poetics, time, body disruption and marginally queer solutions

Monday, August 02, 2004

Transsexual’s discrimination claim allowed; labor neutrality law pre-empted; expression of interest amounts to application.
By Michael S. Cohen; Bradley W. Kampas and Scott Oborne
Transsexual Can Proceed With Sex Discrimination Claim
Smith v. Salem, Ohio, 6th Cir., No. 03-3399, June 1, 2004.

An employee is allowed to bring a Title VII claim for sex discrimination based on his gender nonconforming conduct and his identification as a transsexual, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has held.

Jimmie Smith—a transitioning preoperative transsexual—was a lieutenant in the City of Salem (Ohio) Fire Department and had held his job for seven years without incident. Anatomically a male, Smith was diagnosed with gender identity disorder, which the American Psychiatric Association recognizes as a disjunction between an individual’s sex organs and sexual identity.

Employers should bear in mind not only that discrimination claims based on gender identity and/or sexual orientation are emerging under federal law but also that such discrimination is prohibited by some state laws. To guard against liability, the prudent employer will ensure that its equal employment opportunity and antiharassment policies and its antiharassment training and diversity initiatives include both gender identity and sexual orientation as protected groups. However, employers should also be prepared to deal with issues that arise involving other employees’ religious beliefs involving sexual orientation. (For a detailed discussion of those issues, see “Religion vs. Sexual Orientation”.) After his diagnosis and as part of his therapy, Smith began to display a more feminine appearance, including while at work. Fellow fire department employees began to ridicule Smith, telling him his appearance and mannerisms were not “masculine enough.”

Smith notified his immediate supervisor of his diagnosis and therapy. Even though Smith had asked him not to, the supervisor told the fire chief. Thereafter, fire department and city officials had a meeting at which they concocted a scheme to try to get Smith to quit his job. Afterward, one of the officials present at the meeting telephoned Smith and tipped him off about the plan, calling it a “witch-hunt.”

Inmate wants state to pay for sex change
The Associated Press

MADISON — A prison inmate wants the state to pay for a sex change operation, saying the female hormones given to him have made him look and act like a woman.

Donna Dawn Konitzer, formerly known as Scott, said prison doctors at the Wisconsin Resource Center near Oshkosh have prescribed female hormones since 1999 when Konitzer was diagnosed with gender identity disorder.

Last year, Konitzer filed a lawsuit against state officials, including Corrections Secretary Matt Frank, in federal court in Milwaukee. The court appointed Jennifer Frakes and Brian Cothroll, attorneys from the law firm of Foley & Lardner, to represent him.

State Department of Corrections’ policy says it determines what type of clothing and property to give men and women based on their genitals.


'People of the moonlight' in the dawn of revolution
By Leslie Feinberg

The Bolshevik Party did not merely scrap anti-homosexual tsarist laws. Sexologist Wilhelm Reich, in "The Sexual Revolution," described the intent of the Bolsheviks' political position. They felt it was necessary to tear down the walls that divided homosexuals--also known in Russia as "people of the moonlight"--from the rest of society.

The revolutionaries tried to examine sexuality and gender as they did all social and economic relations--through a scientific lens. Reich explained that the Bolsheviks believed same-sex love harmed no one and that it was wrong to punish anyone because of their sexuality.

And as Lenin and his party won over segments of the middle classes to the goals of the socialist revolution, the young workers' state drew strong support from prominent homosexuals. Russian literary historian Simon Karlinsky, no friend to socialist revolution, admits that, "With remarkable unanimity, all male gay and bisexual writers welcomed the October takeover." That included Mikhail Kuzmin, author of "Wings," and Nikolai Kliusev, considered the unofficial poet laureate of the Russian peasantry.

Historian Dan Healey puts this accomplishment in a larger historical context. "Soviet Russia was by far the most significant power since the French Revolution to decriminalize male same-sex relations, while Britain and Weimar Germany continued to prosecute homosexuals. Soviet health authorities courted the left-leaning sex reform movement headed by Berlin sexologist and homosexual rights campaigner Magnus Hirschfeld.


First studies in Australia into whether discrimination against homosexual high school students is affecting their education
Posted By: News-Medical in Medical Study News

Now the University of Sydney is conducting one of the first studies in Australia into whether discrimination against homosexual high school students is affecting their education.

"I can't actually say that homophobia makes kids get bad grades, even though I think that is possibly true", said Jacqueline Mikulsky, a PhD student in the Faculty of Education and Social Work. "What I can say is homophobia at the school level makes kids feel crappy about school and makes kids feel crappy about themselves while they are at school."

Ms Mikulsky says that research in the USA and the UK indicates that a disproportionate number of same-sex attracted students leave school before completing their final year.

But she said there has been very little work done to examine a potential link between homophobia at the school level and its effects on gay, lesbian and bisexual students' sense of academic achievement.


