Ohio won�t change sex on birth certificate
by Eric Resnick
Warren, Ohio--A heterosexual couple has been denied a marriage license because the hopeful groom is transsexual.
Trumbull County magistrate Thomas Norton denied Howland residents Jacob B. Nash, 37, and Erin Barr, 30, a marriage license on August 8. Norton says that Nash is really female, and granting the license would violate Ohio�s prohibition on same-sex marriages.
Their case is the flip side of same-sex marriages that Ohio has sanctioned because one of the partners was born the opposite sex. The state is one of three, with Idaho and Tennessee, that does not allow transsexuals to change their birth certificates to reflect their new sex.
Nash and Barr met in a Christian chat room on the Internet in 1999 while Nash was completing his transition to male.
Nash, a Massachusetts native, changed his birth certificate to male according to Massachusetts law. He then moved to Ohio to be with Barr, and had his name changed legally from �Pamela� by the Trumbull County Probate Court. Magistrate Norton granted the name change, which then was ordered by Judge Thomas Swift.
According to Nash�s attorney, Deborah Smith of Macedonia, Nash�s marriage license application would have been accepted at face value, as they are for all other applicants, had the name change not occurred in the same court.
Ohio has recognized many same-sex marriages where one partner is transgender and has not altered their birth certificate. These include the July 31 marriage of Dawn and Katheryn Kereluik of Columbus, both women, one being transsexual.
Attorney Smith is also married to another woman, Randi Barnabee, who is transgender and also an attorney. The two wed on May 24, 2002. Both Kereluik�s and Barnabee�s birth certificates indicate they are male, even though they are women.
In Nash�s case, the state of Massachusetts recognizes him as male. But Ohio, which recognizes him as male for all other purposes, including his driver�s license, refuses to do so when it comes to marriage.
�When it is to the detriment of transgendered people, Ohio argues the birth certificate,� said Smith, pointing out that in this case, Ohio is refusing to give full faith and credit to the Massachusetts birth certificate, which she says is a violation of Nash�s constitutional rights.
As the basis denying the marriage license, Norton says that Ohio relies on chromosomes to determine sex, not birth certificates. This comes from a 1987 Stark County probate decision, In re Ladrach, which held that a post-operative male-to-female transsexual was not permitted under Ohio law to marry a person born male.
The Ladrach decision was written by Judge R.R. Denny Clunk, who has a strong bias against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people. He has denied name changes for lesbians and gays and last winter tried to have Sean Brookings, a transsexual man, convicted of fraud over his marriages to women. The charge was dismissed.
Because there are few other cases dealing with transsexuals, Smith said, Ladrach is widely cited when courts in Ohio and other states want to rule against the transgendered person, although it was never appealed and is thus only binding in Stark County.
Smith sees Nash�s case as a possible remedy for the Ladrach decision. In a letter to Judge Swift, she pointed out that at the time Clunk made the ruling, Ohio was part of a 70% majority of states that did not allow birth certificates to be altered--a situation that has changed.
�Any decision which is based solely upon Ladrach and its underpinnings is now suspect,� wrote Smith. �Ladrach is now the extreme--and shrinking--minority view, and does not reflect modern advances in the medical and scientific understanding of the many factors which comprise human sexuality.�
Following Smith�s letter, Swift set a September 5 hearing date to hear evidence on the matter.
School joins three other state universities with the benefits
by Anthony Glassman
Youngstown�Faculty members at Youngstown State University will now be able to take sick and family medical leave to care for domestic partners under a contract that was approved on August 23.
Preliminary proposals to extend insurance benefits to domestic partners of faculty members were dropped in an agreement reached earlier in the week. Unlike insurance, the sick leave provisions have no cost to the school.
Two trustees still opposed the inclusion of �domestic partners� in the agreement, Joseph Nohra and F.W. Knecht III. Knecht was absent for the final decision, and Nohra cast the only dissenting vote at the trustees� meeting. Both board members cited �moral objections� to the inclusion, although Nohra was more outspoken on the matter.
