Thursday, January 24, 2008

GLBT DIGEST January 24, 2008

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Gay holocaust victims to be remembered in Westminster

24th January 2008 11:30
Tony Grew

Homosexuals murdered by the Nazis will be among those remembered at a solemnceremony on Monday in Westminster to mark Holocaust Memorial Day.

150 teenagers and young people from across the London borough will present apowerful and poignant mix of drama, video and singing through a series ofdigital media presentations as they take part in a solemn ceremony.

Westminster choir will perform several pieces including one in Hebrew.

The theme of 'Imagine, Remember, Reflect, React' will run through theevening which will be held at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) inThe Mall.

Westminster youth theatre arts company DreamArts will provide theatricalperformances based on moving testimonies from people such as World War Tworesistance fighter Vera Laska and Anna Lasker-Wallfisch, who was found byBritish troops when they liberated Belsen concentration camp.

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Obama's Tightrope Act

by Wayne Besen

A few months ago, my organization caused a national uproarafter we criticized Barack Obama for embracing "ex-gay" singer DonnieMcClurkin. The Christian crooner was part of Obama's gospel tour of SouthCarolina, which was an attempt to lure African-American voters away from theClinton campaign.

Since then, Obama has shown himself to be a legitimate contender and, as aresult, has secured much of the black vote in a state where they representnearly half of all Democratic primary voters. At the same time, the rise ofObama has invigorated - and frightened - many gay voters, who write me eachday to express confusion over what his candidacy represents.

Further complicating matters, was Obama's bold speech on Martin Luther KingJr. Day in front of 2,500 people at Atlanta's renowned Ebenezer BaptistChurch. Instead of pandering to the crowd, Obama used the opportunity toaddress homophobia in the African American community.

"For most of this country's history, we in the African-American communityhave been at the receiving end of man's inhumanity to man," Obama preached."And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that none of ourhands are entirely clean. If we're honest with ourselves, we'll acknowledgethat our own community has not always been true to King's vision of abeloved community. We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead ofembracing them."

Unfortunately, as these words were leaving Obama's mouth, he was endorsed bythe homophobic Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell, who is senior pastor of WindsorVillage United Methodist Church and a spiritual advisor to President GeorgeW. Bush.

The Obama campaign's speed dating with anti-gay demagogues, coupled withpro-gay statements, has had the effect of befuddling many GLBT voters. Ihear from some people who think he is courageous for speaking up on behalfof gays at black churches, where other voters think he is a cynicalpolitical opportunist playing both sides of the fence. I believe each sidehas a legitimate point.

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The New York Times

Autopsy on Actor Is Inconclusive as Calls for Help Are Revealed

January 24, 2008

The cause of the actor Heath Ledger's death could take two weeks todetermine, the New York City medical examiner's office said on Wednesday. Anautopsy was conducted Wednesday morning, but the results were inconclusiveand blood and tissue tests need to be completed, said Ellen Borakove, thespokeswoman for the office.

Other details surrounding Mr. Ledger's death emerged on Wednesday as rumorand speculation swirled. Police officials said that the masseuse whodiscovered Mr. Ledger unconscious told them that she made two phone calls tothe actress Mary-Kate Olsen, a friend of Mr. Ledger's, moments before shecalled 911.

Mr. Ledger, 28, the Australian-born star of "Brokeback Mountain," was founddead on Tuesday afternoon in bed in his apartment in SoHo, with a bottle ofprescription sleeping pills nearby.

Although the police said on Wednesday that a rolled-up $20 bill was alsofound, they said that tests of the bill found no trace of drugs and thatthey had turned up no illegal drugs anywhere in the apartment. Mr. Ledgerleft no suicide note, the police have said.

The authorities found six different types of prescription drugs in Mr.Ledger's apartment, including sleeping pills and antianxiety medicine,according to a law enforcement official, who spoke on the condition ofanonymity because the investigation is continuing. Three of the drugs wereprescribed in Europe, said the official, who noted that Mr. Ledger hadrecently returned to the United States from London.

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The Washington Post


Wednesday, January 23, 2008; 12:00 AM

DEAR AMY: Last year my mother's brother passed away at 52 from a stroke.When his will was read, he left his small farm of 68 acres, his home andinsurance money to me.

The value of the estate was about $220,000. I am 24 years old, and it was acomplete shock to receive this. My uncle was married at one time, but hisex-wife and stepchildren each got only $100. Other family members receivedtoken amounts of money. To his brother and two sisters, he left $500 eachto, as he stated in his will, "have a good time".

Since my uncle's death, I discovered that he was gay and in the closet. I amgay, but I have been "out" from the time I graduated from high school. I nowthink this is the reason he left me so much.

I'm wondering if I should tell the family the real reason my uncle left meeverything. His sister-in-law already thinks all of the kids in the familywill be gay because I'm gay. She has said in my presence, "If there is onegay in a family, there will be more because it runs in families" (except shedoesn't say "gay," she uses an offensive word). She manages to say this inmy earshot every time we have a family get-together.

Should I tell or keep my mouth shut? -- Tell or Not

DEAR TELL: Did your uncle write a codicil to his will saying, "I bequeathPemberley to my nephew on account of his gayness"? I gather he didn't.Perhaps he left you his property because you are a nice, honest, authenticyoung man, and he wanted to recognize and reward your family values.

Your uncle died suddenly at a young age, yet he was remarkably prepared forthe event. If he had wanted to live openly as a gay man, he would have -- orhe would have left instructions for you to manage this news after his death.

