Compiled by Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
Supreme Court rejects adoption case
WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court again has declined to hear a child custody fight between same-sex partners.
On May 22 the court rejected a second-time appeal from two lesbians who returned to the court to end a legal battle over adoption.
The case involves a birth mother who wants to stop her former partner from adopting one of two children the women were raising together.
The Supreme Court first declined to hear the case in 2004.
On May 15, the Court let stand a Washington state ruling allowing another lesbian parent to pursue legal parental rights.
Utah Court rules in favor of domestic partner benefits
SALT LAKE CITY – A state court has ruled that its anti-marriage amendment, one of the most discriminatory of its kind to pass in the 2004 elections, does not bar Salt Lake City from offering health insurance benefits to the domestic partners of city employees.
According to the ruling, “The court is aware of no Utah law of general application to marriage that established health benefits as a perquisite of marriage. Health insurance programs, however common, are not required by law of either public or private employers, but are established voluntarily (or as the result of bargaining) to meet market-driven or other perceived needs. In their essence, employee health benefits are first and foremost simply a perquisite of employment.”
Judge strikes down Oklahoma anti-adoption law
OKLAHOMA CITY – A federal judge has struck down a 2-year-old law that prohibits Oklahoma from recognizing adoptions by same-sex couples from other countries and U.S. states.
The judge ruled May 19 the measure violated due process rights under the U.S. Constitution because it attempted to break up families without considering the parents’ fitness or the children’s best interests.
Lambda Legal had challenged the law on behalf of three same-sex couples.
Governor vetoes bill trans discrimination bill
MONTPELIER, Vt. – Gov. Jim Douglas has vetoed a bill that would have outlawed gender-identity discrimination. The governor claimed he was committed to combating discrimination, but he did not believe the gender identity bill had been adequately considered by the Legislature before it was enacted.
Poll: most Hoosiers favor legal rights for gays
INDIANAPOLIS – A poll shows most Indiana residents favored equal civil rights for gays and lesbians and hospital visitation rights for same sex couples, but split nearly evenly on whether such couples should have inheritance rights.
The poll conducted late last year and released May 16 found that 79 percent supported equal civil rights protections, 74 percent of respondents supported same-sex couples having hospital visitation rights, and about 53 percent supported inheritance rights for the same couples.
The survey conducted by the Indiana University Center for Survey Research had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Revisions for Ryan White CARE Act reauthorization approved
WASHINGTON – On May 21 medicalnewstoday.com reported that the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions voted 19-1 on May 10 to approve a bill that would alter the Ryan White CARE Act by allocating more federal HIV/AIDS funding to Southern and rural states. The measure proposes several changes to the CARE Act, such as revising formulas for funding calculations to include HIV cases and not just AIDS cases; requiring that 75 percent of CARE Act funding is spent on primary care; requiring that facilities receiving federal funding conduct mandatory HIV testing; creating a tier system to fund both small and large cities; directing unused funds from states into AIDS Drug Assistance programs; and mandating a minimum AIDS drug formulary list that all state ADAPs would have to provide to patients. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), the only senator to vote against the bill, said states with urban centers are most affected by HIV/AIDS and should not have their funding reduced.
‘Heterosexual questionnaire’ upsets parents
PORT WASHINGTON, Wis. – About two dozen parents and community members complained to a high school principal after two teachers approved the release of a “heterosexual questionnaire” designed to raise awareness of gay issues.
The 10-question survey included questions such as, “What do you think caused your heterosexuality?” and “When did you decide you were heterosexual?”
The survey was given to about 400 of Port Washington High School’s 930 students, the principal said. They were given out April 25, the eve of the national Day of Silence, an annual event co-sponsored by the New York City-based Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network.
The student organization Students for Unity distributed the questionnaire and led a class discussion on it with the approval of two teachers. Students in class were asked to submit written answers and discuss the survey.
The school is investigating the incident and will, along with the superintendent’s office, decide whether to discipline the two teachers, the principal said.
Porn star soldier pleads guilty
FORT BRAGG, N.C. – A soldier pleaded guilty May 16 to having sex on a military-themed Web site for money and was sentenced to three months in prison.
Pfc. Wesley K. Mitten, 21, pleaded guilty to sodomy, conduct detrimental to the Army and cocaine use. He will be discharged from the service.
Mitten is one of seven soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division accused of appearing on the Web site. Two others, Pvt. Kagen B. Mullen and Pfc. Richard Ashley, have also pleaded guilty and were sentenced to prison.
Phelps’ church obeys Illinois anti-protest law
SHUMWAY, Ill. – Five anti-gay demonstrators stood in a small roped-off piece of ditch May 19 in their group’s first gathering at a fallen soldier’s funeral since Illinois’ new “Let Them Rest in Peace” law was signed.
Followers of the Rev. Fred Phelps obeyed the law by staying more than 200 feet from the Faith Lutheran Church, where the funeral of Army pilot Christopher Donaldson was held.
On May 21, Phelps church members were attacked while protesting a military funeral in Delaware. No injuries were reported.