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May 3, 2002

Stonewall Democrats gather in Cleveland

by Eric Resnick

Cleveland--The National Stonewall Democrats held their fourth biennial membership meeting in Cleveland April 25-28.

National and local Democratic Party officials and leaders addressed the 120 gathered to plan this year�s election strategy.

The conclave marked the first gathering of a national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organization in Cleveland.

National Stonewall Democrats executive director Chad Johnson said the event was "beyond important" in that it provided an opportunity for leaders to build their networks and strengthen relationships with others working toward the same goals.

The conference was originally scheduled for the weekend after September 11, but Johnson said the later date gave the group a better chance to focus on the 2002 election cycle.

The National Stonewall Democrats exist to elect LGBT and affirming Democrats to public office through fundraising, get out the vote efforts, and media visibility. It has a close relationship with the Democratic National Committee, but is a separate organization by design.

"That�s so we can hold them accountable," said Johnson.

"Gays and lesbians are becoming a factor in political races," Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell told the crowd, "and engaging the process at a higher level of sophistication than ever." She cited her 2001 race as an example.

"I think what has happened," said Campbell, "is that the movement that began on the coasts has now come to middle America in cities like Cleveland, and that�s a good thing."

Campbell said that organized labor and the gay community supported her mayoral bid early and stayed with her until the end. "And that made the difference."

Cleveland City Council member Joe Cimperman and Ohio Democratic Party chair David Leland welcomed the members to Cleveland.

Former Clinton administration official Bob Hattoy gave the keynote address. Hattoy, who is gay and HIV positive, told those gathered to "vote like your lives depended on it and raise money like your lives depended on it."

Hattoy said he supports Democrats because they have been the ones working to end discrimination, fund development of drugs that treat HIV and access to health care, "so for me, politics is a lifesaving activity."

250 in lesbian-gay leadership council

Openly gay New Hampshire State Rep. Ray Buckley, who was elected at the convention to chair a council of gay Democratic elected officials, said that his view of politics has been tainted since the presidential election of 2000.

"I will go to my grave knowing that one candidate won the race, and the other was sworn in," said Buckley.

Buckley then warned that LGBT Americans can not afford to become cynical about the process, because there is so much at stake.

"Don�t just write the checks, but also stuff the envelopes and go door-to-door," said Buckley.

Democratic National Committee treasurer Andy Tobias, who is openly gay, said LGBT people are "on the cutting edge of the expanding circle of what we are all about in this country."

Tobias was cheered as he announced that the Gay and Lesbian Leadership Council of the DNC, which requires a contribution of over $25,000 per year, has grown to more than 240 members.

Tobias recognized the six openly gay elected officials at the conference.

Chad Foust, the only openly gay candidate for the Ohio House of Representatives was present, as was Joe Lacey, an openly gay candidate for Montgomery County Democratic Central Committee who has run for the Ohio House in the past.

Proud of Cleveland Heights

Stonewall Democrats formed a political action committee in March in order to make endorsements of candidates for federal offices. The PAC�s first endorsement was given to Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, who is attemting to unseat Republican Gordon Smith in the U.S. Senate.

Rep. Stephanie Tubbs-Jones of Cleveland�s east side told the dinner crowd that she is "proud that Cleveland Heights is the first in Ohio to offer domestic partner benefits, and proud that Cleveland Heights is in my congressional district."

Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Cleveland�s west side praised openly gay Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts for being the first member of Congress to campaign for him.

"I honor Barney Frank for living his life honestly," said Kucinich, "In freeing his own life, he helps free the lives of others."

Rosie�s brother seeks office

Danny O�Donnell, an openly gay candidate for the New York state assembly and Rosie O�Donnell�s brother, said things have changed since he first ran for the seat.

"When I ran for office four years ago, I was the most famous member of my family who was out of the closet."

O�Donnell also pointed his message at GLBT people who give huge amounts of money to the party organization, and have little left for candidates.

"Our money has to go to us first," said O�Donnell. "It has to elect us first."

