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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
November 3, 2000

United Way will keep funding
Boy Scouts in Ohio

by Eric Resnick

Since the Supreme Court�s decision in June that the Boy Scouts of America is a private organization and can discriminate against gays, government agencies and United Way chapters around the nation have grappled with whether or not to keep funding a group that may violate their own anti-bias laws or policies.

Cities and school boards in Michigan, Florida, California, Arizona and New York have reduced or severed ties to the Boy Scouts. Eight United Way chapters added gays to their anti-bias policies before the high court�s decision, and 24 more have since cut Boy Scout funding, or shifted it to "Learning for Life," a Scout program in schools that does not discriminate.

However, the 13 Boy Scout councils operating in Ohio can generally expect to see a 5 to 7 percent increase in funding from the state�s 101 Ohio United Way chapters in the 2001 fiscal year.

United Way chapters are significant contributors to the Boy Scouts. In 1996, the most recent year figures are available for, United Ways nationally gave $83.7 million to Boy Scout councils.

Because each city�s United Way chapter is an independent non-profit corporation with complete autonomy, and neither the state organization nor the national office require any reporting on how funds are allocated, statistical data are not readily available. Each chapter follows its own guidelines for allocating funds. Some chapters have non-discrimination policies, some don�t.

Columbus chapter will see increase

But generally, there will be no drop in United Way funding of Boy Scouts in Ohio for 2001. Some chapters are reporting that the Supreme Court�s Dale v. Boy Scouts decision will be causing them to consider adding gays to their non-discrimination policies.

The United Way of Franklin County already includes gays in its non-discrimination policy, yet Simon Kenton Boy Scout Council executive Randy Larson reported that he expects a "modest increase" of funds from the 17 United Way chapters that fund his council.

Franklin County United Way spokesperson Sharon Keaney confirmed that the Simon Kenton Council will recieve a two percent increase in 2001.

Keaney defends the decision by pointing to the chapter�s diversity plan and deferring to the decisions of the volunteers who make the decision. She was not sure whether or not the non-discrimination policy of the chapter would be of any consequence regarding Boy Scout funding.

"The board thinks they are worthwhile and has chosen to fund them," she added.

Stonewall Columbus executive director Jeff Redfield said he is planning to meet with the United Way "to find out facts."

Redfield says that Stonewall members are raising concerns.

"Some are concerned that the United Way is giving money to the Boy Scouts, some want to know how their United Way contributions can be directed away from the Boy Scouts, and others want to know if they should abandon the United Way, altogether," said Redfield.

Larson said, "The United Ways that we work with have been monitoring public reaction very carefully, and they are being urged to fund the Boy Scouts fully."

"We have no illusion that we have no criticism on this issue," said Larson, "but right now, support for us is overwhelming."

Larson said he was asked by the Union County United Way to write a letter to the newspaper in Maryville giving his assurance that the United Ways have not cut funding to his council and are not considering it.

According to Phillip Jones, spokesperson for the United Way of America in Arlington, Virginia, there were eight United Way chapters that decided to stop funding the Boy Scouts prior to the Dale decision.

"Since the Dale decision, 24 more have elected to change their relationships to the Boy Scouts," he added.

Jones said the United Way national office has advised chapters to review their non-discrimination policies as a result of the Dale decision, but added that they are not required to do so.

"If a chapter includes sexual orientation in its policy, it may need to reconsider its relationship to Boy Scouts," added Jones.

An issue for next year�s funding

Jones indicated that it is probably too early to address the issue of Boy Scout funding, since many chapters did their allocation budgets prior to the June decision.

"This is an issue for 2001 and beyond," he said, adding that at the national level, they are waiting to see what happens. "But the local chapters are all locally controlled volunteer organizations."

Juliet Rowland, president and CEO of the Ohio United Way, which contracts with some local chapters for services, emphasized that there is a lot of variance from community to community as to what the local chapters consider important and critical to be funded, so there will be no statewide advice on the Boy Scout matter.

"There needs to be community discussion and dialogue around this issue," Rowland said.

Same people on both groups� boards

In many communities, the volunteers on the United Way boards also serve on the Boy Scout boards.

