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May 23, 2003

Denying marriage is barbaric,
Innes tells HRC dinner

Cleveland--“I don’t want anyone to tell my kids they can’t marry who they love or raise a family,” actress Laura Innes told the gathering of 802 people at the tenth annual Cleveland Human Rights Campaign fundraising dinner.

Innes, who plays Dr. Kerry Weaver on the NBC drama ER, delivered the keynote address at the May 17 gala held at the Renaissance Hotel.

By relating her wishes for her own children if they were gay or lesbian, and calling the practice of excluding millions from loving marriages because of their sexual orientation “barbaric,” Innes captured the theme of the evening, which was “Building Equality Building Family.”

That theme was also carried through the committee’s choice of Bellefaire Jewish Children’s Bureau, Ohio’s largest child, youth and family service agency, as its Equality Award recipient.

Bellefaire JCB was chosen for its statewide leadership in recruiting GLBT parents. In 2001, Bellefaire’s board made the recruitment part of its official policy following years of what employees say it did “quietly.”

Accepting the award for Bellefaire was its executive director Dr. Adam Jacobs.

“We chose not to define family only by its form,” said Jacobs, “Rather, family is where there is much love to go around.”

“It’s a no-brainer,” said Jacobs, who later endorsed same-sex marriage, declaring, “Marriage between all consenting adults is right.”

U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, who represents eastern Cleveland and the east suburbs, delivered opening remarks in place of Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell, who was called out of the city at the last minute.

“Count on me,” said Tubbs Jones, “I promise that neither your voice nor mine will be silenced, because we’re going to take this [agenda for equality] to the Capitol, to the White House, and to the streets.”

The first ever Leadership Award was presented to activist John Corlett.

Presenting the award to Corlett was Tim Downing, who said, “John is the silent type. He doesn’t seek the limelight, but is always the one you go to who knows.”

Corlett, who heads the Cleveland Stonewall Democrats Political Action Committee, took shots at the anti-gay Ohio legislature.

“They tell us no sex until marriage,” said Corlett. “Then they want to tell us we cannot marry. I have one thing to tell them: It won’t work.”

Corlett also warned against the community becoming too comfortable with small cultural gains.

“In our world of Will and Grace, gay coffee shops and gay restaurants, it is easy to be happy with what [former National Gay and Lesbian Task Force director] Urvashi Vaid calls ‘virtual equality,’ ” said Corlett, “when what we need is real equality.”

Elected officials at the dinner included Cuyahoga County Common Please Judges Bridgett McCafferty and Stuart Friedman, Cuyahoga County Auditor Frank Russo, U.S. Reps. Sherrod Brown and Stephanie Tubbs Jones, State Reps. Dale Miller, Michael Skindell and James Trakas, and State Sens. Jeff Armbruster and Eric Fingerhut, who is also a candidate for U.S. Senate.

Cleveland city council member Matt Zone was the captain of a table that also included council members Patricia Britt, Zachary Reed, Joseph Cimpermann, and Jay Westbrook. Member Dona Brady and Council President Frank Jackson contributed.

The event was chaired by Mary Beth Schwartz, Charlotte Wells, and Jim Downing.

Downing attributed the smaller attendance to the downward economic trends.

According to Downing, the event raised $85,000 to $87,000 for HRC’s Washington operations, and produced four new Federal Club members.

Federal Club members give at least $100 a month to be donated to candidates. A reception for 70 club members was held May 16 at a private home.

Separate contributions from Federal Club members and corporate sponsorships helped pay for tickets for Shaker Heights and Mayfield Heights high school students, Baldwin Wallace college students, and BlackOut Unlimited’s 1722 Youth Program.

Innes spoke about her character, Dr. Kerry Weaver, who is a lesbian, a person with a disability, and becoming a middle-aged woman.

Because she is not gay, Innes does not claim to know what coming out is like, except for people’s reactions to aspects of her character.

