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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
February 4 , 2000

Fatal shooting appears to be
anti-gay hate crime

by Denny Sampson

Columbus--In what appears to have been an anti-gay hate crime, a gay couple were shot by two assailants who remain at large.

The two men were shot shortly after midnight Wednesday, January 19 near Whittier St. and Parsons Ave. in Columbus.

One of the victims, Bill Camelin, died of a gunshot wound the following Saturday at Grant Medical Center. The other victim, Camelin’s partner, Scott Roberts, was wounded in the knee during the incident.

Roberts thinks that he and his partner of six years were attacked because they were a gay couple.

Roberts, a graphic artist and photographer, and Camelin, a carpenter, had lived together in Columbus until December, 1999.

Camelin moved to Chillicothe then to help care for his parents who are both ill, and to be near his 17-year-old son. Camelin traveled back to Columbus often.

Roberts said that he and Camelin had been playing pool at Remo’s Nightclub at 1409 S. High St. until around midnight. They were on their way home when they stopped for a red light. While they were waiting for the light to change, they saw a car pull up in the right-hand lane beside them.

Roberts looked at the car and the occupants inside. They smiled and Roberts smiled back. Roberts described the car as a champagne metallic-colored Chevy Malibu 4-door sedan. The men in the car continued to look at Camelin and Roberts in a friendly manner.

"I felt as thought they were making acknowledgement that we were a gay couple, and I felt they might be also," said Roberts. "When they started to drive away, they nodded their head forward as if to invite us to follow them."

Roberts said that he and Camelin followed the car a few blocks to a side street off of Whittier, where the Malibu stopped. The passenger got out of the car, and disappeared.

"We pulled up beside the Malibu," said Roberts. "We tried to talk to the driver by rolling my window down, but he didn’t roll his window down. Suddenly the passenger appeared on foot at my window and asked ‘What do you want?’ I replied ‘Nothing. What do you want?’ It was then I turned to Bill and we both decided to leave. Bill stepped on the gas and the guy standing at my window began to shoot a round of 5 to 7 gunshots into our car as we drove away."

"I didn’t look backward, I only asked Bill if he could drive us to the hospital . . . knowing we had both been shot. But Bill could not reply, his injuries were so extensive. He couldn’t speak, and blood was pouring out of his mouth," said Roberts.

Roberts managed to drive the car to Community General Hospital. They were both later transferred to Grant Memorial Hospital.

"If Bill wouldn’t have started the car, he [the shooter] would have shot me in the chest," Roberts said. "Bill saved my life."

"Bill was an extremely beautiful man inside and out, said Roberts. "Everyone who ever got to know him fell in love with him. He was spontaneous, fun loving and lived life to the fullest. I feel fortunate to have had Bill as my lover for almost six years. Because of this tragedy my life will never be the same."

Roberts described the suspects as a light-skinned black man approximately 30-35 years old with a shaved head, and a darker black man with light facial hair and corn rows, approximately 25-30 years old, and about 5 feet, 8 inches tall.

Hate crime law doesn’t cover this

In response to a Columbus Dispatch story saying that reported the police are not investigating the shooting as a hate crime, Sgt. Earl Smith, spokesman for Columbus Police Department, said that hate is definitely a strong possibility as the motivation in this killing.

"But we have no hate-crime law in Columbus that applies to a felony. We have a homicide here, and we are going to do everything we can to catch these guys. We are considering it an aggravated murder, and charges don’t get any more serious than that," said Smith.

Columbus includes sexual orientation in its "ethnic intimidation" ordinance, but the measure covers only misdemeanors. Murder is a felony. Ohio’s ethnic intimidation law is also limited to misdemeanors, and does not include sexual orientation.

"The irony is glaring," said the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization president Chris Cozad. "If this had been a simple assault it would be classified as a hate crime. As a felony, murder, it is not."

