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Saturday, April 20, 2002

 
GLBT NEWZ 04/20/02 Information is power!

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

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Gay priests will be on Vatican agenda

Tom Musbach, Gay.com / PlanetOut.com Network
Friday, April 19, 2002 / 05:09 PM
SUMMARY: A Vatican official said meetings about the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic church will include talk of screening gay seminarians.
Preparing for high-level meetings about the sexual abuse crisis in the U.S. Catholic Church, a Vatican official said on Thursday that one of the discussion topics will be the screening of gay seminary candidates.
Cardinal J. Francis Stafford, head of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Laity, said the pope and the U.S. Catholic cardinals will "definitely be talking about" screening gay seminarians, reports the New York Times.
While respected Catholic publications and liberal theologians have said the church should address homosexuality, albeit with sensitivity and independence from the issue of pedophilia, some experts doubt that screening gay candidates for the priesthood would be possible, let alone advisable.
"We can do background checks or reference checks for criminal activity," said Frederick Berlin, associate professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University Medical School. "But there is no litmus test for figuring out what people's sex lives are like."
"I think it is very unlikely that any such screening could or will take place as a general principle," Donal Godfrey, a gay Jesuit priest in San Francisco, said via e-mail. "It may happen in some specifically reactionary dioceses."
"There's no simple solution to this complicated problem," Berlin told the Gay.com/PlanetOut.com Network.
"Complicated" is perhaps an understatement. Gay advocacy groups and others have denounced church officials and media reports for blurring distinctions between pedophilia and homosexuality. A Vatican official even blamed homosexual priests as the root of the problem.
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force rebuked the church hierarchy on Wednesday for "scapegoating" gay priests.
"Homosexuality is not the problem. Child abuse is the problem," said Lorri Jean, executive director of NGLTF. "It is well established that more than 95 percent of the perpetrators of child sexual abuse are heterosexual men."
There are no comprehensive records, however, on the kinds of sexual abuse cases that have been reported or what percentage of victims were boys or girls, teens or young adults. Nor is there data on the number of gay men in the priesthood.
Gary Schoener, a clinical psychologist in Minneapolis who has consulted in over 2,000 church-related cases of sexual abuse, said he believes "far more" priests abuse girls or women. But "a handful of high-visibility cases" have skewed perception of sexual abuse in the church.
"Remember the pope apologized two months ago for all of those rapes by priests in Africa -- 100 percent were heterosexual," Shoener told the Gay.com/PlanetOut.com Network.
Despite concerns that the Vatican meetings might lead to "witch hunts" for gay priests, Godfrey said he is not particularly worried about his future as a priest. But the current scandal raises several other concerns for him. "It makes me grieve for the suffering innocents," he said. "I am angry with the mishandling of the cases, and I want change. I am upset about the stereotyping and stigma that I am getting as gay and as a priest -- both are so unfair and what we have been trying to battle for years."
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Voters sign anti-gay, not pro-horse, bill

Ann Rostow, Gay.com / PlanetOut.com Network
Friday, April 19, 2002 / 05:14 PM
SUMMARY: A signature-gathering firm is accused of duping hundreds of Massachusetts voters into signing a petition to ban recognition of legal rights for same-sex couples.
A professional signature-gathering firm is accused of duping hundreds of Massachusetts voters into signing a petition to ban recognition of legal rights for same-sex couples.
The Phoenix-based Ballot Access Co. was hired by two groups: proponents of Petition E, the anti-marriage constitutional amendment, and proponents of Petition A, a measure to ban the slaughter of horses for food. According to the New York Times, Ballot Access canvassers have told lawyers that they were instructed to pitch the popular horse measure, and then substitute the anti-marriage petition when it came time to sign.
Save Our Horses, which fell 2,574 names short of the 57,100 goal, has filed a lawsuit in an effort to qualify for the ballot.
According to Equalmarriage.org, an arm of the Freedom to Marry Coalition of Massachusetts, the canvassers were paid top dollar for anti-marriage signatures, but less for horse signatures. Among the alleged scams, the Web site says, is that the canvassers told voters they would have to "sign in two places." On election day, Equalmarriage.org says voters at the polls were told to sign "in order to vote." Others were given a clipboard with horse literature on the front, and marriage petitions underneath.
In the end, Massachusetts Citizens for Marriage qualified with 76,607 names, enough to send the proposed amendments to the state legislature. By state law, a constitutional amendment initiated by signatures must be ratified by 25 percent of the legislature in two successive sessions.
Equalmarriage.org's political director, Joshua Friedes, says that although that percentage is low, the proposal is "so draconian," that there's "a real possibility that we can defeat the measure in the legislature," provided voters contact their representatives and start telling their personal stories.
The amendment, H4840, doesn't just ban marriage, Friedes notes, it bans access by a same-sex couple "to any benefit exclusive to marriage," which might include hospital visitation or other routine arrangements. Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) have asked Massachusetts' highest court to throw out the proposal on the grounds that it fails the criteria for ballot initiatives laid out in the state Constitution. The effort to amend the Constitution is a reaction to a major lawsuit, filed by GLAD on behalf of seven same-sex couples seeking the right to marry in Massachusetts. Last week dozens of leaders and elected officials spoke against the proposed amendment.
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Estate rights clear first California hurdle

Ari Bendersky, Gay.com / PlanetOut.com Network
Friday, April 19, 2002 / 05:17 PM
SUMMARY: Registered gay and lesbian domestic partners in California are one step closer to being given inheritance rights if one of the partners dies without a will.
Registered gay and lesbian domestic partners in California are one step closer to being given inheritance rights if one of the partners dies without a will.
Assembly Bill 2216, authored by Assembly Speaker Pro Tem Fred Keeley, D-Santa Cruz, seeks to provide registered domestic partners with the right to claim a deceased partner's property if he or she dies without a will. If passed, partners will have the right to claim one-third to all of their partner's property, depending on whether other surviving family members, such as children, parents or siblings, can also make a claim.
Last Tuesday, AB 2216 passed by an 8-3 vote in the Assembly Judiciary Committee. Now, the bill must go through a number of committees before it makes its way to the Senate and ultimately to the governor's office, according to David van der Griff, legislative assistant to Speaker Pro Tem Keeley.
"Our intent is to move the bill as quickly as possible," van der Griff said. "It might be mid-June before it makes it to the governor's desk." He explained that if the governor signs the bill this June, it would not become effective until July 1, 2003. This is so the secretary of state's office can inform all registered domestic partners of the change in the law. Domestic partners who do not have a will in place will be given the opportunity to evaluate their estate plan and decide if they want to remain registered as domestic partners.
By passing AB 2216, people like Keith Bradkowski, who lost his partner of 11 years in the Sept. 11 attacks, would be protected under California law. Even though the couple shared many parts of their lives, including health insurance benefits, Bradkowski was not given a $25,000 compensation package after losing his partner, Jeff Collman, who worked for American Airlines. The money instead went to Collman's next of kin, his parents from whom he was estranged for many years, according to Jean Harris, executive director of the California Alliance for Pride and Equality (CAPE).
Harris strongly urges all gay and lesbian couples to register with the state -- or at least to put a will together. "People have to understand they have to have that piece of paper. It's now become a serious document to produce when these things come up," Harris said. "There are people out there who will stand in the way of the benefits we're getting now. Even straight people who are married should have a will in hand. A statutory will is taken much more seriously."
The case of inheritance rights was initially included in AB 25, which was sponsored by Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, and passed last year, giving gay and lesbian couples expanded domestic partner rights that married couples currently receive, including hospital visitation rights, the right to recover wrongful death damages, co-parent adoption rights and the right to take sick leave to care for an ailing partner. However, the inheritance rights portion of AB 25 was removed in the final hours before the bill passed in June of last year. AB 2216 would be added to the current list of rights domestic partners currently enjoy.
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New AIDS drug performs well in trials

Gay.com / PlanetOut.com Network
Friday, April 19, 2002 / 05:19 PM
SUMMARY: The first drug in a new class of HIV medications has exceeded expectations halfway through its last clinical trial, its makers said Thursday.
The first drug in a new class of HIV medications has exceeded expectations halfway through its last clinical trial, its makers said Thursday.
Dubbed T-20, the new drug is considered a fusion inhibitor, working to stop the AIDS-causing virus before it enters healthy cells. Existing HIV drugs generally work inside cells that are already infected, trying to keep the virus from replicating.
Swiss health care giant Roche Holding AG reported that a drug combination with T-20 lowered the levels of HIV in the blood of trial participants more significantly than a drug combination that did not include T-20.
The Phase III trial involved 491 HIV-positive people who had become resistant to the three classes of HIV medications that are now available.
Researchers welcomed the news as a benefit for patients who have become resistant to existing therapies.
"What we really need are drugs that act against different steps in the virus's life cycle," said Dr. Daniel R. Kuritzkes, one of the investigators in the clinical trial.
Roche is codeveloping the drug with Trimeris Inc., of Durham, N.C.
A second Phase III trial should be completed in a few weeks, reports the New York Times, and the companies expect to apply for approval from the Food and Drug Administration during the second half of 2002. After the announcement, the stock price of Trimeris rose $11.25, or 29 percent, on the Nasdaq Stock Market, closing Thursday at $50.50.
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Bingham's mother: Flight 93 tapes verify son's heroism

