Friday, September 28, 2007

GLBT DIGEST September 28, 2007

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Senate OKs broader hate crimes law

By Shailagh Murray
The Washington Post
September 28, 2007


The Senate on Thursday approved an expansion of federal hate-crimes law to include protections for gay men and lesbians, defying a presidential veto threat by attaching the measure to a high-priority defense bill.

Republicans said they would try to remove the provision in final negotiations with the House, but if that effort fails, GOP leaders urged President Bush to follow through with his long-standing veto threat. They were furious earlier this week when Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced he would force a vote on an expanded hate-crimes statute, with Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, calling Reid's maneuver a "shameful" attempt to "hijack" essential defense legislation.

Democrats argued that the amendment addresses terror of a different form. "The defense authorization is about dealing with the challenges of terrorism overseas," said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass. "This is about terrorism in our neighborhood."

The amendment was written in honor of Matthew Shepherd, a young gay man who was beaten and left to die on a fence near Laramie, Wyoming in 1998. The proposal has passed the House or Senate several times over the years, but has never cleared the entire Congress. When Democrats won control of both chambers in November, advocates saw their best opportunity for strengthening a federal law that has existed since 1968 and focused on race, color,
religion and national origin.

The Senate amendment was approved by voice vote, after Democrats broke a GOP filibuster by securing exactly the 60 votes needed, with 39 Republicans voting to block the measure from moving forward. An identical House bill passed 237-180 in May, with 25 Republicans supporting the measure, and 14
Democrats opposing it.


Tourism to Broward County expected to rise

By Doreen Hemlock
September 28, 2007

Attracting 11 million visitors who would spend $9 billion in Broward County - that's the goal for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau for the new fiscal year that starts Oct. 1, Nicki Grossman, president of the tourism group, said Thursday.

Broward is ending this fiscal year with tourism up just more than 1 percent over last year, with roughly 10.5 million visitors spending $8.7 billion in the area.

But the new fiscal year should see faster tourism growth for several reasons: Strong European currencies should bring more Europeans to Broward. More flights by Fort Lauderdale-based Spirit Airlines should draw extra Latin Americans. Plus, a bold marketing campaign should entice more visitors from the United States and beyond, especially more upscale travelers, Grossman said.

One slogan in the campaign: "Been There, Haven't Done That." Florida as a whole will promote places that visitors may have missed on earlier trips. Expected on Broward's lineup, among other stops: sleeping in a chickee hut at Billie Swamp Safari in the Everglades, visiting the quilt exhibit at the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale or letting children try out careers at the indoor theme park, Wannado City.

Grossman and the Greater Fort Lauderdale team unveiled the marketing plan at a luncheon Thursday attended by hundreds of hospitality leaders. She said growth was slow in the current fiscal year, because many Broward hotels withdrew rooms for renovations.

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ArtsUnited Out of the Closet Art Sale. Local artists clean out their studios and sell original art and photography for $200 or less. Admission is free. Hours 1-4 p.m. Gay and Lesbian Community Center, 1717 N. Andrews Ave., Fort Lauderdale., 954-530-2723, 954-463-9005.


Tourism to Broward County expected to rise

By Doreen Hemlock
September 28, 2007

Attracting 11 million visitors who would spend $9 billion in Broward County - that's the goal for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau for the new fiscal year that starts Oct. 1, Nicki Grossman, president of the tourism group, said Thursday.

Broward is ending this fiscal year with tourism up just more than 1 percent over last year, with roughly 10.5 million visitors spending $8.7 billion in the area.

But the new fiscal year should see faster tourism growth for several reasons: Strong European currencies should bring more Europeans to Broward. More flights by Fort Lauderdale-based Spirit Airlines should draw extra Latin Americans. Plus, a bold marketing campaign should entice more visitors from the United States and beyond, especially more upscale travelers, Grossman said.

One slogan in the campaign: "Been There, Haven't Done That." Florida as a whole will promote places that visitors may have missed on earlier trips. Expected on Broward's lineup, among other stops: sleeping in a chickee hut at Billie Swamp Safari in the Everglades, visiting the quilt exhibit at the Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale or letting children try out careers at the indoor theme park, Wannado City.

Grossman and the Greater Fort Lauderdale team unveiled the marketing plan at a luncheon Thursday attended by hundreds of hospitality leaders. She said growth was slow in the current fiscal year, because many Broward hotels withdrew rooms for renovations.


How about picking the best person for the job?

September 28, 2007

ISSUE: Republicans request one of their own as sheriff.

When it comes to gall, it's hard to top the Broward Republican Executive Committee.

They have made a request to Gov. Charlie Crist saying they want a Republican appointed as sheriff to replace the disgraced Ken Jenne, a Democrat. Interim Sheriff Al Lamberti is a Republican.

The Republicans, it seems, are really concerned that Crist might actually be - gasp! - too bipartisan in his approach when he picks a replacement for Jenne. He might actually consider everything and name - another gasp! - a Democrat.

Colleen Stolberg, a member of the Republican Executive Committee, said the purpose of the group's request was "just to remind Gov. Crist that he is a Republican..."

Interesting. Most South Floridians, regardless of party affiliation, are pretty sure Gov. Crist knows he is a Republican. Most people in heavily Democratic Broward also appreciate Crist's willingness to work with Democrats, and his overall fairness in how he handles issues.


Squabble over Florida primary may haunt Democrats

Some fear dispute over primary date could drive away voters in 2008
By Linda Kleindienst
Tallahassee Bureau Chief
September 28, 2007


The battle raging between Florida Democrats and their national leaders over the state's primary date is already costing the party money and grassroots support - but now some worry it will cost votes that could be crucial if the 2008 presidential contest is a squeaker.

