GLBT Newz 



The most up to date news for the GLBT community.


Wednesday, May 29, 2002

GLBT NEWZ 05/29/02 Information is power!



Editors note: Today is the final edition of GLBT NEWZ. It has been a good 4 years, but I no longer have the time to devote to this 6 days a week. I am providing you with links to my sources so you don't have to go without your newz.

U.S. News Sites:,,, .

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NEWS from the Human Rights Campaign

919 18th Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20006
Tuesday, May 28, 2002 Phone: 202/216-1547
Pager: 800/386-5996
Shareholder Initiative Asks Company To Add Words 'Sexual Orientation'
DALLAS - A coalition of shareholder advocates including the Human Rights
Campaign called on Exxon Mobil Corp. today to change its written equal
employment opportunity statement to add the words "sexual orientation."
Company shareholders will vote Wednesday on a proposal asking for this
"This shareholder request is very narrow and specific. Some might call it a
no-brainer," HRC Executive Director Elizabeth Birch said at a news
conference. "It asks ExxonMobil to list 'sexual orientation' in the same EEO
policy where it prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, religion,
national origin, disability, age - all the categories currently protected
under federal law.
"Discrimination against gay people is perfectly legal under federal
law. That's why we need employers - especially global leaders such as
ExxonMobil - to state their policies up front for all to see. "
Birch was joined at the news conference by Shelley Alpern, assistant
vice president at Trillium Asset Management, who coordinates shareholder
initiatives for the Equality Project, an organization that uses shareholder
advocacy to promote equal workplace policies for the gay, lesbian, bisexual
and transgender community.
"We've approached numerous companies on this issue as concerned investors,
with positive results," Alpern said. "ExxonMobil's intransigence is simply
extraordinary for an enterprise of its size and importance."
HRC also unveiled a blimp at the news conference, which was held at Artists
Square, adjacent to the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, site of
Wednesday's shareholder meeting. The 25-foot helium blimp says, "Don't Fuel
Discrimination" and features an ExxonMobil logo superimposed with a big red
strikeout symbol.
Birch explained how ExxonMobil is out of step with the majority of
Fortune 500 companies, and even with its competitors in the oil and gas
"ExxonMobil competitors Shell, Chevron, BP Amoco, ARCO and Texaco all have
non-discrimination policies that include sexual orientation," she said. "In
fact, a majority of the Fortune 500 companies already have such policies. A
solid 80 percent of all Americans believe job discrimination based on sexual
orientation wrong. They also believe is illegal. In most jurisdictions -
including 38 states - it is not."
She also pointed out that ExxonMobil is the only company that has ever
rescinded a non-discrimination policy covering sexual orientation.
"When Exxon acquired Mobil in 1999, it excised the language in Mobil's
non-discrimination policy that prohibited discrimination against gay men and
lesbians. It also closed Mobil's domestic partner insurance program to any
more employees," she said. "These actions were heartless, they were
unnecessary and they stand unique in U.S. commerce. ... Only one other
employer - Perot Systems Inc., also based in Dallas - has ever closed a DP
benefits program. But at least Ross Perot didn't obliterate the company's
non-discrimination policy."
At ExxonMobil's shareholder meeting Wednesday, shareholders will vote for
the fourth year in a row on a proposal calling on the company to add sexual
orientation to its equal employment opportunity statement. The Human Rights
Campaign is a co-filer of this resolution, which is being spearheaded by the
New York City Employees Retirement System. In late March, the Securities and
Exchange Commission denied the company's request to delete the question from
the ballot.
Last year, HRC co-filed an identical shareholder resolution, which
garnered 13 percent of the vote - the most of any social responsibility
question on the ballot. That 13 percent represented 290 million shares of
stock with a value of $25.8 billion. At a news conference after the
shareholder meeting, ExxonMobil CEO Lee R. Raymond was asked by a reporter
why the company doesn't actively reach out to gays and lesbians (as it does
to other minorities), and he answered, "We don't want to know [who they
are]. That's the whole point of the policy."
In response to all these acts of corporate irresponsibility, HRC
called for a nationwide boycott of ExxonMobil on June 11, 2001. Since then,
45 statewide and nine national LGBT organizations have joined a coalition to
convince ExxonMobil to treat its employees fairly. The Coalition to Promote
Equality at ExxonMobil has been employing a variety of means to convince
the giant oil company to include sexual orientation and gender identity in
its written non-discrimination policy and to provide domestic partnership
benefits for all its employees. The seven national groups in the coalition
are: The Equality Project; the Human Rights Campaign; National Gay and
Lesbian Task Force; National Transgender Advocacy Coalition; Parents,
Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays; Pride at Work; and Out & Equal
Workplace Advocates.
More information about the Coalition to Promote Equality at ExxonMobil is
available at

NEWS from the Human Rights Campaign

919 18th Street, NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20006
Tuesday, May 28, 2002
Contact: David M. Smith
Phone: (202) 216-1547
Cell: (202) 251-1447
Group's President 'Deplores' Discrimination Against Gay Parents Who Are
Denied Adoption Rights Solely Because of their Sexual Orientation
WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign praised the nation's leading group of
psychoanalysts today for announcing its policy that the best interest of the
child - not sexual orientation - should be the determining factor in
parenting decisions regarding conception, child rearing, adoption,
visitation and custody disputes. The group also gave a strong endorsement of
same-sex parenting, saying that the evidence suggests gay people can be just
as capable parents as any other parent, says HRC.
"Accumulated evidence suggests the best interest of the child
requires attachment to committed, nurturing and competent parents," said the
American Psychoanalytic Association in a statement. "Evaluation of an
individual or couple for these parental qualities should be determined
without prejudice regarding sexual orientation. APsaA believes that gay and
lesbian individuals and couples are capable of meeting the best interest of
the child and should be afforded the same rights and should accept the same
responsibilities as heterosexual parents."
"We applaud the American Psychoanalytic Association for their strong
statement of support for equal rights and responsibilities for gay and
lesbian parents," said Lisa Bennett, who runs HRC FamilyNet, the family
project of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. "The children of many
same-sex couples live in great risk because some courts and state
governments have prevented both parents from having a legal relationship to
their own sons and daughters.
"Children in many of these families can be denied insurance coverage or
medical care in an emergency," Bennett continued. "If the non-adoptive
parent dies before such children turn 18, they can be removed from the only
home they know. We hope this policy statement leads to greater protection
for these vulnerable children and families."
The APsaA's President, Newell Fisher, M.D., took a firm stand
against discrimination in adoptions. He said in his statement that opponents
of same-sex adoption often distort the truth.
"It is disturbing to hear about cases in which gay or lesbian
parents are being denied custody or the right to adopt solely on the basis
of their sexual orientation - that's discrimination," said Fisher. "The
American Psychoanalytic Association deplores such discrimination and is
especially troubled when psychological findings are distorted,
misrepresented or blatantly ignored, as is so often the case in these legal
The APsaA also called for more research studies that "further the
understanding of the impact of both traditional and gay and lesbian
parenting on a child's development."
More information on same-sex families, including adoption laws is
available at .
The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian and gay
political organization, with members throughout the country. It effectively
lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to
ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans can be open,
honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.

