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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
January 16, 2004

Article 12 repeal is headed for ballot

With more than enough signatures, campaign now
turns to winning November election

Cincinnati--After gathering almost twice the signatures needed to put Article 12 on the ballot, the campaign to repeal it has now turned toward winning the election.

Citizens to Restore Fairness has collected over 13,000 signatures to repeal the anti-gay city charter article, said Gary Wright, the group�s co-chair.

A total of 6,771 valid signatures are needed to put the measure on the November ballot.

The number is ten percent of the turnout in the previous general election, which was not known until votes were counted last November. The group had estimated a larger number before then.

Although they have the signatures, CRF can�t turn them in until summer.

Under the Cincinnati charter, Wright said, the petitions need to be submitted to election officials 120 days before November�s election. That would be July 5. But turning them in too soon would cause a special election to be held months earlier.

Article 12, passed by voters in 1993 as Issue 3, prohibits the city from enacting any measure protecting gay, lesbian or bisexual citizens. It is the only law of its kind in the nation.

Wright predicted that CRF would need to identify 63,000 voters opposed to the article, and make sure that they vote, in order to repeal it.

CRF is following the same strategy that was used in Cleveland Heights last year to put a domestic partner registry on the ballot and then pass it.

The method involves door-to-door canvassing of registered voters across the entire city, focusing on those who have actually voted in similar elections. Canvassers speak face-to-face with voters about the issue, then rate each one�s position.

Supportive voters are invited to become active in the campaign. They are also put on a list for get-out-the-vote efforts near election day.

Wright said canvassers have shifted from gathering signatures to identifying supporters, and that the group has more than 2,000 volunteers working on the project.

�We had 269 people at the polls [last November] talking about the need to repeal Article 12 on election day,� said Wright, �and that was more than any other issue or candidate.�

�This is also showing us that repeal of Article 12 is becoming a mainstream issue in Cincinnati,� said Wright.

Wright said another sign of the broad support is that half of CRF�s board is from outside the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, and that volunteers are coming from everywhere in the city.

�It�s been overwhelmingly supportive in all geographic areas of the city,� said campaign manager Justin Turner, who was hired by CRF on October 1.

�This is the people versus an archaic law,� said Turner, �and people understand that when they are told the truth on their doorstep. People think the law is not fair.�

�The main point, though, is that this will be hard fought,� added Turner, who has had ten years experience with campaigns and political organizing. �We expect to be outspent and we know they will go negative at the last minute to try to scare people.�

Proponents of the charter article are the suburban Sharonville group Citizens for Community Values and its sister organization Equal Rights Not Special Rights.

ERNSR spearheaded the 1993 campaign that passed Issue 3. Both groups are headed by Phil Burress.

CCV has affiliated with the national anti-gay group Focus on the Family and has shown formidable access to local and national money for their campaigns.

CCV is also the group behind the �defense of marriage act� passed by the Ohio House on December 10 and now in the state Senate.

Citizens to Restore Fairness is in the process of hiring additional staff to run the field operation of the campaign. They have scheduled canvassing nearly every weekend, starting with the first major canvass of 2004 to be held Sunday, January 18.

Turner said that event will not have the largest number of canvassers due to the expected cold weather. He expects 40 volunteers, and there have been days where 100 have been out in the neighborhoods at one time.

 


Governor signs New Jersey domestic partner law

Trenton, N.J.--Gov. James E. McGreevey on January 12 signed a domestic partner bill into law, four days after the measure received final approval from the state senate.

The law will establish a domestic partner registry within 180 days, open to same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples over the age of 62, who may not wish to get married because of Social Security and pension penalties.

The waiting period will give the state time to develop procedures for registering domestic partnerships.

"This legislation is a matter of fundamental decency," said McGreevey as he signed the measure.

To enter into a domestic partnership, couples must live together and prove joint finances, property ownership or produce a will or insurance policy naming the other as beneficiary.

In return, domestic partners would gain hospital visitation rights, joint filing status on state taxes and an exemption from inheritance taxes. State or municipal employees will be able to add their partners to their pension and insurance plans, and insurance companies in the state must make domestic partner coverage available, although private companies are not required to offer the benefits in their insurance coverage.

