Compiled by Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
Man receives four year sentence for murder of trans woman
WASHINGTON – Joel Robles, a 29 year-old transgender woman who was stabbed to death last year, will never report to her job as a dental assistant again, but her murderer, Estanislao Martinez, will be a free man in just four years. The California court that sentenced Martinez on Aug. 24 could have sentenced him up to 12 years for Robles’ brutal murder. The Gender Public Advocacy Coalition called the sentence an unacceptable punishment for the violent hate crime.
Robles was in a Fresno apartment in August 2004 when Martinez stabbed her more than 20 times after learning that she was biologically male. Martinez was later picked up by Fresno police who found him wandering naked along the freeway.
Throughout the trial, Martinez’s attorneys argued that when their client discovered Robles was biologically male he was so overcome with anger that he resorted to murder.
‘Crime of passion’ and ‘gay panic’ arguments have traditionally been at the core of defense cases in murder trials with gay and transgender victims.
Vatican studying plan to block gay priests
According to an Aug. 28 report by the British paper Guardian Unlimited, the Vatican has drawn up a religious instruction preventing gay men from being priests. The document is being studied by Benedict XVI, who will decide whether it should become a published rule.
According to the Guardian report, “The document expresses the church’s belief that gay men should no longer be allowed to enter seminaries to study for the priesthood.” The instruction was created as part of the Church’s response to the child sex abuse scandal.
Utah Supreme Court to consider parental rights for former lesbian couple
SALT LAKE CITY – The case of a lesbian who wants to be a parent to a child born to her former same-sex partner will be heard by the Utah Supreme Court Aug. 30. The issue before the court will be whether the woman is legally entitled to a continuing parental relationship with the child when the biological parent objects.
California senate votes to clarify that civil rights law applies to gays
SACRAMENTO – The state Senate on Aug. 22 approved legislation specifying that a major civil rights law bars businesses from discriminating against people because of their sexual orientation or marital status.
Danforth concerned Republicans too closely tied to religious right
ST. LOUIS – Retired Republican Sen. John Danforth expressed concern Aug. 25 that his party is too closely aligned with the religious right.
Danforth, 68, who represented Missouri for three terms in the Senate and resigned earlier this year as U.N. ambassador, spoke during a lunch sponsored by the St. Louis chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans.
Danforth said concerns of conservative Christians, like the high divorce rate and family disintegration, deserve attention, but added, “There is something about a political party adopting a particular religious agenda, a sectarian religious agenda, as its own, that is divisive.”
Library sets up special collection for gay-themed books
OKLAHOMA CITY – After a complaint about children’s books with homosexual content, a library commission has decided to place youth material of a “sensitive nature” in a special collection in the adult section.
Members of the Metropolitan Library Commission voted 10-7 Aug. 25 to place children’s books dealing with “sensitive or controversial topics” into a special collection that only will be accessible by “adults in authority.”
Specific books criticized were “King & King,” “Daddy’s Roommate,” “The Duke Who Outlawed Jelly Beans” and “Heather Has Two Mommies.”
Right Wing Watch
Phelps’ church protests at soldiers’ funerals
SMYRNA, Tenn. – Members of Fred Phelps’ church brought their anti-gay message to the Aug. 27 funerals of two Tennessee soldiers killed in Iraq.
Phelps’ followers were met with scorn from local residents, who chased the church members cars’ down a highway, waving flags and screaming “God bless America.”
Phelps, founder of Westboro Baptist Church, contends that American soldiers are being killed in Iraq as vengeance from the Christian god for protecting a country that harbors gays. The church is made up mostly of Phelps’ children, grandchildren and in-laws.
So many counter demonstrators were gathered at one funeral that police, sheriff’s deputies and state troopers were brought in to control traffic and protect the protesters.