Relatives of the passengers on United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in rural Pennsylvania after being hijacked on September 11, listened Thursday to the plane's cockpit voice recorder and said that what they heard further confirms their belief that their loved ones behaved heroically in thwarting the terrorists. Alice Hoglan, mother of openly gay businessman Mark Bingham, who is thought to be one of the passengers who resisted the hijackers, described the sounds on the tape as "powerful, muffled, confused, violent."
"I am so proud of my son," Hoglan told USA Today."It was an excruciating and incomparable experience, one I'm grateful to have had."
A transcript that was projected on a screen as families listened to the voice recorder revealed that the hijackers, apparently holed up in the cockpit, said in Arabic of the passengers, "They're trying to get in," family members, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The New York Times. "It was very unnerving at times," Hoglan said, explaining that she could not reveal specifics of the tape because federal officials plan to introduce it into evidence in the forthcoming trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, who is accused of helping to plot the September 11 attacks. However, Hoglan added, "it was beautiful in some ways to hear our loved ones doing everything they could."
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Complaints against antigay Alabama judge dismissed again

An Alabama judicial panel has dismissed two more complaints filed against state supreme court chief justice Roy Moore over his written opinion that homosexuality is "inherently evil."
In a two-paragraph statement, the judicial inquiry commission said it had thrown out two complaints filed against Moore. One of the complaints was filed by state representative Alvin Holmes (D-Montgomery), and the other was filed by a Colorado woman. "The commission found no reasonable basis to charge a violation of the Alabama Canons of Judicial Ethics in connection with one of the complaints, and no reasonable basis to investigate in connection with the other," the commission said in the statement. The statement did not clarify which finding referred to Holmes's complaint and which referred to a complaint filed by Kristin Rutledge Field of Denver.
While complaints against judges normally are handled confidentially, the commission said Moore requested that its decision be made public. The commission last month dismissed a similar complaint filed by Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, a gay rights group based in New York. "These frivolous complaints are being filed by those who want to overturn Moore's election by the people of the state of Alabama," Moore's attorney, Stephen Melchior, said in a statement. "He was elected by the overwhelming majority of Alabamians who agree with Moore that there is a moral foundation of law and who believe, like Moore, that a judge's role is to report the law, not make the law."
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R.I. gay man sues town police

A Rhode island man has filed a $1.1 million suit against police in the town of East Providence, accusing them of lying, destroying evidence, and fabricating criminal charges against him to protect a fellow officer, according to the Pawtucket [R.I.] Times.
Jesse Ousley, 19, says that on August 29, 2000, he was viciously beaten by off-duty police officer Kevin Harty during a roadside confrontation. Ousley is claiming Harty attacked him at least in part because Ousley is gay.
According to the claim, Ousley, 17 at the time, and his boyfriend, Robert Hall, were engaged in an argument on Walker Street on the night of the attack. During the course of the dispute, Ousley backed onto Walker Street, unwittingly blocking the path of Harty's Nissan and forcing the off-duty officer to stop abruptly to avoid a collision. Still standing in the road, Ousley then slammed his hands down on the hood of Harty's car. The lawsuit alleges that Harty then got out of the car and "administered a beating to young Mr. Ousley, who was rendered helpless and severely injured."
"At that time, Officer Harty retreated to his car and saw young Mr. Ousley on the ground with his arms around Mr. Hall's legs saying, 'I love you. Please don't leave me.' At this point, officer Harty started back at young Mr. Ousley shouting, 'You [expletive] faggot,' and proceeded to strangle and punch him a second time."
In all, Ousley claims he was attacked three times. He further alleges that Harty had been drinking prior to the incident. Ousley also states that when he requested that Lincoln police investigate the incident, the department responded by belatedly charging him with assault and obstructing a roadway. Ousley was found not guilty of the charges in family court but was required to pay restitution for damages to Harty's car. The six-count complaint filed in U.S. district court states that police violated Ousley's civil rights to bodily security and liberty.
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Openly gay student deleted from school brochure

Everyone at St. Edward's University in Austin, Tex., agrees that Andrew Harper is a good student: He works in the school's admissions office, made the dean's list, served on several student organizations, and was voted "Mr. SEU" earlier this year by his fellow students. The accolades brought attention from university officials, who wanted to feature Harper in a marketing brochure for the school. But the brochure, which was recently mailed to 900 prospective students and their parents, does not include Harper. He asked that his profile be removed last month after administrators told him they wanted to delete a reference to his membership in the school's Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Students Association.
University administrators say Harper's omission from the brochure was an isolated marketing decision at a school that has gone through extraordinary efforts to embrace diversity. "This was a decision made in terms of what we thought was in our best marketing interest in regard to high school students and their parents," said Sister Donna Jurick, the university's executive vice president.
Designed for students who have recently been accepted and their parents, the "Campus Images" brochure is written from a student perspective and profiles several St. Edward's University students. Harper was asked to provide biographical information to be included in the profile, Jurick said. When Harper chose to include his affiliation with the gay student group, university officials asked if they could list another of his accomplishments instead. At first Harper agreed, but the next day he asked that his profile be withdrawn. Jurick said Wednesday that the brochure is not considered an appropriate forum for expressing individual sexual identity. If the reference were printed, it could be taken out of context by some students and their parents, she said. "What we want in this particular brochure is to express a welcoming of every possible member of the community," Jurick said. "We have a strong belief in diversity, but we want this publication to say to every one of the students who are admitted, 'We welcome all of you.'"
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Prom Battle Down To Wire

by Jack Siu
365Gay.com Newscenter in Toronto
(April 20, Toronto) Marc Hall's battle to bring his boyfriend to his high school prom will head to court May 6. The 17 year old 'A' student was told by his principal at Monsignor John Pereyma Catholic Secondary School, in the Toronto suburb of Oshawa, that the Catholic Church could not permit a same-sex date at the prom.
After the school board refused to budge, Hall decided to go to court.
Friday, the case was assigned to the Honourable Mr Justice Robert MacKinnon of the Ontario Superior Court in Whitby.
The teenager is seeking an injunction preventing the Durham Catholic District School Board from preventing him from bringing J. P. Dumond his 20 year old boyfriend to the prom.
Hall, who is represented by civil rights lawyer David Corbett, is also seeking $100,000 in damages.
Two days have been set aside for arguments. The judge will then have only three days to render a verdict before the prom.
Corbett admits the timing is tight, but told 365Gay.com he is "confident a decision will be reached before the prom."
The Roman Catholic school system enjoys special constitutional privileges and receives public money to fund its school system.
Corbett said that the Charter, Canada's Bill of Rights, clearly applies to publicly funded schools. It is also bound by the Ontario Code of Conduct for Boards of Education which prohibits discrimination.
Ontario legislator George Smitherman (L Toronto Rosedale) has agreed to be Hall's litigation guardian because the teen is a minor. Should Hall loose, it would mean Smitherman would be responsible to pay all legal costs.
Friday Smitherman told 365Gay.com that he wished it were not necessary to have to go to court, but added he is "cautiously optimistic that we are moving forward for Marc to go to the prom with P. J."
Earlier in the day, Earl Manners, President Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation denounced the Catholic school's refusal to allow Hall to bring his boyfriend to the prom.
Manners represents teachers in the public school system, but not Catholic teachers.
"Why should any institution that receives public tax dollars be allowed to ignore basic rights and protections afforded to all citizens of Ontario?" The teenager has also received backing from the powerful Auto Workers Union, and three federal cabinet ministers.
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Britain Accused Of Nazi Cover-Up

by Jon ben Asher
365Gay.com Newscenter in London
(April 20, London) The United Kingdom and Denmark are accused of covering up for 50 years atrocities on gays in Nazi death camps.
The allegations are contained in a new book published in Denmark. Birger Danielsen claims that SS doctor Carl Peter Vaernet experimented on gay prisoners, using hormones to attempt to eradicate their homosexuality.
Vaernet worked for the SS at Buchenwald and answered only to Gestapo chief Heinrich Himmler.
Tens of thousands of gay men were rounded up and sent to Buchenwald and other death camps.
Danielsen based his book on interviews with survivors of the camps and documents recently released by the Danish government.
He said his research showed that that Vaernet was detained by the Danes at the end of the war at the Alsgade Skole POW detention centre in Copenhagen and interrogated by British intelligence officers.
When the extent of Vaernet's experiments became clear, Danielsen claims that the Nazi was allowed by the British and the Danes to correspond with companies including DuPont, in the US, which was experimenting with its own hormone therapies to "cure" homosexuality.
Vaernet later escaped to South America. It is believed he died in obscurity. In a statement issued by his publisher, Danielsen said: "The evidence clearly indicates that Carl Vaernet succeeded in convincing the British military authorities, as well as Danish police officers, that his hormone therapies were morally justifiable and could be an international success. He therefore received special, privileged treatment in the POW camp."
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2nd UK Partner Registry Opens

by Peter Moore
365Gay.com Newscenter in London
(April 20, Manchester) Two men became the first gay couple to sign Manchester's new Partner Union Registry today.
Manchester becomes the second city in the UK to open a registry. The first, in London, opened in September, last year and was the model for this city in central England.
Like the London Partnership Registry it does not grant the same legal rights as an official marriage but does formalize gay and lesbian unions.
The register is open to everyone who lives, works or has connections with the city.
Leader of Manchester City Council, Richard Leese, said: "There are many legal rights and benefits which are currently only open to married couples.
"The civic partnership register recognises the existence of other long term committed relationships."
Leese said he hoped in the future such couples will have access to the rights of married couples, such as being recognised as a partner's next of kin. "Manchester is committed to the promotion of full equality of access and opportunity and we are proud to initiate historic changes in this area," he added.
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Cher's Gay Fling

