Compiled by Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
Trans-inclusive hate crimes bill to be introduced in U.S. House
WASHINGTON – A federal hate crimes bill with explicit protections against crimes based on gender identity and sexual orientation is expected to be introduced in the U.S. House Thursday, May 26.
The legislation would update federal hate crimes laws to provide local law enforcement with assistance with hate crimes based on gender and disability.
Lead sponsors include Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), John Conyers Jr. (D-Michigan), Christopher Shays (R-Conn.), and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.).
Maryland Governor vetoes gay rights bill
ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Governor Ehrlich vetoed a bill on May 20 that would have granted certain rights to unmarried partners, including gays. The recent legislation would have granted nearly a dozen rights to couples that register with the state, including authority over certain medical and funeral-related decisions for one another.
Ehrlich said he objects to the bill’s requirement that couples register with the state as “life partners.”
Ehrlich said he might introduce a bill next year recognizing gay couples’ rights.
WorldPride to be postponed
JERUSALEM – Planet Out reported on May 16 that WorldPride, originally scheduled for Aug. 10-28, will be postponed until 2006 because the original dates would have coincided with Israel’s pullout from the Gaza strip. Israeli police had expressed concerns about being overwhelmed should the festival take place during such a politically sensitive time.
For more information about WorldPride visit http://www.gay.org.il/joh/eng/WPJ.htm.
Psychiatrists may push for equal marriage rights
ATLANTA – The American Psychiatric Association approved a statement May 22 urging legal recognition of equal marriage. If approved by the association’s directors in July, the measure would make them the first major medical group to take such a stance.
The proposal follows a similar measure by the American Psychological Association last year. The document clarifies that the association is addressing same-sex civil marriage, not religious marriages. It takes no position on any religion’s views on marriage.
Spokane mayor’s job on the line in sex scandal
SPOKANE, Washington – The City Council will vote May 30 on whether to demand the resignation of Mayor James West, who has been accused of offering city jobs to men he met in gay online chat rooms.
Only a public recall vote can remove West from office. A woman whose recall petition was rejected by the county prosecutor’s office has filed a new petition to meet the requirements of state law. West is under investigation by the FBI.
State hires anti-gay legal firm to fight benefits
MADISON, Wis. – Republican lawmakers are asking the anti-gay Alliance Defense Fund to represent the state in fighting a lawsuit that seeks benefits for partners of gay state workers. The 6-3 vote of the Republican-controlled Joint Committee on Legislative Organization took place May 18.
The state Department of Justice typically defends the state in lawsuits, unless a conflict of interest arises or the case is indefensible. DOJ spokesman Scott Ross said the department is still deciding whether to fight the lawsuit.
Victory Fund funds four winners
http://Advocate.com reported on May 20 that four candidates funded by the Victory Fund, which makes contributions to openly-gay and lesbian candidates who support gay rights and reproductive choice, were recently elected to local offices. Mike Gin has been elected mayor of Redondo Beach, California; Bill Rosendahl won his bid for a seat on the Los Angeles city council, Dan Ryan was elected to the Portland, Oregon school board, and Kevin Lee won his primary for the Lansdowne, Pennsylvania borough council. An additional candidate, Dan Miller, has won a primary race and will be on the ballot for the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania city council.
Human cells can ‘silence’ HIV genes
WASHINGTON – For the first time, scientists have shown that humans use an immune defense process common in plants and invertebrates to battle a virus. The new finding that human cells can “silence” an essential part of HIV’s genetic make-up could have important implications for the treatment of people infected with the virus.
Co-parenting cases to be heard by California Supreme Court
SAN FRANCISCO – 365Gay.com reported Monday that the California Supreme Court will hear three cases involving lesbian co-parents on Tuesday, May 24. The three cases were combined.
At issue are lower court rulings that restrict parental rights to the birth mother in any case where there is no formal adoption by the co-parent.
The cases involve a birth mother wishing to terminate a parentage agreement with a former partner, a co-parent who does not want to be responsible for financial support for the children she helped raise with her ex-partner, and a lesbian whose eggs were implanted in her partner who is now trying to keep the egg donating mother from seeing her children.
The Supreme Court is expected to rule in about 90 days.
Lesbian Cherokee couple battling for recognition
TULSA, Okla. – A Cherokee lesbian couple is still battling for tribal recognition of their union, a year after their marriage.
The couple received a marriage certificate and exchanged vows in Cherokee a year ago. But a tribal judge issued an injunction against them after reviewing a complaint that alleges marriages between same-sex couples are invalid under Cherokee law.
The couple will go before the tribe’s highest court in Tahlequah on June 3 on their appeal to have the complaint thrown out.