Lawmakers are considering a bill to revise Ohio’s 1987 ethnic intimidation law to include sexual orientation, gender, and disability, and expand it to include felonies.

Originally introduced by State Rep. Otto Beatty, H.B. 277 had been stalled in committee for several months. The bill is now sponsored by State Rep. Joyce Beatty (D) of Columbus. Committee hearings were held in November and last week (see next story).

BRAVO is encouraging people to write to their legislators, in memory of Bill Camelin, to urge passage of Beatty’s bill.

"As a community, we can take this opportunity to channel our anger and grief into change, and use that to help us heal." said BRAVO executive director Gloria McCauley. "We can make Bill’s death have some meaning by doing this in his honor."

Town meeting called

BRAVO and Stonewall Columbus are calling a town meeting of the LGBT communities on Wednesday, February 9, at 7 pm. The meeting will be an opportunity for people to express their outrage over this senseless crime, share information, answer questions, and discuss potential courses of action.

The meeting will be held at the Martin Janis Senior Center at the 11th Avenue entrance to the Ohio State Fairgrounds in Columbus. People with questions about the murder and the investigation are encouraged to call BRAVO at 614-268-9622. Questions about the town meeting can be directed to either BRAVO or Stonewall Columbus at 614-299-7764.

A reward fund has been started to help find the individuals killed Bill Camelin. Donations can be sent to Bank One in German Village at 833 South High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43271-0324.

The Columbus Police Department is now seeking information from residents who live in the German Village area just east of Parsons Ave. near Whittier St. Anyone who may have heard gunshots between midnight and 12:30 am on January 19, or have any other information that might lead to an arrest of the suspects are asked to call 614-645-4730.

 

Hearing on Ohio hate crime bill resembles a tent revival

by Eric Resnick

Columbus—A hearing on a bill to expand Ohio’s hate crime law took on the feel of a revival meeting as the measure’s opponents testified.

The House Criminal Justice Committee held a hearing January 26 for opponents of a bill to revise Ohio’s ethnic intimidation law to include sexual orientation, gender, and disability, and expand it to cover felonies.

Twelve people testified in opposition to the bill, including "ex-gays," conservative Christians, and anti-gay street preacher Charles Spingola.

Proponents of the measure, H.B. 277, sponsored by Rep. Joyce Beatty (D) of Columbus, testified on November 9, 1999.

John Murphy, executive director of the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association, told the committee that his group opposes all bills that enhance punishments.

"It is unhealthy to be creating different penalties for different groups of people," said Murphy. He pointed out that his group had opposed the current ethnic intimidation law when it was passed in 1987 for the same reason. "We are not selecting this bill for opposition."

Rep. Peter Lawson Jones (D) of Shaker Heights challenged Murphy on his position, saying that society needs to send a message that it will not tolerate hate crimes against targeted groups.

"We just disagree on this point," said Murphy.

The hearing followed a contentious hearing for another bill regulating the storage of firearms, so following Murphy’s testimony, most of the members, including committee chair Rep. Ann Womer Benjamin, left the room.

According to both Democrat and Republican legislative aides, at that point the hearing began to resemble a revival meeting.

Spingola, who was charged with rioting, creating a disturbance, and disorderly conduct for allegedly tearing a rainbow flag from a Statehouse pole during Lesbian-Gay Pride festivities last June, shocked the remaining members by wearing a T-shirt with scripture on the front and got aids yet? on the back.

Claiming to represent "The Unashamed and Associates," Spingola spoke of homosexuality as a sin, calling it "unnatural" and "wrong" and said passage of Beatty’s bill would amount to granting sinners special rights. He also carried a rolled-up banner that he decided not to let anyone see.

"Ex-gay" Gregory Quinlan, representing the Pro-Family Network of Dayton, called the bill "the most pernicious, bigoted, anti-family, anti-child bill" he has seen. "H.B. 277 is in itself a hate crime," he concluded.

Sgt. James Ramm, a retired police officer from New Albany, told the committee, "We need to get away from criminalizing the mere hurting of someone’s feelings."

