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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
June 30 , 2000

 

Rain doesn’t dampen
enthusiasm at Cleveland Pride

by Eric Resnick

Cleveland--Intermittent cloudbursts and high winds did not dampen the enthusiasm of participants in Cleveland’s 12th annual Pride celebration held June 24.

The parade was kicked off with a rally emceed by openly gay WKYC Channel 3 news personality Marshall McPeek.

Speaking from the steps of the Cleveland State University law school, McPeek quipped about the weather to a cheering crowd.

"Don’t think of this as raining on your parade," he said. "Think of it as an opportunity for a big wet T-shirt contest."

McPeek also announced that Pride at Work, the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender group within the AFL-CIO labor union would be participating in the city’s annual Labor Day parade for the first time in September.

Cleveland City Council member Joe Cimperman reminded the participants to be sure to vote "to continue to put political pressure on people like me."

Author and lesbian daughter of Sonny and Cher, Chastity Bono addressed the crowd, which also heard presentations from the youth organizations PRYSM and the Spectrum group from North Olmsted High School, which has pressured its school board to add sexual orientation to its non-discrimination policies.

Julian Potter, who serves as the White House liason to the GLBT community gave the keynote address at the pre-march rally.

"Why Cleveland?" asked Potter. "My job is to bring back information to the administration and to the cabinet so they can be responsive to the needs of the community. And to do that I need to understand communities everywhere."

"I’m not just interested in those in the community that put on black tie dinners," she added.

The parade stepped off onto Euclid Avenue at 2 pm, led by six grand marshals who rode in a silver rocket ship, one of three that once graced a ride at the now-closed Euclid Beach amusement park. They were followed by 1,020 people, representing nearly 60 organizations.

Marchers encountered friendly waves and calls of support from bus riders, tourists aboard Lolly the Trolley, and spectators taking cover from the rain under the marquees of Cleveland’s theater district.

Two women stopped to engage in a passionate kiss in front of St. John’s Cathedral as a statement to the Catholic church.

Pride Coordinator Brynna Fish noted the number of marchers had decreased from previous years, "but the number of units [floats]" she said, "has remained stable."

Stonewall Akron president Paul Schwitzgebel put it in perspective, saying, "I can remember when the whole parade wasn’t as long as three quarters of it that is now in front of me."

The festival at Voinovich Park on Lake Erie was opened with the North Coast Mens Chorus singing "The Star Spangled Banner" and giving a mini-concert.

The ensemble gave a full concert later that evening.

Chevrei Tikva, a GLBT synagogue, hosted the interfaith pride service the night before. The official dance party was held following the service at the Grid nightclub. The Cleveland Front Runners hosted the second annual 5K run and walk for Pride the morning of the parade.

Attendance at the festival is estimated by organizers between 7,500 and 8,000, which is the same as the 1999 festival. Pride spokesperson Brooke Willis said that the committee chose to allocate its publicity resources differently this year than in the past.

"We wanted to reach a more diverse population," he said, "so we advertised in the Plain Dealer and in Cleveland Life magazine, hoping to reach more African- Americans and Hispanics."

Willis said that they did less advertising in the gay media and did not go to the bars to hand out leaflets as they had done in the past.

Fish said she was pleased that Cleveland Pride was able to secure more corporate sponsors and national celebrities than ever before.

Everyone found something to do at the festival booths. There were vendors, food stands, organizations handing out literature and asking for signatures on petitions, and there was entertainment.

Headlining entertainment was provided by Dayton native CeCe Peniston and Kathy Sledge of Sister Sledge. Sledge announced that Sister Sledge had just been nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame—adjacent to the festival site--and she hoped to tour it for the first time while she was in Cleveland.

Sledge said she did three gay pride events this year, and she was honored that the song "We Are Family" has become a gay community standard.

"That song is really about us as a family," she said. "We had no idea it would be celebrated from every gay pride event to the Girl Scouts."

Columbus native Suzanne Westenhoefer kept the rain-soaked crowd laughing, and the all-women band Cathy 13 also performed.

