeks my fabulous team and I have managed to come up with well over the 300 people required to nominate me, from all over Canada, in 85 different ridings, in all 10 provinces. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR FAITH IN ME!!! Without you folks I'm NOBODY!!!
Every media poll, serious or not, has had me on top.... Literally! So I've pinched a few nerves in Canadian politics.
And you guys, the media all across this great country of ours, are so supportive. Legs up to you girls and boys!
While we did receive some help from some Bay Street people, it didn't come close to reaching our goal. To date, we have raised about $7,500.. Not enough to get us there!
For the past few days I've had my legal team looking into the possibility of mounting a court challenge under Section Three of the Canadian Charter, which basically states that every citizen has the right to run in an election regardless of their personal financial means.
However, I've been told that this challenge would cost in excess of a quarter of a million dollars, and would take several years to reach the Supreme Court of Canada. We have neither the resources nor the time.
I really don't want to lay any blame, but I have to tell you that getting people to sign up to be a member of the Canadian Alliance was like ripping pantyhose. Hands up - those of you who know how to rip pantyhose???
People would say, "ENZA, I want to support you but I just cannot bring myself to join the Alliance Party because they really FREAK me out."
That, Ladies and Gentlemen was the biggest stumbling block I encountered and I really believe that the lack of support for my nomination bid is a scathing indictment on the Canadian Alliance for their racist, bigoted and homophobic views.
So... unless some sugar daddy comes along in the next few hours. and maybe CONRAD BLACK might like to get involved - with my campaign that is. or someone like him, then honey, I'm toast! Thank you!"
ENZA then presented a cheque for $700 to Kyle Scanlon, Executive Director of the LESBIAN, GAY BI YOUTH LINE". The cheque was part of an agreement reached by organizers of the fundraising party they put on for ENZA at the MOCKINGBIRD last week. If ENZA did not make the ballot then all funds raised at this party would be donated to the Youth Line. (C) 2002 BBC Monitoring European - Political. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved

Red Cross Eases Sept. 11 Fund Rules

February 1, 2002,
The American Red Cross said yesterday that it would widen eligibility for the millions of dollars collected since Sept. 11, making money more available to domestic partners, fiances and extended family members of the terrorism victims. The charity also said that rather than parcel out the money over several years, it would respect the wishes of families that have asked for prompt cash assistance.
In distributing the $360 million remaining in its Liberty Fund, the organization said, it would help cover an additional three months of living expenses for those affected, hand out cash gifts of $45,000 to the injured and to estates of the deceased, and help "nontraditional family members," including gay partners, who demonstrate compelling financial need.
With the added assistance, the Red Cross estimates it will disburse an average of $109,000 in cash and other assistance to those who were seriously injured Sept. 11 and the families of those who died in New York, Arlington and Pennsylvania.
In announcing the plan, agency officials said they now expect the Liberty Fund to reach $850 million in contributions, a huge increase from as recently as three weeks ago. Although the Red Cross stopped active fundraising in October, donations continue to come in from companies marketing products or services with the promise of giving a portion of the proceeds to the organization. Such third-party donations helped boost the Liberty Fund from $543 million in November to $732 million in mid-January.
The Red Cross came under heavy criticism last year when it said that part of the unprecedented giving to the Liberty Fund would be used for projects not directly related to the events of Sept. 11. The agency reversed course in mid-November, apologizing to the public and pledging to spend the entire fund on victims of the attacks.
So far, the charity has spent $490 million, including aid to 3,128 families, to rescue workers and to people who were displaced from their homes or lost their jobs, Red Cross officials said. About 500 families have declined assistance. Officials promised yesterday to distribute about 90 percent of the remaining $360 million by Sept. 11.
Yesterday's announcement in New York was made by top Red Cross officials and former senator George Mitchell (D-Maine), who was tapped by the charity in December to be an independent overseer. Mitchell said he met with dozens of victims, several victims groups and government officials.
Foremost among the families' requests was that the remaining funds be disbursed "promptly and fairly," he said. "There was a strong sentiment that the victims themselves are in the best position to assess their own needs and to choose how best to use the funds in meeting those needs."
Family members had generally positive reactions to the announcement. Carie Lemack, president of Families of September 11 Inc., a Falls Church-based group that represents more than 600 victims and their families, praised the charity for adding nontraditional family members, such as domestic partners and nondependent children, to the pool of those eligible for needs-based relief. She added: "The words sound good, but we really want to see the action."
The plan has three major parts:
$240 million in assistance for those directly affected.
The family gift program is being extended from nine months to cover a full year of living expenses for families of the dead and those seriously injured. The three-month extension will cost about $40 million.
The agency also will distribute the one-time gifts of about $45,000 to the seriously injured and the estates of the dead, which will total about $125 million.
An added $15 million is being set aside to assist members of extended families and nontraditional families, based on their financial need.
The plan also allocates $60 million to help displaced residents, disaster workers and those economically affected because of their proximity to the World Trade Center.
$80 million over three to five years to cover mental health needs and uncovered physical health care.
$25 million to assist with the continuing disaster needs of the communities affected, and about $15 million to cover direct, administrative costs of the relief effort.
The Red Cross is one of several charities helping the Sept. 11 victims. The September 11th Fund, a joint effort of the United Way of New York City and the New York Community Trust, has raised $438 million and disbursed about $160 million in grants to organizations for immediate relief.
Over the next several months, the organization will decide how to spend the rest. Executive Director Joshua Gotbaum said yesterday that the fund expects to spend significant amounts on longer-term needs such as counseling, financial advice and job retraining. Copyright 2002 The Washington Post Company

Canada Law Group Calls for Gay Marriage

February 1, 2002, PlanetOut
The Law Commission of Canada has called on the federal government to legalize gay and lesbian marriage.
In a study released in Ottawa, the commission said: "There is no justification for maintaining the current distinctions between same-sex and heterosexual conjugal unions in the light of current understandings of the state's interests in marriage."
The Law Commission is an independent, government-funded group that advises Parliament on law reform.
The study said marriage should provide a framework in which people can express their commitment to each other regardless of sexual orientation.
The study noted that two years ago Parliament recognized same-sex couples, giving many of the same benefits and obligations as other common-law couples, but it excluded same-sex couples from legal marriages.
The president of the commission, Nathalie Des Rosiers, said that denying gays and lesbians the right to marry, "amounts to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation" and is illegal under the equal protections section of the Constitution.
Des Rosiers chastised Parliament for not having the courage to legitimize gay marriage.
"If governments are to continue to maintain an institution called marriage, they cannot do so in a discriminatory fashion," the law commission report said.
The study suggests that if the government is not prepared to go all the way in one piece of legislation, it should do so in stages.
Des Rosiers said the first step might be introducing a national partnership union registry. Nova Scotia already has a registry. Quebec is studying a plan to have one in that province.
The exclusion of same-sex marriage is being challenged in the courts and will likely end up in the Supreme Court of Canada. If the court rules that excluding gays and lesbians from marriage is discriminatory, Parliament would be required to pass enabling legislation.
Copyright 2002 PlanetOut. All Rights Reserved.