Stephen Hartkop, executive director of the Christian Coalition of Ohio said the bill "attacks our great society at its foundational roots." He added, "Giving ethnic standing to homosexuals and other undefined groups is really an insult to those genuine ethnic groups that have labored long and hard for equality."

Carolyn Blow of Xenia asserted that where hate crime laws such as H.B. 277 exist, "zealous advocates of the homosexual lifestyle have quashed the free exercise of speech and religion of those who oppose their agenda or simply state a different view."

Blow added, "I believe that special protection for people with ‘disabilities’ and ‘gender’ would also apply to homosexuals because of the many diseases they carry and because of the unusual habits that some of them have."

Linda Harvey, president of Mission: America, an ex-gay ministry, quoted from an April 1, 1999 Columbus Alive op-ed piece by former Stonewall Columbus executive director Phil Martin: "I have a problem supporting a law that says if someone attacks me, they will get more time in jail than if they attack a straight friend."

In November, proponents, including representatives of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, the Ohio NAACP, the Ohio Psychological Association and the Ohio Coalition of Jewish Federations testified that the bill was needed due to the sharp rise in hate crimes committed on the basis of sexual orientation.

Nobody would speculate on the effect of either hearing on the legislators, especially the majority Republicans, who were described as "obtuse" during the November proponent hearing.

Womer-Benjamin is expected to call for additional hearings.


After 5 years in prison for spitting, HIV-positive man is released

by Denny Sampson

Columbus-An HIV-positive man was released on parole after spending five years in prison for assault with a deadly weapon--spitting on a police officer.

Jimmy Lee Bird was released from Richland Correctional Institution in Mansfield on the morning of February 1.

"I definitely have a different outlook today than I did seven years ago, because it doesn’t look like I’m going to die anytime soon," said Bird. "I had lived for eight to ten years thinking that I was going to be dead soon. I wouldn’t buy certain things like a new TV or furniture. I lost my lover of eight years to AIDS. All of that led to a lot of alcohol abuse and anger. I had no drive. I didn’t care what happened to me."

On October 2, 1993 Bird was arrested in Columbus for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. When Bird told the arresting officers that he had AIDS and was bleeding, they took him to Mount Carmel Medical Center for treatment. Bird became verbally abusive, according to the police report, and spit in the face of one of the police officers, John M. Shirk. Police added a charge of assault with a deadly weapon for spitting on the officer.

Bird pleaded no contest January 7, 1994 in Franklin County Common Pleas Court to a charge of felonious assault. He was originally sentenced to 3 to 15 years in prison, but was released on probation in November 1994.

Bird’s probation was revoked in April 1996 because he failed to complete community service, failed to maintain employment, and was discharged from a hospital for drunken, belligerent behavior.

Then he appealed his original conviction, claiming that his legal representation had been incompetent. However, an appeals court rejected his motion.

Bird’s case was appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court. On May 6, 1998, Ohio’s highest court upheld the appeals court’s decision in a vote of 6 to 1. The court did not rule on whether or not the saliva of an HIV positive person can be considered "a deadly weapon," but based its ruling on Bird’s no contest plea.

Justice Francis Sweeney, writing the Supreme Court’s majority opinion, said "It is unnecessary to decide whether the HIV virus may be communicated through saliva and whether saliva may be considered a deadly weapon. By pleading no contest, applicant admitted the truth of the allegations in the indictment."

Lawyers for Bird argued that the case should have never gone to trial. David Strait, a Franklin County public defender, had argued that saliva did not meet the definition of a weapon.

"Spit is not capable of causing physical harm," said Strait. "It may be rude and offensive, but it is not felonious."

Heather Sawyer, an attorney for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, emphasized the medical studies that have shown it is not possible to transmit HIV through spitting. She argued that the court should not endorse jail time for an act that was harmless.

