Tom Pecora chats with Edele Passalacqua at a martini party in the Pelton House, a Victorian mansion in Clevelandís Ohio City neighborhood restored by Passalacqua and her partner Sandy Borrelli.
The April 7 event raised $2,400 for the Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center, part of the centerís "Ta-Da" series of home dinner party benefits. It was hosted by Passalacqua, Borrelli, Tim Kempf, Cal Zunt and Connie Sarvay.
Twenty-one dinner parties remain in this yearís "Ta-Da" series; call the center at 216-651-5428 to join one. Photo by David Ebbert
by Bob Roehr
Washington, D.C.--The Bush administration has chosen an openly gay man, Scott H. Evertz, to lead the White House Office of National AIDS Policy. The announcement came on April 9, along with other details of how the administrationís AIDS activities will be structured.
Rich Tafel, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, called it "an historic appointment" for a Republican president.
"We are absolutely pleased," said Winnie Stachelberg, political director of the Human Rights Campaign. "I think it is a major sign that the administration is committed to fighting this epidemic on a national and global level."
Terje Anderson, executive director of the National Association of People With AIDS, has a "guardedly favorable" reaction to the appointment. He acknowledged that "having an outside perspective can be good." But he is a little concerned that Evertz "does not have much of a policy background . . . and could have a steep learning curve."
Evertz, 38, was born in Washington, D.C. and raised in its suburbs. He attended Marquette University in Milwaukee and remained in Wisconsin after graduating. He has worked as a fundraiser for the anti-abortion group Wisconsin Right to Life, a Catholic AIDS ministry, and most recently the Luther Manor Foundation in Milwaukee.
He has been active in Action Wisconsin, a statewide organization protecting the civil rights of gays and lesbians, and the Wisconsin HIV/AIDS Care Coalition that works to ensure options in the provision of services.
Evertz has strong political ties in Wisconsin, having worked on the 1986 election campaign of Gov. Tommy Thompson, now Secretary of Health and Human Services. He ran unsuccessfully for the state assembly in 1994, and served in the unpaid position of president of Wisconsin Log Cabin Republicans.
In the latter capacity, in March 2000 he issued a press release lambasting the national Log Cabin Republicans for running a radio ad campaign critical of George W. Bush, then campaigning in the Republican primary. That in turn brought censure and a provisionary status for the Wisconsin chapter from Log Cabinís national board.
Those internal spats were resolved by the Republican convention in the summer. Evertz played a key liaison role in working with Log Cabin and Thompson who chaired the platform committee, to reduce antigay aspects of that document.
Evertz was one of the "Austin 12," a group of gay Republicans who met with Bush in April of last year to discuss issues of concern to the gay community. He also worked with Bush friend Charles Francis to launch the Republican Unity Coalition, a "gay-straight alliance" to work inside the party.
New AIDS budget released
The White House said the AIDS office is being reorganized. The principle change is the additional of an employee from the State Department to coordinate international aspects of the fight against the plague.
Evertz also will sit on the domestic policy council, a traditional White House body that coordinates policy among the various government agencies.
Bush said that Secretary of State Colin Powell and HHS Secretary Thompson would jointly chair a task force dealing with AIDS.
On April 6, the Senate passed a budget resolution offered by Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and Gordon Smith, R-Ore., to nearly double the U.S. AIDS commitment to Africa, to a billion dollars.
A more detailed version of the Bush budget released on April 9 calls for spending $688 on AIDS programs run by the Department of Health and Human Services, a 7 percent increase from current levels.
The largest portion of that increase would go for research conducted by the National Institutes of Health, particularly large-scale trials of preventative vaccines in Africa and Asia.
Spending on Ryan White AIDS services programs would go up less than the cost of inflation, while the number of people seeking those services is projected to increase. Many AIDS advocates feel the need for more money and will lobby Congress to increase appropriations.
Anderson noted that more than half of all Americans living with HIV infection receive care through Medicare and Medicaid, entitlement programs that are not part of the HHS budget. He said that changes in the standard of care-such as guidelines on when to start therapy and strategic interruptions of therapy-are evolving so rapidly that it is difficult to project exactly what the needs will be one to two years from now when these budget funds are being spent.
First openly gay Bush appointee
Evertz is the first openly gay or lesbian appointee of the Bush administration, though the White House press office declined to discuss his sexual orientation as a factor in the appointment.
While AIDS disproportionally affects gay men, the three previous directors of the AIDS office were heterosexual women. However, several gay men worked on the small staff of the office.