In terms of the relative who gay-bashes in your presence, it's simple: Youshouldn't tolerate it. There are times to keep your mouth shut and times tospeak up. Shutting down an ignorant and offensive bully might be one way tohonor your uncle's memory.



Woman Jailed After Laughing Over Victim

By Associated Press
6:01 AM EST, January 24, 2008

A judge sentenced a woman to nearly the maximum prison term for negligenthomicide after hearing a recorded jail conversation in which she made lightof the bicyclist she killed.

Melissa Arrington, 27, was convicted two months ago of negligent homicideand two counts of aggravated DUI in connection with the December 2006 deathof Paul L'Ecuyer.

She could have gotten as few as four years behind bars, but Superior CourtJudge Michael Cruikshank sentenced her Tuesday to 10 1/2 years -- one yearshy of the maximum.

Cruikshank said he found a telephone conversation between Arrington and anunknown male friend, a week after L'Ecuyer was killed, to be "breathtakingin its inhumanity."

During the conversation, the man told Arrington that an acquaintancebelieved she should get a medal and a parade because she had "taken out" a"tree hugger, a bicyclist, a Frenchman and a gay guy all in one shot."

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Express Gay News

Md. marriage bill gets new sponsors: Succeed late Sen. Britt as lead

By JOSHUA LYNSEN | Jan 23, 4:13 PM

Two state senators, including one who is openly gay, will lead efforts topass the Religious Freedom & Civil Marriage Protection Act in Maryland.

Sens. Rich Madaleno and Jamie Raskin, two Democrats from Montgomery County,were to be named as lead sponsors on the bill when it's introduced. The billwas expected to hit the Maryland General Assembly no later than Friday.

"We're up to 40 co-sponsors in the House and nine in the Senate," saidCarrie Evans, policy director at Equality Maryland. "We're trying to pick upone more to make it a nice, even 50 for Friday."

Written to make valid marriages of "two people," the bill also makes clearthat churches may continue to choose whom to marry. It was drafted afterMaryland's highest court in September upheld a state law restrictingmarriage to straight couples.

Madaleno, who is gay, and Raskin succeed the late Sen. Gwendolyn Britt aslead sponsors of the bill's Senate version. Britt, who was to lead thateffort, died suddenly Jan. 12 at age 66.

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Express Gay News

Wash. state Legislature has largest gay caucus in U.S.
New member Marko Liias pushes state to number one spot

OLYMPIA (AP) | Jan 23, 3:40 PM

The Washington state Legislature has more gay lawmakers than any other statein the country, edging out California after a new young member was appointedto the statehouse this year.

Marko Liias, a 26-year-old Democrat from Mukilteo, started the legislativesession earlier this month, replacing former Rep. Brian Sullivan, who leftthe Legislature for the Snohomish County Council. Liias' arrival givesWashington state six openly gay lawmakers, ahead of California with five.

That makes Washington the state with the largest Capitol gay caucus,according to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a Washington, D.C.-basedpolitical action committee.

"Anything that we can do, me as an individual, or us as a state, to beleaders on this issue and be role models is excellent," Liias told TheAssociated Press Wednesday. "The message really is, everyone deserves astake in Washington, and everyone has a stake in Washington's future."

Liias joins three other gay lawmakers in the House, and two in the Senate.

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Express Gay News

Matt Foreman to resign from NGLTF
Leaves to pursue position at Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund

WASHINGTON | Jan 23, 12:29 PM

According to a release from the gay blog The Bilerico Project, Matt Foreman,executive director for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force will stepdown in April to lead the gay and lesbian program at the Evelyn & WalterHaas, Jr. Fund. He has led the Task Force for five years.

"We cannot adequately express our gratitude to Matt for his exceptionalleadership over the last five years," said Mark Sexton, Task Force boardco-chair. "During his tenure, our staff grew to 54 full-time positions andour budget more than doubled to nearly $10 million. Our programming expandedstrategically, our public profile increased dramatically, we've grantednearly $5 million to state and local partners. And most importantly, theTask Force has played an essential role in building our community'sgrassroots strength. He has truly been an inspiration to so many who believein equality for the full breadth of our LGBT community." Alan Acosta, TaskForce board co-chair, said a national search would begin immediately to findForeman's successor, according to the Task Force website.

Foreman has served as director of a local, statewide and national LGBTorganization - the New York City Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violence Project(1990-1996), the Empire State Pride Agenda (1997-2003), and the Task Force(since 2003). When he steps down, Foreman will have served as Task Forceexecutive director longer than any prior director.


Express Gay News

Bloomberg a wildcard in presidential race
New York mayor backs same-sex marriage

By LOU CHIBBARO JR. | Jan 23, 12:24 PM

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg could become a wildcard in thecompetition for gay votes if he decides to run for president this year as anindependent, according to Democratic and Republican strategists monitoringthe 2008 election.

Bloomberg, a billionaire businessman who succeeded Republican Rudy Giulianias New York's mayor in 2002, supports full same-sex marriage rights forlesbians and gays along with virtually all other gay and transgender rightsinitiatives.

His support on the marriage issue puts him ahead of the three leadingDemocratic presidential candidates - Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and JohnEdwards - who have declined to fully embrace same-sex marriage. All threeback civil unions, which they say should provide all of the rights andbenefits of marriage.

The leading Republican presidential contenders, including Arizona Sen. JohnMcCain and Giuliani, have expressed opposition to gay marriage, with some,such as Giuliani, backing domestic partnerships for same-sex couples.