"The bottom line with this ruling is that a man is behind bars merely for spitting," said Sawyer.

"I don’t think the state supreme court wanted to deal with the HIV issue, so it made a procedural ruling. It is a kind of discrimination against people with HIV," said Bird.

Officer Shirk has been tested several times for HIV, and each time the results have been negative.

"Jimmy has been paroled, but his original sentence has not been overturned. He is pursuing a direct post-conviction appeal and may be pursuing federal habeas corpus action to overturn his sentence," said Sawyer.

"There is going to be an oral argument on February 10. If we get this verdict overturned," said Bird, "I am definitely going to sue the lawyer who told me to plead no contest."

Bird is on disability, but hopes to go back to work part time.

"I want to get a job in customer service at a place like J.C. Penney or Sears. I used to be a legal clerk, but I am kind of fed up with the legal system."

Bird is asymptomatic and is taking no anti-viral medication. "The only time I have ever had any symptoms was when I was taking medication."

"The most difficult part of this whole thing has been seeing my story on TV or in a newspaper, said Bird, "knowing there were people out there who thought I was a horrible person who tried to give someone else this disease. I would never do anything like that. I have always been up-front about my HIV status and careful not to do anything that would put others at risk."


First trial in Pride Day
flag-burning results in
guilty verdict

by Dawn E. Leach

Columbus--In the first of four trials stemming from the June 27 burning of a gay pride flag, last week a Franklin County jury found Donald L. Richardson, of London, Ohio, guilty of disorderly conduct for his role in the incident.

Statehouse officials had approved the gay pride flag to be flown from a statehouse flagpole for last year’s Pride march in downtown Columbus. The flag belonged to Stonewall Columbus, and was the first gay pride flag to fly with official sanction at the Ohio statehouse.

Richardson, 64, was charged with disorderly conduct, misconduct in an emergency, and ethnic intimidation for interfering with the arrest of Charles Spingola, who is accused of climbing the flagpole and tearing the flag down.

Columbus city prosecutors later dropped the ethnic intimidation charges against Richardson.

Tom Condit, Richardson’s attorney, told jurors the flag-burning incident was a part of a religious war that is going on in America. Condit focused much of his defense on testimony about heated exchanges between Pride marchers and anti-gay protesters.

Stonewall Columbus executive director Jeff Redfield, who was called to testify during the trial, said Condit asked him several questions that he found inappropriate. At one point, Redfield said, Condit asked him if he would allow people who have sex with animals to march in the Pride parade. Prosecutors objected to the question and the judge threw it out.

In his closing argument, prosecutor Steve McIntosh defended the anti-gay protesters’ right to demonstrate at the Pride march.

"Those who came to protest the flag have a right to, and those who came to support it have a right to," he told jurors, according to the Columbus Dispatch. "They both have a right to argue, the right to scream, but at some point it goes beyond that level. In a civilized society, regardless of your convictions and your passions, the line has to be drawn somewhere."

After three days of testimony, on January 27 the jury found Richardson guilty of disorderly conduct, but not guilty of misconduct in an emergency. Judge H. William Pollitt ordered Richardson to pay a $50 fine for disorderly conduct and another $50 in court costs, which he must pay by May 1.

While some members of the gay community have expressed disappointment that the fine was so low--Richardson could have been ordered to pay as much as $500--Redfield said he was satisfied with the verdict.

"We believe that the jury has held Richardson responsible for what the evidence shows, though we thought they would find him guilty of the lesser misconduct at an emergency" Redfield said.

"I’m not so much concerned about the fine," Redfield remarked. "They found him guilty. That says enough for me."

Two other defendants are scheduled for hearings in the flag-burning incident. Spingola, 44, of Newark, Ohio, has previously admitted to climbing the flagpole and tearing down the flag. He is scheduled for a jury trial on an ethnic intimidation charge on February 7, and will be tried for rioting on March 23.

Spingola is a street preacher who travels to college campuses around Ohio, preaching an anti-gay message.

