poetics, time, body disruption and marginally queer solutions

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Pitt's Bitter Battle Over Benefits
A struggle for health insurance for same-sex partners sullies relations between professors and administrators

Shortly after Deborah M. Henson was hired as a legal-writing instructor at the University of Pittsburgh in 1994, she and another of the law school's new employees went to the human-resources office to sign up for benefits.

Ms. Henson and her male colleague looked to the benefits administrator for help when it came time to list family members on their health-insurance plans. "She told him, 'You write your wife down on this line,'" Ms. Henson recalls, "and then she said to me, 'You write your spouse's name here.'"

When Ms. Henson replied that she wanted to sign up her female partner -- not a husband -- the administrator looked chagrined. "Oh, no," she told Ms. Henson. "We don't cover that."

Ten years later, the university is still battling Ms. Henson over the issue. While the climate for gay and lesbian people has changed dramatically across the country, and nearly three-quarters of the nation's most-prominent research universities now offer domestic-partner benefits to gay employees, Pitt has maintained a hard line against adopting such benefits. In the past eight years, it has probably spent tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees to defend its policy against a complaint by Ms. Henson and six other employees. (The university won't disclose the amount of lawyers' fees it has paid.)


City settles suit over transsexual's death
The family of entertainer Nizah Morris gets $250,000. The exact terms were not disclosed.
By Joseph A. Slobodzian
Inquirer Staff Writer

The mother of murdered transsexual entertainer Nizah Morris has settled her civil-rights suit against Philadelphia for $250,000.

Notice of the settlement was filed Friday in federal court in Philadelphia, but lawyers for Morris' mother, Roslyn Wilkins, declined to disclose the terms of the financial settlement.

The City Solicitor's Office had no immediate comment on the settlement, which includes Wilkins' legal fees in bringing the lawsuit, but sources familiar with the case confirmed the amount.

A pedestrian found Morris, 47, on the sidewalk, unconscious and bleeding profusely from head wounds, about 3:25 a.m. Dec. 22, 2002, at 15th and Walnut Streets in Center City. She died Dec. 24.


National body of Canadian teachers endorses National Day against Homophobia

(CTF News Service - Ottawa), June 1 /CNW/ - According to the Canadian
Teachers' Federation (CTF), June 2 -- National Day against Homophobia -- is an
ideal occasion for reflection and for 'teachable moments' to acquaint young
people, teacher colleagues and parents about Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian,
Transgender and Two-Spirited (BGLTT) realities.

"Everybody has the right to a safe learning and working environment,
regardless of their sexual orientation," says CTF President Terry Price. "As
long as gay bashing, discrimination and exclusion based on sex-and-gender
differences persist in Canadian society, we cannot achieve an inclusive
society where the dignity, worth and integrity of all Canadians are
recognized, respected and honored," adds Ms. Price.

"This is why CTF is advocating for change in the educational system
through various ways in an effort to increase knowledge and nurture dialogue
about BGLTT issues.

"We hope these steps will result in a positive and healthy environment
for BGLTT people in education, whether they are students, parents, teachers or
administrators. We, as a whole, stand to benefit from building an even more
inclusive society," explains Ms. Price.


Gay group looks to raise profile
Alliance marks first year, aims to expand services in community
By TIARA M. ELLIS / The Dallas Morning News

When a gay couple experienced discrimination in their Frisco apartment complex, they had a place to seek support.

And when a Collin County Community College student wanted to see role models of gay families, he looked to the same place – the Collin County Gay and Lesbian Alliance.

The nonprofit group this week marks its first anniversary after a year of offering political, social and educational guidance, and being a voice for the gay community.

"This is for everyone in Collin County. Look at our membership and constituency. We serve gay, lesbian, straight and transgender" people, said alliance founder Dawnetta Miller. "We are social, educational and political. I feel like we are an organization for everyone."


Town redefines family at center
To welcome nontraditional families, Skaneateles offers "household" memberships.
By Sara Errington
Staff writer

The Skaneateles Town Board on Tuesday replaced its family membership at the Skaneateles Community Center with a "household membership" that accommodates gay, lesbian and other nontraditional families.

The board faced heavy criticism after it approved a definition of family May 6 that prevented a lesbian couple, Lisa and Mary Beth Alibrandi, from getting a family membership.
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The Alibrandis, of Niles, have been together more than 20 years, raised children together and were married by a minister.

At Councilor Ted Murdick's urging, the board voted 4-0, with Councilor Barbara Spain absent, to adopt a "household membership" that includes up to two people who share an address, and their dependents.


