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Issue dated June 2, 2000

Under Vatican pressure, Rome backs out of World Pride

by Michelle Tomko

Rome--Mayor Francesco Rutelli, under tremendous pressure from the Vatican to not allow World Pride 2000 to happen in Rome this July, officially removed the citys sponsorship of the event May 29.

The reason given was that organizers were not cooperating. The mayor said that this decision does not mean World Pride cant happen.

Human rights groups intend to protest the possible withdrawal of about 350 million lire, or about $180,000, that the city had promised the organizers. Also, planners will not be allowed to use Romes logo in their literature.

The gay and lesbian Pride event, planned since 1996, is a nine-day celebration sponsored by Italian and American LGBT rights organizations, set fior July 1-9. American Deborah Oakley-Melvin, the director of the event, was expecting 200,000 people from all over the world to participate.

The Vatican has been pressuring the Italian government since January to postpone the World Pride event until next year, because it is occurring while many pilgrims are in Rome for the Catholic churchs 2000 jubilee year.

A compromise was reportedly reached May 26 between Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Angelo Sodano and Italian Prime Minister Giuliano Amato to allow World Pride to go ahead as scheduled, but to move it away from certain locations in Rome.

Speaking in parliament the day before, Amato said World Pride was "probably an inopportune festival in the Jubilee year.''

But unfortunately . . . we are bound by the constitution to allow such demonstrations, Amato added. He was criticized for calling the constitution unfortunate.

Now, with the removal of city sponsorship, many expected participants are questioning whether the event will happen.

We tell them, 'Come, we're doing it. We'll march. We expect to receive the funding they promised. If we don't receive it before the event, we will push to do every single thing that was planned. We will march. We will have our human rights conference, we will have a religion and homophobia conference. These rights are guaranteed in the Italian constitution. said Oakley-Melvin.

Scheduled for the festival is an ice cream party, fashion shows, discussion groups and appearances by Gloria Gaynor and the Village People. Organizers maintain that they were very cooperative in the scheduling of events in consideration of the Popes holy year.

Imma Battaglia, president of the Mario Mieli gay cultural group, told Reuters that the World Pride march had already been moved from its traditional June 28 to July 8 so it did not take place a day before the key Catholic feast day of St. Peter and St. Paul on June 29.

On May 27, churchmen from the Vatican viewed a three-hour tape of World Pride 1998 held in San Francisco sent to them by that citys Monsignor William Levada. The tape, sent in an effort to aid the Vaticans campaign against World Pride 2000, showed participants dressed as members of the clergy.

Some of the opposition is concerned that World Pride will turn into a demonstration against Pope John Paul II because he has defended the churchs stance on homosexuality.

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that homosexuality is not a sin but homosexual acts are.

Sodano claims that the rally would go against the 1929 concordat governing Italian state relations with the Vatican.

Thousands of visitors from Poland, the homeland of Pope John Paul II, are expected to be in the holy city during the same week as World Pride.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission has invited His Holiness to speak at their conference during World Pride. Rome conference co-coordinators Daniel Lee Sara Moore and Michael Mills, invited the pope by fax on May 26 to be the keynote speaker of a one-day conference held on July 3.

Part of the fax read, Your presence at this conference would continue the church's efforts in seeking reconciliation with a community that wishes only to peacefully exercise its rights to association, assembly, and expression. It would also mark an important first step in defusing the atmosphere of intolerance and fear which has permeated the city of Rome in recent weeks.

The Vatican has not yet responded.            |

Nun refuses to comply with Vatican order of silence

by Anthony Glassman
With wire reports

Baltimore, Md.The Vatican on May 23 tried to silence a priest and a nun who have ministered to gays and lesbians for decades.

Sister Jeannine Gramick, of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, and Father Robert Nugent, of the Society of the Divine Savior, revealed May 26 that they were were summoned to Rome and ordered to stop talking about the Vaticans decision last July to end their ministry.

Gramick released a statement refusing to obey the Vaticans order.

I choose to obey the voice of God within me, and in this instance, the voice of God is saying that I should not collaborate with my own oppression, she said.