The law makes New Jersey the third state recognizing gay and lesbian couples, after Vermont�s 2000 civil union law and a California domestic partner measure that takes effect next year. A Massachusetts court decision striking down its ban on same-sex marriage was stayed until May 17. A 1997 Hawaii domestic partner registry expired two years later.

While many gay men and lesbians cheered the New Jersey law, others felt that it created a second class of citizens by falling short of full marriage.

�It�s a terrible law,� said George DeCarlo, founder of the Lavender Greens, an LGBT Green Party group in New Jersey. �It discriminates on the basis of age and sexual orientation.�

DeCarlo also said that the proof of commingled finances requirement is a violation of privacy.

�A will is a private document that is only supposed to be read after you die,� he said. �Now a clerk has to look at it, and they might require a copy.�

He argued that, by doling out �scraps,� the Democrat-controlled legislature and Democratic governor have created ready-made campaign promises for their next election.

�They can give us anything they want,� he said. �They only do things that are convenient and non-threatening.�

A New Jersey judge granted a state request on November 5 to dismiss a suit arguing that the state�s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

The couples involved in that suit have filed notice that they will appeal the dismissal, and briefs are expected in that case in the spring.

 

 


Graffiti and hate letter to bar stain years end

Cincinnati--A mailed death threat to a bar owner and a spate of anti-gay graffiti darkened the end of 2003 in southwest Ohio and northern Kentucky.

On December 27, Carl Fox, owner of the Crazy Fox Saloon in Newport, Kentucky, received a vitriolic letter in the mail threatening his life.

�On the Saturday after Christmas,� he said, �I came in to open the bar.�

Running late, he came in, turned off the bar�s alarm system, and then picked up the mail that had been pushed through the slot in the door. The third envelope he came to drew his interest, partially because the address misspelled Washington Ave. as �Warshington St.� but mostly because it had a red swastika for a return address.

Fearing the worst, Fox called the police. When they arrived, they� asked to open the letter, and Fox said yes.

�I said, �Is it a threat?� and he said, �Oh, yeah�,� Fox recalls.

Inside, a photocopied letter bore a picture of a faceless man firing a gun with the tag line, �Hey man, �This slugs for you!� �

Above the picture was a hand-drawn Christian cross with a swastika superimposed over the meeting of the two beams, with a star motif behind it. At the top of the cross was the German word wendepunkt, meaning �turning point,� and below the cross the phrase �Race, God & Country.�

A block of small, neat, hand-printed capital letters read:

�Congratulations! Your name has been added to our hitlist we watch the enemies of the people. There will be no place to hide when a turning point comes. We will watch your every move. Queer disease infested faggots and drugaddicts along with prostitutes and drunks need to be exterminated & burned. You have been found to be an enemy of the whiterace and worthy of death! Watch your mouth watch your step.�

Fox filed a police report and additional ones with the FBI, and the U.S. Postal Service and the Southern Poverty Law Center, which researches and combats hate groups across the country.

Similar letters have been sent for the last three years to people in the public eye, said Special Agent Doug Warner of the FBI�s Covington, Ky. office. Fox has recently been in newspapers and on television talking about same-sex marriage, and police believe that is what attracted the perpetrator to him.

Fox said the FBI told him they have profiled the sender as possibly a middle-aged or older white male.

Warner does not believe that Fox is in any danger from the man. He also said that the cross and swastika on the letter was a symbol the writer came up with, not the mark of an organized hate group.

A search of symbols in the Anti-Defamation League�s database of hate group symbols turned up no matches for the mark.

The letter was checked for fingerprints, but Warner believes the perpetrator is very careful not to leave any on the letters. He is also pessimistic of the case being solved without a tip from the public.

�When somebody drops a letter in a mailbox, there�s no witnesses,� he noted, saying that without a tip or fingerprint match, there is no suspect.

If the sender is found, he would face charges of mailing terroristic threats, a federal felony, and the bias motivation could enhance any sentence given.

�One thing I have been heartened by is the response of our neighbors and friends, very supportive,� Fox said. He pointed to a neighborhood historical society who emailed their members about the case, urging them to show their support for the bar.

