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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
November 16, 2001

Anti-marriage bill set for Ohio Senate battle

Backers say bill includes domestic partner plans, heterosexuals

by Eric Resnick

Columbus--Though no senator has yet stepped forward to sponsor the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act," proponents and opponents are both gearing up for a Senate battle.

The measure, passed by the Ohio House October 31, would deny recognition to civil unions and domestic partnerships made in other states. Its wording could also void local domestic partner benefits, and affect other unmarried couples, such as divorced parents.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists are organizing a statewide coalition to defeat the bill, and future anti-gay measures.

Organizer Mary Jo Hudson, a Columbus attorney, pointed out that the bill’s proponents have been better organized than ever before in their efforts to lobby for its passage.

"They had people in the Statehouse every day," said Hudson, "and they put a lot of money into this."

The Family First Political Action Committee contributed $30,000 to the campaign funds of DOMA supporters.

The bipartisan coalition being formed to defeat the bill in the Senate hopes to raise $100,000 very quickly in order to counter proponents the next round and hire a full-time lobbyist.

"It is no longer enough to just demonstrate at the Statehouse," said Hudson. "We have to get serious about this."

The bill’s backers are also raising more money. The Pro-Family Network in Dayton offers an opportunity on their web site to contribute money and become an e-mail "prayer partner."

Pro-Family Network president Gregory Quinlan says he is an "ex-gay." The group’s mission is to place a paid lobbyist in the capital of every state.

"They recognize that we were weak," said Hudson, "and they took that opportunity to give us one of the worst DOMA bills in the country.

Ohio is test case for nation

Hudson said that only two of the 39 state anti-marriage bills to date, in Ohio and Massachusetts, contain new provisions to diminish the rights of all families that do not conform to the narrow idea of a married man and woman with children. The Massachusetts bill has not been voted on by the legislature.

Hudson believes that national proponents of such measures are using Ohio as the "testing ground" to see if they can add new provisions to the other states’ DOMAs as well.

Many of the existing measures, passed in the last five years, deny recognition of same-sex marriages made in other states. The new language is intended to cover civil unions like Vermont’s, and same-sex marriages from other nations, such as the Netherlands.

"Once they pass one, they can point to it as a model to add similar language to the DOMAs they already passed," said Hudson, "That’s one reason why we have to fight so hard to defeat this."

Hudson called the Ohio bill "an inside-out version of Cincinnati’s Issue 3 and Colorado’s Amendment 2" in that it "snuffs out the ability of the state to ever recognize gay families."

Colorado’s Amendment 2, banning local and state gay civil rights laws, was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1997. A year later, the court let stand a ruling upholding Cincinnati’s similar measure.

Citizens for Community Values, the group behind the 1993 Cincinnati measure, is today a primary force behind Ohio’s DOMA bill. David Langdon, attorney for CCV and the anti-gay American Family Association of Ohio, is the bill’s author.

Backers say bill covers all benefits

During committee testimony, bill sponsor State Rep. Bill Seitz, a Cincinnati Republican, insisted that the bill would make recognition of same-sex unions "against the strong public policy of the state," and argued with those who suggested it would deny other benefits to unmarried couples and their families.

State Rep. Jim Trakas of Independence, the GOP majority whip, told the Gay People’s Chronicle, "Seitz just told us the bill would prevent the state from recognizing gay marriages, and that’s all."

However, since October 31, CCV changed its web page posting on the bill to say, "We’re one step closer in Ohio to protecting the institution of marriage from homosexual activism and 21st century redefining of the family."

In direct conflict with what Seitz told fellow lawmakers, CCV adds, "[DOMA] also prohibits the state from recognizing or extending specific benefits of legal marriage to nonmarital relationships between persons of the same sex or different sexes."

The Ohio Senate will return to session in January.


Court allows TG job bias case to move forward

by Eric Resnick

Cleveland--A federal judge ruled November 9 that a Cleveland transgender woman can sue a former employer under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This is believed to be the first time a court has allowed a transgendered person to sue for employment discrimination on the basis of sexual stereotype non-comformity.

The case was brought by a Cleveland woman against United Consumer Financial Services in January 2001, after she was fired as a temporary employee in July 2000 when United officials questioned her gender and demanded medical records.

United finances consumer purchases of Scott Fetzer products, including Kirby sweepers and World Book encyclopedias.

