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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
May 11, 2001

Tristan Hand defeated in Warren council primary

James Moore-McDermott moves
on in Bucyrus council race

by Eric Resnick

Two openly gay candidates for Ohio city councils faced primary elections on May 8. One lost, and one will continue his campaign to the November 6 general election.

Defeated was Tristan Hand of Warren. James Moore-McDermott of Bucyrus will continue his campaign.

Hand finished third of three candidates, getting 160 votes for the Ward 4 seat. The winner is Robert Holmes III with 278 votes. Incumbent Ron White came in second with 268 votes.

Hand, 55, owns the gay bar Queen of Hearts which is located in that ward, as is his residence. He said things happened in the last few days of the race that caused him to lose what most believed to be the early lead.

"They brought up issues of my residency, trying to say I didn’t live here," said Hand. "What they said isn’t true, but we couldn’t get rid of it."

Hand also pointed out that Holmes shares his father’s name. The elder Holmes was a popular city council president.

Hand says he never encountered homophobia during the race.

"The F word and the Q word and the G word were never used," he said.

Hand says he is honored to have made history as the first openly gay candidate in Warren and that he will use his position to continue to work to better the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Warren.

"Voters have not seen the last of me," said Hand.

"We may win when we lose, if we have done what we can," said Hand, "for by so doing, we have made real at least some part of that finished product in whose fabrication we are most concerned--ourselves."

Three filed for three Bucyrus seats

The campaign of James Moore-McDermott, 27, for Bucyrus city council at large continues to the general election in November.

Moore-McDermott and two others were the only Democrats who filed to run for three open seats on the Bucyrus city council, so all three will continue to November. Two Republicans also filed. Of the five, the three top vote-getters in November will be seated on the city council.

Though rural, Bucyrus elects many Democrats, including the mayor, council president, and two other council members. The Crawford County Democratic Party asked Moore-McDermott to run after nearly appointing him to fill an open seat vacated when Dallas Easterday was elected to the county commission last fall. Moore-McDermott was a substantial fundraiser for Easterday.

"I breezed through the primary," said Moore-McDermott, "and I will continue to run a strong campaign for issues and people."

Moore-McDermott also believes public sentiment in this election will favor a younger candidate with a fresh approach.

He also recognizes the historical significance of his campaign. "I feel good about it, actually," he said.

"It is important that I be seen and heard as a gay man," he said, "and that people see that we are normal people who think for ourselves."

"Whether I win or lose, I have made a mark," he said.

"The people of Bucyrus can never take back that a gay man ran for council here."

Cleveland primary is in October

The city of Cleveland holds its primaries for municipal races in October, leaving openly gay Joe Santiago’s bid for the Ward 14 city council seat to heat up through the summer months.

Santiago is challenging incumbent Democrat Nelson Cintron to represent the Tremont neighborhood. As there are few Republicans in Ward 14, the winner of the primary election will take the seat.

Santiago, 34, is growing more confident about his race and sees being gay as an asset.

Santiago says he has already walked the ward two times, and plans to walk it four or five times before the October 2 primary. He describes initial polling that has been done as "favorable."

The Cleveland Stonewall Democrats as well as gay business owners and individuals are planning fundraising events for Santiago through the summer.

To the LGBT community of northeast Ohio, Santiago says, "I am looking forward to working with you and for you."

Both of Ohio’s present out elected officials are city council members whose terms end this year, Mary Wiseman of Dayton and Louis Escobar of Toledo. Wiseman said in January that she will not seek re-election, and Escobar’s Toledo primary is in September.


 

3,000 tour Columbus to raise money for AIDS services

by Kaizaad Kotwal

Columbus-Like the Pied Piper of Hamelin who led the vermin out of the fairy-tale city, AIDS Walks across the country have been growing stronger in an attempt to march the virulent monster out of our midst.

Central Ohio AIDS Walk 2001 took place on Sunday, May 6 along a 4.5 mile walk that began and ended downtown in Bicentennial Park.

Over 3,000 people showed up to march in the 82 degree temperature with many more coming to the park to support the walkers.

As in past years, ten agencies benefited from the walk. The agencies are Camp Sunrise, the Columbus AIDS Task Force; the Delaware County AIDS Task Force; Family AIDS Clinic and Educational Services; the Licking County AIDS Task Force; the Names Project of Central Ohio; the Ohio AIDS Coalition; Pater Noster House; Project Open Hand of Columbus; and theUnion County AIDS Task Force.

The walk was preceded by musical entertainment, celebrity emcees and an extremely quick warm up in the guise of a single stretch.

During the walk, participants were also entertained by the CATF Five Brass Quintet. Because this year's walk began at 2 p.m. at the height of the midday sun, extra precautions were taken to provide walkers with water along the way.

