Friday, June 29, 2007

GLBT DIGEST June 29, 2007

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The New York Times

June 29, 2007
Domestic Issues Frame Democratic Debate

WASHINGTON, June 28 - For 90 minutes Thursday night, eight Democratic candidates debated before an audience made up largely of one of their party's most reliable and liberal constituencies, African-American voters, and usedthe stage to urge a revitalization of domestic programs they said hadfaltered under President Bush.

They called for spending more on schools in poor neighborhoods to lowerclass sizes and raising salaries for teachers to prevent a drain ofeducators from inner-city schools. They called for rolling back tax cuts onthe wealthy to pay for expanded health care and provide job training.

The debate was held here on the campus of Howard University, a historicallyblack college. It was the third Democratic presidential debate of thecampaign, but the first one dedicated largely to domestic issues andparticularly the problems facing minorities.

The foreign policy flash points that had produced conflict between theDemocrats at their earlier debates - in particular, the war in Iraq - werelargely absent as the candidates spoke easily, finishing one another'ssentences and offering jokes and compliments.

"Let me finish John's thought because it was an important one," SenatorBarack Obama said, finishing a response by John Edwards, who was criticizingthe White House for the way it responded to Hurricane Katrina. "There arepotential Katrinas all across this country that have been neglected."


The New York Times


--On the number of black teenagers diagnosed with HIV/AIDS: ''This is a multiple-dimension problem. But if we don't begin to take it seriously and address it the way we did back in the '90s when it was primarily a gay men'sdisease, we will never get the services and the public education that weneed.''


The New York Times

June 29, 2007
Justices Limit the Use of Race in School Plans for Integration

WASHINGTON, June 28 - With competing blocs of justices claiming the mantleof Brown v. Board of Education, a bitterly divided Supreme Court declaredThursday that public school systems cannot seek to achieve or maintainintegration through measures that take explicit account of a student's race.

Voting 5 to 4, the court, in an opinion by Chief Justice John G. RobertsJr., invalidated programs in Seattle and metropolitan Louisville, Ky., thatsought to maintain school-by-school diversity by limiting transfers on thebasis of race or using race as a "tiebreaker" for admission to particularschools.

Both programs had been upheld by lower federal courts and were similar toplans in place in hundreds of school districts around the country. ChiefJustice Roberts said such programs were "directed only to racial balance,pure and simple," a goal he said was forbidden by the Constitution'sguarantee of equal protection.

"The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stopdiscriminating on the basis of race," he said. His side of the debate, thechief justice said, was "more faithful to the heritage of Brown," thelandmark 1954 decision that declared school segregation unconstitutional."When it comes to using race to assign children to schools, history will beheard," he said.

The decision came on the final day of the court's 2006-7 term, which showedan energized conservative majority in control across many areas of the court's jurisprudence.


Democrats Address Race Issues In Debate
At Howard U., They Decry Court Ruling On School Diversity

By Anne E. Kornblut and Dan Balz
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, June 29, 2007; A01

In the first presidential debate designed to focus on minority issues, theDemocratic contenders aggressively sought to outmuscle one another on thetopics of race and poverty and derided yesterday's Supreme Court decisionbanning most affirmative action in public schools.

The forum at Howard University seemed to be a guaranteed fit for Sen. BarackObama (Ill.), the only black candidate in the race. He repeatedly discussedracial disparity, education and AIDS and used his unique status to call forgreater responsibility from African Americans, one of his frequent themes.But the audience largely embraced the other seven Democrats on stage aswell, applauding Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) when she called for agreater focus on AIDS research and cheering Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (Ohio)when he called for an end to the Iraq war.

By the end of the 90-minute forum -- attended by numerous prominent blackleaders, including Al Sharpton and Princeton scholar Cornel West -- thegroup had covered an array of issues, such as the genocide in Darfur anddisparities in education.

