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March 10 , 2000

California voters pass marriage ban

by Eric Resnick

California voters on March 7 approved a ballot measure to ban recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states.

Proposition 22, the "Limit on Marriage Initiative," passed by a margin of 61 to 39 percent. California, like every other state, does not currently license same-sex marriages.

The measure was sponsored by Republican state senator Pete Knight, and opposed by his gay son. Knight had previously attempted to pass the measure in the legislature, but it failed three times.

Other supporters of Proposition 22 included the the California Republican Party, all Republican presidential candidates, the Roman Catholic church and the Mormon church.

Opponents of Proposition 22 included the California Democratic Party, both Democratic presidential candidates, President Clinton, California Gov. Gray Davis, and hundreds of religious and civic organizations.

Proposition 22 supporters raised and spent $8 million. Opponents raised and spent $5.5 million.

Currently, 30 states have passed legislation prohibiting the recognition of same-sex marriages that could, at some point, be recognized by other states and defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Ohio has similar bills pending in the House and Senate.

Similar ballot initiatives were passed in 1998 in Hawaii and Alaska, and signatures are being gathered in Colorado and Nevada.

Having one-seventh of the nation’s population, California’s actions are seen as a barometer for the rest of the nation.

Leaders of the Vote No on Knight campaign feel good about their effort, despite the loss at the polls.

"The numbers don’t tell the whole story here," said No on Knight press secretary Tracey Conaty. "We’re walking into tomorrow feeling really good."

Conaty said there is disappointment with the results, but said the campaign raised awareness among Californians about discrimination and marriage rights. She said that would help win the battles that will continue.

"We now have over 16,000 donors, thousands of volunteers and infrastructure," she said. "Vote No on Knight was endorsed by every major newspaper in the state, even the conservative ones, and stories about our lives and our families ran every day."

"The ground has shifted in California and we are ready to take the next step for LGBT civil rights," added Conaty. "The people of California just were not ready to grant us the institution of marriage."

Conaty pointed out that Californians rejected the anything that was presented as "anti-gay."

"The right wing had to go on record opposing anti-gay discrimination and supporting rights for same-sex couples as a result of our campaign," she said.

"The only way they prevailed," added Conaty, "was to cover their rhetoric in a whole veneer of moderation, making voters believe this thing wasn’t anti-gay."

"The ‘Yes’ campaign always had their guard up. They made it sound like they were our best friends. That gave us the additional step of having to strip that veneer off. It’s a paradox of our progress as a movement. It is now bad to sound homophobic," added Conaty.

Conaty says the LGBT movement may lose specific battles, but must keep focused on the ultimate vision, even when fighting defensive battles.

"Defensive battles are also about moving forward," she added. "We have to keep telling the story of our lives."

"Prior to this campaign, most Californians didn’t understand the myriad of discrimination our people face, and frankly, some people thought we could already get married. Now, most Californians seem to be ready to rectify the discrimination," said Conaty.

"Our community is galvanized now," she added.

Conaty’s upbeat responses were mirrored earlier in the day by the Vote No on Knight receptionist. When asked about the likely passage of the measure, he responded, "Whatever happens, were jazzed!" Conaty emphasized that this is not about putting a spin on a bad situation.

"The right wing has a silver bullet around the issue of marriage," said Conaty. "Any time there is a popular vote on rights of a minority, it is a tall order. I don’t know how we stop these things short-term, but we need to realize that in the long-term, the days of discrimination are numbered."

Conaty said the Yes campaign had a simple message.

"Their mantra was ‘It’s simple. It’s common sense. It’s only 14 words’. Well, our new mantra is only 14 words, too. It is ‘California’s Gay and Lesbian families deserve the same legal protections as all married couples’."

Five move on to November election

California Democrats nominated three openly lesbian candidates to run for state offices. Assembly member Sheila Kuehl was nominated for state senate from the 23rd district. She defeated her opponent by a significant margin, and will be the first openly gay candidate to run for California Senate.