Several media personalities participated in the walk. WBNS Channel 10 News Anchor Andrea Cambern joined Channel 4 news anchor Tylar Bacome and Channel 6 weatherman Chris Bradley to lend their support. Chuck Gurney, who is the newest member of the Channel 10 team, was also present at his first AIDS walk in Columbus.

Cambern and Gurney gave out many prizes to children who had come to the walk, thanking them for their awareness and their support.

Cambern announced that this year "over sixty thousand pledge forms had been distributed" in an attempt to garner support for the walk.

Rich Kaffenburger came dressed as an AIDS ribbon, stopping often to pose for photos with other walkers.

The march assembled together a wide range of people and an equally large assortment of canine friends.

There were toddlers and septuagenarians, children in wagons and folks in wheelchairs as well as people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and occupational groups. Friends, families and co-workers, straight and gay gathered to raise money and awareness for AIDS.

Unlike past years, this year there was an absence of large groups walking under specific banners. In the past the Lazarus Department Store, Lucent Technologies, and groups like Stonewall and P-FLAG marched under large and bright banners. This year those banners were missing even though those groups were represented at the walk.

During the pre-walk festivities at Bicentennial Park, entertainment was provided by singer Donna Mogavero and the group Green Sky Grey. The Columbus Gay Men's Chorus sang several numbers during the opening ceremonies, most notably "Make Them Hear You" and "From This Moment On." The chorus sang selections from their upcoming "British Invasion" concert.


Summit County job bias rule passes unanimously

by Eric Resnick

Akron--By a unanimous vote, Summit became the second Ohio county to give its employees protection from job discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The Summit County Council approved the ordinance May 7. It was co-sponsored by all 11 members and County Executive James McCarthy, with no opposition.

Stonewall Akron president H. Paul Schwitzgebel was most pleased with the matter-of-fact manner in which the measure was approved.

"They passed it as routine business in with a hundred and one other items," said Schwitzgebel. "There was no particular attention paid to it other than the vote."

The measure, introduced April 23, resulted from a participant in Stonewall Akron’s Candidates Night Out event last fall asking county council candidate Peter Crossland why Summit County didn’t include sexual orientation in its equal employment opportunity statement. Would he work to include it, the questioner asked. Crossland said he would, and, once elected, took the matter to his colleagues.

The language of the bill was supported by Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh, who also attended the Stonewall Akron event.

The measure is limited to Summit County employees, which include those of all social service agencies, laborers, office personnel, sheriff’s deputies, court and jail workers, children services, and the board of mental retardation and developmental disabilities.

Though the Summit County ordinance is limited in scope, Stonewall Akron is pleased with its passage, and encouraged by the absence of debate on it.

Stonewall Akron is also working with a committee of community leaders selected by Akron city council president Marco Sommerville to pass an ordinance updating Akron’s civil rights ordinance to include sexual orientation and gender expression.

The updated ordinance, if passed, would protect transgender, bisexual, lesbian and gay residents of Summit County’s largest city from discrimination in employment, housing, credit and all public accommodations.

Summit County joins Cuyahoga County and the city of Dayton, which also include "sexual orientation" in their job bias policies. A 1983 executive order doing the same for state workers was replaced by Gov. Robert Taft with a 1999 one that doesn’t mention sexual orientation.


Service providers gather to discuss HIV housing needs

by Eric Resnick

Cleveland--One hundred AIDS activists, service agencies, governments, religious organizations, and entrepreneurs gathered May 3 in Cleveland for the first-of-its-kind conference examining the housing needs of people with HIV and AIDS.

The conference, called "Housing is Healthcare" was organized by the Cuyahoga Regional HIV Services Planning Council, which is the agency that administers the area’s Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act federal funds.

The Cuyahoga region is Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Geauga and Medina counties. The area is the only recipient of Title I Ryan White funds in Ohio. In order to be considered a Title I area, there have to be more than 2,000 people with active HIV and AIDS living there.

The conference was organized to recognize that housing tops the list of services needed by people in the HIV spectrum, and to address the growing awareness that there are many people slipping through the current system.

The conference published a summary of its discussions and findings that shows deficiencies in emergency shelter, especially for drug users who are not in recovery; housing for people getting services; services in addition to HIV and AIDS; lack of affordable acceptable housing; and lack of service integration.

Organizers hope that getting those who can make changes to start discussing the issues as stakeholders will begin the process of developing better services. The second message of the conference is that people are living longer with HIV and AIDS, but not necessarily healthier.

The conference heard from keynote speaker David Wertheimer of Seattle.

Wertheimer spoke about the results of a similar initiative in Seattle known as the Lion Project.

