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3. U.K. drops military gay ban

4. Lesbian-gay centers could receive federal funding

5. Supreme Court to review New Jersey Scout ruling

6. Six months later, deletion of lesbians and gays causes media flap

7. News Briefs

 
 
 
 
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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
January 21, 2000

Lakewood council kills partner bill

by Denny Sampson

Lakewood--In a 5 to 2 vote, Lakewood City Council rejected the proposed domestic partnership ordinance on Tuesday, January 18.

Amid television cameras and lobbyists passing out flyers, it was standing room only in Lakewood City Hall�s auditorium as members of council took turns explains their different positions on the merits of the ordinance.

All of the council members said that they had received hundreds of phone calls and letters from citizens, both for and against this ordinance.

The measure, if passed, would have given spousal benefits, including health insurance coverage and bereavement leave, to same-sex domestic partners of city employees.

The only council members who voted in favor of the ordinance were its two co-sponsors, Michael Skindell, D-at large, and council vice-president Nancy Roth, D-4.

"This is a very important equity issue," said Roth. These are good people who are an asset to our community. This is not only a good idea, but the right thing to do."

Council members Brian Corrigan, D-1, Thomas George, D-2, President Robert Seelie, D-3, Edward Fitzgerald, D-at large, and Pamela Smith, R-at large, voted against the ordinance.

"I believe that this issue shouldn�t be handled at the municipal level," said Seelie. "It belongs at the national or state level. There are still some financial and legal uncertainties concerning this ordinance, so I will be voting no."

"Lakewood is the most heavily taxed city in Cuyahoga County," said Corrigan. "Domestic partnership has both short term and long term costs, and we have no way of knowing what those costs are going to be . . . I think the gay people�s beef is with the State of Ohio�s marriage laws, not with the city of Lakewood."

Fitzgerald referred to a similar ordinance that was approved in Decmber, 1999 by the Columbus city council, but was later repealed to avoid a referendum.

"I don�t think we have found any consensus with this issue. It is no less divisive and it is heading for the same place Columbus� ordinance went," said Fitgerald.

Fitgerald said that he was concerned about the costs of future litigation if the ordinance passed. He said that state and federal courts are going to have the last word on this issue.

"What city would like to be the test case? How much is it going to cost?" asked Fitzgerald.

"The most disturbing thing to me has been the religious overtones," said George. "We need to step back from the issue, cool off, look at the merits of the ordinance, which are considerable, and analyze where we are going. I will vote against the ordinance."

Smith said that she had several concerns with the ordinance. "There is a great deal of confusion among the citizens around the ordinance . . . I am concerned about fiscal matters. There is no real handle on the costs involved."

Skindell, co-sponsor of the ordinance and chairman of the Rules and Ordinances committee, defended his legislation to the end.


Activists fire opening salvo
against Ohio marriage ban

by Denny Sampson

Columbus�A group of activists have organized to oppose a bill to deny recognition of same-sex marriage in Ohio.

Equality Begins at Home Ohio held a press conference at the Ohio Statehouse January 12 in response to State Sen. Jay Hottinger�s (R-Newark) announcement that he will soon reintroduce his Defense of Marriage Act.

An identical measure died in committee in 1997. Hottinger�s new bill would reassert that the only marriages legally recognized in Ohio are those between man and woman in Ohio.

A member of Ohio House, State Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Urbana), says he intends to introduce a House version at the same time.

Representatives from Equality Begins at Home, an Ohio lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender lobbying group, argued in turn against the bill. They included Sarah Fox of Columbus and Doreen Cudnik of Cincinnati, as well as ACLU attorney Susan Gellman of Columbus.

"Ohio law is very clear on this issue, said Cudnik, executive director of Stonewall Cincinnati and a member of the Equality organizing committee. "The Ohio Revised Code specifies that �only a man age 18 or over and a woman age 16 or over, both who are unmarried, may be joined in marriage.� Furthermore, Ohio courts have ruled on this issue and have limited the right to marry in Ohio to male-female couples."

"Hottinger�s and Jordan�s bill is a bad piece of legislation," said Fox, acting lobby chair of Equality and communications director of It�s Time, Ohio, a transgender advocacy group. "It is an attempt for force us to deny who we are and who we were even before we were born-all for the comfort of those who insist that everyone should be exactly as they are. We may as well outlaw marriages between handicapped people or obese people or people with red hair."

