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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
November 10 , 2000

 

Changes in Congress
seen as positive

by Eric Resnick

In a dramatic cliffhanger over the race for the White House in which the state of Florida holds the result, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans who heavily favor Al Gore are anxious, nervous and looking for reasons to be positive if their candidate does not win.

At press time, it is impossible to determine who the next president of the United States will be.

"The only word I can use to describe this is agonizing," said Human Rights Campaign communications director David Smith. "And the agony continues."

"The whole country is on the edge of an experience we havenít had before," added Dan McGlinchey, political director of the National Stonewall Democrats.

Smith, McGlinchey, and Columbus Log Cabin Republicans spokesperson Mark Krausz seem pleased with the initial CNN exit polls showing that four percent of voters identified themselves as lesbian or gay. Of those voters, 75 percent voted for Gore, 21 percent for George W. Bush, and 4 percent for Ralph Nader.

 

New senators favor ENDA

Results of the congressional races are clearer, and generally seen as more positive for LGBT people. Gay-affirming Democrats picked up two seats in the House and at least three seats in the Senate.

"The Senate has elected a clear Employment Non-Discrimination Act supporting majority," said Smith, poining to Democrat gains in Michigan, Missouri, and Florida.

"The House has narrowed by a thin margin," said Smith, "but we believe it is also one that will pass ENDA."

"If George W. Bush is elected," said Smith, "his compassionate conservatism will surely be tested. GLBT issues are poised to challenge compassionate conservatism."

Krausz added, "One thing this election demonstrates is the need to develop bipartisan relationships in Congress," referring to the near-even split in both houses. "We canít afford to cannibalize each other."

Despite the Columbus Log Cabin Club endorsement of Bush, Krausz did not deny concerns with some of his positions on matters relating to the GLBT community. Comparing him to Gore, Krausz said, "Bush is probably going to take more work. The key is educating him, and the closeness of this election strengthens our hand on this."

If Bush is elected, Democrats intend to test Log Cabin claims of access to him.

"Lets hope the Log Cabin Republicans have the influence they say they do," said Columbus Stonewall Democrats president Brian Shinn. "If not, we are not going to move forward. We have to hope we donít go backwards."

Cleveland Stonewall Democrats president Patrick Shephard was pleased with his groupís work with the Democratic coordinated campaign.

"We had 200 volunteers in Cleveland alone," he said, pledging to make 2001 the year to make the Stonewall Democrats a vital part of the Ohio Democratic Party operation.

 

Lesbian and gay incumbents do well

Incumbent openly gay and lesbian candidates for Congress fared well. Challengers did not.

The first openly gay major party U.S. Senate candidate in history, Democrat Ed Flanagan of Vermont, was defeated soundly by incumbent Republican James Jeffords 66-25 percent.

Jeffords, a moderate, is seen as gay-affirming. HRC endorsed both Jeffords and Flanagan and contributed $5,000 to each of their campaigns.

Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts defeated his GOP opponent 75-21 percent.

Rep. Jim Kolbe of Arizona, the only openly gay Republican in Congress, defeated his Democratic challenger George Cunningham 60-35 percent.

In a close call, Rep. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin won her first re-election campaign, over Republican opponent John Sharpless, 51-49 percent.

Another close call went the other way: Californian Gerrie Schipske lost her bid for Republican Steve Hornís House seat, 48 to 49 percent.

In California and Pennsylvania respectively, Ron Oden and Ron Strouse attempted to unseat incumbents the U.S. House of Representatives. Both are openly gay, neither was endorsed by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, and both were unsuccessful in their races.

 

Two allies elected

First lady Hillary Clinton handily defeated the challenge of Republican hopeful Rick Lazio, beating him 56% to 44% to take the New York U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Patrick Moynihan.

In Missouri, pro-gay Governor Mel Carnahan managed to narrowly unseat anti-gay incumbent GOP Sen. John Ashcroft for a hotly-contested Senate seat, despite the fact that Carnahan died in a plane crash between campaign stops on October 16. It is expected that Lt. Gov. Roger Wilson will appoint Carnahanís wife to his Senate seat, and set another election for 2002.

Gay-friendly Virginia senator Chuck Robb, on the other hand, was narrowly defeated by his Republican adversary in a 48%-52% loss.

Anthony Glassman contributed to this report.

 

Lakewood takes first step
on hate crime measure

by Anthony Glassman

Lakewood, Ohio--Mayor Madeline Cain introduced a proposal November 6 that would add sexual orientation to the cityís ethnic intimidation ordinance, the equivalent of hate crime legislation.

