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February 20, 2004

Thousands take vows in San Francisco

San Francisco--Thousands of gay and lesbian couples have married in San Francisco since the city began giving licenses to them last week.

Couples from as far away as New York City stood for hours in a line around the block as dozens of city workers issued marriage licenses. Many workers volunteered to spend the holiday weekend at City Hall, which was kept open for the occasion. The building�s ornate rotunda rang with cheers and applause as simultaneous wedding ceremonies took place at different spots.

Officials had handed out 2,637 marriage licenses by the end of business on February 17 after Mayor Gavin Newsom told his staff to begin issuing them five days earlier.

The weddings will continue until at least the end of this week.

Attempts by two anti-gay organizations to obtain court orders to stop the weddings were unsuccessful on February 17 after having been delayed from the previous Friday.

The groups say the city is violating state law prohibiting same-sex marriage. The mayor says he is following the state constitution�s guarantee of equal protection.

Two judges declined to stop the city from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, for now.

The first hearing was before Superior Court Judge Ronald Quidachay.

The judge declined to issue an immediate injunction against the city, noting that the Campaign for California Families had changed its complaint against the city, failing to give municipal attorneys the required 24 hours to review the documents.

Quidachay delayed the hearing until 2 pm on February 20.

CCF is being represented in court by the Liberty Counsel, a Florida anti-gay legal group.

The second hearing of the day, before Superior Court Judge James L. Warren, also allowed the marriages to continue.

Warren told the Proposition 22 Legal Defense Fund, represented by Arizona�s Alliance Defense Fund, that a punctuation error rendered their proposed injunction untenable.

The order they submitted required the city to �cease and desist issuing marriage licenses to and/or solemnizing marriage of same sex couples; to show cause before this court.�

The judge said that the semicolon replaced what should have been the word �or.�

�I�m not trying to be petty here, but it is a big deal,� he said. �I don�t have the authority to issue it under these circumstances.�

Warren is allowing the anti-gay groups to continue their arguments, and issued a writ to stop the same-sex marriages. But he said the city would not need to follow the writ if it agreed to send representatives to a hearing on March 29. The city agreed.

He also said that, in examining and researching the case on his own, he believed that the anti-gay groups would eventually succeed in getting an injunction to stop the city from issuing the licenses.

Warren is the grandson of the late U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren.

The city started issuing the gender-neutral marriage licenses on Thursday, February 12.

Mayor Gavin Newsom, who was criticized last month for failing to mention the LGBT community in his inaugural address to the city,� ordered his aides to investigate how the city could go about marrying same-sex couples.

According to Newsom, the impetus for the daring move came from President Bush�s State of the Union address, which he attended at a guest of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. In his speech, Bush said that the government had to do everything it could to preserve marriage as an opposite-sex institution.

Newsom argued that, while the voter-approved Proposition 22 entrenched in state law the definition of marriage as one man and one woman, the state constitution and its guarantees of equality for all Californians supercede state law.

�The California Constitution requires equal protection for all of the state�s citizens,� said Equality California executive director Geoffrey Kors. �We expect that the ultimate resolution of this case will be similar to judgments previously issued in Hawaii and Massachusetts--the state must treat its citizens equally, and that means that same-sex couples should have the same right to marry as any other Californian.�

�Although a number of people have referred to the City of San Francisco's acts and the acts of the lesbian and gay couples who are marrying as �civil disobedience,� in fact it's not civil disobedience,� said Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund senior counsel Jon W. Davidson. �The mayor and the city are actually following the mandates of the Constitution's equality and due process guarantees. It is those who are trying to deny the freedom to marry to same-sex couples who are acting illegally.�

The first couple to be married were Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, two longtime activists who in 1955 founded the Daughters of Bilitis, the first major lesbian organization in the nation. Two days later on Valentine�s Day, they celebrated their 51st anniversary.

This is not first time same-sex couples have been married in the United States. Boulder, Colorado, county clerk Clela Rorex issued marriage licenses to six couples in 1975.

The Boulder district attorney�s office said that Colorado marriage laws did not bar the act, so she continued to issue marriage licenses until the state�s attorney general stopped her.

While the licenses that were challenged in court were found invalid, not all of them were opposed. At least one of the male couples has celebrated their 25th anniversary.

