Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Daily News Round Up (1/24 & 25/05)

Analysis Shows 47% of U.S. Population Now Protected From Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation
by: Roberta Sklar, Press Secretary (National Gay and Lesbian Task Force)

WASHINGTON -- January 25 -- With Illinois acting last week to ban anti-gay discrimination, 47 % of the U.S. population 138 million people now lives in a jurisdiction that bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, according to an analysis by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute. Ten years ago, the figure was 34%.

The analysis also found that more than one in four Americans - 27% now lives in a jurisdiction that bans discrimination against transgender persons, up from 4% ten years ago, and 5% just five years ago. Illinois's law also bans discrimination based on gender identity and expression.

"Thanks to the hard work of grassroots activists, the glass of basic fairness for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans is slowly filling up," said Sean Cahill, Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute. "While we have a long way to go until all of us are protected from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations, the progress is undeniable and unstoppable."

'No Name-Calling Week' at Nation's Middle Schools

By Susan Jones

(CNSNews.com) - This is 'No Name-Calling Week" at some of the nation's middle schools, an event sponsored by a homosexual advocacy group.

The New York-based Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, which organized the event, says this is a time to "draw national attention to the problem of name-calling in schools and to provide students and educators with the tools and inspiration to launch an on-going dialogue about ways to eliminate name-calling in their communities."

According to GLSEN's website, last year's "No Name-Calling Week" - the first event of its kind -- was a big success, with educators at more than 600 schools around the country participating in some way. This year, GLSEN says, more than 5,000 educators from 36 states have registered.

Conservatives Threaten To Stall Congress Until Bush Reups Anti-Gay Amendment Push
by Paul Johnson 365Gay.com Washington Bureau Chief

(Washington, D.C.) A coalition of the nation's largest right wing "pro-family" organizations is reportedly threatening to stall the White House's plans for Social Security reform unless the President becomes more active in the push for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

The Arlington Group, in a letter to Carl Rove obtained by The New York Times, says that conservatives are angry that President Bush has placed Social Security reform ahead of the proposed amendment on its 'to do' list for Congress.

The letter, according to The Times, points out that many social conservatives voted for Bush because of his stance on same-sex marriage and reminds Rove that the President will need all the support he can muster to pass Social Security legislation.

Anti-Gay Textbook Bill Sparks Fiery Debate

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

(Little Rock, Arkansas) Proposed legislation banning any mention of gay families in Arkansas school books has been met with heavy criticism in state Legislature.

The bill, filed by Rep. Roy Ragland (R-Marshall) would force the state's school districts to purchase only textbooks which define marriage as between one man and one woman. Ragland said the legislation was aimed at bringing school books in line with the state Constitution when bans same-sex marriage.

The measure was endorsed by the House Education Committee last week, (story) but when it came to the floor of the House on Monday lawmakers balked.

Court Hears Gruesome Details Of Discovery Of Gay Man's Body

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

(Louisville, Kentucky) Two fishermen told a hushed court how they discovered the suitcase containing the body of a 36 year old gay man floating in a lake.

Lawyers for 22-year-old Josh Cottrell are attempting to use the so-called 'gay panic defense, claiming that Cottrell was so repulsed by advances made by Guinn "Richie" Phillips that Cottrell killed him in an act of "self-preservation".

Testifying for the prosecution, Kenneth Critchelow told the court that he and a friend, Aaron Pullen, were boating on Rough River Lake last June when they discovered the "new looking" suitcase floating in the water.

No Appeal In Federal DOMA Case

by Fidel Ortega 365Gay.com Miami Bureau

(Miami, Florida) Last week's ruling upholding the federal Defense of Marriage Act will not be appealed the attorney in the case announced Monday night.

"With the present Supreme Court not willing even to hear the Florida adoption case, and the possibility of newly appointed Supreme Court judges by the Bush administration being even more conservative, it would not be prudent at this time to continue this effort," said Ellis Rubin.

The case was the first legal challenge to federal DOMA.

Gay Marriage Foes Turn To Defeating Gay Civil Rights Bill

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

(Salem, Oregon) Two organizations that spearheaded the drive to amend Oregon's constitution to ban same-sex marriage have now turned its sights on a bill that would provide civil rights protections for gays and lesbians.