Gellman, representative of the LGBT legal community, discussed the unconstitutionality of carving out a gay exception to the "full faith and credit" clause of the U.S. Constitution. The clause requires states to recognize the "public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state."

However, sponsors of the bill see a need for their bill, and think that the time is right to reintroduce it.

"When we debated this bill last session, many of my colleagues said the time wasn�t right for this bill because no real threat existed," Hottinger said. "With the recent ruling in Vermont and the rising number of domestic partner benefits cases in our own state, there is no better time than now to address this issue."

Jordan, the bill�s co-sponsor in the House, said, "Plain and simple, we need this language in place right now to protect families from the non-traditional values others may try to bring into our state. This bill does nothing more than reaffirm that marriage between a man and a woman is the cornerstone of the most basic unit in our society, the family."

As of January 18, the Defense of Marriage Act had been filed with the House clerk. It was expected to be introduced as early as Wednesday, January 19, cosponsored by Reps. Jordan, Aslanides, Brading, Buchy, Buehrer, Calvert, Carey, Clancy, Depiero, Harris, Hood, Hoops, Jacobson, Netzley, Roman, Taylor, Terwilleger, Tiberi, Willamowski, and Young. Depiero is the only Democrat co-sponsoring the bill.

The Senate version has also been filed, and was expected to be introduced the same day as the House version. The sponsors, all Republicans, are Sens. Carnes, Oelslager, Latta, Mumper, Wachtmann, White, and Watts.

"If there is a silver lining in any of this," said Cudnik, "it is that bills like Mr. Hottinger�s pop up in response to our hard-won victories around the country. The national gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender movement is changing things�one heart and one mind at a time. Mr. Hottinger and those like him want to turn the clock back on civil rights advances for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. But we will not let that happen, not here in Ohio. We will continue to build coalitions, we will continue to fight, and we will eventually win in our struggle for basic equality and dignity."

Reporters from Ohio Public Radio, WBNS Channel 10 in Columbus, the Ohio News Network, WSYX Channel 6 in Columbus, the Cincinnati Enquirer, and the Gay People�s Chronicle attended the press conference, along with a number of staffers from House members� offices.

Equality Begins at Home Ohio is part of a national network of state lobbying groups, coordinated and funded by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the Federation of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Statewide Political Organizations.

The Ohio group�s organizing committee this year are Sarah Fox, acting chair, representing It�s Time, Ohio; Peg Allemang, representing Columbus P-FLAG; Doreen Cudnik, representing Stonewall Cincinnati; Mark Matson, temporarily representing Dignity and the [Matthew] Shepard Initiative; Eric Resnick, representing Stonewall Akron; and Lee Strausberg, representing the Miami Valley GLBT and Supportive Community Coalition.

Equality is planning their third lobby day in the spring. Last year, 45 people participated.

Fox said that this year�s lobbying efforts will be equally divided between Hottinger and Jordan�s anti-marriage bill and a bill to include gays and lesbians in Ohio�s hate crime law.

The existing "ethnic intimidation" law, passed in 1987, increases penalties for five misdemeanors if they are committed because of the victim�s race, color, religion, or national origin.

The hate crime bill, H.B. 277, sponsored by Rep. Joyce Beatty (D) of Columbus, would add sexual orientation, gender, disability and ancestry. It would expand the law to include felonies, and would classify hate crimes committed by organizations as domestic terrorism.

Last year�s Lobby Day was in late March, but this year it will be later in the spring, according to Fox.

"Many of the materials that will be going into the media packs are publications about the most recent hate crimes statistics, and those materials won�t be available until early April," said Fox.


U.K. drops military gay ban

Move leaves the U.S. restrictions almost alone
among NATO nations

by Michelle Tomko
with wire reports

London--Britain, as compelled by the European Court of Human Rights, lifted their ban of gays in the military on January 12.

The move leaves the United States as one of the last members of the NATO alliance to still ban openly gay or lesbian people from its armed forces.

"As no primary or secondary legislation is required, with effect from today, homosexuality will no longer be a bar to service in Britain�s armed forces," Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon of the governing Labor Party told the House of Commons.

Unlike the United States military�s "don�t ask, don�t tell" policy, the British military had flatly banned gays.

It is now replaced with a code of conduct for sexual behavior for all soldiers, regardless of sexual orientation. Under the new code, to be published next month, inappropriate sexual behavior between personnel on duty, and not a person�s sexual orientation, will be put under scrutiny. A soldier�s sexual orientation would be a private matter.

