Compiled by Dawn Wolfe
Maine couples signing up as domestic partners
AUGUSTA, Maine – Dozens of gay and lesbian couples filled out domestic partnership forms in the State House July 30 as a law creating a registry for those relationships took effect.
Besides creating a domestic partnership registry, the new law says that if a domestic partner dies without a will, trust or other estate planning, the surviving partner inherits the other’s property. It says a domestic partner is considered next of kin, as is a spouse, when determining who has the right to make funeral or burial arrangements. Also, a domestic partner is considered a guardian when the other partner is incapacitated. The law covers gay as well as heterosexual couples.
Maine’s new “Declaration of Domestic Partnership” forms state that registration does not create a marriage between the partners. Partners must live together for at least 12 months in order to register.
Transsexual Menace, others to protest HRC
WASHINGTON – A handful of organizations plan to demonstrate outside of the Human Rights Campaign’s headquarters during its upcoming board meeting Aug. 7. Transsexual Menace is organizing the Unity Rally for Transgender Rights to protest what they call “the HRC’s dubious efforts on behalf of transgender inclusion in federal legislation.” Members of the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition, Pride at Work, and PFLAG will be participating.
$1 million bail set for one defendant in Araujo retrail
HAYWARD, CA – One of the three men charged with the murder of Newark transgender teenager Gwen Araujo has been granted $1 million bail.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Harry Sheppard said Friday that Jason Cazares, also of Newark, had no prior criminal history and did not appear to be a flight risk.
The judge also set a new trial date for May 9.
The other defendants, Michael Magidson and Jose Merel, remain held without bail.
The defendants’ first trial ended with a hung jury June 22.
Activists planning to confront and disrupt during GOP convention
NEW YORK – Activists protesting the GOP convention are making plans to hold sit-ins at delegate hotels, take over Manhattan intersections, block doors to major corporate offices, confront Republican big shots and infiltrate convention events.
As some protest groups tangle with city officials over permits for marches and rallies, others have been planning acts of nonviolent civil disobedience for months. They are expected to make their debut by swarming Times Square streets as thousands of Republicans arrive there for a glamorous evening of Broadway shows on the night before the convention begins.
The activists will demonstrate their discontent with everything from the Iraq war to George W. Bush’s desire to ban equal marriage rights.
NJ school districts ordered to toughen policies against gay-bashing
TRENTON, N.J. – A ruling by the state’s top civil rights official holds school administrators to standards similar to those that employers must enforce in the workplace.
In overruling an administrative law judge’s decision, the State Civil Rights Director said the Toms River Regional School District had allowed a “hostile school environment” to develop.
The ruling awarded $50,000 to a boy who was slapped, punched and repeatedly taunted with homosexual slurs by his seventh-grade classmates.
The district has been ordered to reprint its student handbooks so that they explicitly ban bullying on the basis of sexual orientation. Staffers, as well as middle and high school students must be trained in those policies annually for at least the next six years.
Agency approves drug to plump up faces left wasted by HIV
WASHINGTON – Sculptra, an injectable filler long used to make dissolvable stitches now can help plump up faces left sunken and gaunt by the AIDS virus, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ruled Aug. 3.
The FDA’s approval marks the first treatment specifically for the loss of facial fat, called lipoatrophy, common among HIV patients. In severe cases patients are left with sunken cheeks and eyes that can dramatically affect quality of life. No one is sure what causes the fat loss, although it seems to be associated with anti-HIV therapies. Estimates are that 20 to 50 percent of patients experience some degree of lipoatrophy.
As a condition of approval, FDA told maker Dermik Laboratories to track 100 patients for five years – including at least 30 women and 30 patients with dark skin – to monitor long-term effects. Studies to date have primarily included white men.
Dermik, the dermatology division of drug-giant Aventis, refused to reveal the drug’s planned price.
FDA approves new combination AIDS drugs
WASHINGTON – Two new AIDS drugs, each of which combines two medications within a single tablet, have been approved by federal regulators.
The drugs give AIDS sufferers in poor countries a better chance of survival. They received a speedier review to ensure that safe and effective drugs are made available under the government’s $15 billion emergency plan for AIDS relief.
The Aug. 2 FDA approval primarily benefits American consumers. By passing FDA muster, however, the drugs now can be bought by the global AIDS coordinator’s office for distribution to AIDS patients in poor countries.
For more information visit the FDA’s website: www.fda.gov
Minister faces church trial for speaking about lesbian relationship
PHILADELPHIA – A minister will face a church trial for telling her congregation that she is in a lesbian relationship, a United Methodist Church official said.
The Associate Pastor at the First United Methodist Church of Germantown spoke about the relationship in an April 2003 sermon, according to a statement from the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church.
In a transcript of the sermon posted on her church’s Web site, the minister said she realized she was a lesbian while a student at Bryn Mawr College and had “lived together in a covenant relationship” with a woman for 2 1/2 years.
Church law says “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals” may not serve as clergy.
For more information visit: www.fumcog.org
In Other News
HRC President weds longtime partner
BOSTON – HRC’s Executive Director Cheryl Jacques married her longtime partner Aug. 1 in a private ceremony at Boston’s Ritz-Carlton hotel, four days after she addressed the Democratic National Convention calling for marriage equality.
Jacques and Jennifer Chrisler have two-year-old twin boys, Tommy and Timmy.