Compiled by Dawn Wolfe
National survey shows gay-specific marketing practices may influence LGB purchases
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – According to a recent nationwide online survey, seven in ten LGB respondents say they are extremely or very likely to consider a brand that is known to provide equal workplace benefits for all of their employees, including gays and lesbians. Half of LGB respondents also report they are extremely or very likely to consider brands that support nonprofits and/or causes that are important to them as LGB people.
The survey was conducted online between Dec. 8 and 15, 2004 by Harris Interactive, a worldwide market research and consulting firm, in conjunction with Witeck-Combs Communications, Inc., a strategic public relations and marketing communications firm with special expertise in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender market.
These latest findings corroborate what earlier studies by Witeck-Combs Communications and Harris Interactive revealed – particularly research conducted in May 2001 which concluded that 48 percent of LGB respondents “trust brands more if they are manufactured by companies that have progressive policies towards gay and lesbian employees.”
For the complete results visit http://www.witeckcombs.com/news.asp.
Bill to fund comprehensive sex education introduced
WASHINGTON – The Responsible Education About Life Act was introduced Feb. 10 by Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. It would create a grant program administered by the Department of Health and Human Services that would award $206 million per year to states for comprehensive sexuality education.
Currently, states can only receive federal funding for sexuality education if they teach abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that routinely exclude information about contraception and sexually transmitted diseases. A recent study at Texas A&M University showed that teenagers taking abstinence-only sex education programs became increasingly sexually active, which is the exact opposite effect that for which the program is designed.
Contact our U.S. Senators and tell them to support REAL sex education:
Senator Carl Levin: 202-224-6221
Senator Debbie Stabenow: 202-224-4822
To get contact information for your U.S. Representative, visit http://www.vote-smart.org or call the Congressional switchboard at 202-224-3121.
White House wants gay policy suit tossed
WASHINGTON – The Bush administration on Feb. 7 asked a federal court to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the Pentagon’s 11-year-old “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy. The government said the landmark Supreme Court ruling last year that overturned state laws making gay sex a crime does not undercut the military’s policy that allows gays and lesbians to serve as long as they abstain from homosexual activity and do not disclose their sexual orientation.
Call the White House and let George W. Bush know how you feel about discrimination against our gay and lesbian service members: 202-456-1111
Mass. AG backs equal marriage rights
BOSTON – Attorney General Thomas Reilly, who played a key role in state efforts to fight the legalization of equal marriage rights a year ago, now says he favors equal marriage and will oppose any efforts to ban it.
Reilly, an unannounced Democratic candidate for governor, said he was “moved” by the marriages of same-sex couples that took place after gay marriage was legalized May 17, and said he would vote against a constitutional amendment to ban equal marriage if it reached the 2006 state ballot.
“Once rights are given, they should not be taken away,” Reilly said.
Reilly said he still personally believes marriage is between a man and woman. He also declined to take a position on whether a proposed constitutional amendment banning equal marriage should go before voters, saying that’s up to legislators.
National Stonewall Dems announce appointment of Eric Stern as executive director
Washington – On Feb. 9 the board of directors of the National Stonewall Democrats appointed Eric Stern as executive director. Stern currently serves as director of GLBT outreach at the Democratic National Committee, a position he has held since July 2003. The appointment is effective as of March 1.
During his tenure at the DNC, Stern oversaw and developed the DNC’s National Outreach and Voter Mobilization Program and Pride at the Polls program, increased the DNC’s communication with the LGBT press, conducted grassroots organizing trainings, and worked with state Democratic parties to increase the number of LGBT delegates to the party’s national convention.
Lawmaker proposes removing sexual orientation from state’s hate crimes law
HARRISBURG, PA – A state lawmaker has proposed a bill that would remove the section banning harassment based on sexual orientation from the state’s hate crime laws.
The representative said he filed the bill in response to the arrest of five evangelical Christian protesters at a gay pride festival in Philadelphia. The five were charged with violating the state’s Ethnic Intimidation Act when they disrupted the event with bullhorn preaching that homosexuality is a sin.
Ohio judge won’t rule on marriage issue in domestic violence case
CLEVELAND – On Feb. 11, a judge said he won’t decide whether the state’s recently enacted constitutional amendment banning equal marriage rights makes the state’s 25-year-old domestic violence law unconstitutional.
A 30-year-old Cleveland man accused of slapping his live-in girlfriend had asked the judge to throw out a domestic violence charge, saying such a charge should be reserved for married couples under the amendment banning equal marriage rights and civil unions. The judge denied the request because the domestic violence charge was filed in August, before Ohio’s marriage amendment passed in November.