High court turns down HIV disability case

Ann Rostow, / Network
Tuesday, May 28, 2002 / 04:00 PM
SUMMARY: The U.S. Supreme Court declined to review the case of an Atlanta dental hygienist who was demoted for being HIV-positive.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to review the case of an Atlanta dental hygienist who was demoted to a low-paying administrative position when his employer discovered he was HIV-positive.
Spencer Waddell sued Valley Forge Dental Associates under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but his suit was dismissed by a federal district judge in 1999. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit backed that ruling last December, and Waddell appealed to the high court 90 days later.
According to Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, attorneys for Waddell, the court's rejection appears to leave a conflict in ADA law unresolved. In 1998, the Supreme Court ruled that a dentist may not refuse to treat a patient with HIV, writing that "little in life is risk-free" and that the mere existence of risk does not automatically constitute a "direct threat" to others.
Yet the reasoning of the federal judge and the appellate court justified Waddell's demotion based on the theoretical chance that he could transmit HIV to patients. Under an exception to the ADA, employers may discriminate if a disability poses a threat to other people. It was through this loophole that Valley Forge extracted itself from Waddell's suit.
In a statement last March, Lambda noted that the supervising dentist had no knowledge of AIDS and HIV, and thought that the virus could be transmitted through sweat. Although no case of a dental hygienist infecting a patient has ever been reported, the two courts nonetheless concluded that Waddell was a potential menace.
"In effect," wrote Lambda, "the Court of Appeals standard requires that, to even make it to trial, Waddell must first prove that something that has never happened in the past cannot possibly happen in the future, an impossible burden for any plaintiff." By virtue of this logic, said Lambda in legal briefs, "a host of imaginable disasters could be hypothesized to exclude virtually any individual with a disability."
Dentists and hygienists who adhere to standard precautions mandated by the dental industry run virtually zero risk of transmitting the virus. The several "friends of the court" on Waddell's side of the case included the American Dental Association and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Protest targets transgender-less ENDA

Dan Kerman, / Network
Tuesday, May 28, 2002 / 04:05 PM
SUMMARY: After three weeks, a homeless transgender activist has ended her one-woman vigil for transgender rights in front of the nation's Capitol.
After three weeks, a homeless transgender activist has ended her one-woman vigil in front of the nation's Capitol. Sleeping in a tent by night and making signs by day, Danielle Clarke began her vigil on May 9 as part of an education campaign about the need for legal protections in the transgender community.
"I am just one of the many transgendered people around the country who can't find work," Clarke told the Network. "Many of my sisters are on street corners selling their bodies and resorting to sexual slavery just to survive, and I would like a message sent to the country that my people need a lifting up," she said.
Clarke's vigil took place as the U.S. Senate prepares to debate the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). In it's current form, ENDA prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. But the bill does not cover transgender people. Though Clarke has lobbied Congress in the past to include transgender people in ENDA, she says she's now come to realize that's not what's best.
"I don't want to hurt the gay and lesbian community from getting their bill passed, just so we could get what we wanted, which is inclusion in this bill," Clarke said. "Maybe it's better to stand on our own two feet," she said.
Though Clarke is a member of the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition (NTAC), her views are not the same as the lobbying group's official position.
"Our position on the bill is for inclusion," said Vanessa Edwards Foster, board vice chair of NTAC. "Employment and economic distress are rampant in the transgender community, and we clearly need this issue addressed," she said.
Foster says the transgender community is not only discriminated against in the workplace, but during the hiring process. She says in its current form, ENDA is incomplete and should be amended.
The bill's congressional sponsors have opted not to make changes to the legislation, and the lesbian and gay political organization the Human Right Campaign (HRC) has supported that decision.
"Not enough education has been done in Congress on gender identify to get the bill passed with that added, and that's why we support the bill in its current form," said HRC Communications Director David Smith. "However, we strongly believe the transgender community should be protected from discrimination and we want to work with them to make sure that happens," Smith told the network.
NTAC's Foster says HRC's position is disappointing.
"We are feeling that the existing organizations that are pushing through the legislation are the self-appointed conservators of the transgender community," Foster said. "By that I mean that there's almost an impression that we are not able to control our own destiny," she said. "Our position is: give us the access to the individuals who are making these decisions, allow us to plead our own case," she said.
HRC's Smith says Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., has promised to bring ENDA to a vote of the full Senate before the end of the current legislative session in October.
And while Danielle Clarke's vigil is over, her work is not done. She says she is now planning a major march on Washington for next spring to bring to light the needs of the transgender community in the United States and around the world.

Graphic comedy shocks Cannes audiences / Network
Tuesday, May 28, 2002 / 04:07 PM
SUMMARY: A sexually graphic, comic film about two young hustlers who kill their gay clients caused a stir last week at the Cannes Film Festival.
A sexually graphic, comic film about two young hustlers who kill their gay clients caused a stir last week at the Cannes Film Festival as critics and film buffs walked out during the film's screenings.
As reported in the Observer, "Nine Dead Gay Guys" caused the most protests during the annual festival, which ended on Sunday, and led some to dub it "the scandal of the festival."
The film stars veteran British actor Steven Berkoff, who portrays a victim who gets killed while being "violently sodomized." Another character in the film crashes through a car's windshield at the height of his orgasm.
"Most of the people in the cinema left after the first few scenes," Arlene Carter, an American film producer, told the Observer. "I lasted it out as long as I could, and by that point there were only four dead gay guys."
The film, which has reportedly interested an American distributor, had two public screenings during the festival. Some critics said the movie's humor compares with the politically incorrect humor of "South Park."
"Nine Dead Gay Guys" is the first feature film by writer-director Lab Ky Mo.