Although Bloomberg has insisted he is not a candidate for president, draftBloomberg-for-president committees organized by moderate Republicans andDemocrats have popped up throughout the country. He raised eyebrows amongpolitical operatives last fall when he announced he was withdrawing from theRepublican Party to become an independent, a gesture interpreted by many tomean he was considering a run for president.

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Go to the website, above, for the following articles:
Nasty Campaign Turns Nastier
(Rock Hill, South Carolina) Democrat Barack Obama is questioning HillaryRodham Clinton's candor and trustworthiness, saying she has indulged indouble-talk on bankruptcy laws, trade and other issues.
Florida To Cull GOP Contenders
(Orlando, Florida) The aftermath of the South Carolina primary brought somemeasure of clarity to the muddled Republican presidential race.
Bloomberg Sounding More Like Presidential Candidate
(Washington) New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the White House andCongress are negotiating a shortsighted economic stimulus package and shouldfocus instead on encouraging immigration and helping strapped homeowners.
Ledger Mystery Deepens, Woman Made 2 Calls To Actress Before Calling 911
(New York City) A massage therapist who discovered a lifeless Heath Ledgerin his Manhattan apartment made her first call to Mary-Kate Olsen, accordingto an in-depth timeline police released Wednesday of the moments surroundingthe Australian-born actor's death.
Al Gore Voices Support For Gay Marriage
(New York City) Former Vice President Al Gore has come out in favor ofsame-sex marriage.
Transsexual Trucker Sues Former Employer
(Liverpool, England) A transsexual woman who claims that she was forced outof her job as as trucker after she began to transition is seeking thousandsof dollars in compensation.
Gay Ontario Cabinet Min Blasts Feds On Organ Donations
(Toronto, Ontario) Ontario Health Minister George Smitherman says theprovince will work with the gay community to counter an ``offensive'' HealthCanada advisory that excludes gay men from becoming organ donors.
High Arctic STD Rate Raises Fears Of Greater HIV In Far North
(Toronto, Ontario) New research suggests that some sexually transmitteddiseases are spreading much more quickly in the Arctic than in southernCanada.
Brits More Liberal On Sex
(London) British people's attitudes to sex and marriage have grownincreasingly liberal over the last two decades, according to a studyreleased Wednesday.
CDC Disputes Study On Staph Infection Among Gays
(Atlanta, Georgia) The Centers for Disease Control is disputing the resultsof a study that claims a drug-resistant bacteria, MRSA, is now being foundprimarily among gay men in major cities.


National Gay News

Go to the website, above, for the following articles:
Director Says Democrats Have Problems, Too
As director of the California Log Cabin Republicans, an organization of gayand lesbian Republicans, I'd like to respond to the letter from Mr. Riley(Record-Bee, January 12) where he took the Republican Party to task fortheir stance on gay and lesbian equality.
Betty Is GLAAD To Be Gay
It's official: the super-camp Ugly Betty is one of the gayest shows ontelevision. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has named UglyBetty as one of the nominees in the 19th annual GLAAD Media Awards, whichrecognise "fair, accurate and inclusive" portrayals of the gay and lesbiancommunity in TV and film.
In Recognition of Lunar New Year GLAAD Releases a Message of Acceptancefrom HBO's Entourage Actor Rex Lee
To commemorate the upcoming Lunar New Year on February 7, the Gay & LesbianAlliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) premiered a public service announcement(PSA) featuring actor Rex Lee (Entourage). This latest installment inGLAAD's ongoing public education campaign "Be an Ally & a Friend" encouragesviewers to treat others with dignity and respect regardless of genderidentity/expression or sexual orientation.
"The Daddy Machine" at Diversionary Theatre
Apple juice was the beverage of choice, and there were enough small childrenpresent it could've been an Easter egg hunt. Hardly your usual opening atDiversionary Theatre, which has until now, like most GLBT theatres aroundthe country, specialized in plays dealing with the gay, lesbian, bisexual,and transgender (not to mention decidedly adult-oriented) experiences.Howrefreshing, then, to welcome to the mix "The Daddy Machine," alight-hearted, engaging new musical for all ages that opened this weekend atDiversionary's cozy University Heights space.
Lesbian-Themed Documentary Nominated for Oscar
A documentary about the end-of-life struggle by a New Jersey woman to giveher surviving partner her benefits has been nominated for an Academy Award.
Freeheld: The Laurel Hester Story has garnered a nomination in theDocumentary Short Subject category. It has already won awards in severalfilm festivals, including the coveted Special Jury Prize at Sundance. It hasalso won awards at least 11 other festivals where it was shown. The film wasproduced by Vanessa Roth and Matthew Syrett.
Scientology Book Takes on Travolta
On the heels of Andrew Morton's new book about Tom Cruise and Scientology,comes investigative journalist Ian Halperin's Hollywood Undercover, in whichhe describes how he once posed as a member of the 'Israeli royal family' andclaimed to be gay in order to test how officials at the Scientology'Celebrity Center' in Los Angeles would react. Halperin, whose bookchronicles his quest to 'make it' in Hollywood, expressed his fear to aChurch official that revelations of his homosexuality could ruin his career.
The official took him in, promising the Church could "cure him of hissexuality through auditing".
No Name-Calling Week Begins in Thousands of Schools Nationwide
Thousands of schools this week are participating in the fifth-annual NoName-Calling Week, a project of GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and StraightEducation Network, and Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing, incollaboration with nearly 50 national education and youth serviceorganizations.
All-Star Gay Hockey Team Victorious Over Local Aspen Straights
More than 500 spectators filled the Aspen Recreation Center on Saturday,Jan. 19 to witness team G-Force's 7-3 win over the Eurotrash All-Starsduring the fifth annual Aspen Friendship Cup, gay versus straight hockeygame. Team G-Force, made up of an all-star group of gay athletes, faced offagainst Aspen's Eurotrash All-Stars in an event touted as the tie breakermatch to determine bragging rights. The Cup was previously tied 2-2 withteam G-Force winning the last two years, making this year's match all themore exciting.
Sex Please, We're British: poll
Britons are taking a more liberal attitude toward sex and marriage, butretain traditional views on how best to raise children, an annual reportsaid Wednesday. A majority now think there is nothing wrong with sex beforemarriage and society is increasingly comfortable with gay relationships,according to the 24th annual report by the National Centre for SocialResearch.
GLAAD Interviews Director of Oscar®-Nominated Freeheld
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) had an exclusiveinterview today with Cynthia Wade, director of Freeheld, nominated thismorning for an Academy Award ® in the category of "Best Documentary ShortSubject."
Darling Set to Take on Daytona Looks to become the first openly gayprofessional driver to win race
Evan Darling has his sights set on the finish line. After a successfulseason in which Darling grabbed the attention of racing's biggest fans andcompetitors, professional racing's only openly gay athlete will try tobecome the first ever to take first at Daytona. Darling, along with hisco-driver Mary Katharine, will be racing in the Fresh from Florida 200 atDaytona. The race, which begins at 2:15 on Friday January 25th, kicks offthe 2008 Grand-Am Koni Cup Challenge. The race will be nationally televisedon Saturday, February 2nd on the Speed Network.