 

 


No amendment, yet

Massachusetts lawmakers pause convention until March, leaving marriage ruling intact for now

Boston--After two days of dramatic debate and political maneuvering, the Massachusetts legislature recessed its constitutional convention without passing a ban on same-sex marriage.

Another joint constitutional session was scheduled for March 11, with at least two more ban amendments still to be considered.

The recess leaves intact a Supreme Judicial Court ruling that denying marriage to gay and lesbian couples violates the state constitution, and the court�s clarification this month that civil unions will not remedy that violation. The justices set a date of May 17 for the state to begin issuing marriage licenses.

A majority of lawmakers want to pass a constitutional amendment to overrule the rulings. But disagreement over creating, denying or merely allowing civil unions kept a ban from getting a majority vote.

The earliest an amendment can take effect is 2006, after passing two constitutional conventions and being approved by voters.

Four amendments were considered during the two-day session February 11 and 12. They included a total ban on marriage with no mention of civil unions, one that also created civil unions and another that left the door open for them.

The fourth measure allowed same-sex marriage, essentially writing the court�s ruling into the constitution.

None of them passed. A move to close the convention, ending consideration of any amendments, also failed.

Supporters of same-sex marriage consider the delay a victory.

Three groups can�t agree

Most of the 199 House and Senate members, a wide majority of which are Democrats, fall into three groups. One group agrees with the high court rulings. They oppose all proposals banning same-sex marriage, even if they include civil unions.

At the other end are House Republicans led by Gov. Mitt Romney, who oppose any rights for lesbian and gay couples. They want an amendment that bars marriage, but they won�t vote for anything that allows civil unions.

The largest group opposes same-sex marriage, but would support allowing civil unions or even including them in the constitution. However, this group is not large enough to attain the 101 votes needed to pass an amendment.

A surprise move

The convention opened at 2 pm on February 11 and quickly took on a tense note. House Speaker Thomas Finneran, a Democrat, was given the floor by Senate President Robert Travaglini for an opening speech.

Instead, Finneran introduced a new amendment to ban same-sex marriage, but leave the possibility open for legislators to create civil unions later.

Republican Gov. Romney, watching the proceedings from his office, sent word that he supported Finneran�s amendment.

Rep. Phillip Travis, a Democrat, months ago authored the original amendment banning same-sex marriage, with no mention of civil unions. He was certain that its supporters would line up behind Finneran�s amendment, and it would pass.

Instead, Democrats were angered that Finneran offered the amendment instead of just making a speech. Marriage supporters accused the speaker of colluding with the governor to also block civil unions after they blocked marriage.

Travaglini, also a Democrat, was unhappy about Finneran�s surprise move. He took the floor to oppose the amendment.

Finneran�s measure failed by one vote, 10098, the closest any would come to passing.

Republican Rep. Shaun Kelly then moved to close the session, killing all amendments. His motion failed 153-44.

That opened up the floor for a second proposal by Travaglini and Senate Republican leader Brian Lees.

Travaglini�s proposal would have banned same-sex marriages, but at the same time created same-sex civil unions with substantial benefits and protections.

Finneran strongly opposed Travaglini�s amendment. Marriage foes opposed it for giving same-sex couples any benefits at all. Marriage supporters also opposed it, saying it was anti-gay.

With the proposal likely to fail, marriage supporters attempted a strategic move.

They tried to persuade lawmakers to pass Travaglini�s measure on preliminary votes to stop any later proposals, then block its final passage.

That strategy failed as the amendment went down 104-94.

After that vote, which was six and a half hours after the convention opened, Travaglini recessed for the night.

Original measure is defeated

When the session reconvened February 12, the legislature took up Travis�s original ban on same-sex marriages, which he wrote last year with the anti-gay Coalition for Marriage. It was defeated 10394.

They then turned to an amendment by the House and Senate leadership banning same-sex marriages but giving gay and lesbian couples the right to form civil unions with the same benefits and rights as marriage.

That proposal, however, has a flaw. It requires civil union applicants to �meet the requirements set forth by law for marriage between a man and a woman,� meaning they are old enough and not closely related. But one requirement, the amendment itself declares, is being a man and a woman.

