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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
May 16, 2003

 

Senator introduces Ohio GLB equal rights bill

Measure joins another in Ohio House as state�s first

by Eric Resnick

Columbus--A Cleveland-area state senator has introduced a bill to protect lesbian, gay and bisexual Ohioans from discrimination.

Senate Bill 77 was introduced April 29 by State Sen. Dan Brady, who represents Cleveland�s west side and west suburbs.

�Job discrimination and denial of economic opportunity on the basis of sexual orientation should be prohibited in this state,� said Brady. �And victims of this kind of discrimination, no matter what their orientation, deserve protection under the law. Human rights are for everybody.�

If passed, the bill will prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment, public accomodations, housing, and credit.

Ohio law already prohibits discrimination in those areas based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, ancestry, disability, and national origin.

Brady�s bill inserts �sexual orientation� into each section of the Ohio Revised Code where the other categories are currently listed.

�Sexual orientation� is defined as �homosexuality, bisexuality, or heterosexuality, whether the orientation is real or perceived.�

Like the proposed federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act the bill was modeled after, it does not include protection for gender identity. However, according to Brady�s legislative aide Tom Meyer, it was supposed to.

�The Legislative Services Commission drafted the bill according to Sen. Brady�s specifications, and was to include transgenders,� said Meyer. �It is his intention to include the entire rainbow in the human rights bill.�

Meyer said the bill can be amended during the committee hearings.

A similar measure was introduced in the Ohio House in March by Cleveland Democrat Dale Miller. His House Bill 147 includes gender identity.

The two bills are the first of their kind ever introduced into the Ohio House or Senate.

Co-sponsors of Brady�s bill are Senate Democratic Leader Greg DiDonato of New Philadelphia, Leigh Herington of Ravenna, Marc Dann of Liberty, Robert Hagan of Youngstown, Teresa Fedor of Toledo, C.J. Prentiss of Cleveland, and Eric Fingerhut of Shaker Heights. All are Democrats.

The bill has been assigned to the Judiciary Civil Justice Committee, which is chaired by Republican Sen. David Goodman of Columbus. Herington is the ranking Democrat on that committee.

The bill provides an exemption to religious and fraternal organizations, which are already exempted from civil rights laws protecting race, color, religion, sex, familial status, ancestry, disability, and national origin.

The Ohio Civil Rights Commission would be responsible for enforcement of the law, as well as regular reporting as to the effect of discrimination based on sexual orientation throughout the state.

Brady said his bill is a counter to the so-called Defense of Marriage Act introduced in the Ohio Senate in March. That bill would deny recognition of same-sex marriages or civil unions made in another state, and could outlaw domestic partner benefits in Ohio.

�It is time to put the right on the defensive and make them answer questions as to why they don�t support basic civil rights,� said Brady.

Presently, 14 states and the District of Columbia include sexual orientation in their civil rights laws. Three also include gender identity. Eleven Ohio cities have similar ordinances, covering a sixth of the state�s population.

Brady expects Goodman to schedule hearings on the bill soon.


 

Community leaders upset with Columbus officials

Bathhouse controversy revealed city�s �false promises,� says Stonewall�s Anderson

by Eric Resnick

Columbus--In the wake of a controversy over a gay bathhouse, the city�s gay, lesbian bisexual and transgender leaders say they are displeased with Columbus elected officials, and are organizing to deal with accumulating grievances.

According to Stonewall Columbus director Kate Anderson, the city mishandled the new Flex bathhouse�s dispute with Driving Park neighborhood groups. She said this is the most recent in a long line of �false promises� from city officials, who she said have taken GLBT campaign contributions, then done little in support.

The bathhouse reopened May 7 after closing voluntarily for a month so the city could help resolve the dispute with the groups, which wanted it closed permanently. Flex management said they saw no activity on the city�s part.

Anderson also cited the passing over of openly lesbian attorney Mary Jo Hudson for appointment to a vacant city council seat in December, 2002. Hudson had not been promised the seat, but openly gay attorney Elliott Fishman and openly lesbian community activist Lynn Greer had earlier been passed over for vacant seats that were promised to them.

After the 1998 repeal of a two-month-old ordinance giving health coverage to the same-sex domestic partners of city employees, the city agreed to educate the general public on the issue.

Anderson said the city has failed to do that, and has acted too slowly on its new proposal to provide coverage to all members of employees� households, including same-sex domestic partners.

