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Saturday, April 27, 2002

GLBT NEWZ 04/27/02 Information is power!

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NEWS from the Human Rights Campaign

919 18th Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20006
Friday, April 26, 2002
Contact: David M. Smith
Phone: (202) 216-1547
Pager: (800) 386-5996
Contact: Wayne R. Besen
Phone: (202) 216-1580
Pager: (800) 386-5997
Ordinances in New York and Tacoma, Wash., Part of Growing Trend Recognizing
Transgender Rights, Says HRC
WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign today praised two cities for enacting
ordinances prohibiting discrimination against transgender citizens. The
actions of New York City and Tacoma, Wash., are part of a growing trend
where state and local governments increasingly recognize the need to address
discrimination based on gender identity, says HRC.
"We fully support and appreciate the GLBT leaders and organizations
in these cities and around the country who have done outstanding work in
educating their elected officials on what it means to be a transgender
person in America today," said Seth Kilbourn, HRC's national field director.
"That education is the basis for these cities taking action and is the key
to future progress on eliminating all forms of discrimination."
In New York City, the City Council passed a bill that extends to
transgender people protections against discrimination in employment, housing
and public accommodations. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has pledged to sign it
into law. According to the New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy,
up to 75 percent of the state's transgender citizens reside in New York
In Tacoma, Wash., the City Council voted 8-1 to prohibit
discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Tacoma now
joins more than 40 municipalities, the District of Columbia and two states,
Minnesota and Rhode Island, with laws protecting transgender citizens from
discrimination. Corporate America is also recognizing the need of protecting
its transgender employees. According to HRC WorkNet, which tracks GLBT
issues in corporate America, 91 private companies include gender identity in
their nondiscrimination policies.
For a list of municipalities and states with anti-discrimination laws
protecting transgender Americans visit:
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.

Transsexual plans Supreme Court appeal

Ann Rostow, / Network
Friday, April 26, 2002 / 03:52 PM
SUMMARY: A lawyer for transsexual J'Noel Gardiner promised to appeal a Kansas ruling against her estate case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Attorney Sanford P. Krigel announced Wednesday that he will appeal a Kansas transsexual marriage case to the U.S. Supreme Court, on behalf of his client, J'Noel Gardiner.
Gardiner, 44, underwent gender reassignment surgery in1994 and married Marshall Gardiner in September of 1998. Marshall Gardiner died without a will the following August, and under normal circumstances, Kansas law dictates that his wife would have received at least half of his estate.
But J'Noel's stepson, Joe Gardiner, challenged the validity of the marriage based on J'Noel's male birth gender. After several rounds in the lower courts, the case went to the Kansas Supreme Court late last year.
On March 15, the justices reversed a three-judge state appellate panel, ruling that gender is legally fixed at birth. In a unanimous opinion, the state Supreme Court threw out Gardiner's marriage based on Kansas's ban on same-sex unions, and awarded Marshall Gardiner's entire $2.5 million estate to his son.
Krigel, who has 90 days from the verdict to appeal, told the Kansas City Star that he will ask the nation's high court to reverse the Kansas justices based on Article IV of the U.S. Constitution, the Full Faith and Credit Clause.
J'Noel Gardiner was issued a new birth certificate in Wisconsin through a court order in 1994. The Full Faith and Credit Clause requires all states to honor the "public acts, records and judicial proceedings of every other state," and although the clause has not been subjected to as much court analysis over the years as have other constitutional principles, the guarantee of Full Faith and Credit has never been breached in the case of a "judicial proceeding."
It is not clear, however, whether Gardiner's court order can be considered a legal change of sex in Wisconsin, or simply a change in paperwork to reflect her sex reassignment. The fact that Gardiner has changed her sex was not disputed by the Kansas court. Attorney Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights says it's unlikely that the high court will accept the Gardiner appeal, given that the law in the area of transsexual marriages is relatively new. In late 2000, the justices declined to review the Texas case of transsexual Christie Lee Littleton, who was barred from filing a wrongful death suit against her late husband's doctors on the grounds that her marriage was void.

Man pleads innocent in '96 hiker deaths / Network
Friday, April 26, 2002 / 04:01 PM
SUMMARY: The man charged with the 1996 killing of two lesbian hikers in a federal park pleaded innocent in a court hearing on Thursday.
The man charged with the 1996 killing of two lesbian hikers in a federal park pleaded innocent in a court hearing on Thursday.
Darrell David Rice, 34, is charged with four counts of capital murder in the slayings of Julianne Williams and Laura Winans, who were found with slashed throats at a remote campsite in the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.
When Rice was charged earlier this month, Attorney General John Ashcroft said he would seek hate crimes penalties because the suspected killer "intentionally selected his victims because of his hatred of women and homosexuals."
Court documents indicate that Rice told investigators that Williams and Winans "deserved to die because they were lesbian."
Ashcroft also said that Rice, if convicted, could face the death penalty. This case marks the first time that the limited 1994 Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement Act has been applied to a case of violence based on sexual orientation. The slayings qualify for hate crime penalties, in part, because they occurred in a national park.

New York artist Frank Moore dies at 48 / Network
Friday, April 26, 2002 / 04:04 PM
SUMMARY: Frank Moore, a painter and AIDS activist who helped create the red ribbon symbol for AIDS awareness, died of complications from AIDS.
Frank Moore, a painter and AIDS activist who helped create the red ribbon design that became an international symbol for AIDS awareness, died of complications from AIDS on Sunday, April 21, at a hospital in Manhattan. He was 48 years old.
Moore was one of the first members of Visual AIDS, and he was instrumental in forming the group's Red Ribbon Project in 1990, according to the New York Times. The project launched the overlapping red ribbon, which was worn on lapels and has become recognizable worldwide as a representation of the struggle against AIDS.
Moore's paintings, several of which were featured in New York's Whitney Biennial in 1995, reportedly mix art and politics, and many focus on themes of bioethics or environmental decay.
His work is part of collections in the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the New York Public Library. A monograph of his work will be published next month by Twin Palms Press, and an exhibit of his work will open in June at the Orlando Museum of Art. Born in 1953, Moore studied art at Yale University and the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. He is survived by his partner Patrick Orton, of New York, and several relatives.

Gay Methodist pastor won't be suspended

A United Methodist bishop in Seattle says he will not suspend an openly gay pastor after the denomination's supreme court said it lacks authority to mandate a suspension. The nine-member judicial council decided Thursday that it erred last fall when it held that bishops must suspend pastors during disciplinary review, spokeswoman Joretta Purdue said. That decision belongs to bishops alone, the council ruled. Even if he is not suspended, the Rev. Mark Edward Williams still could be stripped of his appointment to the Woodland Park United Methodist Church in Seattle as a result of disciplinary proceedings.
The United Methodist Church, the nation's third-largest denomination with 8.4 million U.S. members, forbids gay men and lesbians from being pastors. But pastors cannot be removed without due process, according to the Methodist Book of Discipline, and due process includes a paid suspension. Bishop Elias Galvan of Seattle said Thursday he would not suspend Williams. Under rules laid down in the Methodist Book of Discipline, pastors should be suspended when their conduct affects the life of the congregation, the pastor's own life, or the lives of those around him, Galvan said. "I don't see at the present time that any of those situations have happened," he said. Galvan sought judicial guidance last fall on two church laws that seem to conflict in Williams's case--one that forbids ordination of gay men and lesbians and the other requiring that all pastors in good standing receive appointments. Williams's parishioners at the 168-member church want to keep him. He disclosed his sexual orientation last June at the Methodists' Pacific Northwest Annual Conference. Williams still faces a character review by the national conference's Committee on Investigations. The committee could order a trial before a bishop and a jury of Northwest pastors, Galvan said. The jury could decide that Williams should be removed from the clergy, he said, noting that he would not be the presiding bishop.

Victory Fund endorses Rosie's brother

The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, which is dedicated to helping openly gay and lesbian candidates be elected to public office, announced Friday that it is endorsing Daniel O'Donnell, the out gay brother of lesbian talk-show host Rosie O'Donnell, in his campaign to represent Manhattan's upper west side in the New York state assembly.
"We're supporting many exciting candidates in 2002, and O'Donnell is a great addition to the slate," said Victory Fund executive director Brian Bond. "Danny O'Donnell is one of a growing number of openly gay or lesbian candidates running for office, and he's got a strong chance at the seat. But even in a progressive state like New York, winning office can be a challenge for a gay candidate." In addition to O'Donnell, the Victory Fund announced this week endorsements of Democrat Tim Carpenter in his bid for the Wisconsin state senate; Republican Karl Rohde in his Oregon state senate bid; Democrat Charlie Smith in his race for the South Carolina house; and Republican John Brady, who is vying to be the next Sussex County, Del., recorder of deeds.

Russian Gays Take To Streets

by Jon ben Asher Newscenter
(April 27, Moscow) Russian gays wearing concentration camp uniforms with pink triangles demonstrated in Moscow Friday, to protest against legislation that would make gay sex punishable by jail terms.
The People's Deputy Party on Tuesday introduced a bill in the Duma that would amend the criminal code making sex between two men or two women a criminal offence punishable by up to five years in prison.
Homosexual sex was decriminalized after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Proposing the reinstatement of the law, the head of the Deputy Party's parliamentary group, Gennady Raikov, said homosexuality was "an abnormality, and abnormality should be punishable by law".
The measure is reportedly backed by Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Duma's international relations committee, but a wide range of politicians have angrily condemned it.
The concentration camp uniforms were aimed at making explicit the comparison with Nazi Germany, which forced Jews in countries under its control to wear yellow stars, and gays to wear pink triangles. More than two million Jews, gays, Gypsies, and Communists were executed by the Nazis.
"The penalisation of homosexuality existed during the authoritarian regimes of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany," said the head of the liberal Radical Party, Nikolai Kramov, one of the rally's organisers. "It's only left now ... to demand the re-establishment of the death penalty for homosexuals to be completely in line with Hitler's ideas," he added.

20% Of New Zealand Military Gay Study Says

by Peter Hacker Newscenter
(April 27, Christchurch, NZ) A New Zealand government consultant says 20 percent of the military is either gay or lesbian.
Eugene Moore, an equal employment opportunity consultant, said Friday that the New Zealand Defence Force is light years ahead of any other military services in its approach to gays, lesbians and bisexuals.
Moore said that while many countries, including Canada, and much of the European Union have banned discrimination against gays in the military, none is doing as much as New Zealand to challenge "the old homophobic military culture."
"It's like Dracula, once you bring it out into the light it dies," said Moore, who has been working on an education programme for the armed forces for more than a year.
He said the programme was designed to create an environment where gays, lesbians and bisexual personnel in the military did not fear coming out. Australian and French admirals had visited New Zealand specifically to see the Navy's at-sea education programmes and he had been invited to make a presentation to Australian military chiefs.

Fake Congressman Pushes Anti-Gay Cause

by Newscenter Staff
(April 27, Allentown PA) The sign above the booth at Allentown's Senior Fest said Rep. Pat Toomy. And, the man sitting there was busy collecting signatures on a petition to overturn the city's new law that protects gays and lesbians from discrimination.
But, it wasn't Toomey.
Local gay rights activist Patricia Sullivan, Lehigh Valley coordinator of the Pennsylvania Gay and Lesbian Alliance for Political Action recognized the man as Frank J. McVeigh, a retired Muhlenberg College professor who is leading an effort to repeal the law through a ballot referendum.
Sullivan said she was outraged that the congressman would become involved in a local issue, and that he would allow McVeigh to use his name. But, said she was not overly surprised. Toomey has an abysmal record on gay rights.
Still she complained to Toomey's staff and staged a protest in front of the congressman's Allentown constituency office.
But, Toomey said he is as angry as Sullivan.
The congressman issued a statement saying: ''It has come to my attention that at least one individual may have falsely represented himself as a member of my staff at Senior Fest yesterday in Allentown.
''According to several people present, this man was attempting to gather signatures for a petition.
''The truth is, this person [or persons] has no affiliation with me, with my staff or with my campaign. Neither I, nor anyone on my staff, ever authorized him to do anything on my behalf. I was not aware of his activities until today.
''It would be deplorable for anyone to falsely claim an affiliation with me in an effort to advance his own political agenda, whatever that may be.''
Toomey would not say though if he supported repealing the anti-discrimination law.
The Human Rights Campaign gives Toomey a low rating when it comes to voting in Congress on gay rights.
It scored Toomey a 17 out of 100 in the 107th Congress and a zero in the 106th Congress. McVeigh has refused comment.

Florida Law Prevents Gays from Adopting

April 26, 2002, U-WIRE
In a March 14 broadcast of "Primetime Thursday" on ABC, Rosie O'Donnell confirmed to the public that she was gay. She cited a recent homosexual adoption case in Florida as her reason to go public.
O'Donnell wanted to help the Lofton-Croteau family, a gay-parent couple with five HIV-positive foster children. The family is at risk of losing its child, Bert, because Florida adoption laws make it illegal for children to live with gay parents. Because Bert, 10, is under the age of 14 and has stopped testing HIV-positive, he is considered "adoptable" by Florida's Department of Children and Families.
Steve Lofton and Roger Croteau, Bert's foster parents, desperately want to adopt the boy who they have raised since birth. With the help of the the American Civil Liberties Union, the Lofton-Croteau family is challenging the Florida law preventing gays in Florida from adopting.
O'Donnell, who has three adopted children of her own, decided she wanted to help. She shared her secret so the case would receive more attention and support.
The law was passed in 1977 and is still supported today by many of Florida's top representatives, including Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, President George W. Bush's brother.
While the state law bans gay and lesbian adoption, it allows for homosexuals to be foster parents.
"This discrepancy highlights the illogicalness of the law in Florida," said Carrie Evans, state legislative lawyer for the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force. "How is it that Mr. Lofton and Mr. Croteau are fit to raise their son Bert for 10 years as foster parents and now when they want to formally adopt him, they are not?"
Evans described the laws as mean-spirited and homophobic.
Along with Florida, Mississippi has a law prohibiting same-sex couples from adopting. Utah and Arkansas have similar state regulations.
States such as Illinois, California and New York allow same-sex couples to adopt.
There is some concern that soon, same-sex couples in Florida also will be denied the right to foster children. Florida will have to wait until at least 2003, when state legislature reconvenes, to pass such a law.
Aimee Gelnaw, executive director of the Family Pride Coalition, said this law needs serious, fair-minded reconsideration.
Some Northern Illinois University College of Law students agree with this fact.
Dawn Weekly, a graduate law student, believes it is unfair to discriminate against potential parents based on sexual orientation, but doubts the legal possibility of getting the Florida law turned around.
Rachel McIntyre, also a graduate law student, feels the law is ridiculous.
"It is my personal opinion that any loving family should be able to adopt," she said.
Supporters of the Lofton-Croteau family's efforts to change the Florida law have set up a Web site to help educate others on the Lofton-Croteau story, The site also offers a means of sending a message to Jeb Bush and Kathleen Kearney, secretary of Florida's Department of Children & Family Services. (C) 2002 Northern Star via U-WIRE

Celebs Line Up for Guest Spots

April 26, 2002, NY Post
'WILL & Grace" star Debra Messing said it was hilarious how easily Michael Douglas slipped into playing a gay police officer in last night's episode of the show.
Douglas portrayed a police officer who tries to pick up Will, played by Eric McCormack.
Douglas is another in a string of big-name fans of the show who have asked to be guest stars.
"From the beginning, he just dove in with relish," Messing said.
Glenn Close appears next week as a celebrity photographer, giving Messing what she calls a "pinch-me moment."
"She was up there as one of the women that I looked up to and inspired me to become an actress," Messing said.
Guest stars blend right in when they come on the set, Messing said.
"They come on the show because they're fans of the show," she said. "So already they understand the world of 'Will & Grace' from a creative point of view."
Still, guest stars often provide creative "sparks," she said.
"It sort of changes the air in the room," Messing said.
Messing said there is a big development in Grace's relationship with her best friend Will in the episodes leading up to the season finale.
"I can't tell you because they'll fire me," she said. "But Will and I have a several episode arc that leads to an hour-long episode. It is a very big deal." NEW YORK POST is a registered trademark of NYP Holdings, Inc. NYPOST.COM, NYPOSTONLINE.COM, and NEWYORKPOST.COM are trademarks of NYP Holdings, Inc. Copyright 2002 NYP Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Friday, April 26, 2002

GLBT NEWZ 04/26/02 Information is power!


