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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
September 21, 2001

Remembering
our own

As the toll mounts, stories emerge
of gay heroes and loved ones

by Anthony Glassman

New York CityóAmid photos of devastation and footage of mourning stemming from the September 11 terrorist attacks that damaged the Pentagon and destroyed the twin towers of the World Trade Center, stories are emerging of the loss of gay people in the catastrophe.

One of the most remarkable tales involves Mark Bingham, a rugby-playing San Franciscan who is believed to have helped the passengers who brought down a United Airlines jet in Pennsylvania before it could reach its target.

Bingham, a public relations executive, called his mother shortly before the plane crashed, killing all aboard. He told her he loved her, and that some of the other passengers were talking about taking action to stop the terrorists who had hijacked the plane. His cellular phone signal was then lost.

It is believed that a number of passengers stormed the cockpit on that flight, causing the plane to plummet to the ground. The planeís intended target may have been the White House or Camp David, the presidential retreat where a treaty between Israel and Egypt was signed in the 1970s.

According to U.S. intelligence, cell phone communications from the flight indicated that passengers overpowered the terrorists but could not control the plane. Another person aboard the plane called his wife, telling her he knew they were going to die but he and two other passengers were going to resist the hijackers.

Lost in the attack on the Pentagon were Joe Ferguson, openly gay director of National Geographicís geography education outreach program, who was traveling to California with three young students and their teachers, as well as David Charlebois, the co-pilot on the doomed flight.

United Airlines Flight 175, the second plane to crash into the World Trade Center, took with it Graham Berkeley, believed to be the only British citizen on any of the hijacked planes. Berkeley was a product management director for the software company Compuware.

Also on the flight were Ronald Gamboa and his partner of 13 years, Dan Brandhorst, along with their 3-year-old son David, whom they adopted as an infant.

Also killed in the aftermath of the attacks was Father Mychal Judge, a chaplain with the New York Fire Department and a longtime member of Dignity USA, an organization of LGBT Catholics.

Blood donation ban is still on

Amid calls for assistance across the country, food, clothing and donations of blood and money have been flooding organizations in Washington D.C. and New York, especially the Red Cross, one of the organizations most capable of providing emergency disaster relief. Gay men, however, found that their blood donations were not welcome.

The Red Cross still follows the FDAís 1985 AIDS guidelines that prohibit men who have had sex with men since 1977 from donating blood, as well as intravenous drug users, prostitutes and women who have had sex with a member of any of these groups in the last year.

"The Red Cross is a service organization, and I think the true nature of service lies in not categorizing people along those lines," said Tom Wamsley, director of development for the AIDS Foundation Miami Valley in Dayton. "The guidelines are outdated and should be examined."

The guidelines were established in the early days of the AIDS epidemic in the United States, and still primarily reflect the makeup of the diseaseís victims at that time, as well as the lack of accurate HIV tests then.

"Given the level of technology available today, the guidelines are unnecessary and ridiculous," Wamsley said, pointing to the accuracy of current HIV tests.


 

Police videotape every man
using east Ohio public restroom

Privacy law doesnít apply, prosecutor says

by Eric Resnick

Toronto, OhioóAttempting to catch public sex, a small eastern Ohio police department videotaped men using a highway restroom during six months of surveillance.

Police then mailed arrest notices to 13 men, including one man who was never at the rest area. The tactic has outraged the county sheriff and other area law enforcement officials, and is being challenged by one of the defendants as an illegal search.

The rest area is located on Ohio 7 at Ohio 213, about a mile south of Wellsville, near the Ohio River.

Saline Township Police Chief Ken Hayes and Jefferson County Prosecutor Bryan Felmet, who designed and supervised the operation, are pleased with the results and insist they didnít need a search warrant to hide video cameras in the restroom.

Hours of this videotape were used to charge 13 men with indecency. At top right is James Henry at a urinal. He was in the restroom for 47 seconds.

 

Hayes and Felmet say that this case differs from Supreme Court cases guaranteeing the right to privacy in public restrooms, locker rooms and dressing rooms, because, Felmet said, "the cameras didnít see anything that couldnít be seen by anyone just walking into the restroom."

Four video cameras were installed. Two of them were on the roof of the rest area, covering the parking lot. A third was hidden in a hole cut into the restroom wall, monitoring the entrance and the top of the stall. The fourth, also hidden in a wall, taped every man using one of the two urinals. A privacy barrier between the urinals was removed so it could see both.

According to Hayes, the cameras were running every day from January to May of this year in minimum 8-hour blocks of time, either 3 to 11 pm, 4 to midnight, or 7 pm to 3 am.

"I believe in my heart that [the investigation] accomplished what it set out to do," said Hayes, adding that the rest area is referred to by truckers as "lollipop park" and "pickle park."

