Contractors must offer DP benefits in California
SACRAMENTO – California is the first state to require businesses with large state contracts to offer domestic partners the same benefits that spouses enjoy, though the law will not take effect until 2007.
Outgoing Gov. Gray Davis signed the bill enacting the measure, a key goal of gay rights groups.
In 1996, San Francisco became the first jurisdiction in the country to adopt such a requirement, prompting numerous companies to offer benefits to domestic partners. Other cities have since followed suit, and California is the first state to approve such a law.
The measure narrowly cleared the Legislature earlier this year, passing the Assembly with the minimum number of votes needed.
At the time, Democrats described the measure as a victory for fairness and civil rights, while Republican opponents said it would trample the rights of employers who objected to gay relationships.
The new law will apply to contracts worth $100,000 or more, and may be waived in emergencies and cases where there is only one bidder.
ACLU urges SSA to grant survivor benefits to lesbian’s son
NEW YORK – The ACLU filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the Social Security Administration to provide survivor benefits to the child of a lesbian mother.
As described in ACLU legal papers, early in their seven-year relationship together, Eva Kadrey and Camille Caracappa talked about having a child. Camille was the principal breadwinner in the family, so they decided that Eva would carry their child. In March 1998, Eva gave birth to Nicolaj Sikes Caracappa. Camille continued to work full time while Eva stayed at home with Nicolaj. After Nicolaj was born, Camille contacted a lawyer to adopt him. Camille died suddenly of an undiagnosed brain aneurysm at 38, before adoption paperwork was completed.
Eva filed for Social Security survivorship benefits for Nicolaj in November 2000. Less than a month later, the SSA denied Nicolaj’s claim because Camille and Eva weren’t married and Camille wasn’t Nicolaj’s biological mother.
The case is now up for review by an administrative law judge in Voorhees, New Jersey.
Judge Allows Transgender Discrimination Claims to Go Forward
NEW YORK – A judge has freed the way for the Hispanic AIDS Forum, New York’s largest Latino AIDS service provider, to proceed to trial in a case against its former landlord for transgender discrimination.
HAF, represented by the ACLU, brought suit against its former landlord for illegal eviction after the landlord complained that HAF’s transgender clients were using the “wrong” bathrooms and banished all transgender people from the common areas of the building.
“It is unfortunate that the bathroom has once again become a battleground in the fight for equal rights,” said James Esseks, Litigation Director of the ACLU’s AIDS Project.”
The court’s ruling was in response to a motion by the landlord who claimed that transgender people are not protected by the state’s civil rights laws. This court, a New York State trial court, joined other New York courts in interpreting the state’s civil rights law to include protections for transgender people. This is the first lawsuit under New York’s civil rights law that has dealt with the issue of which bathrooms are appropriate for transgender people to use. After this lawsuit was filed, New York City amended its civil rights law to provide explicit coverage for transgender people.
Lesbian gets settlement in discrimination suit
PULLMAN, WA – Pullman Memorial Hospital and Dr. Charles Guess have agreed to pay Mary Jo Davis $75,000 for harassing and illegally firing her solely because she is a lesbian.
Davis worked in the Radiology Department at the hospital for about two years. Dr. Charles Guess, the chief radiologist, harassed her routinely. Guess constantly referred to Davis as a “fucking dyke” and “fucking faggot” and told another doctor, “I don’t think that fucking faggot should be doing vaginal exams, and I’m not working with her.”
When Davis complained, Guess told hospital administrators that he didn’t “agree with Mary Jo Davis’ lesbian lifestyle.” Rather than discipline Guess, the hospital punished Davis by reducing her work hours to three-quarters time so Guess wouldn’t have to work with her. Finally, Davis was fired.
In July 2002, the Washington Court of Appeals sided with the ACLU, holding that government employers can not discriminate against employees for being gay. This was the first time that an appeals court interpreted the U.S. Constitution to protect government employees against anti-gay discrimination.
Lawmakers call for change to policy for foreign same-sex married couples
WASHINGTON – Four Democratic from the House of Representatives who oversee immigration policy sent a letter to the Commissioner of the Customs Service calling for an end to the policy under which a same-sex Canadian couple was refused entry into the United States as long as the couple insisted on including their Canadian marital status on the documents required for entry into this country.