He said that most important message is that the housing problems of people with HIV and AIDS cannot be solved by any one system, because the issues are complex and people must be viewed holisticly.

Wertheimer, a former ACT UP organizer from New York, said that the barriers to addressing the needs of individuals include political challenges and fiscal limitations.

But he also warns that HIV and AIDS services must be careful not to assimilate too much into the existing social services as to lose their identity.

"We have to be a part of the larger health and social system, but not lose our identity as we are absorbed," he said.

Ryan White co-chair and Cleveland Director of Public Health Michele Whitlow said, "There is still a gap. We need to assess the true picture of how many people are not getting services and why."

Whitlow said there are 200 new housing units made available this year through cooperatives with Cleveland Metropolitain Housing Authority using Housing Opportunities for People With AIDS federal funds, but it has not been enough to meet the need. Because of the lack of documentation, they are not sure how much bigger the need is.

"We have always known there is a problem," said Whitlow, "but this conference, and the administrative levels of the participants shows that we have kicked it up to a higher level."


Ohio state senator Dan Brady, Cleveland council member Zack Reed, U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s staffer Amy Hochadel, Lakewood council member Michael Skindell, and Cleveland council members Dona Brady and Joe Cimperman, left to right, were among the 1,017 people turning out for this year’s HRC Cleveland banquet on May 5. Photo by David Ebbert

 

‘We are at a watershed moment,’ Birch tells HRC dinner

by Eric Resnick

Cleveland--"We are at a watershed moment in the grand scheme of human life on the planet," said Human Rights Campaign executive director Elizabeth Birch to the 1,017 people at the group’s eighth annual Cleveland fundraising dinner.

Birch’s remarks were part of her description of the shifts in public opinion in the direction toward equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans during the past ten years.

Birch, an Ohio native born at Wright Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, said she travels less since she and her partner Hilary Rosen became mothers of twins, Anna and Jacob, two years ago.

"I go where I want to go, and I wanted to come to Cleveland," said Birch.

The event, held at the Renaissance Hotel, was the largest HRC dinner held in the state of Ohio, raising $102,500 for HRC’s Washington, D.C. operations.

Birch also spoke of the work needed to move Congress into line with the American people on GLBT issues.

"It is about hard work, plain and simple," she said, "always in the daylight, never in the shadows."

Birch also commented on the disappointment over the election of President Bush that runs through the GLBT community. "This election may have broken some hearts, but we dare not let it dampen our spirits."

"We need to fight every instinct to turn off and tune out of what’s going on in Washington."

Birch suggested that an effective technique to deal with the new order in Washington may be to "appeal to the conscience of those who hate you."

The dinner’s keynote address was given by openly gay African-American author E. Lynn Harris, who spoke on what one can achieve once one stops being ashamed of who they are.

Harris has written four novels based on his life, including Invisible Life and Just As I Am. Forty-four young people from Black Out Unlimited’s 1722 Youth Program and area high schools were at the dinner. This was the first time the Cleveland dinner committee reached out to youth.

"We sent out invitations to high schools all over northeast Ohio, and gave tickets [donated by HRC Federal Club members] to those who responded," said dinner co-chair Dan Dowhower of Cleveland.

The North Coast Men’s Chorus performed and comedienne Karen Williams of Cleveland was the mistress of ceremonies.

The AIDS Taskforce of Cleveland was presented the 2001 Equality Award, the highest recognition given by the Cleveland committee. Previous recipients include the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio, former Ohio attorney general Lee Fisher, and former U.S. Rep. Louis Stokes.

The newly-introduced Ohio "Defense of Marriage Act" was on the minds of the speakers and the elected officials present. The measure, intended to block recognition of same-sex marriages and civil unions from other states, also blocks domestic partner and child visitation rights from out of state.

Rep. Erin Sullivan of Strongsville, the Democratic whip in the Ohio House, is considering what the Democratic caucus can do block its passage.

"It has not been discussed yet, but it will be," she said, adding, "I am impressed with the legal arguments against it your community has provided. It will give us a good start."

Sullivan was joined by elected officials from every level of government, including U.S. Reps. Sherrod Brown and Stephanie Tubbs Jones. Rep. Dennis Kucinich was represented by a member of his staff, as was Sen. George Voinovich.

State Senators Eric Fingerhut, Dan Brady and Jeffrey Armbruster attended with State Reps. Peter Lawson Jones and Dale Miller.

All three Cuyahoga County commissioners, Jane Campbell, Tim McCormack and Jimmy Dimora attended, along with county treasurer Jim Rokakis and former county commissioner Mary Boyle.

Cleveland City Council president Jay Westbrook was at the dinner, as were council members Joe Cimperman, Donna Brady, Tim Melena, Jay Westbrook and Zachary Reed. Lakewood Councilmember Michael Skindell also attended.

