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Saturday, March 02, 2002

GLBT NEWZ 03/02/02 Information is power!

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Egypt Cracks Down On Gays, Trumping Islamists

Special To The Christian Science Monitor
Christian Science Monitor
by Sarah Gauch
CAIRO - The Egyptian man with short black hair and a brown turtleneck sits relaxed, casually sipping his coffee. Only the deep circles under his eyes reveal his misery, as he recounts his six-month ordeal when Cairo police arrested him, then interrogated, whipped, and imprisoned him and 51 other alleged homosexuals.
They were arrested last May during a highly publicized raid on the Queen Boat, a discotheque and gay hangout on the Nile River. Ayman (not his real name) thought his troubles were over after he and 28 others were declared innocent and released this past November, but he was wrong. "The case changed my life completely," he says. "I had a job, a family, money, a very good career, friends. I've lost everything." Today, Ayman is desperately seeking political asylum in France.
Hossam Bahgat of the Hisham Mubarak Law Center, an Egyptian human rights organization, and other experts estimate that since January 2001, the police have made about one arrest per month based on a person's sexual orientation. Often police torture these detainees to extract confessions, use questionable evidence to convict them, impose harsh prison sentences, and allow the media to publicize the cases, often rendering defendants social outcasts in this traditional society that rejects homosexuality, they say.
"There's an alarming trend now to convict alleged homosexuals in very weak cases that lack any evidence against them," Mr. Bahgat says. "This suggests that the judges are ruling according to their own moral and social beliefs, rather than by the law."
Experts attribute the rise in arrests to the Internet, a popular means for gays to communicate. They say police have made good use of cyberspace to entrap gays by setting up supposed dates and then arresting them.
In one of the latest convictions of alleged gays earlier this month, four men were given the maximum sentence of three years in prison, based largely on accusations of an arresting officer who never appeared in person to present his evidence to the prosecutor, say Bahgat and Scott Long, director of the San Francisco-based International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.
Defendants claimed they were tortured during their detention, and witnesses at the trial say the judge shouted "bring on the faggots" from his office before the case began.
In the Queen Boat case, 52 suspected homosexuals were tried in a security court, which usually doles out stiffer sentences and gives no right of appeal. The other cases against gays have been in civil courts.
The court sentenced 23 of the accused to one to five years in prison for "habitual debauchery" with two also being charged with "contempt of religion." At the beginning of the case, Egypt's semiofficial press branded the detainees perverts and traitors, publishing their names, professions, and pictures.
When asked whether the government was conducting a campaign against gay men, state information services chairman Nabil Osman said: "It's very disgusting. Homosexuals may be accepted in Western societies, but they're not accepted in our society. Neither are they permitted by religion, be it Islam, Christianity, or Judaism."
Political analysts offer various theories to explain this apparent campaign against gay men. Some say the government wants to confirm that it protects the country's moral rectitude - not the Islamists, who enjoy wide popular support in this conservative Muslim country. "The government is trying to send the message that it also defends religious and social values, not only the Muslim Brotherhood," says Ahmed Seif el-Islam, executive director of the Hisham Mubarak Law Center.
For years, Egypt's human rights groups have felt threatened by restrictions on their foreign funding and by arrests of rights activists. However, Western human rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have stood by Egypt's gays, charging the Egyptian government with a miscarriage of justice, persecuting homosexuals, and violating basic human rights. Copyright 2002 The Christian Science Monitor. All rights reserved.

Boston priest reveals gay relationship

Tom Musbach, / Network
Friday, March 1, 2002 / 04:16 PM
SUMMARY: The pedophilia scandal in Boston deepened when one of the suspected priests admitted to lying about a long-term gay relationship.
The pedophilia scandal in the Boston Archdiocese deepened on Thursday, when one of the suspected priests admitted to lying about a long-term gay relationship while on a leave of absence.
The Rev. D. George Spagnolia acknowledged the sexual relationship, according to the Boston Globe, just days after asserting that he had remained celibate during his 20-year leave.
Spagnolia is one of 10 priests removed by Cardinal Bernard F. Law last month because of allegations of sexual abuse. The 64-year-old priest denies charges that he molested a 14-year-old while serving at a Roxbury church in 1971.
According to the Globe, Spagnolia took a leave of absence in 1973 over a dispute with then-Cardinal Humberto S. Medeiros. Shortly afterward he began a sexual relationship with Winston F. Reed, and they lived together until 1980 in Boston and Hyannis.
While American priests on leave may not necessarily be dispensed by the Vatican from their oaths of chastity, it is not uncommon for them to explore their sexuality, said Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, which serves gay and lesbian Catholics.
"Often times, the purpose of a leave is to find out if living celibately is truly what a priest desires," DeBernardo told the Network via e-mail.
The fact that he lied about the relationship may cast doubt on Spagnolia's credibility with many of Boston's Catholic faithful. He is the first of the 10 priests to publicly declare his innocence in a wide-ranging sex abuse scandal that has led to calls for Cardinal Law's resignation. "I hope that the fact that Father Spagnolia is gay and the fact that he is accused of pedophilia do not become blurred together in people's minds," DeBernardo said.

Police: Vancouver slaying on 'back burner'

Rich Peters,
Friday, March 1, 2002 / 04:20 PM
SUMMARY: The search for Aaron Webster's killers has come up empty, and the case has been moved "to the back burner," according to unofficial police reports.
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The search for Aaron Webster's killers has come up empty, and the case has been moved "to the back burner." Officially it is still an ongoing investigation, but unofficially Vancouver Police admit it is headed for the Cold Cases File.
Webster's badly beaten, naked body was found by a friend near the Bridle Path, a popular cruising area, in Stanley Park Nov. 17. He died before an ambulance arrived.
Police said that he had been hit repeatedly in the head and upper body with a baseball bat or a pool cue. Scott Dreimal, the lead investigator in the case, officially listed the killing as a hate-crime.
Witnesses told police that three men, one carrying a bat, were seen in the park that night.
Several weeks later a man came forward saying he had been assaulted by several men two weeks before Webster's murder. The man, Edward Smith, told local media that one of the men had carried a baseball bat, but it had not been used in the attack against him. Smith said his attackers sped off in a green Jeep Cherokee. He said the man with the baseball bat was tall, skinny and fair-haired.
At one point nearly a dozen police officers worked on solving the case. Today, only two are assigned, and they work on it only when they are not busy with more recent crimes. Neither officer returned calls from to discuss the case.
The murder of the 41-year-old Webster galvanized Vancouver's gay community. But, so far, all that has come out of it are increased police patrols in Stanley Park.
It has never been revealed whether Smith was ever interviewed. Nor will police say why a report made out by Smith the night of his attack was never filed.
Vancouver activists believe that if Smith's case had been followed up, Webster might never have been killed.
Shortly after the murder Detective Dreimal called for a computer database to track gay hate crimes. It has yet to be set up. Three months after police officers and politicians joined Vancouver's gay community in a memorial service to remember Webster's life, he is all but forgotten except by those in Vancouver's gay community.

Gay activist pioneer dies at 75 / Network
Friday, March 1, 2002 / 04:23 PM
SUMMARY: Bill Beardemphl, founder of one of San Francisco's earliest gay rights organizations, has died at the age of 75.
Bill Beardemphl, founder of one of San Francisco's earliest gay rights organizations, has died at the age of 75.
He passed away on Feb. 13, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, after suffering for more than a year from prostate cancer.
Beardemphl trained as a chef in New York before moving to San Francisco in 1962 with his longtime partner, John DeLeon, a professional dancer. Dismayed by the then-repressive nature of the city's laws, he formed the Society for Individual Rights in 1964 with friend Bob Ross, publisher of the gay Bay Area Reporter newspaper. The group enlisted more than 1,000 members nationally.
Beardemphl also opened a meeting center two years later that held dances and meetings.
His activism continued through the 1970s, when he wrote a regular column, "From the Left," for the Bay Area Reporter and started another local gay newspaper, The Sentinel.
Beardemphl and DeLeon built a house in Geyserville, Calif., where they moved in the early 1980s. In addition to DeLeon, Beardemphl is survived by five brothers and sisters who live in Washington.

Dog-mauling defense lawyer attacks victim's partner

The woman whose domestic partner was killed by neighbors' dogs inside their apartment building found herself under attack on Thursday during the trial of the dogs' owners. In a tactic that stunned courtroom spectators and veteran trial observers, defense attorney Nedra Ruiz suggested that Sharon Smith could have prevented partner Diane Whipple's death. Ruiz also accused Smith of trying to profit from a civil suit after her partner's death.
"This is suicide lawyering," said Loyola University law professor Laurie Levenson. "If there's one way to get a jury to hate you, it's to beat up on the victim. This is very unorthodox."
Ruiz, the attorney for dog owner Majorie Knoller, launched an aggressive cross-examination after Smith told how the two women lived in fear of their neighbors' huge dogs.
Smith said Whipple had been bitten previously by one of the dogs and that she herself had to jump back when the animal lunged at her in the lobby of their San Francisco apartment building. Smith said that after Whipple was bitten on the hand by one of the dogs, "she was very scared of those dogs, terrified."
Ruiz then noted that neither Whipple nor Smith had complained to authorities about the dogs' behavior. Smith said they were afraid and wanted nothing to do with the couple across the hall. "You did nothing to remedy the situation where your life partner lived in fear?" Ruiz asked.
"We took action. We stayed away from the dogs. I didn't make a complaint. Now I wish I had," Smith responded, tears welling up in her eyes. "There are certain lines no attorney should cross, and they crossed it today," attorney Michael Cardoza, who represents Smith in her civil suit, said later outside court. Smith said, "I was shocked by her question and deeply offended by it."

Santa Barbara arsonist could get death penalty

A suspected serial arsonist reportedly told police that he doused a man with gasoline while he slept in his Santa Barbara, Calif., apartment and then threw a match on him because he was gay and deserved to die, according to the Santa Barbara News-Press. Martin Thomas Hartman, 38, turned himself in to police on Tuesday and was booked into county jail on suspicion of committing murder and arson. In the February 24 fire, the victim apparently awoke on fire and ran out to his patio, where he was found dead about 3:30 p.m. by firefighters trying to extinguish the flames that raced up the back of the two-story building. Authorities said they will not release the 37-year-old man's name until his out-of-state relatives are notified of his death.
Hartman apparently had known the victim for about six months but told police he only recently discovered the man was gay. "Marty Hartman said he has ill feelings toward gay people and decided to put the person out of his misery because [the victim] was suffering from depression," said Santa Barbara police sergeant Mike McGrew. "He said he thought it was the right thing to do. He said he felt this person deserved to die."
Despite Hartman's apparent confession, his mother, Waltraudt Hartman, insists her son did not commit the crime. "It is not true," she said. "He is not capable of this. He is a very religious man." Hartman was scheduled to be arraigned Friday. If convicted, the special circumstance allegation of arson makes him eligible for either the death penalty or life in prison without parole. Senior deputy district attorney Joyce Dudley said she will review the case and determine whether to file additional hate-crime charges.

Gay club penalized for "underwear night"

The Utah Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission on Thursday suspended a Salt Lake City gay bar's liquor license for 60 days in part because the bar allegedly allowed lewd conduct to occur during "underwear night," according to The Salt Lake Tribune. The liquor commission, however, agreed to hold off on the suspension for 30 days to give Club Blue's owners time to file an appeal with Utah's third district court.
"We're definitely leaning toward an appeal," said Marlin G. Criddle, a Salt Lake City attorney representing the bar's owners.
The suspension resulted from several alleged instances observed by Salt Lake City vice officers in early 2000. They reported the club was showing videos of men in various poses and in stages of undress. They also allegedly observed illegal sexual activities taking place. Criddle, however, contended the tape did not portray any sexual conduct. And the video, which was made up of a series of still pictures, was not presented in a manner that made it obscene, he said.