Toni L. Peters, 26, of Columbus, was charged with arson and ethnic intimidation after she turned herself in, admitting to setting the pride flag on fire. Peters is scheduled for pretrial hearings February 7 on those charges.


Grid Radio might not get a license under new FCC rules

by Denny Sampson

Cleveland—Grid Radio, a low-power station that serves the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Cleveland, may not be able to get a license under new "micro station" rules because it has already operated without one.

The Federal Communications Commission adopted new rules for licensing low-powered stations on January 20. By May the commission hopes to award noncommercial, educational licenses for 10-watt and 100-watt stations. Previously, the commission would not license any station with less that 1,000 watts.

The new licenses are intended for community groups, schools, and churches that will tailor their broadcasts to the interests of people in their listening areas. The low-power stations can be set up inexpensively because their antennas can be mounted on top of a building rather than constructing a tower. Low-power stations can cover an area of four to seven miles.

Jerry Szoka has broadcast Grid Radio from his downtown gay nightclub, the Grid, since 1995. Szoka’s station airs music from the club’s dance floor, as well as other programming geared to the gay community.

Szoka’s station, on 96.9 FM, is considered low-power because it operates on only 50 watts--far less than the 6,000 to 100,000 watts that most FM broadcasters use. Because of its low wattage, Grid Radio covers only a 10-mile radius. It reaches most of Cleveland, but fades in the suburbs.

Szoka admits that he has been operating his station illegally because he does not have a license. However, he points out that the FCC has not licensed low-powered FM stations since 1978. The agency has shut down hundreds of unlicensed low-power stations and confiscated their equipment over the past few years, including four in Cleveland.

The FCC has tried unsuccessfully to shut down Szoka’s station. Federal law gives the FCC the authority to confiscate equipment used for unlicensed radio broadcasts, charge fines up to $75,000, and impose a jail sentence for "willfully and knowingly" operating a radio station without a license.

In 1997 the FCC sent Szoka two letters telling him to shut down the station, and warning him of the possible penalties he could face for not doing so. Szoka responded to the agency, asking to be allowed to remain on the air until regulations to license micro broadcasters could be enacted.

The commission denied Szoka’s request in June, 1998. Szoka then filed suit against the agency, and the FCC countersued, seeking an injunction to take Grid Radio off the air until his suit was ruled upon.

That FCC’s countersuit was heard December 3, 1999 by U.S. District Judge Kathleen O’Malley. She has not yet issued a ruling, and Szoka has remained on the air.

"Grid Radio has not been shut down so far because Jerry has had the courage to fight the FCC in court and demand that the laws be changed so he can broadcast legitimately," said Jim Mooty, Szoka’s lawyer, an FCC specialist in Washington D.C.

Szoka’s hopes of becoming licensed seemed to come closer when the FCC issued the new low-power rules.

"I think everyone was pleased and surprised at how quickly the FCC acted on this," said Mooty. "They listened to over 3,000 public comments concerning this issue. That’s a record for the FCC."

However, one of the new rules states that "unauthorized broadcasters will be disqualified unless they certify that they ceased operations when notified of their violation of FCC rules, or by February 26, 1999."

In response, Szoka said, "The rules aren’t acceptable. They are angry at me because I didn’t obey Big Brother. I am not going to shut down. I am suing them for the right to continue to serve the gay community in Cleveland."

Application forms are not yet available, but the FCC is likely to begin accepting applications for low-power stations within a few months.

"We will apply for one of the new licenses, and I hope we get one, but with this rule, it could be difficult," said Mooty.

"If we have to decide the issue in court," Mooty said, "we have a very good constitutional argument based on the First Amendment. The government cannot interfere with our right to free speech. The FM spectrum has plenty of room for thousands of new stations, so the FCC has no legitimate right to keep new broadcasters from serving the needs of their communities."

