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November 22, 2002

 

A meeting of young minds

Highland Heights, Ky.—Eight months after the inaugural Cincinnati Youth Summit, a second event has build upon the success of the first.

Held on the main campus of Northern Kentucky University and sponsored by NKU Common Ground and the Cincinnati chapter of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, the event drew around 200 people to this southern suburb of Cincinnati.

“We increased our attendance from 150 to 200 and were very excited about the success of the event,” said Kathy Laufman, a founding member of GLSEN-Cincinnati and a member of the fundraising and public relations committee for the summit.

Workshops presented at the summit ran the gamut from health and legal issues to a panel discussion of the type of support needed by LGBT youth from adults, which featured Walnut Hills High School junior Caitlin Arnest as one of the panelists. She is the youngest member of the Youth Summit planning committee. Her mother, Linda, led a P-FLAG support group meeting at the summit.

Other workshops included one on transgender issues, a session on bisexuality and bi-phobia in the gay community, what the Bible says about homosexuality and another about same-sex domestic violence. Attendees also had an opportunity to meet with representatives of the Cincinnati GLBT Coalition, which includes many of the queer organizations in the city.

Spoken word artist Alix Olson was the keynote speaker for the event, and opened a session for the youth to speak out. A dance and pizza party followed the summit.

Planning is under way for the next youth summit, and organizers want to further increase attendance and the number of youth coming from other parts of the region, having brought in attendees from as far away as Cleveland.


 

Toledo considers partner health benefits

Toledo--A proposal to give health benefits to domestic partners of city workers will be voted on next month, and could take effect in January.

If it is passed, Toledo would join Cleveland Heights to become the only two cities in Ohio offering the benefits.

While the Cleveland Heights ordinance passed last spring covers same-sex partners only, the proposed Toledo ordinance aims to cover all committed non-married partners.

The measure was introduced to City Council on November 12 by council member Wade Kapszukiewicz. It was referred to the 12-member council Committee of the Whole without discussion November 19, and will be open for public debate December 5.

Kapszukiewicz said he expects the bill to be passed by a 7 to 9 vote at either council’s last meeting of this year, December 17, or first meeting of next year, January 17.

Once passed, the bill can take effect 30 days after Mayor Jack Ford signs it. Ford was on the committee that studied the issue and drafted the bill.

The bill contains guidelines for couples to qualify, including a shared mortgage or lease, shared accounts, and financial responsibility for the other partner, as well as rules for termination of the coverage.

What it does not have is a provision for couples to register their domestic partnerships with the city. While the benefits would have applied only to city employees, the registry would have been open to all domestic partners in the city.

That idea was included in the original draft, and supported by Kapszukiewicz and University of Toledo Law School Human Rights Project Director Rob Salem.

Salem organized the students that did most of the research and drafting of the legislation.

Salem and Kapszukiewicz reluctantly agreed to remove the registry provision when Ford and openly gay council member Louis Escobar convinced them that it would be politically hazardous, and possibly kill the bill or incite opposition.

“The registry is mostly a psychological benefit,” said Salem. “It is helpful to prove partnership for the purpose of hospital or penal institution visitation.”

“A registry could also be used to compel those institutions to comply, especially if they receive city funding,” Salem added. “And after 9-11, New York City used its registry to provide benefits to survivors.”

Salem and Kapszukiewicz said they are content to pass the bill without the registry now, and leave the possibility open to add it later.

Kapszukiewicz said he began thinking about introducing the bill last summer. He then discovered that Escobar was also looking into it.

The two discussed it, and decided that it would be better for Kapszukiewicz, a 30-year-old, married man, to be the person out front with the message. So Escobar slipped into the background, while his long-time ally took the lead.

Kapszukiewicz said there is no organized opposition to the bill.

“I have been pleasantly surprised and delighted by how limited the reaction is,” he said.

Kapszukiewicz said there has been a “trickling of letters and e-mails” opposing the measure since it was introduced. He said some of it is from people with religious objections, and some of it is from an unlikely source--the unions that represent city employees.

Kapszukiewicz acknowledged that unions generally support such legislation and see such bills as part of their mission to get more people covered, but in this case, he says the issue is timing.

“All their contracts end in December, and the city’s position is that there is no money,” said Kapszukiewicz.

“When they see the stories about this, they think the city is hiding money.”