�Gay rights is a partisan issue�

Rep. Barney Frank, who was first elected to the US House of Representatives in 1980, brought the crowd to its feet when he was introduced.

Frank scoffed at the popular notion that partisan politics is something bad.

"I hope we get to the point where gay rights is not a partisan issue, but right now, it is," he said.

"If you want to support gay rights, vote Democratic," said Frank, "It�s that simple."

"It was easy for Pat Robertson to fold up the Christian Coalition," he continued. "He doesn�t need it any more, because everything that wanted is now part of the Republican Party platform."

Frank called the Human Rights Campaign�s policy of giving campaign contribution to both Democrats and Republicans "a flaw in that it fails to acknowledge the truth."

"It is intellectually dishonest for HRC to ask for money to make the House more gay friendly, then give some of it to Republicans [so they can continue to hold the majority and set the agenda]," said Frank.

"If Democrats controlled the House, the Senate, and the White House, we could quickly clean up the whole agenda," said Frank, "but it will take controlling all three to do it."

Hagan challenged county leaders

Ohio gubernatorial candidate Tim Hagan was the final speaker of the conference. He said that he was shaped by a different era in American politics, and inspired by Robert Kennedy�s appearance in Cleveland after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, to remind people that we are all brothers and sisters.

"There was a time," said Hagan, "when political leadership could be counted on to do that."

In a speech earlier in the week, Hagan used the struggle for LGBT equality to challenge the Cuyahoga County Democrats to be better people and better leaders. He is a former county commissioner.

"It was risky, and he didn�t have to do it," said Cleveland Stonewall Democrats president Patrick Shepherd.

"Can you move to Massachussetts?" shouted someone in the audience impressed with Hagan.

Hagan was introduced by his wife, actress Kate Mulgrew, who played Captain Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager.

A seat at the table

Executive director Johnson gave the group a report on an April 25 meeting he had with 20 leaders of the LGBT movement and 17 U.S. senators.

That meeting, which Johnson called "historic" was called by Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and chaired by Sen. John Kerry of Massachussetts. Openly lesbian Rep. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin was there, as was Barney Frank.

"It was the first time that LGBT leaders sat around the table with so many senators for an hour and 40 minutes to talk candidly about the issues," said Johnson, "and it would never have happened if Republicans controlled the Senate."

Johnson said the power of the meeting was that the LGBT leaders were not in a lobbying mode.

"Instead," said Johnson, "the senators got to see their colleagues passionately embrace and discuss our issues and needs."

Johnson said that sense of "Senate peer pressure" will give senators more strength to lobby on both sides of the partisan aisle "to form a more perfect union."

Johnson said that because there were no media present, senators were free to ask about what other legislative changes needed to occur.

"There were things like gender expression that some of the senators never thought about," said Johnson.

"Having that seat at the table, literally," said Johnson, "is another thing that stands in stark contrast to anything the Log Cabin Republicans can accomplish."

 

Job bias bill is headed for Senate floor

by Eric Resnick

Washington, D.C.--A measure to ban workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is headed to the Senate floor, after it was approved by a committee on April 24.

Bills to ban discrimination against gays and lesbians have been introduced in every session of Congress since 1972. Vesions of this bill, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, have been sponsored by Sen. Edward Kennedy since 1994. Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, chairs the Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee which passed the bill.

The Senate came within one vote of passing ENDA in 1996, on the same day it passed a federal ban on same-sex marriage. This year the bill, which has 43 sponsors, is expected to pass. Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle has promised a vote before the session closes in the fall.

However, the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives is not likely to move the bill, even though 190 of 435 House members are sponsors of it.

President Bush opposes the bill, and promised to veto it during his campaign.

The measure approved by the Senate committee bars employers from hiring or firing, or making promotion or compensation decisions based on sexual orientation. The bill gives exemption to religious organizations, businesses with fewer than 14 employees, the military, and private voluntary groups such as the Boy Scouts.

