Compiled by Dawn Wolfe
Cipel questioned by FBI
TRENTON, N.J. – More than two months after Gov. James E. McGreevey said he would resign in the wake of an extramarital affair with a man, two agents from the FBI’s Newark office interviewed Golan Cipel in Israel “at length” on Oct. 27, an FBI spokesman said. The spokesman said he could not comment on the content of the interview, noting that the investigation is ongoing.
Cipel’s lawyer said the agents questioned Cipel for four hours.
McGreevey had filed an extortion complaint with the FBI, claiming that Cipel, his former homeland security adviser, threatened to file a sexual harassment lawsuit unless the governor paid him millions of dollars.
His lawyer said Cipel again maintained that he never had a homosexual relationship with the governor, telling the FBI he was upset over the governor’s sexual advances.
“Cipel never participated in them and maintains he is as straight as Clint Eastwood,” the lawyer said.
The FBI will make a recommendation to the U.S. Attorney’s Office on whether charges should be filed.
Conservatives vow lengthy boycott of Proctor & Gamble over gay rights
CINCINNATI – Two powerful conservative groups hope to extend indefinitely an election-related boycott of Procter & Gamble Co., contending that the consumer products giant is too supportive of gay rights and urging customers to stop buying Crest, Tide and Pampers.
According to the American Family Association, more than 287,000 people have signed onto the boycott since the AFA and Focus on the Family announced the campaign mid-September.
The boycott was sparked by P&G’s support of a campaign in its home city of Cincinnati for a ballot measure to repeal Article 12, a 1993 city charter amendment prohibiting gay-rights laws. A P&G executive has taken leave to run the repeal campaign, and the company – according to spokesman Doug Shelton – has donated $40,000 to the effort. Voters decide the issue Nov 2.
A boycott Web site run by the AFA asserts that P&G “supports homosexual marriage.” However, Shelton said the company has never made such an endorsement, nor has it taken any position on a statewide ballot measure in Ohio that would ban marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships for same-sex couples.
Both Shelton and the company’s critics said it was too early to gauge the financial impact of the boycott.
The boycott organizers have compiled a list of P&G policies and actions which they denounce – including the offering of domestic partnership benefits.
Legal battle over adoption heads to Va. Supreme Court
RICHMOND, Va. – Lambda Legal filed a brief with the Virginia Supreme Court Oct. 25 in support of a legal battle to provide birth certificates for children born in Virginia and adopted by gay couples in other states.
A Richmond Circuit court ruled in February that the state is not required to issue new birth certificates for such children. The judge said requiring the state to issue new birth certificates with the names of the children’s adoptive parents instead of their birth parents conflicts with Virginia’s policy prohibiting joint adoption by unmarried couples.
The case has been appealed to the state Supreme Court. No hearing date has been set.
Three gay couples filed a lawsuit in 2002 after they were unable to get the Virginia State Health Commission, which issues birth certificates, to give new ones to their adopted children. Both Lambda Legal’s friend-of-the-court brief and the appellants’ brief contend that because courts in other states have allowed gay adoptions, birth certificates should be issued to those children just as they are to adopted children of heterosexuals.
U.S. to intervene in equal marriage rights suit in Orange County
SANTA ANA, Calif. – A couple seeking to overturn government bans on equal marriage rights will have to contend with the legal weight of the federal government.
The U.S. Department of Justice has asked to intervene in a lawsuit filed by Christopher Hammer and Arthur Smelt that claims federal and state bans on equal marriage rights are unconstitutional.
A Department of Justice attorney filed a motion Oct. 26 to intervene in response to an Oct. 14 invitation from U.S. District Court Judge Gary Taylor.
Hammer and Smelt, both 45, of Mission Viejo are the first couple to file a suit challenging marriage laws in federal court in California. Other challenges have been filed in state courts.
Hammer and Smelt want an order requiring Orange County to issue them a marriage license on the basis that the laws against same-sex marriage violate the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment. Their goal is to take the case to the Supreme Court.
Similar suits have been filed in federal court in Florida and Washington state.
Lawsuit claims harassment in Los Angeles school
LOS ANGELES – A lawsuit filed in federal court Oct. 28 accuses teachers, administrators and other employees of the Washington Preparatory High School in Los Angeles of harassing gay and lesbian students and staff members.
The Washington Preparatory staff has created “a climate rife with hostility toward and discrimination against students and staff based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation,” according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court by the ACLU of Southern California. The lawsuit charges that teachers have threatened to “out” gay students to their families, called students derogatory names and told them their behavior is wrong and “unholy,” that one teacher refused to intervene when a gay student was assaulted by a classmate and that students who complained of harassment were suspended.
The action asks that discrimination at the school end and that the Los Angeles Unified School District be ordered to “institute proper training procedures for all staff to put an end to the hostile and intolerant school environment.”
Georgia Hate Crimes Law falls victim to legislative homophobia
NEW YORK – Representatives from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs responded to the Georgia Supreme Court’s striking down that state’s hate crimes law by noting that had the law not fallen victim to legislative homophobia during its passage, it might have been able to withstand the challenge that nullified it yesterday.