Kapszukiewicz noted that the largest city labor union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, just accepted a contract with no pay raises for the next three years. He added that with the exception of one member, most of the council’s concern with the bill is around matters of cost, not philosophy.

Kapszukiewicz said that he expects Toledo to be like other cities and corporations that offer similar benefits, and have little, if any additional cost.

“Most say it adds 1 to 2 percent to what they are paying now for insurance, that’s all,” said Kapszukiewicz. “and Toledo needs this in order to be competitive in recruiting employees.”

Kapszukiewicz said Toledo’s charter makes it possible to repeal ordinances through referendum voting, “but Toledo is a big city, and it would be difficult for them to get enough signatures.”

An attempt to repeal the Cleveland Heights ordinance failed to get enough petition signatures, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in September. It is now the only Ohio city offering benefits to the domestic partners of city employees.

Columbus is considering a proposal that would cover all members of a city employee’s household, including same-sex partners. A measure covering same- and opposite-sex partners was passed there in late 1998, but repealed two months later to avoid a referendum.

Cleveland city council members discussed a domestic partner benefits proposal earlier this year, but have waited to see what happens in Cleveland Heights.


 

 

New York is set to become 13th state with a lesbian-gay civil rights law

Albany, N.Y.—After being stalled in the Capitol for 31 years, a state lesbian and gay civil rights bill is likely to pass next month.

The state senate will return for a special session on Dec. 17 to pass the anti-discrimination bill, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno said Nov. 19.

Bruno promised just before the Nov. 5 election to call his Republican-controlled chamber back to approve the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act. That pledge, in turn, helped Republican George Pataki get the endorsement of the Empire State Pride Agenda, the state’s largest gay and lesbian group, in the governor’s race.

The measure, first introduced in 1971, has passed the state House every session since 1993. Although it has the votes to pass the Senate, Bruno had kept it from a floor vote. Pataki had pushed for its approval earlier this year.

Passage of the bill would add “sexual orientation” to the state’s existing human rights law covering employment, credit, housing and education, with some exceptions for religious groups.

Twelve states and the District of Columbia now include sexual orientation in their anti-discrimination laws. These plus 122 city and county ordinances cover about 41% of the U.S. population with a lesbian and gay civil rights measure of some sort. With a New York law, this would become 43.6%.

The other states with laws are Hawaii, California, Nevada, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland and New Jersey.

--From wire reports


Deputies had sexual contact with men before arresting them

14 men are charged in park decoy busts by persistent, flirting plainclothes officers

Barberton, Ohio--Sheriff’s deputies had “sexual contact” with at least four men before they arrested them in a sweep of a Summit County state park.

A total of 14 men were arrested by Summit County sheriff’s deputies November 6 and 7 at the Nimisila Reservoir area of Portage Lakes State Park south of Akron. The men had responded favorably to undercover deputies who had followed them around, flirting and repeatedly requesting sexual favors, according to some of the men.

The men, who reside in Summit, Stark, and Portage counties, were charged with either public indecency, a fourth degree misdemeanor, or sexual imposition, a third degree misdemeanor.

According to a court journal, which comes from sworn statements by the arresting officers, the four men charged with sexual imposition “did have sexual contact” with deputies Adam Burke and Jimmy Fields “or cause [Burke and Fields] to have sexual contact with [the defendant] knowing that the sexual contact was offensive to” the deputies.

The lesser crimes are described as “affront[ing] others [by] expos[ing] his private parts or engage in masturbation.”

One man accused of public indecency said Fields arrested him while he was urinating on a tree in an area of the park where there are no restrooms. The deputy had followed him around the park for nearly half an hour. The man believes he was targeted by Fields because Fields saw him talking to another man earlier.

During arraignments November 15 in Barberton Municipal Court, six men arrested in park sting operation demanded trials, two pleaded guilty to the charges, and five pleaded no contest and were found guilty by Judge Michael L. Weigand. Arraignment of the fourteenth man was postponed.

Captain Larry Momchilov, spokesperson for Summit County Sheriff Drew Alexander, praised the four arresting officers and others working the operation.

“They did a good job,” said Momchilov. “They did what they were told to do and followed instructions.”

Momchilov appeared irritated, and wanted to know why the Gay People’s Chronicle was interested in the operation.

