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Saturday, March 16, 2002

GLBT NEWZ 03/16/02 Information is power!

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O'Donnell inspires activists, critics, actors / Network
Friday, March 15, 2002 / 03:44 PM
SUMMARY: Thursday's special featuring Rosie O'Donnell talking about her life as a gay parent generated thousands of responses.
Thursday night's much-publicized television special featuring Rosie O'Donnell talking about her life as a gay parent generated thousands of e-mail messages to Florida's governor and stirred up public debate over Florida's ban on gay adoptions.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which is leading a court challenge on the Florida ban, said that more than 80,000 e-mail messages have been sent through its Web site to Gov. Jeb Bush and Kathleen Kearney, secretary for the state's Department of Children and Families.
On Friday, Elizabeth Birch, executive director of the nation's largest gay and lesbian political group, the Human Rights Campaign, urged the governor to "to take the moral high ground and support ending this discriminatory law that tears families apart and leaves more than 3,000 of Florida's children unnecessarily languishing in foster care."
Representatives for Gov. Bush, who is seeking re-election, would not disclose his view of the adoption ban, according to the Associated Press.
O'Donnell, host of a popular TV talk show, told ABC's Diane Sawyer on "Primetime Thursday" that she decided to speak publicly about being a lesbian and a parent after hearing about the case of foster parents Steven Lofton and Roger Croteau. Because of the Florida law, the two men may have a 10-year-old boy taken from them, despite their having raised the boy from infancy.
"I'm saying it now because I want people to know that I'm the kind of parent that the state of Florida . thinks is unworthy, and it's wrong," O'Donnell said.
Conservative family groups, however, contested O'Donnell's conclusion with press statements of their own.
Family Research Council President Ken Connor said: "O'Donnell and other homosexual activists make many false claims in the debate over whether homosexuals should be permitted to adopt children."
"What they fail to recognize is that children in homosexual households grow up without experiencing first-hand three of the most important relationships required for social development -- husband/wife, mother/father and male/female," Connor said.
"I don't know how anyone could have watched and listened to the stories of the Lofton-Croteau children without seeing the amazing love and care and devotion they receive from their dads," countered Joan Garry, executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, in a statement released after the TV special. O'Donnell's actions also inspired Hollywood stars. On Thursday, actress Rene Russo, appearing on ABC's "Good Morning America" to promote her new film "Showtime," cried and said she was grateful for the lesbians who raised her after her father left. She said she was inspired to speak about her childhood after seeing O'Donnell's interview.

Rene Russo's Revelation: Lesbians Helped Single Mom Raise Me

by Bill Hoffmann
March 15, 2002, NY Post
Teary-eyed Rene Russo revealed for the first time yesterday that she was raised by "loving, nurturing" lesbian friends of her mother after her dad walked out on the family.
In a nod to Rosie O'Donnell, who this week announced on national TV that she is gay, the 48-year-old actress said:
"I want to say thank you to her. Rosie, my dad left, and it was women in my life that were gay that raised me and that helped me and nurtured me."
She added that Rosie was gutsy to admit to the world that she's proud to be raising three adopted kids as a gay mom.
"She's so brave . . . I saw her and she's so passionate, speaking of passion, and she's doing so much for the kids, and I just say, you know, God bless her," Russo told ABC's "Good Morning America."
Russo - who stars in the new action comedy "Showtime" with Robert De Niro - grew up in Burbank, Calif., and had a rough childhood.
Her artist father left the family when Rene was 2, and her mother was forced to work two jobs in order to support the family.
Making matters worse, Rene developed scoliosis when she was 10.
The condition causes the spinal cord to curve, and the only way to correct it is by wearing a full body cast, which Russo did until the eighth grade.
She said she planned to call her own mother this week to say, "Thank you for all your friends."
"She was pretty much abandoned and a lot of her friends helped to raise me and my sister and they were so loving and nurturing," Russo said. NEW YORK POST is a registered trademark of NYP Holdings, Inc. NYPOST.COM, NYPOSTONLINE.COM, and NEWYORKPOST.COM are trademarks of NYP Holdings, Inc. Copyright 2002 NYP Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved.

Transgender wife loses estate case ruling

Ann Rostow, / Network
Friday, March 15, 2002 / 03:54 PM
SUMMARY: The Kansas Supreme Court ruled Friday that transsexual J'Noel Gardiner is legally male, and was never married by law to her late husband.
The Kansas Supreme Court ruled Friday that 44-year-old transsexual J'Noel Gardiner is legally male, and was never married by law to her late husband, Marshall Gardiner.
The decision means that Marshall Gardiner's $2.5 million estate will go to his son, Joe.
J'Noel Gardiner, a professor at Park University in Missouri, had sex reassignment surgery in 1994 and married her husband in the fall of 1998. Marshall Gardiner, who was 85 at the time of the marriage, died within a year and did not leave a will. Although his wife would have automatically received at least half his fortune under state law, Joe Gardiner discovered his stepmother's sex reassignment and asked a court to invalidate the marriage.
After winning at the trial court level, Joe Gardiner lost at the state appellate level, when the court sent the case back to trial, ruling that gender is not fixed and that J'Noel's gender at the time of her marriage was the critical factor. Joe Gardiner then appealed that decision to the high court.
As the Kansas City (Missouri) Star reported, the appellate court relied on an eight-point test of gender developed by San Diego law professor Julie Greenberg. Greenberg's test includes DNA, sexual identity, hormones and genitalia, among other factors contributing to a legal determination of who is female and who is male.
According to the Associated Press, the Supreme Court rejected this complex analysis, ruling instead that gender is forever based on birth sex.
The decision mirrors a well-known ruling in Texas, where a San Antonio-based appellate court barred transsexual Christie Lee Littleton from filing a wrongful death suit against the medical team that may have contributed to her husband's death. Like Friday's ruling, the Littleton decision said a person's gender at birth governs the rest of his or her life.
As a result of the Texas court's 1999 opinion, however, several lesbian couples have legally married in the San Antonio area, based on the fact that one member of the couple was born male.
Although some might see such rulings as an opportunity for gay and lesbian transgendered couples, that silver lining is of small comfort to the GLBT community as a whole and to transgender activists in particular. "It strikes me as if the Supreme Court is trying to bury its head in the sand and ignore the reality of 21st century science and medicine," Lambda's Jennifer Middleton told the Associated Press. "More importantly, it ignores the reality of J'Noel's life."

'Beautiful Mind' Nash says he is not gay U.K.
Friday, March 15, 2002 / 03:56 PM
SUMMARY: Breaking his silence on the controversy surrounding the Oscar-nominated film, "A Beautiful Mind," the real-life mathematician portrayed in the movie, John Nash, speaks.
Breaking his silence on the controversy surrounding the Oscar-nominated film, "A Beautiful Mind," the real-life mathematician portrayed in the movie, John Nash, has denied he is a closet homosexual.
The Nobel laureate, whose battle with schizophrenia was dramatized in the movie, will appear in a CBS "60 Minutes" interview to dispute allegations that the film was "sugar-coated."
In the interview Nash denies being homosexual but refuses to discuss it further, saying only, "I've learned that it's better that I don't talk about it." Alicia Nash, his wife, backs him up. "I've known him since I was 20 and that's just not true ... I should know."
Some gay activists have been disappointed that the film deleted Nash's arrest in 1954 in a public toilet for indecent exposure, claiming it suggests that he is bisexual or a closet homosexual.
Sylvia Nasar, author of the 1998 Nash biography on which the film was based, told the Los Angeles Times she never thought Nash was anything but heterosexual.
"While he had intense emotional relationships with other men in his 20s, no one I interviewed claimed, much less provided evidence, that Nash ever had sex with another man," she said. "A Beautiful Mind" has been nominated for eight Academy Awards.

Dog-mauling closing arguments set

Before both sides rested their cases in the trial of two dog owners whose pets fatally mauled a San Francisco lesbian, a dog behavior expert challenged a claim by defendant Marjorie Knoller that she threw herself on her neighbor in a desperate attempt to save her. Randall Lockwood testified Thursday that despite Knoller's claim, she was not that close to the scene of the attack in which lacrosse coach Diane Whipple was mauled by Knoller's presa canario dog. "She may have been nearby, but she was not in very close proximity," said Lockwood, a research official with the U.S. Humane Society. Lockwood said that after listening to Knoller's testimony and analyzing evidence, he would have expected her to receive more severe bites than she did from the dog, named Bane. Knoller's injuries "suggest she was at some distance and Bane was giving her warning bites to back off and let him do what he felt was his job.... He essentially was telling her to leave him alone."
On cross-examination, Lockwood was asked whether Knoller was trying to prevent the attack. "She was present," Lockwood said tersely.
The final piece of evidence introduced by prosecutors in the case was a letter written by Knoller's husband, Robert Noel, to a state prison inmate the couple had adopted. It stressed their devotion to the dogs. "There is no way to ease into this. Bane is dead, as is our neighbor," the letter began. In it, Noel promised to fight to keep another dog, Hera, alive. "Neighbors be damned," he wrote. "If they don't like living in the building with her, they can move," he wrote.
The trial was adjourned until Monday, when closing arguments are scheduled. The case is expected to go to the jury on Tuesday. Knoller, 46, is charged with second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, and keeping a mischievous dog that killed a person. Her 60-year-old husband faces the latter two charges. Their trial was moved to Los Angeles because of extensive pretrial publicity in San Francisco. Whipple, 33, was attacked in the hallway of her building as she was carrying groceries into her apartment on January 26, 2001. Lockwood said he believed Knoller's testimony that she tried to pull Bane away, but he also suggested that some of her injuries were more likely produced by the leash in her hand. Lockwood said he believed something caused the dog to become aggressive toward Whipple, but he did not know what that was. "What is unique in this situation is, in the more than 300 dog attacks I've seen, we have never seen a healthy adult young woman killed when the owner is present," Lockwood said. "Usually the presence of the owner is sufficient to stop the attack." Bane was destroyed after the mauling. Hera was put down this year after a legal battle by the couple to save her life.

Cuomo, McCall to skip St. Pat's parade

The two major candidates for the Democratic nomination for New York governor, Andrew Cuomo and H. Carl McCall, said Thursday they will not march in Saturday's St. Patrick's Day parade in Manhattan, which bars gay and lesbian groups. "Given Carl McCall's lifelong fight to ensure that all people have equal opportunity, he will refuse to march in the New York City parade until it is inclusive," said Marissa Shorenstein, a spokeswoman for the state comptroller's campaign. She said McCall would instead march in the annual St. Patrick's Day parade in Syracuse on Saturday.
Cuomo, the former federal housing secretary and elder son of former governor Mario Cuomo, "has a family matter to attend to" and will not be marching in any parades on Saturday, according to Cuomo campaign manager Josh Isay. Isay said that if the conflict hadn't arisen, Cuomo had planned to march in the Syracuse parade and skip the New York City event as well. "He believes the St. Patrick's Day parade should be inclusive," the Cuomo aide said. Republican governor George Pataki, who is expected to seek a third term this year, plans to march in the parade, as does Republican mayor Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg, however, is expected to host members of the Irish Gay and Lesbian Organization, a group that has long been barred from participating in the parade, to join him for breakfast in Gracie Mansion before the parade.