Three amendments were made to the original bill prior to the vote. All are considered "friendly" and offered by supporters of the bill.

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, the only Republican speaking in favor of the bill, offered two amendments that make its language more consistent with the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Kennedy amended the bill to take effect in 2002 if passed by the House and signed by the president.

New Hampshire Republican Judd Gregg, who is the committee�s ranking member, offered two amendments considered "hostile" to the bill. Both would weaken it in favor of states� rights. Gregg agreed to hold his amendments until the floor debate.

DeWine was absent for vote

Ohio�s senior senator, Republican Mike DeWine, a member of the committee, did not vote. DeWine and three other Republicans believed hostile to the bill were absent during the vote.

DeWine voted against the bill in 1996 and refers to it as "special rights for homosexuals." He has also said that it is just another regulation on businesses.

DeWine�s deputy press secretary Amanda Flaig denied any coincidence in the four Republicans not showing up.

"If there had been a roll call vote, instead of a voice vote, he would have been there," said Flaig.

But DeWine had no way of knowing that Kennedy would call for a voice vote.

According to Melody Barnes, who serves as chief counsel to Kennedy, the decision for a voice vote was a last- minute one for the sake of getting the bill passed that day.

Barnes said the committee�s meeting started unexpectedly late due to other Senate actions, and there was a problem maintaining a quorum due to a meeting at the White House and other roll call votes on the Senate floor.

"So [Kennedy] called for the voice vote when he saw he would have trouble keeping a quorum long enough for a roll call vote," said Barnes.

"This way," said Barnes, "it goes in the record showing that the committee had an official vote on the bill."

Pressed again, Flaig dismissed the suggestion that DeWine purposely missed the vote to avoid revealing his position on the bill.

"That would be a mischaracterization," said Flaig.

Asked why it would be a "mischaracterization," Flaig couldn�t answer. Instead she said, "All I can tell you is that [DeWine] is considering the bill before us."

Flaig had said earlier that DeWine hadn�t yet had enough time to make up his mind as to whether he supports or opposes ENDA.

"He�ll decide when he is ready to cast his vote on the Senate floor," said Flaig.

Flaig apparently forgot the 1996 vote, adding that DeWine has not yet made up his mind "because this is the first time it has come to a vote."


In defense of gay priests

Discussion in Cincinnati, protest in New York sparked by
church�s finger-pointing in sex abuse scandal

by Anthony Glassman

Cincinnati--Spurred by growing protests across the nation to the Catholic church�s scapegoating of gay priests to deflect criticism of its handling of a child sexual abuse scandal, Stonewall Cincinnati held a forum on the subject April 30 at Xavier University.

Around 20 people gathered in Bellarmine Chapel on the university�s campus for the forum, organized by Chris Seelbach, Stonewall Cincinnati board member and founder of Xavier Allies, the nation�s first gay-straight alliance on the campus of a Jesuit college.

Among those present were Margaret Black of the Family Life office of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, which coordinates the diocese�s ministry to LGBT people, as well as Fr. Al Bischoff, an associate pastor at the chapel, and Fr. John LaRocca, a history professor at the university.

"It gave people an opportunity to express their personal fears and concerns," Black said. "I think it was done well."

On April 23 and 24, American cardinals were called to the Vatican for an unprecedented summit with Pope John Paul II about the molestation crisis currently rocking the church. The cardinals returned from that meeting supposedly with a stronger resolve to meet the problem head-on, but many in the upper echelons of the hierarchy continued to blame the crisis on the presence of gay priests.

Papal spokesperson Joaquin Navarro-Valls has said that people with "these inclinations just cannot be ordained," and more recently questioned whether the existing ordinations of gay priests are valid. On the April 28 edition of NBC�s Meet the Press, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago tried to clarify what he perceived to be the meaning of the statements. He admitted that he had not spoken to Navarro-Valls about them.

"A priest is a married man; he�s married to the church," the cardinal said. "He is someone who is called to be a father of a family. That�s why he�s called �Father�."