ENDA passes out of committee

Legislation to ban workplace discrimination against gay men and lesbians is headed back to the U.S. Senate floor, its prospects seemingly improved this year by support from corporate America. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act was approved Wednesday by the Democrat-controlled Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee. The measure would bar employers from hiring or firing or making promotion or compensation decisions based on sexual orientation--with exemptions for religious organizations, small businesses, the military, and nonprofit voluntary groups such as the Boy Scouts.
"It is an understatement to say that it is unusual for a company to support legislation that invites further federal regulation of our business,'' said Robert Berman, Eastman Kodak Co. human resources director and vice president, in testimony to the committee in February. "However, Kodak believes that protection against discrimination because of one's sexual orientation is a basic civil right. This issue is so fundamental to core principles of fairness that we believe the value of federal leadership outweighs concerns we might otherwise have about federal intervention with our business.''
Many businesses, including Eastman Kodak, have their own antidiscrimination policies, and 12 states and the District of Columbia have laws banning employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. But that is not enough, said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), committee chairman and sponsor of the bill since 1994. "This patchwork of protection from employment discrimination leaves many Americans without redress,'' he said. "A federal law is sorely needed to ensure that all Americans receive equal treatment in the workplace."
Kennedy was joined by Republican senator Susan Collins of Maine, who had previously opposed the bill. Collins is up for reelection in November, facing Democrat Chellie Pingree. Ranking Republican senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire voted against the bill, saying the federal government should not impose such laws on states. A version of the Senate bill was introduced first in 1975. Kennedy's plan failed in the Senate in 1996 on a 50-49 vote. The legislation has never made it to the floor of the GOP-controlled House, where Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) has a similar bill, with 190 supporters signed on out of 435 members. In the Senate version, 43 of 100 members have signed their support for the bill, which is expected to come to the floor before year's end.

Massachusetts marriage ban dealt setback

A key Massachusetts legislative committee is urging lawmakers to reject a proposed ballot measure that would make same-sex marriages unconstitutional in the state. The initiative would change the state constitution to define marriage in Massachusetts as a union solely between one man and one woman. The state already does not recognize gay marriage. Supporters of the measure say they aren't targeting gay men or lesbians but just want to protect traditional marriage, which they say is under attack from gay activists and popular culture.
Members of the public service committee rejected that argument, saying the measure has wider implications. The initiative would make it unconstitutional for thousands of Massachusetts residents to receive health insurance and medical leave or to visit loved ones in the hospital, the committee said. The measure would also make it illegal for police officers or rescue workers killed in the line of duty to leave survivor benefits to a longtime partner.
"The effects of this amendment would be far-reaching. It would be bad for business and bad for labor," according to the report issued by the committee Wednesday. "Massachusetts would not only allow discrimination, but require it." The measure would also be bad for business because it would forbid employers from offering benefits to some employees, according to state senator Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester), senate chairwoman of the committee. The measure's supporters rejected the report, saying it distorts the effects of the amendment. The initiative faces a long road to the ballot. Because it seeks to change the constitution, the measure must win the backing of 25% of lawmakers in two back-to-back sittings of the legislature. The earliest it could get on the ballot is 2004.

California cyclist sues Pallotta TeamWorks

A Berkeley, Calif., bicyclist has sued the organizer of the AIDS Vaccine Rides for allegedly misrepresenting how much money raised by the events ends up going to medical research. Mark Cloutier, who also is a lawyer, on Wednesday sued Los Angeles-based Pallotta TeamWorks in San Francisco superior court. He alleges that the company has misrepresented and mismanaged the amount of money distributed to nonprofit agencies for AIDS research.
Pallotta organizes several bicycle rides across the country to raise money for AIDS research, breast cancer research, and other causes. Cloutier said Pallotta delivered less than one third of the $28 million it received from the Vaccine Rides to charities that conduct AIDS vaccine research. "The promise of the AIDS Vaccine Ride was that it would help raise much-needed funds for research and development of a vaccine for HIV/AIDS," Cloutier said. "I was greatly disappointed, and so were many other well-intentioned riders who were misled."
Pallotta spokeswoman Janna Sidley dismissed the suit as "wholly and entirely nonmeritorious." Cloutier is seeking class-action status for his suit to represent all riders who have participated in the fund-raising rides during 2000 and 2001. Pallotta TeamWorks has been embroiled in another legal battle with the organizers of the AIDS/LifeCycle ride, which scheduled a competing event weeks before Pallotta's ride on June 2-8. The San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center accused Pallotta of mismanaging previous events for which they were the principal beneficiaries and said they would be better off conducting their own event.

Neighbors object to Radical Faerie camp

Neighbors of a gay men's camp in Grafton, Vt., are opposing an expansion plan because of concerns that nudity by campers would damage property values. Officials with Faerie Camp Destiny are asking the state for an Act 250 land-use permit to expand its septic system and parking lot, clear-cut five acres of land, and build a kitchen and meeting hall. The camp is part of a national organization called the Radical Faeries. Neighbors have also raised concerns about nude bathing in a local stream and noise from late-night parties. The Chester Fire Department, which provides emergency coverage to that area of Grafton, brought up concerns about access and water availability.
At an Act 250 hearing, the Grafton Planning Commission, through its chairman Harold Igoe, raised the most objections, saying the proposed camp expansion violates the town plan. Surrounding properties would see their values go down because the scenic beauty of the town would be affected, he said. Attorney Richard Gale, representing the planning commission, said "the nudity factor" is the biggest issue on the town's list. "Activities involving nudity may have a deleterious effect on the town. The road is a natural scenic corridor, and it probably doesn't mean au naturel," Gale said, referring to language in the town plan. Camp spokesman Jim Jackson objected to the idea that the camp caters to nudists simply because a few visitors last summer went skinny-dipping in the Hall Brook. "We are not a nudist colony," Jackson said. Jackson, from Cambridge, Mass., said after the hearing that he felt the group is being singled out for harassment because it involves gay men, although the group also has heterosexual and female members. The group was praised by James Matteau, executive director of the Windham Regional Commission, for being environmentally conscious and thorough, and he said the project conforms to the regional plan. "There may be a little more traffic, but it won't be all day, every day," Matteau said.

Kent State votes down gay fraternity

The interfraternity council at Kent State University in Ohio voted 8-4 Monday against admitting Delta Lambda Phi--a predominately gay fraternity--into the council, the Daily Kent Stater reports. Three fraternities abstained from the vote. Delta Lambda Phi petitioned the council on April 8 to be admitted. Nationally, only one Delta Lambda Phi has been allowed to join an interfraternity council. "The old boys club has spoken," said Eric Van Sant, adviser to Delta Lambda Phi. "We will pay lip service to diversity, but we won't put our money where our mouth is." After the vote, many representatives declined to say how they voted, saying the process was private. But Seth Haas, who represented Alpha Epsilon Pi, said he voted in favor of Delta Lambda Phi's petition. "Everyone has a right to benefit from the Greek system," he said.

Eminem says his duet with Elton John started out as a joke

In an interview scheduled to air Thursday night, rapper Eminem tells Access Hollywood that his much-publicized duet of "Stan" with out rock legend Elton John at the 2001 Grammy Awards started out as a joke. Eminem says he had considered boycotting the program because of the controversy over the alleged homophobic content of his lyrics, and so he told an executive at his record label that he wouldn't go to the Grammys unless John went also. Eminem called the remark "a stab in the dark," to get out of going. But Eminem said the record executive called back and said, "We can get him." The rapper also tells Access Hollywood that the controversy over his feelings about gay people has caused him to keep a low profile of late, although his semi-autobiographical film 8 Mile will be opening in theaters later this year. Eminem's comments come on the heels of another controversy surrounding gay imagery--the Web site reports that the rapper's British label, Polydor, was furious with British music magazine The Face when the magazine changed the color of its cover photo to make Eminem's red tank top look pink. While the magazine says the change was made to keep the red top from clashing with the publication's red logo, Polydor allegedly threatened an injunction to halt distribution of the magazine showing Eminem wearing a less-than-manly shade. "All we can say is, No comment," said a representative of The Face.

Gay Protest Planned for St. Patrick's

Thursday, 25 April 2002
NEW YORK -- Community leaders and civil rights advocates met Wednesday night at New York's LGBT Community Center to devise a response to what many have decried as the attempted scapegoating of gay priests by a close associate of Cardinal Egan's last Sunday.
St. Patrick's Interior
Standing in for Cardinal Egan, Monsignor Eugene Clark on Sunday used the pulpit at St. Patrick's, New York's most prominent, to blame the Church's sex scandal on the "disordered" condition of homosexuality, the immorality of American entertainment and liberals.
The address rekindled accusations the church was shamefully shirking its responsibility in the crisis. Conservatives in the church hierarchy are being charged with attempting to deflect public attention away from their role in perpetuating crimes against the innocent by scapegoating gay priests.
The community town hall, moderated by Ann Northrup and Andy Hume, voted to hold a peaceful demonstration outside St. Patrick's on Sunday, April 28. The public action will start at 9:30 in the morning and culminate in a press conference at 11:00, say organizers.
The intent of the protest will be to call attention to the leadership's apparent intent to scapegoat innocent gay clergy instead of owning up to their role in the crisis. The use of terms like "disordered" to refer to gay people will also be condemned.
Hume said the action will be a positive statement about the community's humanity and diversity and the positive contributions made by thousands of gay people in the church, such as the Rev. Mychal Judge, the fire chaplain who perished in the attack on the World Trade Center.
Representatives from GLAAD, GLSEN, the Empire State Pride Agenda, Dignity, MCC, Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, GLID, Latino Commission on AIDS, State Senator Tom Duane, Councilmembers Margarita Lopez and Christine Quinn were among the more than 200 people at the planning meeting. "We are angry at the gaybashing, but want this action to be a powerful moral counterpoint to the immorality of the Catholic hierarchy," Hume declared in statement. "We do not want this to be a Catholic-bashing demonstration nor do we intend to enter the cathedral," he said, though some people wearing pink triangles will mingle with parishioners in a silent protest against Clark's statements.

Québèc Introduces Partner Bill

by Jean-Pierre O'Brien Newscenter
(April 26, Quebec City) The Québèc government has introduced legislation to create partnership unions, and to allow gay and lesbian couples to adopt.
The bill was unveiled Thursday in the National Assembly by Québèc Justice Minister Paul Bégin.
Bégin said the Parti Québeçois would press to have the bill passed before the summer recess in June.
The legislation provides for a civil union registry which will give gay and lesbian couples the same rights as those of heterosexuals, including adoption and assisted procreation.
Québèc does not recognize common law heterosexual relationships. The partnership unions will be unique to gays and lesbians but will also be extended to straight couples Bégin said.
The government began work on the bill last year. When it was first unveiled the draft legislation did not include adoption rights.
During four months of consultations the government heard from gay and lesbian couples about the need for co-parenting.
The legislation insures property rights for both partners in a relationship, as well as life insurance, health, succession, and pensions. It also guarantees the right of a partner to oversee medical care for a spouse when that person is unable to make their own decisions.
The terms for separation also will be similar to marriage. In the event of a split up, the partners will share in the communal assets, including property. The civil union could be dissolved, by death, the judgement of the court or a notarized joint declaration of the partners.
Although all Canadian provinces recognize gay and lesbian relationships under common law, only Québèc and Nova Scotia have gone as far as establishing a registry for couples.
Bégin said he would have preferred to grant full marriage rights, but under Canadian law, marriage is a federal issue.
The federal law banning gay and lesbian marriage is being challenged in the courts in Ontario and Québèc .
Montreal couple Michael Hendricks and René Leboeuf told a federal court judge last month that they are not interested in the Quebec legislation. Anne-France Goldwater, the couple's lawyer, told the court that nothing short of full marriage is acceptable.
Goldwater argued that the federal law defining marriage as a union "between one man and one woman" violates the Canadian Constitution.
There is no date for a ruling. Because federal judges are appointed by Ottawa, the decision will be nationally binding. No matter what the ruling, it is expected it will be appealed to the Supreme court of Canada.

Mbeki Reverses AIDS Stand

by Newscenter Staff
The South Africa government has done a dramatic about-face in its approach to the AIDS epidemic.
The government of President Thabo Mbeki has announced it is abandoning its view that HIV does not cause AIDS.
It has also dropped its controversial rule that women who have been raped cannot receive drug cocktails that can prevent their infection with HIV.
Mbeki had previously stated that AIDS drugs are more dangerous than the disease itself.
His opinion put him at odds with the World Health Organization, the United Nations, and AIDS specialists in his own country.
In an interview with the Johannesburg Star newspaper, Mbeki said that he will take an active leadership role in the battle against the disease and that the government will act on the "premise" that HIV causes AIDS.
South Africa has more people infected with HIV than any other country in the world, an estimated 4.7 million. The South African Medical Research Council said in a report earlier this year that the epidemic has reached "shattering dimensions" and predicted AIDS will kill seven million South Africans by the year 2010. In his interview with the Johannesburg Star, the President said that while drugs will now be available, he still believes South Africans need better morals if they hope to achieve better health. "You can't go around having hugely promiscuous sex all over the place and hope that you won't be affected by something or other," he said.

