Saturday, January 27, 2007

GLBT DIGEST - January 27, 2007

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International News
Focus on Africa's Woes, Not Gay Clergy: Tutu
Friday, January 26, 2007

Focus on Africa's Woes, Not Gay Clergy: Tutu

NAIROBI, Kenya - An archbishop within the African-Anglican church lastweek urged his fellow believers to concentrate on the continent'ssevere problems and not to allow differences of opinion over gayissues sidetrack the church. Archbishop Desmond Tutu also saidpersecuting gay people is akin to racism, the Africa-based news website the Mail and Guardian Online reported. The Anglican Churchworldwide, which has 77 million members, is facing a split overdebates about homosexuality. "I am deeply disturbed that in the faceof some of the most horrendous problems facing Africa, we concentrateon 'what do I do in bed with whom,'" the South African Nobel LaureateTutu told a news conference in Nairobi. "For one to penalize someonefor their sexual orientation is the same as penalizing someone forsomething they can do nothing about, like ethnicity or race. I cannotimagine persecuting a minority group which is already beingpersecuted." Homosexuality is taboo in most African societies.


Gays And Lesbians Step Out to Demand Rights

The Nation (Nairobi)
January 26, 2007
Posted to the web January 25, 2007

By Lucas Barasa

A new phenomenon is gaining currency in the country: Lesbians, gaysand transsexuals are coming out openly to demand their rights.

The group stole the show at the World Social Forum which ended at theMoi International Sports Centre, Kasarani, yesterday with their standbeing a crowd puller.

University of Nairobi law student Judith Ngunjiri who confessed tobeing a lesbian at the world Social Forum.

Lesbians, gays and transsexuals who have been going on with theirlifestyles secretly joined colleagues from other parts of the world inpublicly declaring they were not ashamed of their situation.

In fact it was only at their stand, adjacent to Gate 7, where visitorswere offered free tea and cookies before being invited for "lessons onlesbianism, gay relationships and transsexuals."


Conn. Gov: No Gay Marriages
by Newscenter Staff

Posted: January 27, 2007 - 12:01 am ET

(Hartford, Connecticut) Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell said Friday that ifthe legislature passes a same-sex marriage bill she will veto it.

The threat comes as LGBT civil rights groups prepare for a new push nextweek on lawmakers to approve same-sex marriage.

In 2005, Rell, a Republican, signed a civil union bill - at the time thesecond in the nation, after Vermont, and the first to enact such a lawwithout being ordered by a court.

"When I signed the civil union bill that I believed it covered the concernsthat had been raised," Rell told reporters Friday when asked about apotential marriage bill in the legislature..

"And I believe that that bill was the appropriate way to go and I stilldo,'' Rell said.


Gay Foe Huckabee To Enter GOP Presidential Race

January 27, 2007
Mexican lawmaker pioneers transsexual rights

A Mexican congressman said Thursday he will submit a bill in March thatwould amend the country's constitution to guarantee the rights oftranssexuals.

A Mexican congressman said Thursday he will submit a bill in March thatwould amend the country's constitution to guarantee the rights oftranssexuals and change civil laws to ensure that they can legally changetheir name and gender. David Sánchez Camacho's bill would insert a paragraphinto Article 4 of the Mexican constitution stating that ''every person hasthe right to the recognition and free exercise of their gender identity andtheir gender expression.''

Article 4 currently guarantees equal rights for women and men and states therights of children and families, but it does not mention gays, lesbians, ortranssexuals. A transsexual is a person who has undergone a sex-changeoperation or whose sexual identification does not correspond with the genderat birth.


Express Gay News

Democrat blocks 'gay' amendment to minimum wage bill
Gay GOP group demandsvote on D.P. measure
By LOU CHIBBARO JR. | Jan 26, 10:29 AM

A prominent Senate Democrat this week took steps to block an amendment tothe minimum wage bill that would provide tax deductions foremployer-generated health benefits for domestic partners.

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chair of the Senate Finance Committee, threatenedto invoke a parliamentary rule to stop Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) fromintroducing the domestic partner amendment.

Baucus said the partner amendment could jeopardize a compromise package oftax relief amendments for small businesses that Republicans have demanded asa condition for backing the minimum wage bill, according to Baucusspokesperson Carol Guthrie.

R.C. Hammond, a spokesperson for Smith, said Smith backed down fromintroducing his amendment in committee on Jan. 17 and on the Senate floor onJan. 24 after Baucus and Democratic leaders informed him they would rule theamendment non-germane, preventing it from coming up for a vote.


Firing gay workers still legal in Ga.
Best hope for job protections lies at federal level

Jan. 26, 2007

Fresh out of law school, where she finished sixth in her graduating class,Robin Shahar was well versed in Georgia law and justice.

