Compiled by Dawn Wolfe
Maine passes gay rights bill
AUGUSTA – A bill that would bar discrimination against gays and lesbians won a strong vote of approval March 28 in the state Senate, moving the measure to the House where a vote is expected soon.
The bill would amend the Maine Human Rights Act by making it illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identification in employment, housing, credit, public accommodations and education. The law now prohibits discrimination based on race, color, sex, disability, religion, ancestry and national origin.
Maine voters have rejected similar gay rights measures in recent years.
Lambda Legal opposes Terrence Boyle nomination
NEW YORK – Citing concerns about his record of hostility to civil rights claims, Lambda Legal announced its opposition to the nomination of U.S. District Judge Terrence W. Boyle to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on March 24.
Boyle has been nominated to the appeals court numerous times and has failed to win Senate confirmation each time. Earlier this year, George W. Bush again nominated Boyle to serve on the federal appeals court, whose 11 judges hear cases appealed from trial-level federal courts in Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. The Senate Judiciary Committee has already held hearings on his nomination and a vote by the committee could come early next month.
Lambda Legal is particularly concerned about Boyle’s approach to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a federal law that prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities, including HIV. In numerous decisions, Boyle ruled that courts should defer to an employer’s opinion of whether a reasonable accommodation has been made to a disabled employee. There are no cases in the public record where Boyle has ruled in favor of a plaintiff in an ADA case.
The effort to defeat Boyle’s nomination is the first step in Lambda Legal’s wide-ranging new national campaign, “Courting Justice: Stand Up for Fair Courts – Protect Our Rights.”
For more information on Lambda Legal visit http://www.lambdalegal.org.
Contact Senators Levin and Stabenow and tell them to oppose the nomination of Terrence W. Boyle and other Bush-nominated judicial extremists:
Senator Carl Levin – Call 202-224-6221. Email Senator Levin by visiting the Contact Center on his website at http://www.senate.gov/~levin.
Senator Debbie Stabenow – Call 202-224-4822 or TTY: 202-224-2066 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maryland Senate passes medical decision registry bill
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – The state Senate approved legislation that would create a registry giving unmarried couples the right to make medical decisions for each other March 25. It now goes to the House of Delegates, which passed similar legislation last year but which was waiting for Senate action before taking up this year’s bill.
While the bill was promoted by gay rights groups, it would apply to any unmarried couples who want to register with the state. Registration would guarantee partners the right to make medical decisions for each other and hospital visitation, share rooms in nursing homes, share ambulance rides and make decisions about whether to bury or cremate after death.
Man sentenced to 25 years to life in gay slaying
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – A reputed gang member was sentenced to 25 years to life for stabbing a gay man outside a Riverside nightclub nearly three years ago.
Dorian Lee Gutierrez was convicted of second degree murder last month.
Police said Gutierrez, 22, was one of five gang members who attacked Jeffrey Owens, 40, and his friends in a parking lot outside the club. Two of the five pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and one to accessory to murder. The other pleaded guilty to attempted murder.
Judge hears arguments over Louisiana abstinence web site
NEW ORLEANS – On March 24 the American Civil Liberties Union argued before a US District Judge that the Governor’s Program on Abstinence is in contempt of court for failing to abide by an earlier agreement to stop promoting religion. The ACLU attorney said several links from GPA’s Web site lead to sites advocating prayer and repentance.
The state maintains that the religious references do not amount to an excessive entanglement between government and religion.
Alabama judge protests Yale’s limit on military recruiters
NEW HAVEN, Conn. – William M. Acker Jr., a senior judge with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama in Birmingham announced he will not consider Yale Law students for clerkships to protest the university’s policy of limiting military recruiters’ access to students.
Acker last month wrote to the Yale Law School dean.
A federal judge ruled in January that a federal law requiring universities to let military recruiters on campus violates the school’s constitutional right to free speech. Immediately after the ruling, Yale’s law school returned to its decades-old policy of banning military recruiters.
The school, which temporarily halted that policy in 2002 to save federal funding, requires recruiters to sign a nondiscrimination pledge to prevent anti-gay bias. Military recruiters are not barred from the campus, but they are not included in the law school’s job interview program.