"We have had complaints about truckers getting out of their trucks and chasing the men, and we wanted to see that the park stayed safe," said Hayes. "This is not a gay issue. We also want to protect the safety of those men."

Hayes said that his department had "a number of complaints of people seeing sex in the restroom and importuning truckers."

No one was told of cameras

The restroom is operated by the Ohio Department of Transportation. The State Highway Patrol is the primary enforcement authority at all ODOT rest areas.

Because of its location, this one is also in the jurisdictions of the Jefferson County Sheriff and the Saline Township police department.

Township police did not tell the other agencies that video cameras were being installed there.

Lt. George Maier, commander of the Wintersville highway patrol post, said they were aware that the police department was conducting an investigation, and provided routine support including running license plate numbers. But they did not learn of the cameras "until much later when they were already there."

"Early on, we were asked to assist with the investigation, but we declined," said Maier.

Maier said his post has gotten some complaints about the rest area, but "not enough to track."

Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla said his office hasnít heard many complaints on the rest area, either.

"We heard at the beginning that they were going to investigate, but we certainly didnít know about the cameras."

Signs at all ODOT rest areas tell people to call the highway patrol with complaints.

"I understand people calling the Highway Patrol, and I understand them calling here." Abdalla said. "But I donít know where people would even think to call [the township police]."

According to spokesperson Brian Cunningham, ODOT had gotten a notice that an investigation was taking place at that rest area, but the agency never interferes with an investigation. ODOT learned about the cameras and the removal of a partition later, when they were asked to help install them.

Sheriffís employee will fight charges

None of the men charged were arrested at the rest area. All got arrest notices in the mail July 5, a day after local newspapers published their names, addresses, and charges.

Eleven of the men were charged with public indecency, voyeurism and importuning. Nearly all of them were also charged with disorderly conduct, a minor misdemeanor, and made deals with the prosecutor to accept the minor charge, pay the $100 fine and $50 court costs.

James Henry, a maintenance supervisor for the Jefferson County Sheriff Department, was charged with public indecency and disorderly conduct.

Henry, 45, of Empire, is fighting the charges and claiming that the videotape is a violation of his civil rights. Henry is openly gay.

Henry and his attorney, Sam Pate of Steubenville, appeared for nearly three hours before Judge Joseph Corabi September 18 asking that the court suppress the videotape at Henryís trial scheduled for October 3. The judge will rule prior to the trial.

Pate is confident that Henry will be cleared of all charges because, "without the videotape, they have no case, and even if the judge allows the tape, no jury watching the tape will convict him."

The tape, obtained by the Gay Peopleís Chronicle, shows Henry in the restroom for 47 seconds on May 9, 2001. He enters, walks to the urinal, stands there, steps back, looks to his left, steps forward, then steps back again, likely fastening his pants. He then turns to the left 270 degrees, walks toward the door, pauses, and exits.

Pate added that part of his legal strategy is to bring to the attention of the Seventh District Ohio Court of Appeals what the prosecutor and police chief are doing.

"Itís a matter of interpretation," said Felmet, maintaining that there is "a whole lot of discretion" in what is considered indecent "and that will be up to a court."

Sheriff Abdalla is outraged at the arrests. "I am not going to condone anyone breaking the law," he said, "but arrests need to be clean, and these were not."

"If you have a complaint and evidence, you send an officer to make a proper arrest," said Abdalla, "You canít just make it up."

Regardless of the outcome, Henry and Pate are considering a federal suit against the county and the parties involved.


Court overturns Ohioís same-sex
proposition ban

by Anthony Glassman

ClevelandóA three-judge panel of the Eighth District Court of Appeals unanimously overturned a gay manís conviction for "importuning" in a September 13 ruling.

Ohioís 1974 importuning law makes it a crime to proposition someone of the same sex if they would be offended, but does not apply to heterosexual situations. Penalties for the first-degree misdemeanor can include six months in jail.

The statute is often used for police stings in parks, where gay men are charged for asking an undercover officer if they are interested in sex.

Joseph Maistros of Cleveland was convicted of importuning after propositioning another Cleveland State University student in a campus restroom. He was sentenced on November 21, 2000 to 180 days in jail and a $150 fine, but the sentence was suspended on condition of a one-year probation and that he stay off CSU property.

Maistros appealed the verdict, arguing that the law unfairly discriminates against gay men and lesbians.

Eighth District judges Patricia Ann Blackmon, Frank D. Celebrezze and Colleen Conway Cooney ruled that the law violates the equal protection clauses of both the Ohio and U.S. constitutions.

"Society has changed," Cooney wrote in the opinion. "There is simply no rational basis for burdening homosexuals with greater criminal liability for conduct which, if heterosexual in nature, would be subject to lesser punishment."