The household benefits proposal came about in spring 2002, following a Community Relations Commission ruling that the city violated its own non-discrimination law by not offering health coverage �to domestic partners of homosexuals.�

That ruling came from a 1997 complaint filed by James Hartman. The city is appealing that ruling, according to Anderson, �as a political maneuver to slow down the process long enough to see what happens to the household benefits.�

Anderson said the city has also not made good on a $600,000 operations grant made to Stonewall in 2000.

�We were supposed to get $100,000 a year for six years,� said Anderson. �So far, we have gotten a total of $80,000.�

�No minority community gives more,� said Anderson, �but we are the last ones to get our needs met.�

Anderson said elected city officials interpret the 2002 Democratic primary loss of openly gay Ohio House candidate Chad Foust as a sign that the GLBT community cannot get the vote out.

Foust lost the race to Dan Stewart, who went on to represent the 25th District, which includes the gay Short North neighborhood.

�But the piece that has energized the community is the public contempt by council members who say they our issues will not be pushed forward unless we make them do it,� said Anderson.

Anderson said there have been some openly gay appointments to commissions, and attorney Brian Shinn serves as the GLBT liason to Mayor Michael Coleman and his staff.

�But they are few in comparison to other minorities.�

Anderson also expressed concern that GLBT city employees are fearful to be out at work, and do not feel protected by the city�s non-discrimination ordinance.

Anderson, Shinn, and Stonewall board chair Rob Berger met with Coleman May 8 to discuss these matters.

Anderson said Coleman understood the issues, but �found our complaints personally offensive and said so many times, because we said GLBT momentum has stalled under his administration.�

Coleman spokesperson Mike Brown said the three presented the city with a list of 16 items they were displeased about.

�The mayor was taken aback by the rhetoric and the lack of respect for the history of our record on the issues,� said Brown. �And some of the issues we are already working on.�

Shinn said the biggest problems he sees are the communication gaps between the GLBT community and city government.

�There are perceptions that the city is not following through,� said Shinn, �but there is follow-through.�

Shinn added, �I walk the line between advocating for my community and being a productive member of the mayor�s administration.�

�They [Stonewall] have high expectations,� said Brown, �and we continue to embrace that. Even though they don�t feel like we�re out fighting for them every day doesn�t mean that we aren�t doing inside fighting.�

A dozen GLBT leaders met May 10 to discuss political strategy.

�We discussed short, medium, and long-term goals,� said Anderson.

Strategies discussed include managing GLBT political contributions in such a way that the candidates know how much more they would have gotten had they pushed harder on GLBT issues.

Anderson said candidates often do not know how much of their campaign contributions came from GLBT community members.

�We are also recruiting openly gay candidates to run for city seats in 2005, and we are targeting a candidate to take out,� said Anderson.

Anderson said they are also considering a ballot initiative to amend the city�s charter to a city council elected by ward, instead of at large.

�We might get better representation that way,� said Anderson.

The household benefits committee is expected to make its recommendations public in late May.

Stonewall�s May 21 board meeting will be devoted to a town hall for the purpose of discussing issues of concern and beginning the process of ranking them in order of priority.


New adult ordinance may close Toledo�s only baths

by Anthony Glassman

Toledo--An ordinance designed to curb illegal activity around strip clubs and adult theaters may result in the closing of Toledo�s only gay men�s bathhouse.

The ordinance, which passed unanimously on January 21, contains a number of provisions to regulate adult-oriented businesses, including specifying the minimum height of stages, the distance dancers must keep from patrons while naked, the conditions of booths in adult video arcades and dozens of other regulations.

The part of the ordinance that most concerns the management of the Diplomat, however, is one requiring adult-oriented businesses to close between 2:30 and 6 am if they have no liquor license. Adult-oriented businesses with liquor licenses can stay open only during the hours they can serve alcohol.

The Diplomat, like most gay bathhouses, is open 24 hours a day.

�Well, it�s going to hurt majorly because we�ll have to close 30 hours a week,� said a manager at the Diplomat, who would identify himself only as Charlie.

According to him, the ordinance, which takes effect for existing businesses July 21, would cost the establishment half its business. He said that the Diplomat would likely close in July.

Mike Beazley, Toledo�s clerk of council, said that the Diplomat did not come up in discussions about the ordinance, which was aimed primarily at adult businesses in residential areas.

�Sex businesses can cause or contribute significantly to the deterioration of residential neighborhoods, can impair the quality of such neighborhoods and the housing located therein, and can inhibit the proper maintenance and growth of such neighborhoods,� the ordinance reads, citing a city-mandated study entitled the �Toledo Sex Business Report.�

The report also noted that businesses of a sexual nature promote �unlawful and unhealthy activities.� The ordinance�s intent was primarily to curb prostitution at adult-oriented businesses, as well as sex acts initiated in the businesses but continued outside the premises. Beazley mentioned a number of complaints from residents about used condoms found on the streets in neighborhoods near strip clubs and adult bookstores.

