poetics, time, body disruption and marginally queer solutions

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Europride draws 360,000 to Germany

One of the biggest homosexual and lesbian gatherings in the world, Europride, held annually in European cities has so far drawn 360,000 people from across Europe this year, organisers said.

A parade, traditionally considered the highlight of the 10-day festival on Saturday, saw participants don outlandish costumes and included trucks converted into mobile discos decorated with giant condoms.

The parade for this 11th Europride, in the northern German city of Hamburg, took the theme of 'Love Breaks Barriers'.

One of the sponsors of the event was a local mayor who is openly gay. Europride last year was held in the northern English city of Manchester and next year will take place in Oslo, Norway.


Gay marriage ban's language impact debated
John Hill

BATON ROUGE - The proposed Louisiana "Defense of Marriage" constitutional amendment bans not only same-sex marriages, but also prohibits conferring "the legal incidents" of marriage on same-sex unions.

The debate is whether the prohibition of "the legal incidents" of marriage might invalidate such existing practices as New Orleans' domestic partnership registry, domestic partnership health benefits offered by corporations or the contractual agreements gay and lesbian couples must sign for such things as medical power of attorney or protection of property.

The proposition does not enumerate what the "legal incidents" of marriage are, leaving a gap for courts to fill.

The gay marriage ban proposition, contained in House Bill 61, has been approved by the Louisiana House of Representatives and the Senate, but changes made in the Senate require the bill to go back to the House for concurrence. The remaining stumbling block: the Senate set the election for Sept. 18; House backers want it on the presidential election ballot on Nov. 5.


Gay, lesbian groups accuse government of discrimination
By Caroline Hong

Two months of Gay and Lesbian Awakening Day (GLAD) events drew to a close yesterday with gay and lesbian college groups presenting the results of GLAD 2004 while criticizing government repression of sexual identity expression.

The nine-year-old event was organized by 13 college groups this month and last, and included events such as a film festival and a literary and artistic expression competition. The event has traditionally focused on spreading awareness and encouraging dialogue about gay issues.

In light of government actions against the gay community, however, such as the confiscation of magazines from gay bookstore Gin Gin's last year and the recent lawsuit against controversial feminist Josephine Ho (¶Û¨KÎB) for placing a bestiality link on her website, this year's GLAD organizers decided to speak out.

The groups yesterday advocated placing nude male photos in male restrooms as a symbolic attack on Article 235 of the Criminal Code (§§µÿ•¡∞ͶD™k), which states that anyone found distributing indecent audio, visual or written materials faces prosecution.


Virginia's New Jim Crow
By Jonathan Rauch

On July 1 Virginia takes a big step backward, into the shadow of Jim Crow.

I do not write those words lightly or rhetorically. Although I'm an advocate of same-sex marriage, I have taken care not to throw around motive-impugning words such as bigotry, hate or homophobia. I have worked hard to avoid facile comparisons between the struggle for gay marriage and the struggle for civil rights for African Americans; the similarities are real, but so are the differences.

Above all, I have been careful to distinguish between animus against gay people and opposition to same-sex marriage. No doubt the two often conjoin. But millions of Americans bear no ill will toward their gay and lesbian fellow citizens, yet still draw back from changing the boundaries of society's most fundamental institution. The ban on gay marriage in 49 states (Massachusetts, of course, being the newly minted exception) may well be unfair and unwise, as I believe it to be. Yet people of good conscience can maintain that although all individuals are equal, all couples are not.

If I seem to be splitting hairs, that is because Virginia -- where my partner and I make our home -- is not splitting hairs. It has instead taken a baseball bat to civic equality, thanks to the so-called Marriage Affirmation Act.


100,000 Estimated At Boston Gay Pride Parade

BOSTON -- A drag queen in a wedding dress at the Boston Pride parade Saturday said court approval of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts means "we're not invisible."

Riding on a rainbow wedding float in the gay and lesbian parade, he added, "We're first-class citizens, like everyone else."

A crowd estimated by police at up to 100,000 people grabbed necklaces and trinkets thrown from floats as couples in tuxedos and gowns danced to the "Chapel of Love." The 34th annual march came almost a month after gay marriage became legal in Massachusetts.

Last year, the state's highest court ruled that denying marriage rights to homosexuals violated their civil rights.


Walking the talk
New Open Circle congregation built around diversity, social activism
By Lisa Marshall, Camera Staff Writer

Just about everything about Boulder's new Open Circle Unitarian Universalist congregation is unconventional:

Sunday services are at 4:30 p.m., so people can attend another service, or go for a hike, earlier in the day.

There is no minister, so members take turns leading the sermon.

They don't call themselves a "church," a Christian-based word they fear would alienate some members.

Malcolm X at center of Nebraska Hall of fame controversy
Associated Press Writer

LINCOLN, Neb. -- It's not exactly Cooperstown. In fact, many members of Nebraska's Hall of Fame -- like auctioneer Arthur Weimar Thompson and philosopher Hartley Burr Alexander -- aren't even household names in Nebraska.

But a major-league fight has erupted at the hall over efforts to induct Malcolm X and a U.S. senator who made a name for himself removing homosexuals from the federal government in the 1940s and early '50s.


Tribal Judge Freezes Action In Case Of Lesbian Couple

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (AP) _ A tribal court judge has frozen any action in the case of two women who obtained a marriage certificate from the Cherokee Nation.

Tribal District Judge John Cripps issued a temporary injunction after reviewing a complaint alleging the certificate is invalid because the lesbian couple who received it don't qualify for marriage under Cherokee Nation law.

Todd Hembree, a Cherokee citizen and tribal council attorney, filed the complaint in tribal court on Friday.

A hearing is set for June 18.


Pawlenty might call special session to address gay marriage ban

(St. Paul-AP) -- Governor Pawlenty is floating the idea of a special session to address a more permanent gay marriage ban for Minnesota.

After speaking at the state G-O-P convention, Pawlenty told reporters the gay marriage ban is an issue that's important to the country and the state.

Just over a week ago, Pawlenty had said he would support crafting a special session in a way that would place the gay marriage issue far down on the agenda.

But Senate Republicans had balked at the idea of pushing the issue down on the agenda.


African Anglicans get angry

Nairobi - African Anglican churches on Friday condemned this month's acceptance by their Canadian counterpart of same-sex relationships.

"This latest move of the Church of Canada can neither be justified nor supported," the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA) said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

The churches, whose leaders have been meeting in Kenya, expressed "total and absolute disgust and deepest regret at the unfortunate decision" of Canada's Anglican Church, which last week affirmed the "integrity and sanctity" of same-sex relationships.

The church deferred a decision on whether such relationships could be blessed until 2007. The question of same-sex marriage is not even on the agenda.

Malcolm X at center of Nebraska Hall of fame controversy
Associated Press Writer

LINCOLN, Neb. -- It's not exactly Cooperstown. In fact, many members of Nebraska's Hall of Fame -- like auctioneer Arthur Weimar Thompson and philosopher Hartley Burr Alexander -- aren't even household names in Nebraska.

But a major-league fight has erupted at the hall over efforts to induct Malcolm X and a U.S. senator who made a name for himself removing homosexuals from the federal government in the 1940s and early '50s.


Tribal Judge Freezes Action In Case Of Lesbian Couple

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (AP) _ A tribal court judge has frozen any action in the case of two women who obtained a marriage certificate from the Cherokee Nation.

Tribal District Judge John Cripps issued a temporary injunction after reviewing a complaint alleging the certificate is invalid because the lesbian couple who received it don't qualify for marriage under Cherokee Nation law.

Todd Hembree, a Cherokee citizen and tribal council attorney, filed the complaint in tribal court on Friday.

A hearing is set for June 18.


Pawlenty might call special session to address gay marriage ban

(St. Paul-AP) -- Governor Pawlenty is floating the idea of a special session to address a more permanent gay marriage ban for Minnesota.

After speaking at the state G-O-P convention, Pawlenty told reporters the gay marriage ban is an issue that's important to the country and the state.

Just over a week ago, Pawlenty had said he would support crafting a special session in a way that would place the gay marriage issue far down on the agenda.

But Senate Republicans had balked at the idea of pushing the issue down on the agenda.


African Anglicans get angry

Nairobi - African Anglican churches on Friday condemned this month's acceptance by their Canadian counterpart of same-sex relationships.

"This latest move of the Church of Canada can neither be justified nor supported," the Council of Anglican Provinces in Africa (CAPA) said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

The churches, whose leaders have been meeting in Kenya, expressed "total and absolute disgust and deepest regret at the unfortunate decision" of Canada's Anglican Church, which last week affirmed the "integrity and sanctity" of same-sex relationships.

