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Saturday, March 23, 2002

 
GLBT NEWZ 03/23/02 Information is power!

On the web: www.saloonmen.com or www.glbtnewz.blogspot.com

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Sharon Smith honored; jurors say Knoller was "not believable"

Sharon Smith, the partner of the woman mauled to death by dogs last year, was honored Thursday by a gay lawyers' group for challenging legal precedent by filing a wrongful-death lawsuit as a same-sex partner against the dogs' owners. The Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom's annual dinner coincidentally fell on the same day a Los Angeles jury convicted Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel in Diane Whipple's death. "It seems almost ironic that I would be recognized with any community service award when it is I who want to recognize the community for the support they have given me," Smith said shortly after being greeted with a standing ovation.
Smith said Thursday that she has "crossed two hurdles--standing to sue [for wrongful death in an upcoming trial] and this victory in court." In a landmark decision last July, San Francisco superior court judge James Robertson granted Smith legal standing to sue the dog owners for wrongful death. Current California law entitles only certain categories of people to sue for wrongful death, and gay and lesbian partners are not among them.
Meanwhile, the jurors who convicted Marjorie Knoller of second-degree murder and Robert Noel of involuntary manslaughter said Thursday that Knoller was doomed by her own unreliable testimony. Juror Jeanne Sluiman, 52, said Knoller's testimony "was not believable. It had a lot of inconsistencies." Jurors also said Noel, whose letters about the dogs were admitted as evidence, "doesn't seem to be a very nice person."
Even so, juror Shawn Antonio, 27, said the panel resisted making a decision based on personalities, carefully weighing the evidence instead. The jurors said Knoller's situation was worsened by the behavior of her flamboyant lawyer, Nedra Ruiz, and by a TV interview aired shortly after Whipple's death in which the couple disavowed responsibility for Whipple's death and appeared to blame the victim. "It's not my fault," Knoller said in the interview. "Ms. Whipple had ample opportunity to move into her apartment. She could have just slammed the door shut. I would have." "It was just so out of left field," Antonio said of Knoller's comments. "It showed no remorse." Sentencing for the couple is set for May 10 in San Francisco. Knoller faces 15 years to life in prison for being convicted of second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, and keeping a mischievous dog that killed a person. Noel was not present at the time of the attack but was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and keeping a mischievous dog that killed a person. He faces up to four years in prison.
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Bias complaint dismissed against Alabama judge

A judicial panel on Thursday dismissed a bias complaint against Alabama chief justice Roy Moore, who called homosexuality an "inherent evil" in ruling that a lesbian was an unfit mother.
Gay rights group Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund had filed a petition alleging that Moore's comments show he cannot be an impartial judge. A statement issued Thursday by the judicial inquiry commission said it "found no reasonable basis to charge a violation of the Alabama Canons of Judicial Ethics."
The Alabama supreme court on February 15 gave custody of three teenagers to their father in Birmingham instead of their mother, a lesbian who lives with her partner in California. Moore, writing for the court, said the mother's relationship made her an unfit parent and that homosexuality is "abhorrent, immoral, detestable, a crime against nature, and a violation of the laws of nature."
Moore's attorney, Stephen Melchior, said the panel "did the right thing" in clearing the chief justice, a conservative Christian best known for hanging a plaque of the Ten Commandments in his courtroom. Ruth Harlow, lawyer for Lambda Legal, said the commission sent the group a letter saying it does not act against judges for statements made in opinions unless there is evidence of "ill will." Remarked Harlow: "We don't agree with the explanation."
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Colorado seeks to ban birth certificates listing same-sex parents

Same-sex couples in Colorado would no longer be able to list both their names as parents on birth certificates under a bill approved by a house committee Thursday. The state, veterans, and military affairs committee voted 5-4 along party lines, with Republicans in the majority, to approve House Bill 1356. The bill now heads to the full house for a vote.
"A birth certificate should reflect only one man and one woman," said Rep. Pam Rhodes (R-Thornton). Rhodes said the bill clarifies existing law. She said judges who have ruled in favor of listing same-sex couples as the parents on a birth certificate misinterpreted the law. "It's unfortunate that a court can rule outside our intentions as a general assembly," she said. Opponents said the bill would deprive children of inheritance rights, health insurance, Social Security, and other benefits.
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Catholic newspaper clarifies remarks

The Boston Archdiocese's newspaper says a recent editorial raising questions about priest celibacy, ordination of women, and gay priests has been widely misinterpreted. An editorial published Thursday in The Pilot denies it intended to challenge church policy last week when it published "Questions That Must Be Faced." The new editorial published Thursday says the article took on "a life of its own" and was misinterpreted.
Last week's editorial said Boston's child-molestation cases involving the church raised questions about whether there would be fewer scandals if celibacy were optional for priests and whether the priesthood attracts an unusually high number of gay men. It offered no answers but stated: "These scandals have raised serious questions in the minds of the laity that simply will not disappear."
Philip Lawler, editor of The Pilot from 1986 to 1988 and now editor of Catholic World Report, called the latest editorial an attempt to undo last week's damage. "It's baloney," Lawler said, adding that last week's editorial was "certainly putting the ball in play, and it is just awfully hard for me to imagine you could do that without realizing what you're doing." Lawler also criticized the latest editorial for blaming the media for misinterpreting last week's statement. "This speaks to the whole reason we're in this trouble--people blaming the media instead of telling the truth," Lawler said.
In the Vatican's first public comments about the scandal, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, chief spokesman for Pope John Paul II, told The New York Times the church needs to prevent gays from becoming priests. But abuse experts say that's a simplistic and incorrect view that will not end the threat to children. "What I'm afraid of is, we're going into this witch-hunt for gays," said the Rev. Stephen Rossetti, a psychologist and sex abuse consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, said, "What you may have is not so much a problem with gay people but with people who have kind of an immature sexuality or a conflicted sexuality. Within the church it may not be so much being a homosexual as it may be the fact that the celibate lifestyle is a magnet for people dealing with sexual conflicts."
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Minnesota house approves amended benefits bill

The Minnesota house of representatives passed a bill Friday adopting all parts of negotiated union contracts except a provision that would give health benefits to gay and lesbian partners of public employees.
Technically, the legislature must ratify or reject contracts; state labor law doesn't give legislators power to amend them. But the house bill, approved 78-52, does just that. In effect, the lawmakers rejected the contract settlements that Gov. Jesse Ventura's administration forged with state unions. Under the amended bill, all pay and health provisions except the same-sex domestic-partnership portion would be written into law instead.
Administration officials and union leaders have questioned whether the move is legal. The action isn't final because the senate is moving in a different direction. Rep. Luanne Koskinen was outraged by the bill. "This is an assault on the collective bargaining process and another slap in the face of the working people of Minnesota," she said. Rep. Dave Bishop added that health benefits should be blind to sexual orientation. "I don't believe the law should look into the bedroom," he said. Bishop voted for the bill anyway, saying he had no choice if he wanted to be appointed to any house-senate conference committee that deals with the contract issue.
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Counterprotester takes on Kansas anti-gay group

By Jamie Malernee Education Writer
March 22, 2002
They awoke steady and determined, secure in the belief they were doing God's work. He did not sleep all night, battling within himself over what he should do.
They arrived at Flanagan High School on Friday morning and unfurled their signs: "God Hates Fags" and "No Tears for Queers."
He was there to meet their eyes and their taunts. Then he put up a message of his own - arms reaching skyward, making two peace signs.
"I didn't have a sign, so I just threw up my hands," said Richard Cortez, 16, a former Flanagan student who is gay.
Passing traffic and students gawked at the scene that began at 7 a.m. in front of the Pembroke Pines school. A small group of anti-gay pickets had gathered to protest the administration's policy of teaching tolerance toward homosexuals, including a training video for teachers in which Cortez appeared.
Cortez, who had been told of the protest beforehand, stood alone, only yards away. Police officers watched warily.
The protesters, members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., have gained national attention for picketing the funerals of hate-crime victims. They had flown into South Florida on Thursday to "broadcast the judgment of God" after learning about sensitivity training in Broward County schools.
"They are using tax dollars to participate in what God has declared an abomination," said church member Timothy Phelps. "God does not love everyone. God hates."
Phelps' group, which included family members and a small boy, did not receive a warm welcome. Students in buses leaned out to hiss. Adults in passing cars slowed and rolled down their windows, telling the protesters to go home. Many smiled or cheered for the lone student. One girl blew him kisses.
Some of the students were visibly shaken by the protesters' message, which included a picture depicting gay sex and the school's name, along with a sign that said Matthew Shepard, the Wyoming college student who was the victim of a 1998 gay-bashing murder, is burning in hell.
One student named Nicki, who said she was bisexual and asked that her last name not be printed, broke down in tears.
"You wake up in the morning and come to school, hoping to have a good day. Now, I don't even want to walk on campus," she said. "They're a church and they're judging people, hating people? That's not godly of them."
Meital Stark, a Flanagan junior, comforted the girl, saying she also took offense.
"I got really upset because my father is gay. He deals with [prejudice] every day," she said. "But he's proud of who he is."
School officials said that counselors would be available to anyone who needed them. Additional security had been on standby during the protest but was not needed.
Assistant Principal David Jones acknowledged the protest in the school's morning announcements, praising students for not starting any fights.
"The protesters were looking for attention and we disappointed them," he said. "It's a testament to the good behavior of our students."
Broward County schools teach tolerance as part of a character education program. A different character trait is celebrated each month. March's theme is self-control.
"It was very appropriate," said school district spokesman Kirk Englehardt.
Police did remove one teen from the area after she screamed at the group. After only 30 minutes, church members packed up their signs and loaded into two cars.
Their protest permit had expired and they had more preaching to do. Next stop was the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, which advertises to attract gay tourists to the area.
As they left, group members made no apologies. They said they hoped to shock people.
"It's an easy way to get out our message," Phelps said. "With this generation, you have to get their attention, you have to be visual."
Cortez, who lives in Pembroke Pines, said he was buoyed by the support he received on Friday. But he said adults and fellow students have ostracized him throughout his life. He said he recently dropped out of school because he felt so alone, and now is pursuing his GED.
"[Kids] used to throw rocks at me, throw food at me, and no one did anything," he said. "I'm no stranger to hate."
Jamie Malernee can be reached at jmalernee@sun-sentinel.com or 954-385-7910. Copyright © 2002, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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The Space Coast Eagle, Cocoa Beach, Fl. www.saloonmen.com
GLBT NEWZ archives www.groups.yahoo.com/group/glbtnewz
Our e-mail is cyberqueer@hotmail.com
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Friday, March 22, 2002

 
GLBT NEWZ 03/22/02 Information is power!