The code gave examples of behavior which could undermine cohesion in the forces: unwanted sexual attention, verbal or physical, over-familiarity with partners of personnel, displays of affection which may offend others or taking advantage of subordinates.

The new code is centered on one fundamental question: "Have the actions or behavior of an individual adversely impacted or are they likely to impact on the efficiency or operational effectiveness of the service?" said Hoon.

"This appalling decision will be greeted with dismay among ordinary soldiers in the armed forces, many of whom joined the services precisely because they wished to turn their back on some of the values of modern society," said Gerald Howarth, a member of an opposing Conservative Party.

Britain promised to lift the ban after the European Court of Human Rights ruled in September in favor of four gay enlistees dismissed from the military.

Personnel dismissed for being gay can apply to rejoin the services, and actions against current military personnel will be halted.

European military policies fall under a wide range of tolerance from the Netherlands, where gays have served openly since the 1970s, to Greece, which bars homosexual officers. In Italy, overt homosexual behavior is frowned on the military and gay men are often exempted from the ten-month compulsory military service.

Most NATO nations either have strict policies against discrimination or consider it a non-issue and have no gay-related policies at all.

The Pentagon announced in December a review of its policy under which the military is not supposed to ask service members about their sexual orientation, unless there is evidence of homosexual conduct. Still, soldiers who say they are gay may be discharged.

President Clinton has said the policy was never supposed to facilitate rooting out gays or allow for harassment. He has cited repeatedly the case of a gay solider who was beaten to death in Kentucky.

 


Lesbian-gay centers could
receive federal funding

Possibilities discussed at White House meeting

by Denny Sampson

Washington D.C.-Executive directors of seven of the nation�s lesbian and gay community centers, including Cleveland�s Linda Malicki, met with officials from the federal government at the White House on January 12. These two groups discussed how to help local LGBT community centers obtain federal funding.

The meeting was arranged by Julian Potter, the new Director of Lesbian and Gay Outreach for the White House. Potter included staff members of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the seven elected members of the executive committee of the National Association of Lesbian and Gay Community Centers.

Malicki, executive director of the Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center, was elected to the executive committee last fall.

"We met with some fairly high officials and openly-gay appointees," she said. "We gave them an overview of the community centers we represent. We described the populations we serve and how we serve them, our demographics, and the size of the centers."

"Then we began to collect information on federal money we already qualify for. We hope that they will begin to map out the money available to us and how to get access to that money," said Malicki.

"Community centers provide a wide variety of services, ranging from counseling to support for victims of domestic violence to financial assistance to health care," said Ann DeGroot, executive director of OutFront Minnesota. "[The White House] meeting helped train community center leaders from both large cities and small towns to cut through the red tape and bureaucracy to increase the federal funds to support our vital programs."

"The meeting was the best opportunity we have ever had for representatives of federal agencies to meet with those of us on the front line in local communities to discuss how the government can support the delivery of services to our communities," said Gwenn A. Baldwin, executive director of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center.

NGLTF political director Rebecca Isaacs commended Porter for arranging the meeting.

"Today we took the first step to open the door for increased funding opportunities for local centers that provide important services to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people," Isaacs said. "NGLTF is committed to helping local groups access these resources."

Federal agencies represented at the meeting included the Small Business Administration, the Appalachian Regional Commission, the departments of Commerce, Justice, Interior, Education, Labor, Transportation, Health and Human Services, Housing, and Urban Development, and the White House AIDS Policy Office. Representatives from the offices of House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt and Rep. Barney Frank also attended.

"I was impressed by how warmly we were welcomed," said Malicki. "The first day we met with representatives from twelve to fifteen different agencies. They couldn�t have been more interested in what we had to say. On the second day we met with some high level executives from HUD and the Department of Health and Human Services. They gave us a block of two hours of their time. It was very exciting."

"These meetings symbolize the growth in the community centers around the nation, both in terms of our numbers and as a reflection of our political savvy," said Richard Burns, executive director of the New York Lesbian-Gay Center. "We are reminding our elected and appointed federal officials that as taxpayers, GLBT people, require access to services and funding and that the GLBT centers throughout the country already provide many of these services without adequate funding.

The National Association of Lesbian and Gay Community Centers represents 104 centers in 36 states. Malicki has taken on the responsibility of publishing a nationwide newsletter for the organization.

