Tuesday, February 27, 2007

GLBT DIGEST - February 27, 2007

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Soulforce Press Teleconference on LGBT Parenting Research

Today, Soulforce convened a national press teleconference to speak outagainst an alarming disinformation campaign in America by those who opposeequality for gay and lesbian people and their families.

Social scientists and representatives from the American PsychiatricAssociation, American Counseling Association, American PsychologicalAssociation, and the National Association of Social Workers joined the callto review the reputable mainstream research on children raised bysame-gender parents. They also described specific examples of how thatresearch is distorted by James Dobson and others to justify discriminatorypublic policy and encouraged the media to fact-check such false claims inthe future before they report them.

Soulforce was joined by Wayne Besen and Truth Wins Out, who today announceda new website, www.RespectMyResearch.org, which includes a collection ofvideos, created by both organizations, that show social scientists refutingJames Dobson's dishonest claims.

To listen to the Teleconference on LGBT Parenting Research -http://www.soulforce.org/article/1189



A Mission of Understanding: Young Gay Leaders on a Mission to ChristianColleges; Second Annual Soulforce Equality Ride Set to Launch

On March 8, 2007, fifty young adults will board 2 buses for the trip of alifetime. The 8-week Soulforce Equality Ride will bring them to 32 Christiancolleges with climates or policies that silence lesbian, gay, bisexual, andtransgender (LGBT) students.

Their mission: to open a dialogue about the painful consequences ofdiscrimination and the religion-based prejudice that sustains it.

"We come in pursuit of greater understanding," says Haven Herrin,Co-director of Soulforce Q, a youth-led movement within the national LGBTsocial justice group Soulforce. "Our goal is to foster a conversation aboutLGBT people and faith. While such conversations are often marked by politicsand divisiveness, we bring open minds and hearts to academic settings, wherewe hope for a genuine exchange of ideas."

More than 200 U.S. colleges and universities have explicit policies thatdiscriminate against LGBT students. In 2006, the inaugural Equality Ridetraveled to 19 of those schools and held vigils, Bible studies, classdiscussions, and community forums. This year the Ride's reach has nearlydoubled. Equality Riders will bring their mix of education and advocacy to 2separate routes that stop at 32 schools, including the University of NotreDame, Pepperdine University, and Baylor University.


The New York Times


Jury to Deliberate Air Force Rape Trial

Published: February 27, 2007
Filed at 12:26 a.m. ET

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AP) -- An Air Force officer accused of rapingfour men and attempting to rape two others is only guilty of being gay inthe military, a defense attorney told a court-martial jury during closingarguments Monday.

Capt. Devery L. Taylor, 38, violated the military's ''don't ask, don'ttell'' policy, which bans people who are openly gay and lesbian from servingin the armed forces, said his private defense attorney, Martin Regan.

''My client is an admitted homosexual involved in consensual homosexualrelationships and let's let the military deal with it in the right forum,not in a court-martial,'' Regan said.

Four of the men had consensual sex with Taylor and lied to protect theirmilitary careers, while a fifth wanted to join the Navy and feared beingidentified as gay, Regan said.

A sixth man, who is openly gay, forced Taylor to have sex with him, butlater told investigators he was raped because he feared being charged withrape himself, Regan said.

Military prosecutors described Taylor as a serial rapist who met men inbars, spiked their drinks with the ''date-rape drug'' gamma-hydroxybutyrate,or GHB, and kidnapped them.

''Being known to the world as a male rape victim is not fun. It is hard forthem to sit up straight. If they are concerned about their military careers,why say anything?'' said Military prosecutor Maj. Kathleen Reder.

Taylor, a medic and the former chief of patient administration at EglinRegional Hospital, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without paroleif convicted. He is charged with two counts of attempted sodomy, four countsof forcible sodomy, three counts of kidnapping and one count of unlawfulentry.

The military jury was scheduled to begin deliberations Tuesday.