“I felt hurt when people reacted to Kerry discovering her sexuality by saying, ‘She’s not really going to be that way, is she?’ ” said Innes. “Suddenly I felt for the 15-year-old walking in her shoes and discovering their sexuality.”

Innes said she admires ER creator John Wells and NBC for taking the risk of an openly lesbian character.

“People underestimate the number of people who are offended,” said Innes. “The network gets hate mail, and for people in business, that means loss of dollars. They aren’t in it to be a social organization.”

Innes said she knows to expect homophobia from the Christian right, “but the real problem I see is the people who are ambivalent about it--those who are sleepwalking through homophobia.”


Charter Party endorses gay council candidate

Cincinnati--The Queen City’s progressive third political party endorsed an openly gay candidate for city council, John Schlagetter.

The Charter Party is also backing incumbent Jim Tarbell, who after two full terms has won respect for obtaining approval for enlarged arts spending despite cutbacks in many other city programs.

This year, the party is fielding three candidates for council. The third candidate is Christopher Smitherman.

The Charter Party favors the repeal of Article 12, which prevents the city from granting protected minority status for gay men, lesbians and bisexuals. In addition, Charter pledged a platform on May 13 with incentives to generate new jobs and businesses in its neighborhoods, continue public funding for the arts, provide higher police visibility on city streets, and offer ways to persuade police officers to live in the city. Charter also seeks restoration of recycling and other environmental projects, many of which were eliminated from the last city budget.

“We’re very happy to see the Charter Committee add the repeal of Article 12 to their platform,” said Gary Wright, co-chair of Citizens to Restore Fairness, which is working to repeal the charter amendment. “Many Charterites were among the volunteers at the polls on May 6 when we were collecting signatures needed for getting Article 12 on the ballot and off the books.”

“Schlagetter took time out from his own busy campaign to help us prepare for that very successful day for us,” added Wright. “And Chris Smitherman has also been steadfast and public about his commitment to help end discrimination against gays and lesbians here.”

Representing the region’s Stonewall Political Action Committee, Doreen Cudnik welcomed Charter’s public support for the repeal of the anti-gay measure.

“It comes as no surprise since [Charter] has consistently supported equal rights and equal access to the laws for all Cincinnatians,” she said.

Cudnik also praised Charter’s endorsements. “It was good to see Tarbell, the only member of Charter currently serving on council, support the recent expansion of the city’s hate crimes ordinance to include GLBT people. Additionally, it’s encouraging that Charter has endorsed Schlagetter, an openly gay candidate for running for a spot on Cincinnati City Council.”

Schlagetter, 39, is an East Price Hill resident who unsuccessfully ran for City Council two years ago, finishing 21st.

Tarbell, 60, was first appointed to Council in 1998. He is best known for his unsuccessful effort to build the new Reds baseball field in downtown’s upper east side Broadway Commons area instead of the riverfront, his advocacy to redevelop downtown and Over-the-Rhine, and his strong support for local arts.

He was a youth advocate in the 1970s, operating an all-ages rock emporium, the Ludlow Garage, in the now gay- and lesbian-populated Clifton neighborhood north of downtown. In 2001, Tarbell finished sixth among the 26 people vying for nine Council seats.

Schlagetter is a University of Cincinnati graduate, an architect who also teaches at the university and occasionally a radio talk show host on WDBZ-AM.

Smitherman, 35, of North Avondale is an Ohio State University graduate, who holds a master’s degree from Bowling Green State University and is a financial planner with Lincoln Financial Advisors. A political newcomer, he is married with four children.

The Charter Committee was started early in the last century to challenge a powerful Republican boss system that was often compared to New York City’s infamous Tammany Hall. After a national magazine labeled Cincinnati America’s worst-governed city, the Charter reform movement was organized, resulting in a voter-approved city charter in the mid-1920s that established the council-mayor form of government.