NBC to offer super-sized `Will & Grace'

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - NBC liked its first round of ``super-sized'' TV shows so much last year that it's coming back for a second helping.
The network plans new extended episodes of two of its popular shows, ``Scrubs'' and ``Will & Grace,'' next Tuesday and Thursday, respectively, during the first week of the important February ``sweeps'' period.
The move harks back to a year ago, when then-newly installed programming chief Jeff Zucker put on 40-minute episodes of ``Friends'' on Thursday nights to counter CBS's decision to put its wildly popular ``Survivor'' reality series in the same time slot.
The effort produced mixed results, with ``Friends'' finishing consistently behind ``Survivor: The Australian Outback'' during last year's February sweeps.
This time, the decision to air a 38-minute episode of ``Scrubs'' on Tuesday and a 34-minute episode of ``Will & Grace'' two days later was less a tactical move and more to accommodate the shows' producers, said NBC spokeswoman Rebecca Marks.
She said the producers of the ``Will & Grace'' episode were the ones to approach Zucker about the issue.
``This time, the producers shot this incredible episode,'' she said. ``It was long, but they thought, We don't have to cut it down. Let's go to the network and see if we can supersize it.''
The situation was similar for ``Scrubs,'' Marks said.
The ``Will & Grace'' episode guest stars Matt Damon as a straight man pretending he is gay, competing with Jack, one of the show's regular characters, for the last spot in a gay chorus.
The ``Scrubs'' episode, meanwhile, features two of the show's main characters, J.D. and Elliot, as their secret romance is exposed while they work as interns at a hospital.
To accommodate the extended shows, NBC will air a shortened version of ``Dateline NBC'' on Tuesday after ``Scrubs.'' On Thursday, it will push back its entire lineup by four minutes after the extended ``Will & Grace.'' Both episodes will likely be edited down afterward to the standard length for sale in the syndicated markets, although no formal decision has been made, Marks said.

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Friday, February 01, 2002

GLBT NEWZ 02/01/02 Information is power!

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State of the Union Neglects AIDS

With 25 million people already dead and 40 million infected, the global HIV/AIDS epidemic is set to surpass the Black Death as the worst plague ever to afflict mankind.
Relentlessly, the virus continues its assault on the human race with 8,000 people dying every day. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 40,000 people will become infected with HIV this year.
Yet, President Bush in pointing out the "unprecedented dangers" faced by the nation in his State of the Union address, somehow fails to mention HIV/AIDS.
Financial Neglect
It is a tragedy of these times that the president's superb leadership in the fight against terrorism is not mirrored in his response to HIV/AIDS. Almost daily announcements from this administration disappoint.
Scientists and economists have estimated that $10 billion a year could halt rising death tolls and infection rates in the developing world. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has established the Global AIDS Fund to collect and distribute the needed monies.
Monday's announcement from the Bush administration that the U.S. would contribute only $200 million is not only an embarrassment, but paltry support from the world's richest country almost certainly dooms the fund to failure.
Overseas Family Planning
Financial neglect is compounded by policy gaffes. For instance, one of Bush's first executive orders re-imposed the Mexico City Policy.
This policy prevents the federal government from funding overseas family planning efforts. This action obstructs attempts to tackle HIV/AIDS in the developing world.
HIV prevention and counseling for sexual and mother to child transmission are part of the constellation of family planning services. Additionally, many family planning clinics diagnose and treat sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Co-infection with STDs makes persons infected with HIV more infectious and uninfected persons more susceptible to HIV infection. Funding family planning clinics is an essential component of any plan to fight the epidemic.
Homeland Epidemic
Domestically, the situation is becoming dire. Last year, budget shortfalls caused 17 states to restrict access to the AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP), which pays for life-saving anti-HIV medications.
With state budgets constrained by the slowing economy and the president calling on Congress to "restrain the federal budget," this state of affairs can only worsen.
Abstinence Based Programs
Hopes that Bush might base his HIV/AIDS policy on science were dashed by last week's announcement that Tom Coburn, a former congressman, will co-chair the President's Advisory Council on HIV and AIDS. Coburn is noted for his advocacy of abstinence-only HIV prevention programs.
This stance is contradicted by the surgeon general's report last year demonstrating that abstinence-only programs are ineffective.
Coburn couples this position with opposition to the use of condoms, which have proven effective in reducing HIV transmission. He is also opposed to needle exchanges, another effective prevention technique.
Coburn's opposition has extended to attempting to block community-based groups doing needle exchanges from receiving any federal funds for any prevention programs.
HIV prevention programs that are proven to save lives need to be implemented. They should not be held hostage to moral concerns.
In these strange times, the ultimate irony may be that while Bush is winning the war against terrorism spawned by religious fundamentalism, he is losing the war against HIV/AIDS by turning the conduct of it over to religious fundamentalists.
Thomas Coates, PhD, is a professor of Medicine and director of the AIDS Research Institute at the University of California, San Francisco.
Stephen Morin, PhD, is an associate professor of Medicine and Director of the AIDS Policy Research Center at the University of California, San Francisco.
Jeff Sheehy is deputy director of Communications for the AIDS Research Unit at the University of California, San Francisco. Copyright 2001 All rights reserved.

Nevada: Defense Says Unwanted Homosexual Advance Led to Killing

by Glenn Puit
A defense attorney told jurors Wednesday that an unwanted homosexual advance led to an April killing that one prosecutor has termed a possible hate crime.
Deputy Public Defender Tom Ericsson said his client, Gregory Amato, resolved to teach Jimmie Ingle a lesson after the married California man made a pass at him in the desert outside Laughlin.
But he said Amato never intended to kill Ingle. And as he left the scene, Amato had no idea of the severity of the beating he had administered, the attorney said.
"There was a physical, sexual advance made and the two of them got into a very serious, very strenuous fight," Ericsson said.
Clark County Deputy District Attorney Marc DiGiacomo told jurors that on the night of the killing, Amato and Ingle met at a gay bar.
The two then traveled to the desert off James Bilbray Road in Laughlin, where Ingle was bludgeoned with a 13-pound rock.
DiGiacomo said evidence will show that the defendant used the victim's truck and credit cards in the hours after the incident.
"One theory could be it's a hate crime," DiGiacomo said. "Another potential theory is that this defendant could be gay, and that he is preying on other people who are gay."
Amato maintains he is heterosexual.
Amato, 37, of Bullhead City, Ariz., is charged with murder in the death of Ingle, 57, of Needles, Calif. He also is charged with burglary, robbery, grand larceny of an auto, fraudulent use of credit cards and possession of a stolen vehicle.
Ericsson said Amato and Ingle went to smoke marijuana in the desert outside of Laughlin, where Ingle made a pass at Amato.
Ericsson said Amato acknowledges the advance angered him, and said his client knew when he left the scene that he had gotten the better of Ingle. But he said Amato had no idea the fight would lead to Ingle's death.
"We are not here to deny he was mad and that he was going to teach Mr. Ingle a lesson," Ericsson said.
DiGiacomo told the jury that after the slaying, Ingle's truck and credit cards were stolen. The cards were later used to book a hotel room and to buy gas, cigarettes and beer in both Laughlin and Bullhead City.
Some of those purchases, at a Wal-Mart and gas stations, were captured on security videotape, DiGiacomo said, and Amato is the individual pictured in the stores.
DiGiacomo said a prostitute will testify that Amato picked her up on the night of the slaying. The woman, whom the prosecutor described as a drug addict, will testify that Amato identified himself as Ingle, and that the two stayed the night at a motel in Bullhead City. There, Amato offered to sell her Ingle's pickup for $500.
The woman went to a park in Bullhead City, turned some tricks to gather money and then purchased the truck for about $300. DiGiacomo said the prostitute will testify that Amato made an incriminating statement during a subsequent meeting with her. "I can't believe you bought the story about the truck," DiGiacomo quoted Amato as saying. "This is a dead man's truck." Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal, 1997 - 2002

