Appeals nominee Allen faces questions about gay slur
WASHINGTON – Federal appellate nominee Claude Allen told a Senate committee he didn’t mean it as a slur against homosexuals when he used the word “queer” while working as a press aide to Senator Jesse Helms (R-North Carolina).
Now deputy secretary at the Health and Human Services Department, Allen said that when a North Carolina reporter quoted him as using the word “queer” while he was Helms’ press secretary during the senator’s 1984 re-election campaign, Allen said he meant it in the sense of “odd, out of the ordinary, unusual” instead of a slur for homosexual.
During Helms’ campaign against former North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt, Allen was quoted as saying Hunt was vulnerable because his campaign could be “linked with the queers.” He also was quoted as saying the Hunt campaign could be connected with homosexuals, labor unions, radical feminists and socialists.
City Council moves 10 Commandments monument to skirt Phelps
CASPER, Wyo. – The City Council decided Tuesday to move a controversial Ten Commandments monument out of a park and into a plaza that will honor a variety of historic documents.
The 5-4 vote followed a unanimous rejection of an offer by anti-gay crusader Rev. Fred Phelps to place a monument in the park declaring that hate crime victim Matthew Shepard went to hell because of his sexual orientation. Phelps threatened to sue if the city did not comply with his demand. Meanwhile, the city was threatened last month with a lawsuit from the Freedom From Religion Foundation if it did not remove the Ten Commandments monument from City Park.
The monument has been in the park since 1965, when it was donated to the city by the Fraternal Order of Eagles.
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year, in the case of Summan v. Ogden, that a city which displays a Ten Commandments monument must also display monuments espousing more unpopular beliefs.
The plan for the historic plaza is based on one implemented by Grand Junction, Colo. The plaza withstood a legal challenge from the American Civil Liberties Union in 2001.
Legislators negotiating gay rights compromise
BOSTON – Top Democratic House lawmakers plan to write legislation to greatly expand legal rights for gay couples in Massachusetts.
The group led by gay-rights foe House Ways and Means Committee chairman John H. Rogers is considering a compromise that would outlaw gay marriage while approving Vermont-style civil unions.
The members plan to draft a bill this fall with the hope that the Legislature will act on it before the Supreme Judicial Court rules on legalizing gay marriage. That ruling is expected at any time.
Rogers confirmed that the group will meet later this month, and said he hopes the effort will result in civil-union legislation similar to that enacted in Vermont. Lawmakers there, at the same time that they extended legal recognition to gay couples, also defined marriage as a union of one man and one woman to appease conservatives.
Rescue mission turns down offer of help from gay church
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Rev. Tony Marciano, head of the Charlotte Rescue Mission says he doesn’t want members of an LGBT church to serve a meal to his clients, but would accept donations from the church.
“We can not endorse a church that openly teaches that homosexuality is an acceptable lifestyle,” Marciano said.
The Rev. Mick Hinson called the decision an “outrage” and “absurd,” but said he’ll continue to encourage the 225 members of his church to help the mission.
The Charlotte Rescue Mission offers a Christ-centered, residential treatment program for 144 substance abusers.
Gay music director steps down after church gives him ultimatum
DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. – Todd Diehl, 43, a gay music director at the First Presbyterian Church of Downers Grove who was told by church officials to resign or repent for not taking a chastity vow has decided to step down, causing a rift in the Presbyterian congregation.
Diehl said he was forced to quit because remaining celibate was an unrealistic option. Diehl, who describes himself as a non-denominational Christian, said he told church leaders about his homosexuality in June because he no longer wanted to conceal it. He said they first responded by saying they didn’t think it would affect his job, but in a letter dated Sept. 30, officials told him to either repent or resign.
The Presbyterian Church (USA) added a provision in church law in 1997 that requires all clergy and lay officers to observe fidelity in heterosexual marriage
Gay Methodist minister likely to face church trial
SEATTLE – The Rev. Karen Dammann, a lesbian United Methodist minister serving in central Washington, will likely face a church trial that could lead to her removal from the pulpit.
The United Methodist Judicial Council, meeting in San Diego, announced that the church’s Book of Discipline must be upheld. That book bars “self-avowed, practicing homosexuals” from being ordained or serving as pastors.
The ruling reverses decisions by two regional investigative panels not to pursue a complaint against Dammann.
In February 2001, Dammann wrote to Bishop Elias Galvan, head of the Methodist Pacific Northwest Conference in Seattle, that she was in a “partnered, covenanted, homosexual relationship.” She and her partner, Meredith Savage, have a son.
Galvan then filed a complaint, setting in motion the discipline process that has so far stretched over two years.
Church spokesman Stephen Drachler said any trial would be the first against a homosexual pastor since 1987, when the credentials of the Rev. Rose Mary Denman of New Hampshire were revoked.
Chicago ends emergency meningitis campaign: 14,000+ shots given in a week
CHICAGO – City health department officials wrapped up an emergency inoculation campaign against bacterial meningitis, an infection that can be rapidly fatal if not treated with antibiotics, after giving more than 14,000 vaccinations in a week in an effort to curb a deadly outbreak.
Free vaccinations were offered Oct. 19 after a cluster of cases appeared on the city’s North Side. No new cases have been reported since Oct. 18. Three men died of the disease and three others were infected. The disease isn’t linked to sexual orientation but the recent cluster appears to be centered among gay or bisexual men who have had close personal contact since Oct. 1.
The free vaccination program ended Sunday because it reached its target audience and the number of people showing up for vaccinations dropped off. The city has not offered mass immunization against the disease since an outbreak in the early 1980s. Fifteen to 40 meningitis cases are normally reported every year in the city, health officials said.
In Other News
Survey: 60% of adoption agencies accepting applications from gays
NEW YORK – About 60 percent of the nation’s adoption agencies now accept applications from gays and lesbians, though resistance remains strong among many church-affiliated agencies, a new survey by a leading adoption institute says.
Adam Pertman, executive director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, predicted the holdouts would grow fewer in number as more homosexuals try to become parents.
The survey did not attempt to estimate the number of children adopted by gays; instead, it surveyed 307 adoption agencies, 277 private and 30 public, regarding their policies. 60 percent of the agencies surveyed accept applications from self-identified gays and lesbians, and 40 percent of the agencies have placed children with such parents.
Agencies specializing in children with special needs or in international adoptions were relatively more open toward gays.