by Eric Resnick
The record for the number of openly gay candidates for Ohio offices set in 2001--nine--could fall in 2002 if trends continue.
So far, there are three openly gay Ohioans either considering or committed to running for re-apportioned Ohio House seats next year.
By far the farthest along is Chad Foust of Columbus, who wants to represent the new district that includes the area now represented by Republican Amy Salerno.
Foust, who is an aide to State Sen. Eric Fingerhut, began his official campaign in March when he formed his campaign committee and opened a bank account. Foust has already raised more than $15,000 of the $100,000 he predicts he will need to win.
Foust, a Democrat, says the district will be easier for his party to win in 2002 because of redistricting.
The largely Republican suburb of Grove City has been moved to another district, and Democratic areas of Jackson Township, Hamilton Township, and precincts in German Village have been added to this one. The new district�s number will change from 23 to 25.
There are no other candidates in the race, but Foust predicts that there will be a Democratic primary. The filing deadline is February 21, 2002.
Foust says he will leave his post with Sen. Fingerhut prior to the filing deadline to campaign full-time through the primary, then he will seek a small job to get himself through the general election.
Foust has held public office before. He was elected to the Elida Local School Board in Allen County in 1995, serving through 1999.
Foust says the reason he is running is because he sees a lack of leadership from the Republicans who control the Statehouse.
"They squabble over a school funding system that they know is unconstitutional, while they continue to disinvest in higher education and empowering the state," said Foust.
Foust said he is proud to be gay and will not hide it from anyone, but it will only be one issue like the many others of his candidacy.
"My message is about education, economic development, and empowerment," said Foust. "Gay civil rights are important to me, but it is no more an up-front issue than anything else."
Foust�s campaign web site is www.foustforthehouse.com.
Openly gay Cleveland attorney Tim Downing said he has been approached and is considering a run for the newly created District 8.
That district contains areas now represented by Democrat Peter Lawson Jones of Shaker Heights, though it was designed to make it easier for a Republican to win with the addition of Beachwood, Bedford, Bedford Heights, and Orange, and the omission of the east side of Cleveland.
Downing, a Democrat, activist, and former Cleveland Human Rights Campaign dinner co-chair, said one thing he has to consider is whether or not Lawson Jones is appointed to the seat on the Cuyahoga County Commission that will be vacated when Cleveland mayor-elect Jane Campbell takes her new office.
"I wouldn�t run against Peter," said Downing.
Downing said he has also heard that others, including Larry Friedman, who lost the Democratic primary in 2000 to Lawson Jones may also be looking to run for the seat.
"And I suspect that Peter [Lawson Jones] will want to have a say as to who will replace him, too," said Downing.
"But have I been asked to run? Yes," said Downing. "Am I considering it? Yes."
Lakewood resident and activist John Farina is exploring a run for the newly-created House District 13, which will include Lakewood and west Cleveland through Ohio City.
The new district includes what is now part of the districts represented by Democrats Brian Flannery and Mary Rose Oakar. Flannery is likely to announce his candidacy for secretary of state, leaving Farina, a Republican, to challenge Oakar in this Democrat-leaning district.
Farina has begun to circulate nominating petitions and meeting with community leaders. Because he was a candidate for Lakewood city council in 1995 and 1999, he already has a campaign committee and fund.
He cited three reasons for wanting to run.
"There is a need for gay voices at the statehouse," said Farina, "which was very apparent during the debate on DOMA [the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act], that no one, especially from the Republican party stood up to represent our voice."
Farina also said he is tired of seeing Ohio�s larger metropolitan areas like Cleveland ignored, and says it happens because so many in the Republican leadership are from rural areas of the state.
"There�s not a lot of representation of those interests within the Republican caucus, either," Farina added. "When LTV Steel closed, no one there cared. Neither the governor nor the legislature are doing enough to build economic base."
Finally, Farina, who is the public policy director for the AIDS Taskforce of Cleveland, said there are not enough Republican voices speaking up for health and human services issues.
"Providing these services is, in the long run, less expensive than cutting them, and no one spoke up to advocate for these issues during the budget cuts," he said.
