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National News Briefs

By |2013-05-01T09:00:00-04:00May 1st, 2013|Uncategorized|

Compiled by Dawn Wolfe


Supreme Court refuses to hear Florida adoption ban case
WASHINGTON – The United States Supreme Court’s refused to hear a case challenging Florida’s ban on adoption by gays and lesbians on Jan. 10. Lofton v. Secretary of the Florida Department of Children and Families was seeking to overturn the only state law denying gay and lesbian individuals and couples the right to adopt children. The case was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.
“This case deserved to be heard,” said Patricia Logue, Senior Counsel at Lambda Legal. “Florida’s law keeps thousands of children in state care and out of permanent loving homes – solely because the state wants to express disapproval of gay people.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics, Child Welfare League of America, the American Medical Association and other leading organizations have issued policy statements in the last several years saying that sexual orientation has nothing to do with someone’s ability to be a good parent. A recent ruling in Arkansas overturned the state’s ban on foster care by gay parents based largely on the research of such organizations. Florida allows gay parents to serve as foster parents but then denies them the right to adopt these children.
Arkansas anti-gay foster care ban overturned
LITTLE ROCK – On Dec. 29, an Arkansas court struck down a state regulation that banned gay people and anyone living in a household with a gay adult from being foster parents. The American Civil Liberties Union brought the lawsuit against the state in 1999 on behalf of three prospective foster parents.
In his findings, Circuit Court Judge Timothy Fox flatly rejected many of the claims the state had made about gay and lesbian people’s suitability as parents.
“Throughout the trial we presented a variety of experts who proved that the state’s justifications for this ban were nothing about baseless myths about gay people,” said Leslie Cooper, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. “This is a victory not only for gay families, but for the many children in the Arkansas foster care system who now have a better shot at finding a good home.”
Court case tests property rights in same-sex relationship
SPOKANE, Wash. – A woman in a lengthy lesbian relationship is suing her estranged lover to divide assets they shared or accrued while living together.
The trial started Jan. 4 and is based on a court ruling last year that gay couples can be treated like married couples when they split up. The state Court of Appeals ruled last year that the legal doctrine on “meretricious” – marriage-like – relationships applies to same-sex couples, even though they can’t legally wed in Washington.
The state Supreme Court had laid out several criteria for determining whether property acquired by unmarried couples should be divided as though they were married. One of the criteria was the couple’s intent to assume marital roles that are legally denied to same-sex couples.
Supreme Court asked to review Alabama’s sex toy ban
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – An attorney for the owner of two North Alabama sex toy stores has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the state’s 1998 ban on the sale of the devices.
U.S. District Judge Lynwood Smith Jr. of Huntsville has twice ruled against the state law, holding that it violated the constitutional right to privacy, but the state won both times on appeal.
In its 2-1 ruling in July, a panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that the U.S. Constitution does not include a right to sexual privacy.
The Alabama attorney general’s office spokeswoman said Jan. 5 the ban would not be enforced until the plaintiffs exhaust their appeals.
Lesbian university employees win lawsuit over benefits
HELENA, Mont. – In a lawsuit brought by lesbian employees of the University of Montana, the state Supreme Court struck down the university’s policy of denying health benefits to employees’ gay or lesbian partners during the week of Jan. 3.
The Westboro Baptist Church, a Kansas church led by the anti-gay extremist Fred Phelps, is planning a protest next month in response to the ruling Feb. 13 and 14.

National Security

Call for repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ renewed as Pentagon ponders troop shortage
WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign renewed its call to repeal the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, in light of a Jan. 7 Washington Post report stating that Army officials are considering changing Pentagon policy to allow for longer and more frequent call-ups of some reservists to meet the demands of conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
According to the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, more than 9,000 service members have been discharged since 1993 under DADT at a cost of more than a quarter billion dollars to taxpayers.
According to the Washington Post story, a temporary increase of 30,000 troops in active-duty ranks that was authorized last year will probably need to be made permanent.

Civil Rights

Opponents of anti-gay discrimination ordinance forcing it to a vote
TOPEKA, Kan.– Less than two months after the Topeka City Council approved an ordinance banning discrimination against homosexuals in city hiring, opponents have collected enough signatures to force the city to either rescind the ordinance or put it to a citywide vote.
The Shawnee County elections commissioner on Jan. 4 confirmed that petitions fighting the ordinance contained more than the 3,709 signatures of registered city voters required for certification. Anti-gay extremist Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist church of Topeka spearheaded the petition drive.
Judge dismisses gay man’s effort to file taxes as ‘married’
ST. PAUL – A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a gay couple who claimed they deserved a tax refund because they were legally married and should be granted “married” taxpayer status.
The lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service was the latest attempt by Jack Baker and L. Michael McConnell to have their 1971 marriage legally recognized. Baker, a Minneapolis attorney, filed the lawsuit in May on behalf of McConnell. The lawsuit also asked the federal court for an order “declaring plaintiff to be a full citizen who is lawfully married” in Minnesota.
In 1971, Baker and McConnell sued Hennepin County when they were denied a marriage license. They lost that case, but while it was pending they got a marriage license in Mankato and were married before a Methodist minister in the Twin Cities. They later claimed the marriage was legal because it occurred before specific legal rulings were made against equal marriage rights.