The Oregon Family Council and the Defense of Marriage Coalition say the legislation is unnecessary and have vowed to defeat it.

The legislation would ban on discrimination against gays in employment, housing and public accommodations.

Major HIV Vaccine Study Begins

by Jeffrey Gold, Associated Press

(New York City) A potential HIV/AIDS vaccine developed by Merck & Co. that uses synthetic genes to prepare cells to fight the deadly virus is moving into the second stage of testing.

An approved vaccine would be about a decade away if the trial and a third study are successful, said officials with the international coalition that is collaborating on the work.

"It is the most promising candidate that we've seen so far," said Sarah B. Alexander, associate director of the coalition, known as the HIV Vaccine Trials Network, or HVTN. She cautioned, however, "something better could come along tomorrow."

Gay Marriage Amendment Reintroduced In Senate

by Paul Johnson 365Gay.com Washington Bureau Chief

(Washington) Despite President Bush's belief there are not enough votes in Congress to pass an amendment banning gay marriage the measure returned to the Senate Monday.

The legislation was reintroduced this afternoon by Colorado Republican Wayne Allard.

"This amendment represents, I think, the democratic process or the democratic response to recent and widespread efforts by activist courts to change this age-old definition of marriage," Allard said at a late morning news conference.

Conservative Groups Denounce Tolerance Week In Schools

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

(New York City) "No Name-Calling Week" began today at middle schools across the country with conservative groups denouncing it as an "excuse to advance the homosexual agenda".

The week, which was created two years ago by Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, seeks to promote tolerance of all minorities.

But, groups like Concerned Women for America says schools that embrace the program are treading on dangerous water.

Gay Politician Slams Enforcement Of Hate Crime Law

by Jeremy Hainsworth, Canadian Press

(Vancouver, British Columbia) In his first public appearance since stepping down as a member of Parliament, Svend Robinson called on B.C.'s attorney general to push prosecutors to apply hate-crime laws as they were intended to be used.

Robinson spoke at a rally Sunday calling for a hate-crime designation to be added to the sentences of those convicted in the November 2001 beating death of gay photographer Aaron Webster, 41.

``I find it sad, I find it incomprehensible and, yes, I find it shameful that the Crown throughout these proceedings . . . with four accused has not once challenged the accused about the reality of this crime being a gay bashing,'' Robinson said.

Pumper Judge Busted

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

(Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) An Oklahoma judge caught using a sex toy in court as he was presiding over a trial has been charged with three felony counts of indecent exposure.

Appearing in the courthouse where served almost 23 years Donald D. Thompson was released on his own recognizance pending a preliminary hearing March 22.

The investigation began last June after a court reporter filed a complaint with Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Daily News Round Up (1/23/05)

Gay Protest Ban Lifted For Homophobic Demonstrators
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) A Philadelphia judge has lifted a ban on four evangelists from demonstrating at gay events.

The ban was a bail condition for the four, members of the group Repent America, who are facing 47 years in prison for allegedly inciting a riot at a gay event in Philadelphia last year.

Common Pleas Court Judge Pamela Dembe called the ban an unreasonable restraint on free speech.

Utah Gay Positive Bill Advances

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

(Salt Lake City Utah) Less than three months after Utah voters approved an amendment banning same-sex marriage the Legislature is considering a bill to give some rights to gay and lesbian couples.

The legislation was approved unanimously Friday in committee in the Senate. Even Republican Majority Leader Peter Knudson who moved for a vote said it is "a fine piece of legislation."

Under the proposed bill any two adults even siblings or a grandparent and child could register with the state Health Department.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Daily News Round Up (1/22/05)

Legislation Would Target Gay Parents
by The Associated Press

(Salem, Oregon) A bill that would require Oregon adoption agencies to give opposite-sex, married couples preference over same-sex couples or single people is being attacked as "outrageous" by a gay rights organization.

Basic Rights Oregon pledges to fight the measure that was introduced by Rep. John Lim (R-Gresham).

Lim said Friday that he has no intention of discriminating against gay or single parents with the measure, House Bill 2401.

SpongeBob Anti-Gay Attack Brings Shock And Ridicule

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

The producer of a pro-tolerance music video for kids, featuring scores of their TV heroes ranging from the Muppets to SpongeBob SquarePants, says he is astounded that the project has been assailed by some conservatives as a cunning attempt to advocate homosexuality.