The church deferred a decision on whether such relationships could be blessed until 2007. The question of same-sex marriage is not even on the agenda.

Rulings favorable to gay marriage, rights lawyer says
Tim Martin
Plain Dealer Reporter

History shines an optimistic light on the legalization of same-sex marriage, as the Supreme Court previously has ruled in favor of revising the definition of marriage, said Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry.

Wolfson, co-counsel in the landmark 1996 Hawaii same-sex marriage case, told more than 100 people at the City Club of Cleveland Friday that the Supreme Court has set a precedent by accepting interracial marriages, acknowledging wives as legal equals to their husbands and granting couples the freedom to use contraceptives. And those decisions came when public polls did not show support.

When the Supreme Court struck down laws against interracial marriages in 1967, opinion polls found that 70 percent of the public disagreed, Wolfson said.

"This is not ancient history. This is the history of our country in our lifetime and is the history that has played out on the civil rights and human rights battleground of marriage," he said. "Our country stands for the proposition that all people have the right to be both different and equal. No one should have to give up her or his difference in order to be treated equally."


Diocese faces a crucial decision
Albany -- Episcopalian vote on whether to join conservative Anglican network closely watched amid gay debate
By JAMES COLLINS, Staff writer

Members of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany will vote at their annual convention today whether to affiliate with a new network of conservative churches that vehemently opposes the ordination of gay priests.
-Clergy and lay leaders from 19 counties in New York will meet in Speculator, Hamilton County, to address a theological split over homosexuality and other issues that have divided congregations within the 20,000-member diocese for more than two years.

The vote will hinge on a platform offered by the Anglican Communion Network, a conservative group formed in January by the leaders of 12 U.S. dioceses, including Albany Bishop Daniel Herzog. A vote to join the network would likely deepen the rift between liberal Episcopalians who support the ordination of gay priests and orthodox believers who reject the practice.

Organizers on both sides agreed that clergy will likely vote in favor of joining the network. Opponents of the move, however, held out hope that the laity would reject the measure.

Gay marriage debate centers on Lansing today
Associated Press

LANSING -- Gay and lesbian couples plan to exchange symbolic marriage vows Saturday outside the state Capitol, an annual event that takes on heightened significance this year.

The 10th annual Michigan Pride ceremony in Lansing comes as a petition drive to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman in the Michigan constitution appears to be gaining momentum. An organizer for the citizen’s drive on Friday said supporters are on target to file petitions with state election officials in early July.

If those petitions are approved and have enough valid signatures, Michigan voters could decide the issue in the Nov. 2 election.

“We’ll be able to hit the number we need,” said Marlene Elwell, president of Citizens for the Protection of Marriage. “We’ve got organizers in all 83 Michigan counties, and the organizational structure is working.”


Symbolic window broken at BR church
Advocate staff writer

The Police Department reported Friday it opened an investigation into an incident late Wednesday or early Thursday in which someone threw or shot a marble-size ball through the 12-foot circular window of the Unitarian Church of Baton Rouge, 8470 Goodwood Blvd.

The projectile left a jagged, 8-foot gash in the two-pane glass window facing Goodwood Boulevard. Half of the window was cracked and hanging precariously above the church altar.

"As far as we're concerned, no one was hurt or injured, but the symbol affects us," the Rev. Steve Crump said. "We are hurt spiritually from the point of view of this being an attack."

Crump is on a six-month sabbatical, and the church is currently ministered to by the Rev. Carol Hilton and her husband, the Rev. Dwight Smith, who came from Southern California to fill in.

On Sunday, Smith and Hilton oversaw the church's annual gay pride service.


Real-life 'Fairy Tale' for gays tonight
10th annual prom for Bay Area teens to take place in Hayward
By Michelle Meyers, STAFF WRITER

HAYWARD -- Hayward High School sophomore Jose Martinez remembers how some of his fellow soccer players reacted when they passed the sign for the Gay Prom on a bus ride to a game last year.

Martinez, who is gay, said teammates ridiculed the idea of having a prom, and they pitched the idea of pretending to be gay and going to the prom to harass participants.

The sting of that memory helped fuel Martinez's interest in not just attending the prom this year, but helping to plan the event where people can "be with whoever they want, and be whoever they are," he said.

The 10th annual Gay Prom -- which draws almost 500 Bay Area youth under the age of 25 -- will be from 7 p.m. to midnight tonight at Centennial Hall, 22292 Foothill Blvd. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door.


Gay, Lesbian Executives Meet Here to Be Heard
By Amy Joyce
Washington Post Staff Writer

About 200 gay and lesbian business leaders and owners gathered in Washington yesterday in an attempt to strengthen their voice -- and market share -- in the business world.

The National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce is holding its first conference here to try to broaden the influence of what officials called the country's estimated 800,000 gay-owned businesses among larger corporations, vendors and especially, lawmakers.

"We realized that we needed to look outside of the traditional box of social advocacy for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) equality," Justin G. Nelson, co-founder of the chamber, said of forming the group 19 months ago. He and Chance Mitchell studied how the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce "gave an economic face" to Hispanic issues, and decided to follow the same route.

The group, which accepts non-gay-owned companies as members, canceled its Thursday lobbying in Congress because of ceremonies commemorating former president Ronald Reagan. But attendees yesterday attended sessions to discuss such issues as how to raise money, how to break into the business world, and which lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues might affect the 2004 election.


Activists say transgendered people could be the 'new gays,' poised to win human-rights battles and mainstream acceptance in Canada, writes JANE ARMSTRONG. But as they fight for recognition, they're also grappling with a fundamental question: Can a person's gender really change with the help of a surgeon's scalpel?

When a quiet high-school boy in Nanaimo, B.C., began dressing like a girl, residents in the staid Vancouver Island city were abuzz. The gangly, freckled teen grew his hair long, donned skirts and sweater sets and changed his name.

"God, I wore tacky clothes," she says today, grimacing as she remembers her early days as a girl. "I had this ugly green blouse someone gave me."

Her fashion sense has evolved since then. With her silky brown hair, slender limbs and cropped T-shirt, Candace, now 20, looks every bit a fashionable young woman, right down to her exposed navel and hip-hugger jeans.

From her earliest memory -- long before the day three years ago when she first came out -- she thought of herself as female. "I felt like my penis should be cut off," she says. "I hoped when I grew up, it would disappear."


Leaving a legacy of opportunity for gay students

After the suicide of former South Florida TV executive Carlos Enrique Cisneros in April, his family and friends sought the most meaningful way to memorialize him: They created an American University scholarship for gay students who need help or have been cast aside by their families.

'I had the idea and got a lot of Carlos' friends together to support the scholarship, including his family,'' said Coral Gables businessman Robert Wennett, a longtime friend. ``It's something that will go on a long time, at his alma mater, and will help a special class of people that Carlos would want to help.

''A lot of gay students,'' he said, ``their parents reject them and they can't get scholarships because their parents have too much money.''

Wennett, 43, called education ''the most important thing'' in Cisneros' life.

Gay Uzbek Journalist Waiting for Release

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan (AP) - A gay journalist whose conviction for sodomy and having sex with minors has been internationally condemned as politically motivated may have to wait up to a month before his early release, a prison official said Saturday.

Demonstrators and human rights activists had gathered outside a Tashkent minimum-security prison where Ruslan Sharipov is being held, expecting him to be freed. Their protest was broken up by a plainclothes security officer, who pulled banners from their hands and broke them over his knee, shouting homosexual epithets as other police looked on.

Sharipov was convicted in August 2003 of sodomy, sex with minors and involving minors in anti-social behavior and sentenced to 5 1/2 years. An appeals court overturned the last charge in September and reduced the jail term to four years.

The Uzbek Foreign Ministry said in March that Sharipov could be freed June 11, or Friday, under a presidential amnesty that would further reduce his sentence, but the decision was apparently put off a day.


How Ronald Reagan changed my life
Greg Butterfield    
Worker's World

President Ronald Reagan figures mightily in my own political development. I was a junior-high and high school student during his regime.

My first memory of genuine political consciousness is sitting in front of the television in the early 1980s, listening to Reagan attack welfare mothers. My own family was on welfare, like millions of others, not because of any personal failings, but because of the cruel workings of the capitalist economy Rea gan championed. There were no jobs.

As a child in a rural, virtually all-white area of Northern Wisconsin, I couldn't yet understand the racist implications of Reagan's welfare bashing for millions of oppressed families in the ghettos from Los Angeles to New York. But I knew an attack on poor people when I heard it. That night he, and capitalism, made an enemy for life.