"Iím a little surprised that they appointed a gay man to the position," said Anderson. Recent comments from administration sources had led him to believe that would not be the case. "It says something about them that they were comfortable enough to do this."
"I believe his selection was based upon his qualifications, not on his sexual orientation, which is exactly how people should be appointed to positions. Sexual orientation should not matter," said Stachelberg. "But it should not be lost on anyone that 46 percent of new HIV infections are in gay men."
She emphasized, "We need to balance a response to this epidemic that not only addresses the unique needs of gay men, but of all of the affected populations."
The Gay and Lesbian Medical Association is taking a "wait and see" approach. While they welcomed the appointment, executive director Maureen OíLeary questioned how effective Evertz could be "with no additional funds in the presidentís budget for HIV."
Elizabeth Toledo, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, called the appointment "an historic, positive set but it is only a first step." She went on to chastise the Bush administration for not adequately increasing funding for AIDS programs.
The Family Research Council said Evertzís appointment "sends the wrong message to the American people." the groupís president, Kenneth Connor, linked "homosexual sodomy" to the spread of HIV and the need "to deal honestly and openly about the behaviors which are causing the problem."
AIDS czars of past
Kristine Gebbie was the first "AIDS czar." The former secretary of health for the state of Washington was appointed in June 1993 to mixed reviews. She resigned a year after beginning the job, never having gained the political confidence of the White House.
Patricia S. (Patsy) Fleming became an interim and then permanent successor to Gebbie. She had a background on Capitol Hill, and as an assistant to Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala.
The most successful was Sandra Thurman, who served from April 1997 to the end of the Clinton administration. She had been executive director of AID Atlanta, the principal AIDS services organization in that city, and had strong political ties to the president.
by Anthony Glassman
ColumbusóPolice have solved the unrelated murders of two gay men, less than a month after the crimes were committed.
Leonard Sartori was found beaten to death March 21 in his Prairie Township home. Police at the time were unsure of a possible motive, but Sartoriís sexual encounters, many allegedly anonymous, were held up as possible clues to his murdererís identity.
Sartoriís car was missing, but was later recovered in a high-crime area of Columbus. His body was found in his ransacked house by his younger brother, who he paid to clean and do chores once a week. Sartori had been bound and there was evidence of repeated blows to the head with a heavy object.
Nine days after the body was found, Franklin County sheriffís deputies arrested Jorge Luis Rivas Gonzalez, a 26-year old man found rummaging through Sartoriís garbage. Gonzalez confessed to killing Sartori and was charged with aggravated murder.
A connection between Sartori and Gonzalez has not been released by police, so it is unknown if the two knew each other, or if Sartori was picked at random.
"From the evidence weíve been told about, it looks like the murder is not related to his sexual orientation," said Gloria McCauley of the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization.
"While it doesnít lessen the impact [of the murder], a lot of people were worried that there was another bias killing," she continued. "While sexual orientation wasnít the motive, this is something weíll have to deal with in the future more than once."
In another case involving the death of a gay man in Franklin County, Adam M. Karst has been charged in the stabbing death of Gary Michael, his former roommate.
"It fits all the signs [of same-sex domestic violence], and my feeling is itís one of those invisible crimes," McCauley commented. "It does fit the statutes for domestic violence because they were living together, but because they were two men, the mainstream press ignored it."
Michael was found shot to death in the hallway of his apartment building March 22, at around 9:30 am.
Two hours later, Karst was arrested following a car crash when it was learned that he was driving Michaelís car and had the dead manís checks and credit cards in his possession.
Karst and Michael had a rocky relationship, from all accounts. In March 2000, Michael filed a misdemeanor criminal complaint against Karst for punching him in the face, although the charges were later dropped.
Karst had given Michaelís address to Columbus police in February as his residence when he was pulled over for a traffic violation, but the exact relationship between the two has not been released by police.
Day of Silence at Case Western Reserve University
by Kaizaad Kotwal
Students at Ohio State University in Columbus and Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland observed a National Day of Silence on Wednesday, April 4.
Participants spent their day in silence, wearing stickers and passing out cards that read: "Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I support lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights. I believe that laws and attitudes should be inclusive of people of all sexual orientations. The Day of Silence Project draws attention to those who have been silenced by hatred, oppression, and prejudice. Think about the voices you are not hearing today. What can you do to end the silence?"
