Dayton—AIDS Foundation Miami Valley is canceling their September 21 AIDS walk, and will instead be having a masquerade ball that day and an art and antiques auction later in the fall.
The cancellation of the eighth annual walk was announced August 10. The reasons for dropping AIDS Walk Dayton are far from dire, though.
The foundation’s large biennial fundraiser, this year themed “Going Places,” brought in $200,000 on April 27. With the addition of the new party, MasqueRage, and the art auction, Dazzle, the foundation wanted to space their events out more, but ran out of time to dedicate resources to planning the AIDS walk.
Another reason for the cancellation was financial, according to AFMV Executive Director William Hardy.
“Walks have become harder to do because everyone is doing them,” he noted, pointed to pledge walks for AIDS, cancer, muscular dystrophy and other medical conditions. Last year’s AIDS Walk Dayton came in around $10,000 under the goal of $100,000.
Hardy indicated that, while corporate sponsorships have remained strong, pledges from the public are on the wane, a phenomenon seen across the country.
“A lot of walks are struggling to maintain the level they were at a couple of years ago,” he said.
“We wanted to focus attention on the two new events,” he concluded.
“MasqueRage is a masque, not a full-costume masquerade ball,” noted Tom Wamsley, the agency’s director of development. “The event is being planned by a committee of loyal AIDS Foundation supporters, most notably the owners of Square One Salon and Spa and members of the Rubi Girls, Dayton’s troupe of drag performers who do shows all over the place.”
MasqueRage will be on the day formerly reserved for the AIDS walk, Saturday, September 21. Tickets for the event will be $25 in advance or $30 at the door, and will benefit AFMV. There will be hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. VIP tickets will also be available for $100, allowing entrance to the VIP lounge and a limited open bar.
MasqueRage will be held as an indoor and outdoor party at the Cannery, 500 E. Third St., Dayton. All tickets will also allow admission to the after party at Celebrities Show Club, 850 N. Main St.
“We’re extremely excited about it,” Wamsley added. “It will bring people in who haven’t really been exposed to us.”
He stressed that one of the main purposes of the night was to reach out the LGBT community as a whole, but most especially to the young adults in their 20s and early 30s who have not necessarily been that involved with the AIDS Foundation.
Wamsley also believes that the event would be the perfect reason for people to drive a few hours to get to Dayton.
“It will be a great lead-in to the Chrome party,” he said, referring to the planned replacement for the Red Party in Columbus.
The second new event this fall will be Dazzle, an auction at St. Clair Community College featuring art and antiques from across the region. Tickets for Dazzle, which will be held on October 19, will be $50 and the event, sponsored by Lazarus Department Stores, will have a cash bar.
“We’re putting a lot of time and energy into both of them,” Wamsley concluded.
Cleveland—The Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center announced on August 13 that their search for a new executive director will continue for a few more months. The vacancy, created by the resignation earlier this year of Linda Malicki, was expected to be filled by mid-summer.
Malicki resigned on April 22 after six years at the helm of the organization to spend more time with her family. She has remained at the center to handle fiscal operations while the board of directors searched for her successor.
Jan Cline, assistant director of the center, acted as interim director until the beginning of August, when his efforts were shifted towards the tasks of development and fundraising.
Over 50 candidates applied for the position, but the center’s board and search committee decided to expand the search nationally, reaching out to a wider array of candidates.
“We owe it to our community to find the best executive director we can,” said board president Janet Kuster. “This is the center’s first leadership change in several years and we’re looking for someone who can carry the organization and the LGBT community forward.”
Kuster and former board president John Farina will serve as interim executive directors while the search continues. Farina, public policy director for the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland, will handle grant tracking and revenue development, among other day-to-day operations of the center.
“I am proud to continue my relationship with the center,” Farina said. “The board and staff are driven and dedicated, and with the continued support of the community, we’ll have a very successful transition.”
Earl Pike, the executive director of the AIDS Taskforce, believes that loaning Farina’s services to the center benefits both organizations.