Further explaining his legal strategy, Mooty said, "I am going to try to get the court to distinguish between people who have broken the FCC law out of rebellion with no sense of civic responsibility and those people who have broken the law because they are trying to get unjust laws changed"

"Jerry is a true civil disobedient, a peaceful protester, who wants to get a legitimate license," said Mooty. "Civil disobedience is the traditional way bad laws have been changed in our country. Rosa Parks was a civil disobedient when she insisted on sitting in the front of the bus. She broke a law, but it was an unjust law. And she won a congressional medal a few years ago. Jerry is very serious about using this radio station to help serve the needs his community. To treat Jerry like the other guys is to deny him his right to go to court."

Some micro radio stations have interfered with aircraft navigation and other radio services. However, the FCC admitted in the December 3 hearing that there have been no complaints about Grid Radio’s signal.

Since the new licenses will be given only to noncommercial groups, Szoka said he is looking into converting Grid Radio to a non-profit organization.

In the nation’s largest radio markets—New York, Chicago and Los Angeles—there will be no room for 100-watt stations, according to the FCC. Cities like Washington, D.C. could accommodate three 100-watt stations, while Miami has room for four. Less dense parts of the country have room for dozens of stations.

Approved by a 4-1 vote, FCC’s plan could face a legal challenge from National Public Radio and the nation’s commercial broadcasters, who say that adding hundreds of new stations to the FM band will mean interference for existing stations.


News Briefs

Judge can’t be sued for crusade
against foster parents

Canton, Ohio—A visiting judge dismissed the final part of a suit against Stark County Family Court Judge David Stucki brought by a lesbian couple acting as foster parents for two young boys.

The suit, filed in 1998, alleged that the women’s privacy was invaded and that they suffered emotional harm when Stucki ordered the county Human Services Department to turn over any records on known or suspected gay foster parents.

Stucki, who had no connection to any case involving the couple, wanted to disqualify them as foster parents.

The department does not keep such records and asserted that to do so would violate state law.

The case received national attention when Stucki, who refers to his bench as a "ministry," vowed to "go to war" with Human Services over the issue, since they refused to remove the boys, ages one and six, from the home. The boys were placed with the couple in October, 1996.

Wayne County Common Pleas Court Judge Mark Wiest ruled February 1 that Stucki has immunity from such suits as a judge.

"Stucki’s actions are certainly open to criticism . . . but his comments, however wrong-headed, were related to his judicial function," wrote Wiest.

 

Risk of oral sex is higher than expected

San Francisco--Oral sex, long regarded by many gay men as a low-risk practice, appears to be a more frequent way of spreading AIDS than has been commonly believed.

A study released on February 1 found that oral sex was probably the cause of 8 percent of recent HIV infections among a group of gay men examined in San Francisco.

In the past, there have been occasional reports of people becoming infected by HIV through oral sex. But health investigators have had difficulty determining which sexual practices have transmitted the virus, since gay men who have oral sex also may engage in other, riskier sex practices, such as anal intercourse.

The latest study, the most definitive on AIDS transmission to date, used diagnostic tests that allow doctors to narrow down the timing of HIV infections.

Conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the University of California at San Francisco, the study was presented in San Francisco at a conference for AIDS researchers.

"While oral sex may still be safer than anal intercourse or vaginal intercourse, it is not without risk and perhaps has higher risk than we would have expected otherwise," said Dr. Helene Gayle, the CDC’s AIDS chief.

The researchers sought to learn the means of infection in 102 gay and bisexual men who had recently caught HIV. When all other possible means of infection were ruled out, oral sex turned out to be the only risky behavior in eight of these men. Most of them said they thought oral sex had little or no risk.

All of the men apparently caught the virus by giving oral sex, rather than receiving it, and none used condoms.

Gayle said she assumes that the risk of oral sex when properly using a condom is close to zero. She also said that if oral sex alone has played a large role in the spread of AIDS, that would already have become obvious during the 20 years of the epidemic.