They were ordered last July to cease their involvement with New Ways Ministry, which they founded 22 years ago. New Ways released texts on homosexuality and religion, held retreats, and organized workshops across the nation.

The two complied with the orders from Rome, but were vocal in their protests over the issue. New Ways continues to operate without them.

Nugent released a statement on May 30 affirming that he will comply with the Vaticans orders, and not speak about his work dealing with homosexuality, or about his punishment by Rome.

Gay men make less than heterosexuals, study finds

Little difference seen in income of lesbians and heterosexual women

by Genaro C. Armas
Associated Press

Washington--Men who said they are unmarried partners with another man on the 1990 census are better educated on average, but make less money than heterosexual men of the same age, according to a study that claims to take the most comprehensive look ever into the lives of gays and lesbians in America.

Women who have female unmarried partners also tend to be more educated, but earn salaries comparable to those of heterosexual women in the same age bracket, according to the study in this month's issue of Demography, the journal of the Population Association of America.

An important point that is clearly articulated is that it illustrates the impact of anti-gay discrimination on income levels, said David Smith, spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, a gay and lesbian lobby group.

Advocates applauded what they said was the first comprehensive demographicstudy of gays and lesbians but cautioned against drawing any firm conclusions until more research is done.

Demographically, this is a hard population to target and analyze. Data on sexual orientation is not as easily available as information on race, gender and age, said Seth Sanders, a study author and an economist at the University of Maryland.

The study looked at statistics from the 1990 census, the first count to allow people to check off that they lived with an unmarried partner of the same sex. It also culled data from two other academic studies that studied the gay and lesbian population: the National Health and Social Life Survey and the General Social Survey.

Starting with the 1990 census, respondents living with a person of the same sex had the option of checking off unmarried partner in the section that asks for the relationship between people. Other options included husband/wife, roomer/boarder, housemate/roommate or other nonrelative.

The same options were available on the 2000 census.

The study said that among men aged 25-34 living with a male partner, 29 percent had at least a college degree, and 13 percent a graduate degree, compared with 13 percent and 4 percent for men with female partners.

However, within the same age group, men with a college degree and a female partner had mean earnings of $29,162 a year, compared with $28,618 for same-sex unmarried partnered men with a college degree. For those with graduate degrees, the discrepancy grew to nearly $4,000--$36,072 to $32,465.

Of men aged 35-44 with unmarried partners of the same sex, 32 percent graduated from college, and 24 percent had a graduate degree, compared with 13 percent and 7 percent for males with a female partner.

Within the same age bracket, males with college degrees and same-sex partners had mean earnings of $36,054 per year, compared with $38,629 for those with female partners.

The same discrepancies were not found among lesbians, Sanders said. For instance, women aged 35-44 with college degrees and with a same-sex partner had mean earnings of $28,387, while those with a male partner had mean earnings of $28,734; of those with graduate degrees in the same age range, the figures were $34,427 for women with same-sex partners, and $34,295 for those with male partners.

Sanders shied away from saying it was definitive proof of discrimination against gays. He instead suggested one reason may be that gays tend to enter more fields that offer lower salaries.

The study also found that 22 percent of lesbian couples living together have children, compared to 5 percent of gay male couples living together. Sanders said that may show that gay male couples have less pressure to get higher-paying jobs.

People who have to support children and families tend not to indulge themselves in jobs that are pleasurable but don't generate much income, he said.

This is the tip of the iceberg in terms of finding out who the gay and lesbian community is, said Paula Ettelbrick, family policy director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. What they also point out it is the clear problem of how to define what it is to be gay or lesbian.        |

Drag Races to highlight AVOC benefit Pridefest

by Anthony Glassman

Cincinnati--The annual Drag Races in Cincinnati will be a highlight of the second Pridefest, benefiting AIDS Volunteers of Cincinnati. The Pridefest will be on Sunday, June 4, one week before the citys GLBT Pride parade and festival.

