Cleveland--State Sen. Eric Fingerhut of Shaker Heights has announced he is running for U.S. Senate in 2004.
Fingerhut made his announcement the Cleveland Stonewall Democrats annual meeting January 13.
�You�re the first to know,� Fingerhut told the 28 members gathered at the Lesbian and Gay Community Service Center of Cleveland.
Fingerhut is the first Democrat to announce candidacy for the Senate seat now held by Republican George Voinovich.
Fingerhut served in the U.S. House in 1992 and 1993, representing Lake, Ashtabula and eastern Cuyahoga counties in the then-19th District. He held an Ohio Senate seat from 1991 to 1992, and was elected to his present eastern Cleveland suburban 25th District seat in 1998.
He has been one of the loudest voices for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality in the Ohio legislature.
Fingerhut was the first senator to publicly oppose the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act in 1999 when it was introduced in the Ohio Senate. He opened his office to LGBT activists and lobbyists working to defeat the measure.
Fingerhut�s office again served as a resource and work space for opponents of the DOMA introduced in 2001, even though it was only acted on in the Ohio House.
At the meeting, Fingerhut pledged his office again in the event that another DOMA bill is introduced in 2003.
In 2001, Fingerhut proposed that Ohio create an institute that would study and keep statistics on hate crimes, including those committed on the basis of sexual orientation and gender.
Fingerhut told the Gay People�s Chronicle at the time that he considered the institute the first step in getting the legislature to pass a GLBT-inclusive hate crime law.
Republicans backed by religious conservatives agreed, and stopped the bill from leaving committee for that reason, although the institute itself had no power to protect LGBT Ohioans.
In contrast, Voinovich scored 14 percent on the Human Rights Campaign scorecard for the session of Congress just ended. His only favorable action was signing a non-discrimination policy for his own office.
However, Voinovich opposed an attempt to add sexual orientation to the anti-discrimination section of the rules governing all senate employment practices as well as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would cover the entire country.
Fingerhut told the Stonewall Democrats that his campaign will be focused on the future.
�The core issue is that Ohio has to move into the 21st century,� said Fingerhut.
Part of doing that, according to Fingerhut, is to aggressively fight any attempt to pass a DOMA in Ohio this year.
Fingerhut warned that Republicans will have to face reality and raise taxes in Ohio.
�And in doing that, they will have to make their core supporters happy by giving them other things that they want, which includes things like a DOMA bill.�
Fingerhut called such a tactic �bait and switch,� adding that it sends the wrong message to the rest of the country about Ohio.
�Stuff like this makes the news,� said Fingerhut, �and you can add it to the litany of what we have been through this year with things like concealed weapons and �intelligent design.� Do we want [DOMA] to be the latest statement on what we want the next news story in Ohio to be?�
�I would rather lose with an egregious DOMA bill that we can continue to campaign against than to settle for a little better one because we think we have to,� said Fingerhut, �I want you to think about ways to win.�
The Stonewall Democrats also elected their officers for 2003 at the annual meeting. Patrick Shepherd was re-elected president; Randy Goodman was elected vice president for political strategy; Kathleen Connors, vice president for fundraising; Joan McFaul, vice president for public relations; Anthony Warmuth, membership chair; Jeff Zelmer, secretary; and Barbara Bowley, treasurer.
The treasurer of the newly-formed political action committee, which will make contributions to political candidates, is Brooke Willis. The deputy treasurer is John Corlett.
Ashland, Ky.--Anti-gay protesters from the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas met with counter-protests on January 11 and 12 during their stops in Boyd County, Ky. and nearby Huntington, West Virginia.
Eleven members of Fred Phelps� Westboro church, mainly members of his family, picketed for an hour Saturday in Huntington, carrying signs outside the Cam Henderson Center during the Marshall University men�s basketball game against Toledo.
The Phelps clan is infamous for traveling the nation to picket anywhere they can get attention for their �God Hates Fags� message, including the funerals of hate crime victim Matthew Shepard and President Clinton�s mother.
Down the street from the Phelps group, 175 Huntington residents and civic leaders countered their message with a demonstration celebrating diversity, said Charlie Rouse, vice president of the Marshall Lambda Society.
Marshall students and professors; students from high schools in Huntington and Boyd County, Ky.; and religious and government leaders attended the anti-hate rally.