Jackie Goldberg and Christine Kehoe won nominations in the 45th and 76th districts respectively.

Ohio’s openly gay candidates, Joe Lacey, running for state representative, and Dan Dickman, running for U.S. Congress, were unopposed in the March 7 primary. They will face Republican opponents in the general election.

Dickman will challenge incumbent Mike Oxley in the fourth congressional district, which covers ten northwest Ohio counties from Mansfield to Lima.

Lacey will run against John White for the open 42nd Ohio House district seat in Dayton. Lacey earlier said that White was the preferable opponent because of his right wing views.

 

 

Vermont committees approve ‘civil union’ bill

by Denny Sampson
with wire reports

Montpelier, Vt.-Two key committees in the Vermont legislature approved a bill that would legally recognize the "civil unions" of same-sex couples.

The bill was approved on March 1 by the House Judiciary Committee in a 10-1 vote. Two days later, the House Ways and Means Committee voted 6-5 in favor of the bill. The measure is expected to be introduced to the full House for a vote in about two weeks.

If the bill is approved by the full House and Senate, Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is expected to sign it.

The bill would permit a same-sex couple to enter into a "civil union," a kind of domestic partnership/marriage hybrid that represents a compromise between those in favor of allowing same-sex couples to marry and those who support a domestic partnership system for gays and lesbians.

Entering into a "civil union" would grant a couple all of the benefits, rights, and responsibilities of marriage that the state can legally offer.

Under the proposal, same-sex couples would be able to apply for a civil union license from a town clerk. If couples meet the requirements (be at least 18 years of age, for example) and pay the $20 fee, they will receive a certificate of civil union in a process that parallels that for obtaining a marriage certificate.

Town clerks will register civil union partners as "Party A" and "Party B," rather than "Groom" and "Bride."

Then, the couple takes the license to a "person authorized to certify civil unions" to be certified. These are the same people that perform marriage ceremonies, including judges, justices of the peace, and clergy.

Since the state cannot supercede the jurisdiction of the federal government, Vermont cannot grant the tax advantages and the 1,049 other benefits of marriage granted at the federal level.

"This bill represents the most comprehensive, strongest piece of legislation proposed anywhere in the United States through a legislative body," said Rep. William Lippert, the only openly gay member of the Vermont legislature.

Mary Bonauto, an attorney for Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders of Boston, who has been working with Vermont attorneys on the case, called the bill "very positive."

"We should not forget that this is not marriage," Bonauto told the Washington Blade, "but we have certainly achieved something very, very significant here. We’re right before marriage. Our opponents are saying this is marriage by another name."

As to what this bill mean for out-of-state couples who obtain a civil union certificate in Vermont and then go back home, Bonauto said, "Time will tell."

Compromises in the final draft

In order to attract votes for the bill, the House Judiciary Committee made two compromises.

In its final version, the bill includes a statement that reaffirms Vermont’s existing laws that define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

The bill cites the December ruling of the Vermont Supreme Court that found it unconstitutional to deny the benefits of marriage to same-sex couples. The high Court ordered the legislature to either broaden marriage statutes or adopt a domestic partnership system.

The House Judicial Committee decided to create a "separate but equal" system of partnership.

"I think civil union is distinct," Rep. Thomas Little (R), chairman of the committee, said. "It is equal, but it is not traditional marriage."

The Judiciary Committee added a new provision known as reciprocal beneficiaries, which would apply to blood relatives. Reciprocal benefits would provide a limited number of marriage-related benefits, such as hospital visitation, to relatives who rely on one another.

Alternative bill has fewer benefits

Rep. Peg Flory (R) has been working on an alternative to the committee’s bill. Her proposal would provide less extensive benefits, but they would apply to a broader range of people. It would cover same-sex couples as well as blood relatives who live in the same household.

Flory told the Rutland Herald that the committee’s bill would needlessly create three types of relationships: heterosexual married couples, same-sex civil unions and reciprocal benefits for blood relatives.

Flory said she disagrees with the committee’s civil union bill because it would grant benefits "on the basis of sexual activity."