Rhythm & Booms fund can't give to Scouts
Lesley Rogers Barrett Wisconsin State Journal

The city of Madison is requiring organizers of the nonprofit Rhythm & Booms celebration to stop donating Fourth of July proceeds to the local Boy Scouts.

The City Council on Tuesday approved a requirement that Madison Fireworks Fund Inc. not donate any profits from the Warner Park event to any group that discriminates "based on gender, identity or sexual orientation or any other city of Madison protected classes."

The intent is to stop funds from going to the Four Lakes Council Boy Scouts of America, which has faced controversy for years over a national Scout policy banning openly gay members.

The Scouts' national membership policy bans "avowed homosexuals." The Four Lakes Council was unsuccessful in asking the national organization to reconsider its policy.


Adkins not seeking re-election to Kansas Senate
Associated Press

TOPEKA, Kan. - David Adkins, the only member of the Kansas Senate to publicly support gay marriage, is not seeking re-election.

Adkins' decision will end a 12-year career during which the Leawood Republican grew influential in budget and juvenile justice policy and ran unsuccessfully for attorney general.

However, this year, Adkins received more attention for opposing a proposed amendment to the Kansas Constitution to ban gay marriage and deny benefits associated with marriage to other relationships, such as same-sex civil unions.

Adkins' decision not to run again means at least nine of the Senate's 40 seats will be open in this year's elections. President Dave Kerr, R-Hutchinson, and Majority Leader Lana Oleen, R-Manhattan, also are not seeking re-election.


Gay wedding bells ring -- in Canada
Liberal neighbor welcomes couples dodging fight in U.S. - and their money
By Michael H. Hodges / The Detroit News
Ricardo Thomas / The Detroit News

Kim Conwell and her partner of eight years, Stacy Leigh, had long planned to marry in Massachusetts as soon as it became the first state to legalize gay nuptials last month.

Those plans have since hit a reef. Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney announced last week the state will not recognize licenses granted to nonresidents, and that couples like Conwell and Leigh can just stay put in Ferndale.

But if Massachusetts is slipping in the gay-marriage sweepstakes, Canada is gaining. Three provinces — Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia — permit same-sex marriage and welcome Americans with open arms.


Clash feared over anti-gay petition
Gazette State Bureau

HELENA - While volunteers for the Montana Family Foundation will gather signatures in support of a constitutional ban on gay marriage at the polls during the June 8 primary, gay rights advocates plan to stand nearby and tell voters the measure is dangerous.

The Montana Family Foundation, a conservative group aligned with the national Focus on the Family organization, needs to collect 41,020 signatures - or signatures from 10 percent of registered voters in 28 of the state's 56 counties - by June 18 to get its constitutional amendment placed on the November ballot.

Rob Hill, campaign manager of a coalition against the proposed ban on gay marriage, said advocates would be on hand at polling places across the state to remind primary election voters that the Montana Constitution is meant to guarantee individual freedoms, not restrict them.

"We do want to get across that this is an inappropriate attempt to put politics into the constitution," Hill said from the Helena office of Montanans for Families and Fairness. "We've said all along that this is an attempt to single out one group of people with the very document intended to protect individual freedoms."


Drag-queen contest a divisive issue

A teenage drag-queen contest, organized by a group of Southold teachers and 10th-graders during a recent holiday trip to Europe, has split this East End community over the question of whether the event was offensive or simply high-spirited fun.

Dubbed the Miss American- Euro Drag Idol Contest, the show featured a group of boys nicknamed the Dirty Dozen who donned makeup, bras and women's clothing with the help of female classmates who were also on tour. While school officials have described the mock pageant as a way of keeping students occupied and out of trouble during an evening in their Rome hotel, some Southold residents voice outrage over certain aspects of the contest -- for example, one teen's posing as a bullwhip-cracking dominatrix.

These critics see such activities as potentially embarrassing for teens still struggling to come to terms with their sexuality. They question who acted more sophomoric -- the sophomores themselves, or teachers who judged the competition and cracked jokes that were sexually suggestive.

"Can you believe it?" said Maryann Gensler, a parent active in volunteer work, including religious instruction at a local church. "It's beneath the dignity of these young people. This is not how we want to encourage them to behave."

Pensions and religion rear their heads in Scotland's Civil Partnerships
Ben Townley, UK

Issues surrounding the Civil Partnership bill have arisen again, this time in Scotland.

Some members of the Scottish parliament are worried that some of the rights and responsibilities offered through the legislation, which if passed in Westminster is expected to be adopted north of the border through a Sewell motion, need to be changed before the bill will become effective enough to ensure equality.