“This is a no-brainer for us,” he noted. “When we did our strategic planning process two years ago, we looked at which agencies had the most impact on us. There were ten agencies that were critical to us, and the center was one of them.”
“When Janet came to us and said, ‘We need help,’ it was no problem for us. We want to see the center strong and autonomous,” Pike continued. “Collaboration is about helping each other as well as doing programs together. It is in the best interest of the AIDS Taskforce to have a strong center. We need that and the community needs that.”
According to Pike, the Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center is poised now to get more done in the community than ever before.
“I think it’s absolutely essential the center remain a vital, vibrant force in the community,” he said. “We’ve come too far, and the climate is right in Cleveland right now.”
Pike pointed to the presence of a rainbow flag atop City Hall during Cleveland Pride as an indication of the progress the city has made, in part due to the efforts of the center and its staff.
Washington, D.C.—Most major U.S. companies have policies prohibiting discrimination against gays and lesbians, and more than two-thirds offer health benefits to same-sex domestic partners, an advocacy group said August 13.
The Human Rights Campaign, which advocates on behalf of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people, released its first survey of large corporations.
The group surveyed 319 companies, each of which employs at least 500 people. It found 92 percent of the companies had written statements barring discrimination because of sexual orientation, and 69 percent offered health insurance benefits for same-sex partners of employees.
The 319 rated companies were drawn from the 2002 Fortune 500, the 200 largest privately held companies from the 2001 Forbes Private 500, and information collected by HRC WorkNet, the organization's workplace advocacy project, on other companies with at least 500 employees. The index was not applied to colleges and universities, government agencies, non-profits or companies with fewer than 500 employees.
Thirteen companies earned perfect scores on the index, which ranked companies on seven criteria. These included written non-discrimination policies covering sexual orientation; written policies covering gender identity, benefits for same-sex domestic partners; recognizing and supporting an LGBT employee organization; diversity training that includes sexual orientation, gender identity or both; and “respectful, appropriate” marketing to, or charitable support of, the LGBT community. The seventh item was that the employer not actively work to undermine LGBT equality in the workplace.
One Ohio company made the top-13 list: NCR Corp. of Dayton. The others include Aetna, American Airlines, Apple Computer, Lucent Technologies, Nike and Xerox.
However, Cracker Barrel Restaurants, Emerson Electric and Lockheed Martin were the only employers to earn zero points. In addition to having no protections for LGBT employees in place, these firms also actively resisted shareholder resolutions to add sexual orientation to non-discrimination policies.
Six companies, including Meijer, Wal-Mart, Domino’s Pizza, FedEx, Mead Westvaco and Shaw Industries, received 14% scores for having no LGBT protections but not having resisted efforts to put them in place.
Exxon Mobil and Perot Systems also received 14%. Exxon, when it merged with Mobil, removed sexual orientation from Mobil’s non-discrimination policy and closed the domestic partner benefits to further enrollment. Perot was the only other company surveyed that ended a domestic partner benefit program, but it has a gay-inclusive non-discrimination policy.
The federal government, on the other hand, does not offer the same benefits to domestic partners that are given to spouses. Sen. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., and Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., have introduced legislation to provide benefits to unmarried partners, either of the same sex or of opposite sexes.
Eleven states--California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin--as well as the District of Columbia ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures and the HRC.
Eight states--California, Connecticut, Maine, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington--and the District of Columbia offer health insurance benefits to partners of state employees, according to the HRC.
“The truth is, it’s corporate America that has been the unlikely hero in the movement for equality for gay and lesbian Americans,” said HRC Executive Director Elizabeth Birch.
Birch said she was not surprised at the results, saying they were the results of a decade’s worth of efforts to end discrimination against gays and lesbians.
Companies also were rated on whether they had policies prohibiting discrimination against gender identity and whether they participated in any efforts opposing equal rights for gays and lesbians.