I remember the humiliation my parents felt at the time, forced to grovel every few months to keep the meager government assistance coming so my brothers and I could eat. I remember what happened a few years later, when Wisconsin Gov. Tom my Thompson (now a Bush cabinet member) followed Reagan's lead and eliminated assistance for thousands of poor families. I remember how that winter we had to eat raccoon carcasses meant for dog food because there was nothing else.

Friday, June 11, 2004

Canada's Government Argues in Court against Retaining Normal Definition of Marriage

OTTAWA, June 11, 2004 ( - The Canadian Liberal Government has filed a new brief to the Supreme Court this week saying that allowing homosexual marriage is a must. The brief argues that providing "civil unions", which would still establish almost all marriage rights for homosexuals and, many critics warn, would diminish genuine marriage, would be unacceptable and would be challenged in court.

The brief also says, "Religious faiths have always enjoyed the freedom to refuse to celebrate marriages that are contrary to the tenets of their beliefs."

Same-sex marriage: A workplace issue
H.J. Cummins,  Star Tribune
June 12, 2004 MASS0612

Never mind what it means for religion or politics. Same-sex marriage is a huge employee-benefit issue.

With hundreds of gay and lesbian couples saying "I do" in Boston -- and briefly in San Francisco, Portland and New Paltz, N.Y. -- employers are trying to figure out what these new marriages have set in motion.

For Minnesota companies with offices in Massachusetts, the issue is upon them. For some others, it's probably only a matter of time before someone comes back from Massachusetts or Ontario -- which both allow same-sex marriage -- and asks that the companion be recognized as spouse in a benefits plan.

For now, employers looking for guidance encounter a crazy quilt of laws, tax regulations and company policies, some of which can seem contradictory.


Nonprofit group to host gay prom
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

MIAMI - (KRT) - Steven Alicea and his friends have waited all year for Saturday night's prom where they'll ogle each other's outfits, watch the crowning of king and queen and dance to DJ-spun music.

But at this prom, girls will walk through the door hand-in-hand and there will be boys slow dancing cheek-to-cheek. The prom queen could end up being a tiara-wearing guy.

It's gay prom time.

Prideline Youth Services, a Miami-based nonprofit that offers social and educational programs to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students, will host the 9th annual event at Temple Israel in Miami. The prom's theme is "Hollywood Nights."


Activists Stage Anti-Reagan Rally In San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO -- As Ronald Reagan's body was carried back to California for burial, Central American activists staged a protest Friday to remind the world that Reagan's foreign policies were linked to thousands of deaths in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

About 100 people, hoisting plywood crosses painted with the names of people thought to have lost their lives to military-backed death squads during the early 1980s, marched eight blocks through the city's heavily Hispanic Mission District in an angry answer to the accolades that accompanied the end of the 40th president's life.

"This man is a criminal. This man is a murderer and doesn't deserve any respect," said Zenaida Velasquez Rodriguez, a Honduran human rights activist whose brother, a father of three, was allegedly kidnapped by national security forces in 1981 and hasn't been seen since. "I don't forgive Reagan, and I hope he is going to hell."

Participants specifically faulted Reagan for supporting, arming and funding anti-communist dictators, military leaders or insurgents who used torture, kidnappings and murder to silence critics, including academics, students and union members.


Bethesda church decries theft of banner, flag supporting gay rights
by Ellyn Pak
Staff Writer

Leaders and parishioners at a Bethesda church say their freedom of speech and religion were violated last week when they discovered that a banner and flag, which displayed support for gay rights, were missing from their property.

Members of the River Road Unitarian Church, which is located at the corner of River Road and Whittier Boulevard, erected a banner last week that read, “Support gay rights. All are welcome here.” The banner and flag, which were placed near the entrance, were stolen at night on June 8 and the rainbow-colored flag disappeared the next night.

“We just feel very disappointed and just wonder why someone would take something off of our property that indicates our faith,” said the Rev. Lynn Thomas Strauss, one of three ministers at the church.

The church’s Social Justice Council and Board of Trustees voted unanimously to communicate their support for gay rights through a banner and sign during the metropolitan area’s Gay Pride Week, which ends Sunday. Strauss said this was the first time the church made a public statement about gay rights and support for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community.


Gay marriage constitutional showdown in San Francisco
The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Legal challenges across the state asking whether the state Constitution permits same-sex marriages were consolidated into one case and will be tried here in San Francisco, a state agency overseeing the state courts decided Friday.

Gays and lesbians in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and opponents of gay marriage have filed various lawsuits that were consolidated at the request of Attorney General Bill Lockyer, who has taken no position on the matter.

The Judicial Council ordered the cases tried as one in San Francisco Superior Court. Ultimately, however, whatever is decided here will be reviewed by the California Supreme Court, which invited such challenges this spring.

The seven justices are unlikely to get the case for at least a year.

Gay plan commissioner slain in his loft south of downtown
Wheat’s apparent homicide shows some similarities with another 3 months ago; police examining earlier case but reach no conclusions
By David Webb

Lawrence Wheat, a member of the Dallas Plan Commission, died late Saturday after he was savagely beaten at his residence, authorities said.

Police responding to an emergency call found Wheat at about 11 p.m. lying unconscious in his loft on South Harwood Street. Residents of the small, gated complex called 911 20 minutes earlier and reported screams coming from Wheat’s loft.

Wheat was taken to Baylor University Medical Center, where a doctor pronounced him dead at about 11:30 p.m.

Witnesses saw a man running from the complex adjacent to an industrial area south of downtown.

Detectives are reviewing a similar homicide three months ago to determine if the same killer could be involved.

Transsexuals file suit against Sacramento sherriff, jail
4 claim beatings, rapes when jailers gave other prisoners access
By Tammye Nash Staff Writer

Four transsexual inmates and former inmates of the county jail in Sacramento, Calif., claim deputies stood by and allowed them to be raped and brutalized by other prisoners, according to a suit filed against the Sheriff’s Department and Sheriff Lou Blanas.

The civil suits allege that jailers gave inmates access to the pre-operative male-to-female transsexuals, who were supposed to be kept separate from the general jail population. Although the women generally possess the physical characteristics typical of their gender, they have not had gender reassignment surgery.

Kelly McAllister, Jackie Tates, Raymond Sanders and America Tejada claimed jailers used them as sexual rewards for other inmates’ good behavior. They also said jailers intentionally allowed other inmates to have access to them, knowing the transgendered prisoners would be beaten and raped.

In addition, the four claim that jail officials violated policy by failing to house the transsexual inmates in separate facilities, denying them access to prescribed hormone medications and forcing them to walk bare-chested in front of male inmates.
The suits also claim the four were routinely subjected to verbal and psychological assaults from guards and other inmates.

France's first gay marriage hits legal rocks

BORDEAUX, France, (AFP) - The state prosecutor in the French city of Bordeaux on Friday asked a court to nullify France's first gay wedding last week that a mayor carried out in defiance of warnings from authorities.

Officials said the chief judge of the Bordeaux court would soon fix a date to hear the matter, and that he would order the shopkeeper and male nurse who married to appear.

Bertrand Charpentier, 31, and Stephane Chapin, 34, were wedded in a ceremony in the Bordeaux suburb of Begles on June 5 by the local mayor, Noel Mamere, who is also a leading figure in the opposition Green party.

They have vowed to take their case before the European Court of Human Rights if the marriage is declared invalid, as the conservative government has threatened.


NY Judge Finds Ban On Same-Sex Marriage Unconstitutional
New York Lawyer
June 11, 2004
By Tom Perrotta
New York Law Journal

A town justice yesterday dismissed a criminal prosecution against the mayor of New Paltz, who married gay couples without marriage licenses, saying a state law banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

The ruling from New Paltz Town Justice Jonathan D. Katz marked the first time a New York court has found that the marriage law violates the rights of gay couples. The judge's opinion does not, however, have the effect of invalidating the statute or giving gay couples an immediate opportunity to wed.

"I am familiar with the arguments raised in the cases from other states addressing this issue and I understand the historical, cultural and religious opposition to same-sex marriage, but find that none of the reasons stated in opposition to same-sex marriage is paramount to the equal protection guarantees enshrined in the state and federal constitutions," Justice Katz wrote in People v. West, 04030054.

Justice Katz's ruling comes in the same week as another ruling in a civil case involving New Paltz Mayor Jason West, who married numerous couples in February even though the New Paltz town clerk would not issue them marriage licenses.