This measure was under consideration for the rest of the day, but never came to a vote.

Also not voted on was a measure written the night before by anti-gay legislators led by House Majority Leader John Rogers. It would prohibit same-sex marriages and create civil unions with fewer rights and protections than Travaglini�s proposal.

The measure would convert any same-sex marriages performed after May 17, 2003 and its possible 2006 enactment into civil unions.

The proposal is considered less desirable than Travaglini�s by civil union supporters.

Tabled during the session was a proposal by openly gay Senator Jarrett Barrios, saying, �All marriages between two people shall be eligible for all the rights and benefits of marriage,� essentially repeating the Supreme Judicial Court ruling.

Filibuster ends session

The convention had to stop by midnight February 13 according to the Massachusetts constitution, which requires unanimous consent to go later into the night.

After a one-hour recess at 9 pm, pro-marriage legislators filibustered until the clock ran out.

Travaglini allowed the filibuster to go on, infuriating marriage opponents who did not get to vote on their amendments.

At one point these lawmakers disrupted the session chanting, �We want a vote,� on the amendment left on the floor. They then walked out of the chamber, returning a few minutes later.

Pro-marriage legislators who filibustered were greeted in the hallway outside the chamber by supporters singing the national anthem and �God Bless America� under U.S. and rainbow flags.

Impassioned speech

Speeches on both sides of the issue were passionate and heartfelt during both days� session.

Barrios, who recently adopted two boys with his partner, told about taking one of the boys to the hospital with a fever, only to argue with the nurse over whether he was the boy�s parent or not.

Openly lesbian Rep. Elizabeth Malia said if she died, her partner of 30 years might lose their house because she is not legally a spouse.

Kelly implored colleagues not to deny Malia any rights.

�You would never say that you were superior to the gentlelady from Jamaica Plain,� said Kelly, �You wouldn�t do it. You wouldn�t say that to her face.�

According to the Boston Globe, Romney remains in �regular contact� with the White House and national Republican Party to �keep tabs on the issue� as it relates to the national election.

The governor�s role in the process continues to grow, even though he has no official part in the constitutional amendment process.

Romney said that he will attempt to block same-sex marriage licenses through legal maneuvers, including executive orders barring the Department of Health from granting them.

If successful, that action could trigger more legal challenges and create delays.


Couples turned away from marriage bureaus in Ohio

Columbus--On the day before Valentine�s Day, gay and lesbian couples were turned away from marriage license bureaus in Columbus and Toledo.

About 70 people gathered at the Franklin County Courthouse on February 13 as part of the annual National Freedom to Marry Week, joining protests both across the state and around the nation.

Twelve couples went inside to try to get marriage licenses, according to Rev. Marj Creech, one of the organizers of the event. They included Dawn and Katherine Kereluik, a same-sex couple who are already legally married in Ohio because one of them is transsexual.

Creech joined the couples in the license bureau. After a few applications were handed out, a magistrate ordered all same-sex couples to leave the office.

�All of you who are same-sex couples are going to be denied licenses,� he told them. �You must leave now. You are disrupting the working of this office. If you don�t, I will call security.�

The Kereluiks tried to get a copy of their marriage license, and were also turned away to accusations that they had married illegally, Creech said.

Ohio also will not allow transsexuals to change the gender markers on their birth certificates, so a male-to-female transsexual can marry a woman as long as she provides a birth certificate.

The couples left and rejoined the demonstrators outside, a crowd comprised of members of organizations like Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, the Shepherd Initiative, Metropolitan Community Churches, Socialists and college students from Akron and Columbus.

�When I grow up, I am going to be known as the man who supported gay rights,� said Haydn Hamilton, a child at the protest with his mother.

In Toledo, Tom Meinecke, who holds a doctorate in theology, and his partner John Meineckewent to the Lucas County Courthouse with A New Life MCC�s Rev. Edwin Yates in their second annual attempt to get a marriage license. Once again the couple was turned away.

This year, however, their efforts were covered by four local television stations, as well as the daily Toledo Blade.