April 19, 2002, World Entertainment News Network
Pop superstar CHER tried lesbianism in the 1960s, but decided she was definitely heterosexual.
The I GOT YOU BABE singer, whose daughter CHASTITY is a gay rights activist, admits her mother's free-spirited lifestyle made her feel she should try everything at least once.
She says, "It was just something to try. Freedom was something that people were trying on, like hang gliding.
"I just thought my mom's lesbian friends were the coolest of my mom's cool friends."
Although Cher won't go into details about her fling, she admits she knew straight away she was straight.
She adds, "I think at some point you know who you are. It comes to you what you want to be and what you like and what you don't like. And maybe it was because I didn't have any feeling of it being positive or negative." (c) 2002 World Entertainment News Network
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Court asked to toss brief in gay adoption review

By Terri Somers
Staff Writer
April 20, 2002
A Florida lawyer, fighting to uphold the state's law prohibiting gays from adopting children, doesn't want a federal appeals court to consider a legal brief filed by children's advocacy groups that says the law hurts children.
The friend-of-the-court brief contains information that was not admitted into evidence at trial, Casey Walker, the state's lawyer, argued in a motion filed April 2 with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. If it wasn't allowed in the trial, it should not be considered on appeal, Walker said.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which represents five gay men trying to change the law, said the state is desperately trying to get the brief thrown out in an attempt to "muzzle the experts on what is best for kids."
"The state is very concerned, because leading voices in children's welfare oppose the law," said Leslie Cooper, an ACLU lawyer involved in the move to change the law.
The 11th Circuit is expected to decide later this year whether the state's prohibition on gay adoptions is unconstitutional. The case, Lofton vs. Butterworth, went to the appeals court after a federal judge in Miami ruled in August that the state Legislature had a right to pass such a law.
The case is named for Steven Lofton, a pediatric nurse who along with his partner is raising five foster children diagnosed with HIV. Lofton, who moved from Miami to Oregon with three Florida foster children, wants to adopt one of them, but the state law prevents it. The state threatened to remove that child and place him with a family that can legally adopt him.
Child advocacy groups, including the Child Welfare League of America, Children's Rights Inc., Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute and the National Center for Youth Law, filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the 11th Circuit earlier this year. The brief cited numerous studies and experts who have found that children raised by gay parents face no greater psychological, emotional or developmental risks than children raised by heterosexuals.
A friend-of-the-court brief is filed by a group or individual who is not involved in the lawsuit. The briefs contain suggestions that are supposed to help the court make decisions in cases of general public interest.
The brief filed by the child advocacy groups contains excerpts of depositions taken from high-ranking employees of the state Department of Children & Families who said the state law hurts children. Also cited were social science and mental health articles.
Walker, the state's lawyer, objected in his April 2 motion that child advocates are being used as "a stalking horse to inject nonrecord evidence into these proceedings where plaintiffs could not properly do so themselves."
A lawyer for the child advocacy groups filed a response Thursday stating that Walker has a misunderstanding of friend-of-the-court briefs.
Terri Somers can be reached at tsomers@sun-sentinel.com or 954-356-4849. Copyright © 2002, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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The Space Coast Eagle, Cocoa Beach, Fl. www.spacecoasteagle.com
GLBT NEWZ archives www.groups.yahoo.com/group/glbtnewz
Our e-mail is cyberqueer@hotmail.com
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Friday, April 19, 2002

 
GLBT NEWZ 04/19/02 Information is power!

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

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Gays' Viagra Use Concerns Health Officials

PlanetOut
4/19/2002
by Randy Dotinga, Gay.com / PlanetOut.com Network
The little blue impotency pill has become a big player in the sex lives of gay men. One-third of gay and bisexual men who visited San Francisco's sexually transmitted disease clinic last year reported using Viagra, and many appear to be at higher risk of getting STDs.
By comparison, just 7 percent of heterosexual men reported using Viagra.
The results don't surprise Jeffrey Klausner, the director of STD Prevention and Control Services with the San Francisco Department of Health, which commissioned the study.
"When I was going to visit public sex venues, like clubs and bars, I was finding Viagra wrappers in the backrooms and on the floors," he said.
Viagra pills normally come in prescription bottles like other drugs, but individual samples come in foil wrappers.
However, Klausner didn't expect to find such a big connection between Viagra and sexually transmitted diseases. Of HIV-positive gay and bisexual men who visited the city clinic, half those who used Viagra were diagnosed with a new STD. That rate was nearly twice that of the HIV-positive men who didn't use Viagra.
It's not clear if the higher rate is because of effects of the drug itself or because of the very busy sex lives of the Viagra users. They reported an average of 5.4 sexual partners over the previous two months, compared to 3.5 among the gay and bisexual men who didn't use Viagra.
The Department of Health study of 844 men will appear in an upcoming edition of the journal AIDS. The men, from ages 17 to 72, were surveyed from December 2000 to February 2001.
Thirty-one percent of the gay and bisexual men -- 108 of 352 -- said they had used Viagra over the past year. Of those men, 56 percent said they got the drug from friends, suggesting they have no medical need for Viagra.
While it is marketed as a drug for impotent men, Viagra has a reputation as a sexual stimulant for men who have no problems getting it up. "It's not unusual to have guys come in and ask for Viagra because it's improving their sexual function," said Dr. Vince
Silenzio, assistant professor of public health at Columbia University and a board member of the Gay & Lesbian Medical Association.
Doctors disagree over whether Viagra has any effect on healthy men other than a psychological boost. Silenzio thinks it might. Scientifically, he said, "it's reasonable to suspect that the street reputation is a deserved one."
However, some gay men are clearly using Viagra because they need to. Impotence can be a side effect of AIDS drugs, and the methamphetamines and poppers popular in the gay party scene can also cause men to have erection problems.
In fact, the San Francisco study found that 28 percent of gay and bisexual Viagra users took it with methamphetamines ("speed"), while 43 percent took it with Ecstasy. Fifteen percent used it with nitrates ("poppers").
But Viagra use is not risk-free. Hundreds of men with heart problems have died after using the drug, and an overdose can lead to priapism -- an erection that lasts for hours and is extremely painful and potentially disabling.
Use with poppers can be a problem too, because both drugs cause drops in blood pressure, which can cause fainting, heart attack or stroke.
Klausner has repeatedly asked Pfizer, Viagra's manufacturer, to do a better job of warning gay users about the drug's risks.
Silenzio said that won't be easy. Gay men who use Viagra as a "recreational drug" aren't going to avoid it because of warnings placed in a package insert, he said. ©2002 PlanetOut. All Rights Reserved.
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Teacher Fired After Staging "Laramie" Play

PlanetOut
4/19/2002
by Fidel Ortega, 365Gay.com
MIAMI -- The man in charge of Brevard Community College's theater arts program was fired after "The Laramie Project" was presented at the college.
Robert Hatch was told, however, his contract would be renewed one week after the student production of the play, about the killing of Matthew Shepard and the way the town of Laramie reacted to it.
The college will not comment on whether there is a connection.
GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, said it is looking into the case.
"This is obviously something we'd be interested in," said Cathy Renna, news media director for GLAAD. "If there were no problems until 'The Laramie Project,' then at least there's a cause for concern."
Hatch had been the college's theater department director for the past four years.
This week the college's board of trustees refused to overturn the decision. Retired BCC professor Arlan Ropp read a petition at a meeting of the trustees, signed by students and other faculty members.
"I am disappointed at the board's reaction," Ropp said. "I thought they'd show some concern that there was an infringement on this man's academic freedom. It seems to me there should be a question in their minds about why this was done. They could see it was unfair, and they should have questions about it." ©2002 PlanetOut. All Rights Reserved.
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Domestic Partner Benefits Continue to Spread

Negligible Impact From Economic Slowdown Seen in First Semiannual 'State of the Workplace' Snapshot
4/19/2002
by The Human Rights Campaign
WASHINGTON -- The number of employers that offer domestic partner health insurance benefits increased by 162 in the six months ending March 31, going from 4,285 in August 2001 to 4,447, according to the Human Rights Campaign's WorkNet project. This represents a 3.8 percent increase in six months.
In the first quarter of calendar 2002, 47 employers announced or added domestic partner benefits, including four Fortune 500 companies. They are: Dow Chemical Co., Northeast Utilities System Inc., Lincoln National Corp. and General Dynamics Corp. (to former Motorola employees in its Decision Systems division only).
"It's encouraging to see so many employers continuing to add these benefits, even with last year's economic downturn and the uncertain times since September 11," said HRC Education Director Kim I. Mills, who oversees HRC WorkNet. "This trend continues to demonstrate that smart employers recognize these benefits are good for business because they attract, keep and motivate employees."
Mills noted that the new numbers appear to represent a slowing in the rate of employers adding these benefits. Between August 2000 and August 2001, when HRC published its last annual report on "The State of the Workplace for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Americans," at least 712 U.S. employers had added domestic partner health insurance benefits during that period. This was an increase of 20 percent in a single year. However, the August-March data do not include employers that may have added benefits in response to equal benefits ordinances, local laws that require city or county contractors to offer the same benefits to domestic partners that they offer to spouses. There are equal benefits ordinances in: San Francisco; Seattle; Los Angeles; Berkeley, Calif.; San Mateo County, Calif.; and Tumwater, Wash. One city - Oakland, Calif. - has passed an equal benefits ordinance since August 2001. That law is scheduled to take effect July 1, 2002.
Since last August, the number of Fortune 500 companies adding domestic partner health insurance benefits rose 11 percent through March 31, reaching an all-time high of 161. This was an increase of 16 for the period. The overall percentage of Fortune 500 companies offering DP health insurance benefits rose to 32 percent at the end of the first quarter of calendar 2002, up from 29 percent in August 2001. The closer a company is to the top of the Fortune list, the more likely it is to offer such benefits: 58 percent of the Fortune 50 now have them.
Among the snapshot's other findings:
* From August 2001 and March 31, 24 cities, counties and quasi-governmental agencies (such as public transit systems or school districts) added domestic partner benefits for their employees. That brought the total to 129 as of March 31, 2002, up from 105 in August and 124 at the end of 2001.
* Between August 2001 and March 31, at least 116 employers - including businesses, unions, colleges and universities and state and local governments -- added sexual orientation to their equal employment opportunity policies, according to HRC WorkNet. This brought the total to 2,117, up from 2,001 six months earlier. Thirty-five employers added the policy in the first quarter of 2002.
* Employers are continuing to add the category of gender identity to their non-discrimination policies. Between August 2001 and March 31, three cities and one county enacted measures that prohibit gender identity discrimination in both public and private work forces. And the number of employers that include gender identity in their equal employment opportunity policies almost doubled during the period, from 20 to 36.
A complete copy of the snapshot report can be found on HRC's website, www.hrc.org.
_______________________
The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian and gay political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community. (C) 2002 Gay Wired; All Rights Reserved
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Gay Republicans Assemble for Convention