Article 12 of the charter, passed by voters in 1993, makes Cincinnati the only U.S. city with a charter provision specifically banning legal protections for gay, lesbian and bisexual people.

“My hope,” said Cudnik, “is that Charter’s unwavering support for the repeal of Article 12 will encourage other political parties and candidates in Cincinnati to do the same, and publicly state their opposition to Article 12 and join the effort to repeal it.”

Schlagetter joins one other openly gay Ohio candidate who has announced a run for office so far. John Farina is seeking a council seat in the Cleveland suburb of Lakewood.

There are presently four openly gay or lesbian elected officials in the state, all in northwest Ohio: Toledo City Council president Louis Escobar, Haskins mayor Kenneth Fallows, Bloomdale council member Skeeter Hunt and Oregon council member Gene Hagedorn.



Retaking White House is top subject at Democrats dinner

Columbus--Steady rain and a dark gray sky did not put a damper on the Ohio Democratic Party 2003 State Dinner on Saturday, May 17 at the Adam’s Mark Hotel in downtown Columbus. Over 1,200 people turned out to listen to a large contingent of politicians and Democratic Party officials discuss plans for taking the White House in 2004.

Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman, in an interview at the pre-dinner reception with the Gay People’s Chronicle, said that the important issue for the field of nine candidates currently vying for the Democratic presidential nomination was “to create an agenda and platform that would help him break out of the pack.”

Coleman believes that the main issue that will help the Democrats topple Bush is “security, security, security.” He included not just homeland security, but “economic security, health care security, social security, and job security.”

When asked to address specifically the issue of the GLBT community within the context of the next presidential race, Coleman said, “The security of gay and lesbian people is obviously an issue as well [because] America is a diverse group of folk. It is about everybody and the Democratic Party is truly about inclusion. The GLBT community needs to support the Democratic candidate who will ultimately make it into the White House.”

Terry McAuliffe, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, added that other major issues include “job creation, health care and education.”

Addressing GLBT concerns, McAuliffe noted that the Democratic Party has “always been very strong on gay and lesbian issues.”

“We will have tremendous outreach to the gay and lesbian community,” he continued, “as we always have had. As chair of the 2000 convention in Los Angeles, we had the most number of gays and lesbians there ever and in 2004, this will be even greater.”

McAuliffe said that the community needs to “organize to raise money and be vocal” about their needs.

McAuliffe added, “The [Bush administration’s] economic and domestic agendas have been an utter failure.” Rattling off a host of numbers, McAuliffe said, “Since [Bush] took office, 2.8 million people have lost their jobs. In addition, 40 million people are without health care and disposable income is at a ten year low. We have a $350 billion deficit, which is the highest ever, and the next largest deficit was 290 billion in 1992.”

Two of the nine Democrats vying for the presidential nomination were also present at the event, Dr. Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont, and U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Cleveland.

Due to a tight schedule, Dean held a press conference rather than individual interviews.

Dean noted that in his campaigning, he consistently runs into people who are “almost as mad at the Democratic party as they are at Bush because they believe that the party has abandoned them.”

“That’s why the Democrats desperately need someone who would be honest and not beholden to polls,” he said.

“As a governor in Vermont and as a doctor,” Dean said, “I did for our state what needed to be done to give health care to almost everyone,” he said.

Dean noted that he had signed Vermont’s civil unions law in 2000.  “In Vermont, everybody’s equal. We said that marriage is something that can only be between a man and woman but that gay couples who enter civil unions can have equal rights.”

Dean recounted his experience recently with an 80-year old veteran who had served at Normandy during World War II.

“He came up to me with tears in his eyes and thanked me for the civil union rights we had passed in Vermont,” Dean said. “If you can die on the beaches of Normandy, you should have the same rights when you come back home.”

Dean brushed aside concerns that his opposition to the war with Iraq would hurt his candidacy.