The case was filed in federal court in Cleveland by attorney Randi Barnabee of Macedonia as a "Jane Doe" case in order to protect the woman’s interests in another discrimination suit against Cuyahoga County. There, the woman is alleging discrimination following 15 years of employment as a supervisor.

It was because of the county’s termination that the woman, then age 58, sought temporary to permanent employment with United through the Reserve Network agency.

The woman alleged that on July 10, 2000, following ten days on the job, collections manager Brian Davis summoned her to the office of United vice president William Ciszozon. Also present was personnel manager Debbie Woodworth.

During that meeting, it was explained to her that the personnel department was having difficulty verifying her high school records. The woman graduated in 1960 with a male name. In 1973, she legally changed her name to a female name when she began to transition.

United does not normally require school records as part of their pre-employment procedures.

At the meeting Ciszozon asked the employee if she was a man dressed as a woman, and what her gender was because, "by looking at [her], [Ciszozon] can’t tell." Ciszozon also wanted to know if the woman had an operation.

When the woman protested the line of questioning, she was told that an employee had complained that "a man dressed as a woman was using the ladies restroom."

The next day, Woodworth told the Reserve Network that the woman’s services were no longer needed.

Reserve Network case notes show that on July 7, a representative visited United to check on the placement, and was asked by Woodworth if she noticed anything peculiar about the employee.

Then, Woodworth told the representative, "employees here have named her Mrs. Doubtfire . . . but they don’t say it to her face."

The November 9 decision by Judge Kathleen McDonald O’Malley was a ruling on United’ attempt to have the entire case dismissed.

Cleveland attorney Lee Hutton, representing United, argued that all federal courts have held that Title VII cannot protect transsexuals, because in a 1984 case, Ulane v. Eastern Airlines, it was found that Congress had a narrow definition of "sex" in mind when the 1964 Civil Rights Act was passed.

However, in 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins the act covers a person discriminated against for not conforming to the gender stereotype behavior expected by another person or social norms.

But O’Malley found that a 2000 ruling by the Ninth Circuit Court put the later decision first.

"Ulane has been overtaken by the ‘logic and language of Price Waterhouse’ and that Title VII prohibits discrimination based on ‘sexual identity,’ not just based on biological sex," wrote O’Malley.

"Under these facts, it is certainly conceivable that she was fired for no reason other than the fact that she was a transsexual, and that her claim is, thus, precluded by Ulane. But it is also conceiveable that her transgendered status was not the sole issue, and that her termination may have been based, at least in part, on the fact that her appearance and behavior did not meet United Consumer’s gender expectations (particularly in light of United Consumer’s alleged inability to categorize her as male or female ‘just from looking’)," O’Malley found.

"Taken together, Doe alleges, these allegations constitute unlawful harassment motivated by the fact that United Consumer viewed her either as a man who looked like a woman or a woman who was insufficiently feminine," the judge concluded.

O’Malley will allow the woman to continue to press her claims of slander and intrusion. But she granted United’s motion to dismiss the complaints filed under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim under Ohio law.

Hutton did not return calls for comment on this report. Barnabee said that since this is the first time a judge has allowed a transgender discrimination case like this to go forward, "it may have taken him by surprise."

Even with the ADA ruling against her client, Barnabee is very pleased with the decision, saying that "it ends the Ulane line of cases precluding all transgender protection."

Barnabee, who is herself transgender, said if the case does not get settled, she expects discovery to begin soon, and for a trial to be scheduled by summer.



The opening night reception for BWMT-Cleveland’s 21st anniversary weekend. Photo by Anthony Glassman

BWMT honors Blackout and Blake at 21st-year events

by Anthony Glassman

Cleveland--The city’s chapter of Black and White Men Together celebrated their 21st anniversary with a weekend of events starting November 9.

"Our 21st year was a banner year for BWMT-Cleveland and we’re looking forward to an even bigger and better year coming up," said co-chair Bruce Menapace, who co-hosted a race relations forum at the Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center earlier this year. "We’re happy to provide the gay and lesbian community with a dialogue on race issues."

Menapace and his co-chair Scott Bibbs presented an award to BWMT-Cleveland member Clifford Blake for his years of service to the organization, most recently hosting two large garden parties at his Cleveland Heights home.

BWMT also presented the John Pugh Award to Blackout Unlimited for their service to the African-American LGBT community in northeast Ohio. Derek Barnett, a co-founder of Blackout Unlimited, accepted the award on his group’s behalf.