UPS Weighs Next Move Against Seller of Dolls for Gay Men

by Julia D. Gray (Fulton County Daily Report)
United Parcel Service is weighing its legal options after an online marketer of novelty dolls for gay men failed to respond to the company's cease-and-desist letters.
In October, Atlanta-based King & Spalding, UPS' outside trademark counsel, asked, based in California, and Billy doll manufacturer Totem International Ltd., based in London, to stop production and sales of the plastic figure in the brown uniform. King & Spalding claims the dolls infringe on UPS' trademark.
Totem has agreed to stop making the dolls, but has ignored two letters from Atlanta-based UPS, according to UPS spokesman Norman Black. Now the company must decide if it wants to pursue litigation -- and maybe bring more attention to the doll -- or ignore what the other side terms a parody figurine. Until Jan. 17 when they sold out, UPS had asked to hand over the dolls for destruction.
The Billy Packaging Service doll, an anatomically correct plastic figure, is dressed in a brown uniform with a package-shaped logo. Both accouterments are similar to the UPS trademark, King & Spalding lawyers say.
The doll sold for $45.95 on, which touts itself as a "gay and lesbian online shopping mall," until all versions of the doll -- a blond Caucasian, a Latino and an African-American -- sold out.
Six of the dolls were available on Wednesday. First bids ranged from $99 to $400. Black says UPS has not contacted eBay about the Billy doll.
Audy C. Morgan III, co-owner of, says the BPS dolls are clearly parodies of UPS' familiar deliverymen. "The whole line is basically a novelty. ... It's something for fun," Morgan said in early January. Now that Totem "caved in to the pressure by UPS," Morgan wrote in an e-mail to the Daily Report , he won't be able to sell any more dolls. And he has a 300-person waiting list for the BPS line, he says.
Morgan says he hasn't heard from UPS or its attorneys since King & Spalding trademark partner Thomas H. Curtin sent a second letter to him in late December. "Why would they [contact me again] at this point unless they want to press for our sales records," Morgan wrote in the e-mail. That's "[s]omething that we will emphatically NOT give to them."
Curtin did not return a call. Copyright 2002 All Rights Reserved.

Gay-themed comedy tops German box office

BBC News reports that a comedy about a gay American Indian was Germany's most popular film of 2001, topping even Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (as the film is titled in Europe). Der Schuh Des Manitu (The Shoe of the Manitu) sold 10.8 million tickets, just ahead of Harry Potter's 10.4 million. Directed and costarring Michael "Bully" Herbig, Manitu tells the story of an Apache chief who is trying to finance a new saloon. The film's success is being credited with rekindling international interest in the German movie market.


Pussy Palace Charges Tossed

Police Violated Women's Civil Rights: Judge
by Jan Prout Newscenter in Toronto
(February 1, Toronto) A Toronto judge spent two hours Thursday, criticizing Toronto police for violating the rights of women during a raid on a lesbian bathhouse.
Justice Peter Hryn dismissed the charges under Ontario's Liquor Act against Jill Hornick and Rachel Aitcheson, the organizers of the Pussy Palace event, saying the police had put "the administration of justice in disrepute."
As he rendered his decision in a tiny downtown courtroom, a dozen supporters of the women burst into cheers and applause.
Five male Toronto police officers entered the Club Toronto baths, September 14, 2000 saying they were acting on a complaint that illegal activity was going on.
For more than an hour the male officers went through the five storey building, despite the fact the women were in various states of undress. Many of them were naked.
Two undercover female officers had been in the building prior to the raid but left when the male uniformed officers arrived.
In the end, no charges were laid. But, after a public outcry about the male officers roaming through the hallways gawking at the women, police laid two minor liquor charges against Hornick and Aitcheson.
Justice Hryn said the women had a "reasonable expectation of privacy." He likened the situation to a make officer conducting a strip search on a woman.
"The search was carried out in an unreasonable manner," Hryn said.
"There was no reason why male rather than female officers were used.... I find the breach to be serious. It was flagrant and outrageous. "
"The charter violations would shock the conscience of the public," Hryn said in his decision.
"The police actions contradict our fundamental notions of justice, fair play and decency."
Speaking to reporters outside the court, the lawyer for the Women's Bathhouse Committee, Frank Addario, said, "Given that this was an all-women event and given that it was a highly sexualized environment, it demanded the use of female police officers,"
Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects people from unreasonable searches, including physical searches by opposite sex police officers.
"We feel quite vindicated in this judgment," said Loralee Gillis of the Women's Bath House Committee, which organized the event.
"Hopefully this won't happen again. That's our hope."
The women have been left with legal bills totally more than $60,000. They have raised about half that amount through fundraising events. The next is March 26 at Byzantium in the heart of Toronto's gay village.
"Gays and lesbians have endured a long and painful history of police intervention in their lives," said
Ruthann Tucker.
"In every instance, we've had to win our right to live on our own terms," said Tucker.
Constable Judy Nosworthy, the liaison officer to the GLBT community said Thursday night: "Now that the Court decision has been made, it is time for the community and the police to begin the healing process."
Nosworthy said: "The GLBT Community Consultative Committee (a group made up of members of the gay community, and the police department) has been preparing for this moment and is ready to assist in directing the police service towards a better understanding of our community from the inside out." A complaint against the police is still to be heard by Ontario's Human Rights Commission.

AIDS Activists Arrested in New York

by Beth Shapiro Newscenter, in New York
(February 1, New York) Seven members of ACT-UP New York were arrested Thursday as they protested at the World Economic Forum annual meeting.
The demonstrators were charged with trespassing and reckless endangerment for climbing to a building rooftop and unfurling a banner that read, ``Bush and big biz agree that people with AIDS drop dead."
They were demanding that corporations pay for the treatment of all their workers with HIV/AIDS and that the Bush Administration substantially increase the U.S. contribution to the Global AIDS Fund.
The demonstration occurred as Prime Minister Jean Chretien and other Canadian officials were making their way into the conference at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
AIDS activists are calling for the protestors to be released from jail.
We are concerned that they will be detained until the WEF ends," stated Karyn Kaplan, HIV/AIDS Program Officer at the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.
"We call for their immediate release," Kaplan said.
"Their detention will make us neither more secure nor more prosperous," said Kaplan. "Granting access to medications to the millions of people living with HIV/AIDS will."
The United Nations Security Council confirmed in January of last year that the AIDS epidemic unaddressed is a threat to world security. James D. Wolfensohn, head of the World Bank, acknowledged then that the epidemic "is being more effective than war in destabilizing countries."
The IGLHRC accused the Bush Administration of not taking the AIDS epidemic seriously.
"The U.S. must make a earnest commitment to access to medications and health care in its vision of a new world," said Surina Khan, IGLHRC's Executive Director.
The activists suggested U.S. contribution to the Global AIDS Fund is simply not enough." The Administration announced that it would request from Congress $200 million as the U.S. contribution to the Global AIDS Fund. The World Health Organization estimated that $12 billion are needed to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria worldwide.

Guilty Plea In Assisted Suicide Case

by Peter Hacker Newscenter in Sydney
(February 1, Melbourne) A 30 year old Melbourne man has pleaded guilty to helping his AIDS ill partner die.
Through a plea bargain a murder charge against Raymond John Hood was withdrawn.
The court was told that 31-year-old Daryl Colley , who had been diagnosed with a brain tumour, publicly announced his plan to "die with dignity" and invited about 20 family and friends to a "wake" on April 20 last year.
Colley also left a suicide note and a will.
The Crown alleges that after taking a combination of prescription drugs, Scotch whisky and wine, Colley was smothered with a pillow by Hood.
Afterwards, Hood, allegedly told witnesses that the drugs had not worked so he had suffocated his lover.
"It didn't work, I had to finish him off. The bastard fought me too," he is reported to have said. Hood will be sentenced March 25.