“You’re not calling them gay, are you,” said Momchilov, “because we’re not.”

Momchilov initially said that the department began the decoy operation because “there were several complaints from people.”

Then, Momchilov added that the complaints were for “robberies and assaults.”

Asked if any arrests were made for robberies and assaults that day, Momchilov replied, “No.”

Momchilov then said that there have been no arrests for robbery or assault at that park during the past year.

Asked if the robberies and assaults have stopped since the public indecency arrests, Momchilov answered, “Yes, they’ve stopped.”

Momchilov did not know if there were any complaints made for sexual activity in the park.

Later in the interview, Momchilov declared, “there was only one complaint and it came through the mayor of Green.”

Momchilov declined to say whether the nature of the one complaint was sexual or robbery and assault.

The park is under three law enforcement jurisdictions, the State of Ohio, Summit County, and the City of Green.

Green mayor Dan Croghan said he had received 12 to 15 complaints since midsummer, all of them for indecent exposure. He was not aware of any complaints for robbery or assault.

Croghan added that prior to this summer, the complaints in that park were sporadic.

Momchilov said there was “no entrapment” of the men by his officers, even when court documents indicate “sexual contact” between those arrested and his officers. He added that he doubted the accuracy of the documents, available on the court’s web site.

According to Black’s Law Dictionary, the definition of entrapment is “inducing a person to commit a crime not contemplated by him for the purpose of instituting a criminal prosecution against him.”

The gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights group Lambda Legal Defense and Education Network has long taken issue with similar sting operations, saying they amount to discriminatory enforcement of lewd-conduct statutes against gay men. The operations are rarely directed at heterosexual lovers’ lanes.

Lambda says that if sex in parks is seen as a problem, uniformed officers and signs announcing a police presence are more effective than undercover stings.

The group also questions whether it is credible for an undercover officer who has been following defendants around parks, smiling, making eye contact and small talk to suddenly become “affronted,” as Ohio law requires for there to be a crime when the defendant responds to him.

The six men caught by this operation that pleaded guilty or no contest to the public indecency charge were sentenced to fines and court costs of at least $320 and 30 days house arrest.

The one man who pleaded guilty to the sexual imposition charge was sentenced to fines and court costs of $570 and 60 days house arrest.

The remaining seven await trials, which are scheduled through January.

 



Rabbi Howard Ruben, Susan Doerfer, Shiah Fish, Marty Webb and Nancy Schwatcher (l-r) join in as Brynna Fish performs a musical prayer. Photo:Patti Harris

Happiness under the chupah

Cleveland--Lesbian-Gay-Bi-Trans Pride coordinator Brynna Fish and Susan Doerfer, clinical director of the AIDS Taskforce of Cleveland, were married on Saturday, November 16.

The ceremony took place at Temple Tifereth Israel and was officiated by Rabbis Steve Seiger of the Reconstructionist Havurah and Howard Rubin of Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple.

A special Shabbat service was held the night before at Chevrei Tikva, a Reform synagogue that serves Cleveland’s LGBT community and friends. The service included a Torah service led by Chevrei Tikva rabbi Rachel Rembrandt and concluded with Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell sharing some thoughts about the couple, and the challenges of merging the personal with the political.        

--Patti Harris

 


City health budget cuts leave AIDS agencies scrambling

Columbus—A shortfall in city income tax revenue may leave local AIDS service organizations scrambling to find additional sources of funding or cut back on services.

The projected budget for 2003 required the Columbus Department of Health to trim $1.5 million from its budget. As part of its plan to reach that goal, the department is slashing its Community Action Grant program from $350,000 to an estimated $150-$170,000.

“All city departments were asked to reduce their budgets,” said Liane Egle, the director of health communications for the Department of Health. According to Egle, her department reduced administrative costs, made use of new regulations allowing the city to bill Medicaid for certain other administrative costs, moved personnel to grant-funded positions and instituted a number of other cost-saving measures, but were still unable to meet the reduction mandated by the city.

They finally looked to their contracts, reducing in their prospective budget the funds allocated to city-funded health centers and the Community Action Grant program.

The cut would dramatically effect Project Open Hand Columbus, an organization that serves the nutritional needs of people living with AIDS, and the Columbus AIDS Task Force, the largest AIDS service organization in Central Ohio.

Open Hand stands to lose $21,000, which is over ten percent of their annual budget.

