poetics, time, body disruption and marginally queer solutions

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Gay-straight alliances change high school for many
Staff Writer

For gay and lesbian teen-agers, much has changed since 1983. While most gay adults remember high school as a time of quietly questioning themselves in the closet, many of today's gay teen-agers are not just out -- they're active.

Often this activism takes the form of student-run activist/support groups called gay-straight alliances, or, in less-than-supportive school districts, persistent attempts to form such groups.

The Houston Chronicle recently reported that there are more than 1,700 gay-straight alliances in U.S. high schools, and more than half of them have sprung up in the last 10 years. Meanwhile, The Wisconsin State Journal found two dozen GSAs in U.S. middle schools.

Tom Wise, a speech therapist for the Pittsburgh School District and the adviser for Langley High School's GSA, said that the organizations offer safe, informal places for gay teen-agers and supportive friends to gather.


Suit contends campaign laws stifle church's free speech
Gazette State Bureau

HELENA - The Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative religious legal group, filed a lawsuit in federal court against state Political Practices Commissioner Linda Vaughey late Monday on behalf of a Helena church, claiming that some of the election laws she enforces are unconstitutional.

The lawsuit came in response to the investigation that Vaughey will launch into the activities of the Canyon Ferry Road Baptist Church in East Helena. Gay rights advocates filed a complaint against the church with Vaughey two weeks ago, saying the church inappropriately held an event to support a proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage in Montana.

Petitions supporting the proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage - Constitutional Initiative 96 - were circulated at a church event May 23, where the Rev. B.G. Stumberg encouraged parishioners to sign them. The initiative will be placed on the November ballot if about 41,000 voters sign petitions.

While the gay rights advocates say the church should have filed with the commissioner before holding such an event, the Alliance Defense Fund of Scottsdale, Ariz., said the church's rights to free speech and religious expression are being trampled by "vague" and "ambiguous" election laws.


Marriage ban being used as a "campaign strategy", says gay group
Christopher Curtis, Network

The US Republican Party is hoping the fight over same-sex marriage in battleground states will help President Bush win the upcoming election.

In Oregon, a group calling itself the Defence of Marriage Coalition has been gathering signatures in order to place a ban on same-sex marriages on the state's November ballot.

State Republican Chairman Kevin Mannix offered the coalition the state party's mailing list of Republican voters who vote in every election, believing it could attract conservative voters who would likely vote for President Bush.

"It could be a significant factor, because we think it will increase voter registration and voter turnout among moderate -to-conservative Oregonians," he told the Associated Press in an article published Monday.


Missoula police called to polls over petition flap
Associated Press

MISSOULA (AP) - Police went to a Missoula polling place four times Tuesday to calm tensions between opponents and supporters of a proposed constitutional ban of gay marriage.

Advocates on both sides went to C.S. Porter Middle School trying to gain support from voters who were leaving the polls after casting primary ballots.

"We're trying to get people to sign a petition, and the gay and lesbian faction has been screaming at people who are trying to sign," said Tei Nash, who was seeking signatures to help put Constitutional Initiative 96 on the November ballot.

The initiative would add a clause to the Montana Constitution that defines marriage as being between one man and one woman.


Allentown went too far with gay rights ordinance, group tells county judge
Jurist studies lawsuit arguing city had no authority for 2002 law.
By Romy Varghese
Of The Morning Call

Arguments continued Tuesday in Lehigh County Court on the validity of Allentown's human relations ordinance that extends antidiscrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

After the short hearing, which was the second in the case, Judge Alan M. Black said he is taking the matter under advisement and will announce a decision by the end of the week.

Adopted by City Council on April 3, 2002, the city's gay rights ordinance is being challenged by four taxpayers, who filed suit in July. Their attorney, Randall L. Wenger of Lancaster, said the city went beyond the authority granted under the home rule charter law.

Also, local human relations commissions can't have more powers than those granted to the state commission, Wenger said.


French mayor faces more legal threats
Ben Townley, UK

The French mayor who conducted the country's first same-sex marriage over the weekend, was facing fresh legal threats today.