Utah's top court to hear case against lesbian teacher

A high school teacher is defending herself against a claim that discussing her sexual orientation in front of students is prohibited, just as encouraging them to use drugs would be. The American Civil Liberties Union filed court papers with the Utah supreme court on Thursday in support of Wendy Weaver, a longtime psychology teacher at Spanish Fork High School; Weaver is a lesbian. Weaver has been sued by a group of parents and students who argue that state law requires her to keep quiet about homosexuality in class.
"In our view, the case amounts to nothing more than continuing harassment against a teacher who asserted her First Amendment" rights, said Richard Van Wagoner, a Salt Lake City lawyer who is assisting the ACLU with Weaver's case. Fourth district judge Ray Harding dismissed the case against Weaver in 1999.
However, her detractors appealed to the state supreme court last year. They say the judge made a mistake. "There are mandatory standards that say teachers are to model morality," attorney Matthew Hilton said. Teachers are prohibited from supporting criminal conduct by students--and sodomy is against the law in Utah, he said. Just as a teacher shouldn't encourage students to smoke marijuana or drive drunk, Weaver shouldn't be allowed to have gay issues "become intertwined with the teaching experience," Hilton said.
Weaver won a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Nebo School District in 1998 after the school required her to sign an agreement barring her from discussing her sexual orientation--in or out of the classroom. That case drew national attention. Weaver has continued to teach at the school, which is about 45 miles south of Salt Lake City. The latest case in state court was brought by a group of parents and students who want her out of the classroom. Another legal question for the state supreme court to decide will be whether those people have any legal standing to sue an individual teacher. Hilton argues that the legislature has made it clear that they do. The ACLU claims that decisions about who's fit to teach should be made by the state school board and licensing officials. Those groups have refused to take any action against Weaver, said Stephen Clark, legal director for the ACLU of Utah. Procedural issues have delayed the case before the supreme court during the past year, but both sides now say they expect to present oral arguments later this year.

Hawaii schools amend code of conduct

The Hawaii board of education has amended its code of conduct to eliminate all references to sex, race, and religion. The board voted to eliminate these references rather than add "sexual orientation" and "disability" to the list of bases on which groups are singled out for fair and respectful treatment. The code of conduct applies only to board members.
Board member Denise Matsumoto said the code of conduct is different from the Chapter 19 rule the board revised last year banning harassment of gays, lesbians, and others in schools. She said Chapter 19 dealt with student conduct and addressed groups that had a history of being harassed. The board doesn't have a history of treating people with certain disabilities without courtesy, so there is no need to single them out, Matsumoto said. Chapter 19 was for students, but board members are adults and should know how they are supposed to treat people, she said. Board member Karen Knudsen, who said she was a strong supporter of Chapter 19, said the new code is strengthened by not listing particular categories. Gay rights activist Michael Golojuch Jr. said the board, instead of addressing the issue, skirted it and found the easiest way out. He said he will continue to push for the addition to the board's code.

Arizona man gets life sentence for Nevada murder

An Arizona man accused of killing and robbing a man he met at a gay bar was sentenced to life in prison, after insisting that he is not a homosexual. "I'm not gay," Gregory Amato told Clark County, Nev., district judge Lee Gates during sentencing on Wednesday. "I don't know where they get their evidence from." Gates sent Amato, 39, of Bullhead City, to prison for life with the possibility of parole in 41 years. The judge said he did not buy Amato's claim that the killing was the result of an unwanted sexual advance. Amato said he felt bad for the family of Jimmie Ingle, the 57-year-old Needles, Calif., man whose bludgeoned body was found April 26 near a water tower outside Laughlin, Nev. A jury last month convicted Amato of first-degree murder, robbery, auto theft, possession of a stolen vehicle, burglary, and fraudulent use of a credit card. Prosecutors said Amato used Ingle's credit cards to book a hotel room and buy gas, cigarettes, and beer and then sold Ingle's pickup truck to a prostitute for $300.

NBC to air The Matthew Shepard Story

NBC will broadcast The Matthew Shepard Story, starring Stockard Channing and Sam Waterston as Judy and Dennis Shepard, on Saturday, March 16, at 9 p.m. Eastern/Pacific. Following the film, the network plans to air a message from Judy Shepard, urging viewers to replace hate with understanding, acceptance, and compassion. That public service announcement will also feature the toll-free number and Web site for the Matthew Shepard Foundation. A second PSA airing during the broadcast will feature Channing and Waterston addressing prejudice.

Sir Ian McKellen to host Saturday Night Live

Out Oscar nominee Sir Ian McKellen makes his debut as host of Saturday Night Live, at 11:30 p.m. Eastern/Pacific on Saturday, March 16, on NBC. Musical guest will be gay icon Kylie Minogue.


Drag Queens Spark Diplomatic Furor

by Peter Moore Newscenter in London
(March 16, Ljubljana, Slovenia) A feud in Slovenia over whether a trio of drag queens should represent the country at Europe's largest song contest has evolved into a full scale diplomatic nightmare for the government and could jeopardize the country's entry into NATO and the European Union.
The three performers call themselves "Sisters" and their song "Only Love" won a television contest to represent Slovenia, a tiny country nestled between Italy and Hungary, south of Austria, in the Eurovision Song Contest in May.
"The Sisters" are Miss Marlena (alias Tomaz Mihelic), a 22-year-old occupational therapy student, 28-year-old Daphne (Sreco Blas), an agronomy student, and 21-year-old Emperatrizz (Damjan Levec), who is at a hairdressers' school.
Their victory triggered fierce debate in parliament, and public opinion polls showed that 51 percent of Slovenes felt that the 'girls' should not represent their country.
The leader of the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDS), Janez Jansa, said the group was part of a "crisis of values" in Slovenia.
When the government attempted to have the judges vote a second time, gay rights activists were quick to react, saying the issue had unearthed deep-rooted homophobia in the country.
"In the current climate, any new vote would be a referendum for or against intolerance," said Miha Lobnik of Slovenian gay rights organisation Legetbitra.
Demonstrators carried a giant rainbow flag in front of Parliament, and handed out red hearts with wings -- symbols of "The Sisters."
Now, the European Union has entered the fray.
Lousewies van der Laan, who chairs the European Parliament's committee on justice and citizens' freedoms said Friday: "Now that the results of the Eurovision contest are being debated and the issue of gay rights is coming up, it confronts us with the fact that Slovenia is perhaps not yet ready for EU membership."
She added that respect for people, regardless of lifestyle, was an integral part of democratic European society.
van der Laan said Slovenia already had a poor reputation following a June 2001 referendum in which 72 percent voted against allowing single women to have artificial insemination.
Late Friday "The Sisters" had their tickets to the Eurovision contest confirmed, but van der Lann remains unconvinced there has been a shift in national attitudes. "Explanations from Slovene officials that the controversy surrounding Slovenia's selection for the Eurovision Song Contest are not connected to homophobia have not been satisfactory," she said.

Lesbian Prison Horror

by Newscenter Staff
(March 16, London) An investigation into allegations of abuse by seven lesbian prison guards in a Women's penitentiary has shown that the officers ruled it as though it were their private fiefdom.
In a report released Friday by the Prison Service, investigators found the women used intimidation and sexual bullying.
The report said they selected their targets from among fellow staff members , " particularly straight male officers and younger women recruits".
It said that the seven officers competed to sexually bully new female recruits until they "turned". It also said there was a level of sexual harassment "that we wouldn't dream of tolerating" if it came from men.
The seven confined their bullying to staff, fearing they would be reported if they picked on women among the 500 inmates, the investigation found.
The report concluded that the impact of bullying on staff was "widespread and destructive" as the group "effectively ran the prison".
Concern about what was going on at the north London jail was first raised last October by the then prison governor David Lancaster. He warned the director- general of the Prison Service, Martin Narey, that a group of senior female staff had established an alternative power base.
Narey said Friday that after reading that disciplinary proceedings will begin against the seven prime movers and two associates.
Five senior managers have been be moved to other jobs. One worker at the prison said "the place makes Oz look like a cake walk" referring to the violent television series which takes place in a prison.

Neighbors sue to stop porn site

By Gary Taylor
Sentinel Staff Writer
March 16, 2002
A Seminole County homeowners association went to court Friday to try to stop a gay Internet porn site from operating in its subdivision.
The center of controversy is a house in the Brantley Harbor community just north of Altamonte Springs, where 24 cameras follow the activities of the home's five male residents 24 hours a day.
Much of what is shown from the house is restricted to a members-only area of the Web site available to people willing to pay up to $17.95 a month. But even free areas of the site have pictures of men having sex, though their genitals are obscured.
Rather than sue over what's on the site, the homeowners association hopes to change how the house is being used.
"Our concern is that they are clearly operating a business out of a residential house," said Mike Towers, a member of the Brantley Harbor Homeowners Association.
The suit, filed at Seminole County Court, is against the home's owner, Judith T. Crago. Crago, a Maitland real estate agent, would not comment.
The homeowners association, in a written statement separate from the suit, said a North Carolina company leases the house and has employment contracts with its occupants. Those agreements, the association contends, establish employer-employee relationships.
"The board concluded that the dominant if not sole purpose of the occupancy of the residence is for a commercial purpose in violation of the recorded restriction of Brantley Harbor Homeowners Association," the statement said.
Neither the residents of the house nor an attorney for the Web site could be reached for comment. One of the tenants, Charles Foulk, has said that he and the other occupants are simply living their lives and letting the cameras capture that. They cause no more commotion than any other household in the neighborhood, he said.
The homeowners association and Crago dispute the interpretation of the association's restrictive covenants and whether they are being violated. The lawsuit asks a judge to uphold the restrictions and issue a judgment to make Crago ensure the property is used for only residential purposes.
The association is asking for undetermined attorney fees and court costs. It also wants compensatory damages in the amount of any liens it places against the property. No liens have been assessed, Towers said, but that could change if a judge upholds the restrictions.
Neighbors say they had no idea what was taking place inside the two-story house until a youngster misfired a water balloon and broke a window. Neighbors went to apologize and, when the front door opened, they saw an array of cameras and posters advertising the Web site. After a curious neighbor went to the Web site, a campaign was launched to shut it down.
Homeowners complained to their homeowners association, and then went to the Seminole County Sheriff's Office and the county's Planning and Zoning Department.
Deputy sheriffs investigated, but decided not to pursue the case. "They haven't violated any laws," sheriff's spokesman Steve Olson said.
The county also took no action but hired attorney Rick Nelson, an expert on pornography, to look into the matter. Nelson is representing the homeowners association in the suit.
Gary Taylor can be reached at or 407-324-7293. Copyright © 2002, Orlando Sentinel

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Friday, March 15, 2002

GLBT NEWZ 03/15/02 Information is power!