Farina will make his final decision whether or not to run by mid January. So far, there are no other Republicans seeking the seat.
by Anthony Glassman
Washington, D.C.�Eliciting both tentatively optimistic praise and mild criticisms, Kenneth Feinberg, special master for the Department of Justice in charge of Sept. 11 federal victim benefits claims, issued guidelines for relief on December 20.
Feinberg formerly served Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy as his chief of staff.
Feinberg�s rules do not specifically mention same-sex partners of those who were killed in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, instead referring to the laws of individual states. This would, on first glance, give the impression that only those living in Vermont, Hawaii and possibly California would qualify.
However, in holding oversight for the fund, the special master can grant payouts outside of the traditional definition of survivor under state laws.
"We have a strong hope that Ken Feinberg will treat all same-sex survivors equally and fairly," said Chad Johnson, executive director of the gay and lesbian National Stonewall Democrats. "However, the current rules treat gay families in a cruel manner, leaving them in an unresolved state and at the discretion of the special master, unlike their straight counterparts."
Twenty-four same-sex partners of September 11 victims have come forward so far.
The rules grants benefits to anyone named as a beneficiary in a will, but for those whose partners died without one, their situation is unclear.
Vermont and Hawaii both have same-sex inheritance laws, but a similar provision was stripped out of California�s domestic partner law earlier this year before being signed by Gov. Gray Davis.
New York Gov. George Pataki issued an executive order granting payouts from the state�s crime victims� fund to LGBT survivors of those killed in the attacks, but the executive order is not a law, meaning that those handling the federal fund are under no obligation to heed it.
Pataki, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and the state�s attorney general wrote a letter to President Bush at the end of November urging that the fund be opened to surviving partners in same-sex relationships. A bipartisan group of 45 Congressmen wrote to Attorney General John Ashcroft earlier in November asking the same. Among the representatives who signed the letter were Barney Frank of Massachusetts, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Jim Kolbe of Arizona, and Sherrod Brown of northeast Ohio.
"We would have preferred that the regulations were more specific and the recovery process simpler, but we are fully confident that Ken Feinberg will settle every case fairly and equitably," said Rich Tafel, executive director of the gay and lesbian Log Cabin Republicans.
"All of us who worked on this effort from all political points of view should continue to work together to make sure that the survivors get relief," he continued, referring to joint efforts between the Log Cabin Republican and National Stonewall Democrats. "They are the only consideration in an issue that transcends politics."
Human Rights Campaign executive director Elizabeth Birch was more skeptical.
"While it is a positive development that gay families can file claims, we are concerned that the lack of specific guidelines covering same-sex families will cause confusion and allow some families in need to slip through the cracks and suffer unnecessary pain," she said. "In this time of great suffering, our families, like any other, need relief and not rejection."
HRC urged that anyone having difficulties in getting federal benefits stemming from the attacks call them at 202-628-4160, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund at 212-809-8585, in New York the Empire State Pride Agenda, 212-627-0305, or the Anti-Violence Project, 212-714-1141, or their local LGBT advocacy organization.
Middleburg, Pa.--On the second day of their trial on attempted murder and other charges, two brothers pleaded guilty to lesser charges in the severe beating of their neighbor. The pair claimed the man made a pass at one of them.
"We were getting ready to conclude our case, and the defense attorneys approached me and indicated they were ready to enter guilty pleas," Snyder County District Attorney Michael Sholley said after the December 18 development.
"We were caught totally off guard."
Todd Clinger, 21, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit third-degree murder, and Troy Clinger, 19, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit voluntary manslaughter in the beating of Michael Auker. Todd Clinger could get up to 40 years in prison, and Troy Clinger could get up to 20 years.
The plea agreement, which Sholley said is essentially what the brothers were offered before the trial began, was not the only thing that pleasantly surprised prosecutors. Sholley said authorities initially didn�t expect Auker to come out of the coma that he was in for nearly two months.
"We were treating it like a murder case," Sholley said. "Everyone is extremely pleased he is here today."
But Auker remains disabled with limitations on speaking, walking, short-term memory, cognitive function and problems using his left arm and hand.
"It�s good to be alive and face the world," Auker told reporters, speaking in a low and gravelly voice. He thanked his co-workers for installing a special shower at his home, and his brother thanked prosecutors on his behalf.