"We are trying to help centers at every level," Malicki said. "Of the 20 community centers in my region, the eastern midwest, only four have paid staff. This time next year, we could see some real improvements."

 


 

Supreme Court to review
New Jersey Scout ruling

by Eric Resnick

Washington, D.C.--The U.S. Supreme Court said it would hear an appeal brought by the Boy Scouts of America of the unanimous New Jersey Supreme Court ruling that the Scouts violated state civil rights laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

The justices agreed to the review January 14. They will hear arguments in April and render a decision by the end of June.

In the landmark August decision, the New Jersey high court ruled the Boy Scouts qualified as a "place of public accommodation" and as such were subject to the state�s anti-discrimination law, and could not be shielded from the law by the First Amendment.

In their appeal of that decision, the Boy Scouts argued that the New Jersey ruling "endangers important constitutional principles of freedom of speech and freedom of association."

The Scouts also argued that the New Jersey decision conflicted with rulings by four other state supreme courts and a U.S. appeals court, all of which have upheld its gay ban.

The Scout policy banning gays treats homosexuality as morally wrong and in violation of its oath pledging to be "morally straight" and "clean."

"This case involves constitutional rights at the heart of our free society: the freedom of a private, voluntary, noncommercial organization to create and interpret its own moral code and to choose leaders and define membership criteria accordingly," said the Boy Scouts in their appeal.

But Evan Wolfson, senior staff attorney for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, said opposition to homosexuality is not one of the Scouts� main purposes.

"Their First Amendment rights are not being interfered with. The members did not join the Boy Scouts for bigotry in the first place," he said.

Lambda represented Eagle Scout and assistant scoutmaster James Dale in the New Jersey case. He was expelled by the Scouts in 1990 when they learned he was a gay rights activist at Rutgers University.

Wolfson also said the case no longer hinges on whether the Boy Scouts are a private club or a public accommodation. "The New Jersey Supreme Court already settled that," he said.

"Now, what is before the [U.S.] court is the Boy Scouts trying to invoke a shield to prevent enforcement of the non-discrimination law," added Wolfson.

Wolfson pointed out that the New Jersey court followed the U.S. Supreme Court�s guidelines on when groups can get the First Amendment shield, which, he said, "the Boy Scouts just don�t meet."

Wolfson said the other states concluded the Scouts were shielded under their state laws and that New Jersey is different because it is a different law.

According to Wolfson, if the U.S. Supreme Court finds against the Boy Scouts and upholds the New Jersey court, the Boy Scouts are only bound by New Jersey law in New Jersey. They may not need to allow gay members in other states.

"There are legal outcomes and then there are implications," said Wolfson, believing the case will impact what the Boy Scout organization does.

"Regardless of the outcome," said Wolfson, "this case has been a great opportunity to educate the court and educate the public about gay youth and the fitness of gay adults to work with youth, and we must seize this opportunity."

 


 

Six months later, deletion of
lesbians and gays causes media flap

by Eric Resnick

Columbus--A state employee�s inquiry into Ohio�s job bias policy for its workers set off a flurry of mainstream media stories last week about gay protections that were removed months earlier, in 1999.

The unidentified employee asked Cincinnati civil rights attorney Alphonse Gerhardstein if state workers were protected from job discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Lesbians and gays had been included in state job bias policy from 1983 until 1999, when incoming Gov. Robert Taft allowed a 16-year-old executive order to lapse. He then replaced the order with one that did not mention sexual orientation.

A Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter, in Gerhardstein�s office on an unrelated matter, wrote a story about the omission. The story appeared on the front page of the daily�s January 12 issue. It was quickly picked up by other Ohio print and broadcast media, which had not previously covered the change.

(The Gay People�s Chronicle reported on it at the time Taft�s office was writing the new executive order, in June and July, 1999.)

The Plain Dealer followed with an editorial the next day calling gay activists "wrong" for saying the new policy did not protect gays and lesbians from job discrimination.

Executive Order 83-64 and a set of related equal employment opportunity orders were signed in 1983 by then-Gov. Richard Celeste, a Democrat. They inserted "sexual orientation" into the non-discrimination policy for hiring and promoting state employees, including those at universities.

Celeste did not set the orders to automatically expire when he left office in 1991. His successor, George Voinovich, a Republican, left them in effect during his two-term tenure.

However, when Voinovich left office in January 1999, he set all but six executive orders, including 83-64, to expire.