"I think that the Vatican�s press officer was saying, �How can somebody who understands that he could never be a husband and a father accept ordination�," George continued. "It�s as if we�re being accepted under a false pretense."

George went on to say that he did not believe gay men should be barred from the priesthood, but that it should be looked at on a "case by case" basis.

However, other high-ranking Catholic clergy in the United States have been far less diplomatic in their statements. In New York City, Monsignor Eugene Clark, performing Mass in place of Cardinal Edward Egan on April 21, called homosexuality a "disorder" and referred to allowing gay men into seminaries as a "grave mistake."

Clark�s statements, disavowed by the archdiocese, brought nearly 100 people out to protest the April 28 Mass at St. Patrick�s Cathedral.

In Detroit, Cardinal Adam Maida said, "It�s not truly a pedophilia-type problem but a homosexual-type problem" that the church was facing, pointing to the large number of cases of sexual abuse against adolescents.

"It�s not what you�ll find in our archdiocese," Black said of Cincinnati�s support for gays and lesbians involved with the church. "It�s very clear, the difference between pedophilia and homosexuality."

Black also noted that Cincinnati will play host to a national conference on Catholic ministry to LGBT people, and at the forum made it clear that she was there with the blessing of, and representing, the archdiocese.

"It�s really a painful time for all of us," she said.

"This is about fear," Stonewall Cincinnati board member Doreen Cudnik said. "They�re fearful for their careers, the future of the church, but they need to be fearful about not fulfilling their ministries to the victims and the public."

Cudnik noted that she is a gay Catholic like Seelbach. The issue is very important to them personally, she said, but it needs to be discussed on a larger scale.

"If we�re talking about this, other people are talking about this," she said.


Anti-gay violence went
down in 2001, report says

by Eric Resnick

The number of violent acts against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans declined slightly in 2001 says a report released April 18, but its authors caution that one year does not indicate a trend.

The report, issued by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, got its information from 26 reporting organizations in major cities around the country.

Ohio figures were contributed by the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization in Columbus and the Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center.

The national report showed sharp increases in violence around GLBT events, cruising areas, and workplaces, and decreases in schools and in public areas.

Incidents of attempted assault, both with and without weapons, declined; as did arson, murder, and intimidation. Incidents of police entrapment, vandalism, extortion and abduction increased, some as much as 300 percent.

Nationally, the demographic group showing the largest increase in violent incidents is female-to-male transgender people, with a 41 percent increase. The group showing the largest decrease is gays and lesbians at 14 percent.

Arab and Middle Eastern GLBT people experienced the sharpest increase in violence at 155 percent, followed by multi-racial at 74 percent, native Americans at 31 percent, Asian and Pacific Islanders at 6 percent, and African- Americans at 2 percent. The only racial and ethnic group showing decline in incidents was white Americans, at 20 percent. Data were not collected for Latinos.

The report also shows a 36 percent increase in the number of incidents where the police refuse to take reports, which is attributed to the 44 percent increase in reported crimes where the police refuse to classify the attacks as bias crimes.

The number of incidents where police have been abusive and used anti-GLBT slurs rose 51 percent.

In central Ohio, BRAVO reported 205 anti-gay incidents in 2001, up from 5 percent over 2000. Of those, 47 percent of the victims were male and 82 percent identified as gay or lesbian. BRAVO reported that of the 256 victims it reported, 62 percent needed medical attention, 12 percent required hospitalization.

In northern Ohio, the Cleveland center reported 16 incidents, representing a decline of 24 percent from 2000. The area showed a decrease in all categories and offenses except intimidation, which rose 17 percent, and harassment, which rose 71 percent.

BRAVO executive director Gloria McCauley said the apparent decline in incidents nationally is "not a true picture" and the 2001 statistics should not be construed as any kind of trend.

"There are far too many areas in the country where there is no reporting," said McCauley. "and too many people who live in areas where reporting is available do not know where or how to make reports."