The Drag Races consist of four team members in drag, hence the name, running a relay race down Court Street between Plum and Race. The race starts at 4 pm, in the midst of the second annual Pridefest celebrations in the food court between Plum and Race Streets.

Following the awards ceremony, a tea dance will be held at Flux in the Plum Street Pipeline, and Shooters will have a show with local drag talent. At ten pm, the Dock will hold Miss Gay Pride Cincinnati.

Last years event raised $5,000 for AVOC. This year, the organizers are hoping to match that amount, but it is an uphill struggle. The organizers didnt have a person to secure corporate sponsorship this year; sponsorships last year accounted for much of the money raised.

Theres no really big way to make money, said Todd Wentz, event coordinator for Pridefest 2000. Its more a community awareness event.

Local stores are doing their share. Last year, vendors who paid $100 for their booths included Lunch Box Deli, MCC, Spotlight Clothing, and Mary Kay cosmetics. This year, Spotlight is returning, along with Pink Pyramid, and organizers have signed the national chain Sunglass Hut to have a booth, complete with an Oakley display.

In addition, Washington Platform, the restaurant that hosts the monthly Crossport transgender meetings, will stay open Sunday. Washington Platform is normally closed on Sundays; they are opening this weekend to support the Pridefest.

According to fire department estimates, two thousand people attended last years festivities.

Presbyterian high court okays holy union ceremonies

by Julia Lieblich
Associated Press

Baltimore--The Presbyterian Church's highest court ruled May 24 that local congregations have the right to conduct religious ceremonies celebrating gay unions that stop short of marriage.

The decision by the 16-member court is binding unless the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) overrides it at their meeting in Long Beach, Calif., later this month.

The case, one of three on gay issues argued last week before the tribunal, stemmed from a same-sex ceremony performed in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. The Northeast regional church court ruled that ceremonies of holy union for same-sex couples may be conducted if it is made clear they are not marriages.

The high court agreed, though it instructed regional church bodies to make a clearer distinction between marriages and blessing services.

A second case before the high court involved a gay candidate for the ministry who said he did not intend to remain celibate, even though church rules require clergy to observe either fidelity in marriage or chastity in singleness.

In that case, the Northeast regional court decided that he could continue as a candidate, and that his manner of life could be evaluated prior to ordination.

Again, the high church concurred. It said the denomination's standards of fidelity and chastity are to be applied at the point that a person is considered for ordination, not during candidacy.

Freda Gardner and Clifton Kirkpatrick, the two national leaders of the 2.6 million-member denomination headquartered in Louisville, Ky., said in a May 24 pastoral letter that the court's decisions reaffirm church policy of disallowing gay marriages and the ordination of sexually active gays.

Three regions of the church plan to propose a constitutional ban on holy unions at the meeting of the Presbyterian Church's General Assembly, in Long Beach, Calif from June 24 to July 1.

The church's Book of Order, or constitution, currently prohibits same-sex marriages but says nothing about holy unions.   |


Kings Island Red Shirt Day moved to this Saturday

Cincinnati--The unofficial gay day at Kings Island amusement park has changed days, moving to Saturday, June 3, instead of the traditional first Sunday of June.

The change was made when an eagle-eyed visitor to Kings Islands web site noticed that the park would be closed June 4, the day set for Red Shirt Day, as it is known. reported that the park would be closed because two companies booked the facility for employee functions.

Since it is an unofficial gay day, when gay men and lesbians traditionally show up wearing red shirts, there was no one in a position of authority to reschedule it. However, a number of people in the area have decided to simply move the event up a day, when the park will be open.

Rumors circulated that the closing of the park on the first Sunday of June was a park management attempt to stop the annual event. A call to the park revealed that Fidelity Investments had rented it for the day, for their employees.

A similar, unofficial gay day is held at Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky every Fathers Day, when the crowds are thinner. This year, it is June 18.

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Baptists may end womens ordination

Orlando, Fla.The Southern Baptist Convention has incited storms of protest over a proposed statement calling for an end to ordination of women.

According to Equal Partners in Faith, an interfaith organization dedicated to inclusiveness in organized religion, a statement to be voted on at the annual meeting in mid-June includes the sentence, While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.