Noel Mamere, who married Stephane Chapin and Bertrand Charpentier on Saturday in the town of Begles, had already been warned by the Prime Minister that the marriage would be considered mull and void by the French legal system.

Now state prosecutor Bertrand de Loz has called for the couple to discuss the issue in court, saying the validity of their marriage must be questioned.

His comments follow the Justice Minister Dominique Perben calling for the marriage to be discarded, as well as both the President and Prime Minister of France arguing that it should not have taken place.


Transgender candidate vies for Michigan post
Lansing resident runs for 68th House district seat against incumbent
By Amy F. Bailey / Associated Press

LANSING — Charles Staelens Jr. legally changed his name to Melissa Sue Robinson in 1998, a little more than year before he had a sex-change operation.
Since then, Robinson’s ex-wife has moved in with Robinson’s identical twin brother. The trio continues to spend time together.

Robinson may sound more like a candidate for the “The Jerry Springer Show” than a candidate for the Michigan House. But the Lansing resident — the first transgender person to run for the Legislature — not only is used to her story getting publicity, she sees it as a plus.

When she appeared in the pages of The National Enquirer early last year, “that helped me get my name out,” she told The Associated Press in an interview.

Robinson’s name and face are familiar in Lansing. She has run unsuccessfully for Lansing mayor and the Lansing school board. Now she’s running in the Democratic primary for the 68th state House District that covers the city of Lansing against incumbent Mike Murphy, a former Lansing City Council member and local minister who has held the office for four years.


GLSEN prom draws variety of couples
Staff Writer

As she mingled with her friends in a ballroom in the Pittsburgh Hilton, Amanda wore three lip rings, a red mohawk and short, pink dress that revealed her numerous tattoos, including a gorgeously drawn, completely nude Medusa.

It was not typical prom attire, but this was not a typical prom.

Last week, Pittsburgh's chapter of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network held its first "Safe Prom for All," which attracted a colorful crowd.

The guests included punk rockers, drag queens, drag kings and the type of fashion-savvy gay men who have recently made a splash on network television.


Third gay pastor named for Seattle Methodist church
By Janet I. Tu
Seattle Times staff reporter

In what could become another test of the United Methodist Church's stance on gay clergy, Bishop Elias Galvan of the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference is appointing the Rev. Katie Ladd, a lesbian, pastor of Seattle's Woodland Park United Methodist Church.

She will become the third openly gay pastor associated with the church, succeeding as pastor there the Rev. Mark Williams and the Rev. Karen Dammann, both of whom made national headlines after they were accused of breaking church law prohibiting "self-avowed practicing homosexuals" from ministry.

Ladd's appointment could gauge where the denomination now stands on gay clergy, following the controversial March church-trial acquittal of Dammann and the gathering of worldwide Methodists last month that resulted in tighter rules against gay clergy.

"I'm not hoping to be a test case. I'm not hoping to be in the center of any furor," said Ladd, 35, who is now pastor at Crown Hill United Methodist Church


Polish city bans Pride event
Ben Townley, UK

Lesbian and gay people in the Polish city of Warsaw will be unable to hold their Pride march this week, after the capital's mayor banned any such events.

The community in the city were planning to march on Friday in a bid to raise awareness of discrimination and homophobia in Poland.

However, Mayor Lech Kaczynski moved to block the event after it emerged anti-gay groups were looking to attend and hold a counter demonstration.

The decision has been slammed by gay rights groups, who branded the decision "illegal". However, at present, it seems there are no plans to continue with the celebrations in spite of the block.


Araujo jury finishes Day 2 of deliberations
By Ivan Delventhal, STAFF WRITER

HAYWARD -- An Alameda County jury weighing evidence in the trial of three men charged with murdering a transgender teenager in Newark in 2002 concluded a first full day of deliberations Monday without reaching a verdict.

Jury deliberations in the closely watched case began Thursday afternoon, following closing arguments in the trial. Court was not in session Friday, and the jury of eight men and four women deliberated from about 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday.