“It forces us to find other sources of funding,” said executive director Tracey Fortkamp, “which, unfortunately, seem to be dissipating.”

While CATF’s budget seems much larger, $3.2 million, the lion’s share of those funds are earmarked for other organizations and programs.

“We are the financial pass-through for the city,” said Sue Crumpton, the executive director.

Their operating budget is around $230,000, which goes mainly to support a staff of ten case managers and continue CATF’s Latino AIDS education program.

CATF stands to lose $175,000, which would make it necessary to terminate five case managers. Each one handles roughly 75 clients.

“It’s going to be very hard to figure out how we’re going to continue to provide quality service,” Crumpton noted, adding that the caseload increased 15% this year and 20% last year.

Raising additional funds will be a challenge for either organization. Donations to AIDS-related charities have declined in the last few years, and the Sept. 11 attacks filled the coffers of disaster-relief charities like the Red Cross while leaving other non-profits struggling to make ends meet.

“We have great donors, but it seems harder and harder to get people to donate to AIDS services,” Fortkamp noted. “We wouldn’t have clients go without meals, so we would have to make cuts in other areas.”

“We just want to do what we can to minimize the impact of the cuts on people with AIDS,” said Crumpton. “These are people’s lives. Studies have shown that case management reduces hospital stays and people live longer with case management than without it.”

Fortkamp believes that these disastrous cuts may be avoided; the budget in now in the hands of the city council, and she hopes that, if enough people call their council members to protest, the budget might be amended.

“The goal is to get them to increase that and to understand why it needs to be increased,” she said.

Egle noted that the proposed cuts should not be construed as a message from the city.

“Our commitment to the issue is unwavering,” she said, adding that a biennial examination of program effectiveness will be held this spring, and the focus of their efforts will be on HIV and AIDS prevention.



Linda Malicki receives a mayoral proclamation from Craig Tame while Patrick Shepherd, left, and John Farina look on. Photo:Patti Harris

Tribute applauds Linda Malicki’s 8 years at center

Cleveland—More than 60 people attended a tribute November 16 to former Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center executive director Linda Malicki.

Malicki, who resigned in July, was recognized for over eight years of service to the organization. Her six years as executive director was the longest anyone has held that post.

Craig Tame, chief of health and public safety for the city of Cleveland, presented Malicki with a proclamation from Mayor Jane Campbell honoring her activism.

Ward 19 council member Matt Zone also presented Malicki with a proclamation from City Council. The proclamation noted her work relocating the center to its current 7,000 square-foot office and meeting space in Cleveland’s Detroit Shoreway neighborhood, her development of the Safe Schools Are For Everyone program and the creation of the community health outreach program.

Event organizers Patrick Shepherd and John Farina read accolades sent in by LGBT community leaders from around the country as well as from colleagues in the Cleveland area. These included Donna Red Wing, a lesbian activist and policy director of the Gill Foundation, Kerry Lobel, former executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and directors of LGBT centers in Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and Milwaukee.

Others who stepped up to the podium to acknowledge Malicki’s contributions including Black and White Men Together outgoing co-chair Bruce Menapace, who presented her with their Founder’s Award, as well as members of P-FLAG of Akron.

Malicki’s partner Diane Moffett and her mother Julianna Malicki were also acknowledged for their work and support of the center.

The event was sponsored by long-time center supporter Thom Rankin of Real Estate Mortgage Corp.


 

Students upset with BGSUs response to office vandalism

Students upset with BGSU’s response to office vandalism

Bowling Green, Ohio—Anti-gay vandalism at the office of Bowling Green State University’s LGBT student organization is sparking a campus dialogue on homophobia, and charges that the administration is not committed to diversity.

After returning to their office after their regular meeting on Nov. 12, members of Vision discovered a note on the door reading fags--cream this, faggots. The walls had been splashed with a white liquid.

Vision president Jason Justice said that the campus police officer who responded to the call to the public safety office was rude and uncooperative. Justice said he ordered Vision members to clean the walls before the liquid, believed to be milk, began to smell.

The unnamed officer tore down the sign on the door, folded it and put it in his pocket “as evidence,” Justice said. He believes that removing it with bare hands and putting it in a pocket would leave it unusable as evidence.