Taft, a Republican, did not reinstate the orders, leaving gay, lesbian and bisexual state employees without protection from discrimination as a matter of policy.

The governor�s office began a review of the situation when they began getting calls from gay and lesbian newspapers in mid-1999.

Taft�s office then wrote an new order saying only that it is his administration�s policy to "prohibit discriminatory employment practices and to ensure that all Ohio citizens have equal employment opportunity."

The new order took effect at the end of August, 1999.

The difference between the new and old orders is sexual orientation.

Celeste�s original order covered only that, since other groups are covered by state law. It said that Ohio "shall not discriminate in state employment against any individual based on the individual�s sexual orientation."

Currently, state employees are protected by law from discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicap, age or ancestry.

Tim Downing, an employment attorney with the Cleveland law firm Ulmer and Berne, told the Chronicle in July that Taft�s new order is "not worth the paper it is written on."

"It�s an order without any meaning because Ohio law and federal law currently prohibit discrimination for certain categories of people, but it is perfectly legal to discriminate against those people who are not included in that list."

"By not including the words �sexual orientation� in the executive order, the governor, at worst, has left state employees that used to have a remedy with no remedy, and at best, left them in a state of limbo," added Downing.

Taft�s press secretary Scott Milburn said the Ohio Department of Administrative Services held a meeting on executive orders and non-discrimination in September.

"Chief Legal Counsel William Klatt was present and he discussed concerns about discrimination raised by gay and lesbian employees," said Milburn. "The views of gay and lesbian employees were expressed and heard and taken into account."

Stonewall Columbus executive director Jeff Redfield told the Chronicle in June that a group of politically-connected gays and lesbians was trying to work behind the scenes to get a new order that covered sexual orientation.

Redfield said January 18 that he knew of no group able to get a meeting. "The governor is very difficult to see," he said.

But Redfield said he brought up the issue in August at a unity event at the YWCA, held in response to anti-gay picketer Fred Phelps and a Ku Klux Klan rally. "I tried to raise awareness," he said.

 


 

News Briefs

Foe of gay adoption admits he molested foster child

Anderson, Indiana--An Anderson man who received statewide attention for preventing a gay man from adopting an eight-year-old girl under his foster care pleaded guilty on January 13 to four counts of child molestation.

Earl "Butch" Kimmerling admitted to the charges shortly before he was scheduled to go on trial that morning, Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings said.

Kimmerling and his wife, Saundra, fought in 1998 to keep their foster daughter, now nine years old, from being adopted by Craig Peterson.

Peterson, who is gay, had adopted the little girl�s three brothers. The boys range in age from four to six, and each have long-term health and emotional problems from fetal alcohol syndrome, according to the Indianapolis Star.

The Kimmerlings eventually succeeded in adopting the girl, but in May 1998 Kimmerling was arrested and charged with 10 counts of sexual molestation against his daughter.

During their adoption fight, the Kimmerlings gained support from political figures including Anderson Mayor Mark Lawler and Republican state representatives Jack Lutz of Anderson and Woody Burton of Greenwood, who proposed a bill to ban gay adoptions.

The Kimmerlings have been foster parents since 1991 and have been responsible for about 50 foster children.

Kimmerling and his wife have been separated since the charges were filed. Mrs. Kimmerling is living with the girl, but officials are unsure of where they are staying.

A sentencing hearing will take place next month. Kimmerling could face up to 50 years in prison.

Craig Peterson is pursuing a discrimination suit against that Bruce Stansberry, director of the county�s Division of Family and Children, for allegedly violating Peterson�s constitutional rights when Stansberry prevented Peterson from adopting the boys� sister.

The lawsuit claims that Peterson�s sexual orientation was the only reason the adoption was stopped.

 

Hillary says no to same-sex marriage

White Plains, N.Y.--Hillary Rodham Clinton said January 10 that she favors full benefits for partners in same-sex relationships, but marriages should be between a man and a woman.

''Marriage has got historic, religious and moral content that goes back to the beginning of time and I think a marriage is as a marriage has always been, between a man and a woman,'' Clinton said after a news conference on her U.S. Senate campaign trail.

Gay groups whose endorsement may be sought by Clinton expressed disappointment.

Last month, Clinton angered some gays by saying she would march in New York City's annual St. Patrick's Day Parade, which excludes the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization.

