After Thwarted Kidnapping Plans, Whitmer Calls for Unity

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]

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National news briefs

By |2004-04-03T09:00:00-05:00April 3rd, 2004|Uncategorized|
Politics

Sioux City rejects sexual orientation proposal
SIOUX CITY, Iowa – The City Council has rejected a proposal to make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation.
The council voted 4-1 Feb. 23 against adding gays and lesbians to the current city law, which makes it illegal to discriminate against people in jobs, accommodations and housing on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, religion, ancestry or disability. The Human Rights Commission asked the council to add sexual orientation to that group of protected classes.
Mayor Dave Ferris and Councilmen Marty Dougherty and Jason Geary said they voted against the measure based on their religious beliefs about homosexuals.
Councilwoman Karen Forneris cast the only vote in favor of adding sexual orientation to the law.
Five Iowa cities have included sexual orientation in their ordinances: Ames, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Des Moines and Iowa City.

Law

Supreme Court stays out of gay adoption issue
WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on March 1 sidestepped a California gay adoption case. Justices declined without comment to get in the middle of a child custody fight between a San Diego woman and her former lesbian partner. The women were raising two children together, but then separated.
The California Supreme Court already rejected an attempt by the birth mother, known as Sharon S., to prevent her former partner from adopting one of the children. That ruling last year was cheered by gay rights organizations as bolstering the 10,000 existing “second-parent” adoptions, in which a non-marital partner adopts a birth parent’s child. California allows those adoptions, but many other states do not.
John Dodd, the birth mother’s lawyer, said her constitutional rights will be violated if an unrelated person is allowed to adopt her child over her objections.
Attorney Charles Bird said Sharon had consented to joint custody with his client and did not withdraw her support in time.

Rollback of rights and possible cover up in U.S. Office of Special Counsel
WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign denounced the Office of the Special Counsel (OSC) for trying to roll back a 23 year old interpretation of a statute that prevents federal workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. The OSC is the office that investigates and prosecutes federal workplace discrimination, and in recent weeks has removed all information about filing claims of discrimination based on sexual orientation from its website and handbooks.
The OSC has stated publicly that it is re-evaluating its statutory authority to investigate claims of discrimination based on sexual orientation. In a release last week, Scott Bloch, Special Counsel of the OSC, said that the protection against sexual orientation-based discrimination originated in an Executive Order from five years ago.
However, a new letter from Elaine Kaplan, former Special Counsel in the OSC, called that claim “demonstrably inaccurate…indeed, I cannot imagine where you derived this understanding of the basis for OSC’s pre-existing policy regarding sexual orientation discrimination complaints.” Kaplan went on to point out that the very documents that have been removed from the OSC website would have demonstrated her point clearly.
The current law prohibits discrimination against federal employees or job applicants on the basis of off-duty conduct that does not affect job performance. Though no explicit reference to sexual orientation is made, it has long been interpreted to include sexual orientation. In 1998, Executive Order 13087 reaffirmed that position.

ACLU Asks Kansas Supreme Court to reconsider 17-year prison sentence
TOPEKA – Arguing that an appeals court erred gravely in upholding a 17-year prison sentence for a bisexual teenager, the ACLU has asked the Kansas Supreme Court to rehear the case of Matthew Limon.
In three separate opinions on January 30, the Kansas Court of Appeals upheld the state’s discriminatory “Romeo and Juliet” law, which gives much lighter sentences to heterosexual teenagers who have sex with younger teens, but specifically excludes gay teenagers. In the Court of Appeals, presiding Judge Pierron recognized that the “blatantly discriminatory sentencing provision does not live up to American standards of equal justice,” but he was outvoted by the other two judges on the panel.
The case had landed back before the appeals court after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered it to reconsider the matter in light of the Supreme Court’s decision last summer in Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down same-sex-only sodomy laws.

Religion

Pope calls for support of the family as union of man and woman
VATICAN CITY – Pope John Paul II called Feb. 26 for the support of the “authentic” Christian family, which he defined as based on marriage between men and women.
The pope did not specifically mention his opposition to gay marriage, but his speech to parish priests in Rome made clear he considers matrimony a bond between a man and a woman.
The Vatican has been waging a global campaign against moves to grant legal recognition to gay couples, calling it an issue of “natural moral law.”

In Other News

IOC delay decision about trans athletes
ATHENS – Saying they needed additional time to look at the issue, the IOC delayed their decision regarding the inclusion of transsexuals in the Olympic games.
The IOC medical commission proposed that athletes who have undergone sex-change operations be eligible for the games after hormone therapy and a two-year waiting period.ÊBut the IOC executive board failed to reach consensus and decided to delay any possible action until its next meeting in May.Ê
A main concern was whether male-to-female transsexuals would have physical advantages competing against women.ÊMen have higher levels of testosterone and greater muscle-to-fat ratio and heart and lung capacity. However, doctors say, testosterone levels and muscle mass drop after hormone therapy and sex-change surgery.

Country club agrees to mediation with gays
ATLANTA – A country club has agreed to mediation to resolve a dispute with two gay members who are seeking spousal benefits for their partners.
Mayor Shirley Franklin asked the Druid Hills Golf Club earlier this month to compromise with Lee Kyser and Randy New, who filed a complaint in July with city’s Human Relation’s Commission.
The commission ruled in January that the 1,100-member club violates the city’s anti-discrimination law.
The club’s board has argued that it accepts gay members but extends spousal benefits only to legally married couples. The benefits allow the member’s partner to visit the club without the member and bring guests.

Policy on gays could cost Scouts big bucks
COLUMBUS, Ohio – The United Way of Central Ohio adopted a policy Feb. 24 requiring the 80 organizations it funds to sign a nondiscrimination pledge. Any group that fails to do so by the end of the year could be cut off from United Way funding in 2005.
The move is aimed at the Simon Kenton Boy Scout Council, which serves more than 42,000 scouts in 23 counties, because of the organization’s national policy against gays. The council received about $498,000 from the local United Way this year. Lee Shaw, interim director of the Simon Kenton Council, said he hopes to satisfy the requirement without jeopardizing the Boy Scouts’ values.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that the Boy Scouts of America did not have to hire gays as Scout leaders or accept them as members.

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