After Thwarted Kidnapping Plans, Whitmer Calls for Unity

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]

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National News Briefs

By |2004-12-23T09:00:00-05:00December 23rd, 2004|Uncategorized|

Compiled by Dawn Wolfe

Family Rights
Lesbian regains custody of kids
AUGUSTA, Ga. – A mother who said her children were taken away from her because she’s gay has regained custody after a state appeals court reversed a previous order by a juvenile court judge.
In a unanimous opinion, the appeals court panel wrote Dec. 17 that although the judge listed Amber Crosby’s “lifestyle” as a reason why she was an unfit mother, he had no evidence that was true.

Law

Lambda Legal settles with Foot Locker
COLUMBIA, SC – On Dec. 16 Lambda Legal announced an agreement with Foot Locker, settling its antigay discrimination lawsuit against the company. Under the agreement, Foot Locker will train its managers and employees more aggressively about antigay harassment, including emphasizing to its employees access to support and services to handle such harassment and provide an undisclosed monetary settlement to Lambda Legal’s client.
Foot Locker, Inc., promises a harassment-free workplace and includes sexual orientation in its policies on discrimination and harassment. When employee Kevin Dunbar formally complained, the promised confidentiality of the complaint was broken and the discrimination grew worse prompting the lawsuit.
Gay Iraqi teen killed by US soldier after sex
RALEIGH – A U.S. National Guardsman who pleaded guilty to killing a 17-year-old Iraqi said he shot the young man 11 times after they had sex in a guard tower.
Pte. Federico Daniel Merida, 21, pleaded guilty to murder without premeditation and other charges during a court martial in Iraq in September.
Merida was sentenced to 25 years in prison and reduced in rank and will be dishonorably discharged.
U.S. army officials at Forward Operating Base Danger, where the court martial was held in Iraq, had withheld details of the case.
However, the News & Observer newspaper of Raleigh reported that records said Merida and the Iraqi were on guard duty May 11 in a tower in northern Iraq. At about 10:30 p.m. Merida shot the teen 11 times with his carbine.
Merida first told investigators the teen demanded money at gunpoint. Later, he said he killed the boy because he forced him to have sex. In a third interview, Merida said he was angry after the two had consensual sex.
Merida also pleaded guilty to two counts of giving false statements.
Merida apologized to the victim’s family during the court martial, records said.
“He was a son, a brother, someone very important to them,” Merida said. “I took someone they loved and cared for.”
Merida, who was born in Veracruz, Mexico, has a wife and son. He was a member of the 113th Field Artillery Battalion’s Battery B, based in Monroe, N.C.

Civil Rights

Lesbian sues employer for discrimination
FORTUNA, Calif. – Two Fortuna women have sued their employer for discrimination, claiming they were fired from an assisted living facility after a manager learned they were a lesbian couple. Barbara McNaughton, 50, and Brenda Dapkus, 38, have filed suit against Sunwest Management, the Salem, Oregon-based company that owns Sequoia Springs Assisted Living in Fortuna. The couple have also filed a complaint with the California Department of Fair Housing and Employment alleging discrimination based on sexual orientation, which is illegal in California.