“Most successful companies know discrimination is bad for business,” said Kim Mills, the group’s education director.
Dublin, Ohio—The Ohio Academy of Family Physicians joined their New York and national counterparts by passing two LGBT-friendly resolutions at their annual members’ assembly on August 2 and 3.
Both the New York Academy of Family Physicians and the American Academy of Family Physicians’ Conference of Special Constituencies have passed resolutions supporting gay adoption and same-sex co-parenting to provide stability to the homes of adoptive children.
The three organizations’ resolutions backed a February decision by the American Association of Pediatrics to throw their support behind gay and second-parent adoption. The move was hailed by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender family advocates across the country.
“Resolved, that the OAFP be supportive of legislation and AAFP policy that promoted a safe and nurturing environment for children of adoptive parents, regardless of the parent’s lifestyle choice or sexual orientation,” the resolution reads in part. “Resolved, that the children and parents of such unions enjoy equal legal rights and benefits established under the law.”
The pediatrics group’s support is believed to be invaluable in court cases and legislative arguments surrounding the issue of second-parent and gay adoptions, since anti-gay forces often use “best interests of the child” as an argument against them. The support of an organization of child-care professionals contradicting that argument strengthens the cases of gay and lesbian adoptive parents.
Dr. David Mack of Spencerville, near Lima, brought the resolution before the assembly. He noted that, while the pediatrics group’s resolution came after a committee studied the issue, the various Academies of Family Physicians pass resolutions by member votes. The resolutions, then, carry the weight of the membership of the issuing organizations.
“New York came out with a very strong statement,” Mack said. “I wanted OAFP to pass the same resolution. It got substituted, but in the end I think it still came out as very supportive.”
The second resolution passed at OAFP’s members’ assembly concerned domestic partner health care benefits. The wording was also general, but gay-supportive.
“Resolved, that the OAFP supports the extension of employee medical benefits to those within the employee’s household for whom he or she has assumed responsibility, and be it further resolved that the OAFP Board of Directors ask the AAFP Board of Directors to consider this extension for possible incorporation with the AAFP’s initiative to insure universal health coverage,” reads the “Resolution on extending medical benefits to those outside the scope of the traditional nuclear family.”
Both resolutions brought positive responses from the community. Deb Sarver, a obstetrical care coordinator, noted, “Every child deserves to be loved and in a loving, nurturing home without regard to any other factors. I believe that the definition of family should be that those folks who lave and care for one another, support one another, or in any manner define themselves as a family, be given support by all legal, medical and community services.”
“I’m very pleased to hear that the OAFP has stepped forward and supported both of these resolutions, to move our community one step closer to where we rightfully belong,” she concluded.
Earl Pike, executive director of the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland, echoed Sarver’s sentiments.
“Those are great,” he said of the resolutions adopted at the membership assembly. “It all about stability of families, however those families define themselves.”
He continued, “It’s insane to me that there are thousands of kids begging for families and there are thousands of gay men and lesbians willing to adopt them.”
At least three adoption agencies in the state, Bellefaire JCB, A Child’s Waiting and Northeast Ohio Adoption Services, actively seek adoptive parents in the LGBT community.
Pike also had a pragmatic view of health care benefits, noting that the cost of insuring domestic partners is less than the cost to the state of emergency medical services that are not covered by insurance.
“The bend of history is going that way, towards greater realms of equality,” he posited, “and you can either fight it or recognize it and affirm it.”
Compiled from wire reports by Brian DeWitt, Anthony Glassman and Patti Harris.
New Anglican head reverses position on gays
London—The incoming Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, reversed his earlier favorable positions on same-sex relationships and the ordination of gay priests.
Williams, who was tapped last month to become the new leader of the world’s Anglicans this fall, sent a letter to the primates in his church reminding them that gay commitment ceremonies are not to be performed in the denomination’s churches, nor are gays to be ordained as ministers.