�This is not about special rights or special treatment,� Tom Meinecke said. �Just as Dr. Martin Luther King stated, I too have a dream that someday all people will be treated with fair, just and equal treatment.�

In other parts of the state, including the campus of Ohio University in Athens, the protests centered more around the recent passage of the �defense of marriage� act. The measure, signed February 6 by Gov. Bob Taft, says that same-sex marriage is �against the strong public policy of the state.�

Ohio�s DOMA, however, goes further than those passed in 37 other states, restricting an undefined �statutory benefits of marriage� to married, opposite-sex couples. Opponents say that the law will prevent partners of public employees from getting health benefits, and could be used to challenge private companies that grant benefits to domestic partners of their employees.

Similar attempts to get marriage licenses occurred in dozens of other cities across the nation, including Chicago, Tucson, San Diego, Los Angeles, Key West, Austin, Texas and Chicago.

Suit filed in Los Angeles

In Los Angeles, clerks denied licenses to Robin Tyler, an activist and stand-up comedian, and her partner Diane Olson; and to MCC founder and moderator Rev. Troy Perry and his partner Phillip Ray DeBlieck.

The couples immediately filed a lawsuit challenging the state�s ban on same-sex marriage.

Perry�s MCC is one of the main backers of the Freedom to Marry Coalition, a group of around 20 national organizations ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Organization for Women to People for the American Way and the National Latina/o Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Organization.

�Denial of a state license to marry denies these couples their constitutional right to pursue happiness and privacy and their constitutional right to enjoy equal protection under the law,� said attorney Gloria Allred, who is representing the couples. �I believe that the state has no compelling interest that would justify excluding same gender couples from the marriage relationship.�

Allred said that California�s newly-passed domestic partner law was not enough. The measure, which takes effect next January, grants most of the state rights of marriage.

�Laws which afford these couples the right to seek recognition as domestic partners or which allow civil unions do not address the inherent denial of equal protection in . . . excluding same gender couples from the marriage relationship,� she said. �Those alternatives simply underline the second class status afforded same gender couples and the treatment of those couples as separate and unequal.�

 


McDonalds tells high court to reject AIDS bias case

Columbus--McDonald�s says there�s no reason why the Ohio Supreme Court should hear the appeal of an openly gay Akron man who says the fast food chain forced him to quit his job when it learned he had AIDS.

But McDonald�s wants the court to consider its own position in the case �as a protective measure.�

The appeal was filed December 4 by Russell Rich, who wants the high court to reinstate his $5 million jury verdict against McDonald�s. Rich says the Eighth Ohio District Court of Appeals in Cleveland was wrong to reverse the verdict and order a new trial.

Rich was awarded the money in 2001, after a jury found that McDonald�s had wrongly forced the 20-year employee out of his job as manager of a Hudson, Ohio store.

The jury calculated the compensatory award to supply Rich�s AIDS medication for the rest of his life. He is 35.

McDonald�s filed its response to his appeal on January 5.

The high court must first decide whether or not to accept the case, which is at their discretion. If the court agrees with Rich and hears the case, both sides will file briefs and give testimony. The process will take about a year.

If the high court decides not to hear the appeal, the entire case will be tried again in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.

Rich�s attorney, Paige Martin of Columbus, says there are three reasons why the case should be heard by the justices. McDonald�s disputes her claims, but, in an unusual move, filed a cross appeal �as a protective measure in case the court disagrees [with McDonald�s] and grants review.�

McDonald�s lead attorney Steven T. Catlett of the Jones Day firm in Chicago declined comment on the matter, referring all questions to McDonald�s public relations, who did not respond to requests for comment.

In the past, McDonald�s has claimed that they did nothing wrong, and that a new trial would give them the opportunity to get the truth out.

From the briefs, there is little discrepancy between the facts presented by both sides. The differences involve interpretation of the law.

McDonald�s says trial judge John J. Angelotta erred in �categorically refusing� to submit� written questions to the jury. The Eighth District panel agreed with McDonald�s and granted the new trial on that basis.

Martin says two civil court rules governing jury instructions and questions are at odds, and that McDonald�s attorneys used the conflicting rules to create an issue to appeal on.

Both agree that Angelotta instructed the attorneys to work out differences in their proposed jury instructions, and that McDonald�s submitted 100 new pages of jury instruction the morning after the judge said they were due. McDonald�s also asked the jury to be given 43 written questions at that point, which Angellota rejected.