A Catholic deacon, Nohra said that his religion does not approve of domestic partnerships.
�[Faculty union president] John Russo said, �This issue is not about morality, it�s about homophobia,� � noted Dr. Sherry Linkon, a professor in the English department. Russo pointed to the administration�s removal of the words �same-sex� from the benefits provisions in the contract as an example of Nohra and Knecht�s agenda.
Dr. Gabriel Palmer-Fernandez, director of the Dr. James Dale Ethics Center and a professor in the philosophy and religion department, is outspoken in his opposition to Nohra�s position. On August 22, he read from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops� �Pastoral Letter on Health and Health Care,� which notes that all people have the right to health care.
Palmer-Fernandez also noted that a fact-finder�s report that was created to aid in contract negotiations pointed out that YSU is one of a dwindling number of state universities around the country that do not grant benefits to domestic partners.
None of the state universities in Ohio offer insurance benefits to domestic partners of faculty and staff, although most of the unions involved have brought the request to the table for the past ten years.
�The trustees are worried about backlash from conservatives in the legislature who think that domestic partner benefits are not correct for state agencies to have,� noted Larry Lewellen, associate vice president for human resources at Ohio State University.
Earlier this year, OSU opened a number of benefits to domestic partners of faculty and staff at the school, including sick leave, dependent life insurance and child care. None of the benefits, however, cost the university any money to provide to its employees. The dependent life insurance allows faculty and staff to purchase coverage for partners and their children, but the employee bears the entire financial burden of the additional coverage.
Cleveland State University followed suit on July 1, offering nearly identical benefits to its faculty, administrators and staff. Both schools� offers are specifically directed to same-sex partners. Both schools also require employees to fill out an �Affidavit of Domestic Partnership� with the human resources office to qualify for the benefits.
�It�s a lot of benefits in name,� said CSU student leadership program coordinator Paul Putman. He indicated that the school intends to follow OSU�s lead in domestic partner benefits step for step.
Putman, who also directs CSU�s LGBT student services, Project Lambda, continued, �I�m kind of surprised to hear that Youngstown State had such difficulties with this.�
Out of all the public universities in Ohio, only YSU and Central State University fail to include sexual orientation in equal employment policies, although Central State also provides no-cost, minor benefits to domestic partners.
YSU faculty are determined, however, not to dwell on the negatives, but to �accentuate the positive,� according to English professor Thomas Copeland.
�My impression is that this negotiating team was rock-solid on the issue of domestic partners,� he said. �Until this time, it was put on the table to be bargained away. This time it was serious and ran into serious opposition.�
�I think we�re beginning to see from some faculty a serious commitment to this issue,� Linkon concurred. �More people spoke out at the ratification meeting calling for the contract to be rejected because it didn�t have domestic partner benefits than ever before.�
30 politicians join in Stonewall Dems picnic
by Anthony Glassman
Cleveland�Around 30 politicians turned out to speak to over 125 members of the community at the August 25 Cleveland Stonewall Democrats� Candidate and Politicians Picnic at Edgewater Park.
The weather was kind to the luminaries in attendance, including gubernatorial candidate Tim Hagan, State Sens. Eric Fingerhut and Dan Brady, Lakewood Mayor Madeline Cain and Cleveland city council members Dona Brady and Joseph Cimperman.
�We�re really pleased with the turnout of both the community and politicians at the inaugural picnic,� Cleveland Stonewall Democrats president Patrick Shepherd said. �We plan to make it an annual event.�
�Politics can be complicated,� he continued, �and this event offers an opportunity for people in our community to communicate with candidates and elected officials.����� |
by Eric Resnick
St. Clairsville, Ohio--Putting cameras in a public restroom to videotape people as they use it is an illegal search, Ohio�s Seventh District Court of Appeals was told.
The court heard arguments August 22 in a case where police concealed four cameras in a roadside rest stop in an attempt to curb sexual activity there. The court will decide if the law allows police to do this without a warrant.