Cuyahoga County Court of Appeals Judges Patricia Ann Blackmon and Diane Karpinski were there, as were Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judges Stuart A. Friedman, Bridgette McCafferty and Mary Jane Boyle.

The largest applause went to openly gay Cleveland city council candidate Joe Santiago.

Dowhower wants the attendees to remember the reason why the dinner happens. "This is only one night and only 1,017 people, who we hope realize that for every one here there are three who are not."

"We hope all who came will continue to be active and stretch themselves as far as they can go to being visible and make a difference," said Dowhower.

Dowhower added that he is proud that this dinner reached out farther than to just those in Cleveland.

"We are beginning to spread away from just Cleveland and into all of northeast Ohio, and that helped make it an exceptional dinner."


 

Pride, Stonewall, and Wall Street top ‘Outie’ awards

by Kaizaad Kotwal

Columbus-The fourth annual Outie Awards were held on Sunday, May 6 at the Axis Night Club. Over 300 people showed up to see who would win the golden statuette in 20 categories.

The event, sponsored by Out in Columbus, Budweiser and the Gay People’s Chronicle, also raised $2,000 for the Columbus AIDS Task Force.

Winners were selected by voting on the OutInColumbus.com web site.

The evening’s festivities were hosted by Mary Ann Brandt, who later won the trophy for Best Female Illusionist. Best Male Illusionist was won by "Johnny."

The first award of the evening was presented in absentia by News Channel 4 anchor Colleen Marshall. In a videotape, Marshall presented the award for Best Event to the Pride Holiday.

On hand to present the award for Best Community Service Organization was Mary Ellen O’Shaughnessy. She gave the award to Stonewall Columbus for their contributions to the GLBT population in the city.

Wall Street Night Club won a host of awards that evening, including Best Dance Club and Best Overall Bar (Female). Wall Street also walked away with the Best Male and Female Bartender/Server awards, which went to Shaun Carter and Karrie Winship respectively.

Best Overall Bar (Male) went to Tradewinds II.

Out on Main was awarded the Best Place to Eat trophy. The restaurant was recently named a top ten restaurant of Columbus for this year.

Chris Cozad of the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization accepted the award for Best Activist, and said that the award was also due to her partner Gloria McCauley, who was also nominated in that category. Cozad said that "it was unfair that we were competing in the same category."

The awards show, which lasted a little over two hours, featured drag performances by Mary Ann Brandt, Loryane Love, Frita Lay, Maxine Waters, and Ricky Lane. In addition, two members of the H.I.S. Kings group performed as well.

Three members of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays Columbus unveiled a stained glass window, to be placed in the new cystic fibrosis wing of Children’s Hospital. The P-FLAG members also announced that the group’s 2002 national conference is going to be held in Columbus.


Tobacco giant targeted gays with ‘Project SCUM’

by Anthony Glassman

San Francisco—Tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds devised a plan to target gays and homeless people in the city in the mid-1990s, according to an industry document made public in a May 2 SF Weekly article.

Project SCUM, standing for Sub-Culture Urban Marketing, was designed to market the company’s cigarettes to gays in the Castro district and homeless people in the impoverished Tenderloin area of the city.

Referring to the people in the Castro as "alternative lifestyle" and the Tenderloin as "street people," the plan was designed to increase sales of the Camel line, as well as the retro-styled Kamel Red line, to gay men and lesbians, while introducing aggressive marketing for the Doral discount brand in depressed urban areas.

The documents outlining Project SCUM are among millions made public in the tobacco industry’s settlement of lawsuits across the country in recent years.

Anti-smoking LGBT groups, including the Mautner Project for Lesbians with Cancer in Washington, D.C., were outraged at the revelation.

"This is a hate crime, plain and simple," said Mautner Project executive director Kathleen DeBold. "What else do you call it when a group thinks of gays and lesbians as ‘scum,’ then targets us with something that kills?"

"It’s racist, it’s classist, it’s oppressive," said San Francisco Supervisor Chris Daly, who represents the Tenderloin. "And it is really disheartening to hear, but I can’t say that I’m surprised."

Anne Landman, an American Lung Association researcher who has been sifting through millions of industry files to better understand how the tobacco companies work, discovered Project SCUM a couple of weeks ago.

Landman last year unearthed documents indicating that Philip Morris had planned to increase its market share in the gay community by setting the Marlboro Man up as a gay icon.

Landman pointed out, however, that while both companies aggressively targeted gay men and lesbians, Philip Morris’ documents make no mention of disparaging terms like "scum."

The documents are causing more consternation in light of recent studies showing that gay men and lesbians smoke more than their heterosexual counterparts, and that lesbians are at greater risk for cancer than non-lesbian woman.