Dr. Frederick M. Hecht of San Francisco General Hospital, a co-author of the study, said anal intercourse may be 100 times riskier than oral sex.

 

Hand-holding girl assaulted on train

Boston--Three high school students were scheduled to be arraigned January 31 after allegedly sexually assaulting a 16-year-old classmate they thought was a lesbian.

Three juvenile girls from Boston High School face charges including indecent assault and battery, attempted rape and civil rights violations during their arraignment at Boston Juvenile Court.

The attack came January 27 on an Orange Line train.

Six students, five girls and a boy, saw a girl holding hands with another girl, police said. The victim is Moroccan and it is customary for girls to hold hands there.

Some of the female students allegedly groped the girl, ripped her clothes and pointed at their genitals, shouting, "Do you like this? Is this what you like?" They also tried to force her into a sexual act.

When the girl resisted, the boy pulled a knife, held it to her throat and threatened to slash her, police said. He also allegedly lunged at a male passenger who tried to intervene, barely missing him.

The girl told police her six classmates then knocked her down and began beating her until she passed out.

Three of the girls were arrested after school January 28. The other suspects have yet to be identified.

 

When in Rome, tick off the Vatican

Rome--Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who operates directly under Pope John Paul II, said January 29 that he wished authorities would not allow Rome to host World Pride 2000.

The Vatican says that the gay and lesbian festival will conflict with its observance of the Holy Year marking the second millennium of Christianity.

Organizers of the gay and lesbian festival, held in a different city each year, were shocked at the reaction of the church and the political right.

"This event is neither against the Vatican or the pope," said Imma Battaglia of the Rome gay organization Mario Mieli.

The event is from June 28 to July 9, and will culminate with a march and parade and finally an outdoor beach party on the gay beach Capocotta.

"The authorities know that Rome is a holy city, as the Concordat [the treaty that governs activities between Italy and the Vatican] says, a city apart because of the presence of the Roman pontiff," said Sodano, who is also the Vatican secretary of state. "It is a matter of a sense of proportion, of balance, and I am sure the authorities will reconsider the matter."

World Pride has received a $178,000 grant from the city. Rome’s mayor Francesco Rutelli defended the amount, and said organizers of all events taking place in Rome during 2000 were aware that the Holy Year had to be respected.

 

Boulder approves TG rights ordinance

Boulder, Colo.-Boulder became the first city in Colorado to protect transgender people from discrimination, following a unanimous vote on February 1.

The approved measure amends the city’s 27-year-old Human Rights Ordinance, which already prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, and public accomodations on the basis of race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation.

The new law prohibits discrimination on the basis of "gender variance," which the ordinance defines as "a persistent sense that one’s gender identity is incongruent with ones biological sense."

According to the amendment, employers will be allowed to require a "reasonably consistent gender presentation" from their workers and can limit workers to three gender changes in an 18-month period.

The ordinance also mandates that employers provide people in the midst of a gender change "reasonable accommodation" in shower locker rooms.

The new law will apply to as many as 400 people who live and work in Boulder, according to estimates from city officials.

About a dozen American cities, including Toledo, San Francisco and Pittsburgh, and one state, Minnesota, prohibit discrimination against transgender people.

 

Group covers words to get into march

Washington, D.C.--A gay and lesbian group was able to march in a Washington, D.C. anti-abortion demonstration after organizers had attempted to bar them.

The Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians participated with fifty thousand other demonstrators in the 2000 March for Life on January 24.

Police at first attempted to physically block the group’s entrance into the march and told members that march president Nellie Gray had said they could not carry their banner because it had the words gay and lesbian on it.

Former PLAGAL president Moses Remedios put a censored sign on the banner’s pink triangle and covered the two words.

They then moved a half a block down and entered the parade with no police interference. As they marched, they uncovered the words gay and lesbian on the banner.

Compiled from wire reports by Michelle Tomko, Eric Resnick, and Denny Sampson.

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