�I�m glad to see the community�s coming together,� said Tonya Beckett, pastor of the Friends Catholic Community Church in Huntington.
Counter-protesters also used the anti-gay protest as a fundraising tool, collecting pledges either for each minute the Kansas group protested, or for each time they said specific words.
The following day, the Phelps clan protested outside of churches in Ashland. They said they were there to protest a gay-straight alliance that briefly met at Boyd County High School south of town, before the school board voted to eliminate all non-curricular groups for the remainder of the school year.
The GSA was at the center of a firestorm of controversy. Three council votes went against the group meeting at the high school before the students and their faculty advisor sought help from the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU sent the school board a letter noting that its refusal to allow the group to meet was in violation of the federal Equal Access Act, and the school board relented.
The board�s decision was met with protests, and at one point half the students at the school stayed home as a statement against the GSA.
The Boyd County school board voted last month to suspend all non-curricular groups for the remainder of the school year, the only way they could bar the GSA and remain in compliance with the federal law.
Over 300 Boyd County residents attended the CommUnity Rally in the Paramount Arts Center, organized by the Ashland Commission on Human Rights.
�The statements of the Westboro Baptist Church do not represent the community values of Boyd County, Eastern Kentucky, southeastern Ohio and south West Virginia, commission member and attorney David Welch told the Louisville Courier-Journal.
Sixteen-year-old Uriah Tolbert said that he attended the rally because he felt that the Westboro contingent made other Christians looks bad. He noted that, while he is personally opposed to homosexual activity, as a black person he understands discrimination and stands against it.
Kaye King, the GSA�s advisor, said her fears that other students would hold the ban on clubs against her group�s members were unfounded.
�At first we thought the students would be mad at us, but now they say that�s just not fair,� she said, noting the school board�s decision has increased support for her club.
The Kansas anti-gay group protested the local churches because they believed the clergy were not strident enough in their condemnations of homosexuality.
�It�s a rather remarkable thing that in this place, which would be considered rather conservative and religious, you�d find a gay-straight alliance,� Timothy Phelps said. �The churches have failed.�
Timothy�s father, the clan�s 73-year-old patriarch Fred Phelps, was not present at either protest, an increasingly common occurrence over the last few years.
His group first gained infamy by loudly picketing the funerals of people with AIDS in the early 1990s.
Steubenville--The Ohio Supreme Court will decide if police can videotape people as they use a restroom without first getting a warrant.
A December 18 ruling by the Seventh Ohio District Court of Appeals in Youngstown gave police permission to hide video cameras in public toilets. It will be appealed to the high court, plaintiff�s attorney Sam Pate said January 11.
The appeals court also upheld the public indecency conviction of Pate�s client, James Henry, 47, of Empire. He was one of 13 known or suspected gay men arrested in July, 2001 in a sting operation conducted by Saline Township Police Chief Kenneth Hayes and Jefferson County Prosecutor Bryan Felmet.
To investigate sexual activity at a highway rest stop, Hayes and Felmet hid video cameras inside the men�s toilet light fixtures. The cameras ran for hours each day from January to May 2001, taping every man as he used the facility on Ohio 7 near the Ohio River between Toronto and East Liverpool.
Henry�s conviction is based on a tape showing him in the restroom for 47 seconds on May 9, 2001. The tape shows Henry entering, standing at the urinal, and leaving the restroom.
At the trial, prosecutors convinced the jury that because Henry stepped back from the urinal before fastening his pants, anyone entering the restroom �could have� come to the conclusion that Henry was masturbating.
Prior to the trial Pate attempted to suppress the tape on constitutional grounds, but Jefferson County Common Pleas Judge Joseph Corabi allowed it.
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that cameras in public restrooms, locker rooms, jail cells and dressing rooms constitute illegal searches and thus violate the Fourth Amendment.
In their unanimous opinion, the three-judge appellate panel ruled that Henry had �no reasonable expectation of privacy so long as he remained in the common area� of the restroom.
Like most men�s restrooms, the urinals in this one are mounted on the wall in the same area as the sinks, with no stalls. A short privacy divider between them was removed by Hayes and Felmet so the cameras could have a clear view.
Pate said he will file a notice of appeal with the Ohio Supreme Court. According to the high court�s rules, he has 45 days from the district court�s decision to do so.
