Compiled by Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
Three sentenced in Araujo murder
HAYWARD, Calif. – Michael Magidson, 25, and Jose Merel, 26, were sentenced to the mandatory terms of 15 years-to-life for second-degree murder on Jan. 27. A third man, Jason Cazares, 26, who pleaded no contest to manslaughter in a plea bargain, was sentenced to six years.
Before the sentences were handed out, Araujo’s relatives addressed the court.
“Gwen deserved the right to live her life,” her mother, Sylvia Guerrero, told the defendants.
Jaron Nabors, who pleaded guilty to manslaughter early in the case and testified for the prosecution, was expected to be sentenced later to 11 years in prison.
Cabinet-level official to represent D.C.’s gay community
WASHINGTON – The D.C. government now has a cabinet-level official who will help improve services to the city’s gay community.
Mayor Anthony Williams has signed a bill elevating the director of the office of GLBT affairs to the mayor’s cabinet.
Antigay extremist files ballot initiatives to stop equality in Washington
OLYMPIA – Anti-human rights activist Tim Eyman has filed two ballot measures, seeking to stop recently passed pro-gay human civil rights legislation from taking effect.
Eyman’s referendum would give voters the option of voting down the measure that adds “sexual orientation” to a state law that bans discrimination in housing, employment, insurance and credit. The amendment to current law, passed out of the Legislature on Jan. 27, makes Washington the 17th state passing such laws covering gays and lesbians, and the seventh to protect transgender people.
Gov. Chris Gregoire was expected to sign the bill. It would take effect in June, but if Eyman is able to get enough signatures by the June deadline the law will be frozen until a November vote.
Eyman is also pushing an initiative that would, in addition to removing “sexual orientation” from the law, prohibit state government from requiring quotas or other preferential treatment for any person or group “based on sexual orientation or sexual preference.”
Religious groups get nearly one-fourth of Bush administration AIDS money
WASHINGTON – George W. Bush’s $15 billion effort to fight AIDS has handed out nearly one-quarter of its grants to religious groups including a Christian relief organization known for feeding hungry children, a Catholic charity and a group run by the son of evangelist Billy Graham.
Officials are actively seeking church groups that advocate abstinence and fidelity in dual-sex marriages over the use of condoms.
Alaska lawmaker proposes anti-gay-benefits amendment
JUNEAU, Alaska -The Alaska Legislature could soon be deliberating a proposed amendment to the state Constitution to nullify a court decision ordering the state to pay benefits to the same-sex partners of its employees.
An extremist state Senator told the Legislative Council on Jan. 26 that he has a draft constitutional amendment that could be introduced by his committee as early as next week.
A constitutional change would require approval by two-thirds of the House and Senate and approval by a majority of voters in November’s election.
The Alaska Supreme Court ruled in October that denying gay couples the same public employee benefits as married couples violates the Alaska Constitution’s equal-protection clause.
The Legislature passed a law in 1996 that said a same-sex couple is not entitled to the benefits of a married couple, which the Alaska Supreme Court found unconstitutional. In 1998, voters approved an amendment to the state’s constitution banning equal marriage rights.
U.S. military investigating allegations that paratroopers appear on a gay porn Web site
RALEIGH, N.C. – Army officials are investigating allegations that members of the 82nd Airborne Division appear on a gay pornography Web site, a spokeswoman said Jan. 27.
Authorities at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, have begun an inquiry into whether the paratroopers’ actions violated the military conduct code.
A division spokeswoman declined to say how many paratroopers are involved or identify their unit within the division. A defense official speaking on condition of anonymity said up to seven soldiers are involved.
The 82nd Airborne is one of the most celebrated units in the military.
Gay Colombian man seeks U.S. asylum
MIAMI – A gay Colombian man who is HIV-positive is seeking to stay in the United States, arguing that paramilitary groups in his native country will kill him if he returns.
Luis Fabriciano Rico’s initial asylum request was rejected by an immigration judge in 2003, a decision that was upheld by appellate judges. Now, Rico is asking the Board of Immigration to reopen his case, arguing that the persecution of gays in Colombia has shot up in recent years.
