Full marriage rights
by Anthony Deutsch
The Hague, Netherlands--The Netherlands enacted a bill September 12 giving same-sex couples the right to full marriage with all the trappings, including adoption and divorce--legislation that gives gay and lesbian couples rights beyond those offered in any other country.
The new law will bring little change to the daily lives of most lesbians and gays in a country that has long been at the vanguard of gay rights. But activists say it marks a bold step toward recognizing the equality of gay and heterosexual unions in the Netherlands.
Lawmakers thumped their desks in approval when the vote passed 109-33 in the lower house, and some of the scores of witnesses in the packed public gallery applauded and embraced. The bill still needs approval by the upper house, which is considered a formality, and is expected to take effect next year.
Opponents warned the legislation will isolate the Netherlands and said it threatens Dutch values.
Under the bill, gay couples can convert their current "registered same-sex partnerships" to full-fledged marriages, complete with wider adoption rights and guidelines for divorce. However, they are barred from adopting children overseas because of potential confrontation with countries that don�t allow gays to marry.
"We now have a choice," said Mark Wagenbuur who came to The Hague to witness the vote with his partner, Lei Lennaerts, and two other gay friends. Wagenbuur, 34, and Lennaerts, 35, don�t plan any adoptions, but said they will formalize their long-standing relationship with a formal marriage.
"Should I ask his father for his hand or should he ask mine?" Wagenbuur asked with a laugh.
The law puts the Dutch at the forefront of the gay civil rights movement, a position held by Denmark since that country gave limited official sanction to same-sex marriages in 1989.
Danish gay couples enjoy the same rights as heterosexuals except for the right to adopt children. In May 1999, they won the right to adopt their partner�s children but adoption from outside the marriage remains forbidden. Sweden also allows gays to register as couples with most of the rights of marriage.
Several other countries, including France, Norway, Iceland, Hungary and Canada, give varying recognition to same-sex couples.
Vermont has the closest thing in the United States to same-sex marriage after approval of a civil unions law by the state legislature last spring. Civil unions are a legal institution parallel to marriage that provides the same rights, benefits and responsibilities to same-sex couples on the state level.
Dutch legislators said the bill will not open the Netherlands to so-called "marriage tourism," since marriages are allowed only for citizens or people with residency permits.
"Tourists cannot marry here," said Boris Dittrich, one of the legislators who initiated the bill.
Gay and lesbian couples who legally wed in the Netherlands also will find few countries recognizing the marriage, he said, citing a survey conducted by the Dutch Foreign Ministry. Only a few Scandinavian and European countries said they would recognize the marriages of Dutch gays who move to their countries.
Andrew Fielding, spokesman of the European Union Commission, said recognition of Dutch gay marriages will be "entirely a matter for each member nation" in the 15-member union.
It wasn�t until two years ago that the Netherlands allowed same-sex couples to register as partners and to claim pensions, social security and inheritance.
However, the law lagged behind the popular acceptance of gays in the Netherlands, especially in Amsterdam, where the Homo Monument is a popular tourist attraction and where gays annually hold a raucous floating parade on the central canals watched by tens of thousands of people.
Van der Staaij, who opposed the bill, warned Dutch gay couples could face problems in other countries where homosexuality remains taboo or illegal.
The Dutch take the lead on other social issues besides gay rights. Officials tolerate the use of small quantities of so-called soft drugs such as marijuana and hashish, allowing cafes to sell cannabis joints and a cup of coffee. Prostitution is legal with government regulation, and TV stations often show soft-porn movies late at night.
by Anthony Glassman
Akron--Jeff Carpenter and the Interbelt club he manages pulled off a third successful Dancin� in the Streets, raising over $4,000 for the AIDS charity Violet�s Cupboard on Sunday, September 3.
Carpenter�s mother baked dozens of German chocolate cupcakes, and Violet�s Cupboard executive director Jackie Figler made Coney Island chili for the hot dogs sold at the event, which was held the day before Labor Day.
At least one vegetarian turned into a meat-eater for the Coney Island sauce and to support the event, according to Janaris Alston of Violet�s Cupboard.