The brothers were drinking at Troy Clinger�s trailer on March 6 with Auker, 41, when the beating began. On the trial�s first day, Nikki White, Troy Clinger�s former fiancee, testified that the brothers talked about killing Auker after Todd Clinger said that Auker had grabbed his crotch.
Auker was beaten into a coma, then carried to his trailer, where he was found two days later. He remained in a coma for several weeks.
Sholley said Troy Clinger was allowed to plead to a lesser charge than his brother because Troy had less involvement in the beating.
"In fact, the victim is alive today because of Troy," Sholley said. "Not only did he pull Todd off, but he drug [dragged] the victim to his trailer. By coincidence, the heat wasn�t on in the trailer, and it was warm enough that the victim didn�t suffer hypothermia, but it was cold enough that body functions slowed down and allowed him to live."
The Snyder County trial began the day before with Auker�s testimony, in which he described his injuries but said he remembered nothing of the attack, and White�s testimony. An emergency medical technician also testified that when Auker was found he was covered in blood and close to death.
The Clingers� father, Gary Lee Clinger Jr., 38, of Lewistown, was not present during the attack, but is accused of helping to carry the unconscious Auker into his trailer. He is awaiting trial.
Their mother, Connie Lynne Clinger, 41, was sentenced in August to three years accelerated rehabilitative disposition on charges of criminal solicitation to commit perjury. Authorities said she asked a witness to change the story she told police.
Middleburg is about 40 miles north of Harrisburg.
by Anthony Glassman
Tipp City, Ohio�School officials in this town north of Dayton have removed about 140 books from the shelves of L.T. Ball Junior High School after a rash of complaints from parents about inappropriate subject matter and language.
Among the books is Baby Be-Bop, a gay-themed novel by Francesca Lia Block, along with another series by the same author about a young woman and her gay friend Dirk. School officials said the books contain adult language and explicit sexual activity.
The furor over the books started at a school board meeting on October 25 after a teacher used a list from the American Library Association detailing the "100 Most Challenged Books of 1999-2000." The teacher told students to pick one book from the list that they were familiar with and debate whether or not the book should be censored.
At the same time, parents in the district objected to Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, a Nobel Prize-winning author, and The Giver by Lois Lowry.
Many of the books in the junior high that were pulled are part of the Accelerated Reader program, and are chosen for distribution to schools based on reading level and not subject matter.
by Anthony Glassman
Akron�A Twinsburg man who claimed that an armed robber forced him to drive from the Interbelt gay nightclub to his parents� house to get money is being charged with misdemeanor falsification.
David Meyers claimed that, as he was leaving the Interbelt at 2 a.m. on the morning of December 14, a man with a gun tried to rob him. The assailant, Meyers said, wasn�t satisfied with the $20 in his wallet, so Meyers suggested they go to his parents� Twinsburg home, where he supposedly gave the man a large sum of money then drove him back to Akron.
Meyers was arrested December 20 after Summit County sheriff�s detectives confronted him about holes in his story.
Meyers admitted that there was no robbery and that he had made up the incident to cover his theft of $28,000 from his parents� safe.
Meyers told detectives that he and a friend owed a Columbus man $14,000. They had stolen a safe from him containing valuables, and he had agreed to not press charges if he was reimbursed.
Detectives David Rodgers and Ed Gruska, who were assigned to the case, had initially thought it strange that Meyers, despite having several opportunities to escape his assailant or call police, chose to go along with the robbery.
Also, in his description of the fictitious robber, Meyers was able to describe his clothing in detail, but could not say whether the man was white or black when he first made his report.
The final piece of the puzzle for police was the fact that Meyers went in to work the next day and only told his parents about the "robbery" after he returned from his job at a Solon market.
Police confronted Meyers with their suspicions, and he confessed to fabricating the tale. The authorities then filed misdemeanor fabrication charges; Meyers� parents refused to file felony theft charges.
Meyer�s story mirrored two actual attacks outside of Akron gay bars in 2000.
The first occurred on May 26. Brian Keith Fitzpatrick was shot in the head and killed in a robbery attempt as he was leaving the Interbelt.