A University of California Los Angeles study indicated that 56% of lesbians are current or former smokers, compared to only 36% of heterosexual women. LGBT people who smoke also smoke more per person, according to studies. Coupled with other risk factors like nulliparity, or not having had children, lesbians are at far greater risk for certain types of cancer.

"The more I dig through these documents, I come to realize it’s all nasty," said Landman. "Even if it is a cute acronym, how do you justify it? What consumers would want to buy a product from any company that calls them scum?"

She does, however, point out that in the third and final document on the project from 1997, "SCUM" was manually crossed out and replaced with "sourdough," an inoffensive San Francisco reference.

"The name of the project is beyond offensive, and they realized that a little too late," Landman concluded.


 

Survey to test voter attitudes toward repeal of Issue 3

by John Nolan
Associated Press

Cincinnati--Civil rights activists plan surveys this summer to learn whether voters may feel differently about a 1993 amendment they approved that forbids the city from having laws based on sexual orientation.

"It was a very controversial amendment," said Robert Harrod, executive director for the Cincinnati region of the National Conference for Community and Justice, which will lead the study. "We have seen around the country a greater openness and tolerance toward gays and lesbians. We wanted to get a sense of whether that was indeed the case in Cincinnati as well."

The study will include focus-group discussions, one-on-one interviews of a cross-section of community leaders; a public opinion survey and a review of local corporations’ policies concerning discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Phil Burress, chairman of a coalition that supported the Issue 3 city charter amendment and defended it in the courts, said that nothing has changed since 1993 and that those who supported the measure still do.

"I think the people of Cincinnati will always be opposed to preferential treatment based on the choice of someone’s bed partner," Burress said Thursday. "There is no constitutional right to preferential treatment based on sexual orientation."

The court fight related to the amendment wasn’t resolved until the U.S. Supreme Court in October 1998 ended a five-year court battle by letting stand a ruling upholding the charter change. It is now Article 12 of the city charter.

The amendment forbids gay and lesbian activists from approaching city officials to lobby for any laws that would be based on sexual orientation.

It also repealed the section of a 1992 human-rights ordinance that forbade discrimination on the basis of sexual discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations. That same ordinance also banned discrimination on the basis of age, race, gender, disability, marital status and ethnic identity.

Harrod said that it is his sense that the nation’s mood is now becoming more tolerant. Some major corporations now offer benefits to same-sex partners.

Area tourism officials estimate that the city has lost as much as $64 million in convention business since 1993 because organizations which disapproved of the amendment have avoided bringing any business to the city.

Harrod said he hopes the study can be done in three months and can provide information for what could be done next. He isn’t saying what the next step would be or how much the study will cost.

Sponsoring the study are Cincinnati 2012 Inc., a group trying to bring the 2012 Summer Olympic Games to the city; the Greater Cincinnati Convention and Visitors Bureau; Downtown Cincinnati Inc., a business advocacy group, and the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio.

Doreen Cudnik, executive director of the gay and lesbian civil rights group Stonewall Cincinnati, said Issue 3 and Cincinnati’s April riots over the police shooting of an unarmed black man have given the city a negative image.

"We’re perceived as a little backwards, a little intolerant, and this is one of those reasons," Cudnik said. "The city of Cincinnati continues to lose money because of this bad law . . . We need to look at what we can do to present ourselves as an inclusive place, what can we do for everybody who lives here."

Her organization supports Harrod’s study, but hasn’t been asked to sponsor it and is not directly involved. She said the study is intended to reach mainstream audiences, not just Stonewall members who support the study’s goals.

"I’m really excited about it," Cudnik said. "It’s movement, and we haven’t seen a lot of movement in the last couple of years."


Police aren’t buying ‘gay panic’ motive for beating

by Dan Lewerenz
Associated Press

Middleburg, Pa.--Michael Auker was beaten into a coma after a night of drinking at his neighbor’s trailer, a brutal crime that has shocked residents of this town tucked into the rolling mountains of central Pennsylvania.

Residents are also shocked by the motive given for the March 6 assault: a pair of brothers allegedly told police that they attacked the 41-year-old Auker because he made advances toward them.

"This is terrible that they just went and beat this guy because they thought he’s gay," said barber Emory Musser, one of several in this town of 1,500 who said they didn’t believe Auker was gay.

Auker, who remained hospitalized in critical condition on May 2, was close to death when a co-worker found him in his home two days after the beating, in a coma and bleeding from his head.

Brothers Todd and Troy Clinger were arrested soon after Auker was found.

They have pleaded innocent to attempted homicide and aggravated assault and are being held until trial. Their parents, Gary and Connie Clinger, also have been charged after they allegedly tried to help their sons following the beating.