The three-judge panel heard the appeal of Jim Henry, 46, of Empire, who was convicted October 4, 2001 of public indecency by a Jefferson County jury.
Henry, who is openly gay, was one of 13 men, all believed to be gay by police, netted in an operation conducted by Saline Township police chief Ken Hayes and Jefferson County Prosecutor Bryan Felmet between January and May of 2001.
Hayes used four hidden video cameras to film every man that used the urinal and stall in the restroom on State Route 7 near the Ohio River between Toronto and East Liverpool.
Neither the Ohio Department of Transportation, which owns the rest stop, nor the other police agencies with jurisdiction there knew of the video cameras, or that Hayes removed a divider between the urinals to give the cameras a better view. They were told after the operation ended.
The men received arrest notices in the mail, a day after their names and addresses appeared in the local paper.
Twelve of the men, including one who was never at the rest area, plea bargained and paid the fines. Only Henry fought the charges.
At Henry�s October trial, the only witness called was Hayes, and the only evidence was the videotape from May 9, 2001, which shows Henry entering the restroom, standing at the urinal, and leaving the restroom after 47 seconds.
Henry�s attorney, Sam Pate of Steubenville, attempted to have the videotape suppressed. Jefferson County Judge Joseph Corabi allowed the tape.
Corabi exempted Henry�s case from U.S. Supreme Court rulings against video surveillance in public restrooms, locker rooms, jail cells, and dressing rooms.
In his briefs to the appeals court, Assistant Prosecutor Richard Ferro cited Ohio cases where courts have allowed police to watch people using public restrooms.
Pate, in his briefs, pointed out that the circumstances and the methods used in those cases was different than those used by Hayes and Felmet.
In one case cited by Ferro, State v. McClurg, it was ruled constitutional for police to stand in the restroom and personally observe activities.
Pate pointed out to the court that in McClurg, the police were present and did not use electronic devices or mirrors.
In another case cited by Ferro, State v. Thurman, it was ruled constitutional for police to conceal themselves with cameras behind drywall partitions and peer through vent grilles to see and record men masturbating.
Pate argued that the Thurman operation was short, and the police only taped potential offenders. In Henry�s case, unmanned cameras hidden in light fixtures ran continuously for hours each night. Everyone was taped, and the operation lasted months.
Pate also cited cases from other states where restroom surveillance was limited by courts on constitutional grounds.
Pate also argued that the offense of public indecency requires that the act has to be an �affront� to someone. In Henry�s case, the video cameras were the only witness to his 47 seconds in the restroom, and the law does not consider cameras to be �casual observers.�
Ferro argued, as he did to the trial jury, that all the cameras had to see was something that could have resembled masturbation for the possibility to exist that someone walking in could be affronted.
The three judges hearing the case were Gene Donofrio, Joseph Vukovich, and Mary Degenaro.
Degenaro first interrupted Pate�s presentation, saying that all three had seen the videotape and that she wanted to focus on Henry�s conduct at the urinal, not the issue of whether or not the cameras were an illegal search.
�The activity took place in a public section,� said Degenaro, �so it was very likely that someone could have been affronted.�
Degenaro then stated that Henry was never charged with public masturbation.
�It was less,� said Degenaro, �it was conduct that could have appeared to be public masturbation.�
Pate responded that during the 47 seconds, Henry did not engage in any activity that could have appeared to be masturbation.
�And the camera is not an ordinary observer,� added Pate.
Donofrio interrupted next to ask, �What do you want us to look at to say these cameras were an unconstitutional search?�
�Thurman,� Pate answered, and said that the prosecution has been inconsistent in its arguments for justifying the cameras.
�They say they had to use the cameras because conventional surveillance was not working,� said Pate. �Now they say that conventional surveillance would have worked because what they filmed was so out in the open and plain to anyone�s view.�
Donofrio said that the owner of the rest area is the state of Ohio, and asked Pate, �Why wouldn�t the police, as an agent of the state of Ohio, not be allowed to install cameras to protect property?�
Pate said the cameras used were not positioned to protect property.