On the web: www.saloonmen.com or www.glbtnewz.blogspot.com

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Dog Maul Defendant Convicted of Murder

Canadian Press
3/22/2002
LOS ANGELES (AP) - A woman whose two huge dogs mauled a neighbor to death in their San Francisco apartment building was convicted Thursday of murder, a charge almost never levelled in an animal attack.
Her husband was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Marjorie Knoller, 46, could face 15 years to life in prison for the second-degree murder conviction in last year's death of 33-year-old Diane Whipple, whose throat was ripped open in a gruesome attack that left the hallway spattered with blood.
Knoller looked stricken upon hearing the verdict, fighting back tears and turning to look at her parents.
She appeared to mouth: "Help."
Her 60-year-old husband, Robert Noel, showed no reaction. Both were convicted on the manslaughter charge, as well as having a mischievous dog that killed someone. Those charges carry up to four years each.
Sentencing was set for May 10 in San Francisco. In all, the jury deliberated for 11½ hours over three days before convicting the couple on all counts.
A large group of Whipple's friends and her domestic partner, Sharon Smith, burst into tears in the courtroom.
"There's no real joy in this but certainly some measure of justice for Diane was done today," Smith said later.
"I'm glad to see the jury didn't buy some of the smokescreens that were put in front of them."
The jurors reached verdicts on everything but the murder count Wednesday. They said they took up the murder charge last, realizing it was the most serious charge and the most difficult.
Juror Shawn Antonio, 27, said the jurors repeatedly watched a TV interview of Knoller in which she disavowed responsibility for Whipple's death.
"There was no kind of sympathy, no kind of apologies," he said.
"It helped us a lot."
It was the first murder conviction in a dog-mauling case in California and was believed to be only the third of its kind in recent U.S. history.
In pursuing the charge, prosecutors said the husband-and-wife lawyers knew their two powerful Presa Canarios were "time bombs," and they brought in more than 30 witnesses who said they had been terrorized by the dogs, Bane and Hera, which both outweighed the 110-pound victim.
The defence contended Knoller and Noel could not have known their animals would kill and Knoller tried to save Whipple by throwing herself between her neighbour and the enraged Bane. They also disputed the witnesses's accounts of being menaced by the dogs.
The gruesome case was a sensation in San Francisco: Whipple was savagely killed outside her door in exclusive Pacific Heights by an exotic breed known for its ferocity.
Soon word spread that the owners were lawyers who specialized in lawsuits on behalf of convicts. They were also in the process of adopting a prisoner, white-supremacist gang member Paul Schneider, who officials said was trying to run a business raising Presa Canarios for use as guard dogs.
The couple acquired the dogs from a farm in 2000 after Schneider complained the animals were being turned into "wusses." The dogs' former caretaker later testified she had warned Knoller that Hera was so dangerous it "should have been shot."
After the attack Jan. 26, 2001, Knoller and Noel defiantly blamed the victim. Noel, who was not present during the attack and was not charged with murder, suggested Whipple may have attracted the dogs' attention with her perfume or even steroids.
"It's not my fault," Knoller said in the TV interview that was played for the jury.
"Ms. Whipple had ample opportunity to move into her apartment. She could have just slammed the door shut."
"I would have."
In closing arguments, the prosecutor called her tone "cold as ice."
"Marjorie, from what I could see, never took any responsibility until it was convenient for her to do so at trial," the victim's mother, Penny Whipple-Kelly, said afterward.
"They had tried all along to blame my daughter and anybody else that they possibly could instead of looking at themselves."
The trial was moved to Los Angeles because of concern heavy publicity would prevent a fair trial in San Francisco. The attack so traumatized the usually pet-friendly city that police tightened enforcement of leash laws and city officials briefly considered a muzzle law.
The case made legal history even before the trial began when Whipple's partner, Smith, claimed the same right as a spouse to sue for damages. The California legislature enacted a law to allow such lawsuits by homosexual partners.
Pretrial hearings were explosive, with the prosecutor alleging at one point Knoller and Noel practiced bestiality with their dogs. Evidence relating to that claim was barred from the trial by the judge, along with most evidence about the Aryan Brotherhood.
The trial itself was grim: the jurors were shown 77 bloody photos of Whipple's wounds, many of them blown up to wall size on a movie screen. The prosecutors said the college lacrosse coach had been bitten everywhere except the top of her head and the soles of her feet.
Experts said the 54-kilogram Bane delivered the fatal wounds and prosecutors said Hera tore at Whipple's clothing during the attack. Both dogs were later destroyed.
Knoller testified for three days, crying, shouting and insisting she never suspected her beloved dogs could be killers.
"I saw a pet who had been loving, docile, friendly, good toward people, turn into a crazed, wild animal," she sobbed, referring to Bane.
Her lawyer, Nedra Ruiz, contributed to the courtroom drama by crawling on the floor, kicking the jury box and crying during her opening statement.
In closing arguments, she accused prosecutors of trying to "curry favour with the homosexual and gay folks."
Noel did not testify and contended through his lawyer he had no warning the dogs would kill. But his letters to the couple's adopted son were read to the jury. Two weeks before the attack, Noel wrote about an incident in which Whipple was frightened by the dogs as she entered the building's elevator.
In the letter, Noel referred to Whipple as a "timorous little mousy blond."
After the attack, he wrote another letter bemoaning the death of Bane and promising to fight for the life of Hera.
"Neighbours be damned," he wrote.
"If they don't like living in the building with her, they can move."
Murder appears to have been proven only twice before in recent U.S. dog mauling cases.
Sabine Davidson of Milford, Kan., was convicted of second-degree murder in 1997 after her three Rottweilers killed an 11-year-old boy. She was sentenced to 11 years in prison. Jeffrey Mann of Cleveland was sentenced to 15 years to life in 1993 after he knocked his wife unconscious and ordered his pit bull to attack her.
Two years ago, James Chiavetta of San Bernardino County was charged with second-degree murder but convicted instead of involuntary manslaughter after his pit bull mix killed a 10-year-old boy. He had left the dog unleashed in the yard with an open gate while he napped.
He was sentenced to four years in prison.
In San Francisco after the verdict, all was quiet in front of Whipple's apartment house - no flowers, no cards, just a handwritten note taped near the front entrance.
"Justice! Diane & Sharon. We are with you," it read. © The Canadian Press, 2002
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L.A. AIDS-related Infections Plummet

United Press International
3/22/2002
by KOREN CAPOZZA, UPI Science News
SAN FRANCISCO, Mar 20, 2002 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- The wide distribution of new anti-retroviral drugs over the past five years has resulted in a significant decline in AIDS-related opportunistic infections in Los Angeles County, researchers said Wednesday.
The benefits of the combo drug therapy, however, have not reached all populations equally as African Americans, Latinos and IV drug users still are at disproportionate risk for such infections. The findings were presented at the American Foundation for AIDS Research Meeting.
Before anti-retroviral drugs, known as HAART, opportunistic infections usually were the cause of death in AIDS patients whose compromised immune systems could no longer mount a fight to destroy them.
Los Angeles County Department of Health Services researchers analyzed the records of 2,201 patients with human immunodeficiency virus who received care at four clinics from 1993 to 2000.
They found AIDS-defining opportunistic infections have declined steadily since anti-retroviral drugs were first made available in 1994. The study said by 2000, the impact of the new drugs was astonishing -- the total OI rate had dropped by 90 percent from the 1994 rate.
"The reduction in opportunistic infections is pretty much across the board and is testimony to the great access to care that is available in Los Angeles County," said Lee Klosinski, director of programs at AIDS Project Los Angeles.
The L.A. county researchers also discovered women faired better than men and whites experienced a lower rate of OIs than African-Americans and Latinos. Injecting drug users had the highest rates of OI and actually had lower rates of OIs before the era of antiretroviral drugs.
"I'm not sure why this is the case," said lead author Jane Turner of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, HIV Epidemiology Program. "I'm thinking that maybe they are not being prescribed HAART as often as other groups or that they are not adhering to their therapy."
HIV health services providers also were surprised by the finding women had lower OI rates than men. In previous studies the opposite was found to be true. Less research is available on how HIV affects women and therefore health providers have been less successful in diagnosing the disease early, before an OI attacks the body.
"That trend is probably reflective of the fact that we have put extra efforts into reaching out to women who are impacted by HIV and we're getting some return on that investment," said Kosinksy. Copyright 2002 by United Press International.
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Anti-HIV Microbicide Could Soon Hit Market