"It's reinforcing the image of the gang that can't shoot straight," said state Senate Democratic Leader Steve Geller of Cooper City.

And there is no end in sight.

The Florida Democratic Party refuses to yield to national pressure to use some method other than an already scheduled Jan. 29 primary to select the state's delegates to the national convention. The Democratic National Committee has given the state until Saturday to come up with an alternate delegate selection plan or it will not seat Florida delegates in Denver next summer.

The major Democratic contenders for the White House are not campaigning in Florida, and the state's senior U.S. senator, Democrat Bill Nelson, vowed to file a lawsuit against the national party.


Senate Votes for Expanded Federal Authority to Prosecute Hate Crimes

Published: September 28, 2007

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 - The Senate voted on Thursday to widen federal jurisdiction over hate crimes and to extend protections to people victimized because of sexual orientation, disability, gender or gender identity.

Under the measure, which the Senate approved as an amendment to the annual military authorization bill, Washington would have the authority to step in and prosecute hate crimes when local or state governments failed to do so.

It would authorize the federal government to assist state and local law enforcement agencies investigate and prosecute hate crimes and provide grants of up to $100,000 a year to cover costs.

The House passed similar legislation in May, drawing a veto threat from the White House. Senate Republicans warned that the measure would endanger the larger military bill, which includes soldiers' wage increases.

Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, and other supporters of the bill said they did not expect a veto precisely because it was now part of the military bill, which includes provisions President Bush favors.

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Sandler Eyes Work With Gay - Rights Groups

Published: September 28, 2007
Filed at 1:09 a.m. ET

MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Actor Adam Sandler said Thursday he would like to work alongside gay-rights groups after starring in this year's ''I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.''

In Mexico with co-star Kevin James to promote the film's opening in theaters here, Sandler told a news conference: ''If I can help anybody in any way, I certainly would.''

But the 41-year-old comedian stopped short of calling himself a potential gay icon.

''I don't think that's gonna happen, dude, certainly not,'' Sandler said. ''If I was a gay man, I wouldn't want me to represent'' the gay community.

''Chuck and Larry,'' scheduled to be released on DVD in the U.S. in November, tells the story of two straight Brooklyn firefighters who pretend to be gay domestic partners for pension benefits. The movie raked in about $35 million in U.S. box-office sales on its opening weekend despite weak reviews and some complaints of homophobia.

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September 28, 2007
Law Firms Go a Bit Hollywood to Recruit the YouTube Generation

Law firms have discovered YouTube.

Well, actually, they have discovered that the law students they are trying to recruit as summer associates watch YouTube, the popular video Web site.

Several firms are trying to parlay that discovery into a hiring tool, creating recruiting videos and Web sites with the look and feel of YouTube. The firms hope to persuade students that their lawyers, and by extension the firms, are young-thinking and hip.

The need to attract top-notch summer associates is crucial; they are the pool from which most new hires are made. More than 19,000 graduates join law firms each year.

So far, the firms' efforts have run the gamut from simple conversations with summer associates to videos promoting the firm's expertise or its diversity.

"The videos are still kind of in the early days," said Brian Dalton, the senior law editor at Vault Reports, which ranks law firms. "A lot of them come off seeming like hostage videos."



Effort to Place Anti-GLBT Measures on 2008 Ballot in Oregon is Too Close to Call

Author: Human Rights Campaign
Published on Sep 27, 2007, 07:52

Late yesterday afternoon, anti-GLBT organizers hoping to roll back two laws
providing protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Oregonians submitted petition signatures to the Oregon Secretary of State. 55,179 signatures are required for each petition in order for the measures to be placed before voters on the 2008 ballot. Early reports indicate that it is too soon to tell whether enough valid signatures were submitted. The efforts are aimed at forcing a referendum vote on the Oregon Equality Act, which would prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as the Oregon Family Fairness Act, which would establish domestic partnerships for committed same-sex couples.

Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese made the following comments: "I know that observers from Basic Rights Oregon will be carefully monitoring the signature verification process to make sure the review is fair and accurate. We hope, of course, that the result will be that neither measure is placed on the ballot. However, if the effort to roll back these fair-minded laws does move ahead, I am confident that the majority of Oregonians who support equality will reject efforts to divide and to discriminate. Oregon voters know that discrimination is wrong, that no one should lose their job, or their home, or be turned away from a restaurant, simply because of who they are. They know that domestic partnership, while not the same as marriage, provides important protections that committed same-sex couples need, especially in emergencies. I know that Basic Rights Oregon, HRC members, and all Oregonians who believe in basic fairness, will work hard to give these new pro-equality laws a chance to work."

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Local Clergy Ask State To Support Same-Sex Marriage

POSTED: 9:14 am PDT September 27, 2007
UPDATED: 10:31 am PDT September 27, 2007

SAN DIEGO -- More than two dozen San Diego clergy members who support same-sex marriage have signed a brief asking the state Supreme Court to overturn California's ban, it was reported Thursday.

The local clergy, ranging from Rabbi Laurie Coskey of the union for Reform Judaism to the Rev. Scott Richardson of St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral, signed the brief submitted to the court Wednesday, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Declaring themselves on the side of justice and civil rights, several ministers gathered with about 50 supporters at a morning service in Hillcrest Wednesday to celebrate their stand, the newspaper reported.

"We are here today to witness to the fact that not all religious leaders oppose gay and lesbian marriage," the Rev. Arvid Straube told the Union-Tribune. Straube is the senior minister of First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego, where Wednesday's service was held.

The announcement came a week after San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders reversed his stand and backed the city Council's vote to join several other California cities in signing a friend-of-the-court brief asking the state high court to reverse California's ban on same-sex marriage.