If the court decides to hear the case, they will rule on whether or not such cameras are legal, and if police must have a warrant before hiding them in restrooms.
If they decline to hear the case the lower court ruling will stand, allowing police throughout Ohio to install toilet cameras with no warrant.
Henry is optimistic. �We just have to get this thing away from southeastern Ohio,� he said.
Pate is less optimistic, but feels it is worth pursuit, especially in light of the restrictions on civil rights resulting from the September 11 attacks.
He is disappointed that civil rights groups, especially the American Civil Liberties Union, have not yet weighed in on this case.
Pate said he has had three attempts to get cases before the Ohio Supreme Court in his 20 years as an attorney.
�Twice I was on the losing side, and I didn�t get in. Once I was on the winning side and the others didn�t get in,� said Pate.
�If this works, it works,� said Pate, adding that if it doesn�t, he will not likely pursue the matter in a federal court.
Cincinnati--Scott E. Knox, who has built a successful practice serving the needs of the LGBT community in southwest Ohio, was named as one of Ohio Lawyers Weekly�s Attorneys of the Year for 2002.
The journal honored the openly gay Cincinnati attorney for two pro bono cases in which LGBT people were denied routine name changes.
The first case involved Belinda and Jennifer Rylen, formerly Priddy and Bicknell respectively. The two women, one of whom was pregnant by artificial insemination, wanted to share a name created by fusing letters of their two names together.
The Butler County magistrate who originally heard the case, Charles L. Pater, cited �natural law� and �divine edict� in denying the name change. Ohio law, however, says that name changes can be made for any reason as long as fraud is not the intent.
Knox fought the case to the Ohio Supreme Court, which ruled 6-1 on July 31 that the women could share a common last name.
Knox also won an Ohio Supreme Court case for a Butler County transgendered woman who wanted to change her name from a man�s to a woman�s. Magistrate Pater again denied the name change, citing �divine edict,� meaning �against God�s law.�
Ohio Lawyer�s Weekly also noted his participation in several LGBT and AIDS organizations, including AIDS Volunteers of Cincinnati. Knox was one of the major sponsors of AVOC�s Red Ribbon Walk, and staff members at the organization call him a crusader.
�That totally blew me away,� said Knox of the honor. �I just felt lucky more than anything that I got matched up with the clients, instead of them going to someone who�d say, �Sure, I�ll take your case for a $10,000 retainer plus expenses.� �
�The system�s expensive, and that�s why the bad guys win so much,� he continued. �I had a lot of help from good people, thank God.�
Fired TG woman sues county for sex, race discrimination
Cleveland--A transsexual woman is suing Cuyahoga County and two of its employees, claiming discrimination on the basis of race, sex, and disability.
Susan Myers, 60, was fired by the Cuyahoga County Department of Health and Human Services on April 18, 2000.
Her federal civil rights suit was filed January 6 in the United States District Court of northern Ohio. It contends that after working for the county for 16� years without incident, Myers was discharged by supervisors who disliked her because she is white, non-Spanish speaking, gender non-conforming and suffered from clinical depression.
Myers� attorney Randi Barnabee of Macedonia said that after the termination another co-worker, a priest, said that Myers was referred to by her supervisors as �he-she.� Myers transitioned to female in the 1970s.
Named as defendants are the county, the county commissioners, Elsie Caraballo, Myers� immediate supervisor at the time of the termination, and Caraballo�s manager Luis Vazquez.
The claim is brought under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act for the county�s alleged failure to accomodate Myers� depression, and further claims that the work environment worsened the condition.
The suit also claims that Myers� race and non-Spanish-speaking status should have been protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The claim that Myers did not conform with her employer�s gender stereotyped expectations is also brought under Title VII of the 1964 act.
Last June, Myers became the first transsexual in the nation to satisfactorily settle a gender stereotype discrimination suit under the 1964 act.
Myers, with Barnabee as counsel, settled that suit against United Consumer Financial Services of Westlake, Ohio, where workers referred to her as �Mrs. Doubtfire.�
Myers got the job at UCFS after being fired by the county. In the suit against UCFS, Myers was known as �Jane Doe� in order to protect her interests in the current suit. Since the settlement, her name was added to the case.
�There are a couple of themes in this case,� Barnabee said of the county�s dismissal.