The court examined the history of the law before making their ruling. They noted that the Ohio Supreme Court has never ruled on the importuning law on equal protection grounds, although it did uphold the law on a due process challenge.

The high court reversed a lower court decision in 1979 striking down the law on equal protection grounds, but the ruling, State v. Faulk, was made without comment and was not reported in the courtís journal. This makes it inadmissible as a precedent, according to the supreme courtís rules.

However, a number of later cases have cited the Faulk ruling as cause for upholding the law.

This includes an 11th District ruling last December upholding the law in the case of an Ashtabula County man. That case, State v. Thompson, is now before the Ohio Supreme Court.

Cooney wrote that the Faulk decision does not apply because it was not reported.

"As an unreported Ohio Supreme Court decision, Faulk is an anomaly . . . [It] does not set forth a controlling point of law . . ."

The appeals court noted that the 11th District ruling currently before the high court supports the position that the earlier Faulk ruling did not decide the equal protection argument.

In reaching their final decision, the 8th District court noted that, in the 27 years since the law took effect, societal perceptions have changed. The argument that homosexual advances are more distressing than heterosexual advances and are more likely to incite violence is no longer true in the courtís view, invalidating the stated purpose of the law.

The court pointed to the disorderly conduct statute, which could be used to prosecute either heterosexual or homosexual unwanted advances as being sufficient without the discriminatory measure of the importuning law. Penalties for disorderly conduct involve fines, but no jail.

Maistrosí attorney Kenneth Rexford was pleased with the ruling for a number of reasons.

"First, after almost 30 years of unsuccessful challenges to this ordinance, we finally came up with a theory of Supreme Court precedential jurisprudence which allowed the appeal to succeed," Rexford noted.

Second, said Rexford, the court realized the discriminatory nature of the law and did something about it.

"The same justification offered by the prosecution in Maistrosí case would have logically justified a [law against] cross-racial sexual advance in 1950s Alabama," he noted.

Cleveland is not going to appeal the ruling, a city spokesperson said.

"Iím hoping it will have a positive effect on the Supreme Court," said Marie Lane, the Ashtabula County public defender handling the Thompson case. "At last an Ohio court that didnít say: We disagree with this law but will follow the Supreme Court. They said this law was unconstitutional and they were going to do something about it."

The Ashtabula prosecutors filed written briefs in the case on September 7, and Lane has until September 27 to file a respondentís brief, which she stressed will include the Maistros ruling as precedent.


Falwell: Gays, ACLU helped
make terror attacks happen

Comments incite a flood of anger at the televangelist

by Anthony Glassman

Lynchburg, Va.óTelevangelist Jerry Falwell incited an explosion of anger and controversy on September 13 when he blamed gays and lesbians, pro-choice advocates and progressive groups for the terrorist attacks two days before.

Falwell was appearing on fellow evangelist Pat Robertsonís 700 Club, carried on the Fox Family Channel. While discussing the attacks, Falwell said, "The ACLUís got to take a lot of blame for this," to which Robertson replied, "Well, yes."

"And, I know Iíll hear from them for this. But, throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools," Falwell continued. "The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way--all of them who have tried to secularize America--I point the finger in their face and say: You helped this happen."

"Well, I totally concur," replied Robertson, "and the problem is weíve adopted that agenda at the highest levels of our government."

The statements unleashed a flood of condemnation, from sources ranging from the gay and lesbian Human Rights Campaign to radio commentator Rush Limbaugh, and in dozens of newspapers. Some editorials and commentaries criticized Falwellís timing of the remarks. Others likened Falwell to the Taliban, the Islamic fundamentalist government in Afghanistan that has sheltered Osama bin Laden.

Former president Jimmy Carter, speaking at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia, disagreed vehemently with the televangelist.

The Columbus Dispatch said in an editorial, "Especially troubling is Falwellís certainty that he knows what God does and wants: that it was God who let the terrorists through, because God doesnít like the ACLU. Afghanistan is run by religious leaders who believe God has been expelled from their culture. They claim with equal certainty that they know what God does and wants."

Fox Family Channel distanced itself quickly from Falwell and Robertsonís remarks. The cable network was purchased from Robertson, having formerly been the Christian Broadcast Network and then the Family Channel, and the contract selling the network stipulates that it will continue to carry the 700 Club.

"I sincerely regret that comments I made during a theological discussion on a Christian television program were taken out of their context and reported, and that my thoughts--reduced to sound bites--have detracted from the spirit of this time of mourning," Falwell said by way apology on the online version of his National Liberty Journal.

"Heís a fly in the ointment," said Rev. Marj Creech of Metropolitan Community Church in Granville, of Falwellís comments. "Heís distracting us from the real issues.