The proposed change to Section 537.18 would change the name of the ordinance to simply "Intimidation," and cover sexual orientation as it now covers "race, color, religion or national origin" as motivation for crimes.

The ordinance as it stands raises misdemeanor charges one degree if the defendant is charged under the ethnic intimidation rules. For instance, a second-degree misdemeanor becomes a first degree misdemeanor.

The new addition would not affect first-degree misdemeanors, only fourth-through second-degree offenses. The new proposal raises the degree for crimes "by reason of actual or perceived sexual orientation of another person or group of persons."

After being accepted into the record by council, the proposal was sent to committee for examination.

It was an uneventful first reading for gay-oriented proposal, especially compared to last Januaryís loudly contentious hearings that ended talk about domestic partner benefits for Lakewood city employees. Four citizens spoke about the proposal, two for the change, one steadfastly against, and one believing that penalties for all crimes should be raised.

Marianne Zimmerman was opposed to the mayorís proposal on the grounds that she believes it is unconstitutional.

"I believe it is unconstitutional because it violates equal protection of the citizens of Lakewood," she said. "Every citizen should be protected, and not specific groups."

She also objected to the proposal on the grounds that she believes "social" legislation should be made at the state or federal level, not at the local level.

Jon Brittain, former owner of Jon Brittain Flowers, also spoke, telling the council of the pain he has suffered since realizing at the age of 11 that he is gay.

"I was ostracized in high school, I was beaten up more than once," he told the council members.

Brittain also told them of repeated assaults over the course of his life because of his sexual orientation, including a knife attack that left physical and emotional scars.

Most of all, he said, he wanted to cement the reputation of Lakewood as being a loving, compassionate city. He warned the council that one or two people making trouble could do a lot of damage in the community, but that this ordinance would let them know that if they did that in Lakewood, they would pay severely for their crimes.

It was also revealed to the council that, since 1996, six anti-gay crimes have been reported. The council, the mayor, and the chief of police discussed the issue of police intimidation of gay men and lesbians resulting in under-reporting of crime, and the question was answered to the councilís satisfaction.

The date for the committee deliberations, which will be open to the public, were not set.


Both Ohio gay candidates are defeated

Dickman may run again, Lacey loses second Statehouse bid

by Eric Resnick

Openly gay candidates in Ohio ran respectable races, but did not win their respective races.

Dan Dickman, a Democrat and former priest, captured 29 percent of the vote in his race against nine-term incumbent Republican Mike Oxley in Ohioís fourth congressional district.

"Iím feeling good about things," said Dickman, pointing out that he raised and spent $23,000 to his opponentís $500,000 in his first race for public office.

He may run again. Dickman will be meeting with supporters in a week or so to discuss the possibility of another race.

Dickmanís biggest success as a candidate was to point out his opponentís flaws as a representative of the district.

"We challenged him to listen to people and to be present in the district and to represent all the people, not just those he agrees politically with," said Dickman. That challenge earned Dickman the endorsement of the Mansfield News Journal, the districtís largest newspaper, which has endorsed Oxley in every prior race.

Dickman, who worked full time while running, added, "People like Oxley depend on that myth that first-time candidates cannot run competitive races. That sets up a self-fulfilling prophesy that is difficult to overcome."

Dickman said that his opponent dumped a huge amount of money into the race during the last week, after the News Journal endorsement.

"He began running 60-second radio commercials every 15 minutes for a week," said Dickman. "We couldnít match that."

Dickman nearly did not run the race. Shortly after winning an unopposed Democratic primary last May, Dickman had second thoughts and actually pulled out of the race.

"I got 300 phone calls from people wanting me to run, so I got back into the race," said Dickman.

Being openly gay did not seem to have any effect on Dickman as a candidate.

"All the media mentioned it, but it became a non-issue," he said. "Some of the media started describing me as a Ďspokesperson for diversityí." Dickman said that his being a former priest had more effect on the race than his sexual orientation.

Dickman reported that ten of his most loyal campaign volunteers were gay, but he had no organized gay support anywhere in the district. He added that his volunteers became irritated with the Human Rights Campaign during the course of his campaign.

"They were working hard for me, yet they kept getting calls from HRC to keep sending them money to run races elsewhere," he said.

Dickman got no help from HRC, nor the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, which works to elect gay and lesbian candidates. He was endorsed by all of organized labor, whose representatives had no problem supporting a gay man.

He said his visibility as an openly gay man "brought a sense of dignity" to the GLBT community of the district, especially Richland County, Dickmanís home.

