Two gay candidates seek Ohio offices
by Eric Resnick
Two openly gay men are running for office in Ohio in 2000. Joe Lacey of Dayton is running for Ohio’s 42nd district state House seat. Daniel Dickman of Mansfield is running for U.S. House of Representatives in the fourth district, which covers ten counties from Mansfield to Lima. Both are Democrats.
Lacey, 40, is a certified public accountant in the Montgomery County Auditor’s office and was a candidate for the same seat in 1998, when he garnered 38 percent of the vote against 22-year incumbent Bob Corbin. This year, Lacey is running for the open seat against the winner of the Republican primary.
Lacey was endorsed by the Montgomery County Democratic Party just prior to the withdrawal of his would-be primary opponent Bill Flaute, a councilmember in Riverside.
Lacey says he would prefer his Republican opponent be Kettering councilman John White, as opposed to Washington Township trustee Joyce Young.
"He’s the right-wing ideologue," said Lacey. "She’s more moderate and pro-choice."
Regardless, Lacey is encouraged by his level of support and that the county party is taking his race seriously.
Lacey has been outspoken on issues of concern to the gay, lesbain, bisexual and transgender community during his campaigns and has been one of the visible leaders trying to pass Dayton’s lesbian-gay civil rights ordinance.
"I have already been on TV and I will be part of a panel with leaders of the African-American community working to build bridges between the two communities," Lacey said.
If elected, Lacey would be the first openly gay person to serve in the Ohio legislature.
"I know if I’m elected, I would be expected to represent the interests of our community," said Lacey. "I would be proud to do it. In fact, I would relish that fight," he said. "If elected, I would have a positive effect on my fellow legislators just by being there. I could help them to understand the ridiculousness of their stereotypes and their anti-gay proposals."
Like other openly gay candidates and candidates of other minority communities, Lacey has to work harder than non- minority candidates to prove to voters that he has broader concerns than just his community issues. But Lacey seems more able to do that because of Dayton city commissioner Mary Wiseman’s earlier openly gay campaign.
"The press has been pretty good," he said. "In the last campaign, the media mentioned that I was gay, but did not focus on it." Lacey added, "When I talk to veterans, I don’t talk gay rights, but certainly I am an out candidate."
Having geared up for a primary that didn’t materialize, Lacey spends nearly every day walking the district, handing out his literature, talking to voters, and registering new voters.
"I have already registered over 400 new voters," Lacey said.
But Lacey’s sexual orientation has become somewhat of an issue with one of the Republican candidates. White’s fundraising letters to Christian conservatives talk about the need to fight the cultural war against the gay agenda but avoid mentioning Lacey by name.
"He’s too smart for that," said Lacey.
Lacey has experienced some homophobic backlash among voters.
"During the last campaign, one woman called and said I was being deceptive. She said I should put that I am gay on my yard signs."
Another confronted Lacey on election day while he was greeting voters outside a polling place.
"He walked up to me and said, ‘I have some lifestyle issues with you, buddy’." But Lacey is confident that voters will support him because he is the better candidate.
Dickman, 43, is a former Catholic priest and first-time candidate. Although he doesn’t like the images the word "activist" conjures up, Dickman voluntarily left the priesthood over objections with the church concerning the role of women and birth control.
He remembers his first political activity was in high school when he was protesting the plight of American Indians and Vietnamese refugees. He and his partner Cliff Edwards are often the only openly gay people leading the fight against HIV and AIDS in Mansfield.
Dickman works for Pioneer Career and Technical Center, on contract to the Richland County Department of Human Services, coordinating programs for teen parents and at-risk youth and adults. He points out that his November opponent, Republican incumbent Mike Oxley, was so impressed with Dickman and his work that he nominated him to be one of President George Bush’s "points of light."
Neither Dickman nor Oxley will face challenges in the March 7 primary.
Dickman, who often speaks on GLBT issues at churches is very open about his sexual orientation and aware of some of the challenges it poses for a candidate.
"It’s the same challenge an African-American would face if he was running," said Dickman, noting that the perception could be that you only care about your own community’s concerns.
Dickman is still working on how he will balance those concerns as a candidate, but pointed out that the media is already taken with his sexual orientation.
"A reporter from the Associated Press called and said, ‘So, you’re running on the gay ticket,’ to which I answered, ‘You have already made some assumptions before you called, and that is something we need to talk about’." The reporter never called back.
Dickman says he has a responsibility to represent the GLBT community.
"I need to make sure the issues get heard and that I don’t make promises to the community I can’t keep. In return, I need guidance, support and the wisdom of the collective conscience of the community," he said.
Dickman says his co-workers know he’s gay and use him as a resource.
"Anything dealing with gay students, they call me. If a kid comes out or needs help, I get called," he said, but he recognizes that his candidacy "makes people nervous" even among co-workers.