The Brother2Brother program of the AIDS Taskforce featured three prominent African-American authors who read on stage and signed books at the booth. Ricc Rollins read from his new novel Breathe Again which is a sequel to his highly acclaimed Like Breathing which celebrates gay African- American men coming out.

Sharon Bridgeforth presented her book bull-jean stories, which won the 1999 Lambda literary award.

Bridgeforth said the inspiration for the book came from her grandmother, who used the old Southern term bulldaggers to describe lesbians. The main character, Jean, learns to love herself as a lesbian in the African-American south.

Cleveland author Michangelo Scruggs talked about his recently published novel dealing with black male rape called The Men’s Room

 

 

 

 

Hot, sunny day lifts spirits at Columbus Pride

by Anthony Glassman

Columbus—Tropical heat and blazing sun set the backdrop for the 19th annual Columbus Pride parade and festival. Despite competition for numbers from Cleveland’s Pride celebration the same day, it is being considered a huge success.

The parade, which kicked off at 1 pm and covered nearly two miles, had 2,510 marchers and float-riders proceeding down High Street in the name of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pride and civil rights.

 

The parade ended at Bicentennial Park downtown, where a festival was organized that, according to organizers Stonewall Columbus, drew 25,000 people over the course of the afternoon.

 

"It was huge this year, the length of it, the number of people at the festival," said Jeff Redfield, executive director of Stonewall Columbus.

"Overall, it seemed to be a really successful event."

 

Not everything went smoothly, however. As in past years, there were protests by placard-waving fundamentalists, and a pair of planes flying overhead towing banners with the messages "Repent or Perish," and the grammatically incorrect "AIDS—God’s Curse on Homo’s."

The protesters, however, didn’t dampen the spirit of the crowds, or the marchers themselves, who applauded the small clutch of sign-bearers, almost completely drowning out the bullhorns being used to harangue the members of the parade.

The Columbus AIDS Task Force provided free, confidential HIV testing at the festival, and Club Columbus, among other vendors, had games and sales to raise money for the CATF. Other tables dispersed information about the inclusive policies of businesses like Chase and BankOne.

Food was available, and drinks, and there were, of course, many vendors selling rainbow-bedecked tchotchkes and clothing, shirts with pithy sayings, and hats with familiar, yet amusing logos, like a baseball cap bearing the Honda "H" logo with the word homo underneath.

The throngs of people wandering the park, chatting and laughing, appeared to be having the time of their lives. And they were there in great numbers.

"We went from half-filling one dumpster last year, to having the dumpster overflowing," said Redfield. "We need to get two dumpsters next year."

"We never had a problem with the port-a-potties before," he added. "We had lines waiting for them."


Supreme Court okays Boy Scout gay ban

by Eric Resnick

Washington, D.C.--The U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 28 that the Boy Scouts may prohibit gays from becoming Scouts or adult volunteers.

The 5-4 ruling reversed a New Jersey Supreme Court ruling that the Scouts wrongly ousted assistant scoutmaster James Dale when they discovered he is gay. The state court had said the scouts’ action violated a New Jersey law banning discrimination in public accommodation.

Dale, who was an Eagle Scout, had sued the Scouts under the New Jersey law. But the Supreme Court said that law must yield to the Scout organization’s right of "expressive association" under the Constitution’s First Amendment.

The Scouts had argued that opposition to homosexuality was a core value of their organization.

The decision marked the end of a legal battle begun in 1988. High courts in California, Connecticut, Oregon, and Kansas have ruled that the Scouts are a private club, and thus can bar gays or atheists.

"The Boy Scouts have won a very hollow victory today," said Ruth Harlow, of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund. "It is sad that they have marginalized their organization and worked so hard to prove that they are anti-gay. But now that they have gotten the court to believe them, they will have to live with it."

"It is sad that the majority of the court rushed to rubber stamp what the Boy Scouts wanted," added Harlow.

Harlow and Lambda senior staff attorney Evan Wolfson, who argued the case before the court, called the majority opinion, which was written by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, "superficial."

Both also said that the court’s anti-gay vision in this case is not likely to prevail in the end.