�I was very moved by it,� said Fox. �It means we�ve come miles.�

Northside sprayed with graffiti

A less threatening but more pernicious written attack on the gay community was in the city of Cincinnati itself, where anti-gay graffiti has appeared in Northside, a traditionally gay-friendly neighborhood.

Slogans like �Boycott Gays,� �Boycott Gay Stores,� �Boycott Fags,� �Support Article 12� and �Vote for Article 12� have been sprayed on buildings since late fall.

Stonewall Cincinnati board chair John Schlagetter believes that efforts to repeal the anti-gay Article 12, which prevents the city from extending civil rights protections to gay men and lesbians, has engendered the graffiti backlash.

Schlagetter said he has counted 24 �tags,� as individual pieces of graffiti are called. A few began appearing in October, but the pace of their appearance picked up at the beginning of December. Authorities believe the perpetrator may have recently moved to Northside, the location of the Greater Cincinnati Women�s Resource Center, Bullfishes Bar, the Cincinnati Gay and Lesbian Center and other gay-oriented businesses.

�It�s interesting, the timing,� said Schlagetter, �considering the Article 12 repeal is coming up on the ballot in November.�

�It�s almost a form of negative campaigning,� he said. �Unfortunately, I don�t think this is the end of it, I think it�s the beginning of the negative campaigning.�

City Council member John Cranley�s staff is currently examining whether the city�s hate crime ordinance can be used to enhance the penalties for the perpetrator if one is caught. Authorities believe the tags are the work of a single person, possibly two people, because of the similarity in handwriting.

 

 

 


Children benefit from GLBT equality, school CEO says

Cleveland--�Members of our community, especially our children, will continue to benefit from your actions that are a direct result of this organization�s mission to secure equal rights for all people, regardless of race, color, creed, disability or sexual orientation or gender identity,� Cleveland Municipal Schools Chief Executive Officer Barbara Byrd-Bennett told the annual meeting of the Cleveland Stonewall Democrats on January 12.

The Cleveland Stonewall Democrats were joined by members from the Cleveland chapter of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, who were there to hear Byrd-Bennett speak.

�You see,� she said, �too often youngsters and adults fail to confront the infectious diseases that contaminate all of us . . . injustice, bigotry and prejudice. I believe education can provide the opportunities for future generations to find the antidote, the antibiotic, and eventually the cure for this disease.�

�To fully appreciate how the world has changed, I ask you to consider this,� Byrd-Bennett continued. �Thirty years ago, the words multicultural, diversity,�alternate lifestyle, gay, lesbian could not be found in any textbooks or discussed in any classroom. Now, you can scarcely turn on your television or radio or read your daily newspaper without coming across multiple new mantras for expression of these concepts.�

She noted, �We will not discriminate against individuals based upon race, creed religion, color, disability or sexual orientation. We are one of only a handful of school districts in Ohio with such a policy.�

"We were endeared by Barbara Byrd-Bennett's charisma and compassion tonight,� said Cleveland Stonewall Democrats president Patrick Shepherd. �But, more importantly, I am thrilled that she identified one of our club's own, Gary Talpas, to be a resource for LGBT people and allies about issues important to our community."

Shepherd that Byrd-Bennett had told the crowd to contact Talpas at her office with any LGBT-specific concerns.

New board elected

In addition to Byrd-Bennett�s speech, the group elected their 2004 board, which will lead them through the federal elections in November.

Patrick Shepherd, co-founder of the organization, will continue to serve as president. Sue Doerfer, the clinical director of services for the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland, will serve as the vice president and community liaison, while Randy Goodman, the president of the Avon Lake Democratic Club, will be the vice president for fundraising.

Anthony Warmuth, another founding CSD member, will continue in his role as vice president for membership, while the Federation for Community Planning�s John Corlett will be the vice president for political strategy.

David Maltz will be the vice president for public relations, while Rev. Robert and Joyce Strommen will share the position of vice president for volunteer coordination. The Strommens are the first heterosexual allies to be elected to the board of the Cleveland Stonewall Democrats.