It is believed that the letter was targeted specifically at Canadian churches. A British Columbian diocese in June decided to allow commitment ceremonies in its churches and at least two other dioceses in Ontario have taken steps to follow suit.
His selection had drawn criticism from conservatives in the church who objected to his earlier ordination of a priest he suspected was gay.
Williams was quoted earlier this year as saying it was not his job to be “going around the bedroom with a magnifying glass doing surveillance.” He also said it was not necessary for gay priests to be celibate “in every circumstance.”
The Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion.
Schools defend anti-bully program
Charleston, W.Va.—Teachers, students and administrators involved with a civil rights project to reduce bullying say the program builds school unity and has nothing to do with promoting homosexuality.
As many as 22 schools in the state have participated in the voluntary civil rights team project in which middle and high school students act as role models against bullying and harassment. It started four years ago after Paul Sheridan, head of the state attorney general’s civil rights division, learned about a similar project in Maine at a meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General.
The program has been endorsed by Gov. Bob Wise’s Cabinet on Children and Families, but several Christian advocacy groups, parents and at least one state legislator has asked the state school board to ban the program, saying its aim is to create a “politically correct thought police.”
Kevin McCoy, head of the West Virginia Family Foundation, a Christian-based advocacy group, accused the program of indoctrinating students.
David Book, principal at Liberty High School, where team members are nominated by their classmates, said critics who “believe that is the intent of the civil rights team are misinformed.”
The state board of education has not banned nor has it endorsed the program. But some members have questioned its need because of a new state code of conduct that addresses harassment.
“I hope they don’t do away with the program because of any possible misinformation,” David Book said.
Missouri sex ban challenged
St. Louis, Mo.—The attorney for three men who were arrested in a March raid on an adult theater are filing a motion to dismiss the cases against them, claiming that Missouri law no longer bans consensual gay sex.
A 1999 appeals court decision in the western district of the state found that an amendment adding “without that person’s consent” to one section of the state’s “sexual misconduct” laws applied to all sections, invalidating the ban on gay sex.
The appeals court ruling, however, only applies to the western part of the state, since the state’s Supreme Court never heard the case.
Bob Wilkins, the Jefferson County prosecutor on the case, believes the law might be unconstitutional but regards it as the only weapon in his arsenal that can be used against sex in a public place like the adult bookstore.
Undercover police officers arrested 13 people at the adult bookstore. Two were charged with possession of marijuana and six were charged under the same-sex ban. Although the tip prompting the raid claimed that sex was being exchanged for money, no prostitution charges were brought in the case.
A woman was also arrested engaging in a heterosexual act in the theater, but she was not charged.
Richard Sindel, who is representing the men on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union, said that if the charges are not dismissed, he will argue that his clients’ rights to equal protection under the law were violated since the woman was not charged, despite engaging in similar activity.
Fans protest team VP’s letter
Orlando, Fla.—About 100 gay civil rights protesters picketed before the Orlando Miracle’s August 8 game after a top executive of the WNBA team sent a letter to the City Council opposing a proposed ordinance that would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Pat Williams, senior vice president of RDV Sports, the parent company of the Miracle and the NBA’s Magic, sent a form letter to Orlando council members last month urging them to establish “objective standards” before passing the ordinance.
Those standards, the letter said, should include proof that local discrimination against gays is widespread and has caused them economic hardship, and show that homosexuality, like race, is beyond a person’s control.
That letter has angered many in Orlando’s gay community, particularly lesbians, who make up a significant segment of the Miracle’s fan base. Some are threatening a boycott.
The protesters were not allowed to bring their signs inside.
Williams, who spent 12 years as general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers before joining the Magic in 1986, was not at the August 8 game. He issued a statement the day before, calling the letter “a personal action.”
Williams said he received information about the ordinance at his church months ago and was just one of many church members who mailed the letter. He didn’t explain why the letter was mailed in a company envelope, which lists his name above the Orlando Magic title and RDV Sports mailing address, or why the company’s mail meter was used to stamp it.