Group launches bid to canonize Mychal Judge

Supporters of the openly gay late chaplain Mychal Judge on Monday officially announced a campaign to canonize Judge, a Franciscan priest who died at the World Trade Center on September 11 while assisting victims of the terrorist attacks.
The group has already launched a Web will serve as a clearinghouse for information and news about Judge, according to the Sacramento Bee. It also will be the central place for all information on the push to bestow sainthood on the chaplain, organizers said.
"Mychal Judge was a true American hero.a priest who symbolized all the good priests do," said Burt Kearns, a New York City documentary producer and one of the leaders of the effort. "Making him a saint is not only the right thing to do. It is just what the Catholic Church needs right now."

Man stabbed outside N.Y. gay bar

A 36-year-old man was critically injured by being stabbed in the neck early Saturday morning by a man he had just met in a downtown New York City gay bar, according to the New York Post.
The unidentified victim was stabbed by his attacker at about 3:45 a.m., shortly after the pair left the Rawhide Bar at Eighth Avenue and 21st Street, police said. The victim was rushed to St. Vincent's Hospital, where he is in critical condition. The attacker remains at large.

Lesbian teacher settles harassment suit

School officials in Oceanside, Calif., near San Diego, have agreed to pay $140,000 to an award-winning former Oceanside High School teacher who says she was harassed because she is a lesbian, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. The Oceanside Unified School District also agreed to provide employees with annual antidiscrimination training on sexual orientation issues.
As part of the agreement, teacher Dawn Murray will no longer be on leave from the district. The settlement comes nearly six years after the biology teacher filed her lawsuit against the district. "I stayed in that school district and fought this issue until it was just about going to kill me because I didn't want the kids to grow up thinking you could harass someone and get away with it," Murray said. She has now agreed to resign.
In her lawsuit, Murray, 41, said she endured false rumors and insults by colleagues. She repeatedly found antigay graffiti outside her classroom door. She also said she was denied a job as school activities director because of her sexual orientation.

Episcopal seminary embraces gay faculty, students

The board of trustees of the Austin-based Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest has amended its conduct policy on human sexuality to permit gay and lesbian faculty members and students, according to the Houston Chronicle.
"This action makes more explicit the possibility of homosexual or lesbian persons living in committed relationships being able to serve as faculty and staff or enrolling as students at the Seminary of the Southwest," said Bishop Claude Payne, board chair, and the Very Rev. Durstan McDonald, seminary dean, in a joint statement.
The seminary has about 120 students and about 26 full- and part-time faculty members. The decision brings the school in line with national church policy.
Meanwhile, a federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld a ruling that ousted an antigay priest from his suburban Washington, D.C., Episcopal church. The Rev. Samuel Edwards defied orders last year from Jane Holmes Dixon, acting bishop of Washington, to leave the tiny Christ Church in Accokeek, Md., setting off a long dispute between over whether Dixon had the authority to remove him.

Ohio mayor accused of job discrimination

A man who thought he was being hired as executive director of Canton, Ohio's community clinic said he was taken out of consideration when the mayor questioned his association with pro-gay organizations. Jonathan Adee's lawyers have sent Mayor Richard Watkins a letter suggesting they discuss settling Adee's complaint without going to court. They have drafted but not filed a lawsuit that names both Watkins and the clinic as defendants.
Canton Community Clinic is a free health care facility that provides medical and dental services for adults and children. In late January Adee was interviewed for the executive director position. He said the clinic's executive board president, Guy Cicchini, offered him the position and that he had been given a start date and a salary. However, after Adee's interview with Watkins, in which Adee mentioned doing volunteer work for an unnamed pro-gay organization, the board gave the job to someone else.
Adee's complaint, which would be filed in Stark County Common Pleas Court, claims he was hired by the board and that Watkins influenced the board to fire him because Watkins believed Adee was gay and would cause gays to frequent the clinic. Adee asks for more than $25,000 in damages for each claim.
Watkins said Friday that he was concerned about Adee's associations, not whether he was gay. "I never made any accusation of that nature at all, no allegation, not even a hint," he said.

Nebraska school won't sponsor gay-straight alliance

A new club for gay students will be allowed to meet at Norfolk High School in Nebraska but will not be sponsored by the school as a student organization. The Norfolk School Board made that decision Thursday after meeting with students representing the gay-straight alliance. "We're not asking for any special privileges. We're just asking for the right to be treated like the other noncurricular school clubs that are at Norfolk," said Christopher Cromer, a recent graduate who spoke for the students at the meeting.
The group came to the school board after the principal and superintendent declined to have it recognized as a school-sponsored group. However, both school officials did grant the group access to a school room before and after school for a meeting place.
"It's our wish to create a haven where students can talk about such issues without fear of backlash," Cromer said. He said the group will concentrate on harassment and discrimination issues facing all students, not just gay students.

Absence of The Sopranos may help Six Feet Under's Emmy chances reports that since the acclaimed HBO series The Sopranos is ineligible for Emmy Awards this year--no new episodes ran between June 2001 and May 2002, the qualifying period--the show's network mate Six Feet Under may be in a better position at the awards. Awards watcher Tom O'Neil says that "Six Feet Under will take over as the new Emmy darling," and that the gay-inclusive series from out producer Alan Ball is "the front-runner to win." Some observers, in fact, accused HBO of holding back Sopranos episodes to make the field less competitive for Six Feet Under (which won the Golden Globe this year for Best Television Series as a drama), but a network spokesperson denied such maneuvering, saying that the Sopranos postponement was a production issue.
Emmy ballots are mailed the week of June 3, and nominations will be announced July 18.

Wallet Cards To Fight Hate

by Peter Moore Newscenter
(May 29, London) Police in the Gloucester area hope a small card will help eradicate hate crimes. Police say the number of hate crimes is down in the area, but they want to erase homophobia and racism completely.
The cards are small enough to fit in a wallet and contain emergency phone numbers to report hate crimes.
They also give details of what can constitute a homophobic or racist crime.
1,000 copies are being distributed throughout the region.
As well as contact numbers for the police, the cards also give details for Victim Support, the Citizens' Advice Bureau, Gloucestershire Race Equality Council and Gloucestershire Gay and Lesbian Friend Helpline.
PC Helen Seymour said: "The police take these crimes very seriously and are committed to dealing with them. Wherever possible we will look to take action against the offenders.
"The only way we can help put a stop to these crimes is if we know about them," Seymour said.
"If more people come to us and see what we can do to help then we can build up greater trust with these communities."