Cops fear race hate upsurge
By Stephen Breen

FASCIST thugs are set to step up their campaign of race-hate in south Belfast, police warned last night.

Cops have warned ethnic minorities to remain "vigilant" following a number of attacks in the area.

The latest incident happened last week when a Bangladeshi family escaped injury when a petrol-bomb was hurled at their home in Fane Street, off the Lisburn Road.

The couple and their five-year-old daughter managed to flee after the device exploded.


Hate crime victim wants legal action
By ANDREA SMITH, Democrat staff writer

"I am a gay man, target of a hate crime," Robert Russell said in a press conference Friday afternoon at the law office of Raphael Moore in Davis.

Four youths reportedly vandalized Russell's vehicle because he was gay last Oct. 26. They reportedly shouted racist and bigoted slurs while throwing more than 120 eggs at his car.

"The vandals were attracted to my home because of the rainbow gay pride flag on the door." Russell said. Damage totaled more than $4,000 because liquid from the eggs seeped into the engine.

"I heard a conversation; my neighbor heard in detail what the conversation was. That's how we understood the motive."

Russell pointed one of the vandals out to police in a line up


Candlelight vigil: Speakers decry slaying of gay teen
Death of Scotty Joe Weaver condemned as 'sick hate crime'
Staff Reporter

More than a hundred people trickled into Mobile's Washington Square on Sunday night to remember a man most had never even met.

The candlelight vigil -- a mix of religion, gay and lesbian solidarity and a political call-to-arms -- served as a release valve for folks whose frustration and anger have boiled over the past week as news accounts detailed the July 18 slaying of Scotty Joe Weaver.

According to law enforcement investigators, the 18-year-old Pine Grove man was strangled, beaten and stabbed before his body was carried to a wooded area off a dirt road and then set on fire.

Investigators arrested three suspects, including the man and woman with whom he shared a modest mobile home southeast of Bay Minette. Authorities have alleged two motives: robbery -- between $65 and $80 was taken from Weav er -- and the suspect's sexual orientation.


Gay group urges Wolf to return foe's donation

An Arlington-based homosexual-rights group is criticizing a donation to U.S. Rep. Frank R. Wolf's campaign from a California millionaire who supports "biblical law."

    The Virginia Partisans Gay and Lesbian Democratic Club is asking Mr. Wolf to return $1,000 from Fieldstead and Co., a nonprofit charitable group run by Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson Jr.

    Club President Josh Israel said Mr. Wolf is out of step with his Northern Virginia constituents in taking donations from Mr. Ahmanson, noting his past donations to the Chalcedon Institute, a nonprofit Christian educational research group.

    "This is a person whose political views are way outside of the mainstream," Mr. Israel said. "He has donated substantial amounts of money to anti-gay and lesbian ballot initiatives and he is against nondiscrimination policies."


Gays must confront hostile state ballot issues
By Deb Price / The Detroit News

Dave Fleischer, who’s leading the effort to beat back an unprecedented flood of anti-gay ballot initiatives, sums up the coming Election Day 2004 as a tale of two headlines.
The first one ain’t pretty: “Voters Say No to Gays.”

The second? “Voters Say No to Discrimination.”

With fewer than 100 days before voters write the headline, gay groups in the bull’s-eye states of the foes of gay marriage have way too little money and far too few helpers.
The unfortunate reality is that after a string of breathtaking breakthroughs, we’re headed for some stinging defeats. Setbacks are inevitable in any civil rights movement, but it’s urgent that those of us who’re gay work with our allies to keep losses to a minimum. We must embrace state battles over marriage as opportunities to educate our friends and neighbors — and to hasten the day that gay Americans enjoy full equality nationwide.

As happened with the disastrous gays-in-the-military defeat in 1993, a hugely important equality issue will be going up for vote — then by Congress, now to the general public — before fair-minded Americans have had time to thoughtfully weigh it.

“This is the closest our country has ever come to having a national referendum,” says Fleischer of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. “The Founding Fathers would have strongly disapproved, particularly on a civil rights issue. They created legislatures and courts to make sure that minority rights and needs weren’t trampled by the majority.”


Six Bend lay ministers resign to protest required oath
The Associated Press

PORTLAND — As a lay liturgical minister and a cantor, Wilma Hens was a leader for years at her Roman Catholic parish in Bend.

Then, Bishop Robert F. Vasa issued a two-page “affirmation of faith.” It tells lay ministers and cantors that, if they want to continue in their roles at the altar, they must accept the church’s teachings opposing abortion, contraception, gay relationships and other issues.

Hens could not agree, so she quit — publicly. She stood at a microphone at St. Francis of Assisi Church last month and told the congregation she was stepping down because she could not accept the bishop’s mandate.

“I could no longer pretend that I could assent to some of those articles of faith any more than others can,” she said Thursday in a telephone interview.


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