PlanetOut
4/19/2002
by Tom Musbach, Gay.com / PlanetOut.com Network
Gay Republican leaders began arriving in the nation's capital on Wednesday for a convention that will celebrate the achievements and leadership of President George W. Bush.
The annual convention is organized by Log Cabin Republicans (LCR), the largest gay Republican group in the United States. Organizers expect more than 150 local, state and national leaders to participate in the meetings, which run through Saturday.
"It is time to speak out on behalf of over one million gay Americans who voted for President Bush and who strongly support his leadership today," said Rich Tafel, executive director of LCR. "One-third of gay Americans have consistently voted Republican in each general election over the decade, and we want the country to know that we are behind our president and administration."
The conference will take place amid anti-war demonstrations in Washington this weekend, and LCR expects that its events will also attract protests.
"Every year, our conventions are the targets of protestors from the far left and the far right, and both have sought to disrupt our events," LCR spokesman Kevin Ivers told the Gay.com/PlanetOut.com Network. "We've got a long history with such extremist attacks on us, and we're always prepared."
Ivers said the convention will also offer an opportunity to celebrate the government appointments of leaders like Scott Evertz, director of White House Office of National AIDS Policy, and Mark Groombridge, who works on arms control in the State Department. Evertz will address the LCR members on Thursday at the White House.
LCR has supported many controversial moves by the Bush administration, including faith-based and community initiative legislation and the appointment of Attorney General John Ashcroft, who announced last week the first-ever federal hate-crime indictment of a man suspected of killing two lesbian hikers.
The group's political rival, the National Stonewall Democrats (NSD), will hold its biennial convention the following weekend in Cleveland. According to John Marble, NSD media coordinator, the conference will equip attendees with electoral strategies, media training and persuasion techniques geared toward "getting gay-supportive Democrats elected in this cycle." ©2002 PlanetOut. All Rights Reserved.
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Hoax E-mail About HIV Circulates

The Evening Post
4/19/2002
A hoax e-mail claiming that the public is being targeted by HIV- infected needles is circulating in Wellington [New Zealand] -- six months after it began in Australia.
The e-mail, purportedly from a staff member at the Red Cross Blood Service in Melbourne, warns people to check for syringes in cinema seats and automatic teller machines. It then urges readers to pass the e-mail along as a warning to others.
Wellington Medical Officer of Health Margot McLean said the e-mail had been received by staff at Hutt Hospital.
The Evening Post has had calls from people claiming to know of local cinema-goers who "felt a sharp prick when sitting down, and found a syringe with a note attached saying: 'You've been infected with HIV.'"
However, a check of the Internet revealed that the message was a hoax, Ms McLean said.
According to stories posted on the Internet, the hoax was initially revealed in October last year.
The Australian Red Cross website carries the following warning: "If you have received a broadcast e-mail titled 'HIV warning', please note that this is a hoax, and is not an official communication from the Australian Red Cross Blood Service. We regret any inconvenience this may have caused you." (C) 2002 The Evening Post. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved
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Ally McBeal to end

Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa)
4/19/2002
Los Angeles (dpa) - "Ally McBeal", the award winning TV show about a neurotic lawyer averse to romantic commitment, is to end next month after five seasons on the Fox network due to declining ratings over the past two years, according to the Hollywood Reporter Thursday.
Executive producer David Kelley announced the decision on the set Wednesday, causing many in the surprised cast to break out in tears, the report said.
Starring Calista Flockhart, the show was an overnight sensation when it debuted in 1997, and became a a magnet for guest stars such as Robert Downey Jr., Tracey Ullman, Anne Heche, Bruce Willis, Elton John, Sting, Tina Turner and Matthew Perry.
It was reported that the show's Tuesday night slot could be filled with another show penned and produced by Kelley about three young female lawyers.
dpa Copyright 2002 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH
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Sodomy appeal may go to Supreme Court

Ann Rostow, Gay.com / PlanetOut.com Network
Thursday, April 18, 2002 / 02:54 PM
SUMMARY: A challenge to the Texas sodomy law by plaintiffs Tyron Garner and John Lawrence may go to the Supreme Court.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals declined on Wednesday to hear the appeal of a 1998 sodomy case involving two Houston men, arrested in their own home for having sex, so now the case may be headed for the U.S. Supreme Court.
Ruth Harlow, legal director of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, expressed shock at the decision, telling the Gay.com/PlanetOut.com Network that Lambda is "very likely" to appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, but will make a final decision in the coming days.
On Sept. 17, 1998, Tyron Garner and John Lawrence were thrown in jail for 24 hours on a misdemeanor charge of deviate sexual intercourse, after police entered their home while responding to a false burglary tip called in by an angry ex-lover.
From the start, legal experts felt the case seemed tailor-made to contest the 140-year-old Texas sodomy law, which was revised in 1974 to criminalize homosexual sex only.
After several lower court hearings, the case went before the 14th District Court of Appeals, which covers 14 counties around Houston. In June of 2000, a divided three-judge panel struck down the law, ruling that it unconstitutionally discriminated on the basis of sex, violating the state's Equal Rights Amendment.
But the following March, the full court reversed that decision, and Lambda Legal Defense appealed to the Court of Criminal Appeals that April. The Court did nothing for a year, before deciding not to take the case without comment on Wednesday.
The refusal to hear the case puts Texas in a quandary. In the mid-1990s, the state Supreme Court heard a sodomy appeal but avoided taking a stand by ruling that the question of sodomy belonged in the criminal courts of Texas. The nine justices on the Court of Criminal Appeals are the final arbiters of Texas criminal law, and their inaction leaves the constitutional status of the Texas law in limbo.
"We're shocked that they refused to hear the case," said Harlow on Thursday. "It's very sad that they wouldn't even hear our arguments, and it's troubling because we were appealing to the only one of the two high courts that was in a position to review the serious constitutional claims we were making about the statute. And they just said no." Harlow said that Lambda, which is lead counsel in the case, is now looking "very closely" at asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the federal constitutional questions at stake. The high court has not addressed the issue of sodomy laws since it upheld Georgia's sodomy statute in the 5-4 Bowers v. Hardwick ruling, a decision that has haunted gay rights litigation for the last 17 years.
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ACLU files suit in Texas prison rape case

Ann Rostow, Gay.com / PlanetOut.com Network
Thursday, April 18, 2002 / 02:58 PM
SUMMARY: A Texas prison is being sued over treatment of a gay inmate who allegedly endured more than a year of repeated rape and sexual slavery.
A Texas prison and the state's criminal justice department are being sued over treatment of a gay inmate who allegedly endured more than a year of repeated rape and sexual slavery.
The American Civil Liberties Union's National Prison Project filed suit on Thursday against the executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, along with over a dozen officials at the James Allred prison in the North Texas town of Iowa Park. The complaint alleges that Allred's prison staff ignored the plight of Roderick Johnson, 33, a gay inmate who withstood 18 months of rape and sexual slavery during a stint at Allred that began in September of 2000 and ended earlier this month.
Roderick Johnson was on parole, on a charge of breaking and entering, when he bounced a $300 check and was returned to state prison. He spent six months at Huntsville prison, in a special classification that kept him away from the general population. "Safekeeping status" is designed to protect inmates who might be subjected to rape or brutality on account of their sexual orientation or other factors.
When Johnson was transferred to Allred, however, he was denied safekeeping status. "We don't protect punks like you on this farm," one official was alleged to have said. For the next year and a half, he says he was bought and sold for sex by several gangs, and raped or forced to perform sex acts almost daily.
Johnson, a five-year Navy veteran, complained repeatedly and begged for protection. The prison held over half a dozen classification committee hearings on his behalf, each time rejecting his requests.
At Johnson's seventh such hearing, the complaint asserts, one official told him: "I personally believe you like dick. You like this shit. . I don't think you need safekeeping. You need to be placed on high security where you don't have anything but one cellie and then you can get fucked all the time."
Margaret Winter, associate director of the National Prison Project, described Johnson as a man of "great dignity and sweetness, extremely straightforward and understated." When Johnson called the ACLU for help last February, Winter and her colleagues were impressed with his credibility and courage, and appalled by the facts of his case.
In late March, Winter faxed a letter to Gary Johnson, executive director of the Department of Criminal Justice, demanding protection for Roderick Johnson. Gary Johnson had him transferred to a different prison on April 5. A 2001 report by Human Rights Watch, called "No Escape: Male Rape in U.S. Prisons," lists Texas as the worst state in the nation in terms of prison rape.
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Australia: Court OKs lesbian fertility care