The Washington Post


New Interim Health Minister Named in South Africa
By Craig Timberg

Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, February 27, 2007; 6:14 AM

KAMPALA, Uganda Feb. 27--South African President Thabo Mbeki on Monday namedan interim health minister to replace the ailing but controversial MantoTshabalala-Msiming, whose reluctance to embrace lifesaving AIDS drugsprovoked international rebuke and landed her the derisive nickname Dr. No.

Transport Minister Jeff Radebe is the new interim health minister. SouthAfrican officials would not say when--or if--Tshabalala-Msimang would returnto the job.




Elton John Oscar Party Raises $4.2-Million For AIDS
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Posted: February 26, 2007 - 3:00 pm ET

(Los Angeles, California) Elton John's AIDS foundation hauled in$4.2-million Sunday night at his annual Oscar bash at the Pacific DesignCenter.

This was the 15 year that John and partner David Furnish have hosted theevent. Co-sponsored by Audi, Chopard and VH1 the party attracted some ofthe biggest names in show business.

Among them Jon Bon Jovi, Sharon Stone, Ozzy & Sharon Osbourne, Sean "Diddy"Combs, Sheryl Crow, Keifer Sutherland, Simon Cowell, Macy Gray, EricMcCormack, Gloria Estefan, John Waters, Cedric the Entertainer, KevinZegers, Cheryl Tiegs, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Marlee Matlin, and Tim Allen.

The Elton John AIDS Foundation annual gala was the leading fundraising eventin Hollywood on Oscar night.

To top off the evening, Sir Elton John and Grammy winning artist, JamesBlunt, performed together live

The party also included a live auction. Among the items that went on theauction block were a private soccer lesson with David Beckham; the veryfirst 2008 Audi R8 to hit the streets; a five-day stay at Villa Fontanelle -the legendary home of the Versace family; and a limited edition Herb Rittsphotograph.

The most exciting moment of the evening came when Sharon Stone jumped onstage to help with the live auction. Stone auctioned the "Sir Elton John's60th Birthday Celebration Weekend" package to two lucky bidders who eachpaid $250,000 to win the prize. The package included two tickets to SirElton John's private 60th birthday party in New York City, two premium seattickets to his sold out concert at Madison Square Garden, airfare andaccommodations.

The event raised more money then in any other year since the gala'sinception.

Since its establishment in 1992 by Founder and Chairman Sir Elton John, theElton John AIDS Foundation has raised over $125 million to support HIV/AIDSprevention and service programs in 55 countries around the globe.

Today it is one of the world's leading nonprofit HIV/AIDS organizations,supporting community-based prevention education programs, harm reductionprograms, and direct services to persons living with HIV/AIDS, especiallypopulations with special needs.




Gay Couple Give UCLA $1-Million To Train Lawyers In LGBT Family Law
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Posted: February 26, 2007 - 1:00 pm ET

(Los Angeles, California) A gay couple has given the University ofCalifornia Los Angeles $1-million to fund a chair in sexual orientation lawand public policy. It is believed the program will be the first of its kindin the country.

John McDonald and Rob Wright, of West Hollywood, earmarked the donation tothe Williams Project at the UCLA Law School. The men said in a statementthat they would one day like to be able to marry.

The Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law & Public Policy advanceslaw and public policy through, independent research and scholarship, anddisseminates its work to judges, legislators, lawyers, other policy makersand the public.

"Winning equality is never quick or easy," said McDonald. "By endowing achair for this very important mission, our contribution will help turnsocietal wrongs into civil and human rights."

The McDonald/Wright Chair of Law will be held by a member of the faculty ofUCLA Law and the Williams Institute who has distinguished herself or himselfin research related to sexual orientation law and public policy, said BradSears, Executive Director of the Williams Institute.


The Advocate


African officials: Basic health care, not AIDS, should be top priority

The top priority in Africa should be getting people basic health care andnot just dealing with the HIV/AIDS pandemic, an African Union commissionersaid.