McDonald�s says, �In his vain attempt to manufacture an issue worthy of this court�s consideration, Rich has fabricated a case that simply does not exist.�

McDonald�s argues that their instructions and interrogatories were submitted appropriately under one of the civil rules, and that a �trial judge may not flatly refuse to consider proposed interrogatories.�

They further argue that the rules Martin says are �conflicting� merely �give trial courts the �option� to consider jury instructions and interrogatories at the same time.�

McDonald�s asserts that by their interpretation of the rules, their submission was timely, not late as Rich claims.

Rich and McDonald�s are also at odds over whether or not the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, which sets federal standards for health insurance and pension plans, can pre-empt Ohio common law.

Rich claimed that McDonald�s lied when they told him his health coverage would not be affected by his pre-existing AIDS condition, under Ohio law.

Angelotta agreed at trial and found for Rich on that point through a summary judgement. The Eighth District did not address this matter.

In briefs, McDonald�s does not dispute the facts put forth by Rich. Their argument is that ERISA does not require them to cover pre-existing conditions. They also say that Angelotta should not have ruled on the matter because federal courts have �exclusive jurisdiction over ERISA claims.�

In its cross appeal, McDonald�s asserts that Rich is not disabled because he �failed to prove that he had a �disability� within the meaning of Ohio and federal law.�

Citing a 1998 U.S. Supreme Court decision, McDonald�s says there is a �three-prong definition� that a plaintiff with AIDS must meet in order to be declared �disabled� and be protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

McDonald�s says Rich did not satisfy the test, which it says is, �a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a record of such a substantially-limiting impairment, or being regarded as having such a substantially limiting impairment.�

McDonald�s has not paid Rich any of the award to date. He does not qualify for Medicaid and relies on drug assistance programs to pay for his medications. These are not reliable, and sometimes Rich does without, causing his body to build resistance to the treatment.


News Briefs

 

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

Study finds that U.S. forces in Iraq work well with gays

Los Angeles--American soldiers in Iraq work well with their gay and lesbian counterparts from countries that allow queer servicemembers, according to a study released February 9.

Dr. Aaron Belkin of the University of California-Santa Barbara�s Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military released the results of �Multinational Military Units and Homosexual Personnel,� a study tracking the interaction of American troops with troops from countries that allow gay men and lesbians to serve openly.

The study cites Lieutenant Rolf Kurth of the British Royal Navy as an example. He was the direct link between American and British sailors on a Royal Navy vessel.

�My sexual orientation was common knowledge and comments are often made in the mess, very subtly, that make it very clear that people are aware,� Kurth said in an interview for the study. �For example, when men are sitting around looking at a pretty girl in the newspaper or on TV, sometimes someone will make a comment like, �Well, you're not the best person to judge!� or �Like you'd know�.�

At least 23 nations allow gay and lesbian personnel to serve openly in the military, including close U.S. allies Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Canada and Israel.

Frist: Congress will act on marriage

Washington, D.C.--Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist on February 12 said that he expected Congress to act soon on the Federal Marriage Amendment.

The amendment will insert into the Unites State Constitution the definition of marriage as an opposite-sex institution. Language in the proposed amendment could be interpreted to outlaw any benefits for same-sex couples.

�The wildfire will truly begin,� Frist told senators before leaving on a weeklong recess, according to Reuters news service. �It is becoming increasingly clear that Congress must act and must act soon.�

Frist�s comments came as the first same-sex marriages were being performed in San Francisco at the behest of Mayor Gavin Newsom.

�It�s a fight we don�t particularly relish, but the courts have brought us to it,� Frist continued.

�We will not let activist judges redefine marriage for our entire society,� he said, referring to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court�s November ruling striking the state�s ban on same-sex marriage.

A number of leading conservatives have come out in opposition to the federal marriage amendment, some arguing that upholding states� rights should preclude a constitutional amendment, others noting that anything that would allow two people to commit to one another should be helped, not hindered.

Court urged to decline marriage case

Phoenix, Ariz.--Attorney General Kathleen Sweeney urged the state�s supreme court to decline hearing a case on same-sex marriage on February 11.