But she was also grounded in a sense of right and wrong, and before herlegal career could even begin she learned that what is legal does not alwaysharmonize with what is right.

"I was extremely surprised," Shahar said this week, recalling the day in1991 that she was summoned into her new boss's office and received the newsthat she was being fired for being a lesbian.

"Obviously the law doesn't provide protection for gay men and lesbians inthe workplace, but despite that I was brought up to believe you would beevaluated as an employee based on the value of your work," said Shahar, whonow works in the law department of the city of Atlanta.


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Activists predict progress in N.Y., Calif., Wash., this year

Friday, January 26, 2007

As legislative sessions get under way in statehouses across the country,same-sex marriage is again emerging as a hot topic in a handful of states.

From Vermont to California, gay rights advocates are hopeful for advancesin marriage-related legislation, while in Massachusetts, where gay marriageis already legal, activists are working to avert a repeal of the historicgay rights measure.


A constitutional amendment to repeal the Bay State's gay marriage law passed134-62 on Jan. 2, the final day of the 2005-06 session. The amendment stillhas to survive another legislative vote in the new session to become aballot referendum. The measure needed 50 votes to pass.



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City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden is pumped up about putting outNew York City's own brand of condoms to combat AIDS.

Frieden elaborated yesterday on a recent Post report about the "NYC"condom, which the condom maker said will be presented in packets with avariety of colors resembling city subway lines.

"Brands work, and people use branded items more than they use non-brandeditems, whether it's a cola or a medicine even," Frieden said. "Brands addvalue, and they increase use."

The city hands out 1.5 million free condoms each month, or about 18million a year, to groups to distribute.

The city Health Department just approved a new $1.57 million contractwith Ansell-Lifestyle, an order that will deliver more than 20 millioncondoms plus packets of lubricants. The condoms will be unveiled soon.

New York City leads the nation in HIV/AIDS cases. In 2005, 1,400 cityinhabitants died of AIDS, the third-leading cause of death amongresidents under 65 behind cancer and heart disease.


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New from DIRELAND: U.N. Report Confirms Iraqi Gay Killings

NEW from DIRELAND, January 26, 20006

A new human rightsreport by the United Nations Aid Mission in Iraq (UNAMI)has, for the very first time, confirmed the widespread killings of Iraqigays as part of a campaign of "sexual cleansing" being carried out byreligious death squads, and includes a description of so-called religious"courts" that try Iraqi same-sexers and sentence them to death.

For the details, click on:


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Poll: Half of Americans Back Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Angus Reid Global Monitor : Polls & Research Half of Americans Back Same-SexMarriage Ban January 24, 2007

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) - A majority of adults in the United Stateswould forbid same-sex partners from entering wedlock, according to a poll byOpinion Dynamics released by Ipsos-Public Affairs released by the AssociatedPress. 51 per cent of respondents would favour a law that would ban gaymarriage.

In 2004, marriage certificates were issued to same-sex couples by localgovernments in the states of California, Oregon, New Mexico and New York. InMay 2004, the state of Massachusetts allowed gay and lesbian partners toapply for marriage licenses, the first state-sanctioned homosexual weddingsin the U.S.

Civil union and domestic partnership laws in Vermont, Connecticut andCalifornia grant same-sex couples all state-level rights and obligations ofmarriage-in areas such as inheritance, income tax, insurance and hospitalvisitation. Other forms of domestic partnership exist in the District ofColumbia, Hawaii and Maine. There are more than 1,000 federal-level rightsof marriage that cannot be granted by states.


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African LGBT activists at the World Social Forum

Long Fight for Justice for Homosexuals

Joyce Mulama

NAIROBI, Jan 23 (IPS) - Even with tens of thousands of activists at theWorld Social Forum (WSF) denouncing injustices of all kinds, the issue ofdiscrimination against homosexuals is making its voice heard amidst the din.At the five-day forum, which opened Jan. 20 here in Kenya's capital,lesbians and gays from across Africa have come out to express how they havebeen ill-treated by society.

In most African countries, homosexuality is taboo. It is regarded by some assatanic and un-African.

However, the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK), an umbrella body ofgay and lesbian groups, and which has brought together colleagues fromacross the continent to share experiences, is hopeful that after the WSF,this perception will have changed.


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Blair urged to speed up gay adoption reforms

Tony Blair is under new pressure on gay adoptions as cabinet ministers andLabour MPs called for the Roman Catholic Church to be given only months tocome to terms with a new anti-discrimination law.

Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, wants a transitional period of sixmonths to allow the church to decide how to respond and possibly transferthe 80 staff employed in its 10 adoption agencies to other agencies. Butsome professionals working in the adoption service say they need athree-year period to ensure children do not suffer from any changes.Catholic leaders have warned that the agencies may be closed unless theGovernment exempts them from a law banning discrimination in the provisionof goods and services on grounds of sexuality.

