Memo reveals plan to allow Salvation Army to
Memo reveals plan to allow Salvation Army to violate state and local gay job bias measures
by Anthony Glassman
Washington, D.C.—President George W. Bush would change regulations to allow religious groups that get federal money to discriminate against gays and lesbians, according to a memo revealed in a July 10 Washington Post story, in exchange for the Salvation Army’s help getting his "faith-based" initiative passed.
The revelation touched off a maelstrom of controversy and White House backpedaling.
According to the memo, the White House had committed itself to introducing regulations protecting "faith based" charities from local and state laws barring employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.
In exchange for his help, the internal Salvation Army document said, the group would use its clout to support Bush’s proposal, which would give government funds to religious charities providing social services in lieu of government programs.
"It is important that the [Salvation] Army’s support for the White House’s activities occur simultaneously with efforts to achieve the Army’s objectives," the Washington Post quoted the document. "The White House has already said that they are committed to move on the Army’s objectives when the legislation carrying the charitable choice provisions passes the House of Representatives."
According to George Hood of the Salvation Army, the organization does not discriminate based on sexual orientation when delivering services, but feels that, being a Christian organization, forcing them to hire gays and lesbians would infringe on their religious freedom.
The White House almost immediately denied any such deal was in the works.
"It’s important to fully comply with civil rights laws and the "faith-based" legislation . . . fully complies with civil rights laws," White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer told reporters July 10.
Federal law does not protect the rights of lesbian and gay employees or applicants. The 1964 Civil Rights Act also allows religious organizations to discriminate on the basis of religion in matters of employment, unless they receive government money.
The Salvation Army, however, is worried about state and municipal measures, specifically those barring anti-gay employment discrimination or requiring employers contracting with governmental bodies to offer domestic partner benefits to gay and lesbian couples.
Twelve states have laws barring anti-gay discrimination, as do most of the nation’s large cities. These include Cleveland, Columbus, Toledo, Youngstown and seven smaller Ohio towns.
The White House still supports the idea behind the memo. Bush spokesman Dan Bartlett stood behind an earlier statement by Vice President Dick Cheney that a group should be allowed to be faithful to its "underlying principles and organizing doctrines'' even when it accepts government money.
In the aftermath of the release of the 79-page document, everyone from the chairman of the Democratic National Committee to the director of public affairs of the gay and lesbian Log Cabin Republicans weighed in on the allegations, almost universally attacking the Salvation Army.
"The Salvation Army is an organization that discriminates against gays in hiring, and which clearly needs to justify the reported amounts it is spending on this effort ($88,000-$110,000 per month) to its supporters," read Kevin Ivers’ press release from Log Cabin. "The Salvation Army’s sole objectives in backing this legislation have nothing to do with its stated mission of feeding and clothing the poor, but to have even wider latitude to fire and discriminate against their gay employees."
Ivers’ statement also reinforces the White House’s denial of collusion with the Salvation Army.
Other organizations, however, are holding Bush accountable for the report, as well as the Salvation Army.
"It is an outrage that the president of the United States would, in the name of faith and compassion, cut a deal like this with people who have as their stated goal discrimination against other Americans," said Equal Partners in Faith co-chair Rev. Meg Riley. Equal Partners is a religious network committed to progressive social and religious goals.
"This just goes to show that the real purpose of the president’s initiative is to promote discrimination and appease those who want to discriminate using taxpayer money."
"These efforts strengthen the perception that George W. Bush is out of touch with the concerns of local leaders and mainstream Americans who support efforts to end discrimination against gays and lesbians," Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe said. "Instead, his focus remains with the ultra-conservative special interests, helping to advance their agendas, not the will of the people."
by Genaro C. Armas
Washington, D.C.—One reason for the large apparent increase in same-sex partner households in the 2000 census: The government reclassified many of the 1990 same-sex couples that checked "spouse," including as opposite-sex married couples.
Therefore, direct comparisons between the two censuses are impossible, the Census Bureau said July 10, angering gay and lesbian advocacy groups.