United Press International
3/22/2002
by KOREN CAPOZZA, UPI Science News
SAN FRANCISCO, Mar 21, 2002 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Topical treatments that prevent the transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus -- HIV -- may be ready for market far sooner than a vaccine, AIDS researchers said Thursday.
An expert panel at the American Foundation for AIDS Research meeting discussed the progress being made developing a user-ready microbicide that would prevent HIV from entering the body through genital surfaces.
"We think there may be a ready-for-use product on the market perhaps sooner than a vaccine and right now, in this epidemic, we need to fight with all the tools we have," said Dr. Polly Harrison, director of the Alliance for Microbicide Development in Silver Spring, Md.
Usually in the form of a gel, foam or cream, microbicides would work in a variety of ways to prevent the HIV transmission. One product in human clinical trials enhances the vagina's natural defenses against HIV using an "acid buffer" compound.
Another alternative is an "absorption inhibitor," which is composed of sulfated and other charged polymers that block the absorption pathways of HIV on the genital surfaces. The most promising of these is a product called Carraguard, a sea weed-based gel in Phase 3 clinical trials.
Canadian researchers at Laval University in Quebec have been developing an "invisible condom" product over the past decade that also appears to block the virus. The condom actually is a non-toxic polymer-based liquid that solidifies into a gel at body temperature and guards against HIV transmission. The gel is entering Phase I clinical trials on female patients and could be on the Canadian market as soon as next year.
While some researchers have focused on creating microbicides, others have concentrated on an equally important issue: Will people actually use the products? Much of that research has centered the attitudes of women, since they are the group most likely to benefit from the products.
Existing strategies for prevention -- mutual monogamy among HIV-negative partners and condom use -- are not options for many women, particularly in developing countries where they do not have the social or economic status to demand condom use.
The microbicide, in contrast, could be used without a woman's partner even being aware of it and one recent study indicated an estimated 21.3 million women in the United States alone would use the products.
"We did find that the a significant number of women who thought that they were at risk for catching a (sexually transmitted disease) STD would be interested in this product," said co-author Jennifer Frost, senior research associate at the Alan Guttmacher Institute in New York City.
A second study by researchers at the Institute for Community Research in Hartford, Conn. showed while women were interested in the products, they were less comfortable using creams and gels than using a male condom. The researchers concluded additional support would be necessary for women to incorporate microbicides into their regular sexual practice.
"We really need to understand people's willingness to use biological means to prevent HIV," agreed Dr. Kenneth Mayer, an AIDS expert at Brown University in Providence, R.I.
At present there are a host of entities involved in microbicide research, including small biopharmaceutical companies, non-profit research groups and public sector entities.
The speed of development has been stalled, however, by a lack of interest on the part of large pharmaceutical companies that are unlikely to see a high return on investment. Instead, private funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is largely driving the effort.
"Once somebody's got something that works, there will be more interest," said Dr. Michael J.K. Harper, director of the Global Microbicide Project in Arlington, VA. "But they (the products) have got to be cheap -- comparable to a condom -- because a lot of the market will be in developing countries which can't afford to pay a lot of money for them." Copyright 2002 by United Press International.
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Gellar's Lesbian Kiss Cut from Scooby Doo

World Entertainment News Network
3/22/2002
Sexy star SARAH MICHELLE GELLAR is disappointed after producers cut a lesbian kissing scene from her new SCOOBY DOO film.
The stunning BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER actress, who plays DAPHNE alongside fiance FREDDIE PRINZE JR's FRED in the movie - an adaptation of the kid's cartoon series - reportedly puckers up with co-star LINDA CARDELLINI, cast as nerdy VELMA.
A WARNERS employee says, "They did film it. But the powers-that-be felt it would be too provocative.
"The kiss was considered too titillating. They felt it would make people chuckle and snicker."
Sarah Michelle is no stranger to female smooches, having shared an MTV MOVIE AWARD with SELMA BLAIR in 2000 for Best Kiss in CRUEL INTENTIONS. (ES/WNWE/CPT) (c) 2002 World Entertainment News Network
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Nixon tapes record anti-gay comments

Gay.com / PlanetOut.com Network
Thursday, March 21, 2002 / 04:52 PM
SUMMARY: The recently released tapes of conversations held in the Nixon White House contain several exchanges that reveal the former president's anti-gay views.
The recently released tapes of conversations held in the Nixon White House contain several exchanges that reveal the former president's anti-gay views.
As reported in Thursday's Washington Post, the tapes also include Richard M. Nixon's uncensored, negative remarks about Jews, psychiatrists and Catholics.
In a taped session with his aides, H.R. "Bob" Haldeman and John Erlichman on May 13, 1971, Nixon remarks that Northern California has become so "faggy" that "I don't want to shake hands with anybody from San Francisco."
Moments later, he continued: "You know what happened to the Greeks. Homosexuality destroyed them. Sure, Aristotle was a homo, we all know that, so was Socrates."
He believed ancient Rome suffered a similar fate. "Do you know what happened to the Romans? The last six Roman emperors were fags."
Toward the end of his rambling monologue, President Nixon sums up his point: "You see, homosexuality, dope, uh, immorality in general: These are the enemies of strong societies. That's why the Communists and left-wingers are pushing it. They're trying to destroy us." The tapes have also garnered media attention for revealing anti-Semitic remarks made by Rev. Billy Graham in conversation with the former president. Graham has since apologized for his comments.
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Minnesota house committee votes to lose DP benefits

Led by a group of Republicans, a Minnesota house committee on Wednesday voted to take away the health benefits of gay and lesbian partners of state employees in a bill that now goes to the house floor. The ways and means committee voted 16-12 Wednesday night to reject the domestic-partner benefits that had been negotiated by labor unions and the state. The benefits were included in contract settlements reached last fall after a two-week strike by the two largest unions representing state workers, the Minnesota Association of Professional Employees and Council 6 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.
Rep. Doug Stang (R-Cold Spring) proposed the amendment to scrap the benefits. He said state employees and his constituents told him it would not be "appropriate" to offer them because the establishment of such benefits would discriminate against unmarried heterosexual couples and increase state compensation costs. The committee vote sends the measure to the house floor for a debate Friday.
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Republican candidate drops antigay activist from campaign

Republican nominee for California governor Bill Simon said Wednesday that a key figure of California's religious right is no longer on his campaign payroll, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Simon took heat from Republican moderates and women's and gay rights groups this week when a Chronicle story revealed that Phil Sheldon, son of the founder of the antigay far-right group Traditional Values Coalition, was paid $30,000 as a campaign consultant. Sheldon was hired in January to pump up conservative support for Simon, mainly through Internet contacts. Simon, one of Sheldon's E-mail messages said, was the best candidate to "undo four years of liberalism, homosexuality, and antifamily values in California." "We retained Phil Sheldon on a one-time basis as a consultant, basically to rent an address list from him," Simon said at a news conference Wednesday. "We used those addresses to get our message out."
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Gubernatorial candidate won't pick running mate

Businessman Mitt Romney kicked off his campaign for governor of Massachusetts by bringing a valuable asset into his corner--acting governor Jane M. Swift, the woman sitting in the office he hopes to win. Swift met with Romney on Wednesday in a show of party unity. "To have the support of Governor Swift, her perspectives, her guidance, her help is going to be critical, and I very much appreciate it," Romney said.
Romney also said he would not choose a running mate, as Republicans have done in the last three elections. He said he would leave it instead to Republican voters to choose between openly gay former Melrose, Mass., mayor Patrick C. Guerriero, who was Swift's running mate, and former state party chairman James Rappaport. Guerriero is expected to continue his bid for lieutenant governor.
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Catholic school bars gay student's prom date

A Canadian Catholic high school's decision to bar a gay senior student from bringing his boyfriend to the prom has galvanized students and been condemned by gay rights activists, according to the Montreal Gazette. Marc Hall, 17, was denied permission to bring his 21-year-old male partner to the prom after he paid his $100 deposit. Hall said he was told by school principal Michael Powers of Monsignor John Pereyma Catholic Secondary School in Oshawa, Ontario (near Toronto), that condoning a same-sex date for the prom would contravene Catholic teachings on homosexuality and "school policies." This week, with the help of friends, Hall posted an impassioned plea for his right to bring the date of his choice to his high school prom on a Web site designed by the students. In an open letter to his principal, the youth says it's "disturbing" that he is not being allowed to bring his date. "You can't even begin to understand how hard it is to live in the gay life," he wrote.
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Cher returns to Will & Grace

USA Today reports that Cher will make a second appearance on the gay-themed NBC sitcom Will & Grace. She'll be featured as "a heavenly character" on the show's hour-long season finale, airing May 16.

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Florida club replaces cigarettes with condoms

Spinnaker Beach Club in Panama City Beach, Fla., has accepted an offer from LifeStyles Condoms to buy out its cigarette machine inventory and substitute the cigarettes with condoms, LifeStyles spokesperson Joe Naughton announced last week. The condom maker is touting the deal as a way to replace an unhealthy product with one that can prevent sexually transmitted diseases. The company has made a similar offer to other area nightclubs at the popular spring break destination, but so far only Spinnaker has accepted. "This is a singles place," said club manager Jeff Sheehan. "If they're going to have sex, then we are all about them having safe sex."

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Judicial Panel Backs Homophobic Judge

Doreen Brandt
365Gay.com Newscenter in Washington
(March 22, Washington) A judicial panel, Thursday, dismissed a complaint against Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore. Last month, in a ruling in a child custody case involving a lesbian mother, Moore wrote in his opinion in the case, that denied the mother custody of her teen aged children, that homosexuality is ''abhorrent, immoral, detestable, a crime against nature, and a violation of the laws of nature.''
Lambda Legal Defence and Education Fund immediately filed a petition with the panel alleging Moore's comments showed he could not be an impartial.
The Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission said it ''found no reasonable basis to charge a violation of the Alabama Canons of Judicial Ethics.''
The commission said it does not act against judges for statements made in opinions unless there is evidence of ''ill will.''
A lawyer for Lambda, Ruth Harlow believes the commission erred. Harlow pointed to a long history of homophobia by Judge Moore. His anti-gay rulings date back to 1996 when, as a circuit judge in Etowah County, he cited homosexuality in refusing to award a lesbian custody of her children. An appeals court later ordered him to step aside from the case after the woman complained Moore couldn't be fair because of his religious beliefs.
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Western Australia Passes Sweeping Gay Reform Package

by Peter Hacker
365Gay.com Newscenter in Sydney
(March 22, Sydney) Western Australia has passed legislation that recognizes partnership unions, grants adoption, and lowers the age of consent.
The bill has fought every inch of the way by the state's opposition party. The Lower House passed it on December 12 last year after weeks of debate and a final, marathon 16-hour sitting.
It passed its final reading in the Upper House Thursday after two weeks of almost constant debate, during which the opposition had called for recorded votes on every one of the Bill's 120 clauses.
A large group from the gay community were in the public gallery for the vote. After passage they went outside the legislature for a rally.
The director of gay and lesbian community services Myles Kunzli said that while some of the debate was disturbing, other parts were encouraging.
"I hope that this legislation has been an educative function for members of parliament as well the broader members of the community to raise issues and from what I've heard, I think it has," he said.
"I've seen some moderation from more conservative members of parliament in the way they've handled the debate throughout."
The Lesbian and Gay Law Reform Bill gives same-sex couples access to adoption procedures and IVF treatment.
They will have also the same rights as other couples in areas such as the transfer of property, medical treatment and inheritance or benefits upon the death of a partner.
The gay age of consent has now dropped from 21 to 16. The law brings Western Australia in line with most other states.
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Gay Civil Servants Gain Partner Benefits Rights