The parliament's justice committee has released a report in which it calls for more attention to be given to pension issues and the banning of religious premises - issues in the bill that have already caused controversy across the rest of the UK.

At present, the pensions will not be retroactive, although some Lords in Westminster have tabled an amendment calling for them to be backdated to the same time heterosexual pensions currently are.


Methodists expected to act today on budget, gay clergy, pastoral assignments
By LEE HENDREN, T&D Staff Writer

The budget. Gay clergy. Pastoral reassignments. Since Sunday, delegates to the South Carolina Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church have been receiving reports and recommendations, but postponing action, on these issues and more.

This, the fourth and final day of the session, is the day when delegates will be called to act upon those issues.

For only the third time in 33 years, the 1,100 United Methodist delegates from throughout the state are holding their annual session in Orangeburg.

Most events are being held at Claflin University, a private, four-year liberal arts institution affiliated with the United Methodist Church. The primary venue is Tullis Arena of the Jonas T. Kennedy Center.


Greens join row over RE classes
Ben Townley, UK

The Green party has joined the protests over a consultation document that omits sexuality from sensitivity guidance for religious education teachers.

The document, produced by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, was released last month and sparked protests after it urged teachers to show sensitivity to issues surrounding gender, race, religious diversity and disability, but failed to mention those issues surrounding sexuality.

Now the Green party has joined the growing number of voices calling for the document to be altered, so that RE teachers are made aware that they should also show sensitivity to students who may be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

Nigel Tart the party's spokesman on LGBT issues, said today that by missing the issue of sexuality, the "authority" could be contributing to the low self esteem and depression that many young LGBT people feel.


Gay youth flees Derry
By Brendan McDaid

A GAY Londonderry teenager was today planning to flee his home over fears that his attackers will strike again.

The 17-year-old, who asked not to be named, is now prepared to live overseas, despite efforts from family and local gay rights groups to persuade him otherwise.

Gay rights activists said the young man, who was attacked by a gang of six men last month, was today still traumatised.

He sustained a broken nose and other injuries in the attack, which occurred in the John Street area.


IRS Asked To Probe Catholic Tax Status Over Anti-Gay Voter Threat 
by Paul Johnson Newscenter

(Washington) A national civil rights organization has called on the Internal Revenue Service to revoke the tax-exempt status of a Roman Catholic diocese whose bishop threatened to withhold the sacrament from voters who support candidates in favor same-sex unions and abortion.

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State says that Colorado Springs Bishop Michael Sheridan went too far in a pastoral letter sent last month to 125,000 Catholics in 10 counties. 

Sheridan said he singled out abortion, stem-cell research, euthanasia and gay marriage for criticism because they are "intrinsically evil."

Sheridan's pronouncement was the strongest yet from a U.S. bishop in the debate over how faith should influence Catholics in this election year. The discussion of withholding Holy Communion had previously been limited to politicians themselves.


Middle-of-the-road masses will decide gay-marriage vote

Knight Ridder Newspapers

(KRT) - The witch hunt for the lesbians began my senior year.

Rumors had been building for months.

Some of my sorority sisters, all university softball players, were too "butch." They hung around together too much. They didn't wear makeup and dresses or chase boys like the rest of us.

Delta Zeta would be known as the gay sorority, some insisted. A handful of girls demanded something must be done.

I did nothing.


de Brún seeks 'full equality'
by Ian Parsley

STATEMENT FROM Bairbre de Brún MLA (SF, Belfast West)
‘The European Union is still a very unequal place, where women are grossly underrepresented in decision-making, where people with disabilities are regularly denied full access to education, services and jobs, and where some member state governments still believe it is acceptable to discriminate against people based on their national origin, religion, sexual orientation, family status or age.

'Sinn Féin believes that the achievement of full equality of all people within the EU regardless of gender, ethnic origin (including nomadic status), national origin, sexual orientation, disability, religious or political belief, family status, socio-economic status or age, must become a higher priority objective of EU policy.

‘The EU must lead by example on protection from discrimination and the promotion of equality.

‘Sinn Féin MEPs will make campaigning for equality a priority here at home and in Strasbourg and Brussels. We will work for: the introduction of a mechanism for equality-proofing all EU law and policy; levelling-up of equality rights protections throughout the EU; the introduction of more comprehensive EU anti-discrimination legislation with similar scope to the Racial Equality Directive, including new comprehensive Gender, Disability and Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual Equality Directives.


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