Bush Cancels Event After Ledger's Death

January 24, 2008

The death of Heath Ledger prompted the White House to postpone PresidentBush's event Wednesday promoting an ad campaign aimed at preventingprescription drug abuse.

Ledger, 28, who was nominated for an Oscar for Brokeback Mountain, was founddead Tuesday in his New York City apartment. There were sleeping pills nearhim, but the cause of his death remains under investigation.

The president was to make a statement in the Roosevelt Room on the Office ofNational Drug Control Policy's television advertisement about preventingprescription drug abuse. A federally financed study released in December atthe White House showed illicit drug use by teens continued to graduallydecline overall this year, but the use of prescription painkillers remainedpopular among young people.

White House press secretary Dana Perino said Bush's event had been scheduledfor a while.

''We thought it would be better to postpone the event rather than run therisk of anyone thinking that we were being opportunistic in highlighting theissue,'' she said. (AP)


Lesbian Schoolteacher Awarded Damages in French Adoption Case

January 24, 2008

An unidentified lesbian schoolteacher was wrongly denied the right to adoptin France because of her sexual orientation, BBC News reported January 22.French law states that it is legal for single people to adopt a child, whichimplies that adoption is a possible option for single gays and lesbians.Since adoption rights were denied to this woman, the European Court of HumanRights found France in direct violation of Article 9, which declares thatindividuals' private family lives should be respected, as listed in theHuman Rights Convention.

According to BBC News, this case first came before the court in Strasbourgin December 2002. The judges found in favor of the woman 10 to 7 anddemanded that France pay the woman 10,000 euros for damages and 14,528 eurosin costs. (The Advocate)


Salt Lake Weekly

Gloves Come Off: Round One begins at the Legislature to end prejudiceagainst the transgendered

By Eric S. Peterson
Posted 01/24/2008

When Ariana Losco felt her supervisor grab her wrist and push her back intoher chair sneering, "You're not going anywhere," it churned up darkmemories. Memories of when Ariana was David-his memories like a stranger's,even though they were of her past.

The clench of her supervisor's grip conjured up the recollection of walkingthrough her high school parking lot after the homecoming football game whena group of schoolmates swarmed her, carrying her off in the dark, promisingshe would be hanged that night and not live to see the next day.

But that was more than 20 years ago and, after 10 years living as atransgender woman, Losco decided that dealing with the same kind of malicefrom her boss at the health-care facility where she worked, was just toomuch. Struggling with hate and fear in her workplace was not what Loscowanted in her new life. Driving home after work, sobbing uncontrollably, wasnot how she pictured ending her workdays.

Lawyers told Losco they would be happy to fight a discrimination case forher-that is, if there were a law on the books to protect her. Discriminationbased on sexual orientation or gender identity is "basically not against thelaw, simple as that," explains John Black, one of the attorneys Losco hadcontacted.

So Losco now waits, pinning her hopes on a proposed bill at the 2008 Utahlegislative session to extend workplace protection to members of thelesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

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The Canadian Press

Ontario health minister blasts Health Canada directive on gay organ donation

16 hours ago

TORONTO - George Smitherman, the country's only gay health minister, went onthe attack Wednesday against an "offensive" Health Canada advisory penned by"wonky bureaucrats" that seeks to exclude homosexual men from becoming organdonors.

The directive, which agency officials defended as a reiteration of existingpolicies that was drafted with the help of medical professionals and theprovinces, caught many health professionals off guard when it was issuedwith little fanfare last month.

"To have these wonky bureaucrats up in Ottawa write that kind of nonsense,based on some long-standing bias within their department, ignoring thefront-line people that actually do this stuff, that was the part that wasmost offensive," Smitherman said in an interview.

Over the course of five years as a member of the Ontario cabinet, Smithermanhas lobbied aggressively - along with the Trillium Gift of Life Network, theprovince's organ and tissue donor agency - to raise the profile of organdonation in the province.