"You can look at this stage and see an African American, a Latino, a woman
contesting for the presidency of the United States," Clinton said. "Butthere is so much left to be done, and for anyone to assert that race is nota problem in America is to deny the reality in front of our very eyes."

Obama, when it was his turn, said, "We have made enormous progress, but theprogress that we have made is not good enough."


House Repeals Needle Ban
Decision on Funding Thrills D.C. Officials Fighting the HIV/AIDS Epidemic

By Mary Beth Sheridan and Susan Levine
Washington Post Staff Writers
Friday, June 29, 2007; B01

The House yesterday lifted a nine-year-old ban on using D.C. tax dollars toprovide clean needles to drug addicts, handing city leaders what theyconsider a crucial new weapon against a severe AIDS epidemic.

The change reflects how Democrats are trying to use their new majoritystatus in Congress to give the District somewhat greater autonomy. Congresshas traditionally used its budget power over the city to flex its muscles onsuch local issues as gun control and abortion.

Democrats also tried yesterday to abolish a prohibition on using federalmoney for the city's domestic-partner registry. The attempt failed. Thedevelopment will have little practical effect because the city uses its ownfunds for that program, officials said.

The needle-exchange and domestic-partner items were part of a $21 billionfunding bill for the next fiscal year that covered more than two dozenfederal agencies as well as the District. The bill includes more than $650million for District schools, courts, libraries and other institutions.

"For too long, Congress has unfairly imposed on the citizens of D.C. bytrying out their social experiments there," said Rep. Jose E. Serrano,(D-N.Y.), chairman of the appropriations subcommittee that handles the D.C.budget. "The ban on needle exchanges was one of the most egregious of theseimpositions, especially because the consensus is clear that these programssave lives."


Three schools in Palm Beach County get F grades from state
By Marc Freeman
June 29, 2007, 11:15 AM EDT

Three Palm Beach County schools received F's this year, on report cardsreleased today by the state Department of Education.

Glades Central High in Belle Glade, Lincoln Elementary in Riviera Beach, anda charter school, Leadership Academy West in West Palm Beach, all failed,based on student scores on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.

Ten county schools received a D grade, including Boynton Beach, John I.Leonard High in Greenacres and Palm Beach Lakes High in West Palm Beach.

It was the first time in several years that local schools received the Frating, but the results were not a major surprise because the state raisedstandards this year and lackluster scores this spring spelled trouble.

Schools have waited unusually long for the letter grades this year, due to ascoring problem that came to light last month.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Fri, Jun. 29, 2007
More F's, fewer A's for S. Florida schools

Fears about school grades under a tougher grading formula came true Friday
morning when the state finally released ratings for public schools.

Miami-Dade has 26 F schools this year, compared to five the year before.Broward, which had no F schools last year, saw nine this year.

The number of A schools in Broward dropped from 157 last year to 121 thisyear.

Throughout Florida, 1,472 schools got an A, six more than the previous year.

The news was not unexpected. There had been concerns this year that thenumber of A schools could decrease -- and that the number of F schools couldincrease -- because of two new factors in how schools are graded. This year,the formula also includes the percentage of students working on grade levelin science and whether the worst math students improve.


The Miami Herald

Posted on Fri, Jun. 29, 2007
'Sicko' film is set to spark debate

With everyone from General Motors execs to presidential candidates demandingmajor changes in America's healthcare, Michael Moore's Sicko is openingtoday in South Florida at the perfect moment to spark an intense debate.

A reform group, Healthcare for All Florida, plans to distribute leaflets and
ask moviegoers at some theaters to sign petitions demanding universalcoverage because the present system leaves more than 45 million withoutinsurance -- people who often end up in emergency rooms, where theirexpenses ultimately get passed to taxpayers or those who have insurance.

One member of the group, however, René Rodriguez, a Cuban-born physician whosupports major reforms, plans to protest at a theater because he objects tothe film's ending, idealizing Cuba's socialistic healthcare.