According to police reports, the brothers told investigators that they flew into a rage after Auker made sexual advances toward them after the three men spent that night drinking in Troy’s trailer. They claimed he tried to hug and kiss Troy, 18, and grabbed the crotch of Todd, 20.

But authorities describe it differently, saying the brothers met in the trailer’s bathroom to plan the attack and that Todd specifically said he would kill Auker.

"When they started this they had the intent to kill, and they took a substantial step toward that, and it was premeditated," said Snyder County district attorney Michael Scholly.

James Best, the Lewisburg attorney representing Troy, would not comment except to say other factors, particularly alcohol, contributed to whatever happened that night.

"I hope these folks are judged by the facts of the case and not through some prism of hate crimes or anything else," Best said.

Todd’s attorney, Brian Kerstetter, did not return a message from the Associated Press seeking comment.

Police say the brothers have never denied that they beat Auker, and Troy’s girlfriend, Niki Lee White, told police she heard the conversation in the bathroom and witnessed the beating.

According their statements to police, the brothers first lured Auker out onto the porch of Troy’s trailer, then hit him when he wasn’t looking. Auker rolled over on his back with his arms and legs raised in a defensive posture until the continued blows to his head finally knocked him unconscious. Todd punched and kicked Auker several more times as the brothers carried Auker back to his trailer, authorities say.

Gary and Connie Clinger arrived while their sons were moving Auker body.

Gary told police he helped carry Auker inside, then left him on a loveseat, authorities said. He has since been charged with recklessly endangering another person, criminal trespass and burglary.

Connie is charged with solicitation of perjury, allegedly asking White to lie to police. Both parents have pleaded innocent.

"She tried to get Niki White to change her story of what she told the police, specifically about the statement of Todd, saying how he wanted to kill him," said Pennsylvania State Police trooper Fred Dyroff, who investigated the case. "She wanted Niki to say she was hysterical and didn’t understand what was being said."

Police say no one in the family bothered to check on Auker, who lay in his house for two days before being found by the co-worker. Police arrested Troy almost immediately after noticing "nervous behavior" and scratches on his knuckles, Dyroff said. Todd was arrested later that day after allegedly fleeing to neighboring Mifflin County.

Locals describe Snyder County, about 50 miles north of Harrisburg, as a friendly place where people are allowed to live their lives in peace.

Scott Manning, assistant professor of French and Italian and adviser to the gay student group at nearby Susquehanna University, says that "live-and-let-live atmosphere" has helped in developing a thriving gay community in central Pennsylvania.

But by all accounts, Auker was not part of that community. Auker was married until about six months ago, Dyroff said. And Manning said the gay community was surprised to hear Auker referred to as being gay.

"I know some people who know this guy, and they say there’s no way he’s gay. He’s just a guy that when he drinks he gets real happy and friendly," said Middleburg resident David Walter.

That’s what troubles many in the area, who say a misinterpreted gesture might have almost cost a man his life.

"Part of the problem with anti-gay discrimination is that it doesn’t just affect gay people, it affects people who are presumed to be gay, whether they’re gay or not," Manning said. "This situation speaks pretty clearly to that problem, because nobody knows if this man is gay or not, but he was certainly beaten because somebody thought he was."


 

News Briefs

Kent State to have Ohio’s first minor in LGBT studies

Kent—Kent State University will break new ground this fall as it becomes the first college or university in Ohio to offer a minor in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender studies.

Kent joins a dozen other schools across the nation with similar programs, including Stanford, the University of California-Berkeley, the University of Michigan, Duke and Brown University, according to a story in the campus Daily Kent Stater.

The minor will be interdisciplinary, with classes in programs as diverse as political science, anthropology, modern and classical language studies, justice studies and psychology.

It will have two required classes, Introduction to LGBT Studies and Individual Investigation. There will then be two divisions of classes from which students can pick to tailor their minor to their interests.

Sociology Department chair Robert Johnson, Andrew London, and Dr. Molly Merryman of the Women’s Resource Center designed the minor, and sent out an interdepartmental letter stressing that the study of LGBT sexuality will lead to a greater study of sexuality in general.

 

Study supports ‘ex-gay’ groups

New Orleans—A controversial study released May 9 at the American Psychiatric Association’s annual conference suggests that some gay people can be converted to heterosexuality if they are motivated enough. The findings were immediately challenged by LGBT organizations and academic critics.

Neither the APA nor the American Psychological Association endorse "reparative" or conversion therapy, which both organizations warn may be extremely damaging to the mental health of the people involved.