Gay partnerships legalized in Finland

Legislation approved in September by lawmakers in Finland went into effect Friday. Finns who are at least 18 can now register a same-sex union in a civil ceremony comparable to matrimony. It gives gay couples the same rights as married heterosexual couples when inheriting each other's property and in cases of divorce but does not allow same-sex couples to adopt children or use the same surname. The Finnish Lesbian and Gay Association welcomed the law but said it does not go far enough. "It's a milestone in Finnish legislation and has great symbolic significance," said Rainer Hiltunen, the association's secretary-general. "But it's a compromise." Dozens of gay couples have already applied to have their relationship registered and several hundred are expected to do so annually, he added.

Gays in the Philippines push for equal rights

Gays and lesbians in Baguio City, Philippines, are asking local officials to support a recent gay rights proposal filed by Rep. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo, reports the Phillipine Daily Inquirer. The bill, called the Magna Carta for Gays and Lesbians, includes a provision for legal domestic partnerships.
"There is no ordinance or proposal anywhere in the Philippines from local government units that focused on the rights of gays and lesbians" said Dane Ducayag, a member of a gay rights organization. "Local government units tend to forget us; these officials give you a glance only during elections."
Manila archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin and Manila auxiliary bishop Socrates Villegas have opposed Angara-Castillo's bill, saying its provisions are against the Christian faith and against Filipino culture. "If we are branded as being immoral because we are lesbians, we want to ask the Catholic Church about the meaning of immorality," said Julie Palaganas, a member of the Innabuyog-Lesbond (Lesbians for National Democracy). "Those who keep Filipinos impoverished are the ones who are immoral. It is so sad that [it is] the Catholic Church that spreads the shallow and backward views on gays and lesbians."

Monica in Black and White, new season of Six Feet Under premiere on HBO

The Golden Globe-winning series Six Feet Under, created by openly gay Oscar winner Alan Ball, returns to HBO for a second season at 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific on Sunday, March 3. Following the season premiere of Six Feet Under will be the premiere of Monica in Black and White, a documentary on Monica Lewinsky from out directors Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato (The Eyes of Tammy Faye, 101 Rent Boys). For more information, check local listings or visit .


L.A. Queer as Folk panel attracts protesters

Showtime's groundbreaking gay and lesbian cable-TV series, Queer as Folk, will be the subject of a special program on Saturday night in Los Angeles sponsored by the Museum of Television and Radio--and not all the gay people attending will be celebrating the show. The evening's program--part of the 19th Annual William S. Paley Television Festival--will include the screening of excerpts from QAF as well as a panel discussion and Q&A with the creators and stars of the series. Executive producers and frequent writers Daniel Lipman and Ron Cowen will be in attendance, along with fellow executive producer Tony Jonas and actors Michelle Clunie, Thea Gill, Sharon Gless, Gale Harold, Randy Harrison, Scott Lowell, Peter Paige, and Hal Sparks. The event sold out weeks in advance. Outside the Directors Guild of America building on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, where the Paley series will take place, another group of gays will be protesting the show. Calling themselves "Queers Against Queer as Folk," the group hopes "to inform the creative team of the QAF production that members of the queer community are unhappy with the portrayal of HIV-positive characters on the show, among other things," says the protest's organizer, Michael Buchanan. QAQAF is demanding "that the writers not alienate HIV-positive viewers and queers of color any longer." Buchanan adds, "Also, our organization is upset with the constant marketing of the actors' sexual orientation.... We basically feel that the show no longer resembles the original U.K. version in some very irresponsible ways."

Cher's Serious Dating Game

March 1, 2002, World Entertainment News Network
Dating CHER can be a commitment-phobe's worst nightmare, because the pop superstar doesn't court anyone she has no lasting plans for.
The veteran singer and OSCAR-winning actress admits she's even careful about who she dines with - because sharing a meal with her then entails a massive future commitment.
She says, "If I go to dinner with someone I'm basically going to live with them for two years.
"Let's put it this way - gay men consider me their best friend and straight men are a little bit nervous."
And she mournfully admits she fears she may never find her Mr Right, adding, "Girls want to be MRS GEORGE CLOONEY and MRS MEL GIBSON. There doesn't seem to be anyone who wants to be MR CHER." (c) 2002 World Entertainment News Network

Melissa Etheridge Comments on Rosie

March 1, 2002, World Entertainment News Network
"We have had many long talks over Margaritas about the world of coming out and all of that." Lesbian rocker MELISSA ETHERIDGE admits she has provided a shoulder for chat show host ROSIE O'DONNELL to cry on. (c) 2002 World Entertainment News Network

Reno on tour openly courts gay voters

By WES ALLISON, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 2, 2002
Gay activists applaud her stop at an all-gay resort, but some political analysts fear her approach could alienate conservative Democrats.
ST. PETERSBURG -- Julian Moore isn't accustomed to being a coveted demographic.
At 39, he has never even bothered to vote. Then Janet Reno gave him someone to vote for.
"I did not register to vote until she decided to run," Moore said as Reno hobnobbed nearby, her dark head bobbing well above the Friday night cocktail crowd at Suncoast Resort Hotel.
"She's for gay rights, and I believe she'll probably be for gay adoption," Moore said. "When she speaks, she means what she says."
Moore and his partner, David Bastoni, were among about 40 people who attended the $150-per-person fundraiser, Reno's first in Pinellas County since she announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination for governor of Florida.
That she made the stop at the Suncoast Resort, which bills itself as the "world's largest all-gay resort and entertainment complex," suggests she won't hide her liberal views to woo conservative Democrats in the Panhandle and central Florida, and that she'll openly seek gay support.
Reno's leading opponent, Bill McBride of Tampa, also has supported gay-friendly initiatives, and gay activists expect him to stump for their vote as well.
Political analysts and gay activists can't recall leading gubernatorial candidates ever courting gay voters so overtly, especially outside South Florida. Those who attended Reno's fundraiser -- as well as those who waited outside to show their support -- said it's long overdue.
"I've been here for 25 years, and until this time it's been low key," said Georgann McConnell, 45, of Belleair Beach.
She and her partner, Lee LaRosa, nursed Icehouse beer while waiting for Reno, hoping to get her autograph.
"There is a stigma, to this day. I hope it won't hurt her," McConnell said.
Most at the fundraiser said they doubted it would.
"We're a sitcom now," said Richard Harris, 34, of St. Petersburg, who came for a drink but stayed to see Reno. "Once you've got a top-10 sitcom -- Will & Grace -- we're accepted by the masses. I'm pleased it's less of a dirty issue."
Maybe. Some analysts said appearing too friendly with gays could hurt Reno among conservative Democrats in Central and North Florida, especially against Republican Gov. Jeb Bush.
"It's dangerous for her," said Verne Kennedy, a pollster in Pensacola. "But if she can't get a crowd, her campaign is not going anywhere anyway. She didn't draw much of a crowd up here" this week.
Others, however, said recent advances by McBride's campaign have forced Reno to pay more attention to her liberal base.
"McBride has picked up some key endorsements, he has some momentum, he's attracting attention, and she is probably having to refocus on the primary instead of the general election," said Lance de Haven Smith, a professor of public administration and policy at Florida State University in Tallahassee.
Gay rights also may edge into the fall campaign: This week, entertainer and foster parent Rosie O'Donnell said she will work to overturn Florida's prohibition against allowing homosexuals to adopt.
O'Donnell, who is expected to publicly acknowledge soon that she's a lesbian, sponsored a Dec. 30 fundraiser for Reno in Miami Beach.
Reno said she supports changing the law to allow a judge to determine the fitness of adoptive parents.
McBride said he believes the question will be settled in the courts and won't become an issue in the fall. A Bush spokeswoman said the governor supports the current law.
Friday was day five of Reno's Red Truck Tour, a 15-day jaunt from Panama City to Miami. The tour leaves St. Petersburg this morning for Fort Lauderdale for a scheduled luncheon with Lambda Legal Defense, a gay-rights group. She returns to Central Florida on Sunday with stops in Lakeland and Cypress Gardens.
Reno said she's not worried about how her courtship of gay voters will play with others.
"All communities are important," she said before leaving for Friday's fundraiser. "My position is that all Floridians should be voting, should be participating and should have the opportunity to be heard."
The Suncoast Resort, 3000 34th St. S, opened about three years ago. A sprawling 9 acres, it sports shops, a pool, tennis courts, volleyball and eight bars, including the Lunar dance club, Flamingo show bar, Courtyard Tiki bar and the Suncoast Eagle leather bar.
After the fundraiser, Reno headed to the Palladium Theatre downtown for a short speech before a play entitled The Story of Jerry O, which organizer Andrew Conners described "as a sort of gay My Fair Lady." The play was a benefit for an AIDS-HIV support group, and Reno, who has Parkinson's disease, discussed living with a chronic illness.
Conners said he originally invited Reno to speak at the play, then added the fundraiser later. He said the campaign was amenable when he explained it would be at a gay resort.
Nadine Smith, director of the civil rights group Equality Florida, said Reno and McBride must work to earn the support of homosexual voters, as do the other Democratic candidates, House Minority Leader Lois Frankel and state Sen. Darryl Jones.
"There was a time when just the willingness to meet was considered support," Smith said. "Those days are gone." McBride pitches himself as the sensible alternative to Reno. A decorated Vietnam veteran with close ties to business, McBride contends only he is moderate enough to win enough votes in Central and North Florida to beat Bush. His campaign manager, Robin Rorapaugh, said she doesn't believe courting the gay vote will hurt him, either.
"We're going to be competing for those votes," she said.
Bob Poe, chairman of the state Democratic Party, said the party has no way of knowing what percentage of its members are homosexual, but they are "vocal and visible."
Nationally, exit polls by the Voter News Service found that gays, lesbians and bisexuals accounted for 4 percent to 5 percent of the electorate in the 1998 elections. Of them, 65 percent voted Democratic.
"Overall, gays are more visible in politics, nationally and in Florida," said Nicol Rae, chairman of the political science department at Florida International University in Miami.
"It probably would not be good for Janet Reno's election strategy for gay issues to feature prominently in the fall campaign. But, on the other hand, if she wins the primary, she will be relying on this constituency." -- Times political editor Adam Smith contributed to this report.

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Friday, March 01, 2002

GLBT NEWZ 03/01/02 Information is power!

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NYC "Failing to Enforce Civil Rights Laws"

Civil Rights Groups Demand City Revitalize Fight Against Discrimination; Call for Sweeping Changes Recommended by NYC Bar Association
(NEW YORK, February 28) - In a joint letter to Mayor Bloomberg released Thursday, a broad coalition of civil rights groups demand that New York City rejuvenate its Human Rights Commission and Law Department and treat civil rights enforcement as seriously as other law enforcement.
The civil rights groups called for the adoption of measures recommended in a scathing report from the New York City Bar Association, "It Is Time to Enforce the Law: A Report on Fulfilling the Promise of the New York City Human Rights Law." The report charges that New York City has been failing to enforce its civil rights law.
"With the wounds reopened by today's reversal of three convictions in the Abner Louima case, the need to unite the City is underlined anew. A clear, unequivocal commitment to anti-discrimination law enforcement -- important in its own right -- can also help heal the City," said Craig Gurian, principal author of the Bar Association report.
In the letter to Mayor Bloomberg and City Council leadership, the civil rights groups noted the sorry record of past years:
· The City's Law Department has failed to bring any prosecutions under the City Human Rights Law in 10 years - when it had explicit legal authority to investigate and prosecute broad patterns of discrimination;
· The City's Commission on Human Rights has failed to create any deterrent against discrimination. It has a case backlog of more than 4,000 complaints. Discriminators face no serious penalties, with median settlements of only $2,000 per case. The Commission has taken only four cases through trial and decision in the past five years. It has failed to impose civil penalties, it has failed to initiate its own investigations, and it has not achieved reasonable settlements for discrimination victims;
· The City has slashed the Commission staff by 75% over the last 10 years, to 37 from 152.
· Create a civil rights unit in the Law Department. There are 650 attorneys in the Law Department; the Bar Association report calls for initial staffing of such a unit to be six lawyers, a mere one percent of the total;
· Create housing and employment testing programs that actively root out discrimination;
· Restore funding to the Commission so it can enforce the City's laws against discrimination.
Organizations signing the February 28 letter include Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association, Lambda Legal, National Employment Law Project, Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, and the New York City chapters of the National Employment Lawyers Association and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Juan Figueroa, executive director of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, said: "If the Commission is serious about addressing housing discrimination, there is one proven way it can do so: testing. Latinos are the victims of steering and outright denials on the basis of their national origin on a daily basis. Private landlords and the government itself through housing authorities continue to treat names like Rodriguez, Morales, and Sanchez differently from others. In a tight housing market these families suffer even worse fates. It is time the Commission engages in a fight against these unscrupulous and illegal practices."
Michael Adams, deputy legal director at Lambda Legal, said: "For New Yorkers who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered, our primary legal protection against discrimination is provided by the local human rights law. But because we have had no real enforcement by the City, this protection has been an empty promise for gay people and everybody else. It is high time that changed."
Anne Davis, the director of Legal Affairs and Programs of the New York City Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, said: "Like any law enforcement agency, the Commission has got to act promptly on cases it gets in the future. People with progressive illnesses who have been turned down for a job because of their illness need a hearing while they are still able to work, and before years of delay make it impossible for a fact-finder to understand that the employer really could have accommodated them at the time the applicant applied for the job."
Gurian, the principal author of the Bar Association report, said: "The single most frightening thing to discriminators and their lawyers is the prospect of an anti-discrimination agency having the ability to jump on a meritorious case the day it is filed, and to investigate and prosecute that case relentlessly until justice is done. The Commission on Human Rights needs to become such an agency." Copyright 2002 Gay Wired. All rights reserved.