Since then, owner Vernon Baker has installed new lights outside the bar to illuminate the parking areas, and also has two armed security guards on duty every night.
"If they see someone just walking around, they�ll go up and ask them what they�re doing there," Baker said of the Mid-American Security guards. "That�s their job."
Five months later, a man was shot in a carjacking outside of Cocktails. The man lived, and tapes from the bar�s outside security cameras led police quickly to the suspects arrested in the attack.
Both attacks seemed to be solely based on robbery; the victims were selected by availability, not sexual orientation.
by Steve LeBlanc
Boston--Proponents of two different ballot referendums are trading barbs over allegations that voters who signed a petition supporting one ballot question were duped into signing the other.
One question seeks to ban same-sex marriages. The other seeks a ban on using horsemeat for food. The groups supporting the questions used the same Arizona company to gather signatures needed to put the questions on the ballot.
Secretary of State William F. Galvin certified the required signatures for the marriage ban December 20. The initiative would amend the state constitution to limit marriage to the union of a man and woman. A quarter of the legislature must approve it in two separate sessions, in 2002 and 2003, and a majority of voters in 2004.
But there are allegations that signature gatherers steered people signing the horsemeat question to the marriage ban petitions.
Advocates for the horsemeat ban claim that some voters were asked to sign their petition, and were then asked to sign the gay marriage question without a full explanation. In other cases, voters were told they were signing the horse question as they were offered the gay marriage question, they said.
"Our petition was allegedly being used to trick people into signing the marriage petition," said Susan Wagner of the group Save Our Horses.
Several complaints have been filed with Galvin�s office, and Attorney General Thomas Reilly has urged petition signers to be cautious and carefully check what they are signing.
"The allegations have been similar in that voters are being solicited to sign �Petition A� (prohibiting the slaughter of horses) and then provided with �Petition E� (the marriage question)," Michelle Tassinari, legal counsel for Galvin�s elections division, wrote to Reilly in a letter.
Reilly said his office did some "spot checks which revealed that some voters may have signed a petition they did not support."
Backers of the marriage question, which would define marriage as a union between one man and one woman, deny the allegations.
"We at no time used a bait and switch tactic," said Bryan Rudnick, chairman of Massachusetts Citizens for Marriage.
Darby Daoust said she felt was given misleading information about the petitions. After she signed the horse question, the man gathering signatures flipped up the bottom of a second petition and asked if she wanted to sign that too, saying it was about the benefits of marriage.
It was only after she lifted the rest of page herself did she realize the question would ban gay marriages, she said.
"It was not in fact what he said it was supposed to be," Daoust said.
Backers of the horse question said they fear the scenario described by Galvin and Reilly may have cost them the signatures needed to get on the ballot. Their issue was not one of the three certified by Galvin on December 20.
Both groups hired Ballot Access Company of Phoenix to gather signatures. The company paid its workers $1 per signature.
The marriage question proponents eventually submitted about 80,000 certified signatures, well above the necessary 57,100.
Several calls to the head of Ballot Access, Derrick Lee, were picked up by an answering machine.
Wagner said her group may go to court to try to force the question onto the ballot.
Compiled from wire reports by Brian DeWitt, Anthony Glassman and Patti Harris.
The Dutch have wed almost 2,000 same-sex couples
Amsterdam, The Netherlands�Dutch civil servants wed nearly 2,000 same-sex couples in the first six months after gay marriage was legalized this year, a government agency said December 12.
The same-sex marriage law that took effect on April 1 made the Netherlands the first country to grant gay couples the same rights as heterosexual couples, including the right to adopt children.
The Central Bureau of Statistics said 2,100 men and 1,700 women had married someone of the same sex by Sept. 30.
Gay marriages comprised 3.6 percent of all new marriages. In April, this figure was more than 6 percent as gays and lesbians rushed to take advantage of the new law, but it gradually stabilized at around 3 percent.
Sixteen percent of the people who married someone of the same sex had earlier been in a heterosexual marriage. Most were divorced, and a few were widows or widowers.
Liechtenstein considers partner law
Vaduz, Liechtenstein�A bill granting marital rights to gay and lesbian couples is awaiting approval from Parliament.
The proposed legislation would not give gays in the principality the right to adopt, but all other rights granted to married couples would apply to same-sex couples.