"The court majority is taking at face value what the Boy Scout lawyers said about their purpose," said Harlow, "which is extraordinary in a First Amendment case, but was done to reach a certain result."

"While we want the First Amendment to be weighed appropriately in civil rights cases, unfortunately, I think the weight here was different because it was a gay person trying to get into the Boy Scouts," added Harlow.

"So I’m not worried that this analysis will take over in First Amendment law," said Harlow, "What I’m worried about is how quickly the court gave a very superficial, non-probing examination of this particular institution when a gay person was trying to enforce a civil rights law."

After the court heard oral arguments in the case this spring, Wolfson said he felt Rehnquist and Justice Antonin Scalia were "intent on finding reasons to side with the Boy Scouts."

Rehnquist’s majority opinion was joined by Justices Scalia, Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony M. Kennedy and Clarence Thomas.

Dissenting were Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer.

Stevens, writing for the minority, sharply criticized the majority for not giving the case a thorough examination.

Stevens also said the New Jersey law "does not impose any serious burdens" on the Boy Scouts’ goals, "nor does it force [the Boy Scouts] to communicate any message that it does not wish to endorse. New Jersey’s law, therefore, abridges no constitutional right of the Boy Scouts."

Steven’s dissent is 40 pages compared to Rehnquist’s 21 pages. Additionally, Souter, Breyer, and Ginsberg issued a second dissenting opinion going even farther in criticism of their colleagues.

Wolfson and Harlow are convinced that because of the superficiality of this case, the court will eventually decide other cases using the dissenting opinions rather than Rehnquist’s.

"I’m convinced," said Wolfson, "that the court will not stick with this approach very long."

Wolfson pointed out that Rehnquist tried to distance the court from this decision by keeping it so narrow and by saying in the decision that he does not endorse the Boy Scout’s anti-gay policy.

Wolfson also noted that the court "paid no attention to what was presented in New Jersey" except to hint that they think New Jersey went too far in looking at the Boy Scouts practices as they relate to civil rights. "That is of concern," said Wolfson.

Wolfson said the positive part of this case is in the public awareness of the needs of gay youth it has triggered.

"The Girl Scouts do not discriminate. 4H Clubs signed an amicus brief on our behalf. These organizations know that the public will not support organizations that teach hate and exclusion," said Wolfson. "Today the Boy Scouts proved that they could convince the court that was what they are about and it will haunt them. They are out of step with the rest of America."

Local organizations that charter Boy Scout units will now need to decide whether or not the express anti-gay message of the Boy Scouts is one they want to be associated with.


Brain study shows physical basis for TGs ‘right’ sex

by Bob Roehr

Many transsexuals say that they feel as if they are trapped in the body of the wrong sex. Now there is biological evidence in the brain that lends credence to those feelings.

Frank P.M. Kruijver, M.D., and colleagues working at the Netherlands Institute for Brain Research, knew from animal and human studies that the differences between male and female are more than just genital plumbing. Hormones are one factor, and so too is the brain, possibly in part as a result of those hormones.

Their research, published in the May issue of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, looks at the limbic portion of the brain, the center of emotion and basic body function. It is the most primitive core that is common to all animals, while humans have evolved layers of brain beyond that, which allow for rational thought.

The Dutch sample included nine presumed heterosexual males, nine homosexual males, ten presumed heterosexual females, six male-to-female transsexuals, and six brains (three male, three female) of patients with sex hormone disorders. They ranged in age from 20 to 53 and died of multiple causes, from AIDS to suicide.

Kruijver’s team took super-thin slices of human brains obtained at autopsy and performed a complex but standard series of preparations. Then they began counting neurons, the basic cellular component of the brain. They looked in particular at the somatostatin-expressing neurons, which are associated with growth hormone.

They found that heterosexual men had 71 percent more of these neurons than did heterosexual women. Homosexual men were clearly in the male range, in fact they averaged a fraction more neurons than their straight counterparts, though with the small size of the sample the difference did not reach statistical significance.

Male-to-female transsexuals mirrored heterosexual women in their neuronal patterns. It did not matter whether the person realized their transsexual identity early or later in life.