Rights Group Dismisses School Board's "Clarification"

by Fidel Ortega Newscenter
(April 26, Tampa, FLA) A school board in the Florida panhandle is facing continued scorn after condemning homosexuality as "sinful".
This week, members of Coastal PRIDE went to the regular meeting of the Bay District School Board to demand an apology. But they did not get one.
Instead, School Board Chairman Thelma Rohan read a prepared statement that she said was intended to "clarify the situation."
Rohan said "This board is philosophically committed and bound by law to provide all students a free public education in a safe environment."
The board is also required to follow policies regarding fair treatment of all students and disciplinary actions against those guilty of misconduct, she said.
Under questioning she would not say if the board would institute a policy against homophobic bullying or other forms of intimidation.
Area student Laura Garner asked if fellow students trying to start Gay-Straight Alliances at their schools would see opposition from the board.
Board member Ron Danzey, who earlier this month joined other board members is condemning homosexuality as a sin, said policies do allow for such organizations and that teachers who wanted to sponsor them would not feel pressure from board members. Butch McKay, director Coastal PRIDE said the meeting failed to resolve all of issues and vowed to keep up the pressure on the board.

Banned From The Road As A Woman And As A Man

by Jon ben Asher Newscenter
(April 26, Edinburgh) A woman has been banned from driving in Scotland 13 years after being given the same sentence for the same offence as a man.
Megan Alexander, who underwent sex reassignment in the 1990s, is believed to be the first person in Scotland to have been banned from driving as both a man and a woman.
The court ordered her to surrender her licence for 15 months and fined her $400 (Cdn) for impaired driving.
The court heard that Alexander refused to provide a breath test and claimed she was being victimized.
Her lawyer said Alexander was emotionally unwell. He said that her house had been broken into shortly before she was arrested, and that various establishments had refused to admit her. Malcolm Alexander, as she was then known, had two previous convictions in 1987 and 1989 for drink driving offences.

Lesbian Suicide Tragedy At MP's Estate

for UK
26 April 2002
The lesbian lover of MP Shaun Woodward's gardener killed herself on his country estate, it was revealed.
Helen Scott, 39, a gardener on the estate returned from a local market to find her partner, Kim Meacher, 38, hanging from the staircase of their shared cottage.
The former Tory MP, who now represents St Helens for Labour, said "everyone was extremely saddened by this tragic event". An Oxfordshire coroner was told that Scott met the divorcee in March last year. Meacher, the mother of a young son, had previously been prescribed anti-depressants and sleeping pills.

Hot under the Collar Gay Catholics Angry, Say They've Been Singled Out

April 25, 2002, USA TODAY
Gay Catholics were livid Wednesday when some church leaders meeting in Rome appeared to blame the sex abuse scandal on homosexual priests. Spokeswomen for two groups say they fear a ''witch hunt'' in which homosexuals will be banned from entering the priesthood and driven from current pulpits.
At a press conference after the two-day crisis meeting among America's top clerics, the pope and Vatican officials, two cardinals and the USA's top bishop detailed the ''skeletal outline'' of a proposed new policy. It would set nationwide procedures for rapidly defrocking serial pedophiles and assessing the danger of new abuse cases with local review boards led by lay people.
But when asked whether allowing homosexuals in the priesthood might foster a ''bumper crop '' of abusers, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C., said no ''active homosexuals'' should ever be admitted to seminary.
And the president of the U.S. bishops' conference, Wilton Gregory, said the question would get ''comprehensive study.'' Gregory already was on record calling it a ''struggle to make sure that the Catholic priesthood is not dominated by homosexual men.''
Those remarks sent Marianne Duddy, executive director of Dignity/USA, a nationwide group of gay Catholics, sputtering with anger at the prospect of a ''witch hunt.''
''Gay Catholics are absolutely outraged,'' she says. ''There is no link between homosexuality and child molestation. And this negates any pretense by the church that they will treat us with respect. The church hierarchy is refusing to acknowledge their own failings in moving abusive priests from parish to parish, and protecting criminals instead of children. And now the American church has joined the Vatican in cynically shifting the blame to gay priests.''
She notes that last October, New York firefighters presented to the pope the helmet of their chaplain, the Rev. Mychal Judge, a gay priest who was killed while ministering to victims at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11. His funeral was at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York, where he headed Dignity/USA's AIDS ministry.
''Can you imagine a church that would toss someone like Mychal Judge out if he were still alive?'' Duddy asks.
Catholic doctrine says homosexual orientation is not a sin, but homosexual behavior is ''disordered.'' And some church experts estimate that 20% to 50% of the current 45,000 U.S. priests are homosexual. In February, the pope's spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, was quoted as saying homosexuals should not be in the priesthood, even if they maintain celibacy.
Former priest and psychotherapist A.W. Richard Sipe says his study of priests from 1960 to 1985, when many of the abuses now coming to light took place, found only about half of all priests maintained celibacy. He estimated 30% of all priests had a homosexual orientation.
Sharon Sherrard, 62, of San Rafael, Calif., a Catholic lesbian, says she's sickened and saddened by church leaders' remarks. ''It is so easy to use us as scapegoats. It's so easy.''
And it won't work, says Paul Wilkes, who studied 600 parishes for his book, Excellent Catholic Parishes: A Guide to Best Places and Practices.
''If we drove all the gay priests out of the priesthood, our Masses would be on videotape,'' Wilkes says.
Most Catholics don't care about their priest's sexual orientation, ''they just want him to be a decent human being, a good honest pastor,'' Wilkes said Wednesday. He cites studies showing that ''through all this scandal, people's love for their parish has not changed. Their faith in the hierarchy has been decimated, but I don't hear people running away from Catholicism.''
The bishops' remarks especially sting gay priests. ''It makes me angry. They are trying to take the blame away from those truly responsible and put it on an exclusive class of people. It's wrong,'' says a gay priest no longer in active ministry, who asked that his name be withheld. He left his diocese after more than a decade but still attends services with the Dignity group. ''We have to meet at an Episcopal church because the bishop won't let us use a (Catholic) church.'' Copyright 2002 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.

City, schools focus on tolerance

Middle school students can be cruel, and names often can do more damage than sticks and stones.
But more than 20 teachers from Horace O'Bryant Middle School Thursday took the first step in protecting students from the dangers of intolerance that can lead to isolation, depression or other, more tragic outcomes.
The teachers attended a diversity training workshop sponsored by the You're Safe Task Force, a subsidiary of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center. Hosted by local clinical psychologist and licensed family therapist Edward Pitts, the teachers learned the importance of active listening to students and, by attending the workshop, pledged to make their classrooms Safe Zones for all students.
Frank Notarianni, head of the 'You're Safe Task Force,' posts an example of the safe zone sticker at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center Thursday.
The Safe Zone program has been implemented in schools and universities all over the country. It designates an area as being tolerant and free from any bias, judgment or discrimination based on sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, appearance, religion or ability.
Teachers at the Thursday workshop heard from Pitts about the importance of making children feel safe, and ways to recognize problems experienced by students.
Pitts instructed the teachers, one of whom is Debo Dingler, who has spearheaded the tolerance campaign in the school, about the importance of body language when speaking with a troubled student.
He reinforced the importance of self image and went over the myriad resources available in the community should the student need a referral. But often, the student just needs a compassionate ear. Pitts reminded the teachers how to make the students comfortable with themselves and ready to address their problems.
The Safe Zone designation also identifies the teachers as trustworthy and caring adults, approachable and willing to listen. Stickers identifying Safe Zones are expected to be all over the middle school by next fall.
"Kids can go into the Safe Zones for any reason and can talk to the teacher there," said school board member Eileen Quinn, while listing potential problems ranging from an alcoholic parent, a drug problem or questions about their sexuality.
The school district has been supportive of the training, as has principal Frank Spoto, said Quinn, who has helped the members of the You're Safe Task Force navigate the halls of district approval.
"The district has responded very favorably," she said Thursday afternoon. "Everything the task force has done has been pro-active."
City involvement
The City of Key West and the Key West Police Department also are taking a pro-active approach to discrimination and bias, but realize that not everyone has grown up in a tolerant town, school or family.
Frank Notarianni of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center hosted a community forum Wednesday during which police officers explained the definition of hate crimes and offered tips for potential victims.
Capt. Bill Fortune opened the forum by emphasizing that the department and its officers take all calls about hate crimes very seriously, and will not tolerate them in the city.
Sgt. Donie Lee explained to the crowd of about 25 people the definition of a hate crime.
"There has to be an actual crime committed for it to be a hate crime," said Lee, who instructs his fellow officers in diversity training. "Name-calling is not a crime -- you have to remember that the First Amendment is alive and well."
The name-calling must be accompanied by unlawful use of force in order to be classified as a hate crime, which then comes with a stiffer penalty than a simple battery.
Lee also mentioned the frequency of hate incidents within the city limits. Name-calling is considered a hate incident, and the police department wants to know about them -- although they cannot make an arrest for them, Lee said.
"We need to know about all instances of hate," he said before explaining the steps involved in making an arrest and prosecuting a crime.
But Lee, along with his fellow diversity instructor Officer Steve Torrence, realizes that tolerance is best taught in schools because tolerant children become tolerant adults. The two officers are working on a schedule to bring diversity training into local schools.
"One hate crime is too many, that's the bottom line," Lee said. "But, ladies and gentlemen, they happen."
Torrence then offered the crowd safety tips, and reminded them that Key West is not always the paradise they think it is.
Although Key West has only had seven reported hate crimes since 1998, there are occurrences of trouble and there are ways to avoid it, Torrence said, including knowing your date, introducing him or her to friends and always being aware of your surroundings.
The Space Coast Eagle, Cocoa Beach, Fl
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NEWS from the Human Rights Campaign

919 18th Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20006
Wednesday, April 24, 2002
Contact: David M. Smith
Phone: (202) 216-1547
Pager: (800) 386-5996
Contact: Wayne Besen
Phone: (202) 216-1580
Pager: (800) 386-5997
Bipartisan Vote Bodes Well For ENDA in the Senate, Says HRC
WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign today praised members of a Senate
committee for a voice vote recommending that the entire Senate consider the
Employment Non-Discrimination Act. If passed, ENDA would prohibit workplace
discrimination based on sexual orientation. Specifically, it would bar
employers from using a person's sexual orientation as the basis for
employment decisions, including hiring, firing, promotion or compensation.
"This historic bipartisan voice vote is a momentous step towards a day when
all Americans are treated equally in the workplace regardless of sexual
orientation," said HRC Executive Director Elizabeth Birch. "We believe that
today's events put ENDA on the fast-track for passage in the Senate. We
thank members of the committee who voted in favor of ENDA, particularly Sen.
Kennedy, for his phenomenal leadership and steadfast support."
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, chaired
by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., considered ENDA early this morning.
During the mark-up, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, announced her support of
the bill.
"I have reached the decision to support ENDA because, in the final
analysis, I simply do not believe it is fair to allow discrimination in the
workplace against men and women solely because of their sexual orientation,"
said Collins in her statement.
Sen. Collins also offered two amendments that were accepted by voice
vote that brought ENDA more in line with provisions in Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., has committed to
securing a vote on this bill before the end of the session. ENDA also has
unprecedented support from the business community with 65 companies,
including 29 major corporations, having endorsed the legislation. Some of
the companies that have endorsed ENDA are: AT&T, Coors, Xerox, FleetBoston,
Eastman Kodak, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, General Mills and Shell Oil.
"The Employment Non-Discrimination Act goes to the core of what this
nation is all about: Giving all our citizens the fundamental right to be
judged on one's own merits," said Shell Oil CEO Steve Miller, who wrote to
the committee. "We encourage the Congress to move expeditiously to pass this
common-sense legislation."
ENDA also has support from labor groups such as the AFL-CIO.
"The AFL-CIO is committed to the principle of equality and we urge
Congress to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act," said AFL-CIO
President John Sweeney. "It is time all working men and women, regardless of
sexual orientation, are treated fairly in the workplace.
Only by passing ENDA will all workers be protected from discrimination and
be judged on the job by the value of their work."
Currently, it is legal to fire someone in 38 states because of sexual
orientation. The twelve states that prohibit discrimination based on sexual
orientation are California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland,
Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont and
Wisconsin. Additionally, the District of Columbia prohibits discrimination
based on sexual orientation.
ENDA enjoys widespread, bipartisan support. The Senate bill's lead
cosponsors are Sens. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.; Arlen Specter, R-Pa.;
Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn. and James Jeffords, I-Vt. House lead sponsors are
Reps. Christopher Shays, R-Conn.; Barney Frank, D-Mass.; Mark Foley, R-Fla.
and Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif. Currently, the Senate bill has 44 cosponsors
and the House bill has 191 cosponsors.
The public also supports the principles of ENDA, according to a
June 2001 Gallup Poll. The poll asked respondents, "In general, do you think
homosexuals should or should not have equal rights in terms of job
opportunities?" Up from 56 percent in 1977, 85 percent of respondents
favored equal opportunity in employment for gays and lesbians. Only 11
percent thought gays and lesbians should be discriminated against based on
sexual orientation in the workplace.
A nationwide Harris Interactive poll also taken in June 2001 found that 61
percent of Americans favored a federal law prohibiting job discrimination
based on sexual orientation. Additionally, the survey found that 42 percent
of adults surveyed believe that such a law currently exists.
HRC has produced a 48-page report, Documenting Discrimination, which gives
specific examples of people who were discriminated against in the workplace
because of their real or perceived sexual orientation.
This report can be downloaded at:
For more information about ENDA go to .
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.