Bience Gawanas, the AU's commissioner for social affairs, joined members ofAfrican-based HIV/AIDS organizations, U.N. delegates, and staff on Fridayfor an informal briefing on HIV/AIDS. The panel echoed a need for generalhealth services that some expressed wouldimprove treatment and preventionof the disease.

''We should go back to the basics: that primary health care is what Africaneeds,'' Gawanas said.
''You cannot focus on one issue at the exclusion of others.''

Last year 2.8 million people in sub–Saharan Africa became infected with HIV,and 2.1 million people died. The region is home to over 60% of all peopleliving with HIV. But Africa also struggles with high rates of tuberculosisand malaria infection. U.N.-led efforts to solve the problems one by onelose effectiveness as they encounter complex maladies among people inAfrica, Gawanas said.


Emory Wheel

Rabbi Calls for Support of Gay Civil Marriages
Anushka Rahman
Posted: 2/27/07

Rabbi Steve Greenberg, an openly gay rabbi in the Orthodox Jewish community,addressed the controversial issues of religion and same-sex marriage onSunday and argued that religion should have no bearing on the formation ofcivil unions.

"By denying the right to civil unions, states are in violation of civilrights," he said.

About 40 people attended his lecture, which was held in Harris Parlour onSunday.

Greenberg talked about the differences between civil unions and religiousmarriage. He argued that marriage in religious contexts has no place instates that have ceased to define themselves along religious lines orinstitutions.

Calling civil marriage "an invention under the guise of the liberal state,"Greenberg implied that not recognizing gay marriage causes social unrest.



Weekly Column
by Wayne Besen

Anything But Straight
Feb. 26, 2007

Swatting Flies in a Manure Field

I have finally developed a grudging respect for Focus on the Family. Theease in which they lie is so remarkably breathtaking, all one can do isapplaud in wondrous awe. Not even Condi Rice or Dick Cheney can compete withthis motley crew when it comes to fibbing with a straight face.

What amazes me is that Focus on the Family raises approximately $200 milliona year but produces virtually nothing. It's the empire built on bunk and amonstrous Machiavellian monstrosity that manipulates and vituperates butdoesn't generate. Indeed, the organization's "scientific" apparatus consistsof a few fundamentalist flunkies who couldn't tell a research trial from theAnna Nicole Smith trial.

For example, Gay.com reported on an obscure new study that found 16% of samesex relationships in China suffer from domestic abuse, while only 9% ofopposite sex couples do. The study, reportedly conducted by GLBT civilrights groups, found that the most common form of abuse followed threats ofouting a partner to employers or family members. In other words, theblackmail situations the closet creates, leads to an increase in domesticviolence. Without the closet factor, such violence would likely decrease.

This would be common sense to any reasonably intelligent person analyzingsuch a study. It is even more obvious to anyone remotely familiar withconservative Asian culture and the consequences one faces if outed. Ofcourse, the "geniuses" at Focus on the Family had their own "brilliant" takeon the situation.

"Rather than use the research to point out a basic flaw with homosexuality,activists are attacking social service agencies in China with not beingequipped to deal with gay violence issues," wrote Josh Montez in Family Newsin Focus.

His article went on to quote a few wing nuts that drew some interestingassumptions.


The New York Times


February 26, 2007
Anglicans Appear "Obsessed with Sex": Rowan Williams

Filed at 1:18 p.m. ET

LONDON (Reuters) - People think the Anglican church is obsessed with sex ina battle over homosexuality that ``very few really want to be fighting,''Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams said on Monday.

The Anglican communion, a loose federation of 38 national churches, has beensplit between a liberal minority and a conservative majority, especiallysince the naming of an openly gay U.S. bishop in 2003.

After a tense meeting of church leaders in the Tanzanian city of Dar EsSalaam this month, the Anglican Communion gave the U.S. Episcopal Church aSeptember deadline to stop blessing same sex unions.

Speaking to the Church of England synod, the spiritual leader of the world's77 million Anglicans said: ``It feels as though we are caught in a battlevery few really want to be fighting, like soldiers in the trenches somewherearound 1916.''