Sweeney argued that there is no fundamental right to same-sex marriage.

The case involves Tod Keltner and his partner Don Standhardt, who sued the state for the right to marry. An appeals court upheld the state�s ban on same-sex marriages� in October. The court said that the state has an interest in promoting procreation in opposite-sex marriages.

The couple argues that their case should be held to a higher standard of scrutiny following last June�s United States Supreme Court ruling striking down state sodomy laws.

Sweeney contended that, since the couple�s attorney did not request the higher standard of scrutiny at the lower court level, he couldn�t do so now.

�You cannot waive a fundamental right,� the couples� attorney, Michael S. Ryan, told the Arizona Republic.

There is no deadline for the Arizona Supreme Court to decide whether they will hear the case. Should they refuse, the couple�s last option would be to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Vaccine treatment shows promise

Melbourne, Australia--Preliminary results announced on February 12 indicated a successful trial for an Australian company�s post-infection HIV vaccine.

The new treatment, which attempts to train the body�s immune system to fight the virus itself instead of relying on antiretrovirals to do so, proved effective in the small trial of 35 HIV-positive patients at two Melbourne hospitals and clinics in Sydney.

�This is a major breakthrough,� Prof. Steve Wesselingh, director of Melbourne�s Burnet Institute, told the city�s Herald Sun newspaper. �This is moving from the concept of treating HIV with antivirals to the concept of treating someone who is HIV-positive with a vaccine that will stimulate the immune system to control the virus.�

The hope is that the treatment, in keeping viral levels in the body low, will help people with HIV live longer and healthier lives without needing medications that may have many side effects.

The results were presented at a conference in San Francisco. They are preliminary, and use of the vaccine is still at least a few years away.

Edwards would not oppose marriage

Los Angeles--Sen. John Edwards, running second to Sen. John Kerry in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, said on February 13 that he would not oppose same-sex marriage.

Edwards told Tonight Show host Jay Leno that he opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment currently before Congress, and said that he favors allowing individual states to decide the issue for themselves.

Kerry opposed 2002 ban amendment

Boston--Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic front-runner in the race for president, opposes same-sex marriages and supports civil unions.

Two years ago Kerry signed a letter with fellow Massachusetts members of Congress urging the legislature to drop a proposed state marriage ban amendment.

Kerry�s official position now is that he prefers civil unions and rejects any state or federal legislation that could be used to eliminate equal protections for gays or other forms of recognition like civil unions.

But Kerry leaves open the possibility he could support a Massachusetts ban on gay marriage if it recognized civil unions and other protections as an alternative.

In 2002, he joined congressional colleagues in opposing the state�s previous effort to outlaw gay marriage, saying it was overly broad.

The letter, organized by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., was sent on congressional stationery on July 12, 2002 as the Massachusetts legislature first considered a constitutional amendment that limited marriage to �only the union of one man and one woman.�

Lawmakers failed to pass a constitutional amendment in 2002, but the issued was revived this year after the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled gays were entitled to the same marriage as heterosexuals. State lawmakers have recessed this year�s constitutional convention until March 11 after failing to pass three separate amendments to ban same-sex marriage.

Mary Cheney is web site�s target

Washington, D.C.--Mary Cheney, the openly lesbian daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney, is the target of gay activists who want to know why she quit a pro-gay Republican organization and is now working to re-elect her father, who has said he supports the president�s stand against lesbian and gay marriage.

John Aravosis, the man behind pro-gay web sites opposed to Laura Schlessinger and the Federal Marriage Amendment, launched DearMary.com on February 13. He pointed out that, while Mary Cheney is in a committed relationship, she is also the head of vice presidential operations for the Bush-Cheney campaign.

In the vice presidential debates before the 2000 election, the elder Cheney said that he believed the decision over whether to recognize same-sex unions should be left to the states. In recent months he has changed that position, throwing his support to the president, who has expressed a willingness to amend the Constitution to bar same-sex marriages.

His daughter has remained silent on the issue, although she is a lesbian in a long-term relationship. She has not commented to the media on any issue. During the 2000 campaign, the Bush-Cheney camp said that she was a private citizen and off-limits to the press.