The bill is similar to legislation being considered in neighboring Switzerland, as well as laws already in place in Scandinavia, France, Germany and Iceland.
Liechtenstein is a tiny autonomous principality, population 32,000, between Switzerland and the western tip of Austria.
Sodomy law challenged
Boston�In Mark Merante�s eyes, the life he shares with his long time partner Adrien Saks is a committed, loving relationship.
But a 350-year-old Massachusetts law describes the couple�s physical expression of that love as an "abominable and detestable crime against nature" punishable by a lengthy jail term.
It�s a law Merante is determined to wipe off the state�s criminal code.
The Boston attorney and his partner are two of ten plaintiffs who are asking the state�s highest court to rule the law unconstitutional.
The so-called "sodomy" law, which dates to colonial times, establishes penalties of up to 20 years for anal intercourse and 5 years for any "unnatural and lascivious act," interpreted to mean oral sex.
While few people are charged under the statute, it can be used to intimidate, according to Jennifer Levi, an attorney for Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders in Boston, which brought the case.
Levi cited the case of a man arrested after having consensual sex with another adult in a secluded area of state-owned land in 1999. Police used the threat of the 20-year felony to pressure the man, identified as "John Doe" in court briefs, to admit to trespassing and engaging in "open and gross lewdness." The charges were later dismissed.
Sodomy laws, even if rarely used, pose "pervasive and serious" harm because they threaten government intrusion into the most intimate areas of a person�s life, Levi said. They are sometimes used to paint gays and lesbians as criminals in civil rights and child custody cases.
Since 1962, 37 states--including Ohio--have repealed their sodomy laws or had them voided by courts. Thirteen remain; three of these apply only to gays and lesbians.
Spain to remove Franco-era charges
Madrid, Spain�Parliament pledged on December 12 to atone for forty years of anti-gay persecution under Gen. Francisco Franco�s fascist regime.
Franco ruled the country until his death in 1975.
During the time Franco was in power, gays, predominantly of the lower classes, were arrested, jailed, sent to mental institutions and often tortured and raped. They were charged under "public scandal" and "social danger" laws.
Parliament will expunge such charges from people�s criminal records, and is looking at ways to compensate the victims.
The People�s Party, under the leadership of conservative Prime Minister José Lopez Ibor, voted against legislation automatically granting financial compensation to gay victims.
The most famous person persecuted under the law was the poet Federico Garcia Lorca, who was killed by Franco�s regime.
Patricia Nell Warren�s novel The Wild Man deals with the Franco dictatorship and the efforts of a gay matador to escape Spain with his lesbian sister and their lovers.
Hospital won�t sign fairness pact
Lexington, Ky.�A Lexington hospital is refusing to sign an agreement that would bar it from discriminating against gay and lesbian volunteers.
Because Central Baptist Hospital has refused to sign the contract, the Community Action Council of Lexington says it will no longer place any volunteers at the hospital.
Since August, the council has asked organizations that use volunteers from its Retired and Senior Volunteer Program to abide by the city's fairness ordinance, passed in 1999. The law bans discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations.
Central Baptist's lawyers don't think the fairness ordinance applies to volunteers, hospital officials told the Lexington Herald-Leader.
The volunteer program, which is paid for in part by the Urban County government, reimburses the transportation costs of about 400 volunteers at more than 40 community organizations, such as hospitals and nonprofit agencies. There were about 40 of the senior program volunteers at Central Baptist.
Those volunteers can choose to stay at Central Baptist, but they will no longer be there under the auspices of the senior program.
After the agreement renewal was sent to Central Baptist in November, it was returned with "sexual orientation" crossed out, said Jon Parker, program development director for the action council.
Principal would out GSA members
Pensacola, Fla.�Students trying to form a gay-straight alliance at Escambia High School were faced with a major hurdle when they came to school on December 17. Both teachers who had offered to be faculty advisors had rescinded their offers.
The would-be student club had 40 students interested in joining, but it ran into problems the week before when Principal Delores Morris announced that she would call the parents of all students interested in forming the club, an action not taken with any other extracurricular organization.