The discrepancy revolves around live-in same-sex couples that in 1990 checked off "spouse" as their relationship and "married" as their marital status.
In many of these cases, census computers changed the sex of one of the people, creating an opposite-sex married couple.
In 2000, a same-sex partner identified as "spouse" on a census form was counted as a same-sex unmarried partner. The 2000 census short form did not ask specifically ask about marital status.
In both years, same-sex partners who checked "unmarried partner" were counted correctly.
As a result, "estimates of same-sex unmarried partners are not comparable between the 1990 and 2000 census," a bureau advisory posted on its web site said. "We believe 2000 estimates of this category are better estimates than those produced in 1990."
Several bureau analysts had previously said that comparisons on same-sex couple homes were valid, with the caveat that 1990 figures were from a survey of households. Figures from 2000 were based on a count of all homes.
"In 1990, the logic then was that these are opposite sex couples," Martin O’Connell, chief of the bureau’s fertility and family statistics branch, said July 10.
"In 2000, because we were more cognizant that it could occur, it was then decided that those responses could actually mean a [same-sex] couple living together," he said.
Despite the warning, gay civil rights groups contend that the explosive increases detected by the census are real and are mainly the result of more same-sex couples becoming comfortable identifying their relationship.
Releasing statistics on how many people identified themselves as "same-sex spouses" in both counts would address the problem, said David Smith, a strategist with the Human Rights Campaign.
"Statistically, what they did in 1990 was outrageous," Smith said.
"The effect of that rendered gay families invisible."
Regardless, Smith said gay and lesbian households were still undercounted in both censuses.
The Census Bureau does not plan to release figures on how many same-sex couples checked off "spouse" as their relationship.
The bureau said it reallocated same-sex spouse data in 2000 because federal law recognizes only opposite-sex marriages.
In addition to opposite-sex married couples, some 1990 forms that included a same-sex spouse relationship could have been reclassified into other relationship categories, based on other information on the form.
Though that reclassification changed the count in those other categories, bureau analyst Jason Fields said it was statistically accurate to make comparisons in those categories.
Nationally, unmarried partner homes, regardless of sexual orientation, increased 72 percent from 3.2 million in 1990 to 5.5 million in 2000.
Less than 5 percent, or about 145,000 of the country’s unmarried partner households in 1990 were made up of same-sex couples.
A study by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force estimated that the census misallocated another 4,350 gay and lesbian couples in 1990 because they identified themselves as married.
"I have no doubt that there are a substantial number of people in 1990 who identified themselves as spouses," said Paula Ettelbrick, family policy director for the Task Force. "I also have no doubt there are substantial increases in 2000."
Court cases and increased attention on gay and lesbian issues in the years before the 2000 census led to changes in how same-sex spouses were counted, O’Connell said.
Bureau officials stressed that the 1990 decision on how to count same-sex spouses was based only on statistical concerns, and was not meant to relay a social message. The 1990 census was the first to offer the "unmarried partner" option.
by Eric Resnick
Cincinnati--Under political pressure from the mayor and council members, an economic development group has been forced to withdraw from a study on the possibility of repealing Cincinnati’s anti-gay charter amendment.
Downtown Cincinnati, Inc., a partnership between the public and private sectors with city funding and an independent governing board, was created to bring commerce and economic activity to the city.
According to the Greater Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau, the 1993 charter amendment, commonly known as Issue 3, has lost the city more than $64 million and threatens its bid to host the 2012 Olympics. The measure, now Article 12 of the city charter, prohibits the city from enacting any measure that protects gays and lesbians from discrimination.
Five organizations led by the National Conference for Community and Justice, formerly the National Conference of Christians and Jews, agreed April 6 to conduct a study examining the charter amendment’s impact and gauge public sentiment to see if people would now favor its repeal.
The other sponsors were the Greater Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio, the 2012 Olympic bid committee, and Downtown Cincinnati. Major corporations have also agreed to contribute funds toward the study.
According to Stonewall Cincinnati executive director Doreen Cudnik, the study is believed to be the first step toward the charter amendment’s repeal.