"It is not how they are selected," said Rowland, "but United Ways look for volunteers with interest in fundraising."

Boy Scout councils typically look for volunteers the same way.

United Way contributions to individual councils range from $11-19 per year per member, which, for large councils, can total as much as $500,000. According to Boy Scout executives, that accounts for about 20 percent of their total operating budget.

Typically, other youth organizations receive far less United Way funding per participant than Boy Scouts do. The Girl Scouts typically get 25 to 30 percent of what Boy Scouts do.

The Girl Scouts have no policy banning gays and lesbians from participation.

With exception of a few small outreach programs in the large metropolitan areas, there is no United Way funding directed toward programs specifically serving the GLBT population in Ohio.

Little effect on other councils

Ken Miller, executive of the Black Swamp Area Boy Scout Council, which is made up of 13 northwest Ohio counties, said the Dale decision has had little or no effect on his council�s funding.

He said his council was predicting 4-5 years of funding growth, with the bulk of it coming from sources other than United Ways, like private contributions, corporate contributions, and events.

"Our total cash contribution from United Ways continues to go up, but it is a lower percentage of our total operating budget," he said.

Other councils reported similar circumstances.

There is not consensus among the GLBT community as to how to persuade United Ways to examine their relationship with the Boy Scouts.

There is reluctance among many to withhold United Way funds because of the pressure on workplaces to have 100 percent United Way participation.

Many GLBT people worry that refusal to contribute may out them at work or that they will be subjected to additional workplace pressure.

According to Redfield, some people have their United Way contributions directed to non-United Way organizations, like Stonewall Columbus. The Franklin County United Way allows them to do that.

"But," Redfield added, "most wonder whether it would be better to just give the money to Stonewall and forget the United Way altogether."

The United Way campaign continues through the middle of November. Most chapters will do their agency allocation budgets for the 2002 fiscal year beginning next June.

The one thing GLBT community leaders, Boy Scout executives, and United Way community leaders agree with is the need for each community to have a good discussion over the year as to each chapters� non-discrimination policy and if it will impact future Boy Scout funding or not.

Until then, the Boy Scout councils will enjoy funding as usual, or slightly better, from the United Ways.


 

Lakewood may add lesbians and
gays to hate crime ordinance

by Anthony Glassman

Lakewood, Ohio--Mayor Madeline A. Cain is introducing a proposal to introduce hate crime protection for sexual orientation.

The new legislation is likely to be introduced at a city council meeting at 7:30 pm on November 6. It is not known yet whether the measure will be added to the current ethnic intimidation ordinance, or if it will be a stand-alone measure.

Lakewood has one of the larger LGBT communities in the Cleveland area. The proposal follows less than ten months after the city council, in a 5-2 vote, shot down domestic partner benefits for city employees.

"It has not been presented to council yet," said Michael Skindell, council member-at-large, who was one of the sponsors of the domestic partner benefit proposal, as well as being one of the two members of council to vote in favor of it.

"The mayor did talk to me a couple months back and said that her law department was looking into the issue," he told the Gay People�s Chronicle. "I�m generally very supportive of it."

He went on to remark on comments made in the November 1 Cleveland Plain Dealer by two of his fellow council members.

"I�m disappointed in the comments of . . . Bob Seelie, our president, and, of course, Edward FitzGerald, who likes to make these things a political issue, and who actually made the domestic partnership issue a very political issue, and I think that�s what he�s doing again."

FitzGerald told the Plain Dealer, "I just hope we�re not in for another round of political gamesmanship on this kind of issue. That�s what [the domestic partner benefits] degenerated into last time."

Seelie had questioned in the Plain Dealer whether crimes against LGBT people were a problem in Lakewood.

Rob Gallagher of Lakewood has repeatedly complained about people stealing his rainbow flag and throwing eggs at his house, and had gone so far as to notify the mayor�s office, but received no response.

Nine hate crimes have been reported in Lakewood since 1999; only two of them were gay-related. However, gay-related crimes are often underreported, according to the Buckeye Regional Anti-Violence Organization in Columbus. The have mentioned a number of reasons for the phenomenon, including fear of being outed, and distrust of police officers.