"The DJs were great. We had a little drag show with Danyel Vasquez and Breana Brooks," said Carpenter. "I had quite a few volunteers this year, some of whom came from an hour and a half away. It was well put together."
Carpenter attributed the success of the event to the coordinating efforts of the volunteers.
Bartenders from gay bars across the Akron area worked one-hour shifts at the beer truck, donating their tips as well as paying the $7 donation to get in.
Over 200 people attended this year, down from last year, which Carpenter and Alston attributed to the extreme heat the day of the event.
Violet�s Cupboard, the recipient of the proceeds from the event, supplies food and holiday staples to families coping with HIV.
"Violet�s Cupboard and I would like to thank Verne Baker, the owner of the Interbelt, for donating the space to hold the event," Carpenter said.
In addition to admission and food and beverage sales, the event raised money through raffle ticket sales, with every bar in the community donating bar tabs, whether or not their bartenders worked the event.
Carpenter expects to announce as early as November a new location for the Dancin� in the Streets Akron, a larger space a few blocks away, to accommodate larger crowds for next year�s gala.|
by Anthony Glassman
The television program of embattled radio personality Laura Schlessinger debuted September 11 to protest in 31 cities and another national advertiser dropping out.
Schlessinger, known for her inflammatory rhetoric about gay men and lesbians, as well as her old-fashioned views on the family, has a hugely popular radio show, which Paramount Television is trying to parlay into a hugely popular TV show.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights groups across the country, led by StopDrLaura.com, have called for her show to either be pulled from the air or monitored very closely.
On September 10, protests occurred across the country at television stations slated to debut her show the next day.
"We want the public to know how disgusting her message really is," said Sean Kosofsky of Michigan�s Triangle Foundation, of a protest outside WXYZ-TV, the Detroit station carrying Schlessinger�s new program. Over two dozen people turned out for the Detroit protest.
In Cincinnati, a similar number turned out at WCPO Channel 9, for the same purpose.
"I�m really offended when people refer to her as a psychologist because she�s not a psychologist," said Jill Hangen, a clinical psychologist who attended the protest in Cincinnati. "She has a medical degree in physiology."
"What she espouses is nothing I was taught in graduate school and nothing that I see as helpful in promoting people�s emotional well-being," she continued.
Not all of the protesters were queer. Carrying a sign with a photograph of Schlessinger adorned with devil�s horns and the motto "WCPO has made a deal with the devil" was openly heterosexual Becky Reeder.
"I�m just out here to support friends. I�m actually one of the straight people out here," she said. "Dr. Laura�s not just against gays and lesbians, but everybody else, and it�s sad to see that she�s trying to oppress the people that we love. If WCPO wants to earn money by it, then I can try to stop it�that�s all I can do."
So far, no stations have reported that they will pull Schlessinger�s show, citing their contracts with Paramount to run the syndicated daytime talker. However, WCPO did announce that it will form an advisory panel to monitor the show.
WCPO vice president and general manager Bill Fee, who went outside briefly during the protest, has said that the show will be pulled if Schlessinger resorts to derogatory comments about gays or other groups. The advisory panel will include Stonewall Cincinnati, the city�s chief of police and fire chief, and the superintendent of schools, among others.
In Cleveland, during a half-hour audit of the September 12 episode aired on WKYC Channel 3, the vast majority of ads were local, a bad sign for the future of the show according to advertising experts. Another dark cloud on her horizon the departure of another national advertiser, Bally�s fitness centers, two hours after the debut.
"Bally Total Fitness advertising aired on the program in question as a part of a station-wide, non-program-specific media buy. We have no intention to advertise on this program in the future," said Bally vice president Dave Southern.
"We are going to make sure that everyone that advertises on this television channel is aware that WCPO is airing a fraudulent person," said Joshua Gaunt, Cincinnati-area coordinator for StopDrLaura.com. "[Schlessinger] is promoting hatred, she�s totally intolerant, and we will make sure that every advertiser is aware of that and our feelings towards it. It�s wrong."
Schlessinger, who converted to Orthodox Judaism, claims that her views are informed by her belief in God. Her views are in sharp contrast to her earlier actions, when she posed nude for photos that later found their way onto the Internet, and had an affair while both she and her lover were married.
