Compiled by Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
Kraft Foods under fire by anti-human rights group
NORTHFIELD, IL – Focus on the Family has targeted Kraft Foods, which makes products ranging from macaroni and cheese to Ritz Crackers, for a boycott because of Kraft’s sponsorship of the 2006 Gay Games in Chicago.
Support Kraft Foods in their efforts to support our community!
Call Kraft toll-free number at 1-800-323-0768, or write to CEO Roger K. Deromedi at 3 Lakes Dr., Northfield, IL, 60093. Kraft’s online contact form is at http://www.kraftfoods.com/main.aspx?m=contact_us/cu_form1.
Poll: Almost half of Americans support legal protections for same-sex couples
MONTPELIER, VT – A poll done by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center for the Boston Globe published May 15 found that 37 percent approve of equal marriage rights for same-sex couples, 11 percent are neutral, and 50 percent of Americans are opposed.
The poll also found that forty-six percent of Americans say the marriages of same-sex couples from Massachusetts should be recognized in their state. Fifty percent said they should not be.
Forty-six percent of those surveyed said they support civil unions that would provide gay couples with “some, but not all of the legal rights of married couples.”
HHS revises sex ed website
WASHINGTON – The federal government has changed its website advising parents how to talk to their children about sex after several groups said it presented biased and inaccurate information.
The term “alternative lifestyle” was replaced with “lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender lifestyle,” which addressed the concern that the Bush administration was labeling sexual orientation as choice.
In addition, the portion telling parents of gay children to consider seeing a family therapist who shares their values was changed to say “counselors and other health professionals may be helpful to both teens and parents when addressing difficult issues.”
However, the site continues to stress the failure rates of condoms and provide other misleading information about contraception and STDs, according to health advocacy groups.
Contact the Department of Health and Human Services and demand that the site, which is supported by tax dollars, provide scientifically accurate information about sexuality and contraception.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 200 Independence Avenue, S.W.,
Washington, D.C. 20201; or call 1-877-696-6775.
Victory Fund launches Horizon Campaign
WASHINGTON – The Victory Fund has launched a ten-month campaign to build a network of supporters to elect openly-gay legislators Wyoming, Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Ohio, New Mexico, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Florida, all ten of which lack an openly-gay state representative.
Each month will kick-off with local house parties, as well as virtual events and Internet resources to identify and activate LGBT community members who are committed to electing qualified gays and lesbians to public office.
For more information or to donate visit http://www.victoryfund.org.
Republican lawmakers tie library funding to gay books policy
OKLAHOMA CITY – Key Republican members of the Oklahoma House are threatening to withhold extra funding for libraries if they do not remove books from children’s shelves that depict gay and lesbian themes or families.
The chairman of the subcommittee said no decision had been made, but tying the funding to the failure of libraries to comply with lawmakers’ wishes is “something we will definitely be considering.”
The House passed a resolution during the week of May 2 urging library officials to restrict children’s access to books with gay themes.
Spokane city attorney calls for outside investigations of mayor
SPOKANE, Wash. – The city attorney has asked for state and federal investigations of Mayor James E. West following a newspaper report that West allegedly offered city jobs to young men he met in a gay Internet chat room in exchange for sex.
West, a conservative Republican and longtime gay-rights opponent who became mayor in January 2004, has taken a leave of absence and is the subject of a preliminary FBI probe. The state Attorney General said on May 13 that the state will defer to the FBI investigation.
Transgender woman wins right to dress as female at work
DENVER, Co. – A biologically male pharmacist, who is currently transitioning to female, has won the right to wear women’s clothing while on the job at King Soopers in Denver. Kim Dower, 51, has withdrawn complaints filed with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission and the Denver Anti-Discrimination Office after reaching agreement with the grocery chain owned by the Kroger Co., based in Cincinnati.
A King Soopers spokesman said the company changed its position after receiving follow-up letters from Dower’s doctor and therapist.
Protections for gay state workers rejected
LINCOLN, Neb. – Two attempts at putting protections into state law for gay state workers were narrowly defeated by the Legislature during the week of May 9.