Not only has he signed every organ donor card he's ever received, he said,but he still carries all of them around in his wallet because he believes sostrongly in the principles and the importance of organ donation.

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To Form a More Perfect Union: Marriage Equality News

Information, news, and discussion about the legal recognition of same-sexcouples and their families, including marriages, domestic partnerships,civil unions, adoptions, foster children and similar issues.

Go to the website, above, for the following articles:
The state's 2007 enactment of the domestic partnership law was a historicstep for Washington. It was, however, very much a first step. There's a lotmore to do to ensure equal rights for domestic partners. Equalresponsibilities must also be a priority, as sponsors of two new billsrecognize. Sen. Ed Murray and Rep. Jamie Pedersen are sponsoring bills thatwould expand the state's gay rights legislation to some of the broad rangeof law that governs marital relationships. Among other things, the proposalswould cover estates, veterans benefits, nursing homes, disabilityguardianships and divorce. When one member of a partnership is a publicofficial, the domestic partner's finances would be subjected to the same disclosure requirements as in a marriage. Embarrassingly, state HouseRepublicans apparently want to resist. The legislation is simply anotherstep toward the principle of equal rights for gays and lesbians alreadyenacted. Murray told The Associated Press, "It's a significant piece oflegislation, but it still leaves hundreds of rights and benefits andresponsibilities of marriage out." Advocates are honest about their eventualgoal: full marriage rights. While that debate can wait, there's no reason tohold back on updating our laws toward greater equality.
New Jersey: Posh parenting magazine Cookie recently pointed out all thefederal and state protections offered to new parents. (Article is notonline; thanks to Elisa via MomsRising for the tip.) None of the federalprotections, of course, apply to same-sex couples. The non-biological parentof the couple is not entitled to any parental leave under federal law. SinceFMLA is a federal law, even employers in states that legally recognizesame-sex couples don't necessarily have to offer these benefits toemployees. (In some cases, however, state law requires them to offer similarbenefits, or individual companies may choose to do so. If the non-bio parentlater does a second-parent adoption of the child-if such adoption is evenlegal in that state-she may qualify for parental leave as a new adoptiveparent, but that could be months after the birth.) Here in Massachusetts, we're lucky. The Washington Post has reported that "companies in Massachusetts arehardly ever using federal law as an excuse to deny equal benefits tosame-sex couples married in that state." In New Jersey, however, wheresame-sex couples can unite in civil unions that are supposedly equivalent tomarriage, "at least 1 in every 7 civil-unioned couples in New Jersey isbeing denied equal benefits by an employer."
Puerto Rico's governor said Wednesday he would not block a referendum totoughen a ban on same-sex marriage in the U.S. island territory even thoughhe believes the proposed constitutional amendment is unnecessary anddivisive.Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila told reporters he would sign the billauthorizing a May referendum if the measure gets the required two-thirdsmajority of votes in the island's House of Representatives. It has alreadypassed in the Senate.Acevedo was asked about his support after the leadersof an association of 2,300 churches, the Pentecostal Brotherhood, said thegovernor told them in private that he would sign the bill. I told them thatthe people need more agendas that unite them rather than divide them,"Acevedo said. "But I also told them that if they have two-thirds of thelegislature, well I cannot get in the way."A vote has not yet been scheduledin the U.S. territory's House of Representatives.
New York: A coalition of politically active gay rights groups will gatherat a Rockville Centre synagogue Wednesday night to explain its strategy tooust state lawmakers they said have blocked legislation supporting same-sexmarriage. Prior to the meeting, leaders of the Human Rights Campaign, anational gay rights organization, said they plan to focus on a few key LongIsland races, but they declined to name the candidates involved."The futureof marriage equality could very well be decided on Long Island thisNovember," said Marty Rouse, who grew up in Hauppauge and is now the HRC'snational field director. The HRC and other gay rights groups hailed the June19 passage of a bill in the state Assembly, which is controlled byDemocrats. It also had the support of Gov. Eliot Spitzer, also a Democrat.
The celebration was short-lived, however, because state Senate MajorityLeader Joseph Bruno (R-Brunswick) did not schedule debate on the measure,and it died. Now, Bruno and other senate Republicans have been targeted bythe HRC.
There was no straw poll and no vote, but perhaps most telling, no criticism.
That suggests support for Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker'sdomestic-partnership registry is solid. "This is a logical move to theprivate-employer world," City Councilman Eric Jergensen said Tuesday as thecouncil got its first glimpse of Becker's progressive plan. He went on tosay the registry - a tool to help employers determine eligibility forbenefits for adult residents who cohabit and rely on one another asdependents - is a "logical extension" of the capital's adult-designeeordinance, passed in 2006. During Tuesday's briefing, Becker's chief ofstaff, David Everitt, gave assurances that no additional employees would beneeded to administer the index, which would be funded by a $25 fee, not taxdollars. The council scheduled a public hearing on the registry for Feb. 5at City Hall, where a vote also is expected. Unveiled on Becker's third dayin office, the proposed ordinance does not assume a romantic relationshipbetween domestic partners. Rather, it allows for an array of domesticdependents, including extended-family members, siblings and parents. Councilmembers asked that more examples of those relationships, such as brothers orparent and grandparent, be included.
The annual British Social Attitudes report, out today, found that "theheterosexual married couple is no longer at the centre of UK life."
Two-thirds of those surveyed believe "there is little difference betweenbeing married and living together," and only 28% think married couples arebetter parents than unmarried ones. Over half view a wedding "simply as acelebration." In the U.S., author Stephanie Coontz wrote recently on "TheFuture of Marriage," stating both that we should work to strengthenmarriages and that marriage is no longer the central organizing principlefor social policies. Many same-sex couples are jumping on a train towardslegal marriage, however slowly that train may be moving. There is more andmore proof that our relationships are little different from those ofopposite-sex couples, and I do think equality is in the future. Manyopposite-sex couples, however, are on a train pulling away from the maritalstation, a station which seems less like Grand Central (or Victoria) andmore like a smaller, albeit still respectable, one on a branch line. Aresame-sex couples "redefining" the station, then? Or, after finding it in abit of disrepair and abandonment, are we just sprucing it up a bit, with aqueer eye and a bevy of dykes with power tools?
Same-sex couples are raising nearly 12,000 children across Ohio and morethan 2 percent of the states adopted children, researchers at the UCLA lawschool reported Tuesday. And the number of same-sex couples in the state isgrowing, the study found, jumping from just under 19,000 in 2000 to nearly30,700 by 2005. The Census Snapshot of Ohio compiled by the WilliamsInstitute at the University of California, Los Angeles adds limitedcommentary to data distilled from the 2000 Census and more recent censusupdates. Researcher Adam Romero said he hopes the data will better informdebate about related legislation in Ohio.
But Romero and the report stress a regular message of the gay community thatsame-sex couples are mostly similar to married ones, aside from their sexualorientation. Romero said the main difference highlighted in the report ofsame-sex parents having less income than married ones shows the need forsame-sex couples to be allowed to marry so they can share and transferbenefits to their children.
Democratic State Rep. Nicol LeFavour, who represents the state's largestcity, Boise, has written in her blog, "This morning the Idaho legislaturemade a little history. On this day when we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.Day, the Senate State Affairs Committee voted to print the first piece oflegislation to mention sexual orientation, and to propose ending centuriesof discrimination against gays and lesbians in employment, housing,education and public accommodation." LeFavour credits?Leslie Goddard, thedirector of the state's Human Rights Commission, with a "beautifullypresented bill after an introduction by Senator Tim Corder, a major sponsorof the legislation." Corder, a Republican senator, has voted to ban gaymarriage in Idaho's Constitution, which makes his conversion even moredramatic. As LeFavour writes, "His support of this year's legislation speaksloudly to the fundamental fairness implicit in the issue of employmentdiscrimination and to the progress made on understanding of these issuesover the years."


