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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
September 27 , 2002

 

AIDS walk sees more sponsors, politicians, and funds

Cleveland�While reports from around the country show plummeting attendance and shrinking returns from AIDS walks, the 12th annual Dr. John Carey Memorial AIDS Walk/Run at Edgewater Park on Sept. 22 not only increased fundraising over last year�s post-attacks low, but also saw an all-time high in corporate sponsorships and the presence of politicians.

�I really thought it was one of the best years we�ve had in terms of the number of people there,� said Lisa Kropf, president of Kropf Public Relations, organizers of the event.

Earl Pike, executive director of the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland, was also pleased with the event.

�The numbers are preliminary, but it looks like about 3,000 people,� he said. �I was thrilled with the spirit, thrilled with the energy, thrilled with the civic involvement, and thrilled with the second step-off.�

Pike referred to a new twist this year, a later step-off that enabled religious groups to participate in the walk after their Sunday services. In previous years, some churches, like Liberation United Church of Christ in Lakewood, held early services or moved their services to Edgewater Park to participate in the AIDS Walk.

Pike also pointed to other additions to the event, like performances by the North Coast Men�s Chorus and Cleveland Contemporary Dance Theatre, as increasing participants� enjoyment of the event. According to Pike, in previous years walkers came back to an empty field. This year, however, they returned to performers and vendors.

Financially, the event was impressive. Corporate donations have never been higher for the walk, with sponsorships providing $80,000, completely paying for the event.

�The record corporate sponsorships mean that all walkers� money goes to the charities,� Kropf said.

She credited Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell for bringing the record number of politicians as well, noting that her administration has been very supportive of the LGBT and HIV communities.

According to Kropf, the event has already banked $250,000 this year, leaving them with a record-high amount of donations. Online donations through their web site may also continue; the internet allowing donations year-round.

�We have people donating from Houston and all over the place,� Kropf noted. She pointed to the online resource as a major boon to fundraising, �A lot of people are e-mailing folks they wouldn�t normally ask for a donation.�

The web site, which will be updated over the next few months with results of the walk, the top earners and other information, also enables people to both continue donating to the event as well as bid on a handcrafted gold and diamond pendant, donated by designer Russell Trusso. The pendant, valued at $1,000, is in the shape of a heart, accentuated by a ribbon of 18 karat gold with a diamond in the ribbon�s tip.

Bids on the pendant will be accepted through October 22 at the AIDS walk�s web site, www.cleveland.com/AIDSwalk. A link on the page, �Register with Kintera� (the site�s host), leads to the AIDS Walk/Run�s registration and information page, where another link leads to auction registration and bidding. Visitors can also donate additional funds to the AIDS walk at that web site, or by mailing funds in.

Mailed donations should be made payable to the Cleveland AIDS Walk/Run, P.O. Box 461057, Cleveland, Ohio 44146.

The top walkers and teams will be announced on October 11, according to Kropf. According to those who were there, though, everyone won.

�It was awesome,� Pike said. �I can�t even remember all the politicians who were there. The difference between Sunday and five years ago is unbelievable.�

�The weather was nice,� noted Mike Dughan of Nightsweats and T-Cells, a full service screen-print and design shop owned and operated by people living with HIV and AIDS. �I�ve seen lots of people I hadn�t seen in a while. I thought it was fun.�

Pike also noted that the number of people bringing in donations of $1,000 or more was very high this year, pointing to his organization�s board president David Posteraro and treasurer Bill Potoczak, both of whom garnered $2,000 in pledges.

The success of the event was welcomed by the seven organizations it benefits; on top of a recession and decreases in charitable giving to non-Sept. 11 related charities in the last year, the state of Ohio is also cutting AIDS funding, leaving many AIDS service organizations struggling financially.

Funds from the walk are distributed to the AIDS Taskforce, the Cleveland Treatment Center, Free Clinic, Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center, Planned Parenthood, the Women�s Center of Greater Cleveland and the Antioch Baptist Church/Cleveland Clinic partnership�s AGAPE Program.


