Compiled by Dawn Wolfe
House members press Bloch again on sexual orientation bias
WASHINGTON – Five members of the House of Representatives have renewed their call for an unambiguous statement from the U.S. official responsible for enforcing federal anti-discrimination regulations as to whether discrimination based on the sexual orientation of federal employees violates the law.
Scott J. Bloch, director of the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, ordered the removal from the OSC website any references to the fact that sexual orientation discrimination was prohibited within the federal workforce, as well as removing information on how an employee could file a claim for sexual orientation discrimination early in 2004.
AFL-CIO votes against the FMA
LAS VEGAS – In a unanimous resolution March 3, the AFL-CIO Executive Council declared that “the FMA and its state counterparts threaten the rights of working people by creating an environment across the nation that is hostile to the rights of domestic partners, regardless of their sexual orientation.” The Executive Council resolution noted, “The AFL-CIO recognizes that families come in all shapes and sizes.”
The resolution also reiterated the AFL-CIO’s “longstanding support for the full inclusion and equal rights of [LGBT] people in the workplace and in society.”
Judge bans group’s use of gay pair photo
WASHINGTON – A federal judge March 10 prohibited a conservative group supporting George W. Bush’s Social Security plan from using a photo of a gay couple in its online ads attacking AARP.
USA Next had posted the ad for a week in mid-February on the Web site of The American Spectator. The ad portrayed the AARP, the senior citizen lobby leading the opposition to Bush’s plan, as opposed to U.S. soldiers and supportive of equal marriage.
The Portland, Ore., couple, Richard Raymen and Steven Hansen, filed suit against USA Next March 9.
Court backs gay man in asylum case
SAN FRANCISCO – A gay Lebanese man suffering from AIDS has enough reason to fear persecution in his homeland that he should not be deported while seeking asylum in the United States, a federal appeals court ruled March 7.
In determining that sexual orientation makes Karouni eligible for refugee status, the court rejected the Justice Department’s argument that if he refrained from having sex upon his return home, he could avoid the fate of gay friends who were beaten, jailed or killed.
VIENNA, Austria – Thousands of lives could be saved if more drug users had access to clean needles, reducing the risk of HIV infections, several AIDS experts said March 10 during a meeting of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs. The use of dirty needles by intravenous drug users accounts for about 10 percent of all new HIV infections, according to the World Health Organization.
But such methods remain controversial with opponents, including the United States, arguing that they encourage drug use. Supporters say they are the only possibility to rein in transmission among addicts.
Transgender woman gets 5-year sentence in silicone death
HOUSTON – A transgender woman has been sentenced to five years in prison for giving another transgender woman a fatal silicone injection meant to enlarge her breasts. Guadalupe Camarena could have faced up to life in prison after pleading guilty in October to aggravated assault in the 2003 death of 22-year-old Delfino Gonzalez.
Gonzalez was one of four transgender people who died in 2003 after undergoing the illegal procedure they sought as an alternative to hormone therapy. Silicone injections, which are not approved or offered by plastic surgeons, are also much cheaper than surgery.
PARIS – Agence France Presse reported March 4 that a long-term study into anti-HIV drugs confirms their ability to control the AIDS virus and suggests that, in the right conditions, the proportion of patients who fail to respond to these vital medications can be kept low and stable.
According to the report, the research derives from patient records at six large AIDS clinics in Britain, where 16,593 people with HIV were treated between 1996 and 2002.
Of the people who had tried all three classes of HAART drugs about 15 percent experienced treatment failure.
The level was attained quickly after the drugs were introduced but then remained remarkably stable in the following years. The study was published in the March 5 edition of the British Medical Journal.
In Other News
Navratilova sues sponsor of gay credit card
SARASOTA, Fla. – Martina Navratilova is suing the sponsor of a credit card directly marketed to gays and lesbians, saying it uses her name and likeness after her request last month to stop.
Navratilova is seeking at least $75,000 in damages from Do Tell, Inc., which offers the Rainbow Card. The card helps fund the nonprofit Rainbow Coalition, which promotes the health and social well being of LGBT people.
Do Tell had used Navratilova to market the card since 1995 with the tennis star’s permission.
GLAAD to honor Billy Crystal, Alan Cumming at 16th annual GLAAD Media Awards
LOS ANGELES – On March 7, The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation announced that it will honor Billy Crystal and Alan Cumming at the 16th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York City on March 28.
GLAAD will honor Billy Crystal with the Excellence in Media Award, given to individuals in the media and entertainment industries who through their work have increased the visibility and understanding of the LGBT community.
Alan Cumming will be honored with the Vito Russo Award. The Vito Russo Award is presented to an openly lesbian, gay or bisexual member of the entertainment or media community for outstanding contributions toward eliminating homophobia.