Following two days of passing out flyers and labels on the campus, the Ohio State event culminated in a candlelight vigil. A group of about one hundred students, staff, and faculty gathered in front of the main library on the OSU campus and then, with lit candles, they marched across the oval to the Wexner Center.
Chad McCoury, acting director of OSUís GLBT Student Services
Patience Whitworth, co-chair of the campus organization Fusion that sponsored the Day of Silence events, broke the day of silence by thanking all the GLBT participants as well as their allies for showing up to the vigil.
OSU dean of undergraduate students Dr. Martha Garland, who has a lesbian daughter, spoke about how "keeping the silence was a real challenge." She joked that "keeping silence for about nine hours was difficult, and my family would probably argue that I couldnít do it for nine minutes or nine seconds."
Garland, relating a story about her daughterís partnerís family, said, "It is very hard to reach out when you are silent or when you are silenced."
Garland explained that when she went to the Chicago Science Museum with her daughter and her partnerís family they "didnít qualify for the family rates."
"We are a family," she went on, "and I hope that for all of you the day will come soon that we will not need a day of silence."
Chad McCoury, acting director of OSUís GLBT Student Services office, spoke next, condemning the school for its "heterosexist policies that silence us all."
"The university continues to add to all our silence by not providing partner benefits," said McCoury. "We need to demand equality, fairness, accessibility, and safety."
McCoury also pointed out that while the turnout at the vigil was good, there were many who "couldnít be here because they have been silenced."
J. Easterling, the other co-chair of Fusion, spoke about "looking within ourselves" to break that silence, "so that we can stop asking for our rights but take them and own them."
The rest of the evening was an open mike, allowing the attendees to share their experiences surrounding the Day of Silence. Many took the opportunity to speak.
Some spoke about how the gay community itself sometimes silences those within its group. One student pointed out that because of the way his whole life has been he "found it incredibly easy to be silent."
Patti Junior spoke about how "unconditional love and true listening" could help to do away with the silencing of GLBT people.
Manuel Lladser, a Hispanic teaching associate in the mathematics department, concluded the eveningís proceedings by thanking his "American brothers and sisters for teaching the Chilean boy from South America how to fight."
While most of the events around the Day of Silence proceeded smoothly there were a few disruptions.
Students who were passing out leaflets and labels reported rude comments from many passersby. However they also reported incidents where many individuals took the flyers and then came back, after reading the material, to get their labels in support of the event.
The vigil and ensuing rally was marred by several hecklers, who drove or walked by, shouting rudely and making obscene gestures.
Case Western Reserveís Day of Silence events were also relatively peaceful.
The observance began with a showing of the film Edge of Seventeen the evening before,. It is the coming-out story of a young gay man in Sandusky, Ohio.
During the Day of Silence itself, volunteers manned an information booth in the Thwing Student Centerís 1914 Lounge.
The booth was attended for the entire school day, from 9 am until 5 pm, when a rally was held in front of the Kelvin Smith Library. Almost 50 people turned out to break their silence, discussing their feelings on the dayís events and the concept of being silent in a place where freedom of speech is paramount.
Janice Poling, outgoing treasurer of Spectrum, the schoolís LGBT and allies organization, moderated the outdoor group discussion, bringing her own experiences to the table.
Spectrum president Brian Blackmore did have some bad news: Some of the signs chalked on sidewalks in the south end of campus announcing the rally had been vandalized.
"They wrote really horrible things like ĎGays should dieí and ĎHitler was rightí," he said.
The vandalism sparked further discussion among the mass of students and faculty attending the rally. The overall mood in relation to the graffiti was a mix of indignation and disbelief.
"I donít think these people really think the things they wrote," said one young man.
"I agree," said another person standing up before the group. "They donít think."
Measure also outlaws local domestic partner plans; backer claims 35 co-sponsors
by Eric Resnick
Columbus--The sponsor of a proposed "Defense of Marriage Act" says he will introduce it in the Ohio House of Representatives "sometime the last week in April" when legislators return from spring break.
The version that he will introduce will be slightly different from the draft now widely circulated, said State Rep. Bill Seitz, the billís sponsor.
The draft measure is broader than previous attempts to pass such a bill, voiding local and state domestic partner benefits as well as same-sex marriages and civil unions made in other states.
Seitz, a first-term Cincinnati Republican, added that his list of co-sponsors has grown to 35. He would not disclose the names of the co-sponsors.
There are 99 members of the Ohio House of Representatives. A week ago, Seitzís office claimed 26 co-sponsors. Ohio marriage ban bills introduced in 1997 and 1999 both died in committee due to lack of support. The 1997 bill had 13 co-sponsors; the 1999 bill had 11.