The study, conducted by Dr. Robert L. Spitzer, consisted of 45-minute telephone interviews with 200 people who had "become" heterosexual, 143 of them men. The interviews were made up of 60 questions about sexual feelings and behavior before and after therapy.

There is no credible scientific evidence that suggests sexual orientation can be changed, "and this study doesn’t prove that either," according to psychologist Douglas Haldeman, on the clinical faculty of the University of Washington.

What is worse, according to critics, is that the group of people in the study were not chosen scientifically. Forty-three percent of the people surveyed had been referred to Spitzer by "ex-gay" groups, most of which are sponsored by anti-gay Christian organizations. Another 23% of the survey pool were referred by the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, a conservative group that considers homosexuality a disorder.

According to the two APAs and other mental health organizations, sexual orientation is probably determined by a complex interaction of biological and environmental factors.

The theory that people who become "ex-gay" are actually bisexual to begin with was not mentioned in the study, nor by its critics.

 

Minister faked hate crime

Newport, Vt.—A minister who admitted to setting his car on fire to make himself look like a victim of a hate crime has been given a five-year deferred sentence

The Rev. Dwight Walker was sentenced after he pleaded no contest May 2 to charges of third-degree arson, felony unlawful mischief and a misdemeanor of making false police reports.

Walker resigned as a minister after he was charged with the April 7, 2000 incident.

Walker, who is gay, admitted to police he set fire to his leased car parked next door to the Coventry Congregational Church in order to make it look like he was being harassed because of his sexual orientation.

The incident occurred at the height of the debate in the legislature over the civil unions law for same-sex couples.

District Court Judge Howard Van Benthuysen ordered Walker to serve 500 hours of community service and donate $1,000 to the Newport City Fire Department.

 

Workplace bias bill delayed

Baton Rouge, La.—A Lousiana State Senate committee agreed May 4 to delay a decision on a bill that would ban workplace discrimination against gay men and lesbians.

The delay was to work out some legal kinks in the bill, primarily that the proposed legislation does not match existing law on workplace discrimination.

Debate on the bill was heated, with Rev. Grant Storm, a radio minister, leading the charge against the bill, alleging that it would require Christian business owners to hire "sinners."

According to the Advocate, a Lafayette area newspaper, C.D. Jones, the committee chair, pointed out that lying, jealousy and adultery are also sins.

"Sin is sin," Jones said. "If you don’t hire sinners, you’re not going to have any employees."

 

Home Depot says no to gay job rule

Atlanta—Home Depot stockholders will have the opportunity May 30 to decide whether the company will incorporate protections for gay men and lesbians into the company’s non-discrimination policy.

The only catch so far? The company is recommending that stockholders reject the addition of sexual orientation.

Home Depot, a national chain of hardware and home improvement stores, has many locations in areas which ban job discrimination by sexual orientation. While the company says that it bars discrimination, however, their policies do not explicitly state sexual orientation as a protected category, unlike such national chains as CompUSA, Walgreen’s, Sears, Staples, Target and Toys R Us.

The proxy, available online, reads, "We believe this proposal is not necessary. Our stated policy is that we do not discriminate on the basis of color, race, age, sex, natural origin, religion or disability. This policy mirrors the categories required by federal laws. If we go beyond legal requirements, it would be impossible to enumerate additional categories that fully express our inclusiveness."

A spokesman for the company said that the proxy stands on its face value. A backlash from gay men and lesbians boycotting the chain might, he conceded, have an effect on company policies.

 

Governor may sign hate crime bill

Austin, Texas—The Texas Senate on May 7 approved a hate crime bill which includes gay men and lesbians, similar to a bill shot down two years ago after then-governor George W. Bush said he did not want to see it come to his desk.

Gov. Rick Perry has expressed opposition to some of the central provisions of the bill, but said he would make a final decision when the bill comes to him.

The bill has already passed the state’s House of Representatives, where it will now return for House approval of Senate changes before it can go to Perry.

The James Byrd Jr. Hate Crime Act passes the Senate 20-10, with five Republicans, including Lt. Gov. Bill Ratliff.

An alternate proposal that would have increased penalties for crimes committed because the victim was a member of an "identifiable group," similar to an existing law, was turned down as too vague. Perry preferred the alternate version.

The Senate approval of the bill came a week after swastikas were painted on the St. Luke Community United Methodist Church in Dallas.

 

Arizona repeals sodomy law

Phoenix—A bill repealing the state’s century-old sodomy law was signed by Gov. Jane Hull on May 8.

On an 18-11 vote, the Senate passed the measure, which repeals Arizona’s laws prohibiting unmarried cohabitation, sex that is not intended to produce children, and "the infamous crime against nature," which means oral or anal sex.