Under Lakewood�s current ethnic intimidation ordinance, a second-degree misdemeanor becomes a first-degree misdemeanor if the motive is rooted in race, religion, or ethnicity.

During the domestic partner benefits debate last January, hundreds of people on both sides of the issue spoke before city council, or phoned or wrote to their council members. Public comments devolved into a debate on the morality of being gay.

In explaining their votes against the partner ordinance, the council members used various angles.

Seelie argued that it should be done at the state or national level, while Brian Corrigan expressed concern about the tax burden, saying that Lakewood is already the "most heavily taxed city in Cuyahoga County." Pamela Smith, who had originally spoken in favor of the ordinance, also expressed concern over the fiscal aspects.

Thomas George said that he had been disturbed by the religious overtones to the discussion, which are sure to be repeated with the new issue, while FitzGerald fretted over the possibility of the partner ordinance being challenged in court or by referendum.


Gay man seeks U.S. House seat
in north central Ohio

by Anthony Glassman

Mansfield, Ohio--Voters in north central Ohio have the opportunity to send an openly gay man to Congress.

Dan Dickman is running for the Fourth District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives against Republican incumbent Michael G. Oxley. Dickman has a tough battle, since Oxley won the last election by a nearly 2 to 1 margin.

The largely rural Fourth District covers Allen, Crawford, Hancock, Marion, Richland, Auglaize, Hardin, Morrow, Wyandot and parts of Logan and Knox counties.

Dickman went unchallenged in the Democratic primary last May. Since then, he has garnered the support of the local media.

"We have in the past criticized incumbent Republican Michael Oxley of Findlay for worrying more about special interest groups who can pay for his trips or help him win House leadership positions," the Mansfield News Journal wrote in an October 28 endorsement of Dickman. "He seems more interested in playing on the national stage than in being a local representative."

"Dickman, conversely," the paper continued, "wants to hold town hall meeting every other month at different locations within the district. He says he will hire Democrats, Republicans and independents to staff the district�s local offices in Mansfield, Lima and Findlay and will convert those offices into �educational and political resource centers,� allowing residents greater access to what�s happening in Washington."

The paper also makes references to Dickman�s consensus-building skills, and his dedication to all constituents, "not just those with deep pockets."

Dickman is facing a tough challenge. Oxley has held his post for almost two decades in a fairly conservative region of the state.


Future family and rights cases
hang on state high court races

by Eric Resnick

Columbus--Because they are farther down the ballot and often misunderstood, many voters do not choose judges wisely, if at all. Yet, for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, there is much to be gained or lost by who is elected to the bench.

The state supreme court race in Ohio has received much national attention this year, due to the unprecedented actions of a group of mostly business interests calling itself Citizens for a Strong Ohio. The group has run controversial campaign ads against incumbent Justice Alice Robie Resnick.

They disagree with majority opinions she wrote in the 1991 DeRolph case declaring Ohio�s public school funding formula unconstitutional, and the Ohio Academy of Trial Lawyers v. Scheward case striking a law restricting the amount of money a jury could award a plaintiff for things like pain and suffering.

The Ohio and U.S. Chambers of Commerce have also joined the effort to unseat Resnick.

One of the identified contributors to Citizens for a Strong Ohio is Bob Kolkhepp, head of Cintas, a Cincinnati uniform company who also contributed a great deal of money to pass the city�s 1994 anti-gay charter amendment known as Issue 3.

So far, the Ohio Supreme Court has only heard one case specifically dealing with GLBT concerns, but according to Ohio Human Rights Bar Association member Tim Downing in Cleveland, GLBT Ohioans need to pay attention to these races because that is about to change.

"There are two areas of law where this is going to happen, employment discrimination and family law," Downing said.

According to Downing, the Ohio Supreme Court will soon be ruling on matters of adoption, foster parenting, same-sex co-parenting, artificial insemination, marriage and domestic partner benefits, and estate planning that directly impact LGBT families and may involve LGBT litigants.

OHRBA president Bob Eblin in Columbus agrees with Downing and adds that the state high court may also hear a case to decide whether or not anti-gay harassment is covered by the state�s current statutes addressing harassment based on sex.