Activists urging Virginia boycott over anti-gay law
Associated Press Writer
Published June 11, 2004

RICHMOND, Va. -- Gay activists have launched a Web site to stage an economic boycott of Virginia in response to a new law that could nullify partnership contracts between same-sex couples. urges people not to buy products or services from Virginia-based companies and suggests tourists visit states that are friendlier to gays. The name is a play on the state's tourism motto, "Virginia is for Lovers."

Another group, Make Love Legal, is developing strategies for boycotting the 400th anniversary celebration of the founding of Jamestown in 2007. The state is expecting millions of visitors for the yearlong event.

"This whole idea is: Don't spend your money in a place where people hurt you," said Diane Horvath, a Richmond attorney who is spearheading the Jamestown initiative. "My family wanted to come to Jamestown and I said under no circumstances will I plan another vacation in this state until this state wants me here."

Supporters of marriage amendment want November vote
By DALE WETZEL, Associated Press Writer

Supporters of a ballot initiative that would define marriage in the North Dakota Constitution said they hope to put the issue on the November ballot.

That would require gathering petition signatures from at least 25,688 North Dakota voters in less than two months. Christina Kindel of Bismarck, chairwoman of the initiative campaign, said Thursday she believes the Aug. 3 petition deadline can be met.

The amendment would define marriage as being between a man and woman, and would prevent legal arrangements for gay couples from having the same status as marriage.

Backers of the measure held a news conference in the state Capitol on Thursday to announce the petition drive. A group of opponents looked on, holding signs that urged North Dakotans not to sign the petition.


Gays abroad need our help
It’s time the gay rights movement at home began focusing on the fate of gays in those countries where the treatment is still brutal.
By James Kirchick

IN THE MIDDLE of our struggles over gay marriage, the Boy Scouts and sodomy laws, it is easy to develop blinders when it comes to what might initially appear to be peripheral causes. Surely, the past five years have been the most eventful in the gay rights movement with acceptance reaching an all-time high.

If current trends are any indication, the American gay rights cause should even be concluded within the next several decades. Gay marriage will eventually become reality across the country, and legal discrimination will come to an end.

This will not, of course, erase homophobia from society; no more than the Civil Rights Act of 1964 erased racism toward blacks. But equality for people of all sexual orientations in the United States will at the very least be written into law, thus realizing the accomplishment of the modern gay rights agenda.

But throughout the world, gays face barbaric oppression that is almost medieval in nature. Up until Afghanistan was liberated in late 2001, the Taliban would regularly flatten gays with massive stones.

Robert Mugabe, the dictator of Zimbabwe, has cracked down on gays and publicly labeled them “worse than pigs.” Egypt imprisons homosexuals, and Saudi Arabia beheads them.


Rhea Co. commission to consider gay marriage ban again

DAYTON (AP) -- Rhea County commissioners are still battling the issue of same-sex marriage.

In March, county commissioners approved a resolution seeking to ban gays and declare homosexuality a crime against nature.

Two days later they rescinded the action, claiming their intent was to support a ban on gay marriage.

Now commissioners will consider a resolution urging state and federal lawmakers to adopt Tennessee's current marriage law as amendments to the U.S. and state constitutions.


Youth suicide rate drops 25% over decade
CDC notes sharp decline in self-inflicted shootings

ATLANTA -- The suicide rate among American youths and teens fell about 25 percent in the past decade, reflecting a significant drop-off in gun suicides, the government said yesterday.

In fact, a steep drop in self-inflicted shootings among 10- to 14-year-olds helped make suicides by hanging or other forms of suffocation more common than gun suicides in that age group, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

CDC researchers did not say why they believe the overall rate dropped, but a specialist in adolescent medicine said that restrictions on children's access to firearms and a decreased stigma over sexual orientation have played important roles.

Sexual orientation has been a factor in many suicides among young males, said Dr. Charles Wibbelsman, chief of the Teenage Clinic of Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco. But with society's growing acceptance of homosexuality, the number of suicides has declined, he said.


'Gay' blackmailer gets sentenced to seven years in jail
REIGN OF TERROR: The 43-year-old Chou Ming-teh was convicted of running a scam for the past two years in which he blackmailed 100 men

The Kaohsiung District Court yesterday sentenced a man to seven years' imprisonment for extorting money from more than 100 homosexual men over the past two years, a radio station reported.

Chou Ming-teh, 43, had been running a scam for two years in which, posing as a homosexual, he would meet men in Internet chat rooms and, as soon as the men had mentioned their names and where they worked, would threaten to tell their companies that they were gay unless they paid him money, the station said.

"Over the past two years, Chou has extorted large sums of money from more than 100 gay men, and from some of them, he extorted money several times," it said.

Canadians for Equal Marriage warn Harper will trounce equal rights

OTTAWA – June 10, 2004 – The outcome of the federal election will determine whether the rights of all Canadians will remain equal under the law, according to a coalition of equal rights supporters who rallied on Parliament Hill today.

Taking the microphone one after the other, members of the Canadians for Equal Marriage raised alarm bells that Stephen Harper’s Conservatives will turn back the clock by taking away the right of gays and lesbians.

Same sex couples and their supporters attended the public event – marking the first anniversary of equal marriage in Canada – to not only spread this message, but also celebrate the date with live music and cake.

Just this morning when speaking to reporters, Harper said he will not support the protection of gay and lesbian rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In contrast, Prime Minister Paul Martin has stated repeatedly that he will uphold the fundamental rights of all Canadians – including the right for sexual orientation to be protected.


Attack called a hate crime
By Toni Laxson, Tribune

Police are investigating the assault of a lesbian couple outside a Scottsdale nightclub as a hate crime, information Julie Melson said she was relieved to hear Thursday.

"I’m glad that they are going to do the right thing," said Melson, 38, who was attacked about 1 a.m. April 4 as she and Suzanne King left the Rogue Bar, 423 N. Scottsdale Road.

"Screaming slurs at someone while you are beating them is definitely a hate crime," she said.

She and King had been celebrating King’s 32nd birthday with several friends and were walking out of the bar when King was punched by a woman, Melson said.


Pro-life woman in war of words
Gay rights group attacks views
By Brendan McDaid

A WAR of words erupted today between an Ulster pro-life campaigner and gay rights activists.

Veteran pro-life and pro-family campaigner Jennifer Barber today dismissed the claims by gay rights activists that she was "homophobic" or that her views were similar to Nazi ideologies.

While defending her opposition to new legislation allowing gay civil partnerships, Mrs Barber said her views could not be compared to Nazi beliefs because "the Nazis were pro-gay".

She added that as a Christian she did not hate gay people.

She said: "Hate the sin and not the sinner."

Philippines: Censor Targets TV Shows Featuring Lesbians
Time to Revoke Marcos-Era Censorship Powers, Enact Antidiscrimination Bill

(New York, June 11, 2004) -- Threats made by a Philippine censorship board’s top official against broadcasts showing lesbian relationships encourage discrimination and are a blatant assault on freedom of expression, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
In May the chair of the MTRCB, Marissa LaGuardia, sent a memorandum to the producers of several television shows, warning them against positive depictions of lesbian relationships. The memo stated that "lesbian and homosexual relationships are an abnormality of human nature.… To show such kind of abnormality/aberration on prime-time TV programs gives the impression that the network is encouraging lesbian and homosexual relationships."  
"The Philippine government's power to censor and ban films and broadcasts it deems unacceptable is a relic of dictatorship that should finally be scrapped," said Scott Long, director of Human Rights Watch's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Project. "Using Marcos-era censorship powers against images of lesbian life means condemning part of the population not just to inequality, but to invisibility."  
Human Rights Watch called on President Arroyo to remove the sweeping powers of the Movies and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) to edit or prohibit films and programs. In addition, the Philippine president should support a law now pending in the Philippine Congress which would bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.  


Catania predicts DOMA law for D.C. this fall
Marriage dominates town hall meeting

Gay D.C. City Council member David Catania (R-At-Large) this week said he expects gay marriage foes in Congress to force a Defense of Marriage Act law on the District, restricting marriage rights to opposite-sex couples only.

Speaking at Sunday’s Town Hall Meeting — an event staged by Capital Pride organizers — Catania said that such a plan would be a “dress rehearsal” for backers of the Federal Marriage Amendment to gauge how much support exists for a vote on the effort to ban same-sex marriage in the U.S. Constitution. The D.C. DOMA effort would also force members of Congress to stake out a public position on the FMA in advance of the November elections.