Spotlight on equal marriage helps push ad spending in gay media to four-year high
NEW YORK – Equal marriage might have polarized lawmakers, but it galvanized advertisers in the gay press, according to a survey released March 21.
Overall ad spending in gay and lesbian publications in 2004 reached $207 million, an increase of 28.4 percent over the year before, according to the 2004 edition of the Gay Press Report, the annual survey produced by advertising agency Prime Access Inc. and gay media representative firm Rivendell Media.
The 2004 Gay Press Report survey found that over 150 Fortune 500 brands were active in the gay consumer market in 2004, up from 72 in 2001 and only 19 in 1994. And for the first time, the majority (59 percent) of ads in national LGBT publications are specifically created for gay consumers. Currently, the most popular product categories are automotive, travel, financial services and fashion.
To view the 2004 report in its entirety visit http://www.gaymarket.com/gaypressreport2004.pdf.
UofM’s program joins National Coalition for LGBT Health
ANN ARBOR – The National Coalition for LGBT Health announced March 23 that the The University of Michigan Health System Comprehensive Gender Services Program had become its newest organizational member. There are over 50 other LGBT health organizations in the Coalition.
The UMHS-CGSP is an academic, multidisciplinary program which provides comprehensive health care services for individuals who are transgendered and in need of gender-related care. UMHS-CGSP is also a member of the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association.
For more information about the UMSH-CGSP http://www.med.umich.edu/transgender. To learn more about the Coalition visit http://www.lgbthealth.net.
AMA and GLMA announce commitment to include LGBT issues in health disparities effort
WASHINGTON – Officials of the American Medical Association emerged from a meeting with the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association on March 12 with a commitment to fully include the health concerns of LGBT Americans in the AMA’s ongoing work to eliminate health disparities.
The scope of the Commission has been focused primarily on addressing disparities based on race and ethnicity. GLMA asked the AMA to help expand the scope of the Commission to include disparities experienced by LGBT people.
GLMA leaders requested the meeting following public comments made last month by AMA President Dr. John Nelson regarding the decision of New York Medical College to ban its gay and lesbian student group.
Survey finds barriers to health care for lesbians
Three-quarters of lesbians, compared with half of heterosexual men and women, have delayed obtaining health care even when sick – most often because of high health care costs and lack of adequate health insurance, according to a nationwide online survey. The survey’s results were originally reported by PlanetOut Network on March 14.
Conducted by Harris Interactive, in conjunction with the Mautner Project, a national lesbian health organization, the survey asked opinions of 2,209 U.S. adults, 119 of whom self-identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual. In addition, 341 self-identified lesbian adults were surveyed.
The survey also found that lesbians under 35 are more likely than lesbians over 50 to have delayed obtaining health care, and sixteen percent of lesbians report that they have delayed obtaining health care because they were concerned about discrimination. Lesbians are also more likely than heterosexuals to say that bad experiences with health care providers in the past caused them to delay obtaining health care (27 percent vs. 12 percent).
Conferences of Interest
Couples National Network announces Celebration 2005 activities
ORLANDO – Greater Orlando Couples, an Orlando-based social organization for gay and lesbian couples in committed relationships is hosting Couples National Network’s annual celebration – Celebration 2005.
Celebration 2005 will take place at the Florida Mall Hotel during Memorial Day weekend, May 27-29, the weekend before Gay Days at Disney.
The event will include a welcome reception and an informal evening mixer, the annual business meeting, a silent art auction, and the Celebration Dinner Party. This event is open to all member couples of Couples National Network and guest couples interested in learning more about the organization.
For additional information on Celebration 2005, contact Couples National Network at 1-800-896-0717 or visit http://www.couples-national.org.
In Other News
City joins in protest of Phelps’ group
COLORADO SPRINGS – City officials have told a Kansas minister who leads anti-gay protests that he is not welcome.
When protesters from Westboro Baptist Church returned to Colorado Springs during the week of March 21 to protest outside a downtown restaurant owned by a council member who defends gay rights they were given a letter from the City Council telling them their message was unwelcome.
The Kansas church plans to return to Colorado Springs at the end of April to picket outside the headquarters of Focus on the Family, which it accuses of being too liberal toward homosexuals.