Walk and party see new faces and other changes

AIDS Foundation Miami Valley expands its area and gets a new name

Cincinnati�AIDS Volunteers of Cincinnati held the 13th Annual Red Ribbon Walk for AIDS on September 21, hours before the AIDS Resource Center of Ohio in Dayton unveiled their new fundraiser, MasqueRage.

ARC-Ohio is the new name for AIDS Foundation Miami Valley, who are expanding the scope of their outreach to include 21 counties. The northernmost counties covered by ARC-Ohio are Paulding, Putnam and Hancock, immediately to the south of the eight counties covered by David�s House Compassion, headquartered in Toledo.

Over 500 people participated in the Red Ribbon Walk, raising roughly $100,000, a similar amount to what the walk raised last year.

�We think we went way beyond our projected total, so I�m happy about that,� AVOC grants writer Molly Moloney said.

�They�re such an important organization,� noted attorney Scott E. Knox, who was one of the sponsors of the event. �I like giving them money.�

�There are a lot of great organizations in this area,� he continued, �but they really stand out. They have great case management.�

According to Knox, one of the most interesting things about the Red Ribbon Walk is the change in the people walking.

�The face has changed,� he said. �It used to be gay people you knew. This year, the largest groups were from schools.�

The team from Ursuline Academy, an all-girls high school in the Cincinnati suburb of Blue Ash, alone raised $12,000 for AVOC.

AVOC Executive Director Victoria Brooks noted that, for some people, even more important than the services the fundraising enables is the nearness the walk brings to lost loved ones.

�One of the walkers who were wearing shirts in memory of their loved one said that they look forward to this every year, as it helps them to feel close to the person they lost and that they are able to help those who are still living and to possible keep others from becoming infected,� she said.

ARC-Ohio, however, opted out of organizing an AIDS walk in Dayton this year, noting lower attendance and financial returns over the last few years, a trend mirrored across the country. Instead, the organization put on a masquerade ball as a fundraiser. MasqueRage, as the new event was called, took place at the Cannery, followed by an after-party at Celebrity Show and Dance Club, which was free with a ticket stub from MasqueRage.

The ball, with tickets going for $25 in advance, $30 at the door and $100 granting partygoers access to the VIP room and a limited open bar, should bring a new feel to fundraising for ARC-Ohio.

The hope was that the new fundraiser would attract people who were not necessarily current supporters of the organization and bring in people in their 20s and 30s, which organizers believed it accomplished, bringing in $16,000.

�The event was spectacular,� enthused executive director Bill Hardy. �We wanted one of the events taking the place of this year�s AIDS Walk to be new and exciting, and it certainly was. We can�t wait for the next one.�

The event included a fashion show by Candi Wantsome that almost completely overshadowed the rest of the event.

�People were having so much fun at MasqueRage that some forgot about the after-party at Celebrity,� said development associate Michelle Powell. �It was great to see all the hard work and dedication by the MasqueRage committee pay off.�

Hors d�oeuvres for the event were provided by an array of area restaurants and caterers, and MasqueRage was sponsored by companies including Miller Brewing, GE Consumer Finance and GlaxoSmithKline.

Both AVOC and ARC-Ohio have upcoming fundraisers that they hope will �dazzle� their supporters.

AVOC will hold their third annual Diva Dazzle event on Nov. 16 at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, featuring an array of performers and paying tribute to local legend Kathy Wade. More information is available by calling AVOC at 513-4212437 or special events coordinator Doris Marks Callis at 513-8613522, or by logging onto www.avoc.org or www.divadazzle.com.

ARC-Ohio will hold an art auction called Dazzle at St. Clair Community College on October 19. Information on the event, sponsored by Lazarus Department Stores, is available by calling Michelle Powell, development assistant, at ARC-Ohio, 937-4612437, or online at www.afmv.org.


Federal civil rights laws cover anti-gay harassment, court rules

San Francisco�In a 7-4 decision, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on Sept. 24 ruled that a gay butler who worked in the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas can sue his employer in federal court for sexual discrimination.