Sharon Smith speaks in dog-maul trial

Linda Deutsch, Associated Press
Thursday, February 28, 2002 / 05:34 PM
SUMMARY: A defense lawyer in the dog-mauling case suggested that Diane Whipple might still be alive if her partner had reported a previous dog attack.
LOS ANGELES -- A defense lawyer in the San Francisco dog-mauling case stunned the court Thursday by suggesting that Diane Whipple might still be alive if her "life partner" had complained about a previous dog attack.
Nedra Ruiz, attorney for defendant Marjorie Knoller, aggressively cross-examined Sharon Smith, who had been tearful as she told of Whipple's prior encounters with two dogs that ultimately killed her on Jan. 26, 2001.
Knoller, 46, who was at the scene, is charged with second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter and having a mischievous animal that killed a human being. Her husband, Robert Noel, 60, faces the latter two charges.
Smith said Whipple was bitten on the hand by one of the dogs in December 2000 and after that "she was very scared of those dogs, terrified."
Smith said Whipple told her she warned Knoller's husband, defendant Robert Noel, "to control your dog" but that he just stared at her.
From then on, Smith said, she and Whipple referred to the big animals -- Bane and Hera -- as "those dogs" and to their owners as "those people."
"Every time we passed the dogs, she made sure I was between her and the dogs," Smith said.
Whipple would not leave their apartment without looking out the door to make sure the dogs were not in sight, Smith said.
If they encountered the dogs in the lobby, Whipple would flatten herself against the wall and then leave quickly, Smith said.
Smith said one dog once lunged at her: "It scared me . I jumped back." But she said Noel pulled the dog back.
Ruiz focused on that during cross-examination, saying Noel protected her.
The attorney then began asking why Smith had not made any complaints to the couple or to anyone else about the incidents.
"You did nothing to remedy the situation where your life partner lived in fear?" Ruiz said to Smith.
"We took action," said Smith. "We stayed away from the dogs. I didn't make a complaint. Now I wish I had."
"Do you consider that had you made a complaint, Diane Whipple might be alive today?" Ruiz asked, drawing loud gasps in the courtroom.
Smith shook her head back and forth, and the attorney continued questioning her on the issue.
"I never spoke to Mr. Noel or Ms. Knoller before the bite or after the bite," Smith said. "I wanted nothing to do with them."
Ruiz also suggested that Smith, who has filed a lawsuit, could profit from the death of her partner.
Smith said her aim is to take whatever money she gets from the suit and place it in a foundation she has started in Whipple's name to benefit abused children, cancer research and other causes.
Smith provided jurors a poignant account of Whipple's last day -- how she called Smith at work and urged her to come home early because she was going to buy groceries, make dinner and had plans for them to go to a movie.
Whipple had groceries with her when she was attacked outside her apartment door. Jurors were shown pictures of the groceries strewn across the bloody hall.
Smith said she knew nothing of the incident until she tried to return home and was blocked by police cars and fire engines. She said the landlord told her what happened and took her to the hospital where Whipple was dying.
"Did you see Diane?" asked Assistant District Attorney Jim Hammer.
"Yes," she said. "... She was alive but not conscious."
"Were you there when she died?" he asked.
"Yes, I was," the witness said, crying softly.
Outside court, Hammer and a lawyer in Smith's suit said the defense originally blamed Whipple for her own death, then blamed police for not giving her adequate first-aid, and now blamed her partner.
"There are certain lines no attorney should cross and they crossed it today," said attorney Michael Cardoza.
Smith said, "I was shocked by her question and deeply offended by it."
Ruiz did not speak outside court.
Earlier, prosecutors showed jurors photographs of the mouths of two dogs, but dropped plans to display Bane's skull when Superior Court Judge James Warren suggested it would be "ghoulish."
Forensic dental expert Greg Mar showed plaster casts of the dogs' teeth and matched puncture wounds on Whipple's neck to Bane. Other wounds could have been made by either dog, he said, though he could not include or exclude Hera as a biter in the attack.
Jurors also saw police photos of the death scene, including one that showed the defendants' doormat bearing the inscription "Ask not for whom the dog barks, it barks for thee." The trial, which was moved to Los Angeles due to extensive publicity, will resume on Monday.

Arsonist says he targeted gay man

Police have arrested a man who says he's responsible for the death of a Santa Barbara, Calif., gay man, reports news station KEYT-TV. Martin Hartman walked into the police department Tuesday morning and claimed to have set a fire on Sunday that killed one 37-year-old man and displaced several other people. Police say Hartman described specifics of the fire only the arsonist would know. Hartman also allegedly told them he doused the victim with gasoline and set him ablaze because the man was gay. Hartman was arrested for homicide and arson. The name of the victim is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.


George Michael's video too hot for Top of the Pops

BBC News reports that the video for George Michael's new single "Freeek!" is a little too steamy for the BBC network's prime-time Top of the Pops show. A spokesperson for the show said that only two minutes of the video would air during the show's early broadcast but that the complete video would be featured on the show's Saturday night repeat later in the evening. The video, which cost a reported £1 million to produce, features shots of nudity and suggestive dance routines. "George Michael is always pushing the boundaries of what is and what is not acceptable. We admire him for that," said the TOTP spokesperson. Top of the Pops airs in the United States on BBC America.

March's In the Life features Ian McKellen, Tammy Baldwin

The March episode of In the Life, the LGBT newsmagazine show that airs on PBS stations nationwide, focuses on leadership, with a segment featuring a recent Advocate poll that asked, "Who do you think should lead the gay and lesbian movement?" The show will also spotlight Oscar nominee Sir Ian McKellen, Rep. Sabrina Sojourner, Virginia Apuzzo, Rep. Tammy Baldwin, and Bunceton, Mo., mayor Gene Ulrich. To find showtimes and stations for In the Life in your area, visit .


Study: Why Whites Are Less Susceptible to AIDS

By Laurie Garrett
February 28, 2002
Seattle - A team of New York researchers may have found an explanation for why, in the United States and overseas, heterosexual transmission of HIV is rare among whites, but more common among Asians and people of African descent.
Dr. Harold Burger, of the New York State Wadsworth Laboratory in Albany, and his team found a statistically highly significant set of genetic differences between HIV-positive and HIV-negative American women, which are most sharply seen when comparing women by race.
Their study focuses on 2,047 HIV-positive women, compared with a pool of 558 race- and age-matched HIV-negative women. The women came from Brooklyn, the Bronx, Manhattan, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago.
The Burger team focused on a genetic mutation that had previously been shown in men to be protective against HIV infection. The mutant gene, called delta-32, if inherited from both parents, results in an abnormal, and in this case protective, receptor called ccR5 on the surface of their cells.
The mutant delta-32 form cannot be recognized by HIV, therefore the virus cannot infect the cell.
An individual who has the heterozygous form of the gene, meaning inheriting the mutation from only one parent, can be infected, but some studies in men have indicated that they are less likely to rapidly develop the lethal disease after infection.
The Burger study is the first to examine a large pool of women for the mutation, and to compare the women by race.
Overall, the researchers discovered that all HIV-negative women were about twice as likely to have the protective delta-32 gene than were infected women.
"This is almost a no-brainer," Burger said. "This gene in heterozygous form confers partial protection against HIV. So if you've got it, you're partially protected. If you're in a population group that doesn't have that protection, you're at greater risk."
White women carry the heterozygous form of delta-32 far more frequently than any other women. About 1.2 percent of all white women who are HIV-negative carry the mutant gene. Only 0.6 percent of the HIV-infected white women carry the gene.
Only 0.2 percent of HIV-negative African-American women carry the delta-32 gene. And among those who are HIV-positive, the frequency of delta- 32 is only 0.1 percent, or half as much.
Contrary to what has been suggested in studies of men, being delta-32 heterozygous doesn't appear to affect the ultimate disease outcome of HIV infection in women, Burger said. It does, however, significantly affect the likelihood of getting infected in the first place.
"This supports mathematical predictions that having a low frequency of delta-32 in non-Caucasians may render those populations vulnerable to far greater and more explicit HIV epidemics," Burger said in a presentation yesterday at the Ninth Annual Retrovirus Conference in Seattle. "And it may explain, in part, the rapid epidemics we see unfolding in Asia and Africa." Copyright © 2002, Newsday, Inc.

Getting Away With Murder

by Rich Peters Newscenter, Vancouver
(March 1, Vancouver) The search for Aaron Webster's killers has come up empty, and the case has been moved "to the back burner". Officially it is still an ongoing investigation, but unofficially Vancouver Police admit it is headed for the Cold Cases File.
Webster's badly beaten naked body was found by a friend near the Bridle Path, a popular cruising area, in Stanley Park November 17th. He died before before an ambulance arrived.
Police said that he had been hit repeatedly in the head and upper body with a baseball bat or a pool cue. Det. Scott Dreimal the lead investigator in the case officially listed the killing as a hate-crime.
Witnesses told police that three men, one carrying a bat, were seen in the park that night.
Several weeks later a man came forward saying he had been assaulted by several men two weeks before Webster's murder. The man, Edward Smith, told local media that one of the men had carried a baseball bat, but it had not been used in the attack against him. Smith said his attackers sped off in a green Jeep Cherokee. He said the man with the baseball bat was tall, skinny, and fair-haired.
At one point nearly a dozen police officers worked on solving the case. Today, only two are assigned, and work on it only when they are not busy with more recent crimes. Neither officer returned calls from to discuss the case.
The murder of the popular 41 year old Webster galvanized Vancouver's gay community. But, so far, all that has come out of it are increased police patrols in Stanley Park.
It has never been revealed whether Smith were ever interviewed. Nor will police say why a report made out by Smith the night of his attack was never filed.
Vancouver activists believe that if Smith's case had been followed up Webster might never have been killed.
Shortly after the murder Det. Dreimal called for a computer data base to track gay hate-crimes. It has yet to be set up. Three months after police officers and politicians joined Vancouver's gay community in a memorial service to remember Webster's life, he is all but forgotten expect by those in Vancouver's gay community.

Gay Politician's Security Beefed Up After Threats

by Newscenter Staff
(March 1, Vancouver) Liberal MLA Lorne Mayencourt, the gay politician who represents West Vancouver in the British Columbia legislature has increased security following death threats.
Mayencourt's riding includes Vancouver's gay village.
He is one of several B.C. Liberal MLAs, including Premier Gordon Campbell to receive threats following a massive austerity drive by the government.
Campbell's constituency office was nearly set ablaze last week when a crude firebomb was tossed through the mail slot.
Mayencourt is keeping the doors to his constituency office locked. "People from the area used to be able to just walk in if they needed anything," Mayencourt said.
''It's changed the way I can be available to my constituents, which is unfortunate,'' he said. Since winning a landslide election last year and virtually wiping out all opposition, Campbell has been engaged in a slash and burn economic programme eliminating 11,700 full-time jobs, restructuring welfare, cutting programs and increasing debt .