Inside Higher Education

Harassment vs. Academic Freedom, Round Two

Jan. 24

It started as a student accusation of harassment against a long-tenuredprofessor. Now, with the faculty's backing, the dispute has turned into ashowdown over autonomy, academic freedom and governance procedures.

Donald Hindley first learned through twin October 30 letters that he wasdeemed in violation of Brandeis University's nondiscrimination policy forallegedly uttering "inappropriate and racially derogatory statements." Theprovost, Marty Krauss, informed the professor of politics that a "monitor"would observe his classroom and that he would be required to attend"anti-discrimination training." The administration's sanctions were deemedunusual by veteran observers of academic freedom, such as the AmericanAssociation of University Professors, and the allegations set off a furoramong faculty members at the institution, named for the free-expressiondefender and Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.

"Brandeis still refuses to let me or my lawyers know what I am supposed tohave said or done that allegedly constituted racial harassment and/ordiscrimination," Hindley said in an e-mail.

Last month, the provost rejected an appeal by the university's Committee onFaculty Rights and Responsibilities, leading Hindley to seek counsel andoutside backing to pressure the university directly. At issue is afundamental dispute about which is more important: protecting academicfreedom, or ensuring students' willingness to come forward with allegationsof harassment?

The monitoring of his class has stopped this semester, and Hindley has sofar refused to participate in the mandated training sessions. According tostatements he and others have made to campus newspapers, the allegationsrevolve around students' interpretation of comments he made using the term"wetback," a derogatory reference to Mexican immigrants. Hindley, who hastaught at Brandeis for almost 50 years, said he was using the term in hisLatin American politics course in the context of explaining how it had beenused historically. The department chair, Steven L. Burg, has previously saidthat at least two students approached him separately about Hindley'sremarks.

more . . . . .


Forwarded from Michael Rajner

January 2008


by Robert Greenwald, Megan Hughes, Lindsey Murtagh, Amy Rosenberg

The 110th Congress

The 2006 congressional elections provided hope for those living withHIV/AIDS. For the first time in 12 years, the Democrats won control of bothhouses of Congress-the Senate and the House of Representatives. Given thatDemocrats have historically been more willing to address the issue ofHIV/AIDS, people living with HIV and those affected by HIV were hopeful thatthe political shift would result in improvements in the lives ofHIV-positive people. Indeed, when members of the 110th Congress took officein January 2007, they did so promising to prioritize HIV/AIDS-relatedprograms and funding. Advocacy efforts that had once focused on damagecontrol in an unwelcoming climate could perhaps now support a more positive,proactive agenda.

One year later, TAEP and NAPWA ask: Has the 110th Congress measured up toour expectations? The initial excitement caused by a Democratic-controlledCongress has been tempered by the reality of a less-than-sympatheticadministration and the lack of a veto-proof majority in Congress. The war inIraq continues to claim a disproportionate share of both Congress's time andthe nation's resources. Politics involve negotiation and compromise, and itis an often grindingly slow process.