"This is Mansfield, not Columbus or Cleveland," he said.

Richland is the largest of the 11 counties in District 4, which extends from Mansfield to Lima.

Dickman said that other elected officials, including judges and the county sheriff, Democrats and Republicans, told him privately that they were pleased to see him run as an openly gay candidate. He was also pleased that he was able, as a member of a minority group, to reach out to other minority groups.

"I spent last Sunday at the Lima Baptist Temple and it was very positive," said Dickman.

In Dayton, Joe Lacey was able to capture 39% percent of the vote against Kettering council member John White in his bid for the Ohio House of Representatives. Had he won, Lacey would have been the first openly gay Ohio elected official.

This was his second campaign, having run a strong race in 1998 challenging incumbent Bob Corbin, who was prohibited from running again this year by term limits.

Lacey was not available for post-election comment, but having been one of Daytonís most visible openly gay activists, he is not likely to retire from the public eye.

Lacey also did not receive any financial assistance for the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, but was able to identify nearly one third of his war chest as coming from GLBT contributors.

Lacey was also endorsed by organized labor and progressive social groups. The Dayton Daily News endorsed his opponent.


Dirty pool election ads backfire in two races

by Anthony Glassman

CincinnatióDespite gay-baiting ads in the media, the two politicians who ran them were soundly defeated by their opponents in the November 7 election.

Bob Bedinghaus, running to retain his Hamilton County commissioner seat, ran ads showing a presumably married couple looking at the supposed web site of Democratic challenger Todd Portune.

The site shown in the ad was a campaign site paid for by the Hamilton County Republican Party. The couple notices that the site says that Portune is in favor of gay marriage, and the woman turns away in disgust.

In the 33rd District Ohio House of Representatives race, Tony Condia ran ads asserting that his opponent, Democrat Steve Driehaus, supports "special rights" for gays and lesbians.

Both Bedinghaus and Condia were defeated. Portune now becomes the first Democrat to serve as Hamilton County Commissioner in over 30 years.

"Weíre really glad that [Portune and Driehaus] won the race," said Stonewall Cincinnati executive director Doreen Cudnik. "Itís nice to see that this gay-baiting backfired."

"It didnít work here," she continued. "That is telling. The tides have turned in Hamilton County," which is traditionally fairly conservative.

The political action committee of Stonewall Cincinnati had endorsed seven candidates for the Ohio House. Three of them won, the other four did not.

Catherine Barrett and Sam Brittain of districts 31 and 30 are both African American and had been endorsed by Stonewall, illustrating a community interest in coalition-building.

"We witnessed a real coalition between the gay and black communities and labor," Cudnik said. "We will remain a strong force in Hamilton County."

 


 

Voters hand gays defeat in
three of four ballot measures

by Anthony Glassman

Four states put gay-related measures before the voters on November 7, and only one was decided in favor of lesbians and gays.

Voters in Nebraska and Nevada added marriage bans to their state constitutions similar to ones passed in California last year, and earlier in Hawaii and Alaska.

Maine narrowly defeated a measure to restore a lesbian-gay civil rights law.

Oregon voters defeated Measure 9, which would have outlawed "promoting" homosexuality in schools.

 

Nevada

The Coalition for the Protection of Marriage introduced a proposal for a constitutional amendment to ban recognition of same-sex marriages, even though they are currently banned by Nevada law.

It was a move that many described as mean-spirited, and it was criticized for attempting to put discrimination into the stateís constitution.

It also won by a fairly large margin.

With 100% of precincts reporting, the measure passed with 70% of votes for and 30% against. The final tally of votes were 412,654 for, 180,057 against the amendment.

 

Nebraska

Nebraskaís marriage ban is one of the most draconian in the country, and is expected to be challenged in the courts. The language is too broad, according to gay civil rights activists, and probably would not stand up to a court challenge.

According to the proposal, Nebraska would not sanction or recognize any civil unions, domestic partnerships, or "other similar same-sex relationship."

Opponents argue that the language of the initiative, which also passed 70% to 30%, could be used to negate business contracts between people of the same sex. For instance, if a father and son owned a business together, it could be termed a "domestic partnership" under the law and be dissolved.

Also with 100% of the precincts reporting, the measure was approved 450,281 to 189,620.

 

Maine

What was hoped to be the nationís first vote to add "sexual orientation" to civil rights laws went down to defeat November 7.