Medina Rene claimed in a federal lawsuit that from 1994 to 1996 his all-male co-workers and supervisor subjected him to a hostile work environment that included crude and demeaning pranks targeting his homosexuality.

The federal appeals court ruling reversed an earlier decision by the same court that examined whether federal civil rights laws protect gay and lesbian workers who are physically harassed on the job.

The March 2001 decision by a three-judge panel in the same district had upheld a 1979 decision that the 1964 federal civil rights law protects workers against discrimination only on the basis of race, color, religion, gender or national origin.

But the seven-judge majority cited a unanimous 1998 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that sexual harassment at work can be illegal even when the offender and victim are the same sex. The Supreme Court ruling came in the case of Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, where a heterosexual man, Joseph Oncale, was sexually harassed by heterosexual co-workers on an offshore oil drilling platform where they both lived and worked.

�The court was clear that lesbians and gay men are equally protected from sexual harassment on the job, and that harassment based on gender stereotypes is, in fact, sexual harassment that is prohibited by federal civil rights laws,� said Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund Senior Counsel Jon Davidson, who submitted a brief in the case.

�Today�s ruling will impact lesbians and gay men, and others, who face harassment and discrimination because they don�t fit what their co-workers or bosses think a man or woman should be,� Davidson noted. �A significant amount of anti-gay harassment is sexual in nature and is rooted in gender stereotypes. This decision will be a powerful tool toward securing equal treatment in the workplace.�

The Supreme Court has never decided whether a worker discriminated against because of sexual orientation can sue under federal civil rights laws even though it has held that it is illegal to discriminate against someone based on gender.

Twelve states, including Nevada, allow such suits under their own anti-discrimination laws. They are California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin.

Rene did not sue in state court because the harassment occurred before Nevada�s gay civil rights law was passed.

Associated Press

 

 


Warren heterosexual couple still cant get married

Judge says TG groom-to-be misled the court by omitting his prior marriage as a woman

Warren, Ohio--A judge has refused to grant a marriage license to a heterosexual couple who were initially denied the license because the groom-to-be is transgender.

Trumbull County Probate Judge Thomas A. Swift issued an order September 20 rejecting the marriage license application of Jacob Nash and Erin Barr. Swift says that Nash attempted to �mislead� the court when he didn�t initially disclose his prior marriage as a woman.

Swift ruled that the explanation given by Nash and Barr during a September 5 hearing on the matter �lacks credibility� and �was intentional and made with the purpose of misleading the court.�

But attorney Deborah Smith of Macedonia who represents the couple says the judge was just looking for a reason to deny the marriage license, and this was the one he chose.

She said she will immediately file a motion for the court to reconsider its decision, claiming that Swift violated his own prior ruling in coming to that conclusion.

During the 2� hour hearing, Nash was questioned about his prior marriage that ended in divorce in 1998. That marriage was prior to his sex reassignment surgery and an official name change granted in Trumbull County.

Through testimony, Smith established that if Nash had not completed his name change in Trumbull County, the court would have no knowledge that he is transsexual and the license would have been issued without further question.

Initially, Barr and Nash failed to include information of Nash�s prior marriage in their application, later amending the application to include full disclosure and copy of Nash�s Massachusetts divorce decree.

Barr testified during the hearing that she knew Nash was married when he was a woman, but said that submitting the divorce decree initially �slipped [her] mind� because, she said, �I know of his previous life, but I don�t think about it, because I now know him as the person he was meant to be.�

Additionally, Smith made a motion during the hearing to �conform the application to all the evidence.� Swift granted the motion, which meant that he accepted the amended application and decree, as well as the testimony about the Nash�s marriage given during the hearing, as part of the original application.

�[Swift�s] granting of my motion made their application complete and accurate,� said Smith.

But Swift, in denying the license, quoted a state law saying a license cannot be issued if �the officer has reason to believe that any of the statements in a marriage license application . . . are false.�

Smith said that by using that as justification for the denial, the judge �ignored his own ruling.�

That ruling was documented in a trial transcript, which was not prepared by Swift�s court reporter in time to be included in Smith�s post-hearing brief to the court.