�[Myers] was once a peer of Caraballo�s,� said Barnabee, �Later, [Myers] was promoted to her supervisor, then the two competed for the same position, which Caraballo ultimately got.�
Barnabee said Myers� job involved making decisions on eligibility for county services, so much of it was subjective. Barnabee believes this allowed her supervisors to assemble reasons to fire her.
The suit says that Vazquez and Caraballo, upon becoming Myers� supervisor, began systematically finding fault with her work and deliberately creating a stressful work environment.
Myers further contends that a county psychiatrist recommended that she move to a different department to avoid the stress that was worsening her depression, but her supervisors refused to do so.
The suit also alleges that Caraballo, who is Hispanic and Spanish speaking, routinely disfavored non-Hispanics.
Barnabee said that although Myers transitioned long before beginning work at the county, and was very private about her personal life, �Caraballo and Vazquez�s shared disdain for her gender expression was . . . the basis for termination.�
The county�s stated reason for firing Myers was that she was rude to customers.
�It is sort of a �conduct unbecoming� kind of allegation,� said Barnabee, �but in reality, she had been a model employee until Caraballo became her supervisor. Then suddenly her work was substandard.�
The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Patricia Gaughan in Cleveland, and may take more than a year to resolve.
Cuyahoga County Assistant Prosecutor Jim Cochran said neither he nor any of the defendants have seen the complaint yet, so he declined comment on it.
But he noted that a civil service board of review was held for Myers before any court action could be taken. The administrative judge in that review ruled that the termination was appropriate, Cochran said.
Myers has retired and now lives in Chillicothe. Barnabee noted that the damages she suffered include not being eligible for additional retirement benefits or the early buyout offered to county employees after she was fired.
Compiled from wire reports by Brian DeWitt, Anthony Glassman and Patti Harris.
Shareholders pressure ExxonMobil
New York City--The city employees� retirement system, which holds large blocks of stock in several major corporations as part of its pension program, is pushing ExxonMobil to add sexual orientation to its non-discrimination policies.
The group filed a shareholder resolution to add the category earlier this month, the fifth time ExxonMobil has faced such a move.
When Mobil merged with Exxon in 1999, it became the only major corporation in the nation to drop �sexual orientation� from its anti-bias policy. The new oil company also closed Mobil�s partner-inclusive health benefits to new enrollment.
The pension fund is also trying to get seven other companies to expand their written non-discrimination policies, including J.C. Penney, Reliant Energy and American Electric Power, headquartered in Columbus.
Another company, Dynegy, Inc., voluntarily changed their policy after being notified of the pension fund�s intention to introduce a shareholder resolution.
The pension fund also led a shareholder resolution at Cracker Barrel that led to the restaurant chain�s November decision to add sexual orientation to its anti-bias policy. The company became infamous ten years ago for firing workers that didn�t uphold �normal heterosexual values.�
Baptists riled by rights proposal
Nashville, Tenn.--A plan to add �sexual orientation� to this city�s list of classes protected from job and housing discrimination has angered the Southern Baptist Convention, which calls the city home.
About 150 employees of the convention�s executive committee work in Nashville, as do about 1,500 employees of LifeWay Christian Resources, the denomination�s publishing arm.
Baptists and other conservative religious leaders are fighting a proposed Nashville anti-discrimination ordinance that supporters say has a simple purpose: ensuring equal opportunity for housing and employment. The ordinance has passed two of three required city council readings.
Opponents say the ordinance, in its present form, would violate the U.S. Constitution by requiring religious groups who consider homosexuality a sin to hire gays and lesbians.
The measure�s lead sponsor, Councilman Chris Ferrell, said that�s not the intent and he will add a religious exemption before the final vote Jan. 21.
�I�m not going to be in the position of telling anybody what their theology has to be,� Ferrell said.
About 240 U.S. cities and counties have adopted anti-discrimination measures protecting gays, including the Southern cities of Atlanta, Louisville, Ky., and Charleston, S.C.
Repeal of U.K. �no promo� law sought
London--Prime Minister Tony Blair�s government said January 7 it seeks to repeal a law that bars the use of public funds to �promote homosexuality,� saying it served no purpose and offended gays.