Although AIDS advocates have seen more Congressional goodwill than in recentyears, the high hopes for the 110th Congress remain largely unfulfilled. Tohave a truly successful HIV/AIDS policy agenda depends on electing asupportive president, or securing a veto-proof majority in Congress. Policyresponses to the epidemic remain largely piecemeal, rather than a nationallycoordinated plan. Historically, such a plan would come from the presidentialadministration-perhaps 2008 will bring us closer to that possibility.
Despite some frustrations and setbacks, the 110th Congress has been moreresponsive to issues affecting people living with HIV/AIDS than have manyother Congresses to date.

In this policy update, we'll look specifically at what the 110th Congresshas done regarding: access to care and treatment; funding; prevention andeducation; and research.



From Euro-Queer, 24 January 2008

LPP/LC: Allowing Homosexual Couples to Adopt Children Violates
Constitution. Mozaika: Party is Confusing Concepts

The LPP/LC (First Party of Latvia/Latvia's Way) faction of Latvia'sParliament categorically rejects the comparison of homosexual relations orsame-gender cohabitation to a family, and permission for homosexual couplesto seek the status of a family and to adopt children violates the LatvianConstitution. In Section 110, it states that "the State shall protect andsupport marriage, the family, the rights of parents and rights of the child.The State shall provide special support to disabled children, children leftwithout parental care or who have suffered from violence." This has beenannounced by the party in a press release.

On Wednesday (January 23), the LPP/LC faction heard a report prepared by twoparty members - children's and family affairs minister Ainars Bastiks andminister with special portfolio for public integration Oskars Kastens -about the ruling from the European Court of Human Rights which stated that arefusal by institutions to allow homosexual people to seek permission toadopt a child is discriminatory.

The party says that the ministers and all members of the faction agreed thatthis approach to the adoption of children is completely unjustified andunacceptable, because it ignores circumstances in which an adopted childshould live, the psychological compatibility between future parents and thechild, and the possible influence which the child might face.

Mozaika, an organization for LGBT people and their friends, says that theparty has confused various concepts in its announcement, revealed its lackof knowledge, and falsely interpreted the fundamental rights that areguaranteed in the Constitution. Section 89 of the Constitution states thatLatvia recognises and protects fundamental human rights in accordance withinternational treaties to which it is party.


From Euro-Queer


Europe: Gay Adoption Ruling Advances Family Equality

Governments Should Change Laws

(New York, January 24, 2008) - The European Court of Human Rights' rulingthat a lesbian woman can embark on the process of adopting a child meansEuropean states should ensure equality in the right to found a family, HumanRights Watch said today.

The court, ruling on January 22, 2008 in the case of E.B. v. France, held by10 votes to seven that the French authorities' refusal of a lesbian'sapplication to obtain authorization to adopt a child on the grounds of hersexual orientation was unlawful. The court said France had violated Article14 (prohibition of discrimination) and Article 8 (right to respect forprivate and family life) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

"This groundbreaking ruling means governments can't use sexual orientationto stop someone from adopting a child," said Scott Long, director of theLesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Program at Human Rights Watch."Adoption decisions should be based on the best interests of the child,uncontaminated by prejudice."

The court is the oversight mechanism for the European Convention and itsdecisions are binding across the 47 members of the Council of Europe (CoE)who have ratified the convention.

The decision marks a turning point in the court's jurisprudence on familyrights. In a previous 2002 case, Fretté v. France, the European Court ofHuman Rights had ruled, four votes to three, that preventing a gay man fromapplying to adopt a child because of his sexual orientation did not violatethe convention.

The plaintiff in the present case, E.B., is a 45-year-old nursery schoolteacher who has lived with a woman psychologist, R., since 1990. In February1998, E.B. applied to the Jura Social Services Department to adopt a child,informing them about her sexual orientation and her relationship with R. Theadoption board recommended rejecting the application in November 1998. InMarch 1999, the president of the council of the Jura Social ServicesDepartment refused the petition, affirming the board's decision. On June 5,2002, the national Conseil d'Etat confirmed this decision. French lawspecifically permits single people to apply to adopt children. However, therejections cited the absence of a "paternal referent" in the applicant'shome.



The Huffington Report

Al Gore Endorses the Freedom to Marry

Posted January 23, 2008 | 03:49 PM (EST)

Once again, Al Gore gets it exactly right.

On January 17, just before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and the country'scelebration of, and recommitment to, the work of winning civil rights, theNobel Laureate and former Vice President posted a video on Current TVentitled "Gay men and women should have the same rights."

In his personal statement, Gore looks directly at the camera andunequivocally comes out in favor of ending the exclusion of same-sex couplesand their families from marriage. And yes, he says the word marriage.

I think it's wrong for the government to discriminate against people becauseof that person's sexual orientation.

I think that gay men and women ought to have the same rights as heterosexualmen and women, to make contracts, to have hospital visiting rights, to jointogether in marriage, and I don't understand why it is considered by somepeople to be a threat to heterosexual marriage to allow it by gays andlesbians.

Shouldn't we be promoting that kind of faithfulness and loyalty to one'spartner regardless of sexual orientation?

more . . . . .


Forwarded from Kenneth Sherrill - Ken's List

Iowa Dem Governor Threatens Action if Court Rules for Marriage Equality

If you would like to send Governor Culver a message, you can contact himbelow:

Governor looks ahead to gay marriage ruling

By Dan Gearino Journal Des Moines Bureau
1:38 PM

DES MOINES -- Gov. Chet Culver, an opponent of gay marriage, said Friday hewould seek a quick response in the Legislature if the Iowa Supreme Courtrules that same sex couples have a right to marry.