"I don’t, for the life of me, understand why you would want to single out gays and lesbians," she said.

Opposition to civil union bill

The civil union bill has significant opposition, including a coalition of religious leaders who have joined forces. Opponents say that the system of civil unions is too close to marriage and that it should be defeated.

A bipartisan group of state representatives have formed the House Traditional Marriage Caucus with 68 members, according to the Rutland Herald. On February 29, the caucus held a news conference and presented petitions to the House Judiciary Committee containing 25,000 signatures, urging the representatives to protect traditional marriage.

Supporters of the civil union bill, including the House speaker and majority leaders, say they believe they have approximately 65 votes in House.

If all members vote, 76 votes are needed to pass a bill in the House. Both sides will be lobbying intensely over the next two weeks in competition for the 15 or 20 swing votes.

One recent poll found 20 percent of Vermonters in favor of granting full marriage rights to same-sex couples, according to Reuters; 10 percent supporting creation of legally binding "domestic partnerships" for same-sex couples; and 29 percent in favor of an amendment to the state constitution limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples.


Man in car chase says he mistook police for gaybashers

by Denny Sampson

Cleveland--A gay man arrested for felonious assault against a police officer says he was the victim of police brutality, who initially fled in a truck from men he thought were gaybashers.

On October 5, 1999, between 2:30 and 3 am, 22-year-old Garett Close left the Cage nightclub at West 95th Street and Detroit Ave. in Cleveland. Close, who had been drinking, was helping an intoxicated friend get home. His friend could barely walk.

Close said two men pulled up next to him in a car and told him to move the friend’s truck up a few feet, and then drove away. He did as they asked.

The same two men pulled up again, Close said. The driver said, "Get the fuck out of here!" Close, in his own words, replied, "Fuck off! I’m leaving right now, bitch."

"I was trying to get the truck in gear, when the driver called me a ‘fucking faggot’ and hit me in the face. I took off, lightly hitting a parked car on Detroit," Close said.

The men later turned out to be plainclothes police officers, but Close said they never identified themselves as such, and he feared they intended to further assault him and his friend.

Close headed west on Detroit, north on West Blvd., and west on Clifton Blvd. "The two men were behind me," said Close. "They fired several gunshots at us."

Close said he stopped the truck on Clifton near West 115th Street when he saw police cars behind him flashing their lights.

"I was relieved to see the police. I thought we were safe," he said.

Close said that several police officers ran up to the truck and pulled Close and his friend out of it.

"They slammed me down on the road on my head and beat us both," said Close.

Close was taken to Fairview Hospital for head injuries. After he received treatment, Close was taken to jail, where he learned that the men who had yelled at him at the Cage had been undercover police officers.

Close suffered several facial bone fractures. His friend’s injuries included several bruises, including two on his back from kidney punches.

Close said the police arrested him on six counts of felonious assault to a police officer using deadly force, driving under the influence, leaving the scene of an accident, driving under suspension, six counts of resisting arrest, and not stopping for the police.

The police report gives a very different version of the events that transpired that night. Cleveland police officers Joseph Cellura and Brian Morehead wrote that plainclothes officers Lynch and Suchan stopped in front of the Cage because they observed a minor traffic violation. The report, which does not give their first names, says Lynch and Suchan identified themselves as police officers.

Police said Close refused to turn off his vehicle, and drove away, striking a parked car and dragging Lynch along with him for a short distance.

The report said that when other officers in a marked car with lights and sirens joined the pursuit, Close stopped the truck.

Police said that Close refused to get out of the truck. When they tried to remove Close and the passenger from the vehicle, Close reportedly drove off again, dragging along several officers. Lynch had pulled himself inside the vehicle, while Cellura was being dragged, with his body underneath the vehicle.

Cellura fell from the truck and it ran over his right leg, police said. Morehead then fired three shots which, Close said, hit the driver’s side of the truck. Lynch, still inside the truck, ordered Close at gunpoint to stop his vehicle, which he did.