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Rosie Accused Of Lies And False Claims

by Paul Johnson International News Editor in Washington
(March 15, Washington) Right wing Christian groups wasted no time attacking Rosie O'Donnell after her coming out Thursday night in an interview on ABC Primetime.
The Family Research Council accused her of making "many false claims about homosexual adoption".
In a media release, FRC President Ken Connor called on other states to follow Florida and ban gays and lesbians from adopting.
"Much of the science and rhetoric that homosexual activists are using to oppose the Florida law is faulty at best and in many cases untrue,' his statement said.'
"What they fail to recognize is that children in homosexual households grow up without experiencing first-hand three of the most important relationships required for social development-husband/wife, mother/father and male/female," Connor said.
"States around the nation should follow Florida's lead in recognizing the benefits of these traditional households containing both a mother and a father."
The FRC, which is also a leading voice in opposing hate-crimes legislation and civil rights protections for gays claims "recent studies that have endorsed adoption by homosexuals have relied on faulty research, including small and unrepresentative sample sizes.
It promotes it's own publication, "Homosexual Parenting" by Timothy Dailey as the most comprehensive expose available on the bad science being used by homosexual activists. Dailey is not recognised by any major US psychological or psychiatric professional organization.
His report is at the FRC website: .
Connor did not mention a recent endorsement by American Paediatricians of gay and lesbian adoption. "In a perfect world, there would be no children left in want of a home,'' Connor said. ``But in seeking to attain that goal, children should not be placed in situations in which they have been proven to suffer harmful, long- lasting effects.''

Activists press war on Florida's gay adoption ban with meeting, TV show

By Terri Somers
March 14, 2002
The two sides weighing in on Florida's ban on gay adoption agree on one thing: It's about family values and children.
"I believe in family values. They are my highest value," Wayne LaRue Smith, a gay foster parent from Key West told more than 100 people gathered for a town hall meeting at the Gay & Lesbian Community Center of South Florida in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday night to discuss the ban and watch a television special about it.
Florida's ban is the toughest in the nation. Smith is one of five gay men challenging Florida law in federal court. So is Steve Lofton, who was profiled along with his family on Primetime Thursday.
Some state legislators and conservative activists from around the country contend gays such as LaRue are immoral and, therefore, in no position to talk about values.
"I think children should be raised in a traditional home by a mother and father," state House Speaker Tom Feeney, R-Ovideo, said on Thursday.
It is immoral to use the ban to limit the pool of loving parents for children who need them, say those looking to change the law.
Those are the battle lines drawn in the sands of Florida.
Activists who want to change the law are hoping the television special and a fervent public education campaign, which includes events such as the town hall meeting and a news conference earlier Thursday will help bring Floridians who are somewhere in the middle over to their side.
"My partner and I are the only gays in our neighborhood, and our neighbors love us," said Tony Ladt, a foster parent from Sunrise Lakes who attended the town hall meeting.
"People come by our house all the time. They see us doing things with the kids. They break bread with us. They've learned we are a normal couple, family," Ladt said.
"Most people [in Florida] are like my neighbors," Ladt said. And when they see television shows such as the one aired last night on ABC, in which popular talk-show host Rosie O'Donnell said she is a gay parent who wants the Florida law changed, Ladt thinks Americans will become as accepting as his neighbors.
Kevin Burns and his partner, Rob Flint, attended the town hall meeting with their 5 1/2-month-old daughter, Autumn Hope. The Miami couple established a second home in Vermont, where gay adoptions are allowed, in order to be eligible to become fathers. Their daughter's birth mother chose them over about 20 other gay and straight couples to raise Autumn Hope.
So, if they could move and adopt a child elsewhere, why do these men want Florida's law changed?
"Why end slavery in the North and not in the South?" asked Burns, as he changed his daughter's diaper. "If you can go to the North and be free, is it still right to keep this ban in Florida?"
Many of those gathered for the town hall meeting were not disappointed that the room seemed to be filled with those who shared their view on the gay adoption ban.
Another step in what they see as the enlightenment of America, and Floridians specifically, is educating the gay community about the law and the lawsuit, said Ladt.
"We're not going to let this issue disappear from the public discourse," said Matt Coles, who heads the ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. Lawyers for the ACLU and the Children First Project at Nova Southeastern University are among the lawyers representing the gay men and their children in their challenge of the law.
Conservative activists like Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council, contacted at the organization's headquarters in Washington, D.C., cite studies they think should enlighten America to the opposing view.
There's an abundance of research that shows children benefit from living in a traditional family with a heterosexual mother and father, Sprigg said.
Those who favor changing the law also have an abundance of studies that conclude children raised by loving gay parents are at no more risk of emotional, psychological or developmental harm than children raised by heterosexual parents.
So what is the public to believe?
"Look at the families," said Chris Zwisza, of the Children First Project.
"I'd say watch the interview on television tonight [Thursday] and you won't have a doubt," Coles said.
Terri Somers can be reached at or 954-356-4849. Copyright © 2002, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Florida Governor Buried In Email Over Adoption Issue

by Fidel Ortega Newscenter in Miami
(March 15, Tallahassee, Florida) The offices of Gov. Jeb Bush and the head of the Florida Department of Children & Families are being swamped with emails from people across the US and around the world condemning the state's ban on gay and lesbian adoption.
The ACLU, which is representing Florida gays and lesbians, in a federal suit against the state, has set up a website, , with direct email links to the governor and the Children and Families Department.
In the three days leading up to Rosie O'Donnell's ABC interview in which she comes out as a lesbian mom, more than 63,000 e-mails poured into the capitol, nearly crashing the state computer system.
In the next few days even more emails are expected to arrive as a result of the telecast by one of America's favourite stars.
The ACLU site has received 4.7 million "hits." details the story of the Lofton Family, one of the ACLU plaintiffs challenging Florida's ban, and provides extensive information on the lawsuit and gay parenting generally.
O'Donnell said it was the Lofton case, that encouraged her to come out and fight the Florida law. Gov Bush's office dispute's the importance of the email campaign. Bush spokesperson, Elizabeth Hirst, said only about 3,000 of the emails were sent from within the state of Florida.

ACLU battles Florida's ban on gay adoption

By Alex Veiga
Associated Press
March 15, 2002
MIAMI -- Touting support from talk-show host Rosie O'Donnell and thousands of Floridians, opponents of the state's ban on adoptions by gays and lesbians called on Gov. Jeb Bush and lawmakers Thursday to repeal the law.
The American Civil Liberties Union launched the national campaign to repeal the 25-year-old law to coincide with an ABC Primetime Thursday segment featuring O'Donnell. In it, the actress with a Miami vacation home identifies herself as a gay parent opposed to the Florida law.
O'Donnell said she didn't want the adjective "gay" permanently attached to her name.
"It was never a big deal for me," she said in the interview. "It remains not a big deal for me. It is not the way that I describe myself. But nor is it a way that I distance myself from."
O'Donnell, who has won four straight Daytime Emmy awards for best talk-show host and was nominated again Wednesday, is quitting her syndicated show in May. She told interviewer Diane Sawyer that upcoming move played a part in her decision to talk about her sexuality now.
She also wanted to speak out to oppose Florida's law restricting adoption of children by gay parents. O'Donnell, who has three adopted children, said she is willing to be the nation's image of a gay parent.
"I don't think America knows what a gay parent looks like," she said. "I am the gay parent. America has watched me parent my children on TV for six years. They know what kind of parent I am."
"People need to be judged on their individual fitness as to whether or not they can be adoptive parents," said Matt Coles, national director of the ACLU's Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. "This law is going to come down."
Florida is the only state that prohibits all gay people, couples and individuals alike, from adopting. It doesn't bar gays from being foster parents. Two other states, Mississippi and Utah, bar same-sex couples from adopting.
A federal judge ruled last year to uphold the ban on gay adoption, but civil-liberties groups are appealing to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.
Opponents of gay adoption say children are best served when raised by a man and a woman.
Ken Connor, president of the Family Research Council, a Washington-based public-policy group, said children who grow up in gay households miss out on male-female, husband-wife, mother-father relationships found in heterosexual unions.
"We oppose adoption by homosexuals because it trivializes the contribution that each gender makes to the development of their children," Connor said. "These roles are important to the healthy growth and development [and] maturation of a child."
As part of its effort to overturn the ban, the ACLU has begun an e-mail campaign directed at Bush and the state's adoption agency urging the law's repeal. Coles says it has generated 80,000 messages, including about 10,000 from Florida.
Lisa Gates, a spokeswoman for Bush, disputed those figures, saying that as of Thursday, his office had received 3,821 e-mails from Floridians in support of repealing the law. Another 39,997 non-Floridians also wrote in, Gates said.
Bush's office wouldn't disclose his opinion of the law, referring all questions to the Department of Children and Families. DCF spokeswoman LaNedra Carroll said the agency is simply doing its job when it refuses to let gay people adopt.
"We have to follow the law. We must comply with the law, which has been upheld by the federal courts and is now on appeal," Carroll said.
The ACLU's repeal effort includes a book, Too High a Price, with an introduction by O'Donnell, explaining why the organization supports giving gays the right to adopt.
One case the law's opponents highlight involves Steve Lofton, a gay foster parent who has been raising a 10-year-old boy named Bert since the child was an infant. The state has told him that the child will be removed from his care once other adoptive parents can be found, ACLU officials said.
"The governor has the power and the authority to keep this family intact," said Howard Simon, head of Florida's ACLU chapter. "The governor should use that power."
The state did offer Lofton guardianship, but that's not enough, Coles said.
He said Lofton wants to adopt Bert because of the symbolic value that has compared with guardianship, which essentially entitles a person to have legal rights over the child until he or she turns 18. Guardianship also would not entitle Lofton to receive medical benefits for Bert, who was born HIV-positive, Coles said. Copyright 2002 Associated Press

State Rep. Randy Ball defends ban on gay adoptions

Associated Press
MIAMI -- Touting support from talk-show host Rosie O'Donnell and thousands of Floridians, opponents of a state ban on adoptions by gays and lesbians called on Gov. Jeb Bush and lawmakers Thursday to repeal the law.
"People need to be judged on their individual fitness as to whether or not they can be adoptive parents," said Matt Coles, national director of the Lesbian and Gay Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union. "This law is going to come down."
State Rep. Randy Ball, R-Titusville, who was interviewed on ABC News' Primetime Thursday by host Diane Sawyer, supported the state's ban.
"I feel very strongly that allowing homosexuals to adopt is a bad idea, primarily because of evidence which conclusively shows that the homosexual lifestyle is a very destructive one," Ball said.
A social scientist on the program disputed Ball's claims, saying there isn't any correlation between a child raised by homosexuals and a destructive livestyle.
The ACLU's launching of a national campaign to spur the repeal of the 25-year-old law coincides with the ABC segment featuring O'Donnell. In it, the actress with a Miami vacation home identifies herself as a gay parent opposed to the Florida law.
An e-mail campaign directed at Bush and the state's adoption agency has generated 80,000 messages, including about 10,000 from Florida, Coles said.
The repeal push includes a book, "Too High a Price," with an introduction by O'Donnell.
A federal judge rejected a challenge to the constitutionality of the law last year, but civil liberties groups are appealing to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. Florida is the only state with a law prohibiting all gay people, both couples and individuals, from adopting. It doesn't bar gays from being foster parents.

