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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
October 4, 2002

 

Former envoy speaks to
P-FLAG conference

Columbus--Openly gay former U.S. ambassador James Hormel and his daughter Alison Hormel Webb gave the keynote speech at the Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays national conference in Columbus last weekend.

The September 27-29 conference, �Family Voices for Equality,� had seminars and workshops on making America more LGBT-friendly through the work and efforts of their families and friends. Among the plenary sessions and special events were a safe schools meeting, PFLAG executive director David Tseng�s inaugural address and a session entitled �Community Responses to Hate,� outlining tools for dealing with bias crimes and their effects on members of the community.

Workshops included sessions on dealing with school boards, the status of LGBT rights in the courts, an update on the activities of anti-gay religious groups, the �nature vs. nurture� debate, the struggles of LGBT people in the Latino community and an informative session about intersex issues, among others.

A particular emphasis of this year�s conference was to raise more funds to provide schools with updated materials about making them safe for LGBT students.

At the �Family Reunion� dinner, held Saturday night, a student spoke about his experiences in high school, where after six months of being gay-bashed and harassed, he became suicidal and dropped out.

At the dinner, silent and live auctions raised $10,968 to further aid PFLAG in its efforts.

A live fund raising effort at the dinner, asking attendees to dig deep into their pockets, raised an addition $25,000 towards the creation of new materials for the safer schools initiatives.

The final evening�s festivities and fundraising were hosted by Mary Ann Brandt, one of Columbus� most prominent female impersonators, and openly gay WBNS Channel 10 weathercaster Chuck Gurney.

�It was a wonderful conference,� said volunteer coordinator Kellye Pinkleton, who also works at the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization and Stonewall Columbus. �We had people come from as far away as Mexico, California and New York. The national staff were pleased with the turnout and support from the Columbus community.�

PFLAG today has 80,000 members and over 480 chapters and affiliates across America. There are 20 chapters and affiliates in Ohio.

�It gave the chapters a chance to meet and prepare for the future,� said Pinkleton, noting that most attendees found it very productive. �It was just amazing, the people who came out of the woodwork to help.�

�We were pleased that they came here,� she concluded. �It�s really going to help out the local chapter. With the mainstream media coverage, people who were unaware of our chapter will say, �Oh, I didn�t know we had a group here.� �

A small group of protestors picketed outside the Hyatt Regency Hotel�s main entrance, but were largely ignored by the conventioneers.

P-FLAG holds its national conference in a different city every two years. The 2004 one will be in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Anthony Glassman contributed to this report.

 


 

Heterosexual couples marriage denied again

Warren--Trumbull County Probate Judge Thomas A. Swift has refused to reconsider his earlier denial of a marriage license to a heterosexual couple because the groom-to-be is transgender.

Swift�s abrupt order was issued September 30, hours after the couple�s attorney Deborah Smith filed a detailed, 28-page motion asking the judge to reconsider his September 20 denial of their marriage license.

In the September 20 ruling, Swift said that applicants Jacob Nash and Erin Barr �misled� the court by not initially disclosing Nash�s prior marriage when he was a woman. That marriage ended in divorce in 1998.

Barr and Nash did, in fact, amend their license application to include the prior marriage and a copy of Nash�s Massachussetts divorce decree prior to a September 5 hearing.

That hearing was called after magistrate Thomas Norton denied the couple�s application August 8 claiming that Nash is really female and granting the license would violate Ohio�s prohibition of same-sex marriages.

Nash, who is a Massachusetts native, had his birth certificate altered according to the laws of that state to reflect his new sex following his surgery.

Ohio joins Idaho and Tennesee as the only states that do not alter birth certificates following sex reassignment surgery.

Also at issue in this case is the court�s commitment to the �full faith and credit� clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Smith contends that the court�s refusal to recognize Nash as male under Massachusetts law is a clear violation of it.

But Swift steered clear of those legal issues in both rulings, instead focusing on what he called �falsification made in the original application� as the sole basis for denial.

Swift refused to recognize an amendment made by Barr and Nash on September 3 correcting the initial application.

He is also apparently ignoring his own decision to grant the motion made by Smith during the hearing to �conform the application to all the evidence.� This would, by his ruling, amend the original application to reflect the corrections and all of the testimony given during the hearing by Nash and Barr about Nash�s prior marriage.

That motion to conform was a significant part of Smith�s case for reconsideration, yet Swift didn�t mention it in either of his rulings.

The Gay People�s Chronicle attempted to ask Swift whether he was denying that he ever granted Smith�s motion, or is reneging on it.

Swift refused to comment, saying through his spokesperson Susan Lightbody that �the court only speaks through its journal.�

Swift also would not say if he is going to issue findings of fact and conclusions of law at some later time, as neither ruling contains either.