Gay.com / PlanetOut.com Network
Thursday, April 18, 2002 / 03:02 PM
SUMMARY: Australia's high court rejected a challenge by the Catholic Church that would have prevented single women and lesbians from having access to in-vitro fertilization treatments.
Australia's high court rejected a challenge by the Catholic Church on Thursday that would have prevented single women and lesbians from having access to in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments.
The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference appealed an earlier federal court decision in the state of Victoria, which ruled that restricting the women's access violated the Federal Sex Discrimination Act.
The seven justices of the High Court of Australia dismissed the case in a unanimous decision, the Associated Press reported.
The case focused on a single 40-year-old woman, Leesa Meldrum, who had been traveling to another state to receive IVF treatments.
After Thursday's ruling, Meldrum told the Australian Broadcasting Corp., "It's not just a victory for me, it's a victory for women all over Australia."
Margaret Tighe of Right to Life Australia was disappointed by the decision.
"I don't believe that children are a commodity, and they should not be treated as manufactured objects to please whoever wants them," Tighe told Kyodo News.
The federal government is expected to resolve the issue in the coming months. Two years ago, Prime Minister John Howard said he would allow states to discriminate against single women and lesbians with regard to IVF access, but the proposal was reportedly never voted on in the Senate.
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Iran: AIDS education program omits gays

Peter Moore, 365Gay.com
Thursday, April 18, 2002 / 03:04 PM
SUMMARY: Iran is launching its first AIDS awareness campaign, but there will be no mention of gay sex, one of the highest risk groups associated with the disease.
Iran is launching its first AIDS awareness campaign, but there will be no mention of gay sex, one of the highest risk groups associated with the disease.
The country is facing a rapid increase in the number of people becoming infected with HIV. It was only the fear of a major epidemic that forced the government to give its approval to any AIDS education program.
The very subject of sex is taboo in Iran. There are no sex education classes in Iranian schools. Homosexuality is forbidden by law.
But, beginning in September, the Education Ministry will begin teaching simple facts about the disease to students.
Bahram Yeganeh, head of the National Committee to Fight AIDS, said he was optimistic.
"This is a new revolution for Iran, a great step forward to contain spread of a disease more dangerous than a bomb."
Elementary school students will be taught only that AIDS is a "bad disease that harms people."
In high schools, AIDS awareness material will be distributed to students. The material describes how people can be infected, including through sexual intercourse, but does not mention male-to-male sex. The emphasis throughout the program is on respecting religious and family values and avoiding sex outside marriage.
It will not be until students reach their senior year in high school that they will even hear the word "condoms." The material will also caution against used hypodermic syringes.
Official government statistics show that in January 2002, there were 3,340 individuals registered in Iran who had tested HIV-positive, and the total number of Iranians infected was estimated at over 19,000. In 1999, the government said there were only 1,800 people infected with HIV.
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Bingham's mother hopes to hear son on Flight 93 tapes

Relatives of passengers and crew killed on September 11 aboard hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 gathered Thursday at a hotel in Princeton, N.J., to listen to cockpit audio tapes from the final minutes of the doomed jetliner.
Alice Hoglan of Los Gatos, Calif., mother of passenger Mark Bingham, told reporters outside the hotel Thursday that she knew the contents of the tape would be disturbing. "Still, I feel compelled to listen," Hoglan said. "I owe it to the memory of Mark to learn all I can. We hope, of course, to hear Mark's voice, but I don't expect it. We hope to gain more information about what happened on Flight 93." Bingham, an openly gay businessman and rugby player from San Francisco, was one of four men who spoke by phone from the plane of taking on the hijackers before the airliner crashed into a field in rural western Pennsylvania. He was named The Advocate's Person of the Year for 2001.
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Gov. Pataki appoints antigay priest to university board

A conservative priest known for his antigay views was appointed Wednesday to the board of trustees of the City University of New York, where opponents fear he will try to force what they see as his conservative agenda on more than 200,000 city students, according to the New York Daily News.
The Rev. John Bonnici has been the head of the New York archdiocese's Family Life/Respect Life office, the Catholic Church's main antiabortion organization in the city, for six years. Bonnici also has come under fire for his anti-gay rights stance. He urged fellow priests to oppose a 1999 Westchester County bill because it banned discrimination based on sexual orientation. Bonnici was appointed to the 15-member policy-making board after Gov. George Pataki nominated him last week. Opponents at CUNY had unsuccessfully urged Pataki to withdraw the nomination.
"He is a totally inappropriate choice for CUNY trustee," warned openly gay state senator Thomas Duane (D-Manhattan), who had lobbied to keep Bonnici out, citing the priest's antiabortion and antigay record and his inexperience with higher education. "His life's work has been to oppose reproductive rights and to oppose the rights of lesbians and gay men." University officials tried to allay critics' fears that Bonnici's appointment will color the policy-making process. "All trustees discuss all issues and vote on all issues," said spokeswoman Rita Rodin. "Each one has an equal voice."
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Transsexual appeals sentence in castration death

A 43-year-old transgendered woman on Wednesday appealed the prison sentence she received after being found guilty of the castration death of her husband last year.
Tammy Felbaum of Butler, Pa., was sentenced in February to 5-1/2 to 11 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter and aggravated assault. Prosecutors said James Felbaum, 40, Tammy's sixth husband, died of a combination of the effects of the painkiller OxyContin and the pain associated with a botched castration, performed by Tammy Felbaum. Relatives testified that Tammy Felbaum had repeatedly threatened to castrate her husband if he ever cheated on her. An ex-husband also testified that Felbaum had helped perform a similar operation on him in 1983. During the December trial, Felbaum testified that she had castrated herself two decades earlier and that James Felbaum attempted to perform the castration on himself before she intervened.
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Amnesiac gay minister wants estate back

A Texas gay minister who claimed to have amnesia when he resurfaced after a 16-year disappearance has gone to court to have his death certificate reversed and his estate returned to him.
Wesley Barrett "Barre" Cox disappeared in 1984 while driving from Lubbock, Tex., to Abilene, Tex., and he was presumed dead after his ransacked car was found off a remote highway. At the time of his disappearance, he was married, had an infant daughter, and was a family minister at MacArthur Park Church of Christ in San Antonio. In December 2000 a congregant recognized him as he delivered a sermon from the pulpit of a Dallas gay church, where he was using the name James Simmons and auditioning to be pastor. Simmons has said he is gay, has amnesia, and does not remember a wife and daughter, who now live in Franklin, Tenn. The suit seeks a ruling that Barre Cox is alive and entitled to the return of his estate as well as any profits from it since he was declared dead and any further relief. Beth Cox, who never remarried after her husband's disappearance, told the Abilene Reporter-News that she used all the money to raise their child and would have to declare bankruptcy if Simmons wins his suit.
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Gay mayoral candidate caught in PAC lawsuit flap

The city attorney's office in Long Beach, Calif., on Wednesday filed a lawsuit alleging election illegalities by a political action committee whose treasurer also serves that role in the campaign of openly gay mayoral candidate Dan Baker.
Baker has said he had no knowledge the PAC was spending money to support his bid to become mayor of California's fifth-largest city. Baker had no comment Wednesday but has pointed out that the PAC treasurer, Kinde Durkee, is treasurer for numerous candidates in other Southern California elections.
City attorney Bob Shannon said he will seek fines of at least $80,000 from the California Concerned Citizens for Neighborhood Empowerment. "It could be more," said Shannon, "if the investigation finds other unlawful activities" by the PAC. "We want to deter this [from] happening in the future."
The suit alleges that the PAC and Durkee violated a Long Beach ordinance that says mayoral candidates and PACs may not solicit or accept donations exceeding $600. The suit also alleges that California Concerned Citizens for Neighborhood Empowerment accepted $1,000 from the Long Beach chapter of the Lambda Democratic Club, of which Baker is a former officer, and $15,000 from the Long Beach Police Officers Association, which endorsed Baker for mayor. If Baker is elected, Long Beach would become the largest city in the country with an openly gay mayor.
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City in Ohio First to Back Gay Benefits

Wednesday, 17 April 2002
CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Oh. -- Nationally renown for its approach to diversity and racial integration programs, Cleveland Heights this week became the first city in the state of Ohio to offer health benefits to same-sex couples.
The Plain Dealer reports, however, that the decision was not without its detractors.Opponents are organizing under a new group called Families First in the hopes a petition putting the decision to a citywide vote will result in its repeal .
"I consider this ordinance an affront on marriage," said Tracie Moore, a 24-year resident and group leader. "A man cannot be a woman and a woman cannot be a man."
Those who support the ordinance say the issue is not about changing gender, but about treating everyone fairly. "It's a justice issue," the Rev. Donald F. King of Hope Lutheran Church said before a recent overflow crowd.
It was an evening of high drama. Some people kneeled on the floor clutching their bibles praying, others stood up and came out to their neighbors. And in this city lauded for its commitment to racial integration, many drew parallels between gay civil rights and the civil rights struggles that rocked the country 30 years ago.
The members of the City Council listened to residents for about 3 hours before voting to approve the measure, just one vote shy of a unanimous endorsement.
Jimmie Hicks was the only council member to vote against the ordinance claiming it was too expensive, but Mayor Ed Kelley said he expects no more than a half a dozen people to enroll for the benefit.
For supporters, it was Rev. King who sought to dampen so much of the apocalyptic hysteria coming from conservatives. The preacher stacked his derision against arguments that claimed the measure would "promote" homosexuality. Said the Rev. King: "We have to have a lot more faith in heterosexuality."
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Orlando Moving to Adopt Anti-Bias Bill