Health

Project awarded grant to help LGBTs quit smoking
WASHINGTON – The Whitman-Walker Clinic, Inc., on behalf of The National Coalition for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Health, announced Dec. 15 that it received a $50,000 grant to support effective clean indoor air policies in the greater Cleveland, Ohio and St. Paul, Minnesota areas. This initiative is one of 25 projects funded by Tobacco Policy Change: A Collaborative for Healthier Communities and States, a national program of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
“LGBT people are 40 to 60 percent more likely to smoke than non-gays,Ó said Donald Hitchcock, national field director of the National Coalition for LGBT Health.
The American Cancer Society estimates that tobacco use kills at least 30,000 gay and lesbian people a year in the United States. In the United States, tobacco kills more people each year than alcohol, car accidents, suicide, AIDS, murder, illegal drugs, and fire combined. While research is lacking on the cumulative effect of secondhand smoke on LGBT communities, it is known that annually almost 40,000 nonsmokers in this country die from lung cancer and heart disease due to second hand smoke exposure.
National LGBT tobacco action plan launched
WASHINGTON – The National Coalition for LGBT Health and The Tobacco Technical Assistance Consortium have announced the release of the National LGBT Communities Tobacco Action Plan. Over 60 LGBT health and tobacco control advocates participated in the planning process, which yielded five key action steps for reducing smoking among the LGBT community. The Action Plan, now available online, details the planning process; provides a history of LGBT tobacco control efforts; outlines the status of existing efforts with regard to research, prevention, and cessation/treatment; and presents action items and suggested strategies for implementation. The Action Plan is filled with resources to help inform and strengthen programs and services aimed at reducing tobacco use among LGBT individuals. This plan is the first noted effort to coordinate LGBT tobacco prevention, control, and research efforts on a national level and demonstrates commitment to eliminating health disparities observed among LGBT communities.
For more information about implementation activities contact Donald Hitchcock at dhitchcock@lgbthealth.net or 202-797-3516.
Women in Medicine 2005 to take place in April
LAKE LANIER ISLANDS, GA. – The annual Women in Medicine conference will take place April 10-14, 2005 at Pine Isle Resort, Lake Lanier Islands, GA. A wide array of presentations is planned, including topics ranging from Lesbian Fertility Options to Allopathic and Complementary Approaches to Menopause.
BLS and ACLS Recertification are available. For information and registration materials, contact University of Vermont, Continuing Medical Education, Farrell Hall, 210 Colchester Ave., Burlington, VT 05405-1757; 802-656-2292.

Religion

Robinson offers concession
NEW HAMPSHIRE – As Anglicans around the world try to resolve their deep rift over homosexuality, Bishop Gene Robinson is offering a concession to his critics. The New Hampshire Episcopal Bishop said Dec. 10 that he has volunteered to reduce his role in one of the most important meetings of Anglican Communion leaders if it would mollify conservatives who believe his consecration violated Scripture.
The communion is the worldwide association of churches that trace their roots back to the Church of England; the Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch.
The meeting is a once-a-decade gathering called the Lambeth Conference, which brings together Anglican bishops from around the world. Many conservatives from Africa, Asia and elsewhere have said they would boycott the meeting if Robinson attended.
Robinson said that about three months before the report was released, he told Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams that he would be willing to attend the conference “in a diminished capacity” such as an observer if that would help bring conservatives to the table. However, some traditionalist bishops have said they would not even want to share church sacraments with him. Robinson said he would not agree to withdraw from communal worship.

Media

Group of right-wingers seek to control airwaves
Mediaweek.com reports that according to a new FCC estimate it has obtained, 99.8 percent of indecency complaints in 2003 were filed by the Parents Television Council, an activist group.
At issue is a process that once relied upon aggrieved listeners and viewers contacting the FCC, but that increasingly is driven by organized groups with a focus on programming content. The FCC does not monitor programming for fear of assuming a role as national censor; it relies on complaints to initiate its indecency proceedings. So far this year, the system has resulted in millions of dollars in settlements and proposed fines against broadcasters.
On Oct. 12, in proposing fines of nearly $1.2 million against Fox Broadcasting and its affiliates, Mediaweek.com reports the FCC said it received 159 complaints against “Married by America,” which featured strippers partly obscured by pixilation. But when asked, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau said it could find only 90 complaints from 23 individuals.
“All but four of the complaints were identical … and only one complainant professed even to have watched the program,” Fox said. It said the network and its stations had received 34 comments, “a miniscule total for a show that had a national audience of 5.1 million households.”
Make your voice heard: To voice your opinion about allowing Christian fundamentalists to control the public airwaves, email FCC Chair Michael Powell at Michael.Powell@fcc.gov or call the FCC at 1-888-225-5322.

About the Author:

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