�We�re getting into government scrutiny of how people go to the bathroom,� said Pate.
��So, what was viewed is something normally seen in a men�s restroom?� asked Donofrio.
�Anyone walking in would have concluded there was no masturbation,� said Pate.
�But the jury did,� said Vukovich, �and you�re asking us to replace the jury.�
�Yes,� answered Pate.
After the hearing, Pate noted that the judges had only seen the trial court transcript, so they did not know of Hayes� earlier comments in the Gay People�s Chronicle that the reason for installing the cameras was that the rest area was known by truckers as �Lollipop Park� and �Pickle Park.�
Ferro then presented his case.
�When do you think the public has the right to know about the camera?� asked Vukovich. �And what about if it was in the stall? I might act differently if I knew there was a camera in the stall.�
�[Jim] Henry knew there was surveillance in the restroom,� said Ferro--a point that came out during the suppression hearing for the tape.
�This case is distinguished on that he knew,� said Ferro.
Donofrio said, �[Pate] makes a good point, in that the camera is a bird�s eye view. How could anyone see anything just coming in the door?�
�Someone coming in could have a bird�s eye view of the act,� said Ferro, �which appeared to be an act of masturbation.�
Ferro told the judges that Pate expects them to �step into the jury�s function, but at the trial, Pate did not cross examine [Hayes].�
Ferro conceded that most of the cases cited in his briefs involved monitoring the stall, not the urinal.
In his rebuttal, Pate said if people have no expectation of privacy when they go into a restroom, there would be no need to build rest rooms.
�People could just go anywhere,� said Pate. �And I could walk right into the ladies restroom and watch them fix themselves.�
The other men arrested in the operation who plea-bargained paid fines around $100-150. Henry�s legal fees have exceeded $3,900. If he loses his appeal, he will have to serve five days in jail and pay a $250 fine. The Jefferson County Clerk of Courts mistakenly turned him over to a collection agency in a premature attempt to collect the fine.
�It has been a tough year.� said Henry.
Pate expects the court to rule within the month.
by Eric Renick
Columbus--The Ohio Supreme Court ruled 4-2 on August 28 that a juvenile court may determine whether a shared custody agreement between partners in a same-sex relationship is in the best interests of the children.
The ruling was generally hailed as a victory by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy groups and the national civil rights groups watching it, though the court did not go as far as they wanted it to.
The 15 page opinion written by Chief Justice Thomas Moyer directs juvenile courts to consider parenting and custodial agreements made by same-sex couples on the basis of what is best for the children, but stopped short of granting the non-parent partner �in loco parentis� status, saying that definition needs to be left to the legislature.
Justices Andrew Douglas, Alice Robie Resnick, and Francis Sweeney concurred. Justice Paul Pfeifer also concurred, and wrote additionally to clarify terminology.
Justices Deborah Cook and Evelyn Lundberg Stratton dissented. The two are regarded as the most socially conservative justices on the court. Lundberg Stratton, in particular is championed by Christian conservatives, and is running for re-election in November.
The case was brought by Teri Bonfield and Shelley Zachritz of Cincinnati and their six children.
Bonfield and Zachritz have been together since 1988.
Bonfield adopted two boys, one in 1993 and another in 1995.
She also gave birth to a son in 1995 and twins in 1998. The latter three children were by artificial insemination from an anonymous donor.
Concerned with the children�s interest in event Bonfield�s death or unavailability, and because Zachritz is the partner more directly responsible for the daily, routine care of the children, the women attempted to file a shared parenting plan with the Hamilton County Juvenile Court in 1999 following the birth of their sixth child.
The court rejected the plan, saying parents can only be natural or adoptive. The First District Court of Appeals agreed, adding that the state legislature has limited the definition of �parent� so as not to include unmarried partners.