Wednesday, 17 April 2002
ORLANDO -- A standing-room-only crowd of about 300 turned attended the Human Relations Board meeting at Orlando's City Hall on Tuesday to discuss adding gay people to Orlando's anti-bias ordinance.
"We're optimistic," supporter Debbie Simmons told the Orlando Sentinel on Wednesday. "Last night went really well, and the opposition wasn't nearly as organized as they have been in the past."
The last gay-related initiative to play out before Orlando's City Council dealt with putting up rainbow flags on lampposts in honor of National Gay Pride Month, June 1998. The council, under threat of lawsuit, approved the request, while making clear they would have rejected it if they could have.
Several of the flags were vandalized and city rules were later changed to prevent them from flying in the future. "We won the battle but lost the fight, Simmons said, noting memories of the clash still pained local residents who call the resort home. "We heard such nasty, venomous opinions..." she said.
Which is why the proposed law is so encouraging. It offers opportunity for healing and an affirmation of where Orlando is heading as a community. If approved, the policy would extend legal protections in housing, the workplace and public accommodations to gay and lesbian city residents.
The Human Relations Board is expected to issue a decision about the ordinance in May. Tampa, Miami and St. Petersburg are the only other Florida cities that have anti-bias laws similar to the one Orlando has proposed. "Statistically, Americans have shown they really support this kind of nondiscrimination policy," Simmons said. "We want Orlando to put it in writing."
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Gays show they know just how to get job done

Mike Thomas
April 19, 2002
Orlando will pass an ordinance providing job and housing protection to gays. Any doubt was erased at the public meeting this week before the Human Relations Board.
The gays won a solid victory. They had a big turnout, and they were organized, well-spoken and, most of all, well-behaved. That's no small feat at such a potentially explosive public hearing.
The opposition, meanwhile, self-destructed. Most simply did not grasp the concept of separation of church and state, even people who should have known better.
"As a minister I come on the side of God," said Jim Perry, once a member of the board. "This lifestyle is sin. Are we legislating and legalizing sin?"
Then came speaker Frank Vassell, who claimed the ordinance would condone bestiality.
"We ought to obey God rather than man," he said.
These people were sabotaging their own cause. They put any council members inclined to vote against the ordinance in an awkward position. By doing so, they would appear to be endorsing arguments that either are legally invalid or absurd.
You can't run a government by cherry-picking quotes from the Old Testament. We'd end up stoning women to death on Orange Avenue.
Even David Caton from the Florida Family Association grasped this fact.
Perhaps the state's leading homophobe, Caton was smart enough to leave religion out of his presentation.
He produced something a politician could base a vote on: Documentation that indicated that most gay discrimination complaints are groundless.
The only other legitimate argument came from Rosa Bailey, who said gays had not proved "a demonstrable pattern of discrimination" as had blacks in the 1960s.
This is a sore spot in the gay-rights movement.
While many black leaders embrace the cause, the sentiment is by no means universal in the black community. Many blacks see gay rights as affluent white men piggy-backing their cause on the hard-fought victories of poor blacks who were beaten, lynched, kicked out of restaurants and mauled by police dogs.
Most blacks in Tampa were on the same side as the Ku Klux Klan in supporting a 1992 referendum that overturned the city's gay-rights ordinance.
Such arguments could provide cover for politicians opposing the ordinance. But they were drowned out by religious bigotry.
The gays, meanwhile, stayed on target.
They tried to demonstrate a need for the ordinance by recounting cases of job discrimination.
And as if recognizing that they needed more than anecdotal evidence, they backed it up with an emotional appeal. Simply put, they said many gays live in fear of being outed in the workplace. They can't put pictures of partners on their desk. They can't bring partners to work-sponsored events.
They can't go to gay events or back gay causes for fear it will get back to the boss. Some feared coming to this meeting.
That's not right for people who have done so much for Orlando, revitalizing neighborhoods and boosting property-tax revenues, among other things.
Not one of them attacked or condemned the other side.
It was an impressive presentation and sealed victory for their ordinance.
Mike Thomas can be reached at 407-420-5525 or mthomas@orlandosentinel.com . Copyright © 2002, Orlando Sentinel
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Archbishop in Scotland Slams Gay Parents

Wednesday, 17 April 2002
GLASGOW, Scotland -- A high ranking official of the Catholic Church in Scotland was condemned by civil rights groups for attacking gay couples seeking adoption rights, the Glasgow Daily Record reports.
Archbishop Mario Conti professed to speak for the "Christian view" that children were best brought up by parents whose relationship would not marred by the "selfish desires of adults," -- presumably referring to non-procreative sex and other gay misdeeds.
The Archbishop made his comments following the court settlement of two high-profile cases involving gay parents who were petitioning for the right to adopt.
Said the Archbishop: "It becomes difficult to understand how granting parental rights to same-sex 'parents' can be in the best long-term interests of any child.
"Leaving aside the moral implications of same-sex relationships, the fact remains that such arrangements are far from society's norm and are likely to remain so.
"As such, any child growing up with two 'mothers' or two 'fathers' will unwittingly enter a social and psychological minefield entirely of their guardians' making... The conflicts, pressures and potential pain of such situations is incalculable."
Tim Hopkins, of the Lesbian and Gay Equality Network, said the comments were based entirely on Conti's own highly subjective biases and called his comments "extremely disappointing." "I would like to hear Mario Conti speaking about poor parents who beat and abuse their children, whether married or unmarried, heterosexual or homosexual. They are the problem, not loving parents, who should be supported to do a good job bringing up children," he said.
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Stop Scapegoating Gay Priests Vatican Told

by Paul Johnson
365Gay.com International News Editor
(April 19, Washington) The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has issued a harsh message to the Roman Catholic Church.
NGLTF executive director Lorri L. Jean accused the church, Thursday, of scapegoating gay priests and called the cover up of child sex abuse in the church "appalling."
Jean said that the NGLTF deplores all sexual abuse of children, including that by Roman Catholic priests.
In a statement to the media, she said "Children who have been victimized deserve a swift, appropriate and supportive response, and steps must be taken by impacted institutions to protect children from further abuse."
American church leaders have been summoned to the Vatican as the crisis continues to escalate.
Thursday, a St Louis man launched a suit against the Vatican, a former bishop and four dioceses accusing them of hiding the transgressions of a "web of predator priests" whose sexual misconduct spans at least three decades.
The lawsuit is the third alleging abuse by ex-bishop Anthony O'Connell while he served as rector of a church school in Hannibal, Mo. It is the second recent suit accusing Catholic leaders of racketeering.
And, in an extraordinary move, the archbishop and chancellor of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati were summoned Thursday to appear before a grand jury investigating child abuse allegations.
Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk was later excused from testifying but may be required to appear later before the grand jury, according to Hamilton County Prosecutor Michael Allen.
Throughout the crisis the church has blamed "homosexual priests" and has begun a pogrom to purge the church of gay clerics.
"The system-wide cover-up by the Roman Catholic hierarchy is appalling, as are efforts to shift attention from the true nature of this child sexual abuse scandal by scapegoating homosexuality and gay priests. Homosexuality is not the problem. Child abuse is the problem, Jean said. Studies have shown that more than 95 percent of the perpetrators of child sexual abuse are heterosexual men.
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Hate Crimes Against Gays Down In US

by Beth Shapiro
365Gay.com Newscenter, in New York
(April 19, New York) The latest statistics on hate crimes against gays and lesbians show a drop of more than 10 percent last year across the US.
In its annual report on violence against the GLBT community, the Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project in New York City includes everything from verbal harassment to murder.
Clarence Patton, a researcher with the Anti-Violence Project said the data was compiled by nonprofit groups in 12 states.
The 12 groups monitor anti-gay attacks because because police often ignore them.
Jeff Montgomery, executive director of the Detroit-based Triangle Foundation, which contributed data to the report said: "If somebody's attacked and beaten up, police show up and want to write it up as a simple assault. They don't want to hear, 'I was coming out of this club.' "
However, Patton cautioned that some of the groups were hamstrung in their attempts to collect data. Many of the groups had lost state and private grants last year. Still Patton was optimistic about the quality of the report, saying that the decrease appears to coincide with long-term, nationwide drops in many types of crime.
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Study Shows U Georgia Rife With Homophobia


by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
(April 19, Atlanta) A study on gay students at the University of Georgia has shown that the school must work harder to foster ''respect and understanding'' for its GLBT students.
The report said that negative remarks, ostracism and fear of physical violence are fairly common experiences for gay students at the university.
Nine of 10 respondents reported hearing anti-gay jokes, three of every five respondents knew someone who had been shunned because of their sexual orientation and almost one in 10 respondents had experienced property destruction.
The study was released as part of the university's Diversity Awareness Week and was conducted over the last 10 months by the ad hoc Campus Climate Research Group.
The group, made up of faculty, staff and students, collected data on safety and acceptance issues for gay students at the suggestion of the university's associate provost for institutional diversity.
Among the findings, the survey said nearly one in two respondents had experienced prejudice somewhere on campus and more than one in four did not feel UGA was a safe place.
Bob Hill, an assistant adult education professor who chaired the study said it was the first of its kind at UGA.
''Students felt there were supportive organizations; some faculty members were supportive,'' Hill said. However, he said ''some faculty allowed anti-gay behaviour and jokes.'' The researchers recommend the university expand its diversity office to include a committee focusing on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered issues. They also want more sensitivity training for police, administrators and student leaders, along with a ''safe space'' program that students can visit for social and educational programs.
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Gay Couple Ordered To Shut Down Website Attacking Neighbours