“A local DOMA bill would be their dress rehearsal,” Catania said. “By having an opportunity to push something like that, they will be able to see where their votes are. They will use it in a technically malicious way.

“It will be used to attack [Democratic Sen. Minority Leader Tom] Daschle. They will push it for an October vote and as soon as Daschle votes against a local prohibition, it will be used against him during his campaign.”


Bush fails to issue Gay Pride proclamation
Federal employees pressured to hold low-key Pride events

Several gay groups within federal agencies are planning Pride-related events during the next few weeks despite a White House refusal to issue a proclamation recognizing June as Gay Pride Month.

Even though some groups are planning activities, some agency officials find themselves in an awkward position because they are not permitted to provide official support or statements promoting Pride events without the approval of the Bush administration.

Leonard Hirsch, president of Federal GLOBE — the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Federal Employee’s organization — said events are scheduled at the departments of Transportation, State, Interior and the USDA, while other agencies have said they will not sanction Pride events without White House approval.

“We have continued to be boxed in a Catch-22 because agencies are saying that they can’t provide support or statements unless the White House puts forth a proclamation,” Hirsch said. “And of course the White House has not.”

Amnesty condemns killing of Jamaican gay rights activist, calls for investigation
Associated Press Writer

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) Amnesty International on Thursday condemned the grisly killing of Jamaica's best-known gay rights activist and urged police to investigate whether he was the victim of a hate crime.

The mutilated body of Brian Williamson, 59, was found at his Kingston home on Wednesday, hours after he was seen meeting with two men. Police said it appeared that Williamson was a robbery victim since his safe was missing and his room was ransacked.

But the London-based human rights group urged authorities ``to keep an open mind as to the motive behind this killing.''

``There remains a strong possibility that Brian Williamson's profile as a gay man and advocate of homosexual rights made him a target,'' Amnesty said in a statement. ``The authorities must ensure that this murder is fully and impartially investigated.''


Canadian Gays Rally In Front Of Parliament To Save Same-Sex Marriage 
by Stephanie Levitz
The Canadian Press

(Ottawa) Gay activists celebrating one year since the courts gave them the right to marry were ringing warning bells, not wedding bells, Thursday as they told Canadians a vote for the Tories is a vote against gay rights.

Canadians go to the polls June 28 to elect a new Parliament. 

Hundreds of gays and lesbians rallied on Parliament Hill on Thursday, as Conservative Leader Stephen Harper was forced to account in Brampton, Ont. for a party candidate's anti-gay comments.

Frank Luellau, the Tory candidate for Kitchener-Conestoga, had said that homosexuality was not a natural kind of relationship.


Araujo trial jurors end first full week
By Ivan Delventhal, STAFF WRITER

HAYWARD -- The 12 jurors deliberating in the trial of three men charged with murdering a transgender teenager in Newark in October 2002 concluded their first full week of deliberations Thursday without reaching a verdict.

The jury of eight men and four women, who began deliberating June 3, concluded their deliberations for the week at 2 p.m. Thursday. They are not deliberating on Fridays and will reconvene Monday.

The jury has been relatively quiet so far, with its one major request being a court reporter's reading of the testimony of the pathologist who performed the teen's autopsy. The pathologist concluded the teen died of asphyxiation due to strangulation associated with blunt trauma to the head.


Antigay candidate loses primary in Iowa

College economics instructor Dave Mulder said education was the key issue that led to the defeat of his opponent, Iowa state senator Ken Veenstra of Orange City, in Tuesday's District 2 Republican primary. But political pundits in the state are arguing that Veenstra, an assistant majority leader in the state senate, lost because his campaign was based primarily on antigay issues, something Iowa voters had no taste for. Veenstra led an unsuccessful fight in the last legislative session to pass a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages in the state, and he was instrumental in the defeat of a gay nominee to the state board of education. "Part of the reason for his high-profile antigay efforts in the legislature seemed to be a desire to bolster his standing with social conservatives in the heavily Republican northwest Iowa district," wrote columnist David Yepsen in The Des Moines Register. "But GOP strategists said Wednesday the tactic didn't work."

Mulder, who'll retire from his college teaching job to focus full-time on the senate, said public school educators helped him win. "I'm very strong for education, so I think I got very strong teacher support," he said. "I'm interested in both public and private education. You have to work for both." Veenstra agreed that public school supporters won the day. "They have the most influence and the most numbers," he said. In Tuesday's polling Mulder won by a margin of 54% to 46% and will advance to November. No Democrat has stepped forward.


Helena church seeks dismissal of gay marriage complaint
By The Associated Press - 06/11/04

HELENA (AP) — A Baptist church asked the state political practices commissioner Thursday to dismiss a complaint over an event it hosted supporting a constitutional ban on gay marriage.

The complaint was filed last month by Montanans for Families and Fairness, a coalition opposing the ban.

The group accused Canyon Ferry Road Baptist Church of violating state campaign finance rules by failing to report its use of ‘‘in-kind'' resources for a May 23 event urging support for Constitutional Initiative 96.

The event, the group said, transformed the church into a political committee and subjected it to campaign finance laws.

In a court filing Thursday, the church called the complaint ‘‘insufficient'' and ‘‘frivolous'' and asked Commissioner Linda Vaughey to dismiss it as ‘‘too indefinite.''


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Thursday, June 10, 2004

New York court backs gay marriage

A New York court has ruled in favour of gay marriages saying that failure to do so would breach the equal rights laws written into the state's constitution.

In its ruling the court in the town of New Paltz also dismissed the charges against local mayor Jason West who wed dozens of gay couples in February.

It had been claimed that Mr West broke the law when he allowed the marriages.
Mr West and his lawyer called the ruling, the first in New York state, a major victory for gay rights.

Turning tide?
"If history is any guide, this is the beginning of an unstoppable trend in New York," Lawyer E Joshua Rosenkranz said.

But Ulster County District Attorney Donald Williams said he disagreed with Justice Jonathan Katz's ruling and would appeal.

Charges over gay marriages against mayor dropped
The Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. -- A town judge on Thursday dismissed criminal charges against New Paltz Mayor Jason West for marrying gay couples.

Barring an appeal, the ruling spares West the possibility of fines or jail time for marrying more than two dozen same-sex couples on Feb. 27, drawing the Hudson Valley village of New Paltz into the growing national debate on same-sex unions.

However, West remains permanently barred from marrying same-sex couples under an order issued earlier this week by a separate judge hearing a civil case against the 27-year-old mayor.

West and his lawyer characterized Thursday's decision from New Paltz Town Court Justice Jonathan Katz as a major victory for gay rights. Attorney E. Joshua Rosenkranz said it was the first time a court New York has ruled that same-sex couples have the same rights as heterosexual couples.


Switzerland approves same-sex unions

Bern, Switzerland, Jun. 10 (UPI) -- Swiss parliament has passed a law to allow civil unions for same-sex couples.
The law makes same-sex partners legal next of kin, but does not allow for adoption or marriage, Swiss news service Swissinfo reports.

A minor political party, the Federal Democratic Union has announced plans to start a referendum against the law, which it considers an affront to mainstream values.

Gay rights groups welcomed the law as a step in the right direction.

Bill Aims to Ban Gay Deputies
By Francesca Mereu

The State Duma is to consider Friday a bill that would ban alcoholics, homosexuals and pedophiles from holding seats in parliament.

The bill, which was submitted by the Kursk region's legislative assembly, would require newly elected deputies to undergo physical and psychological examinations to make sure they are fit for office.

Health Ministry doctors would be responsible for declaring each deputy free of alcoholism, homosexuality and pedophilia, as well as several diseases, which are not specified in the bill.

"Chronic diseases and latent diseases undoubtedly influence one's capability to communicate and observe acceptable behavior norms," the bill says. "They prevent [deputies] from making decisions for their electorate."

HRW Letter to Philippines President on Censorship and Anti-Discrimination Bill

Dear President Arroyo:

I am writing on behalf of Human Rights Watch to express our great concern over recent threats by the head of the Movies and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) to ban broadcasts showing lesbian relationships. These actions encourage discrimination and are a blatant assault on freedom of expression. They point as well to broader issues in which your intervention, in your new term as President, will be crucial: to remove the MTRCB’s sweeping powers to edit and prohibit films and programs; and to enact proposed national legislation barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Human Rights Watch, founded in 1978, is the largest human rights organization based in the United States. Human Rights Watch conducts regular, systematic investigations of human rights abuses in some seventy countries around the world. We work in dialogue and cooperation with governments to develop legal and policy responses to the conditions that enable abuse. We hope that this letter will open a dialogue with you concerning these important subjects.