In doing so, the lower courts denied Zachritz any legal right to make decisions about the children�s daily lives, or do simple things like pick them up at school or ask a doctor about health matters.
The women did not ask the court for a joint or second-parent adoption because Ohio law does not permit joint adoptions by same-sex couples.
Cincinnati attorney Sallee Fry Waterman, who represented the family indicated previously that the lower courts denied the women�s earlier attempts out of bias and fear that giving legal standing to their agreement would legitimize their lesbian relationship.
�This ruling opens the door for this and other non-traditional families to have legal remedies,� said Waterman.
The high court�s ruling tells juvenile courts that it is appropriate for them to consider such parenting plans, and that the standard they are to use to judge the plans is what is determined to be in the best interest of the children.
That standard, as noted by the court was first set in 1990 in the landmark Ohio Supreme Court decision In re Adoption of Charlie B., which is the case that first affirmed gay adoptions in Ohio.
The court stopped short of granting partners parental status because, Moyer wrote, �A plain reading of [Ohio law] indicates that there are three ways a �parent and child relationship� can be established: by natural parenthood, by adoption, [and by] other legal means in the Revised Code that confer or impose rights, privileges, and duties upon certain individuals.�
After describing ways that �parent and child relationship� can be established under current law, Moyer wrote, �we find it inappropriate to . . . broaden the narrow class of persons who are statutorily defined as parents for purposes of entering a shared parenting agreement.�
�In other words,� Moyer continued, �although [Bonfield�s] decision to co-parent her children with [Zachritz] may be protected from interference by the state, [Bonfiled] is not entitled to the benefit of statutes that are clearly inapplicable to such a familial arrangement.�
According to Waterman, the terminology used in this case from the beginning has changed, in part because the legislature has rewritten the law to make it clear that children are not property. Waterman said this ruling did not clarify that language, so it is possible for future cases to be brought that get clearer definitions to the terms �shared custody,� �joint custody,� and �shared parenting.�
That was the issue Justice Pfeifer noted in his separate concurrance.
Pfeifer wrote, �Terms of art change. What used to be known as joint custody is now known as shared parenting. Whatever the label, custody is still at the heart of what Teri Bonfield and Shelley Zachritz want the court to recognize and what they want to see endure . . . Custody connotes more than a bond, it connotes presence.�
Pfeifer continued, �The General Assembly�s shift in terminology from joint custody to shared parenting was never meant to make custody of children exclusive to what are considered traditional parents . . . Ohio�s custody laws allow for the legal recognition of an adult�s commitment to a child, and that adult�s right and responsibility to continue that commitment. What we call that adult is not important. What her children call her is.�
In their dissent, Cook and Lundberg Stratton disagreed that the juvenille court has jurisdiction to determine custody of the Bonfield children saying that as the majority interpretted the law, anyone could file for the custody of any child simply by filing a motion.
They further protest that for a party to attempt to gain shared custody or parenting rights, �the party must be a parent of a minor child from a marriage.�
Cook wrote, �In this case, the [Ohio law] marriage requirement forecloses reaching determinations under the remaining portions of [Ohio law], such as whether Shelly [sic] is a �parent� . . . Because the General Assembly does not permit same-sex marriages, . . . Teri and Shelly [sic] are not married, the children are not �of the marriage.� �
Since there was no party in opposition to the women�s plan, the opposing �friends of the court,� which included eight anti-gay Republican members of the Ohio legislature and Christian conservative organizations, were represented by Cincinnati attorney and Ohio DOMA author David Langdon.
With permission of the court, Langdon wrote all of their briefs and gave oral argument before the court as though he was Waterman�s opponent.
Cleveland Marshall College of Law professor Susan Becker, who helped Waterman prepare the case, said that by taking the unusual step of becoming friends of the court, the lawmakers were signaling that they would take legislative action to further limit the definition of parenting regardless of what the court ruled.