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Facts on gay parents


WATERLOO --- Dave Lindley (Sept. 5) states the American College of Pediatricians "has clearly stated same-sex marriages are not in the best interest of children," but he fails to attribute the actual study or explain the problem when children are not involved or what it has to do with polygamy in the Netherlands.

At the 2005 National Conference of the American Academy of Pediatricians, Dr. Ellen Perrin, professor of pediatrics at Tufts-New England Medical Center, presented a peer-reviewed study of the data from 15 published studies and found that one to six million children in this country are being raised by gay or lesbian couples. The studies found no difference in intelligence, behavior, self-esteem, psychological problems, well-being, peer relationships or gender identity when compared to children raised by heterosexual couples. Some of the studies followed the children to adulthood and found a similar absence of problems.

Sorry, Mr. Lindley, sometimes the facts fail to cooperate with our prejudices. Children of same-sex couples seem to be doing at least as well as those of heterosexual couples. Allowing the same-sex parents to marry would only further stabilize their situation.

Why would extending marriage privileges to same-sex couples endanger the institution of marriage? And why is who marries whom any of my or your business? And why is the political party "of small government" so involved in private matters?

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Newark triple murder may be anti-gay hate crime
Victims' friends 'driven to despair' over alleged police, media cover-up

By LOU CHIBBARO JR. | Sep 27, 1:52 PM

A close friend of three college students who were shot to death execution style in a Newark, N.J., schoolyard in August said the students planned to join him in attending a black Gay Pride event in Queens, N.Y., the day following their deaths.

News of the students' plans to attend the Aug. 5 event at New York City's Riis Park Beach surfaced after a New Jersey gay group released a letter last week calling on Newark authorities to investigate the murders as possible anti-gay hate crimes.

The murder of the three students and the shooting of a fourth student, who is recovering from a gunshot wound to the head, shocked Newark's citizens and became the subject of international news coverage.

"[W]e want to know why, although the murders were committed more than a month ago, the fact of the sexual orientation of the youth has never been a part of the media or public discourse of the murders," said Newark gay activist James Credle in a etter to Newark Mayor Cory Booker.

"This happened despite the fact that several sources, including friends, oyfriends /lovers of at least one of the victims and perhaps one of the parents new that one or more of the murdered students were gay," Credle wrote.

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Romney criticizes Democrats on sex ed
Says teaching about gay couples should be left to parents, not schools

WASHINGTON (AP) | Sep 27, 4:57 PM

Republican Mitt Romney criticized his Democratic rivals Thursday for not rejecting the inclusion of gay-related issues in sex education for second-graders.

"Last night's debate was just the latest example of how out of touch the Democratic presidential candidates are with the American people," Romney said in a statement released by his campaign. "Not one candidate was uncomfortable with young children learning about same-sex marriage in the second grade."

"This is a subject that should be left to parents, not public school teachers," he said.

The Democrats were asked during a debate Wednesday night whether they would be comfortable with having a story about same-sex marriage read to their children as part of their school curriculum, as a second-grade teacher did last year in Lexington, Mass.

The top-tier Democratic candidates - Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois and John Edwards - generally said they favor teaching children tolerance for others, including gays and lesbians. They did not expressly embrace or reject including the same-sex marriage as part of a second-grade curriculum.


ENDA hits snag over transgender inclusion

HRC 'did not assent' to dropping gender identity provision
By LOU CHIBBARO JR. | Sep 26, 4:57 PM

House Democratic leaders are strongly considering dropping anti-discrimination protections for transgender persons from the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, or ENDA, after an internal Democratic head count on Wednesday found that the bill would likely be defeated if it included the trans provision, multiple sources familiar with the bill said.

The current version of the bill calls for banning employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, terms that are defined in the measure to include gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender persons.

As of late Wednesday, it appeared likely that the trans provision would be removed, setting up a potentially divisive fight within gay activist circles over whether or not to support an ENDA bill that excludes trans people.

Human Rights Campaign board members reportedly met on Thursday to discuss the situation and to debate whether or not it would support a revised ENDA that does not include trans protections.

HRC spokesperson Brad Luna declined to comment on any meetings that might be held, but did issue a statement to the Blade.

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Gay bartender severely injured in hit-and-run
Witness says car sped up and appeared to deliberately hit pedestrian

Sep. 27, 2007

A local gay bartender is in critical condition after being struck by a car in a hit-and-run incident on Sept. 18 in front of Ramrod bar in Fort Lauderdale. It was the second serious incident involving a pedestrian being struck on 4th Avenue near the bar in the past three months.

Thomas Davis, 32, was crossing 4th Avenue to go to work at the bar when he was struck at about 10:15 p.m., according to a police statement. Davis suffered a broken leg, head trauma, a lacerated liver and bruised lungs.

A witness who was working security outside the bar when the incident occurred said the car sped up and swerved to hit Davis.

"From my vantage point, it was clearly deliberate," said Marcus Hopkins, one of two security men outside Ramrod who witnessed the incident. Hopkins said Davis crossed the street half way and stopped to wait for cars to pass before continuing. When Davis was nearly on the other side of the street, Hopkins said he heard a car engine rev and saw a white car appear to swerve toward Hopkins. He said Davis' right foot was on the curb when he was struck.

"The car did not pause; it did not slow down," Hopkins said. "It just plowed right through him. [The driver] did not break at all. There were no skid marks or tire marks on the road."

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Local flag football team carries gay banner
Category Fives hope to blow away competition at Superbowl

Sep. 27, 2007

CHRIS PADILLA, , captain of the South Florida Category Fives, a local National Gay Flag Football League team, keeps his trash talking to a minimum. But he can't help but express his desire to crush a certain team at the league's Superbowl 7 Oct. 5 in New York City.

