Compiled by Dawn Wolfe
Phelps fails to repeal pro-gay ordinance
TOPEKA, Kan. – An effort to repeal a city ordinance that protects gays and lesbians from discrimination failed on March 1, and lesbian city councilwoman Tiffany Muller turned back a primary challenge by Jael Phelps, the granddaughter of Fred Phelps, who orchestrated the repeal campaign. The repeal, which was denied on a vote of 14,285 to 12,795, would have barred Topeka from reinstating such protections for 10 years.
With her second-place finish, Muller assured herself a spot on the April general election ballot. A lawyer finished first, with 1,935 votes. Phelps received 202 votes.
Farrakhan welcomes gays for October march
WASHINGTON – Planet Out reported that Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan wants gay people to march in the 10th anniversary commemoration of the Million Man March this October.
Farrakhan made the announcement Feb. 26 to a crowd of about 2,000 people.
In one of his first directly inclusive statements about the gay community, Farrakhan said this march will reach out to more people than the first, which encouraged only men to participate.
“The makeup will be our people, whatever we are,” Farrakhan said. “Male, female. Gay, straight. Light, dark. Rich, poor. Ignorant, wise. We are family. We will be coming together to discuss family business.”
Farrakhan has also called for gay leaders to help plan the march.
Conservative group admits stealing gay couple’s picture
WASHINGTON – 365Gay.com reported that a conservative group admitted March 4 that it illegally used a wedding photograph of a Portland, Oregon gay couple in an ad attacking the American Association for Retired People.
The ad attacked AARP for opposing Bush’s proposed changes to Social Security and attempted to “discredit” the organization by suggesting it supports equal marriage rights and opposes the war in Iraq.
The ad was produced for USA Next by Mark Montini International. Montini is a GOP strategist and chief executive officer of CampaignSecrets.com.
In addition, 365Gay.com reported that ABC news has linked some of the members of USA Next to the same people behind the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth ads that challenged the war record of Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry. And, there have been unverified suggestions that Montini has links to Talon News, the now defunct conservative online publication that employed J.D. Guckert, who posed as a White House reporter while working as a male prostitute.
Montini and USA Next could be looking at a fine for illegally using the picture. They would have to settle with both Portland Tribune, in which the photo originally ran, and with the couple.
Judge orders UNC to recognize Christian fraternity
RALEIGH, N.C. – The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill must recognize a Christian fraternity that has waged a legal fight challenging the school’s nondiscrimination policy.
The preliminary injunction will remain in place until the case is resolved, possibly by trial.
Alpha Iota Omega was stripped of its status as an official campus group because the fraternity won’t accept nonbelievers or gay students. The university revoked the recognition after fraternity members refused to sign the school’s nondiscrimination policy.
Recognition gives the fraternity access to student funds and university facilities.
‘Let Salvation Army discriminate,’ says Justice Department
NEW YORK – The Los Angeles Times reported March 7 that a small unit of the Justice Department, the religious-rights unit, has given its support to the New York branch of the Salvation army in an employment discrimination suit brought by social workers against the agency’s new policy of requiring employees to embrace a faith in Jesus Christ. The report says that the agency has also attempted to compile a list of homosexual employees.
The Salvation Army receives federal funds under George W. Bush’s initiative to fund faith-based groups, as well as the city and state of New York.
The Justice Department wrote to the New York federal court, calling the employee suit an affront to “the federal statutory and constitutional rights of religious employers to define their character and maintain their religious integrity,” according to the Times.
The U.S. House has recently passed a bill that would allow faith-based groups that receive federal funds to discriminate based on religious faith and sexual orientation.
Contact your U.S. Senators and representative to let them know how you feel about using tax dollars to fund programs that practice employment discrimination.
Senator Carl Levin – 269 Russell Office Building, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC 20510-2202. Call 202-224-6221. Email Senator Levin by visiting the Contact Center on his website at http://www.senate.gov/~levin.
Senator Debbie Stabenow – 133 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510
Call 202-224-4822 or TTY: 202-224-2066 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
To find your U.S. Representative, visit Project Vote Smart at http://www.vote-smart.org or call the U.S. Congressional Switchboard at 202-224-3121.
Daly City murder underscores continued anti-trans threat
SAN FRANCISCO – The body of a 42-year-old Daly City male found dressed in women’s clothing was discovered in Daly City, California March 1. The death took place a little more than two months before the start of jury selection in the second trial in the murder of Gwen Araujo.
This most recent case marks the fifth such murder within the last four years. Since the killing of Araujo, other anti-transgender murders have occurred in San Pablo, Oakland, and San Francisco.
For more information visit the Remembering Our Dead project at http://www.gender.org/remember/.
Sakia Gunn’s killer pleads guilty
NEWARK, N.J. – Richard McCullough, the man charged with fatally stabbing 15-year-old Sakia Gunn in May 2003 because she was a lesbian, has pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter in a deal with prosecutors that will likely get him a prison sentence of 25 years or less.
McCullough had been charged with bias murder in Gunn’s killing. That charge was dropped in exchange for the March 3 plea.
Three suspects plead not guilty in gay bashing
SANTA FE – Three people have pleaded not guilty to charges in what police described as an attack on a gay man at a motel in Santa Fe.
James Maestas, 21, remained hospitalized March 2 with injuries from being beaten unconscious Feb. 27. A second victim, Joshua Stockham, 24, was treated and released. The pleas were entered March 2 on behalf of Gabriel Maturin, 20 and Isaia Medina, 19, at their arraignment on charges of aggravated battery, battery, and conspiracy. One of the alleged assailants is currently on probation for raping a 4 1/2-year-old boy.
On March 5, approximately 300 people attended a candlelight vigil in support of Maestas.
UNC student’s beating a hate crime
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Police say an attack on a gay student who was beaten Feb. 25 was a hate crime.
The victim suffered broken bones but wasn’t hospitalized, police said. His attackers, described as six or seven white males around the age of 20, have not been identified.
Although the victim was walking along a popular stretch of roadway, no witnesses have come forward.
More than 300 people rallied on campus March 2 in support of gay rights.
Middle school students stand up for gay classmate
BEATRICE, Neb. – Twelve Beatrice middle school students staged a brief walkout during the week of Feb. 28 to protest what they called the unfair treatment of a gay student. The students refused to go to class after a teacher took gay pride posters away from a gay student who had brought them to school, said one of the eighth-graders involved. The students also claim the gay student is bullied by other students and that school administrators have not done anything about it.
In Other News
‘Lesbian’ not a dirty word says HRC
WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign sent the following a letter on March 3 to commissioners of the National Football League, the National Hockey Association and Major League Baseball regarding the online sale of the leagues’ personalized jerseys. Reportedly, the online ordering service rejects words deemed “inappropriate, derogatory, or profane” – and “lesbian” is one of the rejected words.
According to HRC’s letter, “Apparently, you can be a ‘heterosexual’ in the MLB, NFL and NHL. But you can’t be a ‘lesbian.’… We’re writing today to respectfully remind you that ‘lesbian’ is not a dirty word.”