"A lot has happened to Cincinnati this past year, and the winds of change are blowing," said Cudnik.
But Downtown Cincinnati is funded by the Cincinnati City Council. Its 2002-2005 budget is $7 million.
The mayor and members of council who helped pass the anti-gay charter provision were unhappy with Downtown Cincinnati’s support of the study, and threatened to defund it, alleging that the study would involve Downtown Cincinnati in political activity and go beyond its city-approved duties.
The council members who oppose the charter amendment’s repeal are all Republicans, led by Phil Heimlich, joined by Chris Monzel and Pat DeWine. Mayor Charlie Luken is a Democrat.
The four voiced their concerns only a week before council was to vote on Downtown Cincinnati’s budget, causing the group to hastily withdraw June 27 from the study, which its directors approved unanimously in April.
The study is scheduled to begin this month and will consist of focus groups, interviews of community leaders, and a public opinion survey.
As a voter-approved charter amendment, repealing Issue 3 would require an election to be held.
Cudnik said Lukens has done a "flip flop" on the issue.
Stonewall Cincinnati had endorsed him for mayor in 1999.
"I have a signed statement from him saying he is in favor of repealing Issue 3," said Cudnik. "How can he say he’s opposed to the charter amendment and oppose a study examining its impact?"
Cudnik said that it is only because the charter amendment is about lesbians and gays that Downtown Cincinnati was forced to withdraw.
"It is not a violation of their mission," said Cudnik, "and if not DCI, then who is appropriate to be a part of this study?"
Cudnik said the idea of the study came about in April, and resulted, in part, from the racial tension resulting from the killing of an unarmed African-American man by a white police officer.
"Had DCI instead signed on to a study examining racial tension in this city, their funds would not have been threatened," said Cudnik.
Cudnik accused Lukens and Heimlich of "holding DCI’s funding hostage."
"This has been a trying year in Cincinnati," said Cudnik. "People are beginning to see what happens to a city that doesn’t celebrate its diversity, and people see what they did as a strong-arm tactic."
Luken will be on the ballot in November. Heimlich cannot run for re-election due to term limits.
"The people opposed to the study are the same people who worked for Issue 3’s passage and defended it in the courts," said Cudnik. "I think there has been a change in public sentiment, and they know it."
Robert Harrod, Cincinnati regional director for the National Conference for Community and Justice agrees, noting that the nation is becoming more tolerant of gays and lesbians and that many major employers in Cincinnati offer same-sex partner benefits.
The study will occur, even without DCI’s involvement.
Harrod hopes it can be completed by fall.
by Anthony Glassman
Washington, D.C.—In a well-choreographed opening volley, the religious right has begun a battle to change the United States Constitution to outlaw same-sex marriages.
The charge started with an editorial in the July 7 issue of the conservative National Review. The piece sounded a battle cry, warning its readers that gay activists were trying to use the court system to force states to allow gay marriage, and that they would then use the courts to force other states to recognize those marriages. From there, according to the Review, it would be a short step to make the states allow gay marriages to be performed.
A group called the Alliance for Marriage, made up of "family policy experts" and conservative religious leaders, called a press conference July 12 to announce the drive for a constitutional amendment.
The alliance’s advisory board is made up mostly of conservative clergy, with some college professors.
"Let’s challenge the homosexual movement to play fair on the playing field of democracy," alliance executive director Matt Daniels said. "If they want the benefits of marriage allocated a wider circle of groups, they need to convince the majority of people that it’s the right thing."
Gay equal rights advocates, however, believe that the move is a homophobic attack designed to turn back the clock.
"It would create a constitutionally-mandated second class of citizens," said Human Rights Campaign spokesman David Smith.
The proposed amendment contains two sentences: "Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups."
According to Daniels, a number of members of Congress from both parties have pledged their support, but he declined to name any and said that they would be revealed later, not at the July 12 press conference.
The amendment could have even farther-reaching effects that it would seem on its face. Laws granting domestic partnership benefits or allowing surviving partners to sue for wrongful death or collect pensions could be jeopardized by the proposed amendment.