“We are not safer after the war,” he said, “because we are stuck there. Hundreds of billions have been spent there when that money could have been used here, and we don’t know what the ultimate outcome will be.”

Dean believes that one of the solutions to the crisis in funding for higher education in states like Ohio and elsewhere is to “expand the Americorps program tenfold.” He also said that states which had passed “irresponsible” tax cuts now “owed it to their people” to find solutions to crises facing education, health care and other social services.

In his speech, McAuliffe said that, “Anyone familiar with a presidential map knows that Ohio will be at the center of the storm. You are a battleground state.”

McAuliffe’s speech also lambasted Bush for having “unleashed a New McCarthyism that, under the cloak of a time of crisis and peril, has vilified and questioned the patriotism of those who have policy and political differences with him and his administration.”

McAuliffe spoke about Ohio Senator George Voinovich who, before backing down last week, had stood up to the president on his tax cut package and was questioned and attacked about his patriotism by Bush’s administration.

“I won’t put up with it, you won’t put up with it, and the American people won’t put up with it,” he added. “The countdown begins tonight, right here in the Buckeye State.”

 

 


We owe it to the next generation, GLSEN founder says

Columbus—Kevin Jennings, executive director of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, spoke to a group of about 80 people at the Hyatt Regency on May 14. Jennings shared his own experiences both as a teen and as a teacher and encouraged the audience to act.

“The previous generation of gay peoples did so much to open doors for us,” he said. “We owe it to the next generation to make our schools safer for GLBT youth.”

In a brief but moving talk to Network Columbus, a gay business group, Jennings told of his days in middle school and a Catholic high school. There he sat alone at lunch for the first two years because, “No one wanted to be near that ‘faggot.’ ”

One day, he signed up for a discussion time in church where students could talk about any issue they wanted for 15 minutes. He talked about being gay.

“After my talk, people flooded the stage; they thanked me or handed me notes,” one of which read, “For three years, I’ve been scared to invite my friends to my house because my dad was gay. You made me feel that it was ok, so this weekend, I invited my best friend over. Thank you.”

After the session, he returned to his classroom to find the chalkboard covered with writing.

“I couldn’t even look at it,” he said. “I was so scared that they would call me ‘Faggot.’”

To his surprise, the board read, “We love you Kevin,” and it was signed by every one of his classmates.

Jennings grew up in rural North Carolina, but he would make the trek north and teach at several top private schools in New England.

As a young teacher, he recalled a time when the dean asked him to rouse a perpetually late student out of his dormitory room. Jennings asked the high school sophomore, “Why are you still sleeping?”

“Because I’m tired,” the student replied.

“Well, we’re all tired, but we made it to class on time,” Jennings said.

The student said that he had been out late the night before, which intrigued Jennings, given that it was a school night.

“Where did you go last night?” He asked.

“Boston,” the student replied.

After much prodding, the student said that he had met someone in the bus station restroom, and he had gone home with him. Jennings, then a 24-year-old, second year, still closeted teacher, felt compelled to say something.

“I hope that you will use a condom,” Jennings said.

“What for?” The student replied, “My life isn’t worth saving anyhow.”

Those words would spur Jennings toward founding GLSEN in 1990. In 2003, about 1,700 gay-straight alliances, backed by GLSEN, exist across the country.

“I am proud to say that today, Ohio has the most of any state with 100,” he said. “Still, we have so much to work to do.”

He noted that in the state of Ohio, it is still legal to discriminate against a student based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Jennings suggested that people take action, whether it be lobbying for stronger legislative protections or e-mailing your former principal or superintendent.

Jennings wrapped up the event by signing copies of his newest book, Always My Child: A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Your Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered or Questioning Son or Daughter, coedited with Pat Shapiro.

 


Man held for stabbing teen who said she was lesbian

Newark, N.J.--While a man charged with stabbing a 15-year-old to death after she told him she was lesbian appeared in court, supporters of the dead girl were making plans to help other gay teens.