"The only response is, 'Wow,'" said Nile Rodgers, a veteran musician and producer whose We Are Family Foundation plans to give away 60,000 copies of the video after it is aired next month on several television networks.

The video itself involves a rendition of the 1979 hit song "We Are Family," that Rodgers co-wrote, and contains no reference to gay rights or sexual orientation.

Mass. Gay Couples Face Tax Filing Nightmare

by The Associated Press

(Boston, Massachusetts) As if tax season isn't stressful enough, gay newlyweds in Massachusetts are pondering what should be a simple question: Do they check ``married'' or ``single'' on tax forms for the federal government that doesn't recognize their union?

A landmark court ruling made Massachusetts the first state to sanction same-sex weddings nearly a year ago, but gays and lesbians will have to untie the knot, on paper, by declaring themselves ``single'' to the IRS.

Or not, in some cases.

Gay Student Disciplined Over Shirt

by The Associated Press

(Longview, Washington) An openly gay high school student was sent home to change after he wore a shirt that said "Too Gay To Function" during homecoming week.

Billy Zepeda, a senior at R.A. Long High School, decorated the lime green shirt with marker-drawn rainbows and wrote the phrase from the teen movie "Mean Girls" on the front. He wore it Thursday during the school's make-your-own-shirt day.

A teacher told him the shirt was inappropriate and offensive to homosexuals, said Zepeda, 17.

Gene scan suggests homosexuality origin

David Ryan Alexander, PlanetOut Network

A new genetic study released Jan. 12 claims to "help explain why some men are gay and other men are heterosexual." The study, published in the biomedical journal Human Genetics, analyzed 456 individuals from 146 unrelated families with two or more gay brothers and claims to be the first full genome scan of sexual orientation in men.

"We found three chromosomal regions that are likely to have genes within them that influence sexual orientation," said Brian Mustanski of the University of Illinois, one of the six scientists from a number of institutions who conducted the study.

"I think we essentially found these regions that are likely to influence sexual orientation," Mustanski said. "We found some genes that influence hormones and brain development. The next step is to look at specific genes in a new family sample to see if those are the exact genes that affect sexual orientation."

Friday, January 21, 2005

Daily News Round Up (1/21/05)

GLAAD about Monica
By: Dallas Voice

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation sure picked a winner to spotlight for Saturday’s nomination ceremony for the 16th annual GLAAD Media Awards. The media watchdog group will present restaurateur Monica Greene, a candidate for Dallas City Council, with a Dallas Leadership Award.

Born in Mexico City, Greene arrived in Dallas in 1974 at the age of 17. In 1995, Greene underwent gender reassignment surgery and began a new life with a new name, Monica. For more than 22 years, she’s lorded over some acclaimed eateries in Big D’s (Monica’s Aca Y Alla, Ciudad D.F., 8.0, Baby Routh and Pegaso).

According to a memo from the Dallas leadership committee, GLAAD is honoring Greene’s passion for community involvement, charity events and grassroots efforts — also for being “an effective voice for civic, business, and gay, lesbian and transgender issues.”

Students rally for gay rights


In the spirit of civil rights protests in the 1960s, about 200 students and supporters of gay rights marched from Lincoln High School to the state Capitol on Thursday afternoon.

"It's a very long skinny march," said Joe Gerstandt, as he walked with others down a narrow sidewalk lined with snow. Gerstandt came from Omaha to support the Lincoln public high school students who organized the Inauguration Day march and rally.

"I think it's important to show some unity," he said. "High school needs to be a safer place (for gay and lesbian students). We have a lot of work to do."

Gay Road draws lots of media stories

By Barbara Owens

MARQUETTE HEIGHTS -- Blair Williams is upset.

Williams, who initiated a petition to change the name of the road he lives on -- Gay Road -- was caught off guard by the firestorm of publicity generated after area media converged on his neighborhood.

"I want it to be fully known that the reason for this name change request isn't that we have any judgment on anyone's sexual preference," said Williams, who is also the spokesman for the other six households on Gay Road that signed the petition.

"I don't care who likes who, or what people think I like. I want to be able to give my address, be proud of my residence, and be able to give that address without having to give a history lesson."