1,250 Gays Left Forces in 2001; Largest Exodus Since '87

The Washington Post
by Vernon Loeb
A total of 1,250 service members left the U.S. military last year after declaring themselves gay in what amounted to the largest exodus of gay service members since 1987, according to an advocacy group for gays in the military.
The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, in a report scheduled for release today based on Pentagon statistics, also says gay discharges have more than doubled since 1994, after the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy was implemented. It permits gays to serve in the military as long as they do not engage in homosexual conduct or reveal their sexual orientation.
The advocacy group faulted the Bush administration and U.S. military commanders for allowing a "pervasive anti-gay sentiment to fester and grow" throughout the ranks, concluding: "Harassment continues in epidemic proportions."
While federal law bans gays from military service, "don't ask, don't tell" prohibits commanders from asking service members about their sexual orientation or pursuing investigations absent evidence of homosexual conduct or a service member's acknowledgment. The policy was expanded in 2000 to prohibit harassment of service members suspected of being gay.
But SLDN, a privately funded organization based in Washington, alleges in its report that every branch of the military has "virtually ignored" an "anti-harassment action plan" adopted in 2000 by Defense Secretary William S. Cohen. It was adopted after the slaying of Army Pfc. Barry Winchell in 1999 by fellow soldiers at Fort Campbell, Ky., who suspected he was gay.
The group singled out Army leadership for tolerating anti-gay harassment, reporting that 616 men and women were discharged from the Army for being gay, including 222 at Fort Campbell, more than any other Army installation.
"The story in the Army this year, much more so than in the past, is about failed leadership driven by callous indifference," the group stated. "Army leaders, up and down the chain of command, have failed to implement the safety and training initiatives launched in the wake of Pfc. Winchell's murder."
Lt. Col. James Cassella, a Pentagon spokesman, took strong exception to the group's findings, saying the military's commitment remains "steadfast" to enforcing the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. "We're taking extraordinary measures to foster an environment that's free of any type of harassment based on respect for fellow service members," he said.
Cassella said gay discharges often do not connote harassment, since service members who go to their superiors and acknowledge that they are gay are discharged from the military as a matter of law.
"Discharges and harassment are two different things," he said. "Discharges relate to people who are in violation of the homosexual conduct policy."
Elaine Kanellis, an Army spokeswoman, said 92 percent of the Army's 616 gay discharges were based on "simple statements" by soldiers that they are gay. "All that is required is for the soldier to claim they are homosexual," Kanellis said. "Those claims are routinely accepted at face value and not investigated."
Kanellis and Col. Tom Begines, chief of Army media relations, attributed the large number of gay discharges at Fort Campbell, home of the 101st Airborne Division, to a policy decision made after Winchell's murder to expedite the processing of gay discharges for the safety of gay service members.
"The increase should be viewed as preventative rather than punitive," Begines said. "All of that, I think, is to the Army's credit."
Kanellis said that once the expediting of gay discharges at Fort Campbell was discontinued late last year out of concern that nongay service members were improperly obtaining gay discharges as an easy way to leave the military, the number of gay discharges dropped from 33 in July to three in December.
C. Dixon Osburn, executive director of SLDN, responded that there is a strong correlation between increases in gay discharges and increased harassment. "The fact that this is the highest number of discharges since 1987 says something to us," Osburn said. "There are reasons for that, and one of the reasons for that is harassment." Copyright 2002 The Washington Post Company

Gay-solidarity Gov Rivals Nix St. Pat's

New York Post
by Robert Hardt Jr.
Both [New York State] Democratic candidates for governor will be skipping Saturday's St. Patrick's Day Parade because organizers won't allow a gay group to participate, The Post has learned.
The decision by Carl McCall and Andrew Cuomo to boycott the 241st parade will leave Gov. Pataki no political competition as he marches up Fifth Avenue.
While Pataki, Mayor Bloomberg and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton will be taking part in the largest St. Patrick's Day Parade in the world, McCall will be attending a far more obscure march in Syracuse, and Cuomo's schedule that day has not been decided.
McCall campaign manager Allen Cappelli said that while the state comptroller has "enormous respect for Irish-Americans," he wouldn't march because members of the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization are not allowed to enter the parade under their own banner.
"Given his lifelong commitment to opportunity and diversity, Carl will march in the New York City parade when it's inclusive," Cappelli said.
Cuomo campaign manager Josh Isay said that the former federal housing secretary won't be marching and that Cuomo "believes the parade should be inclusive."
Since the conflict with ILGO began in 1990, the parade has been an annual headache for Democrats, who have delicately tried to balance either offending gay voters or alienating conservative Irish-Americans.
Clinton marched when she was campaigning for the Senate in 2000. But she skipped the march last year, only attending breakfasts and Mass in Manhattan before flying to the Syracuse parade. Clinton aides noted the senator already took part in a parade in Queens this month that allows gay groups to march.
Sen. Charles Schumer hasn't marched in Manhattan since the ILGO flap began and has usually attended parades in Buffalo or Syracuse.
Last year, three of the four Democratic mayoral candidates skipped the march. Bloomberg didn't march because he had yet to declare his candidacy.
While new City Council Speaker Gifford Miller will continue the tradition of sponsoring a council breakfast before the march, he won't be taking part in the parade. NEW YORK POST is a registered trademark of NYP Holdings, Inc. NYPOST.COM, NYPOSTONLINE.COM, and NEWYORKPOST.COM are trademarks of NYP Holdings, Inc. Copyright 2002 NYP Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved.

Majority of Poles Oppose Legal Recognition of Gay Partnerships

Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa)
Warsaw (dpa) - Seventy-six per cent of Poles oppose the legal recognition of same-sex unions, with only 15 per cent in favour, a poll released Thursday said.
However, 60 per cent of respondents to the same survey by the Warsaw-based CBOS pollsters said they had no objections to the legal recognition of heterosexual common-law unions.
Polish law currently recognizes neither gay nor heterosexual common-law partnerships.
According to CBOS, respondents declaring strong religious convictions were more likely to be opposed to the legalization of both homosexual and heterosexual common-law unions.
Poland's membership of the European Union by 2004 has increased the pressure on officials in the devoutly Catholic country to put an end to discrimination against both types of common law partnerships by legally recognizing such unions and affording them all the rights enjoyed in heterosexual marriages.
A draft law aimed at ending discrimination has drawn sharp criticism from Catholic clergy with one high-ranking church spokesman terming it an "attack on marriage and the family."
dpa Copyright 2002 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

More Animal Viruses Like AIDS May "Jump" to Human Beings

Dayton Daily News
by Jeff Nesmith Washington Bureau
Scientists fear super infections
WASHINGTON - In the area of Africa where the global AIDS epidemic is believed to have started, scientists fear the world is being exposed to the threat of further AIDS-like infections in order to satisfy a growing local market for the flesh of monkeys and chimpanzees.
At least 28 viruses similar to two that cause AIDS have been identified in the tissues of west African primates by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
If any of these viruses is capable of "jumping" to humans from an infected animal, as the AIDS virus is believed to have done, then hunters and butchers who handle the raw meat may already have infected themselves.
Chimpanzee expert Jane Goodall and other scientists say that because of recent expansion of the timber industry in west Africa, a vigorous and growing market has developed for "bush meat," which includes the meat of monkeys and apes, as well as other wild animals.
"We are not only murdering our closest relatives. We are committing an act that is unmatched for its potential for self- destruction," said Dr. Eric Chivian, director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the Harvard Medical School.
The Birmingham group has traced HIV-1 to wild chimpanzees, probably in Cameroon, and the less common HIV-2 to monkeys.
Chivian pointed out that the primate viruses, as well as AIDS- like viruses found in the 28 other species of monkeys, seem to have no clinical effect on animal hosts.
That could mean that the animals have evolved a way to disarm the virus, he said, and by killing off the animals, people may be destroying the best hope for understanding HIV.
Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles, reported that by following "instructions" they found in the genome of a monkey they were able to rebuild an extinct human substance that seems to dramatically inhibit HIV.
The UCLA group described removing an ancient mutation and synthesizing the HIV-inhibiting compound. The work suggests that at one time humans had a gene that helped protect them from viruses like HIV, but lost it.
HIV and the other viruses that scientists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Center for AIDS Research have identified in primates are known as lentiviruses, a form of retrovirus.
It is not known how many of them have the capacity to jump to humans, said Dr. Beatrice Hahn, associate director of the center. But no one yet knows what enabled HIV-1, the virus responsible for more than 55 million human infections, to jump from a chimpanzee.
Hahn and fellow researchers also have reported finding cases in which AIDS-like viruses have jumped from one primate species to another, then exchanged genetic material with viruses already found in the new host. This spontaneous bit of bioengineering created new forms of virus.
She warns that it may be possible for a primate lentivirus to recombine with HIV in the blood of a human host and create an entirely new super-infection.
Hahn's studies showed that HIV-1 is virtually identical to the chimpanzee virus "SIVcpz" and pointed to at least seven occasions when this virus jumped from chimpanzees to humans.
"It is important to point out that the danger we are talking about is a potential one," Hahn said. (C) 2002 Dayton Daily News. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved

Couple goes to Ohio's top court for custody

A lesbian couple is asking the Ohio supreme court to let the two women seek shared custody of their children, in a case attracting national scrutiny by supporters and opponents of the request. Teri Bonfield and Shelly Zachritz of suburban Cincinnati want the supreme court to overturn a ruling by a juvenile court magistrate that denied their request for equal custody. Justices heard arguments in the case Wednesday. A decision is expected by summer.
Bonfield and Zachritz, who have been together 14 years and have six children between them, had requested a court order from Hamilton County acknowledging their equal standing as parents. Bonfield adopted two sons in 1996. Using artificial insemination, she gave birth to a son in 1995 and then twins--a boy and a girl--in 1998. Zachritz later also gave birth to a son by artificial insemination. The couple say that they both need legal custody for all six children in case something happens to one of the women. While Bonfield is the natural or adoptive mother of five of the children, they say, Zachritz has been the primary caregiver, and the children consider her their parent.
A magistrate for the Hamilton County juvenile court ruled that the court didn't have jurisdiction under Ohio law to grant the couple's request. The magistrate said that in Ohio, the term parent typically refers to only the biological or adoptive parent. The first Ohio district court of appeals upheld the decision, so the couple appealed to the Ohio supreme court.
Parents should be treated as parents under Ohio law, said Sallee Fry Waterman, the couple's attorney, on Wednesday, even if they are not biological or adoptive ones, if certain requirements are met, including consent from the parent with legal custody. The definition of parent should be expanded to include "a second or psychological parent," she added. Waterman described such a person as someone "who provides the day-to-day caretaking responsibilities and assumes responsibilities for the children and forges a parent-child type of bond with the children." A supreme court ruling in her clients' favor would require Hamilton County juvenile court to consider the request for shared custody, she said. If the court grants that request, Zachritz would be allowed to do everything from picking up the children from school to taking them to the doctor, Waterman said.
A lawyer representing several groups opposed to the couple's request said the question of who constitutes a parent belongs before state lawmakers, not the supreme court. "What you have here is an attempt to give legitimacy to a relationship that is not recognized by the Ohio general assembly, and that's a same-sex relationship," David Langdon said. Langdon also questioned whether Bonfield and Zachritz have the legal standing to make the request, since shared parenting orders typically involve custody disputes between parents. In this case, he said, there is no controversy because there is no dispute between the women. Granting their request could change traditional definitions of parenting in Ohio, he said. "Could it be three men and two women together?" Langdon said. "A whole commune of folks could get together and decide, 'Well, we all take care of these children,' and therefore they all come into court and say, 'We want to be their parent for purposes of the law."' Several justices seemed skeptical of Langdon's claim that the women lack legal standing. "Where's the meaningful access to the courts for people in this situation?" Justice Paul Pfeifer said. Langdon said the women have other options, including a private agreement, power of attorney, or requesting state lawmakers to change the definition of parent.