Ohioans will be electing two justices. One seat is currently held by Justice Deborah Cook. She is being challenged by Judge Tim Black of Cuyahoga County.

The other is the seat held by Resnick. She is being challenged by Terrance O�Donnell, also of Cuyahoga County.

Although the races are oficially non-partisan, Resnick and Black are Democrats. O�Donnell and Cook are Republicans.

Judicial candidates cannot discuss their positions on specific issues while campaigning, in accordance with the canons of judicial ethics. To do so could lead to disbarment.

But according to Downing, there are indicators as to how a justice would approach a case. In this case, OHRBA examined the candidates� knowledge of the LGBT community and how they view treatment of LGBT people under the law. OHRBA also examined, based on other feedback, how LGBT people would be treated in their court. Additionally, they look at overall experience, judicial temperment, and if they have ever been sanctioned.

"A judge brings to every case their personal knowledge, philosophy, and experience," said Eblin.

OHRBA highly recommended the election of Resnick and Black based on their screening process. Cook and O�Donnell opted not to be screened by OHRBA.

"We don�t know why they didn�t respond," said Eblin, "We don�t know whether it was because they thought they would not get a positive recommendation or whether they just didn�t want to do it, or what."

Resnick addressed OHRBA at its annual dinner May 6. At that dinner, she talked about the use of the ninth amendment as her basis for considering matters of civil rights. The amendment states that the inclusion of certain rights in the Constitution doesn�t mean that the people don�t have others as well.

"All too often, I think that the ninth amendment is overlooked," she began, "We have heard it said, �Where in the constitution is it stated.� The ninth amendment would certainly appear to cover rights that our forefathers could not have specifically planned for and therefore not enumerate."

Resnick continued, "I have come to realize that homophobia shares to a great extent many of the characteristics of gender and racial discrimination. While some differences exist among the types of discrimination, I now believe that the similarities dwarf the differences, and all types of discrimination are cut from the same cloth."

Resnick concluded, "We must neither be impatient for the lack of change nor surrender the battle for equality. We must all continue to work together to end discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion, age, ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation."

 

America Online head gives
millions to anti-gay church school

by Anthony Glassman

Vienna, Va.--A storm has broken over millions of dollars given by America Online chairman Steve Case and his wife Jean to a school run by a prominent anti-gay church.

The Cases donated $8.35 million of their private funds to Westminster Academy in Ft Lauderdale, Fla., to be used to build a new school building, provide scholarships for low-income students, and establish technology centers for under-served Florida youth.

The school, Jean Case�s alma mater, is run by D. James Kennedy�s Coral Ridge Ministries, a fundamentalist church with ties to "ex-gay" movement umbrella group Exodus International.

A similar amount was given to Steve Case�s alma mater.

The Cases, who have come under fire for the donation, insist that the money is to go only to the school, not to Coral Ridge, and that it came from their personal fortune, not company funds or from the Case Foundation.

A check of the Case Foundation�s 1998 tax return, however, showed that the organization donated $100,000 to the McLean Bible Church in McLean, Virginia, an evangelical fundamentalist church frequented by such figures as Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth Starr, Oklahoma senator Don Nickles, and the Cases.

The McLean church also is affiliated with Transformation Christian Ministries and Reformation, two groups with ties to Exodus.

"We find it unfathomable how your family could reward a school inexorably linked to teachings that say gay and lesbian Americans are not worthy of dignity, respect and full citizenship," the Human Rights Campaign�s executive director, Elizabeth Birch, wrote to the Cases.

"In no way was the gift intended to send a message of intolerance. Steve and I strongly oppose discrimination in any form," Jean Case wrote in a statement to the press. "We have worked to ensure that the Internet medium has given a voice to all communities�including the gay community."

America Online, despite a gay client base estimated at over 30% of its total customers, has run into problems with the gay community before.

Webmasters at AOL were taken to task for excising personal profiles they though were too explicit, while simultaneously not enforcing AOL�s own rules on hate speech by not removing anti-gay slurs being posted online. AOL also violated member privacy by providing the Navy with the identity of a gay sailor who went online.