"I am sitting in the front seat of the bus locally," he said.
He has recieved mixed messages from his bosses.
"My boss at Pioneer said if I create an embarassment to Pioneer, then that would become an issue for the board."
But the school superintendent has been supportive. "Last year, a co-worker expressed concern with my being so out and he supported me."
Dickman noted that all his bosses are either Republican party appointees or supporters of his opponent.
He pointed out that his mother has expressed some of the most serious concerns with his candidacy.
"She asks why I want to run. She knows that I can be hurt as a gay man. I just tell her that I have the right to run because I am a good candidate and it is important for me to keep standing up."
Dickman and Lacey will be counting on the GLBT community for funds to run their campaigns. Lacey was pleased with a fundraiser held for him in Columbus in the the summer of 1998 which generated a few hundred dollars. His first fundraising event of this election will be held at the gay bar City Cafe in Dayton March 25.
Neither candidate has yet applied for endorsement from the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a Washington political action committee that exists to give viable openly gay candidates start-up funds.
The Victory Fund would not comment on campaigns they were not endorsing.
Although he may apply this year, Lacey said he didn’t apply to the Victory Fund in 1998 because he didn’t think it was worth the time.
"I saw what they did to Mary [Wiseman] in her campaign. After all she did, they finally endorsed her, but it wasn’t really like an endorsement because the checks came two days before the election, after the polls already showed that Mary was going to win."
"This campaign is an opportunity for our community to stand up and be counted in a credible and accountable way," said Dickman.
"It’s not just for me, but it’s for all of us," he continued. "It’s an opportunity for our community to really make a difference, not just pass and let someone else make our decisions for us."
Jury acquits on hate crime charge in Pride Day incident at Statehouse
by Denny Sampson
Columbus-An evangelist who tore down a rainbow flag at last summer’s gay Pride march in Columbus was found guilty of criminal damaging, but not guilty of ethnic intimidation.
The jury in the trial of Charles Spingols, 44, announced February 16 it had failed to reach a unanimous verdict on the ethnic intimidation charge, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
Franklin County Municipal Judge W. Dwayne Maynard sentenced Charles Spingola to 90 days in jail, but suspended 85 days of that sentence with the understanding that Spingola will serve one year of probation. Maynard also fined Spingola $100 and court costs.
Spingola is a 44-year-old street preacher from Newark, Ohio, who travels to college campuses and preaches an anti-gay message. When Spingola pulled down the gay flag last June 27, the day of last year’s gay pride march, he was charged with violating the city’s ethnic intimidation ordinance.
Organizers of the march had approval from Statehouse officials to fly the gay pride flag, and it was run up a flagpole in front of the building by state workers on the morning of the march. The flag belonged to Stonewall Columbus, and was the first gay pride flag to fly with official sanction at the Ohio Statehouse.
Stonewall executive director Jeff Redfield filed charges against Spingola under a Columbus ordinance prohibiting anti-gay ethnic intimidation.
In order to convict Spingola of ethnic intimidation, city prosecutors had to prove he was guilty of criminal damaging and that his motive was to intimidate the marchers who raised the flag.
During the trial, Spingola admitted he had pulled down the flag and claimed he was fulfilling "an assignment from God."
Spingola’s said he objected to the "queer flag" flying at the Statehouse, because he thought it was "sanctioning sin and encouraging people to go to hell."
"I’m sick of the government subsidizing perversion," Spingola said.
Under cross-examination, City Prosecutor Steve McIntosh suggested that Spingola was using some parts of the Bible to justify his actions, but ignored other parts.
McIntosh asked Spingola about Bible passages that say to love your neighbor, love your enemy, not to judge others, and not to cast stones at others unless your are free of sin yourself.
Spingola’s response was that some parts of the Bible are meant to be taken literally, while other parts are metaphors and stories designed to teach lessons. He said the passages McIntosh cited are used too often by people to justify their continuing sins.
In his closing arguments, McIntosh argued that Spingola had committed ethnic intimidation when he cut the flag from the flagpole because, he quoted Spingola saying, "those queers hung their flag at my Statehouse."
Spingola’s attorney, Tom Condit of Cincinnati, told the jurors that the case was about political correctness.
"What is under attack are "the values that underlie the United States of America, and that’s what this case is about," said Condit.
While the jury was deliberating, Spingola went into the hallway and staged a visual demonstration for waiting news cameras, according to the Columbus Dispatch. He reportedly pulled two Ken dolls from a knapsack and placed them in a sexual position.
He propped up a sign that read, "The Bible intimidates sodomites," and saying that gay men "have committed an abomination." Then he took a rock, on which he had written "God’s righteous judgment," and smashed the scene. Only one station aired the footage.