The award is named for a longtime member of BWMT who set us a response system for people to report incidents of racist or anti-gay discrimination.

The awards were given at a special anniversary banquet held at Maria’s, an Italian restaurant in the near-west suburb of Lakewood.

Members of sister chapters from Philadelphia and St. Louis trekked to Ohio to help celebrate the chapter’s birthday. Chip Atterbury and Toby Lackey, in the photo, are members of the St. Louis chapter.


 

OSU’s new GLBT head to
expand TG, grad programs

by Milla Rosenberg

Columbus—Ohio State University has hired a new coordinator of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender student services. Brett Beemyn took the reins in early August.

A half dozen years ago, Beemyn’s name began to surface everywhere, sometimes linked with his writing partner, Mickey Eliason. The two edited Queer Studies: A Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Anthology, published in 1996.

With two books published on bisexuality this year alone, Beemyn is a prolific scholar and historian of LGBT people.

Beemyn spoke to the Gay People’s Chronicle after he led an October 30 discussion of Assault on Gay America, a PBS Frontline documentary. At a screening of the film, Beemyn noted that while the coverage of Matthew Shepherd’s death raised awareness of anti-LGBT violence, the media missed the boat. Coverage tended to portray anti-gay crimes as a rural problem, when in fact the statistics show that the majority of gay murders take place in major cities.

"One of the positives has been working among a group of very supportive people," Beemyn said of his experience at OSU so far. "I really came to Columbus because of the work of [Director of Student Gender and Sexuality Services] Willa Young and [Ethnic Student Services coordinator] Si’le Singleton."

"One of the disappointments for me is that there isn’t a more visible bisexual and transgender presence here," Beemyn noted. "I identify in both communities."

Beemyn has taught both African-American and LGBT studies at the collegiate level, so the switch to student services was a change.

"I pursued work in student affairs because I wanted to work closely with students," Beemyn said. "My dedication is to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. What I loved about teaching was the interaction with students; however, while I was able to teach a few courses in gay and lesbian studies, it is very difficult to teach GLBT studies at the university level in this country--very few positions exist."

"Still, I feel I bring a strong knowledge base to this position, and I understand some of the nuances of our community."

"My early assessment is that students feel somewhat isolated here," he said of the climate at OSU. "They may perhaps feel overwhelmed at such a large school, and they do not know how to connect with people like them."

"For students that are on north campus, they may not know about resources," he noted. "When I told students at orientation that my office is at Ohio Union, more than a few did not know where that is. I’m like, ‘This is the Union!’ This should be the center of any university." Beemyn does not intend to let the university rest on its laurels; instead, he plans on expanding programs for LGBT students at OSU.

"We are working on an anti-heterosexism education program," he noted. "We will be going into different offices and departments and discussing what heterosexism is."

"Also, I would like to foster a GLBT graduate student group, because graduate students have a different set of needs than undergraduates," Beemyn continued. "In addition, I would like to ensure more social and support programs for GLBT students of color; on this campus, they deal with being doubly marginalized."

"Finally," he concluded, "I hope to create programs for transgender students, some of whom I have met. I would like to work with the Office of Residence Life to ensure that trans students’ basic needs, such as unisex bathrooms, are understood."

When asked what role LGBT alumni can play in the lives of queer students, Beemyn pointed to programs already in place, as well as expansions he would like to see.

"OSU has a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender alumni society," he said. "It has about fifty members, and it has established a mentoring program to match OSU graduates with students who are interested in similar careers. And, while a scholarship for GLBT students already exists, we are very close to endowing that scholarship. In the future, we are considering a dedicated scholarship for a transgender student."

 


 

Senate allows 9-year-old D.C.
partner law to take effect

by Anthony Glassman

Washington, D.C.—The city’s domestic partner ordinance, stalled for nine years, cleared another hurdle on November 7, as the U.S. Senate passed the District of Columbia appropriations bill without any amendments forbidding the city to spend money to implement the ordinance.

The House of Representatives already passed their version of the bill, also without the anti-gay provision.

The ordinance was passed in 1992, and would establish a domestic partnership registry for residents of the District. It would also require all health facilities to provide visitation rights to the domestic partners of patients.

In addition, it would allow city employees in registered domestic partnerships to purchase insurance for their partners and take sick and bereavement leave in the case of the illness or death of their partner.