Culver, speaking after he taped "Iowa Press," said he doesn't want to takeaction before the Supreme Court rules. However, if the court upholds a lowercourt ruling in favor of gay marriage, he said the Legislature can, andshould, respond quickly..

"We'll do whatever it takes to protect marriage between a man and a woman,"Culver said.

He didn't rule out a special legislative session to deal with the issue, ifthe court rules after the Legislature adjourns for the year.

"We'll just have to wait and see," Culver said.


Forwarded from Kenneth Sherrill - Ken's List

[euro-queer] Poland: Deputy Speaker of the Polish Parliamentnegates the decision of the European Court

Deputy Speaker of the Polish Parliament negates the decision of the EuropeanCourt

23 Jan 2008

Politicians from the ruling Citizen's Platform (PO) have commented on theissue. "If a similar judgment dealt with Poland we would still not agree toadoption by homosexuals", said deputy speaker of the Polish Parliament,Stefan Niesiolowski.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that France discriminated a lesbianby refusing to allow her to adopt a child.

The applicant was a 46-yr old preschool teacher from eastern France who hadbeen living with another woman, a psychologist, since 1990. The Lower Courtfirst rejected her application to adopt in 1998. Her later appeals weredismissed.

Niesiolowski was backed by some constitutional law professors like MarekChmaj. He stated that the Court in Strasbourg does not have the power tochange the decisions of national courts but can only give their opinion inregards to whether the application of the law was just. "This ruling willhave no effect on the legal situation of homosexuals to adopt in Poland asthe European Convention of Human Rights does not refer to this issue", saidProf. Chmaj.

"The Court can go on and make a ruling, it still won't be enforced inPoland. We will defend ourselves because it's unthinkable that homosexualswould adopt children", the deputy speaker of the Parliament, StefanNiesiolowski added.

"It's a milestone. This decision prevents administrators of variouscountries from denying LGB people adoption which has happened in manyplaces", said a Robert Biedron, president of the Campaign AgainstHomophobia. "I am shocked of the statements of some politicians who aretrying to deny power of the European Court" - Biedron added.

Polls show that around 93% of Poles are against adoption by homosexuals.



From Libby Post

Standing Up

My family's dinner was disrupted this past Friday night, January 18th by sirens and flashing lights.

There in the midst of our bucolic neighborhood, on a private road to what was once an estate in Menands, was a number of Troy police officers, with a number of Troy police cars-marked and unmarked--to match. The five of us sitting at the table-Alex, my son, Dale, his father, Gerri, his step-mom, Courtney, his girlfriend and I-went out the front door to see what was up.

We stopped dead in our tracks about 25 to 30 feet away from the action. It was from there that we witnessed a police brutality reality show.

The cops had chased two guys in a car through the streets of Troy, across the Hudson River, and into our road. By the time I was out there, the two suspects-Marquese Hill and Jamel DeWitt-were face down on the ground and were individually being beaten by two officers.

It was very film noir. It was dark and the scene was lit from behind by the lights from all the cars. The silhouette of one of the officers standing over one of the suspects repeatedly raising his baton high over his head and then crashing it down on the suspect's body will stay with me for quite some time. So will the sound the baton made every time it hit the face-down body. It happened over and over again lasting for about 25-30 seconds.

We all started screaming for the cops to stop. When they finally did, two of the cops came running over to us and told us to "Shut Up," "Get in the house," "They had a gun and could have come into your house," and "This is none of your business." It certainly was our business, We stood our ground. They walked away saying we were "probably on the jury that let that killer go free in Troy" referring to a jury verdict last week that found a member of the 69ers motorcycle club not guilty of stabbing another person to death outside a bar.

By now Hill and DeWitt were cuffed and being put into police cars. That's when one of the officers at the scene told them loudly enough for us to hear, "They'll probably invite you over for Sunday brunch."

I dug into my pocket, got out my cell phone and immediately called Rex Smith, the editor of the Times-Union at home. Needless to say, what followed next was a hailstorm of media coverage with my face plastered all over the TV, my voice on local radio and my name in our local papers.

What we witnessed was an injustice that is much graver than Hill's parole violation or the police wanting to question DeWitt regarding a shooting.

The Troy police and the city's mayor are calling the actions by the two officers a reasonable use of force. I call it a travesty. Once the two suspects were face down on the ground all the officers needed to do was put their knees in their backs and cuff them. Instead, the adrenaline rush of a chase in hot pursuit lead to excessive use of force.

There will be an internal affairs investigation but how effectively can the police police themselves?

This isn't about me being soft on crime. This is about our police acting professionally and responsibly. If Hill and DeWitt committed crimes they should go through the legal process and do their time, if that's what needs to happen. They don't, however, deserve to be beaten.

Do the police who patrol the tri-cities' inner-city neighborhoods have a challenge on their hands? Absolutely. But using violence to combat violence only works on the battlefield-and as we see in Iraq, that approach doesn't work too well either.

Instead of approaching their jobs with suspicion and violence, why can't the police take the opportunity to make real change in those neighborhoods by setting a positive example-acting professionally and responsibly would be a good first step. There's a reason why folks in the inner city don't trust the police-Friday night was just the tip of the iceberg of distrust.

I'm not saying the police shouldn't do their job in tracking down criminals but not everyone who lives in inner-city neighborhoods commit crimes. All this incident has done is heightened the tension between Troy's police and those who they are sworn to serve and protect.

I've received a lot of support from folks I know and some I don't. A few have even called my actions a public service. I call it being a responsible citizen and taxpayer.


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