Banning gay unions: fight looms

by: AP

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Gay and lesbian activists are girding for a political battle to slow down or dilute a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in Indiana. Even before the Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a state law banning same-sex marriage Thursday, opponents and proponents of a constitutional ban were focused on legislation to amend the state constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman only.

The Indiana Senate approved such a measure last year but it died in the House, then controlled by Democrats. Republicans now control the House.

Amendment legislation is expected to easily clear the Indiana Senate this session, and House Speaker Brian Bosma predicted Thursday it will pass in his chamber as well. A proposed amendment needs approval from two separately elected General Assemblies before going to voters for their decision.

Gays and lesbians mark Inauguration Day with protests

by: Advocate

As President Bush began his second term in Washington, gay rights demonstrators joined others across the country to protest another four years of his administration. They marched through the streets of cities and towns, denouncing Bush's marginalization of gay people and his opposition to same-sex marriage. In Washington, D.C., thousands of protesters, including a number of gays and lesbians, were kept far from Bush, and about a dozen were arrested for trying to penetrate various barricades. Along the parade route from the Capitol to the White House, protesters roared boos and chants as Bush and then Cheney passed by in their limousines.

At a large protest in Seattle, lesbian activist Meighan Doherty, 25, said she found Bush's inaugural address hypocritical and was not impressed with his focus on freedom, liberty, and equality. "He willingly marginalizes groups such as pro-choice, the gay community, and people of color if they do not agree with his personal values, particularly in the world of religion," said Doherty, outreach director for Action Northwest. The Seattle-based group provides training and grants for organizations interested in women's reproductive rights, labor issues, civil rights, marriage equality, and socio-economic justice.

The Seattle protesters carried signs reading, "I am not a second-class citizen" and "Gay rights are civil rights," as well as posters reading, "Axis of Evil," with a photograph of Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and Condoleezza Rice, Bush 's nominee for secretary of state. At Seattle Central Community College, students marched through buildings, pounding on doors and encouraging others to leave. About 1,000 demonstrators then marched from the community college to the downtown area, where several people gave speeches.

Judge lifts bail restriction on Christians who protested homosexual event

By Ron Strom

The four adult defendants who are part of the "Philadelphia 5," Christians who have been criminally charged for preaching at a homosexual event last fall, won a court battle today when a judge removed the bail requirement that they stay at least 100 feet away from any homosexual gathering.

"The judge dissolved the bail restriction," the defendants' attorney Scott Shields told WND.

Court of Common Pleas Judge Pamela Dembe ruled the bail requirement was an "unusual restriction on a person's right to speech."

Illinois Court OKs Gay Fostering

by Steph Smith 365Gay.com Chicago Bureau

(Chicago, Illinois) The Illinois Supreme Court Friday overturned a lower-court decision that ordered a foster child removed from the home of his lesbian foster mother and her partner.

In rendering its decision the lower court awarded the child, (known only as "Austin W." in court documents) place in the guardianship of grandparents even though they had been indicated for abuse against him.

The lower court ruling was appealed by both the foster mother, Rosemary Fontaine, and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

'Innocent' Pleas In Gay Teen's Beating

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

(Cleburne, Texas) Three teens charged in the vicious beating last October of a gay high school student pleaded innocent Thursday at their arraignment.

The name of the 17 year old victim is being withheld from publication at the request of his family and police.

He was beaten and then stomped on and kicked with steel-toe boots. His injuries were so severe he needed reconstructive face surgery and may have permanent damage.

Barney Frank: Gays & Poor To Feel Effects Of New Bush Term

by The Associated Press

(Washington) There were no cowboy hats, no cowboy boots.

The only fur coat on the rack was a fake one.

While 50,000 revelers celebrated President George W. Bush's inauguration Thursday night at nine official balls across Washington, a couple of hundred people chose the company of fellow liberals at an Alternative Inaugural Ball downtown.

No 'Gay Families' In Arkansas Schools

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

(Little Rock, Arkansas) Arkansas is considering following Texas in banning any mention of gay families in school books.

Legislation was introduced in the Legislature Thursday by Rep. Roy Ragland (R-Marshall) that would force the state's school districts to purchase only textbooks which define marriage as between one man and one woman.

