New committee takes over event
Cincinnati-- “The show must go on” says the theater adage, and that holds true with Cincinnati Pride.
The Cincinnati Pride Committee announced on September 23 that it would be dissolving, citing burn-out and a lack of “new blood” on the task of putting together the city’s annual Pride parade and two-day music and cultural festival in Hoffner Park.
Nine days after that announcement, a new Pride committee formed at the October 2 meeting of the Cincinnati Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Coalition, held during the GLBT Youth Summit at Northern Kentucky University.
The coalition is a program of the Cincinnati GLBT Center, and brings together representatives from most of the organizations in the queer community in Cincinnati and northern Kentucky. The new Pride committee will be a sub-committee of the coalition.
The Cincinnati Men’s Chorus, the Cincinnati GLBT Center, P-FLAG, Northern Kentucky Fairness Alliance, GLSEN, the Greater Cincinnati GLBT News, Hamburger Mary’s, All Out magazine, Northern Kentucky University’s Common Ground and the Queen City Careers Association all pledged their help, along with other groups present.
In all, 23 non-profit, student, alumni and religious groups have pledged their support, along with ten for-profit businesses.
“That’s what happens when the community has to pull together,” Keutzer said.
The new Pride committee will be seeking information on the past committee’s activities, and center president Harold Keutzer hopes that the former committee will send a representative as an advisor to the nascent group.
Former Pride committee secretary Cynthia Jeffries told Keutzer she would be at the next organizational meeting for the new Pride committee, which will be held on Saturday, October 16 at noon. The meeting will be at Clifton United Methodist Church, 3416 Clifton Ave.
More information on the meeting or the new Pride committee is available by calling the Cincinnati LGBT Center at 513-591‑0200.
A third may plea-bargain in possible hate crime
Waverly, Ohio--Two of the three men arrested in the beating death of a deaf gay man were indicted by a grand jury on October 8.
Matthew Wayne Ferman, 22, and Martin Edward Baxter, 28, face penalties of 20 years to life on aggravated murder charges and three to 10 years on robbery charges.
James Veachel Trent, 19, is negotiating a plea agreement with Pike County Prosecutor Robert Junk in exchange for testifying against Ferman and Baxter. His indictment will come after negotiations have been completed.
The three are accused of robbing Daniel Fetty, 39, in the wee hours of October 2, and beating him with bricks and boards before stripping him and throwing him into a trash container. Police found Fetty while responding to a report of a fight, and the three men were arrested shortly afterward.
Fetty was flown to Grant Hospital in Columbus, where he died twelve hours after being found by police.
All three suspects are being held on $1 million bond at Ross County Jail in Chillicothe. It was the first slaying in four decades in Waverly, about 60 miles south of Columbus.
“He was a gentle man, and I’m sure that it did not require three men armed with boards and bricks to simply overtake him and steal his cash, nor could he have instigated such a vicious attack,” said Alicia Purdy, who had been Fetty’s roommate when he lived in Texas.
Fetty had been living in his car after his apartment was destroyed in a fire. He was working at a local restaurant to save money for a new apartment. The trio is accused of robbing him of his week’s pay, given to him earlier on the night of his death.
Fetty has relatives in the area, but Purdy believes that they were not close.
Also, “Dano was a proud man and did not want to ‘mooch’ off family members,” she said.
Purdy is concerned that Waverly police chief Larry Roe is not investigating the incident as a hate crime. Roe did not return numerous calls for comment, but has told other publications the incident is being investigated as a robbery.
Prosecutor Junk, however, said that he was keeping the matter open to all possible motivations, although Ohio has no hate crime law. (An “ethnic intimidation” statute, which does not include gays, applies only to five misdemeanors.)
Junk said last week that robbery might not be the primary motive for the crime because Fetty’s assailants had stripped him naked.
“That factor and the severity of the beating,” Junk said, “this is something we, and I, take seriously and we will check it out.”
Junk has said this is among the worst crimes he's dealt with.