The measure, known as Section 28, also bars schools from teaching the �acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.�
Local Government Minister Nick Raynsford said the measure served no purpose and �gives considerable offense to many people whose lifestyle is stigmatized by this provision.�
Raynsford�s announcement came during debate in the House of Commons over a bill on new powers for local government. The government did not offer legislation to repeal the provision, but Raynsford said it would support an appropriate amendment.
The law dates to 1988 when the Conservatives were in power and Margaret Thatcher was prime minister. Conservative Party spokesman Eric Pickles said the Tories would reserve judgment for now.
Labor legislator David Lepper, who also favors the measure�s repeal, said it has functioned mainly as a �powerful symbol of prejudice and discrimination against gay and lesbian people.�
Cause of death disputed
Los Angeles--Controversy has flared up over the December 26 death of gay photographer Herb Ritts.
The press, both straight and gay, reported the cause of death as �complications from pneumonia,� as stated by Ritts� publicist and his doctor.
A few days later, however, another friend of Ritts acknowledged that the famed photographer had been HIV positive for a number of years, but denied that the death was HIV-related.
Stephen Huvane told the Advocate, �He had only been in the hospital for a few days before he passed away. Herb was HIV positive, but this particular pneumonia was not PCP [pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, which afflicts people with AIDS]. But at the end of the day, his immune system was compromised.�
�He died from complications of pneumonia, but he had been living with HIV for many years,� Huvane concluded.
Michelangelo Signorile, a prominent gay columnist, charged that it was a return to Reagan-era euphemistic reporting of the cause of death of AIDS casualties.
Hate crime exhibit unveiled
Detroit--In honor of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.�s birthday, Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays is unveiling �Moved to Remember: Expressions of Determination to End Hate Violence� at a January 20 celebration co-hosted by the NAACP.
Hester Wheeler, the president of the Detroit chapter of the NAACP, will present the keynote speech at the event, which will feature the first public exhibition of �Moved to Remember.�
The collection of artwork was created at the P-FLAG national conference in Columbus last year. Conference attendees were invited to create a piece of artwork dealing with hate crimes and violence.
The evening will also feature music and spoken word artists, and will be followed by a reception.
�Moved to Remember� is expected to make its Ohio debut in September, in conjunction with P-FLAG�s 30th anniversary celebration.
Definition of �spouse� to be tested
New York City--A motion filed January 9 will test the definition of spouse under New York�s wrongful-death laws.
Conrad Spicehandler died under mysterious circumstances at St. Vincent�s Hospital in Manhattan in February, 2002, after being brought in for a broken leg incurred by a hit-and-run. He went through two surgeries on separate days, and was expected to leave the hospital shortly, when he was found dead in his room the morning of February 15.
His partner, John Langan, with the aid of Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, filed a wrongful death suit against the hospital. The hospital claims that Langan does not have legal standing to file the suit, since he and Spicehandler were not legally married.
Lambda argues, however, that New York�s rules on standing in wrongful death suits are very flexible, and that the evidence of 15 years of commingled finances, powers of attorney, wills and insurance policies reflecting each other as beneficiaries, as well as a 2000 civil union in Vermont, more than qualify Langan as a spouse.
One man led Araujo killing, D.A. says
Fremont, Calif.--Michael Magidson, 22, one of four men charged with the murder of transgendered teen Gwen Araujo, 17, was the first to punch the young victim and tied a rope around her neck, deputy district attorney Connie Campbell said at a January 7 bail hearing for Magidson.
Campbell also said that Magidson was seen strangling Araujo, and charged that he was a violent young man who had gotten into a fight on the jail bus.
Superior Court Judge Dennis McLaughlin agreed to allow bail for Magidson against Campbell�s protests, noting that he was required to consider bail, since the trial is not a capital case.
McLaughlin said he would determine the amount of bail after evaluating Magidson�s parents� worth, who had agreed to put up their property to ensure that their son would be present for all hearings.
McLaughlin also said that he would have as a bail requirement the stipulation that Magidson enter an alcohol rehabilitation program and that he would not be allowed to contact any witnesses in the case.
Magidson, along with Jason Nabors, 19, Jos� Merel, 23, and Jason Cazares, 22, are charged with killing Araujo at a party on October 3 after discovering that she was biologically male. They hid the body in a shallow grave in foothills a hundred miles away, where Nabors led police on October 16.