Nor did use or non-use of the feminizing hormone estrogen as an adult seem to have any impact upon brain structure. That was confirmed by examination of a straight male with an adrenal tumor that produced extremely high levels of estrogen but no change in brain neuron count. Post-menopausal women did not differ from their younger peers.

One hypothesis was that perhaps lack of testosterone in the transsexual person was responsible for the neuron count. But the pattern did not differ between those who had sexual reassignment surgery and those who retained testes. Nor did heterosexuals who lost their testicles to cancer show a change in their brain.

Kruijver also studied "the first collected brain ever of a female-to-male transsexual." The neuron pattern "was clearly in the male range." In fact, it was higher than all of the presumed heterosexual males and all but one of the homosexual males. The person had stopped taking testosterone three years before death.

This research adds to the body of evidence strongly suggesting that transsexualism has a biological origin that is prior to adulthood. It may be in part genetic, or a result of factors in the womb, or during early childhood development.


 

83 protesters arrested at Presbyterian convention

by Eric Resnick

Long Beach, Calif.--Police arrested 83 protesters outside the Long Beach Convention Center where the annual Assembly of the Presbyterian Church was beginning on Sunday, June 25.

The protesters were members of Soulforce, which works for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender acceptance in religious groups.

Protesters wore T-shirts reading, "This debate must end! Include us. Ordain us. Let us serve."

The demonstrators held a prayer rally before joining hands and blocking the entrance to the convention center in groups of ten, just before 10:30 am.

Souforce founder Rev. Mel White led the demonstrators in the chant, "How much do we love Presbyterians? Enough to go to jail!"

White added, "We’re here to say we are created by God. We don’t know why we were created this way, but we were, and we’re here to stay. The church is the source of all the hate. We say no more. We love you too much."

The demonstrators were given minor misdemeanor citations and released.

Presbyterian leaders decided to postpone any decision on allowing its officials to participate in same-sex marriages or ordination of GLBT pastors, keeping the current official ban on both in effect.

Some Presbyterians say the issue of GLBT participation is dividing the church.

"Many don’t even want to discuss it. Rev. David Cockroft, a retired minister from New York, told the Long Beach Press Telegram. "They want the more liberal members of the church to go away, but it is not going to happen."

The Presbyterian convention is the third denominational conference Soulforce has protested this year. At the United Methodist Church’s May 10 conference in Cleveland, 191 Soulforce demonstrators were arrested. On June 14, 28 were arrested protesting the Southern Baptist Convention in Orlando.

Soulforce promises to continue to protest at conferences and individual churches with anti-gay policies.

The next Soulforce action will be held in Denver July 4 as the Episcopalian church takes up the issue of same-sex unions.

 


HIV+ man spitting on cop is still ‘deadly weapon assault’

by Denny Sampson

Columbus—One more Ohio court has refused to acknowledge that HIV cannot be transmitted through saliva. Jimmy Lee Bird, convicted in 1994 of felonious assault with a deadly weapon for spitting on a police officer, lost another appeal.

On June 1 the Tenth District Court of Appeals of Ohio dismissed a motion to reverse Bird’s conviction. His last recourse in the state of Ohio is to once again appeal to the state supreme court. If the high court decides to hear the case, it will take three to four months for the court to make a ruling, according to Bird.

In spite of the setbacks, Bird remains willing to go to any lengths to clear his name.

Arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest in 1993, Bird spit in the face of one of the arresting officers. Because Bird was HIV positive, prosecutors added a charge against him of assault with a deadly weapon.

"I was intoxicated," said Bird. "I told the police I had AIDS and I was bleeding, so they took me to the hospital. One of the officers was calling me a ‘faggot’ and said, ‘You’re one of those faggots responsible for people dying.’ I told him, ‘I think you are a really hot man,’ and he maced me. I spit to get the mace out of my mouth, and the spit hit him."

Following the advice of his attorney, Bird pleaded no contest to a charge of felonious assault in 1994.

"My attorney said he made a plea bargain with the judge. I was supposed to get probation if I pled ‘no contest,’" said Bird.

Bird was convicted of felonious assault with a deadly weapon.