Police said that Close and his friend refused to be handcuffed without a struggle.

When asked for his comment on the discrepancy of the two versions, Cleveland Police spokesman Lt. Edward Thiery said, "Close can say anything he wants. The county prosecutor saw fit to charge Close with three counts of felonious assault and one charge of resisting arrest. I really can’t comment any more than that.

Close’s attorney Michael Peterson said, "The police were too aggressive. They certainly showed him no sympathy."

"These are very serious charges," said Peterson. "We are talking about five or six counts of first degree felonious assault. The penalty is three to ten years on each count. But Garett had been drinking. We can’t leave that out of the story. We have to be fair."

Close admitted to the Chronicle that he had eight or nine beers that evening. He also admitted that he had been driving under suspension, driving under the influence, and had left the scene of an accident.

Two witnesses from the Cage back up Close’s story, although they wish to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal from the police. Close’s friend, who was also arrested and wishes to remain anonymous, said he doesn’t remember anything that happened that night.

Close is organizing a demonstration against gay bashing and police brutality to coincide with his trial on March 29. Protesters will gather that day at 9 am in front of Justice Center on Lakeside Ave. in Cleveland.


Bush won’t commit to meet, but Log Cabin is hopeful

by Eric Resnick

Will Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush meet with gay Republicans now that his nomination is certain? The Bush campaign is not willing to commit to a meeting.

The gay and lesbian Log Cabin Republicans continues to be hopeful as a result of recent statements made by the candidate.

In an interview March 6, Bush told the San Francisco Chronicle that he welcomes support from gays and is willing to meet with Log Cabin.

The next day, Bush said he would consider meeting with members of the group, but not the leaders who ran ads critical of him in California, New York, and Massachussetts.

Both the Log Cabin Republicans and the Bush campaign are focusing on the election of a Republican president in November.

Although the national office of the Log Cabin Republicans has made no official endorsement, individual members have been among Sen. John McCain’s strongest supporters.

Log Cabin literature has been critical of Bush, mostly for his November 21 statements on NBC’s Meet the Press that he would not meet with the gay group because doing so "would create a huge political scene."

Candidate John McCain met with Log Cabin November 8. A month later, Log Cabin members raised $40,000 for McCain.

In criticism of Bush, the Log Cabin Republicans produced a one-minute radio ad March 4 saying Bush is not building the "kind of Republican party that wins elections."

The ad says that by his unwillingness to meet with or hire gays, his alignment with Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, and his speech at Bob Jones University, Bush is contrary to his ‘I’m a uniter, not a divider’ message and will assure a Gore victory in November.

The initial airtime buy in key primary states was $20,000. The ad ran March 3-6. "It had its effect," said Log Cabin communications director Kevin Ivers.

In the mean time, Bush continued to tease the Log Cabin club with the possibility of a meeting.

The Washington Blade reported that Bush told Northern Virginia Log Cabin Club vice president Scott Huch, "I will meet with you, I will meet with you," while claiming that his positions on gay issues had been misrepresented by reporters.

Log Cabin released a statement March 6 that Bush "today reversed his public stand against meeting" with them. In that statement, executive director Rich Tafel said, "If the meeting is now a reality, there won’t be a need for that ad." The ad has been suspended.

This was not the first time Log Cabin Republicans have interpreted Bush campaign statements as a commitment for a meeting.

Months prior to Bush’s Meet the Press statement, Log Cabin made statements on their web page and to the media of their belief that they had a commitment to meet with Bush.

But Bush campaign spokesperson Scott McClellan told the Gay People’s Chronicle at the time, "That’s not accurate. I think the Log Cabin Club got that idea from political strategist Karl Rove, but the campaign was never planning a meeting with them."

On NBC’s Today show March 8, Bush repeated comments made by his campaign March 7 that he has many supporters who are members of local chapters of the Log Cabin Club and that he welcomes their support and their money. However, Bush again refused to commit to plans to meet with the group.

Bush claimed that he has issues with individuals representing the Log Cabin Club because they had already indicated support for John McCain.