Trial ordered in ball bat attacks
Los Angeles--Two men accused of separate baseball bat attacks on a gay man and a transgender person were ordered on January 10 to stand trial on charges carrying hate crime enhancements.
Superior Court Judge William Fahey found there was sufficient evidence to require Ever Rivera, 20, and Selvin Campos, 19, both of Los Angeles, to stand trial on two counts each of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of second-degree robbery.
The hate crime enhancements were added to the charges after prosecutors concluded the attackers thought their victims were gay.
The attacks occurred in October just east of West Hollywood, where a Sept. 1 attack on a gay actor is being prosecuted as a robbery and assault, but without hate crime enhancements. The decision by county District Attorney Steve Cooley not to file hate crime charges in that case prompted picketing of Cooley�s office and a petition drive to recall him.
In the first case involving Rivera and Campos, the victim testified that he was struck in the head Oct. 13 with a bat by a pair of assailants who took his house key after he ran home and left the keys in the door as he hurried inside. The man said he received 14 stitches for his injuries.
Shortly after that attack, a 19-year-old transgender person told police that anti-gay slurs were hurled during another baseball bat attack. The judge also ordered Rivera to stand trial on separate assault and robbery charges stemming from a third Oct. 9 attack on TG person.
Rivera remain jailed in lieu of $185,000 bail and Campos remains behind bars in lieu of $135,000. Both are scheduled to appear back in court Jan. 24.
Monique Wittig dies at 67
Phoenix--Monique Wittig, a leading French feminist, social theorist and novelist whose writings are highly regarded in the gay and lesbian civil rights movement, died of a heart attack in Tucson on Jan. 3. She was 67.
Wittig, who moved to the U.S. from France in the mid-1970s, held radical views, including the idea that �lesbians are not women� but a separate class of people unbound by traditional notions of gender.
�She picked up where Simone de Beauvoir left off,� said Julia Balen, associate director of the women�s studies program at the University of Arizona, where Wittig taught for the last 12 years.
De Beauvoir wrote the pioneering feminist manifesto The Second Sex.
Wittig held various visiting professorships in the U.S. before joining the University of Arizona faculty in 1990.
AP staffers return diversity key chains
Washington, D.C.--Hundreds of Associated Press staff members have returned key chains the press agency gave them to celebrate diversity, asking instead for the company to extend health benefits to domestic partners of employees.
The key chains, which have a small red light and the motto, �AP Diversity: Many views, one vision,� were sent out last month in the midst of bargaining between AP and the News Media Guild, the union representing most of its employees.
�The irony of it is simply too much to bear,� said Jim Supanick, a New York City AP staff member.
The guild included a request for domestic partner benefits in their proposals for a new contract, and contend that AP is once again ignoring the request.
�As long as AP�s policy is all chain and no key, doors remain closed,� wrote the Washington, D.C. bureau staff in a letter accompanying their returned key chains. Over 50 members of the office refused to accept the gifts.
Accused serial killer to be indicted
Trenton, N.J.--A man accused of being a serial killer of gay men will be indicted in New Jersey for two murders committed in the 1990s.
New Jersey prosecutors are asking a grand jury to indict Richard W. Rogers for two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Thomas R. Mulcahy and Anthony E. Marrero.
Both men were last seen alive in Manhattan, Mulcahy at a gay bar and Marrero outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal. The men�s remains were found in New Jersey in 1992 and 1993, respectively.
Rogers is also the prime suspect in three other killings dating back to the 1980s, but he has yet to be charged in connection with any of them.
The investigation was believed dead until an interdepartmental task force used advanced methods to lift fingerprints from the bags in which the victims� body parts were found. They matched Rogers, whose prints were on file from a 1973 murder in Maine, of which he was acquitted.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association�s likely hits and misses
The Golden Globe nominations this year, given annually by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for outstanding achievements in television and cinema, have heavily recognized gay-themed entertainment and characters. Some openly gay stars and directors have also received the prestigious nominations, which are usually considered a good forecaster for the upcoming Oscars and Emmys.
The nominations are from an eclectic assortment of films and television shows. The association also nominates film achievement separately for drama and comedies/musicals. These are the nominations for motion pictures, with a prediction of who will win compared to who should win.
Best Drama: About Schmidt, Gangs of New York, The Hours, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, The Pianist.