As with all of his documentaries, the Academy Award-winning Moore's portraitof healthcare is far from neutral. The movie includes details that even somesympathizers consider exaggerations, and conservatives are lambasting hisglowing portrait of government-financed healthcare in other countries.

Still, many who have studied healthcare problems are impressed. ''Sicko gota lot of the little things wrong,'' writes Jonathan Cohn, author of Sick, a2006 analysis of the industry. ``But it got most of the big things right.''


National Gay News

June 29, 2007
Gay couples find that life begins at 40, and often after marriage
Nicola Woolcock

A quarter of women forming same-sex civil partnerships have previously beenmarried, and weddings are at their lowest level in a hundred years.

The number of marriages in England and Wales fell in 2005 to 244,710, adecline of 10 per cent on the previous year and the lowest figure since1896.

For the first time, fewer marriages were held in churches or other places ofworship than were held in secular buildings other than register offices,such as stately homes.

The first National Statistics data on civil partnerships show that 18,059were formed in the year since their introduction in December 2005. Ten percent of men and 24 per cent of women involved had been married.

Many civil partnership ceremonies took place in July, mirroring thepopularity of weddings in summer months.


The Advocate

June 29, 2007
Dems denounce court desegregation ruling at debate

A historically diverse field of Democratic presidential candidates - awoman, a black, an Hispanic and five whites - denounced an hours-old SupremeCourt affirmative action ruling Thursday night and said the nation's slowmarch to racial unity is far from over.

''We have made enormous progress, but the progress we have made is not goodenough,'' said Sen. Barack Obama, the son of a man from Kenya and a womanfrom Kansas.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, the first female candidate with a serious shotat the presidency, drew the night's largest cheer when she suggested therewas a hint of racism in the way AIDS is addressed in this country.

''Let me just put this in perspective: If HIV-AIDS were the leading cause ofdeath of white women between the ages of 25 and 34 there would be anoutraged, outcry in this country,'' said the New York senator.

In their third primary debate, the two leading candidates and their fellowDemocrats played to the emotions of a predominantly black audience, fightingfor a voting bloc that is crucial in the party's nomination process.


The Advocate

June 29, 2007
Trying to escape shadow of Southern Baptists, moderate, liberal Baptistsplan joint ministries

They're America's other Baptists - the ones who appoint women pastors, workwith theological liberals and line up more closely with President Carterthan with President George W. Bush.

Over the last 25 years, they have watched with growing concern as theirconservative Southern Baptist brethren came to define the religioustradition for the general public.

Now, these other Baptists, who are spread among many differentdenominations, are slowly pooling resources on humanitarian work andevangelism, hoping they can have a bigger impact.

This Friday in Washington, two of the larger groups - the American BaptistChurches and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship - will worship together forthe first time. They plan to commission two missionary couples who willrepresent both groups, and will organize a national Islamic-Baptist dialogueto improve relations with Muslims.

''It is an effort to celebrate our common heritages as Baptist Christiansand to affirm our commitment to work together more collaboratively,'' saidthe Rev. Daniel Vestal, national coordinator of the Cooperative BaptistFellowship. ''The Baptist witness is much richer and more nuanced than ischaracterized so often in the public square now.''


The Advocate

June 29, 2007
Ex-Grey's Anatomy star Isaiah Washington says racism a factor in his firingafter gay slurs

Grey's Anatomy star Isaiah Washington said racism was a factor in his firingfrom the hit television series after he twice used an anti-gay slur.

Washington, who initially used the epithet during an onset clash with aco-star, told Newsweek magazine that ''someone heard the booming voice of ablack man and got really scared and that was the beginning of the end forme.''

He tried to make amends by expressing remorse and volunteering to enter acounseling program to understand how the confrontation got out of hand, hetold Newsweek.

''My mistake was believing that I would get the support from my network andall of my cast mates across the board. My mistake was believing I couldcorrect a wrong with honesty and sincerity,'' he said in the interviewposted online Thursday.