Town will no longer give benefits to gay partners
EASTCHESTER, N.Y. – Four years after Eastchester became one of the first small towns to extend health benefits to employees’ same-sex partners, the agreement was dropped in a new labor contract.
Only two employees were receiving the benefits, and the Civil Service Employees Association and the police union agreed to give up the language in contracts that were approved, 3-2, Jan. 4 by the Town Board.
The two employees, whose names have not been made public, will continue to receive the benefits until age 65, and other employees have 60 days to sign up for them before the offer is revoked.


Gene protects some people from AIDS, study says
WASHINGTON – Having extra copies of a gene that produces a blocking protein helps protect people from AIDS, a finding that may explain why some people are more susceptible to the disease than others, a new study reports.
Researchers wondering why people from the same ancestry varied in their ability to resist HIV and AIDS found differences in the number of copies of the gene that encodes CCL3L1, a protein that blocks HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.
Researchers hope the finding, reported in the Jan. 6 online issue of the journal Science, will help them identify people who have a higher or lower susceptibility to the disease.
The researchers said this does not mean that one group is more prone to AIDS than another, only that people with fewer copies than their population’s average were more susceptible to HIV infection while those with more than average copies were less prone to infection.
Mysterious virus may thwart HIV news service reports that HIV patients who are also infected by a second, mysterious virus are less likely to develop AIDS and die of the disease, according to a new study.
Up to six years after their initial HIV-infection, men whose blood contained the second virus – known simply as GB virus C (GBV-C) – were nearly three times less likely to die than HIV-positive men who did not have the secondary infection.
Understanding how this virus protects against AIDS and death could suggest new ways to fight HIV infections, said Jack Stapleton at the University of Iowa, one of the study’s senior authors. “We are certainly ready to look at this virus ever more finely and probe its biology. But I think a lot of HIV researchers will notice this and it will be a very hot field.”.


Episcopal bishops to discuss gay ordination issue
SALT LAKE CITY – Episcopal bishops seeking ways to mend the rift over homosexuality that has strained relations between the American denomination and its sister churches worldwide plan to gather for a closed-door strategy session in Utah.
U.S. bishops are scheduled to discuss their response to recommendations from an emergency panel of Anglican leaders on how the loose, global association of churches called the Anglican Communion can remain unified.
The gathering is the first of several meetings in which Episcopalians will discuss the study, called the Windsor Report, which chastised the U.S. church for consecrating New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson, its first openly gay bishop, without fully consulting overseas Anglican leaders who opposed his election. Robinson, who lives with his longtime male partner, is expected to attend the meeting as do conservative American bishops who had boycotted previous meetings with him.


LEAGUE Foundation to award college scholarships
BEDMINSTER, NJ – The LEAGUE Foundation, an organization of LGBT United Employees at AT&T, is accepting application for two college scholarships.
Scholarships currently open for application are the Matthew Shepard Memorial Scholarship and the LEAGUE Foundation Scholarship.
Applications for 2005 are being accepted through April 22.
The LEAGUE Foundation is a national scholarship fund with support from corporations, individuals, and other LGBT organizations. To date it has awarded 44 scholarships.
For more information or to download an application, visit
Point Foundation announces 10 new scholarships
CHICAGO – The Point Foundation, the first national foundation to support academic achievement in higher education among LGBT youth, has opened its 2005 application season by announcing 10 new scholarships.
Point Scholars are chosen for their demonstrated leadership, scholastic achievement, extracurricular activities, involvement in the gay and lesbian community and financial or emotional need. Point Scholars are represented at the nations most prestigious universities including Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, UCLA, University of North Carolina and many others.
This year The Point Foundation will offer three additional scholarships funded through the foundation’s Carlos Enrique Cisneros Scholarship Fund, five new scholarship opportunities to San Diego area students, and is partnering with MTV network’s college-based channel, mtvU, to offer two new Point Foundation scholarships for students attending colleges or universities that broadcast the mtvU network.
In addition, The Point Foundation plans to offer an increased number of total scholarships this year to better meet the need in the community.
For additional information on the new scholarships visit

About the Author:

Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.
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