Gangs of New York, an absolute piece of cinematic tripe by talented director Martin Scorsese, belongs in the worst five films of the decade, not here. But the Hollywood Foreign Press Association likes to nominate high-profile auteurs even when their work is completely sub-par.
The Hours, based on Michale Cunningham�s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, is a moving story of three different women revolving around Virgina Woolf. Gay director Stephen Daldry, who previously directed the brilliant Billy Elliot, has proven with his sophomore outing that he is here to stay.
About Schmidt is a quirky little film about Americana that is quietly effective but not flashy enough to win the prize here. The Pianist, which won the top honor at Cannes is unlikely to win as well.
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers is simply superb and should struggle with The Hours for the main prize. But watch the association suck up to Scorsese by giving Gangs the top honor, which would be a crime far worse than any depicted in the film.
The most blatant omission from this category is the brilliant Far From Heaven by out Ohio director Todd Haynes. It is quite likely that many of the association�s members simply didn�t get Haynes� homage to the sultry studio melodramas of the 1950s. Steven Spielberg�s Minority Report should have won a nomination over Gangs as well.
Best Musical/Comedy: About a Boy, Adaptation, Chicago, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Nicholas Nickleby
Adaptation, directed by the brilliantly talented Spike Jonz (who previously directed Being John Malkovich) is an effectively neurotic film about identity crises and the world of making novels into films. Buoyed by strong performances, the film has a good chance at winning especially if the association wants to reward young talent, something they like to do in at least one of the categories each year.
Nicholas Nickleby is an amazingly beautiful period film that is a great example of how classics should be brought to the big screen.
I would give the amazing musical Chicago the top honor here and the foreign press association is likely to do the same. A huge cult classic with gay audiences, Chicago has an overall sensibility that is very, very gay. If the association is in the mood to honor a true Cinderella success story, watch for My Big Fat Greek Wedding to upset.
Best Actor in a Drama: Adrien Brody (The Pianist), Michael Caine (The Quiet American), Daniel Day Lewis (The Gangs of New York), Leonardo DiCaprio (Catch Me If You Can), Jack Nicholson (About Schmidt)
Daniel Day Lewis, a hot favorite with the foreign press group, came out of retirement to do Gangs with Scorsese and it is a performance which, like the film, is awful--a complete cartoon and caricature. But he is most likely to win.
If the association wants to reward youth and a huge celebrity--something they like to do to keep the broadcast�s ratings high--then look for DiCaprio to win.
The real competition is between Caine in his best performance yet and Nicholson who has reined in his quirky tics to create an effective and mesmerizing study of a man in the twilight of his life. This is perhaps the most open category of the evening. I would give Brody the edge over these nominees.
Best Actress in a Drama: Salma Hayek (Frida), Nichole Kidman (The Hours), Diane Lane (Unfaithful), Julianne Moore (Far From Heaven), Meryl Streep (The Hours)
Four out of the five nominations here are queer-related. Hayek�s turn as the bisexual artist was a true revelation and the association may want to award one of the few people of color nominated this year. Kidman as Virginia Woolf is unrecognizable and could win. Streep, who plays a woman throwing a party for a friend dying of AIDS in The Hours, is flawless as always. She has also been nominated in the supporting actress category for Adaptation.
Lane doesn�t belong here. I would have nominated the amazing Isabelle Huppert for her stunning portrayal of a woman with S&M fetishes who borders on the edge of insanity in The Piano Teacher.
The association is likely to reward Julianne Moore�s impeccable performance as a 1950s Connecticut suburban housewife who is attracted to her black gardener and whose husband is drifting away from her because of his dawning awareness of his homosexuality. If they give it to Moore I would whole-heartedly concur, although I would prefer her to tie with Streep.
Best Actor in a Musical/Comedy: Nicholas Cage (Adaptation), Kieran Culkin (Igby Goes Down), Richard Gere (Chicago), Hugh Grant (About a Boy), Adam Sandler (Punch-Drunk Love)
Sandler turned in the most unexpected performance of the year and the foreign press group does like to reward high profile, big-money stars. This will probably edge him out over Cage�s double role as two very different brothers in Adaptation.