Minnesota lesbian's lawsuit dismissed

A Hennepin County, Minn., district judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by a former Minneapolis fire captain who claimed she was discriminated against because she is a woman and a lesbian. Melanie Metz was demoted from captain to firefighter in 1999 for taking credit for fire code inspections she never conducted. In her lawsuit against fire chief Rocco Forte, Metz claimed the practice was common and that she had been singled out because of her gender and sexual orientation.
Judge Delila Pierce said Metz failed to prove she was demoted for those reasons. Metz also didn't show that Forte knew of other fire captains engaging in the same misconduct, the judge said. The court cited Forte's record of hiring and promoting women, many of whom are openly gay. Forte testified that the number of women in the department grew from 35 to nearly 80 in his first 3 1/2 years as chief. Women also hold positions in all ranks, he said. Metz, who joined the department in 1988, claimed that the harassment was a result of resentment over an earlier lawsuit she filed against the city.

Rosie O'Donnell scores nine Daytime Emmy nominations

Newly out talk-show host Rosie O'Donnell, winner of the Outstanding Talk Show and Outstanding Talk Show Host Daytime Emmy awards for the past four years, has a chance to make it five. O'Donnell received nine nominations Wednesday for the Daytime Emmys. Besides those two categories, her show will also compete for Directing in a Talk Show, Multiple Camera Editing, Main Title Design, Makeup, Music Direction and Composition, Hairstyling, and Art Decoration/Set Decoration/Scenic Design. The Daytime Emmy Awards will be presented May 17 on CBS.


Will & Grace becomes "Must Keep TV"

NBC will pay more than $300 million to keep Will & Grace for three more seasons, reports Variety. The network will pay in-house producer NBC Studios a license fee of about $4 million per episode to keep the show on the air through May 2005, the end of the show's seventh season. That compares with a current license fee of about $1 million per episode. The new deal makes Will & Grace the network's fourth-most expensive series, behind ER (about $8 million), Friends ($6 million), and Frasier ($5.2 million). It is thought that the imminent departure of Friends at the end of the 2002-2003 season put NBC on the hunt for a "sitcom security blanket." "Will & Grace has been the biggest comedy hit of the last four years," said NBC Entertainment president Jeff Zucker. "And in this year when it's faced intense competition, it remains the second-highest-rated comedy [in demographics]. The show is just hitting its stride."

Will Young to appear on Top of the Pops

Will Young, the chart-topping British pop singer who came out last weekend, will be making an appearance on Top of the Pops, according to BBC News. He had not appeared for his single's debut at number 1 because the BBC would not allow him to perform both songs from his double-A-side single "Evergreen" / "Anything Is Possible." A new arrangement between Young's label, BMG, and the BBC means that he will prerecord "Evergreen" on Thursday for the Friday show, and the program will also feature the video for "Anything Is Possible." (Top of the Pops airs in the United States on BBC America; for more information, visit In other Will Young news, the singer will kick off a 21-date U.K. tour Thursday night at Wembley Stadium in London, where he will perform with the other finalists from the Pop Idol show that led him to fame. The 18,000 tickets for the first two Wembley shows were snapped up within 2 1/2 hours. The Pop Idol singers will also perform for the Prince of Wales at the Prince's Trust concert, and Young will sing for members of the royal family and for the public at a June 3 Buckingham Palace concert, part of the Queen's Golden Jubilee celebration.

UK Stalling On Adoption

by Peter Moore Newscenter in London
(March 15, London) Any mention of gay adoption has been carefully removed from the Blair government's new adoption bill.
The move has infuriated many gay rights advocates who supported Blair in the last election on a promise he would press for gay and lesbian job security, adoption, and partnership laws.
The government also is set to oppose any amendment which would include gays.
Sources have told British media that Blair wants to put the issue of gay and single person adoption in general on the backburner until after the next general election, not expected for another four years.
Blair is said to be concerned that political opponents would use gay adoption as an issue in a bid to defeat him at the polls.
The issue of gay and lesbian adoption has been passed to a committee examining partnership unions. The committee is not expected to make its final recommendations for at least a year.
Blair's stonewalling is an embarrassment for Health Secretary Alan Milburn, who is not married to his long-term partner, and whose department has championed the Bill. A group of MPs from all parties, including Labour say the issue is not over. The members say they will continue to press to have gay and lesbian adoption included in the bill.

Demonstration Targets TG Student

by Rich Peters Newscenter, Vancouver
(March 15, Nanaimo, British Columbia) A decision to allow a transgendered student to use the girls' washroom resulted in a walkout by a group of students at a Nanaimo-area secondary school this week.
The district board of education is supporting the student, who had been born male and is undergoing gender reassignment.
Nanaimo is north of Victoria, on Vancouver Island.
The Nanaimo-Ladysmith school district said that the girl is now at a stage in her transformation where it is imperative she use the girl's washroom.
The protestors, about 15 students and four parents, held up signs demanding that the board reverse its decision.
The demonstrators claim the rights of other students are being violated. School district superintendent Carola Lane said the board will not reverse its policy. She said that female students who object to sharing washroom facilities with the student can use an individual gender-neutral washroom available in the school.

Parents Sue To Muzzle Lesbian Teacher

by Newscenter Staff
(March 15, Salt Lake City) The Supreme Court of Utah is hearing from a parents group that wants to put a muzzle on a lesbian teacher.
Wendy Weaver, a longtime psychology teacher at Spanish Fork High School is being sued by the parents after she told her class she is a lesbian.
Weaver won a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Nebo School District in 1998 after the school required her to sign an agreement that barred her from discussing her sexual orientation -- in or out of the classroom.
The following year, a judge dismissed the parents' case but they appealed to the state Supreme Court last year saying the judge had erred.
Thursday, after filing papers with the court, Richard Van Wagoner, a Salt Lake City lawyer who is assisting the ACLU with Weaver's case said: "In our view, the case amounts to nothing more than continuing harassment against a teacher who asserted her First Amendment [rights]".
But, attorney Matthew Hilton, who is representing the parents said: "There are mandatory standards that say teachers are to model morality."
Hilton said teachers are prohibited from supporting criminal conduct by students -- and sodomy is against the law in Utah, he said. Just as a teacher couldn't encourage students to smoke marijuana or drive drunk, Weaver shouldn't be allowed to have gay issues "become intertwined with the teaching experience," Hilton said.

'Gays Only Fit To Play On Girls' Teams' Football Team Owner Says

by Newscenter Staff
(March 15, Santiago, Chile) Gay groups in Chile are protesting against the owner of the county's largest football team after he announced he would never hire a gay athlete.
Rene Orozco says he his Universidad de Chile team is looking for new players.
But, he told the newspaper La Cuarta, Orozco says the club is looking for "real men, who are hairy, smelly and tough".
Orozco said gay players are "another species" and said "they should go join a women's team".
"I don't want to get into trouble with the gays, but I must say a gay league would need different rules. You wouldn't want too much tight marking for example," he said.
Gay rights activist Rolando Jiménez has branded Orozco as a "homophobic and ignorant troglodyte". Jiménez said: "We will see if he still thinks he's so funny after we have spent a couple of days shouting ourselves hoarse outside his office."

Man Has Eyeballs Torn Out By Gay Lover

A man in Germany has allegedly lost his sight after his eyeballs were torn out of their sockets by his gay lover.
Police say the gay couple had a row in which the young lover, 25, tore out his boyfriend's eyeballs. The victim was a pensioner aged 69.
Police were called to the scene by a taxi driver who noticed the young man walking down the street naked. Witnesses say they heard screams comign from the older man's apartment.
Police found the elderly man covered in blood. He was rushed to hospital, but doctors couldn't save his sight. The young man said to be receiving treatment for bruises and a broken arm. Police investigating the incident told the German Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper they were shocked by its brutality. Police have not released the names of either man.

Man Allowed to Cross-Dress at Trial

A man accused of sexually assaulting a four-year-old girl will be allowed to cross-dress at his trial.
Marcus Alexander has denied a number of sexual assault charges connected to an incident in July 2000. His trial begins on Monday.
State District Judge Denise Collins ruled in a pre-trial hearing that Alexander could dress as a woman at the trial. She said the court could not remove Alexander`s constitutional right to dress as he wanted to dress.
Collins added that his clothes may influence the jury. She said she would allow him to dress as a woman "unless it will be unduly prejudicial to the jury."
Alexander`s attorney, Tyrone Moncriffe, said his client is not attempting to influence the jury by dressing as a woman. He said: "He`s just being real. He`s just being who he is."
Alexander testified that he has cross-dressed in public for the past seven or eight years. He said he is undergoing hormone therapy to become a woman. Moncriffe said his client plans to have a sex-change operation.
The child's mother said that she had seen Alexander dressed in both men's and women's clothing.
Prosecutor Cary Hart said the mother allegedly saw Alexander assaulting the child when Alexander, an acquaintance, had gone to visit the family. The court heard how he was dressed as a man when the alleged incident occurred.
Collins said: "It could be argued that, even though you`re dressed as a woman, you do like little girls." © 1999, 2001 Rainbow Network. All Rights Reserved. Partnered with New Media Spark.

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Thursday, March 14, 2002

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Editors note: Tonight, Rosie O'Donnell will "come out" on prime time tv. Rosie will talk to Diane Sawyer on a special 2 hour edition of "Prime Time Thursday" on the ABC network. Check local listings.


O'Donnell on TV: 'I am the gay parent' / Network
Wednesday, March 13, 2002 / 05:42 PM
SUMMARY: In case Americans don't know what a gay parent looks like, Rosie O'Donnell has a message for them in Thursday night's interview with Diane Sawyer: "I am the gay parent."
In case Americans don't know what a gay parent looks like, Rosie O'Donnell says she has a message for them in Thursday night's televised interview with Diane Sawyer: "I am the gay parent."
The popular talk show host will talk about her sexuality and her family life in a two-hour edition of "Primetime Thursday" on the ABC network. The show will also focus on a gay couple, Steve Lofton and Roger Croteau, who are suing the state of Florida to overturn its legal ban on gay adoption.
"I don't think America knows what a gay parent looks like," O'Donnell says. "I am the gay parent. America has watched me parent my children on TV for six years."
O'Donnell tells Sawyer she was inspired to come out publicly after learning about Lofton and Croteau, who are not allowed to adopt one of their foster children, despite having raised him from infancy.
"I'm saying it now because I want people to know that I'm the kind of parent that the state of Florida . thinks is unworthy, and it's wrong," O'Donnell says, according to an advance transcript of the interview.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which is challenging the Florida adoption ban in court, has launched a Web site,, to help publicize the Lofton/Croteau case and enlist support.
Within hours of the site's launch and after a mention during O'Donnell's talk show on Monday, the ACLU announced that 24,200 letters protesting the adoption ban were sent to Kathleen Kearney of Florida's Department of Children and Families and to Gov. Jeb Bush. In addition, Hyperion Interactive Media announced on Wednesday the launch of, a new online community dedicated to gay and lesbian parents.