First NGLCC/Wells Fargo Excellence in Small Business Award given
SAN FRANCISCO – The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and Wells Fargo & Company awarded the first NGLCC/Wells Fargo Excellence in Small Business Award on May 14. The recipient was Howard Buford, founder and president of multicultural advertising agency Prime Access, Inc. The award was presented at the Excellence in Business Awards Luncheon during the 2005 NGLCC International Business and Leadership Conference.
Buford was selected by Wells Fargo and the NGLCC to receive the honor in recognition of his 25 years of industry experience in corporate marketing and advertising, and his strong history of community service for LGBT causes.
The U.S. LGBT community will account for over $600 billion in consumer spending power this year alone. The NGLCC estimates the number of LGBT-owned small businesses nationwide to be approximately one million strong.
Ernst & Young bans gender identity-based discrimination
WASHINGTON – Ernst & Young LLP is the first of the Big 4 accounting and professional services firms to ban discrimination based on gender identity and to reach 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which ranks companies on how they treat LGBT employees and consumers.
Students sue school over gay censorship
LOS ANGELES – Student journalists sued their Bakersfield high school district May 19 in an effort to keep the school’s principal from censoring student newspaper articles on homosexuality.
The suit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, requests an emergency order to allow the paper to publish the stories in The Kernal’s year-end May 27 issue.
California’s education code allows schools to censor student publications if articles are obscene, libelous or slanderous, or incite students “as to create a clear and present danger.”
The articles include photos and interviews with gay students discussing their sexual orientation. The reporters obtained written permission from those they interviewed and from the parents of those who were minors.
North Carolina county protects gay workers from discrimination
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Commissioners in North Carolina’s most populous county voted to add “sexual orientation” to its nondiscrimination policy despite vehement objections from Republicans.
The new policy means Mecklenburg County cannot discriminate in hiring and personnel decisions on the basis of sexual orientation, in addition to race, color, sex, religion, national origin and age. The change was approved 6-3 on May 17. One commissioner said Republican reaction to the agenda item showed why it was needed.
Anti-trans discrimination case goes to federal judge
SPOKANE, Wash. – A federal judge will decide if a U.S. Customs and Border Protection employee who has undergone a sex change suffered discrimination at the hands of co-workers, after a six-day trial concluded May 17.
Attorneys for the federal government had argued that past decisions held that transsexuals were not members of a protected class under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
NLGLA to award Professor Arthur S. Leonard Lifetime Achievement Award
WASHINGTON – The National Lesbian and Gay Law Association will honor Arthur S. Leonard, Professor of Law at New York Law School, with its annual Dan Bradley Lifetime Achievement Award. The Award will be given to Professor Leonard at NLGLA’s Lavender Law Career Fair and Conference on Oct. 28, 2005 in San Diego.
Leonard joined the full-time faculty of New York Law School in 1982, has served as a member of the Legal Advisory Committee at Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund, contributed a chapter on discrimination to Lambda Legal’s first legal handbook on AIDS and the law, and in 1985 published an expanded version of that article in the University of Dayton Law Review, the first published law review article on AIDS discrimination.
For more information visithttp://www.LavenderLaw.org.
Three charged in gay murder case to be tried as adults
BAY MINETTE, Ala. – Three young people charged in the slaying of a gay teenager will be tried as adults in capital murder trials.
Christopher Ryan Gaines, 20, Nichole Kelsay, 19, and Robert Holly Lofton Porter, 19, entered not guilty pleas May 26 after a Baldwin County Circuit Court judge denied their requests for youthful offender status in separate arraignments.
Scotty Joe Weaver was beaten, stabbed, strangled and his body burned in woods near his mobile home on July 18, 2004, according to investigators.
Gaines, Kelsay and Porter now face the death penalty if convicted.
Investigators have pointed to robbery as the primary motive, but prosecutors believe that the suspects acted in part because Weaver was homosexual.
Boy Scouts Watch
Atlanta United Way votes to withhold Scout money
ATLANTA – Directors of Atlanta’s United Way voted May 18 to withhold money for area Boy Scouts pending an investigation into whether the group inflated black membership numbers.
The United Way of Metropolitan Atlanta’s board of directors unanimously approved a plan that would give Boy Scouts of America-Atlanta Area Council about $1.3 million for 2005. But about $945,000 of the allocation will be withheld until the board sees an audit commissioned by the Scouts.
The regional director of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition claimed in October that the 13-county Boy Scouts council was reporting 10,000 black participants when as few as 500 were actively involved.
Similar allegations have been made in Alabama, where the FBI is investigating whether the Birmingham-based Greater Alabama Boy Scout Council padded its membership rolls.