The measure would have replaced a gay and lesbian civil rights law passed by the legislature in 1997. Opponents of the law forced single-issue "peopleís veto" special election in February, 1998, and it was repealed by a small turnout of voters.

The legislature put a new gay civil rights bill on the ballot this year, when voter turnout was expected to be high because of the presidential election.

Early speculation was that the initiative would pass, mainly due to a compromise reached with the stateís Catholic diocese exempting church schools and programs from its protections.

Pre-election polls put the measure as much as 65 to 35% ahead.

However, with 99% of precincts reporting, the measure seemed doomed to a narrow defeat. Mainers voted the measure down 51% to 49%, or 314,760 against, 303,654 for it.

 

Oregon

One victory, albeit a narrow one, for the gay community was the defeat of the Oregon Citizens Allianceís "no promo homo," initiative, which would have prevented any educational facility accepting state money from dealing with homosexuality in any manner other than completely condemning it.

With only 81% of precincts reporting, the measure appeared to be failing by a vote of 51% against, 49% for. The tally so far was 599,632 voting against the proposed law, 565,895 voting for it.

Since most of Oregonís ballots are mailed in or dropped off at post offices, the final tally may not be known for days.

Jamie Balboa, the executive director of Basic Rights Oregon, one of a myriad number of groups fighting OCA, spoke about Measure 9 on PlanetOut.com.

"Itís basically a gag order," he said. "People can speak negatively about homosexuality and bisexuality as much as they want. But they canít speak in any other way because if they do they risk loss of funding."

The measure calls for a task force to investigate infractions, and, if found guilty, a school could lose all or part of its state funding.

OCA has proposed a number of constitutional amendments to Oregonians during the 1990s; this measure would be a new law, not an amendment to the constitution of the state.

"This time around itís a statutory measure, not a constitutional amendment, which means they needed 30,000 fewer signatures to get it on the ballot," Balboa said. "So that shows that their base isnít as strong as itís been in the past."


Vermont governor wins
Race came down to a referendum on civil unions

by Ross Sneyd
Associated Press

Montpelier, Vt.ó Gov. Howard Dean, who narrowly defeated a Republican challenger to win his fifth term, pledged to reach out to voters who tried to oust him over his support of the stateís landmark civil unions law for gay and lesbian couples.

The Democrat, whose popularity plummeted after he endorsed the historic measure, took 51 percent of the vote, according to results from 99 percent of the precincts.

Republican Ruth Dwyer, whose campaign was fueled by voter anger over civil unions, tallied 39 percent of the vote and Progressive candidate Anthony Pollina took 10 percent.

Dean said his challenge now was to help to bridge the deep divisions caused by the law, which granted most of the rights and benefits of marriage to homosexual couples.

"We also have to be mindful of those who did not win, those who believe their view did not prevail," Dean told his supporters.

Dwyer hitched her political star to the Take Back Vermont movement, a grassroots campaign organized over the civil unions law and other issues, including environmental rules and a law which forced property-wealthy towns to share tax dollars with poorer towns.

After the vote, she said the majority of voters did not view the state of affairs in Vermont as she did.

Exit polls confirmed her statement. Of voters surveyed by Voters News Service, 27 percent were enthusiastic about civil unions and another 25 percent were supportive. Thirty-two percent called themselves opposed to the law, and 14 percent said they were angry about it.

Dwyer received the support of 45 percent of voters over 65, according to exit polling. And about half of Catholics said they supported Dwyer. Catholics make up about a third of the Vermont electorate.

Dean won in all income groups. He got nearly two-thirds of voters who said their household income was between $75,000 and $100,000.

Dwyer conceded the race early in the evening and said she wouldnít challenge Dean, even if he dipped below 50 percent. If a gubernatorial candidate falls below 50 percent, the legislature must vote for the winner--a prospect that could have allowed Dwyer to be named governor.

"It doesnít look like it will be close enough for that to be an issue," she said.

The Take Back Vermont campaign hoped to unseat enough Democrats in the Statehouse to give control to the GOP, and a majority for repeal of the civil union law. At press time, it appeared that the Vermont House will have a Republican majority, but the state senate will not.

 

Flanagan, Kerin lose

The nationís first openly gay major-party U.S. Senate candidate also felt the sting of the civil union backlash.

Vermont State Auditor Ed Flanagan, a Democrat, lost his bid to unseat GOP incumbent Jim Jeffords by a wider margin than expected. Flanagan won 26% of the vote to Jeffordsí 66%. Five other candidates split the remaining 8%.