Williams, who has no power to enforce solutions in a church run byconsensus, has said the U.S. Episcopal Church might not be invited to the2008 Lambeth Conference -- a once in a decade meeting of all Anglicanbishops -- if it did not comply.


The New York Times


February 26, 2007
Oscars Draw More Viewers and Mixed Reviews

Filed at 9:33 p.m. ET

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Daytime talk show host Ellen DeGeneres drew amillion more U.S. TV viewers to the Oscars than last year's telecast, butsome critics found her easy-going style too low-key for Hollywood's biggestnight.

The 79th annual Academy Awards show on Sunday, featuring big wins for MartinScorsese's crime thriller ``The Departed'' and Al Gore's global warmingdocumentary, averaged 39.9 million viewers for the ABC network, NielsenMedia Research reported on Monday.

That's up from the 38.8 million who tuned in last year when anotherfirst-time Oscar host, political satirist Jon Stewart, presided over aceremony in which the racial drama ``Crash'' won best picture over thegay-cowboy romance ``Brokeback Mountain.''drew 41.5 million viewers.

Observers predicted last year that a relative lack of star power and thedarkly serious, art-house subject matter of nominated films, which alsoincluded ``Capote'' and ``Munich,'' would dampen viewer interest in theOscars.

This year's Oscar contenders, as a group, fared better at the box office --``Departed'' was a bona fide hit grossing $132 million domestically -- andincluded comparatively uplifting films such as ``Dreamgirls'' and ``LittleMiss Sunshine.''


The Washington Post


Ga. Supreme Court Won't Hear Same-Sex Adoption Case

Associated Press
Tuesday, February 27, 2007; A09

ATLANTA, Feb. 26 -- The Georgia Supreme Court refused Monday to hear anappeal dealing with the uncertain legality of adoptions by same-sex couples,prompting cheers from gay rights advocates who feared it could have led to amore restrictive court ruling.

The court gave no explanation for its 4 to 3 decision against hearing thematter, but Justice George H. Carley chided his colleagues for refusing tohear a case of "great concern . . . and public importance."

The gay rights organization Lambda Legal praised the court's refusal to hearthe case.
The case in question began in 2002, when a judge allowed Melody Wheeler toadopt her partner Sara Wheeler's child. When the couple split up two yearslater, Sara Wheeler asked the judge to toss out the adoption. Her attorneysaid she did so because Melody Wheeler tried to get custody of the child. Atrial judge denied the appeal, and so did Georgia's Court of Appeals.




Hawaii Civil Union Bill Heads To Committee
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Posted: February 27, 2007 - 12:01 am ET

(Honolulu, Hawaii) Legislation to legalize civil unions will receive itsfirst public hearing in the Hawaii legislature on Tuesday evening.

The House Judiciary Committee will hear from people on both sides of theissue. If passed the bill would grant the equal rights and responsibilitiesof marriage, while stopping short of being defined as marriage.

Due to a 1998 constitutional amendment in Hawaii, marriage is defined asbeing solely between a man and a woman.

Currently same sex couples can, under state law, apply to become reciprocalbeneficiaries under a law passed after the legislature banned gay marriage.

The bill, written by local LGBT civil rights activist Bill Woods-Bateman.




Gay Relationship Bill Introduced In Oregon
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Posted: February 26, 2007 - 9:00 pm ET

(Portland, Oregon) Legislation that would recognize same-sex couples wasintroduced in the Oregon legislature on Monday. Called the Family FairnessAct it would provide many of the state rights of marriage on gay couples.

Oregon has a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage and theFairness Act carefully avoids using the terms civil unions or domesticpartnerships. But many LGBT activists who pushed for the bill are calling itcivil union legislation.

The bill was the result of recommendations of the Governor's Task Force onEquality a diverse committee of business, clergy and civil rights advocatesfrom across Oregon.

The legislation is a standalone bill to indicate it is separate and distinctfrom marriage. There will be a residency requirement placed on those whoregister and there will be no ceremony.