Findings of fact and conclusions of law were requested by Smith in an August 19 letter to the judge. That letter was accepted as part of the official court record by Swift at the hearing.

Previously, Swift refused to comment on his refusal to allow nationally known transgender rights attorney Randi Barnabee to represent the couple pro hac vice, or under special circumstances.

He also would not say why he would not grant Smith an extension of time to file her post-hearing brief, although it was the failure of his court reporter to complete the transcript on time that caused Smith�s need for more time.

Both actions were considered �unreasonable� by Smith, who suggested that the judge is biased against her clients.

That hearing transcript is the only official record of Swift granting Smith�s motion to correct the application. Smith does not yet have it.

Smith says there are other options to get Nash and Barr legally married, but said that a strategy to do it, which could include a federal civil rights suit against the judge, has not yet been decided.


Chrome-plated fun

by Kaizaad Kotwal

Columbus--The city�s circuit parties, until now, have been red. This year, however, the city had a different circuit party to offer.

The Chrome Party replaced the two-decade-old tradition of the Red Party, which was shut down after the death of its founder Corbett Reynolds earlier this year.

The Chrome Party, not affiliated with the Red Party, was held at the Valleydale Ballroom on Sunbury Road in Columbus on Saturday, September 28. Partiers from all over the state and from 18 others attended the festivities which, in addition to the main event, included events all weekend long. The main party was an Arctic Jungle-themed extravaganza and the primary colors were silver, gold and white.

Chrome Party organizers plan on making this an annual event in Columbus to add to an already full calendar of circuit parties around the globe.

 

 


Proteins identified in HIV non-progressors

Washington, D.C.�In research that solves a 16-year medical mystery, scientists have identified a group of proteins that inhibit the progression of HIV in people who are resistant to the virus.

The study, using a new protein-identification tool, identified the proteins in a disease-blocking substance, called CAF.

Researchers discovered in 1986 that CAF was secreted in the blood of �long-term non-progressors�--patients infected with HIV who never get sicker and never develop full-blown AIDS. But efforts to unlock the proteins in CAF have failed, until now.

One to two percent of the roughly 900,000 Americans infected with HIV are �non-progressors.�

Researchers at Rockefeller University and the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center in New York said the proteins in CAF are part of a large family of disease-fighters known as alpha-defensins. These natural antibiotics were first discovered in 1985 and were known to play a role in protecting the body from bacteria and infections. The new study finds they also inhibit HIV.

�We are most gratified to help solve the mystery around CAF,� said Dr. David Ho, leader of the research team at Aaron Diamond. He is senior author of a study that appeared September 27 in Sciencexpress, the online version of the journal Science.

Ho said his group conducted tests that proved that three types of alpha-defensins, 1, 2 and 3, work together to inhibit HIV. He called the proteins �natural peptide antibodies� that work in concert to prevent HIV from reproducing.

Researchers still don�t know how the defensin proteins act against HIV and are still uncertain if the natural compounds can be used as a drug against the virus, he said.

�It is not entirely clear that we can turn this discovery into a useful therapeutic,� said Ho. He said the protein molecule is very large and the researchers are trying to make a smaller version that may act more powerfully against HIV.

Ho said that apparently a type of white blood cells, called CD8 T-cells, and another kind of immune system cells, called neutrophils, make alpha-defensins 1, 2 and 3 in most people, but for unknown reasons only some are protected against the progression of HIV.

 


News Briefs

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

U.S. opposes condom info, groups say

Washington, D.C.�The Bush administration has pulled information about the effectiveness of condoms from a government web site and is engaged in a �witch hunt� against those who promote condoms in the fight against AIDS, several groups charged September 30.

The groups, including Advocates for Youth, the Gay Men�s Health Crisis and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, argue that the administration is hostile to HIV prevention and sex education that is not based on �abstinence-only,� which discourages all sex before marriage and bars discussion of the benefits of birth control or condom use.

The advocacy groups said they are particularly concerned about federal agency audits of AIDS groups now under way, examining their finances and programming. The administration says it is simply making sure that tax dollars are properly spent.

Members of Congress also have twice asked HHS to further investigate AIDS groups. In July, a group of Republicans asked HHS to examine whether protesters at the international AIDS conference in Barcelona had used tax dollars to finance their trips. This month, a second group of House Republicans asked whether organizations lobbying against additional money for abstinence-only programs were using federal funds for such lobbying.

 

Remains may be missing student

Moscow, Idaho�Human remains, including a skull, found in rural Idaho may be those of a gay University of Idaho student who has been missing for nearly four years.

�Positive identification of all the remains are pending DNA analysis,� Latah County Sheriff Jeff Crouch said.