He wants a chance to beat the Boston Hancocks, and a team the Category Fives beat in their debut Superbowl game last year.

"I'd like to see us play and beat them," Padilla, a professional boat captain from Fort Lauderdale, said. "They were more aggressive last year, and they were intimidating."

Still the Category Fives beat them.

Despite being ranked 12 out of 16 teams, Padilla is confident in his club - a crew of men of different shapes, ages and backgrounds who meet at Holiday Park each week to scrimmage. In fact, he is so confident that he thinks this year's roster stands a real possibility of coming back undefeated.

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GLCC sues Tarragon to protect property interests
Director expects to settle suit over site of new gay center

Sep. 27, 2007

Representatives of the Gay & Lesbian Community Center of South Florida filed a lawsuit Aug. 29 against developer Tarragon Corp. in an effort to assure the company does not sell its Andrews Avenue property as it hovers near bankruptcy.

"We sued for the protection of the GLCC," said Paul Hyman, the center's executive director. "This way they can't sell this [property] out from under us without our consent."

The property Hyman was referring to is the lot on the east side of Andrews Avenue, where Tarragon had agreed as part of the 2003 sale deal to construct a new building for the GLCC.

In recent weeks, Hyman and the GLCC board of directors decided to move ahead with the building project without Tarragon as the company's financial outlook grew bleak. In order for the center to take over construction, though, it needs to buy the land, which Hyman says is tied up in mortgages that Tarragon apparently has not been able to pay.

This summer, Tarragon's stock fell sharply as the company revealed that it fell $125 million short on expected sales in the last quarter. The company also could not secure credit to pay an additional $65 million it owed creditors.

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Seven arrested in 13 months in Wilton Manors park
Civil rights lawyer raises concerns about public sex stings

Sep. 27, 2007

Most evenings at sunset, the only lewd behavior going on in Wilton Manors' Kolahatchee Park is likely to be a Labrador mix sniffing between a Great Dane's haunches while a scruffy wet mutt looks on panting.

But around lunchtime, it's a different story. Early in the afternoon, regular park patrons say, men are known to hover. They meander at picnic tables and near the public bathroom. Above the mangroves, they walk slowly - fully clothed and adequately zipped - on the park's wooden boardwalk. Sometimes they greet each other or glance silently as they pass.

What they are doing on a weekday afternoon in a suburban park is not always obvious, but to a discerning eye it's not difficult to tell that they are there to meet, or at least ogle, each other - both legal activities.

On Monday, a shirtless tattooed man tried to scrounge for money in his version of the classic gas can routine. There were no children running on the grass, no teenagers playing basketball and no moms chatting on benches. The only patrons were a handful of men, one dog and, perhaps, an undercover cop.

Since August 2006,Wilton Manors Police have been surveying Colahatchee Park in an undercover initiative called Operation Get a Room. According to Richard Perez, Wilton Manors' police chief, Get a Room is an ongoing "police action" aimed at curbing public sex that he said once ran rampant in Colahatchee Park's tranquil scenery.

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Ahmadinejad thinks he can make gay people invisible
Gay Iranians should step forward and prove the president wrong

Sep. 27, 2007

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says the Holocaust was "a myth" and that there are no homosexuals in his country. If you believe him, you probably also believe that there are no slot machines in Vegas and no alligators in the Everglades.

One thing about religious fanatics is that they can say anything - that we were placed on this planet by space aliens, or whatever - and you can expect their robot-like flocks to just accept it on "faith."

During his Sept. 25 appearance at Columbia University, Ahmadinejad was asked about numerous reports documenting the executions of homosexuals in Iran. Ahmadinejad responded, "In Iran, we don't have homosexuals like in your country. We don't have this phenomenon."

The crowd at Columbia responded to Ahmadinejad's absurd statement with derisive laughter and boos. But there is nothing funny about the cruel treatment of gay people in Iran, a country run by a medieval religious theocracy.

According to news reports, two gay teenagers were executed for engaging in gay sex in July 2005. There are pictures of the two boys being hanged on the internet.

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We've Won the Culture War

by Wayne Besen

Inside the trenches of culture war combat, it is often difficult to see who is winning the conflict. The recurring recriminations, stale rhetoric and finger pointing proclamations often leave one feeling as if we are in a perpetual stalemate. But in the past couple of weeks, dare I say, strong evidence has emerged that suggests the gay and lesbian community has won the war. Not winning, but won. There have been victories, dramatic and mundane, that show the world has changed and will never be the same.

The most extraordinary development happened in San Diego, where Republican Mayor Jerry Sanders switched his position on same-sex marriage, while revealing that his daughter is a lesbian. In a tearful address, he signed a City Council resolution adding San Diego to a friend-of-the-court brief that urges the California Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage. I am not sure what was more remarkable, watching this cultural touchstone or witnessing a politician do what is in his heart.

"Two years ago, I believed that civil unions were a fair alternative," Sanders said. "Those beliefs, in my case, have changed. The concept of a 'separate but equal' institution is not something I can support...In the end, I couldn't look any of them [family and friends] in the face and tell them that their relationship -- their very lives -- were any less meaningful than the marriage I share with my wife Rana."

Sanders displayed the moral courage to do precisely what former Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-MO) and Vice President Dick Cheney failed to do for their daughters. This dramatically changes the political equation, in that the right wing no longer monopolizes the language of values. Finally, we have a model of morality, where a politician argues for GLBT equality in terms of heartfelt beliefs and convictions. While the floodgates will not open tomorrow, this is the crack in the dam that will lead to the deluge. Most liberals, and even many conservatives, believe in the freedom to marry. However, fear has kept them from doing what is right. Mayor Sanders has shown them the way.

