Compiled by Dawn Wolfe
House urges recruiting decision reversal
WASHINGTON – On Feb. 2, the House urged the federal government to contest a court decision that would allow colleges to limit the activities of military recruiters on their campuses because of the military’s ban on openly gay people.
The nonbinding resolution, approved 327-84, expresses support for a 1995 law that denies defense-related funding to universities that don’t provide ROTC programs and don’t give military recruiters equal access to their campuses.
Last November a three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the law saying it infringed on the free-speech rights of law schools that had barred on-campus recruiting because of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
The Justice Department said last month that it will ask the Supreme Court to overturn the appeals court’s ruling.
Stonewall Democrats endorse Dean for DNC Chair
WASHINGTON – On Feb. 3, the National Stonewall Democrats announced its endorsement of Gov. Howard Dean in his candidacy for Chair of the Democratic National Committee, the first time the group has endorsed in campaigns for party chair. NSD granted the endorsement after a month-long process that allowed the candidates for Chair to interact with the organization’s membership. The DNC will elect a new Chair at their Winter Meeting Feb. 12 in Washington, D.C.
Stachelberg appointed as VP of HRC Foundation, will launch Religion Project
WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign announced Feb. 3 the promotion of Winnie Stachelberg to serve in the organization’s newly created position of vice president of its Foundation. Stachelberg previously served as HRC’s political director.
One of Stachelberg’s primary tasks is to launch a Religion Project to research and develop the language and messages to more effectively discuss LGBT issues with people of faith. The project will build and strengthen relationships with faith-based organizations and cultivate spokespeople; create forums for dialogue with those who oppose LGBT equality on religious grounds; and develop and implement strategies to challenge the extremism of the religious right.
P-Fox president expelled from the American Counseling Association
NEW YORK – Author Wayne Besen released a letter Jan. 25 he had uncovered from the American Counseling Association that “permanently expelled” reparative therapist Richard Cohen in 2003 for serious ethics violations. As the outspoken president of Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Dr. Laura Schlessinger’s ex-gay advisor, Cohen’s expulsion casts a shadow over the practice of trying to change sexual orientation.
The letter refers to Cohen’s violations, which included inappropriate behavior such as fostering dependent counseling relationships, not promoting the welfare of clients, engaging in actions that sought to meet his personal needs at the expense of clients, exploiting the trust and dependency of clients, unethically soliciting testimonials from clients and promoting products to clients in a manner that is deceptive.
Cohen is the president of P-FOX, a group that recently placed an ex-gay billboard in Virginia and sponsored a controversial ad campaign in Washington DC’s subway system. His website is www.gaytostraight.org and he is a conference instructor for the National Association for the Research and Therapy for Homosexuality.
Besen is the author of “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth.”
Gay father fights antigay custody restriction
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – A lawyer for Ulf Hedberg filed a brief with the Court of Special Appeals Jan. 31 asking the court to dissolve a Virginia Court order prohibiting Blaise Delahoussaye from living in the same house with Hedberg and his son. A judge in Alexandria, Va., awarded joint legal custody to the Hedberg and his former wife when they divorced, but gave Hedberg primary physical custody with the condition that Delahoussaye move out of the house. Hedberg filed suit in Montgomery County Circuit Court to dissolve the Virginia court order, but the suit was dismissed.
Lambda Legal and National Center for Lesbian Rights are supporting Hedberg’s lawsuit.
Court to hear arguments in case of lesbian seeking visitation with her child
PITTSBURGH – Lambda Legal will go back to the Pennsylvania Superior Court Feb. 8 to argue that a lower court was wrong to deny a lesbian mother visitation with her child after her ex-partner (the child’s biological mother) worked to alienate the child from her.
The parents in this case, identified by their initials to protect the child’s privacy, were in a long-term relationship and raised the child together for three years. After their 1996 breakup, L.R.M. refused to allow T.B. visits with their daughter, despite T.B.’s daily parental role in the child’s life.
Represented by Lambda Legal in the earlier stages of the case, T.B. was declared to be the child’s parent by both the Pennsylvania Superior Court in 2000 and the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 2001. The Supreme Court recognized the lesbian mother’s legal standing as a parent, applying the same rules that the court has applied to other families. The court said a lesbian or gay parent may seek visitation or custody of a child, even if there is no biological or legal tie, if she or he assumed a parental status and performed parental duties over time with the consent of the legal parent.