"I don�t second-guess God. There are so many things about life and God�s laws I don�t necessarily understand, but by faith I abide," she said September 5 on CNN�s Larry King Live.|
by Eric Resnick
Columbus--A bill being considered in the Statehouse would allow police to access HIV-related medical records without a court order or the patient�s consent.
The Ohio House Criminal Justice Committee heard testimony September 12 on the bill, intended to let police know a suspect�s HIV status.
H.B. 727, introduced May 25 by Rep. Robert Schuller, a Cincinnati area Republican, is considered a threat to confidentiality by HIV professionals.
At the hearing, Schuller gave a brief summary of the bill and said it would save the state money, and save law enforcement officials time.
Neither Schuller nor his legislative aide Alison Wheeler is able to fully explain the measure. AIDS activists suspect it is written in complex language in order to be deliberately misleading.
Joe Davy, policy advocate for the Columbus AIDS Task Force, attended the hearing. According to Davy, the only question asked concerned whether or not law enforcement officials could obtain records in any case, or just those where HIV status mattered.
"He didn�t give an answer to the question," said Davy. "He just said that the bill would allow prosecutors to prosecute to the fullest extent."
Davy also observed that Schuller prefaced his remarks and answers with "My understanding is . . ." as though he had not personally researched the content of his bill.
Schuller was not available for comment, but Wheeler said that the purpose of the bill was to make it easier and cheaper for prosecutors to seek sentencing enhancements for crimes such as rape, prostitution, and felonious assault because suspects would not need to be tested again for HIV.
Davy�s biggest concern with the bill is that it "pierces the privacy of medical records."
"This really includes all medical records, not just HIV," he added.
Tom Wingert, the Canton Health Department�s health services coordinator for HIV and AIDS, had similar criticism.
"What I don�t like about 727," he said, "is that there is no requirement to go to court to get a warrant. If law enforcement wants to search my home, they need a warrant. With this, if they want my medical records, all they need to do is ask."
Schuller�s bill requires that health care professionals provide law enforcement officials with results of HIV tests of any person under criminal investigation, for any reason, upon request.
Currently, police must either get consent for such information, conduct their own test, or get a judge to order the release of the information to aid an investigation.
Ohio law currently requires that information on alcoholism or drug abuse be released to police upon request.
Wingert said that to understand Schuller�s bill, one must understand H.B. 100, a law signed by Governor Robert Taft in March that makes it a felony for a person who knows they are HIV positive to have sex without informing their partner of it.
"H.B. 100 is bad law," said Wingert, whose service area had five cases last year of people becoming infected by partners who did not disclose their status.
"Recalcitrant persons need to be prosecuted and given consequences to their behavior," said Wingert, "but the burden still needs to fall on law enforcement."
"[Schuller�s bill] creates a lower standard," said Wingert, "It goes too far in giving power to the police."
Wingert asked whether or not this bill would give law enforcement officials access to the HIV surveillance reporting database maintained by the Ohio Department of Health.
"That database is protected by strict security," he said, adding that it was similar to the security used by the Pentagon to guard national defense information.
Schuller�s office did not know whether or not that database was included in this bill, nor were they aware of any event that precipitated the bill or of any interest that may have requested it.
Davy further criticized the bill, pointing out that there is no link to HIV services, only prosecution for people whose records become public.
"It has no redeeming values," he said.
Rep. Shuller will leave the legislature at the end of the year due to Ohio�s term limits.
by Eric Resnick
Columbus�A six-year-old transgender girl, taken from her parents to live as a boy, remains in county custody after the children�s agency suddenly swapped one legal mandate for another.
The day before their custody order would be extinguished by a judge, Franklin County Children Services filed a new one on different grounds, resetting the legal battle over the child to the starting point.
But an emergency order filed by the family�s attorneys may return the child to her parents earlier. She has been in the agency�s custody since August 23.
A contentious family visitation held September 5 at Childrens Services� east region facility prompted the family to file the emergency order, accusing social workers of abuse and neglect of the child.