In a less theatrical, yet also important mark of change, NBC commentator Chris Matthews congratulated gay pundit Andrew Sullivan for his recent marriage on Matthews' Sunday morning political talk show. A photograph of Sullivan embracing Aaron, his new husband, accompanied the celebratory note. The nonchalance of this announcement - to an audience that is split between liberals and conservatives - shows how irrational fear of gay marriage is quickly receding.

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Obama Draws Massive Crowd In Greenwich Village
by The Associated Press

Posted: September 28, 2007 - 9:00 am ET

(New York City) Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama told thousands at a rally Thursday that he would bring serious change to Washington if elected.

The Illinois senator, speaking in front of the landmark arch in Washington Square Park in lower Manhattan's Greenwich Village, said that to truly effect change partisan politics must be stopped and the people must have access once again to the federal government.

"We are sick and tired of being sick and tired. We want something new. We want some change," he said, quoting the late voting and civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer. The phrase is one he uses often on the campaign trail.

Obama, wearing dark blue slacks and a light-blue dress shirt with an open collar and rolled-up sleeves, came on stage to Kanye West's inspirational song "Touch the Sky," as thousands, including many college students, crammed into the park near New York University.

He discussed the war in Iraq and health care, but avoided direct criticism of any of his opponents in the presidential race.

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GOP Frontrunners MIA At Black Voter Event
by The Associated Press

Posted: September 28, 2007 - 9:00 am ET

(Baltimore, Maryland) Republican presidential candidates discussed the importance of reaching out to people of color during a minority issues debate Thursday night and criticized the leading four GOP contenders for skipping it.

"I think this is a disgrace that they are not here," said Kansas Sen. Sam rownback. "I think it's a disgrace to our country. I think it's bad for our party, and I don't think it's good for our future."

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said he was "embarrassed for our party, and I'm embarrassed for those who didn't come."

The four no-shows - former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Sen. Fred Thompson, Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney - cited scheduling conflicts in saying they could not attend the debate at historically black Morgan State University.

"Fortunately, there are those in the Republican Party who do understand the importance of reaching out to people of color," said talk show host Tavis Smiley, the debate moderator, thanking the six other candidates for participating.

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Lawsuit Accuses Cop Of Attacking 3 Chicago Lesbians
by Newscenter Staff

Posted: September 27, 2007 - 6:00 pm ET

(Chicago, Illinois) Three women filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday claiming they were physically assaulted and verbally attacked with hate messages during an altercation following this summer's gay pride in Chicago.

The suit says the attack occurred June 24 on the Stevenson Expressway and names Chicago Police officer William Szura.

Kelly Fuery, Debra Sciortino and Nicole Tomaskovic say in court papers that they were driving home after attending the gay Pride Parade in Chicago when the trouble began.

Their lawsuit alleges that Szura ran their car off the road when the driver honked her horn at him for driving too slowly.

The women's suit alleges that Szura then attacked the women shouting slurs about their "sexual orientation'' and that the assault was a hate crime.

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Craig's request to reverse guilty plea stalls

By P.J. Huffstutter
Los Angeles Times
September 27, 2007


. Sen. Larry Craig, who pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in a men'srestroom sting, will have to wait several more days to learn whether a judgewill allow him to move toward rescinding his plea.

Judge Charles Porter chose against making an immediate decision afterhearing arguments from lawyers for the Idaho Republican.

Instead, Porter said he probably would issue a decision by the end of nextweek, well beyond Craig's deadline for leaving the Senate if his name is notcleared.

Craig is trying to salvage a 33-year legislative career after he wasarrested in June at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport by an officerinvestigating lewd-conduct complaints in a men's restroom.

The officer said Craig used signals, such as tapping his foot and slidinghis hand under the stall divider, to signal his desire for sex.

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Dems to Try to Pass Hate Crime Measure

Associated press Writer
3:13 AM EDT, September 27, 2007


Senate Democrats are trying to force President Bush to sign hate crimeslegislation he has threatened to veto by attaching it to a massive billfunding the Defense Department and the Iraq war.

Writing violent attacks on gays into federal hate crime laws is related tothe war because both are strikes against terrorism, according to aRepublican senator and other supporters of the measure.

"We simply cannot tolerate violence against our own citizens simply becauseof their differences," said Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., who is sponsoring thelegislation with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass. "We cannot fight terrorabroad and accept terror at home."

That's a stretch, not to mention a heavy-handed maneuver that "hijacks" abill that includes a pay increase for troops in wartime, said Sen. JohnCornyn, R-Texas.

"I think it's shameful we're changing the subject to take care of specialinterest legislation at a time like this," Cornyn said on the Senate floor.

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The New York Times

Craig to Stay in Office for Time Being

September 27, 2007
Filed at 3:12 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Idaho Republican Larry Craig has decided he wants to be aU.S. senator a little longer. His tenure may still be a short one.

Craig's lawyers asked a Minnesota judge Wednesday to let the three-termsenator withdraw his guilty plea in a sex sting at a Minneapolis airportrestroom. Afterward, Craig issued a statement saying he will stay in office''for now.''

People close to Craig said that means until the judge rules.

Hennepin County Judge Charles Porter said that will be at the end of nextweek at the earliest.

Craig said earlier he planned to resign Sept. 30, then left the door open tostay if he could successfully withdraw his plea.

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The Devil Made Him Do It

By Lavanya Ramanathan
Thursday, September 27, 2007; C13

Having Jesse Ventura as your governor is one thing. But a cloak-wearingvampire and Satanic priest?