Ethnic intimidation is a first-degree misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. The jury must be unanimous to convict.
When the eight-member jury was unable to reach unanimous decision after three hours of deliberation, they were instructed to decide on the attached charge, criminal damaging. The jury made a unanimous decision of guilty on criminal damaging, a second degree misdemeanor.
After the verdict, Spingola said he would climb the pole again to pull down the rainbow flag if he saw it flying at in front of the Statehouse..
Spingola said he’ll appeal the conviction and continue his confrontational style of preaching.
Speaking about gays, Spingola said, "They’re promoting immorality that spreads AIDS. That flag business was the last straw."
Stonewall Columbus does not view the acquittal on ethnic intimidation as a setback or defeat.
"To get eight people to unanimously agree on ethnic intimidation is extremely difficult in any case," said Redfield. "The fact that it was a hung jury says that there were members of the jury who believed his actions were motivated by hate and legally fall under ethnic intimidation. It might have been one or seven, just not all eight.
Redfield said the guilty verdict shows the gay civil rights movement continues "one step at a time. Equality doesn’t come overnight."
Spingola was one of three protesters arrested the day of the march.
On January 27, Don Richardson, 64, of London, Ohio, was found guilty of Disorderly Conduct for interfering with police during Spingola’s arrest.
Toni Peters, 26, of Columbus is accused of setting the flag on fire after Spingola pulled it to the ground. She is scheduled to appear April 11 on charges of arson and ethnic intimidation.
by Eric Resnick
Akron--A 14-year-old has been charged with aggravated robbery in the beating of Deborah "Ingy" Ingersoll of Akron outside a women’s bar February 21.
Ingersoll, 42, was at Lydia’s, a women’s bar in the 1400 block of South Arlington St. As she was walking to her car around midnight, three youths, approximate ages 10-15, approached her and demanded money.
Ingersoll laughed and told them she had no money, prompting one youth to hit her across the face and in the head with a white, metal pipe.
There was one witness. Akron police responded quickly.
The charged youth is in custody. The other two are unknown and have not been arrested.
Ingersoll is a musician well-known to the area GLBT community. She regularly plays at fundraisers and community gatherings.
The motive for the crime is unclear. An Akron police spokesperson said, "This just looks like three kids that wanted to stiff somebody," but suggested that the issue of an anti-gay hate crime be raised with the juvenile court.
Ingersoll was treated and released from Akron General Medical Center. She is finishing her recovery at the home of her partner.
A lasagna dinner benefit for Ingersoll will be held 4 pm Sunday, February 27 at the Akron Pride Center, 71 North Adams St. Suggested donation is $12.
by Denny Sampson
Cleveland--After a high-speed car chase, a man who steals credit cards from gay men was apprehended February 16.
Andrew Maslanka, also called Andie or Drew, is a 20-year-old Caucasian male whose current occupation is dancing in gay nightclubs. Since 1997 he has been arrested and has pleaded guilty to multiple charges of theft, forgery, and receiving stolen property.
Last February, Maslanka was incarcerated at the Belmont Correctional Institution, a minimum to medium security prison, where he served an eight month sentence.
Since his release from Belmont, Maslanka has again been arrested and charged with stealing and misusing credit cards.
Cleveland police arrested Maslanka in December for allegedly stealing credit cards from a gay man he had met over the Internet.
"His ad said his mother was kicking him out because he was gay," said Tom Bevers. "Later I found out he had another ad on the Internet where he flat-out said he was looking for a sugar daddy."
After sleeping on Bever’s couch for two weeks, Maslanka allegedly stole Bever’s credit cards and made over $6,000 worth of unauthorized charges.
Sergeant Doug Burkhart of the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Department said that a warrant was issued for Maslanka’s arrest on February 2 after he failed to show up for a court appearance.
"I am in charge of the apprehension unit, and I consider Maslanka dangerous, so I decided to go after him," said Burkhart.
On the evening of Wednesday, February 16, Burkhardt acted on a tip that he could find Maslanka at the Cage nightclub, 9506 Detroit Ave. in Cleveland.
"When Maslanka saw the officers coming for him, he took off in his truck. We had a high speed chase down West Boulevard, to Baltic, to West 110th, until he finally stopped at West 117th," said Burkhart. "It was just like the chases you see on TV. When an officer pulled up beside him and pulled out a gun, Maslanka surrendered."
"Unfortunately, a lot of these crimes go unreported because people are afraid to tell the police they are gay," said Burkhart. "But we in law enforcement need to know if Maslanka has victimized anyone else in the gay community. The more evidence we have, the better the chances we can put him away so he won’t victimize anyone else.
Anyone with information about Andrew Maslanka’s criminal activities is encouraged to contact Burkhart at 216-443-5584.