Every year since then, appropriations bills in Congress have carried riders banning the city from implementing the ordinance. In the Senate, the amendments have usually been introduced by Sen. Jesse Helms, who this year announced that he will not seek re-election when his term expires.

In the House of Representatives, Rep. Dave Weldon of Florida put forward an amendment on Sept. 25 to retain the partner ban. The move faced strong opposition and the appropriations bill was passed without the amendment.

The bill now goes to a conference committee, where differences between the House and Senate versions will be ironed out. Since neither version has the ban, the domestic partnership ordinance should take effect once the bill clears the committee and is signed by the president.

George W. Bush did not offer any support for the ban on the domestic partnership ordinance in his Statement of Administration Policy, which the White House sent to Congress in reference to the appropriations bill.

The bill also would now allow implementation of a needle-exchange program in the District of Columbia in an attempt to stem the spread of HIV and AIDS.

Much like the domestic partnership issue, the appropriations bills in previous years have had amendments forbidding the city to spend money on needle-exchange programs.

Countering claims that needle-exchange programs give tacit approval to illegal drug use, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report noted that 95% of the country’s 130 needle-exchange programs refer their clients to drug rehabilitation programs.


Showing of Toledo-set film raises $20K for David’s House

by Anthony Glassman

Toledo—David’s House, with the assistance of American Express Financial Advisors of Deer Park Court, held a tremendously successful fundraiser on Saturday, November 3.

The event centered around a screening of the film In the Company of Strangers, which deals with issues of violence directed against LGBT people. The movie, written, directed and produced by Thomas Hofbauer, was shot in the Toledo area and used many locals as actors and extras. Much of the movie was filmed in David’s House itself. The screening was held at the Valentine Theater and was followed by a wine and cheese reception.

Over 700 people attended the event, with tickets selling for $30, although a number of the tickets were complimentary for those appearing in the film and their friends and family.

The event grossed close to $20,000 for David’s House, which executive director Skeeter Hunt noted was quite impressive, especially considering that planning for it only started three weeks beforehand.

"It was the event of the year," Hunt said. "Everything went perfectly, nothing went wrong. I have nothing but wonderful things to say about the Valentine."

The evening started with an hour of music by the band The Celtibillies, whose music is on the film’s sound track.

Prior to the film, a representative from American Express introduced Hunt, who took over as executive director of David’s House at the beginning of October.

Hunt told the crowd of the increase in HIV infection rates in Lucas County, pointing to the necessity of better funding for AIDS service organizations like David’s House. She also announced the beginning of the Open Doors Project, a program by which she hopes to solicit donations to be used by David’s House to supplement their operating funds.

"Most of our funding comes from grants, which are very specific," she said. "It doesn’t leave us a lot of money for the operating fund, which keeps our doors open, hence the name."

Hunt then introduced Toledo Mayor Carlton Finkbeiner, who stressed the need for acceptance of diversity.

Hofbauer then introduced the film. Afterwards, guests were treated to a catered reception which was scheduled to run until 11:30 pm. At midnight, the lights were flashed to usher the remaining patrons out of the theater.

"It was a lot of fun," Hunt reiterated.


 

News Briefs

Compiled from wire reports by Brian DeWitt, Anthony Glassman and Patti Harris.

Three cases seek to change Canadian marriage laws

Toronto—Two cases seeking marriage for same-sex couples are being heard by courts in Ontario and Quebec. Regardless of their outcome, they will likely join a third case on the way to Canada’s highest court.

The Ontario Superior Court started hearing arguments November 5 in one of the three challenges to provincial bans on gay marriage.

The Ontario case merges two separate lawsuits. In the first, eight gay and lesbian couples are asking the court to require that Toronto issue them marriage licenses. In the second, the Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto married two same-sex couples under a forgotten law allowing churches to create civil marriages if they publish announcements. The province refused to issue marriage certificates to the couples.

Another marriage case started November 8 in the Quebec Superior Court. The suit was filed by a single same-sex couple, Michael Hendricks and Rene LeBoeuf. Hendricks, who is 14 years older than LeBoeuf, worries that when he dies, LeBoeuf will be unable to inherit his estate as any married heterosexual would be able to.