by Jean-Pierre O'Brien
365Gay.com Newscenter in Montreal
(April 19, Montreal) The Montreal gay couple who won a human rights suit against their neighbours over allegations of homophobia have been ordered to shut down their website and stop gossiping about one of the neighbours.
Greg Inglis, is seeking $44,000 in libel damages from the couple, Theo Wouters and Roger Thibault.
Claiming that he is being defamed, Inglis asked Quebec Superior Court to shut downWouters and Thibault's web site, www.roger-theo.com.
Inglis said the Web site depicts him as "a homophobic, aggressive and violent person," and as "a lazy and irresponsible person who does not take care of his family, and who spends entire weekends drinking beer."
He said this is "totally false, clearly defamatory and injurious," and constitutes a violation of his right to privacy.
Justice Kevin Downs granted a temporary gag order and postponed the hearing until April 26.
His ruling forbids Wouters and Thibault to "express, mention, circulate, by any means or in any form ... anything concerning the applicant."
Inglis and another Pointe Claire man, Robert Walker, have until midnight tonight to pay the $36,000 in damages to Wouters and Thibault that the Human Rights Commission recommended they pay. The commission found that Inglis and Walker had harassed them because of their sexual orientation.
The commission heard that the feud between the neighbours had grown so bad that at one point one of them attempted run the couple down with a car.
If the amount isn't paid, the case can be taken to the Human Rights Tribunal, a division of Quebec Court which has the power of enforcement.
This week's defamation suit is the second lawsuit Inglis has filed against Wouters and Thibault this month. In a separate action, Inglis and his wife filed a $131,200 suit against the couple, the TVA television network and journalist Sophie Thibault over a March 25 television broadcast in which Inglis says his reputation was maligned and his right to privacy violated.
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TG Demo Disrupts Supermarket Opening

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
(April 19, New Orleans) It was the newest edition of the ultra-modern grocery superstore, situated in a prime location near one of the nation's biggest tourist draws, in a city that knows how to party.
But it wasn't a typical supermarket grand opening. Transgender groups, gay and lesbian organizations, straight supporters, and even the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) all joined in for a protest of the new Winn-Dixie Marketplace located within blocks of New Orleans' French Quarter.
The protest, begun even before the regional supermarket chain had opened the doors at its newest location, was in response to what the nation's transgender community considers an unfair termination. Here at a store opening in a city renowned for its visible crossdressing during Mardi Gras, Halloween and other celebrations throughout the year, the assembled were protesting a supermarket chain that fired someone for wearing opposite-sex clothing away from work.
Peter Oiler was an employee of the Winn-Dixie regional distribution centre in Harahan, just outside of New Orleans, for over 20 years. He was fired January 5, 2000, after management discovered he crossdressed on his free time.
The protest was indicative of the wide range of groups supporting Oiler. The ACLU, the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC), Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians & Gays (PFLAG) of New Orleans, the Louisiana Lesbian and Gay Political Action Coalition (LAGPAC), the Gulf Gender Alliance (GGA), and both the Lambda Center and the Spectrum Alliance of Baton Rouge were all out in support of the effort. Winn-Dixie has more than 1,100 stores in 14 states and the Bahamas.
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Oregon City To Open Gay Partner Registry

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
(April 19, Eugene, OR) Eugene, Oregon is moving towards the creation of a partnership union registry.
The ordinance plan is part of a broader revision of the city's human rights ordinance that is expected to include a clause extending anti-discrimination protections to transsexual people to allow those who face discrimination - based on gender identity, sexual orientation or income source, to file a private lawsuit founded on the ordinance.
The Human Rights Commission has mapped out a six-month ordinance adoption process - with at least four public hearings - culminating with a City Council vote Oct. 28.
The registry would offer gay and lesbian couples, as well as unmarried heterosexuals, some of the benefits married couples take for granted, supporters say.
Those include the ability to visit a partner in the hospital or in jail, standing to sue in a case of wrongful death of a partner, eligibility for family rates at health clubs - and the surety of eventually being laid to rest alongside one's partner in the family plot.
Couples who want to register would go to the same county office where marriage certificates are issued. For a $60 fee they would receive certificate of their union bearing the county seal.
Couples seeking to undo their domestic partnership later can go back to the office and pay $25 for the termination. A similar registry is already up and running in Portland, Oregon.
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Accused Axe Woman Talks Of Lover's Gay Sex

for Gay.com UK
19 April 2002
THE blonde accused of murdering tycoon Danny O'Brien with an axe said she saw her lover take part in a gay sex act.
Ex-escort girl Janet Charlton, 36, told Karen Lewis about their kinky sex life in a pub which included wife-swapping parties. Mrs Lewis's husband was speaking to Mr O'Brien in the other bar of the pub.
Charlton told Lewis how she had seen O'Brien take part in a gay sex act in a club.
O'Brien had suggested to Mrs Lewis that he wanted to work from home and set up a gay internet site.
Charlton denies murder, but has admitted to killing O'Brien at their mansion near Wakefield. She claims she was provoked and acted in self-defence, feareing for the safety of herself and children.
A sex drug called Liquid Gold was found in the mansion after the killing. Forensic expert Professor Robert Forrest said it was an isobutal nitrate sniffed from a bottle to enhance sexual performance. The trial continues.
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Killer In Lesbian Dog Maul Case Presses For Appeal

for Gay.com UK
18 April 2002
Marjorie Knoller, convicted in the dog mauling death of lesbian Diane Whipple, has hired new lawyers and is pushing for an appeal.
Knoller was convicted of second-degree murder. She and her husband Robert Noel, 60, were also found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, and of being the owner of a mischievous animal which caused death.
Whipple was mauled to death by two dogs belonging to Knoller and Noel in the corridor of her apartment block building in San Francisco.
Knoller is facing a prison term from between 15 years and life.
A San Francisco judge has ordered sentencing for the pair delayed until June 7, and granted a request from Knoller to hire San Francisco lawyer Dennis Riordan.
Superior Court Judge James Warren called the guilty verdicts "unprecedented". It was the first time in California that the owner of a dog had been convicted of murder.
The judge said he will rule before June 7 if there will be a new trial.
Warren accepted Knoller's argument that questioned the competence of her lawyer, Nedra Ruiz, who told reporters outside court: "I have to think that perhaps my mistakes contributed to this terrible, terrible unjust verdict." Ruiz's court antics offended many of the jurors. During the trial she was seen to crawl around the courtroom floor mimicking the dogs.
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Transsexual Gets Prison For Uncle's Death

for Gay.com UK
18 April 2002
A transsexual from Detroit in the US convicted of murdering a relative to get money for a sex change operation has been sentenced to up to 40 years in prison.
Vonlee Nicole Titlow, previously known as Harry Titlow, was found guilty on two counts of second-degree murder for the death of 74-year-old Donald Rogers. Detectives said Rogers was suffocated in August 2000. Titlow killed her uncle to get money to pay for a sex change, investigators said.
Authorities initially thought that Rogers died of natural causes, but family members later came forward with suspicions of foul play and an immediate investigation was launched.
Titlow pleaded guilty to manslaughter in October, then changed her mind. Part of the plea agreement involved Titlow testifying against her aunt, Billie Jean Rogers, 62, who was charged with first-degree murder in her husband's death.
Medical examiners said Rogers was force fed vodka and then smothered when he passed out. He was then suffocated with a pillow.
Prosecutors were later able to convict Titlow of second-degree murder. Investigators said that after the murder, Titlow allegedly received at least $100,000 from Rogers' bank account. Titlow, it is alleged, wanted the money to complete her sex-change operation.
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Dr Dre Loves 'Gay Eminem' Song

April 17, 2002, World Entertainment News Network
Hip-hop king DR DRE is amused by the PET SHOP BOYS' tune about EMINEM having a homosexual fling.
The KEEP THEIR HEADS RINGIN' rapper has listened to THE NIGHT I FELL IN LOVE, about a boy who has a one night stand with a white rapper, generally believed to be the controversial STAN hitmaker.
Dre says, "Oh my God. I hope they can stand the backlash. That's funny as hell."
But frontman NEIL TENNANT wants to clarify he is not ridiculing the Detroit rapper.
Neil says, "I thought it would be quite interesting to take that method and just to imagine a scene where a boy meets a famous rap star backstage at his concert and is surprised to discover he's gay and ends up sleeping with him.
"Just to present rap in this homosexual context. I mean, there obviously are gay rap stars." (c) 2002 World Entertainment News Network
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Boston cardinal in U.S. after secret meet with Pope on sex scandal

April 17, 2002, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa)
Boston Cardinal Bernard Law has returned to the U.S. after a secret meeting with the pope in Rome, where he said he discussed the impact of sexual abuse cases on the church, media reports said Wednesday.
The meeting appeared to set the tone for next week's gathering of all U.S. cardinals in Rome, summoned by Pope John Paul II to account for a widening child sex scandal involving Catholic Church officials.
The calls for Law's resignation have grown louder with the latest revelations that yet another priest under his administration - Father Paul Shanley - was moved from parish to parish, as far away as California, to escape complaints about sexual abuse from parents.
Shanley, it has been reported, was open enough about his sexual leanings to attend the founding of the North American Man-Boy Love Association, an infamous and shadowy homosexual group that advocated sex with boys, and later invested in a California resort for homosexuals that allowed sex at poolside.
In a statement after returning from Rome, Law said: "The focus of my meetings was the impact of the Shanley and other sexual abuse cases upon public opinion in general and specifically upon the members of the archdiocese. The fact that my resignation has been proposed as necessary was part of my presentation."
Law, who has resisted calls from Catholics, the public and local newspapers to step aside, also said the pope and Vatican were "very conscious of the gravity of the situation".
The Boston cases, revealed through investigation by the daily Boston Globe newspaper, have torched a wildfire of similar revelations across the country as other dioceses have also dismissed dozens of priests. There are currently investigations pending into allegations that at least 1,000 Catholic priests molested minors, the Globe reported.
The ripple effect has also lapped abroad, with the head of Mexico's Catholic church earlier this week announcing that any priest involved in sexual abuse will be turned over to civilian authorities - contradicting earlier remarks by some Mexican bishops that cases of sexual abuse and paedophilia would only be handled secretly by the church.
In Ireland, Cardinal Desmond Connell apologised on Saturday for the inadequate way Roman Catholic authorities had dealt with cases of sexual abuse of children by clerics, particularly in his own archdiocese of Dublin. There have also been public calls for his resignation.
Putting additional pressure on the Vatican on the celibacy issue have been calls from Spain and from the International Federation of Married Catholic Priests for the requirement of chastity to be lifted. Roughly 100,000 priests were members of the federation in 33 countries. Copyright 2002 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH
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Catholic Board Discrimination in Durham the Tip of the Iceberg