Karen Kerin, a transgender woman running as a Republican for the stateís sole U.S. House seat, lost to independent incumbent Bernie Sanders, 19% to 70%. Democrat Peter Diamondstone and three others got the remaining 11%. |

 


Candidates see many wins
and losses in state races

by Anthony Glassman

This election has proven to be a mixed bag for the LGBT community on the federal level, and also in the context of state referenda in Nevada, Nebraska, Maine and Oregon.

There were also, however, a large number of openly gay candidates for state legislatures throughout the Union. Many of these were backed by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund a Washington, D.C. group that works to elect openly gay or lesbian candidates.

In Arizona, embattled State Rep. Steve May, embroiled in proceedings with the Army, held onto his seat. The Army is trying to discharge him from his post in the Reserves, claiming that a speech he gave in the Arizona House violated the Pentagonís "donít ask, donít tell" policy.

California saw one state senate and two state assembly victories for lesbian candidates. Jackie Goldberg of Los Angeles and Christine Kehoe of San Diego both won their assembly bids on November 7, and Sheila Kuehl was successful in her bid for California Senate.

Patrick Flaherty and Evelyn Mantilla, both Democrats, won their races for Connecticut House, and Carla Drenner won hers for the Georgia House of Representatives.

In Chicago, Larry McKeon celebrated his victory for a seat in the Illinois House of Representatives as well.

Unfortunately, both Judy Powers and Catherine Woodard were reported as being unsuccessful in their races for the Maine Senate, unlike Cheryl Jacques of Massachusetts, who clinched her seat. Her fellow legislator Jarrett Barrios of Cambridge, however, was victorious in the race for the stateís house of representatives.

Chris Kolb, who had run unsuccessfully for the post of mayor of Ann Arbor in the past, won a seat in the Michigan House of Representatives.

Minnesota had a split decision, with Terrell Brown being defeated for the state senate but Scott Dibble winning his house of representatives bid.

In Nevada, David Parks won his state assembly bid by a two to one margin over his Republican challenger.

New Hampshire also saw a split decision, with Nich Panagopolous winning in the house race and Rick Trombly losing in his senate bid. Tom Hroncich also lost his bid for New York State Assembly.

Mike Pisaturo was victorious in his race for the Rhode Island House of Representatives.

Results were not yet available for Bill Lippertís re-election bid to the Vermont House.


News Briefs

State allows lesbian mom to file as head of household

Sacramento, CaliforniaóIn a move being hailed by activists as a victory for gay parental rights, the California Board of Equalization ruled November 1 that a lesbian who supports her partner and her partnerís daughter can file as head-of-household on her state tax return.

Helmi Hesserich, whose partner conceived the child through artificial insemination, was originally told that she did not qualify for head-of-household status. She had tried to adopt the child legally, but was not allowed, and so the Franchise Tax Board told her that without a biological or legal connection to the child, she could not claim the status.

She battled through three years of appeals, finally going to the Board of Equalization, where a 3-2 majority ruled that Hasserich was clearly a parent who had earned the status for which she filed, despite the lack of official ties to the child.

Hasserichís partner, Tori Patterson, decided to stay at home for the first few years of the childís life, with Hasserichís job being their only source of income.

The decision, which will be finalized in 30 days barring appeal by the Franchise Tax Board, will save Hasserich about $1,000 a year through tax breaks afforded to those who file as head-of-household.

 

Study: Gays make good parents

New Haven, ConnecticutóA study by a Yale University researcher shows children brought up in same-sex families thrive.

The study, released November 3, was compiled from 30 years of data by Dr. Scott V. DiBartolo at the Yale University Child Study Center. It covered many factors, from the incidence of child abuse to the financial security and childrenís relationships with their peers.

"Allowing for same-sex adoption would be in the best interest of the child," DiBartolo concluded.

"I think the most important thing for a child is to be in a loving, nurturing, warn and stable family environment whether itís a heterosexual family, grandparents, an extended family, or same-sex couples," said Nadine Kaslow, chief psychologist at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. "Many same-sex couples are very stable. Good relationships are good relationships, and the good ones are stable, committed, and those people make very good parents."

The main problem, according to Lynne Gold-Bikin, former chair of the American Bar Associationís Family Law department, is when one of the partners is not allowed to adopt the child. Complications with hospitals, for instance, where they might not allow the partner to admit a sick child because the partner is not legally the parent, is detrimental to the childís upbringing and well-being.

"We have the same problem with grandparents taking care of kids," Gold-Bikin said.

The arguments against gay adoption are rooted in homophobia, she says.