"I think itís one thing to say your God is the true God," she continued. "Itís another to try to coerce others into those beliefs."

Echoing the sentiments of more mainline religious groups in reaction to the comments, she concluded, "You can be religious and still be tolerant."


 

Pentagon temporarily halts
Ďdonít ask, donít tellí

Washington, D.C.--Military service members will not be discharged if they are discovered to be gay or lesbian under an order issued this week.

The Pentagon authorized a "stop-loss" order, giving the branches of the military the ability to halt discharges.

The news broke in a Sept. 19 San Francisco Chronicle story, which said the order was issued the day before. "Stop-loss" orders were issued during the Gulf War, and are intended to ensure numerical readiness of American troops in times of war.

Administrative discharges, such as those for medical reasons or personal hardships, can still be given at the discretion of commanding officers.

The "stop-loss" order will, for the time being, supplant the "donít ask, donít tell" policy for any branches that put it into effect.

Military personnel will still be expected to abide by Pentagon rules covering homosexual behavior, and any service members who disclose their sexual orientations could be discharged after the current state of heightened alert is over, as happened to military personnel during the Gulf War a decade ago.

 


 

ĎSurvivorí honors lost friend
with AIDS Walk appearance

by Eric Resnick

ClevelandóTV "survivor" Alicia Calaway will warm up the crowd prior to the start of the 11th annual Dr. John Carey Memorial AIDS Walk on September 23.

The walk is the cityís largest annual AIDS fundraising event, benefiting ten service organizations in the Cleveland area. Organizers hope to attract 3000 participants and raise $250,000. Last year, 2,500 participants raised just over $200,000.

The proceeds of the walk are divided among the organizations according to a formula based on the amount of service they provide and the time spent organizing the walk.

The areaís two largest AIDS agencies, the AIDS Taskforce and the Free Clinic combined receive about one third of the funds.

With the appearance of Calaway and the addition of a new event, a five kilometer run, the theme of this yearís event is "Are you up to the challenge?" The Survivor TV show theme is also carried throughout event advertisement and promotions.

Keeping with the theme, participants are encouraged to form alliances and walk or run as part of a team. Organizers have created "team survival guides" with team-building tips.

According to organizers, the eventís corporate sponsorship pays for all event costs, so none of the prizes offered this year, including the chance to win a sport utility vehicle, come from what the walkers and runners raise.

Event promoter Lisa Kropf said Calaway was contacted to appear at the event while her show, Survivor: The Australian Outback, was still on the air.

"Our thought was that, because she is a fitness trainer and a standout on the show, due to her strong personality and excellent physique, her appearance would be a good way to build awareness of the new 5K run," said Kropf.

Calaway said she has been asked to appear at two events raising money for breast cancer, but is honored to help raise money for AIDS in honor of Alan Wolfe, a close friend she lost to AIDS four years ago.

Calaway said Wolfe, a gay man, "took me under his wing and introduced me to a side of life I never saw."

She said Wolfe suddenly got sick, and she experienced some of his hardships by his side. "He didnít have good insurance and couldnít get Medicare," she noted, adding that getting care was often difficult.

Calaway, who lives in New York City, says she counts many gay men as friends. "One of my best friends, Peter Meister, is gay," she said. "He was the kangaroo I hunted in the park in my Survivor audition tape."

"I am happy for this opportunity to rally around this cause and do justice to my friends," said Calaway.

Calaway said now that Survivor is over, she will use her celebrity to help causes she feels strongly about. "Iím trying to stay true to myself," she said. "Iím not looking to be a pop star or a movie star."

Still, Calaway will soon release a fitness video, and is the host of the Worldís Strongest Women contest in Africa for ESPN.

In addition to AIDS and breast cancer, Calaway wants to help call attention to the victims of spousal abuse.

Calaway said she enjoyed the experience on Survivor, and even though she was voted off the island, she lasted long enough to influence who the winner would be.

"The others respected my strength," Calaway said, "but the men saw I was a threat because of it. I challenged them."

Calaway said she and other members of the Kucha tribe remain friends.

"I didnít win the $1 million, but so what?" said Calaway. "I have gotten to travel and meet people, and it has opened some doors."

Calaway said Survivor is a physically demanding experience.

"You canít really take care of yourself while you are there," she added. "You end up sleep-deprived, dehydrated, and eat a poor diet. At a certain point, it just becomes a matter of will."

Calaway said that an HIV positive person could do Survivor if they wanted to and their doctors agreed to it, as long as they realized what their risks would be.

Her AIDS Walk appearance will be Calawayís first time in Cleveland.

"I was glad to be asked, and I am happy to help out."

Calaway will meet participants and sign autographs prior to the start of the walk at Edgewater Park, 9:30-10:30.

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