April 18, 2002, Canada NewsWire
The recent decision by the Durham District Roman Catholic School Board to refuse permission for a gay student to attend his prom with his same-sex partner raises a whole series of questions with respect to public tax dollars being used to fund religious and private schools.
If an Ontario public school board had made such a decision, it would be overturned immediately. Ontario's public school boards are subject to all Ontario laws including the Charter of Rights and the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. There is significant legal precedent already established that would provide protection to this student and his wishes. However, public funding to Roman Catholic school boards and the recent tax credits to private independent and religious schools provides specific exemptions for these systems from the same Ontario laws.
Whether the current situation is permitted by these exemptions will be determined by the courts. However, the real question this issue raises is why should any institution that receives public tax dollars be allowed to ignore basic rights and protections afforded to all citizens of Ontario? Why should there be one set of laws for those receiving public tax dollars in public schools and another set of laws for those in Roman Catholic or other religious, private or independent schools?
This current issue is just the most recent example in a long line of double standards which allows Catholic and private schools to discriminate in hiring, student enrolment and curriculum such as removing evolution from science courses. Each of these should raise concerns about funding competing education systems from the public purse.
Currently, Ontario directly funds English public schools, English Catholic schools, French public schools and French Catholic schools directly through four different school board systems. The tax credit, introduced by the Conservative government, to private and independent schools indirectly funds a competing fifth system.
Both Quebec and Newfoundland-Labrador have recently addressed this problem by removing archaic constitutional arrangements. They have separated church and state when it comes to public funding of education. However, in Ontario, separating church and state has become an exercise in how the church can separate public tax dollars from the coffers of the state.
Public education is designed to provide equal opportunity and equal access for all students in Ontario. You can not provide equality by funding five competing systems that are not all subject to the same laws including the Charter of Rights.
The challenge for Ernie Eves, the new Premier, and his Education Minister, Elizabeth Witmer, will be to show that this government is committed to public education in Ontario. They could do this by immediately repealing the tax credit for the fifth competing private system and by following the example of Quebec and Newfoundland-Labrador and create a public education system in Ontario that separates once and for all, church and state.
The OSSTF Student Success Plan calls on all political parties to support an Education is a Right Act that forces all future governments to honour the principles of public education that guarantees access, opportunity, achievement and value for all students. Ontarians need a concrete commitment from the Eves government to preserve and protect public education.
OSSTF/FEESO, founded in 1919, has 50,000 members across Ontario. They include public secondary school teachers, occasional teachers, teaching assistants, psychologists, secretaries, speech-language pathologists, social workers, plant support personnel, attendance counsellors, and many others in education. Copyright (C) 2002 CNW, All Rights Reserved
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Anti-Gay Nazi Cover-Up Exposed

Danish and British authorities helped a Nazi war criminal who experimented on gay concentration camp prisoners escape from prosecution, according to a new book published in Denmark.
The SS doctor Carl Peter Vaernet experimented on gay concentration camp prisoners in a bid to eradicate their homosexuality. Vaernet worked for the SS at Buchenwald on the personal authority of Gestapo chief Heinrich Himmler.
Birger Danielsen, who co-authored the book, accused the Danish government of covering-up Vaernet's crimes against humanity for over 50 years. The allegations are based on interviews with survivors and research into primary documentary sources released by the Danish government.
Danielsen said that Vaernet was detained at the Alsgade Skole POW detention centre in Copenhagen in 1945. He alleged that, unlike other prisoners, Vaernet was allowed to communicate with the outside world, including with business contacts with companies including DuPont, who were working to market his hormone therapies worldwide. These included treatments to "cure" homosexuality.
The author said in a statement: "The evidence clearly indicates that Carl Vaernet succeeded in convincing the British military authorities, as well as Danish police officers, that his hormone therapies were morally justifiable and could be an international success. He therefore received special, privileged treatment in the POW camp."
Vaernet escaped to South America when the war ended and is believed to have died in obscurity.
Although war crimes investigators knew of Vaernet's activities in 1947, the true extent of Vaernet's war crimes were not publicly revealed until 1999 when the Danish government released a statement, after pressure from gay rights activists including Peter Tatchell and OutRage!, in which it said that it did not want to launch an investigation in to Vaernet's crimes.
Danish authorities then made public a number of documents so that external researchers could piece together Vaernet's history. © 1999, 2001 Rainbow Network. All Rights Reserved. Partnered with New Media Spark.
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Irish Equality Legislation Under Fire

An Irish politician has criticised new equalities guidelines which force him to send consultation documents to "lesbians in Lenadoon".
Peter Robinson, the Stormont Regional Development Minister, launched an attack on legislation which forces him to issue consultation documents at great cost. He told the Northern Ireland Assembly that nearly £90,000 has been spent on consultation in the last three years.
Assembly member Seamus Close referred to plans to suspend a railway line, which involved sending a leaflet to 500 individuals and groups, including the Rainbow Project, Queer Space, several women's groups that shared the same address and the Northern Ireland Birdwatchers Association.
Close said: "We are rapidly consulting ourselves to death in a sea of paperwork. Some of these organisations I would imagine don't give a toss about the Knockmore railway line. They probably are not aware of where it is."
He added: "Sending this brochure out to such organisations and individuals could be construed as a waste of taxpayers' money."
Robinson said he had not supported the Good Friday Agreement and the equality agenda it contained.
He said: "The reality is that I don't think that there is anything I gain from hearing the views of lesbians in Lenadoon about the Antrim Knockmore line."
Robinson added: "I would far rather be having the money going to hip replacements or dealing with more books in the schools." © 1999, 2001 Rainbow Network. All Rights Reserved. Partnered with New Media Spark.
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Gay activist rallies voters with anger

BY EMILY ROACH
keysnews.com
ROB O'NEAL/The Citizen
Gubernatorial candidate Bob Kunst, right, chats with George Mauer at the Holiday Inn Beachside.
Oral Majority leader and longtime activist Bob Kunst brought his gubernatorial campaign to Key West this week, in what he called his 303rd protest since the election of President George W. Bush.
A goatee, with more gray than his hair, a briefly unfurled orange banner -- "Bush stole the election" -- and a couple of buttons were the only visible signs of the activist, who wore a discreet red-and-blue-striped shirt and blue pants.
But his words were firm and placed blame with former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, also a Democratic candidate for governor, and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for the "stolen" election of President Bush, who won on a controversial decision in Florida. He called Reno a "disaster" and said fellow governor's candidate Bill McBride was just a "Democratic version of Jeb."
The crowd that gathered at the Holiday Inn Beachside was a small, but core, group of Key West and Lower Keys Democrats.
Kunst's campaign focuses on the President Bush election and the role Florida politicians had in it, with what Kunst calls the cooperation of Florida Democrats.
"Why are you so damn passive? Why aren't you fighting back?" said Kunst, whose anger sparked murmurs of agreement and some words of support from the group. "I'm the only one offering answers."
Kunst said the Democrats must remind voters of their anger so they will return to the polls and make different decisions, rather than let the Republican Bush brothers win again.
He then turned his thoughts to the Keys..
Concerning the Area of Critical State Concern, he said, "I'm not pro-development" and pointed out that the Keys are not the only environmentally sensitive area of Florida that needs special protection.
On tourism, The three-time Fantasy Fest participant said, "It's a great party, but we need more of it."
He also called for repeal of many sales tax exemptions, to give the state access to more revenues, rather than being hamstrung when tourism is hurt by terrorist attacks and a bad economy. Repealing his list of exemptions, he said, would give the state $23 billion to put into education, subsidized medicine for the elderly and other programs being cut by Republicans.
On Cuba, Kunst called for free travel to the neighboring communist island, elimination of the Cuban Adjustment Act and the embargo.
"That way we can take down Castro," he said.
And as to the future of the Keys, he said, "A strong economy depends on repeal of Florida's right-to-work laws, which hinder workers' involvement in unions. Places like the Keys rely on tourism, he added, but also need balance to remain what they are.
"We have to have revenue. But there are other sources," he said. "We also need quietness, relaxation. There are many special paces in Florida."
Kunst also champions AIDS assistance programs, gay adoptions and other issues that reflect his civil rights and gay rights background.
"I'm grassroots. I'm a native," said the 59-year-old, who was born and still lives in Miami Beach. "I'm a lover of Florida." eroach@keysnews.com
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The Space Coast Eagle, Cocoa Beach, Fl. www.saloonmen.com
GLBT NEWZ archives www.groups.yahoo.com/group/glbtnewz
Oue e-mail is cyberqueer@hotmail.com
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