Gay Man Will Continue Fight Against Hema-Quebec's Blood-Donor Rules

Canadian Press
MONTREAL (CP)-A gay man who was banned for life from donating blood because he lied about his sexual orientation said Monday he plans to take his case to court.
Joel Pinon said he is frustrated the Quebec Human Rights Commission recently dismissed his complaint against Hema-Quebec on the grounds that donating blood is not a right.
Pinon said the commission wanted to avoid setting a precedent. He'll now try to be heard in Quebec Superior Court.
"From now on they will have to tell the truth," Pinon said at a news conference.
"The real problem in the blood business is due to sexual practice, not sexual orientation. I declare non-discrimination should never be negotiated."
Pinon first made headlines in 1999 when he revealed he donated blood after he lied on Hema-Quebec's questionnaire by saying he had never had sexual relations with another man at any time since 1977.
He accused the agency of prejudice against homosexuals who want to give blood, arguing he was in good health, had taken an AIDS test and had abstained from sex since he started giving blood.
The agency argued that lying in the questionnaire was immoral and put people at risk.
Pinon acknowledged Monday that Hema-Quebec needs to ask donors questions to reduce the risk of HIV transmission. But he argued the agency's approach is "tyrannical, homophobic, outdated and discriminatory."
"The popular will must not be stopped by a technocrat in a suit," said Pinon. © The Canadian Press, 2002

Boston: Lawyers argue for gay marriage

Ann Rostow, / Network
Wednesday, March 13, 2002 / 05:37 PM
SUMMARY: Lawyers for GLAD argued their motion for summary judgment in a case that pits seven gay and lesbian couples against the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
Lawyers for the New England-based Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) argued their motion for summary judgment Tuesday in the same-sex marriage case that pits seven gay and lesbian couples against the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
After the hearing, Suffolk County Judge Thomas Connolly took the case under advisement; but regardless of his ruling, the question will surely be appealed to the Supreme Judicial Court, Massachusetts's highest legal arbiter.
According to a report in the Boston Globe, when Assistant Attorney General Judith Yogman told Connolly that no court in the country has ever ruled that marriage applies to same-sex couples, Connolly drew a laugh by replying: "Don't underestimate our Supreme Judicial Court, though."
In fact, at least three courts have ruled that gender restrictions on marriage are illegal, including an Alaska appellate court, the Supreme Court of Hawaii, and the Supreme Court of Vermont. In the Vermont case, also litigated by GLAD, the court held that Vermont's marriage law was unconstitutionally unfair to same-sex couples, and ordered the state legislature to find a remedy. That victory led directly to the parallel status of civil unions that confer all the state benefits of marriage on same-sex partners.
According to GLAD senior staff attorney Jennifer Levi, yesterday's hearing went "extraordinarily well -- better than we hoped or expected." Levi, who argued the case, said Judge Connolly was well prepared, had read the materials, posed interesting questions to the plaintiffs and had some tough questions for the state.
Although Levi declined to guess when Connolly might rule, she noted that the judge has "a reputation for issuing prompt decisions." Levi agreed that an appeal is a "near certainty," regardless of the outcome. And if the ruling goes against GLAD, an appeal is guaranteed, she said. Since GLAD filed the case last spring, Massachusetts has been a focal point in the country for the fight for marriage rights. A group called the Massachusetts Citizens Alliance is pushing two anti-marriage constitutional amendments towards the 2004 ballot, although GLAD has asked the state's top court to derail that effort on state constitutional grounds. An anti-marriage bill circulated through the legislature last session, but its author, John Rogers, announced earlier this week that he does not plan to revive the proposal in the next session.

Death stirs debate over liver transplants

Randy Dotinga, / Network
Wednesday, March 13, 2002 / 05:40 PM
SUMMARY: Should people infected with HIV be eligible for organ transplants? The issue is in the spotlight again after the death of a Boston woman who had to fight for a transplant.
Should people infected with HIV be eligible for organ transplants? The issue got plenty of attention in December when AIDS activist Larry Kramer got a new liver. Now it's in the spotlight again in the wake of the death of a Boston woman who had to fight for a transplant.
While the debate may not be resolved any time soon, it's clear that more AIDS patients will need organs in coming years, said Michael Allerton, who oversees HIV policy in Northern California for the Kaiser Permanente Health Plan.
"The need will grow as HIV patients live longer and develop more complications of their therapy," he said.
While the number of HIV-positive patients getting transplants grew from five in 1999 to 11 in 2000, they are still very rare. More than 22,900 patients received transplants in the U.S. in 2000, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing.
Belynda Dunn, a 51-year-old AIDS activist who died in Pittsburgh on Tuesday, had fought to keep HIV-positive people on organ waiting lists. Dunn suffered from hepatitis C, a liver disease that frequently strikes people with AIDS.
According to the Associated Press, Dunn was forced to raise about $208,000 for a new liver after her health plan refused to pay for a transplant because she was HIV-positive.
In an interview with the Associated Press, she described her rejection this way: "I think it just goes along with the idea that if you have HIV, you've got the black plague."
Dunn raised funds with the help of Boston's mayor and underwent her first transplant on March 5. It failed. The second one, last Friday, appeared to have been a success, but Dunn died after suffering a blockage in the lung.
Dunn reportedly contracted HIV through sex in 1991, two decades after she got hepatitis C through a blood transfusion.
She underwent her liver transplants at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, where Kramer had his operation in December. Kramer left the hospital after 10 days and is doing well, said hospital spokeswoman Lisa Rossi.
Are the procedures too risky?
Insurance companies have long been wary of transplants for HIV-positive people because they feared the patients would die soon.
"As survival rates for HIV patients now tend to be longer than survival rates for transplants, that's become a moot point," Allerton said.
Insurers have also called the transplants "experimental" and risky because doctors must suppress the body's immune system during a transplant to avoid rejection of an organ.
However, a new study rebuts that argument. Researchers at the University of California at San Francisco looked at 41 HIV-infected patients who received kidney or lung transplants. Ninety-five percent of them were still alive a year later, about the same percentage as among non-infected patients. Experts attribute the success to drugs developed over the past decade that suppress the AIDS virus. There are signs that attitudes are changing. Last fall, a Massachusetts medical board ordered an insurance company to pay for an evaluation for an HIV-positive man who wanted to undergo a life-saving liver transplant.

Dog owner cross-examined

The owner of a dog that fatally mauled a lesbian neighbor verbally sparred with a prosecutor, pleading a poor memory, accusing witnesses of falsehoods, and denying she lost control of the animal. In more than three hours of cross-examination Tuesday, Marjorie Knoller rarely answered a question with a simple yes or no. Often she said she couldn't understand the "context" of a question. Knoller reverted to the cool persona of a lawyer, a departure from her emotional testimony Monday when she sobbed as she recounted the attack that killed Diane Whipple on January 26, 2001.
Knoller, 46 is accused of second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, and owning a mischievous dog that killed a person. Her husband, Robert Noel, 60, who was not present during the attack, is charged with the latter two counts. Both defendants are attorneys.The case was moved from San Francisco to Los Angeles because of pretrial publicity.
Confronted with her husband's written account of another incident in which their two dogs broke loose and raced down their apartment house hallway, Knoller said: "I really can't recall that.... I don't believe it happened." "So this is false?" asked assistant district attorney Jim Hammer. "I don't remember this incident," said Knoller.
Asked about the potential danger of a presa canario dog like the one that killed Whipple, she said, "A larger dog is always more dangerous.... I didn't consider the presa a very large dog." Hammer then asked, "What about two presas together--240 pounds--do you think that is a dangerous combination?" Responded Knoller: "It depends on the context."
The central issue of Hammer's inquiry was whether Knoller knew that the dog, Bane, was a potential killer and whether she also knew that she could not control him. Hammer read jurors a letter Knoller had written in which she spoke of not having enough upper body strength to control the animal by herself. But she said the letter was written months before the attack and that the situation had changed. "Did you get stronger?" the prosecutor asked. Knoller said the dog had recently undergone surgery for lameness. "On January 26, 2001, were you able to control Bane?" asked Hammer. Answered Knoller: "I was having difficulty with his responding to my commands." In many of her answers Knoller pleaded poor memory, saying her recollection "fades in and out because of the nature of the incident." Knoller said those who testified previously about frightening encounters with the dogs were "mistaken" or "inaccurate." She denied one neighbor's account that her other dog, Hera, had bitten him. She also said she had no knowledge of a plan by a prison inmate adopted by Knoller and her husband to start a business breeding presa canario dogs for sale as aggressive guard dogs under the name Dog O' War. However, she identified a letter she wrote advising the prisoner, Paul Schneider, on the name of the project. Hammer asked why they didn't choose a name such as Happy Puppies rather than Dog O'War. "I thought it was a good name," she said.

Univ. of Hawaii to offer DP benefits

The University of Hawaii's faculty union will start offering health insurance to members' same-sex partners next month. J.N. Musto, executive director of the UH Professional Assembly, said the benefits will be available for only one year. That's because in July 2003, the state will start offering a new benefits plan that places all public employees into a single insurance group instead of individual unions' plans. Musto said UHPA wanted to proceed with offering domestic-partner benefits because "we want to make a statement that it should happen." UHPA will be offered in a three-tiered health plan, with rates for single employees, couples, and families. "It's a great thing, and I think this is going to matter to quite a few people," math professor Tom Ramsey said. "It should be a matter of state law, available to all state and county employees, but having UHPA [offer the benefits] is a good place to start." Ramsey said some people may be reluctant to take advantage of the benefits for fear of discrimination.


Pennsylvania activists hold hate-crimes rally

A bill to expand hate-crimes legislation in Pennsylvania by toughening penalties for offenses directed at people because of their sexual orientation or other attributes deserves to be passed in the state house of representatives, where it has languished since June, supporters of the bill said at a rally on Tuesday. About 50 people representing gay and civil rights groups appeared at the capitol rotunda in Harrisburg to support the bill, which passed in the senate last year, 32-15. The measure has remained in the house rules committee ever since. The state's ethnic intimidation law covers offenses motivated by race, color, religion, and national origin. The bill under consideration in the house would add the categories of sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, mental or physical disability, and ancestry. Specifically, the bill would upgrade the severity of any offense committed with malicious intent because of a person's background. "We're saying that if you're a bigot, if you're a thug, or if you're just someone who hates and you've taken that hatred and with malicious intent hurt someone, you hurt all of us," said Sen. Allen G. Kukovich (D-Westmoreland), who backed the measure in the senate. "And we will not stand for it." Organizers of the rally said house majority leader John M. Perzel told them he would call the bill up for a vote if it had Republican support. A spokesman for Perzel confirmed the report. Supporters say they are confident they can get Republican lawmakers to lobby for the bill.

