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.

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