Compiled by Dawn Wolfe
Gay couple’s photo used illegally in AARP attack ad
PORTLAND – According to the Feb. 21 edition of DailyKos, the conservative American Spectator website ran an ad claiming that the American Association of Retired People, which is defending Social Security against the Bush Administration’s efforts to privatize it, is actually a pro-gay marriage, anti-veteran organization. The ad depicts two men in tuxes sharing a kiss next to a man in combat uniform. The ads are being produced by the same company that produced the slanderous Swiftboat Vet ads against John Kerry.
One of the men kissing in the ad has sent an email announcement claiming that his marriage photo was used in the ad without permission.
According to the email from Ricky Monet, “This is the ad targeting the AARP because of their opposition to the President’s social security plan. How this relates to the images of our nuptials and an American soldier is beyond me.” Monet’s email claims that he and his husband were informed about the ad by DailyKos.
For more information, visit: http://www.rickymonet.com or http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/2/21/164929/948.
Romney slurs gay families; citizens protest
BOSTON – Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is coming under fire from gay, lesbian and straight families for comments he made in South Carolina concerning gay and lesbian families.
In his South Carolina speech, Romney said some same-sex couples, “are actually having children born to them. It’s not right on paper. It’s not right in fact. Every child has a right to a mother and a father.”
About 40 parents and their children delivered a letter to the governor’s office Feb. 26 and requested a meeting, but Romney had left to deliver a similarly anti-family speech in Utah.
Feds restore ‘LGBT’ language to workshop
PORTLAND, Ore. – The words “gay,” “lesbian,” “bisexual” and “transgender” are being restored to the title of a government-sponsored workshop on suicide after a federal health agency was bombarded with e-mail protests over their removal.
The local organizers of the panel discussion said they had been warned that if they did not change the title, the workshop might be canceled by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which is funding it.
Flooded with hundreds of e-mailed protests from Oregon mental health advocates, the agency told the organizers they could revert to the original wording.
Mark Weber, a spokesman for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, said the agency’s name-change idea was purely a suggestion.
Report: Military anti-gay policy costs talent
WASHINGTON – Hundreds of highly skilled troops, including many translators, have left the armed forces because of the Pentagon’s rules on gays, at a cost of nearly $200 million, according to the first congressional study on the impact of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
The estimated cost was for recruiting and training replacements from 1994 through 2003 for the 9,488 troops discharged from the armed forces because of the policy. Costs were estimated based on how much the Pentagon and each service branch spends to recruit and train the general military population. Costs such as those for discharging officers were not included.
Of those who left, 757 held critical jobs for which the Pentagon offers re-enlistment bonuses because of their specialized nature, such as data processing technicians and translators. Many who were discharged had intelligence-related jobs.
In a response to the anti-gay military policy, Rep. Marty Meehan (D-MA) introduced The Military Readiness Enhancement Act in the House of Representatives on March 2 that would outlaw discrimination against lesbian and gay service members. Michigan Representative John Conyers is among the bill’s supporters.
For more information visit the Service Members’ Legal Defense Network: http://www.sldn.org.
Court in Boston allows equal marriage suit
BOSTON – The state’s highest court has agreed to hear a challenge to the 1913 law being used to bar out-of-state gay couples from marrying in the state. The law denies out-of-state couples the right to marry if it would be illegal in their home state.
The Supreme Judicial Court agreed in late January to hear the case. Oral arguments on the 1913 law are tentatively scheduled for September.
Lesbian in tux cut from yearbook
GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Fla. – County school officials are backing a Fleming Island High School principal’s decision to bar a picture of a lesbian student dressed in a tuxedo from the yearbook.
The principal said he pulled the senior class picture because Kelli Davis was wearing boy’s clothes. His decision was debated Feb. 24 at a Clay County school board meeting that drew 200 people, but the board took no action, and the superintendent said the decision will stand.
A school board attorney said there is no written dress code for senior pictures, but principals have the authority to set standards.