Nonetheless, Swift denied Smith�s request for an extension of time to prepare the brief so the transcript could submitted as evidence. As reason for doing so, Swift wrote, �an extension of time would cause unnecessary delay and expense.�

Smith does not claim that Swift denied the extension because he knew his grant of the motion to conform was part of the transcript. She believes Swift had made up his mind to deny the license even before the hearing, so the procedural rulings were really meaningless.

Swift has refused every attempt by the Gay People�s Chronicle to get comment on the extension denial and his refusal to admit transgender rights attorney Randi Barnabee to the case. Each time, Swift has stated that he does not and cannot discuss cases before him in the media.

But Swift did give an interview about this case to Hans Huebner of the German Television Network shortly after the hearing. The Chronicle is in the process of obtaining that recording.

 


1964 federal civil rights act used to settle bias suit

Mount Vernon, Ohio--A federal discrimination suit claiming sex-stereotyping as the reason for demotion of a lesbian employee was settled on September 17.

The settlement marks the second in three months where Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act has been successfully applied in Ohio by lesbian and transgender people against workplace discrimination not covered by state or local laws.

The similar use of the 1964 act was upheld September 24 by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in a Nevada case.

In this suit, Gretchen Pittman of Mount Vernon, a former United Dairy Farmers manager, sued her former employer for demoting her once they learned she was dating a co-worker.

The convenience store chain accused Pittman and the other woman of kissing in the back of the store, claiming she �lost control of the store� by doing so.

Zone manager Ron Brewer then demoted Pittman, and sent her to work as an assistant manager of a store 28 miles away for $2.50 less per hour.

At the time, United Dairy Farmers had no policy prohibiting employees from dating one another, even between superiors and subordinates.

The chain also has no policy against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Its board chair, Robert Lindner Sr., hosted the annual fundraising banquet of the anti-gay Cincinnati Citizens for Community Values in April.

�Family-friendly is what UDF is all about,� said CCV president Phil Burress in the group�s newsletter. CCV also advises the anti-gay group attempting to repeal domestic partner benefits for Cleveland Heights city employees.

Neither Mount Vernon, 35 miles northeast of Columbus, nor the state of Ohio have laws protecting employees from discrimination by sexual orientation.

In her suit, filed in January in the Southern Ohio District federal court, Pittman claimed that UDF demoted her because she was dating a woman, not a man.

�They demoted her because of who she is seeing� said Pittman�s attorney, Randi Barnabee of Macedonia. �They didn�t ask [Pittman] if she was gay, they simply made the choice that her off-duty partner was inappropriate for their company.�

Barnabee said UDF made a motion to dismiss the case, but the matter was resolved before the court could consider it.

She believes that UDF agreed to the settlement, in part, because Northern Ohio District Judge Kathleen McDonald O�Malley rejected a similar motion made in her court six months earlier.

In that suit, Susan Meyers, a Cleveland transgender woman called �Mrs. Doubtfire� on the job, favorably settled a suit against United Consumer Financial Services following O�Malley�s decision.

O�Malley applied the 1989 U.S. Supreme Court decision Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, holding that a person cannot be discriminated against for not conforming to the gender stereotype behavior expected by another person or social norms.

Barnabee believes that the Price Waterhouse decision allows for some anti-GLBT discrimination suits to go forward in federal court, even though they would be rejected by state courts because no law covers them.

Barnabee called this second settlement �encouraging,� adding that had the case gone forward, Pittman would have won. �This is how new case law gets made,� said Barnabee.

�And in this case,� said Barnabee, �Title VII was used to protect a woman engaged in a same-sex relationship.�

 


Home violence drops in two Ohio cities as nation sees rise

Columbus�Domestic violence in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender relationships rose nationally in 2001, but decreased in both Columbus and Cleveland, according to a national report.

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs issued its 2001 report on LGBT domestic violence on September 24.

Stonewall Cincinnati, the Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center and the Buckeye Regional Anti-Violence Organization all contributed data to the report.