In the letter to Commissioner Robert Bonner, the Members of Congress write “[h]ad the two men been allowed to enter the U.S. with their Canadian marital status listed on the form, they would have been entitled to no legal rights or privileges in the U.S. as a married couple…We do not understand why it should be American policy to insist that people seeking to enter our country as tourists from another country repudiate their own country’s rules and engage in what are to them wholly inaccurate self-descriptions, and in a way that they understandably found to be degrading. Forcing people to deny their own important values, when this has no legal bearing in the U.S., serves no public purpose, and whatever its motivation, becomes a form of meanness – inflicting emotional pain on people for no reason other than to express our official disapproval of them.”
The letter was signed by Representatives Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Barney Frank (D-MA).
Lexington council votes to consider rescinding DP benefits
LEXINGTON, Ky. – City employees who signed up for domestic partner health benefits earlier this year soon might no longer have that option, if an Oct. 14 vote by the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council is any indication.
The council voted 10-3 with one abstention to place an item on a future agenda that would deny the extension of health insurance benefit coverage to domestic partners of city employees.
The proposal must have two readings in front of the council before a final vote is taken. The second reading likely will take place Nov. 6.
The vote was the latest development in a battle over domestic partner benefits that has included a council moratorium, a mayoral veto of the moratorium and a council override of the veto.
If domestic partner benefits are rescinded, partners of employees would no longer be covered starting Jan. 1.
Gay men ejected by pastor after going public
NEW YORK – Catholic pastor Edmund Whalen of St. Benedict’s Church in the Bronx ordered Michael Sabatino Jr., who has sung in the choir for 32 years, and his partner, Robert Voorheis out of the choir because they went public with their gay wedding, the men say.
Between Sept. 28 and Oct. 5, the men had been profiled on the front page of The Journal News, featured in an article on gay marriage on ChristianityToday.com, and married in a United Church of Canada ceremony in Ontario.
Whalen “told us he couldn’t have us in a public ministry after going public in the newspapers,” Sabatino told The Journal News. “He said, ‘I have parishioners who are complaining.'”
When Sabatino and Voorheis asked Whalen for his decision in writing, Whalen told them he would “shut down the choir” rather than allow them to sing in it, Sabatino said.
On June 22, both men received certificates from the parish signed by Whalen that commended them for their “noteworthy participation” in the choir.
N.C. church ordains first lesbian minister
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – The Western North Carolina Association of the United Church of Christ approved Cindy Maddox, its first openly gay minister.
Members also reaffirmed a 1983 resolution that says “avowed practicing homosexuals shall not be ordained to the Christian ministry in this association.”
The apparent contradictory decisions at the association’s annual meeting led some people to think the members didn’t understand what they were doing.
The 1983 resolution remained standing after secret, written ballots were cast by the 140 delegates.
The annual association meeting included 62 churches in the Western North Carolina Conference. The United Church of Christ leaves ordination decisions to its regional associations. After nearly two years of study and conversation on the issue of gay clergy, it’s still not clear whether the sensitive subject was laid to rest with Tuesday’s vote.
Cardinal blasted for his criticism of condoms
VATICAN CITY – A top Vatican cardinal said he was surprised by the reaction over his contention that condoms don’t adequately protect against transmitting the AIDS virus.
Last week, the United Nations’ health agency strongly contested Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo’s claim, which came in an interview he gave in September.
The Vatican opposes condoms as a way to fight AIDS, saying chastity is the best way to prevent the spread of the HIV virus.
The World Health Organization spokeswoman, Fadela Chaib, said last week that any claim that condoms don’t protect against HIV is “totally wrong.” HIV experts have said several scientific studies show that the virus cannot pass through condoms.
“It is quite dangerous to claim the contrary when you realize that today we are facing an epidemic which has already killed 20 million people and 42 million people are infected today,” Chaib said.
In Other News:
Streisand to receive humanitarian honor for gay-rights efforts
LOS ANGELES – HRC will present Barbra Streisand with a Humanitarian Award March 6 for her support of gay and lesbian issues, religious freedom, and racial and gender equality.
HRC said Streisand, 61, took a stand against an anti-gay-rights proposal in Colorado in 1992 and has been a regular financial contributor to the Human Rights Campaign and other gay and lesbian organizations.
Also being honored are Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, executive producers of Academy Award best-picture winner “Chicago.” The Human Rights Campaign is giving Zadan and Meron its corporate award for their work on projects that positively portray gay and lesbian characters, including the TV movies “Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story” and “What Makes a Family.”