Compiled by Dawn Wolfe
Same-sex couples prepare to join domestic partner registry
AUGUSTA, Maine – Dozens of couples are expected to join the state’s domestic partner registry when it goes into effect at the end of July.
Supporters of the law, which is part of a bill that expands inheritance rights for unmarried couples, are planning a party to celebrate what they call a historic day.
Domestic partners will have the same inheritance right that a spouse has when a married partner dies without a will, and will be considered next of kin for making funeral and burial arrangements.
The law also allows domestic partners to serve as guardians of sick or injured partners and as conservators of a partner’s property.
Kerry calls for an end on disciminatory immigration ban
New York – The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) applauded Senator John Kerry’s commitment to “work with Congress to lift the (United States) immigration ban on HIV-positive people” if elected President. Kerry made the pledge in a press statement marking the opening of the XV International AIDS Conference in Bangkok, noting that the ban has long prohibited the US from hosting this important world meeting.
The U.S. ban stands among the world’s most stringent. Other with comparable restrictive polices are Russia, Quatar and the United Arab Emirates.
Transgender delegation readies for Democratic National Convention
BOSTON – For the first time ever, there will be more than a solitary transgendered delegate in a national political process. No less than five delegates, and two committee members, will be attending the Convention on July 26-29, 2004 in Boston – four of whom are current or former board members of the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition.
The first publicized transgender delegate to attend a national convention was Jane Fee, a Minnesota delegate who attended the 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles.
In six-to-six vote, Federal Appeals Court declines to reconsider decision upholding Florida’s anti-gay adoption law
NEW YORK – The full United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has declined to reconsider an earlier decision from a three-judge panel which upheld a Florida law that bans gay people from adopting.
The 12-member court’s sharply divided decision was in response to a motion by the ACLU asking the full court to reconsider the three-judge decision from January 29, 2004, which upheld Florida’s anti-gay adoption law. Three of the judges agreed with the ACLU that the ban is unconstitutional, while three additional judges agreed that the Court should reconsider the decision.
Florida Court of Appeal invalidates marriage, rejects mother’s request to deprive transgender father of parental rights
Florida – The Florida Court of Appeal issued a decision today in a marriage and custody case involving Michael Kantaras, a transsexual man who married a woman in Florida and had two children with her. When Michael petitioned for divorce, his wife asked the court to invalidate their marriage and to strip Michael of any parental rights, based solely on his transgender status. After a three week trial in 2002, the trial court held that Michael is legally male, the marriage was valid, and awarded primary custody to Michael. The trial courtÕs decision – which surveyed all of the existing legal and medical literature on transsexualism, and which ultimately exceeded 800 pages in length – received national attention.
In a decision issued today, the Florida Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s ruling on the validity of the marriage, on the ground that Òwhether a postoperative transsexual is authorized to marry a member of their birth sex is a matter for the Florida legislature and not the Florida courts to decide.Ó However, the court of appeal rejected the motherÕs request to strip Michael of his parental rights. Instead, the court remanded the case back to the trial court “to determine the legal status of the children and the partiesÕ property rights.”
Kansas pastors’ services monitored
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – The Mainstream Coalition is working to monitor the political activities of local pastors and churches in the state. The coalition, based in suburban Kansas City, says it wants to make sure clergy adhere to federal tax guidelines restricting political activity by nonprofit groups, and it’s taking such efforts to a new level, sending volunteers in to monitor conservative pastors’ sermons to make sure they conform with the law.
Kansas isn’t the only place in this election year where church-state separation has become a hot issue, but the Mainstream Coalition’s efforts are more intense than most.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed a complaint this month with the Internal Revenue Service against the Rev. Jerry Falwell over a column endorsing President Bush on his ministries’ Web site. Falwell said the group was waging a “scare-the-churches campaign.”
For more information visit Mainstream Coalition at www.mainstreamcoalition.org and Americans United for Separation of Church and State at www.au.org.
Concern grows in Tucson over anti-gay vandalism
TUCSON, Ariz. – A rise in anti-gay vandalism has Tucson police and community activists worried that it could lead to more violent crimes or attacks.
Lori Girshick, coordinator of the Wingspan Anti-Violence Project, points to two incidents last week in which someone spray-painted a slur at a center for gay, lesbian and transgendered youth and a swastika at a GLBT-oriented church. In April, anti-gay graffiti was painted at an abandoned property near Interstate 10.
Leaders with Wingspan, Tucson’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community resource center, say recent slurs that have popped up around Tucson correlate with a national trend of increased hate crimes aimed at the gay community.
Girshick said a rise in anti-gay vandalism is especially concerning in light of a report issued this year by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Projects, which found a 26 percent increase in hate crimes in the second half of last year. The report examined several cities and regions, but not Arizona.
In Other News
Transgender golfer barred from women’s tournament
FORT WAYNE, Indiana – A golfer who was born intersexed was banned from a woman’s tournament because her birth certificate lists her gender as male.
Instead, 40-year-old Danielle Swope will play in Saturday’s qualifier for the Fort Wayne Men’s City Tournament.
Swope said she was born in Meridian, Mississippi, with both male and female reproductive organs and underwent gender-reassignment operations to become completely female.
But her Mississippi birth certificate states she was born male. The Fort Wayne Women’s Golf Association said that was why Swope could not play in the Women’s City Golf Tournament.
The LPGA Tour, U.S. Golf Association and the Ladies European Tour have policies that players must be female at birth. The Indiana PGA and the Indiana Women’s Golf Association adopted similar rules last fall after Swope entered the Indiana Women’s Open.