“I believe Ohio’s laws are well behind the times,” Purdy said. “These hate crimes are especially heinous because the offenders have formed their opinions and acted on them without any regard for the individual.”
“Dano was not just any ‘gay man,’ he was a brother, a son, a grandson, and a beloved friend.”
Cincinnati--Yard signs have become a point of contention in the campaign to repeal Cincinnati’s Article 12.
Volunteers with Citizens to Restore Fairness, the campaign to repeal the anti-gay charter amendment making it impossible for the city of Cincinnati to enact any laws protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination, have complained that campaign yard signs opposing Issue 3, the article’s repeal, have been showing up in their yards. At least one election complaint has been filed.
Tim Ruffner, a CRF volunteer living in the Mt. Auburn neighborhood has filed a complaint with the Hamilton County Board of Elections and expects to go to the county prosecutor, accusing Equal Rights No Special Rights PAC, the campaign against the repeal, of “deceptive practices.”
Ruffner said he got a call from a woman “several weeks ago” wanting to know if they could put a sign in his yard “to vote no on Issue 3.”
Ruffner said that at the time, he did not know whether a vote to repeal Article 12 would be a “yes” or “no” vote, so he asked the caller for clarity.
“I asked the caller, ‘What is your position, to repeal Article 12?’ ” said Ruffner.
“She replied, ‘Yes, Vote no on Issue 3,’ ” said Ruffner, who asked the question a second time in order to make sure he heard correctly. According to Ruffner, the woman said again that a ‘no’ vote on Issue 3 repeals Article 12.
Ruffner returned to his home October 9 and found a sign saying, “Save civil rights and marriage--No on Issue 3” in his yard--one of the signs paid for and placed by ERNSR.
Ruffner is not alone.
Justin Turner, who manages the campaign to repeal Article 12, said “at least three” of his campaign volunteers have had opposition signs put in their yards since October 7. This prompted CRF to put out a bulletin asking people to remove and report any ERNSR’s signs put in their yards.
“Not only is this activity illegal, but it is also communicating the false impression that they have support in these neighborhoods,” said Turner.
“This is either deliberate deception or the volunteers are not trained properly,” said Ruffner, “Asking twice should have been enough for her to tell me the truth.”
Ruffner is also complaining about the content of the signs.
“ ‘Save civil rights and marriage’ is ambiguous,” said Ruffner, “and it implies that civil rights and marriage should extend to all people, which is not what they mean in either case.”
ERNSR is an enterprise of anti-gay activist Phil Burress, whose Citizens for Community Values also operates the Ohio Campaign to Protect Marriage that is trying to pass Issue 1, an amendment to Ohio’s constitution banning same-sex marriage and civil unions.
Cincinnati’s Article 12 does not concern marriage, and Issue 3’s passage or defeat will have no effect on Ohio marriage law.
Neither Burress nor CCV vice president David Miller responded to numerous calls seeking clarification.
CCV purchased over $500,000 of TV ad time to defeat Issue 3 according to Cincinnati TV station reports. The ads are scheduled to start running October 18.
CRF, by contrast, has purchased under $300,000 for the same period.
Turner said that through neighborhood canvassing efforts, media exposure and telephone solicitation, CRF has reached over 60,000 voters committed to approving Issue 3, and that the campaign has met its target and continues to work, though he expects the race to be close.
Visitors to the Gay and Lesbian Center of Cincinnati the morning of October 9 found the word “queer” spray painted in black on the entryway’s floor tile. Turner and center president Harold Kreutzer believe it was done as a reaction to the campaign to repeal Article 12.
Police agree, and have classified the vandalism as having been motivated by bias or hatred for lesbians and gays. There are no suspects.
Governor Taft, both senators
Columbus--Opponents to Issue 1, the proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, civil unions, and state recognition of any relationship other than marriage, have picked up significant allies.
Gov. Bob Taft announced his opposition to the amendment October 13, citing the measure’s broadness and economic impact.