Instead of probation, Bird was sentenced to 3-15 years in prison. He spent five years in Mansfield State Prison before he was released on parole Feb. 1, 2000.

In his first appeal, Bird’s lawyer argued that the case should have never gone to trial.

"Spit is not capable of causing physical harm," said David Strait, a Franklin County public defender. "It may be rude and offensive, but it is not felonious." Strait also argued that saliva did not meet the definition of a weapon.

Thomas Lindsey, a lawyer for the state, contended that Bird should be prevented from appealing the court’s ruling simply because he pleaded no contest to the charges. Whether or not saliva can transmit HIV was irrelevant because the question of appeal dealt with a point of procedure, Lindsey said.

The appellate court agreed with Lindsey, and rejected Bird’s motion.

Bird took his case to the Ohio Supreme Court in 1998. Heather Sawyer, an attorney from Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, assisted in Bird’s defense. She argued that the court should not endorse jail time for an act that was harmless, and emphasized that medical evidence has shown that HIV cannot be transmitted through spit, urine, tears, or sweat.

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

However, in May, 1998, Ohio’s high court upheld Bird’s conviction.

The ruling avoided questions about whether saliva can be considered a deadly weapon, or if HIV can be transmitted through it.

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

However, Bird is still determined to have his conviction overturned.

"I want vindication. Ever since I found out I was HIV positive, I have been very moral and careful with anyone I was sexually involved with. I would never try to infect anyone with HIV. But the media painted a different picture of me, nationwide. I can’t get a job. I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t do everything possible to clear my name."

"Jimmy can still challenge his conviction in two ways," Sawyer said. "The first is through post-conviction appeal through the channels provided by state law."

Bird’s last chance in the state of Ohio is his current appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court

"Second, once Jimmy has exhausted all of the options available to him from the state, he can file a habeas corpus suit with a federal court" said Sawyer. "This gives Jimmy a chance to challenge his conviction through federal channels. He needs to have U.S. constitutional grounds with a habeas corpus, and Jimmy does. His rights to due process were violated and he had ineffective assistance from council."

However, one of the requirements for a habeas corpus action is that Bird must be in some kind of custody--either in prison or on parole.

Bird’s period of probation is scheduled to end January 31, 2001. If the Ohio Supreme Court fails to act on Bird’s appeal until after his parole ends, Bird will be unable to pursue the habeas corpus complaint.

"I think Jimmy is just getting understandably nervous and frustrated with the process," said Sawyer. "I am not directly involved in the case now, but I am not so sure there are not other avenues he could take within federal law to clear his name."

"I never meant to hurt that police officer. They [the prosecuting attorneys] had him believing he had actually been exposed to AIDS and had taken it home to his wife and kids. I don’t blame him. I blame the prosecutors."


Federal SBA partners with local lesbian-gay centers

by Anthony Glassman

The Small Business Administration earlier this month announced a partnership with gay and lesbian community centers across the nation to make it easier for queer-owned businesses to gain access to SBA-sponsored assistance programs.

The partnership agreement was signed June 2 by SBA Administrator Aida Alvarez, with the participation of the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Community Centers, which represents 106 centers in 36 states, including Ohio. The agreement will help both the SBA and the centers to disseminate information about small business assistance programs and services.

"The Small Business Administration is absolutely committed to the idea that every citizen deserves an opportunity for full participation in the American dream," Alvarez said in a statement. "This agreement will help us get this message out to the gay and lesbian community that the tools SBA offers are available to anyone with the creativity and determination to use them to build a business."

The agreement will last for two years, and will provide for local "Meet the Lender" forums, orientation sessions on SBA assistance, and workshops on loan and government contract procurement programs.

Linda Malicki, executive director of the Cleveland Gay and Lesbian Center, attended a meeting with the SBA in Chicago June 21.

"What this means is, I can host an event at the center, and disseminate information to anyone who is going to be or already is a small business owner" on behalf of the SBA, she said.

The partnership would make it easier for LGBT businesses to access the resources of the Small Business Administration, primarily by making the information available in what would be regarded as "safe space," instead of making entrepreneurs go to predominantly heterosexual offices, where their sexual orientation or gender identity might be used against them, to try to dissuade them from applying for grants and other government programs.