Gay bathhouse patrons, however, stay inside the club, often using private rooms that rent like hotel rooms. Many bathhouses are a focal point of safe-sex education for AIDS service organizations. Both men�s clubs in Cleveland, Club Cleveland and Flex, work closely with the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland to provide HIV testing, hepatitis vaccinations and safe-sex workshops, as well as distributing large quantities of free condoms.

�They were always really involved,� said Ray Wolf, CEO of Club Cleveland, of the founders of his facility. He pointed to their work with syphilis and gonorrhea prevention in the decades before HIV appeared.

Another issue with the Toledo ordinance is the Diplomat�s location. The facility is located in an industrial zone, not near a residential neighborhood.

While Wolf questioned the enforceability of the ordinance in regards to a private club, Beazley believes that it would stand up.

�In a preliminary view, the status as a private club would not affect the enforcement of the ordinance,� Beazley said.

�If it was here [in Cleveland],� Wolf said, �we�d have our attorneys contact the city law director and say, let�s talk.�

�These ordinances come up and a lot of times they�re unconstitutional,� he noted. �It�s up to the courts to interpret the law.�


Bar owner pleads guilty in boy prostitution case

by Anthony Glassman

Cleveland--The owner of a neighborhood bar alleged to be a center for underage male prostitution pleaded guilty May 8 to 14 charges, facing three to ten years in prison.

Lyn Ernsberger, 62, the owner of Marshall McCarron�s Tavern in the Ohio City neighborhood, was charged with theft, corrupting people with drugs, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, racketeering and prostitution-related offenses.

As part of his plea agreement, Ernsberger will sell the bar, which was closed June 10, 2002, by Cuyahoga County sheriff�s deputies as a public nuisance. Ernsberger must also testify, if called, against Rev. Daniel McBride, 76, who is alleged to have picked up a 17-year-old male at the bar and taken him to a house in Chautauqua, N.Y. to have sex.

McBride is the only priest indicted after a 17-month investigation of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese following the recent spate of sex scandals in the Catholic church across the U.S.

Two other people charged in the McCarron�s case, Robert Shoup and John McKenzie, both took plea bargains and agreed to testify against McBride.

Cuyahoga and Cleveland law enforcement officials discovered the goings-on at the tavern during an investigation of sexual misconduct at the Parmadale Family Services youth home, which is run by Catholic Charities in the Cleveland suburb of Parma. While none of the boys in the Parmadale investigation were involved with patrons of McCarron�s, they told investigating officers about the bar.

�The boys knew that they could find a place to stay or money for sex at a West Side bar,� said Lieutenant Doug Burkhart, head of the Cuyahoga County Sheriff�s sex crimes unit, late last year. �We thought it was a gay bar, but it turned out to be Marshall McCarron�s.�

Burkhart noted that it was McBride�s indictment that returned focus to the bar, which had been closed for months by that point.

Some neighbors of the bar had earlier complained to authorities about late-night traffic, drug use, sexual activity on the patio and young men urinating out of second-story windows.

Ernsberger and his attorney claimed that he was being targeted because he is openly gay, and that he bears no responsibility for the actions of his patrons or guests.������

Eric Resnick contributed to this story.


Judge dismisses suit against Indiana marriage ban

Indianapolis--A judge dismissed a lawsuit challenging Indiana�s ban on recognizing same-sex unions, ruling that state law clearly defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

The state is justified in allowing only opposite-sex couples to marry, Marion County Superior Court Judge S.K. Reid ruled May 7.

Such a law, the ruling said, �promotes the state�s interest in encouraging procreation to occur in a context where both biological parents are present to raise the child.�

The Indiana Civil Liberties Union said it would appeal the dismissal.

�Same-sex couples in a committed relationship are no different than married couples. The time has come to recognize that,� said ICLU attorney Ken Falk.

Vermont is the only state that allows such unions. Thirty-seven states, including Indiana, have passed laws expressly prohibiting same-sex marriages. There are over 10,000 same-sex households in Indiana, according to the 2000 census.

The lawsuit was filed in August by Teresa Stephens and Ruth Morrison; David Wene and David Squire, who entered into a civil union in Vermont in 2000; and Charlotte Egler and Dawn Egler, who also had a civil union ceremony in Vermont in 2000.

The lawsuit sought to press Indiana to lift its ban on gay marriages, or at least to recognize civil unions entered into in other states.