Vision decided to forego their regular meeting on November 19, and instead called for a campus forum to address their concerns. These include the vandalism and a perceived lack of administrative effort to honor the sexual orientation non-discrimination clause which was added to the student handbook two years ago.

Justice noted that there are no domestic partner benefits for university employees or university-funded LGBT resources. He also pointed to friends’ experiences with homophobic doctors at the Student Health Center, saying those show an overall lack of commitment to LGBT issues at the university.

“What are the university’s processes for reporting these kinds of instances,” Justice asked. “Who is held accountable? What administrators are informed so that actions can be taken to prevent these things in the future?”

“The issue at hand is not necessarily just the act of vandalism,” he noted. “It’s indicative of a lot of issues with the administration and the hypocrisy here on campus. When you don’t speak up about these things, they’re trivialized and justified.”

University spokesperson Teri Sharp differed with Justice’s opinion.

“We do not condone discrimination in any form,” she said.

Referring to the vandalism, she noted, “This kind of action will not be condoned. There is an investigation going on, and because of that our policy is not to comment on specifics.”

On-campus anti-gay vandalism is not uncommon. On November 18, two buildings at Iowa State University were discovered with anti-gay graffiti, believed to have been spray-painted on the walls over the weekend. die fag die fag was discovered on one building; a staff member who works in that building is involved with many LGBT issues and groups on campus. On the side of the Student Services Building was spray-painted dean fag, possibly a reference to dean of students Peter Englin, who often advocates on behalf of LGBT students.

At Ohio University in Athens, a lesbian was attacked by a group of men last January; in April, graffiti appeared on campus that said kill queers and kill dykes and at least one student was mentioned by name as a possible target.


Go to Discussion Forum Top of Page

Couple’s suspected killer found dead in his jail cell

Redding, Calif.—A white supremacist inmate was found dead in the Shasta County Jail on Nov. 17 while serving time for torching three synagogues and awaiting trial for killing a gay couple in 1999.

Benjamin Matthew Williams, 34, was discovered dead with cuts to his legs and arms when he didn’t respond to a call for breakfast about 6:30 a.m., said Redding Police Sgt. Dan Kupsky.

Williams was seen reading at about 1:30 a.m. and was presumed to be asleep during the following hourly checks. He had apparently placed something under his blankets to make it appear as if he was in bed, Kupsky said. He was found dead near the cell’s toilet.

Williams was housed in a section of the jail reserved for high-risk inmates after a failed escape attempt in June with another inmate. Williams was convicted earlier this month of attempted murder for bashing a corrections officer over the head with a handmade hatchet in the escape attempt. Officer Timothy Renault needed seven metal plates in his head and two in his jaw for his injuries.

In September, Williams and his younger brother, James Williams, both white supremacists, pleaded guilty to federal charges of setting fire to three Sacramento synagogues and an abortion clinic in 1999.

Williams was also awaiting trial for the 1999 murder of Gary Matson, 50, and Winfield Scott Mowder, 40, a gay Happy Valley couple found shot to death in their Shasta County home on July 1, 1999. Both he and his brother had pleaded innocent to murder charges in that case, which could carry the death penalty.

The brothers were arrested on July 7, 2000. Both are affiliated with the Illinois-based World Church of the Creator, a white supremacist organization known for its virulently anti-gay, anti-Semitic and racist views. Williams told a reporter in an interview from jail that Matson and Mowder violated God’s laws by being gay.

“I’m not guilty of murder,” he told the reporter two years ago. “I’m guilty of obeying the laws of the Creator.”

Williams told the reporter that his brother had not been present when he killed the two men in their home.

District attorneys were seeking the death penalty against both men.


Go to Discussion Forum Top of Page

News Briefs

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

Canada considers marriage options

Toronto—A ruling that gave the federal government two years to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples will be reviewed next April by the Ontario Court of Appeal.

The court has agreed to hear an appeal of an Ontario Divisional Court ruling that the federal ban on same-sex marriages violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Canadian equivalent of the U.S. Bill of Rights.

The government appealed the ruling as a matter of course, according to Justice Minister Martin Cauchon, since the lower court had found a national law unconstitutional.

Cauchon also released a paper outlining four ways that Parliament might respond to the court’s ruling. These are granting same-sex couples full marriage, leaving the status quo intact, instituting nationwide civil unions, or taking the government out of marriage completely. The last option would have Canada simply register couples married by religious institutions.