Iowa student takes on school harassment

Immediately after Jerryn Johnston, a senior at Iowa's Gilbert High School, came out as gay, the worst thing he experienced was little slights from fellow students. "People say things under their breath, but I try not to let it bother me," he said. But that was before he found punctured tires and loosened lug nuts on his car--five times since December--and began to fear for his safety. "I was mentally breaking down," Johnston said. "It wasn't just my car anymore, it was me."
On Monday, Johnston and his mother, Sue Ellen Tuttle, went before the Gilbert School Board, asking that sexual orientation be added to the list of protected categories in the district's discrimination policy. They also asked that a $500 reward be offered for information leading to the arrest of the person responsible for the acts against Johnston. Jonathan Wilson, a Des Moines attorney, and George Belitsos, executive director of Ames-based Youth and Shelter Services, each have offered to match any money offered by the district.
Superintendent Doug Williams said that even though sexual orientation is not specifically mentioned in the district's policy, such discrimination is not accepted. "My concern is that no student be harassed for any reason," he said. "We condone no harassment." Williams said he is frustrated that the person who damaged Johnston's car has not been caught yet. School administrators recommended that Johnston park his car in visitor parking, which is in clear view of the main office. "We've tried to make whatever accommodations we could to bring [the harassment] to a halt," Principal Jim Quarnstrom said. In addition, the school is bringing in Eunice Merideth, a Drake University professor, to work with school staff on the subject of diversity. "When you're talking about the environment, it's kind of a nebulous thing," Quarnstrom said. "We don't have as much direct control. I hope no one thinks we don't care about our kids." When the board failed to act on either request, Tuttle spoke in frustration. "His safety is not something you can put on a future agenda," she said of her son. Johnston said that while he hopes the board will amend its discrimination policy and that the people who damaged his car will be caught, he mostly wants school to be a safe place again. "I would like to be like any other student and not have to be in fear," he said.

ABC affiliate in Virginia pulls Once and Again episode over teen lesbian storyline

The Los Angeles Times reports that the ABC affiliate serving Roanoke-Lynchburg, Va., pulled Monday's episode of Once and Again over concerns about a story that included a romantic kiss between two teen girls. (Actress Evan Rachel Wood discusses the kiss and the plot line in the current issue of The Advocate.) WSET-TV ran an infomercial in place of the episode, and a spokesman for the station declined to comment about the reason for the substitution. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has deplored the move and is calling on the station to air the episode within 30 days. GLAAD, while praising ABC for airing the episode, also accused the network of applying a double standard to gay story lines by placing an "Adult Subject Matter--Parental Discretion Advised" disclaimer on the episode. The organization says the network would never have run such a disclaimer on an episode about a teen girl getting her first kiss from a boy.

Ohio Supreme Court Takes Up Co-Parenting Issue

by Newscenter Staff
(March 14, Columbus, Ohio) The Ohio Supreme Court Wednesday began hearing a petition from a lesbian couple who want to be named the co-parents of each other's children.
The case began three years ago when Teri Bonfield and Shelly Zachritz, of Cincinnati asked a Hamilton County magistrate to accept their shared-parenting plan.
The two women have been together for more than a decade and have six children.
Bonfield is the adoptive parent of two children and, through artificial insemination, the biological parent of three others. Zachritz also was artificially inseminated and gave birth in 1999 to the sixth child.
The women asked the magistrate to recognize them as co-parents of all of the children. They said the distinction was necessary so both women could legally make day-to-day decisions about the children's lives, such as authorizing medical treatment or signing up a child for a field trip.
The women also wanted to ensure that each of them would retain parental custody rights if the other died.
The magistrate, however, said Ohio law does not recognize co-parenting in same-sex relationships. A state appeals court later upheld that ruling.
Wednesday, at the Supreme Court, David Langdon, a lawyer who represents conservative Christian groups opposing the couple argued: "Part of the homosexual agenda is to eat away at traditional marriage and establish some sort of same-sex marriage," said
"The state has long recognized the traditional family as a man and a woman with children," he argued.
But the lawyer for the women, Sallee Fry Waterman said the case is about the children, and protecting their best interests. After hearing arguments Wednesday, the Supreme Court could take several months to issue a decision.

Anti-Gay Mugabe Wins Controversial Election

by Jon ben Asher Newscenter in London
(March 14, Harare, Zimbabwe) Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has declared himself the winner in an election that was marred by violence and allegations of voter fraud.
With a fifth term now assured Mugabe, the plight of the country's gay community remains uncertain.
Over the past year thousands of gay Zimbabweans have fled to South Africa seeking refugee status.
Beatings of gays is an every day occurrence in Harare, the capital. In speeches Mugabe has pledged to eradicate gays from the country.
His other enemy, the British, Zimbabwe's former colonial ruler, are frequently referred to as homosexuals.
British gay rights advocate Peter Tatchell has been a constant critic of the Mugabe regime. He attempted to perform a citizens arrest on the African strongman in London last year and was thwarted by police. Last summer he was attacked and knocked unconscious by Mugabe bodyguards when he attempted again to have Mugabe arrested in Brussels.
Foreign observers monitoring the election said the vote was deeply flawed and unfair.
President Bush said Wednesday that the United States will not recognize the government's claim that incumbent Robert Mugabe was the winner.
Britain's Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, said the cabinet has not decided if it will support the regime. Prime Minister Tony Blair earlier this month had called on the Commonwealth to expel Zimbabwe.
Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien convinced the first ministers to delay that until after the outcome of the election. In Ottawa, Wednesday, Chretien told the Commons the situation "does not look very good" but said he would hold off on taking any action until Commonwealth election observers deliver a formal report.

Judge Tells Homophobic Politician To Prove His Allegations

by Peter Hacker Newscenter in Sydney
(March 14, Sydney) A gay Australian High Court Justice has fired back after a vicious attack on him in Parliament.
Yesterday, Sen Bill Heffernan told Parliament that Justice Michael Kirby is unfit to rule on cases of pedophilia because he is gay, and that he used a government car to pick up Sydney hustlers.
Kirby branded Heffernan "homophobic", and challenged him to prove his claims.
In a statement, Kirby said: "Senator Heffernan's homophobic accusations against me in the Senate are false and absurd. If he has such accusations, he should approach the proper authorities, not slander a fellow citizen in Parliament."
Because Heffernan made his allegations on the floor of parliament he is protected by "member privilege" and cannot be sued. Kirby accused him of trying to interfere in his duties as a judge.

Congressman Fights For GLBT Students

Doreen Brandt Newscenter in Washington
(March 14, Washington) Rep. Eliot Engel (NY) introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives, Wednesday, to highlight The National Day of Silence - a day where students take a vow of silence to bring attention to the discrimination and violence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.
Last year, thousands of students at over 300 high schools and colleges across the nation took part, and thousands are expected to participate this year on April 10.
"Tragically, violence and discrimination against LGBT youth is common in our schools. No student should ever feel threatened in school simply because of their sexual-orientation," Engel told the House.
"I am proud to introduce this resolution because Americans need to know that countless young people throughout this country are deprived of a happy adolescence because of the hurt inflicted upon them by their fellow pupils, teachers and parents," he said.
According to the 2001 National School Climate Survey issued by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), more than 83% of young people have experienced verbal harassment and more than 40% of young people have encountered physical violence in their schools during the previous year.
The victimization and harassment of the young often goes unnoticed. Only seven states have laws to protect lesbian, gay and bisexual students and only two states have statewide laws to protect transgender students from harassment in schools. Rep. Engel said, "Our children go to school to learn. As a former public school teacher, I know they cannot learn if they are in constant fear of harassment." He concluded, "I am encouraging all of my colleagues in the House to join me in supporting this important resolution that can make a real difference in countless young lives."

Judge 'Sceptical' That Gay Goat Sex Man Can Be Helped

A judge says he is "sceptical" that there is any sex offenders' programme that could help a gay man who was caught having sex with a goat.
Stephen Hall, 23, of Hull, was seen masturbating and having sex with a goat by a man out walking with his grandson, Hull Crown Court was told.
The court heard that the HIV-positive Hall had tied his belt around the female goat's neck during the incident at Argyle Street allotments in Hull on August 8 last year.
After initially denying the charge and ordering an identification parade, Hall pleaded guilty to one count of buggery with an animal in January.
Hall saw the witness, but did not stop. Instead he moved behind some nearby tin sheets. He then emerged with his trousers around his ankles.
Ms Thornton prosecuting said: "He was crouching in a concealed position, clearly having penetrative sexual intercourse with the goat. The defendant was engaged in the activity with the goat for some 10 minutes."
The nanny goat was said to have suffered some distress during its ordeal. Forensic tests matched semen taken from Hall's clothing to that found at the scene. Samples of the goat's hairs were also found in Hall's underwear.
Chris Dunn, mitigating for Hall, said that it was a spontaneous act that was carried out while he was on his way home from his sister's house. He said his client would probably be required to attend a sex offenders' programme.
Judge Michael Mettyear said: "I have got to tell you that I'm very sceptical that there is any programme that has been devised at the moment, that will help him." He will be sentenced on March 15.

Macaulay Culkin Stars in Gay Film

Macaulay Culkin is to star in a new film about a gay murderer who killed a drug dealer.
'Party Monster' is a film about Michael Alig, a New York club promoter in the early 1990s, who killed Angel Melendez, a small time drug dealer.
Alig bludgeoned and suffocated Melendez before dismembering the body and dumping his torso in the Hudson River
James St James, the author of 'Disco Bloodbath,' the book upon which the film is based, said that although Alig boasted about the murder, none of his friends turned him in because "they all loved Michael".
The role marks a significant change of direction for the former child star, who is also a close friend of Michael Jackson.
An insider told the National Enquirer: "Mac plays a pretty weird character in the movie, but his own life has been pretty strange too. Even now, whenever he sees that picture from 'Home Alone' of him with his hands to his face, he literally screams. He can't stand it any more and wants to be remembered for something else."
Alig pleaded guilty to manslaughter after Melendez' body was washed up. He is now serving a 22-year prison sentence.
Culkin is planning to visit Alig as part of his research for the role. © 1999, 2001 Rainbow Network. All Rights Reserved. Partnered with New Media Spark.

First Transsexual Candidate for Tories

The Conservative party is to field its first transsexual candidate in next May's local government elections.
Rebecca Baty has been a Conservative member for 15 years. She is also a naturist and has been active in the Libertarian Alliance.
Baty will stand for Haringey council in the Bruce Grove ward of Tottenham in London.
She told the Telegraph: "I don`t get out of bed in the morning thinking, `I`m a transsexual`. It`s not a big issue."
Baty added: "I`ve been a member of the party since 1986. I`ve always been a libertarian and I believe Margaret Thatcher represented a classically libertarian point of view."
She commented: "Of course I`m optimistic about the election, but it won`t be easy. I expect some dirty tricks from certain opponents."
If elected, Baty will not be the first transsexual woman in office. Labour voters elected Paula Thomas to the Tower Hamlets women`s council in 1996. © 1999, 2001 Rainbow Network. All Rights Reserved. Partnered with New Media Spark.