Vermont lawmakers may add straights, siblings to bill
Montpelier, Vt.–Lawmakers have been debating whether to limit a proposed domestic partnership system to same-sex couples or to allow opposite-sex and blood-relative couples to qualify, also.
There are some in the legislature who believe that broadening the proposal might make it more politically palatable to a greater number of people, improving its chances of passing.
But others argue that such a revision would diminish the central aim of the legislation being drafted by the House Judiciary Committee: providing the rights and protections of civil marriage to gay and lesbian couples.
Such expansions have been discussed in the Ways and Means Committee, the tax-writing panel that will have to review the tax implications of the bill.
The Judiciary Committee decided unanimously earlier in the month to proceed with a bill and it chose domestic partnerships over outright marriage.
As the Judiciary Committee prepares to finish its work on the bill, it is anticipated that the full house will debate the bill next week, on February 29 and 30.
This timing will allow the Senate to have as much as six weeks to work on the legislation, as much as the House has had.
If there’s no will, then no way
Tacoma, Wash.--A man who shared a house, business and financial assets with his lover for 28 years cannot inherit his partner’s estate, a state appeals court ruled February 11.
Frank Vasquez was denied any of Robert Schwerzler’s $230,000 estate, including the home they shared in suburban Puyallup, because the state’s community property law only applies to straight people, the Washington State Court of Appeals Division II ruled.
The 3-0 ruling reversed a decision by a Pierce County superior court judge to award virtually all of Schwerzler’s property to Vasquez, who is in his mid-60s. The appellate panel sent the case back to the trial court, where the judge had rejected claims by two of Schwerzler’s four siblings.
Schwerzler died at age 78 in 1995 without leaving a will.
Barnett said that until the case is resolved, Vasquez would be allowed to remain in the house, where he ran a burlap-bag business with Schwerzler.
Under most state laws, including Washington’s and Ohio’s, a spouse (or common-law spouse in cases where there was no marriage) would be first in line to inherit the property of someone who dies without a will, followed by the children, parents and siblings.
The Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund said the ruling was ironic because it contends that gay couples, who cannot marry, lack the legal protections of unmarried straight couples who can marry but don’t.
George Michael suit dismissed
Los Angeles-A judge has dismissed a police officer’s suit for $10 million against singer George Michael.
Marcelo Rodriguez was the undercover officer who arrested Michael for lewd behavior in a Beverly Hills park restroom in April 1998. He filed suit against the British pop star in September for slander and emotional distress from a video released by Michael.
The video, shot partly in a lavatory and mocking the gay singer’s arrest, featured men dancing in tight black leather uniforms and scenes of two policemen kissing.
Rodriguez said that Michael had profited at his expense through the video and in subsequent interviews, in which the singer said he had been set up by what appeared to be a good-looking gay man.
A judge dismissed the case February 14, ruling that Rodriguez was a public official and could not recover damages for alleged emotional distress.
Canadian partner law advances
Ottawa–A proposed law to extend same-sex couples the same benefits as common-law couples passed an early hurdle in the Canadian House of Commons.
The bill passed its second reading February 21 by a vote of 161 to 60.
The bill will now go to the Commons justice committee, then back for a final vote. If the bill is also passed by the Senate, it becomes law and changes 68 federal statutes to give same-sex couples benefits and obligations now limited to heterosexual common-law couples.
Lawmakers began working on the bill in earnest after the Supreme Court of Canada last year ruled that Ontario's definition of spouse must include same-sex couples.
Colorado joins the ban wagon
Denver--With a vote of 33 to 32 on February 21, the Colorado legislature has approved a ban on recognition of same-sex marriage in Colorado.
Gov. Bill Owens has said he will sign the measure, making Colorado the 31st state to enact such a measure. His predecessor, Roy Romer, vetoed similar bills twice.
A gay marriage cannot be performed in Colorado. Legislators said they passed to bill to prevent gay Coloradans from going to another state where it is legal, marrying, and demand recognition on their return.
Presently, no state allows same-sex marriage. Vermont is considering a domestic partner bill.
Utah bans adoption by unmarrieds
Salt Lake City--The Utah Senate passed a bill February 21 that would ban adoptions by non-married couples, including gays and lesbians, a move opponents say could cost the state millions in legal fees.
The state already has rules that prohibit officials from placing children with single people or unmarried couples, a move designed to ban gay adoptions. The bill would make that rule law and extend the ban to private adoption providers as well.
Senate Bill 63 passed 17-9 and will go to the House for consideration. A nearly identical bill has already been approved by a House committee, and is awaiting consideration in the House.
Presently, only one other state, Florida, bans adotion by lesbian or gay couples.
‘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 Brian DeWitt, Denny Sampson and Michelle Tomko.
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