Rep. Bill Seitz of Cincinnati, who is one of the eight and is the lead sponsor of Ohio�s DOMA, later confirmed that in correspondence to a constituent.
According to Waterman, Bonfield and Zachritz are �just trying to stay low-key� about the ruling, but will now take their agreement back to the Hamilton County Juvenile Court.
Waterman said that because all the work the court does to determine the child�s best interest has already been done in this case, and because their agreement satisfies that determination, the court will likely approve it.
Cleveland�The Cleveland City Country Dancers, northeast Ohio�s LGBT square dancing social group, held a potluck and dance in Edgewater Park�s upper pavilion on August 21.
Ten �newbies� signed in at the picnic, joining twenty members of the group to enjoy the sun-drenched evening overlooking Lake Erie.
�I think folks had a good time,� said club caller Brian Keating. �That�s the thing we�re shooting for most in the potlucks, celebrating ourselves and the summer.�
The group will be holding free beginners� square dancing classes on Wednesdays, from Sept. 11 to 25. The classes will be at 7 pm in Archwood United Church of Christ, 2800 Archwood Ave., just off of W. 25th Street. For more information, call 216-6710663, 330-5697880, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
by Beth Rosenberg
Indianapolis�The Eglers have been together for more than five years.
The own a home, share finances and are raising a son together.
They live as a married couple in all aspects of their lives except one: Charlotte and Dawn Egler are both women and cannot be legally married in Indiana.
The Eglers and two other same-sex couples filed a lawsuit Aug. 22 in Marion Superior Court pressing Indiana to allow same-sex marriages, or at least recognize civil unions entered into in other states.
�They want the opportunity to build a life with someone they love, just like everyone else,� said John Krull, executive director of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the couples. �That�s what this suit is about giving gay Hoosiers the same opportunity that other citizens of this state have.�
Currently, only Vermont allows gay couples to enter into civil unions and that agreement is not recognized in any other states. Suits similar to the one filed in Indiana have also been filed in New Jersey and Massachusetts.
The lawsuit names as defendants Gov. Frank O�Bannon and the clerks of Marion and Hendricks county circuit courts. Court clerks issue marriage licenses.
The Eglers, who live in Hendricks County just west of Indianapolis, entered into a civil union in Vermont in July 2000, but realize that in Indiana it�s nothing more than a sheet of paper.
�We�re taxpayers just like everyone else,� said Dawn Egler. �We go to work, we come home from work, we spend time together. We�re like every other family.�
State Rep. Woody Burton, who authored Indiana�s 1997 law prohibiting the recognition of same-sex marriages from other states, said he did not believe the definition of marriage should be expanded.
�I�m just a believer in the sanctity of marriage,� said Burton, R-Greenwood. �This country was founded on the principles of certain things. The sanctity of marriage is for one man and one woman.�
In addition to the Eglers, the plaintiffs in the suit are two Indianapolis couples: Ruth Morrison and Teresa Stephens and David Wene and David Squire. They also have entered into civil unions in Vermont.
All said they realize that the publicity surrounding the suit could greatly impact their lives.
�We�re all in it for the long haul,� Stephens said. �It�s a very important step to take.�
Compiled from wire reports by Brian DeWitt, Anthony Glassman and Patti Harris.
9-11 partners get state worker�s comp
New York City�Under a state law that took effect Aug. 21, around 20 same-sex partners of people killed in the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center will receive benefits from insurance companies.
Workers� compensation benefits will pay up to $400 per week for the remainder of the surviving spouse�s life, or until the surviving spouse remarries, for same-sex partners of 9-11 victims. The new law does not define spouse in relation to marriage.
It is unclear how the provision granting benefits until the spouse remarries would affect same-sex survivors of Sept. 11 victims.
The same week the law went into effect, the American Red Cross sent a bulletin to all of its chapters defining the �immediate family� as including any people with commingled finances to the deceased or injured person, making universal the regulations they put into effect for the victims of the terrorist attacks.