On May 23, as you are undoubtedly aware, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that the head of the MTRCB, Marissa LaGuardia, had sent a memorandum to the producers of a television program, “The Buzz,” warning them about positive depictions of lesbian relationships. The memo stated that “lesbian and homosexual relationships are an abnormality of human nature. … To show such kind of abnormality/aberration on prime time TV programs gives the impression that the network is encouraging lesbian and homosexual relationships.” After another program, “S-Files,” aired the wedding of a lesbian couple on May 16, the MCRTB sent the producers a similar memorandum. It stated, “To allow lesbians or homosexuals to kiss each other on television during prime time is tantamount to saying to children who watch your program that to be lesbian or homosexual is all right.”


Youth Group Creates Ad In Response To Anti-Homosexual Shirt
Teen Says He Wore Shirt To Express His Religious Beliefs

SAN DIEGO -- A group of San Diego teens have developed a tolerance campaign in response to a T-shirt made by a Poway High School Student.

The members of IMPACT have made letter-sized posters that read "Hate is Shameful." The posters are meant to counter the T-shirt worn by Tyler Chase Harper that read "Homosexuality is Shameful."

The 16-year-old wore the shirt during a national "Day of Silence" event to support homosexual, bisexual and transgender high school and college students.

Harper says he wore the shirt as an expression of his religious belief that homosexual behavior is immoral and contrary to the teachings of the Bible.

Anti-Gay Marriage Campaigns May Have Broader Implications
By Margo Williams

(Boston, Massachusetts) A study on the likely effects of ballot questions on same-sex marriage indicates the issue is likely to have a major negative impact on communities and gay families.

This fall voters in a number of states, including Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Utah, will go to the polls to vote on whether same-sex couples should be denied equal marriage rights.

The report, by the Institute for Gay and Lesbian Strategic Studies, a think tank in Amherst, Massachusetts, shows that these elections may carry significant negative psychological and social consequences for local residents and for the community at large.

Canadian Gov't Appeals $400 Million Gay Suit
by Jan Prout Newscenter
Toronto Bureau

(Toronto, Ontario) The Canadian government told Ontario's highest court today that a lower court judge erred in ruling that the same-sex partners of gays and lesbians who died between 1985 and 1998 were owed as much as $400 million in pensions.

The case involves survivor benefits under Canada's Pension Plan. In 2000 the federal government passed legislation recognizing same-se relationships under the Plan and made it retroactive to Jan. 1 1998.

But, gays argue it should have been backdated to April 1985, when gays and lesbians were granted equality under Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and began a class action suit to recover the unpaid benefits due an estimated 1,500 survivors, many of whom became widowed at the height of the AIDS crisis.

Last December a Superior Court judge in Toronto agreed with them.

Campaign against homophobia

With the program "Brazil Without Homophobia," the government of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has taken a step in eradicating prejudice against homosexuals, bisexuals, transvestites and individuals who have undergone sex changes.

The program launched on May 25, being carried out in coordination with civil society groups, includes training courses for teachers to deal with the issue of homosexuality in the classroom, proposes specific public policies in the areas of education, health, justice and culture and creates a special human rights secretariat for these groups.

The violence generated by homophobia has led to a high number of murders of homosexuals in Brazil, said Javier Angonoa, coordinator of the Gay Group of Bahia in northeastern Brazil.

According to the V Annual Report of the International Human Rights Commission of the Gay and Lesbian Community, in 2003 Brazil had the highest number of deaths due to homophobia with 22 out of a regional total of 42.

Jury In Day 5 Of Deliberations In Araujo Trial
Defendants Face 29 Years To Life

There is still no verdict in the Gwen Araujo murder trial. Jurors are deliberating the fate of three men accused of killing the Newark transgender teenager for the fifth day.

The jury on Wednesday had the coroner's testimony read back to them. The coroner said Araujo died from strangulation and trauma to the head.

Michael Magidson, Jose Merel and Jason Cazares, all 24, are accused of murdering 17-year-old Gwen Araujo on Oct. 4, 2002, after discovering that the attractive person they thought was a woman actually was biologically male.

Araujo was born as Edward Araujo, but according to testimony in the trial, she presented herself as a woman for the last several years of her life and most of her friends and family members knew her as "Gwen."

Fight goes on for gay couples

Gay couples say Switzerland’s new law recognising same-sex partners as next-of-kin falls short, because it does not allow for marriage or adoption.

But with a referendum looming on the new law, they say the fight for more rights will have to wait.

Parliament on Thursday cleared the last hurdle for a new law allowing gay couples to register their partnerships.

In the case of the death of one partner, the other can inherit shared property without paying a huge tax bill.

But the law does not confer rights to marry, adopt children or undergo invitro fertilisation.


$100,000 Lawsuit Over Stopping Gay Boyfriend From Catholic School Prom Begins October 11
Oshawa Catholic School Board Ready to Fight for Freedom of Religion

OSHAWA, June 9, 2004 ( - The Durham Catholic District School Board (DCDSB) has issued a clarification of its position in the Marc Hall case after the airing of the made-for-TV movie which it says "took serious liberties with reality." In the spring of 2002, Marc Hall, a grade 12 student at Msgr. John Pereyma Catholic Secondary School in Oshawa, won a court battle that forced the Durham Catholic District School Board to allow him to bring his homosexual date to the prom.

After winning his battle to bring his male "partner" to the prom, Hall is suing the Board for $100,000 with the help of Ontario Health Minister and homosexual activist George Smitherman. In a press release, the DCDSB gives the date on which the trial will begin: October 11, 2004. "We are a Catholic School Board offering education that authentically and fully reflects the teachings of the Catholic Church. This is a matter of freedom of religion and of conscience," said Mary Ann Martin, Chair of the Board. "It is also our constitutional right," she added.

Mrs. Martin went on to say, "We welcome and foster respect and compassion for all persons regardless of race, creed, religious or sexual orientation. The Catholic Church accepts individuals who are homosexual as persons who should be treated with respect, compassion and sensitivity, like any other person. At the same time, however, the Church teaches that same-sex romantic activity is immoral. Students with a same-sex orientation are welcome in all Catholic schools, but we insist that they follow the moral teachings of the Catholic Church in school-related activities."

The case has highlighted the split within the Canadian Catholic Church and its institutions over doctrinal discipline and and faithfullness to Catholic moral principles. A large number of self-professed Catholic individuals and organizations rallied to Hall's side including the recently elected Premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty; Toronto City Councilor, Joe Mihevic who served on the organizing committee of World Youth Day; then-federal Industry Minister, Allan Rock and the Ontario Catholic Teachers Union. Official representatives of the Roman Catholic Church were late and faint with their support of the Board.


National Front protests over gay priest
Ben Townley, UK

The National Front is planning to protest over the appointment of Canon Jeffrey John next month, claiming the appointment of a gay priest is a "subversion" of the Church of England.

The group, an extreme right wing organisation that calls for white racial supremacy across the UK, is planning to march past St Albans Abbey on the 2nd of July, when John will be installed as dean of the Cathedral.

According to an article in the St Albans Observer, the group will also distribute leaflets claiming the decision to appoint John as dean goes against biblical teachings and that the Church's message is being "watered down".

"As Christians we are concerned that the Church is failing as an institution," Deputy chairman Bernard Franklin told the newspaper.


Reports find pervasive and increasing sexual abuse in the US military
By Joanne Laurier

Female service members in the US military stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait have reported more than 100 cases of sexual assault or misconduct by male soldiers. Complaints have been filed against members of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.

Prompted by these allegations, the Army assembled a task force in February and released a report in May concluding that incidents of sexual abuse in the service have climbed steadily over the past five years. Data released separately by the Army Criminal Investigative Division also revealed that the number of sexual assault cases reported to the division increased yearly from 1999 to 2003.

The data, obtained by the Washington Post under a Freedom of Information Act request, represents the first military-wide annual tallies made public since 1998. The figures show that the total number of reported cases of sexual assault involving Army personnel increased by 19 percent from 1999 to 2002—from 658 to 783—with annual increases ranging from 2 percent to 13 percent. During the same period, the number of reported rapes increased by 25 percent—from 356 to 445.

“The Army acknowledges that these tallies probably understate the magnitude of the problem. Advocacy groups say that sexual assaults are routinely underreported, and that the military victims are further inhibited by rules that bar confidentiality. A Defense Department report on the problem in May, based on visits to 21 military locations, provided data indicating rising sexual assaults from 2002 to 2003, which a Defense official said probably represented a fraction of the total in those years,” according to the Post.