Sperm Donor Ordered To Pay Child Support

by Newscenter Staff
(February 1, Stockholm., Sweden) A 35-year old Swedish man has been ordered to pay child support to the lesbian mom to whom he donated sperm.
The court had been told that Igor Lehnberg knew the woman, Anna Bjurling and her partner. Over several years he donated the sperm for Bjurling to have three children, now aged 10, seven, and five.
When Bjurling and her partner split up a year ago, she sued Lehnberg for child support.
Thursday, the court ruled he must pay $280 a month. The court said that a document he had signed stating he was the children's father was legally binding. Lehnberg said he signed the paper only so the children would know their origin, not to accept any responsibility to them.
He has only had limited contact with the children since they were born. He told the court that his girlfriend at the time had convinced him to help Bjurling have a family.
Swedish law gives same-sex couples in a legal union most of the same rights and obligations as married couples, but they are not allowed to adopt children or undergo artificial insemination. It's not clear where Bjurling's insemination, which would have been illegal in Sweden, was done.

GL Church Leaders To Meet In DC

Doreen Brandt Newscenter in Washington
(February 1, Washington) Leaders in the religious and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities will meet next week in Washington, DC to discuss issues of faith and sexual orientation.
Called the National Religious Leadership Roundtable it convenes twice yearly, but this session will include a public event focusing on the response to events of September 11 and the roles of progressive people of faith. The event, titled "Hate Violence: Our Response At Home and Abroad," will feature two panels of experts and a performance by a local choir.
The forum will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 4, at the Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, 5th and Ridge Streets, NW, Washington, DC.
"The GLBT community knows all too well the devastating impact of hate violence, and has long understood the relationship between hate-motivated crimes and the intolerance expressed by religious fundamentalists," said NGLTF Executive Director Lorri L. Jean.
Convened by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) and founded with Equal Partners in Faith, NRLR promotes a progressive agenda that contrasts the religious right's line on homosexuality, which champions eternal punishment and repressive "reparative" therapy.
NRLR, which has met twice a year since 1998, is an interfaith network of leaders of faith-based organizations, representing Muslim, Hindu, Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, Mormon, Black Church and other religious and spiritual traditions. "It is heartening to see progressive people of faith stepping forward and organizing to create a powerful voice against bigotry, hate and violence," Jean said.

US High School Pulls Article On Homosexuals

A US high school has pulled an article about homosexuals from its newspaper because teachers felt it was not appropriate.
The article was about public displays of affection and how homosexual students were scrutinised more by administration. Teachers at the William Chrisman High School, however, demanded the article be pulled reported KMBC, The Kansas City Channel. Students said teachers were censoring their material. A flash on the front of the college newspaper explained that an article was missing because teachers felt it was too controversial.

Scooby's Pal Outed as Lesbian?

January 31, 2002, World Entertainment News Network
Fans of SCOOBY DOO are set to get a shock in the live-action movie - when the canine's chum VELMA DINKLEY is outed as a lesbian.
According to British tabloid THE DAILY SPORT, the pudding-bowled crime-fighter, played by LEGALLY BLONDE star LINDA CARDELLINI, will kiss another girl.
TV fans have speculated for years over the sexuality of brainbox Velma and the new movie starring celeb couple SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR and FREDDIE PRINZE JR will finally confirm what sex she goes for. A source says, "She finally comes out of the closet in the film."

Christina Ricci's Lesbian Flick

January 30, 2002, World Entertainment News Network
Hollywood babe CHRISTINA RICCI is getting rid of her former child star status - by stripping off for lesbian sex scenes.
The 21-year-old star of THE ADDAMS FAMILY and CASPER THE FRIENDLY GHOST will get girl-on-girl action in THE SPEED QUEEN.
A friend says, "This is a real shocker. Christina will have to strip naked for scenes where she romps with women. They are pretty explicit.
"She's also planning to direct it. The sex scenes don't bother her. Christina wants them to be as explicit as possible." (c) 2002 World Entertainment News Network

Outwrite Ready for O'Donnell Book

January 31, 2002, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Outwrite Books owner Phillip Rafshoon was only planning to order a handful of copies of talk-show host Rosie O'Donnell's upcoming memoir, "Find Me" (Warner Books, $23.95) Wednesday --- until we rang and informed the Midtown retailer that O'Donnell is planning to come out as a lesbian in the tome.
"When we saw the promo material for the book, we thought it was just going to be the same old stuff," said Rafshoon. "Obviously, there will be a greater interest in the book for us now." Rafshoon says sales reps for the book haven't alluded to O'Donnell's planned admission while promoting it to retailers. Said Rafshoon: "This could reverse the hit we took on the Anne Heche memoir ['Call Me Crazy']."
While "Find Me" isn't due out until March, it was ranked as the fifth most popular pre-ordered book at Wednesday.
Jimmy Franco, the memoir's publicist at Warner Books in New York, told Buzz: "The book does deal with her whole sexuality issue, but it's not centered on the issue. Right now, I can't be more specific. It's a memoir, not a strict autobiography. The book is about Rosie's personal journey."
O'Donnell, who plans to leave her daytime talk show this spring, will tape her final program on May 22. Copyright 2002 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Boxers Condemned For Gay Taunts

British and world boxing authorities are being urged to take disciplinary action against homophobia within the sport.
The call comes from members of the gay human rights group OutRage! They lobbied boxing officials and sports journalists who attended world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis' press conference in London this week.
Peter Tatchell of OutRage! said: "It is outrageous that boxing chiefs have not disciplined Lennox's rivals, Hasim Rahman and Mike Tyson, over their disgraceful homophobic rants."
He added: "Those responsible for queer-baiting Lewis should be fined and their boxing licence temporarily suspended. The boxing authorities have got to send a clear signal that this bigotry is unacceptable."
Tatchell said: "The boxing profession would never tolerate racism. Why is it tolerating homophobia?" He asked: "If a white opponent was taunting Lennox Lewis about his race he would face disciplinary action. Yet the governing bodies are giving rival boxers
and managers a free hand to make repeated offensive insinuations about Lewis' sexual orientation".
Tatchell commented: "In August 2001, Rahman accused Lewis of a 'gay move' over his legal action to force a rematch between the two fighters. Two days before the world title fight, he repeated his insinuations, making an issue of the fact that at the age of 36 Lewis has no children".
He continued: "The World Boxing Council, International Boxing Organisation and International Boxing Federation did nothing. They colluded with Rahman's vulgar bigotry".
Last week in New York, after an incident in which Tyson attacked Lewis at a press conference, Tyson told one male reporter: "I'll f*** you in the arse.You f***ing faggot. I'll f*** you in the arse till you love me, you faggot".
Tatchell remarked: "It is time the boxing authorities took a stand against this crass homophobia." © 1999, 2001 Rainbow Network. All Rights Reserved. Partnered with New Media Spark.