For instance, a lesbian police officer in Florida, who was killed by a suspected bank robber on July 6, had been in a relationship with a detective in her precinct for ten years. However, since the two were not legally married, her partner will not get her pension.
In California, the state senate is now considering a law allowing unmarried partners to sue for wrongful death, stemming from the dog-mauling death of lacrosse coach Diane Whipple. The proposed amendment would void the law, leaving Whipple’s partner, Sharon Smith, with no legal recourse to collect damages in Whipple’s brutal slaying.
To take effect, the amendment would need to be passed by two thirds of both houses of Congress, then be ratified by 38 state legislatures. The Constitution has 27 amendments, but only one has been ratified in the last 30 years.
by Eric Resnick
Los Angeles--The nation’s largest teachers union dropped a resolution urging schools to be more accepting of lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender and questioning students in favor of forming a task force to recommend ways to make schools safer for LGBT students.
National Education Association president Bob Chase made the decision to form the task force July 5 at the national assembly in Los Angeles, following the withdrawal of the controversial resolution urging schools to be more accepting of LGBT students.
This strategic change generally pleased NEA members working on behalf of LGBT students, because they believe that the actions that will come from the task force’s report will be stronger and more forceful than what the resolution would have provided.
"Resolutions have no direct force," said NEA spokesperson Kathleen Lyons. "They are just a framework for developing actions."
Lyons said that the task force’s report will be presented to the NEA board of directors as a set of specific actions in February, and once approved, those actions will become part of the way the NEA directs activity at the local level.
"You could make a strong case that this [task force] goes far beyond what the resolution would have done," said Lyons.
The NEA has long been an advocate of gay and lesbian equal rights. Its first policies concerning sexual orientation were approved in 1974, and resulted from concern about the number of gay teachers that were losing their jobs.
Since then, the NEA has addressed sexual orientation discrimination through the collective bargaining process, and was a financial supporter of the 1987 March on Washington. In 1988, the NEA began addressing the needs of lesbian and gay students, and in 1995 passed a resolution encouraging teachers to include lesbain and gay history month celebrations in curriculum.
In addition to the formation of the task force, Lyons said the NEA also changed existing language in older actions to spell out the inclusion of bisexual, transgender, and questioning individuals.
But the resolution to develop programs addressing the needs of LGBT students and the development of lessons on the heritage, culture, and history of LGBT people, which was brought to the floor by the California caucus, was by far the most controversial action of the Los Angeles conference.
About 400 Christian activists led by the anti-gay organization Focus on the Family, and joined by the anti-gay Traditional Values Coalition and the Capitol Resource Institute of California picketed the conference.
Focus on the Family used Christian talk radio to organize the action, then used their media to claim victory when the resolutions committee withdrew the original proposal.
But the results of the task force will be a stronger, more gay-affirming position than the one they say they defeated.
Lyons called the Focus on the Family spin and some of the mainstream media coverage of events "totally absurd" and added that it is unusual for NEA conferences to be without protesters.
NEA gay and lesbian caucus chair Kathy Figel conceded that there was some opposition to the original resolution, "mostly coming from delegations from the southeastern states."
"They were concerned about how some of their members would react," said Figel, adding that she supported the president’s creation of the task force because it will give those favoring the gay-affirming measures a better chance to work with their colleagues to build a stronger support base.
"As gays, lesbians, and bisexuals, we want to be heard," said Figel, "and I believe that in order to be heard, we must also hear what others are saying, and that is what we are doing here with this task force."
"I would rather wait one year and increase our percentage of support than pass it now and have resentment," said Figel.
In response to the protesters, Chase said, "We will not allow our policy or our discussions to be dictated by any outside group, particularly those that wish to demagogue on the issue instead of focusing on the needs and problems of these students and educational employees."
"I feel the protesters made a lot of delegates and NEA leaders more committeed to addressing the issue," said Figel.
"Delegates who had to walk through the protesters every day learned what our kids go through in schools, and it raised their consciousness quite a bit."
