Compiled by Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
Colorado governor vetoes bill barring employment discrimination
DENVER – Colorado’s governor vetoed a bill May 26 that would have outlawed workplace discrimination against gays. But he allowed a measure to take effect extending protection to gays under Colorado’s hate crimes law.
The workplace discrimination bill would have prohibited an employer from firing, demoting or harassing an employee based on sexual orientation.
Efforts to overturn equal rights bills push forward
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Christian and conservative activists pushing to overturn four state bills that broaden gay rights are pressing forward, they said May 25, even though two of the bills were vetoed by the governor.
One Republican legislator said he doesn’t want to take any risks that the two bills may become law over the governor’s objections. The General Assembly could override the vetoes when lawmakers return to the state capitol in January.
The governor vetoed bills that would have established a domestic partnership registry to allow unmarried partners to make medical decisions for each other and a bill to grant a transfer tax exemption to gays who make their partners co-owners of property. The governor signed legislation amending the state’s hate crime law to expand protections for gays and the Safe Schools Reporting Act of 2005, that requires schools to report bullying incidents.
The Republican and his allies are mounting petition drives to overturn the two new laws and make sure that the state legislature can’t override the two vetoes.
New allegations against Spokane mayor
SPOKANE, Wash. – Pressure for Mayor James E. West to resign grew May 24 after a newspaper published fresh accusations of past inappropriate behavior.
The Spokesman-Review published reports May 24 that West made an inappropriate comment to state Sen. Pam Roach about her teenage son and that a former Spokane man claimed West fondled him during a drug arrest when West was a sheriff’s deputy.
West, a conservative former state Senate majority leader and gay rights opponent, can only be removed from office by a recall vote. The Republican mayor is the subject of two investigations into reports that he misused his office by offering jobs to men he met in a gay chat room. On May 26, about 30 people mounted a public protest outside the Spokane City Hall calling for West’s resignation.
NY’s high court says New Paltz mayor should face trial
ALBANY, N.Y. – The village mayor who challenged New York law by attempting to marry gay couples last year will face trial, the state’s highest court ruled May 26.
New Paltz Mayor Jason West faces 24 misdemeanor counts of violating the state’s domestic relations law by marrying couples without licenses in late February 2004. He faces fines and up to a year in jail if convicted.
West has maintained he was upholding the gay couples’ constitutional rights to equal protection.
Microsoft severs ties with Ralph Reed
SEATTLE – Microsoft Corp. says it has severed ties with Ralph Reed, a Republican lobbyist who once headed the Christian Coalition and is now running for lieutenant governor in Georgia.
The move came a month after activists urged Microsoft to quit using Reed as a political consultant, upset that the software company had pulled its support for a Washington state gay rights bill it had backed in the past. The company has since said it will support such legislation in the future.
Lesbian wins full co-parenting rights to partner’s newborn
NEWARK, N.J. – In a first-of-its kind ruling in New Jersey, a judge granted a lesbian full co-parenting rights to her partner’s baby without having to go through lengthy adoption proceedings.
The couple registered in New York as domestic partners in 2003 and got married in Canada last summer.
Judge won’t stop principal from banning stories on homosexuality
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – Student journalists at a Bakersfield high school will publish their year-end issue without a series of articles about homosexuality, after a Kern County judge declined to prevent the principal from censoring the publication.
The journalists from East Bakersfield High School sued the Kern High School District on May 19 after their principal decided they couldn’t run five articles discussing subjects such as gay students’ relationships with their parents, whether homosexuality is biologically determined, and how it felt to come out.
The principal later agreed to allow publication of the series if the names and photos of students involved were withheld. The newspaper staff rejected the offer and have decided to move forward with the case and seek another hearing.
J.C. Penny manager says he was fired for his HIV
NILES, Ill. – A former shoe department manager at a J.C. Penney Co. store is seeking more than $7 million in damages in a suit alleging he was fired because he is HIV positive.
In his lawsuit, Joseph Manasse alleges his bosses gave him a merit raise and an excellent performance review before falsely accusing him of stealing $66.20 from cash register receipts because they didn’t like his HIV status.
Showing of tolerance video restricted
WAILUKU, Hawaii – Objections from some parents led officials of a Maui highschool to restrict the showing of a video about discrimination against homosexuals.