The measure was approved by the House Education Committee despite concerns from some committee members that it could limit discussion in social studies and history classes.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Daily News Round Up (1/20/05)

Louisiana Revives Anti-Gay Ban

The Louisiana Supreme Court ruled on January 19 that the enactment of the Marriage Amendment approved overwhelmingly by the voters on September 18, 2004, does not violate Louisiana’s constitution, so the amendment will go into effect.

Under the terms of the amendment, which went to the voters after resolutions were approved by both houses of the Legislature, Louisiana will neither sanction same-sex marriages nor recognize any enacted in other jurisdictions.

The amendment also provides: “A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized,” a critical element that shaped the arguments made by its opponents in court.

Conservative group targets 'pro-homosexual' SpongeBob video


WASHINGTON -- On the heels of electoral victories to bar same-sex marriage, some influential conservative Christian groups are turning their attention to a new target: SpongeBob SquarePants.

"Does anybody here know SpongeBob?" James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, asked the guests Tuesday night at a black-tie dinner for members of Congress and political allies to celebrate the election results.

In many circles, SpongeBob needs no introduction. He is popular among children and grownups as well who watch him cavorting under the sea on the Nickelodeon cartoon program that bears his name. In addition, he has become a camp figure among adult gay men, perhaps because he holds hands with his animated sidekick Patrick.

Pro-family group slams new GOP co-chair

By: WorldNetDaily.com

A pro-family group is criticizing the Republican National Committee for nominating as its new co-chair an Ohio Republican who the organization says is not only in favor of abortion rights but also has failed to oppose the homosexual agenda.

Joann Davidson was speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives for four years and, according to RNC spokesman Brian Jones, "one of the top grass-roots activists and leaders in the entire country."

The Pro-Family Network of Ohio, however, says Davidson "does not represent the values of the rank and file of the GOP."

Louisiana Supreme Court OK's Gay Marriage Amendment

by The Associated Press

(New Orleans, Louisiana) The Louisiana Supreme Court yesterday unanimously reinstated the anti-gay marriage amendment to the state constitution that was overwhelmingly approved by voters in September.

The high court reversed a state district judge's ruling in October striking down the amendment on the grounds that it violated a provision of the state constitution requiring that an amendment cover only one subject.

"Each provision of the amendment is germane to the single object of defense of marriage and constitutes an element of the plan advanced to achieve this object," the high court said.

Gay Cop Seeks $10M In Harassment Suit

by Doug Windsor 365Gay.com New York Bureau

(New York City) A former Suffolk County police officer says that once it was discovered he is gay his whole world changed. For a decade, John Weeks says, he was a respected and decorated officer on the Long Island force.

In federal court this week Weeks testified that he had a long term relationship with another officer. When the relationship soured the man filed a complaint with Internal Affairs. The nature of the complaint was not revealed and the other officer has not been named.

But, whatever the complaint was it led to a raid on Weeks home. He told the court that one day in December 1999, Internal Affairs officers searched his home computer and found he had visited various gay Web sites.

SF Gay Group Fights Handgun Ban

by Mark Worrall 365Gay.com San Francisco Bureau

(San Francisco, California) A plan to ask voters to approve a ban on handguns in San Francisco has angered a gay firearms club.

In the past year San Francisco has seen a 28 percent increase in homicides during the past year. In response, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has proposed putting a question on this year's ballot that would bar residents from keeping handguns in their homes or businesses.

If passed it also would prohibit the sale, manufacture and distribution of any firearms or ammunition in San Francisco.

Second Term Begins Amid Anti-Gay Amendment Concerns

by Paul Johnson 365Gay.com Washington Bureau Chief

(Washington) George W. Bush took the oath of office for a second term Thursday as hundreds of anti-war protestors and gay rights advocates demonstrated nearby.

In a speech devoted almost entirely to foreign policy Bush “All who live in tyranny and hopelessness can know [that] the United States will not ignore your oppression, or excuse your oppressors,” he declared.

He also said, 'No human rights without human liberty", a line not missed by gay rights supporters.

Indiana Gay Marriage Ban Upheld

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

(Indianapolis, Indiana) The Indiana Court of Appeals on Thursday ruled that the state's so-called defense of marriage act is legal.