Columbus Conundrum

by Newscenter Staff
(March 1, Columbus, Ohio) Civic workers in Columbus, Ohio, may get domestic partner benefits after all; or they may lose what rights they already have.
A city commission ruled this week that Columbus discriminated against a gay city employee when it did not offer the man's partner the same benefits it gives to the spouses of married employees.
The Community Relations Commission decided that the city violated its own law against discrimination by not providing health-insurance benefits to the partner of James R. Hartman.
Hartman has worked for the Columbus Health Department for 22 years.
When he was denied coverage for his partner, Hartman filed the complaint in 1997.
The ruling reopens the whole issue of domestic partner benefits. In December 1998, the City Council approved benefits for domestic partners, then two months later unanimously repealed them after residents threatened a referendum.
Resolving the case with Hartman could mean gay employees would receive health-insurance benefits for their partners. Prosecution would mean the city would charge itself with discrimination.
City politicians are refusing comment on the ruling until the municipal lawyers study the ruling.
But, Jay Meena, an opponent of the 1998 domestic-partner legislation, is suggesting that rather than provide the benefits, either the City Council or voters "could repeal the part of the ordinance that CRC determined is being violated.'' Meena says there is no need for any protections in Columbus for "special interest groups." He says he believes he has enough support from voters to repeal the civil rights protections for gays that led to the ruling.

Hospital Denies "Insensitive" In Gay Visitation Case

A hospital in Baltimore, US, which is being sued for preventing a gay man seeing his dying partner, claims that during preliminary investigations nothing has been found to "substantitate" the man's case.
Robert Lee Daniel was said to be so afraid of dying alone in hospital with AIDS and having his suffering prolonged by life-support machines, he drafted a document which gave his partner, William Robert Flanigan Jr., the power of attorney to make medical decisions for him. It specified that Daniel didn't want any life-sustaining treatment and that Flanigan should be by his side.
In October 2000, the University of Maryland's R. Adams Emergency Unit barred Flanigan from his partner's room because he was not "family," according to a legal claim that Flanigan filed against the hospital. Flanigan was unable to tell doctors he didn't want life-saving treatment and for several hours Danile was put on a respirator before he died.
It is still unclear why the hospital did not have the power-of-attorney document that should have dictated Daniel's final wishes, repored the Balimore Sun. The University of Maryland Medical System, said that hospital administrators could not find a copy of Daniel's power-of-attorney document and that it might not have been sent from the hospital Daniel had been transferred from.

Roger Moore: I'm Gay and Not Proud

February 28, 2002, World Entertainment News Network
Former JAMES BOND star ROGER MOORE is playing a gay man in his next film - even though he doesn't want to!
The suave star will portray a homosexual cruise ship passenger in BOAT TRIP, which will also feature CUBA GOODING JNR - but Moore claims he's only taken the part out of necessity.
"Unfortunately, the material that comes my way is not what I really want to do," he laments. (c) 2002 World Entertainment News Network

China: Gays Use S&M As Defense Argument

by Patrick Poon
February 28, 2002, South China Morning Post
A barrister representing five gay rights activists accused of obstructing a police officer during a protest said yesterday they were only expressing their opinions about bondage and sadomasochism when they tied one of the group to the gates of Central police station.
Giving his final submission in Western Court, defence counsel Douglas Kwok Kam-hung argued the defendants' actions did not cause any breach of the peace and they were staging a lawful protest.
Noel Chen, 28, Yeo Wai-wai, 25, Yeung King-yip, 23, Ng Chi-keung, 31, and Kenneth Cheung Kam-hung, 26, deny the obstruction charge.
They are accused of having hindered Senior Inspector Lam Hung- chuen in maintaining order on August 19 last year during a protest organised by gay and lesbian group Rainbow Action against a raid on the Fetish Fashion sex shop.
The police raid on the shop in Cochrane Street, Central, took place on August 12.
The Rainbow Action group is not related to the shop, the court heard.
Prosecutor Simon Tam said it was "incomprehensible" for Mr Kwok to argue that Senior Inspector Lam was not executing his duty when he arrested the defendants because there was no need to arrest them. The senior inspector was on duty, Mr Tam said.
Senior Inspector Lam testified on Tuesday that he decided to arrest the four men and one woman when they ignored his requests to untie Chen from the gates.
The court heard the five were among a group of about 10 demonstrators, followed by scores of journalists, outside the police station.
Magistrate Stephen Wong Wing-chi is to deliver his verdict on March 15. (C) 2002 South China Morning Post. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved

Tory Leader Meets Gay Group

The Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith MP has held a meeting with members of the Tory Campaign for Homosexual Equality (TORCHE), to discuss party policy. It was the first in a series of meetings.
Andy Jennings, chairman of TORCHE, said: "Iain and I agreed on a large number of issues. We want to come up with real solutions to real problems that gay men and lesbians face in their daily lives. Iain agreed that gay people in particular resented state interference in their lives - a central tenet of Conservatism. We will be working closely with the party to formulate the right policies for the gay community".
The meeting follows recent statements by Oliver Letwin MP, the Shadow Home Secretary, who outlined the Conservative Party`s pledge to find practical solutions to problems faced by same sex couples.
James Davenport, Deputy Chairman of TORCHE commented: "It is now the case that the Conservatives are streets ahead of Labour on gay issues. Whether it`s hospital visiting rights, pension rights or a whole host of other issues, where does Labour stand? The truth is - nowhere". © 1999, 2001 Rainbow Network. All Rights Reserved. Partnered with New Media Spark.

Gays Hold Hunger Strike Against Mugabe

A group of protestors, including members of Britain's lesbian and gay community, are holding a hunger strike to highlight human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwean exiles and British supporters will stage a two-day hunger strike outside the Zimbabwe High Commission in London this weekend. The hunger strike will coincide with the Commonwealth summit in Australia.
Alan Wilkinson, a gay Zimbabwean exile who organised the protest said: "We are calling on the Commonwealth to impose tough sanctions against the Mugabe regime."
He continued: "Our priority is for Commonwealth member states to agree to issue warrants for the arrest of President Mugabe on charges of torture and genocide. That would make Mugabe worried. The fear that he could be brought to trial, like Slobodan Milosevic, might help curb some of his worst brutalities".
The protesters are urging the Commonwealth to issue warrants for the arrest of President Mugabe on charges of torture and genocide under the Convention Against Torture and the Genocide Convention. They are calling for the suspension of Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth, until Mugabe stops his human rights violations. In addition to these demands, the hunger strikers are seeking to ban the export of luxury goods to Zimbabwe to deny Mugabe and his supporters the opportunity to benefit from their ill-gotten gains. They are urging authorities to send 1,000 human rights monitors to all regions of Zimbabwe to report on intimidation and violence, and to deter human rights abuses.
The hunger strikers will be outside Zimbabwe House from 10am Saturday until 8pm Sunday. They will sleep overnight on the pavement outside the High Commission in a non-stop vigil for human rights in Zimbabwe. © 1999, 2001 Rainbow Network. All Rights Reserved. Partnered with New Media Spark.

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NEWS from the Human Rights Campaign

919 18th Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20006
Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2002
Contact: David M. Smith
Phone: (202) 216-1547
Pager: (800) 386-5996
FleetBoston, Eastman Kodak, Billingsley Co. Testify at Hearing
Shell Oil and Coors Brewing among the newest U.S. Companies to Support
Federal Bill that would Prohibit Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation,
Says HRC
WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign urged the Senate to act quickly and
vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act following today's hearing on
the bill in the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. The hearing
featured testimony in support of ENDA by executives representing some of the
most prestigious corporations in America, says HRC.
If passed, ENDA would ensure that gay and lesbian Americans have
equal rights in the job market and workplace. Specifically, it would bar
employers from using a person's sexual orientation as the basis for
employment decisions, including hiring, firing, promotion or compensation.
"As long as tens of thousands of people go to work each day with fear in
their hearts, our nation fails to live up to its promise of basic fairness
for all," said Elizabeth Birch, HRC's executive director. "We must
consciously choose to mold an America where each person's contributions are
respected and where everyone is allowed to work with dignity. We look
forward to a mark-up on ENDA in committee soon and a Senate vote as promised
by Sen. Daschle before the end of the session."
The hearing consisted of two panels. The first highlighted corporate and
labor support for the legislation. Business leaders and sixty-five
companies, including twenty-nine major corporations have endorsed ENDA. The
second panel featured, Matthew Coles, a civil rights attorney with the ACLU
who answered legal questions from the committee about ENDA, and Lawrence
Lane of Long Island, N.Y., who told his personal story of discrimination in
the workplace.
FleetBoston President and CEO Charles K. Gifford testified that
passing ENDA is about promoting equal opportunity and eliminating
"The lack of workplace protections based on sexual orientation
leaves a gaping hole in America's commitment to equal opportunity and is an
invitation to the perpetuation of stereotype and prejudice," Gifford told
the committee. "I urge the Congress to come together and see to it that
discrimination against gays and lesbians in the workplace will soon be
viewed as an unacceptable relic of another time."
Eastman Kodak Company's Robert Berman, director of human resources
and vice president, testified that passing ENDA is a matter of extending
fairness and equality to all citizens.
"ENDA embodies the values already contained in Kodak's corporate
values, our non-discrimination policy, as well as the principles intrinsic
to our nation's fundamental civil rights laws," Berman testified. "The
Employment Non-Discrimination Act is a logical extension of the fundamental
value of fairness to an area that has been neglected for far too long."
Lucy Billingsley is a life-long Republican and a founder and partner
of the Billingsley Co., which employs 30 people and manages a broad range of
real estate activities in Texas. At today's hearing she testified how ENDA
is good for small businesses.
"Some might voice concern that adding federal workplace protections
for gays and lesbians will be a costly burden to America's small business
owners," said Billingsley. "But actually, not doing so would be the more
costly route. When people trust their employer they will be more adaptable
to changing business forces," she continued. "Inclusive workplace policies
can improve recruitment and lower turnover, boost productivity and lead to
business opportunities."
Stephen L. Miller, chairman and president of Shell Oil Company,
submitted testimony stating that ENDA would benefit businesses by creating
a uniform national policy that would simplify administration.
"A federal law would level the playing field for corporate America
with a single, straight-forward policy against discrimination," explained
Miller. "Currently our business has to comply with twelve differing state
laws against sexual orientation discrimination, while our employees in other
states are afforded no legal protection. One uniform federal policy would
ease our administrative burden."
Others companies wrote letters in support of ENDA including
Microsoft, Capital One, Hewlett Packard and Coors Brewing Company. In a
letter to HRC, Coors Brewing Company President and CEO W. Leo Kiely III
wrote, "Coors supports the efforts by the Human Rights Campaign to ensure
that all employees are afforded equal employment opportunity, regardless of
sexual orientation. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act provides a vehicle
for this goal to be achieved."
Currently, it is legal to fire someone in 38 states because he or she is
gay. The twelve states that prohibit discrimination based on sexual
orientation are California, Connecticut, , Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland,
Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont and
Wisconsin. Additionally, the District of Columbia prohibits discrimination
based on sexual orientation.
ENDA enjoys widespread, bipartisan support. The Senate bill's lead
cosponsors are Sens. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.; Arlen Specter, R-Pa.;
Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn. and James Jeffords, I-Vt. House lead sponsors are
Reps. Christopher Shays, R-Conn.; Barney Frank, D-Mass.; Mark Foley, R-Fla.
and Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif.
The public also supports the principles of ENDA, according to a
June 2001 Gallup Poll. The poll asked respondents, "In general, do you think
homosexuals should or should not have equal rights in terms of job
opportunities?" Up from 56 percent in 1977, 85 percent of respondents
favored equal opportunity in employment for gays and lesbians. Only 11
percent thought gays and lesbians should be discriminated against based on
sexual orientation in the workplace.
A nationwide Harris Interactive poll also taken in June 2001 found that 61
percent of Americans favored a federal law prohibiting job discrimination
based on sexual orientation. Additionally, the survey found that 42 percent
of adults surveyed believe that such a law currently exists.
HRC has produced a 48-page report, Documenting Discrimination, which gives
specific examples of people who were discriminated against in the workplace
because of their real or perceived sexual orientation.
This report can be downloaded at:
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.