The state�s failure to recognize their relationships, they note, can result in denial of insurance and other benefits, as well as having medical and other decisions disregarded in favor of blood relatives.

Similar cases are pending in New Jersey and Massachusetts. No states grant same-sex couples the same rights enjoyed by married heterosexual partners, although a few offer some rights and protections.

--Associated Press


News Briefs

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

74% of Americans support ending sodomy laws

Rochester, N.Y.--An April survey of over 2,000 people found an overwhelming majority supporting a repeal of sodomy laws.

The Witeck-Combs study indicated that 74% favor the Supreme Court overturning state sodomy laws that discriminate against gay people.

The survey also showed that 87% opposed laws governing the activities of opposite-sex couples in their home, while 82% oppose such laws being applied to same-sex couples in committed relationships.

�Even when we exclude respondents who self-identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, support for overturning state sodomy laws does not change significantly,� said Witeck-Combs vice president Darin Johnson.

Seven percent of those surveyed identified as LGBT in the survey conducted between April 17 and 23. Of those who identified as Republican, 75% oppose state regulation of private, consensual sexual activity between same-sex couples in domestic partnerships, compared to 88% of Democrats and 70% who consider themselves �conservative.�

Gephardt�s daughter to campaign

Washington, D.C.--Rep. Dick Gephardt said his lesbian daughter would seek backing for him from the nation�s gay community as he campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination.

�Chrissy is a lesbian. She�s a great young woman. She�s doing great work,� Gephardt said May 8 on CNBC�s Capital Report. �I�m very proud of her and I want her help in the campaign. She�s going to help with gay and lesbian people, but she�s going to help with people all over the country.�

�She�s going to be active in the campaign,� Gephardt added of Chrissy Gephardt, a 30-year-old social worker he said �makes a great presentation� and �cares a lot about the health-care issue� and welfare programs.

Gephardt�s campaign web site, in a section about his family, makes a brief reference to Chrissy�s partner, Amy.

Gephardt has told the Boston Globe he does not support gay marriage but does back civil unions, saying �it�s basic decency.� Gephardt last year was among co-sponsors of a bill that would extend benefits to partners of gay federal employees.

Vice President Dick Cheney, a Republican, has a gay daughter, Mary, who worked for him in the 2000 campaign. She traveled with her father full-time as his personal aide, but did not speak publicly.

Teen stabbed at bus stop

Newark, N.J.--Authorities obtained an arrest warrant May 13 for a man who they believe fatally stabbed a teenager early May 11 after she and her friends rebuffed his advances and said they were lesbians.

Richard McCullough, 29, of Newark, faces murder and weapons charges. He also faces bias intimidation charges because authorities determined that the teenager�s sexual orientation played a role in the killing. McCullough was identified by witnesses.

A second man also was questioned by police but has not been charged. That man, whose name was not released, was with McCullough when the two drove up to the victim, Sakia Gunn, 15, and four other teenage girls at around 3:30 a.m. The teenagers were waiting for a bus in Newark after a night out in Greenwich Village, Glenn said.

Sakia, a sophomore at West Side High School, was stabbed in the chest and died a short time later at University Hospital in Newark.

The two men fled in a white station wagon, which was later recovered.

Sakia lived with her mother and grandmother in the Vailsburg section of Newark.

State won�t issue P-FLAG car tags

Baton Rouge, La.--Members of a House committee said Louisiana already has too many specialty automobile license plates as they voted down a bill to provide a plate commemorating Parents, Familes and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

The bill by Rep. Melinda Schwegmann, DNew Orleans, would have assessed a special $25 annual fee on top of the normal vehicle registration fee. The proceeds from the added fee would have gone for scholarships, educational programs and advocacy.

Rep. Jim Tucker, R-Algiers, was among the opponents. Tucker said the ever-growing number of specialty plates can cause headaches for law enforcement. Problems are cropping up with repetition of numbers on various plates, he said.

The Rev. Grant Storms, a minister and spokesman for Christians Concerned for Reform, asked the panel to reject the bill as being part of the �homosexual agenda.�

The vote against the bill was 11-2.

Court to rule on 2nd-parent adoption

Sacramento, Calif.--The California Supreme Court was asked May 7 to nullify thousands of second-parent adoptions in which both members of a same-sex couple have gained parental standing.

Attorneys argued to the seven justices that there was never any law on the books authorizing such adoptions in the first place. California�s adoption laws, the attorneys argued, stemmed from an 80-year-old state Supreme Court decision that dealt with married couples.