Figel and Lyons expressed confidence that the task force report will be well-received, and that the board of directors will pass the recommendations in February.
by Eric Resnick
Lakeside, Ohio--United Methodists across Ohio are making plans to challenge the church’s anti-gay doctrine at its next quadrennial General Assembly.
A group of ministers and parishioners in the church’s East Ohio Conference introduced a statement June 22 calling for the church to examine and change its statement that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching, ordain gays and lesbians, and honor same-sex couples.
The "East Ohio Declaration," signed by more than 500 United Methodists, 30 of them clergy, was introduced at the East Ohio Conference’s annual meeting in Lakeside, a Methodist retreat on Lake Erie near Sandusky.
The statement is the beginning of a series of discussions on the matter scheduled for September, and virtually ensures that the church will deal with sexual orientation at its next General Assembly, set for Pittsburgh in 2004.
Other Methodist conferences around the country, including the Western Ohio Conference, have also begun discussing issues related to sexual orientation.
The East Ohio Conference, which is headquartered in North Canton, covers the area of the state between Cedar Point and Marietta and has 192,000 members in 854 congregations, according to its associate director Rev. Tony Jones.
Jones said that members would be bringing the matter to Bishop Jonathan Keaton at the next annual meeting in June 2002, and from there it could become a petition before the 2004 General Assembly.
The previous General Assembly, held last May in Cleveland, rejected petitions to drop a 1972 statement that homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching by a 2 to 1 margin.
During that assembly, 29 Methodist clergy and delegates were arrested from the floor protesting the church’s anti-gay votes. An additional 191 members of the gay group Soulforce, most of whom were Methodists, were arrested outside a day earlier, protesting the church’s unwillingness to welcome gay, lesbain, bisexual and transgender members.
Bishop Keaton supports the discussion resulting from the declaration, even though he supported the church’s 2000 position, Jones said.
"This isn’t really a change," said Jones. "There will be some people who will disagree, and these issues need to be looked at. Until that time, we are bound by church law."
Rev. Lea Mahan of the Peninsula United Methodist Church, also said that the signers do not want to do anything to defy the church in the process of discussing the issue.
Mahan said she is proud to be one of the declaration’s signers, and proud that 29 of the 200 active members of her church signed the declaration.
"Signing this was a way for me to make a witness," she said. "It is a way for us to say to our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters: Hang in there.
We’re not done with this yet."
Mahan is hopeful that the September 22 meeting will be constructive and get more people talking about the issue.
"The United Methodist stand [on homosexuality] just may not be God’s last word on the topic," concluded Mahan.
by Anthony Glassman
Athens—The Ohio University chapter of Delta Lambda Phi, a national gay fraternity, made history in May by becoming what may be the first gay fraternity to be on a campus interfraternity council.
The secret-ballot vote to let the frat join the council was close, but council sources would not reveal the exact count.
The 17 members of O.U.’s council have joint recruitment on campus, organize activities for Greek Week, engage in intramural athletics and make policy concerning campus Greek life, an enticing list of benefits for a small college town with a limited number of social activities. The benefits are worth the additional fees council members must pay, according to Delta Lambda Phi members.
Being a gay fraternity, presents some challenges, even with council membership according to chapter president John Hall. Members are not allowed to have sexual contact with pledges, Hall said, and are discouraged from dating other members of the fraternity.
The chapter also decided not to invest in a house, noting the possibility it would be viewed as a sex house and a target for vandalism. Fraternity houses have high insurance rates to begin with, because of the high instance of vandalism.
Delta Lambda Phi also has chapters at Kent State University and Eastern Michigan University, which offers Ohio students in-state tuition rates. |
Compiled from wire reports by Brian DeWitt, Anthony Glassman and Patti Harris.
Pro-gay voters were misled into signing repeal petitions
Annapolis, Md.—The apparently successful petition drive for a referendum to repeal Maryland’s gay equal rights law has hit a road bump, with accusations that petitioners deliberately deceived people into signing their names.
In May, the Take Back Maryland web site had scripts available to those soliciting signatures. The fourth question on the script, following those dealing with residency and voter registration status, asked people how they felt about gay rights.