Michael Magidson of Fremont and Newark residents Jose Merel and Jason Cazares, all 24, are charged with murder and a hate-crime enhancement in the beating and strangling of the 17-year-old -- who was born Eddie Araujo but had been living as a young woman named Gwen at the time of the slaying.

The prosecution alleges that the men attacked Araujo on Oct. 4, 2002, upon learning that the teenager, whom they knew as a 19-year-old named Lida, was biologically male. Magidson and Merel had been sexually active with the teen, according to testimony.


Anti-Gay Amendment Battle Heats Up In Montana
by Newscenter Staff

(Helena, Montana) Organizers on both sides of the same-sex marriage issue jostled for public support Tuesday as Montanans went to the polls in the state primary and a conservative Christian law group took the state to court.

At polling stations throughout the state volunteers for the Montana Family Foundation were out in force seeking signatures to force a vote in November on a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

But, everywhere the MFF, which is affiliated with Focus on the Family, went, they were met by gay rights activists, anxious to present the case that the amendment would enshrine hatred in the constitution.

"The Montana Constitution is meant to guarantee individual freedoms, not restrict them," said activist Rob Hill. 


Gay writer attacked in New Orleans's French Quarter

Paul Willis has a pleasant memory right before he blacked out. He said he recalls sitting with another writer friend in a Bourbon Street bar chatting. Willis agreed to help the man find his way back to his living accommodations, near the French Quarter.

Willis's next memory, hours later, is more unpleasant. "I found that I was at Charity Hospital, covered with blood," he told the New Orleans Times Picayune. Willis, 41, is well-known as the acting executive director of the Tennessee Williams Festival in New Orleans. He was released from the hospital Friday afternoon, the victim of what he and others said they believe was a gay bashing. Doctors told him the attack will probably leave him blind in his right eye.

Officer Johnette Williams, a spokeswoman for the New Orleans Police Department, said that the incident, which occurred about 4:30 a.m. in the 1200 block of Royal Street, is being investigated and has not yet been classified as a hate crime.

Prior to the attack, Willis and his partner, Greg Herren, 42, attended a book-signing party of a mutual friend on Dauphine Street. Afterward they went to the Bourbon Street bar, and Willis wanted to continue talking with the out-of-town writer. Willis and Herren planned to meet later at their Lower Garden District home.


Police seek clues in student’s death
No sign of ‘hate crime,’ investigators say.
By MIKE WELLS of the Tribune’s staff

Columbia police reached out last night to the city’s gay and lesbian community to try to learn more about murder victim Jesse Valencia and possibly his killer.

Detectives Jeff Westbrook and Barbara Cook showed Valencia’s photos to patrons last night at the SoCo Club, 128 W. Nifong Blvd., before a benefit show for Columbia Pride, an annual gay pride event.

"We lost a member of our community this weekend," a club performer told the audience before introducing the officers and explaining why they were there.

Valencia, a junior history major at the University of Missouri-Columbia, was last seen about 3:30 a.m. Saturday leaving an East Campus neighborhood party. His body was found about 2 p.m. outside 1517 Wilson Ave., about a block east of his basement apartment.

Asked whether Valencia might have been targeted for attack because of his sexual orientation, Capt. Mike Martin said yesterday, "There’s been nothing to indicate this was a hate crime."


FdL student given recognition for working on social change
the reporter staff

Erica Bowman, a Fond du Lac High School graduating senior, was honored May 22 at the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s eighth annual scholarship and recognition awards in Madison.

She was among five other Wisconsin high school seniors who have demonstrated a commitment to advancing equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or questioning people either in their school or community.

“While most activists must wait late into their careers to be recognized, Erica Bowman is an emerging activist whose voice and actions deserve attention right now,” said program director Brian Juchems.

After starting her school’s Gay Straight Alliance her sophomore year, Erica played a critical role in launching two other community-based LGBT organizations. She worked to educate school administration about state and federal laws that provide equal rights to the GSA and protect individual students from harassment.


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