On May 11, lawmakers rejected by just two votes a ban on discrimination for anyone who works for the state or any entity receiving state funding. On May 12, a proposal saying that a state employee’s sexual orientation was irrelevant in personnel issues came just one vote short of being approved.
The Legislature did approve a ban on discrimination against gay employees at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Creighton University and Boys Town National Research Hospital.
ABC airs Focus on the Family ads after denying UCC ads last year
Salon.com reported on May 5 that on May 2, ABC aired commercials from the right-wing group Focus on the Family about products available on its Focus on Your Child website.
The Salon.com report explains that controversy surrounds ABC’s decision to air FOF advertising when the network last year refused ads from the United Church of Christ on the grounds that “the network doesn’t take advertising from religious groups.” The report quotes the Focus mission statement, which begins, “To cooperate with the Holy Spirit in disseminating the Gospel of Jesus Christ to as many people as possible.” The UCC ads which were rejected by ABC promoted that church’s policy of accepting all people, including LGBT worshippers; Focus on the Family is a notoriously anti-gay organization.
The story about the Focus ads’ appearance was first reported by Media Matters for America; see www.mediamatters.org.
Contact ABC about their policy of banning ads from “religious groups” – unless those groups espouse a right-wing agenda.
ABC, Inc., 500 S. Buena Vista Street, Burbank, CA, 91521-4551; 818-460-7477.
NTAC prepares for its third lobbying foray
WASHINGTON – Transgender activists will be busy on Capitol Hill May 19-20 during the National Transgender Advocacy CoalitionÕs third biannual Lobby Days. The primary objective of the event is to push Congress for passage of inclusive hate crimes prevention and employment equality legislation. As with last year, NTAC will be lobbying along with GenderPAC, and immediately before the Transgender Veterans March to the Memorial Wall sponsored by the Transgendered American VeteransÕ Association.
For more information visit http://www.ntac.org or call 832-483-9901.
MCC endorses vigil at annual Boy Scouts conference
LOS ANGELES – Metropolitan Community Churches have endorsed a candlelight vigil to take place on May 24 at the Boy Scouts of America’s annual conference in Grapevine, Texas.
The Reverend Dr. Cindi Love, executive director of MCC, will represent the church.
The Boy Scouts prohibit membership to gays and atheists.
The demonstration is being coordinated by Scouting for All. For more information visit www.scoutingforall.org. For more about MCC, visit http://www.MCCchurch.org.
Lambda Legal expands transgender law resources
ATLANTA – Lambda Legal has announced the expansion of its work in transgender law with the addition of transgender rights staff attorney Cole Thaler.
While Lambda Legal has maintained a legal docket with transgender cases for years, the additional resources will allow the organization to focus more attention on health care, identity documents, family law and workplace equality issues that will bring much-needed legal clarity for transgender people.
Calls to Lambda Legal’s Legal Help Desk on transgender issues increased 70 percent last year.
Ruling allows same-sex couples to sue for loss of consortium
NEWARK, N.J. – A judge’s ruling that a same-sex couple can sue for a loss of consortium could expand rights for gays in New Jersey.
A Superior Court Judge ruled that Judith Peterson and Linda Henry can continue their claim against St. Barnabas Health Care System, Clara Maass Medical Center and five individuals.
Henry, a former paramedic at Clara Maass in Belleville, claimed she was forced to endure a hostile work environment as a result of her gender and sexual orientation, and suffered retaliation after she reported misconduct by co-workers. Henry said those actions led her to suffer a heart attack and other health problems that led her to neglect Peterson, her partner of nine years.
Loss of consortium is defined as the inability of a spouse to engage in normal marital relations. Up to now, only married couples have been permitted to sue for loss of consortium.
The couple filed an affidavit of domestic partnership last August.
Civil suit settled in 2002 killing of gay activist
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – A Virginia man has agreed to pay $200,000 in damages to the family of the Knoxville gay rights activist he strangled three years ago.