Seitz believes his colleagues are more eager to sponsor his bill and will ultimately pass it because of Vermontís civil union law and the Netherlandsí addition of same-sex couples to their regular marriage laws.
"This is an attempt to make sure that the current Ohio law on what constitutes a marriage will be used and applied in determining whether or not to recognize the marriage laws of other states," said Seitz.
No state currently recognizes same-sex marriages.
Vermont last July began allowing same-sex couples to enter into civil unions, which are not marriages, but give the couple state-level rights and benefits of marriage.
No other state currently recognizes the civil unions performed in Vermont.
In 2000, 35 Ohio same-sex couples went to Vermont and were granted civil unions, but the certificates are of no consequence unless the couples change their state of residence from Ohio to Vermont.
Sponsor worked with Issue 3 backers
In his memorandum seeking co-sponsors, Seitz writes, "I have been working with Citizens for Community Values for the last three months on this legislation."
Citizens for Community Values is the Cincinnati group that spearheaded a 1993 petition drive to put Issue 3 on the ballot. The measure, banning any gay and lesbian civil rights ordinance, is now part of the city charter.
Attorney David Langdon represents the Citizens for Community Values full-time. His work also shows up in the anti-gay briefs filed on behalf of the American Family Associationís Ohio chapter.
The president of Citizens for Community Values is Phil Burress, who also chairs the American Family Associationís Ohio chapter.
Langdon said he played a "very big part" in the creation of the proposed marriage ban.
"I am the key drafter of the language," said Langdon. "I submitted the legislative proposal with draft language to the Legislative Services Commission."
Langdon said the draft now being circulated followed his language "pretty closely."
Langdon and Seitz disagree with the analysis of some attorneys, including openly gay Cleveland attorney Tim Downing, that if passed, the bill will also affect court proceedings from other states such as child custody and powers of attorney, governing the lives of all non-married couples, whether same-sex or opposite-sex.
"The intent of this bill is only dealing with benefits that are marital-specific like health insurance," said Langdon. "That this bill affects things like adoption, custody, and powers of attorney and custody simply are not true."
Langdon and Seitz hinted that there have been others, generally favorable to the bill, who have raised some similar issues with the language of the draft, so the final version will be "tweaked" before introduction.
"We just want to address civil unions and make sure they arenít legal in Ohio," said Langdon. "We also want to broaden the law so if some other state legalizes something similar, but calls it something else, Ohio will not have to recognize that either."
City partner benefits banned
The section in question currently states: "Any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other jurisdiction that extends the benefits of legal marriage to nonmarital relationships between persons of the same sex or different sexes shall be considered and treated in all respects as having no legal force or effect in this state and shall not be recognized by this state."
Downing pointed out that such a provision would prevent Ohio cities from offering benefits to same-sex couples.
Langdon conceded that it could be interpreted that way and said the final draft would change the word "jurisdiction" to "state or foreign country."
Seitz and Langdon said that they do not intend to create legislation that interferes with local governments, but even with Langdonís revised language, and by his later admission, that could still be an issue.
As Langdon later said, "Local governments are extensions of the state and can only do what the state allows."
Bill dodges constitutional arguments
The bill is written to equally affect different-sex couples and same-sex couples, in order for it to be held constitutional.
The 1997 U.S. Supreme Court decision Romer v. Evans, which struck down Coloradoís Amendment 2 ban on gay and lesbian civil rights, clearly says that states cannot single out groups of people and deny them rights given to the rest of the population.
The other language in the bill that is necessary for it to be constitutional declares any marriage or the extension of marital benefits between couples of the same sex and opposite sex "against the strong public policy of this state."
Without that language, the "full faith and credit" clause of the U.S. Constitution would require Ohio to recognize marital benefits or same-sex marriages from other states as it currently does different-sex marriages.
But the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the only exception to the "full faith and credit clause" occurs when a law of one state violates the "public policy" of another state.
Ohio courts have not decided whether or not the current laws comprise a "public policy" against same-sex unions or marital benefits to same-sex couples.
But Langdon, on behalf of the American Family Association, has argued that Ohioís 1991 law doing away with common-law marriage already sets such a policy.
He did this in a February 2000 Butler County case of a lesbian couple seeking to change their last names to match. Magistrate Charles L. Paterís ruling against the women, in which he cited "Godís law," was upheld by an appeals court in February of this year.