A study by officials at the Department for Education and Skills, which isresponsible for adoption, has found that only six months would be needed toensure that children were not harmed by the change. There is currently someover-provision in the adoption service and so the Catholic agencies mightnot need to be fully replaced. Some might decide to continue despite theirleaders' opposition to children being adopted by gay and lesbian couples.


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Measure Would End Tax Penalties For Small Companies Offering DomesticPartner Insurance

by Newscenter Staff

Posted: January 24, 2007 - 7:00 pm ET

(Washington) Senator Gordon H. Smith (R) has filed an amendment to FairMinimum Wage Act that would eliminate an extra tax burden on small companiesoffering domestic partner benefits to their workers.

The number of companies offering domestic partner benefits is growingrapidly but those taking advantage of it are hit with higher taxes.Under federal tax law domestic partner benefits are considered income andsubject to taxation.

Smith's amendment would eliminate the provision in the tax code. But becausethe Minimum Wage Act only applies to small business the amendment is limitedto those companies.


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Independent News and Media Limited
Gay Adoption: True stories

The Catholic church should be allowed to deny same-sex couples the right toadopt. So says Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor. Kate Hilpern, who helps toplace children in new homes, and was adopted herself, explains why he'swrong. And five gay parents share their experiences of bringing up a familyPublished: 25 January 2007

It takes guts to apply to adopt children knowing that your life is about tobe closely scrutinised. If you're a lesbian or gay individual or couple,that bravery is all the greater. I've heard countless stories from thoseI've worked with in the field of adoption of lengthy and dishearteningstruggles, of overt discrimination. And I know first-hand, from seven years'service on a local authority adoption panel, that some adoption workersreveal inadvertent prejudices even when they'd be horrified at the thoughtof being considered anything other than liberal.


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More at stake than just a TV show

The Regents of the University of California More at stake than just a TVshow

Chris Yeung calls for a spirit of debate in the controversy over Hong Kongbroadcaster RTHK's program about homosexuality

South China Morning Post
Wednesday, January 24, 2007

By Chris Yeung

The issue of gay marriage has proved to be controversial even in countriesknown for their liberal thinking. It is no different in Hong Kong. That isclear from the views expressed on the letters pages of the South ChinaMorning Post, and on radio phone-in programmes over the past two days.

The subject has drawn strong, sharply divided views from society. If mostpeople welcome the divisive -- and at times acrimonious -- debate, it isbecause they cherish the right of people to express their views, howeverdifferent those opinions may be from their own. That is part and parcel ofthe free society that Hong Kong has embraced.

It is against this background that a row over the RTHK programme Gay Lovershas caused some jitters among media professionals and within some quartersof society.


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Struggling for a Massachusetts equal marriage strategy

In Newsweekly

Struggling for a Massachusetts equal marriage strategy Chuck Colbert January25, 2007


Just two weeks after Massachusetts lawmakers voted to advance a ballotmeasure defining marriage as the union of a man and woman, marriage equalityadvocates are struggling to determine strategy.

MassEquality, the umbrella coalition of organizations formed to preserve theright to marry, held community forums throughout the state, saying it stillhopes to stop the amendment from going to a statewide ballot."We are focused right now on defeating the amendment in the Legislature,"said MassEquality Campaign Director Marc Solomon on Wednesday, Jan. 17, atSt. Paul's Cathedral across from the Boston Common.

Some of the approximately 50 people who attended the open communitydiscussion in Boston expressed concerns about an emphasis on a Statehouseapproach.

"Maybe we need to change strategy," said longtime gay community activistRich Braun, and "push with the people."


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Gay rights surface in the Mexican desert

07:00 PM CST on Thursday, January 25, 2007

Cox News Service

SALTILLO, Mexico - San Francisco this isn't.

Here on the outskirts of the forbidding Chihuahua desert, where ranchessprawl for miles and cowboy culture rules, life is marked by a conservativestreak that dates back to the Spanish friars of the 1500's.

So, many residents in the border state of Coahuila were surprised earlierthis month when the legislature approved civil unions for gay couples,instantly placing Texas's neighbor on the vanguard of gay rights in theAmericas. Coahuila joins Mexico City, Buenos Aires and a southern state inBrazil as Latin America locales approving gay unions.

Coahuila's new law did not result from a vigorous grassroots movement - thestate has never hosted a gay rights march, say gay activists in Coahuila. Infact some of the most astonished reactions have come from members of thestate's largely low-key gay community.

"I never thought it would happen, much less here in Coahuila," said RobertoMartinez, a 30-year-old hair stylist in Coahuila's capital Saltillo, whoplans to take advantage of the new law. "There's still a lot of machismo inCoahuila."