If the person being solicited answered that they were in favor of gay rights, the script called for the petition carrier to tell them that the petition would give people the chance to vote for the anti-discrimination law.
No vote was needed, the law had already passed in May and was to take effect in October. Petition signers will delay the law until after a November 2002 referendum, or cancel it entirely if it fails that vote.
A few people submitted written requests to the Board of Elections requesting that their names be taken off the petitions, once they learned the truth. The deadline for requesting the removal of a signature from the petitions was June 30, the same deadline as the petitions themselves.
Organizers claimed they turned in 55,000 signatures; 46,000 were needed to put the law to a vote. The Board of Elections has not yet certified the signatures.
Accusations of similar tactics were made recently in Michigan, when the head of the American Family Association’s chapter there admitted that volunteers for the group used vague or misleading language to get people to sign petitions to repeal gay civil rights ordinances in a number of Michigan cities.
New Jersey rights law covers TGs
Trenton, N.J.—Ruling in a case brought by a doctor fired after she started dressing as a woman, a New Jersey appeals court said transsexuals, feminine men and masculine women are covered by the state’s existing laws against discrimination.
The July 3 ruling applies only to state laws, but advocates for gay and lesbian issues praised the ruling, calling it one of the most sweeping decisions of its kind because it extends discrimination laws to those struggling with gender identification.
The three-judge panel ruled in favor of a transsexual who was fired from West Jersey Health System in Camden County in 1997.
Carla Enriquez was hired as medical director of an outpatient learning and behavior center in November 1995. At the time, she was known legally as Carlos Enriquez and appeared in public as a man.
In September 1996, Enriquez "began the external transformation from male to female" by shaving a beard, trimming eyebrows and wearing earrings, the judge said.
In June 1997, Enriquez was diagnosed with gender dysphoria. A month later, the hospital canceled its contract with Enriquez and gave no cause for the dismissal.
Self-hate drove teen to kill boyfriend
Houston—A 16-year-old has confessed to killing his 14-year-old boyfriend because their relationship made him hate himself.
Jon Paul Marsh, now 17, was arraigned July 2 on charges that he killed Nathan Mayoral, who Marsh says he was involved in a relationship with.
Detective Ben Beall read a transcript of Marsh’s confession during his bail hearing. Marsh’s father openly sobbed in court as Beall recalled that Marsh described growing up in a Christian home where homosexuality was condemned.
Marsh said he considered himself an "abomination."
Mayoral’s parents deny that their son was gay, insisting that he "liked girls." They say that, since their son is not there to defend himself, Marsh cannot claim the relationship was consensual.
Man charged in Fiji double murder
Suva, Fiji—The official stance of the Fiji police differs sharply with a pathologist’s report on the deaths of a Red Cross official and his New Zealand-born lover.
John Scott, head of the Fiji chapter of the Red Cross, and Gregory Scrivener, his partner, were hacked to death in their home on July 1.
Police have since arrested Apitia Kaisau, 23, and charged him with the murders. Two others held for questioning, including a former constable friend of the couple, have been released.
A report by a pathologist hired by Scrivener’s family, however, indicated that the men were tortured before being killed, leading to speculation that more than one person was involved in the murders.
Further complicating the matter is Kaisau’s allegation that he was "sexually exploited" by the victims. Police are reportedly questioning other young men in Suva, and claim to have found a box of pornography and a bag of "white powder" in the men’s house.
Scrivener’s family denies the "exploitation" allegation, and say that police planted the porn and the powder.
New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff has assured Scrivener’s family that his office will keep a close eye on Fijian police to ensure that justice is served.
Scott came to international attention last year when he served as an intermediary, bringing food, medicine and letters to members of this South Pacific nation’s government being held hostage in a failed coup. He and Scrivener had expressed concern that supporters of coup leader George Speight might seek revenge for Scott’s role.
Partner rights bill advances
Sacramento, Calif.—Because Sharon Smith and Diane Whipple were lesbian partners, Smith said she is having trouble suing the owners of the dogs that killed Whipple outside their San Francisco apartment.