“Issue 1 is unnecessary,” said Taft in an e‑mailed statement. “I signed House Bill 272, Ohio's Defense of Marriage Act into law last February.
“Second, Issue 1 is overbroad,” he continued. “The second sentence goes beyond House Bill 272 into uncharted waters. It is an ambiguous invitation to litigation that will result in unintended consequences for senior citizens and for any two persons who share living accommodations. There will be as many interpretations of the words, ‘intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage,’ as there are judges in the state of Ohio.”
“Issue 1 will make it more difficult for us to retain and attract the young talented knowledge workers we need to advance Ohio's prosperity,” the governor concluded.
A week earlier, both of Ohio’s U.S. senators, George Voinovich and Mike DeWine, also came out against the amendment. Like Taft, both oppose same-sex marriage but worry that the measure will hurt Ohio businesses.
Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro also opposes Issue 1. All four are Republicans.
The Ohio AFL-CIO and the Ohio League of Women Voters also announced their opposition on October 13.
The Ohio chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons is also against the amendment.
“Taking away rights that unmarried older couples need in order to support and care for one another is punitive and unacceptable,” said the AARP statement.
Nearly every major daily Ohio newspaper has carried editorials urging voters to defeat the proposal.
A complete list can be seen at www.opcpac.org.
Votes against DOMA used against two Ohio House candidates
Marietta, Ohio--Two Ohio House members are being challenged by their opponents over votes they cast against the so-called “defense of marriage act” last year.
State Reps. Nancy Hollister of Marietta and Dan Stewart of Columbus are hearing about their votes against the anti-gay measure last December from opponents who say the votes don’t represent their districts.
DOMA was signed into law by Gov. Bob Taft in February. It makes recognition of same-sex marriages by other states against the strong public policy of the state of Ohio and voids domestic partner laws and other “specific statutory benefits of legal marriage.”
Hollister was the only House Republican who voted against the bill. She was also the only Republican to oppose it in 2001 when it passed the House on Halloween. That year, the bill died in the Senate.
Hollister’s Democratic opponent Jennifer Garrison, a Marietta attorney, sent campaign literature to homes in the 93rd district saying, “If you believe marriage is between one man and one woman, there’s something you should know about Nancy Hollister.”
The district includes Washington, Monroe, Noble, and Guernsey counties and part of Muskingum County in southeast Ohio.
The cards, which arrived October 7, have a flip side that reads, “DOMA was enacted precisely to protect Ohioans from having to accept ‘marriages’ or ‘unions’ entered into in other states. Despite the value of DOMA, Nancy Hollister voted against it.”
Democrat Garrison then implies that because of her vote against DOMA, Hollister doesn’t represent Southeast Ohio.
“Jennifer Garrison believes marriage is between one man and one woman and will fight to protect our values,” according to the card.
According to Hollister campaign manager Marty Kitchen, the mailing was not the first time Garrison tried to attack Hollister with the DOMA vote.
“She started doing it at the county fairs,” said Kitchens. “Noble County’s was the first in September, but at the fairs, she wasn’t so blatant about it.”
Kitchens said the mailing will probably cost Hollister some votes, especially in Monroe County, but that Hollister will “continue to claim the high ground.”
“Elections are not about just one issue,” said Kitchens, also pointing out that having passed the DOMA bill, the legislature will not vote on same-sex marriage again.
Garrison, whose web page highlights DOMA as one of the five main issues of her endorsement by the anti-gay Ohio Right to Life, did not respond to requests for comment for this report.
Short North seat targeted
State Rep. Dan Stewart is a Democrat whose 25th District includes Columbus’ Short North neighborhood. It is considered to be one of the gayest districts in the state.
As a first-term member, Stewart voted against DOMA and argued vigorously against it before the vote.
Stewart’s seat is considered “in play” by both Democrats and Republicans, and targeted with money and resources by both camps.
Stewart’s Republican opponent is Andy Bowers, deputy chief of staff for State Auditor Betty Montgomery. He has been more subtle than Hollister’s opponent about the DOMA vote, but has attempted to use it to his advantage.