''My mistake was thinking black people get second chances. I was wrong onall fronts,'' he said.


Car Bomb Unnerves London Day Before Gay Pride Parade
by Newscenter Staff
Posted: June 29, 2007 - 6:30 am ET
Updated 8:30 am ET

(London) A day before thousands of gays and lesbians march through TheHaymarket British police have thwarted an apparent terror attack.

Early Friday morning police were called about a suspicious car parked in thearea. Inside the silver Mercedes investigators found gas containers and alarge number of nails.

The attack would have caused "significant injury or loss of life," policesaid.

The area remained cordoned off throughout most of the day while policeinvestigated.

A British security official told The Associated Press that there weresimilarities between the device and vehicle bombs used by insurgents inIraq.

No one has claimed responsibility and police say they are not certain of themotive.


Anti-Gay Language Reinstated In DC Appropriations Bill Following Bush Veto
by Newscenter Staff
Posted: June 29, 2007 - 10:00 am ET

(Washington) A bill providing federal funding to the District of Columbiahas passed the House after a clause stating the money could not be used tofund a domestic partner registry was reinstated.

President Bush on Wednesday threatened to veto the bill if it did notcontain the clause. (story)

The registry allows same and opposite-sex unmarried couples to registertheir relationships.

Three quarters of the District of Columbia's budget comes from localrevenue - city taxes and fees. But, about $120 million in additional fundscomes from the federal overnment.

That money is contained in the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act.


Study: Anti-Gay Hate Crimes Widespread
by Newscenter Staff
Posted: June 29, 2007 - 12:00 pm ET

(Davis, California) Nearly four in 10 gay men and about one in eightlesbians and bisexuals in the United States have been the target of violenceor a property crime because of their sexual orientation, according to a newstudy.

"This is the most reliable estimate to date of the prevalence of anti-gayvictimization in the United States," said University of California, Davis,psychology professor Gregory Herek who conducted the study.

"The data demonstrate that crimes against sexual minority adults, especiallygay men, are disturbingly widespread."

Herek's findings were based on a survey he conducted in the fall of 2005with a nationally representative sample of 662 self-identified gay men,lesbians and bisexuals. The study will be published in a future issue of theJournal of Interpersonal Violence.

Overall, 21 percent of the people in the survey reported being the victim ofviolence or a property crime -- including physical assault, sexual assault,theft and vandalism -- because of their sexual orientation.


A note from Equality Florida:

There are just 3 days left to reach our goals of 300 supporters. June 30th is the deadline for the Fairness for All Families campaign's first major financial reporting cycle and we're well on our way to making a strong initial showing. Will you join the effort?

In the past 12 days, 241 fair-minded Floridians have generously contributed to the campaign. Will you help push?us past our goal?and?sign on as one of the very first supporters of the Fairness campaign??

We're on course?to show a record number of Floridians standing up to?discrimination by opposing the so-called "marriage amendment."?This initiative would permanently ban marriage and civil unions for same-sex partners in Florida, and threatens domestic partnership protections that seniors, fire fighters, teachers and police officers already rely upon.

Our goal is to make history on November 4th, 2008 when Florida joins Arizona as the only two states in the nation to defeat the so-called "marriage" amendment. We're asking our supporters to commemorate the 2008 Election by contributing $20.08 today.?

Over the past two weeks we've told you about government and university employees in Michigan and Kentucky losing healthcare benefits for gay and straight domestic partners. In an editorial written this past Sunday - June 24th, USA Today referred to the debacle in Michigan and Kentucky, saying:

"These developments expose the disingenuous arguments that surrounded many of the ballot measures..." The USA Today editorial concluded, "... states that rushed to ban (same-sex marriage) need to rethink language that is overly broad or likely to produce unintended consequences."? - USA Today

For the full editorial, click

The proposed amendment threatens the legal protections and benefits of families across Florida and, with your help, the Fairness for All Families campaign will ensure this attack on Florida families doesn't become part of our constitution

If $20.08 is just more than you can do right now, please contribute $11.04 to commemorate Election Day, November 4th (11/04). Any amount you can give will help publicly increase our numbers and ensure the headlines report our strong opposition.Contribute now.