Hunters reportedly discovered the remains outside of Moscow, home to the university.

Wil Hendrick, 25, was last seen early January 10, 1999, at a party in Moscow where he had been drinking. After leaving, he reportedly wandered into a basement apartment where the occupant asked him to leave. His car was found later that night with the keys still in the ignition.

His mother, Leslie Hendrick, confirmed that authorities had contacted the family with new information about her son�s disappearance.

�We have been asked not to talk about it,� she said.

Police Chief Dan Weaver, whose office is investigating, said he was only aware that the remains were found and that their identification was pending.

 

Don�t use nonoxynol-9, group says

Washington, D.C.�The Global Campaign for Microbicides, a coalition of AIDS service and research organizations, on Sept. 26 called for manufacturers to stop using nonoxynol-9 in their products and for consumers to cease using lubricants and condoms with N-9.

The coalition�s call stems from continued use of the microbicide despite a 2000 study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that noted, �N-9 can damage the cells lining the rectum, thus providing a portal of entry for HIV and other sexually transmissible agents.�

The use of nonoxynol-9, originally believed to be beneficial in preventing the spread of HIV, has caused a major uproar in large urban areas. In San Francisco, the cultural epicenter in the United States for barebacking, or having anal sex without a condom, the media has been awash with calls for stores to pull N-9 products from their shelves.

Studies have also found that men who bareback still believed that N-9 would decrease their risk of HIV infection, despite the CDC evidence to the contrary.

A survey conducted last year in San Francisco of men who have sex with men found that 41% of those surveyed who used N-9 products for anal sex did so without condoms, believing or hoping that it would provide a layer of protection against HIV.

 

Trial begins in Shepard-like slaying

Phoenix�The trial of a man accused of murdering a gay man in the Gila River Community was scheduled to begin September 26 in federal court.

Aaron Ray James Miguel, 25, faces a first-degree murder charge in the October 2000 death of Justin F. �Pete� Enos.

Enos, 54, was beaten, dragged behind a horse and murdered with a shovel because he was gay, authorities said.

The crime was similar to the slaying of University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard two years earlier. But, unlike the Shepard case, Enos� death went mostly unnoticed.

Another man, Dorian C. Brown, pleaded guilty in August to second-degree murder in Enos� death.

 

AOL executive�s killer gets 30 years

Washington, D.C.�The murderer of an AOL executive was sentenced to 30 years in prison on Sept. 23.

Walter T. Godbey, a contractor who was working on the home of Douglas A. Small, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in May, admitting that he had killed Small, but claiming that the 38-year old black, gay America Online marketing director had come at him with a screwdriver following an argument over poor workmanship and missed deadlines.

Godbey defended himself with a hacksaw, then pulled a 9mm handgun and shot Small twice. He then bound the body, dumped it near a construction site and covered it with trash before pouring lime on it.

Prosecutors wanted to charge him with first-degree murder, but Superior Court Judge Judith Retchin ruled that they lacked evidence of premeditation necessary for first-degree murder charges.

At the sentencing hearing, Retchin gave Godbey the maximum sentence allowable, noting that his treatment of Small was �heartless, even sadistic,� according to the Washington Post.

 

Mayor goes purple for youth center

Northampton, Mass.�Over the course of a month, the people spoke and government listened: On Sept. 27, Mayor Clare Higgins dyed her hair purple.

The event was a fundraiser for the Pride Zone, Northampton�s LGBT youth drop-in center. For $5, people could vote at a table set up on Main Street, letting their elected leader know what color they would like to see her naturally salt-and-pepper hair become.

Raising almost $11,000 over the course of the month, the people responded with a resounding, �Purple!�

�If this doesn�t come out tomorrow, I�m calling the cops on you,� Higgins jokingly told the owners of the salon where the deed was done.

According to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, Higgins thought it was a small sacrifice.

�I want to thank all of you for hanging in there in tough times,� Higgins told the Pride Zone onlookers. �All I have to do is dye my hair. All of you have to be out there in the world every day.�

 

City asks court to reverse bias award

Oakland, Calif.�City attorneys will ask the state supreme court to overturn a half-million-dollar jury award to a former police cadet who claims he was forced to quit because he�s gay.

The city is appealing the verdict in favor of Scott Hoey-Custock. The state court of appeal refused to hear the case last month.

Last year the Alameda County Superior Court jury ruled the city discriminated against Hoey-Custock. He told the jury he was forced to resign from the police academy in 1997 because he was harassed by three fellow cadets. Those three were later fired.

Hoey-Custock says his supervisors pulled him out of class and assigned him an escort for his own safety. That escort allegedly told other cadets that Hoey-Custock was the gay trainee who filed complaints against the other three.

 

 

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