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
(March 22, Johannesburg) An out of court settlement has given the partners of gay and lesbian civil servants full pension benefits upon their deaths.
The Lesbian and Gay Equality Project had launched a suit against the government and Finance Minister Trevor Manuel over South Africa's refusal to give gays the same rights as heterosexual couples were one partner works for the government.
Under South African law, the widow of a civil servant is entitled to a portion of the government employee's pension after he or she dies. It is called a "widow's pension."
The settlement will affect an estimated 100 000 lesbian and gay civil servants.
The matter was first presented to the government in October 1999.
At that time, the Equality Project was approached by a terminally ill state employee - a Mr Spies - who wanted to ensure that his life partner of 27 years would be able to access a widow's pension. Spies died before an agreement could be reached, but his partner may now rightfully claim his pension benefits.
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Honours For Gay Activists From Columbia, China, Egypt, & Brazil

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
(March 22, San Francisco) The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) will honour six outstanding activists from around the world in ceremonies in San Francisco and New York in May.
"This year's honourees are real heroes," said Surina Khan, IGLHRC's Executive Director. "Where cultural taboos about homosexuality require silence, they make our lives visible. Where the law penalizes us or simply ignores us, they continue to demand equality and justice."
Three of the honourees are from Columbia and involve the rights of gay and lesbian prisoners. They are Marta Lucía Tamayo Rincón, Marta Lucía Álvarez Giraldo, and Alba Nelly Montoya.
Álvarez' demand for same-sex conjugal visitation rights in prison became the first complaint of discrimination based on sexual orientation ever to be acknowledged by the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights.
While this groundbreaking case remains open, Montoya has already scored an important legal victory in a parallel case heard by the Colombian Supreme Court. Neither case would have been possible without the legal representation and perseverance of Tamayo.
Cui Zi En has brought issues of same-sex love into Chinese culture and public awareness, with a prolific crop of critically acclaimed articles, lectures, books, and films, including the first gay novel in modern China.
Despite it being banned in mainland China, the novel is still available through unofficial channels.
Maher Sabry wrote and directed the first play publicly presented in Egypt that addressed male and female homosexuality openly. Last year, as the arrests of suspected gays intensified, Sabry helped persuade a local human rights organization to represent some of the arrested men while at the same time bringing ever-mounting cases of persecution to the attention of IGLHRC and the international human rights community.
A posthumous award will be made in honour of Brazilian lesbian activist Elizabeth Calvet. The awards are named for Felipa de Souza, a Brazilian lesbian tortured by the Portuguese Inquisition in 1591. They honours activists and organizations that have made significant contributions to the freedom of sexual minorities worldwide.
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Police Probe Man In Dress Sex Attack

by Jan Prout
365Gay.com Newscenter in Toronto
(March 22, Toronto) Police in York Region, north of Toronto are investigating a sexual assault on a teenager by a man in a dress.
Police say Sunday they were called by the parents of a 17-year-old boy who said he had been sexually assaulted by a woman while he worked at a gas bar.
The youth said the woman had come to the station several times but he had spurned her advances.
Sunday, she gassed up and went inside to pay. The boy said that the woman dropped a bank card, slid under the counter and fondled the boy's genitals and performed oral sex on him, threatening him with a knife.
Police tracked the car but found the woman was a man.
Officers say they do not yet know if the suspect is transgendered, a cross-dresser, or a gay male doing drag as a disguise.
The man has been identified as a 36-year-old math and physics teacher at a Catholic Secondary school in west-end Toronto.
Students at the school say they are shocked. The consensus is that the suspect is an excellent teacher.
He has been charged with sexual assault with a weapon and threatening. He is to appear today for a bail hearing where it is expected he will be sent for psychiatric evaluation. Police say they are continuing to investigate.
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Holland Allows Servicemen To Wear Uniform In Gay Parade

Gay servicemen in Holland will be allowed to wear their uniforms for the first time on a Pride march.
Gay Pride will take place in Amsterdam later this year. Previously, however, servicemen have been forbidden from wearing their uniforms at the event
Dutch Defence Secretary Van Hoof says he realises some traditionalists will object, but he supports the servicemen.reports De Telegraaf. "The Dutch armed forces are an organisation for all races, natures and religions. And by taking part in the parade it's a good way to show this," said a spokesman for the minister.
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Drew Barrymore in Lesbian Romp

March 21 2002, World Entertainment News Network
Newly single actress DREW BARRYMORE has shown the world she's over her split with TOM GREEN - by passionately kissing a pair of women at a Los Angeles nightspot.
According to American magazine US WEEKLY, the CHARLIE'S ANGELS actress, 27, was in full party mode at Hollywood hot spot AD - "making out" with two unidentified women in full view of fellow clubgoers for more than an hour.
An eyewitness says, "Drew kept switching between the two - first a brunette, then a blonde, then the brunette, then the blonde again."
Barrymore, wearing a white tank top and white cargo pants with her hair in a ponytail, then upped the heat.
The source continues, "She got on the dancefloor, where the two women kept pulling Drew's tank top up to kiss her boobs and stomach.
"Drew was definitely the ringleader, making out with them. Then all three were kissing one another's breasts."
The spectacle continued until a patron snapped a photograph of the frolics, which sent Barrymore bolting from the club. (c) 2002 World Entertainment News Network
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Orlando to debate gay rules

By Mark Schlueb
Sentinel Staff Writer
March 22, 2002
Orlando officials decided Thursday to let residents have their say next month about a proposal to ban discrimination against gays.
The city's Human Relations Board, a volunteer committee that makes recommendations to the City Council, tentatively picked April 18 for a public hearing on changes to Orlando's anti-discrimination ordinance.
The proposal would add "sexual orientation" to a list of protected classes that already includes race, color, age, disability, religion and national origin.
If the change is adopted, businesses with six or more employees could not refuse jobs or promotions because a person is gay or lesbian, and landlords could not turn away gay renters because of their sexual orientation. Religious groups and clubs would be exempt.
Members of the Human Relations Board adopted policies Thursday they hope will keep the public hearing from degenerating into a public feud reminiscent of the city's fight over gay-pride flags in 1998.
Each person commenting will be limited to three minutes. Clapping and jeering won't be allowed.
Board members said they want to hear from people who have faced discrimination because of sexual orientation, and from employers who can tell them how their business would be affected by the ordinance.
The proposal already has sparked objections from the conservative Florida Family Association and the Christian Coalition, and an organized postcard protest has flooded City Hall. Some 618 postcards have arrived -- 444 of them on Wednesday and Thursday -- 34 of which were from residents of Orlando.
Mark Schlueb can be reached at mschlueb@orlandosentinel.com or 407-420-5417. Copyright © 2002, Orlando Sentinel
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O'Donnell's ad blitz fails to reap gay-adoption bill

BY TYLER BRIDGES, LESLEY CLARK AND PETER WALLSTEN
lclark@herald.com
TALLAHASSEE - Talk-show host Rosie O'Donnell's ad blitz Thursday calling for the repeal of Florida's ban on gay adoptions did little to gain support for the initiative in the state's conservative Legislature.
Instead, Republicans and Democrats alike agreed that lawmakers are unlikely to touch the issue any time in the near future.
''Homosexuality is a sinful lifestyle, and it's morally repulsive,'' said Rep. Randy Ball, R-Mims. ``The value system of this Legislature is opposed to that lifestyle.''
State Rep. Ron Greenstein, a Coconut Creek Democrat, predicted, ``My son will be in college before it ever happens here.''
His son is 14 days old.
O'Donnell's full-page ''open letter'' to the Legislature was published Thursday in several Florida newspapers, including The Herald, the Tallahassee Democrat and the Orlando Sentinel, and called on lawmakers to allow gay men and lesbians to adopt children.
''We ask that you consider all adoption applications, without bias, in an effort to secure loving homes for our most vulnerable citizens: Florida's children without families,'' wrote O'Donnell, who identified herself as a ``Florida Foster Parent, Mother, Talk Show Host.''
O'Donnell told The Herald Thursday that she realizes the Legislature won't act this year, but said she wants to lay the groundwork for a more intense lobbying effort in 2003.
`WILL NOT GO AWAY'
''I wanted to make sure that this was something that would remain in front of the Legislature,'' she said. ``I want them to know that this will not go away just because the Legislature adjourns.''
The ad appeared on the penultimate day of the Legislature's 2002 regular session, as Republican leaders rushed to broker deals on several major issues that remained unresolved.
Amid talk of state education spending, a sales tax overhaul and a school code governing districts and universities, gay adoptions were far from most people's minds.
The letter did, however, draw anger from one Central Florida senator, who complained during a floor speech that calls were flooding the Capitol.
''Everyone's office has been blasted,'' said Sen. Anna Cowin, R-Leesburg.
By late afternoon, 150 phone calls had been logged, with slightly more than half of the callers in favor of repealing the ban.
With her network TV interview last week and her full-page ad, O'Donnell, who has a Miami Beach home and is raising three children she adopted in New York, is making herself a player in Florida politics this year.
Last year, she hosted a fundraiser for Democratic gubernatorial front-runner Janet Reno. The former U.S. attorney general has said she supports repealing the gay adoption ban and wants adoption decisions to be left up to judges on a case-by-case basis.
Reno has also campaigned openly for the gay vote.
Republican Gov. Jeb Bush, who is running for reelection in November, declined to tell reporters Friday whether he supports or opposes O'Donnell's view.
COURT DECISION
He did say ''it should not become a political issue'' and predicted that the courts will decide the matter before the Legislature can take it up next year.
Tampa lawyer Bill McBride, Reno's most serious rival in the Democratic primary, has evaded the question, saying he thinks the gay adoption issue should be left to the courts and declining to say whether the ban should be lifted.
House Speaker Tom Feeney, R-Oviedo, has said he believes parenting is the venue of ``traditional families.''
One Republican said Thursday she supports repealing the ban -- but is afraid the Legislature is so unfriendly to gay rights that it might wind up reversing the provision that now allows gay men and lesbians to be foster parents.
''I can almost guarantee you there'll be a bill up here that says gays should not be foster parents,'' said Rep. Nancy Detert, R-Venice. ``They don't understand the difference between a gay and a pedophile.''
Detert, who chairs the House committee on child and family security, said she asked her committee staff director why gays were allowed to serve as foster parents under Florida law, but not adopt.
DON'T ASK
''They told me you have to be people of high moral character to be a foster parent, but no one asks if you're gay,'' Detert said. ``But if you adopt, they ask you. I think both sides would agree you need some consistency.
O'Donnell said she plans to travel to Tallahassee next year and expects other celebrities to help her repeal what she called ``an antiquated law.''
''I have told the child-care advocacy groups that I will do any and everything possible to repeal an unjust and unfair law,'' she said.
© 2001 miamiherald and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved. www.miami.com
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The Space Coast Eagle, Cocoa Beach, Fl. www.saloonmen.com
GLBT NEWZ archives www.groups.yahoo.com/group/glbtnewz
Our e-mail is cyberqueer@hotmail.com
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Thursday, March 21, 2002