"What we decide today is that the Indiana Constitution does not require the governmental recognition of same-sex marriage," the court said in a written ruling, noting that "the Legislature is certainly free to grant such recognition or create a parallel institution under that document.''

Three same-sex couples asked the court to set aside a lower court ruling that also upheld the statute.

Company To Pay $3.5M To Settle AIDS Scam Charge

by Ed Welch 365Gay.com Los Angeles Bureau

(Los Angeles, California) An Orange County company has agreed to pay $3.5 million to settle charges that it deceptively marketed a supplement to prevent or cure HIV/AIDS, cancer, and asthma.

Body Wise International sold the supplement under the brand name “AG-Immune”. The Federal Trade Commission, the Orange County District Attorney, and the California State Attorney General filed suit alleging the drug was useless in treating or preventing any of the diseases and violated a 1995 FTC order.

Under the settlement, Body Wise has agreed to pay a $2 million civil penalty to the FTC. California’s proposed settlement would require Body Wise to pay the State of California an additional $1.58 million in penalties and costs for allegedly violating the State’s Business and Professions and Health and Safety Codes.

Prison For 9-11Gay Conman

by Fidel Ortega 365Gay.com Miami Bureau

(Fort Lauderdale, Florida) A conman who claimed that his partner had been killed in the 9-11 terrorist attack in New York and got $68,000 in emergency aid from the Red Cross was sentenced to prison on Wednesday.

Patric Ian Henn, of Fort Lauderdale, pled guilty last week to grand theft.

Henn, 29, admitted in court that he concocted the heartbreaking story to get money from aid groups helping the survivors' families following the attacks.

NY Gov. Budget Slashes Medicaid For People With AIDS Group Warns

by Doug Windsor 365Gay.com New York Bureau

(New York City) The Gay Men’s Health Crisis had harsh criticism Wednesday for Governor Pataki’s proposed $1 billion in Medicaid cuts.

The cuts were announced Tuesday in Pataki's Executive Budget for the 2005-06 fiscal year.

GMHC said that the cuts will severely limit healthcare options for New York’s low-income individuals and families, including thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS.

Disney World Accused Of Segregating Transsexual Intern

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

(Orono, Maine) A transsexual student from the University of Maine says she is being segregated in a student intern program at Orlando's Disney World.

The woman, who wants to be identified only by her first name, Claire, was accepted last fall to the Walt Disney World College Program for a seven-month internship.

The 23 year old tells the Bangor Maine News that when she told Disney officials she is transsexual they said they offer only single-sex housing and gave her two options: Cut her hair and go back to living as a male, or live alone in a two-person apartment and pay double the amount of rent.

Federal Anti-Gay Marriage Law Upheld

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

(Tampa, Florida) A federal judge Wednesday upheld the federal Defense of Marriage Act dismissing a suit brought by a Tampa lesbian couple who were married in Massachusetts.

Rev. Nancy Wilson, a Metropolitan Community Church minister, and Paula Schoenwether, a family marriage counselor were married July 2 in Massachusetts, the only state where same-sex marriages are recognized..

The two have been together for 27 years.

Suitcase Gay Murder Trial Begins

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

(Louisville, Kentucky) Opening arguments began Wednesday in a case dubbed the Suitcase Murder. The body of Guinn "Richie" Phillips was found in a suitcase floating in Rough River Lake last June.

Prosecutor Susan Streible told the court Wednesday that 22-year-old Josh Cottrell killed Phillips because he was gay.

Phillips had been beaten and strangled with a belt . His corpse was then stuffed into a suitcase and dumped into the Lake. It was found eight days later.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Daily News Round Up (1/19/05)

Louisiana Supreme Court OK's Gay Marriage Amendment
by The Associated Press

(New Orleans, Louisiana) The Louisiana Supreme Court on Wednesday reinstated the anti-gay marriage amendment to the state constitution that was overwhelmingly approved by voters in September.

Without dissent, the high court reversed a state district judge's ruling in October striking down the amendment on the grounds that it violated a provision of the state constitution requiring that an amendment cover only one subject.

"Each provision of the amendment is germane to the single object of defense of marriage and constitutes an element of the plan advanced to achieve this object," the high court said.