Estefan files lawsuit in battle with actor

Reuters February 1, 2002
MIAMI · Latin music mogul Emilio Estefan filed a $1 million defamation lawsuit Thursday against a Venezuelan actor he accuses of stalking his family, fondling his pop star wife and crashing his New Year's Eve party.
Estefan and his wife, singer Gloria Estefan, said at a Miami news conference that Juan Carlos Diaz, who has publicly accused Emilio Estefan of making unwanted sexual advances, had been harassing them for about two years.
"We are simply a family that now feels very threatened," said Gloria Estefan.
Diaz and the Estefans have been engaged in a public battle for several weeks after Diaz filed a petition in Miami-Dade County court for a temporary restraining order against Emilio Estefan, accusing him of touching him inappropriately and asking for sexual favors.
A judge denied Diaz's petition but granted a subsequent request by Estefan for a restraining order against Diaz.
The Estefans, monarchs of Miami's Latin music world, said Diaz started appearing about two years ago at a Miami Beach gym where they work out. He followed them as they jogged on the beach, insinuated himself into their personal conversations and tried to appear in photographs with them, the couple said.
He appeared at their daughter's school, grabbed Gloria Estefan on two occasions and twice entered the couple's home illegally, once crashing their New Year's Eve party by saying he was with an invited guest, the Estefans said.
The lawsuit said Emilio Estefan had suffered humiliation and damage to his reputation as a result of Diaz's allegations.
Diaz's lawyer, Ellis Rubin, denied his client had harassed or defamed Estefan.
"The greatest weapon for a defense attorney is cross examination, and I look forward to when Mr. Estefan is on the witness stand before a jury of his peers," Rubin said.
Emilio Estefan denied Diaz's allegations that he sought sexual favors from the actor, who appeared in the 2000 film Escape from Cuba.
"I am not gay," he said. "I love my wife, and I love my family." Copyright © 2002, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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NEWS from the Human Rights Campaign

919 18th Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Kim I. Mills, (202)
Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2002 Mike
Wilke, (212) 995-0147
Workplace Web Channel Adds Updated Content on Marketing, Achieving
Non-Discrimination Policies
WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign and The Commercial Closet Association
have teamed up to provide information on HRC's website about the
relationship between corporate policies on gay, lesbian, bisexual and
transgender employees and portrayals of GLBT people in mainstream
HRC WorkNet ( will carry the syndicated Commercial
Closet Report, a column about gay issues in advertising and marketing by
veteran advertising journalist Michael Wilke. The Commercial Closet Report
will appear in HRC's twice-monthly e-mail newsletter, WorkNet News. To sign
up for HRC WorkNet News, send an e-mail to
In addition, HRCWorkNet will feature excerpts from The Commercial Closet
Association's vast online library of more than 750 gay-themed print and
television ads from around the world, spanning more than 30 years. Visitors
can see some of the hits and misses as companies have tried to use ads to
woo the GLBT market. The new content is available at HRC WorkNet has also updated its
web channel to make it easier for users to find what they need.
HRC Worknet today posted an updated document explaining how to achieve a
workplace anti-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation. The
tool includes a sample policy, a step-by-step guide to approaching employers
about changing their policies and suggested responses to common objections.
"HRC WorkNet offers the most comprehensive information about corporate
America's policies with regard to GLBT employees," said Kim I. Mills, HRC's
education director, who oversees HRC WorkNet. "What we needed, though, was
content addressing advertising and marketing, and the Commercial Closet is
the best resource on advertising portrayals of our community. Plus, watching
some of these ads is just fun."
"Awareness of LGBT issues -- and the lack of awareness -- show up in company
policies and marketing initiatives," said Wilke, executive director of The
Commercial Closet. "The combination of HRC WorkNet's database of corporate
policies and Commercial Closet's tracking of advertising issues will further
everyone's understanding of the relationship between a company's record on
gay issues and its marketing efforts."
Launched in March 2001, The Commercial Closet Association is a non-profit
journalism and education project aimed at bringing social consciousness to
the advertising industry by sharing its collection and observations on how
the LGBT community is represented in advertising. The project, which has
partnerships with Human Rights Campaign and other leading LGBT
organizations, reaches out to ad agencies and marketers through a touring
video lecture, a syndicated ad column and the archival website. The
Commercial Closet Association's collection of gay advertising, viewable for
free on its site at, received more than 1 million
visits in 2001. The Commercial Closet Report is a 2-year-old biweekly column
carried by leading gay web sites and newspapers.
HRC WorkNet is a national source of information on workplace policies and
laws surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity. It is home to the
nation's most comprehensive, accurate and regularly updated database of
corporate policies and workplace laws including information on:
* employers with non-discrimination policies covering sexual
orientation and gender identity
* employers with domestic partner health insurance benefits
* GLBT employee resource groups
* state and local civil rights laws covering sexual orientation and
gender identity.
The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian and gay political
organization, with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies
Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that
lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.

Atlanta Presbytery OKs Curbs On Gay Ministers

by Gayle White
The Presbytery of Greater Atlanta voted Saturday to keep a denominational requirement that unmarried ministers, elders and deacons be celibate -- thus banning gay men and lesbians who are in relationships from holding office in the church.
Under current policy in the 2.6 million member Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), a person must be living "either within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness" to be ordained. Greater Atlanta was the latest of the country's 173 presbyteries to consider deleting the language.
A majority of the presbyteries must approve the change for it to take effect. By a vote of 283-235, the Atlanta presbytery joined 49 others with negative decisions. Only 17 had approved lifting the requirement as of last week.
Gordon Mikoski of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Tucker argued for opening the door to non-celibate gay men and lesbians, saying, "I believe the call to leadership and practice of ministry in the church belongs to God. . . . We ought not to decide ahead of time who God can choose."
Echoing the point, Veronica Ramson of Radcliffe Presbyterian in northwest Atlanta implored, "Let us act today so that all who are called can answer, 'Here I am Lord, send me.'"
But Sally Potter of Ray Memorial Presbyterian Church in Monroe said obedience is the real issue. "We can't control our feelings," she said. "We can control our behavior."
And Bert Harding of Crossroads Presbyterian Church in Stone Mountain said that loosening the requirement for ordination would be "a glaring deviation from our church's deeply held consensus on these matters. . . . going back 2000 years."
The Northeast Georgia Presbytery voted earlier to maintain the status quo. Flint River in southwest Georgia is scheduled to vote Feb. 16; Savannah and Cherokee, which includes part of metro Atlanta, are voting Feb. 26.
Struggle over the issue -- the cause of contention within mainline Protestant denominations for more than two decades -- will continue, predicted presbytery moderator the Rev. Ted Wardlaw of Central Presbyterian Church downtown.
"We don't get the luxury of choosing the issues of our time," he said. "Because we are born into this time, we are damned to grapple with this issue."
The two sides, he said, "are stuck with each other. Why don't we start behaving as if we need each other?"
But the Rev. Victor Pentz, senior pastor of Peachtree Presbyterian Church, the largest in the denomination, said the church should move on. "Let's not waste any more time or energy or money on our internal struggles," he urged. "Let's hold together and move forward."
Standing in the aisle of Druid Hills Presbyterian Church, where the meeting was held, Chris Glaser, an openly gay author hoping for eventual ordination as a minister, watched the exodus after the benediction.
"People can agree to disagree," he said. "But there are still people not at the table at all. That's the troubling part." c. 2002 Cox News Service