A third case, in British Columbia, was decided October 3. In it, the court ruled that not allowing same-sex couples to marry was indeed discriminatory, but it is justified under the federal Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Rulings in the Quebec and Ontario cases are expected within a few weeks. The eight couples involved in the British Columbia case have already said they will appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Last year, the federal government changed the definition of "spouse" to include same-sex common-law couples. However, the government holds that the change did not alter an 1866 definition of marriage as "one man and one woman."

 

Salvation Army ends partner benefit

San Francisco—Less than two weeks after officials of the Salvation Army’s Western Territory decided to extend health benefits to domestic partners in 13 states, the group’s national leaders on November 12 rescinded the order.

Until this month, the evangelical Christian group only offered benefits to married couples and their dependent children. But leaders of the Western Territory said November 1 they would also begin offering benefits to unmarried employees’ straight and gay partners.

The move brought the group into compliance with a 1998 San Francisco ordinance requiring city contractors to give domestic partner benefits to their employees. The group gave up $3.5 million in city contracts for services to homeless people and drug addicts when it refused to comply that year.

Under the national leaders’ decision, the Western Territory will keep the same policy as the rest of the group.

The San Francisco ordinance was noted last summer when a Salvation Army memo revealed that the group was working with the White House to exempt "faith-based" organizations from local and state gay and lesbian civil rights laws.

 

Gay chaplain’s helmet given to pope

Vatican City—Pope John Paul II was given the helmet of openly gay New York City fire department chaplain Fr. Mychal Judge on November 10.

Judge died in the collapse of the World Trade Center on September 11.

The pontiff praised the efforts of rescue workers and emergency services in the wake of the terrorist attacks, but did not directly talk about Judge, a Franciscan priest, or his sexual orientation.

The pope has been very outspoken in his opposition to homosexuality, repeatedly reiterating the church’s "love the sinner, hate the sin" ideology.

Last year, when the World Gay Pride event was held in Rome, John Paul II spoke against allowing the festival to be held in the city.

 

Two plead guilty in camp attack

Kauai, Hawaii—Two young men pleaded guilty November 9 to attacking a group of gay campers.

Eamonn Carolan and Orian Macomber, 18 and 19, pleaded guilty to 15 charges stemming from the May 26 incident, when the pair tried to set fire to two tents occupied by gay men camping in Polihale Beach State Park. The campsite was marked with a rainbow flag, and the two young men allegedly shouted anti-gay epithets as they drove a pickup truck through the camp late at night.

Among the charges are assault, attempted assault, assault in the second degree, criminal property damage in the first degree, terroristic threatening in the first degree and unauthorized entry of motor vehicles.

Macomber faces up to 45 years in prison and Carolan up to 40 years at a January 17 sentencing set by Judge Clifford Nakea of the Fifth Circuit Court.

The plea bargain dropped attempted murder charges for the two men, which could have resulted in life sentences.

 

Men sentenced in Egypt gay trial

Cairo, Egypt—Twenty-three Egyptian men accused of being gay were sentenced November 14 to jail terms from one to five years in a trial that human rights groups have denounced as persecution based on people’s sexual orientation.

Another 29 men in the case were acquitted.

The men were tried after police raided a Nile boat restaurant in May and accused them of taking part in a gay sex party. Egyptian law does not explicitly refer to homosexuality, so prosecutors leveled charges of debauchery and contempt of religion.

Sherif Farahat received the longest sentence--five years for debauchery, contempt of religion, falsely interpreting the Koran and exploiting Islam to promote deviant ideas. Mahmoud Ahmed Allam received three years on the religious charges, but was acquitted of debauchery.

Twenty others were sentenced to two years and one man was sentenced to one year.

Amnesty International accused Egypt of prosecuting people for their sexual orientation and said the court, the Emergency State Security Court, was not independent. The court was created to try terrorists, not criminals, and there are no appeals on its rulings.

 

Gender identity added to rights law

Denver—City Council added gender identity to the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance on November 5.

The ordinance will protect transgendered people from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodation. Before the addition of gender identity, the ordinance covered race, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation and marital status.

The vote was 11-1 for the statute. The lone dissenter, Ted Hackworth, appeared angry and said that he hated the entire "stupid act" that protects minorities, according to the Rocky Mountain News.

"I don’t believe any group is entitled to special recognition," he said.

The ordinance defines gender identity as attributes that may not match a person’s anatomy, chromosomal sex, genitalia, or sex at birth.

Several other cities nationwide, including Toledo, include gender identity in their anti-bias ordinances.


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