Compiled by Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
Stonewall picks Wyrick as executive director
Washington, DC – The board of directors of the National Stonewall Democrats has announced the appointment of Jo Wyrick to serve as executive director of the organization. Wyrick has led NSD as interim executive director since March of this year and had previously served the organization as deputy director. The appointment, approved by the organization’s board of directors, is effective immediately.
Debate over man convicted of transmitting HIV
BALTIMORE – A man who engaged in unprotected sex without telling his partner he was infected with HIV has been convicted of misdemeanor second-degree assault, frustrating prosecutors who say he should have faced felony charges.
Under Maryland law, people convicted of knowingly transferring or attempting to transfer HIV to another person face a sentence of up to three years and a fine of up to $2,500.
Robert Williams pleaded guilty to the assault charge on June 22. Charges of reckless endangerment and knowingly attempting to transfer HIV were thrown out. The judge sentenced Williams to 10 years but suspended all but the 50 days Williams had already served. He also ordered three years of supervised probation.
“In a perfect world,” said the assistant state’s attorney, “I would have wanted to charge him with attempted murder.”
New York to admit straights to Harvey Milk High
NEW YORK – The city and an extremist legal group have settled a lawsuit in which the city was accused of violating laws against segregation by establishing a public high school for LGBT students.
The city and a group calling itself the Liberty Counsel reached the settlement a week ago, agreeing that the Harvey Milk High School was open to students of any sexual orientation.
The Liberty Counsel and a Democratic state Senator filed the lawsuit in August 2003 after the city announced that the high school would be a publicly funded school for gay, lesbian, bisexual, or questioning youth.
Calif. high court expands legal responsibility for HIV infection
SAN FRANCISCO – The California Supreme Court has ruled that people who lead high-risk sexual lives have good reason to know they may be infected with the virus that causes AIDS and are responsible for informing partners about possible exposure.
The July 3 ruling in the case of a woman who accused her ex-husband of giving her HIV on their honeymoon is the court’s first involving allegations of negligent HIV infection. It makes those with “constructive knowledge” – people who should know by their behavior and other signs that they could be infected – legally liable for infecting others.
A federal court in Michigan is the only other jurisdiction to rule similarly.
Same-sex partners seek court OK on adoption
MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A Mobile woman raising a baby boy with the child’s mother wants to adopt him as a second parent, a legal step of significance in a state that just passed a constitutional amendment banning marriage rights.
Cari Searcy’s partner, Kim McKeand, gave birth to the baby boy in December with the aid of a donor. Searcy then sought to become the adoptive parent of the child, who bears her last name. Adoption would give Searcy rights to make medical decisions for the child as well as securing the sense of family in their home.
Searcy’s application was denied in probate court May 3.
Huckabee plugs adoption ban on campaign swing
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is optimistic his legislature will quickly reinstate a ban on same sex couples serving as foster parents.
Huckabee was questioned about an Arkansas Supreme Court ruling striking down regulations banning placement of foster children with same sex couples.
Huckabee spoke as he opened a three-day campaign swing in Iowa, where precinct caucuses traditionally launch the presidential nominating season. Huckabee is testing the waters for a possible run at the Republican presidential nomination.
Ric Weiland dead
SEATTLE – On July 1, 365Gay.com reported that Ric Weiland, one of the first five employees hired by Microsoft, and a well-known LGBT and HIV/AIDS philanthropist, had committed suicide at his Seattle home. According to the report, Weiland is survived by his partner Mike Schaefer and numerous nieces and nephews.
Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said of Wieland, “The breadth and scope of this commitment was immense and unwavering. Our community has lost a wonderful friend and leader, and the Task Force extends its deepest sympathies to Ric’s partner Mike Schaefer and all those who knew and loved Ric.”
WorldPride planning continues despite religious extremists
JERUSALEM – According to WorldPride organizers, several prominent religious leaders have stepped up their attack on the event.
In response to increasing anti-gay religious opposition, including an approach by prominent Jewish and Muslim leaders to the Vatican asking for a public denunciation of the events being held this August, WorldPride organizers around the globe are mobilizing with increased resolve.
Over 1200 faith leaders have signed a pledge of support of WorldPride.
For more information about the programs and events at WorldPride, go to www.worldpride.net.
New medicine for AIDS: one pill, once per day
WASHINGTON – On July 9, the New York Times reported that the Food and Drug Administration is soon expected to approve a new pill that combines three of the most widely prescribed HIV drugs in the United States into a once-daily pill. FDA has until October to act but is expected to do so much earlier since the agency encouraged the drug’s development to facilitate low-cost treatments for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, according to the NYT report.
According to the report the new pill combines Bristol-Myers Squibb’s drug Sustiva with Gilead Sciences’ Truvada, a drug combining Viread and Emtriva. The two companies, which have not yet named the large, salmon-colored 1,500-mg pill, have suggested it will cost about the same as Sustiva and Truvada bought separately, or about $1,200 a month.
The companies are still negotiating the details of the new drug’s cost in developing nations. Any agreement must involve Merck & Co., which sells efavirenz in poor countries under the Stocrin brand.
Sweden’s Supreme Court convicts extremists of hate speech
STOCKHOLM, Sweden – Sweden’s highest court on July 13 convicted four right-wing extremists of hate speech for handing out anti-gay leaflets outside a school two years ago.
The Supreme Court in Stockholm overturned an appeals court decision, which had cleared the defendants.
The four men, aged 19 to 25, handed out leaflets outside a school in Soderhamn in 2004, claiming that the “promiscuous lifestyles” of homosexuals were one of the main reasons for the spread of HIV and AIDS.
The four were given suspended sentences and fines ranging from 1,800 kronor to 10,000 kronor (US $250 – US $1,390).
Northern Ireland couples to gain adoption rights
BELFAST, Northern Ireland – Gay couples and unmarried heterosexual couples in Northern Ireland will be allowed to adopt children as part of British government proposals published July 4 designed to reduce the heavy backlog of kids seeking homes.
Northern Ireland health minister said the plans would “make adoption work more clearly, consistently and fairly.” He said the reforms would make “vulnerable children safe in permanent families. I am confident that these reforms to adoption and permanence planning will transform the life chances of hundreds of children.”