Langdon argued his belief that Ohio already has a policy against same-sex unions in order to block the womenís legal name change.
When asked about this contradiction, Langdon said, "In the Butler County cases, I was playing the hand I was dealt."
"Ohio has a public policy, but it has never been declared as such by the general assembly," Langdon added.
Langdon said he believes that in order for it to be effective, the legislature must announce the policy.
"But if tomorrow," said Langdon, "or if the bill doesnít get passed, and another case came up, I am going to be in there arguing that Ohio does have such a policy based on what is there now."
Langdon and Seitz also say this bill is needed to stop same-sex marriages in Ohio because of a 1958 Ohio Supreme Court decision.
The Mazzolini case arose when two first cousins went to Massachusetts and were married. After their return to Ohio, where first cousins cannot marry, they sought to annul the marriage. A court denied the annulment because, it said, there was no marriage to begin with under Ohio law.
The Ohio Supreme Court eventually ruled that since there was no announced Ohio "public policy" against first cousins marrying, the couple was indeed married.
Langdon says a same-sex marriage could create a similar situation in Ohio if their language is not made law.
Seitz does not believe his bill is an action against gay and lesbian people, as laws held by some states as recently as 1972 prohibiting interracial marriages were considered hostile to racial minorities.
"In the case of interracial marriages, weíre dealing with issues of equal protection involving a suspect class that the Supreme Court over four decades of jurisprudence has established protection for under the U.S. constitution, namely the fifth and fourteenth amendment," said Seitz.
"No similar issue presents itself with respect to classifications based on oneís sexual preference," Seitz continued. "Thatís point one. Point two is this does not speak only to homosexual marriages. It speaks to all marriages that are different from what the current laws of Ohio recognize."
by Eric Resnick
Cleveland-The largest federal grant made to date for services to Ohioans with HIV and AIDS will be used to make more housing units available.
The Cuyahoga Regional HIV Services Planning Council was awarded a record $3.3 million for the fiscal year beginning March 1. The money comes from Title I of the Ryan White Care Act, which provides funds for emergencies and other services not covered by other federal programs.
The Cuyahoga Region, which is made up of Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Ashtabula, Geauga, and Medina counties, is the only Title I region in the state. To qualify for Title I, a region must have at least 2,000 cases of HIV or AIDS among its population.
According to Title I project director Sandra Chappele, 89-90 percent of those cases live in Cuyahoga County. The region has been eligible for Title I for five years.
Most of the grant will be designated to provide housing.
The goal is to create 50 new rental units, Chappele said.
"We will be bringing people from different constituencies together May 3 to figure out how to do that," said Chappele.
The May 3 meeting will include realtors and developers in addition to officials from the City of Cleveland and the six county commissions, the Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority, as well as people in the HIV spectrum and other interested parties. They are expecting 100 participants.
Chappele said that there is need for this type of housing because there are people with HIV and AIDS who do not qualify for public housing, but do not have the resources to pay their rent or mortgages.
"When you have any chronic illness, including HIV and AIDS," said Chappele, "your health needs eat into your resources and you might not be able to work."
Chappele said the council is currently paying for what it calls "transitional housing"--housing that does not last for a lifetime--in the form of rent subsidies, because some of the people they serve also do not qualify for housing under the federal Housing Options for People With AIDS program.
"We don't want people to become homeless before they qualify for housing services," said Chappele.
by Anthony Glassman
Oberlin, Ohio--The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation will present their Media Awards on Monday, April 16, and among the nominees is Ohio transplant Michael Muska, athletic director of Oberlin College. He the nationís first openly gay college athletic director.
GLAAD nominated Muska for Best Magazine Article, for "Reflections of a Gay Athletics Director," published in the October 13, 2000 Chronicle of Higher Education. A broad piece, it covers everything from the road Muska took in life that got him to his current post at Oberlin, to the National College Athletic Associationís vote to add "sexual orientation" to the anti-bias clause of its charter.
"It was just over two year ago that the Chronicle [of Higher Education] outed me," begins Muskaís article. "Give the folks there credit for getting the scoop, but I had decidedly mixed feeling about it."
In the years since then, however, Muska has become more secure in being the "out" man on campus.
"I had no intention of going back into the closet to be the athletic director at Oberlin," he told the Gay Peopleís Chronicle, "and I have no intention of going back in for any subsequent job in the future."
Muska made it a point of telling the search committee at Oberlin that he was gay for that very reason.