"This disrespects Diane’s life and her memory," Smith said July 10 as she testified in favor of a California bill to expand benefits available to gays and seniors who are registered with the state as domestic partners.
The Assembly-passed bill was approved by a 4-2 vote of the Senate Judiciary Committee. It advances to the Appropriations Committee.
Smith and Whipple’s mother, Penny Whipple-Kelly of Fairfield County, Conn., have filed wrongful death suits against the couple who owned the dogs.
However, current California law allows only spouses and other relatives to bring such lawsuits.
The bill by Assemblywoman Carole Migden, D-San Francisco, would allow domestic partners to seek economic and emotional damages in wrongful-death lawsuits.
Since January 2000, 15,000 people have registered with the secretary of state as domestic partners. The 1999 law creating that registry allows only limited benefits--the right to visit a partner in a hospital and some health benefits for state workers.
The new bill would also require health insurers to offer coverage for domestic partners, although employers would not have to provide it. The bill would also give partners medical decision-making authority in hospitals, inheritance without a will and unemployment benefits when a partner transfers a job.
Teen bragged he ‘beat up a fag’
Cortez, Colo.—A teenager charged in another boy’s killing bragged to friends that he "beat up a fag," according to affidavits released by the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Department July 11.
Sixteen-year-old Fred Martinez Jr. was an openly gay Navajo, and authorities are investigating whether he was killed because of his race or sexual orientation.
His body was discovered June 21, a short distance from his home near the southeastern Colorado town of Cortez. Martinez had last been seen five days earlier leaving for a carnival in the town.
Shaun Murphy, 18, who lives with his mother about 45 miles southeast of Cortez in Farmington, N.M., was charged July 9 with second-degree murder.
Murphy’s mother, Angel Murphy Tacoronte, 34, said her son had attended the carnival in Cortez on June 16 and returned home with marks from a fight.
She said that Murphy began crying when he saw a report on television that Martinez had died and recognized the dead boy’s picture.
She said her son told her several other people were at the fight but she didn’t know who they were.
Paul Bostrom, Montezuma County coroner, said Martinez had been beaten and bludgeoned with a blunt object such as a rock, and may have died of exposure. A puncture wound was also found on his abdomen.
Martinez was described by classmates as openly gay, outgoing and happy.
Tacoronte said she did not know what prompted the fight but said it could not have been Martinez’s race or sexual orientation because she is gay and has dated Native Americans.
Author backs off Anita Hill attack
Washington, D.C.—A gay author who strongly criticized Anita Hill after the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has backed off his claims.
David Brock wrote the best-selling 1993 book The Real Anita Hill, challenging her allegations of sexual harassment that almost derailed Thomas’ nomination to the Supreme Court. Brock described Hill then as "a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty."
"I was a witting cog in the Republican sleaze machine," Brock says in the August issue of Talk magazine, which ran excerpts from his upcoming book Blinded by the Right.
Thomas had no comment, said Supreme Court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg.
In 1992, Brock wrote an article for the conservative magazine The American Spectator that became the basis for his book on Hill. Brock now says that in that article he did everything "to ruin Hill’s credibility" and he dumped "virtually every derogatory--and often contradictory--allegation I had collected on Hill into the vituperative mix."
"I demonized Democratic senators, their staffs and Hill’s feminist supporters without ever interviewing any of them," Brock wrote.
by Anthony Glassman
There is a simple, overwhelming fact that rules the world of VHS and DVD: Tuesday is new release day.
The paper comes out on Friday, however, and a lot of Tuesdays have come and gone since the last time someone took a moment to go through the collection of videotapes in the old living room to let the readers know what is out there.
One caveat before reading any more of this article: These are predominantly "boy" films. That is not to say that they are smutty films; nothing could be farther from the truth. The simple fact of the matter is that, at the moment, this reviewer has only gotten two "girl" movies from the companies, something that he is trying to correct.
The Faustian story is an old one: Man is miserable, man sells soul to Satan, man is still miserable, man tries to renege on deal and get soul back.