 
GLBT NEWZ 03/21/02 Information is power!

On the web: www.saloonmen.com or www.glbtnewz.blogspot.com

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House Members Target Brutal Treatment of Gays in Egypt

3/21/2002
A bipartisan coalition of federal lawmakers Wednesday dispatched a stern letter to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak urging him to reverse his government's policy of persecution against gay men.
Last August, a group of members from the U.S. House of Representatives sent an initial letter to President Mubarak expressing concern over the arrest of 52 gay men in Cairo, Egypt. In November, 23 of those men were sentenced to 1-5 years hard labor, and this year, human rights groups report that gay men in Egypt continue to be targeted, prosecuted and sent to prison.
In January, a letter from Egyptian Ambassador Nabil Fahmy responding to the August congressional letter reached Capitol Hill, delayed in part because of the anthrax threat. In his letter, Ambassador Fahmy denies that the men in Cairo were arrested on the basis on their sexual orientation, claiming instead that they were prosecuted for "contempt of religion" and "public lewdness," irrespective of sexual orientation.
In their letter today to Mubarak, 37 House members, including leaders on foreign policy and human rights issues, rejected this explanation, stating in part, "We are encouraged that Ambassador Fahmy in his letter officially denies that the 52 men in Cairo were prosecuted because of their perceived sexual orientation. We say we are encouraged because this denial recognizes that such actions are essentially indefensible . . . Yet when one looks at the record of the trial, it seems to us that sexual orientation was in fact the motivating factor behind these prosecutions."
In a separate case, on March 11th, five Egyptian men were sentenced to three years in prison with hard labor for "practicing sexual immorality," a local euphemism for homosexuality, according to news sources.
The congressional letter continues, "We very strongly urge you to stop the persecution of men based on their perceived or actual sexual orientation, to release those men who are now in prison, and to uphold the values espoused in your Washington speech where you declare that Egypt's 'commitment to a region of peace, of tolerance, free from oppression and injustice remains unshaken.' Such are the values that will draw you closer to the global community."
A copy of the letter follows. Its signatories include Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), ranking Democrat of the International Relations Committee; Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D- GA), chairwoman and ranking Democrat, respectively, of the International Relations Subcommittee on Human Rights; Rep. Chris Shays (R-CT) and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), chairman and ranking Democrat, respectively, of the Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security and International Relations; Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), and Barney Frank (D-MA), senior members of the Financial Services Subcommittee on International Monetary Policy and Trade; and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the Democratic Whip.
___________________________
March 20, 2002
His Excellency Muhammad Hosni Mubarak Office of the President Al Etehadia Building Heliobolis Cairo, Egypt
Dear President Mubarak:
We were pleased to receive a letter from Ambassador Fahmy which responded to a congressional letter to you last August concerning the arrest of 52 men in Cairo on suspicion of homosexual activity. Because the anthrax threat last fall held up congressional mail, the ambassador's letter, dated November 6, 2001, did not reach Capitol Hill until last month.
We are encouraged that Ambassador Fahmy in his letter officially denies that the 52 men in Cairo were prosecuted because of their perceived sexual orientation. We say we are encouraged because this denial recognizes that such actions are essentially indefensible, and the ambassador rightly understands that the international community would not accept any justification for the persecution and imprisonment of adults who are doing no harm to others.
Yet when one looks at the record of the trial, it seems to us that sexual orientation was in fact the motivating factor behind these prosecutions. According to partial translations we have received of the verdict, which sentenced 23 of these men to 1-5 years in prison, it makes numerous references to "sexual deviancy," using a pejorative Arabic term "shudhudh" for homosexuality. Also, much of the evidence offered in court -- confessions, medical exams and photographs -- seemed intended to demonstrate sexual relations between men.
Moreover, one of the men in Cairo was convicted of "contempt of religion," which would put your government at odds with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Ambassador Fahmy in his letter confirmed your government's strong commitment. Article 18 of the ICCPR states in part that "Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice. . ." The verdict claims that this man had used religion to cause "confusion between citizens so that they become satisfied with practicing sexual deviancy and consider it normal."
As you may know, the U.S. State Department released a human rights report this month also condemning these events in Cairo. The report also finds that "torture and abuse of detainees by police, security personnel and prison guards is common" in Egypt. And we are very concerned about specific and consistent reports that gay men have been subjected to beatings and torture while under arrest.
We also wish to express serious concern over recent reports that police in Egypt have entrapped and arrested a number of gay men after luring them on false dates advertised on the Internet. As part of a disturbing trend of intolerance against people who are believed to be gay, these actions contradict the principles you outlined in your recent speech before the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, DC. In that speech, you eloquently state that "Democracy is foremost a society of institutions, of tolerance, of human rights, of laws that guard them and the freedom of expression that guards us all."
We very strongly urge you to stop the persecution of men based on their perceived or actual sexual orientation, to release those men who are now in prison, and to uphold the values espoused in your Washington speech where you declare that Egypt's "commitment to a region of peace, of tolerance, free from oppression and injustice remains unshaken." Such are the values that will draw you closer to the global community.
REP. TOM LANTOS REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN REP. CHRISTOPHER SHAYS REP. NITA M. LOWEY REP. CYNTHIA A. MCKINNEY REP. BARNEY FRANK REP. NANCY PELOSI REP. CONSTANCE A. MORELLA REP. DENNIS J. KUCINICH REP. MARK FOLEY REP. MAXINE WATERS REP. BARBARA LEE REP. CARRIE P. MEEK REP. WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT REP. LLOYD DOGGETT REP. TAMMY BALDWIN REP. ELIOT L. ENGEL REP. ROBERT WEXLER REP. JERROLD NADLER REP. EDOLPHUS TOWNS REP. JANICE D. SCHAKOWSKY REP. JOSEPH CROWLEY REP. FRANK PALLONE, JR. REP. RUSH D. HOLT REP. MICHAEL R. MCNULTY REP. JOHN B. LARSON REP. JAMES P. MCGOVERN REP. LUCILLE ROYBAL-ALLARD REP. LUIS V. GUTIERREZ REP. LYNN C. WOOLSEY REP. GEORGE MILLER REP. MAURICE D. HINCHEY REP. LOUISE SLAUGHTER REP. NEIL ABERCROMBIE REP. LYNN N. RIVERS REP. JOHN F. TIERNEY REP. BOB FILNER (C) 2002 GayWired.com; All Rights Reserved
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Survey: Americans OK with Rosie's coming-out

A national online survey released Wednesday showed that 75% of all respondents, regardless of sexual orientation, say that Rosie O'Donnell's disclosure that she is a lesbian has no effect on their feelings toward her. The survey, conducted by Witeck-Combs/Harris Interactive, polled 2,017 adults between March 12 and March 14. Seven percent of the respondents self-identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered.
Among Rosie's primary audience--American women between the ages of 35 and 44--when asked specifically if O'Donnell's disclosure about her sexual orientation would change their opinion of her for the better, the worse, or not at all, 73% said it made no difference. Ten percent said it improved their opinions, while 18% said their opinions of O'Donnell had worsened.
Respondents were also asked whether O'Donnell's disclosure had an effect on their likelihood to purchase products that she endorses. Eight out of 10 said it made no difference, with 2% reporting they were more likely and 18% saying they were less likely to purchase endorsed products. Almost nine out of 10 gays and lesbians (88%) said it made no difference, while 9% said it would make them more likely to purchase.
When 35- to 44-year-old American women were asked whether the disclosure changed their feelings about O'Donnell's product endorsements, 85% said it made no difference, while 12% said they would be less likely to purchase such products, and 3% said they would be more likely to purchase products endorsed by O'Donnell.
Wesley Combs, president of Witeck-Combs Communications, said, "Rosie O'Donnell may be one of America's most beloved figures, who provides an excellent snapshot that aids in understanding the perceptions and the risks of the marketplace for openly gay celebrities. What is most compelling are the overwhelming numbers who say Rosie's public disclosure of her sexual orientation has not really affected their opinion [of her]."
In a separate survey related to Rosie's coming out as a gay parent, almost 13% of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered households reported having children under the age of 18 living at home. The 2001 Gay/Lesbian Consumer Online Census, reported by GLCensus Partners, revealed that more than three quarters of those households with children were lesbian households (78.4%). Results are from an online survey of 6,351 self-identified GLBT respondents, 92.4% of whom are from the United States. U.S. Census data indicates 29% of all U.S. households have a child under 18 living at home. Among this group, nine out of 10 respondents (91.7%) said they are out to their friends, 78.1% are out to family members, and 64.4% are out at work. Fewer than 5% of the respondents are not out at all.
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O'Donnell disavows Oscar-nominated film