Gay Cop May Succeed Los Angeles Chief

by Dan Kerman, / Network
The search is underway in the city of Los Angeles for a new police chief, and a gay officer within the LAPD ranks is being mentioned as a top candidate for the job.
Los Angeles Police Chief Bernard Parks announced Monday he will resign within the next two weeks. The decision comes after the 37-year department veteran was denied a second term by the city's police commission.
While the L.A. Police Commission will now conduct a nationwide search for a replacement, one of those mentioned to be on the short list is LAPD Deputy Chief Dave Kalish, a gay man and 27-year veteran, who currently serves as commanding officer of operations-West Bureau.
"I certainly will apply," Kalish told the Network. "I have made it this far by being a good cop. I think there's great opportunity for positive change, and of course I would like to be able to say I have made a difference," he said.
Former L.A. Police Commissioner Dean Hansell, who currently serves on the board of the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center, says he thinks Kalish would bring a great deal of credibility and knowledge to the job.
"Dave has served with great distinction, working his way up the ranks of the LAPD," Hansell told the Network. "He is very liked within the Los Angeles community, and he has the ability to communicate well with large numbers of different people."
While Hansell says Kalish's qualifications should be considered first and foremost, he says the fact that Kalish is gay and Jewish also gives him a certain sensitivity to the plight of minorities, which is critical in a city as diverse as Los Angeles. He also says simply considering a gay man for the top spot will help to destroy some of the stereotypes about gay people.
"That's when we make progress -- when we have people in positions who are there because they are the best and qualified and who happen to be gay," Hansell said.
During his tenure as a police officer, Kalish has also served on the board of the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center, and has been active in the Golden State Peace Officer's Association, which provides outreach to gay and lesbian peace officers and firefighters.
As for the suggestion that climbing the ranks of the police department has been difficult because he is gay, Kalish downplayed it, suggesting instead that everyone has challenges to overcome.
"Ever since I was a little kid all I ever wanted to do was be a cop. But also I happened to be born gay. But I never accepted the barriers that others placed along the way. And if in some small way I have become a role model not for just gay officers but for young gay people -- that if you have a dream, you can achieve your dreams -- I'm proud of that." ©2002 PlanetOut. All Rights Reserved.

London: Rival Gay Parties Compete for Revellers

The Guardian Unlimited
by The Guardian Unlimited
Britain's annual Mardi Gras has become Europe's leading gay festival. Every summer, tens of thousands of revellers take over a park in the capital to celebrate their sexuality and show the world they know how to party.
But this year a stylish young rival is threatening to steal the festival's thunder -- and has already taken many of its top acts.
Purple in the Park, the new London event, is the brainchild of Twysden Moore, a heterosexual businessman who runs a popular nightclub and gay radio station. Moore's upstart festival is the latest commercial attempt to capitalise on gay spending power and will take place earlier than Mardi Gras, in a venue closer to the centre of town.
"My interest is not to do down Mardi Gras," said Moore. "Mardi Gras grew out of being a local event into an international one, and people in London felt it had lost something. I decided to remedy that."
Having failed to secure a new home in the Millennium Dome, Mardi Gras has moved out to Hackney Marshes in east London for the first time this year and it will now take place a month after Purple in the Park, following a clever switch of dates by Moore. Competition between the two festivals has already split the gay community: some admire Moore's bravado while others are critical of a straight man who is undermining a gay rights institution.
After losing out on the Dome and unable to rebook last year's Finsbury Park venue, Mardi Gras temporarily settled on Brockwell Park, in south London, which put it in the same venue as its new rival. Moore quickly shifted Purple in the Park from mid-August to the weekend of the Queen's jubilee starting 1 June, making it the first festival on the gay calendar.
"We are an official jubilee event, by appointment from Buckingham Palace, so we shall certainly be making the most of the timing," said Moore. "We are still the same festival in the same great location. All I did was avoid having sloppy seconds."
Mardi Gras festival director Jason Pollock does not admit defeat. "Hackney Marshes is one of London's best kept secrets, with great transport links," he said, "while Brockwell Park, the Purple venue, is much smaller and much quieter, so we rejected it."
Like Purple in the Park, Mardi Gras is run for profit. It grew up out of the ashes of the original annual Pride parade and festival, wound up after it faced bankruptcy in 1997. The parade and the festival, still both held on the same day, 6 July, are now completely separate events. Since the split, Mardi Gras has clawed its way back into credit by attracting big-name singing stars and club DJs. It hopes to attract 85,000 visitors and soon plans to start putting money back into gay causes and charities.
Purple in the Park, in contrast, is a purely commercial entertainment event. Yet this year, thanks to Moore's clubland connections, the majority of big-name DJs on the gay scene have agreed to appear.
Kelvin Sollis, owner of The Pink Paper, hopes people will go to both festivals, but he admires Moore's tactics. "The exclusive deals were a very shrewd move," he said. "Twysden has been very astute. It is a bit of an indictment of the gay community that he has come in and achieved so much so quickly."
Moore co-owns the Hanover Grand in Mayfair and Bardo, a chic bar in Chelsea. Educated at Charterhouse, the public school, he is the son of the late dean of St Albans and has recently launched Purple Radio, a London station broadcasting to club music fans.
In spite of the competition, Pollock argues Mardi Gras still has many top stars up its sleeve. This weekend he announced that Belinda Carlisle and Atomic Kitten would be appearing, along with H from Steps. But the rivalry between the two gay festivals is about much more than making money. Mardi Gras is still deliberately freighted with political commitment, while Purple is billed as simply a pleasant day in the park.
"I am angry that Twysden has said there are no issues to fight against. As long as we have inequality with straight people, then politics is still paramount," said Pollock. "His is a straight organisation getting into the gay market. They are catering for hedonists."
Moore is equally candid. "We are about club music," he said. "We have no political heritage and we are not on the rights' trail. Yes, I run a commercial business, and, yes, the bottom line is making money, but I see this as an opportunity for the gay scene as well as for me." Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2002

Gay and Lesbian Chamber to Take Spot on National Scene

Washington, DC -- The National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), a not-for-profit organization representing gay and lesbian owned and gay friendly businesses, will open its doors in Washington, DC during the second half of 2002, announced co-founders Justin Nelson and Chance Mitchell. NGLCC was founded on the goals of increasing the number of gay and lesbian owned businesses, ensuring equity in the business community, providing a clearinghouse for sharing successes and ideas, and being the leading voice on issues facing gay and lesbian businesses before federal, state and local governments and regulatory agencies.
"It is an idea that is long overdue," said Nelson, a lobbyist and government affairs professional in Washington, DC. "It's time to flex our collective economic muscle and move the ball forward for gay and lesbian businesses, their employees, customers, and supporters," Nelson added.
From grassroots advocacy in Congress and tools for dealing with local governments, to a national conference and seminars, an online resource and training center, business and insurance discounts, industry specific publications, a national repository for information and strategy, and an eventual political action committee, NGLCC will offer its members a wide range of services aimed at building a stronger voice for gay and lesbian businesses.
"Our community is at the forefront of economic growth and innovation, contributing to a multitude of businesses and industries. Having a national group advocating for gay and lesbian businesses, benefits, and continued growth will give our community a united voice with the financial strength to support it," added Mitchell, an e-commerce professional and partner with MDC Entertainment Group, Inc., also of Washington.
NGLCC is currently forming its advisory board and soliciting founding members to serve as the backbone of the organization. NGLCC members will include businesses of all sizes, from every corner of the country and in every industry. Owners, partners, advocacy organizations, community groups, and local gay and lesbian chambers of commerce will all be invited to join. "It's great to see that people are interested in what we have been putting together," commented Nelson regarding a story on the need for a national chamber in last week's Washington Blade.
As of Friday, April 26, 2002, interested parties can find more information at Written comments and questions to: NGLCC, 930 Westminster Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20001. (C) 2002 Gay Wired; All Rights Reserved

New York OKs transgender protections / Network
Wednesday, April 24, 2002 / 04:16 PM
SUMMARY: The New York City Council passed a bill on Wednesday that extends nondiscrimination protections to transgender people, and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said he will sign it.
The New York City Council passed a bill on Wednesday that extends nondiscrimination protections to transgender people, and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said he will sign it into law.
The city joins more than 40 local jurisdictions and two states (Minnesota, Rhode Island) in the United States that have passed similar measures to protect transgender citizens from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. In New York state, Suffolk County and the city of Rochester already have similar laws in place.
The New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy (NYAGRA) estimates that as many as three-quarters of New York's state's transgender citizens live in New York City, and advocates expressed hope that the new measure will influence other cities.
"As the largest jurisdiction by population in the U.S. to ban discrimination against transgender people, it might have a positive spillover effect elsewhere because it suggests to legislators in other cities that transgender inclusion will eventually become the norm in human rights laws," said Paisley Currah, NYAGRA co-founder.
Mayor Bloomberg released a short statement after the council's 45-5 vote in favor of the measure.
"In the past I expressed the belief that this legislation is extraneous because transsexuals are protected under the current human rights law," he said. "However, considering its strong support in the council, I plan on signing it into law."
The Empire State Pride Agenda (ESPA), the largest statewide gay rights organization, lobbied with NYAGRA for the bill's passage. Commenting on the bill's passage, ESPA Executive Director Joe Grabarz said, "This is a huge step forward for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in New York and its quest for basic civil rights."

Vote tries to rid neighborhood of gay site

Jen Christensen, / Network
Wednesday, April 24, 2002 / 04:18 PM
SUMMARY: As Orlando readies for a gay civil rights ordinance, a flap over a gay sex site operating in a private home is shaking up the debate.
As the Orlando gay community gets ready for a civil rights fight to add sexual orientation to its nondiscrimination policy, advocates for the policy change said another issue involving the gay community may be making even supportive local politicians uncomfortable.
The controversy is over a Web site called For $9.99 a month, subscribers can see the lives of five gay men who share a home in the Brantley Harbor neighborhood in Orlando. The five do everything online, from sleeping and showering to having sex. For an extra fee, subscribers can access more sexually specialized Web sites.
On Monday, the Brantley Harbor homeowners' association, which oversees the area where the home is located, called a special meeting to change a bylaw in the association contract. The change forbids more than two unrelated persons from living in the same household.
The Web site's owner, Zac Adams, told the Orlando Sentinel that this is just one more way the neighborhood association has tried to shut down his business. Adams is just leasing the home and told the paper he had wanted to buy it. In the past, the association has raised dues and neighbors have tried to sue Adams for running a business out of the home.
None of the's repeated phone calls to the neighborhood association members were returned.
Calls to members of Orlando's gay community found that some people are worried about the story's larger ramifications.
"In my own opinion, it's a bigger story outside of the gay community than in it," said John Middleton, who works at the local Metropolitan Community Church. "But what worries us is that this may be a gay issue that's embarrassing to the politicians who support our upcoming ordinance which would cover housing issues."
The ordinance, which may go before city council in May, adds sexual orientation as a protected category under the city's discrimination policy.
"There has been some supportive sentiment in the community, saying this homeowners' association has been overstepping its bounds," said Middleton. "The association characterizes this as a problem with pornography; the Web site owner says this is a gay rights issue." In either case, the recent homeowners' association decision may be challenged in court.

Papal Summit Ends, Gay Catholics To Protest

by Jon ben Asher Newscenter
(April 25, Rome) A papal summit meeting with American church leaders concluded Wednesday with the fate of thousands of gay priests in limbo.
The American cardinals were summoned to the two days of meetings amid a growing sex abuse scandal involving priests, and the way the church dealt with it.
American cardinals at a news conference at the Vatican, Wednesday, reaffirmed earlier statements that there was no place in the Roman Catholic church for homosexual priests. But, they carefully tied that statement to celibacy, and were equally careful to note that the celibacy rules applied to heterosexual priests as well.
There was also a concerted effort to separate pedophilia from homosexuality.
It was a distinct departure from comments made over the past few months, attempting to link to scandal to gays in the clergy.
On Sunday, Monsignor Eugene Clark the rector of St. Patrick's, called the United States "probably the most immoral country in the Western Hemisphere," labelled homosexuality "a disorder" and said that admitting gay students into seminaries was a "grave mistake."
In April, Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls suggested that it was time to rid the church of its gay clergy and said that "people with these inclinations just cannot be ordained."
This afternoon, when the cardinals return to the US, they are scheduled to celebrate mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia where they will be greeted by protestors.
Dignity and the Women's Ordination Conference will demonstrate in front of the Basilica.
While church leaders vowed to rid the church of pedophiles, many gays in the clergy continue to believe a purge of gay priests has begun.
"They are tarring us all with the same brush," one priest who did not want to be identified said.
The man, who has been a parish priest in a large US city for more than a decade said, "If the reactionaries had their way, Mychal Judge would never have been ordained."
Judge was the openly gay priest who died giving the last rites to a New York fireman after the terrorist attacks last September in New York.
Judge worked with gay Catholic group Dignity, and was a pastor to the New York firefighters. After his body was pulled from the wreckage of the World Trade Centre, New York firefighters presented his helmet to the pope.

Will gay priests be the scapegoats?

The Vatican summit of U.S. cardinals called to resolve the American sexual abuse crisis has made many Roman Catholic clergymen deeply concerned about comments from top-ranking prelates about a renewed need to bar gay men from the priesthood, regardless of whether they remain celibate.
Cardinal Adam Maida of Detroit and Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, emerged from the meeting Tuesday saying the issue is among those the church must address. "I think that priests, having been overprotected in the past, are concerned there may be a tendency to throw them overboard to save the ship," said the Rev. Philip Murnion, director of the National Pastoral Life Center in New York, which is not affiliated with the New York archdiocese. "They want to assure that care be taken that the concerns and rights of all will be protected."
Christopher Bellitto, a church historian and academic editor for the Paulist Press, based in New Jersey, said gay clergy have told him they are terrified they will be made scapegoats as the scandal drags on. "There is a real fear among gay priests that they are going to be seen as the fall guys," Bellitto said.
Marianne Duddy, executive director of the gay Catholic advocacy group Dignity/USA, said she's been fielding calls from gay priests who are so frightened about the prospect of losing their jobs that they can't sleep at night and have sought counseling. "One guy has been a priest for 28 years," Duddy said. "Where would he go? What would he do? Would he be able to leave with any kind of retirement money?" Estimates of the number of gays among seminarians and the 46,075 Catholic clergy in the United States vary dramatically, from 10% to 50%. Experts in sexual disorders warn there is no evidence that gay men are more likely than heterosexual men to molest children. The Rev. Robert Silva, president of the National Federation of Priests' Councils, called the idea of weeding out gays "absolutely absurd.... The problem isn't being oriented one way or the other. The problem is whether you can live a celibate life."

Autopsy scheduled for the BBC's Christopher Price

Christopher Price, the openly gay host of the BBC's Liquid News, was found dead in his London home Monday, and an autopsy was to be scheduled for Wednesday, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Police are investigating the death of the 34-year-old TV personality, but they have not indicated whether there are any suspicious circumstances. Price was considered a rising star at the network after signing a two-year, £250,000 ($363,000) contract to host the cult hit show, a gossip and talk program that aired nightly on digital channel BBC Choice and weekly on BBC1. Liquid News can be seen in the United States on BBC America (check local listings) Or .

Michael Douglas to appear on Will & Grace

Two-time Oscar winner Michael Douglas will make a guest appearance on Thursday's Will & Grace as a police detective who's part of Jack's (Sean Hayes) therapy group for gay men and who finds himself falling hard for Will (Eric McCormack). Molly Shannon of Saturday Night Live costars as Grace's unhinged neighbor, Val. Will & Grace airs at 9 p.m. (Eastern/Pacific) on NBC--check local listings.