Study: Drug advances propel unsafe sex

By Randy Dotinga, / Network
Wednesday, February 27, 2002 / 04:38 PM
SUMMARY: Powerful AIDS drugs are making the world safe for unsafe sex in the minds of gay men, according a new survey from San Francisco.
Powerful AIDS drugs are making the world safe for unsafe sex in the minds of gay men, according a new survey from San Francisco.
Nearly half of 3,300 gay men surveyed in 1999 reported having unprotected anal sex with more than one partner, compared to 24 percent just five years earlier. At the same time, more men appear to be getting infected with HIV.
"The increase in unsafe behavior has overwhelmed the beneficial effect of treatment," said study co-author Dr. Mitch Katz, director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health.
Katz and his colleagues reviewed several surveys of gay men in San Francisco and reported their findings in the March issue of the American Journal of Public Health. The authors say their study is the first to examine how the amazing success of AIDS drugs is affecting infection rates among gay males.
In 1995, only four percent of people with AIDS in San Francisco were on the so-called "cocktail" treatment. The number grew to 54 percent by 1999, according to the study. The AIDS drugs often shrink the level of virus in the blood to zero, making people less infectious. (The virus remains in the body, however.)
Despite the rise in advanced treatment, infection rate did not drop over time. The percentage of men who tested positive for HIV at anonymous testing sites rose from 2.1 percent in 1996 to 4.2 percent in 1999. The rates stayed steady at about 5.2 percent at sexually transmitted disease clinics.
Katz attributes the infection rates to unsafe sex.
Meanwhile, at least one other sexually transmitted disease is on the rise. According to the study, the number of cases of rectal gonorrhea in the city rose from 72 in 1994 to 160 in 1999. The disease generally hits "bottoms" -- men who are on the receiving end of anal sex.
Stephen Gibson, program director of the San Francisco-based Stop AIDS Project, said the number of gay men having unsafe sex is probably leveling off.
His organization has launched education projects to reach HIV-positive gay men and black men who are "on the down-low" -- those who consider themselves straight but have sex with gay men. The new program, in fact, is called "D.L."
Gibson called for more education of gay men about the true risks they face. Contrary to popular belief, HIV is not transmitted only from tops to bottoms, he said. "A lot of people think that if I'm HIV-negative and a top, I'm less likely to get infected than a bottom. And bottoms perceive that if I'm HIV-positive I'm less likely to infect someone than if I'm a top. Those are both true, but it's not the whole story."

Spanish gay priest hopes to stir debate

Jon ben Asher,
Wednesday, February 27, 2002 / 04:40 PM
SUMMARY: Jose Mantero, the first Catholic priest to come out in Spain, is not about to be silenced.
MADRID -- Jose Mantero, the first Catholic priest to come out in Spain, is not about to be silenced.
Mantero, who was banned from his duties as a priest in a small town in southwest Spain after he was profiled in Zero, a Madrid gay magazine, said Tuesday he wants to stir a debate on celibacy within the church.
"I will continue the fight because it would now be absurd not to . the debate has come to the boil and it's vital to fan the fire," he said.
Mantero has become somewhat of a celebrity since the article appeared. "We've had 1,500 e-mails from priests and other people in the religious community in two weeks, plus around 200 letters, and they're still arriving," said Miguel Angel Lopez, Zero's director.
Even Mantero is surprised by the support he's gotten. But, the 39-year-old says that for the church to survive it must address the question of celibacy.
"One of the reasons there's a shortage of priests is the celibacy vow," he says. Mantero has found support among many of his parishioners in the small town of Valverde del Camino. Few seemed interested in his sexuality. Mantero sees this as evidence social attitudes are changing faster than those of the church.

Dog-mauling defendants claim their pets were no threat

After neighbors of the owners of the two huge dogs that fatally mauled lesbian lacrosse coach Diane Whipple testified that they had personally been terrorized by the animals, prosecutors on Tuesday showed jurors evidence that the dogs' owners claimed their presa canarios never scared anyone.
"Did you ever have any incident whatsoever where your dogs lunged at someone?" a prosecutor asked Robert Noel, who owned the dogs with wife Marjorie Knoller, during grand jury testimony in March 2001. "No," Noel answered at the time. "My dogs never scared people." Some 30 witnesses have come forward to say that the dogs aggressively confronted them for months prior to Whipple's death--lunging, snarling, growling, and once biting someone. Lawyers on both sides of the case said Tuesday that the jury's decision will hinge on whether jurors believe the couple recognized that their dogs, which weighed over 100 pounds each, were dangerous. Noel and Knoller told the grand jury last year that they saw no such indications. Asked if their dogs acted aggressively toward people, Noel testified, "Not that I can recall."

New Mexico gay bashers get slap on the wrist

Three Carlsbad, N.M., men accused of beating a New Mexico State University student last year after asking if he was gay will serve 30 days in jail and be on probation for more than two years. Kirk Westfall, Rustin Short, and Philip Austin Lanier were sentenced Monday by state district judge Stephen Bridgforth. Short and Lanier were freshmen at NMSU, located in Las Cruces, and withdrew shortly after the beating. Westfall had been living in Las Cruces but was not a student at the school, campus police said. A male dorm resident reported that he had been followed into his residence hall by the three men, who asked why he was "so gay." He retreated to a female friend's room, whereupon the men reportedly left. A second dorm resident told NMSU police that three men knocked at his door asking if he was gay. When he said he wasn't, one of the men punched him in the face and called him "a gay lover." The victim said the three men then punched and kicked him.

Tampa pension board rejects surviving partner's appeal

After hours of emotional testimony, it took a city pension board only minutes Tuesday to deny Mickie Mashburn the pension benefits of slain Tampa, Fla., police officer Lois Marrero, her longtime domestic partner. The hearing was an appeal of an August 28 decision by the firefighter and police pension board unanimously rejecting Mashburn's application for Marrero's pension death benefits. Marrero, who was killed by a fleeing bank robber in July, was paid $55,000 a year. She did not leave a will. Mashburn was seeking the $28,000 yearly benefit paid to surviving spouses.
Mashburn's attorneys said they were shocked by the board's attitude and vowed to appeal its decision. "The lack of discussion [by the board] was mind-boggling," said Karen Doering, Mashburn's attorney. "I can't help but wonder if we were arguing to a rigged jury. The indifference of the board members was chilling." Mashburn appeared drained as she answered questions from reporters after the hearing but said she would continue her fight..

"Zero tolerance" for Palm Springs gay events

As the city of Palm Springs, Calif., readies itself for two of the biggest gay events of the year, officials say the city will have a zero-tolerance policy toward illegal drug use and public sex, according to the Palm Springs Desert Sun.
The White Party--one of the world's largest gay events--is scheduled for Easter weekend, March 30-31, and is expected to attract more than 20,000 mostly gay male revelers. The White Party falls on the same dates this year as the Dinah Shore Weekend, a women's golf tournament and party event known as a major draw for lesbian tourists. Together, the men's and women's parties could bring the largest gay and lesbian crowd ever to the city.
But the White Party doesn't roll into town without controversy. After more than a dozen men overdosed last year on drugs and two others were cited for having sex in public, Palm Springs mayor Will Kleindienst said he wasn't sure the event should be held in the Palm Springs Convention Center again. While Kleindienst relented, he says he is still worried about illegal activity at the event, which is being held at the Palm Springs Convention Center and surrounding hotels. "My concern is the illegal use of drugs at a city-owned public facility," he said. "The city can be liable if someone gets hurt." Police are also concerned but say White Party producer Jeffrey Sanker has been cooperative. "We've made additional requirements to try to make the party more drug-free," Palm Springs police chief Lee Weigel said. Fliers will be posted warning people that drugs are illegal. And unlike last year, Weigel said, police will have a no-tolerance policy: Those who overdose will be arrested.

Rosie's Coy on TV, But Not on the Stage She's Blunt About Sexuality in Raunchy Monologue

by Jeannie Williams
February 27, 2002, USA TODAY, AP Photo/Stuart Ramson, File
As the media trips over itself wondering if and when Rosie O'Donnell will come out, the talk show host cut to the chase Monday during a raunchy comedy routine.
''I'm a dyke!'' she said as part of her act at the Ovarian Cancer Research benefit at Carolines Comedy Club.
It has been widely speculated that O'Donnell will reveal she is a lesbian in her upcoming memoir, Find Me . The timing coincides with the end of her talk show May 22.
Once dubbed the ''Queen of Nice'' by Time magazine, O'Donnell started by saying, ''I'm sick of being (expletive) nice. Fasten your seat belts, here we go.''
She first tackled Barbara Walters ' interview with Anne Heche , Ellen DeGeneres ' former lover, who is now married and pregnant. ''What the hell kind of train wreck was that?''
O'Donnell mimicked Walters' lisp. And wondered why Heche rambled on about being possessed. ''She couldn't just say, 'I was a lesbian for two years, it didn't work out for me.' ''
Said O'Donnell, ''I don't know why people make such a big deal about the gay thing. . . . People are confused, they're shocked, like this is a big revelation to somebody.''
She also said that gay advocates have been on her case.
'' 'Oh, but you were lying,' the gay Nazis say. 'You said you liked Tom Cruise .' I said I wanted him to mow my lawn and bring me a lemonade. I never said I wanted (to perform a sex act on him).''
She also quipped maybe she would be ''gay enough'' if she did something unprintable to Angelina Jolie .
O'Donnell has taped an interview with Diane Sawyer to air as a two-hour show on ABC's PrimeTime Thursday on March 14, to talk chiefly about the case of two gay men in Florida who face having a foster child they raised removed from their home. State law won't let them adopt. O'Donnell also is a foster -- and adoptive -- mother.
She told the club audience of parenting an emotionally damaged 3-year-old girl. Then, ''Come to find out, in order to adopt this child, I would have to perjure myself, would have to sign a document that says in the state of Florida that I am not bisexual or homosexual. The fact that I was unwilling to sign that document meant the child was removed from the house.''
Before the show, O'Donnell told USA TODAY she chose to talk to Sawyer because she wanted an investigative piece on Florida's ban on gay adoption. She told Sawyer if that was done, ''I would like to talk about my life and how (the case) pertains to me.''
Rosie O'Donnell addresses "the gay thing"
Comedian and talk show host Rosie O'Donnell quashed speculation over whether she was planning to come out as a lesbian on TV or in her new memoirs by doing so at a benefit event Monday in New York. reports O'Donnell called herself "a dyke" during a stand-up performance at an Ovarian Cancer Research benefit, adding, "I don't know why people make such a big deal about the gay this is a big revelation to somebody." The Web site also reported that O'Donnell has asked Barbra Streisand to sing "People" on the last Rosie O'Donnell Show, scheduled to air May 22. Streisand's manager, Marty Erlichman, said, "Yes, Rosie has asked Barbra to perform. But I don't know if she can do it. Barbra is currently off on holiday, so I haven't had a chance to talk to her about it." A spokeswoman for Rosie would not confirm or deny reports, saying only, "We're hopeful that a lot of our favorite guests will stop by before the end of the season." Streisand appeared on O'Donnell's show in 1997 and then again in a two-part interview in 1999 but has never sung on the program.