Attorney Edele Passalacqua will serve as the group�s secretary, while Lakewood High School head of guidance Barbara Bowley is treasurer.

The political action committee of the Cleveland Stonewall Democrats now have Jeff Zelmer as the treasurer and Kathleen Connors as deputy treasurer. Zelmer has been active in a half-dozen different LGBT and allied organizations in northeast Ohio, while Connors was the immediate past executive vice president of CSD.


How the candidates stand on LGBT issues

With the Ohio Democratic presidential primary six weeks away, the Gay People�s Chronicle asked each candidate�s campaign about issues of interest to the LGBT community.

In part one of a three-part series, we profile the first three of the nine candidates, in alphabetical order.

 

Carol Moseley Braun

Former Illinois senator and ambassador to New Zealand Carol Moseley Braun had a perfect Human Rights Campaign score during her congressional tenure, including her vote against the politically charged 1996 federal �defense of marriage� act.

Additionally, she co-sponsored and worked to try to pass every pro-GLBT piece of legislation while a member of Congress.

Braun became the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. Senate in 1992. She rose to the national spotlight by scolding Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina, an avowed separationist, over the flying of the Confederate flag.

�Progress to me,� said Braun to the New York Times, �means embracing the notion that all men are created equal.�

�Balance means that everyone gets included, based on their talent and what they have to contribute,� said Braun.

Braun fully supports same-sex marriage.

�The concept of �separate but equal� was properly rejected as inherently problematic by the Supreme Court in the landmark school desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education,� she said. �While I applaud the Vermont civil unions law, I am convinced that ultimately inequities will arise if there is one set of laws governing marriage commitments for heterosexuals and another set of laws governing marriage commitments for homosexuals.�

Braun also supports a gay, lesbian, and transgender Employment Non-Discrimination act, and says the federal government should recognize states� civil unions and domestic partner arrangements for taxation and benefits.

Braun supports expansion of the Family and Medical Leave Act to include domestic partners and their children and modification of Social Security to pay survivor benefits to same-sex partners. She also supports the Permanent Partner Act allowing same-sex partners to sponsor the other for purposes of immigration.

Braun supports extending domestic partner benefits to federal civilian workers and ending the ban on gay and lesbian military servicemembers.

While a senator, Braun had a gay and lesbian non- discrimination policy in her office and had a staff person dedicated as liason to the GLBT community.

In schools, Braun supports comprehensive and age- appropriate sex education that includes scientifically sound prevention methods.

The former ambassador and senator is an attorney and has been the Democratic candidate most critical of President Bush�s judicial nominees, using her press opportunities to label as �dangerous� those who believe that women should be subordinate to their husbands and who oppose a woman�s right to choose.

She has also criticized the president�s use of government lawyers to define marriage and take away people�s First Amendment rights.

On Bush�s support of the constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between one man and one woman, Braun said, �The decision by President Bush to use the resources of the White House to seek legislation that prohibits a fundamental right, the right to marry, sets back the clock on civil rights for all Americans.�

Braun added, �President Bush needs to reconsider his decision to use government lawyers to craft legislation that specifically discriminates against gay and lesbian Americans. His actions harken to the days of Jim Crow, when government legally required discrimination. It�s the wrong direction for the country.�

 

Wesley Clark

Retired general Wesley Clark is new on the political scene, so he has positions on GLBT issues, but no track record.

Because of his military background, Clark has been expected to have a position on the ban on openly gay service members called �don�t ask don�t tell,� which he has not always been clear on.

�I believe that the military needs to rethink the �don�t ask don�t tell� policy,� said Clark. �I would ask the military to craft and implement a policy that ensures that everyone who wants to serve their country is permitted to do so with honor and dignity.�

Clark said universities should be allowed to ban military recruiters due to the military�s discrimination against gays and lesbians without fear of losing their federal funding.

Clark supports the gay and lesbian Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the Local Law Enforcement Act enhancing penalties for violent crimes committed because of the victim�s sexual orientation, the Permanent Partner Act to allow same-sex couples to sponsor their partners for immigration, proposed legislation to include families headed by same-sex partners in family and medical leave, and eliminate the federal taxation on domestic partner health insurance coverage.