Opposing Anti-Gay Amendments Had Little Effect On Incumbents

by Paul Johnson 365Gay.com Washington Bureau Chief

(Washington) State lawmakers who opposed constitutional bans on same-sex marriage fared extraordinarily well at the polls even though all the states where the proposed amendments were on the ballot voted to bar gay marriage a new national poll shows.

The survey released Wednesday by the Human Rights Campaign and the Equality Federation is almost identical to a smaller survey of five key states that was released last week. (story)

The HRC found that only 1.7 percent of 640 legislators in 28 states, including Massachusetts where gay marriage became legal last year, were voted out of office because they opposed measures banning marriage for same-sex couples.

1,800 Mile Walk For AIDS

by Steph Smith 365Gay.com Chicago Bureau

(Chicago, Illinois) A Fort Myers, Florida man is walking to Chicago. Axel Javier set off on Monday saying "I don't think of it as 1,800 miles, I think of it as one step at a time."

The 32-year-old AIDS activist said he hopes to meet with show host Oprah Winfrey and appear on her TV show to spread his message of AIDS awareness.

This isn't his first AIDS trek, but it's his longest.

'I'm Not Gay' Florida Attorney General Declares

by Fidel Ortega 365Gay.com Miami Bureau

(Tampa, Florida) The man fighting to preserve Florida's anti-gay adoption law is battling a widely circulating rumor that he is gay himself.

Attorney General Charlie Crist took the unusual step this week of calling a popular Tampa radio show to deny the rumor as he prepares to announce his candidacy for Governor.

It was clear from the onset that the call to WQYK-FM had been prearranged.

Lawyer In Landmark Gay Partner Ruling Dies

by Mary Ellen Peterson 365Gay.com San Francisco Bureau

(San Francisco, California) Robert Lazo, the lawyer who won the landmark California ruling that the surviving partners of gays and lesbians who die as a result of a crime can sue for wrongful death, has died of cancer. He was 41.

Remembered as a soft-spoken yet passionate attorney whose interests included jazz and science fiction movies, Lazo was the founder of San Francisco's Employment Lawyers' Group.

His most famous case was the wrongful death suit brought by Sharon Smith. Smith's partner, Dianne Whipple was fatally mauled by neighbors' dogs outside their Pacific Heights apartment four years ago.

Judicial Review Sought In No Makeup No Job Ruling

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

(San Francisco, California) The full Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has been asked to review a ruling that upheld the firing of a woman who refused to wear makeup at work.

Last month, a three-judge panel of the federal appeals court said that the woman had not been treated unfairly. (story)

In August 2000, Darlene Jespersen was fired from her position as a bartender at Harrah's Casino in Reno, Nevada, after the company enacted a new dress code, called the "Personal Best" program, requiring all women in the beverage department to wear makeup, specified as foundation or powder, blush, lipstick and mascara, applied precisely the same way every day to match a photograph held by the supervisor.

Gay TV Campaign Targets Bush Inauguration

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

(Washington) A new television ad campaign has been launched to coincide with President Bush's inauguration Thursday.

The ads, by the Human Rights Campaign underscores inconsistencies in what President Bush has said and what he has done regarding equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans during his first term. Asking "What will he do in the next four years?"

"We have seen two faces of George W. Bush in the last several months, and are wondering which one will take the oath of office on Thursday," said HRC Political Director Winnie Stachelberg.

PFLAG Names New National Leader
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

(Washington) Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays announced on Tuesday that it had selected Jody Michael Huckaby to be its new executive director.

The announcement concludes a six-month search process by PFLAG's search committee, which reviewed the qualifications of more than sixty applicants.

"Under Jody's leadership, we know PFLAG will grow and prosper as an outstanding advocate of equality for our GLBT family members and loved ones," said Samuel Thoron, PFLAG's President. "In addition to his extensive qualifications, Jody brings a passionate commitment to our values, vision and mission."

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Daily News Round Up (1/18/05)

Bid seen weakening to ban gay marriage
By Frank Phillips, Globe Staff

The slim majority that supported the proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage last year has been thrown into doubt with the recent resignations of three legislators who oppose gay marriage and a net increase of two gay-marriage supporters in the crop of newly elected legislators.