In January 2006, Jonathon "The Impaler" Sharkey, a former wrestler himself,announced that he was running for governor of Minnesota. On the Vampyres,Witches and Pagans ticket, naturally.

And practitioner of dark arts or not, he announced, there would be noabiding by evil in the Sharkey administration, oh no; his platform calledfor publicly impaling terrorists and drug dealers. Oh yeah, and there wouldalso be farm aid and better schools.

Needless to say, this candidacy became an international incident.

"Impaler" is W. Tray White's new, full-length documentary about the briefcandidacy of the vampire politician, who didn't let others dig up theskeletons in his closet so much as put all his blood-sucking, God-rejectingways out there for the world to see. In the film, shot over eight months,Sharkey's wife, family and others offer glimpses into the enigma that isSharkey.

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With O'Malley, Flip-Flops and Twisting Tongues

By Marc Fisher
Thursday, September 27, 2007; B01

Mayor Martin O'Malley had a principled position on slots. Legalized gamblingmight work to buck up Maryland's ailing horse industry, but slots, he saidin 2005, are "a pretty morally bankrupt way" to fund education.

Now, Gov. Martin O'Malley proposes to open slots palaces across the state togenerate hundreds of millions of dollars for, um, education.

A change of heart? Not really, the governor tells me: "I just don't see howI can ask the legislators to compromise if I'm not willing to do so myself."

As mayor of Baltimore, O'Malley had a principled position on gay marriage.It's "something I strongly believe in," he wrote to a constituent in 2004.In a TV interview that year, he said: "Churches will certainly havedifferent views. And that certainly is their right, and no one shouldinfringe on that. But . . . I'm not opposed to civil marriages."

Now, as governor, O'Malley opposes gay marriage and instead supports civilunions. After last week's state Court of Appeals ruling rejecting gaymarriage, O'Malley said that "as we move forward, those of us with theresponsibility of passing and enforcing laws have an obligation to protectthe rights of all individuals equally, without telling any faith how todefine its sacraments."

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Maryland's Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

Thursday, September 27, 2007; A24

Although The Post is to be lauded for its stand in support of equal marriagerights for same-sex couples ["A Defeat for Gay Marriage," editorial, Sept.22], its criticism of the American Civil Liberties Union for opposing acompromise involving civil unions was misguided.

Many see civil unions as "separate but equal" -- the same rights, just witha different name. Even if you consider that "separate but equal" has beenout of vogue since, oh, 1954, civil unions are certainly not marriage, nordo they provide the same benefits as marriage.

Are those members of The Post's editorial board who are married willing toexchange their marriage licenses for civil union certificates? Or do theyknow that civil unions are not only separate but also unequal and thereforeinadequate?

And can we please stop referring to "gay marriage" as if this is some kindof alternative to "regular marriage?" We're not talking Coke and Diet Cokehere.

Just as couples today do not get either a same-race or interracial marriagelicense, same-sex couples don't want a kind of marriage license that isdifferent from heterosexual couples'. We just want access to the samemarriage licenses as everyone else.


Regarding the Sept. 19 front-page article "Md.'s Highest Court Upholds Banon Same-Sex Marriage":

I have a few questions for the judges on the Maryland Court of Appeals whovoted against granting marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples.

What exactly is the state's interest in heterosexual procreation? Is there apopulation shortage we should be aware of? And what are they doing to makesure that only married heterosexuals procreate? If the primary argumentagainst allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry is that they will notprocreate on their own, what measures do the judges hope to put in place toensure that non-procreating heterosexuals are not allowed to marry?




Gov. Charlie Crist officially removes Wasserstrom from Hollywood office

By Ihosvani Rodriguez
September 27, 2007

Gov. Charlie Crist has officially removed Hollywood Commissioner KeithWasserstrom from office, two weeks after a Broward jury found him guilty oftwo felony charges of official misconduct.

Crist signed an executive order stripping Wasserstrom of his seat inHollywood's District 5, the governor's office announced Wednesday.

"It was expected," defense attorney Milton Hirsch said.

Hirsch and his law partner, Todd Michaels, filed motions last week callingfor a new trial. A hearing date has not been set.

Wasserstrom will be sentenced on Nov. 2. Each of the two counts carries apossible penalty of five years in prison.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush suspended Wasserstrom on Oct. 11, 2006, after stateprosecutors filed five felony corruption charges against him.

The jury's Sept. 12 verdict came after prosecutors argued he never fullydisclosed on conflict-of-interest forms his close connection to a sludgecompany that won an $18 million contract with the city.


Navarro's on list of 10 candidates for Broward sheriff

Posted on Thu, Sep. 27, 2007

During his eight years in office, former Broward Sheriff Nick Navarro used abeer tent to house jail inmates, went to war with rap music and was taken tocourt after creating department-run ``crack kitchens.''

Now, with the resignation of Ken Jenne, Navarro says he wants his old jobback.

Navarro, who now runs a security firm in Fort Lauderdale, is among 10candidates who have applied to be interim sheriff.

Gov. Charlie Crist has installed Maj. Al Lamberti as acting sheriff and hasnot indicated when he will name an interim sheriff, who will serve until theNovember 2008 election.

Jenne resigned earlier this month and pleaded guilty to mail fraud and taxevasion.

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The use of alcohol poses more harm than the use of illicit drugs, expertshave said. And while drugs make headlines almost every day, alcohol islargely ignored.

ACON's Alcohol and Other Drugs program manager Nicky Bath said alcohol haslong played a major role in the lives of gay and lesbian community members.

"One reason for this is the centrality of bars and clubs as meeting places,"she said.

Alex Day, spokesman for support group Come Out, said young people inparticular access the gay and lesbian scene through drinking establishments.