"The last three schools I was at, I was out, so if theyíd done their homework, theyíd already known I was gay," he continued. "I guess the issue to me was that I liked what I was doing where I was. I had a wonderful opportunity to go to London for two years, if thatís what I wanted to do, and I wasnít going to go to a community that wasnít willing to accept me for who I was."
Oberlin, a liberal arts college 30 miles southwest of Cleveland, has a reputation for being "artsy" and gay friendly. Their football team faces frequent anti-gay heckling from other teams, a phenomenon that started long before Muska took the reins. Despite this, Muskaís welcome was not unequivocal.
"Even at Oberlin, there was alumni reaction, there were coaching reactions. My sense is that the search committee labored a little longer than they should have over the issue," he said. "They wrestled for at least an extra couple of weeks over this process."
"But Oberlin has always been committed to diversity, and committed to helping all people. Thatís part of its credo and its tradition, and itís always been a school of firsts. Maybe I was just another step along the line of things that they thought that they should do."
"And hopefully," Muska added, "what Oberlin has done have often been mirrored by other schools after the fact, so maybe weíve opened the door for other people to do the same thing at other institutions, or maybe bigger institutions."
There is an overriding reason for him to do all of this, though. More than money or fame, more than love of the game, Muska wants to be able to help young people who donít know where else to turn.
"To be out and still in the field is unique. To be in the college setting and willing to be out there is a rarity, and I think that is what obsesses me. Thatís why Iím out there talking about it," he enthused. "I think that, in a lot of ways, itís important getting the message out that it can be done."
"When I was growing up, it was hard, not being able to figure out where to turn to find a role model."
The other nominees in the category include "Coming Out on Fraternity Row" by Katherine Marsh, published in Rolling Stone; "Country Undetectable: Gay Artists in Country Music" by Chris Dickinson, in the Journal of Country Music; "State of the Union," written by Andrew Sullivan for the New Republic, and "Through the Gender Labyrinth" by Michael Hiltzik, published in the Los Angeles Times Magazine.
Groups to examine Issue 3ís impact
Cincinnati--Five organizations banded together April 6 to study the effects of Article 12, the city charter amendment outlawing gay civil rights ordinances in the city.
Known as Issue 3 on the 1993 ballot, Article 12 bans any city organization from creating or enforcing anything that grants protected status to gay men and lesbians.
The five organizations are Downtown Cincinnati, Inc; the National Conference for Community and Justiceís Greater Cincinnati chapter; Cincinnati 2012, Inc., the group putting the city forward for the 2012 Olympic games; the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio, and the Greater Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The study could start within two weeks, according to sources in the groups.
One of the goals will be to gauge public sentiment on the issue, to see if the people would favor a repeal. Article 12 is seen as a major sticking point for the cityís Olympic bid, as the International Olympic Committee itself outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation, and it is doubtful they would look favorably on a host city that had incorporated anti-gay discrimination into its charter.
Another issue is how much money has been lost to the city by organizations holding their conventions elsewhere because of the amendment. According to the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the ban has cost the city almost $64 million since its inception in 1993.
Youíre going to hell, lawmaker says
Tallahassee, Fla.--A veteran state lawmaker told four high school students visiting the state capitol that God would destroy them.
"God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, and he is going to destroy you and a lot of others," State Rep. Allen Trovillion told the group April 9, according to the Tampa Tribune.
The 74-year-old GOP lawmaker said he was surprised at the newspaperís account of his ten-minute meeting with the four teenagers. The four were part of Equality Florida Youth Lobby Day 2001, staged to increase awareness of discrimination and harassment faced by gay students at public schools.
"He said we bring it on ourselves," said Chris Vasquez, a senior at Edgewater High School in Tampa. "Heís spouting . . . ideas that only make the world more dangerous for gay youth."
When asked the next day about the meeting, the lawmaker said he believed gays and lesbians would go to hell if they did not repent.
"He is one of the people weíre supposed to look up to for moral guidance and support," Vasquez noted.
Rhode Island civil union bill dies
Providence, R.I.--A House panel on April 5 killed a bill giving legal rights to same-sex couples.
The 14-4 vote by the Judiciary Committee against a civil union bill will likely derail efforts to extend the benefits of marriage to gay couples this year. The committee on April 4 voted overwhelmingly against legalizing gay marriages.
The Senate has not yet acted on its own civil union bill. Both bills were inspired by Vermontís civil union law.
Seven couples sue for marriage rights
Suffolk County, Mass.--Seven gay and lesbian couples filed suit in Suffolk Superior Court April 11 in an attempt to force the state to issue them marriage licenses.