Clark said would seek family friendly immigration policies that include same-sex partners. He said that same-sex couples married in another country, where one partner or spouse is a U.S. citizen, should have the same rights to locate in the U.S. as an opposite-sex married couple.

Clark said matters of sexual orientation and gender identity equality are like issues of racial equality in the 1960s and 70s and should be pursued for the sake of a healthier society, though he wants to find ways other than civil marriage to achieve that equality.

�I support civil unions so that gays and lesbians have equality and full rights under the law,� said Clark. �I believe that same-sex couples shouldn�t be denied rights to pensions, health insurance, family and medical leave, bereavement leave, hospital visitation, survivor benefits, and other basic legal protections that all families and children need.�

Clark said if he became president and Congress continued to refuse to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, he would �build on President Clinton�s executive order banning discrimination based on sexual orientaion� among federal government employees.

Clark said public schools should have policies protecting GLBT students from harassment and discrimination as a requirement to receive federal funds and that gay-straight alliances in public schools should be eligible for those federal funds.

�One of the most important things a president can do to sway public opinion is to lead by example,� said Clark. �My administration will treat all Americans with respect and actively solicit participation and input from the GLBT community at all levels of government.�

�To fulfill our country�s full potential, we must nurture every person�s abilities regardless of his or her individual characteristics, such as race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity,� said Clark.

�We are all Americans. Therefore I am calling all Americans to find a way to serve with a new, inclusive spirit of patriotism,� said Clark. �We cannot reach our full potential by discriminating against people because of their sexual orientation.�

 

Howard Dean

Howard Dean stands on his 11 year record as governor of Vermont when expressing his views on issues of importance to the GLBT community.

Dean signed Vermont�s civil union law in 2000 after leading the negotiation that produced it. That law granted gay and lesbian couples the same state rights and benefits as married heterosexual couples as long as they remained in Vermont. Civil unions have no federal recognition.

As governor, Dean also signed legislation adding sexual orientation and gender identity to Vermont�s hate crime statute.

Dean opposes the ban on gay military servicemembers, and supports the gay and lesbian Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the Permanent Partner Act allowing gays and lesbians to sponsor their same-sex partner for purposes of immigration.

Dean has no position on bills in Congress that would end federal taxation of domestic partner health benefits or extend the federal Family and Medical Leave Act to cover same-sex couples.

�We don�t ask Americans what their sexual orientation is before collecting their taxes, seeking their service on juries, or demanding that they register with Selective Service,� said Dean, �and we shouldn�t discriminate when we provide the rights and privileges of citizenship between the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered communities and their heterosexual counterparts.�

As Vermont�s governor, Dean has made openly gay appointments, including an openly gay man to fill a vacant senate seat in 1994.

Because of his involvement in the creation of Vermont civil unions, Dean frequently speaks to GLBT audiences, including events of the Human Rights Campaign.

However, in creating Vermont�s civil unions, Dean took a stand against same-sex marriages, and he maintains that stand as a presidential candidate.

�It�s true that civil unions are not marriage,� says Dean, �but marriage is really a religious institution, and the state doesn�t have any business telling religion what they can and can�t do.�

Last fall, Dean protested the Senate Armed Services Committee�s approval of the nomination of Major General Robert T. Clark, who commanded Fort Campbell at the time when Pfc. Barry Winchell was bludgeoned to death while sleeping by fellow soldiers for being gay. The murder was seen as a marker of anti-gay harassment under �don�t ask don�t tell� and of Clark�s unwillingness to stop it.

�Major General Clark�s disastrous record as commander of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, raises grave concerns about his fitness to serve the second highest rank in the U.S. Army,� said Dean.

Dean has signaled what he would look for in judicial nominations. Following the U.S. Supreme Court�s decision last June striking the remaining sodomy laws, Dean criticized dissenter Justice Antonin Scalia.

�Scalia�s intemperate dissent in this case shows why he should never have been appointed to the Supreme Court in the first place and why he is not fit to serve as Chief Justice should a vacancy occur,� Dean said.