AIDS ride company shuts doors
Los Angeles�Pallotta TeamWorks, a company that organizes charity events for AIDS and breast cancer related causes, has shut its doors and laid off its more than 250 employees, a former spokeswoman said Aug. 24.
Company founder Dan Pallotta told employees the move was intended to save money and ensure the events it both creates and produces could go on as planned. It may seek to rehire some of those laid off, spokesperson Janna Sidley said.
The company has been blasted by critics who allege it has overspent on marketing, administration and logistics, cutting into what it contributes to charity. Pallotta�s main two charity events are its AIDS rides, now discontinued, and the Avon breast cancer three day walks.
Beneficiaries of one of the AIDS bicycle rides previously accused Pallotta of mismanagement and organized a competing event held earlier this year. Legal skirmishing ensued, and the number of cyclists in this year�s Pallotta-run ride dropped by more than half. At least three other beneficiaries of the rides have ended their relationships with Pallotta.
New HIV drug will be expensive
New York City�The federal government has approved tests of an experimental and potentially expensive AIDS drug that could prolong the lives of patients with drug-resistant strains of HIV.
Dubbed Fuzeon by its developers, Roche Group and Trimeris Inc., the drug won a priority six-month review from the Food and Drug Administration. The companies hope to put Fuzeon on the market by spring.
Roche and Trimeris won�t discuss pricing details until the drug is approved, but say it is complicated to produce and will be expensive. Experts predict a cost of $10,000 to $15,000 a year per patient.
The most expensive AIDS drugs now available cost about $7,500 a year, although some combination treatments approach $15,000 in annual costs.
Cash-strapped AIDS assistance programs are already worried they might not be able to afford Fuzeon. Roche and Trimeris also have said they may not be able to make enough Fuzeon to meet initial demand.
The drug is the first in a class known as fusion inhibitors, which are designed to block HIV from entering blood cells. It acts on the third stage of that entry process, known as fusion.
Theater festival opens
Columbus�The Columbus National Gay and Lesbian Theatre Festival kicked off on Aug. 28 at Club Diversity with a happy hour party featuring advance ticket sales.
Ten percent of the cost of subscriptions to the festival sold at the party will be donated to Stonewall Columbus.
The festival, which will bring 30 companies and over 100 performances to the capital, runs from Sept. 12 to 21.
Tickets to individual shows are $10, with a five-show subscription running $40 and a $150 gold pass buying entrance into all the shows. Additional information on the festival, which will be held at OSU, the Davis Discovery Center, 2Co�s Cabaret, Club Diversity and Axis Night Club, is available at www.cngltf.com.
Student wins $451K in harassment suit
San Francisco�When he was in high school, Derek Henkle says, he was beaten by his classmates, insulted by the principal, and once was lassoed around the neck in a school parking lot, just because he is gay.
He tried changing schools twice. Then he sued.
On Aug. 27, his school district in Reno, Nevada, agreed to a $451,000 settlement, as well as new policies to protect gay and lesbian students, formally recognizing that students have a constitutional right to be open about their sexual orientation. The agreement had tentatively been approved at the beginning of the month.
According to court documents, the harassment was so pervasive that Henkle, following the advice of principals, went to three different high schools in the Washoe County School District from 1995 to 1997.
District trustees signed the settlement without admitting wrongdoing. Liability insurance will cover the payment.
The district�s new policies include acknowledging a student�s right to discuss sexual orientation as a matter of freedom of expression and requiring regular student and staff education about sexual harassment.
Henkle�s is the largest gay school harassment settlement since the first one. In 1996, Jamie Nabozny won $962,000 in his 1996 suit against the Ashland, Wisconsin school district. Nabozny said officials did nothing to stop verbal and physical abuse from 1988 until he dropped out of high school in 1993, including a beating that hospitalized him.
Tacoma repeal vote coming
Tacoma, Wash.�The Pierce County auditor�s office on Aug. 21 verified that a petition drive to repeal the city�s gay-inclusive anti-discrimination ordinance had enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot.