But Log Cabin leaders showed no favor toward McCain until Bush refused to meet with them in the first place.

Bush campaign spokesperson Scott McClellan pointed out that the Wisconsin Log Cabin Republicans have been critical of the national leaders for their ad against Bush.

"Bush has many supporters who are gay, and he would consider meeting with them, but not necessarily the Log Cabin national leadership," said McClellan.

McClellan said he knows of no list of gay Republicans the Bush campaign would find acceptable.

The Christian Coalition produced a radio ad that aired in South Carolina before the primary there, which questioned McCain’s conservative credentials because he met with the gay group.

"We judge a candidate by actions. We are waiting to see how he acts," said Ivers of a possible Bush endorsement.

Ivers says that the Log Cabin Club is not maneuvering or attempting to improve the image of the likely Republican candidate to the gay community.

"That’s false," Ivers said. "Anyone who says that doesn’t know anything about the Log Cabin Club. We exist to educate the Republican Party. And so far, we are the only gay group engaging this presidential campaign."

Ivers added, "When engaging, it is important to make sure nothing surprises you. In 1992, people supported Clinton, then were disappointed and didn’t hold him accountable. Log Cabin would never take that position."

Ivers said the Log Cabin Club sent a letter to Bush acknowledging the comments in the San Francisco Chronicle and that they would follow up with their request after the March 7 primary.

McClellan was not aware of such a letter, but repeated that the "governor was considering a meeting with some of his gay supporters."


Activist paints grim picture of Zimbawean gay life

by Michelle Tomko

Columbus--To be gay or lesbian in Zimbabwe is to live constantly with government-sanctioned threats and abuse, says a member of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe, or GALZ.

As part of a fifteen-city tour, lesbian Zimbabwean activist Tsitsi Tiripano spoke to about 70 people at Ohio State University on Saturday, March 4.

"It’s nice to meet people," said Tiripano on her trip to Ohio. She spoke to this writer via phone from Bloomington, Indiana, before she left for Washington D.C. to tesify before Congress.

The tour is sponsored by Amnesty International’s program on gay, human rights called Outfront, and is in conjunction with Amnesty’s report on Zimbabwe. The report called for the inclusion of sexual orientation in the non-discrimination clause of its proposed constitution, which was recently defeated in a national referendum.

Tiripano has been a member of GALZ since 1992. At age 15, her father gave her to a fellow church member to take for a second wife. She bore him two sons before returning to her lover at age 21.

"To me it was a big mess." said Tiripano. "It was difficult. I have to say he was nice to me because I was so young. But I’m in love with someone else."

Tiripano was volunteering at the GALZ stand at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair in 1996 when the stand was attacked by a mob and their literature burned. Photographs were taken and Tiripano was outed to her village.

"For a while I thought: they come at midnight, you know? But they never did."

Her father is showing signs of acceptance recently. After her husband died, her father took in her two boys. He prevented them from seeing her for two years because of the fear that she might turn them gay.

"I forced myself to go to daddy," said Tiripano "He has changed a little bit. I said I’m going to tour Europe and the United States. He didn’t say anything. Then he came to the airport to say good-bye."

"I want to stay in Zimbabwe. Home is best. I know there are younger ones who will be gay or lesbian. We want to structure government for them. I can’t run away because I am gay," said Tiripano, who has a partner of four years back home.

"She is a writer. Books, novels, local drama. She is also my teacher. Because in Zimbabwe, you [women] are not educated. She went to university in South Africa," said Tiripano. "And I love you very much," she added with her occasional misused pronoun.

Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe has said that gays and lesbians have no rights and are lower than pigs and perverts. In 1998, his reply to criticism by the United States was, "Let the Americans keep their sodomy, bestiality, stupid and foolish ways to themselves. Let them be gays in the USA and Europe. But in Zimbabwe, gays shall remain a very sad people forever."

Last fall, Peter Tatchell, head of the British gay group Outrage, attempted to perform a citizen’s arrest on Mugabe while he was on a shopping trip in London.