News Briefs

Vermont civil unions will begin this weekend

Montpelier, Vt.--A Superior Court judge, in a case over a bet among 14 lawmakers, refused June 26 to block the first civil union licenses from being issued this weekend.

Barring any last-minute court appeals, there appear to be no other barriers to gay and lesbian couples obtaining Vermont civil union licenses, and then getting those unions certified.

"As a practical matter, the law is going to go into effect on Saturday," said Vermont chief assistant attorney general William Griffin.

Several couples have arranged with town clerks to have their civil union licenses issued on the first day, July 1, even though clerks’ offices are normally closed on weekends.

In April, Gov. Howard Dean signed the first-in-the-nation law granting gay couples nearly all of the state benefits of marriage.

The legislature chose to stop short of calling the unions "marriage," though, which advocates said was a compromise that denies them not only the chance to qualify for the federal tax and immigration benefits of marriage, but also the social symbol of marriage.

Other states will probably not recognize Vermont civil unions.

Fifteen people, including 11 members of the Vermont House who opposed civil unions, sued in early June seeking to overturn the new law.

The group argued that an informal betting pool among 14 House members who supported the bill should invalidate it.

The 14 lawmakers each bet a dollar on the number of "yes" votes the bill would receive in a preliminary vote in March. It passed by seven votes. The $14 pot was given to a charity.

Presiding Judge Stephen Martin said those seeking to overturn the law had not made a case that allowing the law to go into effect on schedule would cause them damages.

Opponents argued the pool should have disqualified those who participated because it gave them an interest in the outcome of the vote.

Martin did not rule on that claim, leaving it to be settled at trial.

 

Bias banned in federal education

Washington, D.C.—President Clinton issued an executive order on June 23 banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in federally-conducted education and training programs.

The order does not affect public schools and universities that receive federal funds but are run locally, or by individual states.

It would, it appears, cover schools run by the Defense Department, and extracurricular activities at these schools, however. It would also protect federal employees and their families from discrimination in federal training events.

The order also directs each department and agency to compile reports on the number and disposition of complaints about discrimination, which would enable better tracking of discrimination within the government.

It is not yet known how this will affect schools like the Naval Academy at Annapolis, which are federal institutions, or what bearing it will have on the "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy that currently covers the military academies.

 

Agency will pay to keep out gays

Louisville—The Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children, who hold the largest state contract for the care of abused and neglected children, says it would rather pay the state than comply with an anti-discrimination policy.

The organization, which was sued for firing a lesbian social worker, has decided, by unanimous vote of its executive committee, to accept restrictions on its state contract. The agency garners over half of its revenue from the state.

Baptist Homes’ policy of not employing lesbians or gay men came under fire earlier this year when Alicia Pedreira filed suit for wrongful dismissal, charging that since Baptist Homes was a state contractor, they had to abide by state civil rights laws against religious discrimination. She also named the Kentucky Cabinet for Families and Children, a state agency, as a co-defendant.

According to the new contract, Baptist Homes will pay the state’s legal costs in any case stemming from their anti-gay policy, and the state can stop sending children to the organization at any time, a move that will effectively cripple the group, forcing them to lay off employees and return to being a smaller organization.

Viola Miller, secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Families and Children, said that the state will more than likely stop sending children to Baptist Homes.

Three quarters of the children in the organization’s homes have been referred to them by the state.

 

Coca-Cola extends partner benefits

Atlanta--Coca-Cola, the world’s largest and most recognized soft drink company, announced June 22 that they would extend health care benefits to partners of its U.S. employees.

"This is excellent news, and yet another sign that domestic partner benefits are becoming a standard component of benefits packages at forward-thinking companies," said Kim I. Mills, the Human Rights Campaign’s education director.

According to the HRC, 99 Fortune 500 companies now offer same-sex domestic partnership benefits.

Coca-Cola is currently researching the viability of granting the benefits worldwide.

 

Man gets 6 months for killing ‘gay’ dog

Ocala, Fla.--A man convicted of beating a dog because he thought it was gay was sentenced to six months in jail and 100 hours of community service and ordered to pay a $500 fine and take an anger management course.