A rare hilarious guest appearance

By Kevin D. Thompson, Palm Beach Post Television Writer
Thursday, April 25, 2002
You can always tell it's sweeps when celebrity guest-stars begin popping up on practically every sitcom. Most of these stunt casting appearances, however, are as funny as having a fork plunged in your eye over dinner.
Sure, there are such exceptions as Bruce Willis' hilarious turn as the overprotective dad of Ross' college girlfriend on Friends. I still can't get the image of a toupee-wearing Willis crooning Love Machine in front of a mirror. Sandra Bullock made me chuckle two weeks ago as a klutzy doofus on George Lopez. Recently Ray Liotta was a scream playing himself as a put-upon movie star who yearned to be a regular Joe on Just Shoot Me. But those gut-busting moments are rare when A-list stars are brought on to boost a show's ratings.
That said, you won't see a celebrity guest appearance any funnier than Michael Douglas' side-splitting bit as a closeted gay detective who has the hots for Will on Will & Grace (9 p.m. NBC), There's nothing more hilarious than watching big stars -- and Oscar-winning ones at that! -- cut loose from the confines of their film roles by sinking their teeth into totally aberrant characters.
OK, we've all seen Douglas, who starred on the 1970s TV cop drama The Streets of San Francisco, play countless detectives. But he's never played a gay detective who likes shakin' his groove thing off Missy Elliot's Get Ur Freak On. I don't remember ever seeing Douglas slow-dance with another man to Minnie Riperton's classic ballad, Lovin' You. And when Douglas looks in Will's eyes and coos they look "like two inviting pools of chocolate pudding," you believe him, which is funny and scary.
Deadpan Douglas slips into the role of Detective Hatch, who scams Will into a fake undercover operation to track down laptops stolen from their gay owners, like a comfortable pair of slippers. His scenes with Will already have the makings of an instant TV classic.
Tonight's episode clicks on all comic cylinders. Douglas' performance by itself is certainly enough to keep you in stitches. When you add the kooky Molly Shannon (Saturday Night Live) to the mix as Grace's nutty neighbor, well, TV comedies don't get much funnier. Once again Shannon displays why she should have her own sitcom. In her last appearance on Will & Grace, Shannon, as psycho Val, got into a hissy cat fight with Grace that made Alexis and Krystle's hair-pulling romp on Dynasty look like a patty-cake love fest. This time she's hellbent on stealing Grace's interior design ideas and making her as loopy as she is.
High-profile sweeps stunts rarely deliver the goods. It's nice to see Will & Grace does just that -- and then some.

Gay Teen Beaten At School Dance

by Jack Siu Newscenter in Toronto
(April 25, Toronto) Three teenagers have been arrested after the beating of a London, Ontario teenager outside a high school dance.
Police are withholding the name of the victim. Two of the accused are 16, the third is 17. They cannot be named under Canada's Young Offenders Act.
Investigators said the student was threatened and punched several times.
A Grade 10 student who witnessed the event, on the grounds of South Secondary School said he couldn't believe it.
"He wasn't doing anything, just standing there saying, 'Leave me alone,' " said Vaughn Martin, 16. "But they kept going. They were like, 'We'll kill you . . .' "
"That's not cool at all," Martin said. "I don't have that lifestyle, either, but I don't see why we can't just all live peacefully," he told the London Free Press.
Martin said the boy is accepted and well liked by his peers at the school.
Two of the accused are students at the school. The third is a former student. They have been charged with assault.
The two students have been suspended for ten days.
Principal David Brent said the school won't tolerate any hate-motivated crime.
"Our policy is zero tolerance for any of those type of things," he said.
Brent would not say if the victim had taken a same-sex date to the dance.
The attack came as a high school student in Oshawa, Ontario fights to bring his boyfriend to the prom.
Marc Hall, 17, has asked for a court injunction that would force the Durham District Catholic school board to allow him to take his boyfriend to dance. The board has said it doesn't "support a homosexual lifestyle."

Firemen Free Brighton Man's Penis From Sex Toy

for UK
25 April 2002
The Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton had to call out firefighters after a patient came into casualty with his penis stuck in a steel ring.
Doctors and nurses at first tried to use cutters to free the man from his metal sex toy. After the blades of the cutters snapped, staff at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton were forced to call out the fire brigade.
Firefighters had to use a pair of two-man hydraulic jaws to carefully cut through the metal during the delicate operation, reports the Brighton Evening Argus. Sub-officer Mick Collins said: "He was trying to be very chatty to cover up his embarrassment but he must have walked in to the hospital like John Wayne."

Gay Police Chief Likely To Be Cleared Over Drugs

for UK
25 April 2002
Police Chief Brian Paddick is likely to be cleared over drug allegations by his former lover by a disciplinary panel because of a series of legal technicalities.
Paddick's ex-lover, James Renolleau, claimed he smoked cannabis with Paddick at his home. It is, however, one man's word against another, sources told the Daily Mail. Renolleau was unable to provide evidence that Paddick ever smoked the drug.
It is believed that Paddick will be given a warning and that he will return to front line policing in Lambeth.
Renolleau's claims prompted a police investigation, as a result Paddick was switched from Lambeth, South East London to desk duties at the Yard.
The Deputy Chief Constable for Humberside, Gordon Clark, who is leading the investigation interviewed Renolleau over the allegations last week. If Paddick is formally cleared of criminal allegations, the matter will be referred back to the Police Complaints Authority. It will then recommend to the Metropolitan Police Authority whether Paddick should face disciplinary action.

Royal Founding Member Of Gay Club

for UK
25 April 2002
Lord Frederick Windsor, classics scholar, 28th in line to the throne and son of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent is on the founding member committee of gay members club Sweet Suite.
Sweet Suite is the latest members club addition to the London gay scene. Members who pay £250 a year have the use of a pink Rolls Royce to take them home in.
Sweet Suite promises "more camp than louche".A spokesperson for the club told the Daily Mail: "It is always good to have a Windsor on the board of a new venture". Lord Frederick, 23, who is in his final term at Magdalen College, Oxford, is said to have dropped into the club on a couple of ocassions.

Bournemouth Preacher Fined For Anti-Gay Sermon

for UK
25 April 2002
A preacher was found guilty of harassment yesterday, after a gay man complained that his street corner sermon was an incitement to homophobic attacks.
Harry Hammond, 69, quoted from the Bible in Bournemouth town centre as he brandished a placard saying "Stop Immorality, Stop Homosexuality, Stop Lesbianism".
Shaun Tapper called the police and complained that he felt threatened and that Hammond was inciting people to attack homosexuals.
As he preached, the fundamentalist Christian was attacked by 40 protesters who pelted him with soil and water.
Hammond denied the charge of harassment brought under section five of the Public Order Act 1986 at Wimborne Magistrates' Court. He quoted at length from the Bible and was reminded by the bench that he was "in the witness box, not a pulpit". He was fined £300 with £395 costs. The magistrates ordered that his placard be destroyed

Reno risks courting gay vote in area

By Alliniece T. Andino
Times-Union staff writer
When Barbara Engle's political group asked Janet Reno to visit with it at a public event in Jacksonville, Engle knew what would come next.
Reno's handlers asked her who is represented by the group, the TriangleJAX Democratic Caucus.
Engle, the group's president, said the caucus is made up of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender voters. She was relieved when the Reno camp said ... OK.
In South Florida, it's not unusual for political candidates to attend events hosted by gay and lesbian voter groups. But in Northeast Florida, it's unusual for a gubernatorial candidate to court gay voters so openly.
Northeast Florida is known for being conservative, Republican territory where the last Democratic presidential candidate to garner a majority of the votes was Jimmy Carter, said Matt Corrigan, assistant professor of political science and public administration at the University of North Florida.
Area politicians have spoken to gay-interest groups before, but it almost always was behind closed doors. In the past five years, some area candidates or statewide long-shot candidates have come to public meetings.
But last night, Reno spoke at a public event for gay voters. She told a crowd of hundreds at a Five Points coffeehouse that she supports benefits for domestic partners, opposes the harassment of gay students and disputes a state ban on gay people adopting children.
"I think it's really a first for Northeast Florida," said Dan Merkan, secretary of TriangleJAX. "I think it's unusual that it's happening here."
While gay and lesbian voters applaud Reno's strategy, James Button, a University of Florida professor of political science, said it could hurt her campaign.
"It is risky politically," said Button, who co-authored Private Lives, Public Conflicts: Battles Over Gay Rights in American Communities. "She is saying, 'I'm pro gay rights.' That may be a little bit of a miscalculation in North Florida."
She could lose conservative Democratic voters, he said.
Engle said she hopes the atmosphere that once deterred candidates from openly courting gay and lesbian voters has dissipated.
"We're citizens. We're taxpayers. We're voters," she said. "I can't see any reason why candidates wouldn't want to notice and address our caucus."
TriangleJAX formed in 1999. It has about 65 active members.
Voter News Service exit polls found that between 4 percent and 5 percent of the U.S. electorate in 1998 identified themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual.
Gay groups have tried to make themselves more public in recent years, Corrigan said.
Reno has been open about her pursuit of gay and lesbian voters. Staff writer Alliniece T. Andino can be reached at (904) 359-4546 or via e-mail at .

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Gay-bash Homily Didn't Have Egan Blessing

NY Post
by Dan Mangan
A St. Patrick's Cathedral priest who is under fire for a sermon bashing homosexuality as the prime cause of priest child-molestation said yesterday he did not clear Sunday's homily with his boss, Edward Cardinal Egan, even as the archdiocese distanced itself from his remarks.
Monsignor Eugene Clark said his comments "have been misconstrued and misinterpreted."
"The problem of sexual abuse of minors is a complex one . . . To suggest that I said that there is one cause and one solution to the problem is to grossly oversimplify the situation."
But Clark, the rector of St. Patrick's, also said the homily "was entirely my owns words and thoughts. I did not discuss my comments in advance with his Eminence, Cardinal Egan, and I have not discussed my comments with him" yesterday.
Egan's spokesman Joseph Zwilling confirmed the cardinal did not clear Clark's homily before leaving for Rome on Sunday to meet with the pope on the sex-abuse issue. Zwilling also said Clark was speaking "for himself" in the homily.
While Egan said Mass in a Bronx church, Clark handled the 10:15 a.m. service at St. Patrick's, the highest-profile Mass in the city's most important Catholic church.
A published account quoted him as linking clergy sex abuse of children to homosexuality. Clark reportedly said it is a "grave mistake" for the church to have admitted gay men to the priesthood, calling homosexuality a "disorder" and its practice "truly sinful."
He also reportedly said the United States has a "sex-saturated society" and is "probably the most immoral country" in the Western Hemisphere.
Clark yesterday said, "My homily concerned the influences that may have misled a small percentage of Catholic clergy." NEW YORK POST is a registered trademark of NYP Holdings, Inc. NYPOST.COM, NYPOSTONLINE.COM, and NEWYORKPOST.COM are trademarks of NYP Holdings, Inc. Copyright 2002 NYP Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved.

Gay seminarians aren't welcome in Philly

Tom Musbach, / Network
Tuesday, April 23, 2002 / 04:21 PM
SUMMARY: The Philadelphia Archdiocese has been weeding out gay priest candidates for the past 13 years, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The Philadelphia Archdiocese has been weeding out gay priest candidates for the past 13 years, according to a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Tuesday.
In an interview with the paper, Monsignor Michael Burbidge, director of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, said the "zero-tolerance" policy toward gay seminarians prevents them from "distorting the mission" of an all-male seminary.
Even if a candidate acknowledges he is gay but intends to remain celibate, he is rejected, diocesan authorities said.
The revelation was published on the same day that U.S. Catholic cardinals started an unusual two-day meeting with the pope and other Vatican officials to address the sex abuse scandal that has rocked many American dioceses. Some of the highly publicized sex abuse cases have occurred between priests and teen-age boys, prompting suggestions from many conservatives, including a Vatican official and a New York monsignor, to blame gay priests for the crisis.
In fact, the idea of screening for gay seminarians was supposed to be one of the discussion topics during the two-day meetings, Cardinal J. Francis Stafford, head of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Laity, said last week.
According to the Inquirer, the Philadelphia Archdiocese adopted its screening policy 13 years ago, when Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua became its leader. The cardinal is currently attending the meetings in Rome, and his communications staff did not return calls in time for this story.
In Washington, a spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Michael Hurley, told the Network he was unaware of Philadelphia's ban on gay seminarians. He added, however, that it has become more common in the last 15 years for seminaries to screen candidates for several characteristics, including homosexuality.
"It is surprising to learn of this policy," said Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, which serves gay and lesbian Catholics. "Church teaching clearly condemns prejudice and discrimination against gay and lesbian people. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia should put this teaching into practice when it comes to seminarians. "Gay men have been and continue to be an important and large segment of the Catholic priesthood, in every geographic area of the church," DeBernardo told the Network. "The policy of trying to exclude gay seminarians is demeaning to the many priests and church personnel in Philadelphia, the Vatican and elsewhere, who are homosexual."

Poll: Connecticut residents support equal rights

A majority of Connecticut residents support extending some rights now enjoyed by married people to same-sex couples, according to a new University of Connecticut poll. The poll, released Monday, was conducted by the university's Center for Survey Research Analysis on behalf of the advocacy group Love Makes a Family. Among other things, the poll asked respondents to rate how they felt about giving gay couples the right to register with the state, make medical decisions on behalf of an ill partner, and be considered a crime victim when a partner is killed. Eighty-eight percent of respondents said they support allowing a same-sex partner to make medical decisions for an ill partner, with 64% saying they strongly support that. Eighty-two percent said they support giving a gay person the right to private visits with their partner in a nursing home, with 53% saying they strongly support that. The telephone survey, conducted between April 4 and April 16, has a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

W.Va. town turns down hate-crimes proposal

The Huntington, W.Va., city council rejected a proposed hate-crimes ordinance Monday night following a 2-1/2 hour debate that focused on a provision dealing with sexual orientation. The proposal, which was rejected on a 7-4 vote, would have made it a misdemeanor to commit a crime against another individual, group, or property because of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, political affiliation, physical or mental disability, gender, or sexual orientation.
Opponents said the ordinance would have granted special protection to certain groups, while supporters said current laws do not adequately protect victims of beatings and other hate-related crimes. Mayor David Felinton said hate crimes are different from other crimes because they are intended to inflict fear in members of a certain community.
Ken Fox and Ken Epperly, owners of a costume store in Huntington, had sent letters to the council urging adoption of the ordinance. They said an employee, Michael Fiffe, was beaten in November because his attackers believed he was gay. Four Huntington men have been charged with aggravated robbery in the case. "Is that the climate we want to be recognized for in this city?" Huntington resident David Blackburn asked the council. Keith Wiebe Jr., assistant pastor of Grace Gospel Church, presented a petition against the ordinance that he said contained signatures of 337 people. Several students from Grace Christian School also urged the council to reject the ordinance. "If there's somebody sitting in the crowd and they are homosexual, they can say that offends them, and that's not right to me," said Ashley Smith, a 16-year-old student at the school. "I want to sit there and hear the truth." Charleston is the only city in West Virginia with a hate-crimes ordinance that includes protections based on sexual orientation and disability.