With the start of the new legislative session, a Globe analysis indicates that supporters of gay marriage appear to be gaining ground in their effort to defeat the proposed amendment to ban same-sex marriage. The Legislature voted 105 to 92 for the amendment in March, but it would have to pass one more roll call to reach the 2006 ballot for voter consideration.

One leading gay-marriage opponent said he sensed a shift against the constitutional ban.

Standing my gay ground

By Alec Mapa

I am not moving to Canada. Believe me, I thought about it. One of my best friends in Vancouver is a celebrated seven-foot drag queen named Joan-E. I could’ve easily taken up residence in one of her shoes, but now is not the time for cowardice. I’m needed here to gay up the red states. To get the ball rolling, I’m going to drive through the heartland in a Subaru wearing a pink tutu and eating a bratwurst while my loudspeakers blare “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.”

The bad news is, Bush is still president. The good news is, I’m still gay. In four years Bush will be gone. I, however, will still be a great big homo. Want to feel empowered? Try thinking of the most powerful man on the planet as a temporary inconvenience. I am not disheartened by the election results because, to a gay man, this kind of bigotry is old news. I don’t scare easily.

Let’s face it, we’ve been through far worse. When I was in the eighth grade San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk, one of the nation’s first openly gay elected officials, was assassinated by Dan White. This was an act of terrorism designed to intimidate us into permanent silence. All it did was inspire countless LGBT individuals to pursue public office on behalf of our cause. Milk’s murder inaugurated what has become our nationwide presence in politics. This past election, at least 41 openly gay and lesbian candidates in 20 states were elected to public office, and not just in the latte-drinking, sushi-eating states.

Kiss and tell
By John Corvino

I started off as a pleasant evening. I was visiting Austin while working on some writing projects. One night I ran into a friend at a coffee shop and we walked to the nearby Texas capitol grounds, where a number of people were biking, jogging, and strolling. We sat on a bench; I put my arm around him. At one point I leaned over and kissed him, then looked up and noticed a state trooper walking by.

The trooper looked rather flustered by our display of affection. I wasn’t surprised. As an Italian-American New Yorker currently living in Detroit, I am often reminded that Mid-westerners and Southerners have rather different ideas about personal space and public affection than I do. Especially between men.

About 10 minutes later my friend and I noticed three troopers in the distance—including the one who had passed us previously. “You don’t think they’re coming after us?” I joked.

Gay Survivor Winner Guilty OF Tax Evasion

by Brooke Donald, Associated Press

(Providence, Rhode Island) Richard Hatch, who became a millionaire when he won the first-ever "Survivor" series, has agreed to plead guilty to two counts of tax evasion for failing to report income including the $1.01 million he won on the show.

Federal prosecutors charged that Hatch, 43, filed false 2000 and 2001 tax returns, omitting his income from the CBS show, as well as another $321,000 he was paid by a Boston radio station.

The penalty could be up to five years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine for each charge. However, as part of the plea agreement filed in federal court on Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney's office said it would recommend a lesser sentence.

Mass Gay Marriage Amendment Unlikely To Pass Survey Shows

by Michael J. Meade 365Gay.com Boston Bureau

(Boston, Massachusetts) A survey of Massachusetts legislators shows that a proposed amendment to the state Constitution is likely to fail.

To amend the Constitution the proposal must pass two consecutive sessions of the legislature and then go to voters. Last March the amendment passed the first phase, following heated debate, by only a handful of votes. (story) The proposed amendment would bar same-sex couples from marrying but would allow civil unions and convert those marriages already performed to domestic partnerships.

An analysis of lawmakers by the Boston Globe shows that following last November's election the State House now has more moderates and the amendment is unlikely to get the 101 votes votes needed. In March it was approved with only four votes to spare.

Montana Considers Civil Unions & Civil Rights Protections

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

(Helena, Montana) Montana legislators considered two gay rights bills on Martin Luther King Day - one that would allow civil unions, and one to extend civil rights protections to gays and lesbians.

The legislation to create civil unions was held in House Judiciary Committee while the Senate Judiciary Committee considered a civil rights bill. Both measures met with stiff opposition during packed hearings.

The civil unions bill would extend to same-sex couples the same benefits, protections and responsibilities afforded spouses in a marriage. Some of those benefits are group insurance, power of attorney in health care instances, and public assistance benefits under state law.