When the man is a gay performer, and the narrative is a movie released by Culture Q Connection, a lovely company out of Arizona, the video gets reviewed here.
Ted Sod wrote and stars in the film, dealing with a gay comedian with AIDS. He doesn’t want to die, and decides that selling his soul to Old Nick to keep on keepin’ on might be a good idea. Mephistopheles tosses in raging success along with lifting his virological death sentence, just to be a nice embodiment of all things evil.
As usual, however, there is a catch: Simon DeSoto, Sod’s character, becomes famous as an Andrew Dice Clay-esque "bad boy" homophobic comedian, alienating his friends and lovers.
The film asks, in an intimate, conspiratorial way, what price is too high to pay for success? It takes the Faust story and deals with it in a far less whimsical way than Bedazzled, either the recent Brendan Fraser remake or the original Dudley Moore-Peter Cook vehicle. In those films, everything was jovial and "nudge nudge, wink wink."
In this video, however, there is a much darker edge, and the humor is tinged with bitterness, as the filmmaker himself had recently been diagnosed HIV-positive. The movie, made a number of years ago, was his reaction to that.
In a twist on the theme of the film, however, Ted Sod is still alive, having responded fairly well to current treatments.
Kizuna is, apparently, Japanese for "really strange gay love story."
Okay, that’s not true. It does, however, fit the two volumes currently available perfectly.
Kizuna is anime, Japanese animation. The story is taken from a comic strip of the same name which appeared in a publication called Be Boy Comics.
None of this seems particularly odd, does it? There are "adult" cartoons in the United States, comic books with hardcore sex, things like that. The weird part of all of this is, Kizuna is part of a movement of manga (comics) and anime that is aimed at 13-year-old girls, of all people. For some odd reason, pubescent Japanese females find gay love stories really romantic. It might be connected to the habit of Japanese animation artists to give their characters strangely colored hair.
Anyway, the story is simple: Ranmaru Samejima, a former fencing champion and current high school heartthrob, and his boyfriend Enjoji, son of the mafiosi who rules the Osaka underworld, live their usually idyllic lives together. That is, except when Enjoji’s half-brother Kei Sagano comes around and decides to make Samejima his own, or Enjoji’s father’s lieutenant, Masanori Araki, comes around to retrieve Sagano.
The connection between mob sons and homosexuality has not been made before, but apparently it’s there.
There is some sex in these two tapes, but it’s really tame, given both the original target audience and the absolutely psychotic Japanese censorship laws, which are a discussion for another day entirely.
Since first being released here in the States, Kizuna has become something of an underground hit, and it’s usually not all that hard to find the tapes or, now, DVDs. It’s worth a watch, at the very least. For a gay anime fan, not owning them, however, is pure heresy.
It played the Sundance Festival, it’s about a rave, and it probably does a better job of accurately portraying the rave scene than any non-documentary film ever has.
The film takes the audience through the life of a rave, from the early evening when the organizers are putting it together and the would-be attendees are organizing themselves, through to the wee hours of the morning, when those who danced the night away must face the rising sun.
The drug use is there, along with the cautionary "workaholic freaking out on Ecstasy." At the rave, a young man proposes to his girlfriend, the aforementioned workaholic connects with another person, Rachel True plays the same character she seems to play in almost every movie she’s in (The Craft, Nowhere), and a gay couple celebrate their one-year anniversary, praying the DJ doesn’t play any "happy house." In fact, one of the gay men is played by openly gay actor and singer Ari Gold, who was in Rent in an early off-Broadway run. Such a little cutie.
For those who have been to a rave, they’ll probably love this movie. For those who have not, they will probably like it anyway. It’s filled with PLUR (Peace, Love, Understanding, Respect), one of those neo-hippie raver things that keep the scene going, and keep people looking out for each other.
Also, of all the films here, this one is probably the easiest to find, having been released on Columbia/Tristar Home Video.
If these movies are not available at a local video store, ask at a nearby gay or gay-friendly bookstore, whose distributors should be able to get them, or see www.facetsvideo.com, www.wolfevideo.com, or www.cultureqconnection.com.
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