Rosie O'Donnell to host Survivor finale

Out talk-show host Rosie O'Donnell will host the Survivor 4 reunion show live from New York's Central Park on May 19. CBS says that's also where the million-dollar winner will be revealed, live, during the final episode, which will air just before the reunion show. The votes have been sealed since the final tribal council was held on the island of Nuku Hiva.
O'Donnell replaces Bryant Gumbel, who's hosted the first three reunion shows. Gumbel's contract with CBS runs out in May. O'Donnell will also host her own Survivor reunion on her talk show, which airs its final episode three days after the million-dollar winner is announced. John Carroll, the only openly gay contestant on this season's Survivor, was voted off the show last week.

FX renews The Shield

Although the show's controversial subject material--including a closeted gay cop--has spooked some advertisers, The Shield has been renewed for a second 13-episode season by the FX cable network, notes The Hollywood Reporter. Kevin Reilly, president of FX Entertainment, said, "We needed a beacon here that clearly defined the direction we're going with the network, so from a global standpoint it's great."


Notorious C.H.O. gets distributor, festival date

Notorious C.H.O., the latest concert film from comedian Margaret Cho--who has said she prefers the label "slutty" to "bisexual"--will be making its way into theaters across the country this summer. The Hollywood Reporter notes that Wellspring Media has acquired worldwide rights to the film, a 90-minute stand-up routine shot in Seattle during Cho's recent 37-city North American tour. The film is set to debut theatrically in Los Angeles on June 28 and in New York on July 3 before rolling out nationwide, but New Yorkers who want a sneak peek can catch the film on June 6, where it will be the opening night feature of the 14th annual New York Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. The festival has also announced that its closing night film will be Stanley Kwan's acclaimed Lan Yu.

Bid To Raise Consent Age Rejected

by Ben Thompson Newscentre
National Editor
(April 24, Ottawa) The House of Commons has voted down a bill to raise the age of consent in Canada, but the issue may not be dead.
The Canadian Alliance was pressing to have the age at which people can have sex raised "to at least 16".
Currently, the age is 14 for most sex acts, although it remains at 18 for anal sex.
Alliance justice critic Vic Toews said 14- and 15-year-olds do not have the emotional or mental maturity to decide whether to have sex.
Toews said his motion was aimed at protecting young people from predators and child pornographers. But, gay rights advocates said it could have a serious impact on GLBT youth.
John Fisher, the executive director of national gay rights organization EGALE said "laws already exist to protect young people from non-consensual sexual activity [and] raising the age of consent risks driving sex underground."
Fisher said that the courts have held that concerns about child exploitation are better addressed through education, information and ensuring young people have the knowledge, tools and confidence to explore their sexuality and make decisions about their bodies in an informed, healthy and empowered way, rather than by criminalizing conduct that would otherwise be consensual.
"Schools wholly omit references to LGBT sexuality and exclude references to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgendered people and same-sex families throughout the curriculum, with the result that many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered teens grow up in an information vacuum, with an internalized sense of shame, and isolated from their peers," Fisher said. The House voted 163 to 62 against the motion. The government said it didn't oppose the motion to protect teens from sexual predators in principle, but wants to consult with the provinces and before taking any action.

Russian Party Wants Law Outlawing Homosexuality

by Newscenter Staff
(April 24, Moscow) A small Russian political party is calling for a return to laws outlawing homosexuality. The People's Deputy bloc has introduced legislation that would reinstate an old Soviet law that provided for prison terms for gay and lesbian sex.
A phone-in poll by a Moscow radio station found most people divided on the idea.
The survey, by Ekho Moskvy radio showed fifty-three per cent of those polled said they would not support People's Deputy. But, 47 per cent said that homosexual acts should be illegal.
The station conducted the phone in poll over a five minute period and recorded 2,813 calls.
Oleg Mironov, a Russian human rights commissioner called returning to Soviet sexuality laws "ridiculous".
He said: "The Criminal Code does in fact contain criminal provisions for homosexual acts, where they constitute rape or they occur with regard to minors. However, I do not think that we should return to the old Criminal Code in which voluntary relations of this type were punishable in law."
Mironov said though that he would support raising the age of consent. "The thing I would change is the age of consent, which I would raise to 16. At the moment it is legal to have such relations if a person is 14 years old.

Toronto Gay Leader Appointed To UN AIDS Post

by Jack Siu Newscenter
(April 24, Toronto) Charles Roy, the Executive Director of the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT) has been appointed as the only Canadian to the Board of Directors of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
"The Board of the Global Fund is made up primarily of representatives of nations. I am very honoured to be representing people and communities living with HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria," says Charles Roy.
"As the only Canadian named to the Global Fund's first Board of Directors I feel an added responsibility to keep Canadians informed of the Fund's progress and Canada's contribution to its success."
The AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT) was founded in 1983 and is the largest AIDS service organization in Canada.
ACT is a community-based, non-profit organization that provides health promotion, support, education and advocacy for people living with HIV/AIDS and those affected by HIV/AIDS.
Recently ACT has introduced an international component to its work through a partnership with a Brazilian AIDS organization.
Roy's role on the Board of the Global Fund is that of a consumer - representing people living with HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria. In addition to his academic, professional and personal experience of living with HIV, Charles has lost two partners to AIDS related illness. He currently lives in Toronto with his partner Jay.
At the urging of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and many national leaders, the concept of the Fund was unanimously endorsed in June 2001 at the UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS. In July 2001, G8 leaders meeting in Genoa committed US$1.3 billion to the Fund.
To date, pledges to the Global Fund from government and private contributions amount to almost US$2 billion with Canada contributing $100 million.
"Sadly, Canada has not contributed what we might expect given our country's wealth. Our government needs to at least double our contribution to the Fund if we are to play a meaningful role in the fight against AIDS world-wide," Roy said. "For many of us on the Global Fund's Board of Directors this will be the first time in New York City since over 4,000 died in the September 11th tragedy", says Roy. "While acknowledging this tragedy, I will also be reminded that almost twice as many people die each day in Africa of AIDS. It is time that the world focus at least as much attention and resources on this daily occurring global tragedy."

UK Gay Rights Leader Stabbed

by Jon ben Asher Newscenter
(April 24, London) The head of a prominent British gay organisation has been stabbed in an apparent homophobic attack on Brighton seafront.
Andy Dunton, the recently-elected chairman of the Pride Brighton and Hove Pride Committee, was wounded in the stomach and arm as he walked along a footpath.
Dunton, 38, was rushed to hospital and underwent emergency surgery. His injuries are not considered life threatening.
Police said they are investigating the attack as a hate crime and possibly an attempted robbery.
Dunton is said to be anxious to return to planning this year's Pride gay festival in Brighton, to be held August 10. The festival is expected to attract more than 60,000 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people with their friends and relatives.

University Testing Home HIV Test

by Rich Peters Newscenter
Western Bureau Chief
(April 24, Saskatoon) Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan are developing a home HIV test that could be purchased at local drug stores.
Professor Heinz-Bernhard Kraatz says the test would be similar to that used by diabetics to check their blood-sugar levels. He says the kits could be available within three or four years.
Lab tests currently used to test for the AIDS virus can cost hundreds of dollars.
Researchers at the University of Saskatchewan say their method could do the same thing for just a few dollars. Kraatz said it would likely be at least a year before the test could be commercially available.

Madonna Threatens To Sue Boy George

for UK
24 April 2002
Madonna, who now likes to be known as simply M, has threatened to sue Boy George for making fun of her in his musical, Taboo.
Madonna was furious at a spoof version of her No 1 hit Vogue in the musical and issued a writ demanding it to be taken out, reports the Sun.
The track changed the lyrics of her 1990 hit to: "Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire, that Madonna, dyes her hair."
George has had to pull the song from the show at The Venue which mirrors his life in the Eighties.
He told the Sun: "I thought she was having a joke"
"I used to think she was an icon but she's more eyesore to me now. It's all so inoffensive - it's a tiny send-up." "OK we didn't ask her but, you know, I thought she might laugh," he added. "She thinks she's a born-again Brit but she's clearly not".

Orlando welcomes gays -- sort of

By Jeff Kunerth
Sentinel Staff Writer
April 14, 2002
Once a month, domestic partners Wilbur Parrott and Bob Kingston invite about 30 gay and lesbian friends over to watch comedies, musicals and film classics.
For movie-night newcomers, they distinguish their south Orange County house from all the beige-colored lookalikes on the block with a pansy-patterned flag near the front door.
That flag is subtle enough not to draw attention. But the rainbow-colored gay-pride flag that they used to fly every day in Provincetown, Mass., stays tucked away.
"It can be offensive to some, and I want to fit into the neighborhood," said Kingston, 60, who has served as homeowners' association president, of the gay pride flag. "I would compare it to putting a Confederate flag out."
To be gay in Central Florida is to live a delicate balance: fitting in without denying who you are. It's OK to be gay -- but not too gay.
"There is still an atmosphere of 'Don't get in my face with it,' " said Rich Gause, 44, a librarian at the University of Central Florida. "I don't walk around Lake Eola holding hands with my partner."
For much of the gay population, Orlando is the land of live-and-let-live -- neither overtly hostile nor overly friendly. It's a place where tolerance is based largely on gays being benign and inoffensive.
So when members of the gay community push for an anti-discrimination ordinance in Orlando that would give gays, lesbians and bisexuals the same employment and housing protections as women, racial minorities and the disabled, they risk violating that Don't Stick Out doctrine of gay life in Central Florida.
A hearing on the ordinance is scheduled for Tuesday before Orlando's Human Relations Board.
The ordinance is a calculated risk to seek symbolic equality in conservative Central Florida, and it could provoke the kind of anti-gay backlash Orlando hasn't seen since it allowed gay-pride flags to fly from city light posts in 1998.
"The risk is confirming the fear that discrimination based on sexual orientation would be officially sanctioned within the city limits," said Tom Dyer, publisher of Watermark, a gay publication. "If the votes aren't there, then gays and lesbians will know they live in a city where the governmental body does not fully embrace them."
But even failure is better than not trying at all, Dyer said: "If the condition of acceptance is we must be invisible, that's not acceptance at all."
Growing influence
The push for a gay-rights ordinance may come with risks, but it also reflects the economic clout, political influence and large numbers of gays in Central Florida.
The gay community's economic impact on Orlando is found in the revitalization of downtown neighborhoods, the creation of the gay "ViMi" business district along Virginia and Mills avenues, and the $100 million spent by visitors who attend Gay Days at area attractions, according to the event's sponsors.
Its political influence is evident in the election of Patty Sheehan, a lesbian, to the Orlando City Council and the courting of gay voters by City Council candidates.
By the rule-of-thumb estimate that 10 percent of the population is homosexual, there are about 160,000 gays and lesbians in the metro area of Orange, Seminole, Osceola and Lake counties. And in the only government tally of gays, 9,171 couples in Central Florida voluntarily identified themselves as same-sex partners in the 2000 census.
Although concentrated in downtown Orlando neighborhoods, same-sex couples are scattered throughout Central Florida's cities, towns and suburbs.
Every month, gays and lesbians from DeBary, DeLand, Deltona, Eustis, Longwood, Sanford and Ormond Beach get together for dinner at different Central Florida restaurants. The group, with a mailing list of 300, calls itself Over The River because everybody comes from both sides of the St. Johns River.
For many, it's the only gay social group between Daytona Beach and Orlando.
"It's their lifeline to the gay community. We try to provide a safe haven in a public place," said one of the group's organizers, who requested anonymity because of fears of reprisals from gay-bashers.
Gays outside Orlando's downtown "Gay Town" district often feel threatened and endangered, she said. "People in the ViMi district live in a little cocoon. There's the gay community center, gay restaurants and the gift store. That's not the norm."
Parallel worlds
Gays throughout Central Florida live in parallel worlds. One is the world inside the clubs, church walls, private homes, social activities and support-group surroundings where they feel safe and uninhibited.
They have formed groups that get together to watch movies, dine, play softball, bowl, sing, dance, roller skate, discuss politics and worship.
For Bob Bella and Ross Gentry, a weekly gay ballroom-dancing class provides an opportunity to learn to salsa together. Before, when they took lessons aimed at straight couples, they danced with women instead of each other. As a consequence, both learned to lead, but neither knew how to follow.
"When I heard about this, it was like a dream come true," said Bella, 57.
Along with the bars and nightclubs, gay groups and activities provide sanctuaries of acceptance for homosexuals who often think they must conceal their sexual orientation from neighbors, co-workers, employers and landlords.
Outside those havens, it's another world -- one of caution, vulnerability and fear.
Even those who are "out" to friends, neighbors and family members sometimes second-guess whether they should identify themselves to the larger community. Many curtail their activities in the gay community for fear of being seen or photographed.
The Joy Metropolitan Community Church, whose membership is 90 percent gay, does not publish a church directory -- in an effort to protect the identities of its members. Few cars in the church parking lot bear any gay-identifying bumper stickers.
Living in those two separate worlds often starts at home, where gays first experience scorn and ostracism. For Sarah Bapst, it began the day she told her mother she was a lesbian.
"She said, 'I love you, and you'll burn in hell,' " said Bapst, 31, a physical-therapy manager. "I just felt very alone. My mother was ashamed of me. From that point on, I realized you have your family of choice -- and you have your biological family."
Many Orlando-area residents tolerate gays as long as they remain inoffensive and invisible. Jerry Ross, a 78-year-old former rancher and citrus grower, considers a gay bumper sticker a blatant act of homosexuals flaunting their sexuality -- same as kissing, hugging and hand-holding.
"When I see them kissing or caressing each other in public, it makes me nauseous," Ross said.
Others support gay equality, but not homosexuality itself.
"I'm a Christian, so I don't agree with what they are doing, but I love them as individuals -- hate the sin, but love the sinner," said Sheldon Walker, a 27-year-old YMCA worker who backs the anti-discrimination ordinance for gays.
Although instances of violence against gays are rare in Orlando, fears of ostracism, scorn and prejudice -- real or imagined -- do cause gays and lesbians to modify their behavior. There are neighborhoods they prefer and places they avoid. They know which restaurants are gay-friendly and which are not.
"I think gays are more likely to set their own limits by not wanting others to be uncomfortable," said Joel Strack, 42, a longtime gay activist.
And in fact, many gays find Orlando a good place to be. George Lytle said he has found Orlando to be far more accepting than his native Maine or Polk County, where he worked before moving to Orlando.
When Lytle and his partner reserved their tuxedos and registered at Target and Linens 'N Things for their Holy Union ceremony -- the gay equivalent of a wedding -- nobody objected that the couple consisted of two men.
"People here are more tolerant and accepting than any place I've ever been," said Lytle, 37, who volunteered to list himself as the bride. "It's such a great feeling."
Disunity in the community
For some gays, acceptance by the larger community is not as big a concern as the disunity within the gay community itself. A common complaint of Orlando-area gays and lesbians is that the gay community here is less unified than gay populations in other cities.
"I just don't see us as being a very cohesive community," said Lee Moody, a 36-year-old computer programmer who helped start Orlando's Gay Lesbian Bisexual Community Center of Central Florida.
Organizations exist for lesbian black women, gay Asians, gay teenagers, gay alcoholics and jolly overweight gay men who call their group Girth & Mirth. Yet no single group or organization seems capable of galvanizing the community's splintered subcultures -- whether it's for gay-pride parades, support for the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Community Center or for Orlando's anti-discrimination ordinance.
"It's complacent and impatient at the same time," Dyer said. "Everybody wants something to happen -- and they want somebody else to do it."
The community center, founded in 1987, envisions itself as the center of the gay community, a one-stop information-and-referral service that also serves as a safe-haven home for gay and lesbian support groups.
"It is still the most important institution in our community," said Chris Alexander-Manley, 44, a former executive director of the center. "The amount of people we reach, the number of people we help, has only grown every year."
The community center is credited with spawning the gay-pride parade, the Orlando Gay Chorus and the Metropolitan Business Association -- all of which are now independent organizations.
But the center has struggled with financial support and direction in recent years, even as the gay community has grown. The center is without an executive director and is still recovering from an embezzlement scandal five years ago.
Even worse, some say the center is simply irrelevant to the lives of many Orlando-area gays and lesbians.
"Gay community centers are leftovers from the 1980s, when there was a need for those centers," said Craig Friend, 40, assistant professor of history at UCF. "But the gay community has become so mainstream the center's purpose is no longer viable."
Similarly, the Central Florida Pride Parade, which started in 1991 with 500 gays and lesbians carrying flags and holding hands around Lake Eola, has lost support.
For the past few years, it has been a one-woman show kept afloat by Debbie Fritts, a former vice president of the gay community center. Part of the parade's problem, Fritts said, is that the gay community in Orlando is fractured into small, often-competing groups.
"There are a lot of us here, but nobody comes out," said Fritts, 48, a finance officer. "We want to see everybody coming together -- make it one big group and not a ton of tiny groups."
At a recent organizational meeting for the parade, attended by eight people, Fritts said she hoped to boost the parade's profile with greater participation, more bands and better floats. The parade, she said, should reflect the range within the gay community -- not just the extremes.
"I'm sorry, but a float is not a drag queen in the back of a convertible," she told the parade's organizers.
Much of the separation that divides the gay community originates from the bars that cater to specific gay subcultures. "Bears" -- hairy-chested men who favor denim and leather -- have their bars. "Twinks" -- young men -- have theirs. The two seldom mix. Lesbians have their own bar that does not admit men.
While heterosexuals also have specialized bars -- cowboy bars, reggae bars, blues bars -- bars and clubs have always played a special role in the gay and lesbian community.
Going back to 19th-century America, gay bars have provided privacy and freedom to homosexuals who were ostracized, threatened, beaten and killed by those who viewed them as perverted, wicked and sinful. Just as the churches provided blacks with safe places to congregate during the days of segregation, bars assumed the same significance to gays.
In fact, some gays refer to Saturday night at the bars as "going to church." Then, the next morning, many attend services at Orlando's Joy Metropolitan Community Church.
The church is one of 350 nationwide spawned by a ministry that began in the gay bars. The Rev. Troy Perry started the church in 1968 in California by recruiting gays who had been kicked out of mainstream churches.
In her sermons, Joy MCC's the Rev.Carol Trissell emphasizes that being gay or lesbian is only one facet of a person's life.
"We are complex human beings with many parts to us. We don't want to be known as Bob -- gay. Or Jane -- gay-lesbian," she preached at a recent service. "We are on a journey to wholeness, to integrate all the different parts of who we are together to reflect the God who created us."
Jeff Kunerth can be reached at or 407-420-5392. Copyright © 2002, Orlando Sentinel

