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National News Briefs

By | 2018-01-15T16:56:23-05:00 June 16th, 2005|News|

Compiled by Dawn Wolfe Gutterman

Politics

Texas Gov. slams gay veterans
FORT WORTH Ð Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry on June 5 insinuated the state’s lesbian, gay and bisexual war veterans should leave the state if they are unhappy with a recent anti-gay marriage amendment introduced there.
During a news conference held in a Fort Worth church, Perry was asked what he would tell Texas gay and lesbian war veterans returning home from war about the law. Governor Perry responded, according to the Fort Worth Star Telegram, “Texans made a decision about marriage and if there’s a state that has more lenient views than Texas, then maybe that’s a better place for them to live.”
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network joined calls by the Lesbian and Gay Rights Lobby of Texas for Governor Perry to apologize. “More than 66,000 lesbian and gay veterans make their home in Texas,” said Sharra E. Greer, SLDN’s director of law and policy. “Their service has defended the freedom of every Texan, including Governor Perry. The Governor’s remarks dishonor their service and he should immediately apologize. We should be thanking these brave men and women, not asking them to leave.”

Keep religion and politics separate, say U.S. citizens
WASHINGTON – Sixty-one percent of respondents to an Associated Press poll released June 6 said they didn’t think religious leaders should influence government decisions. The polling was conducted in May in the United States, Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, South Korea and Spain, and found U.S. respondents more willing than those in many other countries to mix religion and politics. However, even in the U.S., only forty percent of respondents said that religious leaders should try to sway policy makers.

Bill would bar sexual orientation discrimination
BATON ROUGE, La. – State departments and agencies would be barred from harassing or discriminating based on sexual orientation under a bill that was approved June 7 by a House committee.
The bill would put into state law much of the language of an anti-discrimination order issued by the governor in December.

Nevada Legislature moves to protect gays from discrimination
CARSON CITY, Nev. – Denying people a meal, a hotel room or a show or movie ticket because they’re gay could lead to a formal equal rights investigation under a measure passed June 7 by the Nevada Legislature. The provision says that the state believes Nevadans have a right to receive services in public places without “discrimination, distinction or restriction” based on race, religion, sex, disability, national origin or sexual orientation.

Business

Corporate America leading in protecting LGBT employees
WASHINGTON – A new Human Rights Campaign report says that U.S. businesses are leading the way in granting protections for LGBT families through expanded domestic partner benefits and non-discrimination policies.
The report – “The State of the Workplace for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Americans 2004” – shows that at the end of 2004 at least 8,250 employers provided domestic partnership benefits – a 13 percent increase over 2003. Among the Fortune 500, 216 companies provided domestic partner benefits, a ten-fold increase since 1995.
Non-discrimination policies covering gender identity and expression continue to rise with 51 Fortune 500 companies including transgender people in their policies.
Forty-nine of the Fortune 50 companies include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policies. ExxonMobil Corp. is the only company in the Fortune 50 that does not.

More colleges, universities provide benefits to LGBT families
WASHINGTON – The number of colleges and universities that offer workplace benefits for the partners of gay and lesbian employees continued to rise in 2004, according to a report released on June 6 by the Human Rights Campaign.
Two hundred eighty-nine institutions offered health benefits last year to the domestic partners of gay employees, up from 267 the year before. The number of colleges and universities that protect employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation also rose, to 551 in 2004, up from 456 in 2003, according to the report.
While the number of colleges and universities that provide such benefits and protections has been rising steadily, however, it still represents just a small fraction of all higher-education institutions.

Law

Former high school students awarded $300,000 in harassment suit
SAN DIEGO Ð Two gay former high school students in San Diego County were awarded $300,000 after a jury found school officials failed to protect them from harassment.
Jurors determined the students were harassed with the knowledge of officials at Poway High School in Poway, about 20 miles northeast of San Diego. Both students were harmed after authorities didn’t do enough to prevent harassment, jurors said.
The plaintiffs’ attorney argued during trial that school officials took “minimal or no action at all” even though the two were verbally threatened, and one of them was spit on, punched, kicked and had his car vandalized.
Both students left the school following their junior year and enrolled in an independent study program before graduating.

Defense says key witness in trans murder killing case is a liar
HAYWARD, Calif. – A defense attorney in the retrial of the three men accused of killing transgender teen Gwen Araujo said that the prosecution’s key witness is lying to save himself.
Witness Jaron Nabors initially also faced murder charges in the October 2002 death. He was allowed to plead to manslaughter in exchange for his testimony against the others – Michael Magidson, Jose Merel and Jason Cazares.
Prosecutors claim Araujo was murdered in a calculated revenge attack when the men discovered that the flirty girl two of them had sex with was biologically male.

