National News Briefs

By |2005-09-08T09:00:00-04:00September 8th, 2005|News|

Compiled by Dawn Wolfe Gutterman

Family Rights

Courts to hear arguments in lesbian custody case

MONTPELIER, Vt. – A custody battle over a child born to a lesbian couple has produced dueling court rulings in Vermont, the first state to offer legal recognition to same-sex relationships, and Virginia, which has a law saying neither marriages of same-sex couples nor civil unions carry the force of law in that state.

The case comes up for argument before the Vermont Supreme Court on Sept. 7 and before the Virginia Court of Appeals a week later. If the Vermont and Virginia courts don’t resolve their differences, the case likely would go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Civil Rights

Guards accused of harassing gay inmates

HONOLULU – The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit accusing guards at the Hawaii Youth Correctional Facility of harassing and discriminating against inmates because of their sexual orientation.

The federal civil rights lawsuit was filed against the state on behalf of three teenage prisoners who said prison officials allowed an atmosphere of harassment, humiliation and fear for LGBT inmates.

Allegations include humiliating remarks made by the guards and failing to protect a male-to-female transgender prisoner from other inmates. The lawsuit also alleges a prison administrator told a lesbian couple that their relationship was “disgusting” and required the other wards to create a list of rules for the couple.

The facility has been the subject of several ACLU lawsuits and an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department, which described the lockup as “existing in a state of chaos.”

Challenges to library books on the rise

NEW YORK – Attempts to have library books removed from shelves increased by more than 20 percent in 2004 over the previous year, according to a new survey by the American Library Association.

Three books with gay themes, including Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” were among the works most criticized.

The number of books challenged last year jumped to 547, compared to 458 in 2003, with the library association estimating four to five unreported cases for each one documented. According to the ALA, a challenge is “a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.”

The numbers for 2004 were the highest since 2000, but still well below the peak from a decade ago, when more than 700 books were challenged.

Library to keep gay publications

UPPER ARLINGTON, Ohio – A suburban Columbus library has decided to keep two free periodicals catering to gays despite pressure to remove the publications that some opponents decried as lewd and obscene.

Library trustees unanimously voted to keep Outlook Weekly and Gay People’s Chronicle on shelves, but decided to move the publications to an area of the library where they would not be easily accessible by children.

Right Wing Watch

KKK protests Methodists meeting on acceptance of gays

LAKE JUNALUSKA, North Carolina – About a dozen members of the Ku Klux Klan protested Sept. 3 outside a meeting of United Methodists who want gays welcomed in all aspects of church life.

No incidents were reported.

The United Methodist meeting, which opened Sept. 2, attracted more than 500 people.

Like other anti-gay groups, the KKK advocates discrimination against LGBT people for religious reasons.

Gays responsible for Katrina, says Christian group

PHILADELPHIA – An Aug. 31 press release by the Christian group Repent America implies that the Christian god sent hurricane Katrina to New Orleans to prevent “Southern Decadence,” an annual gay celebration in the city.

“Although the loss of lives is deeply saddening, this act of God destroyed a wicked city,” said the group’s director, Michael Marcavage, who has been in court to fight for the right to protest Pride celebrations in Philadelphia.

The press release also cites Mardi Gras and the presence of abortion clinics in the city as reasons for the hurricane.

“We must help and pray for those ravaged by this disaster, but let us not forget that the citizens of New Orleans tolerated and welcomed the wickedness in their city for so long,” Marcavage said.


Southern Decadence goes on, despite Katrina

NEW ORLEANS – According to a Sept. 5 report by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram posted on the Mercury News website, “about two dozen holdout remnants of the annual Southern Decadence festival marched” through the city’s French Quarter Sept. 4.

According to the report, “Dressed in drag, wearing plastic leis or sporting makeup, the participants said they were determined to fight back against overwhelming despair.”


Gay rights group gathers to protest Vatican

VATICAN CITY – A small group of U.S. gay rights advocates gathered in St. Peter’s Square Sept. 2 in memory of an Italian man who burned himself to death to protest the church’s treatment of homosexuals.

Alfredo Ormando, a 40-year-old from Palermo, Sicily, set himself on fire in St. Peter’s on Jan. 13, 1998. He died of his injuries 10 days later.

In his suicide note, Ormando wrote at length of how he felt rejected by the church and the pain it had caused him.

“We must continue to remind the world that the Roman Catholic Church is so anti-gay,” Mel White, founder of U.S. gay rights group Soulforce, said during the tribute in St. Peter’s. “We say: Don’t give one more dollar to the church until their policies are changed,” added White, who said his group comes to Rome every year to remember Ormando.

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.