Noted Musician To Lead Toronto Gay Choir

by Jack Siu Newscenter
(May 29, Toronto) William Brown has been named Artistic Director of Singing OUT, the Lesbian and Gay Chorus of Toronto.
Brown is President of the Association of Canadian Choral Conductors. He has also served on the Board of Directors for Choirs Ontario, teaches music for the Toronto District School Board and is active as a singer, clinician and adjudicator.
Brown, a native of St. Catharines, Ontario, was appointed the Artistic Director of The Oriana Singers in the spring of 1996, and has just completed his sixth season with the choir. Under his direction the choir has been national finalist and semi-finalist in the CBC National Choral Competition.
Brown won first prize in the 1992 Leslie Bell Conducting Competition, and in 1999, received the Barry Gosse Music award for enhancing the life of the school and community through his music programs and performances. He was chosen to participate in national conducting symposiums with Eric Ericson of Sweden, Jon Washburn of Vancouver, and Wayne Riddell of Montreal.
Singing OUT! celebrates its 10th Anniversary season this year and is preparing to release its debut CD 'For Love Must Have a Voice'. This CD will be the first professionally recorded and released CD of any group in the Toronto lesbian and gay arts community.

Cher's Daughter Claims Gay Minder Turned Her Lesbian

for UK
29 May 2002
Chastity Bono claims she turned gay after her mother, pop diva Cher, left her in the care of an older lesbian when she was a child.
In her memoirs, 'The End Of Innocence', Chastity, alleges she was seduced by Joan - whom she met when she was 11 - while Cher was on tour.
"With Joan I felt like the centre of attention," she recalls. "There had always been a subtle sexual charge between us."
Describing the first time they had sex, she said:"I teased Joan until she could no longer stand it. "She whispered to me the sexiest words I'd ever been told. She ran her tongue down my belly... Needless to say, we didn't get much sleep that night."
When Chastity finally sat her mother down and told her she was a lesbian, Cher apparently said:"This will be a good life-experience for you."

Portia Fumes Over Lesbian Queries

May 27, 2002, World Entertainment News Network
Stunning actress PORTIA DE ROSSI stormed out of a party after a journalist questioned her about her relationship with FRANCESCA GREGORINI.
The former ALLY McBEAL star has been dating the step-daughter of BEATLES drummer RINGO STARR since last year (01), but has refused to clarify the nature of the pairing or her sexuality to the media.
Blonde beauty De Rossi arrived hand-in-hand with Gregorini for the opening night of the ANDY WARHOL RETROSPECTIVE exhibition at Los Angeles' MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART (MOCA) last week (ends26MAY02).
The glamourous couple started the evening off in a pleasant mood, until a reporter asked De Rossi who her "friend" was.
De Rossi was so annoyed with the intrusion, she and Gregorini swiftly left the gallery.
(c) 2002 World Entertainment News Network

Same-sex couples take hope in tally that includes gays

By Alliniece T. Andino
Times-Union staff writer
Ruth Jensen and Elizabeth Forbell have lived together since 1988. They filled out the 1990 and the 2000 census together and listed themselves as a couple both times, but the government may have recorded them differently each time.
In 1990, the U.S. Census Bureau did not consistently acknowledge same-sex couples.
However, in 2000, the bureau did.
The newest count became closer to accurate for same-sex couples. Some gay and lesbian couples on the First Coast say this is a step in the right direction.
But many say their work toward gaining the same rights as heterosexual married couples is still far off, pointing to the fact that the federal government does not recognize same-sex marriages, many companies refuse benefits to same-sex partners and in some states, including Florida, gay couples cannot adopt children.
As the month of June, which is Gay Pride Month, approaches, some in the gay and lesbian community gauge their progress and tout their achievements.
"We need to be recorded to be a viable force, to be paid attention to," said Jensen, a Jacksonville native who lives in an Arlington home with Forbell. "We are really happy about this census."
In the 1990 census, and in census data recorded before that, a person's response was invalidated if that person indicated he or she was married to someone of the same sex, said Martin O'Connell, chief of the fertilities statistics branch of the Census Bureau.
People of the same sex cannot legally be married. Therefore, O'Connell said, the response was considered a mistake and the information was randomly allocated as something other than spouse. Like a roll of the dice, couples were alternately listed as unmarried same-sex couple, roommates, housemates, boarder/lodger or non-relatives.
The 2000 census changed the randomness. For the first time, gay partners who noted they were a couple were always recorded as a couple.
The 2000 figures are more accurate than 1990, O'Connell said.
"I think it provides credibility to the relationship," said Beth Hawley of Jacksonville, who has been with Lori Johnson for seven years.
The 2000 census shows about 9 percent of unmarried households in Northeast Florida consist of same-sex couples.
One of those couples is Chet Wilkinson and George Masters, who have lived in an Avondale home for four years. Wilkinson said the census figures provide the first federal recognition for gay couples.
"It forces people to deal with a community they've been too uncomfortable and too embarrassed to deal with," he said.
Masters said without the census numbers, many people ignore the area's gay and lesbian population.
"It's the same old story of 'we can pretend they don't exist,'" he said. "They don't think they know anyone who's gay. They do, they just don't know it."
Shortly after moving in together, in 1988, Jensen and Forbell committed to a lifetime together in a ceremony they called a "holy union."
But that union is not recognized by the federal government -- something Jensen wishes would change in the future.
O'Connell said the Census Bureau collects data in connection with federal laws, to fulfill federal mandates and to help federal agencies. Therefore, census data is not the driving force for changing such agendas as legalizing same-sex marriages.
However, the numbers could influence politicians and make them more aware of gay voters, said James Button, a University of Florida professor of political science.
"I think politicians are just becoming aware that there is a particularly gay vote," Button said. "Politicians who might be concerned or interested in courting the gay vote, this might affect how they campaign."
Some proof of the higher visibility is that more local and state politicians have campaigned openly at events in Northeast Florida targeted for gay voters. In April, gubernatorial candidate Janet Reno attended a public event in Five Points hosted by two voter groups, one of which was a gay-interest Democratic caucus.
"We used to not see anybody," Forbell said.
Politicians could adjust their platform to include issues like domestic partner benefits or laws against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, Button said.
"Politicians can see here's a bloc of people that should be covered," Masters said.
In cases where elections can turn on 1,000 votes or fewer, Wilkinson said gay voters look even more appealing to politicians.
"Not only does my vote count, my vote really counts when you've got a tight election," he said.
However, gay voters must mobilize to push issues to the forefront so that politicians understand what they as a voting block care about, Button said.
While the 2000 census numbers are more accurate, they still represent somewhat of an undercount.
Forbell said she knows gay and lesbian people in the area who refused to mark they were part of a same-sex couple for the 2000 census because they feared the information would leak out.
"Some people are not 'out' to friends, or family, or co-workers. So they definitely don't want to check a box," Forbell said.
While Masters is glad for the census changes, he is somewhat disheartened, too.
"I'm glad to stand up and be counted," Masters said. "And yet, I look forward to the day when we don't have to be categorized and counted."
Staff writer Alliniece T. Andino can be reached at (904) 359-4546 or via e-mail at