However, allegations of illegal activity on the part of petition-gatherers have emerged. A flier at a Fourth of July fair asked people to sign the petitions and get a free flag sticker, offering every 15th signer a free pin. Washington law bans the offer of gifts in exchange for petition signatures. The flier also claimed the petitions were to stop a tax issue and did not mention the anti-discrimination ordinance.
A judge will have to rule on whether the signatures are still valid despite the evidence of illegal activity.
School criticized for Shepard book
College Park, Md.�The University of Maryland has come under fire for choosing to distribute a play about Matthew Shepard�s murder to all incoming freshmen.
The anti-gay Family Policy Network has threatened to sue the school for selecting Mois�s Kaufman�s The Laramie Project for the university�s First Year Book Program.
A committee made up of students, faculty and staff selected the play in the hopes that it would spark discussions about tolerance.
�Because of all the events of 2001, we were looking for a text that would deal with issues of healing and community, and we thought it was very important to have this kind of shared experience on the topic,� associate dean of undergraduate studies Phyllis A. Peres told the Baltimore Sun.
Previous books selected for the First Year Book program include The Diary of Anne Frank and Frederick Douglass� autobiography.
City has third bashing this summer
Vancouver, B.C.�A third attack motivated by sexual orientation this summer has rocked the city, still in shock from the still-unsolved murder of Aaron Webster last November.
In the latest incident, three assailants attacked a man walking through the city�s gay neighborhood with a male friend. While police do not know the victim�s sexual orientation, the attackers made numerous comments about his sexuality while they punched and kicked him.
The friend called for police on his cell phone to report the incident as it was happening. The victim was treated on site and did not require hospitalization.
Two separate attacks in July put the city�s gay community on edge. In the first incident, two American sailors, now awaiting trial, beat a gay man. The second incident involved four people in a car who tried to run over two gay men crossing an intersection. The men ducked out of the way, but the car ran a red light and broadsided another vehicle.
Webster, found naked in Stanley Park on November 2, 2001, was beaten to death with a baseball bat in what police did not hesitate to call a hate crime. No suspect has been arrested in connection with his murder.
Extradition sought in Korea death
Huntington, W.Va.�A federal magistrate has set an Oct. 2 hearing on a request by the government of South Korea for extradition of a former Marshall University student accused of killing another student in that country last year.
South Korea wants Kenzi Snider, 21, to stand trial for murder in the death of University of Pittsburgh student Jamie Lynn Penich, 21, in a motel room in Seoul on March 18, 2001.
Documents filed by the South Korean government included what is alleged to be a written confession signed by Snider, in which she said she did not mean to hurt Penich.
Snider said she and Penich kissed and fondled one another in a hotel bathroom, but Snider said she became angry when Penich tried to unbutton her pants, according to the statement.
Snider said she wanted to tell Penich �no,� but could not make the words come out, the statement continues. Instead, Snider said she hit Penich, who then fell into the bathtub and hit her head.
Snider said she carried Penich out of the bathroom, tripped on the doorway between the bathroom and bedroom and dropped Penich on her head. She then hit Penich again..
In an investigation report filed by the FBI agents who questioned her, one agent said Snider attributed her loss of control to the trauma of hearing that a member of her immediate family had just come out. Snider said she did not want to be like that family member.
Most HIV+ young black men don�t know
Washington, D.C.�A study released Aug. 23 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 93% of young black gay men who tested positive for HIV infection did not know they were infected.
Almost three-quarters of those men responded that it was unlikely or there was no chance of them being infected.
Over one-third of the men in the study reported having engaged in unprotected anal intercourse in the past six months.
The findings are in line with other recent studies indicating that large numbers of HIV positive men in various urban areas across the country are unaware that they are infected.
Recent studies have indicated that a third of black gay men in large cities have tested positive for the disease. African Americans comprise two thirds of the women and over 40% of the men diagnosed with the virus.
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