Tiripano’s response to this event was "It’s nice. Because I know they are there for us. I can say they are doing a great job. I spoke to Tatchell and said: Maybe leave Mugabe alone. Because we will be the ones in danger."

When asked what she hopes to gain from this tour, Tiripano replied, "I received 53,420 or 30 letters. I just want to go to the states, San Francisco, New York, to thank those people, to learn more about how to structure our organization, and how to handle HIV cases."


Deejay attacked after performance in Kent

by Denny Sampson

Kent, Ohio—While leaving a nightclub where she had played as a DJ, a transgendered woman was attacked and beaten on February 22.

Jordana LeSesne, who plays for drum-and-bass raves, was attacked following a show at the Robin Hood nightclub in Kent.

Known professionally as "1.8.7," LeSesne, of Philadelphia, was assaulted while she was on her way to her hotel. A man punched her directly in the face, knocked her to the ground, and beat her.

Several bystanders witnessed the attack, including the nightclub’s promoter, Chris Graves.

Graves and another man chased the attacker up the street, until they were told to back off by four or five men in a truck, who claimed to have weapons.

LeSesne suffered from a fractured nose and jaw from the attack.

An unidentified witness claimed to recognize the attacker, and gave the suspect’s name, an Akron resident, to the police. The police told LeSesne they would serve the suspect with a summons to appear in court. LeSesne reportedly wanted the man arrested.

"I am happy to talk to you about this case because I have been reading a lot of misinformation about it on the Internet," said Captain Jim Goodlet of the Kent Police Department.

"We did not arrest the suspect that night for several reasons," said Goodlet. "He had fled from the scene of the crime, the police officers didn’t think a judge would issue a warrant for his arrest, and because there didn’t seem to be much danger of future attacks because the victim lives in Philadelphia and the suspect lives in Akron."

"The suspect has been summoned to appear in court on March 16 to answer charges of assault. If he fails to appear for court, then we will arrest him," said Goodlet.

Asked if summoning a suspect to court rather than arresting him seemed appropriate, Sergeant Doug Burkhart of the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s office said, "The same procedure would have been followed if it had happened in front of the Grid."

Anonymous reports that the group of men in the truck at the scene of the crime had planned to kill LeSesne and leave her in the street for everyone to see have not been substantiated by the police.

"We are not investigating this as a hate crime. We have found no evidence that this was anything but a random act of violence," said Goodlet. "The witnesses were weak, and her best witness was uncooperative."


News Briefs

Utah and Mississippi are poised to ban gay adoption

Mississippi and Utah are close to adopting legislation that would forbid gay and lesbian couples from adopting children.

The Mississippi House Judiciary Committee on March 7 approved a bill to that will prohibit adoptions by gay and lesbian couples, and also deny legal recognition to adoptions by same-sex couples performed in another state.

Because the bill denies recognition of another state's adoptions, ACLU Lesbian and Gay Rights Project director Matthew Coles said that he is confident that a federal court will strike it down if the bill is enacted.

A Utah bill that would prohibit adoptions into households including adults who are "cohabiting in a relationship that is not a legally valid and binding marriage under the laws of the state" has passed in both house of the state legislature. The bill is now waiting for the signature of Utah Governor Mike Leavitt.

Over 100 demonstrators held a candlelight vigil at the Utah Capitol March 6 to protest the legislature's action and to call on Leavitt to veto the measure.

Presently, Florida is the only state to ban adoption by lesbians and gays. New Hampshire repealed a ban in 1998.

 

Channel 3 to air Schlessinger show

Cleveland—A TV version of Laura Schlessinger’s radio advice show will air on WKYC Channel 3 here next fall, according to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

Schlessinger, on her popular "Dr. Laura" radio advice show, has denigrated gays and lesbians, calling them "biological mistakes" and "deviants." She promotes therapy to "cure" homosexuality, which has been discredited by the major mental health professional groups.

Paramount has already signed up stations in 85 percent of TV markets for the proposed one-hour daytime show, but has not announced its format.