Gays at work will be topic of conference

By Mark Schlueb
Sentinel Staff Writer
May 29, 2002
As residents and politicians in Orlando debate a controversial gay-rights law, a gay advocacy group has announced plans to hold its national conference here this fall.
But representatives of the San Francisco-based organization Out & Equal said their choice of Central Florida for the annual conference on gay issues in the workplace had more to do with wanting to portray a different side of the gay community than the city's proposed anti-discrimination law.
"So much is said about money being spent in Orlando during Gay Days. We wanted to show that the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community can bring business money here, too," said Stan Madray, an Orlando real estate agent and the conference's co-chairman.
In fact, organizers scheduled the September conference, to be held at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort, months before the anti-discrimination law made the news, Madray said. Last year's conference was held in Cincinnati.
Some 1,000 people are expected to attend -- about half will be workers in the field of human resources, and the other half gay advocates. Seventy seminars will focus on topics including domestic-partner benefits within private companies and insurance issues.
Orlando Mayor Glenda Hood hasn't said whether she'll support a proposal that would add "sexual orientation" to a list of classes protected by the city's anti-discrimination law. Later this month, an advisory committee is expected to make a recommendation that will be passed to the City Council, probably in July.
In the meantime, Out & Equal is being welcomed by Orlando government.
The group will hold a kick-off reception tonight -- in the rotunda of City Hall.
City Council member Patty Sheehan helped arrange the use of City Hall for the reception, and contributed $1,000 to help underwrite it. The money came from a $10,000 "special events" fund set aside for each council member.
Sheehan has made no secret of her support for the anti-discrimination measure, but said Out & Equal's use of City Hall doesn't constitute an official endorsement by the city.
"It's not a political statement," she said. "We let many groups use City Hall, as long as they're not doing political fund-raising."
Organizers invited the mayor to their reception, but spokeswoman Susan Blexrud said Hood won't attend because of a busy schedule. But that's not a political statement either, she said.
"In terms of nonprofit, community-based organizations, we don't discriminate when it comes to who books City Hall and who doesn't," she said.
Mark Schlueb can be reached at or 407-420-5417.
Copyright © 2002, Orlando Sentinel

Detectives seeking man who called from Manors condo on night of murder

By Shannon O'Boye
Staff Writer
May 29, 2002
Wilton Manors detectives investigating the beating death of a 69-year-old man released a sketch of a person they think was in the man's home the night he was killed, a spokesman said.
Detectives are looking for a man, approximately 24 years old, 5 feet, 8 inches tall and 150 pounds with long blond hair, slight acne and "a surfer" look, said police spokesman Detective Sgt. Pete Bigelsen.
The man, known only as "Josh," has a bright blue, 8-inch tattoo on his chest consisting of intersecting diagonal lines. He might be staying on the streets or in shelters in South Florida or he might be in Indiana, where he has friends, or in his home state of Texas, Bigelsen said.
Detectives want to talk to him about the death of Richard C. Busey, of the 3000 block of Northeast Fifth Terrace. A friend found Busey dead inside his home in the River Manor Condos on April 4. His roommate and longtime companion was out of the country visiting family at the time.
Homicide detectives got a phone call recently from a man who said that "Josh" called him from Busey's condo around the time investigators think Busey was beaten to death. The man, who was not identified, knew the call came from Busey's home because he had caller ID. He supplied detectives with the description, Bigelsen said.
Anyone with information about "Josh" is asked to call Detective Daniel James at 954-390-2161 or Crime Stoppers, anonymously, at 954-493-8477.
Copyright © 2002, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

GLBT NEWZ 05/28/02 Information is power!

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Ontario Seeks Court Approval To Split Impoverished GLBT Families

by Jan Prout Newscenter
(May 28, Toronto) The Ontario government announced Monday that it will go to the Supreme Court of Canada to force single parents off social assistance if they live with a partner.
The Ontario Court of Appeal, two weeks ago, said the rule discriminates against single parents based on sex, marital status and receipt of social assistance.
If the province wins its case in the High Court, it will include GLBT families under Ontario's new Family Act which recognizes same-sex partners.
When the Tory government originally passed the legislation in 1995 gay and lesbian relationships were not recognized.
At the time, the government assumed the "spouse" was a male, and was capable of providing financial support, to a "woman and her children."
In declaring the law unconstitutional, the Ontario Court of Appeal said that: "Individuals on social assistance were a protected group under the Charter."
Ontario Attorney General David Young said Monday he was "astonished" at the ruling.
"This is an unprecedented finding. No court in the country has ever come to a similar conclusion and we're asking for the Supreme Court of Canada to review this decision," he said.
While the appeal is being launched, Family Services Minister Brenda Elliott says Ontario's rules will change so that a couple can live together for three months before the government assesses whether they're in a spousal relationship and can qualify for welfare.

Health Care Firm Bars AIDS Drug Company

by Fidel Ortega Newscenter
(May 28, Miami) One of the largest providers of specialized care for HIV patients in the United States, said it will bar GlaxoSmithKline from marketing drugs at its outpatient sites to protest the company's pricing policies in the developing world.
AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which serves thousands of patients in California, New York and Florida, said the drug manufacturer charges twice as much as its competitors.
The cost to treat a single AIDS patient with a combination of Glaxo drugs is nearly $2,000 a year but easily could be cut to $500, according to Cesar Portillo, a foundation spokesperson. He said increasing the availability of the drugs would go a long way to reducing the death toll from AIDS.
"Glaxo's actions have put it outside the bounds of corporate responsibility," said Michael Weinstein, president of the foundation.
GlaxoSmithKline said Monday it makes no profits on sales in the developing world.
"You have to cover your basic costs of manufacturing," said Nancy Pekarek, a spokesperson for the company.
"You can't just give it away for the long term. You have to ensure there's going to be a stable supply."
The company reported a profit of $1.6 billion on sales of $7.3 billion in the first quarter.