Rosie adds star power to adoption debate

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 28, 2002
A celebrity helped bring a ban against homosexuals adopting children 25 years ago. Now a celebrity may help work toward a repeal.
It took a female celebrity to bring about the controversial Florida law that bans gay people from adopting children. Twenty-five years later, another woman with star power will try to undo it.
Rosie O'Donnell, the talk show host, actor and activist, is expected to take a prominent role this spring in denouncing the law, which the Legislature passed in 1977 as the views of singer Anita Bryant were gaining favor.
Bryant, who served as the pitchwoman for Florida's orange juice industry in the 1970s, also was a religious activist who led opposition to gay rights initiatives and said children were being harmed by the notion of homosexuality. Her crusade began in Miami Beach, where she lived and twice earned the title of "Most Admired Woman" in a poll taken by Good Housekeeping magazine.
O'Donnell, too, has a home in Miami Beach and has been on the cover of Good Housekeeping as well as her own magazine, but the similarities between her and Bryant end there.
O'Donnell, 39, reportedly will acknowledge next month in a television interview that she is a lesbian. She also is a foster parent for one child in Florida and has adopted three children outside the state.
She will be working with the American Civil Liberties Union to "reach people who are in a position of authority on gay adoption -- people who are in a position to make decisions on this," said Eric Ferrero, spokesman for the ACLU's Lesbian and Gay Rights Project.
Her emergence on the issue comes as Florida's gubernatorial race is heating up, and as the ACLU presses a federal appeals court to overturn the state's ban on gay adoptions. A lower court judge in Miami upheld the law in August.
Former Attorney General Janet Reno said Wednesday that she would like the Florida law to be opened up to allow adoptions by gays in some cases.
"What I would want is a law that would allow a judge to decide on a case by case basis," Reno said.
O'Donnell hosted a fundraiser in Miami Beach for Reno in December. Reno is also courting gay voters, and during a visit to St. Petersburg on Friday she plans to visit a gay-themed play and hold a fundraiser at a gay resort.
GOP Gov. Jeb Bush's communications staff indicated he would follow existing state law on gay adoptions but did not return calls requesting amplification.
Tampa lawyer Bill McBride, Reno's most formidable challenger in the Democratic primary, said he didn't think the gay adoption ban would become an issue in the governor's race.
He said he would "wait to see what happens," adding: "I think those issues are going to be sorted out in the courts."
Florida is the only state with a law prohibiting all gay people -- couples and individuals -- from adopting children. Two states, Mississippi and Utah, bar same-sex couples from adopting.
As a foster and adoptive parent, O'Donnell would not appear to be in violation of Florida's ban.
Florida law does not prevent gay people from adopting in other states and moving to Florida, as she has. Nor does it prevent gay people from being foster parents. It does, however, prevent the state's gay foster parents from taking the next step to adoption in Florida.
Nonetheless, O'Donnell's voice in the debate is bound to raise the profile of the law, though the exact nature of her role is unclear.
The ACLU's Ferrero described a sustained effort over many months to "engage her" in raising the public profile of Florida's gay adoptions ban as the ACLU presses the issue in federal appeals court in Atlanta.
O'Donnell's involvement also will coincide with two nationally televised interviews with Diane Sawyer of ABC, the first on March 14, and the release of O'Donnell's new book, Find Me, in late April.
In at least one of the interviews and in the book, O'Donnell reportedly discusses her sexual orientation and airs strong views on Florida's gay adoption ban.
O'Donnell has long been an outspoken advocate for increasing adoptions, but "this is the first time that she's really made clear that she's going to speak out very directly about Florida's gay adoption ban," said Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida, a Tampa-based antidiscrimination group.
"It's something that we've been looking forward to and we're thrilled to see it," Smith said of O'Donnell's new role.
Others, however, do not welcome the idea.
"That would be something that would get our attention," said Carolyn Kunkle, development director for the Christian Coalition of Florida. Everyone has the right to debate issues, she said, but when someone tries to change policy, the coalition becomes involved, she said.
The coalition's position on gay adoption is that every child should live in a family with a mother and a father, Kunkle said.
Opponents of the ban say that is not always possible, especially in Florida where more than 3,000 children await adoption. Allowing gay people to adopt, they say, would expand the pool of available parents. But Kunkle said the waiting list could be reduced by eliminating red tape.
If the issue were to spill over into the upcoming campaigns for governor and other state races, she said, it would likely be featured in the coalition's voters guide. The guide is an aid for voters that lists candidates' positions based on their answers in a survey.
"This is a key issue for us," Kunkle said. -- Times political editor Adam C. Smith contributed to this report.

Judge's Counsel Denies "Execution" Remark

Wednesday, 27 February 2002
BIRMINGHAM, Al. -- Counsel for Chief Justice Roy Moore of Alabama on Tuesday denied claims made by critics that the judge advocated the execution or jailing of gays in an opinion where he called homosexuality an "inherent evil."
"You've got to go out of your way, to just flat out lie, to say he wants to execute homosexuals," the Associated Press quotes Stephen Melchior, who represents Moore in legal proceedings. Melchior said the Chief Justice was only recounting laws, not urging state action against gay people.
In an opinion attached to a controversial custody ruling, Moore noted that Alabama's criminal code prohibits sodomy. He added later that the state "carries the power of the sword ... to prohibit conduct with physical penalties, such as confinement and even execution."
"[The state] must use that power to prevent the subversion of children toward this lifestyle, to not encourage a criminal lifestyle."
Opponents including Americans United for Church and State accuse Moore of suggesting that execution is an appropriate response to gay people, and that the judge is openly and brazenly inviting violence against the community.
Ruth Harlow of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, one of the groups involved in seeking a state investigation of Moore, said it was unclear exactly what the judge meant in the opinion.
"He is linking the idea that the state can confine and execute people with the idea that we have to do everything we can to prevent lesbian and gay people from raising their children," she said "It reads as a very barbaric approach." Melchior said critics were "sensationalizing" Moore's opinion. He even stressed how "compassionate" Moore is. He "loves people," Melchior said.

Toronto Police Issue Warning

by Jack Siu Newscenter in Toronto
(February 28, Toronto) Toronto police issued an alert to the gay community, Wednesday, after receiving reports a gang of teens was targeting young gay men in the Village.
PC Duncan Aldridge said that one or two youths will approach a man in the Church and Wellesley area and ask if he wants to buy drugs or sex.
If he says yes, he is lured to an alley where the rest of the gang is waiting and he is robbed. Aldridge said he believes the thieves have netted thousands of dollars. But, not a single victim has reported a crime to police. There is no indication violence was used.
The officer said police received the information from business owners in the area who were told by their customers of the robberies.
Police believe the victims, in their early 20s or 30s, are closeted and afraid to come forward.
Aldridge also said he believes the attackers are not local teens. Police say they appear to be "transient youths who stay at a nearby hostel."
Aldridge said people should be aware of their surroundings at all times, and not take chances. Police patrols in the area have been beefed up. He said that even though they gang may not have been violent in past attacks there is no reason to believe it may not use violence in the future. The constable said that anyone who has been victimized should come forward. He can be reached at (416) 808-5238.

Woman Killed Because She Was About To Out Him

by Newscenter Staff
(February 28, Winfield, West Virginia) A rural West Virginia man told his murder trial Wednesday that he did not know which was worse: To be accused of being gay or accused of murder.
22 year old Ronnie Worley is on trial for the April 8, 2001 killing of Joyce Wroczynski.
Worley told County Prosecutor Mark Sorsaia, Worley that "both are embarrassing and shameful."
"Are you telling this jury that you killed because you were afraid she was going to tell the world you were gay?" Sorsaia asked.
"I would have lost my family. I would have lost everything," Worley said.
He said that Wroczynski had called him "an f-ing queer" and had accused him of sexually experimenting with her teenage son.
"I knew to be heterosexual was the only right," Worley said. He said he thought his experimentation might mean he was gay.
"I wanted to make sure I wasn't. I made it a point to have girlfriends," Worley said.
Both Worley's adoptive mother (who is also his biological grandmother) and his biological mother were called to the stand to testify. They described Worley's childhood as a time when he was lied to about the identity of his biological parents, beaten by a number of his stepfathers and abused by his brother by adoption, who is also his biological uncle.

South Africa: Same-Sex Couples' Benefits Weighed

by Bonile Ngqiyaza
February 27, 2002, Africa News Service
GOVERNMENT is looking at an approach that does not restrict benefits enjoyed by judge's spouses to married people and longstanding same-sex relationships.
This became apparent yesterday at the Constitutional Court during an application for confirmation of a Pretoria High Court ruling extending the benefits to people in same-sex relationships.
Advocate Ishmael Semenya who represents government in the case said the changes would redress the situation of same-sex couples only and, would not address the position of heterosexuals in a similar position.
Judge Kathleen Satchwell, applied last year for and won the right for her partner to enjoy the same benefits as those previously reserved for spouses of heterosexual judges.
She brought her application for the law to be changed so as to benefit the partners of gay and lesbian judges. The state seems to be saying the relief the applicants seek does not go far enough.
Government legal representatives have accepted the word spouse is not inclusive enough.
Semenya said Satchwell should have challenged the constitutional validity of the legal obstacle that prevents her marry her partner.
Semenya said Satchwell should have challenged the constitutional validity of the legal obstacle that prevents her marry her partner. Copyright Business Day. Distributed by All Africa Global Media(

Transsexual Jailed for Botched Castration

A transsexual woman has been jailed for performing a crude castration on her partner, leading to his death.
Tammy Felbaum was sentenced to 11 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault. She was also found guilty of reckless endangerment and unauthorised practice of medicine, but did not receive a prison sentence on those charges.
Felbaum had argued that her husband had castrated himself in a makeshift operating theatre in the trailer they shared. She said he had done it whilst she was sleeping in order to prove that he wouldn't be unfaithful to her.
Prosecutors said that Felbaum performed the operation herself. She had already said that she had castrated herself when she was 21, before undergoing gender reassignment surgery.
James Felbaum died from the pain of the operation, the effects of a painkiller and by choking on his own vomit, according to reports.
James Felbaum was the defendant's sixth husband. She said: "I loved my husband. I don`t deserve this." © 1999, 2001 Rainbow Network. All Rights Reserved. Partnered with New Media Spark.

Murder suspect could be in Key West gay community

A man suspected in a Lake Worth murder could be hiding in Key West's gay community.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Lake Worth Police Department are asking Keys residents for help in identifying or locating a man wanted for the Jan. 15 murder of Raymond Delmer Robb in Lake Worth.
"The suspect advised witnesses he was planning on traveling to Fort Lauderdale and Miami," said agent John Marinello, of the FDLE's Palm Beach office. "There's a chance he could be in Key West as well."
The man, who witnesses said went by the name "Roy," was seen at the R & V Bar on Federal Highway with Robb the night of the murder. Investigators said the man was later seen leaving the bar about 2:20 a.m. His image was later caught on a store surveillance video near the location where Robb's body was found.
"Our investigation revealed the suspect associates with homosexual men and frequents gay bars," said Marinello.
The FDLE is releasing few details of the murder, but Marinello described "Roy" -- who has an extensive knowledge of the Detroit area -- as a "soft hustler" who tries to endear himself to older men.
"He lays a sob story on them so they'll give him money or clothes," Marinello said.
Relying on public transportation, including Greyhound buses, the man reportedly is a transient who carries his clothing in a small duffel bag.
"The suspect has applied [for work] as a restaurant busboy, but advised he has no identification," Marinello said. "He also mentioned that he planned on visiting his father who was in jail on drug charges in Miami."
Roy is described as being about 20 years old, 5 feet 10 to 6 feet tall, weighing 170-180 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes.
"His blue eyes are his most distinctive feature," Marinello said.
Anyone with information concerning the identity or whereabouts of the suspect can call Marinello at 1-800-226-3019, Detective Lorenzo Gatti, of the Lake Worth Police Department, at (561) 586-1611, or the FDLE in Key West at 292-6705.