Lambda Legal blasts the California Medical Association
LOS ANGELES Ñ In legal papers filed June 3, Lambda Legal urged a California state appeals court to reject a friend-of-the-court brief by the California Medical Association that would allow doctors to discriminate against patients based on religious views. The case at hand involves a woman who was denied fertility treatment by her Southern California health care providers because she is a lesbian.
The North Coast Women’s Care Medical Group and doctors Christine Brody and Douglas Fenton refused to inseminate Guadalupe Benitez after she had received 11 months of preparatory treatment from the clinic. At the moment when Benitez needed to be inseminated, both doctors said that because of their personal religious beliefs about gay people, they would not administer the treatment. In court papers the doctors claim that their fundamentalist Christian beliefs exempt them from California’s civil rights laws.
In May, the California Medical Association filed a friend-of-the-court brief in favor of the doctors who discriminated against Benitez.

Judge orders St. Augustine to fly Gay Pride flags
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fl. – Forty-nine rainbow flags will flutter on the Bridge of Lions in St. Augustine after a three-year battle by gay rights organizations.
A US district judge has ruled against the city in a suit filed by the Pride Committee, Equality Florida and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. The city rejected a request last month to fly the flags for a week of gay-pride events.

Family Rights

Shared custody OK’d in ex-wife’s challenge of transsexual husband
MIAMI – A Florida judge approved a shared-custody settlement reached in mediation by a transsexual man and his ex-wife over their two children June 10.
Michael Kantaras, born Margo Kantaras, underwent a sex change operation in 1987. He married Linda Forsythe in 1989.
The couple divorced in 2002 and he was awarded custody of the children. She appealed, even though both lawyers said the judge deemed the husband to be more fit parent.

Health

Mautner Project debuts ‘Be Proud to Talk to Your Doctor’ month
WASHINGTON – The Mautner Project, the national lesbian health organization, has launched its first Be Proud to Talk to Your Doctor initiative to celebrate lesbian health and well being. The goal of the annual campaign is to encourage lesbians to focus on personal health. Be Proud to Talk to Your Doctor will coincide with Gay Pride celebrations in communities across the country.
During this initiative, the Mautner Project will encourage lesbians to talk honestly and openly with their health care professionals about their sexual behavior and identity. The campaign will also encourage lesbians to identify their partner or other family member who should be included in discussions of treatment and who is authorized to make medical decisions for them in case of emergency.
The Mautner Project has fact sheets on coming out to health providers, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, durable powers of attorney for health care, lesbians as an underserved community, and many other topics. For more information call 202-332-5536 or visit http://www.mautnerproject.org.

‘No Gays Left Behind” healthcare campaign launched
Diversity Builder President Debbie Stanton and her partner have launched a full scale online campaign featuring free physician listings for general practitioners and therapists who agree to welcome and service all clients regardless of sexual orientation.
Additionally, Diversity Builder’s medical campaign includes a plan to expand the organization’s national database and add the remaining 30 US states.
For more information visit http://www.diversitybuilder.com, call 615-794-5047 or email info@diversitybuilder.com.

Religion

Divided Jewish panel to keep gay ban
NEW YORK – Conservative Judaism’s Rabbinical Assembly announced June 6 that a key panel has “upheld the biblical injunction against homosexual behavior” – at least for now.
The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, which sets policy on application of halakha (Jewish law), kept in place a 1992 ruling against both ordination of openly gay rabbis and commitment ceremonies for same-sex couples.
The statement said committee members are divided and that their “lively debate” will continue over coming months. The committee has discussed the issue for two years.
The committee acknowledged that “for a variety of reasons, the Jewish ideal of heterosexual marriage is unrealistic for many Jews.” Panel members said they “emphatically recognize the human dignity” of such Jews and urged synagogues and schools to be “inclusive and welcoming of all Jews regardless of their marital status or sexual orientation.”

Abuse cost for Catholic dioceses tops $1B
The cost to the U.S. Roman Catholic Church of sexual predators in the priesthood has climbed past $1 billion, according to tallies by American bishops and an Associated Press review of known settlements.
And the figure is guaranteed to rise, probably by tens of millions of dollars, because hundreds more claims are pending. A large share of the costs – at least $378 million – have been incurred in just the past three years.

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.