He also convened a parliamentary committee to examine the options in his paper. The committee held its first meeting on November 18.

In their appeal, the government will most likely argue that the core of marriage is the ability to have children.

However, that argument failed in a similar case in Québec this year. “We do not deny marriage to old women,” wrote the judge in that case.

The Québec decision is also being appealed by the federal government. Both it and the Ontario case will likely end up in the Canadian Supreme Court.

A third marriage case in British Columbia went in favor of the law, ruling that, while the opposite-sex definition violated the Charter, the government’s responsibilities justified the discrimination.

Fourth man arrested in Araujo slaying

Newark, Calif.—A fourth man was arrested Nov. 16 in connection with the murder of transgender teen Gwen Araujo.

Jason Cazares, 22, had originally been questioned and released earlier in the case. Further developments, however, prompted police to arrest him.

Police would not elaborate on Cazares’ possible role. He faces a murder charge with a hate crime enhancement, which could add up to four years to any sentence.

Michael William Magidson and José Antonio Merel, both 22, and 19-year-old Jaron Chase Nabors are already in custody. Nabors, who led police to Araujo’s body after the teen had been missing for two weeks, has plead not guilty, while Merel and Magidson have delayed entering their pleas.

Araujo, who was biologically male but identified as female, was at a party with the suspects on Oct. 3. When Merel’s brother’s girlfriend discovered that Araujo had a penis, she called for the young men, who beat Araujo, then tied her hands and strangled her. Her body was driven 150 miles and buried in a shallow grave.

Student beaten for looking in shower

Atlanta—A student at Morehouse University was beaten with a baseball bat after another man thought he had leered at him in the dormitory showers.

Gregory Love, a junior at the prestigious black university, had left his glasses in his room when he went to shower. He thought Aaron Price was his roommate when he saw him in the next stall. When Price asked him what he was looking at, Love replied that he was going to say hello.

Price soon left, but returned with a baseball bat and beat Love because he thought the victim was coming on to him. Love, who is not gay, had a fractured skull and numerous broken teeth. Price was promptly expelled from the university.

The student government held a forum on homophobia a week after the beating. The vice provost for student affairs, Eddie Gaffney, then imposed a moratorium on student government activities, claiming the forum was not approved by the administration. University president Walter E. Massey lifted the moratorium later in the week after returning from a business trip, saying it was the result of faulty communication.

Gay students on campus, however, note that there is an air of homophobia constantly present at the all-male school. Atlanta-area LGBT activists also pointed out that the school did not call Atlanta police in to aid in the investigation or to press charges.

Woman killed; told man to go straight

Chicago—A gay teenager was charged in the murder of a middle-aged woman who wanted him to become heterosexual.

Nicholas Gutierrez, 19, was charged on Nov. 16 with first-degree murder, burglary and attempting to conceal a homicide after he allegedly beat, kicked, stabbed and strangled 51-year-old Mary Stachowicz, then put her body in a crawl space under the floor.

According to Gutierrez’ confession, he became enraged after Stachowicz, a devout Catholic, started asking him questions about his sexual orientation.

Stachowicz’ sister Alice Kosinski told the Chicago Tribune, “Because she’s so Catholic, there’s no room for being gay in the Catholic church.”

Gutierrez told police that, during an argument with Stachowicz on Nov. 13, she began to remind him of his mother, and he started having flashbacks to quarrels with her.

Gutierrez has lived in an apartment above the funeral home where Stachowicz worked for about a year, He met the victim around four months ago.

Multi-strain HIV vaccine begins trials

Washington, D.C.—The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases launched the first human trials of a vaccine to protect against multiple strains of HIV on Nov. 13.

The trials are using a vaccine that includes genetic material from the three main “clades” or strains of HIV currently found in humans. Clades A and C are common in North America and Europe, while Clade B is prevalent in Africa.

The trial will begin with 50 subjects in the United States this year, and plans are underway to expand the testing to Africa and Haiti next year.

The multi-strain vaccine is entering Phase I human testing. Another vaccine being tested has neared the final stages of Phase III, and results on VaxGen, Inc.’s HIV vaccine are expected early next year.

A representative of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative warned, however, that even if such vaccines prove to be effective and are approved, there will be no guarantees that they provide total protection from the virus, and the need for safer sex and other protective measures will still be there.