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Bush Proposes $300 Million to Promote Heterosexual Marriage

by The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Feb. 26, 2002-The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) attacked elements of the Bush Administration welfare proposal that call for significant federal and state funding of programs to promote and foster heterosexual marriage.
Released Tuesday, Bush's plan will call for "encouraging healthy marriages and two-parent married families as a goal." This includes the expenditure of $300 million for projects devoted to promoting heterosexual marriage, of which $100 million will subsidize state and local experimental projects for pre-marital counseling and education as well as research to foster sound marriages. Already several states offer cash bonuses to welfare recipients who marry.
"Lesbian mothers on welfare cannot marry," said Sean Cahill, Ph.D., Director of NGLTF's Policy Institute and co-author of "Leaving Our Children Behind," a report on the effects of welfare reform on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) people. "The safety net should support all families in need, not only those which pass a conservative litmus test. Bush's proposal privileges particular kinds of families while penalizing and stigmatizing others."
"The proposal released today is based on political motivations, not social science research," Cahill noted. "Mandatory marriage is not the answer to poverty."
The NGLTF report showed that key elements of the welfare reform plan threaten not only low-income gay people, but also all members of the GLBT community, regardless of income. The primary areas of concern are fatherhood and marriage initiatives, abstinence-only education, and the faith-based initiative. The 1996 welfare reform law requires lesbian and bisexual mothers to identify their child's biological father in order to receive benefits, and mandates abstinence-only education that spreads misinformation and stereotypes about homosexuality and GLBT youth.
Several Bush appointees have promoted ideas that would devastate millions of GLBT and single parent-headed families. These proposals include effectively denying benefits like Head Start slots and student loans to children of unmarried parents, and requiring mutual consent for divorce. Wade Horn and Andrew Bush, two of Bush's top welfare and family policy architects, endorsed a proposed ban on gay adoption and a ban on two-parent welfare benefits to unmarried couples. Horn called "the notion that all family structures are...all equally good for children" the "enemy" of those concerned about child welfare.
"All of us committed to economic justice should pay close attention to the reauthorization of welfare reform this year, and in particular to the Bush Administration?s fatherhood and marriage initiatives," cautioned Lorri L. Jean, Executive Director of NGLTF. "Marriage and fatherhood initiatives threaten millions of single-parent and unmarried two-parent families with children. They are a monumental waste of money that could be put to much better use to lift people out of poverty."
To download NGLTF report "Leaving Our Children Behind," visit .
Founded in 1973, NGLTF works to eliminate prejudice, violence and injustice against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people at the local, state and national level. As part of a broader social justice movement for freedom, justice and equality, NGLTF is creating a world that respects and celebrates the diversity of human expression and identity where all people may fully participate in society. (C) 2002; All Rights Reserved

AIDS vaccine shows promise in tests

Daniel Q. Haney, Associated Press
Tuesday, February 26, 2002 / 05:41 PM
SUMMARY: The first preliminary human testing of a highly anticipated new kind of AIDS vaccine offers tantalizing hints it may ultimately protect against the killer virus.
SEATTLE -- The first preliminary human testing of a highly anticipated new kind of AIDS vaccine offers tantalizing hints it may ultimately protect against the killer virus.
The study of Merck & Co.'s experimental vaccine is perhaps the most closely watched experiment in all of AIDS research. The approach seems highly effective in monkeys, and many believe it or something similar is the best bet for a shot that could slow the worldwide epidemic, which has already killed 20 million people and infected 40 million more.
Even though the vaccine is only part-way through first-stage safety testing, Merck's Emilio Emini was asked to update researchers in an address Tuesday at the 9th Annual Retrovirus Conference in Seattle.
His bottom line: At this stage, the vaccine appears to trigger the same immune system response in people that it does in newly immunized monkeys, though the volunteers have not been put to the crucial challenge of exposure to HIV.
"We are encouraged," said Emini, head of Merck's AIDS vaccine program. "Obviously, the big question is how effective this will be in preventing or mitigating infection. That will have to wait until we get into long-term studies."
If all goes perfectly, he said, it will be at least five years and probably longer before the vaccine reaches general use.
However, even if the vaccine works, many experts doubt it will stop infection cold the way most vaccines do. Instead, the hope is to fortify the body's immune defenses to hold the virus in check and prevent disease for many years, perhaps even a lifetime.
The difficulty of developing a vaccine has been one of the biggest frustrations in AIDS research, and experts were enthusiastic Tuesday about the Merck results.
"I would say full speed ahead for this particular research program. These are very encouraging results," said Dr. David Ho, scientific director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center in New York City.
Dr. Robert Schooley, infectious-disease chief at the University of Colorado, said the vaccine's safety and immune response are "what many of us hoped we'd be seeing when this trial started," though he cautioned that it is still "a long way from here to giving a vaccine that could protect people."
The Merck vaccine and several similar ones nearing human testing use a strategy called prime-boost. It involves first injecting one or more HIV genes, which are taken up by muscle cells and used as blueprints to make viral proteins. This is followed by an immunity booster, usually a harmless virus hollowed out to carry in more copies of the HIV genes.
In monkey experiments, this strategy fails to ward off infection but does keep the animals from dying from AIDS when they are exposed to the virus.
The new vaccines are designed to launch a quick counterattack by blood cells called killer cells against a new HIV infection. This way, HIV will eventually plateau at much lower levels in the bloodstream than typically occur when people catch the virus.
The Merck researchers plan to try the vaccine on about 600 volunteers in the first-stage tests. About 150 have been enrolled so far at 60 sites around the country. The goal is to make sure it is safe and to see if it triggers an immune response that mirrors that in monkeys.
So far, the researchers have tested the prime and the boost stages separately. About 100 people were given injections of the prime, an HIV gene called gag. As expected, the response was modest. About one-third of them showed an immune reaction, measured by their blood cells' production of the hormone interferon.
"You don't necessarily have to see the response for priming to occur," Emini said. "The fact we do see a response at all suggests a fair amount is going on under the radar."
The team is testing escalating doses of the boost stage, which consists of a disabled cold virus crafted to hold another copy of HIV's gag gene. Since virtually everyone has been exposed to ordinary varieties of this microbe, known as an adenovirus, the scientists worry the vaccine will be destroyed immediately by the immune system.
However, the new data suggest that when large doses are given, at least some of the vaccine survives to produce an immune reaction that could -- if all works as planned -- prepare the body to fight off AIDS.
Eventually the vaccine will be tested in people who are at high risk of catching HIV.
Many experts believe the approach pursued by Merck and several other teams has a better chance of success than do two others that are further along in development, although that assumption remains to be proven.
The AIDSVax vaccine, developed by VaxGen, has already been given to 7,900 volunteers in America, Europe and Thailand. It is a more traditional vaccine, made from the outer wrapper of the AIDS virus. Results are expected later this year. On Monday, the National Institutes of Health abandoned plans for a large U.S. study of another two-step vaccine approach -- Aventis Pasteur's genetically engineered canarypox followed by AIDSVax -- but said it will still go ahead with a similar study of the combination in Thailand.

U.S. Decides Not To Expand Key Study of AIDS Vaccine
by Rick Weiss
The federal government has decided not to expand a closely watched AIDS vaccine study because the vaccine has fallen short of prompting a key immune system response in volunteers, health officials said yesterday.
The AIDS vaccine regimen, one of many at various stages of testing in the United States and abroad, involves an initial "primer" shot made by Aventis Pasteur followed by a "booster" vaccine made by VaxGen of Brisbane, Calif.
Researchers had hoped that the federally funded study would shed light on which components of the immune system are most effective at fighting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. But results to date indicate that by one key measure, at least, the vaccine is not potent enough to answer that question, said Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which has been funding the study.
That does not mean the U.S. government has lost faith in the vaccine combination, Fauci and others said. A nearly identical regimen, with components made by the same two companies, has a good chance of being expanded into a large-scale, federally funded test in Thailand next year, health officials said yesterday.
That vaccine combination was already under study by the Department of Defense. The program is to be shifted to the National Institutes of Health as part of a large-scale transfer of AIDS vaccine research from the military to the civilian sector.
The reorganization, ordered last month by the Office of Management and Budget, calls for oversight and administration of the Defense Department's AIDS research and development program to be transferred to the NIH from its current location in the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command. The move effectively consolidates within the NIH all federal AIDS vaccine research, which until now has been conducted by NIH and the Defense Department on two parallel -- and according to some critics, sometimes redundant -- tracks.
Despite years of research, scientists do not know which component of the immune system is best able to kill HIV -- information that could help them design more effective vaccines. The "prime-boost" vaccine study known to the AIDS community as HVTN 203 had sought to answer that question but now appears unlikely to do so, Fauci said, because the study design had counted on a more robust effect than has been seen in volunteers.
But a differently designed study with a similar vaccine has a good chance of being expanded to include large numbers of volunteers in Thailand, Fauci said. That study seeks to answer a simpler question -- "Does the vaccine help prevent HIV infection?" -- without trying to settle the question of how it may be providing that protection.
A large study of the VaxGen vaccine by itself is already underway in Thailand. Copyright 2002 The Washington Post Company

Olympia: Gay Members of House Claim a Low-key Victory

Post-intelligencer Reporter
by Angela Gallowayseattle
OLYMPIA, Wash. -- For the first time, the state House of Representatives has listed same-sex partners in its newly published legislative phone directory.
Although that may not be a giant leap for the gay and lesbian civil rights movement, to openly gay lawmakers, it's an important step toward fairness, they said.
Traditionally, lawmakers' names in the booklet are followed by the names of their spouses in parentheses.
In 1997, newly elected Rep. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, asked for the same recognition of his longtime partner, Michael Shiosaki.
Legislative officials refused, said Murray, who, at the time, was Washington's only openly gay lawmaker.
"It turned into this big controversy," Murray said.
In response, he said, the House hasn't listed significant others since.
This year, with the first Democratic House majority since he's been in office, Murray again made the request.
This time, the party-appointed House clerk approved it.
"I was pleasantly surprised that it quietly happened without a lot of hoopla," Murray said.
"It's a big deal to me because my relationship (of 11 years) is the most important thing in my life, and I think Michael deserves the same recognition as every spouse does down here."
Washington's other two openly gay lawmakers, Reps. Joe McDermott and Dave Upthegrove, said they did not list anyone because they aren't in such committed partnerships.
Having three openly gay lawmakers among 147 members of the Legislature makes Washington a leading state in gay and lesbian representation, said Brian Bond, director of The Victory Fund, a national political group that supports openly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender candidates and officials.
New Hampshire has six openly gay and lesbian lawmakers; California has four; Arizona, Rhode Island and Massachusetts have three each; and Connecticut has two homosexuals and one bisexual.
"It's becoming more commonplace and less of a big deal," McDermott said. © 1998-2002 Seattle Post-Intelligencer. All Rights Reserved.

Witnesses speak in dog mauling case

Linda Deutsch, Associated Press
Tuesday, February 26, 2002 / 05:16 PM
SUMMARY: Nearly two dozen people testified Tuesday about their encounters with the dogs involved in the killing of Diane Whipple.
LOS ANGELES -- A woman who had admired one of two huge dogs that later killed a San Francisco woman testified Tuesday that she tried to pet the dog at a park but was frightened off by its behavior.
Cathy Brooks described how she bent down and placed her hand under the dog's mouth, but then saw the presa canario square its chest, flatten its ears and stare her down.
"I backed away very slowly," she said.
Brooks said the woman walking the dog, Marjorie Knoller, told her the dog was "sometimes good with people, sometimes not."
Brooks was among about two dozen people called by prosecutors to testify about their encounters with the dogs during the trial of the dogs' owners, Knoller, 48, and Robert Noel, 60.
The couple are charged in connection with the mauling death a year ago of Diane Whipple, 33, in a hallway of their San Francisco apartment building. Knoller, who was present when Whipple was killed, is charged with second-degree murder, and both are charged with involuntary manslaughter and having a mischievous animal that killed a person.
Prosecutor Jim Hammer said the witnesses' testimony showed that the owners knew the dogs were dangerous and disregarded the warnings.
Defense attorney Nedra Ruiz said outside court Tuesday that it will be important for jurors to remember that none of the prosecution witnesses filed any kind of complaints about the dogs.
"I think they will find significant the witnesses' testimony that the dogs were leashed and harnessed and restrained from touching anyone in any way," Ruiz said.
Defense attorneys have argued that the dogs' behavior was unexpected, and that Knoller was badly injured while trying to stop the attack.
One of the witnesses, John O'Connell, testified that one of the dogs lunged at his 6-year-old son when he was walking the boy to school. He said Noel yanked on the dogs' leashes and yelled something at them. On cross-examination, he said he thought he heard Noel mutter "sorry."
Derek Brown, a resident of the building where Whipple and the defendants lived, also testified Tuesday that the animals had lunged at him and his wife in the lobby while Noel strained to hold them on leashes.
He said it happened three times and he was going to report the dogs to the apartment management but never did. His wife, Violetta Pristel, said she never confronted the couple because she was intimidated. The trial was moved to Los Angeles because of extensive publicity about the case in San Francisco.

