Compiled by Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
California NAACP endorses equal marriage rights bill
SAN FRANCISCO – Members of the California State Conference of the NAACP narrowly voted at their convention last fall to support a bill that would legalize equal marriage rights. The group did not make their support of the pending “Religious Freedom and California Civil Marriage Protection Act” public until this week, in advance of the bill’s first legislative hearing.
“In a place like California, you can not possibly work for rights if you don’t work for gay rights,” said Alice A. Huffman, California NAACP president. “You either believe in the rights of everyone or you are in the wrong business.”
The bill is scheduled to be heard by the Assembly Judiciary Committee April 26.
The national NAACP has not taken a position on equal marriage, although its chairman, Julian Bond, has gone on record as a supporter.
Republicans divided over anti-family amendment
NEW ORLEANS – A new Wall Street Journal/NBC poll shows deep divisions in the Republican Party over the question of an anti-family Constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality. The poll, cited April 7 by the Log Cabin Republicans, showed that 48 percent of Republicans support Congressional legislation banning equal marriage rights while 47 percent oppose it.
The poll also revealed a continued hesitancy on the part of Republicans to expand the role of the federal government. According to the poll, 50 percent of Republicans believe the federal government should be less active on “social and moral issues” while only 37 percent believe it should be more active.
Conservative G.O.P. consultant weds male partner
WASHINGTON – On April 8 the New York Times reported that Arthur J. Finkelstein, a prominent Republican consultant who has directed a series of hard-edged political campaigns to elect conservatives in the United States and Israel over the last 25 years, said on April 8 that he had married his male partner in a civil ceremony at his home in Massachusetts.
Finkelstein has made a practice of defeating Democrats by trying to demonize them as liberal, according to the Times report.
The Times report said that Finkelstein has been allied over the years with Republicans who have fiercely opposed gay rights measures, including former Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina.
Former LCR and Liberty Education Forum CEO sues for wrongful termination
WASHINGTON – The former CEO of Log Cabin Republicans and Liberty Education Forum has filed a lawsuit claiming he was wrongfully terminated after uncovering improper business and financial practices of LCR and LEF.
Dwight Lodge, former LCR/LEF CEO, said LCR/LEF’s Executive Director, Patrick Guerriero, fired him following a meeting he requested to discuss his concerns over improper and well documented business and financial practices that were discovered while deploying new financial systems. On Dec. 22, Guerriero terminated Lodge’s employment citing an alleged and previously undocumented substandard job performance.
HRC donates $75,000 to Equality Federation
WASHINGTON – On April 4 Human Rights Campaign announced a $75,000 donation to the Equality Federation in order to support the work of state groups advocating for LGBT rights. The Federation is the national coalition of statewide LGBT advocacy organizations founded by state leaders in 1997.
Over forty statewide LGBT groups work together in the Equality Federation to secure full civil rights in every U.S. state and territory.
For more information about the Equality Federation visit www.equalityfederation.org.
ACLU sues over gay t-shirt ban
WEBB CITY, MO. – On April 6 the American Civil Liberties Union sued Webb City High in Missouri for allegedly disciplining LaStaysha Myers, 15, for wearing t-shirts with gay-friendly messages.
Myers, who is heterosexual, said she was sent home twice from school for wearing the shirts.
Last fall Webb City High student Brad Mathewson was suspended over his t-shirts that included phrases like “I’m gay and I’m proud.” Mathewson returned to school only after promising not to wear the shirts.
The ACLU also sent a letter April 6 to school officials in Ohio, demanding they stop alleged censorship of students who wore t-shirts showing support of equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians.
Gay rights bills advance in Hawaii
HONOLULU – State senators passed two bills April 4 that would prohibit Hawaii’s landlords and employers from discriminating against LGBT people. One bill prohibits discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity during any real estate transaction. Another would update the law banning discrimination by employers based on sex and gender stereotypes to include gender identity.
Ballot proposal ready to repeal gay rights law in Maine
AUGUSTA, Maine Ñ A proposal to repeal Maine’s recently enacted gay rights legislation is ready for circulation by petitioners opposed to the pending law, elections officials indicated April 6.
If anti-gay rights referendum organizers gather sufficient signatures by June 28, statewide voters would be asked: “Do you want to reject the new law that would protect people from discrimination in employment, housing, education, public accommodations and credit based on their sexual orientation?”
The new law exempts religious organizations that do not receive public funds. The Christian Civic League of Maine, which said it would fight the pending law, participated in successful referendum campaigns in 1998 and 2000 that rejected earlier gay rights measures.
Gay soldier who won Purple Heart wants to serve openly
WASHINGTON – An Army sergeant from Ohio who was wounded in Iraq wants a chance to remain in the military as an openly gay soldier, a desire that’s bringing him into conflict with the Pentagon’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
Sgt. Robert Stout, 23, says he has not encountered trouble from fellow soldiers and would like to stay if not for the policy that permits gay men and women to serve only if they keep their sexual orientation a secret.
Stout was awarded the Purple Heart after a grenade sent pieces of shrapnel into his arm, face and legs while he was operating a machine gun on an armored Humvee last May. He is believed to be the first gay soldier wounded in Iraq to publicly come out and ask to continue to serve.
Stout, who served in Iraq for more than a year as a combat engineer, said by acknowledging he is gay, he could be jailed and probably will be discharged before his scheduled release date of May 31.
Women at NIH allege harassment, lax safety
WASHINGTON – Women at the National Institutes of Health faced sexual intimidation and repeated disregard of their concerns for the welfare of patients in AIDS experiments, according to testimony by two senior female officers and documents gathered by investigators.
One longtime medical officer at the government’s premier medical research agency alleges that the harassment and disregard for federal safety regulations are so widespread that employees are now afraid to hold up experiments even if they see a safety problem.
NIH managers acknowledged in interviews that there are problems in their AIDS research program, which pays hundreds of millions of dollars for experiments across the globe. They said they could not address specific allegations because of the investigations, but were taking steps to end any sexual harassment and improve communication among employees when safety issues arise.