McCauley said that the figures around Columbus and across the board suggest that "there were less reports made [in 2001], not less bias crime."

McCauley included the events of September 11 in the list of possible explanations for this. "Reports dropped off in September and October," she said, "We didn�t see normalization until November."

"The nation was in shock after September 11," said McCauley, "and I think few reports were taken during that time because people figured in light of what happened in New York and Washington, that they didn�t have things so bad."

"It takes about ten years of data to be able to call something a trend," said McCauley. "The overall decrease this year was more of an anomaly."

The national coalition�s report includes measures to curb anti-GLBT violence. It recommends that schools adopt general tolerance education and political leaders speak forcefully against anti-GLBT discrimination and violence, as well as support genuine efforts to end it.

The report also calls for sexual orientation and gender identity and expression to be added to the list of those protected by federal hate crime laws, and for funds to be spent on research of anti-LGBT violence.

The coalition also recommends that in addition to enhanced criminal penalties for those convicted of anti-GLBT violence, offenders should also experience enhanced rehabilitation and re-direction.

The entire report can be seen at http://www.avp.org.


 

Kent council votes to shut out
gay frat a second time

by Anthony Glassman

Kent, Ohio--For the second time in a week, the Kent State University Inter-Fraternity Council has voted against allowing gay frat Delta Lambda Phi to join.

Membership in the IFC is required for a fraternity to operate on campus.

In the council�s April 22 meeting, intended to be the last of the semester, council members voted 8-4 against admitting the fraternity, with three abstentions.

The school�s Office of Campus Life called an emergency IFC meeting April 29 to hold a second vote, with members being told that they would be expected to explain how voting against the gay fraternity would not violate the group�s constitutional dedication to diversity.

The vote at the second meeting was 5-4 against, with six abstentions.

The eight-member executive board of the IFC had recommended that Delta Lambda Phi be granted membership.

Requiring members to pay dues and having a selective membership disqualifies the fraternity from being a ordinary student organization. The group must join the IFC to stay on campus, although the fraternity is working closely with Campus Life director Sheryl Smith to ensure that it remains an active part of the university.

"It�s a little frustrating," said Delta Lambda Phi advisor Eric Van Sant.

Two options were presented to Van Sant at an April 30 meeting with Smith. The first would entail a cooling-off period, leaving the matter until the fall with the possibility that the IFC could be called back for an emergency meeting between the end of this semester and the beginning of the fall semester.

The second would involve the fraternity applying to IFC for colony status.

There are three levels of IFC membership: colony, associate and full membership. Colony status is generally the beginning status, but a fraternity can skip to associate membership if it meets associate requirements, including filing papers with Campus Life about membership and pledges.

According to some IFC members, there was confusion as to whether DLP was applying for colony or associate status.

"It�s not so much that I am angry as I am frustrated," Van Sant said. "We are all brothers in the Greek system, and this is negatively affecting that family."

One of the negative effects of the issue was graffiti on the Fraternity Rock, a traditional venue for spray-painted sentiment. "Delta Lambda Phi sucks", read the rock on the morning of April 30, drawing immediate criticism from IFC board members. Because it is anonymous, it is unlikely that any action will be taken about the graffiti.

While Van Sant finds the situation stressful, he noted that Delta Lambda Phi is grateful for the support of the Pan-Hellenic Council, the governing group for the campus� traditional sororities, as well as the four fraternities that twice voted to admit them: the Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi, Tau Kappa Epsilon, Phi Delta Theta and Sigma Phi Epsilon.

Regardless of what course of action the Office of Campus Life decides to take, the national office of Delta Lambda Phi will not be silent on the issue. A statement was expected from the national organization on May 1, but was not available by press time.

"There is going to be a response from the national office," Van Sant stressed. "Our national does feel the need to weigh in on what�s going on."

 


 

 

News Briefs

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

Marriage ban gets a setback

Boston--A key legislative committee is urging Massachusetts lawmakers to reject a proposed ballot question that would make same-sex marriages unconstitutional.