"Once they get into the bars and clubs, a lot of them get stuck and then don'tknow how to change their lifestyle," he said.

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Decency Advocate Thompson Charged with Indecency

Federal Judge Accuses Evangelist Lawyer of Filing Obscene Pleadings
Wednesday, 26 September 2007 22:25
By Bill Meyer, in conjunction and cooperation with Norm Kent

Jack Thompson, the evangelical Coral Gables lawyer who is already beingprosecuted by the Florida Bar for professional misconduct, has taken a giantleap towards his own disbarment.

On Wednesday, a United States District Court Judge, Adalberto Jordan,appointed to the bench by President Bush, ordered Thompson to Show Cause whyhe should not be held in possible contempt of court.

Thompson is accused of filing obscene materials, accessible to the public,with federal pleadings which accuse the Bar of "collaborating" with NationalGay News Publisher Norm Kent.

Specifically, in a federal civil rights action, Thompson alleges that he isan honorable lawyer fighting to prevent pornography from being distributedto the public, and he, a devout Christian, is being unjustly prosecuted bythe liberal Florida Bar, while Norm Kent, "a homosexual lawyer with anactivist ACLU agenda" has been given a free ride.

To prove his point, Thompson went to the National Gay News website, andproceeded to hit the links to Adult Sites. Once on that page, he opened upone of the informational sites, and then went into their links, saving anddownloading allegedly pornographic materials to his home computer, and thenfiling them electronically on the web with his federal civil rights action.

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Scandals take a load off Craig, others

By: Carrie Budoff Brown
September 26, 2007 06:40 AM EST

For Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.), the last press release posted to hiswebsite was in June, soon after a grand jury indicted him and thecongressman lost his final committee post.

For Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.), the time stamp on his troubles can be foundin the "Photo Album" section of his site. The grip-and-grins ended in April,when the FBI raided Renzi's family businesses.

For Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), usually a chatterbox on the Senate floor,the speeches stopped once his arrest in a men's room sex sting became known.

They, along with Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.), who also lost his committeepost following an FBI raid, have been consigned to the Get Lost Caucus - ahighly unofficial, exceedingly exclusive, nobody-chooses-to-enroll kind ofclub. It is four members strong, with potential for growth.

The guidelines for qualification: First, you hit a few legal snags (a raid,an indictment, an arrest), then you lose your committee assignments (or, inthe case of Craig, your ranking status).

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Judy Shepard visits Wartburg to discuss hate crimes

Wednesday, September 26, 2007 12:02 PM CDT
By MARY STEGMEIR Courier Staff Writer

WAVERLY --- Almost nine years ago, a bicyclist pedaling along a Laramie,Wyo. road discovered 21-year-old Matthew Shepard tied to a split-rail fence.

The college student was beaten so badly that, at first glance, the cyclistconfused him for a scarecrow. Shepard, a gay man, died five days later onOct. 12, 1998. Laramie residents Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson wereconvicted of the crime.

"Matt is no longer with us because two men learned to hate," Shepard'smother, Judy, told students Tuesday at Wartburg College. "...And it'signorance that breeds hate in our society."

The 55-year-old now travels the country speaking about hate crimes anddiscrimination against gays and other minorities. She urged the 1,200students in Neumann Auditorium to practice tolerance and urge friends andfamily to stamp out stereotypes.

"This is not just a gay/lesbian issue," she said. "This is hate across theboard. Everyone is affected."

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Senators add hate crimes measure to defense authorization legislation

By Elana Schor
September 26, 2007

Senate Democrats moved Tuesday to add an expanded hate-crimes ban to thedefense authorization, giving them more time to court GOP votes for a newIraq withdrawal plan but dimming the must-pass bill's chances for passagethis week.

Republican leaders seized on the hate crimes measure, on which MajorityLeader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) quickly moved to end debate, as an unnecessarydistraction from a defense bill that has seen several antiwar amendments godown to defeat. Sen. Jon Kyl (Ariz.), the GOP's conference chairman, saidthe temporary lull in Iraq debate indicated that Democrats may have concededtheir fight to force a troop drawdown in Iraq.

"We have had 14 days of debate on the bill, almost all of which have beendevoted to Iraq resolutions," Kyl said, noting that the hate crimesamendment "may suggest the end."

Minority Whip Trent Lott (R-Miss.) urged Democrats to complete work quicklyon the defense authorization before it becomes a magnet for extraneousamendments.

"Democrats have got to decide how much Iraq is enough," Lott said. "Is itevery day? Every week? Can it be every three months?"

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Argentine boy sex change approved

By Daniel Schweimler
BBC News, Buenos Aires

A court in the central Argentine province of Cordoba has for the first timeagreed that a sex change operation can be carried out on a minor.

The case concerns a 17-year-old male called Nati who wants to be a woman.

The decision ends a long-running legal process for Nati, who suffers fromthe transsexual disorder known as Harry Benjamin Syndrome.

The judge insisted that Nati receive counselling after the operation, whichwill take place in the next few days.

Nati knew from an early age that she had been born with the wrong body.


Thanks and no thanks

We want to give a big thank you to San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders for bravelyrevealing his changed stance on gay rights last week. Rep. Mayor Sandersannounced that his grown daughter is a lesbian and that he was reversing theposition he held prior on gay rights.

"In the end, I could not look any of them in the face and tell them thattheir relationships -- their very lives -- were any less meaningful than themarriage that I share with my wife Rana," Sanders said.

Please send him an e-mail at and let him now howmuch you appreciate his change of heart and support.