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Transgendered Clergy Encouraged to Come Out
Workplace difficulties can arise for trangendered persons in nearly allprofessions, but what about those who are called to work for God?

By Lauren McCauley
Special to Newsweek
Updated: 4:42 p.m. ET Jan 23, 2007

Jan. 23, 2007 - In 1973, Eric Karl Swenson was ordained in the PresbyterianChurch and went to work doing what he'd always dreamed of: ministering to acongregation of the Southern Presbyterian Church in Atlanta. More than 20years later, one dream almost ended when another began. When the Presbyteryof Greater Atlanta discovered in 1996 that Swenson had finally fulfilledanother lifelong desire-having sex-change surgery to become a woman-itstarted proceedings to revoke Swenson's ordination.

At the time of her "transition," Swenson did not resist the church'squestions nor blame its reluctance. "I had been in the closet for 30 years,learning to accept myself," she says. "It is difficult for me to be angry atothers for not accepting." Married with two daughters before her transition,Swenson described her struggle, years later, in a sermon: "I had spent thebetter part of four decades wrestling secretly with the unreasonable andincorrigible desire to be female." After almost three years of gruelingquestions and debate, the Presbytery finally agreed, 181-161, to sustain herordination, making Swenson the first known Protestant minister to transitionfrom male to female while remaining in office. Now 59, Swenson is tall andblond, with shoulder-length hair and an assertive manner. Erin, as she'scalled, continues to work as a pastoral counselor and, she hopes, as aninspiration for others who find themselves living out, what may be, the lasttaboo in society, let alone organized religion.


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SPIEGEL ONLINE - January 26, 2007, 05:44 PM,1518,462516,00.html

Mistakes in God's Factory

Even as children, transsexuals have the feeling of living in the wrong body.When should they be allowed to switch genders? Two years ago, atwelve-year-old German boy became the world's youngest person to starthormone treatments for a sex change.

Tanja Pfeil, a 49-year-old transsexual from northern Germany. "Michael
dissolved and became Tanja," she says. "She is stronger than he was."<,1020,785984,00.jpg>Stephan Elleringmann

Tanja Pfeil, a 49-year-old transsexual from northern Germany. "Michaeldissolved and became Tanja," she says. "She is stronger than he was."

Kim P. is 14 years old. She wears light eyeshadow, a navel-baring topand embroidered jeans. She plays with strands of her long hair as shedescribes her dream of going to Paris one day to be a fashion designer. Herattic bedroom in her parents' house is a girl's paradise in pink, with therequisite fashion magazines, a makeup table, a sewing machine and even aclothes mannequin near the window.


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Minorities Group to Raise Gibraltar Concerns with Brussels

Gibraltar Government's disappointing record in the sphere of gay rights isto be the subject of questions in both the European Parliament and inWestminster, the equality rights group GGR said in a statement issued thisweek. And, as well as the questions affecting discrimination on sexualorientation and other issues which are to be raised in both parliaments, GGRis to approach the European Commission to air its doubts whether theGovernment has fully complied with the EC's Race Directive.

GGR also criticizes Keith Azopardi and the PDP for its slowness inresponding to the group's request for the party to "clarify" its policy onsexual minorities.

"At European level, and working closely with Lib-Dem MEP Graham Watson,several questions have been tabled regarding the fact that Gibraltarcontinues to discriminate on the issue of the legal age of consent forsexual minority citizens and counter to judgments from the European Court ofHuman Rights," the statement says.


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To journalists asking pols 'the gay question'
By Mark Segal
PGN Publisher
C 2007 Philadelphia Gay News

Last Sunday on ABC-TV's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," Kansas Sen.Sam Brownback appeared as the latest candidate for the Republicanpresidential nomination. Brownback, like former Gov. Mitt Romney ofMassachusetts, intends to campaign as the darling of the Republican rightwing, emulating the way George W. Bush won that nomination and becamepresident. The difference between Romney and Brownback is that the former isa flip-flopper on gay issues and reproductive choice, while the latter is atrue dyed-in-the-wool conservative who has always supported a ban on gaymarriage and abortion.

As the new candidate on the scene, Brownback gets his 15 minutes on theSunday political talk shows and gets to answer the volley of questions fromthe host. Stephanopoulos tackles our issues, asking about Mary Cheney,noting the announcement that the vice president's lesbian daughter waspregnant brought consternation from the conservatives. He quoted JamesDobson, of the anti-gay group Focus on the Family, then asked Brownback whathis reaction was. Brownback responded that it was a personal choice on herpart and that he believes the best way to raise a baby is in a family with amother and a father, male and female bonded for life. Stephanopoulos thenasks if gay adoption and parenting should be legal; Brownback dodges thequestion by stating that he believes it is important to strengthen Americanfamilies.

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