The initiative would change the state constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. It also states that no other relationships should receive "the benefits or incidents exclusive to marriage."

The Public Service Committee rejected the measure 15 to 0 on April 24. It said the language would deny gays and lesbians' domestic partner benefits, such as health insurance, bereavement leave, survivor benefits, ''and other basic legal protections that families and children need.''

The committee�s recommendation will go to a joint House and Senate session that will vote on the measure this summer. At least 50 of the legislature�s 200 members must approve it in that session, and in a second one next year, for it to go onto the ballot in 2004.

A court case over how the signatures were gathered for the marriage ban has come to an end. A judge rejected a suit April 24 by advocates of an amendment banning the slaughter of horses for human consumption. Backers of that measure said the company they hired to collect signatures tricked voters into signing the marriage ban petitions instead.

The horsemeat ban did not gather enough signatures; the marriage ban did.

The group alleged that the paid petition gatherers would have a horse petition on the top of their clipboard, but were instructed to partially lift the page and have people interested in the measure sign the marriage ban petition sheet underneath. The company was paid more for signatures on the marriage ban petitions.

Judge Thomas E. Connolly ruled that the anti-horsemeat group brought its suit too late and would need to bring in thousands of witnesses who said they were duped into signing the marriage petitions.

Partner rights proposed

Hartford, Conn.--A compromise bill that would extend some rights to same-sex couples without granting legal recognition of the partnership got its first viewing April 26 as it was introduced in the Connecticut House.

The bill would allow a person to legally designate someone else to make some decisions, such as medical decisions if the person is incapacitated. It also grants certain rights to a legally designated person, including rights to private visits in a nursing home, to take emergency phone calls at work and be considered a crime victim in case of a homicide.

The proposed legislation is a weaker version of a civil union bill that just missed the judicial committee�s deadline for passage in March.

The new measure addresses the most pressing needs presented by gay couples to lawmakers a public hearing earlier this year. Couples described how they were denied the right to visit their sick or terminally ill partners and were prevented from making medical decisions for them.

The bill also would require a study by the Judiciary Committee of same-sex marriage and civil unions. Gay civil rights advocates say they will continue to push for recognition of marriage and civil unions.

Sept. 11 partner seeks workers� comp

New York City--A gay man who lost his partner in the September 11 attacks is asking the state workers� compensation board to consider him the man�s spouse and grant him benefits.

Larry Courtney, whose partner Eugene Clark worked on the 102nd floor of the World Trade Center�s south tower, has filed a claim seeking coverage under New York�s workers� compensation law, which grants surviving spouses of those killed on the job up to $400 per week for life or until remarriage.

At a news conference April 22, Courtney was overcome with emotion and could not read his prepared comments. He wept into a handkerchief as Adam Aronson, a staff attorney at Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund which is representing Courtney, read the statement.

Aronson said Courtney�s is the first case brought by a gay partner seeking workers� compensation coverage in New York.

Courtney, who works for a brokerage firm, was with Clark, an administrative assistant at Aon Consulting, for 13 years.

Aronson said Courtney�s hearing before the workers� compensation board follows a decision by CNA Insurance in March that declared Courtney ineligible to receive workers� compensation benefits granted to spouses.

Marriage case appealed to high court

Topeka, Kansas--J�Noel Gardiner, a transsexual woman whose marriage was ruled invalid by the Kansas Supreme Court, will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, her attorney announced on April 24.

Gardiner underwent gender reassignment surgery in 1994, and in 1998 married Marshall Gardiner, who died the following year without a will. Under Kansas law, someone whose spouse dies intestate would normally be entitled to at least half of the estate, but Marshall�s son Joe sued, challenging the validity of the marriage.

The state�s Supreme Court ruled on March 15 that a person�s sex at birth determines their sex for the purpose of marriage, and found in favor of Joe Gardiner, saying that the union between J�Noel and Marshall violated Kansas� ban on same-sex marriage.