Christy Lemire, Associated Press
Wednesday, March 20, 2002 / 04:21 PM
SUMMARY: Rosie O'Donnell wants her name and voice removed from an Oscar-nominated documentary after learning of its ties to a homophobic cult.
NEW YORK -- Rosie O'Donnell is asking to have her name and voice removed from an Oscar-nominated documentary after learning that the filmmakers are involved in a group that has been described as a homophobic cult.
The talk show host, who recently came out as a lesbian, narrated "Artists and Orphans: A True Drama," about a New York theater group that travels to the former Soviet republic of Georgia to help orphaned and abandoned children. The film is competing against two other documentary shorts for an Academy Award on Sunday.
O'Donnell, who has three adopted children and has been a vocal proponent of gays adopting children, volunteered to narrate the short.
But her spokeswoman said Wednesday that O'Donnell found out this week that the filmmakers -- including director Lianne Klapper McNally -- are involved with the Fourth Way School. The group emphasizes personal development, and, according to various newspaper reports, bans homosexuals and believes gays shouldn't be parents.
"If Rosie had known the truth about this organization, she never would have consented to lend her name and voice," said O'Donnell's publicist, Cindi Berger.
She added that "Rosie is angry that the background wasn't disclosed to her."
During her show Wednesday morning, O'Donnell said she was angry about her association with the film.
Klapper McNally has an unlisted phone number and did not immediately respond to an e-mail request for comment. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences also did not immediately return a call for comment; voting for the awards concluded Tuesday.
David Goldstein, a lawyer representing the film, told New York's Daily News that suggesting that "Artists and Orphans" is "the work of some kind of nefarious cult is completely baseless."
"Furthermore, the inflammatory accusation that certain people affiliated with the film are involved in an organization that endangers the welfare of children or discriminates against ... gays and lesbians or families is without foundation," Goldstein said.
Rick Ross, a New Jersey-based cult expert and lecturer who helped deprogram Branch Davidians in the mid-'90s, said the Fourth Way is a cult and excludes gays.
"They must renounce their sexual preference and work toward becoming heterosexual," said Ross, who said he has spent hours talking with former members. Articles from 1996 in the Los Angeles Times and from 1995 in the San Diego Union-Tribune about a branch of the Fourth Way School, in Oregon House, Calif., said the group bans gays.
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Swift's gay running mate still in GOP race

Ann Rostow, Gay.com / PlanetOut.com Network
Wednesday, March 20, 2002 / 04:06 PM
SUMMARY: Massachusetts politics took a surprising turn as incumbent Acting Governor Jane Swift bowed out of the governor's race, leaving her openly gay running mate still in the contest.
Massachusetts politics has taken something of a surprising turn in the last two days, as incumbent Acting Governor Jane Swift bowed out of the governor's race, leaving her openly gay running mate still in the contest.
Swift pulled out when it became clear that she would face an overwhelming challenge in the Republican primary from former Senate candidate Mitt Romney. Shortly after Swift's announcement on Tuesday, Romney, a 55-year-old Mormon who most recently ran the Salt Lake City Olympic Organizing Committee, officially entered the campaign. According to the Boston Globe, Romney would have been able to tap his own personal fortune for the funds necessary to beat Swift, perhaps $10 million.
Romney's wealth, combined with his lead in public opinion polls, led the Republican mother of three to fold her cards before the game began. In doing so, Swift abandoned her running mate, openly gay former Melrose Mayor Patrick Guerriero, 33.
According to Chris Ferguson, head of the gay Massachusetts Log Cabin Republicans, the practice of gubernatorial candidates selecting running mates for the lieutenant governor's post began in 1990. Although the two posts are elected separately, every successful gubernatorial campaign since that date has been matched with a victory by the governor's hand-picked lieutenant governor.
Ferguson thinks there's a "50-50 chance" that Romney will now choose to run with Guerriero, and Guerriero has publicly expressed a desire to join Romney's campaign. However, Romney could select Guerriero's opponent in the GOP primary, James Rappaport. Or, he could bring someone new into the race for lieutenant governor.
If a new candidate is to emerge, however, he or she must enter the campaign before the April 6 GOP state convention, where candidates must qualify for the September primary.
According to Ferguson, it's unlikely that Romney will team up with businessman James Rappaport. If Romney does not pick a running mate, Rappaport and Guerriero will fight it out one on one, a difficult contest for the lesser-known, younger Guerriero, but still a contest Ferguson thinks he can win.
"It's going to be a tough campaign," said Ferguson of the two-man battle, "but Patrick is a great candidate; he's determined, he's disciplined and he'll do wonderfully in September."
Swift's departure is bad news for the Democrats, who are preparing for a five-man primary race while Romney prepares to cruise unopposed to the general election. "The piñata known as Jane Swift has been taken down," Democratic political consultant Dan Payne told the Globe on Tuesday. "If you're in the race, it's not a good day."
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Dog-mauling jury reaches verdicts

The jury in the San Francisco dog-mauling trial reached verdicts in Los Angeles Wednesday on four of five counts facing a couple accused in the death of a lesbian neighbor, then adjourned until Thursday to consider the last charge. Superior court judge James L. Warren told the jury foreman to seal the completed verdicts in an envelope, which was to be kept under lock overnight. There was no indication which of the five counts remained undecided.
"When the jury comes back with all the verdicts, we will read all the verdicts," the judge said.
Robert Noel, 60, and his wife, Marjorie Knoller, 46, are charged in the death of neighbor Diane Whipple, 33, who was fatally mauled on January 26, 2001, outside her apartment by at least one of the couple's dogs. Knoller is charged with second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, and keeping a mischievous dog that killed a person. She faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted. Noel, who wasn't home at the time of the attack, faces only the latter two charges. He faces up to four years if he is convicted.
The jury's decision on the four verdicts came late on the second day of deliberations, after the panel had listened to a reading of testimony, including sections of one defendant's testimony to the grand jury that issued indictments in the case. Behind closed doors, a court reporter read sections of Noel's testimony before a grand jury about the dogs and an incident in which the animals allegedly lunged at a neighbor. The segments were brief and mainly involved Noel answering no to questions about whether he considered the animals aggressive. Noel did not testify during the five-week trial. The jury also asked to hear Noel's testimony about an incident in which neighbor Skip Cooley and his wife were allegedly the subject of a scary confrontation in the building. Cooley, who lived next door to the defendants, testified that one of the dogs once lunged at him as he got out of an elevator. Noel discussed the incident during grand jury hearings. Cooley said the dogs were normally docile toward him. But he said they became "attentive" toward his five-foot-tall wife, who weighed less than the animals. Cooley said the dogs appeared to go "on alert" when his wife was present. Her physical description is similar to that of Whipple's.
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Dog-mauling defense lawyer accuses judge of playing politics

As jurors in the dog-mauling case began deliberations Tuesday, members of the prosecution and defense teams publicly clashed again. The [San Jose, Calif.] Mercury News reports that outbursts from defense attorney Nedra Ruiz attracted a crowd in the hallway outside the courtroom. Ruiz defended her claim that Marjorie Knoller and Robert Noel, whose dogs attacked and mauled to death their neighbor, lesbian Diane Whipple, were prosecuted overly vigorously because of pressure from San Francisco's gay and lesbian community.
Ruiz attacked superior court judge James Warren, who had chastised her for interrupting the prosecutor's rebuttal earlier in the morning. On her second objection, he threatened to place her in a holding cell. "I find it unusual that the judge would reprimand me for interrupting the prosecutor when the prosecutor had interrupted me during my closing," she said. "Do you think this is fair?"
"Judge Warren caved in to political pressure in this case, based on no evidence at all," continued Ruiz, referring to his ruling in August that the couple remain in jail in lieu of $1 million bail each. "The judge didn't want to be responsible for helping Marjorie Knoller. It was a political decision that this bail was set so high." Prosecutor Jim Hammer, who had been listening to Ruiz, then stepped up to the microphones to respond. "Ms. Ruiz has spent weeks attacking everyone in the world, from the police to the grand jury to Diane Whipple and now me for supposedly hiding evidence from the jury and then caving in to some pro-gay cabal," Hammer said. "But we have prosecuted this case like every other...and I'm proud of the work we've done. I have bowed to no one's pressure."
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Gay man appointed spokesman of new Florida civil rights group

Nearly two weeks after a new civil rights group in Florida ousted three gay people from an organizational meeting, the group's president has appointed a gay man as its spokesman, according to The Miami Herald. Percy L. Johnson, former president of the gay political group Dolphin Democratic Club of Broward County, accepted the position with the new South Florida Human Rights Council in a meeting Saturday.
The group was started by a group of activists who think that Broward County's mainstream minority groups don't fight discrimination aggressively enough. Housing, education, health, and poverty are the major issues the group says it is concerned about. Members of the organization immediately reached out to Hispanic leaders, but at an organizational meeting March 2, three gay men were asked to leave. They had shown up to protest the lack of gay representation on the new group's board and the fact that the group included an opponent of Broward County's gay rights law. "We're open to all people,'' South Florida Human Rights Council president Jeff Gorley said. "[Johnson will] be great for this organization, not just because he's gay but because he's a professional."
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Australian judge: Apology accepted