Beating death was a hate crime

Tucson, Ariz.—The June beating death of gay man will be classified as a hate crime, Tucson police said Nov. 12.

Officials initially said there wasn’t enough evidence to show the death of Philip A. Walsted was a hate crime, but Sgt. Marco Borboa, a Tucson police spokesman, said statements made in interviews have led authorities to believe the killing was motivated by Walsted’s sexual orientation.

Walsted was found beaten near his home on June 12. A week later, burglar David A. Higdon, 20, was charged with first-degree murder after some of the victim’s possessions were found at Higdon’s home.

Borboa would not say what specific information led investigators to believe the beating was a hate crime.

He said police have recorded 20 hate crimes this year, down from 48 last year.

Temple to Hadrian’s lover found

Rome—Twenty miles outside the city, archaeologists have uncovered what is being called the most important discovery in decades: a temple to Emperor Hadrian’s male lover Antinous on the grounds of the emperor’s villa.

Until the temple was unearthed, it was believed that Antinous’ only memorial was in Egypt, where he drowned in the Nile. Historians are unsure whether the young man was pushed into the river by Hadrian’s jealous aides, fell in accidentally, or committed suicide.

After his death, Hadrian declared his lover a god and built the memorial Antinopolis.

Hadrian reigned from 117 to 138 A.D., an era of relative peace and prosperity for the Roman empire. His villa was abandoned after he died, and archaeologist Zaccaria Mari began excavating the area near the villa’s remains two years ago, expecting to discover another entrance.

3 arrested at bishops’ confab released

Washington, D.C.—The three gay Catholics who were arrested at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Nov. 12 were released from jail the next day.

Kara Speltz, Ken Einhaus and Mike Perez, all supporters of the group Soulforce, were released after pleading not guilty to unlawful entry. They are due back in court Nov. 21 to set a trial date.

When arrested, they were kneeling in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill hotel, asking to be granted communion by the bishops there. The day before their arrests, they had been denied communion at the Bishops’ Mass in the National Shrine.

The cleric who denied them communion mistook them for members of the Rainbow Sash movement, who he had been warned would seek communion as an act of protest.

Soulforce, an organization committed to ending “spiritual violence” committed against LGBT people by organized religions, and Dignity USA, anorganization for LGBT Catholics, both protested the bishops’ conference. It is the third year in a row that Soulforce has been present at the event.

Club looted after hostage crisis

Moscow—A prominent gay bar was looted after Russian forces used it to gain access to an adjoining theater where Chechen rebels were holding hundreds of hostages in late October.

According to the owners of Central Station, the special forces did minimal damage to the bar as they staged a morning raid on October 26, knocking a hole in the wall to get to the theater.

After the forces left, however, looters took a large quantity of alcohol, a new sound system and money from the safe and cash registers, which were forcibly opened. Furniture was also broken, and there was anti-gay graffiti on the walls.

Club management is also charging that the Moscow city administration is homophobic, and not giving them any assistance in reopening after the siege. They say that the local government is pressuring them to close permanently.

City changes pool policy

West Hartford, Conn.—The city changed their pool policy November 12, ending a five-year battle over gay civil rights that received national attention.

The town’s swimming pool had only allowed those related by marriage or blood to buy family memberships, leaving gay and lesbian couples paying nearly double for individual memberships.

Six couples sued the city in 1997, and the town council agreed last week to change the policy, settle the lawsuit and pay attorney fees for the couples.

The new policy will allow adults who share a household to receive a discount, regardless of marital status.

Orlando approves rights ordinance

Orlando, Fla.—City Council voted 4-3 on Nov. 18 to approve a gay civil rights measure, following eight hours of public hearings.

The vote was a preliminary approval, and the ordinance must still pass a second time at the Dec. 2 council meeting.

The ordinance will add “sexual orientation” to hiring, public accommodations and housing ordinances as a class against which discrimination is illegal.

Small businesses with five or less employees, religious organizations, private clubs and landlords with fewer than four rental units would be exempted from the measure.

Proponents of the ordinance noted that Orlando would join 122 cities across the nation offering the protections.

Foes argued that there has been no demonstration that the measure is needed, and that its passage would flood the courts with frivolous suits, placing an unfair burden on small businesses in the city.

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