“The fact is that proponents in the Georgia legislature and community advocates attempted to make the law explicit with respect to the categories of hate they wished for the law to address, but resistance in the Georgia House to the inclusion of ‘sexual orientation’ in that list of categories resulted in a law that was far too vague to withstand judicial scrutiny,” said Clarence Patton, NCAVP’s acting executive director.
“Ironically, a bill that was intended to address violent and destructive acts of hate and bias itself became a victim of hate and bias,” said Jeff Montgomery, NCAVP’s board chair and executive director of Michigan’s Triangle Foundation. “And unfortunately, victims of hate in Georgia were ultimately presented with Potemkin protections that enabled those at heart opposed to standing firmly against hate of any type in the Georgia legislature to appear compassionate. Now that faade has fallen, and hopefully the people and right-thinking legislators of Georgia will get an opportunity to address the epidemic of hate violence in an appropriate and explicit manner.”
Feds use crystal meth dealers for poster campaign
NEW YORK – Some recently convicted drug dealers will become unwilling poster children for a campaign to loosen crystal meth’s grip on Manhattan’s gay neighborhoods.
The posters have drug dealers’ names, mug shots and warnings such as: “Over six years for selling crystal meth. Was it worth it?”
The posters will soon be displayed on the streets of Chelsea, the West Village and other areas where law and health officials say crystal meth abuse among gay men is spreading fast.
The idea has outraged defense attorneys who represented men picked for the posters. One attorney said it smacks of “gay bashing.”
Equal marriage rights foes seek court fees
SAN FRANCISCO – The Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian advocacy law group from Arizona, asked the state Supreme Court on Oct. 29 to award it $229,000 in fees and costs to reimburse the litigation efforts that led to the blocking of San Francisco’s marriages of gay and lesbian couples.
In 1997, the justices approved $2.6 million in fees and costs to the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups that successfully persuaded the high court to overturn legislation demanding minors get their parents consent to get an abortion.
Atlanta golf club plans to fight order to include gay partner
ATLANTA – An Atlanta golf club is expected to challenge the city’s four-year-old gay rights ordinance over a member who argues her partner should get spousal club benefits.
Druid Hills Golf Club was ordered by the mayor to change its policies about the gay member or face sanctions, citing a 2000 ordinance that guarantees equal rights for gays in public accommodations.
Club leaders recently sent a letter to the club’s 1,100 members arguing the club should not change its policies to provide full benefits for partners of unmarried members.
Richard Ling, the club’s membership chairman, said Druid Hills would consider a lawsuit against the city if it tries to enforce the ordinance, contending the city cannot tell a private group what benefits it must provide to members.
Under the city’s Human Rights Ordinance, the mayor could impose a range of punishments against the club, including the removal of the club’s business or liquor licenses. The ordinance has never been challenged in court.
Church censored for gay pride support
MINNEAPOLIS – The leader of a local Roman Catholic church known for its support of gay and lesbian issues said he will comply with an order from the Vatican to remove Gay Pride material from the church Web site.
The priest said he would also stop allowing unordained guests to speak during the celebration of Mass, which was requested two weeks ago in a face-to-face meeting with two local bishops.
However, he said the local church would keep with its long practice of community decision making, so several parish committees would consider precisely how to respond. “It takes awhile to turn a ship around,” he said.
The Archbishop sent Auxiliary Bishops two weeks ago to deliver the message, which, according to a follow-up statement issued Oct. 27 from the archdiocese, originated with the Holy See.
In the statement, archdiocese said it “welcomes gay and lesbian worshippers who are in full communion with the moral teachings of the Church as they apply to all Catholics.”
Further splits in Episcopal church
SEATTLE -Two Washington state parishes severed ties with the Episcopal Church last week and joined the Anglican Diocese of Recife, Brazil, partly to protest last year’s U.S. consecration of an openly gay bishop.
The Rev. Carol Harlacher, rector of St. Stephen’s Church in Oak Harbor, said that after long consideration “we must reaffirm the orthodox teachings of Scripture, from which [the Episcopal Church] has departed.” The other congregation is St. Charles Church in Poulsbo.
In other developments related to the Episcopal split over homosexuality:
Priests and parishioners from nearly 40 New England congregations supporting the conservative Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes met in Providence, R.I. The group commissioned nine teams of home missionaries and plans new congregations in Orleans and Sandwich, Mass., and Durham and Rochester, N.H., that will be aligned with foreign Anglican bishops.
A St. Louis County judge gave the Episcopal Church and its Missouri Diocese control of the property of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Town and Country, denominational headquarters announced. Episcopal loyalists have met in homes since the congregation joined the Anglican Mission in America, sponsored by Rwanda’s Anglican church.
Conservative Anglican Church of Canada members in Borden, Saskatchewan, broke ties with the denomination and announced the start of a new congregation affiliated with the Anglican Mission in America and Rwandan church.