"Look at the statistics. Ninety percent of homosexual children are raised by heterosexual parents, their natural parents. Itís based on a religious concept that thereís something wrong with homosexuality in the first place."

 

Vermont hate crime rises

Montpelier, Vermont--The number of hate crimes and hate-motivated incidents reported against gays has increased in Vermont this year, but whether the rise is linked to the bitter divisions created by civil unions is unclear.

In all of 1999 there were reports of 11 incidents. In just the first six months of 2000, there were 13.

"The increase between 1999 and 2000 should give us some concern," said Max Schlueter, executive director of the Vermont Crime Information Center.

"Whether or not it is related to civil unions is a hard argument to make," Schlueter said.

In 1998, there were 19 reported hate crimes against gays.

Although the number of hate crimes has not risen substantially, the level of hateful incidents in which there is abusive conduct that falls short of prosecution has.

The state attorney generalís civil rights division has received at least one phone call each week regarding such incidents since August, said Assistant Attorney General Kate Hayes. Examples are hate mail, hate phone calls, the posting of hateful language, and they are clearly related to civil unions, Hayes said.

"And Iím not talking about take back vermont signs. Those arenít even on the radar screen," Hayes said.

There are also reports of those opposed to civil unions having their property damaged and signs removed. However, crimes are only termed hate crimes when they are motivated by a bias against one of the specially protected groups, such as sexual orientation.

The anger "is far more weighted toward" gays and their supporters, said the Rev. Christine Leslie, campus minister at the University of Vermont-Montpelier.

 

Panel indicts Backstreet shooter

Roanoke, Virginia--A grand jury returned murder and firearms indictments November 6 against a man police say opened fire inside a gay bar because he was upset over teasing about his last name.

Ronald Gay was also indicted last month on six counts of aggravated malicious wounding, six counts of use of a firearm and one count of shooting within an occupied building.

Danny Lee Overstreet was killed and six others were wounded in the September 22 attack at the Backstreet Cafe.

The grand jury on November 6 returned indictments of first-degree murder and use of a firearm in the commission of first-degree murder against Gay in Oversteetís death.

If convicted as charged, Gay faces seven life terms in prison.

A trial has been set for January 22-25. Gay remains jailed without bond.

Assistant Commonwealthís Attorney John McNeil said the indictments were expected given the evidence in the case.

Dalton Flowers, who was inside the Backstreet Cafe the night of the shooting, testified at a hearing last month that Gay asked to sit next to him at a table after ordering a beer from the bar. He said Gay sat silently at the table for a few minutes then stood up and shot Overstreet and another man who also were seated at the table.

Gay then shot several other people in the bar, said Flowers, who said he escaped injury by getting on the floor.

Defense attorney Roger Dalton said earlier he may seek a psychiatric evaluation for Gay.

 

Soldierís mother appeals Army denial

Washington, D.C.--The mother of Barry Winchell, a gay soldier who was murdered in his barracks, appealed the Armyís denial of her wrongful death claim October 31.

Patricia Kutteles believes an anti-gay atmosphere in the Army led to the killing of her son, Pfc. Barry Winchell.

"We have to do this for our sonís sake," Kutteles said in a telephone interview. "He died, and I want his death to be meaningful. I want other mothers and fathers not to have to go through this."

Kutteles sent an appeal to Army Secretary Louis Caldera. It is her last chance to seek redress under the Military Claims Act, an administrative procedure that allows people to seek reimbursement from the military for injury or death.

Col. John H. Belser, chief of the Armyís Tort Claims Division, denied Kuttelesí original claim in September, ruling there was "no legal basis" for it. He said the Federal Tort Claims Act is the "exclusive remedy for negligent or wrongful acts or omissions by the United States or its employees within the United States."

But Belser also indicated Kutteles could not win in court because of a Supreme Court ruling limiting the kinds of claims that can be brought against the military.

Adam Pachter, one of Kuttelesí attorneys, said he believes the Military Claims Act is designed for cases such as this one.

"They should not be trying to throw up procedural roadblocks when the claim is clearly within the scope of the statute," Pachter said.

Kutteles said fellow soldiers believed Winchell was gay and harassed him for months before he was beaten to death with a baseball bat while sleeping in his cot July 5, 1999 at Fort Campbell in Kentucky. The Army knew about the harassment but did nothing to stop it, she said.

One soldier was sentenced to life in prison for murdering Winchell. Another was given a 12Ĺ-year sentence for lying to investigators.

Compiled from wire reports by Anthony Glassman, Patti Harris and Brian DeWitt.


 

 

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