Richard McCullough, 29, was arraigned May 16 in state superior court on murder, bias intimidation and weapons charges. He was ordered held on $500,000 bail.

Sakia Gunn was stabbed in the chest in the early morning of May 11 at a bus stop in Newark’s busiest intersection after she, her girlfriend and three other people returned from a night out in New York City.

Authorities say McCullough was one of two men in a white car who made advances on the four girls. When they responded negatively and said that they were lesbians, he got out of the car and attacked them.

The car was later found and the driver questioned and released before McCullough was arrested.

The Rev. Jacquelyn Holland, pastor of the Liberation in Truth Unity Fellowship Church in Newark, said she and other community leaders hope to establish a neighborhood drop-in center where gay teens can come for counseling, employment help and reassurance.

“We want to let them know it’s okay to be who they are,” she said. “She didn’t do anything wrong by being a lesbian.”

Over 200 people attended a May 14 candlelight vigil for the slain girl, many of them teenagers themselves. Dressed in white or rainbow colors, the crowd gathered around four candles marking the spot where Gunn was killed.

According to Chantell Woodridge, one of the young women, she had just parted with the other four at the bus stop when she heard a commotion. She returned to find her sister Kahmya being choked by Gunn’s accused killer.

“My sister was foaming at the mouth,” Woodridge told New York’s Gay City News. “He had her by the neck. He told Sakia, ‘Come here.’ She said, ‘No, you’re not my father.’ Me and Valencia [Bailey, another teen] was fighting him. He grabbed Sakia by the neck and put a knife there. She started fighting him and got away. She swung once at him. When she tried to swing again, he stabbed her.”

Following the stabbing, the man quickly returned to his vehicle and left.

Bailey went up to a car that was stopped at a nearby intersection and asked for them to be taken to the hospital. The driver sped all five to University Hospital, but Gunn’s blood loss proved too acute.

Essex County prosecutors are pursuing hate crime enhancements in the killing.

“We want to know where the cops were,” Gunn’s uncle Anthony Hall said at the vigil, pointing out that his niece was murdered yards away from a police kiosk.

“They were supposed to be in that booth 24 hours like the mayor promised in his last campaign,” he said. “It might have saved her life.”

 


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Survey: 60% oppose sodomy laws, 88% support job rights

Princeton, N.J.--A May 15 Gallup poll backs up an earlier survey indicating that most Americans favor eliminating state sodomy laws.

Gallup’s Values and Beliefs survey indicated that 60% of respondents believe that homosexuality is an acceptable way of life and that sex between consenting adults should be legal. The figure is considerably lower than the 82% opposed to sodomy laws being imposed on committed same-sex couples that found by an April survey done by Witeck-Combs.

The Witeck-Combs survey also found 74% of respondents in favor of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning state sodomy laws. The court is expected to rule next month on a Texas law criminalizing consensual same-sex activity.

The Gallup figure, however, is significantly higher than the 43% of Americans who found homosexuality acceptable when Gallup first started asking about it in 1977, and is even higher than the 52% indicating acceptance in the same poll last year. During the Reagan administration, approval of homosexuality dropped to as low as 32%.

The current survey also showed 88% of poll respondents in favor of equal job opportunities for gay and lesbian people, similar to other Gallup polls in recent years but much higher than the 56% answering in the affirmative in 1977.

The poll also showed that a small majority of 54% believe that homosexuality should be an “acceptable alternative lifestyle.” That figure is up from 34% in 1982, when the question was introduced to differentiate between the public’s personal feelings about homosexuality and opinions on its legality.

While more Americans believe that homosexuality is an acquired trait than something inborn, the gap between the two schools is closing. In 1977, 56% believed it was acquired, while 13% believed it was inherent. The “nurture” side of the argument has now dropped to 44%, while “nature” has almost tripled, now at 36%.