The statement is expected to pass the conservative-controlled convention.

It is poor Biblical scholarship to base this decision on a Scripture text in 1 Timothy, which requires women not even to speak in worship assemblies, said Rev. Steven Baines, Equal Partners executive coordinator.

I wonder how many Sunday school classes and worship sevices could actually happen, he added, if leaders actually took the Bible literally.

Rev. Mel White has announced that Soulforce, which he founded, will demonstrate at the Southern Baptist Conventions annual meeting, set for June 13-14 in Los Angeles-suburban Orange County.

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Three named first Shepard scholars

Des Moines, Iowa--Three Iowa high school students have been awarded full scholarships to state universities as the first Matthew Shepard scholarship winners, representing gay and lesbian students from across the state.

The scholarships, worth approximately $25,000 each over four years, were presented Tuesday to Galen W. Newton of Clive, Jessica M. Brackett of Dubuque and Paul N. Whannel of Traer. The scholarships include tuition, books and fees at the University of Iowa, Iowa State University or University of Northern Iowa.

The scholarship program was announced in March by Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack and the mother of Matthew Shepard, the Wyoming college student slain because he was gay. The scholarships are for openly gay or lesbian high school graduates.

I think the scholarship, for me, is kind of a motivator, Brackett said. Now I'm not working for myself. I'm working in the name of Matthew Shepard.

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Gay bar bombers murder trial starts

London--David Copeland will begin his trial at Old Bailey criminal court on June 5 for the bombing murder of three people a London gay bar. Sixty others were also injured.

Copeland is charged with the murder of Andrea Dykes, John Light and Nicholas Moore on April 30, 1999.

He is also charged with three counts of causing an explosion likely to endanger life or cause serious injury to property in two other bombings in central London locations. All three occurred during the same two week period.

Copeland pleaded guilty to the bombings in February and not guilty to the murders. He entered a plea of guilty to manslaughter on grounds of diminished responsibilty.

The first blast was on April 17 in Electric Avenue, a busy shopping center in the primarily black London suburb of Brixton, and the second happened on April 24 in the east London Bangladeshi community of Brick Lane.

All three explosions involved homemade nail bombs the size of shoeboxes.

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Israel recognizes dual motherhood

Jerusalem--In a landmark decision, Israel's Supreme Court on May 29 recognized the right of a lesbian spouse to be registered as the second parent of her partner's biological son.

An ultra-Orthodox lawmaker accused the judges of imposing the norms of the biblical city of Sodom.

The court ordered the Interior Ministry to register American-born Nicole Berner-Kadish as the mother of four-year-old Matan Berner-Kadish, biological son of Ruti Berner-Kadish.

Nicole Berner-Kadish hailed the Supreme Court ruling and said there are dozens of lesbian and homosexual couples in Israel in the same situation. Matan is the only one with the security of having two parents by law, she said.

Lawyers for the state told Israel's Supreme Court that a child cannot have two mothers. However, the court ruled 2-1 in favor of the couple.

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Colorado is 33rd with marriage ban

Denver--Gov. Bill Owens has signed a bill banning gay marriages, making Colorado the 33rd state in the nation to prohibit same-sex unions.

Republican lawmakers have been leading a fight since 1996 to pass such a ban. Owens' predecessor, Democrat Roy Romer, twice vetoed the proposal.

 During an election year, it's easy to scapegoat us and get votes, said Lori Girvan, director of the gay civil rights organization Equality Colorado. There is a lot of misinformation and we're an easy group to target for political gain.

The new law also means gay marriages in other states will not be recognized in Colorado.

While Canada and a number of European countries recognize same-sex couples in some way, Vermont is the only U.S. state to do so. Although gays can't legally marry, the state will recognize same-sex civil unions beginning July 1.

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Civil union opponent forms PAC

Montpelier, Vt.--One of the fiercest opponents of civil unions says she's forming a political action committee to recruit candidates who will run against supporters of the law.

Rep. Nancy Sheltra, R-Derby, said she was in the process of forming a group she dubbed STARS, Standing Together and Reclaiming the State.