In a 1991 report, domestic violence is called �the third most severe health problem facing gay men today� behind HIV and substance abuse. The same report, Men Who Beat the Men Who Love Them: Battered Gay Men and Domestic Violence by Island and Letellier, estimates that 15-20% of gay male relationships become abusive. Studies over the last 18 years have found that 40-50% of lesbians have been in abusive relationships.

Nationally, the 2001 report found a 25% increase in reports of domestic violence against LGBT people, which include abuse of LGBT minors and adults by family members. In 2001, 5,046 cases were reported to NCAVP member organizations and the Asian Women�s Shelter in San Francisco, which is not a member of NCAVP but gave data to the organization for the report. The 2000 report found 4,048 reports of LGBT domestic violence.

In Ohio, though, the two individual agencies whose figures were noted, the Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center and BRAVO, both reported decreases in cases of domestic violence.

Cleveland reported 12 cases, down from the previous year but higher than in 1999. The Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center works in concert with the Cuyahoga County Witness/Victim Services office to report domestic violence, and is allied with the YWCA Domestic Violence Project to provide counseling for survivors of domestic violence.

BRAVO marked an even sharper decrease in reported cases of domestic violence; 44 incidents were reported to the organization in 2001, down 52% from the 91 reported incidents in 2000. The figures appear to be inconsistent with both previous years and the number of cases reported already in 2002, and is being attributed to the loss of funding aimed at the LGBT community, BRAVO�s efforts at providing assistance to mainstream organizations in dealing with LGBT people and the reluctance of gays and lesbians to report domestic violence.

Overall, 43% of victims reporting incidents identified themselves as female, 49% as male, and 4% as transgender, mostly male-to-female.

In terms of age, almost two-fifths of those reporting domestic violence did not indicate their age, with nearly half of the rest being in the 30-44 year old age range.

Racially, 39% of survivors� race and ethnicity were unkown; 27% were white; 15% Latino, and 10% were African-American.

NCAVP noted that the increase in the overall numbers do not necessarily indicate an increase in domestic violence, and can be attributed as logically to better reporting of cases.

The NCAVP also tracks anti-LGBT hate crimes, and releases an annual report of them in April.

 


Catholic ministries conclave
is greeted by protesters

Blue Ash, Ohio�Protesters held signs and recited the rosary outside a suburban Cincinnati hotel where the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati was host to a national conference for Catholics who minister to gay men and lesbians.

About 30 people from a group called Catholics for Traditional Values gathered Sunday to protest the conference of the National Association of Catholic Diocesan Lesbian and Gay Ministries, �Family of God: Growing in Holiness Together.�

The association was ending its three-day meeting with a Mass celebrated by Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk.

About 100 people from across the country attended the conference, which organizers held in suburban Blue Ash because of Article 12, an anti-gay charter amendment passed by Cincinnati voters in 1993.

The national association was founded in 1994 to minister to LGBT Catholics, their families and friends. The Archdiocese of Cincinnati launched a similar ministry in 1999.

Archdiocese spokesman Dan Andriacco said the conference did not deviate from church teaching.

�It�s rather ironic that some of the communications that we have are from individuals who think by somehow presiding at Mass for this organization that the archbishop is buying into a so-called gay agenda,� Andriacco said.

The ministries are similar to those for divorced and separated Catholics, and women who have had abortions, but that doesn�t mean the church has changed its position on any of those issues, Andriacco said.

Most of the protesters were members of Immaculate Conception Church in Norwood and St. Gertrude the Great in Sharonville. They do not embrace changes in Catholicism ushered in by Vatican II and are not part of the archdiocese.

�They are not even affiliated with the pope,� Andriacco said. �These folks are in schism. They�re deliberately rejecting the authority of the current pope. From our perspective, they really aren�t part of the church.�

Some of the protestors� arguments linked homosexuality to the ongoing sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. While many bishops and Vatican officials have used the same tactic, the board of directors of the lesbian-gay ministries association released a statement in May warning against such scapegoating.

�Pastoral Implications of Blaming Gay Clergy for the Abuse Crisis in the Catholic Church� spoke strongly on the dedication of gay priests, and warned that blaming them for the abuse crisis would not only alienate many members of the clergy but also the LGBT Catholics that have not left the church.