Dean says to GLBT voters, �As governor of Vermont, I have demonstrated my leadership by signing the first law in the country granting same-gender couples the right to enter into civil unions. I have shown that I am not afraid to represent all Americans as full citizens of the union. And, as President, I will be deeply committed to ensuring our democracy represents and protects the rights of everyone who contributes to our nation�s success.�

 


Gotta go, gotta go right now

Urinetown�s �number 1� cop is a
country boy who ran off to the big city

Cleveland--First off, all the bad puns need to be used.

Audiences won�t be pissed off at pissing away an evening at this show.

Piss, piddle, pee, draining the snake, taking a leak, unleashing the golden shower, it�s all talking about one thing, urine.

Which brings the conversation around to where it needs to be: Urinetown, the Tony Award-winning musical playing at the Palace Theater at Playhouse Square from January 20 to February 1.

The title describes the plot well.

In the future, water is in short supply. It is so rare a commodity that bathrooms have been banned. To relieve oneself, one must go to a pay pissoir, all of which are owned by the nefarious Caldwell B. Cladwell. Were someone to relieve themselves in an alley or on the shrubbery, the police would descend upon them and send the offenders off to Urinetown, a mysterious, never-seen penal colony from which no one has ever returned.

When Cladwell decides to raise prices on the pay toilets, an underground movement begins to foment a rebellion.

Openly gay actor Tom Hewitt, a Tony nominee himself for his work on The Rocky Horror Show with Lea DeLaria and Joan Jett, plays Officer Lockstock, one of the police charged with monitoring the citizens� discharges, as well as being the show�s narrator.

�My partner, Officer Barrel, and I are the police force in town,� Hewitt said. �We present a substantial barrier to the rebellious poor.�

His narrator�s duties are shared with the character of Little Sally, a small child who asks questions, giving Officer Lockstock the chance to explain things to her and the audience.

Little Sally is also Hewitt�s favorite character in the piece.

�She sort of plays the voice of reason in the show,� he noted, explaining that she has a hopefulness and a budding sexuality that makes a striking counterpoint to his sadistic police officer.

Having already played Cincinnati and Columbus, Hewitt has a taste for Ohio audiences.

�The title alone is off-putting,� he said of the play. �We�re met with some resistance at first, then the show sweeps them up and they�re screaming and laughing by the end. That�s really rewarding.�

Hewitt is perhaps as interesting as the roles he has taken. Born and raised in Montana, he epitomizes the country boy who runs off to the big city.

�That�s right, I�m that story,� he laughs.

He made the transition from Montana to New York City �one step at a time,� buoyed by supportive parents who sent him to college in Milwaukee to learn his craft. Work in regional theater led to Gotham.

Although he avoided musicals for years, �I had a career change in 1998 when I went into The Lion King. Since then, all I�ve done is musicals.�

He really enjoyed Rocky Horror, and was a little surprised at his success in the role of Dr. Frank N. Furter.

�It was awesome,� he enthuses. �Who would have thought that an alien transvestite would be nominated for a Tony? It was great.�

While touring is draining, it is something that Hewitt has experienced before, having been in a production of Gigi with Louis Jourdan 20 years ago.

One of the drawbacks to touring is, of course, having to leave his partner in New York. The two have been together for seven years, and his boyfriend is also in show business.

�The touring and working out of town has always been a part of the relationship,� he notes.

The two registered as domestic partners with the city of New York, enabling his partner to stay in their apartment when Hewitt is away for extended periods of time.

�By registering our relationship, I saved my boyfriend and my apartment,� he said.

When asked why he thought Urinetown would appeal to LGBT audiences, he was quick to respond, �Let�s start with the multitude of fabulous musical numbers. This show is great in its tributes to many theatrical standbys.�

There is also a secret lurking in the town . . . one of the characters may not be entirely straight.

�The character with ambiguous sexuality plays sort of a Sal Mineo role,� Hewitt opines, referring to the gay actor�s part in the film Rebel Without a Cause. �He or she has to die tragically.�

Urinetown will be at Playhouse Square�s Palace Theater in Cleveland from January 20 to February 1. For tickets or more information, call 216-7718403 or log onto www.playhousesquare.com.

 

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