The parents say that while in custody of Children Services, the child has been forced to live as a boy, subjected to cruel behavior modification, and denied religious expression and proper medical care.
Video camera at visit
The visitation became contentious immediately after the parents and their attorneys arrived at the facility.
Children Services supervisor Lisa Long told the visitors that there were "no attorneys allowed." However, a state law requires that family attorneys have access to the child "on demand."
Children Services staff also realized the child�s father was carrying a small video camera that was turned on prior to their arrival.
Once they saw this, the agency summoned sheriff�s deputies to remove it from the father by force, if necessary.
The father gave the camera to family attorney Mark Narens, who in turn demanded to know why the father could not videotape his own child.
According to family attorney Randi Barnabee, Long replied, "Because that�s the rules." Like the child, Barnabee is also transgendered.
Children Services staff attorney Carrie Marsh-Ehrenborg was summoned. Barnabee said that Marsh-Ehrenborg couldn�t say why the camera wasn�t allowed, but said that it would be "distracting" and interfere with the family�s quality time.
The attorneys made objections for the record while the parents visited the child. According to affidavits filed by the mother and father, there were always two to three Children Services staffers observing their visit outside the door, while other families were only observed by one.
The video camera remained with Narens, away from the visitation, and the family has the tape of the initial confrontation.
Dressed in boy�s clothes
The parents also report the child told them that she was not allowed to use the feminine name she chose for herself because she was a boy and couldn�t use a girl�s name.
The parents say their child arrived dressed in boy�s clothing, fleece shorts and T-shirt. When her mother asked about her new girl�s clothes, the child said, "They took my pretty dresses. They took my ruffly socks. They took my new pretty soft underwear." The child also said that her bracelets and "pretties" had been taken away and put into baggies because she "would just break them and lose them," and she has not seen them since.
Upon examination, the child�s mother discovered that her recently-pierced ears had grown shut because earrings were prohibited.
Although the child had a new, unopened doll and paper and crayons to play with at the visit, she told her mother her new Barbie dolls were taken from her, and she was not allowed to have dolls or her drawing supplies.
Though a vegetarian, the child complained that she had to eat meat at the foster home. She told her mother that "Miss N." said there was "no such thing [as a vegetarian], and everybody eats meat." She also reported eating "lots of cookies, Popsicles, pop, and candy" which distressed her mother.
The child reported that she was given bubble baths, despite the specific instructions of the mother that she was not to have them because they cause her urinary tract infections.
The child is Jewish but has not seen a rabbi or observed anything Jewish since Children Services took custody. The child reported that her foster family "doesn�t know anything about being Jewish."
The child was depressed about having to start school the next day as a boy, and use a masculine name. The mother testified that the child appeared "sedated" and it was later learned that a new doctor changed her medication. She showed her mother the place on her arm where they had drawn blood.
The child reported that she was told she was going to have to get her hair cut because it would make her "look more like a boy."
The visit ended with the child being taken away in tears.
�We were ambushed�
Attorneys Narens and Barnabee filed an emergency motion for shelter care with the court. This is typically the procedure used by Children Services to take custody of a child, but here it asked that the child be removed from the agency�s custody.
The motion asserts that Children Services is causing or threatening emotional and physical harm to the child by its failure to provide adequate medical care, failing to provide for her dietary and religious needs, and bringing on a depression that may cause her to harm herself, as she attempted to do prior to her gender identity disorder diagnosis.
The child should be returned to the custody of her parents until the entire matter is resolved, the motion says.
A hearing to decide that motion was scheduled for September 12. However, when Narens, Barnabee, the parents, and a CBS News film crew documenting the case for an upcoming 48 Hours telecast arrived at the courthouse, they were met with a turn of events that led Narens to say, "We were ambushed."
Rebecca Steele, the child�s court-appointed guardian ad litem, informed the family that Children Services was withdrawing their original complaint and dismissing that case. However on September 11, they had filed a new complaint repeating the original claim that the child was "dependent," and adding a new claim that she was also "neglected."
Under Ohio law, children can be removed from the home for three reasons, abuse, neglect, and "dependency," which the law defines several ways. In the original case, the claim of dependency was based on Children Services� belief that her needs were not being met.