With sincere thanks,

Damien Filer
Campaign Manager

P.S. If you would prefer not to receive email from the Fairness Campaign, please click here:


NEW from DIRELAND, June 28


Defying anti-gay rioting (left), threats of bloodshed, opposition fromIsrael's prime minister and Jerusalem's mayor, a vote by Israel'sparliament, and rabbinical curses, some 2,000 courageous people staged adignified Gay Pride march (right) in central Jerusalem last Thursday, June21. For all the details, including an interview with a leading Israeli gayactivist -- and a bonus "Recommended Reading" list -- click on:


Forwarded from Kenneth Sherrill - Ken's List

Pakistani same-sex couple released on bail

Islamabad - Pakistan's Supreme Court on Thursday released a same-sex couple on bail a month after they were handed down a three-year jail sentence by a lower court for alleged deception concerning the gender of one. On a petition filed by by Shumail Raj, who underwent a sex change 16 years ago, and his wife Shahzina Tariq, a three-member judicial bench headed by acting Chief Justice Rana Bhagwandas stayed their prison terms.

The Lahore High Court judged them guilty of perjury last month for lying about Raj's gender. They had gone to the court for protection from relatives seeking to have their marriage annulled on the grounds that it was in violation of Islamic tenets.

The couple's defence counsel told the panel of judges that the court had no authority to order a medical test which revealed that Raj was originally a woman but had undergone a sex-change operation.

"Pakistani law doesn't bar two women from living together," the lawyer Babar Awan said.

"The Lahore High Court should have shown sympathy for the poor couple," a member of the judge's panel Sardar Raza Khan said.

The couple say they originally married to protect Shahzina from being sold into marriage to pay off her uncle's gambling debts.

Shahzina told Pakistani media that relatives had tortured and threatened to kill her when she did not consent to the forced marriage to a brother-in-law of her uncle.


From The Times
June 29, 2007

Gay couples find that life begins at 40, and often after marriage
Nicola Woolcock

A quarter of women forming same-sex civil partnerships have previously been married, and weddings are at their lowest level in a hundred years.

The number of marriages in England and Wales fell in 2005 to 244,710, a decline of 10% on the previous year and the lowest figure since 1896.

For the first time, fewer marriages were held in churches or other places of worship than were held in secular buildings other than register offices, such as stately homes.

The first National Statistics data on civil partnerships show that 18,059 were formed in the year since their introduction in December 2005. Ten per cent of men and 24% of women involved had been married.

Many civil partnership ceremonies took place in July, mirroring the popularity of weddings in summer months.

An industry has sprung up to cater for gay couples, with congratulations cards and matching "his and his" rings. About 60% of those forming civil partnerships were men, whose average age was 47. For women the average age was 43.

A quarter of partnership ceremonies took place in London. Manchester and Brighton, which have substantial gay communities, were also popular.

The drop in the number of marriages came after three years of increases. In February 2005 Home Office rules were changed to make it more difficult for non-Europeans to win the right to stay in Britain through a fake wedding. The statistics suggest that the shortlived rise in the number of arriages - from 249,000 in 2002 to 273,000 in 2004 - was driven by bogus weddings. After the new marriage rules came into force, there appeared to be a fall in the number of weddings taking place at designated register offices that non-European couples now have to attend before marrying.

Marriage has been in long-term decline since 1972, according to National Statistics. There were 12 marriages for every 1,000 unmarried people in 2005, against 27 per 1,000 in 1851, it said


PO BOX 130
TEL 0844 800 3067

Affiliated to Amnesty International &
the International Humanist & Ethical Union

News Release
29 June 2007


Gay children in "faith schools" have been badly let down by the government,says the UK Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA).