�If the Vice President thinks gay relationships are such a threat to society that we need to amend the U.S. Constitution, then he needs to explain a lesbian in a same-sex relationship is running his re-election campaign,� Aravosis said. �Are we a threat or aren�t we?�

�Even though she cannot take responsibility for her father�s actions, she can and should take responsibility for her own,� said Robin Tyler, co-chair of DontAmend.com with Aravosis.

�It is time for the child to have the courage to publicly stand up to the father and say: Don�t do this, it is just plain wrong,� Tyler continued. �Other children is far less privileged positions have done it. So, where is Mary Cheney?�

Cheney has previously worked as an LGBT community liason for the Coors Brewing Company, which was boycotted by gay bars for the anti-gay activism of Coors family members.


 

Gus Van Sant returns to his surrogate home

Westerville, Ohio--Gus Van Sant may be the most underrated director working in cinema today. He certainly is under-appreciated, and when cinema history is written about this time, he will go down as a seminal auteur of this generation of filmmakers.

Van Sant has been making films for nearly two decades. Not only are they on the cutting edge, but he has also managed to create works that stand the test of time.

Columbus has accidentally become Van Sant�s surrogate home, where his aunt works in Otterbein College�s administration. In the past few years his sister and parents also moved to the capital, so the entire Van Sant clan finds itself in Ohio now. The filmmaker himself calls Portland, Oregon, home, and even after the success of his Oscar-winning hit Good Will Hunting, Van Sant resisted the lure and excesses of Hollywood.

Van Sant comes to the Otterbein campus as part of the college�s Signature Series on February 20-21, following a film festival of his work and an art exhibition of his black and white photography, being held through March. This is the second such homage to the filmmaker in as many years--the Wexner Center hosted him last year.

The director�s most recent claim to fame was receiving the top honors at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival, where he took home the Palme d�Or, the prize for best film, for Elephant and also earned the prize for best director. Elephant is a chilling and haunting story that probes the issue of gun violence in schools.

Van Sant�s career took off instantly with his critically acclaimed film debut with Mala Noche in 1985. He self-financed it for $25,000 and this film tells the story of unrequited love of a gay liquor store clerk for a young Mexican immigrant.

His first major film, 1989�s Drugstore Cowboy, was one of the first and most daring looks at drug addiction seen on the big screen. This was followed up with the critically acclaimed My Own Private Idaho in 1991, a brave and poignant road film about two street hustlers (Keanu Reeves and the late River Phoenix) who are searching for love, family and redemption.

Idaho has become a cult film (as are many Van Sant works) and it is one of many where the filmmaker exhibits his powerful story-telling abilities, his avant-garde film techniques, and his independent spirit as one of cinema�s most unique voices.

In 1994 he made an adaptation of Tom Robbins� Even Cowgirls Get the Blues starring Uma Thurman and then directed Nicole Kidman and Matt Dillon in To Die For in 1995. Van Sant has also directed a frame-by-frame remake of the Alfred Hitchcock classic Psycho in 1998, Finding Forrester (with Sean Connery) in 2000, and Gerry in 2002.

Van Sant has also directed a number of short films, music videos for David Bowie, Elton John, Tracy Chapman, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, among others, and he has also released two albums with his Portland, Oregon, band Destroy All Blondes, for which he played guitar and wrote songs.

As though that weren�t enough, Van Sant published his first book of photography, 108 Portraits (Twelvetrees Press) in 1995, and his first novel, Pink, a satire on filmmaking, in 1997 for Doubleday.

Don�t miss a chance to see him in person and get his insights about filmmaking, art and humanity in general. Reclusive and intelligent, Van Sant is a joy to chat with and listen to as he opens up when talking about his passions.

Photography by Gus Van Sant will be displayed through March 12 in the Fisher Gallery in Roush Hall.

On Friday, February 20 at 1 p.m., Riley Auditorium� is the spot to meet Gus Van Sant for an informal discussion. At 2 pm in Roush 330, Finding Forrester will be shown, followed by a 7:30 pm screening of Good Will Hunting.

On Saturday, February 21, at 7:30 p.m., An Evening with Director Gus Van Sant will be the culmination of a month-long retrospective.

A limited number of tickets for the February 21 event are available for $25. Call 614-8231600 for availability.

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