Compiled by Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
FMA hearing scheduled for mid-April
WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign reports that Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS) has decided to hold a hearing on the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” and the Federal Marriage Amendment in mid-April. The Republican leadership has indicated that a vote on the discriminatory Federal Marriage Amendment is expected in 2006, an election year.
Contact our U.S. Senators and your U.S. Representative and tell them to support our families!
Senator Carl Levin: 202-224-6221. Email Senator Levin by visiting the Contact Center on his website at http://www.senate.gov/~levin.
Senator Debbie Stabenow: 202-224-4822 or TTY: 202-224-2066 or e-mail email@example.com.
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.
Maine passes anti-discrimination act
BANGOR – On March 31, Gov. John Baldacci signed a law amending the Maine Human Rights Act making it illegal to discriminate in employment, housing, credit, public accommodations and education based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
Maine is now the second state in 2005, and the sixth state overall, to explicitly include protections for transgender people in anti-discrimination legislation. Other states with these protections include Illinois, California, Minnesota, New Mexico, and Rhode Island.
PhRMA and drug companies called on to repudiate USA Next’s gay bashing
WASHINGTON – Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and the Gay and Lesbian Leadership Institute have released a letter signed by 40 Gay and Lesbian public officials from around the country calling on Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America members to repudiate the gratuitous political gay bashing by USA Next, an organization funded primarily by PhRMA.
USA Next inaccurately attacked the American Association of Retired Persons as a supporter of equal marriage in the course of the debate on George W. Bush’s proposal for the partial privatization of Social Security. The organization also made illegal use of the wedding photo of a gay couple in their ads.
PhRMA is the chief political arm of the nation’s pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. For a list of PhRMA member companies, with contact information, visithttp://www.phrma.org/whoweare/members.
Toys ‘R’ Us agrees to bar discrimination based on gender identity
NEW YORK – Toys “R” Us has agreed to adhere to the city’s five pension funds’ policies prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity.
Toys “R” Us notified the funds’ comptroller on March 25 to say that it is taking steps to adhere to the Equality Principles, a 10-point code of conduct aimed at advancing workplace equality by barring discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Initially, after receiving the city’s proposal, Toys “R” Us sought approval from the federal Securities and Exchange Commission to omit the proposal from its 2005 proxy.
Over the last few years the city has urged dozens of Fortune 500 companies to adopt policies that explicitly prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. To date, 30 companies have amended or agreed to amend their policies.
Simon & Schuster to publish Mary Cheney’s memoir
NEW YORK – Mary Cheney, the lesbian daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney, plans to publish a memoir under a new subdivision of Simon & Schuster devoted to conservative books, the company announced.
Simon & Schuster Inc. did not say how much it paid.
Maryland senate panel advances hate crimes bill
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Senators likely will get a chance to debate a bill that would count gay and transgendered people as a group protected from hate crimes, after a committee voted March 31 to approve the legislation, which has cleared the House of Delegates.
The bill would trigger stiffer penalties for crimes committed against someone because of their sexual orientation. A proposal to remove protection for transgender persons failed.
Louisiana appeals court hears arguments about ‘crime against nature’ law
GRETNA, La. – A gay rights lawyer told an appeals court March 31 that a Louisiana law is discriminatory because it allows the state to break up advocacy groups like his.
Last year, a state judge followed the Supreme Court by striking down part of the “crimes against nature” law making it criminal for consenting adults to have oral or anal sex.
But he declined to strike down a law making the state attorney general’s office responsible for prosecuting homosexual groups as well as those promoting prostitution and narcotics.
The judge also left intact parts of the crimes against nature law forbidding solicitation for oral and anal sex.
Friends say slaying of Iowa man resembles Shepard case in Wyoming
WATERLOO, Iowa – People who knew Jason Gage say he had a rare ability to energize any room, made friends easily and would do anything for someone in need, like the time he gave a drunk stranger $46 for a taxi ride home.
Gage was found dead in his downtown apartment, bludgeoned with a beer bottle and stabbed in the neck with a shard of glass. Within hours, police had arrested 23-year-old Joseph Lawrence and charged him with first-degree murder.
“Parts of the equation are different, but the end result is the same,” said Chris Thompson, one of Gage’s friends. “There seems no doubt to me … that this was a crime of hate.”
According to a police affidavit, Lawrence acknowledged striking Gage twice with the bottle in the head and stabbing him with a piece of glass.
District may cut all noncurricular clubs to thwart GSA
CLEVELAND, Ga. – White County school administrators are recommending the cutting of all “noncurricular clubs” at White County High School.
The plan, which would go to White County Board of Education as part of other recommended policy changes, follows on the school system’s agreement to allow a club for gays students and supportive classmates to form.
New York appeals court dismisses transgender bathroom lawsuit
NEW YORK – A state appeals court has dismissed a lawsuit filed by an AIDS education group that said its landlord refused to renew its lease because its transgendered clients were using the building’s common-area rest rooms.
The 4-1 majority of the state Supreme Court’s Appellate Division rejected the Hispanic AIDS Forum’s complaint that transgendered people were being improperly excluded from the common-area rest rooms.
Rather, the majority wrote, the transgendered people were excluded from bathrooms on the basis of their sex. The panel agreed with an earlier ruling that said bathroom exclusion based on biological “gender” rather than “self-image” is not discrimination.
Psychologist who ‘counsels’ gays wants to return to advisory panel
BALTIMORE – A Pennsylvania psychologist claims to counsel people who want to change their homosexual orientation would like to return to an advisory board for the nation’s largest managed-care behavioral health company.
Dr. Warren Throckmorton was removed from the National Provider Advisory Council for Magellan Health Services, a Conn.-based company that has offices in Columbia, Md.
A Magellan spokeswoman said Throckmorton was removed from the board because controversy surrounding his views would be a distraction.
Throckmorton has said he doesn’t believe that people are born homosexual and that some people can modify their sexual behaviors according to their religious or moral beliefs.
Contact Magellan Health Services to express your opinion about Dr. Throckmorton’s views at 800-458-2740.
New Mexico public health official criticizes abstinence only programs
ALBUQUERQUE – Groups that give abstinence-only sex education workshops in the public schools manipulate facts about sexually transmitted diseases and condom use, a state Department of Health physician has charged.
“One program says premarital sex leads to cancer, depression, meaningless weddings, loss of honesty and embarrassment,” Dr. Bruce Trigg told a statewide school health conference here March 30. “It leads to everything but global warming.”
Courses by abstinence educators are based on fear, shame and homophobia, he said.
The federal government awarded the department more than $500,000 for abstinence-only programs this year.
An abstinence-only advocate claimed that curriculum she’s reviewed was accurate and based only on “healthy fear,” similar to programs to deter drunken driving.
Contact our U.S. Senators and your U.S. Representative and share your views on inaccurate and homophobia-promoting abstinence-only sex education programs. See related story with contact information on.