The California Legislature has, since that decision, authorized adoptions for single parents and step-parents. But lawmakers never squarely addressed whether gays and lesbian could adopt their partners� children could adopt children until after a San Diego appeals court ruled two years ago that second-parent adoptions were illegal, the attorneys argued.

Last year, the Supreme Court put that appeals court decision on hold to decide the controversy for itself. A decision is expected within 90 days.

The case concerns a Southern California woman, Sharon S., who gave birth via artificial insemination in 1999. Her 10-year lover, Annette F., was to adopt the boy, Joshua.

The couple split up while the adoption was pending and Sharon withdrew her consent to allow her former partner to adopt. Sharon�s attorney, John Dodd, told the court that his client�s consent was invalid to begin with because there was no law allowing for second-parent adoptions.

A second-parent adoption is where a birth parent�s non-marital partner adopts the partner�s child. Under these adoptions, the birth parent retains parental rights.

Mayor�s assailant is fit for trial

Paris--Psychiatrists examining a man accused of stabbing and seriously wounding the mayor of Paris have found him fit to stand trial despite his emotional problems, judicial officials said May 9.

The examinations were the second round of psychological tests for Azedine Berkane. The first team of psychologists found him unfit for trial in December, but a judge ordered a second opinion.

The latest report by a second team of doctors said that Berkane suffers from psychological problems, but that they did not make him unaware of his actions or unable to resist violent impulses.

Berkane is accused of knifing Mayor Bertrand Delanoe at a public, all-night party at City Hall in October. Officials say he told investigators he attacked the openly gay mayor because he disliked gays.

Delanoe suffered a serious wound to the abdomen, but he recovered and returned to work in November.

It is now up to the presiding judge to weigh the contradictory findings and decide whether to send Berkane�s case to trial.


Toward finding yourself
Journeys Across the Rainbow

Inspirational Stories
for the Human Race
by Dale Colclasure and David Jensen
Rainbow Pride, $17.95 paperback

Reviewed by Kaizaad Kotwal

A collection of inspirational stories written, compiled and edited by Dale Colclasure and David Jensen offers up a smorgasbord of over 80 accounts of people living with pride in their day-to-day existence.

The book is divided into ten larger sections around the themes of love, business, friends and family, recovery, HIV, coming out, poetry, rising above, creative spirit, and spirituality. In each section is a series of testimonies by the writers, telling their own personal stories about living as or with gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender� people.

There�s a story by Dr. Reid Rasmussen titled �My Life with Calvin� in which he chronicles the 61-year relationship he shared with his lover and best friend.

The essay not only testifies to the possibility of very long-lasting relationship among gay men, but it is a lesson in adjustment and compromise to all individuals trying to make a go at these tricky things we call relationships.

Tim Gill, one of only two openly gay men on the Forbes 400 List, writes an essay about �Equality for All.� Gill, the founder of software giant Quark, Inc., speaks poignantly about his transformation from regular businessman to a citizen of the world who works tirelessly and contributes generously towards a greater equality for GLBT people in America.

The book pulls together an amazing assortment of individuals from corporate CEOs and sports players to drag queens and women living with AIDS. There are stories by older people who came out in an entirely different milieu and tales from the younger generation where the challenges of being GLBT are transforming on a daily basis.

All the essays are immensely readable. They are almost all, without exception, short and to the point.

One can read this whole book at a stretch or read it an essay at a time, finding a nugget or two of inspiration in each one. Most readers, out or otherwise, will find themselves reflected in this book at least once, if not several times.

The book is published under the banner of Rainbow Pride Press, co-founded by is authors Colclasure and Jensen. The publishing company, like this book, hopes to help people be true to themselves and to celebrate their own, unique individualities.

Although all the essays tackle different experiences from the perspectives of the individuals writing them, there are common themes that can be traced throughout. These are best summed up by Dr. Reid Rasmussen when he relates the advice he gave to a young man who asked him how to solve the confusion that comes from being young and gay.

Rasmussen gave the boy these eight pearls of wisdom, which also echo the major themes of the essays.

�Truly find your identity;

Share your life with someone special;

Grow old with each other and support one another in every way possible;

Don�t try to change the other person. Accept them for who they are, and ask them to accept you for who you are;

Make them your best friend as well as your lover;

Be comfortable in your shoes;

Be happy and proud that you are gay;

Don�t get hung up on labels.�

The book proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that the GLBT spectrum is truly as radiant as a rainbow. It is up to each and every one of us to celebrate that brilliance in ourselves and others. The writers in the book try to teach us just that lesson.

 

 

 

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