 


Bush backers put Gore with Phelps,
run ads for Nader

by Anthony Glassman

As the presidential campaign comes to a climax, two tactics by George W. Bush�s backers are being widely criticized. One questions Al Gore�s role as a champion of gay and lesbian civil rights. The other is a series of ads supporting Ralph Nader�s candidacy.

In the first case, the national leadership of the gay and lesbian Log Cabin Republicans issued a statement to the press directing them to photos at Kansas preacher Fred Phelps� web site of Phelps with Gore at a 1988 fundraiser.

Phelps has become famous in recent years as an anti-gay crusader who, along with his family, pickets the funerals of gay men like Matthew Shepard, the college student who was beaten, tied to a fence, and left to die in Laramie, Wyoming.

In the release, with the headline "Gore political ties to �GodHatesFags� founders uncovered--LCR demands answers," Log Cabin called attention to 1988 photos of Al and Tipper Gore standing arm-in-arm with Fred Phelps Sr. and his wife Betty, posted on Phelps� site. The release also refers to a Conservative News Service story in which Phelps outlines his relationship with the vice president.

Gore "looked us in the eye and gave us assurance that, based on his Bible beliefs, he was against the homosexual agenda and the killing of babies," Phelps told CNS.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, however, Gore had a 90% rating on gay and AIDS-related votes at the time he was a senator from Tennessee.

Phelps did not, however, mention that, at the time the photos were taken, he and his family were major activists in the Kansas Democratic Party. Nor does the press release mention that Phelps� anti-gay crusade did not start until the early 1990s.

The Anti-Defamation League, who have monitored Phelps� web site for its anti-Semitic content, pointed out that in the 1980s Fred Phelps received awards from the NAACP and the Kansas City chapter of Blacks in Government for his work on behalf of African-American clients, a stark contrast to his frequently racist diatribes today.

However, it was revealed that Phelps was invited to both Clinton-Gore inaugurations, despite Phelps� accusations that the administration panders to the LGBT community.

For instance, after the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, a page was posted on Phelps� web site asking "How many of these 17 dead sailors were filthy dyke and fags? Clinton-Gore perverts have filled our military with blasphemous fag beasts."

"I think this election is about focusing on positive issues," said Patrick Shepherd of the Stonewall Democrats of Cleveland. "To me, this was a diversion that didn�t last long."

"People can change over time," Shepherd said of Gore. "To me, it�s about 2000, not what happened in the �80s."

John Farina, a member of Log Cabin�s Cleveland chapter, concurred.

"It�s unfortunate that we�ve stooped to this level of sniping," he said. "Gore has apparently learned about our community�s concerns and interests."

"There�s not a lot to be gained by fierce fighting between gay groups," Farina continued. "We�re going to be mobilizing people to vote for our candidate, and they are going to get people to vote for their candidate."

GOP runs Nader ads

The other issue that has come forward is a series of television advertisements, ostensibly for Green Party candidate Ralph Nader, that started playing October 30 in Wisconsin, Oregon and Washington, traditionally Democratic states where Nader is polling well.

The problem with the ads is that they�re being run by the Republican Leadership Council, an arm of the Republican Party.

Gore�s supporters fear that Nader, who is more liberal than either Al Gore or George W. Bush, will throw the election in key states to Bush if Nader siphons too many votes away from Gore. It is similar to the situation in 1992 when Ross Perot�s supporters cost Bush�s father vital support in his re-election bid.

The ads show Nader at the National Press Club, attacking Gore in his speech. During the same speech, Nader also viciously attacked Bush, but no mention of that is made in the ads.

Nader, running a low-budget campaign, is not airing any television commercials of his own, and it is possible that the RLC will spend more on pro-Nader ads than Nader himself.

When asked if the campaign welcomed the outside help, Green Party spokesperson Laura Jones said no.

"They are misleading in that they don�t indicate that we are running against Al Gore and George W. Bush," she said.

In fact, Nader has referred to Bush as "a big corporation running for president disguised as a person."

RLC director Mark Miller noted that one of Nader�s biggest boasts is that his campaign does not use so-called "soft money," the unrestricted donations used by parties and interest groups.

"We�ll put an end to that," Miller said.

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