The student editor of the yearbook was fired after refusing her adviser’s order to take the picture out.
HIV infection rate among U.S. blacks doubles in a decade, holds steady among whites
BOSTON – Blacks are contracting HIV at twice the rate they were in the late 1980s and early 90s, which researchers and AIDS prevention advocates attribute to drug addiction, poverty and poor access to health care, according to government statistics.
At the same time, the HIV infection rate among whites has held steady.
Other troubling statistics indicate that almost half of all infected people in the United States who should be receiving HIV drugs are not getting them.
The findings were released at the 12th Annual Retrovirus Conference in Boston on Feb. 25. The HIV rates were derived from the widely used National Health and Nutrition Examinations Surveys, which analyze a representative sample of U.S. households and contain the most complete HIV data in the country.
However, health officials believe the numbers probably underestimate true HIV rates in the country because they don’t take into account the prison population or the homeless.
New details released On HIV ‘super strain’
BOSTON – Research on a recently discovered HIV strain shows it holds an array of disturbing traits that help it quickly progress to full-blown AIDS while resisting drug treatments, doctors said Feb. 25 at the 12th Annual Retrovirus Conference in Boston.
The variant, discovered in a New York City patient, may have raced from infection to full-blown AIDS in as little as four months, doctors said.
Many new infections are resistant to treatment with common HIV drugs, and a small number of HIV variants have quickly progressed to AIDS. But the New York patient’s doctors said the case combines both characteristics in a worrisome way. Some researchers have suggested that the patient may simply be unusually susceptible to AIDS, but his doctors said they have found no sign that his immune system is particularly vulnerable.
Aspects of the HIV variant suggest it is especially deadly, including the fact that it grows well in the lab, unlike most drug-resistant strains.
Scientists are still trying to find the source of the patient’s disease.
San Diego health officials have said they are studying a similar strain found there in a patient.
Archbishop: Anglicans could face division
NEWRY, Northern Ireland – The rift over homosexuality that threatens to split the 77 million-member Anglican Communion cannot be resolved without someone admitting they’re wrong, the church’s spiritual leader warned Feb. 25 – a day after leaders asked the U.S. and Canadian churches to withdraw temporarily from a key council.
In their statement, the bishops called on the U.S. and Canadian churches to “voluntarily withdraw their members from the Anglican Consultative Council for the period leading up to the next Lambeth Conference,” an international Anglican gathering due to be held in 2008.
The bishops’ communique said Anglican teaching on sexuality had “been seriously undermined by the recent developments in North America.” A 1998 resolution adopted by all Anglican bishops declared that gay sex was “incompatible with scripture” and opposed gay ordinations and same-sex blessings.
Conferences of interest
Transsistahs and Transbrothas convention Sept. 14-16
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The first Transsistahs and Transbrothas convention, an event for transmen and transwomen of color, will be held in Louisville, Kentucky from Sept. 14-16.
According to the organizers, the convention is being held to give the black trans community “an infrastructure and support system similar to what the Caucasian trans community has built up over the last 20 years. We need one that is not only created and controlled by us but also reflects our cultural heritage. … We must also lay the groundwork for interactions with allies and supporters in the mainstream African-American and African-American GLBT/SGL communities.”
For further information contact Monica Roberts at 502-899-9139 or Dawn Wilson at 502-475-5594, or visit http://www.transfamilydefyinggravity.net.
Summer conference will examine link among meth, HIV, Hepatitis
SALT LAKE CITY – The Salt Lake Tribune reported Feb. 16 that Salt Lake City will host the first national conference on methamphetamine, HIV, and Hepatitis. Participants will include scientists from Yale and Harvard medical schools, the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and law enforcement and social workers from around the nation.
Organizers will discuss how to prevent methamphetamine’s use, as well as harm reduction approaches for those continuing to use the drug.
For more information about the Aug. 19-20 conference, call Salt Lake’s Harm Reduction Project at 801-355-0234.