Group fires director to save money
Miami—Save Dade, the group fighting an effort to repeal Miami-Dade’s gay anti-discrimination ordinance, dismissed its executive director and two staffers a month before the election to free funds for a direct-mail, television and radio advertising campaign.
Timothy Higdon, who was paid $72,000 a year, was hired in March to head the organization through the effort to halt the repeal.
A fundraiser and a house-party organizer were both also released early from their oral contracts to work until August 15; both men served their last day on August 9.
The organizer, Terrance Harmon, made $2,500 a month, while David Skipp earned $3,500 a month. Volunteers have replaced Skipp.
“We’re at the point where every dollar counts,” Ketelhohn told the Miami Herald. “My first duty as chair of this organization is to make sure that every dollar is spent in the most efficient way at this moment in time.”
The election is September 10. The rights measure was passed in 1999 to replace one repealed in the nation’s first anti-gay referendum, led by singer Anita Bryant in 1977.
Man pleads guilty in gaybash murder
Phoenix, Ariz.—Dorian C. Brown, one of two men accused in the brutal killing of openly gay Justin Fidelis Enos in 2000, pleaded guilty August 13 to second-degree murder.
Brown faces up to 20 years in prison.
A second defendant, Aaronray J. Miguel, will start his first-degree murder trial next week.
Both Brown and Miguel have served time in prison in the past.
Federal prosecutors in the case are using a measurethat stiffens the penalties in federal murder cases if bias is shown, including on the basis of sexual orientation.
On October 31, 2000, Enos and a number of other people were gathered for a party at a friend’s home. Enos, who was intoxicated, danced flamboyantly, drawing the ire of Brown, who pulled out a knife and threatened to stab Enos.
After leaving the party, Brown and Miguel, along with Marino Juan and his girlfriend Catalina Hernandez, attacked Enos, beating and kicking him, then dragging him behind a horse for a half-mile into the desert. After digging a hole and dumping Enos in it, either Brown or Miguel hit him repeatedly with a shovel, finally killing him.
Juan and Hernandez both told investigators that Brown and Miguel threatened to kill them if they did not take part in the attack or told of it later. Both Brown and Miguel accused the other of taking a principal role in the attack.
High court looks at custody denial
Idaho Falls, Idaho—The Idaho Supreme Court will review a magistrate’s decision to deny a man custody of his two children because he is gay.
The decision, issued August 6, is a departure from the typical procedure, in which a lower appeals court reviews the ruling first. The state Supreme Court has never ruled on the rights of gay parents.
Theron McGriff appealed Bonneville County Magistrate Mark Riddoch’s decision to grant full custody of his two school-age children to his ex-wife, Shawn. The magistrate granted McGriff visitation rights “providing father is not residing in the same house with his male partner.”
McGriff’s partner of four years is living in a trailer in front of their Idaho Falls house so McGriff can see his children.
Shawn McGriff has declined to comment on the case, but during a court appearance this spring, her attorney said McGriff was concerned about how her ex-husband’s homosexuality was presented to their children and the effect it would have on their lives in the conservative community.
N.Z. gets first gay cabinet minister
Wellington, New Zealand—Prime Minister Helen Clark will appoint New Zealand’s first openly gay cabinet minister when she announces the makeup of her government this week.
Former teacher Chris Carter, a Labor lawmaker from the northern city of Auckland, said August 12 he hoped his sexuality would not be an issue.
“I’d like to be defined by my efficiency, not my sexuality,” he said. “I’m looking forward to representing the diversity of New Zealand.”
Carter, who won his seat in western Auckland with a huge majority in July’s election, has not yet been assigned a portfolio in Clark’s new cabinet.
A key aide to Clark in the last three-year parliamentary term, Carter said he welcomed the government’s commitment to a proposed civil union bill which would grant same-sex relationships many of the benefits of marriage.
In 1993, Carter became the first openly gay lawmaker elected to the New Zealand Parliament.