South African Anti-Gay Premier Facing Censure

by Jon ben Asher Newscenter
(May 28, Cape Town) Western Cape Premier Peter Marais could face disciplinary action from the Public Protector after a series of gay-bashing comments.
Marais most recently landed in trouble by alleging that a "gay lobby" in opposition Democratic Alliance was "out to get him".
But the call for censure has not come from the Democratic Alliance, but from his political allies, the African National Congress.
The ANC said the comments would not go unpunished.
ANC member Yusuf Gabru has tabled a motion in the legislature that would establish an "independent committee" to investigate "comments made by Marias about gays and homosexuals".
Gabru said the committee should determine first, "if the premier has acted to compromise the credibility of this House" and "whether his actions should be referred to the Public Protector in terms of the Executive Members' Ethics Act of 1998".
The outcome of a vote is uncertain. If the ANC and DA join forces Marais could face the most serious challenge of his political career.

Associating With Gays Cost His Job Man Claims

by Newscenter Staff
(May 28, Canton, Ohio) An Ohio man turned down for a job running a community medical centre says the only reason he was rejected was homophobia.
Jonathan Adee says he was on the short list for the position of executive director of the Canton Ohio Community Clinic, and in January was offered the job.
But, Adee says he was rejected when Canton Mayor Richard Watkins objected to his association with organizations that help gays.
The clinic provides free medical and dental services.
In a threatened lawsuit, Adee's lawyers allege Watkins influenced the board to reject Adee because Watkins believed Adee was gay, Adee associated with gays and Adee would cause gays to frequent the clinic.
Monday, Adee's lawyers received a letter from the mayor and the clinic suggesting out of court mediation.

Blackmailer Jailed After Threatening To Expose Gay Men

by Peter Moore Newscenter in London
(May 28, London) A British court has sentenced a man to four-and-a-half years in prison for blackmailing two gay men.
One of the men paid $25,000 (Cdn) over two years for the man's silence. The other paid under $1000.
The court heard that Mark Anthony Slessor, 31, who has a history of violent offences, met both of his victims in public washrooms where gay men cruise for sex.
Both of the men are middle aged and are not out to their families.
Slessor was finally arrested after one of the men broke down and reported the crime to his boss.
Passing sentence, Judge Kevin Grice said blackmail was an "ugly'' offence, and that Slessor, whose previous offences include assaults on his female partner, posed a continuing risk.

Egypt Releases Gay Prisoners

by Jon ben Asher Newscenter
(May 27, Cairo) The Egyptian government Sunday ordered the release of 21 men convicted of "debauchery" in a crackdown on gays.
In an order signed by President Hosni Mubarak the men will be freed while awaiting a new trial. Last week Mubarak ordered a retrial for the men, convicted after a raid on a gay club in a Nile riverboat.
The government also said that it has abandoned plans to retry 29 other men found not guilty.
The 21 in prison have been subjected to physical exams to determine whether they had engaged in anal sex. They were also allegedly tortured.
A bail hearing will be scheduled by the prosecutor's office. The prosecutor will also determine if there is sufficient new evidence to conduct a second trial.
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), Sunday, welcomed news that those found not guilty would not be subjected to a new trial, but called on Mubarek to call off the retrials of those already convicted, calling the original trial "a sham".
"We are cautiously optimistic at news that guilty verdicts in the case have actually been cancelled," said Scott Long, IGLHRC's Program Director, who has been following the case closely since the beginning.
"But renewed prosecution would be renewed persecution. These trials must stop."
The sentences of two men who were called the "ringleaders" will remain intact. Dozens of other gay men arrested in other locations remain in prison.
Egypt has been under pressure from the European Union, Canada, and a group of US congressmen as well as from human rights groups.
" We must continue to press the Egyptian government to meet its international obligations, not jus tin a few symbolic cases, but across the board," Long said.

US Colleges Target Gays

by Beth Shapiro Newscenter
(May 27, New York) American universities are going after gay and lesbian high school students. Anxious to attract as diversified a student body as possible, gays have been added to list of "most sought after" students.
From the Ivy League to state colleges, recruiters are targeting the gay community to find students. Admissions officers say the ''coming out'' experience in high school can breed self-confidence, leadership abilities, cultural awareness, and other characteristics that colleges want.
''Schools are inviting these students because they question the norms,'' Judith Brown, director of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Centre at Tufts University recently told the Boston Globe.
''They make people question their own assumptions, and that's a key to learning and growing as people.''
Some schools have also adopted such tactics as including nondiscrimination policies in their admissions brochures as a pointed signal to gay students.
Harvard is more blunt, publishing a section of its handbook for prospective students called: ''What is the climate at Harvard for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered students?''
The University of New Hampshire admissions office has even begun reaching out to a high school in Dallas whose mission is educating gay students.
Jibril Salaam, UNH's associate director of admissions said:. ''As universities that prepare CEOs and politicians, we have to prepare them for the real world, and we need different kinds of students on campus to do this.''

Canadian Broadcaster In Hot Water Over Gay Movie

by Jan Prout Newscenter
(May 27, Toronto) Canadian specialty channel Bravo has had its knuckles rapped for airing a documentary on gay sex.
The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council has ordered the station to publicly apologize for airing "Love on the Line", produced by the National Film Board, during the afternoon.
The council said the programme contained "coarse language and sexually explicit discussions" and should have aired after 9 p.m.
A viewer in the London, Ontario, complained that, "the program focused on homosexual phone sex and moreover, was very explicit."
The documentary deals with the use of telephone dating services and phone sex lines.
The standards council, the broadcast industry's own watchdog agency, administers a code of conduct but has no enforcement powers.
It does have the power however, to order Bravo to broadcast the council's ruling twice this week.
The council took at aim at US talk show host Laura Schlessinger two years ago, ordering stations at the time to apologize for homophobic comments made on her 'Dr Laura' show. It also criticized her for calling herself "doctor" saying she did not have a medical degree and had tried to use the term to promote herself.

Gay Cop Assoc Gets Gov't Funding

by Peter Moore Newscenter
(May 27, London) The British government has agreed to fund a national association for gay and lesbians police officers.
The announcement, by Home Secretary David Blunkett, is seen as a move to help attract more gays into policing.
The association says there are currently about 650 out GLBT officers in the UK, but estimates a thousand more gay police officers and civilians remain in the closet.
The Gay and Lesbian Police Association says the guarantee of government funding puts the group on a par with female and ethnic-minority officers who already have national organisations paid for by the government.
In a statement the Home Office said: "Funding was granted because LAGPA were able to show that they are contributing to the Home Secretary's aims for the police service. This funding will enable LAGPA to operate on an equal footing with other minority staff associations such as the National Black Police Association and the British Association of Women Police."
Police Insp. Stephen Warwick, will work full-time for the LAGPA. Warwick said the new funding would enable the organisation to provide help to isolated gay officers in rural forces.
He said: "We will move from being a shoestring organisation to a genuinely national operation. We are going to be much more assertive and pro-active."
LAGPA will campaign for gay officers to be given same-sex pension rights. It is also arranging a series of events for gay officers around the country so that they can feel more supported and secure in their work. One social event, designed to show gay officers that they are not alone, is planned to coincide with the Edinburgh tattoo.