An openly gay 16-year-old student and Marie Hommel, one of the teachers who had intended to sponsor the club, met with the administration earlier in the week. The student then spoke with the press, despite Hommel�s advice against it.
The student�s parents called the school to complain about the interview, which occurred in a classroom at the school.
Hommel, in explaining the withdrawal of her sponsorship, said that she thought the publicity around the club was causing isolation and ostracization that she had hoped the club would dispel. Allyn Pophin, the other would-be sponsor, said she changed her mind after witnessing same-sex students engaging in "inappropriate" behaviors in the lunch room, perhaps as a form of protest against the principal�s actions.
Woman guilty in castration death
Butler, Pa.�A transsexual woman whose husband died days after a crude castration in their trailer home was convicted December 14 of involuntary manslaughter.
Tammy Felbaum testified that she awoke from a drug-induced sleep to find James Felbaum had castrated himself.
"I couldn�t believe it," she said of her sixth husband.
She said James Felbaum, 40, wanted to prove he wouldn�t cheat on her and said, "Here, don�t ever tell me I don�t love you again."
Prosecutors, however, said she performed the crude operation herself last February.
Prosecutors also argued that Felbaum died from the pain and the effects of the painkiller, OxyContin.
But Coroner Cyril Wecht determined Felbaum choked to death on his own vomit, and said the castration did not lead directly to his death. The castration was performed on a Thursday and Felbaum died the following Sunday, court records show.
Tammy Felbaum has told authorities she performed a similar operation on herself when she was 21 and later had a sex change operation. She was also found guilty of aggravated assault, reckless endangerment and unauthorized practice of medicine. Sentencing is Feb. 27.
It�s a Friday. Check one of these calendars for that, and more
by Kaizaad Kotwal
The New Year is just around the corner and let�s hope it�s a better one than the last. The beginning of a year comes with many traditions, from toasting with champagne to dropping the ball in Times Square, but it also means hunting for a calendar or two to help mark time in the upcoming year.
Up until a few years ago calendars were geared mainly towards the June Cleavers of the world (genteel images of domestic bliss or natural beauty) or macho cave men (voluptuously airbrushed vixens wearing nothing, washing already-clean automobiles).
But now the rest of the crowd can indulge in just about any interest they have via their yearly calendars. There are several companies which, over the past decade or so, have emerged with calendars specifically of the LGBT audiences.
From the tame to the provocative, these days there are calendars to suit everyone�s taste. Here is a sampling of some of the best of 2002.
FotoFactory Press (http://www.fotofactory.com) and its subsidiary Phenomenon Factory have a total of eight amazingly diverse and colorful calendars. Over the years, with new editions for 2002, their most popular ones have been the Black Men, Latino, Youth, Marines, and Porn Studs calendars. In addition they have two special ones out this year, one for men focusing on the vintage photography by Mel Roberts and another for women featuring the brilliantly kaleidoscopic fantasy imagery of Justice Howard.
Bruno Gmunder of Germany has a stunning set of ten calendars available, albeit all geared towards men. Gmunder, a very high-end publisher of male photography, balances erotic images with a wide range of art photography. Two of their best ones are photographer Beno Thoma�s Absolute Sweden, which features sepia-toned pictures of his journey through this Scandinavian haven, and the Francois Rousseau calendar, which has subtle and evocative images of gorgeous men enjoying friendship in the expanses of Mother Nature.
Ten Percent Productions (http://www.10percent.com) has the most diversity available to both men and women. They truly cater equally to gays and lesbians and their calendars are beautifully designed with images that are sometimes serious and at other times, very playful and energetic. Ten Percent also caters to diverse racial preferences and there is a calendar for just about every taste.
A standout here is Joe Phillip�s collection of his cartoon imagery of Boys Will Be Boys, a fun and extremely colorful series of playful men reveling in both masculinity and tenderness.
Blue Door Collection (http://www.bluedoorcollection.com), like Gmunder, balances erotic imagery with a healthy heaping of art photography. In addition to the more conventional 16 month, multi page wall calendars, Blue Door also offers a single-sheet wall calendar and a desk calendar.
Check local bookstores like An Open Book, Crazy Ladies, Body Language and Diverse Universe for these and many other calendars. In most instances, if they don�t have them, they can probably order them.
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