Voters in this liberal South Pacific nation of 4 million appear to worry little about the sexual orientation, history or identity of their lawmakers. In 1999 and again last month, they elected Georgina Beyer, a former male prostitute and stripper who underwent a sex change. Beyer is believed to be the world’s first transsexual lawmaker.
First gay and lesbian play festival in six years opens in Columbus on September 12
Columbus--The National Gay and Lesbian Theater Festival has been a sporadic event in the past, sort of like a world’s fair, according to Frank Barnhart, its organizer and coordinator.
“Until a city decides it wants to host the world’s fair or the theater festival, there is no regularity with which they occur,” he says.
Barnhart, founder of Reality Theater and executive director of Act Out Productions, went to the last festival in Los Angeles in 1996.
“It was very poorly organized and caused a lot of frustration for the performers, including issues of very low attendance,” he says. He decided that he was going to host the next such festival, and “having been privy to everything that went wrong at the last one,” he decided he was going to get it right.
Barnhart has been working to make this come to fruition for the past two years. He wants it to be an excellent experience for the community as well as for the performers.
The festival will last nine days, bringing 27 groups from across the U.S. and Canada to perform at five venues across the city. The festival has been given a letter of recognition by the Columbus mayor’s office, and has received unprecedented support, financially and in-kind, from the Columbus community.
“The festival has something for everyone,” says Barnhart. From comedies and dramas to musicals and polemic pieces, the festival will have productions that are solo performances alongside larger ensemble casts.
In addition to over 100 performances by over 200 actors and theater professionals, the festival is also sponsoring workshops and discussion by the participants for audiences. A series of receptions and parties will accompany it. Performance companies from New York, Austin, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Montreal, Toronto, St. Louis, and Provincetown, among other cities, will descend upon Columbus and the Short North from September 12 to 21.
Several local groups are also performing, including 2Co’s Cabaret who are creating an original work titled I Didn’t Know You Could Cook, Hit the Ground Running who will perform Sexy Hotpants, and a new group called the Puppetqueers who will be doing a puppet-play titled Hands Up My Bottom.
Each group will perform three to four time throughout the festival, which will culminate in an awards ceremony. Prizes will be given in various categories voted on by a panel, as well as special awards decided by the audience.
The festival will include Sky Gilbert with the Cabaret Company from Canada, which is bringing The Birth of Casper G. Schmidt, described as a thoughtful comedy about a straight but not narrow couple who befriend a gay, obsessive-compulsive man.
According to Barnhart, “Gilbert is to Canada what Harvey Fierstein is to America.”
Provincetown’s longest-running show, Lorena Hickock and Eleanor Roosevelt: A Love Story is coming to the festival. The play explores the 30-year relationship between the first lady and a journalist. Margarie Conn has been performing this play in P-town for the past 14 years.
Emmy-nominated writer Jeffrey Solomon of Philadelphia is bringing Mother/Son to this festival. This play explores the relationship between a Jewish mother and her gay son Brad. The Chicago Tribune called it a “warm hearted, semi-autobiographical tour-de-truth.” Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays is backing this show, hoping to bring more parents to understand the issues and joys of being the parents of gay and lesbian children.
Jade Estaban Estrada, an up and coming Latino pop icon, will be performing a meld of song and stories titled Icons: The Lesbian and Gay History of the World. Estrada is being billed in the national media as the first openly gay Latino pop star, and his visit to Columbus is sure to draw a lot of attention.
Porn star Chris Steele will be performing Aidan’s Bed. And final plans are being negotiated for Danny Pintaro (“Who’s the Boss”) to come to Columbus with a play that he has performed all over the country.
The festival will also have some polemic pieces. One of the most controversial is That’s Mister Faggot to You from Pittsburgh. This in-your-face show is a montage of experiences of an out gay man in a not-so-out world.
All seats to all performances are $10. For more information about schedules, venues, tickets and other festival related issues, call 614-268-9443 or see www.cngltf.com.
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