According to Stewart, Bowers is using the DOMA vote to attempt to hurt Stewart in the more conservative western part of the district, then changing his message in the neighborhoods known to have many GLBT residents.
“On the west side he’s attacking me for my opposition to DOMA and the marriage amendment,” said Stewart, “but when he’s in Victorian Village, it’s a different story.”
Stewart said Bowers’ campaign managers Amber Burke and Joe Sprengard sat in the third row of a town meeting he held July 29 with a video camera hidden under a coat.
The pair, according to Stewart, then peppered him with demands to explain himself on the DOMA vote. Stewart said that before he realized he was being taped and called the pair out of line, they got material that he expects to see in a TV commercial.
Stewart said most voters he talks to aren’t interested in discussing the DOMA vote, and that in his district, having the matter become part of the campaign “probably hurts in some areas, but helps in others.”
Bowers did not respond to requests for comment for this report.
Court upholds women’s shared custody agreement
Cincinnati--An Ohio appeals court has unanimously overturned a Warren County decision, ruling that a lesbian couple raising a child should be allowed to have a shared custody agreement.
The child benefits “from having two caregivers, legally responsible for his welfare,” said the ruling from the 12th District Ohio Court of Appeals in Middletown.
Attorneys for Cheryl and Jennifer McKettrick of Mason received the decision on October 9.
“Both will have the ability to make medical decisions on his behalf and be able to interact with teachers and school administrators without executing additional documents,” the ruling continued.
Jennifer McKettrick gave birth to the couple’s child, referred to in court documents as “Baby J,” in March 2001. The child was conceived using one of Cheryl’s eggs.
A Warren County judge ruled last year against granting the shared custody agreement, saying that the woman could duplicate its effect by creating a patchwork of other legal documents like wills and powers of attorney.
The appeals court returned the case to Warren County, noting that the best interests of the child are served by granting a formal shared custody agreement.
“[The] decision is in line with Ohio law on protecting children,” said Heather Sawyer of Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, who argued the case. “Same-sex couples need to be able to protect their families, which too often requires a patchwork of legal documents that provide a fraction of the security they need. These shared custody agreements provide security to children about their parent-child relationships.”
“This is great news for our gay and lesbian parents,” said Harold Keutzer, president of the Cincinnati GLBT Center. “It shows that when it comes to parenting that same-sex couples should be treated with the same respect as opposite-sex parents.”
“For parents, it gives them some comfort knowing that should they need to make a medical decision for the child, they can do so without fear of medical personnel questioning their right legally or morally,” he continued. “I know that if I had a child, I would want my partner to be able to make medical decisions in my absence that would safeguard the child.”
The only blemish for the McKettricks is the possibility that Issue 1, the proposed anti-marriage amendment to the Ohio constitution, could negate their agreement, since it bars any recognition of marriage-like arrangements.
Sherry Davis, one of the couple’s attorneys, pointed to the vagueness of the amendment’s language as cause for concern.
“Potentially, language like that could affect these [agreements],” she said. “It might do something, we’re not sure, and that’s what is so troubling about it.”
Dozens of candidates court
Columbus--Dozens of candidates and officials sought the GLBT vote at a pair of candidates’ nights in Cleveland and Columbus.
Stonewall Community Action Network hosted 30 candidates and eight more representatives at its September 30 meeting at King Avenue Methodist Church, less than two weeks before Network Metro Cleveland’s event at the Intercontinental Hotel, held on October 12.
Among the campaigns represented at the Stonewall CAN night were State Sen. Eric Fingerhut, challenging George Voinovich for his U.S. Senate seat, U.S. Rep. Deborah Pryce, Franklin County Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy and Bill Hedrick, who is running for Court of Common Pleas. Also present were the campaigns of Paula Brooks, who is seeking another Franklin County Commission seat, State Rep. Dan Stewart and Thomas Tootle, running for Ohio Court of Appeals.