Gay Students at Baylor U. Form Unofficial Group to Counter Exclusion

by Stephen Dove
(U-WIRE) WACO, Texas -- The handful of students who sat around a conference table on campus this weekend discussing their newly formed organization could have been almost any students at Baylor University.
Like most of their friends and classmates, they came to Baylor because of its academic reputation, and because they shared in its common Christian heritage. However, unlike the majority of their peers, these students say they cannot fully express themselves on campus for one simple reason -- all of them are gay.
The fear and solitude this exclusion brings led this group of homosexual Baylor students to launch Baylor Freedom, an unofficial organization designed to offer support to gay and lesbian students on campus, said "John," a sophomore from Oklahoma who asked that his real name not be used.
Currently, the organization is limited to an Internet-based community located at , but John said he hopes Baylor Freedom will be able to expand in the future so that it can openly reach out to gay students in person. "There's not really a gay community at Baylor," John said. "You know other gay people, but it's not like there's a gay community. My personal goal for being involved in Baylor Freedom is being able to create a network because there's not really any support."
"Josie," a Texas senior who came up with the idea for the organization and also asked that her real name not be used, said the Web site has already brought students together in just a few weeks of operation. She said the site had received more than 1,200 hits through the weekend, and the group has also received supportive e-mails from students, alumni, faculty members and official gay student organizations at campuses like Southern Methodist University and Texas Christian University.
However, Josie added that the message board linked to the Web site has garnered the type of harsh, negative responses that make homosexuals timid about coming out in a conservative environment like Baylor.
"People who are indifferent, they're pretty safe. People who are gay friendly, they're pretty safe, but people who do have feelings that are against homosexuality tend to have those feelings pretty vehemently," Josie said.
Josie says her main concern about expressing her homosexuality on campus is related to social ostracism, but she quickly adds that the threat of physical harassment is very real. She explained that some of her friends who displayed gay pride stickers on campus had their vehicles vandalized, apparently because of their support of homosexuality.
Both Josie and John say they would like Baylor Freedom to grow into an open, on-campus organization so they can help more students like themselves come to terms with their sexuality. However, they also cited the possibility of university action against the organization as one of the primary reasons they do not want to reveal their real identities.
Dr. Dub Oliver, dean for student development, said that no students had tried to charter an official gay, lesbian or bisexual student group during his tenure at the university. However, he also said that if students did apply to charter such a group, they would not be granted official on-campus status because of conflict between their mission and the mission of Baylor.
"I don't feel that that's appropriate for Baylor University," Oliver said. "But, we know there are gay, lesbian and bisexual students at Baylor, and I hope that we would respond to every student in a manner of Christian love."
The 2001-2002 Baylor Student Handbook states, "The recognition of a student organization represents university endorsement and approval of the goals and purposes of that organization as being consistent with and supportive of the goals and purposes of Baylor University."
Oliver said people outside of Baylor may characterize the university as hateful because of its stance against chartering a homosexual student organization, but he views the issue as a challenge for university leaders to stand behind and live out Baylor's traditional beliefs.
"It's Baylor's right as a private university to make their own policy, and I would defend that right," Josie said.
However, she added that Baylor Freedom was willing to operate as an unofficial organization if the university opposed its actions.
"If we help one person not to feel alone, that's our goal," Josie said. Michael, a Houston freshman who is a homosexual but is not associated with Baylor Freedom, said he hopes the new organization will not only unite Baylor's dispersed gay population but also dispel some of the myths and stereotypes that surround homosexuality in general.
"Many heterosexuals, guys or girls, think that if they are around a homosexual, that person will try to convert them or hit on them, and that's not true," Michael said. "Another big misconception about the homosexual community is that we are all a bunch of drug addicts and sinners. There's a large section of people who are Christians, who go to church, who don't spend their entire lives looking for drugs or sex or whatever, and it's not a sinful existence as most people think it is."
Josie, John and Michael, who all grew up in Christian homes, emphasized the personal commitment many gay students at Baylor have to traditional Christian ideals like monogamy and abstinence. All three also expressed dismay at how closely homosexuality is equated to forms of sexual immorality such as rape, incest and pedophilia.
"It's just like any other relationship," Michael said. "It's what you make of it and who you choose to be. It's very individualized just like anything else." Michael said one of the most disturbing parts about being a homosexual at Baylor is listening to university officials and Chapel guests who preach about love but make derogatory remarks about homosexuality.
"As far as the first step goes, they need to focus on no hate," Michael said. "It doesn't matter toward homosexuals or races or whatever, but just start talking about hate. They are a Christian university. They should love everybody and talk to the student body about that."
Michael said he chose to attend Baylor because of the school's academic offerings, even though he realized he might be out of place and ostrisized.
"I accepted that when I came to Baylor; it's what I expected," Michael said. "A lot of times you bring it on yourself. At the same time, you can put yourself in that environment, but you don't have to accept it how it is."
Although Josie acknowledged that Baylor's Christian tradition brings unique theological arguments against homosexuality, she said the need for equal treatment of homosexuals inside the university is really not much different from the needs anywhere else in the world.
"I just want to be treated like anybody else," Josie explains. "I am very average. I'm very middle-of-the-road politically. I'm not very opinionated in a liberal fashion or a conservative fashion. I'm just real average. I just want to be treated like I am, like everybody else."
Josie said the stigma attached to homosexuality prevents her from showing people, even those in her family, a part of who she really is.
For John, who has told his parents and close friends about his sexuality, the biggest obstacles are not what he must keep inside himself but the reactions he receives from people who find out he is gay.
"When somebody calls you a faggot, it's like somebody takes an ice pick and puts it in your heart and twists it a little a bit," John says. "The ice pick gets duller over time, but it hurts -- it hurts a lot."
It is because of these personal experiences of isolation and pain that John and Josie started Baylor Freedom, which they hope will serve as a support network for gay students.
Both students said the mission of the organization is similar to the university's mission of Christian service and love. They add that they chose Baylor because it was the best school for them, and the goal of Baylor Freedom is not to radically alter the campus environment but to contribute to a better university experience for all students.
"That's the whole point of us setting this up," John said. "Because we like where we're at and we want to make things better." (C) 2002 The Lariat via U-WIRE

Dog-maul case focuses on earlier incident

Tom Musbach, / Network
Wednesday, January 30, 2002 / 04:51 PM
SUMMARY: A judge allowed testimony that Diane Whipple, who was killed by two dogs last year, had warned the dogs' owners earlier.
The domestic partner of Diane Whipple, the lacrosse coach who was fatally mauled by her neighbors' dogs last year, can testify in court about a verbal warning Whipple gave to one of the dogs' owners a month before she was killed, a judge ruled Tuesday.
In an evidentiary hearing, Sharon Smith told the Los Angeles judge who is presiding over the criminal dog-mauling trial that her partner was bitten on the hand by one of Robert Noel and Marjorie Knoller's dogs in December 2000, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Smith said Whipple then told Robert Noel that he needs to control his dog.
The prosecution argued that Whipple's statement should have been a wake-up call to the owners about their dogs' dangerous behavior. The two Presa Canario dogs fatally attacked Whipple weeks later, on Jan. 26, 2001, in the hallway of her San Francisco apartment building.
Defense lawyers for the dog-owning husband and wife questioned whether the earlier biting incident could be verified.
Smith testified that Whipple had deep, red marks on her hand after the dog bite and considered herself lucky to be wearing a sports watch that prevented the injury from being more serious, according to the Chronicle report.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Warren ruled that the conversation Whipple had with Smith right after the biting incident qualified as a witness's "excited utterance" exception to rules against hearsay testimony.
Attorney Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, told the Network that the ruling was not unusual, and she believes it will help the prosecution's case.
"This kind of information (from Smith)," Kendell said, "makes clear what has been alleged by the prosecution and by Sharon all along - that the defendants knew the dogs were dangerous and, in the face of that, took no precaution to protect innocent potential victims."
Jury selection began last week for the trial against Knoller and Noel, who are both charged with involuntary manslaughter and keeping a vicious, deadly dog. Knoller, who was walking the dogs at the time of the fatal mauling, is also charged with second-degree murder.
The trial is being held in Los Angeles because of widespread publicity about the case in San Francisco.
Kendell will represent Smith in a wrongful death civil suit against Knoller and Noel later this year. In related news, the Chronicle reported that Hera, one of the dogs involved in Whipple's death, was euthanized on Wednesday. Bane, the more aggressive dog in the attack, was killed last year immediately after the incident.