The couples, representing five counties across Massachusetts, had all been denied licenses by their city and town clerks.
Representing the couples is Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, the organization whose work on behalf of couples in Vermont led to that stateís civil unions law.
That case began with a lawsuit similar to this one.
Gay man wonít be Los Angeles mayor
Los Angeles--Leaving his election party early, city council member Joel Wachs was seen to concede defeat in the Los Angeles mayoral race April 10.
Wachs, the only openly gay candidate for the position, and state controller Kathleen Connell were behind third-place candidate Steve Soboroff.
As he left, Wachs thanked his supporters with a tear in his eye.
Antonio Villaraigosa, a former Assembly speaker, and city attorney James K. Hahn will face each other in a June 5 runoff election.
Counselorís award is reversed
New Orleans--The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a 1998 decision by a federal jury in Tupelo to award $300,000 to a hospital counselor who claimed she was dismissed because of her Christian beliefs.
Sandra Bruff sued North Mississippi Medical Center in 1998, following her 1996 dismissal. Bruff refused to counsel a gay client about maintaining a relationship because it went against her religion.
The hospital claimed Bruffís dismissal had nothing to do with her religious beliefs but was based on codes of ethics for licensed professional counselors, as well as hospital policies.
The appeals court also affirmed a lower courtís decision to dismiss Bruffís claim that by asking her to counsel clients on gay relationships, the hospital was asking her to violate state sodomy laws.
High court upholds partner benefits
Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.--A Broward County ordinance that allows gay and straight unmarried couples to formalize their relationships has withstood another challenge.
The Florida Supreme Court refused April 6 to consider an appeal by a conservative legal group asking it to declare the ordinance in violation of the stateís Defense of Marriage Act. That law prohibits legal recognition of same-sex relationships.
Lawyers for Northstar Legal Center in Virginia said they would not appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The ordinance has allowed more than 1,000 unmarried gay and straight couples to receive some marriage benefits. It also granted health benefits to the partners of county workers.
Conservative activists recently started a petition drive to challenge Broward Countyís ban on discrimination against gays and lesbians. Leaders of the drive had no comment on the ruling.
Hate crime bill appears to be dead
Charleston, W. Va.óA measure to add gays and lesbians to the stateís hate crime law appears to be dead as the legislature prepares to adjourn on April 14.
House Judiciary Committee chair Jon Amores, D-Kanawha, said there doesnít appear to be enough support in his committee to consider the bill. It was passed, for the second year in a row, by the state senate on February 23.
Compiled from wire reports by Brian DeWitt, Anthony Glassman and Patti Harris.
by Kaizaad Kotwal
The Wexner Center for the Arts and Ohio State University's Office of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Student Services are presenting their annual GLBT film festival on the final weekend in April. The three-day festival features eight works ranging from shorts and features, dramas and documentaries, animation and live action to foreign and American films.
From the Edge of the City
This evening's feature is preceded by two short films.
Rick and Steve, the Happiest Gay Couple in All the World (8 minutes) is a unique and irreverent piece that uses Lego pieces in unintended ways.
A Summer Dress (15 minutes), by French director François Ozon, tells the tale of a teenager's holiday encounter with a stranger on a beach.
Constantinos Gianarisí From the Edge of the City (98 minutes) takes place in the seedy underbelly of Athens, where male and female prostitution is a fact of life. The realities of the flesh trade are further compounded by issues of racism and ethnic strife.
The film centers around Sasha, an immigrant from Kazakhastan who finds himself selling his body to men, all the while dreaming of a stable future with his 15 year old sweetheart Elenista.
The film blends gritty realism with a stark documentarian's style. It is rough around the edges, giving it a coarseness that reflects the rough-and-tumble existences of Sasha and his cadre of lost youths. Like young people all over the world who find ennui in everything they do, Sasha and his friends are searching for the ultimate high, the fast buck and a series of instant gratifications that are simply not instant enough.
Sasha comes into contact with Giorgios, a despicable pimp who has become bored with his prize whore Natasha, a woman he expects to satisfy 30 to 40 clients a day. Giorgios plans to farm Natasha off to some other pimps and he leaves her in Sasha's care while he works out the deal. With disastrous results, Sasha ends up falling in love with her.
The film brilliantly captures the rootlessness of these ethnic immigrants in Greece and it chillingly depicts the self-annihilating boredom of these young people as they smoothly transition from rough and soulless sex to smoking pot to experimenting with other drugs.