In terms of recognition of and benefits for same-sex relationships, the figures fluctuate depending on which facets are being considered. According to the poll, most Americans distinctly favor granting health care and Social Security benefits to gay and lesbian couples, but roughly 60% of respondents are opposed to gay marriage. When the parallel construct of civil unions is brought up, Americans are evenly divided, with 49% of those answering the survey taking either side.

 


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News Briefs

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

Partner benefits and equal rights laws increase

Washington, D.C.--The number of U.S. employers offering health insurance to same-sex domestic partners rose by 16 percent last year, according to a study released May 16 by the nation’s largest gay and lesbian organization.

The annual report also found an increase in the number of local governments that passed laws in 2002 barring job discrimination based on sexual orientation.

At least 806 employers of all sizes expanded their health benefits in 2002 to include same-sex partners. A total of 5,698 employers offered health benefits to same-sex partners by the end of last year, according to the study by the Human Rights Campaign.

The number of Fortune 500 companies offering domestic-partner benefits to same-sex couples grew by 13 percent for a total of 169 at year’s end. ChevronTexaco Corp.; Sears, Roebuck and Co., and Procter & Gamble were among the companies that introduced the benefits.

Fifteen cities and counties enacted laws in 2002 banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, compared with eight in 2001. By the end of last year, 119 cities and 23 counties had such laws in place.

Texas foster parent ban dies

Austin, Texas--A bill that would exclude gays and lesbians from foster parenthood has died in the state legislature.

Rep. Garnett Coleman, a Democrat from Houston, said that the bill, as well as a “defense of marriage act” that was passed by the Texas legislature, are part of a right-wing assault on the gay community in the state.

Beverly Fletcher of Fort Worth told the Dallas Voice, an LGBT newspaper, that if the legislation had passed, she and her partner would leave the state.

Gay civil rights advocates warn, though, that measures to ban gays from serving as foster parents could still appear as amendments to other bills.

Shipbuilder offers partner benefits

Newport News, Va.--The nation’s second largest defense contractor announced that it will begin offering domestic partner benefits to 9,900 salaried employees at their shipyard here in 2004.

Northrop Grumman’s policy would apply both to same-sex couples and unmarried heterosexual couples. The benefits would cover dental, vision and medical insurance, but will not apply to life insurance.

The company, which builds nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers for the United State Navy, noted that it would probably offer similar benefits to the 8,600 hourly workers at its shipyard when the current contract with the United Steelworkers of America expires in July, 2004.

Northrop Grumman recently purchased TRW, which already offered the benefits, and the company thought it easier to extend them across the board than to curtail them. Lockheed Martin, the country’s largest defense contractor, and Boeing, which also does military work, both offer domestic partner benefits.

Civil rights ordinance will expire

Fort Wayne, Ind.--The city’s provisional ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation is set to expire June 1 unless the city council acts to renew it.

The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette ran an editorial in support of extending the ordinance, noting that it “helped make their lives a little easier without creating much friction during a 14-month tryout.”

“For those who feared we would be inundated with all kinds of problems, that did not occur,” said council member Tom Henry, the measure’s main sponsor.

The ordinance, which bans discrimination in housing, employment, education, public accommodations and labor union membership, made Fort Wayne the largest municipality in the state to enact civil rights protections based on sexual orientation.

General’s promotion delayed

Washington, D.C.--The general in charge of Fort Campbell when a soldier was slain in 1999 has had his promotion delayed a second time.

The Senate Armed Services Committee delayed a vote on the promotion of Maj. Gen. Robert Clark on May 16. Clark was in command of Kentucky’s Fort Campbell when Pfc. Barry Winchell was beaten to death with a baseball bat by fellow soldiers who thought he was gay.

Sen. John Warner, the head of the committee, met with Winchell’s parents, whose filing under the Military Claims Act was dismissed.

The Bush administration first put Clark’s name up for a third star, which would give him the rank of lieutenant general, in October.