California high court reviews adoption law

Ann Rostow, / Network
Wednesday, January 30, 2002 / 04:57 PM
SUMMARY: The California Supreme Court has agreed to review an appellate ruling that had invalidated second-parent adoptions used by thousands of same-sex partners since the mid-1980s.
The California Supreme Court has agreed to review a state appellate ruling that had appeared to invalidate second-parent adoptions used by thousands of same-sex partners since the mid-1980s.
"The order [granting review]," said Lambda Legal Defense senior attorney Jennifer Pizer, "automatically depublishes the terrible decision issued the past fall by the Court of Appeal holding that [second-parent] adoptions can NOT be granted. It is an enormous relief to have that decision removed."
The ruling by the San Diego-based appellate panel embraced legal arguments against second-parent adoptions that, ironically, were put forward by a lesbian mother.
Sharon Silverstein, a Harvard MBA graduate and the co-author of a book on sexual orientation in the workplace, asked the court to strike down the common procedure based on the fact that second-parent adoptions do not conform to the exact letter of California adoption law. Silverstein was trying to prevent her former partner from completing the adoption of their youngest son.
In agreeing with Silverstein, the 2-1 appellate majority not only struck down second-parent adoptions in the future, but cast into doubt the legal status of an estimated 10,000 to 20,000 existing gay and lesbian families in the state. Although the court later clarified some of the most ambiguous and troubling language in the original decision, the holding -- if allowed to stand -- still removes a critical avenue used by same-sex families to cement their legal ties to their children.
Since the ruling, legislation signed by California Gov. Gray Davis allows same-sex partners registered by the state to adopt each other's biological children. This option, however, is limited to California residents who have signed up as domestic partners, and it would have been useless to many existing second-parents who may have lost their partners, separated or moved out of state. According to Pizer, the review process "often takes a year or two."

Arizona lawmakers endorse DP proposal

Couples in committed relationships, including same-sex partners, would be able to register as domestic partners and receive some basic rights currently granted only to a spouse or next of kin under two measures that were endorsed by the Arizona house judiciary committee Tuesday. The first bill establishes a domestic-partnership registry in the state superior court. To register, two people must be in a permanent committed relationship, share living expenses, be at least 18, and not be married or in another registered domestic partnership. If a person gets a divorce or leaves a registered domestic partnership, he or she would have to wait at least six months to register another partnership.
The second proposal would grant basic rights regarding insurance, inheritance, and medical decision-making to people in registered partnerships. Such partners would have the legal standing of a spouse, which would allow them to visit each other in the hospital, make emergency medical decisions for each other, have an interest in any life insurance policies, and act as the conservator of an estate for a minor or other protected person. Both bills passed the committee on separate 7-3 votes. They now move to the rules committee, dominated by conservatives, before possible floor action. Only four states--California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and New York--recognize domestic partnerships. Vermont recognizes the more-extensive civil unions for same-sex couples.

Suit filed over Dr. Laura

A group of gay and lesbian workers sued three Southern California counties because they say their First Amendment rights were violated during an appearance by radio talk show host Laura Schlessinger last year. The seven workers at the Los Angeles-based Gay and Lesbian Adolescent Social Services sued Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino counties in superior court on Tuesday with the aid of attorney Martha Matthews of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California. They are seeking monetary damages along with an injunction that would bar the defendants from suppressing future protests. Schlessinger, who broadcasts her advice show as "Dr. Laura," was the keynote speaker at the Southern Counties Placement Committee conference in Palm Springs on September 20-21. The conference was organized by the Riverside County Department of Mental Health. The seven workers were attendees to the conference. They showed up with copies of the book Hate Hurts and T-shirts with "" printed on them. Some activists say Schlessinger has said hurtful things against gay men and lesbians. One of the plaintiffs, Michael Ferrera, the director of public policy for the Gay and Lesbian Adolescent Social Services, claims that the group of protesters were not allowed access to the conference and were escorted out by police. Ferrera said conference organizers "were trying to prevent a disturbance; they were trying to prevent discomfort on the part of their invited guest."

Elton John wants to play Britney's dad reports that out pop legend Sir Elton John is such a fan of teen idol Britney Spears that he wants to work with her. "I want to play her dad in the video," John is quoted as saying on Spears's official Web site. "That would be incredible. It'll be along the lines of...I won't let her out and she wants to go to the concert and she runs away." Spears's boyfriend, Justin Timberlake, of the band 'N Sync, appeared in the video for John's "This Train Don't Stop Here Anymore" as a younger version of John.


Law Group Calls For Gay Marriage

by Ben Thompson National Editor in Ottawa
(January 31, Ottawa) The Law Commission of Canada has called on the federal government to legalize gay and lesbian marriage.
In a study on GL marriage, released in Ottawa, the Commission said it found: "There is no justification for maintaining the current distinctions between same-sex and heterosexual conjugal unions in the light of current understandings of the state's interests in marriage."
The Law Commission is an independent, government-funded group, and advises Parliament on law reform.
The study said marriage should provide a framework in which people can express their commitment to each other regardless of sexual orientation.
The study noted that two years ago Parliament recognized same-sex couples giving many of the same benefits and obligations as other common-law couples, but it excluded same-sex couples from legal marriages.
The president of the Commission, Nathalie Des Rosiers, said that denying gays and lesbians the right to marry, "amounts to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation" and is illegal under the equal protections section of the Constitution.
Des Rosiers chastised Parliament for not having the courage legitimize gay marriage.
"If governments are to continue to maintain an institution called marriage, they cannot do so in a discriminatory fashion," the law commission report said.
The study suggests that if the government is not prepared to go all the way in one piece of legislation, it should do so in stages.
Des Rosiers said the first step might be introducing a national Partnership Union Registry. Nova Scotia already has a registry. Quebec is studying a plan to have one in that province. The exclusion of same-sex marriage is being challenged in the courts and will likely end up in the Supreme Court of Canada. If the court rules that excluding gays and lesbians from marriage is discriminatory, Parliament would be required to pass enabling legislation.

Miami Rights Appeal On Sept Ballot

by Fidel Ortega Newscenter in Miami
(January 31, Miami) Dade voters will go to the polls in September to decide whether to end human rights protections for gays and lesbians.
County commissioners were required to put the question to voters after two conservative groups, Take Back Miami and the Christian Coalition, gathered enough petition signatures to set a vote for Sept. 10.
Gay rights group SAVE Dade has vowed an intensive battle to keep the protections. Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas and a group of other county commissioners say they will campaign to keep the law.
"All of our resources, all of our focus will be on this issue in the next few months,'' said Jorge Mursuli, of SAVE Dade
In 1977, when the first gay rights legislation was passed in Miami, singer Anita Bryant and local attorney Ellis Rubin challenged it, likening homosexuality to paedophilia. Several months later, voters soundly rejected the ordinance.
It was not until 1998 that sexual orientation was again included in civil rights protections in the country. In 2000 Take Back Miami and the Christian Coalition began the fight to nullify the law.
Their petition was challenged in court, and sent back to the county. SAVE Dade had alleged many of the signatures were falsified. An independent also found many questionable signatures. In the end a judge ruled that the county had to certify the petition.