A conservative Australian politician who had wrongfully accused an openly gay high court judge of using government cars to pick up male prostitutes made a public apology Tuesday, according to The [Sydney] Daily Telegraph.
Sen. Bill Heffernan delivered an apology to Justice Michael Kirby and the Australian parliament for presenting allegations that were based on false documents. Looking pale and downcast, Heffernan told the senate, "At the outset I want to extend to Michael Kirby my sincere apology and deep regret for the allegations I made in this place. I withdraw them unreservedly." Kirby accepted the apology but accused Heffernan of "hate of homosexuals," though he held out his hand in a spirit of reconciliation. "Out of this sorry episode, Australians should emerge with a heightened respect for the dignity of all minorities," Kirby said in a statement.
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Boy Subjected To Homophobic Abuse Before Being Stabbed To Death


by Peter Moore
365Gay.com Newscenter in London
(March 21, London) A London court has heard testimony that a 10 year old boy was called anti-gay names and ridiculed about his African accent by a group of teens accused of stabbing him to death.
Damilola Taylor's body was found in a pool of blood in a doorway of a housing project in November 2000, three months after moving from Nigeria.
The testimony came from a 14 year old who said he was told about the killing by two of the teens accused of killing the boy. The three were inmates of a juvenile detention centre at the time.
The youth, whose name is protected by the court because of his age, said: "He [one of the accused] was calling him a batty man, meaning he was gay, because of his accent. They surrounded him, called him names and then stabbed him."
The accused, a 15-year-old, denies murdering Damilola with two brothers aged 16.
The witness came forward to police last month but had originally denied having information when he was first questioned in September last year. He admitted in court that he had once made a false allegation against a disabled man and wrongly picked him out in an identity parade.
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Gay Discrimination Rises In Holland

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
(March 21, Amsterdam) Despite a reputation for being one of the most gay friendly and welcoming countries in Europe, discrimination against gays and Muslims is mounting in the Netherlands.
A national organization which tracks human rights complaints in Holland said Wednesday that there was a distinct increase in the number of nation-wide complaints about discrimination against gays with the percentage of complaints increasing from three percent of all cases in 2000 to seven percent in 2001.
The National Association of Anti-Discrimination Bureaus and Reporting Points said that migrant youths in particular were guilty of discrimination attacks on gays.
It also said the increase was directly linked to comments from Rotterdam Imam El Moumni, who said on current affairs show NOVA that homosexuality was a disease damaging society.
The Association said that the terrorist attacks in the US on 11 September led to a sharp increase in the number of complaints about discrimination based on religious faith.
The percentage of religious-based discrimination cases increased from 3 percent to 6 percent, the association said. Many Islamic people said they were the victim of verbal or physical attacks, it said.
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Right-Wing Alliance Gets New Leader

by Ben Thompson
365Gay.com National Editor in Ottawa
(March 21, Ottawa) Canada's far right party, the Canadian Alliance elected Stephen Harper as its new leader Wednesday night.
Harper succeeds the embattled Stockwell Day who saw the party's fortunes disappear during his short tenure.
The Alliance which opposes gay and lesbian marriage, gay rights, abortion, and advocates a conservative fiscal policy is the country's Official Opposition with
The party all but disintegrated from a bitter internal feud last year after a number of MPs expressed a lack of faith in Day's leadership. Day resigned as leader in December to allow a leadership vote in an attempt to settle the issue.
Harper received just over 55 per cent of the mail-in ballots to capture the simple majority required for victory.
Day received just over 37 per cent of the vote. MP Diane Ablonczy was third and MP Grant Hill was fourth. Each garnered less than four per cent of the vote.
Toronto drag queen Enza "Supermodel" Anderson who had run an unsuccessful to gain a berth in the leadership race received no votes. Anderson had been hoping for write-in support.
She failed to raise the $20,000 required by the party to get her name on the ballot, but during the run up to the leadership vote, she managed to raise the issue of the party's rampant homophobia and racism.
Anderson's campaign with little money managed to get nearly as much press, before she dropped out, as the other candidates.
Harper will be leading the party from the gallery. He is not a member of parliament and it will be up to the Liberal government to call a byelection. But, despite his win, the Alliance may be dead in the water. It has fallen below the other right of centre party the Progressive Conservatives in polls. The leadership race failed to capture the interest of Canadians, even in the west, an area that is supposed to be the Alliance heartland.
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More Than Just Gay Jocks

by Peter Hacker
365Gay.com Newscenter in Sydney
(March 21, Sydney) When the Gay Games open in Sydney this November, it will be one of the biggest GLBT events ever staged in the world.
But the games are not just about sports.
There is the cultural side with its art shows and concerts, the mega parties, and a very serious side.
Since the 1994 Gay Games in New York, there has been a Conference Program attached to the Games. These conferences have been organised separate to the Games but as partners. The Sydney Games will continue the tradition of supporting organisations and groups to host conferences as part of the Games, and where possible, to build these conferences into the Games Program.
The Global Rights Conference Program of Gay Games VI will provide the intellectual base for the celebrations, and stimulate debate and discussion on a wide-range of topics including health and sexuality, lesbian and gay trade unionists, social issues, hate violence, first cultures, human rights and queer studies.
This year, there will be symposia on Queer history, aboriginal rights, health, and combating hate.
With gay hate crimes on the increase world-wide, It will provide an opportunity to explore and compare different experiences, approaches and solutions. Particular interest will be paid to partnerships between gay and lesbian communities, and police, schools, local governments and other agencies. Brad Grey, a conference organiser said; "We invite lesbian and gay activists, community organisations, researchers, educators, government bodies and other agencies from around the world to become involved in the conference." The conference will also provide forums for Indigenous, young, transgender and bisexual people to raise and discuss issues of concern in respect to hate related violence.
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European Court To Hear TG Rights Case

by Jon ben Asher
365Gay.com Newscenter in London
(March 21, London) Two transgendered women are taking the British government to the European Court of Human Rights.
The transgendered in the UK are denied new identity papers with their new sex.
Christine Goodwin, 64, is arguing that her human rights have been broken because she is unable to draw a pension until she is 65, when legally women qualify for a pension aged 60.
Goodwin, a former bus driver, had a full sex change operation in 1990. Her suit says British law does not recognise the right of an individual to legally change sex.
At the court, in Strasbourg, she will argue that in addition to not being given a new National Insurance number after the operation, the old card allowed her employers to discover her former sex.
Without fully changing her identity she was sexually harassed and embarrassed at work, she said, Wednesday.
The hearing will also hear evidence from another transsexual, who has not been named, who claims she could not sign up to a nursing course because she refused to present her birth certificate. Only four countries in the Council of Europe do not recognise a sex change as legally valid. Besides Britain, the others are Ireland, Andorra and Albania.
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Most Croats against homosexual marriage, gay march, says survey

March 20, 2002, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa)
Some 61 per cent of Croats are opposed to the legalization of homosexual marriage and 50 per cent would not vote for a gay politician, according to a survey published on Wednesday.
The survey was carried out by the Globus weekly after Zagreb-based gay activists said they planned to stage a "Gay Pride" march in the capital this spring.
The survey also found that 58 per cent of Croats would not support the march. The influential Croatian paper did not publish the number of those polled.
Around 70 per cent of Croatia's 4.3 million citizens are Roman Catholics. Dorino Manzin, the gay activist who announced the march, said it would only take place if police provided protection.
He said marchers wanted to avoid a repeat of events in Belgrade last June when a Gay Pride parade was attacked and broken up by Serbian football supporters. Copyright 2002 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH
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Tatchell Calls Zimbabwe Suspension 'Inadequate'

The gay human rights activist Peter Tatchell has described the suspension of Zimbabwe by the Commonwealth as "inadequate".
Zimbabwe has been banned from the councils of the Commonwealth for one year. Australian Prime Minister John Howard said Commonwealth observers had concluded the recent elections were "marred by a high level of political violence" and had not allowed for a free expression of the wishes of the electorate.
Tatchell said: "The suspension of Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth is purely symbolic. It does nothing to weaken president Robert Mugabe`s grip on power or to curtail his murderous tyranny."
He continued: "The most effective Commonwealth sanction would be for member states to issue warrants for the arrest of president Mugabe and his right-hand man, Perence Shiri, on charges of torture and genocide, under the UN Torture and Genocide Conventions".
Tatchell said that the issuing of warrants could enable Mugabe to be brought to trial. He remarked: "If Mugabe fears that he could be prosecuted like Slobodan Milosevic, this might act as a restraint on his repression. It could make him think twice about authorising further atrocities".
The human rights activist said that he had evidence which could be used to arrest Mugabe. He said: "The evidence of widespread massacres in Matabeleland during the 1980s, when an estimated 20,000 people were murdered, is sufficient to arrest Mugabe and the military commander of that repression, Perence Shiri, on charges of genocide".
Tatchell added: "Charges could be bought under the UN Convention Against Torture, based on some of the hundreds of incidents of state-sanctioned torture documented during the last year by Zimbabwe`s human rights watchdog, the Amani Trust."
Tatchell has twice attempted a citizen's arrest of the Zimbabwean president. © 1999, 2001 Rainbow Network. All Rights Reserved. Partnered with New Media Spark.
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Police Hunt Drag Sex Pest

Police in York are investigating a series of sexual assaults which they believe may have been carried out by a man in drag.
Witnesses have described being approached on a secluded footpath by a woman looking for sex. She is described as wearing a tracksuit, and has "a bowl haircut and spots," according to the Northern Echo.
The assailant confronted one man, who was out walking his dog. The man recalled she said: "I am desperate for sex, I haven`t had it all day."
Another victim said that he thought the attacker was not a woman. He said: "I told the police this person said they were female and they were 30 and from Hull. But personally I think it was a bloke aged between 14 and 18."
The victim continued: "He gave his name as Jane and told me the pathway was flooded, then started to follow me and made increasingly obscene sexual comments.
"I saw a neighbour of mine so I made a beeline for them and said: `Just stay away from me, you`re a bloke.` But he said he wasn`t and pulled his coat open. He had a blue sweater on underneath and said: `I told you I am a girl, I just haven`t developed yet.`"
The man walked away and his attacker disappeared. © 1999, 2001 Rainbow Network. All Rights Reserved. Partnered with New Media Spark.
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Lauderdale man's sad Sept. 11 story leads to suspicions