Rape trial’s Jane Doe has widespread support
By Ari Bloomekatz

Nearly two weeks after jurors deadlocked in the trial of three men accused of raping a UCLA student a year and a half ago, some campus groups have organized efforts in support of the alleged victim.

The jury acquitted defendants Chuwan Anthony, DeShawn Stringer and Jamar Dawson on some charges on May 27, and could not come to a decision on others.

The three were accused of raping the student while visiting UCLA on a field trip with their high school on Dec. 5, 2002. The only way the men can now be found guilty is if the district attorney chooses to retry them, and they are unanimously convicted on the charges on which the original jury could not decide.

Christina Chala, a women's studies and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender studies student, made 1,000 buttons in support of the woman after she heard the verdict. The court called the alleged victim Jane Doe to protect her identity.

Gay groups speak out against NI pro-life campaigner
Ben Townley, UK

A pro-life campaigner in Northern Ireland has angered the region's gay rights groups, after she slammed candidates in today's European elections for supporting Civil Partnerships.

Pro Life Campaigner Jennifer Barber told the Derry Journal earlier this week that many of Derry's regional candidates for the European parliament were "gutless fence sitters" for their support for abortion rights and Civil Partnerships.

"The Civil Partnership Bill, which is supported by the SDLP, Sinn Fein and Eamon McCann, of the Socialist Environmentalist Alliance, is in fact gay marriage," Mrs Barber told the newspaper.

"We, in the pro-life movement, are not only campaigning for pro-life issues, but also for family issues; you can't be pro-life and against the family."


Bush: FMA failing to catch fire
Though a Senate vote seems likely, support remains tepid
By Laura Kiritsy

Is the Federal Marriage Amendment DOA? That just might be the case, if recent developments are any indication.

Four months after his high-profile announcement of support for a proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage, President George W. Bush indicated in an interview with editors and reporters from conservative religious publications that he's feeling a little lonely in his support for the issue. In an excerpt posted May 28 on Christianity Today's Web site, Bush reiterated his support for the amendment, but said, "in order for a constitutional amendment to go forward people have to speak. Now, I'll be glad to lend my voice, but it's going to require more than one voice. It's going to require people from around the country to insist to members of Congress for starters, that a constitutional amendment process is necessary for the country. ... I will tell you the prairie fire necessary to get an amendment passed is simmering at best."

Bush's comments came on the heels of a Washington Post story in which the Rev. Lou Sheldon, head of the Traditional Values Coalition, a leader in the fight to amend the U.S. Constitution, admitted that his phones didn't ring off the hook even after images of same-sex weddings in Massachusetts dominated the news on May 17 - a date many right-wing groups believed would be a rallying point for their efforts.

In the absence of any real outrage over gay marriage in the Bay State, Sheldon was reduced to predicting that America would finally wake up once married same-sex couples returned from Massachusetts to their home states demanding their marriages be recognized. "It's a sleeping giant out there," he told the Post. "We're talking about tens of millions of people. And when they wake up I feel bad for the homosexuals."


Leading gay activist murdered in Jamaica
By James Burleigh

The mutilated body of Jamaica's best known gay rights activist was found at his home in Kingston yesterday. The island's sole gay advocacy group called it a possible hate crime.

Brian Williamson, 59, was found by a friend lying in a pool of blood with several knife wounds, hours after he was seen meeting two men at his home, police said.

In a statement, the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-Flag) mourned Mr Williamson's death and called for a full investigation by police. "The condition of his body... and his visibility as a gay man lead us to suspect this is a hate-related crime," the group said.

But police were investigating Mr Williamson's murder as a robbery, not a hate crime. A spokeswoman said Mr Williamson's safe was missing and that his room had been ransacked.


Gay-union suits may be packaged
Coordination could reduce legal wrangling, judge says
By Josh Richman, STAFF WRITER

SAN FRANCISCO -- Several gay-marriage lawsuits from San Francisco and Los Angeles should be overseen by one San Francisco coordinating judge to avoid duplicative, costly and time-consuming legal wrangling as well as conflicting results, a judge said Wednesday.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer said he'll recommend this to the state Judicial Council, which will make a final decision within

a few weeks; if it agrees, it will name a judge to coordinate the controversial cases.

It was a mixed result for most of the parties.

Lawyers for the city and county of San Francisco and for a lesbian couple -- who had filed separate lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of a state law against gay marriage that were consolidated into one in April -- opposed coordination, arguing their case would move faster without other, fuzzier cases dragging it down.


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Murdered Gay College Student Was Having Affair With Cop
by Newscenter Staff

(Columbia, Missouri) The investigation into the slaying of a University of Missouri-Columbia student has uncovered a secret love affair between the victim and a married officer on the Columbia police force.

The body of 23 year old Jesse Valencia was discovered last Sunday afternoon on the lawn of a residence about a block from his apartment.  His throat had been slashed, and police are not certain if he had been killed at that location or his body dumped there.

The last time anyone saw him was about 3:30 the previous morning as he left a party off campus.

Valencia was openly gay, a history major, and was from Kentucky.  He worked as a night desk clerk at a local hotel, and is described by friends as quiet "until you got to know him'.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Araujo jury re-hears testimony, may be close to verdict
by Eric Johnston
PlanetOut Network

Jurors in the murder trial of transgender teenager Gwen Araujo listened to transcripts of pathologists' testimony on Wednesday, which some court observers interpreted as a sign the jury is close to returning a verdict.

The jury has been deliberating since last Thursday in Hayward, Calif.

Michael Magidson, 23, and Jose Merel and Jason Cazares, both 24, are accused of killing Araujo on Oct. 4, 2002. The three face 25 years to life in prison, if convicted.

The jury's request may mean the members are on the verge of reaching a verdict, according to Christopher Daley, co-director of the Transgender Law Center, who is closely following the case.

"There's definitely some buzz that that's all they needed to render their decision," he said.

State High Court To Hear Lesbian's Country-Club Lawsuit Appeal
Ruling In Her Favor Would Redefine Same-Sex Couple Protections

SAN DIEGO -- The state Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to hear an appeal from a San Diego woman who contends that California's civil rights law should protect her and her lesbian partner from discrimination based on marital status.

B. Birgit Koebke filed a lawsuit against the Bernardo Heights Country Club in 2001 because it requires her to pay guest fees whenever her state-registered domestic partner, Kendall French, plays golf at the club.

Bernardo Heights maintains that only a member's legal spouse is entitled to free use of the course and other family benefits.

Koebke, a 47-year-old television sales executive, argues that the state's 1959 Unruh Civil Rights Act protects her from discrimination based on marital status. Since California law bans same-sex marriage, Koebke contends, she cannot fully enjoy the benefits of her club membership, which she purchased in 1986.

Desmond Tutu says Americans need to address racial history during Flint speech

FLINT, Mich. (AP) -- The United States can benefit from researching and acknowledging past atrocities committed against blacks and American Indians, said South African Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

"There is a pain that sits in the tummy of most African Americans and Native Americans, and maybe white Americans, that needs to be articulated in a non-threatening environment," Tutu said during a Wednesday lecture sponsored by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

Tutu, 72, the former Anglican Archbishop of South Africa, was on the country's Truth in Reconciliation Commission, which researched 34 years of human rights violations against blacks under apartheid.

He said discriminating against gay people, who he believes do not choose to be gay anymore than people choose to be black, is no better than racism.

Michigan to send two openly gay delegates to Democratic Convention
By D'Anne Witkowski

LANSING - For the first time in Michigan's history, two openly gay delegates will be going to the Democratic Convention, to be held in Boston July 26-29. Keith Orr is going as a delegate for Howard Dean and Rick Wallace is going as a delegate for John Kerry.

According to Democratic National Committee Vice Chair Mark Brewer, the only other openly gay delegate sent by Michigan to the Democratic Convention was John Burchett, sent as a Clinton delegate in 1996. In 2000 Rudy Serra, chair of Michigan's Lesbian/Gay Democratic Caucus, was sent as an alternate delegate for Al Gore.

"We're making progress in terms of our representation of the LGBT population," said Brewer. "Is it enough? No. But we're working to do better every cycle."

Kerry delegate Rick Wallace serves as the treasurer of the Oakland County Democratic Party. He was elected at the 9th congressional district convention. The 9th district had five delegate slots, four for Kerry and one for Dean.

Judge to ask for state's gay marriage cases to be heard in San Francisco
By Thomas Peele

SAN FRANCISCO - A Superior Court judge Wednesday said that legal cases concerning gay marriage here and elsewhere in California should proceed only on a coordinated basis.