Opponents launch e-mail blitz against Florida law banning adoptions by gays

By Terri Somers
March 14, 2002
In only three days, Gov. Jeb Bush and the head of the state Department of Children & Families were inundated with more than 63,000 e-mails from people opposed to a Florida law that prevents gay people from adopting, according to the ACLU.
And that is just the beginning of a massive multi-media campaign the ACLU plans to open to full-throttle today to build support for its fight to overturn Florida's gay adoption ban.
People from all over the country sent e-mail to Florida leaders after visiting a new ACLU-sponsored Web site, The Web site details the case of five gay men who are challenging in federal court the state ban on gay adoption.
"The gay adoption ban has no basis in child welfare," say the form letters e-mailed to Bush and Kathleen Kearney, the head of DCF. "In fact, as leading children's groups recently said, this law is hurting children.As evidence continues to mount that this law discriminates unfairly and fails Florida's children, I urge you to publicly voice your support for overturning or repealing it."
Florida residents sent about 10 percent of the e-mail, according to the ACLU, which claims to have the technology on its Web site to keep a running tally of messages sent.
However, Bush's office has logged 15,000 e-mails regarding the gay adoption issue, and only 3,000 of them are from Florida residents, said Elizabeth Hirst, a Bush spokeswoman.
When asked for Bush's comment on the e-mail, Hirst would say only that "the state of Florida is complying with current law."
Other attempts to change the state law have failed. Many Florida legislators and voters agree with Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, who has said he is "a big believer that a man and woman who are married should be the parents of children."
The ACLU wants to force Bush and other state leaders to say and do more to change the law. The e-mail from people who say they have been moved to action after reading about Florida's law, might help the organization convince state leaders that change is the will of their constituents.
"I cannot believe that 'supposedly smart' people can truly believe that being gay can be a reason for children not to be in a loving relationship," read one e-mail message a woman named Lucinda sent to the ACLU.
"Extensive background checks should be made for ANY child that is to be adopted. The fact that the person that wants to love a child is gay should not be a deciding factor."
That is precisely the type of response the ACLU said it was seeking when it created the site to detail the plight of Steve Lofton and Roger Croteau, a gay couple who want to adopt their 10-year-old foster son, Bert, but cannot because of the law. The DCF has said it plans to remove Bert from the only home he has ever known, saying that foster placements are only temporary. Thus the Web site's title, Let Him Stay. The couple lived in Miami when they adopted Bert, and have since moved to Oregon.
Lofton is one of five gay men who joined the ACLU last year in filing a federal lawsuit that seeks to have the Florida law ruled unconstitutional. They all are awaiting a hearing on the case before the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal in Atlanta.
While they await action in the courts, the ACLU and other activists plan to use television, newspapers and other news media in an educational campaign to influence the public, the courts and perhaps even enough legislators to change the law.
At a news conference this morning in Miami, national and local gay rights activists are expected to demand Bush and Kearney use their powers to change state policy regarding gay people who want to be parents. The ACLU also will announce the release of a book the organization has published that outlines why the ACLU does not want gays to be prevented from adopting. The plan is to distribute the book to legislators, policymakers, community leaders and anyone else who wants it, said Eric Ferrero, one of its writers.
The release of the book, Too High a Price, coincides with a widely promoted two-hour television special, Primetime Thursday airing at 9 tonight on ABC, which focuses on foster care in America. The show highlights Florida's gay adoption ban and how it is preventing Lofton from adopting Bert. A town-hall meeting on the issue, hosted by the head of the ACLU's Lesbian and Gay Rights Project and followed by a viewing of the television show, is planned at the Gay & Lesbian Community Center of South Florida, in Fort Lauderdale.
In an attempt to widen the audience that will take the time to stop and at least consider the issue of gay adoption, talk show host Rosie O'Donnell shares her experience as a gay parent on the Primetime Thursday show, in the ACLU book and on the Web site.
O'Donnell might attract an audience that otherwise would not be interested in what the ACLU has to say, explained Ferrero, public education director for the ACLU's Lesbian & Gay Rights Project.
"Twenty-five years ago, celebrity helped get support for the gay adoption ban," said Ferrero, referring to singer/anti-gay rights activist Anita Bryant's push to pass the law in 1977. "If the power of celebrity can now help turn that around, that's fine."
In her introduction to the ACLU book, and in her television interview, O'Donnell explains she's publicly discussing her sexuality for a greater purpose.
"I don't think America knows what a gay parent looks like. I am the gay parent. America has watched me parent my children on TV for six years. They know what kind of a parent I am," O'Donnell tells ABC's Diane Sawyer.
"I want people to know that I'm the kind of parent that the State of Florida.thinks is unworthy and it's wrong," said O'Donnell, who has homes in Miami Beach and New York. For 18 months, O'Donnell was a foster mother to a special-needs girl from South Florida. And she is the adoptive mother of three children from another state that allows gay people to adopt.
But it was the story of Lofton and Bert that really "stunned" her and moved her to act, O'Donnell said in the interview and her writing. She also is motivated to push for change because 3,400 foster children in Florida need adoptive parents. That pool of potential parents is unjustly limited by the gay adoption ban, she said.
State Rep. Randy Ball, R-Titusville, offered Sawyer a different perspective on the law.
"A child is greatly benefited in his social and in his emotional development if he can understand and experience the relationship of a man and a woman," he tells Sawyer. "When a child is not exposed to that relationship," says Ball, "it greatly stunts his development emotionally and psychologically." Ball also says that homosexual couples "do not provide the kind of stable, wholesome environment that would justify the state having a law that allows them to adopt children."
Producers for the television show called 24 Florida legislators before they found someone willing to go on camera to discuss the ban, a network spokesman said.
"I am glad to go on camera and to speak with the media because I feel very strongly that allowing homosexuals to adopt is a bad idea, primarily because of the evidence which conclusively shows that homosexual lifestyle is a very destructive one," Ball told the Sun-Sentinel. He quoted several studies, including two by the Centers for Disease Control.
"I believe the law is justified on moral grounds, but not everyone shares my Christian views and they want the scientific argument," Ball said.
In its book the ACLU also uses studies by nationally recognized researchers to support its argument that children raised by loving gay parents are no more at risk of emotional, developmental or psychological problems than children raised by loving heterosexual parents.
Those studies were cited by national child welfare and medical groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Child Welfare League of America, which have weighed in recently in support of changing the Florida law.
Terri Somers can be reached at or 954-356-4849. Copyright © 2002, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Rundle pulled off gay rights probe

Gov. Bush cites apparent conflict
Citing the ''appearance'' of a conflict of interest, Gov. Jeb Bush on Wednesday removed Miami-Dade County State Attorney Katherine Fernández Rundle from a probe of allegedly forged petition signatures gathered by a group seeking to repeal the county's gay-rights law.
Bush said Fernández Rundle's political support in the 2000 election from a rival organization that sponsored the gay-rights ordinance raised the conflict issue.
''The governor believes in order to avoid any appearance of [a] conflict of interest or impropriety, there is good and sufficient reason to order the assignment of another state attorney,'' Bush wrote in his executive order. His office declined further comment.
He reassigned the divisive case to Polk County State Attorney Jerry Hill, who will continue the investigation here.
Fernández Rundle had told the governor's office that she could remain ''fair and impartial'' in the case despite having received a $500 campaign donation and endorsement from SAVE Dade. But she did not want to comment Wednesday.
''The governor has issued his executive order, and we respect it,'' said her office's spokesman, Ed Griffith.
Fernández Rundle's role in the forgery probe was brought to the governor's attention by Take Back Miami-Dade, which obtained enough petition signatures to put a referendum to repeal the gay-rights law on the September ballot.
That move sparked accusations from SAVE Dade that the group was trying to use its right-wing politics to sway the conservative governor to reassign the case to an out-of-town prosecutor.
Polk County is south of Orlando.
In an e-mail to Bush's office, Take Back Miami-Dade argued Fernández Rundle could not remain neutral -- her office had issued subpoenas to four of its supporters to turn over handwriting samples. That argument apparently swayed Bush's general counsel, Charles Canady, a former Central Florida congressman and a floor manager of President Clinton's impeachment.
In a letter to Fernández Rundle, Canady noted not only SAVE Dade's political support for her reelection, but also the group's lawsuit aiming to get Take Back Miami-Dade's referendum petition thrown out because of allegedly fraudulent signatures.
''In light of SAVE Dade's political support for you, a reasonable person could be concerned that the results of the investigation being conducted by your office could be unduly influenced by the political objectives of SAVE Dade,'' Canady wrote Fernández Rundle on Wednesday.
``It is important that a full investigation of the Take Back Miami-Dade petition effort be conducted, and that the public have confidence in the results of the investigation.''
Take Back Miami-Dade's communications director, Eladio Jose Armesto issued a statement applauding the governor's decision.
``Miami-Dade's State Attorney forced Gov. Bush to disqualify her after she adamantly refused to recuse herself from a legally suspect, politically motivated investigation calculated to violate the constitutional right of the people to vote in a referendum.''
While leaders of SAVE Dade said they are ''optimistic'' that the investigation will end in their favor, they criticized the governor's decision.
''It's outrageous that a group being actively investigated can fly to Tallahassee and effectively get their investigation killed,'' said SAVE Dade chairwoman Heddy Peña. ``She issued those subpoenas because there was evidence of wrongdoing, not because she's not impartial.''
''It's shocking,'' said Jorge Mursuli, former executive director of SAVE Dade and now director of People for the American Way.
``I clearly think they want to delay the forthcoming prosecution until after the election. It's a delay tactic.
``I think this whole community has been violated in the most extreme way. . . . I really thought the governor was above this sort of stuff, and apparently it's not the case.''
SAVE Dade scored a historic political victory in 1998, when the Miami-Dade County Commission passed the gay-rights law after decades of dispute.
The law prohibits discrimination in employment, housing and other areas on the basis of sexual orientation.
Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas, who unsuccessfully tried to broker a peace with Take Back Miami-Dade, said he was unconcerned by the political machinations of the criminal case -- calling it a ``side show.''
''I think that's really a secondary issue,'' Penelas said. ``The real issue here is the referendum -- that's what I'm concentrating my efforts on -- to make sure we defeat this [repeal] effort. Let's just get this thing on the ballot and defeat it once and for all.''
While the governor has the power to reassign a criminal case to another state attorney because of a possible conflict of interest, he normally takes such action after the original prosecutor indicates he or she might have a problem keeping an open mind.
In 2000, Bush removed Fernández Rundle from an investigation into Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Rosa Rodriguez's alleged campaign finance violations after the state attorney said she had a conflict in that case related to the Elián González custody dispute. The judge was hearing that family court matter, and Fernández Rundle said federal authorities should take it into consideration in deciding whether the Cuban boy could stay in Miami-Dade.
Bush reassigned the Rodriguez criminal case to Polk County's Hill.
His office, on the eve of her trial, dropped the charges because it did not believe it could prove criminal intent on her part.
Herald staff writer Karl Ross contributed to this report.
© 2001 miamiherald and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

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