King Kekaulike High School had planned to show the 50-minute video this month to 9th, 10th and 11th-grade students. The area superintendent said that after meeting with the principal and some teachers, they decided to allow only students who had parental permission to view the video.
School board to revise sex-ed curriculum
ROCKVILLE, Md. – Maryland’s largest school district is scrapping sex-education materials that have come under fire for implying that homosexuality is a biological trait and for demonstrating how to put on a condom.
The Montgomery County school board voted May 23 to rethink its curriculum, weeks after a federal lawsuit was filed by two groups that said it didn’t do enough to stress abstinence or give opposing views on homosexuality.
It was unclear how the board’s action will affect attempts to reach a settlement in the lawsuit brought by Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum and the Virginia-based Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays.
Transgender health benefits study available
Transgender at Work has compiled a report measuring the frequency and cost of Transgender health benefits to be used as a resource when an employer is considering the addition of the benefits. The report includes tools to project the costs for mental health therapy, hormones, doctors office visits to support hormones, and sex reassignment surgery. Both male-to-female and female-to-male costs are considered.
The report is based on information garnered from 80 percent of the major surgeons practicing gender reassignment surgery in the U.S. The study determined that approximately 1,230 U.S. residents had their primary surgery in the year 2001, with nearly twice as many MTF (800) as FTM (430).
For more information on the research study, see the TAW web site at www.tgender.net.
Right Wing Watch
Oregon university stunned by violent fliers
ASHLAND, Ore. – Students and campus officials at Southern Oregon University are stunned by a set of fliers placed on students’ doors calling for violence against homosexuals.
The threatening fliers, which suggest that gays should be murdered, have led to a police investigation and a campus wide safety alert.
“The Bible says that homosexual offenders should be put to death!” read one flier. No one has claimed responsibility for the pamphlets.
Judge: Parents can’t teach pagan beliefs
INDIANAPOLIS, In. – IndyStar.com reported on May 26 that an Indianapolis father is appealing a Marion County judge’s unusual order that prohibits him and his ex-wife from exposing their child to “non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals.”
The parents practice Wicca, a contemporary pagan religion that emphasizes a balance in nature and reverence for the earth.
The parents’ Wiccan beliefs came to the judge’s attention in a confidential report prepared by the Domestic Relations Counseling Bureau, which provides recommendations to the court on child custody and visitation rights.
AFA ends Disney boycott
TUPELO, Miss. – The American Family Association has ended its nine-year boycott of The Walt Disney Co.
The Tupelo-based Christian group has protested Disney’s extension of benefits to domestic partners of gay employees, promotion of gay-related events at its theme parks and the content of movies made by its Miramax subsidiary.
The boycott had a limited impact. Disney has reported higher earnings, citing increased attendance at its theme parks and strong performance from its film studio and ABC television network.
Transgender pastor appointed to Plymouth church
PLYMOUTH, Minn. – A 27-year-old pastor who is openly transgender will begin a two-year appointment as an outreach minister at Plymouth Congregational Church in Minneapolis.
The Rev. Malcolm Himschoot is one of only a few openly transgendered clergy members in the U.S.
For the past year, Himschoot has been associate pastor at Denver Inner City Parish, where he worked with students, seniors and ex-prisoners.
He is getting the most attention for “Call Me Malcolm,” a documentary about his bodily change from a woman to a man and about finding acceptance. The film was produced by the United Church of Christ, which ordained Himschoot.
Church ousts minister for supporting gays
ELKINS, W.Va. – The congregation of Davis Memorial Presbyterian Church has voted to fire its minister after he wrote a newspaper story supporting homosexuals.
“Gay and lesbian Christians are no different than the rest of us,” the Rev. Jeff Falter wrote in a Feb. 26 article in the Inter-Mountain of Elkins. “They deserve full equality in the church and in society, for they are my brothers and sisters, people for whom Christ died.”
That passage led members to vote 100-72 May 22 to request that the Presbytery of West Virginia dissolve the church’s pastoral relationship with Falter.
In Other News
Kylie Minogue diagnosed with breast cancer
Dance-pop queen Kylie Minogue announced May 17 that she has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Billboard.com reports that the singer will postpone the remainder of her Showgirl tour, which was set to begin in Australia and move on to Asia. According to Minogue’s booker, the Australia dates will most likely be rescheduled. According to the singer’s web site, Minogue underwent surgery on May 21 and is expected to recover quickly.