Steele would not comment for this story.
Narens, who is openly gay, said that neither he nor Barnabee were told of the dismissal or of the new claim until that moment.
Custody order is out
In the meantime, CBS News had filed a request with the court asking for permission to film the proceedings scheduled for that day.
Judge Kay Lias was told that the first case was dismissed when she took the bench at 9:00 am, and extinguished the initial temporary custody order, meaning that Children Services had to turn the child back to her parents.
But a hearing on Children Services� new complaint was also scheduled at 9:00 am before Lorenzo Sanchez, the same magistrate that granted the August 23 custody order that Lias had extinguished.
CBS News� attorney brought their request before the court and Lias was ready to hear oral arguments on it when guardian ad litem Steele, who is a lawyer, told the court that she was preparing a gag order on the case, but her motion was not finished and her supporting witnesses were not available.
Lias scheduled a hearing on CBS�s request for September 13, and postponed the hearing on Children Services� new motion before Sanchez until CBS�s matter was settled.
With no custody order, Children Services realized that they would have to return the child to her parents immediately and, not wanting to do that, moved for an ex parte hearing before Lias to request an emergency custody hearing.
An ex parte hearing is one that can only be attended by the Children Services and the guardians ad litem, without the family or their attorneys.
CBS News reasserted their wish to film the ex parte hearing, which Lias said she would address at the hearing the following day, meaning that again, Children Services had no custody order and would have to turn the child over to her parents immediately.
Steele, when faced with the option of opposing the cameras and giving back the child or allowing the hearing before the magistrate to go forward with the cameras, chose the latter and the hearing went forward.
New custody order granted
At the hearing on the new Childrens Services motion, Magistrate Sanchez found that the agency�s complaint, on the face, was sufficient to support the finding that the child was either neglected or dependent and ordered Children Services to continue custody.
Narens pointed out that the standard of proof at the hearing before the magistrate is only whether or not, assuming everything alleged by Children Services is true, that the child should remain in the agency�s hands. No evidence is examined and no testimony is given.
Narens said that he and Barnabee are preparing a new emergency motion for shelter care that was to be filed September 13.
Because of their conduct in the court and the way they handled their complaint, Narens also said they are filing sanctions against Keith Cornwell, the attorney for Children Services, and prosecuting attorney Cindy Sours-Morehard.
"They could have merely amended their original complaint to include the new claim of neglect," said Narens. "These cases must be heard no later than 90 days after the filing."
"By withdrawing their initial complaint and filing a new one," Narens continued, "Children Services gained 20 days they wasted under the old complaint and forced the family to go through another hearing before the magistrate that they knew they would ultimately win because the standard of proof is so low."
The hearing on the family�s motion to vacate the magistrate�s order is still scheduled for September 26.
by Ross Sneyd
Montpelier--Vermont voters had their first chance to weigh in on the civil union law September 12--and they sent a mixed message. The state held primary elections that day, and many candidates ran on opposition to the new law granting gay couples many of the rights and benefits of marriage.
Five Republican state legislators who supported the law were defeated in their primaries. One Democrat who opposed the law was also ousted.
But four other Republicans and one Democrat who were targeted for defeat because they backed the law survived their primaries. Another lawmaker who was challenged for opposing the law was re-elected.
It was the first opportunity voters have had to register their views since the legislature earlier this year enacted the closest thing in America to same-sex marriage. The results reflected the deep split in Vermont over the law.
"I voted the straight Democratic ticket, primarily because I�m in favor of civil unions and the Republican Party is on a kick about trying to turn it back," said Ed O�Neil, a builder from Newfane.
One of the chief authors of the bill, House Judiciary Committee chairman Thomas Little, a Republican, beat back a challenge.
Granting marriage benefits to gay couples "is probably something that�s going to take a generation to resolve," Little said.
Two of the biggest casualties among the law�s supporters were Marion Milne, who represents six conservative towns, and John Edwards, who serves on the Judiciary Committee and represents a couple of small towns on the Canadian border. Both had been targeted by opponents of civil unions.