While you're sending out e-mails, make sure to let Governor O'Malley fromMaryland know just how angry you are for flip-flopping his stance on gaymarriage. He can be reached by going here:

Posted by Rebecca Armendariz, Online Editor| Sep. 24 at 4:22 PM |


Russian Gays Fined Over Blood Donor Ban Protest

by Newscenter Staff
Posted: September 26, 2007 - 1:00 pm ET

(Moscow) Gay rights advocates in Moscow say they will appeal the sentencesof six people who took part in a demonstration over the ban on gays beingblood donors to the European Court of Human Rights.

The six were found guilty Wednesday of holding an unauthorized public event.

LGBT civil rights leader Alexey Davydov who organized the protest two weeksago was fined 1,000 rubles - about $40. The other five were fined about halfthat.

The demonstration was held outside Ministry of Health and Social Developmentin Moscow.

The ban on gays donating blood was imposed in 2001 as a reaction to therising number of AIDS cases in Russia. Following criticism of the ban andthat it did not include other high risk groups led the Ministry to announceit would ease the restriction. It, however, has yet to change therequirements.

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Gay Foes Turn In Signatures For Measure To Repeal Oregon Civil Rights Laws

by Newscenter Staff
Posted: September 28, 2007 - 6:00 am ET

(Salem, Oregon) Conservative groups attempting to roll back two new lawsprotecting LGBT civil rights delivered petitions bearing 63,000 signaturesto the Oregon Secretary of State's office late Wednesday.

The number was more than the required 55,179 signatures needed to get therepeal issue on the ballot, but when duplicates, errors and other factorsleading to names being discounted are taken into consideration the groupsmay not have met the target.

The signatures must be verified by the Secretary of State who has 30 days todetermine whether the two repeal questions will go on the ballot.

Oregon's largest LGBT civil rights organization said it was cautiouslyoptimistic.

"We are encouraged," said Basic Rights Oregon executive director JohnHummel.

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Episcopal Leaders Pledge "Restraint" on Gay Bishops
September 27, 2007

Episcopal leaders, pressured to roll back their support for gays to keep theworld Anglican family from crumbling, affirmed Tuesday that they will''exercise restraint'' in approving another gay bishop and will notauthorize prayers to bless same-sex couples.

The statement mostly reiterated earlier pledges by the church, and it willnot be known for some time whether the bishops went far enough to helpprevent an Anglican schism.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said she believed the documentmet the requests of Anglican leaders. But some Episcopal conservativesimmediately rejected the statement as too weak, because it does not bar gaysand lesbians from becoming bishops.

Bishops released the statement in the final hour of an intense six-daymeeting and at a crucial moment in the decades-long Anglican debate over howthe Bible should be interpreted.

The 77-million-member world Anglican Communion has been splintering since2003, when Episcopalians consecrated the first openly gay bishop, V. GeneRobinson of New Hampshire. The Episcopal Church is the Anglican body in theUnited States.

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Thirty More Groups File Briefs to Overturn California Marriage Ban
September 27, 2007

Thirty amicus briefs were filed by several California human rights groups insupport of a pending case that would allow same-sex marriage in the state.

During the span of the case, more than 90 groups have filed thesefriend-of-the-court briefs to lift the ban, asking the state supreme courtto apply the 1948 decision that struck down laws banning interracialmarriage.

A wide range of organizations contributed to the case, including the statechapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People,Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Asian Pacific AmericanLegal Center, California Council of Churches, and the California district ofthe American Academy of Pediatrics.

"We are not treating all Californians equally if some can marry and otherscannot," Alice Huffman, president of the California Conference of the NAACP,said in a statement. "The law should protect all people equally, and allCalifornians should have the choice to marry. I am honored to join othercivil rights leaders in calling on our state to end its ban on marriage forlesbian and gay couples."

The California legislature passed a bill earlier this month that would allowsame-sex marriage, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has vowed to veto it. Hehas until mid October to finalize his decision. (The Advocate)


Teen Disciplined for Gay-Positive T-shirt
September 27, 2007

A Spencer, N.Y., student was sent home from school last week for wearing aT-shirt with a gay-friendly message.

Heathyre Farnham, 16, said she was not trying to be inflammatory by wearingthe shirt, which read, "Gay? Fine by Me."

"I had worn it two or three times before, and all of a sudden it'sinappropriate," Farnham said in a statement released Wednesday. "[PrincipalAnn Sincock] said I was advertising my sexual preference and that wasoffensive, which makes no sense because I'm straight. Maybe she herself wasoffended by it."

Farnham said in a statement that her peers at Spencer-Van Etten High Schoolwere supportive of the shirt's message. Even students who didn't agree withher message said they were disappointed she was sent home from school.

Farnham said she purchased the T-shirt at a local secondhand store. Theshirt was originally part of a campaign waged by a group of Duke Universityactivists in 2003 who had 75,000 such shirts created for distribution toother colleges, schools, religious communities, businesses, and civicorganizations.

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Ahmadinejad's Comments on Homosexuality Censored in Iran
September 27, 2007

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's official Web site and Iran's state newsagency have cut out any reference to gays -- including his comment thatthere are none in Iran -- in their Farsi-language transcripts of hiscontroversial appearance this week at Columbia University.

The decision not to include references to homosexuality in the Farsitranscripts reflects the sensitivity of the taboo issue in the conservativecountry.

In the question-and-answer portion of Ahmadinejad's appearance Monday at theNew York university, the moderator asked the hard-line leader why Irandenies women human rights and executes people who are homosexual.

Ahmadinejad first responded by saying Iranian people are free and capitalpunishment is reserved for people who violate the rights of others, such asdrug traffickers.

But then the moderator interrupted: ''Mr. President, the question isn'tabout criminals and drug smugglers. The question was about sexual preferenceand women.''

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