Schools with a religious ethos were given permission in recent guidance onequality legislation to continue condemning gay people and expressingdisapproval of homosexuality. Now, the new survey from Stonewall, 'Theexperiences of young gay people in Britain's Schools', shows that pupils in"faith schools" are taking the brunt of the widespread homophobic bullyingthat is happening in all our schools.

Jim Herrick, chairman of GALHA, said: "This new survey from Stonewall paintsa horrific picture of nasty victimisation of gay children in our schools,and it seems to be even worse in so-called faith schools. This makes it allthe more unfortunate that the Government recently told these schools thatthey did not have to tone down their condemnation of homosexuality. Ineffect, they have abandoned gay kids in these schools - particularlyCatholic schools - to the mercies of any homophobe who decides he doesn'tlike gay people. This survey indicates that the Government has made a verygrave error by permitting faith schools to continue their nasty, homophobicteachings. We recognise that homophobic bullying cannot be stoppedovernight, but bringing faith schools into line would give out a clearsignal that such bullying is unacceptable and won't be tolerated."

For further information, contact Cliff James on 0844 800 3067 or email:


Rights watchdog criticizes Polish leaders' rhetoric on gays

29 June 2007

The top European human rights watchdog criticized Polish leaders foranti-homosexual rhetoric Friday.

"I think we should remember that one of the groups that were targeted by theNazis were homosexuals, and we should really avoid to fall into that trapnow," said Council of Europe human rights commissioner Thomas Hammarberg.

Hammarberg was in the Polish capital to present a report on Poland's humanrights performance to Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, and toencourage Warsaw to do more on a number of issues, including overcrowdedprisons and slow legal procedures.

"We feel that there is a problem of homophobia in several countries ofEurope, including Poland, that one has to avoid statements, in particularfrom leading politicians that may be interpreted as justifying homophobicactions or opinions" Hammarberg said. "Because this is a minority which isunder quite some pressure."

Poland's Education Minister Roman Giertych and members of his ministry arepreparing a new law that would ban what they call "homosexual propaganda" inschools in order to protect traditional family values. Giertych is from theright-wing Roman Catholic League of Polish Families, which militantlyopposes gay rights and abortion. His party supports the government led byKaczynski's socially conservative Law and Justice party.

Kaczynski said in April that he backed the legislation. "It's not in theinterest of any society to increase the number of homosexuals - that'sobvious," he said at the time.

Kaczynski's twin brother, President Lech Kaczynski, refused to grant paradepermits for gay rights marches while he served as mayor of Warsaw, althoughgatherings were held in defiance of those bans.


Swedish Allegations of Anti-Gay Bias in Finnish Defence Forces

Published 29.06.2007, 10.57 (updated 29.06.2007, 14.13)

The Finnish Defence Forces have been raised as an example ofanti-gay bias by a Swedish organisation promoting sexual equality in theSwedish military. According to the group, attitudes within the Finnishmilitary make it difficult for Swedish soldiers to take part in joint Nordiccombat forces.

There has been much debate in Sweden recently on the rights of gayconscripts, and their possibilities of serving on foreign missions.

There has been a surge in volunteers for foreign missions in Sweden, butmembers of sexual minorities have been reluctant to join for fear ofharassment by fellow soldiers.

Finns have been singled out as the most difficult soldiers to work with.According to HOF, the Swedish organisation promoting the rights of gays,bisexuals, and transsexuals in the Swedish military, the attitudes of Finnsare making it more difficult for Swedish soldiers to take part in the EU'snew Nordic battle group.

In an interview with Swedish radio, the President of HOF is calling forDefence Minister Mikael Odenberg to discuss the matter of discriminatory andinsulting behaviour with his Finnish colleague Jyri Häkämies.

The Swedish Defence Forces have placed a high priority on the fight against homophobia in the military.


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