Gays have yet to flex political muscle

By Mark Schlueb
Sentinel Staff Writer
April 16, 2002
When Michael Slaymaker left Des Moines, Iowa, and moved to Orlando in 1995, he expected to find an urban, progressive city with a prominent gay community.
Boy, was he surprised. Slaymaker's former home in the Midwest made Orlando look downright backward.
"It was like stepping back in time when it came to gay issues," said Slaymaker, a fund-raiser for a nonprofit agency in Fern Park.
In Des Moines, there was an active gay center that sent speakers to address mainstream groups. Many businesses had gay employee alliances. Gay and lesbian teachers had their own organization, and there were even scholarship programs for gay high-school students.
In Orlando, most gay organizations were focused only on socializing, and even they were largely unknown to the straight community.
Greater Orlando has a sizable gay and lesbian population, theme parks that employ large numbers of gay workers, and an annual "Gay Days" event that draws tens of thousands of homosexuals from across the nation and around the world. But when it comes to pushing for social change, local activists concede that Orlando's gay community is largely invisible.
Gays in Central Florida are less likely to be active in political causes than gays in other communities such as Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and Atlanta, they acknowledge. Even smaller cities like Gainesville have gay communities that are more visible and more involved in local politics.
But that could change, now that local gays are working to convince Orlando leaders to prohibit private-sector workplace and housing discrimination against gays. The measure could signal a coming of age for Orlando's gay activists, Slaymaker said.
Still, there's a lot to overcome.
Like Central Florida as a whole, Orlando's gay community has in some ways been hurt by the region's tourism economy. Many gays in Orlando are well-paid professionals, but there are also many who are low-paid theme-park workers -- not the type who gravitate to political causes.
"Most of the people who live here are on minimum wage, or earn less than $10 an hour," Slaymaker said. "Those aren't the people who have the time and resources to go out and work for change."
And overall, Central Florida just isn't a hotbed of political activity -- gay or straight. Like mainstream Central Florida, many local gays are transient; they move to Orlando for a year or two and then move on.
It doesn't leave much time to sink roots.
"There is more activism in a community that is deep-rooted. It's in their interest to change things," said Joel Strack, who helped start the annual Central Florida Pride Parade. "This is such a transient community. People don't see that greater need for involvement in this area because so many people will be moving on in three years, five years."
Issues get little attention
Change is slow to come when there's no one to push for it.
One of the best examples is the question of whether to extend workplace benefits to employees' unmarried, same-sex partners. A growing number of companies -- including the parent company of the Orlando Sentinel -- do just that. In fact, 58 percent of companies listed on last year's Fortune 500 list provide such benefits.
But because most smaller businesses, including those in Central Florida, haven't followed suit, pushing to change individual company benefits policies has become a key goal for gay activists across the country.
In Orlando, the issue gets little attention.
That may be because two of the region's biggest employers of gays and lesbians -- Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando -- already provide health care and other benefits to their workers' same-sex partners. Why should they raise a ruckus on behalf of others who aren't so lucky?
"If you work at one of the theme parks, it's a relatively supportive atmosphere. You feel comfortable being out, and therefore you don't feel a need to be active," said Jack Lord, a downtown attorney.
Other issues that have gained national attention, including gay marriage and gay adoption, are rarely brought up in Orlando. Local activists don't think they can have much impact on legislation in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C.
Even local government officials said they don't often hear from gay leaders.
"Frankly, we haven't had any input from the gay community," Orange County Chairman Rich Crotty said. "We are open to input from all segments of the community, but they just haven't been very aggressive."
Many gays here, even those who have shared their sexual orientation with friends and family, tend to be low-key. Though residents of Orlando seem to be tolerant of gays, some gays said that's true only as long as they don't flaunt their lifestyle in public.
And tolerance isn't universal in Central Florida.
"If you go out 30 miles from Orlando, you're dealing with a whole different ball of wax," said Debbie Simmons, president of the Metropolitan Business Association, a gay and gay-friendly merchants' group.
Election a turning point
Gay leaders in Central Florida said the time never seemed right to risk cracking the region's veneer of tolerance by bringing their cause out of the shadows.
That began to change two years ago, when local gay activist Patty Sheehan launched a successful campaign for Orlando City Council.
Sheehan got her start in politics in 1993, when a group headed by conservative activist David Caton proposed a state constitutional amendment to bar gay-rights legislation in Florida and its cities and counties.
The Florida Supreme Court threw out the proposal on technical grounds. That was a good thing, Sheehan said, because the gay opposition was disorganized and hobbled by infighting.
In Gainesville, lesbian activists and gay men argued about setting their agenda. Activists in South Florida had different ideas than those in Central and North Florida.
Even then, when gay-rights issues were drawing widespread media attention, Sheehan's activism often evoked a negative reaction from fellow gays in Central Florida: "They would say, 'Oh, you're political.' Being political wasn't seen as being cool."
Sheehan ran for a seat on the Orlando City Council in 1996 and lost after her sexual orientation became a campaign issue.
But by 2000, Sheehan's campaign had gained support from straight residents as well as gays, and local activists decided the time was ripe to get more aggressive on gay-rights issues.
First, the Metropolitan Business Association asked other City Council candidates -- including Mayor Glenda Hood -- to support a new policy of nondiscrimination against gay, lesbian and bisexual city employees. The policy was quietly adopted by the city a few months after the election.
The nondiscrimination issue might have ended with only city employees, but Sheehan's victory at the polls gave rise to more activism.
"Patty Sheehan being elected made the whole [gay] community say, 'Maybe now is the time,' " Slaymaker said.
A week after Sheehan was elected, a handful of local gays, led by Slaymaker, quietly formed Orlando's Anti-Discrimination Ordinance Committee. The group's goal is to convince Hood and the City Council to prohibit discrimination against gays -- not just city employees, but in the private sector as well.
The group may be close to accomplishing its goal: The city's Human Relations Board will hold a public hearing at City Hall at 6 p.m. today on the proposal, which would bar discrimination in the workplace, in housing and in public places such as restaurants and hotels.
Progress remains slow
But progress has been slow.
Hood still hasn't taken a position on the issue, which heated up during City Council races just two weeks ago. Incumbent Don Ammerman accused challenger Phil Diamond of being a liberal Democrat who favors "special rights" for gays, and Diamond accused Ammerman of telling gays one thing and his conservative constituents another. Diamond won the election.
And even though Sheehan's election helped to spur an increase in activism, some members of the group have feuded privately with her.
In January, someone the group describes as a "rogue" former member faxed a letter to the media that slammed Sheehan and Hood. Sheehan said some members felt she wasn't doing enough to champion the issue from inside City Hall.
"Sometimes, like other minority groups, we tend to [discredit] our leaders," Sheehan said.
The newfound upswing in activism has been confined to a small group of those leaders, who acknowledge that most local gays are apt to get involved only when riled.
That happened in 1998, when they defended their right to fly gay-pride flags downtown. It happened again last year, when they rallied in support of gay teens who visited state Rep. Allen Trovillion's office, only to be told their "lifestyle" would prevent them from entering heaven.
But that sort of visible activism is rare.
"When you feel threatened, that's when you're going to get involved," Simmons said. "Until then, you're going to go home to your life."
That complacency has left a social and political void for many local gays. The gay community is so low-key here that it can seem almost invisible even to other gays, especially if they don't live or work in downtown's ViMi district.
Ron Hardbower, a retired AT&T employee, said he and his partner of 10 years may move to Fort Lauderdale, where the gay community is more cohesive.
"There doesn't seem to be any community," said Hardbower, who lives in a quiet neighborhood in south Orange County. "We feel like an old, straight married couple here."
Jeff Kunerth of the Sentinel staff contributed to this report. Mark Schlueb can be reached at 407-420-5417 or . Copyright © 2002, Orlando Sentinel