While other organizations have made similar statements, like Dignity USA, an organization for LGBT Catholics, the lesbian-gay ministries association is considered a church office. It conducts pastoral work within and under the auspices of various dioceses.

 


 

News Briefs

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

Dean would recognize civil unions

Philadelphia�Vermont Gov. Howard Dean said Sept. 14 that if elected president he would recognize the marriage rights of same-sex couples.

Dean said he would not propose a federal law to give gay and lesbian couples the right to get married, but he would advocate that the federal government recognize state laws that granted gays and lesbians the rights and benefits of marriage.

Dean made the statements at the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association convention in Philadelphia.

Vermont is the only state in the country that grants marriage-like status to gay and lesbian couples. Through a pact known as civil unions, passed by the legislature in 2000, the state grants same-sex couples all of the rights and benefits of marriage that are conferred by state government.

Dean made a point of saying that Vermont has not passed what is commonly referred to as gay marriage, emphasizing that civil unions are a parallel, but separate, institution. Nonetheless, the law does confer state benefits to same-sex couples, such as state tax advantages and health care and inheritance rights.

(California also recognizes domestic partnerships in several areas, and Hawaii has a partner registry.)

Dean, who is retiring as governor in January after 11 years and is running for president, said it was not the federal government�s role to become involved in marriage statutes.

Dean also said that as president, he would allow gays and lesbians to serve openly in the U.S. military.

New York considers benefit rule

New York City�An ordinance introduced on Sept. 23 would require companies doing business with the city to offer domestic partners of employees the same benefits offered to the spouses of married employees.

The �Equal Benefits Law,� as it is known, mirrors legislation passed in San Francisco in 1997, and followed soon afterwards by Oakland, California, and Seattle, Washington.

According to activists, the San Francisco ordinance caused a domino effect, rippling domestic partner benefits outwards from the city through the companies that held contracts with it. The New York ordinance, they say, would have even farther-reaching effects, since New York City is viewed as the financial capital of the nation.

The ordinance would, if passed, require all of the nearly 100,000 companies that do business with the city to offer equal benefits to their gay and lesbian employees.

Group wants hate ordinance revived

Huntington, W. Va.�City Council rejected a hate crime ordinance this spring, but some city residents are fighting to keep the issue alive.

The Huntington Area League of Women Voters and the American Association of University Women sponsored a forum Sept. 23 to focus on hate crime prevention.

Hate crimes �are everybody�s problem, and everyone has to come together to find a solution,� said Doris Johnson, a League of Women Voters member and a forum organizer.

City Council in April voted down an ordinance that would have added jail time for criminals who target victims because of race, religion, nationality, political affiliation, sexual orientation, disability or gender.

The council debate focused on sexual orientation.

Opponents said the ordinance would have granted special protection to gays, while supporters said current laws do not adequately protect victims of crimes incited by hatred of a class or group.

The state has a hate crime law, but it does not include sexual orientation or disability. Charleston is West Virginia�s only city with a specific ordinance addressing hate crime.

Huntington�s ordinance attracted attention after a local man, Michael Fiffe, who is not gay, was beaten and left for dead while walking home from a gay bar. Fiffe remained in the hospital for months.

Fiffe�s beating spurred Mayor David Felinton to push the council to pass a hate crime ordinance that includes sexual orientation.

Fourth West Hollywood man bashed

West Hollywood, Calif.�A gay man was assaulted on September 22 by two men who yelled anti-gay epithets and wielded a metal pipe and a baseball bat, the fourth victim of a hate crime attack in the city in less than a month.

The latest victim, an unidentified 55-year-old man, was walking alone about 3 am when he was assaulted by the men, Los Angeles County sheriff�s Sgt. Steve Patterson said.

A passing taxi driver stopped and yelled at the attackers, who fled, Patterson said. The taxi driver gave the victim a ride home. Hours later, the man sought treatment for cuts and bruises. He was hospitalized in stable condition, authorities said.