The 38-year-old hails from Barrancabermeja, Colombia, which has been under the control of right-wing paramilitary groups in recent years. Rico’s attorney told The Associated Press that since 2003, the groups have targeted anyone perceived to be gay.
Human rights opponent wants to drive down pro-gay companies’ shares
OLYMPIA, Wash. – A pastor who had threatened a national boycott against Microsoft and other major companies for supporting a gay civil rights bill is now urging people to buy up the companies’ stock and then dump it to drive prices down.
Rev. Ken Hutcherson, pastor of Antioch Bible Church in the Seattle suburb of Redmond says he wants to use the stock market to make a political point.
One market expert laughed at the idea.
“The chances of him being successful with that are slim to none, and slim just left town,” said Hans Olsen, chief investment officer at Bingham Legg Advisers.
There are roughly 10.6 billion Microsoft shares outstanding with a collective value of about $280 billion. Microsoft shares closed at $26.28 in trading Jan. 25. At that price, if every person in the United States bought roughly $100 worth of Microsoft stock, together they would own about 11 percent of the company.
An assistant professor of law at the University of Washington in Seattle said the pastor’s plan also could be considered illegal market manipulation.
Jury chooses design for Berlin memorial to homosexual Holocaust victims
BERLIN – A jury has chosen a design for a memorial in Berlin to homosexuals persecuted and killed under the Nazis, a monument that will complement the nearby memorial to the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust.
The design is shaped as a gray concrete slab with a window allowing visitors to view a film projection inside. A city government statement said the intention is to build the memorial “as soon as possible,” although it gave no date.
The memorial, whose construction was approved by the German parliament, will stand opposite the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
Czech parliament approves gay partnership
PRAGUE, Czech Republic – The upper chamber of Czech parliament voted on Jan. 27 to grant some legal rights to same-sex partners.
If approved also by President Vaclav Klaus, the legislation will allow couples who register their partnership with authorities to have inheritance and health care rights similar to those granted now to heterosexual married couples.
The law does not allow marriage or adoption of children by same-sex partners.
Pupil recognized for his artful anti-bullying expressions
RICHMOND, Va. – Third-grader Christopher Oliver of Cool Spring Elementary School in Hanover County has won this year’s national No Name-Calling Week Expression Contest.
Oliver beat out more than 1,300 students from across the country. In its third year, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing and No Name-Calling Week Coalition of more than 40 national education organizations asked students to submit essays, poetry, music, artwork or other creative expressions that conveyed experiences and feelings about name-calling and bullying in their schools. No Name Calling Week began Jan. 23.
Oliver’s entry in the competition was an art piece with the words “gAY,” “StUPid,” and “frEAk” scattered about a face shape cut from a newspaper page. At the bottom of the artwork, he pasted his message: “JUnKy wordS BelOnG in the traSh can.”
Eight thousand registered for Gay Games
CHICAGO – Over 8,000 participants from more than 30 countries already are signed up for this summer’s Gay Games, which are being held in the Chicago area.
The Games’ executive director said registration rates are ahead of expectations and that he hopes to exceed organizers’ forecast of 12,000 athletes and artists.
Some if this year’s sports, such as sailing, already are closed for registration because they have reached capacity.
The Gay Games are scheduled for July 15 – 22.
‘Brokeback’ leads Academy nominations
HOLLYWOOD – “Brokeback Mountain” leads the Academy Awards field with eight nominations, among them best picture and honors for actor Heath Ledger and director Ang Lee.
Also nominated for best picture were the Truman Capote story “Capote;” the ensemble drama “Crash;” the Edward R. Murrow chronicle “Good Night, and Good Luck;” the assassination thriller “Munich.”
Along with best-actor contender Ledger and directing nominee Lee, “Brokeback Mountain” scored nominations for Michelle Williams as supporting actress, Jake Gyllenhaal as supporting actor and Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana for their screenplay adaptation of Annie Proulx’s short story.
Felicity Huffman was nominated for Best Actress for her role in “Transamerica.”