Gay and lesbian groups, including GLAAD and employees of Paramount, have mounted a campaign to get Paramount to drop the TV show.

WKYC Channel 3 was included on a list of 17 major-market stations sent out by GLAAD, who asked people to call the stations and ask that they drop the show.

A web site set up by the show’s opponents, stopdrlaura.com, registered 1.7 million hits in its first week.

Schlessinger says that she is not homophobic. On her March 6 radio show, she called the campaign "fascism."

 

Governor signs marriage ban

Pierre, S.D.—While Californians campaigned against a marriage ban there, South Dakota quietly became the 31st state to enact one.

A bill signed by Gov. Bill Janklow on March 2 says South Dakota will not recognize same-sex marriages that are valid in other states.

"Our existing law says any marriage legally contracted outside the state should be recognized," Rep. Roger Hunt, R-Brandon. "We're really trying to make sure that if the attorney general gets involved in a lawsuit over our definition of marriage that he doesn't have one hand tied behind his back."

 

Hate crime bill passes

Charleston, W.Va.—The West Virginia Senate passed a bill March 3 to add gays, lesbians and disabl;ed people to the state’s hate crime law.

The measure, passed with a 19-15 vote. The current law makes it a felony to attack people based on religion, race or other group considerations. It now goes to the state House.

"The bill does not condone, legalize or recognize same-sex relationships. It merely makes it a crime for people to attack other people just because they are gay," said State Sen. Jeff Kessler just before the vote.

The state senate also passed, unanimously, a measure to add to marriage licenses the statement: "Marriage is designed to be a loving and lifelong union between a woman and a man."

 

Army paper rejects SLDN ad

Fort Campbell, Ky.--Fort Campbell commanders have rejected an advertisement in the post's newspaper that advised soldiers afraid of personally reporting anti-gay harassment to instead use the anonymity of a toll-free hotline.

The decision on March 1 drew an immediate rebuke from the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a non-profit organization that sought to place the ad. The Army-owned newspaper is distributed on and around the post, on the Kentucky-Tennessee border.

In the wake of the beating death of a gay soldier at Fort Campbell, SLDN says the Army has discouraged attempts by gay soldiers to report harassment. The group says soldiers are afraid to come forward and be exposed.

Commanders deemed the ad "unnecessary" because soldiers already have been trained on how to recognize and report harassment of gays, said Maj. Pamela Hart, Fort Campbell's public affairs officer.

 

Hillary marches in inclusive parade

New York City--Amid boos and cheers, Hillary Rodham Clinton marched in what was billed as the first local "inclusive" St. Patrick’s Day parade March 5 in Queens.

Among the groups that participated were Lavender and Green, a gay Irish group that had about two dozen members walking a half-block behind the first lady.

The main St. Patrick’s Day parade, held March 17 on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, excludes the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization on the grounds that the event is run by a Catholic fraternal group, the Ancient Order of Hibernians.

Most of the onlookers--some of them holding signs saying "Irish-Americans for Hillary"--clapped and cheered.

The U.S. Senate candidate said March 5 she still hopes the main parade will be inclusive, but even if it’s not, she confirmed she would attend.

 

‘Fusion’ may create same-sex parents

London-New developments in a technique called "cell fusion" may make it possible for same-sex couples to have children who carry both partners’ genes, according to the Times of London.

Cell fusion involves taking two embryos and fusing them to create a chimera, a developing individual made up of two types of cells. While the technique has been used widely with mice and other species of lower animal, a British research team hopes to engineer the first chimeric rhesus monkeys this year.

Lee Silver, professor of genetics at Princeton University, believes that the technique could be applied to humans as well. For example, if two men want to be biological fathers of the same child, this technology could produce a child who has three parents. Half of the child’s genes would be from a surrogate mother, but half of the remaining genes would be from one man and half from the other.

The process could also be adapted for two women.

"Every technical detail of this could be carried out today," Silver said.

Compiled from wire reports by Denny Sampson, Michelle Tomko and Brian DeWitt.

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