Prosecutor Gives Light Plea Bargain Because Victim Gay

by Fidel Ortega Newscenter
(May 27, Miami) A man charged with the murder of Broadway theatre director Jamie Brown was given a 25 year sentence under a plea bargain after the prosecutor refused to bring the case to trial because the victim was gay.
Jameson Smith, 26, admitted to stabbing Brown, 57, in the back 40 times, clubbing him over the head with a metal vase and trying to tie him up. The attack occurred in Brown's home in Bradenton, Florida.
Friends and members of the New York's theatre community had been pushing the prosecutor's office to take the case to trial, but prosecutor Art Brown (no relation to the victim) refused.
Friday, Judge Durrand Adams accepted the plea bargain, but said he was hesitant to accept it after the Brown's friends told the judge they were angry over the deal that would give the killer a light sentence.
The prosecutor told the court that Smith would have argued that Brown was trying to sexually assault him.
"I think it's something that would have been admissible in court," Brown said of Smith's defence.
A police report at the time Brown's body was found said that the director was making cookies in his kitchen when he was attacked.
The victim was more than twice Smith's age and suffering from cancer.
Brown's friend, New York producer Mitchell Riggs, said "Anyone who knows him knows he didn't try to sexually assault (Smith). It would have never held up in court. That defence is so lame."
Brown's estranged brother, and a cousin, wanted to avoid any embarrassment the prosecutor said.
His cousin, Phyllis Fairbairn, 63, who lives in Ohio said she was worried that Brown's being gay would come up during the trial.
"She wishes to avoid any embarrassment for him or disparaging remarks," the prosecutor said.

For gay priests, a new age of anxiety

Abuse scandal brings new scrutiny, from the Vatican and beyond
Gay priests across America are feeling even more anxious than usual as Roman Catholic cardinals and bishops head to Dallas next month for their showdown on stopping sexual child abuse in the church.
''These are very sensitive times,'' says one gay South Florida priest. ``We're all a bit frightened.''
The immediate concern: a new Vatican-directed inquiry of U.S. seminaries to check on their moral teachings and, gay priests fear, policies on accepting homosexual candidates.
The larger reason: long-standing but little-discussed contradictions in the relationship between the church and its gay priests.
For decades, perhaps centuries, it has been an ambivalent bond. The church has respected gay priests but also condemned them. Welcomed them into some U.S. seminaries but not others. And many U.S. church leaders have a far more tolerant perspective than their more conservative counterparts at the Vatican.
These concerns are coming to a head in a chorus of cries for an even broader study of homosexuality in the church -- from voices sympathetic to gay priests and some perhaps less so. Supporters say it's a sincere attempt to come to grips with the sexual abuse scandal; opponents fear it's a plot to scapegoat gay priests.
''It's a relationship that's awkward for the church and uncomfortable for gay priests,'' says James Martin, associate editor of America magazine, a New York-based Jesuit publication. 'There's a tension between relying on so many gay priests for its ministry and on the other hand having a philosophy that says they are `objectively disordered.' ''
Church leaders say the relationship is one of love and respect, although they concede worry is understandable.
''Objectively, is a gay priest less than welcome? No. Subjectively, could a gay priest feel unwelcome? We can all feel different things,'' says the Rev. George Niederauer, bishop of Salt Lake City and a member of the Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse.
Investigating homosexuality in the Roman Catholic Church in the context of the sexual abuse scandal could raise a host of sensitive issues:
. Many dealing with the current scandal believe the priesthood has a greater proportion of gays than does society overall. Some church leaders deny that, and no definitive study backs either position.
. Most current cases of sexual child abuse involve male priests with male children. But there is no consensus among psychologists as to whether many of the acts are homosexual in nature.
. Almost no one claims homosexuals are more likely than heterosexuals to commit sexual child abuse. Yet experts struggle to explain why so much of the abuse seems to be male-on-male.
. For decades there has been a sharp division between conservative popes and more liberal U.S. Catholic leaders on how to deal with homosexuality. The Vatican long has urged that gay men be barred from the priesthood even if they are celibate, while many of America's Catholic churches have accepted a gay orientation as long as the priest avoids sex.
The situation leaves many of America's gay priests anguished.
'' Gay priests know they must remain silent,'' says Mary Louise Cervone, national president of Dignity, an organization of gay, lesbian and other Catholics. ``They serve under constant fear that they will be denied the ability to share the gifts God gave them simply because they are gay.''
The most immediate issue is a little-noticed plan announced by U.S. cardinals and bishops after their extraordinary two-day meeting in April with Pope John Paul II.
It creates a Vatican-directed ''apostolic visitation'' -- an investigation of all 220 U.S. seminaries, into their teaching of morality and how they judge candidates' suitability for the priesthood.
Says Michael Hurley, spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Bishops: ``The scandal in the U.S. has grown to the point where the visiting bishops and cardinals in Rome were asked whether U.S. seminary preparation is as good as it was in a 1984 review, when it was excellent. One question in that process was about homosexuality.''
The Vatican inquiry is not the only study being called for. The Jesuit magazine America, in an editorial by the Rev. Thomas Reese, executive editor, said: ``The bishops should sponsor an anonymous survey of the sexual orientation of priests and seminarians, and the results should be made public.''
In an interview, Reese said: ''We need a study by a professional sociologist or psychologist.'' But he cautions: ``Homosexual priests and seminarians should not be made scapegoats for this crisis.''
In the March 15 edition of The Pilot, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston, an editorial posed this question, among others: ``Does priesthood, in fact, attract a disproportionate number of men with a homosexual orientation?''
Not surprisingly, the idea of a Vatican investigation sets off alarm bells.
Says Dignity's Cervone: ``This is a failed attempt by the bishops to deflect attention from their own failures.''
''It's a red herring,'' adds Father Terry Villaire, a former Roman Catholic priest and now bishop of the National Catholic Church in Wilton Manors, which welcomes members without regard to sexual orientation. ``The real issue is mismanagement of sexual abuse cases by the church hierarchy.''
One of the biggest issues is the widely accepted idea that the percentage of gays in the priesthood is higher than in the general population. Most academics say it is. But the percentages they put forth vary wildly. And nearly every assertion has been challenged.
In his 2000 book The Changing Face of the Priesthood, the Rev. Donald Cozzens, former rector of St. Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology in Cleveland, writes: ``At issue at the beginning of the 21st Century is the growing perception -- one seldom contested by those who know the priesthood well -- that the priesthood is or is becoming a gay profession.''
In the 1989 book Gay Priests, sociologist James G. Wolf concludes that 48 percent of priests and 55 percent of seminarians are gay.
In January 2000, The Kansas City Star mailed a survey to 3,013 priests, got 801 responses and put the proportion of gay priests at 15 percent.
And Richard Sipe, a one-time Catholic priest who left to marry and to work as a psychotherapist for priests, says: ``My 25 years of study says 30 percent of Roman Catholic priests are of homosexual orientation.''
But some church officials disagree. Says Hurley, spokesman for the U.S. bishops: ``We have no reason to believe there's any greater percentage than in the general population.''
Some criticized the Kansas City survey as having too small a response to be representative of the nation's 46,000-plus priests. Gay Priests author Wolf's conclusion was based on interviews with only 101 priests.
''They're just educated guesses,'' says Eugene Kennedy, a former priest and now Loyola University psychology professor emeritus who has studied the priesthood for decades.
A second major issue is that, while most recent sexual child abuse cases involve male priests on male children, there is no consensus among psychologists as to whether many of the acts are homosexual.
As part of her lawsuit against a pedophile priest, Dallas attorney Sylvia Demarest created a database of 1,400 U.S. priests who had been accused and determined that in 80 to 90 percent of the cases, the abuse was male priest against young male.
But many psychologists contend that, even when a man is involved with a young boy, it may not be homosexual. Kennedy argues that males who enter a seminary at an early age sometimes find their sexual development stunted by its isolation and demands for celibacy.
''When they emerge from the protection of the seminary into the stimulation of the real world, they are not capable of a mature relationship -- especially with a woman -- so they tend to respond to young boys who are very much like them psychologically,'' Kennedy says. ``They're not mature enough to be heterosexual or homosexual.''
Brainard Hines, a licensed mental health counselor in southwest Miami-Dade who ran an adult outpatient clinic for sex offenders for 23 years, agrees that male sexual abusers of pre-adolescent boys are not necessarily homosexual.
''It's not a general homosexual orientation,'' he says. ``Sometimes they're aroused to young boys but not to adult males. In fact, many of the pedophiles I've worked with are turned off by bodily hair.''
However, Hines says, ``As the child approaches adulthood, it becomes more appropriate to think of it as homosexual.''
Hines also challenges the idea that almost all of the priests' sexual child abuse victims are boys. ``When one boy talks about being abused, it empowers others like him to come forward. In two years we might see more girls coming forward.''
Another question is whether gays are more prone to sexual child abuse than heterosexuals.
''It stands to reason someone who is having sexual relations with people of the same sex is also more likely to have them with young people of the same sex,'' says the Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, editor of First Things, a conservative, New York-based religious journal.
But Sipe, who treated errant priests at Seton Psychiatric Institute in Maryland, says: ``We have absolutely no evidence that homosexually oriented men abuse children more than heterosexually oriented men.''
Says psychiatrist Frederick Berlin, founder of the Sexual Disorders Clinic at the Johns Hopkins University Hospital: ``Certainly it's not the case that homosexual people are more drawn to pedophilia than heterosexual people.''
So many unanswered questions prompt Kennedy to join the call for new studies.
''We need much scientific information,'' he sais. ``Right now we're proceeding on opinion -- some informed, some from people looking for a way to throw around their political weight.
``There's nothing like finding out the facts.''
© 2001 miamiherald and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.