By Megan O'Matz
Sun-Sentinel
March 20, 2002
A young, grieving gay man, Patric Ian Henn, made for a sad and sympathetic story. The World Trade Center had crumbled, killing his lover of four years. In seconds, his life tumbled from financial fortune to seeking the help of relief agencies.
And even they were slow to validate his domestic partner relationship.
Or so he said.
In the cramped, storefront office of The Express, South Florida's gay and lesbian community newspaper, publisher Norm Kent was skeptical.
News Editor Ian Drew had written a conventional feature story on Henn, a Fort Lauderdale man with a sad tale of loss and injustice. But aspects of Henn's story were puzzling.
Henn claimed he and his partner lived lavishly, with homes in New York and South Beach, but he told relief agencies weeks after the attack that he had nowhere to live.
"Ian said the Red Cross set him up in an apartment and they flew him to New York, and I said: 'But why?'" Kent recalled. "If this guy is living this opulent lifestyle with a partner, and they have two vehicles, why is he suddenly homeless and desperate for assistance?"
Henn told The Express that the bank repossessed his cars and froze his bank accounts after his partner's death.
But when asked by the paper to show financial records, pictures or other documents verifying his relationship with the dead man, Henn could not, contending that the materials were in storage.
A longtime Broward County criminal defense attorney with a passion for journalism, Kent refused to let the matter rest.
"I remember turning to Ian and saying: 'No. The guy's a fraud. The only thing in storage is the truth, and we're going to expose him."
Contradictions emerge
Who was Patric Ian Henn? Did his lover die in the World Trade Center attack? Or had Henn created an elaborate hoax that fooled the American Red Cross and other charitable organizations into giving him thousands of dollars?
Shortly before Thanksgiving, Henn, 27, moved into a two-bedroom apartment in Fort Lauderdale's Middle River Terrace neighborhood.
"He said he had just recently lost a partner in the 9-11 disaster," neighbor Barbara Cardino recalled.
Henn explained that his lover, Jeff John Andersen, had a meeting at Merrill Lynch in the World Trade Center the morning of Sept. 11 and had called Henn on his cellular phone before the planes struck.
Henn left Cardino and others with the impression that Andersen was in his 40s or 50s and that he had supported Henn financially in a grand "Louis Vuitton" lifestyle in a home in South Beach.
"We had 200 pairs of shoes alone in our apartment," Henn told The Express.
When he arrived at the Fort Lauderdale apartment, however, Cardino noted that Henn had only "two duffel bags."
Neighbor Ellen Robin described him as "a Fort Lauderdale club kid" who liked to party. "He's a big old drama queen," she said.
He did not work, and was considered a bit of a bon vivant. Neighbors saw him drinking a glass of wine one day while changing a tire.
He had two pictures on display in his apartment, Robin said: one of neighbors decorating his Christmas tree and the other of him with O.J. Simpson.
There were no framed pictures of Andersen, though Robin said Henn showed her a snapshot pulled from a photo album of a bare-chested man, purportedly Andersen. He appeared to be in his 20s.
Evicted - and married
In its Feb. 25 story, titled "Disaster and Deceit," The Express published a photo of Henn taken by Fort Lauderdale police.
Twice in February, Henn was arrested on a charge of driving without a license.
In the second instance, Henn told the officer he had a New York driver's license, but the officer could find no record of one.
It was not Henn's first brush with the law. In May 2000, police evicted him for failing to pay rent on an apartment at 751 Meridian Ave., Miami Beach.
Dennis Bedard, attorney for the property owner, recalled Henn well.
"The day we were going to throw him out.he calls my client up and tells my client that he's got a gun, and he's not going out voluntarily. He's going to duke it out with the police."
Bedard warned authorities, and Henn did not resist the eviction.
The $750-a-month apartment was the same one Henn told New York relief agencies he and Andersen shared: in grand style.
Bedard scoffed at the idea. "There's nothing elegant about this place," he said, recalling that it was furnished with "junk."
More surprising, however, is the name of the second person on the lease: Robyn Louise Paterson, Henn's wife.
Miami-Dade court records show the pair married in December 1999 in Miami Beach. Paterson is described on the certificate as being "foreign."
No divorce record can be found for the couple in Florida.
Missing-person filing
Two days after the twin towers fell, Henn filed a missing-person report with the New York Police Department, according to Ellen Borakove, spokeswoman for the New York Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
In the report, Henn stated that his partner, Jeff John Andersen of Miami Beach, was lost in the terrorist attack. Andersen's name is included on a city Web site ( www.nyc.gov/dna ) listing people reported missing.
"We haven't identified any remains belonging to him," Borakove said.
On the police report, Henn gave Andersen's birth date as July 4, 1973. At the time of his death, he would have been 28.
In late September, Henn came to the attention of the Empire State Pride Agenda, a New York civil rights group for gays and lesbians.
ESPA had been advocating for gays and lesbians who lost partners in the World Trade Center, recognizing that they might be treated unfairly by relief agencies because their unions were not legally recognized marriages.
Henn sought help from the group in securing a death certificate for Andersen.
"He was saying that he had filed all the necessary paperwork, all the documentation, and he was getting nowhere," said Matt Foreman, then ESPA's executive director. "But when I'd get on the line with someone from the Medical Examiner's Office, it would turn out there had been no paperwork filed."
At one point, Henn told Foreman that Andersen's elderly mother had come from California to New York, had filed for the death certificate, and had prepared a sworn affidavit attesting to the fact that Henn was Andersen's partner.
"We could never find that documentation," Foreman said. When he asked if Andersen's mother could return, Henn said she was on safari in northern Africa.
Henn told ESPA that their joint bank account was frozen upon Andersen's death, that their belongings were in storage, and that relief agencies lost his paperwork.
Doubts grow
Foreman was not immediately suspicious.
"Frankly, a lot of people did submit paperwork, and it was lost in the confusion of the early weeks," he said. "To me, it was a terrible confluence of events."
As the weeks went on, however, ESPA leaders began to doubt Henn's story. ESPA spokesman Joe Tarver said he looked online for Andersen's name in obituaries and death notices in South Florida papers, and searched phone directories for Andersen at two Miami addresses Henn gave.
"I could find nothing," he said.
Andersen is not included on The Associated Press' list of confirmed dead in the terrorist attack, nor is he on CNN's.
There is no record in Broward Circuit Court's probate section for Andersen's estate, nor in Miami-Dade's.
Neither Henn nor Andersen is registered as a domestic partner in Broward County.
In an affidavit for a death certificate, which Kent said he saw, Henn listed a Social Security number for Andersen. When checked, the number was not associated with anyone named Andersen.
Similarly, Henn's assertion that Andersen had a meeting in the towers with Merrill Lynch cannot be confirmed.
Selena Morris, spokeswoman for Merrill Lynch, said the brokerage house did not have offices in the World Trade Center. Its headquarters are across the street, in the World Financial Center.
Concerned, Tarver confronted Henn in a Nov. 29 phone conversation, telling him he needed to substantiate his relationship with Andersen.
The agency was working with 22 gays and lesbians who lost partners Sept. 11, Tarver said.
"Everyone was able to come up with the types of documentation needed except Patric. Everyone."
During the call, Henn demanded money from ESPA, Tarver said.
"He became very shrill and said we wouldn't like it much if he went to the press and told them we weren't helping people when they needed help."
The organization never heard from Henn again.
In December, Henn called The Express, complaining about ESPA and praising the American Red Cross.
Agency investigates
Red Cross officials will not say how much money Henn received from the agency.
But Ellen Robin, Henn's neighbor, said Henn showed her a check from the Red Cross for $14,700. "He asked me to drive him to the bank, which I did," she said.
The Red Cross paid to fly Henn back and forth from South Florida to New York and put him up in hotels, Tarver said. The agency also paid two months' rent and the security deposit on Henn's Middle River Terrace apartment, according to a real estate agent who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Laila Haddad, spokeswoman for the Broward chapter of the American Red Cross, could not explain why the agency awarded money to Henn without complete verification of his claims. She said Henn initially dealt with national Red Cross officials in New York. "We provided the assistance that national told us to give him," she said.
Haddad said Henn's case has been turned over to a national Red Cross fraud task force set up to investigate suspicious claims relating to Sept. 11. The agency will work with local authorities to recover any funds shown to be obtained fraudulently, she said.
Henn is not the only person to be accused of duping relief agencies.
Armond Mascelli, American Red Cross senior director of disaster services, said the organization is examining 30 to 50 cases of potential fraud.
And as of Jan. 31, the Manhattan District Attorney's Office had charged 31 people with Sept. 11-related fraud, including 12 Port Authority cafeteria employees who received emergency cash grants from the Red Cross, claiming they were unemployed after the tragedy, when in fact they continued to be paid.
Where is Henn?
Did someone named Jeff John Andersen exist? Kent chortles when asked, noting that it's not the paper's judgment to make.
But, he adds: "My gut feeling is no."
Henn, meanwhile, cannot be found.
Neighbors have not seen him at his apartment since The Express article appeared Feb. 25. He did not respond to a note left on his door by the Sun-Sentinel.
He does not have a home phone. Cell phone numbers provided by acquaintances are incorrect or have been disconnected.
And the pressure is mounting. The Express story has been e-mailed to thousands of gay list server subscribers around the country, and Henn is in the process of being evicted for falling behind on his rent.
German Narvaez, manager of Henn's Middle River Terrace apartment, said Henn claimed his accountant had mailed the check. But Narvaez visits the apartments each month to collect the rent personally.
"He told me he sent it to the address in the contract, but there is no address in the contract," Narvaez said. "He lies too much."
Staff Researchers Barbara Hijek and Kathryn Pease contributed to this report.
Megan O'Matz can be reached at momatz@sun-sentinel.com or 954-356-4518. Copyright © 2002, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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Our e-mail is cyberqueer@hotmail.com
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