Gere returns to his musical theatre roots as the sleazy lawyer in Chicago and is gorgeous in the role. And Culkin, fast becoming one of the hottest young actors around, turned in a great performance in a small film which the director partly based on his gay brother who was inflicted with AIDS.
Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy: Maggie Gyllenhaal (Secretary), Goldie Hawn (The Banger Sisters). Nia Vardalos (My Big Fat Greek Wedding), Renee Zellweger (Chicago), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Chicago)
Unfortunately Zeta-Jones and Zellweger may cancel out each others� votes. I would tie them to win this prize. Look for the association to favor Zeta-Jones if the votes don�t split equally.
A cinematic Cinderella herself, Nia Vardalos could be the surprise winner here, especially if the association wants to reward not so much a great performance (although she is fabulous in the role) as much as a great story about how she got the film made against the odds.
Best Supporting Actor: Chris Cooper (Adaptation), Ed Harris (The Hours), Paul Newman (The Road to Perdition), Dennis Quaid (Far From Heaven), John C. Reilly (Chicago)
Harris is mediocre as the man dying of AIDS. Watch for Cooper to win. The clear winner here in my estimation is Quaid as the model suburban husband who leaves his perfect wife and family so that he may live more honestly as a gay man. Quaid�s acting is pitch perfect and deserves the Golden Globe hands down.
Best Supporting Actress: Kathy Bates (About Schmidt), Cameron Diaz (Gangs of New York), Queen Latifah (Chicago), Susan Sarandon (Igby Goes Down), Meryl Streep (Adaptation)
Latifah is good choice for this award for playing prison matron Mama in Rob Marshall�s sumptuous Chicago. Sarandon is a deserving nominee for Igby. Bates should win this award for her bravura performance but Streep could be given this award in lieu of the Best Actress one for which she is nominated.
Best Director: Stephen Daldry (The Hours), Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers), Spike Jonze (Adaptation), Rob Marshall (Chicago), Alexander Payne (About Schmidt), Martin Scorsese (Gangs of New York)
Scorsese should not be here for the worst directing I have seen in a long, long time. And where is Todd Haynes for his masterful direction of Far From Heaven? Sometimes the Hollywood Foreign Press Association just doesn�t get it, and values high profile image over true artistic talent and integrity. Pedro Almodovar, Spain�s openly gay auteur, has once again created a vivid and compelling film in Talk to Her and he should have been nominated as well.
The other nominees are worthy. Marshall has created a lush, relevant film with Chicago. Daldry who did wonders with Billy Elliot, stuns once again with a tale laced with good queer-related drama, stories, and characters. Jackson is a genius par excellence for his layered work in The Two Towers. I would, and for completely different reasons, split this award between Daldry and Jackson. Watch for the association to give this trophy to Scorsese for all the times he was snubbed in the past when he truly deserved the award.
Best Screenplay: Bill Condon (Chicago), David Hare (The Hours), Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven), Charlie Kaufman and Donald Kaufman (Adaptation), Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor (About Schmidt)
Condon, who also wrote the fabulous Oscar-nominated Gods and Monsters, has created a compelling script for an amazing musical film. David Hare has worked wonder with Cunningham�s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Hours. Haynes� script of 1950s suburban myth and dysfunction is simply Heaven.
Watch for Adaptation to win although The Hours is equally deserving. The Two Towers should have been nominated here.
Best Foreign Language Film: City of God (Brazil), Hero (China), Balzac And The Little Chinese Seamstress (France), Noweher in Africa (Germany), El Crimen Del Padre Amaro (Mexico), Talk to Her (Spain)
Almodovar�s Talk to Her is a hot contender and should win. It�s a mystery why Alphonso Cuaron�s Y Tu Mama Tambien, a queer road flick, isn�t among the nominees.
Best Original Score: 25th Hour, Far From Heaven, Frida, The Hours, Rabbit-Proof Fence
Three of the nominees are queer-related and Far From Heaven should walk away with this award for its lush and evocative score. Eminem�s 8 Mile should have been nominated here for its haunting soundtrack to an amazing film.
In the television categories, gay themed programs, characters and artists have also done well. Will and Grace and Six Feet Under have garnered major nominations and could run away with the awards this year. Gay friendly shows like Friends and West Wing are also up for major wins.
The Golden Globes, which could very well be awash in a lavender afterglow this year, will be telecast live on Sunday, January 19.
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