Repeal supporters said the laws no longer apply to modern society and are used to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

Hull’s signing of the bill was something of a surprise. Her office received 1,868 e-mails and phone calls in the days prior to her signing the bill, urging her to veto it.

Opponents of the repeal have threatened to call a referendum on the measure. They will need to collect 80,000 signatures in the next three months to force a popular vote on the repeal.

"Keeping archaic laws on the books does not promote high moral standards; instead it teaches the lesson that laws are made to be broken," Hull wrote in a letter to the Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives, explaining her action.

Fourteen states still outlaw oral and anal sex; three of these do so only for same-sex partners. Ohio repealed its sodomy law in 1974.

 

TG civil rights bill advances

Providence, R.I.—The state’s House of Representatives started the month by handing a victory to LGBT activists, narrowly approving a bill May 1 that would extend state civil rights protections to transgendered people.

The bill would prevent discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression in employment, housing and public accommodations.

The bill is broadly worded to protect the spectrum of people that are considered transgendered. It would protect anyone whose "gender-related expression is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s sex at birth."

Opponents complained that it would allow boys into the Girl Scouts and allow men to compete in the Miss Rhode Island pageant, claims that supporters of the bill labeled fanciful at best.

Sexual orientation has been protected under Rhode Island law since 1995. Gender identity was originally included in that earlier bill, but was removed to gain its passage.

The bill’s future after House passage is uncertain, however. It is expected to face a hard fight in the more conservative Rhode Island Senate.


 

When every night is perfect

Michelle Malone’s new CD has a more produced, less edgy sound

by Harriet L. Schwartz

Ask Michelle Malone to remember a live show where everything was ideal--the band was tight, the music was good, and she was connecting with the audience in a deep and meaningful way. She’ll give you an answer that reflects both confidence and fierce devotion to her music and her audience.

"To me, it happens every night," she said in a phone interview.

"It’s what I do and if I’m not connecting with the audience, then I shouldn’t be playing, because that’s what music is all about. You are trying to convey the feeling of each of the songs, and get everyone to have a good time. It’s all part of that universal chord."

Though Malone says she is tired, she also sounds ready to explode out of the gate on tour in support of her latest release Hello Out There (SBS Records). The new album is Malone’s seventh studio release. While her profound love of playing live is almost palpable in conversation, her love of the studio is more subdued, but equally as convincing.

"Live, I’m just trying to keep the energy and intensity up," she says. "In the studio, I’m trying to make everything as beautiful as possible. On this record, I wanted to concentrate on the vocals and the melodies. I wanted to use vocals as a lush instrument. Instead of using strings, I wanted to layer with vocals. I wanted the songs to be beautiful, but still rock."

As a result of the new approach, Hello Out There may sound a bit different than Malone’s other albums. The record has a more produced sound that on first listen doesn’t have quite the edge of some of her other work.

Nonetheless, on closer listen, Malone’s firm command of dynamics and ability to traverse and combine a range of styles still give the album plenty of attitude and richness.

Malone says that she was thrilled to have producer Rick Beato handle a lot of the bass, guitar, and piano on the CD, allowing her to focus on vocals and guitar. She had played a lot of the instruments on her last studio album and ended up somewhat overwhelmed by the process.

Malone fans, as well as Indigo Girls fans who wonder what Emily Saliers has been up to lately, will enjoy "Sleep Sunday Morning," a song on the new album. Malone and Saliers collaborated on the songwriting as well as the recording.

"Emily and I had been talking about writing together for years," Malone says. "I had this song half done and it sounded like something that she might have written. So I gave it to her on cassette and she finished it and then gave it back to me."

Another musical connection that Malone is proud of is the one she shares with her mother, Karyn, who has been singing professionally throughout all of Michelle’s life. Michelle credits her mother with influencing her vocal style. Her admiration for her mother is clear.

"I used to tour the clubs with her and I thought she was famous," Malone says. "When I got older, I realized that she didn’t have a record, so I decided that we had to put one out."

The result was The Cocktail Sessions, released on Michelle’s own SBS records.

Running her own label has suited Malone just fine. She had two stints with major labels, releasing an album on Arista in 1990 and another with Velvel in 1997. However between those releases, and since the 1997 release, Malone has chosen to command more definitive control over her music, on her SBS Records.

"It’s empowering for me to put out my own records and it’s fulfilling for me to play my own music [live] and have people come to the shows and enjoy it," she says. "There’s this electricity when you just plug in your amp and let go, it’s like plugging in your soul."

Michelle Malone will be appearing in Columbus on June 13, at Little Brother’s, 100 N. High St, 614-421-2025; and on August 11 in Cleveland at a location to be announced. See www.michellemalone.com for more information.

Harriet L. Schwartz is a Chronicle contributing writer living in Pittsburgh.

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