George Stephens Finley struck General Lee, his former wife’s poodle-Yorkshire terrier mix, with a plastic vacuum cleaner wand hard enough to fracture the dog’s skull, then threw the animal against a tree trunk last July.

Two hours after the beating, the comatose dog was taken to a veterinarian and euthanized.

Finley, 58, was convicted of felony animal cruelty two weeks ago and sentenced June 22.

During the trial, prosecutor Sarah Ritterhoff Williams said Finley was enraged because General Lee, a neutered male, repeatedly attempted to engage in sexual activity with a younger male Jack Russell terrier named Bandit.

Ocala veterinarian Pauline Knowles, who euthanized General Lee, testified that such behavior is a common way for one dog to assert dominance over another and isn’t necessarily a sexual act.

Finley’s attorney didn’t deny that Finley struck the dog but said he did so accidentally.

 

$10 million awarded in job bias case

New York City--A Manhattan jury awarded $10.16 million on June 22 to a nightclub manager who charged that he was emotionally and physically abused by the club’s employees for months because he is gay.

The jury found that managers of the Supper Club on West 47th Street subjected Steven Minichiello to a hostile or abusive work environment and then fired him because he is gay.

Minichiello sobbed uncontrollably and embraced his lawyer, Alan Rich, when the jury announced its award.

"I feel blessed that the jury saw that people shouldn’t be treated like this," Minichiello said. "It’s wrong."

Now a manager at the Copacabana nightclub, Minichiello had been manager since early 1992 of the Blue Room, a cabaret-type space within the Supper Club. He says his troubles began in 1994 when a new general manager arrived.

"I sure hope you’re not working for me," Andre Cortez, Minichiello’s new boss, said to him shortly after meeting him, Rich told the jury in closing arguments.

Cortez fired Minichiello on July 29, 1995, after several months of anti-gay slurs, assaults in which he was forced to his knees and his hair pulled, and threats to cut off his blond ponytail.

Minichiello said he was told that cutting off the ponytail would make him "look more like a man."

The jury deliberated about three hours before awarding Minichiello $8 million for past pain and suffering, and $2 million for future distress. The jury also gave him $160,000 for four years of lost wages from 1995 to 1999.

 

What is ‘gaydar’? Look it up

New York City—A popular term for the ability of gays and lesbians to recognize other gays and lesbians is now an official part of the English language.

Gaydar is one of the words added to the 1999 edition of the Random House Webster's New College Dictionary, due out next month.

It is among hundreds of words appearing for the first time among 207,000 definitions in the dictionary, along with dot-com (an Internet business), 24-7 (24 hours a day, seven days a week), sky surfing (aerial skateboarding) eye candy (attractive person of limited merit), and slamming (changing long-distance service without customer’s permission).

Each decade brings its own new terms, says Random House. The last one gave us anatomically correct, bad hair day, carjacking, soccer mom and World Wide Web. In the 1980s, it was AIDS, caller ID, dis, trophy wife, wannabe, and Internet.

The war-era 1940s produced radar, an acronym for "radio detection and ranging," which later begat gaydar.

 

‘Phantom’ event nets Taskforce $2,300

Cleveland—A musical revue performed by the touring cast of The Phantom of the Opera garnered $2,300 for the AIDS Taskforce of Cleveland.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS also participated in the May 22 show, at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea.

"This is the first time that I have helped to organize a benefit like this one," said Rebecca Pitcher, a Baldwin-Wallace alumna who is a cast member in the Phantom tour. "It was great to see so many people from the southwest [Cleveland suburbs] that supported this event."

Her parents helped with a great deal of the logistical planning for the event, which drew almost 300 people.

"We were happy to have the opportunity to support the efforts of the Phantom company to fight the AIDS epidemic both locally and nationally," said Rebecca’s father, Jim Pitcher.

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS also raised $8,000 in donations and merchandise sales at Phantom performances during the show’s Cleveland run in May.

Compiled from wire reports by Brian DeWitt and Anthony Glassman.

 

 

 

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