New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who is expected to be Clinton's opponent in the Senate race, had no immediate comment, campaign spokesman Bruce Teitelbaum said

Clinton said Janury 10 that she would have voted for the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996, which denied federal recognition of gay marriage and allowed states to ignore same-sex unions licensed elsewhere.

However, she said there is no need for a similar provision in state law.

''I think that would be divisive, I don't think it's necessary," she said. "I think we ought to provide partnership benefits and make it possible for people to do with their loved ones what anyone in a relationship should be able to do.''

 

HRC ads knock GOP on military gays

Washington, D.C.--The Human Rights Campaign spent $30,000 to air a TV ad in Iowa and New Hampshire that goes after Republicans who would keep gays and lesbians out of the armed forces.

The ads, shown Tuesday January 18, respond to an ad campaign by the Republican National Committee that spotlights a controversy surrounding Al Gore�s position on the issue.

"The Republican presidential candidates are so busy fighting about who can and cannot serve in the military, they may have forgotten the values we actually fight for," says the 30-second ad.

In a debate earlier this month, Gore said he would require candidates for the Joint Chiefs of Staff to agree with his position that gays should be allowed to serve openly. Later, he said that his appointees would simply be required to implement his policy.

But that clarification did not stop the GOP from running $10,000 worth of ads accusing Gore of setting up a litmus test that Gens. Colin Powell and Norman Schwartzkopf couldn�t pass.

 

Drake�s attackers get eight years

Dublin, Ireland�Two men convicted of beating American gay author Robert Drake have been sentenced to eight years in jail.

Judge Anthony Kennedy described the attack by Glen Mahon, 22, and Ian Monaghan, 21, as "truly shocking."

Drake, 37, lives in Philadelphia, but was spending a year in Sligo, Ireland to research a novel. He had invited the men into his flat for a drink the night of January 31, 1999, before he was attacked.

Drake suffered head injuries and was kept alive on a ventilator for months. He now only has slight movements in his hands and arms and his speech as described by a police officer is "crude and garbled." He was too incapacitated to attend the trial.

After a five day trial in October, 1999, a jury found Mahon and Monaghan guilty of violating Ireland�s Non-Fatal Offenses Against Persons Act.

 

McCain backs off from his �gaydar�

Manchester, N.H.--Senator John McCain said January 18 that he can identify gay people by their behavior and attitudes, the Washington Post reported. He said he served in the Navy with many gays, although he hadn�t been told of their sexual orientation.

Asked how he knew they were gay, McCain said: "Well, I think we know by behavior and by attitudes. I think that it�s clear to some of us when some people have that lifestyle."

He later backtracked when pressed, saying, "I said I had suspicions, and I think that--I was told that they were [gay]." the newspaper said.

The next day, campaigning in East Greenwich, N.H., McCain declined to expand when he was asked again about the issue. He said in the future he would answer questions on the topic simply by repeating his support for the current policy for gays in the military.

"I intended to say, �don�t ask, don�t tell.� That�s how I�ll answer it from now on," McCain said after speaking to about 300 people in East Greenwich.

McCain is the only one of the six Republican presidential contenders who has met with the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay group, which raised $40,000 for him in December.

 

Governor backs W.Va. marriage ban

Charleston, W.Va.�Governor Cecil Underwood has proposed that marriage license applications be changed to ensure that people of the same sex cannot marry, his staff said January 12.

Chuck Smith, the co-chairman of the West Virginia Gay and Lesbian Coalition, says the governor�s proposal is unnecessary and that it promotes a negative stereotype of gays and lesbians.

Under current law, "It would be hard to find a county clerk to issue a license to a same-sex couple," Smith said. "There is no reason to do this. It�s another message to the public that gay and lesbian people are suspect at best, or bad at worst."

Smith said that the coalition has worked to defeat similar measures in the past and will lobby against a bill Gov. Cecil Underwood plans to introduce in the legislature this year.

The governor�s bill, which has not yet been introduced, would add to every marriage license application the sentence: "Marriage is designed to be a loving and life-long union between a woman and a man."

There is no reference to whether same-sex partners should get the same insurance and tax benefits as married couples, according Dan Page, a spokesperson for the governor.

"It�s a moral issue for him. He just believes in family values and family traditions," Chief of Staff Jim Teets said. "It�s an issue that needs to be addressed before it becomes a problem.

The legislature has debated bills banning same-sex marriages for three years. Versions have passed both houses, only to die on the last day of the legislative session because lawmakers could not agree on language.