The federal Supreme Court appeal will challenge the Kansas ruling on the grounds that it violates the full faith and credit clause of the U.S. Constitution by failing to honor the birth certificate issued to J�Noel Gardiner in Wisconsin following her gender reassignment surgery. According to that document, she is now legally a woman and is entitled to marry a man.

Quebec to get civil unions

Quebec City--Attorney General Paul Begin announced April 26 that the province will begin granting civil unions to same-sex couples by the end of June.

A bill introduced April 25 and expected to pass by the end of the parliamentary session will give gay and lesbian couples marital benefits and obligations, including adoption.

The age of consent for civil unions will be set at 18, and the unions will provide health, insurance, tax, divorce and estate benefits.

For the dissolution of a civil union not involving children, all that will be necessary is the signing of a statement by both parties in the presence of a notary public, while married heterosexual couples will still have to go to court for divorce proceedings.

According to polls, over 75% of Quebec residents favor civil unions legislation, and 20% of couples in the province are in common-law marriages or are not legally married, with 3% of the couples being gay or lesbian.

In Canada, Quebec will join Nova Scotia in offering civil unions. That province passed its civil union law last June.

Gun backers disparage gays

Reno, Nev.--Accusations of gay-baiting are emerging from the National Rifle Association�s annual convention.

At a panel discussion on April 28, all but one member of the panel made disparaging remarks about gays and lesbians.

The discussion, on media distortion of the views of gun-rights supporters, brought comments about Rosie O�Donnell, Jude Law, the "liberal media" and schools.

Debbie Schlussel, a conservative commentator, referred to O�Donnell as a freak. O�Donnell is an outspoken proponent of gun control.

Schlussel also called Jude Law a "girly man," according to a report on Planet Out, because he hesitated before handling a gun on the set of one of his films.

Pollster Kellyanne Conway accused the media of glossing over gun rights stories for its pet stories, including gay civil rights, which she said, "are not important to Americans."

NRA board member Grover Norquist said that the media ignores gun rights because "we don�t have annual parades for gun owners so everyone can appreciate that gun ownership is an alternative lifestyle and look at how great we are."

New York City adds gender identity

New York City--Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed an ordinance April 30 adding gender identity to the city�s civil rights code, making New York the largest city in the country to have specific legal protections for trangendered people.

The city council passed the bill 45-5 on April 24. Bloomberg had earlier said that he believed transgendered people were covered under existing provisions of the city�s anti-discrimination ordinances.

Chicago considers gender identity

Chicago--The city�s Commission on Human Relations was presented on April 26with a proposed amendment to the city�s human rights ordinance that would add gender identity.

U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky and aldermen Bernard J. Hansen and Billy Ocasio have expressed their support for the measure, as have Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley and state representatives Larry McKeon and Sara Feigenholtz.

The LGBT advocacy group It�s Time Illinois also presented a report tracking 108 incidents of anti-transgender discrimination in the last seven years in the city.

Couple votes with their feet

Lincoln, Neb.--The lesbian couple whose second-parent adoption was rejected by the state Supreme Court on March 8 have moved to Washington or Oregon, where courts routinely grant such applications, according to their attorney.

Amy Miller, who represented the women known as A.E. and B.P. in court documents, said that her clients felt that Nebraska did not present a welcoming environment to their family.

The women have been together for almost ten years. They had a commitment ceremony in 1995, and B.P. gave birth to a boy conceived by artificial insemination two years later.

When A.E. tried to legally adopt their son, however, they were told that she could not do so unless B.P. relinquished her parental rights.

The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that state law does not allow unmarried couples, regardless of sex, to adopt children. Nebraska, however, also passed a voter initiative in 2000 banning gay unions, one of the strictest such "defense of marriage" measures in the country.

Miller predicts that the recent court decision, along with the ban on gay marriage, will cause an eventual migration of highly qualified gay men and lesbians out of the state to soil more fertile for their relationships.


May showcases three very different filmmakers

by Anthony Glassman

Cleveland--May is here, bringing with it a new Cleveland Cinematheque schedule, full of murder, mirth, merriment and mayhem.