The case was sent back down to the lower court to determine visitation and custody arrangements. In a disturbing ruling, the lower court said that the biological mother was so successful at alienating the child that it was in the child’s best interest to remain separated from her other mother.
Mayor faces charges for marrying gay couples
ALBANY, N.Y. – Saying public officials cannot pick and choose which laws to obey, a judge reinstated criminal charges Feb. 2 against New Paltz Village Mayor Jason West, who got in trouble for marrying a series of gay couples last year. West was hit with 24 misdemeanor counts after conducting the services last February, but the charges were later dismissed by a town court judge who said there were constitutional problems in banning gay marriages.
Two New Yorkers diagnosed with rare STD; same strain found in Europe
NEW YORK – Health officials announced Feb. 2 that two New Yorkers have been diagnosed with a rare form of Chlamydia known as lymphogranuloma venereum, or LGV. To date, the federal Centers for Disease Control – which is coordinating a national investigation – has confirmed six recent cases in the states, including the two in New York and cases in San Francisco and Atlanta. The illness appears to have primarily affected gay and bi-sexual men. The CDC is also investigating other potential cases.
Among cases identified thus far, most also have HIV/AIDS. Most people infected report having multiple sex partners and engaging in unprotected anal intercourse and other high-risk practices. Symptoms of LGV include painful, bloody rectal infection that may be confused with inflammatory bowel disease. Genital ulcers and draining lymph nodes in the groin area can also occur. If identified early, LGV can be treated with antibiotics. Untreated LGV can cause permanent damage to the bowels and disfigurement of the genitals. LGV can also fuel the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Report: AIDS on the rise among Blacks
LOS ANGELES – Blacks make up more than half of new HIV infections annually in the U.S. and about two-thirds of new AIDS cases among teens, though they represent less than 15 percent of the nation’s population, according to a report released Feb. 1.
The report, produced by the Black AIDS Institute, a Los Angeles-based research and public policy group, was released to coincide with the beginning of Black History Month. The report also noted that black women made up 67 percent of U.S. women diagnosed with AIDS in 2001.
The institute called on Congress to increase funding for AIDS and HIV treatment, control the cost of medications, provide more comprehensive sex education in schools and urge more states to adopt needle exchange programs.
Woman gets 5 years for silicone death
ALBANY – A Georgia transgender woman was sentenced to five years in prison Jan. 31 after she plead guilty to manslaughter charges in the death of a woman who suffered complications after a “pumping party.”
“Pumping parties” are underground events in which women – many of them transgender – pump industrial-grade silicone into each other to create more-feminine features. Unlike medical-grade silicone, industrial-grade silicone is not sterile, and it can leak and cause infections when injected.
Nation’s only national HIV/AIDS youth conference Feb. 19
NASHVILLE – The National Association of People with AIDS will launch its 12th annual Ryan White National Youth Conference on HIV and AIDS on Feb. 19, counting more than 125 HIV-positive young people among the 500 participants from the across the world expected to attend. HIV-positive youth will come together Feb. 18 at NAPWA’s Positive Youth Institute to learn advocacy and leadership skills from young trainers living with HIV.
Jeanne White-Ginder, mother of Ryan White, who died of AIDS at age 18 in 1990, will address the conference. For more information or to register, visit http://www.napwa.org or call 240-247-0880, ext. 5682.
India tests AIDS vaccine
NEW DELHI – Indian scientists on Feb. 7 began the country’s first human clinical trials of a vaccine designed to prevent AIDS. The testing involves 30 male and female volunteers between 18 and 45 years of age who are free of HIV/AIDS and other major illnesses.
The first-phase testing, which began a year ago in Germany and Belgium, is aimed at determining the safety of the vaccine and whether it produces immune responses.
Kentucky man gets manslaughter in gay killing
ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. – A man charged with killing a gay man and stuffing his body into a suitcase was convicted Jan. 31 of second-degree manslaughter. Joshua Cottrell, 23, was also found guilty of theft – for taking the victim’s truck, wallet and cell phone – and tampering with physical evidence. He faces up to 40 years in prison, but could have been sentenced to death if convicted of murder. A gay rights called the verdict “disappointing and disturbing.”