Sheltra was controversial throughout the legislative session for the stridency with which she delivered her message against civil unions, and for involving national abortion opponent Randall Terry.

Terry became a lightning rod because of his tactics. He is not directly involved in the new committee, but his son Jamiel is. Jamiel Terry, 20, worked with his father during the debate over civil unions. He will be on Sheltra's board.

Also on Sheltra's board will be state Rep. Neil Randall, who affiliates with the Libertarian Party, and Sheltra's sons Andrew, 25, and Matt, 17.

Both Sheltra and Terry said they expected to draw salaries from the committee.

To be accepted in Sheltra's group, candidates will have to agree to four criteria, she said:

They must agree to repeal civil unions; they must agree to impeach [Vermont Supreme Court] justices; they must be pro-life, and they must support constitutional amendments to undo the new civil unions law.

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Log Cabin shut out of Texas confab

Austin, Texas--The Log Cabin Republicans of Texas lashed out May 25 at the state Republican party for not reaching out to gay and lesbian voters, and pledged to set up an exhibit booth outside the party's upcoming state convention.

Our group's message is simple--one can be a Republican and oppose discrimination, said Steve Labinski, president of the gay and lesbian organization.

The group contends the Republican Party of Texas has refused to respond to its request to operate an information booth at the state political convention June 15-17 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston.

A formal request for booth space was submitted in April, Labinski said.

State party officials deny the group requested a convention booth.

The Log Cabin Republicans, whose membership totals approximately 1,000 statewide and 10,000 nationally, has not asked Republican Gov. George W. Bush to intervene in the dispute with the state party, Labinski said.

In April, just two days before Bush met with national gay Republican political leaders, state GOP chair Susan Weddington announced the Log Cabin Republicans would be denied exhibit space if the group requested it at this year's convention. The state Republican party now has a policy of refusing booth space to anyone who has sued the party, Weddington said.

The Log Cabin Republicans asked for booth space at the 1996 state convention in San Antonio but were turned down. The organization sued the state party, but the Texas Supreme Court ultimately sided with the GOP.

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Mattachine co-founder dies

Los Angeles--William Dale Jennings, a pioneering gay activist who co-founded the first major gay rights organization in the United States, has died. He was 82.

Jennings, who died of respiratory failure May 11, wrote The Cowboys, a novel later made into a movie starring John Wayne.

Jennings helped found the Mattachine Society with Harry Hay in 1950. Two years later, he was acquitted by a jury of indecent behavior in what was seen as a rebuke of police tactics that entrapped gay men in Los Angeles Griffith Park.

The attitude of police and courts was that if you were gay and in the park you were engaging in indecent behavior, said Todd White, a friend of Jennings. William elected for a trial by jury and basically said, Yes, I'm gay. Yes, I was in the park. And no, I was not behaving indecently. And the jury acquitted him.

Although the Mattachine Society dissolved in 1961, it helped create the foundation for other gay civil rights organizations.

Jennings also co-founded One magazine, the nation's first gay male publication. The postmaster began confiscating the magazine in 1954, contending it was obscene. It led to a landmark lawsuit that culminated in a 1958 Supreme Court ruling that a publication dedicated to gay equality was not obscene.

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Marriage ban petitions circulated

Lincoln, Neb.--Same-sex marriages would be banned in Nebraska under a petition to be circulated in the coming weeks.

If the needed 104,000 signatures are gathered, the issue will be before voters as a constitutional amendment on Nov. 7.

With under seven weeks before the deadline to have the matter placed on the ballot, getting the needed signatures could be difficult.

The petition to be circulated in Nebraska would make clear that only marriages between a man and woman, no matter where they occur, are recognized in the state.

Same-sex civil unions, domestic partnerships, or similar same-sex relationships would not be valid or recognized in Nebraska.

Anti-gay groups in Virginia, Florida and other states are now using similar measures to challenge domestic partner benefits. |

Compiled from wire reports by Brian DeWitt, Anthony Glassman and Michelle Tomko.



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