European court rules on gay adoption bans

Jon ben Asher,
Tuesday, February 26, 2002 / 05:36 PM
SUMMARY: The European Court of Human Rights ruled Tuesday that member states of the European Union can refuse to allow gays and lesbians to adopt.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled Tuesday that member states of the European Union can refuse to allow gays and lesbians to adopt.
In the ruling, the court said France was not guilty of discriminating when it prevented a Paris gay man from adopting.
The court said there were significant "divisions within the scientific community about the possible consequences of children being brought up by one or more homosexual parents." As a result, it said the decision to allow gays and lesbians to adopt should be left to individual member states.
The ruling said that the various countries making up the EU were "in principle better placed than an international court to evaluate local needs and conditions."
The decision has angered gay rights activists who had hoped a blanket ruling endorsing gay adoption would force E.U. countries to legislate adoption rights.
The court did rule, however, that Philippe Frette was denied a right to a fair hearing when a French appeal court set aside an earlier ruling in his favor and dismissed his request to be allowed to adopt.
In a unanimous ruling the court said he had not been properly informed about when the appeal was to be heard, nor was he given the opportunity to examine or to respond to the government's arguments ahead of the hearing. Frette was awarded court costs, but the Court of Human Rights did not order a new hearing.

Survey: More Britons approve of gay sex

Ann Rostow, / Network
Tuesday, February 26, 2002 / 05:38 PM
SUMMARY: A new national study of 11,000 adults in the United Kingdom reveals that attitudes towards sex and homosexuality have relaxed over the last 10 years.
A new national study of 11,000 adults in the United Kingdom reveals that attitudes towards sex have relaxed over the last 10 years.
Some 42 percent of men and six out of 10 women think gay sex is fine, compared to 25 percent and 33 percent respectively in a 1990 survey. Roles were reversed on the subject of casual sex; 19 percent of women and 37 percent of men had no problem with the idea. In the 1990 survey, only 8 percent of women approved.
British women are also getting an earlier start on their sexual lives -- over 18 percent had sex before the age of 16, versus 13 percent in the past. As for the men, 27.5 percent reported underage sex, up from 25 percent in the last report.
Professor Anne Johnson of University College London said that her compatriots "have become less homophobic and less censorial of casual relationships," but added that Brits "still highly value fidelity within long-term relationships more so than we did 10 years ago."
Among the survey's other findings was the rise in men and women having (or admitting to) a same-sex sexual experience. Women acknowledging gay sex nearly doubled from 3.5 percent to 6.7 percent, while men went from 5 percent to 8.5 percent. The report was published Tuesday in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infection.

West Virginia kills hate-crimes expansion bill--again

For the third straight year, the West Virginia house judiciary committee has killed a bid to expand the state's hate-crimes law to add protections for lesbians and gays. By a 14-10 vote, the committee approved a motion by Del. Tom Coleman to "postpone indefinitely" consideration of the expansion bill. "I think everyone's made up their minds on this bill, and I don't think any more debate is going to change it," Coleman said before the vote. The move effectively stops action on the bill for this year.
After passing the senate each of the last two years, similar bills died in the house judiciary committee by not being put on the agenda. West Virginia's hate-crimes law adds punishments for criminals who target victims for their race, religion, nationality, political affiliation, or gender. The expansion measure would have added sexual orientation and disability status to the list. Cheri Heflin Montgomery of the West Virginia Lesbian and Gay Coalition said she is "extremely disappointed" legislators declined to debate the issue. "It's a very sad day for West Virginia," she said. "We are sending a message that it is OK to discriminate, harass, and abuse gays and lesbians and people with disabilities."

Gay Republicans, Democrats unite against Alabama judge

Representatives from the nation's leading gay and lesbian partisan political organizations came together Tuesday to condemn the recent legal opinion by Alabama chief justice Roy Moore in a state custody case. In his ruling denying a mother custody of her three children because she is a lesbian, Moore called homosexuality a "detestable and an abominable sin."
Chad Johnson, executive director of the National Stonewall Democrats, and Rich Tafel, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, released a joint statement harshly criticizing Moore's ruling and calling for his resignation.
"We join across partisan lines to strongly condemn the opinion rendered by Chief Justice Roy Moore," the statement reads. "The legal effect of the opinion puts three children in considerable physical and emotional danger and places them in the home of an abusive father, purely because their mother is a lesbian. Furthermore, the opinion of Justice Moore is so virulent in its antigay bigotry, so far outside the bounds of ethical canons, and so dismissive of the rights and welfare of the three children in question, that Moore has shown himself unfit to be the chief justice of the state's highest court and should resign." The statement adds, "[We] call on the Alabama state legislature and Gov. Don Siegelman to strongly support necessary reforms and clarification of such laws that allow judges to rule that homosexuality is a crime and serves as an automatic barrier to consideration as a fit parent."

Elton John to perform for Queen's Golden Jubilee

BBC News reports that Sir Elton John is among the all-star lineup to perform at two open-air concerts as part of the Queen's Golden Jubilee in June. The concerts will be held on the grounds of Buckingham Palace on June 1 and June 3 and will also feature Sir Paul McCartney, Atomic Kitten, Eric Clapton, Queen, Phil Collins, S Club 7, Aretha Franklin, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Tom Jones, Brian Wilson, and Will Young. Members of the public will have the opportunity to apply via a 900 telephone number for the 12,000 tickets that will be allocated for each concert, and the BBC will broadcast both concerts around the world.


Hospital Sued For Refusing To Let Man See Dying Partner

Doreen Brandt Newscenter in Washington
(February 27, Baltimore, MD) Told by hospital staff in that he could not visit his dying life partner because he was "not the man's family", Bill Flanigan, was first hurt, then angry.
Today, Flannigan will launch a civil suit against University of Maryland Medical System in Baltimore City Circuit Court.
Flanigan's partner of five years, Robert Daniel, had been admitted to the medical system's Shock Trauma Centre in Baltimore on October 16, 2000, from complications arising from AIDS.
Flanigan and Daniel, both San Francisco residents were on their way to visit Flanigan's sister in the Washington, D.C. area, when he fell seriously ill.
He was initially taken to a nearby hospital and then transferred Daniel to the Shock Trauma Centre, part of the University of Maryland Medical System, because of Daniel's critical condition.
Flanigan was told to remain in the waiting area of the Shock Trauma Centre and repeatedly asked staff to allow him to see Daniel and to confer with Daniel's physicians. He was told only "family" members were allowed to do so, and that "partners" did not qualify as family.
Flanigan explained he had a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care Decisions and that he and Daniel were registered as domestic partners (in California). The Shock Trauma Centre also had the records of the first hospital to which Daniel was admitted, where Flanigan was recognized as family, having spent the night in a chair by Daniel's bed.
For four hours, personnel Shock Trauma Centre kept Flanigan away from Daniel and his doctors, all the time allowing family members of other patients to visit their loved ones and confer with doctors.
Flanigan, on the other hand, was not given the opportunity to make surgeons aware of Daniel's wish not to have life-prolonging measures performed on him, including the insertion of a breathing tube.
After four hours, Daniel's sister and mother arrived from out of town. Only then did the Shock Trauma Centre provide information on Daniel's status that had been repeatedly denied to Flanigan, and subsequently allow the entire family, including Flanigan, to see Daniel.
By that point, however, Daniel was no longer conscious, his eyes were taped shut, and the two men never had the chance to say goodbye.
"Tragically, gay and lesbian partners too often have to argue their right to hospital visitation with ill loved ones, even in the middle of a family crisis," said David Buckel, Lambda Legal's Senior Attorney on the case. "But rarely does it rise to the shocking inhumanity of this case," he added.
Grace Daniel, the mother of Robert, said she strongly supports the lawsuit brought by Bill Flanigan.
"Bill and Bobby were soulmates and one of the best couples I've known," she said.
"They loved each other, took care of each other, came to family holidays as a couple, and Bill still babysits for my grandson. If that isn't family, then something is very wrong. When someone is dying, hospitals should be bringing families together rather than keeping them apart."
Particularly painful for Bill Flanigan to see, when he accompanied Mrs. Daniel to Robert Daniel's room, was that the Shock Trauma Centre had inserted a breathing tube into Robert Daniel.
When Daniel briefly regained consciousness during one of the final two nights of his life, he, according to a nurse who was with him after visiting hours, attempted to pull out the breathing tube. Shock Trauma Centre personnel, in response, tied down Daniel's arms which might have been unnecessary had Flanigan been given the opportunity to confer with doctors about Daniel's wishes.
"When you love someone and make a commitment to each other for good times and bad," Flanigan said.
"There is an awful feeling when you can't follow through on your promises. I have a huge hole in my heart, and my soul, because I wasn't allowed to be with Bobby when he needed me most. I can only pray that everyone helps to make sure this never happens to anyone else."
Not only did the Shock Trauma Centre knowingly violate the Health Care Power of Attorney that Flanigan had on behalf of Daniel, but it also violated national hospital accreditation standards for hospitals. Those standards define "family" as the person who plays "a significant role in the individual's life," and this may include a person "not legally related to the individual."
Flanigan's attorney pointed out this tragedy would have not have occurred if Flanigan and his partner has been allowed to marry, which they had hoped to do one day.
"When the government won't let you marry, not even protecting yourself through legal documents will guarantee that the person closest to you will be allowed to be by your side during times of crisis," said Lambda Legal's David Buckel. "We are a nation divided by discrimination in marriage and Bill and Robert paid a terrible price for that discrimination."

Spain's Out Priest Refuses To Go Quietly

by Jon ben Asher Newscenter in London
(February 27, Madrid) Jose Mantero, the first priest to come out in Spain not about to be silenced.
Mantero, who was banned from his duties as a priest in a small town in southwest Spain after he was profiled in Zero, a Madrid gay magazine, said Tuesday he wants to stir a debate on celibacy within the church.
"I will continue the fight because it would now be absurd not to...the debate has come to the boil and it's vital to fan the fire," he said.
Mantero has become somewhat of a celebrity since the article appeared. "We've had 1,500 e-mails from priests and other people in the religious community in two weeks, plus around 200 letters, and they're still arriving," said Miguel Angel Lopez, Zero's director.
Even Mantero is surprised by the support he's gotten. But, the 39 year old says that for the church to survive it must address the question of celibacy.
"One of the reasons there's a shortage of priests is the celibacy vow," he says. Mantero has found support among many of his parishioners in the small town of Valverde del Camino. Few seemed interested in his sexuality. Mantero sees this as evidence social attitudes are changing faster than those of the church.

French Group Demands Armenia Abolish Anti-Gay Penal Code

Paris-based non-profit organisation AGLA (Association of Gay and Lesbian Armenians of France) has sent a letter to the Council of Europe demanding a change to gay rights in the country.
The letter was addressed to Hovhannes Hovhannisyan, the head of the Armenian delegation in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, by him to abolish the anti-gay article in the penal code of Armenia
When Armenia's application to the Council of Europe was being discussed, leaders of political parties in the Parliament agreed to amend the article 116 of the penal code banning homosexuality.
Whilst Armenia has celebrated the first anniversary of its membership to the Council of Europe, parliamentary debates highlighted in the media show that it is not keen to protect the rights of homosexuals and that the penal code on persecuting homosexuality has not been changed.
In its news dispatch of November 15, 2001, the Arminfo news agency announced that in the year 2001 there were seven assassinations of homosexuals in Armenia. It is unclear how many of these killings were down to homophobia. The AGLA is therefore urging the Armenian authorities and lawmakers to respect the guidelines of the Council of Europe and change the "clandestine"situation of gays and lesbians in Armenia.

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