Also introduced in the legislature Monday was a bill aimed at endingdiscrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Oregon.


The Los Angeles Times


HIV, drug-resistant TB a deadly combo

The death rate among infected South Africans is reported to be 85%.
By Jia-Rui Chong
Times Staff Writer

February 26, 2007

A highly drug-resistant form of tuberculosis has killed about 85% of SouthAfrican HIV patients who have become infected, presenting one of the mostworrisome problems in HIV and tuberculosis control, researchers reportedSunday.

About 330 cases of so-called extensively drug-resistant, or XDR,tuberculosis have been verified in South Africa over the last year, saidKarin Weyer of the South African Medical Research Council in Pretoria.

The outbreak began in KwaZulu-Natal province last year and is now foundthroughout the country, she said.

Dr. Paul Nunn, coordinator of tuberculosis and HIV at the World HealthOrganization, called the 85% mortality rate "completely egregious."

The South African findings were presented at the opening of the Conferenceon Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Los Angeles. It is thelargest scientific gathering for AIDS researchers.




2007-02-26 11:34:00
Gay pride organizers sue Luzhkov for calling parade 'satanic'

Moscow, February 26, Interfax - The Moscow gay pride parade organizers havefiled a lawsuit against Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov in Tverskoy DistrictCourt.

Parade co-organizer Nikolay Alexeyev told Interfax that the mayor haddescribed gay pride parades as 'satanic rites.'

"The Moscow mayor insulted me not only as a co-organizer of the gay prideparade he illegally banned, but also as a citizen and a believer. The term'satanic' is insulting and negative both in the secular and religiousmeaning," he said.

An official of the Luzhkov level "must not offend people with such words,"Alexeyev said.

Luzhkov said at the recent opening of Christmas Readings in Moscow that theMoscow authorities "experienced unprecedented pressure from the organizersof a gay pride parade that cannot be described other than a satanic rite"and promised to prevent similar parades in the future.

The plaintiffs want the Moscow mayor to refute "the untrue and insultingstatement" and pay each of them 1,000 rubles in moral compensation.

The parade organizers also filed a lawsuit vs. Russia at the European Courtof Human Rights and demanded 20,000 euros compensation.


The Advocate


China AIDS activists laud documentary Oscar

A film about Chinese orphans of AIDS victims won an Oscar for BestDocumentary Short Film, which a prominent AIDS activist in China said showedpeople still cared.

Ruby Yang and Thomas Lennon won the Oscar for The Blood of YingzhouDistrict, which tells the story of traditional Chinese obligations of familycolliding with the fears of AIDS in impoverished Anhui province, and thefate of those left behind.

"I hadn't heard of the film, but it's a good thing people care about this,"HIV-infected AIDS activist Li Xige, from the adjoining province of Henan,told Reuters.

"Because this problem has been going on for so long, and sometimes I'mafraid it might be forgotten."

An estimated 650,000 people are living with HIV/AIDS in China, and healthexperts say the disease is moving into the general population.


The Sun-Sentinel


Gay Marriage Opponents to Look to States
Associated Press Writer

February 26, 2007, 10:23 PM EST

BOSTON -- A group lobbying for a constitutional ban on gay marriage concedesthat its chances are slim with Democrats controlling Congress. So now it'ssetting its sights on state legislatures.

The Washington-based Alliance for Marriage wants to build a nationwidenetwork of state lawmakers who would support a constitutional amendment, thegroup's leaders said Monday in an interview with The Associated Press.

"There is no question that the shift in the balance of power in Washingtonhas, for the time-being, made it difficult to reintroduce the federalamendment in Congress," said Matt Daniels, the group's founder andpresident.

But voters in several states approved ballot questions opposing gaymarriage. And ultimately, three-fourths of state legislatures would have toapprove an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

"We believe the day is coming when the Marriage Protection Amendment will besent to the states," said Bob Adams, vice president of the alliance. "Thetime to organize for that is now, not 10 years down the road."

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