The Cinematheque, under the aegis of the Cleveland Institute of Art, screens independent and foreign films, as well as running retrospectives of specific directors or genres. They�re also the best outlet for big-screen queerness in the state, and May continues their fine tradition.

First, on Saturday, May 4 at 9:20 pm, they�ll be showing Mulholland Drive, the dream-like opus that earned director David Lynch an Academy Award nomination. Lynch is known for his bizarre narratives, and this film fits with his form. A number of seemingly disparate stories intertwine in the movie, most importantly the budding romance between amnesiac accident victim Rita (Laura Harring) and aspiring starlet Betty (Naomi Watts).

Suffice it to say that women have been swooning over the love scene.

On Saturday, May 18 at 9 pm, the Cinematheque will show Chantal Ackerman�s La Captive, based on the fifth installment of Marcel Proust�s Remembrance of Things Past. The story tells of a young man in France who cannot stop himself from believing that his bisexual girlfriend is unhappy, that she would rather be with one of her former girlfriends.

The crowning jewel of the schedule, however, is the 9:25 pm screening on May 11 of A Chronicle of Corpses, the new film by 22-year-old gay Philadelphia ingénue Andrew Repasky McElhinney, whose 1998 Magdalen caused a major stir in the independent film world.

McElhinney will be present at the screening to talk with the audience, but took the time to answer some questions before jetting off to Los Angeles for a week.

"A Chronicle of Corpses is a darkly comic amorality play," he said, "a lushly detailed, sinister, early 19th-century period piece concerning the last days of a family of once-wealthy aristocrats."

Of course, what he doesn�t mention is just how true the term "last days" is, as someone is killing the family members and their few remaining servants.

The film style is very unusual, completely unlike most movies out there today. Every single shot is framed as if it were a painting in a museum; at times, the viewer can almost believe that is what is being seen, a portrait on canvas.

When asked who influenced his work the most, McElhinney gave a diverse list of directors, ranging from Stanley Kubrick, whose Barry Lyndon was apparently a strong influence on Corpses, to Bob Clark, the director of the teen comedy Porky�s.

"I really like movies," he explained.

"Making A Chronicle of Corpses, I tried to imagine the film [French director] Robert Bresson would have made had he traveled back in time, right after [his] L�Argant premiered in the early �80s at Cannes, to RKO in the �40s to make a Val Lewton picture," McElhinney expounded, "and delivered this very odd, austere masterpiece that was misunderstood by the studio brass, who subsequently cut the movie by 40 minutes, destroyed the original footage and had some hack director shoot a few new scenes to �clarify the narrative.� "

"Of course," he continued, "these �new improved scenes� do not mesh with the original tone of the film, and finally, to add insult to injury, the producers slap on a new, �classical,� but vaguely inappropriate, musical score."

"A Chronicle of Corpses is that movie," he concluded.

Regarding his success, surprising given his lack of age, he threw almost all of the blame on his crew, crediting them with it.

"All I want from the world is to be allowed to make a feature film every three or four years," he noted. "Directing a movie a rare, sacred privilege and I try not to abuse that privilege by making uninteresting films."

Consider the preceding a warning, as well as a blatant attempt to get an audience to pack the Cinematheque. A certain writer saw Corpses before interviewing McElhinney and thought it was a British horror film from the 1960s. Knowing now what he did not know then, however, he can really appreciate the film on entirely new levels, finally seeing the insouciant tongue-in-cheek quality to the narrative and the sly wink that was the florid musical score.

"My third film is titled Flowers of Evil," McElhinney said of his next project. "It�s a dreamy study of romanticism and decay set among the ruins of a post-industrial city where a boy from the country falls in love with a 16-year-old femme fatale."

The Cleveland Cinematheque is located at 11141 East Boulevard in University Circle; 216-421-7450 or www.cia.edu/cinematheque. For more information on McElhinney and his films, see www.armcinema25.com.

 

 

 

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