Gays bear witness to prejudice

By Mark Schlueb
Sentinel Staff Writer
April 14, 2002
John Daum has heard the statistics.
He knows that few gays have filed discrimination complaints in cities that have laws to protect them from being fired. He knows critics point to those statistics as proof that discrimination against gays doesn't exist.
But he also knows what happened to him.
Daum, a 46-year-old pharmacist who lives in south Orange County, was working as a "floating pharmacist" for a temp agency in 1998 when he learned about discrimination first-hand.
The agency had sent him to work for a business that filled prescriptions for a string of nursing homes in Central Florida, and at first everything seemed great. Daum's supervisors were so impressed they offered him a full-time job after only two weeks.
But then, on break one day, a co-worker noticed Daum's large lunch, the food neatly compartmentalized in separate Tupperware containers. "Your wife takes such good care of you," she said.
"I don't have a wife; I have a partner," Daum told her. "His name is Ron."
Daum wasn't secretive about his sexual orientation, but he didn't flaunt it. It had never come up before.
A few days later, another co-worker told Daum in confidence that he wasn't going to be hired after all because he is gay, that a manager had told him: "We don't want to invite sin into the building."
Sure enough, the job offer disappeared. Daum said the boss told him that funding hadn't been approved by corporate honchos. But after Daum left, another temp was hired -- one who wasn't gay.
"I told some of my friends, and they said, 'Why don't you sue?' " said Daum, who has worked for Central Florida Regional Hospital in Sanford for 2½ years. "I'd just laugh. It's perfectly legal -- I can be fired right now because I'm gay, and I'd have no recourse."
The company is no longer in business, and former company officials could not be reached for comment.
There are no dependable statistics on discrimination against gays and lesbians.
Federal law prohibits workplace and housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability and age, so the government tracks complaints filed on those grounds. But there is no such protection for gays in the federal law or in most states, counties and cities. So for the most part, there are no complaints to track.
Twelve states, the District of Columbia and 122 cities and counties across the country have adopted laws that ban discrimination against gays by private businesses and government employers, according to a 2001 report prepared by the Human Rights Campaign, a gay-rights advocacy group. Another nine states bar discrimination based on sexual orientation in public employment. In Florida, that list includes Gainesville, Tampa, Key West and Miami Beach, as well as Miami-Dade and Broward counties. St. Petersburg was added in January.
Local activists have asked officials to pass such a law in Orlando, which would affect employers, landlords and public accommodations such as restaurants and hotels within the city limits.
If the as-yet-unwritten law were to mirror the city's existing rules for racial and other types of discrimination, it wouldn't apply to everyone. Businesses with six or fewer employees, landlords with fewer than four rental units, religious organizations and private clubs would be exempt. Orlando's Human Relations Board will hold a public hearing to gather input on the proposal at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.
GAO finds few complaints
In a 2000 report, the General Accounting Office -- the investigative arm of Congress -- found that the number of formal complaints filed in states where anti-gay employment discrimination is illegal is very small. Compared with complaints of racial and other types of discrimination, complaints filed by gays in 1999 ranged from fewer than one out of every 100 (in California) to just more than three of every 100 (in New Hampshire).
In Florida, complaints have been higher in cities and counties with large and active gay populations. Broward County, for instance, has had 61 complaints filed on the grounds of sexual orientation since 1998.
Complaints have been few in most places because it's difficult to prove someone has been fired or passed over for a promotion because he or she is gay, supporters said. Though it's legal to dismiss an employee because of sexual orientation in most places, most businesses still won't admit to it, they contend.
Even if no complaints are ever filed in Orlando, protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination will have a symbolic impact, attorney Jack Lord said. Gay workers won't have to worry about revealing their sexual orientation to their bosses. And the ordinance would mark Orlando as a "progressive" city, a label that local gays say would be a selling factor for large companies looking for a place to relocate.
"Companies will realize Orlando is not a backward city," Lord said.
That's one of the reasons area gays have cited in dozens of letters and e-mails sent to Mayor Glenda Hood during the past few weeks.
But City Hall also has been deluged with letters and hundreds of pre-printed postcards from people opposed to the ordinance. Most have been from members of the conservative Florida Family Association, and most have been sent from outside Central Florida.
Many critics have cited religious reasons for their opposition, though some letter-writers fretted that the ordinance will prompt poor-performing workers who deserve to be fired to claim they were dismissed because of their sexual orientation.
That hasn't happened among the 130,000 employees of Orlando-based Darden Restaurants, parent company of Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze and Smokey Bones BBQ. Darden's nondiscrimination policy includes sexual orientation, and the company extended benefits to same-sex partners in 2000.
"It hasn't been a problem for us," spokeswoman Shannon McAleavey said.
Kimberly Kinnaird, a 38-year-old Orlando mother of two, opposes covering gays in the city's anti-discrimination ordinance on grounds it could lead to more gay-rights legislation.
"I don't have a problem with gay people, but I have a problem with activist gay people who blatantly push for special rights," Kinnaird said.
Sam Odom, a funeral director who works in DeBary and lives in Orlando, said he's not looking for special treatment, just fair treatment.
Odom, who was raised in rural Georgia, was a closeted gay when he went to work for an Orlando funeral home in 1989. But it wasn't long, he said, before his boss heard that Odom had been seen at Parliament House, a gay nightclub.
"I was taken into the chapel and told there are places I should not be seen, and that I need to think about the reputation of the firm," Odom said. "My comment was, 'Where I go after 5 o'clock is my business.' "
Several weeks later, after Odom was again seen at Parliament House, he was asked to resign, he said. When he refused, he was fired.
The funeral home has since been purchased by a national chain, which put new management in place and was not involved in Odom's situation.
Odom's former boss said in an interview he couldn't remember why Odom was fired, but it wasn't because he was gay.
Odom, 40, remains convinced: "I know for a fact I was fired simply because of my sexual orientation."
Supporters of the anti-discrimination ordinance point out that it would protect heterosexuals, too.
In 1993, the owner of a struggling nightclub in New Port Richey decided the establishment could make more money as a gay bar. He fired two bartenders and two waitresses -- all of them straight women -- and replaced them with gay men.
The fired workers consulted an attorney, but found that no law prevented their dismissal.
Ultimately, the bar went out of business because gays, angered over the firings, boycotted.
The threat of being fired has sent some gays back into the closet. Some local gays said they don't place photographs of their same-sex partners on their desks. Some gay men pretend to have girlfriends who live in another state.
Activism can be costly
But for some, the world outside of work intrudes. Debbie Fritts' employer had no idea she was a lesbian -- until she appeared on a radio program to promote a local gay-pride parade.
"I got a phone call from someone in the HR director's office who asked me, 'Was that you I heard on the radio?' And that's how he found out," she said.
Still, Fritts had no reason to think she'd be fired. Just a week before, she'd been given a $10,000-a-year raise.
But Fritts, then a manager for a long-distance telephone company, said she was told a week after her radio appearance that she was being dismissed for yelling at a co-worker. The company didn't name the employee or provide any details, even during the glowing performance evaluation she'd received the previous week.
Nobody told her she was being fired for being a lesbian. Nobody needed to. The only thing that was different between the time she received her raise and when she lost her job was the radio appearance.
So the day Fritts returned from a seminar on workplace diversity turned out to be the same day she was escorted to her desk and told to clean out her belongings, including a framed photograph of her domestic partner.
Fritts made no attempt to contest her dismissal. She knew the law was on her employer's side. But more importantly, she had no desire to continue working at a place that preached diversity but practiced intolerance.
"Why would I want to work for an employer like that?" Fritts asked.
The incident happened five years ago. The company is now defunct. And Debbie Fritts heads the Central Florida Pride Parade, the event that cost her a job, but not her identity.
Jeff Kunerth of the Sentinel staff contributed to this report. Mark Schlueb can be reached at 407-420-5417 or . Copyright © 2002, Orlando Sentinel

Broward School Board OKs gay tolerance training for teachers

By Bill Hirschman
Education Writer
April 23, 2002
Applause and sighs from a standing-room-only crowd surged over the Broward School Board on Tuesday after it voted to permit a gay tolerance group to train educators in fighting harassment of gay students.
With two members changing sides from six months ago, the board voted 6-3 to endorse an agreement with the Gay, Lesbian Straight Education Network of Greater Fort Lauderdale - one of the most divisive issues the board has faced in years.
GLSEN will provide training over the next five years to help educators, psychologists and social workers eliminate intolerance of students because of sexual orientation.
On Oct. 16, board members rejected the agreement formalizing a four-year relationship - in part because some were unclear whether GLSEN would interact with children.
But assured that GLSEN would have no board-sponsored contact with students or input on curriculum, board members Paul Eichner and Ben Williams switched their vote.
"In a perfect world, children would not be cruel to each other, taunt each other, tease each other.But we do not live in a perfect world," Eichner said.
"Until that plateau is reached.we need to work with people and groups to assist in helping others understand why certain groups are targeted and how to stop this from happening again and again," he said. Eichner and Williams joined Bob Parks, Beverly Gallagher, Carole Andrews and Lois Wexler.
Voting against the deal were Judie Budnick, Stephanie Kraft and Darla Carter.
Rallied by pro-gay and anti-gay activists, about 200 partisans filled the K.C. Wright Administration Building boardroom and two anterooms equipped with television monitors, all watched by armed plainclothes security officers.
Some officials worried that the meeting might disintegrate into strife, indicated by a flood of letters, phone calls and e-mails. But most of the 30 speakers remained passionate but polite, even though outside the boardroom people alternately cheered and booed speakers as if it were a sporting event.
More than 40 people had signed up to speak in favor of the deal, and nearly 120 signed up to speak against it. But Chairman Parks limited the public's remarks to a half-hour per side, noting that the board already had heard extensive comments.
Supporters said the central issue was not advocating homosexuality but protecting students.
"If the type of respect and tolerance that we would like to have enforced for all our children within our schools is not being delivered, then, by all means, we do need groups such as GLSEN to be part of our toolbox," said Wexler, who worked all winter to gather community support.
For instance, GLSEN's past efforts included showing a video to about 14,000 employees who work with children, featuring interviews with students, parents and teachers discussing harassment.
But many opponents framed it as the district deciding whether to reject or endorse homosexuality on campus, meddling in values that should be a family's purview.
"It should not be the business of the School Board to teach children about the homosexual lifestyle," said parent Martha Suarez of Lauderhill.
Other opponents contended the agreement is the first step toward allowing gay advocates to teach their views to students and provide pro-gay curriculum to teachers to incorporate into their lesson plans.
Waving an American flag outside the boardroom, Jovan Watson-Dias of Inverrary, a mother of two, said, "They are trying to brainwash our kids.I truly feel it's a recruitment effort."
Superintendent Frank Till answered, "This agreement does not.give up the right to determine curricula." Referring to controversial, explicit material used by GLSEN in other states, Till said, "The curricula that has been presented out there has no chance of ever being adopted by this board."
Student interaction
The most volatile issue was contact with students. Under the agreement, GLSEN would not interact directly with students. In fact, the word "students" was taken out of an earlier draft of the agreement.
But GLSEN does support Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) student groups designed to reduce anti-gay harassment. They meet at schools as clubs not affiliated with the district, on the same basis as Bible study groups and Girl Scout troops.
Opponents charged GLSEN counsels the student groups on sexuality, something GLSEN adamantly denies. Brian Levitt, a Plantation parent, said he attended a GLSEN meeting in January when an officer said the agreement was necessary if the group was to be able to speak to students about homosexuality.
Board member Kraft and parent Lori Harding argued that the district should simply enforce existing anti-discrimination and harassment policies.
But a gay South Plantation High student, who asked to be referred to only as T.J., said more sensitivity training is needed because many teachers are either unwilling or unable to stop the teasing.
"I've gotten a lot of ridicule, even from teachers," he said. "There's not a day goes by that I'm not called four or five names. The teachers just don't know how to handle it."
Budnick questioned whether an advocacy group such as GLSEN was the right partner.
"We need to better utilize a large umbrella organization to teach tolerance and sensitivity, one without a specific agenda.I believe this action.does not assist our efforts of tolerance, but, in fact, begs to recognize differences."
Carter stunned the audience with her analogy when she said that providing special protection for gay students was a slippery slope, asking if the district should provide it for "skinheads, the KKK and Nazis. Where do we draw the line?"
Intense views
The controversy prompted some of the most widespread and divided response from the community in recent years. By Tuesday, board members had received more than 2,000 telephone calls, 4,500 e-mail messages from across the country, and what appeared to be four to five reams of form letters favoring the agreement and two to three reams against it. Additionally, the Coalition to Reclaim America, a group of conservative activists, presented a petition spread by the Internet "signed" by 60,677 people, 12 percent from Florida and about 1,000 from Broward County, said National Director Janet Folger.
When the decision finally arrived 2 1/2 hours after the debate began, 16-year-old Krystle Rios jumped up and down.
"We won! We won!" the co-facilitator for the Broward Gay and Lesbian Youth Group cried after calling a friend with the news. "No, wait, we didn't win. We just finally got noticed."
Education Writer Jamie Malernee contributed to this report. Bill Hirschman can be reached at or 954-356-4513. Copyright © 2002, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Gay-rights group gets OK to help with teacher training

Board's vote stirs praise and protest
A controversial gay-rights advocacy group has won the right to help design diversity training for Broward teachers and administrators.
At an emotional meeting that drew about 200 on Tuesday, the Broward School Board voted 6-3 to work with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, six months after rejecting a similar partnership.
The earlier proposal was nixed because some board members were uncomfortable with the possibility of students being exposed to sexually explicit content. Under the new agreement, GLSEN would not present material to students, although gay and lesbian students might make presentations to teachers and administrators as part of the training.
Tuesday's vote prompted Fort Lauderdale High sophomore Ashleigh Pfriem to burst into tears, hugging friends.
''I'm ecstatic,'' Pfriem said later. 'When I heard the vote, the first thing I said to the person next to me was, `This is going to make things a lot better.' ''
Through teacher training, GLSEN hopes to stop the bullying and name-calling that gay and lesbian students say they are routinely subjected to in schools.
Supporters of the GLSEN partnership wore buttons that read, ''Safe Schools Now.'' Opponents waving small American flags wore stickers saying ``Protect Our Children.''
Parents on both sides of the issue were subjected to a metal detector search on their way into the packed School Board chambers. The overflow crowd watched the debate on TV in separate rooms.
GLSEN's win drew groans from those who believe the group has no place in public schools. Speakers complained that the message would be sexually explicit and would normalize homosexuality, which many believe is wrong.
''I'm going to get my children out of Broward public schools,'' said Jovan Dias, a Lauderhill parent. ``I cannot believe this is happening.''
Board members Beverly Gallagher, Lois Wexler, Paul Eichner, Bob Parks, Ben Williams and Carole Andrews voted for GLSEN. Judie Budnick, Stephanie Kraft and Darla Carter voted against it.
In October, the board rejected a similar partnership 5-3. That agreement would have allowed GLSEN to work with ''student-led'' clubs, a provision some found troublesome. Some also were worried about sexually explicit GLSEN material used by chapters in other states.
Williams and Eichner changed their vote Tuesday. Andrews was absent for the October vote.
''It's not about the six votes, it's about the board's decision to send a message that it's not OK to harass, bully and taunt other students,'' said Plantation Middle School teacher Mike Record, GLSEN's Fort Lauderdale chapter co-chair. ``I want to thank them. They are heroes.''
GLSEN will work with the school district's diversity office to develop sensitivity training for teachers and administrators. Record has said the training could use gay and lesbian students to talk to teachers in a round-table format about insensitive comments they have heard.
Controversy over the GLSEN partnership was fueled, in part, by radio talk show host Steve Kane, who urged listeners to call board members. Kane cited material from other GLSEN chapters in Massachusetts and Connecticut that he found objectionable, and said he believes the group will ultimately try to work with students.
GLSEN, a national group, lost a partnership with Massachusetts after it hosted a conference in which two Department of Education workers led a sexually explicit -- some said pornographic -- discussion about sex with teens.
''They are lying to you,'' Kane said at the meeting. ``They will tell you whatever you want to hear to get this passed.''
Broward Schools Superintendent Frank Till opened the discussion by saying that GLSEN would not influence curriculum.
''There has been a lot of distortion about this issue,'' Till said. ``This doesn't touch on curriculum. That would have no chance of being adopted by the board. This is about working with a group that has a sensitivity . . . so we will have that sensitivity.''
Till's remarks didn't placate GLSEN opponents.
''Why would you enter into an agreement with a group that would have curriculum you would never pass?'' asked parent Chris Gorbey.
GLSEN supporters said the partnership was the best way to protect all students.
''Never in my wildest dreams that in 2002 this would generate so much controversy,'' said Marilyn Soltanipour of Pembroke Pines. ``The district is not promoting homosexuality. For all the children who feel alone, who feel scared, please pass this.''
Before voting, Gallagher addressed GLSEN opponents.
''Some of the e-mails I have received, and the words they used . . . are exactly the kind of behavior that children learn and that I am hoping, through tolerance, we will stop . . .,'' Gallagher said.
Eichner, who is running for reelection, asked for minor changes to the pact before he voted yes. He wanted to emphasize that the School Board could terminate its deal with GLSEN for any reason.
District officials said the plan will not cost anything. © 2001 miamiherald and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

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