Judge Richard Kramer said that he would recommend to the State Judicial Council that it appoint a coordinating judge and that all gay marriage cases be heard in San Francisco.

The cases involve two challenges to the constitutionality of the state ban on gay marriage and a case where a same-sex couple sued Los Angeles County demanding that it issue them a marriage license.

Kramer said the complexity of the cases required coordination. The Judicial Council is expected to name a coordinating judge within six weeks.


La. Senate OKs gay marriage ban; election date still in question
The Associated Press

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Louisiana's state Senate voted 31-6 Tuesday to place a ban on same sex marriage and civil unions into the state constitution, a proposal that will have to be approved by the voters this fall.

Still in question after the vote was the date of the election. As it came out of the Senate, the measure calls for an election date of Sept. 18. The measure's House author, Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Metairie, had wanted a Nov. 2 date, coinciding with the presidential election and Scalise's own race for Congress.

The House will have to approve the Senate changes by a two-thirds vote. It was unclear when that vote would happen.

Rally for defense of marriage amendment
By: News 14 Carolina Staff

Opponents of gay marriage want North Carolina to ensure it doesn't become legal in this state.

They gathered Wednesday at the General Assembly to push for a Defense of Marriage constitutional amendment.

They also want a state constitutional amendment that defines marriage as "the union of one man and one woman at a time."

Group members say marriage is not a partnership, but an institution established by God. They say the only way to protect that is through the constitution.

Crossing The Church-State Line? Bush campaign effort to recruit ‘friendly’ houses of worship, new bill rapped. James D. Besser - Washington Correspondent

Questions about partisan political activity in churches blew up in the middle of the presidential campaigns last week with accusations that the Bush-Cheney team is trying to enlist religious institutions as campaign platforms.

And the issue is resurfacing in Congress, where a measure ostensibly ensuring “free speech” rights for religious leaders, opposed by an unusually broad array of Jewish and other religious groups, was stealthily inserted into a big tax bill.

The Bush blowup came when church-state groups uncovered efforts by the president’s re-election campaign to recruit up to 1,600 “friendly” houses of worship in Pennsylvania. According to Americans United for Church-State Separation, the goal was to “build a church-based political machine” to serve the president’s re-election efforts.

An e-mail from the campaign distributed to news organizations by the church-state watchdog group suggested the congregations could serve as places where “voters friendly to President Bush might gather on a regular basis.”

Al Franken airs apology for insensitive intersex remarks

Al Franken airs apology for insensitive intersex remarks on June 2.

Yesterday Bodies Like Ours sent an action alert containing a transcript excerpt from comedian and radio talk show host Al Franken containing an insensitive joke about intersex people and conjoined twins he made on his Air America show June 2, 2004. Many people reacted immediately by sending emails to the show expressing their dismay.

In a great example of how collective action can succeed, Al Franken will be issuing an apology for the remarks today on his show. Bodies Like Ours appreciates the quick response from Mr. Franken and his producer Ben Wikler in airing an apology. A copy of the apology is below.

A very BIG thank you to members of our community and allies for reacting so swiftly letting Mr. Franken know of their dismay.

-National Gay and Lesbian Task Force closes offices on June 11th in memory of all those lost to AIDS-

On June 6, George W. Bush announced a federal government closure and a national day of mourning for former President Ronald Reagan on June 11 by saying in part: "All executive departments, independent establishments, and other governmental agencies shall be closed on June 11, 2004, as a mark of respect for Ronald Reagan... I call on the American people to assemble on that day [National Day of Mourning] in their respective places of worship, there to pay homage to the memory of President Reagan." (see full text of proclamation and executive order on the Task Force Web site:

The offices of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force will be closed on Friday, June 11, 2004 in memory of all those we have lost to AIDS. (see Matt Foreman's open letter on the death of Ronald Reagan here:

Judge Keeps New Mexico Gay Wedding Ban In Place
by Newscenter Staff

(Albuquerque, New Mexico) A New Mexico judge ruled Wednesday that an injunction preventing the issuing a marriage licenses to same-sex couples will remain in place.

Sandoval County Clerk Victoria Dunlap said she was prepared to resume issuing the licenses after her attorney advised her a temporary injunction obtained the New Mexico Attorney General had expired.

Last weekend, lawyer, Paul Livingston, Sunday told Albuquerque television station KOB that he has advised Dunlap that the court order was "illegally gotten, improper and inappropriate," and that she was in a legal position to resume issuing the licenses.

Lawyers for Attorney General Patricia Madrid disagreed, maintaining it was still in effect.

Defying The Odds, The Rainbow Ride Grannies Are Half-Way Home

Amid death threats and hateful protests, Carrie and Elisia Ross-Stone, the lesbian grandmas who are riding bicycles on the Rainbow Ride Across America, persevere.

The Ross-Stones are lesbian civil rights activists and grandmothers to Jareth, age 2. They are riding their bicycles from San Francisco to New York City to raise awareness and get support for equal civil marriage rights.

With their journey more than half-way completed, Carrie and Elisia feel they are doing what they set out to do.

After 5 weeks and 2,100 miles on the road, they have met with many supporters of LGBT equality and have faced a few foes. They met with elected officials in several cities, including the Mayor of Salt Lake City Utah who spoke out in support of equal civil marriage rights. They have met and rallied with progressive groups from African American, Latino, Native American, Feminist, and Youth organizations, who are working together with the LGBT community to create positive social change in America.


Gay-marriage license deluge slows to a trickle

After an initial wave of same-sex applications since gay marriage became legal in Massachusetts three weeks ago, the number has slowed to a trickle, area clerks say.

According to a survey of 20 clerks offices in Greater Lowell, 53 percent of all license applications since May 17 have been filed by gay couples. But an overwhelming majority of those same-sex applications were done in the first week gays were allowed to marry.

In Ayer, the town clerk has handled six marriage applications since May 17, and five of them were from gay couples in that first week. In Bedford, all three same-sex couples who requested licenses applied in the first few days.

"It was the first week, that's been it," said Doreen Tremblay, Bedford's town clerk. "It's been pretty quiet. We don't expect it to be really busy."


Board against gay marriage ban

Oak Park trustees on Monday unanimously approved a resolution opposing any state or federal legislation that would define marriage solely as a union between a man and a woman.

The resolution, presented to the village by the Oak Park Area Lesbian and Gay Association, was brought to the board table by Trustee Ray Johnson, who is openly gay and a member of OPALGA.

"They were able to draft the resolution based on a model resolution already passed by the Chicago City Council and the Cook County Board of Commissioners," Johnson said Monday afternoon. "Human rights groups are trying to use consistent language across the country as the (campaign) continues."

According to the resolution, a 1996 U.S. General Accounting Office study found that marriage grants over 1,049 federal protection and benefits on citizens.


Lambda Lit Awards Handed Out in Chicago

The recipients of the 16th Annual Lambda Literary Awards were announced June 3 at a gala dinner in Chicago.     

Veteran novelist Christopher Bram received the Gay Men’s Fiction Award for Lives of the Circus Animals, a comedy set in the New York theater world. The Lesbian Fiction Award went to Nina Revoyr’s Southland, a study of the intersections of race and class in Los Angeles.


Politicking at polls may face limits
By Luke E. Saladin
Post staff reporter

With a heavily divided electorate expected to vote this November and state electioneering laws in limbo, it could fall to local government to ensure voters aren't pestered at the polls.

Tuesday, Kenton County Clerk Bill Aylor asked the Kenton County Fiscal Court to consider passing an ordinance banning "electioneering" -- actively campaigning -- within 300 feet of a polling place during elections.

A similar ordinance has been passed in Fayette and Leslie counties. The ordinance is being pushed by the Kentucky Association of County Clerks in an effort to head off expected problems following the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that struck down the state's ban electioneering within 500 feet of the polls.

Aylor said he decided to request the Fiscal Court's consideration when the Kenton County Grand Jury, in its routine review of the May 18 primary, asked the count clerk address potential electioneering problems in future elections.


Far-right to stage gay dean protest
By Aaron Bateman

FAR-RIGHT group the National Front is organising a protest march against the installation of a gay priest as Dean of St Albans.

Deputy chairman Bernard Franklin said the NF was aggrieved at the "subversion" of the Church of England and said up to 150 members would be taking action in protest at Canon Jeffrey John's appointment.

Members will march to St Albans Abbey for the installation ceremony next month and distribute leaflets outside outlining their concerns at the "watering down of the Church's message".

He added: "As Christians we are concerned that the Church is failing as an institution.