Mystery Corpse

by Jack Siu Newscenter in Toronto
(January 31, Toronto) Ontario Provincial Police are trying to determine the identity of a man's body found in a public washroom at a rest stop along a remote ski trail north of Ottawa.
The body of the the man, believed to be in his 30s, was found September 5. Police say he died of natural causes, but had been taking the diet drug Phen Phen and suffered a heart attack.
OPP investigators had at first thought he may have been a local man, out hiking. But, after more closely examining his belongings believe he was hitch hiking across the country and that he was gay.
Detective Constable Tracy Brants tells that the man had a gay guide and several other papers indicating he was gay.
But, she said, there were no clues about his home town, or where he was going. "We're not even sure his is Canadian," Brants said. "He had no identification, when he was found."
What brought him to the desolate rest stop near Deep River is also a mystery. It is not a known cruising area and is several miles from the Trans Canada Highway. If someone drove him there, that person has never been found.
Brants said the man is between 28 and 40 years old, was about 5'4" (162km), slim, and Caucasian. He had no scars or tattoos. Brants said they believe the man was not indigent. He had been able to afford the prescription diet drug, and his teeth were well cared for.
He was wearing Pepe brand button-fly jeans with a Calvin Klein belt, a Fundamentals t-shirt and had a silver ring with an aqua coloured stone on the pinky finger of his right hand.
Brants said they believe the man may have been hiking or hitching across Canada. He had a blue Eagle Creek Travel knapsack containing hiking equipment. The knapsack also contained a luggage sticker from a Costa Rican domestic airline, a plastic laundry bag from Toronto's Sutton Place Hotel, matches from Sheraton Hotels, a US hotel, and the Barclay Hotel in Vancouver.
He also had two protein bars from GNC health stores in the US.
Brants said the man does not fit any missing persons reports filed in Canada.
Provincial Police are hoping that someone will recognize something about the man so that they can give him his name. DC Brants said it is not a murder investigation. Wednesday, she was in Toronto distributing flyers throughout the Gay Village. Other flyers are being distributed in Montreal and Vancouver. Anyone with information can contact her at (613) 735-0188.

Mailman Can Proceed In Gay Harassment Suit

A Boston mailman has been given the green light to proceed in a gay harassment suit.
Stephen Centola, who worked as a mailman for seven years, said he never told his colleagues he was gay. Yet they continually harassed him about his sexuality, taping rude messages and pictures of men in his workspace.
A federal judge ruled yesterday that Centola can proceed with a discrimination suit against the US Postal Service, a ruling that could extend legal protection for gays, who are not explicitly protected by US federal workplace discrimination law.
Massachusetts state law protects employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation, but does not cover federal employees such as Centola. Centola has now moved post offices and continues to work as a mail man. He is suing the US Postal Service for punitive and compensatory damages.

Photographer Says Robbie Williams Wouldn't Put His Clothes Back On

Celebrity hotographer Mario Testino says Robbie Williams didn't want to put his clothes back on after he'd finished a photo shoot.
The singer was photographed naked for the cover of fashion magazine Vogue with model Gisele Bundchen.
When the raunchy singer finally put his clothes back on he quipped, "I'd be nude all day".
"It was an experience. I told him 'Robbie you will only need to be nude for 10 minutes'. And he said 'No, I really don't care. I'll be nude all day," said Testino An exhibition of Mario Testino: Portraits has opened at the National Portrait Gallery in London. Other stars whose images appear include Madonna, Kate Moss and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Gay Man Awaits Goat Sex Sentence

A gay man who had sex with a goat in full view of a packed train is due to be sentenced.
Stephen Hall, an unemployed chef from Hull, admitted a sex charge involving an animal.
Hull Crown Court heard that Hall lassoed the goat at the Paradise allotments near his home.
Hall's assault was witnessed by passengers on a train that had stopped at signals. Commuters jammed police switchboards as they used their mobiles to report what they had seen.
Two members of the public pinned down Hall until officers arrived.
The goat was one of a number that are left to graze at the allotments. According to police it was it was "subdued" by the assault but was not suffering long-term injury. British Transport Police Detective Inspector Dave Crinnion, who investigated, told The Sun: "I saw the goat the next day - it did not seem too upset but it is difficult to tell."
Hall said: "My friends have been giving me a lot of stick. They are all joking with me about it."
He added: "I have never done anything like this before."
The case was adjourned for reports and Hall will be sentenced on 13 March. Judge Jacqueline Davies said: "I do not know what sentence the court will impose on you." © 1999, 2001 Rainbow Network. All Rights Reserved. Partnered with New Media Spark.

Tatchell Calls Commonwealth `Useless`

The human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has condemned the Commonwealth as "useless" over its decision not to impose sanctions against the Zimbabwean government, led by the anti-gay president Robert Mugabe.
Tatchell told RainbowNetwork: "The Commonwealth is useless, despite all the horrendous human rights abuses it is still refusing to suspend Zimbabwe. All talk of sanctions is too late and there is no way that the forthcoming presidential elections can be free and fair."
He added: "Lesbian and gay Zimbabweans and their straight friends are likely to face more repression. The future prospects don't look good."
The outspoken activist, who has attempted to bring Mugabe to justice on several occasions, added: "In 1999 I arrested president Mugabe in London and handed him over to the police. If only they had followed my advice and prosecuted him for the crime of torture and other human rights abuses perhaps today Zimbabwe might not be in its current mess and many lives would have been saved."
In 2001 Tatchell was knocked unconscious by Mugabe's guards when he attempted a second arrest in Brussels. He is currently making a visa appeal against the Australian government, who have denied him entrance to the country to attend, along with Mugabe, a Commonwealth conference.
In the past, Mugabe has stated his total opposition to homosexuality, likening gay men to animals and suggesting that a "gay mafia" controls Britain. © 1999, 2001 Rainbow Network. All Rights Reserved. Partnered with New Media Spark.

Transsexual father tells his side

By ALICIA CALDWELL, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 31, 2002
CLEARWATER -- If given the chance, this is how Michael Kantaras would have told his children about his sex change operation:
"I may have been born in one body, but my mind and my soul and my heart is that of a male," Kantaras testified Wednesday in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court. "You don't need certain body parts to be a good person and a good parent."
But he didn't have that chance, he said, because his estranged wife chose to tell their then 7-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son the news in what he considers an insensitive fashion:
First she told the children he was not their biological father, Kantaras said. Then she told them he was born a female.
Michael Kantaras, a transsexual locked in a custody battle with estranged wife Linda Kantaras, spent all day Wednesday on the witness stand. He said she repeatedly denied him visitation with the children, handed him every household bill and said hateful things that hurt the children.
He related this exchange, which he said happened in the driveway of their Holiday home:
"She said she had asked God to forgive her for being a lesbian and I needed to ask God to forgive me as well," said Kantaras, 42, a bakery manager.
"She made this statement in the driveway?" asked Circuit Judge Gerard S. O'Brien Jr. "What about the neighbors?"
Said Michael Kantaras: "I don't think that Linda has any problem letting the neighbors know about our personal issues."
Or the rest of the world, for that matter. The custody battle is being fought on national television. Court TV has been broadcasting segments of the trial live.
The linchpin of the case, said Michael Kantaras' lead lawyer Collin Vause, is a legal determination of whether Michael Kantaras remains a woman, and therefore married illegally under Florida law.
Michael Kantaras adopted the oldest child, whom Linda conceived in a previous relationship, and was named the father of the younger child, who was conceived through artificial insemination with donor sperm from Michael's brother.
Vause said during a break in the proceedings that much of the titillating testimony has been geared toward proving Kantaras is a man. Opposing counsel has challenged it at every turn.
"Their basic premise is that if they can get the court to declare that he is not male, then all the other dominoes will fall," said Vause, a Clearwater lawyer. "The judge is keenly aware of that. That is why he has asked so many questions of the different expert witnesses."
The judge has asked detailed questions about the various surgeries and hormone therapy that Michael Kantaras underwent before marrying Linda Kantaras in 1989.
But much of the testimony has revolved around issues that would come up in more typical custody disputes: visitation and monetary support. Kantaras testified that he has spent most of his income supporting Linda and the children since she kicked him out of the marital home in 1998.
He told the judge he lived with his parents nearby and did odd jobs, such as cutting grass, to make ends meet. Why did he do it?
"I love my children," he said. "I would never ever want my children to feel that I would ever abandon them. I could not live with that." Michael Kantaras' lawyers will continue questioning him today, and then the lawyer for his wife will get a turn.

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