It is also a brilliant depiction of the tensions between sexuality, machismo and homophobia in the Eastern European cultures. These boys believe that they are simply providing a service, and that having sex with men does not a homosexual make. These contradictions of false machismo and misguided notions of sexual aggression and gender dominance are very starkly portrayed.
However, the film plays right into these stereotypes by showing the heterosexual sex rather graphically and distancing itself from any real male-to-male contact. While the film seems to be critiquing certain falsehoods and hypocrisies of sexuality in the Eastern European context, it cinematically ends up reinforcing the very same duplicities.
However it is worth watching for its fresh and stark performances, particularly by Stathis Papadopoulos, who plays Sasha with a blunt frankness, an edgy rawness and a sharp sense of confidence. Dimitri Papoulidis plays the pimp Giorgios with brute strength, and Theodora Tzimou plays Natasha as an overworked whore with quiet desperation and world-weary resignation.
Taiwanese-born director Shu Lea Cheang will be on hand to present I.K.U., described as a "Japanese sci-fi porn feature."
This film is a reworking of the classic Blade Runner, where a future cybersexual universe is populated by replicates rampantly roaming in search of orgasmic experiences to further the cause of science.
The film is accompanied by a throbbing techno soundtrack that underscores this unique tale of transgenderedness.
The screening of I.K.U. will be preceded by a free reception sponsored by OSU's GLBT Student Services in the Wexner Centerís lower lobby. The reception will start at 6 p.m.
Live Nude Girls Unite!
Live Nude Girls Unite! (70 minutes), a film by Vicki Funari and Julia Query, is a powerful story about San Francisco's Lusty Lady Theatre, the first unionized strip club.
Query, a lesbian writer and stand-up comedian, worked at the club to pay her rent. She decided to document the strippers' move to unionize. The film is a stirring compilation of the women's stories, as they search for dignity and basic worker's rights in an industry rife in debasement.
The film blends vivid documentary with deeply personal and often comic accounts with some stand-up comedy and comic book style animation. The film takes us into uncharted territory and the result is an arresting and compelling look at the world's oldest profession. Most compelling in the film is Query's relationship with her own mother as they try to resolve opposing views about Julia's career choice.
This is a well-paced, intelligently made documentary definitely worth a close viewing.
The short film Breaking the Glass (25 minutes) precedes the main feature. It is a fast-paced documentary about the women's pro basketball league that includes Columbus' own three-time champions, the Quest.
Filmmaker Nisha Ganatra also stars in the acclaimed Chutney Popcorn (92 minutes), a tale of motherhood and Indian immigrants living in New York.
Ganatra plays Reena, a Indian-American lesbian who has always lived in the shadow of her perfect sister, who is married to an American man but unable to conceive a child. Reena decides to carry the baby, all the while hoping that she will gain respect in her traditional mother's eyes and help her sister along the way. But Reena also has to contend with her commitment-phobic girlfriend.
The film, on one hand, is a tried-and-true-tale of east meets west. On the other hand, it struggles with the changing definitions of family, self and parenthood in an increasingly global culture. It also nicely depicts the generation gap.
Chutney Popcorn often threatens to slip into cliché and formulaic predictability, and it sometimes does. But equally often it takes subtle twists and turns allowing the story to unfold with warmth and a genuine understanding of the characters, their predicaments and human conflicts.
While Chutney Popcorn doesn't live up to Fire, the other Indian lesbian film, it is worth a look. It is comic and touching and Ganatra turns in an unassumingly effective performance as a woman in search of self, family and identity.
This year's Sundance Film Festival gave the Audience Award for Documentary to Tom Shepardís Scout's Hono. This film will close the GLBT Film Festival.
Shepard will be on hand to introduce his timely and poignant work. The 57-minute documentary traces the conflict between the anti-gay policies of the Boy Scouts of America and the movement of many of its members to overturn these discriminatory practices.
The film intersperses the interviews of two gay members, one age 12 and the other 70, with a series of segments portraying the all-American nature of the Boy Scouts. The film is frank, open and blunt in its dialogue. It is evident that the two men interviewed here have great pain in speaking out against an institution they so deeply love and cherish. The film, above all, proves that "boys will be boys" and that old habits die hard, if ever they do.
This year's festival promises to have something for everyone and is more diverse in its offerings than festivals in the past. The festival runs Thursday, April 26 through Saturday, April 28. All films will be screened in the film and video theatre at the Wexner Center for the Arts. Call 614-292-3535 for program and ticket information.
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