Milne said that she knew when she cast her vote that it might lead to her defeat but that she did the right thing.
All told, more than a dozen primary races were expected to turn almost exclusively on a legislator�s vote for or against civil unions.
Most of those races involved GOP incumbents who backed the law.
Signs imploring voters to "Take Back Vermont" by ousting those who voted for civil unions have dotted the Vermont landscape since the law passed.
Ruth Dwyer, one of civil unions� loudest opponents, won the GOP nomination to oppose Gov. Howard Dean, who signed the law. Dean, who bested Dwyer in his last race, predicted that this year�s general election would be a "knock-down, drag-out" fight.|
by Anthony Glassman
Election 2000 approaches, and organizations across the state are gearing up to get lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender voters registered.
In Cleveland, the Gay and Lesbian Center, Log Cabin Republicans, Stonewall Democrats, the Gay People�s Chronicle and the North Coast HIV/AIDS Coalition are joining forces to sponsor a candidates� night, to educate voters on the stands of those running for office.
The candidates� night will be 6 pm October 17, at the Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center, 6600 Detroit Ave.
The Chronicle is also including a mail-in voter registration form in this issue of the paper.
In Columbus, the Stonewall Democrats have invited all of their endorsed candidates to a picnic at Goodale Park�s Shelter House on September 17, from 2 to 4 pm. The public is invited, and the event will be part of the get-out-the-vote campaign.
In addition, a fundraiser for openly gay candidate Joe Lacey will be held September 21, sponsored by the Stonewall Democrats of Central Ohio. Lacey, of Dayton, is seeking the 42nd District seat in the Ohio House of Representatives.
Stonewall Columbus has been working with the Log Cabin and Stonewall Democrats to raise awareness of the need to register, as well as including reminders in their newsletters and on their web site. Voter registration forms are available at the Stonewall Columbus community center.
In Cincinnati, Stonewall Cincinnati�s political action committee and a number of other local organizations have met with the board of elections to organize get-out-the-vote efforts under the name Vote 2000. Two of the events that will have voter registration are Pride Night at King�s Island and Friends Fest.
The deadline for Ohio voter registration is 30 days before the election, which is Monday, October 9 this year. Voter registration forms must be postmarked or turned in to county election boards by this date to be valid for the upcoming election.
According to Virginia Apuzzo of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the projected LGBT turnout in Ohio will be double the margin of votes that decided the presidential races in 1968, 1976 and 1992. Figures show, however, that less than half of eligible voters go to the polls on Election Day.|
Other organizations planning voter registration or education events are welcome to submit them to the Chronicle for inclusion in Charlie�s Calendar.
Deciding which way to vote can be a complex issue. These web sites have data to help make an informed, intelligent decision.
Project Vote Smart
Praised by the New York Times, CNN, PBS, and virtually every other major media outlet as the most trusted and comprehensive source for information on candidates and issues.
NGLTF Elections Center
A service of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Read about what�s at stake for LGBT voters in the upcoming elections.
Human Rights Campaign
Get involved, stay informed, make political donations, volunteer for candidates and more.
Ohio League of Women Voters
The Voter Information Center provides non-partisan information on voter registration, election procedures and citizen participation in government and civic affairs. Also an online Voters� Guide to state and local candidates and issues.
National Organization of Women
The official NOW web site. The PAC and election guide gives information on candidates and issues, and the site has links to local and state organizations.
Records your vote on important public issues and other topics, and sends results to significant decision-makers such as the president and members of Congress.
Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund
National organization dedicated to the election of LGBT politicians.
The site for the national LGBT Democrat organization. Contains information on the national level and links to local organizations.
Log Cabin Republicans
The site for the national LGBT Republican organization. Contains information on the national level and links to local organizations.
The web site for the Democratic candidate and his running mate.
The site for the Republican candidate and his running mate.
The site for the Green Party candidate and his running mate.
Reform Party of the USA
The official site of the branch of the Reform Party that left after Pat Buchanan received the candidacy.
The official website of Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan and his running mate.
Mary Ellen O�Shaugnessy
Site for the Columbus-area candidate receiving attention for her LGBT-friendly stances and political activism.
General political information sites
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