Compiled by Dawn Wolfe
Ex-inmate who says he was raped daily to file discrimination suit
FORT WORTH – A federal appeals court has ruled that seven Texas prison officials can be sued for discrimination based on sexual orientation, claims brought by a former inmate who says he was repeatedly raped while behind bars.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled in the case of Roderick Keith Johnson, a gay inmate who said he was raped almost daily for 18 months by prison gangs and sold as a sex slave for $5 while in the Allred Unit near Wichita Falls.
The American Civil Liberties Union sued 15 Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials on Johnson’s behalf in 2002, saying employees ignored his pleas to be moved to a “safekeeping” area for gay and other vulnerable inmates until the ACLU intervened.
Judge OKs new CA domestic partner law
SAN FRANCISCO – A Superior Court judge in Sacramento upheld a new state law Sept. 8 that is poised to give gay couples who register as domestic partners nearly all the legal benefits and responsibilities as married spouses.
Dismissing the arguments of two groups that sued to have the law struck down before it takes effect Jan. 1, the judge ruled that assigning spousal privileges such as alimony and parental status to same-sex couples does not violate a voter-approved measure that holds California can only recognize marriages between a man and a woman.
“The parties’ obvious fundamental dispute is whether a domestic partnership under the new statute constitutes a marriage. The court concludes that it does not,” the decision said. “In the end, although the two relationships now share many, if not most, of the same functional attributes they are inherently distinct.”
The judge, in a move that underscored how far the debate over gay marriage rights has shifted since former Gov. Gray Davis signed AB 205 last year, also offered his unsolicited opinion that if the purpose of the California Defense of Marriage Act was to prohibit gay couples from enjoying those legal fruits, it was likely unconstitutional.
Meanwhile, the city of San Francisco and a coalition of gay rights groups have sued the state to have California’s one man, one woman marriage laws overturned on grounds that they violate the constitutional rights of gays and lesbians.
Vt. judge finds woman in contempt over lesbian custody battle
RUTLAND, Vt. – A Family Court judge has found a woman in contempt for going to Virginia and disobeying a court order involving the breakup of her civil union and the custody of a child.
The judge’s decision continues a legal dispute that pits the courts of Vermont against those in Virginia, where competing decisions have been issued.
In the latest, the Vermont judge granted a request by Janet Miller-Jenkins that he hold her former partner, Lisa Miller-Jenkins, in contempt for failing to abide by a temporary visitation order he handed down earlier this year.
The women were a couple in Virginia when they decided four years ago to enter into a civil union in Vermont. They then went back to Virginia and decided to have Lisa Miller-Jenkins conceive a child through artificial insemination.
Last year when the women dissolved their civil union, they agreed to allow a Vermont judge to rule on custody. However, Lisa Miller-Jenkins took the child and moved to Winchester, Va., suing for full custody in that state, where civil unions are not recognized.
Boycott for Equality
The group Boycott for Equality is asking all LGBT Americans and straight allies to “drop out” of the United States economy for one day to demonstrate their economic clout and protest Bush’s support for an amendment to the Federal constitution that would ban equal marriage rights. There are three elements to the boycott: No work, no purchases and no cell phones. The boycott is to be held Oct. 8 throughout the country.
For more information email [email protected] or visit www.boycottforequality.com
LA to host largest gathering of black gay Christians for annual conference
LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles will host the largest gathering of African American LGBT and heterosexual Christians, clergy and laity leaders Oct. 3-11 at the Unity Fellowship of Christ Church’s 11th Annual National Spiritual Convocation. Themed, “Unconditional,” this year’s convocation will bring together progressive congregations from around the country to celebrate and strengthen the Black gay community in Christ. The registration fee is $50 and is open to all interested individuals and organizations. Most activities will take place at the Los Angeles Airport Westin located at 5757 West Century Boulevard in Los Angeles. For more information call 323-938-8322 or visit www.ufc-usa.org.
Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles sues three breakaway parishes
LOS ANGELES – The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles announced Sept. 7 that it has filed lawsuits against three breakaway parishes that aligned themselves with an Anglican diocese in Uganda.
The Southern California churches abandoned the local diocese in mid-August, saying that it had strayed from biblical teachings. The orthodoxy dispute has been simmering for years and the Episcopal Church’s recent stance on homosexuality has deepened the divide.
The head of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles recently assigned two assistant bishops to serve the congregations and said he would appoint new lay governing boards.
The bishop said the lawsuits were filed in Superior Courts in Los Angeles and Orange counties “to secure and protect the church properties which are owned in trust by the Episcopal Church, the Diocese, and our faithful parishioners.”
The national Episcopal Church will file a separate action in support of the diocese’s claims.
Judge to decide if McGreevey must leave office before November
TRENTON, N.J. – A federal judge Sept. 8 said he would rule within a week on a lawsuit requesting that New Jersey voters choose Gov. James E. McGreevey’s interim replacement in a special election.
The suit was filed by two Princeton lawyers who contend that McGreevey essentially vacated his office when he announced Aug. 12 that he was gay, said he had an extramarital affair with a man and intended to resign Nov. 15.
Lawyers in suit claim that by staying in office until it is not possible to hold a special election, McGreevey is depriving voters of their constitutional rights.
Lawyers for the state argued that McGreevey has not officially resigned because he hasn’t submitted a letter of resignation. They also argued that the issue is a state matter and should be determined in the state court system.
HRC and American fashion community join forces to encourage voter participation
NEW YORK – As part of Olympus Fashion Week, the Human Rights Campaign and a slew of fashion designers, models and celebrities will launch the American fashion community’s Pledge To Vote initiative, promoting voter registration throughout the fashion industry.
Top American designers Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Donna Karan, and others have lent their support in various ways to the HRC’s program, such as visiting the HRC’s Pledge to Vote booth at the Olympus Fashion Week tents.
The Pledge to Vote slogan is “Love is Everywhere,” Many of the participating
designers have created limited edition t-shirts, emblazoned with the campaign motto, that will be sold exclusively through HRC’s website at www.hrc.org to benefit HRC. “Love is Everywhere” buttons will be distributed to everyone who pledges to vote.
Pink Pistols endorses Badnarik for President
BOSTON – Pink Pistols, a national organization dedicated to educating the alternative sexual community on the need for armed self-defense, has endorsed Libertarian Michael Badnarik for President.
“We’re excited to endorse the only candidate in this election who stands for equal rights and the means to defend those rights – for everyone,” said
Douglas L. Krick, founder of Pink Pistols.
Badnarik, 50, of Austin, Texas, welcomes that support. “Pursuit of political reform is best exercised through the ballot box and the jury box,” he says. “But ultimately the cartridge box must be there, especially when lives are at stake. In America today, it’s still considered acceptable in many places to attack gay men and lesbians for no other reason than who they are. When that happens, the victim can’t wait for a police officer or a jury to try to sort things out.”
Badnarik is also on record in favor of equal marriage rights.