Gay discharges from military drop in 2004
WASHINGTON – The number of U.S. military members discharged for making it known they are homosexual declined last year by 15 percent and has fallen by nearly one-half since 2001, the Pentagon said Feb. 11.
The 653 discharges compares with 770 in 2003, and was the lowest number for any year since the Pentagon began keeping track in 1997.
In 2001, at the start of the Bush administration’s global war on terrorism, there were 1,227 discharges under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” policy.
FDA warns against using Canadian home tests for pregnancy, HIV
WASHINGTON – The government warned consumers Feb. 7 not to use certain home diagnostic tests marketed by a Canadian company because they have not been approved for sale in the United States and could give false results.
The agency said it learned the kits were being sold illegally in the United States after receiving complaints from consumers in recent months, including one about false-positives for an HIV test. Currently, no home tests for HIV, syphilis and dengue fever are approved for U.S. sale.
The products are labeled as Rapid HIV Test Kit; Rapid Syphilis Test Kit; One Step Cassette Style Cocaine Test; One Step Cassette Style Marijuana (THC) Test; One Step Cassette Style Amphetamine Test; Rapid Dengue Fever Test; One Step Midstream Style HCG Urine (Home); and Pregnancy Test.
The government urged anyone who has used the kits to get retested.
Scientists studying rare AIDS strain
NEW YORK – AIDS scientists are studying viruses isolated from two people to find out if either of them are the source of a possibly more aggressive, drug resistant strain of HIV discovered in a local man.
Dr. David Ho, director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center said more tests are needed to determine if the strains from the three people are identical. Some findings may be available in a week, while others may take longer, he said.
“What we can’t prove is that this is a supervirus,” Dr. Ho told The New York Times in Feb. 14 editions. He explained it is not clear whether it caused rapid progression from infection to AIDS in the New York City man, whose name has not been released.
Even if the strains were the same, Dr. Ho said, it still may not mean that a supervirus is spreading because there might be genetic factors in the man that made the virus more aggressive.
Meanwhile, Massachusetts doctors have also treated several HIV patients with a resistance to some of the most commonly prescribed treatments, raising further concerns about a possible new, drug-resistant strain of the virus.
Experts urge routine HIV tests for all
WASHINGTON – Urging a major shift in U.S. policy, some health experts are recommending that virtually all Americans be tested routinely for the AIDS virus, much as they are for cancer and other diseases.
Two large, federally funded studies found that the cost of routinely testing and treating nearly all adults would be outweighed by a reduction in new infections and the opportunity to start patients on drug cocktails early, when they work best. The studies appeared in the Feb. 10 New England Journal of Medicine.
One of the studies, by researchers at Duke and Stanford universities and the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, estimated that routine one-time testing of everyone would cut new infections each year by just over 20 percent, and that every HIV-infected patient identified would gain an average of 1 1/2 years of life.
Seminary head ousted over daughter’s wedding to her female partner
NEW BRUNSWICK, New Jersey– The New Brunswick Theological Seminary has ousted its president and reprimanded him for officiating at his lesbian daughter’s wedding.
The Rev. Norman Kansfield, 64, performed the ceremony in Massachusetts, which last year became the first state to sanction equal marriage. He could face a church trial later this year.
In a letter sent shortly before the June 19 wedding, Kansfield informed the board of his decision to officiate, and said he wasn’t seeking its permission. His daughter, Anne, married her partner, Jennifer Aull.
The board voted January 28 not to renew Kansfield’s contract. The Reformed Church’s national office in Grand Rapids, Michigan, said formal complaints have been filed against Kansfield, who expects to be brought up on charges in June at the church’s General Synod.
Kansfield said a trial would be the highest-profile proceeding in the church since 1962, when a seminary professor questioned whether the first parts of Genesis should be taken literally.
Bishop to defrock three priests who opposed gay clergy ordination
LEXINGTON, Ky. – An Episcopal bishop has moved to defrock three priests and one deacon who have distanced themselves from the church since the consecration of an openly gay bishop in 2003. All four have moved away from the Episcopal Church USA because of theological differences, and the bishop has ordered them to stop ministering in the diocese.
Since August 2003, when Gene Robinson was ordained bishop of New Hampshire, 30 members of the clergy in 17 dioceses have been “inhibited,” or ordered to stop ministry, for abandoning communion, the bishop said.
The bishop supported Robinson’s ordination, but the clergy members who have been inhibited did not.
The inhibitions, which were handed down January 20, are expected to have little impact on the clergy members who have been told to stop ministering. Each of them said they plan to continue.