 

Suspects arrested in bar pickup killing

Biloxi, Miss.--Two North Carolina men face capital murder charges in Mobile, Ala. for robbing, kidnapping, and killing a Mississippi man, according to the Mobile Register.

The badly decomposing body of a man who had been strangled and beaten was found outside Grand Bay, Ala. on the morning of January 16. The body has been identified as Jamie Ray Tolbert, 24, who had been missing since New Year�s Eve.

Tolbert was last seen at 2 a.m. on Jan. 1 outside Joey�s, a gay nightclub in Biloxi, said Deputy Chad Tucker of the Mobile County Sheriff�s Department.

Two men from North Carolina, Jeremy Bentley, 22, and Brent Kabat, 19, were arrested by California state troopers on January 15 in connection with Tolbert�s killing. The men are charged with capital murder pending their extradition to Alabama.

Bentley and Kabat allegedly drove across the country in Tolbert�s car buying gas, food and lodging with the dead man�s credit cards, according to Mobile County Sheriff Jack Tillman.

Sheriff�s investigators from Mobile County and George County, Miss., tracked Bentley and Kabat for 11 days and about 3,000 miles, until the California troopers captured the pair in a roadblock.

 

Dade rights repeal is fizzling

Miam--The Christian Coalition is running out of support and time in its attempt to convince the Miami-Dade Commission to put the county�s human rights ordinance to a referendum, said the Miami Herald.

The Opa-locka City Commission, one of the first municipalities to approve a coalition resolution for a countywide vote, unanimously withdrew its support on January 12, stating that they did not understand that the resolution was an attempt to overturn the county�s human rights ordinance.

Also on January 12, the West Kendall community council voted 4-1 against the resolution.

These decisions indicate that the Christian Coalition failed to gather a majority of Miami-Dade municipalities and community councils.

The human rights ordinance provides protection against discrimination on the basis of race, gender, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, pregnancy, marital status, familial status, in employment, housing, public accommodations and financing. In 1998, the ordinance was amended to include sexual orientation.

Last fall the coalition found support in its effort to overturn the ordinance. North Central Dade�s Community Council 8 was the first to pass the resolution on Oct. 13. Hialeah Gardens passed it on Nov. 2; Opa-locka on Nov. 10; Virginia Gardens on Nov. 18; Homestead on Dec. 6; and Sweetwater.

Two municipalities--Miami Springs and El Portal-defeated the coialition�s resolution last month. The Virginia Gardens Council rescinded its support. Florida City tabled a decision indefinitely.

Time is running out to put a referendum on the March 14 ballot.

Dade County was the location of the first-ever referendum to repeal a gay and lesbian civil rights ordinance: singer Anita Bryant�s 1977 "Save the Children" campaign. Her effort succeeded, and the measure was not restored until the 1998 amendment.

 

Judge won�t dismiss pilot�s suit

Atlantic City, N.J.--A Superior Court judge has rejected the state�s request to dismiss a lawsuit by a New Jersey Air National Guard fighter pilot who claims he was harassed by members of his unit.

Maj. Robert Scott accuses fellow pilots of harassing and humiliating him because they believed he was gay. He also was punished for complaining about the alleged harassment, according to his lawsuit filed last March.

Andrew J. Walko, a deputy attorney general defending the National Guard and the state, told Judge George L. Seltzer January 7 that the military should be permitted to handle the matter internally, without court interference. Seltzer denied the state�s motion to dismiss the case.

According to the lawsuit, Scott was called a "faggot" and "homosexual" and subjected to humiliation while he was stationed at the 177th Fighter Wing at the Atlantic City International Airport in Pomona, N.J..

Members of the squadron assumed Scott was gay because he is unmarried, shares an apartment with flight attendants and doesn�t have a girlfriend, the lawsuit said. Scott has denied he is gay.

After Scott complained, he was grounded and forced to take a pay cut, the lawsuit alleges. He has since been reassigned to a nonflying position with the 108th Air Refueling Wing at McGuire Air Force Base, said Christopher P. Lenzo, Scott�s attorney.

Walko disputed Scott�s allegations.

Seltzer must still decide whether the case can go to trial, based on whether Scott was on a "state mission" or a "federal mission" while serving as a National Guard pilot. He would be barred from pursuing a claim in state court if Seltzer determines that the mission was federal.

A ruling is not expected for several months.

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

 

 

 

 

 

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