The attack was near the site of the Sept. 2 beating of two people with a baseball bat. Treve Broudy, 33, was critically injured in the assault, in which anti-gay epithets were also used. A third man later reported being attacked the same night.

A $91,000 reward was established during a Sept. 23 city council meeting for the capture of the assailants who attacked Broudy and the others.

Los Angeles County sheriffs have doubled patrols in the area in an attempt to find the perpetrators and curtail further violence.

Man sues for Labor Day beating

Milford, Conn.�A 42-year-old gay man who was beaten at a Labor Day party in Shelton is suing the two men charged with attacking him.

The man filed the suit in Superior Court on Sept. 23 against the party�s host, George Hamilton, 42, of Shelton, and Bryan Wendland, 25, of Stratford.

Hamilton and Wendland both face criminal charges of first-degree assault and first-degree intimidation based on bigotry or bias.

Hamilton�s wife, Margaret, is also named in the lawsuit which seeks $750,000 in damages.

The beating victim and his partner arrived at the party about 7 p.m. on Labor Day, according to the lawsuit and there were about 40 or 50 other people there at the time.

When the man was getting ready to leave about 10 p.m., George Hamilton accused the victim of saying something derogatory to his daughter, according to the suit.

Hamilton began repeatedly calling the victim a �faggot� and demanded he leave the property, kicking and punching him and forcing him to the ground, the suit claims.

The lawsuit says that Wendland, with whom he had been talking earlier, joined in the attack.

Hamilton had earlier claimed that no one at his party could have been involved with the attack, and that his Labor Day pig roasts were always peaceful affairs.

Club Diversity closes, will move

Columbus�Club Diversity, at 124 E. Main Street, will close its doors on October 5.

The nightclub�s landlords are selling their building, and the bar�s owners decided that it was not prudent to continue a court battle keeping their lease in place.

The owners have closed a deal on a new building, and their temporary closure will give them time to move into their new location, which will be larger, giving entertainers a larger stage. The owners also plan to display the work of local artists and have meeting and banquet facilities.

No date has been set for opening the new location. There will be a weekend-long party at the club, starting Sept. 27. The final closing party starts at 4 pm on Sept. 29.

Information on the new location and the opening date will be released on the bar�s web site, www.club-diversity.com, as it becomes available.

New paid leave law includes partners

Los Angeles�California has become the first state in the country to enact a comprehensive paid family leave program that allows workers to take six weeks off to care for a newborn, a newly adopted child or ill family member.

The law includes same-sex domestic partners in the definition of family.

Under the new law, which expands the state�s existing disability insurance program, employees will be eligible to receive 55 percent of their wages during their absence, up to a maximum payment of $728 a week.

Supporters hope the law will serve as a nationwide model, while business groups, such the California Chamber of Commerce, denounce it as too costly for employers. The group led a coalition that tried to kill the measure.

Workers will be allowed to start taking time off as of July 1, 2004 under the new program, which will be funded entirely by employee payroll deductions, averaging about $27 a year and ranging up to $70 a year for those earning more than $72,000 annually.

About 13 million of California�s 16 million workers will be eligible.

Businesses with fewer than 50 employees are not required to hold a job for a worker who goes on paid family leave, according to the AFL-CIO, which helped write the bill.

City must allow Pride banners

Oklahoma City�A city ordinance that kept a Gay Pride group�s banners off city light poles has been struck down by a federal judge.

The ordinance, adopted following public criticism of banners hung for the 2001 Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade, is an unconstitutional infringement of free speech rights, U.S. District Judge Robin J. Cauthron ruled Sept. 13.

The order is a victory for the Cimarron Alliance Foundation, which sued the city after its application to post banners to recognize Gay and Lesbian History Month in June was rejected by City Manager Jim Couch.

Cauthron also ruled that Cimarron is entitled to damages from the city as well as court costs and attorneys fees but withheld setting an exact amount.

Cimarron won approval to hang its banners in 2001. But Couch ordered the banners to be taken down and replaced after the city began receiving complaints from the public. The banners were put back up after Cimarron threatened legal action.