Chad Allen Conyers, of Virginia Beach, Va., entered a settlement in a wrongful death lawsuit that the late Joseph Camber’s relatives filed.
Conyers admitted in the civil court settlement that he severely beat and strangled Camber in April 2002 after the pair left a gay nightclub together.
Conyers pleaded guilty in 2003 in Knox County Criminal Court to voluntary manslaughter for Camber’s slaying as part of a plea deal that kept him out of jail. The deal outraged relatives and friends of Camber, a well-known gay rights activist who helped HIV/AIDS patients.
Scholarship for LGBT health professions students announced
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Health, Education and Research Trust, Inc. has created a new scholarship program, LGBT HEART Scholarship Program for the Graduate Health Professions for LGBT-identified students in the graduate-level health professions.
The program has been created through funds raised by LGBT HEART. Two students will be selected for the $2,000 scholarships, which will be awarded yearly. The application deadline is June 1.
For applications and additional information visit www.lgbtheart.org or email [email protected].
Baptist seeks church scrutiny of public schools
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A Houston lawyer who called on Southern Baptists to remove their children from “godless” public schools last year is now asking churches to investigate whether schools are promoting acceptance of homosexuality.
A resolution he proposed was voted down last year, but he is proposing another to be considered at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Nashville next month.
The resolution claims that schools promote acceptance of gays through officially sanctioned gay clubs, diversity training, anti-bullying courses, safe sex and safe schools programs. It says that if churches find that public schools are teaching acceptance of homosexuality, parents should remove their children and either home-school them or enroll them in Christian schools.
The proposal has been submitted to a committee that will decide whether to present it to the whole convention.
ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives to launch LGBT history website
LOS ANGELES – ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives will launch its web-based LGBT History Timeline on June 16.
The LGBT History Timeline is a web-based research tool that will make LGBT history accessible to students, academics, and others seeking online access to a wealth of information about the LGBT community and the leaders and events that have defined the community’s movement for equality and justice. The Timeline documents over 65 years of grassroots history.
For more information visit http://www.oneinstitute.org.
Gay men respond differently to pheromones
WASHINGTON – The sexual area of a gay man’s brain works a lot like that of a woman when exposed to a particular stimulus, researchers say.
In an experiment, men and heterosexual women sniffed a chemical from the male hormone testosterone. The homosexual men’s brains responded differently from those of heterosexual males, and in a similar way to the women’s brains.
“It is one more piece of evidence … that is showing that sexual orientation is not all learned,” said Sandra Witelson, an expert on brain anatomy and sexual orientation at McMaster University in Canada.
Gay Group denied Communion
ST. PAUL, Minn. – Over 100 people were denied Holy Communion at the Cathedral of St. Paul May 15 because they wore rainbow sashes meant to show support for gay Catholics.
The Rainbow Sash Alliance has been encouraging supporters to wear the sashes each Pentecost Sunday since 2001, but this was the first time they have been denied at the altar here. Archbishop Harry Flynn told the group earlier this month that they would not receive communion because the sashes appeared to have become a protest against church teaching.
While other parishioners sat or kneeled after going to the altar, sash-wearers remained standing with their hands cupped as a symbol that they still wanted the sacrament.
Last year, some conservative groups kneeled in the aisles to block sash-wearers from receiving communion in St. Paul. But there were no protests this year.
Vatican praises steps by Anglicans to ‘deal with’ gay bishop
VATICAN CITY – The Vatican on May 12 praised steps by Anglican leaders to deal with the election of a gay bishop in the United States and the blessing of same-sex unions there and in Canada, saying there were now foundations for continued dialogue and cooperation.
The assessment came after Anglican leaders on Feb. 24 asked the U.S. Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada to temporarily withdraw from a key council of the world Anglican communion because of the crisis that threatened to split their 77 million members. Catholics and Anglicans have been engaged in talks to overcome theological divisions for 35 years.
Pope John Paul II warned in 2003 that Robinson’s election could mean “serious difficulties” in efforts to unify Catholics and Anglicans, and meetings of a joint committee that has worked to reach common ground were put on hold.