Gay activists and Winchell’s mother, Patricia Kutteles, contend that Clark lacks the proper leadership to be promoted, and that his failure to enforce proper discipline on his base resulted in Winchell’s death.

Clark’s nomination died at the close of the last congressional session. The administration re-nominated him in March for his third star.

Governor urges Delaware rights bill

Dover, Del.--Gov. Ruth Ann Minner urged lawmakers May 15 to pass a proposed sexual orientation anti-discrimination law.

The measure passed the House last year but never made it past a Senate committee. Rep. William A. Oberle Jr., the bill’s sponsor, said that he nearly has enough votes to clear the House this session, but wants to wait until he has more support in hand before bringing the legislation to a vote.

The measure would add the term “sexual orientation” to existing protections in housing, employment and insurance.

United Way drops Boy Scouts

Miami--The United Way of Miami-Dade will no longer give nearly a half-million dollars a year to the local chapter of the Boy Scouts of America, citing the chapter’s failure to provide gay sensitivity training for its leaders.

At a private meeting May 13, the United Way’s board of directors voted unanimously to discontinue the annual $480,000 grant after the agency’s current fund-raising campaign ends June 30.

The funds represent about 20 percent of the Scouts’ South Florida Council’s operating budget.

At least 50 other United Way offices nationwide, including Seattle and San Francisco, have pulled their contributions since a 2000 U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the Scouts’ right to ban gay leaders.

Miami-Dade’s United Way said that the Boy Scouts agreed in 2001 to train leaders to be sensitive in dealing with sexuality issues.

Graduates walk out on Santorum

Philadelphia--About one in every eight graduates walked out of the May 18 commencement at St. Joseph’s University before the keynote address by Sen. Rick Santorum, who recently infuriated gay groups and others with derogatory remarks about homosexuality.

Santorum, the Senate’s third-ranking Republican, didn’t mention the walkout or the controversy directly.

“We are all called to love one another, even people we disagree with, even people who hate us for what we believe,” he said.

Students were offered an opportunity to leave before Santorum was introduced to receive an honorary degree and make his speech, and about 100 graduates walked out amid competing boos and applause.

Some students had urged the Jesuit university to rescind Santorum’s invitation after he likened private, consensual gay sex to bigamy, polygamy, incest and adultery in an April 7 interview. He later said he intended the remarks as a legal analysis and didn’t intend to comment on individual lifestyles.

School to have TG dorm

Middletown, Conn.--Wesleyan University will offer a gender-blind dormitory floor for transgender students starting with the fall term.

Students choosing to live on the gender-blind hall will be assigned a roommate without consideration to gender. This is the first such hall in the nation, according to university officials.

Capacity for the hall is 12 students, which would accommodate most, if not all, of the estimated 12-15 transgender students on campus. It will have two single rooms and five doubles, and the hall’s restrooms will be unisex.

The university recently amended its anti-discrimination policies to include “gender identity and gender expression,” facilitating the creation of the new hall.

Administrators do not believe that heterosexual, non-transgendered students will sign up for the hall in the hopes of rooming with someone of the opposite sex. According to Student Life co-chair Emily Polak, an agreement that must be signed for a room in the gender-blind hall has language that would deter students from signing up for that purpose.

In addition, the school already has co-ed rooms, although they are not available to freshmen.

Two confess to massacre

Cape Town, South Africa--Two men accused of the massacre of nine people at a gay massage parlor in January appeared in court on May 7.

According to police, Trevor Basil Theys, a cab driver, and waiter Adam Roy Woest confessed their roles in the crime before a magistrate after their February 3 arrest.

They are charged with nine counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances and unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.

Seven employees of Sizzlers massage parlor, as well as one client and the owner, were murdered on January 20. Most of the victims’ throats had been slit. A tenth victim survived the attack and provided police with a description of his assailants.

Theys and Woest will return to court on June 3.

 

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