An ordinance passed by the city council in August 2001 prohibited banners from promoting �social advocacy� and required them to �promote or celebrate the city, its civic institutions, or public activities or events in the city.�

But Cauthron ruled that the law was unconstitutionally vague and created viewpoint-based restrictions that gave city officials �the power to enforce the ordinance in a manner that favors some viewpoints over others.�

LLEGO gets tobacco fund grant

Washington, D.C.�The National Latina/o Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Organization (LLEGO) received a $25,000 grant on September 17 to continue their work organizing the Latino LGBT community across the country.

LLEGO received the grant from the American Legacy Foundation, a national public health foundation created by the 1998 settlement agreement between the U.S. government and the tobacco companies.

The grant will be used to convene a series of town hall meetings to investigate the views of the LGBT Latino communities across the nation in regards to tobacco use and prevention. The extended goal of the grant is to create an anti-tobacco marketing campaign targeting the Latino LGBT community.


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Evenings Out

Post-mortem conversations

�The Laramie Project� delves into the aftermath of Matthew Shepard�s murder

Columbus--On October 7, Matthew Shepard, a college student in Laramie, Wyoming, was tied to a fence, beaten and left for dead. The gay community, the nation, the world was shocked.

Perhaps nobody was more shocked than the people of Laramie, however. Most of the people in town who knew Shepard liked him and thought of him as a kind young man.

Other people in town thought, though, that by his very homosexuality Shepard brought his end upon himself.

In the aftermath of the 1998 murder, playwright Mois�s Kaufman and members of his Tectonic Theater Company traveled to Wyoming and conducted hundreds of hours of interviews with the citizenry, trying to discover the whys and wherefores of the almost unbelievable deed.

�The idea of The Laramie Project originated in my desire to learn more about why Matthew Shepard was murdered, about what happened that night, about the town of Laramie,� Kaufman said. �The idea of listening to the citizens talk really interested me. How is Laramie different from the rest of the country, and how is it similar?�

Much like last theater season, a number of companies across the state will be performing productions of the show. The first out of the gate, however, will be Columbus� CATCO, the Contemporary American Theater Company. Being the city�s only professional resident theater company, the cast and crew have the skills to bring the play to touching, horrifying life.

Among the cast are Damian Bowerman and Crystal Wolford, CATCO�s acting fellows for the season, as well as veterans Linda Dorff, Anne Fitzpatrick, Robin Amy Gordon, Wolf J. Sherrill, Dudley Swetland and Ed Vaughan, all performing multiple roles as both Tectonic members and various townsfolk.

The production is directed by Lorraine Robinson, who directed Having Our Say last season. Robinson, like the actors and most people who have seen it, found the experience thought-provoking and intensely emotional. The play, instead of painting the people of Laramie as victims or victimizers, calls their roles into question.

�They find themselves in a role not unlike Matthew�s,� she noted, �labeled and stereotyped--and they discover that their lives and feelings are much more complicated than they ever knew: shock, denial, fear, guilt, anger, blame, awareness, hope, renewal and change are experienced as they share their journey with the audience�

�Along with them, the audience will be forced to confront and answer the essential questions of identity: What do I believe? What do I value and stand for? What is my character?� Robinson asked.

To commemorate the fourth anniversary of Shepard�s death, CATCO will have a reception on September 27, hosted by Dr. James Ford, with Matthew�s mother Judy Shepard as the special guest for the evening of cocktails and conversation. Judy Shepard, along with her husband, became leading voices in activism to stop anti-gay violence since the death of their son. The event will begin at 5:30 pm, and will benefit the Matthew Shepard Foundation, CATCO and the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization. For more information about the event, call Peter Caborn at 614-4611382, ext. 132.

Tickets for regular productions of the play range from $27 to $33 and can be purchased by calling the box office at 614-4610010. Performances will be in the Vern Riffe Center for Government and the Arts� Studio One Theatre at 77 S. High Street in Columbus, at the corner of State and High Streets.

More information about this and other productions is available at the CATCO web site, www.catco.org.

 

 

 

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