John J. McNeill had both spiritual and practical reasons for going into the priesthood.
''If you're brought up as I was, as an Irish Catholic gay boy, you know you're never going to get married,'' he says. ``And you're brought up thinking your sexual needs are sinful, so you're going to be chaste anyway.
``So if you join the priesthood, you could live a celibate life with all the support in the world, and try to get into heaven.''
It wasn't to be that simple for McNeill, who was born in 1926 in Buffalo, N.Y., but now lives in Fort Lauderdale.
McNeill served in World War II under Gen. George Patton, spending six months in a German POW camp. He then returned to the United States to begin years of study that led to his ordination in 1959 as a Jesuit priest.
His seminary superiors didn't know he was gay.
''I myself was aware, and I wasn't. It hadn't formulated itself completely. I spent the first 14 years after starting my study in 1948 with no sexual activity. I took my vow of chastity very seriously,'' he says.
``Then I compulsively began to act out my sexual needs. And later I fell in love with somebody, and I discovered that the intimate relationships of love filled me with peace and joy, and did away with any guilt about promiscuity.
``I learned from that experience that the best route for me was to be in a committed relationship. And I've been in one now for the past 36 years.''
McNeill, 76, acknowledges he kept the relationship secret while he was an active priest. ``We kept our relationship deeply closeted until I was dismissed from the Jesuit order.''
McNeill first got in trouble with the church in 1976, while serving as a professor at Woodstock Seminary in New York City, when he published a book, The Church and the Homosexual.
''I challenged church teaching and made the claim that gay love could be as holy and beautiful in God's sight as heterosexual love,'' he says.
Soon, McNeill received a letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office that enforces church teachings, ordering him to stop publishing.
For nine years he followed that order. But he kept ministering to gay and lesbian Catholics, having co-founded a New York chapter of Dignity, which calls itself 'the United States' largest and most progressive organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics.''
The final straw came after the Congregation issued a new letter in 1986 to Catholic bishops around the world toughening its view of homosexuality, calling it ``a strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil.''
McNeill was shocked: ``It was so homophobic that it threatened the lives of the people I was working with. It could make them hate themselves, end up alcoholic or suicidal. I thought something had to be said to counter it.''
So McNeill wrote an article for Christian Century magazine criticizing the Vatican position. Soon came another Vatican letter ordering him to give up all ministry to gay persons. He refused, and was expelled from the Jesuit order. He's still a priest, not having been defrocked, but he is under orders not to say Mass or perform marriages or sacraments.
He does, anyway, quietly saying Masses for private groups around South Florida. Living modestly with his longtime partner, Charles Chiarelli, 66, he still writes books, lectures and maintains an informational website at
And he's still protesting the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.
''The church,'' he says, ``is denying the fact that every baptized Catholic has the Holy Spirit in their hearts.''
© 2001 miamiherald and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

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