“I was impressed by the equal representation of the two major parties, as well as independents and the Green Party,” said Stonewall Columbus executive director Kate Anderson. “It is clear that local, state and federal candidates are actively engaging with us on issues that resonate with our community members.”
“This is an important year for us all and it is clear that candidates are paying attention to our community and recognizing that we are a strong political constituency,” said Steve Shellabarger, president of Stonewall CAN, pointing to an increase each year with the number of candidates present at community forums and returning questionnaires for the organization’s endorsement process. More information is available by calling 614-299‑7764.
At the Network Metro Cleveland meeting, 22 candidates and elected officials registered at the door, including Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Cleveland City Council member Joe Cimperman, Cleveland Heights mayor Edward Kelley and council member Bonnie Caplan, and Ohio Supreme Court candidates Nancy Fuerst and C. Ellen Connally.
Despite the strong Democratic tilt of the Cleveland area, Republican politicians and candidates were also visible at the event, including Ohio Rep. Tom Patton and Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Dick Ambrose
Also present was Alan Melamed, campaign manager of Ohioans Protecting the Constitution. His group is leading the fight against Issue 1, the proposed state constitutional amendment that would entrench the ban on same-sex marriages and, according to opponents, eradicate all benefits for unmarried couples, gay or straight.
Melamed noted that, while nobody seems sure what comprises the “gay agenda” that homophobic forces claim is at work, Sens. George Voinovich and Mike DeWine and Ohio attorney general Jim Petro apparently now support it, given their vocal opposition to Issue 1.
“Ohio is the place where we’re going to draw a line in the sand and tell them no,” said Melamed. “Defeat of the amendment would be like having a big sign in Ohio saying: You are all welcome.”
Patrick Shepherd, president of the Cleveland Stonewall Democrats, gave Melamed a check for $1,500 for OPC, the largest disbursement made by the Cleveland Stonewall Democrats’ political action committee.
Tubbs Jones pointed to the difficulties facing Ohio, like unemployment, poverty and education, and noted that the specter of same-sex marriage should be the least of the state’s concerns.
“We need to work at bringing people together rather than on the issues that separate us,” she said. “We need to join together at the polls
The queer-friendly creators of South Park
Trey Parker and Matt Stone are super, thanks for asking!
Creators of Comedy Central’s decidedly un-PC South Park, the duo has brought the world queer creations like Big Gay Al – whose über-pink utterance of “Super, thanks for asking” has become a big gay catchphrase. On the show and its outrageous 1999 musical feature film, South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, there were also puppet-wielding teacher Mr. Garrison who finally gave up on his crutch when he came out, gay canine Sparky the Dog, Mecha-Barbra Streisand, and a flamingly gay, serial monogamist Devil sharing a tortured relationship with Saddam Hussein.
Last season, an episode called “South Park is Gay!” saw the town overtaken by the Queer Eye craze--and the Fab Five themselves. And all of that is completely disregarding the nambla episode . . .
The controversies will certainly keep coming with Parker and Stone’s R-rated marionette action film, Team America.
“It’s just a laugh, believe me,” insists Stone, likening the film to a big budget Jerry Bruckheimer action flick with puppets as opposed to a political rally cry à la Fahrenheit 9-11. “Hopefully, because it deals with a lot of issues everyone’s all fuckin’ amped about and comes out in October, it will be a pressure valve. Everyone can relax for a couple of hours instead of getting all psyched up about that shit. But I would take any of that [Fahrenheit box office] juice.”
Team America is the world’s de facto elite police force, whose base is located within Mount Rushmore. Each team member has a specialty, ranging from martial arts to terrorist profiler to clairvoyant. Yet a mission against a diabolical group of evildoers requires the team to recruit a new member--a spy.
Enter Gary, a struggling Broadway actor, who agrees to risk life and career and join their ranks. However, the team comes up against more than just bad guys like North Korea’s Kim Jong-Il. They lock horns with liberal activist Hollywood sorts--like Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Michael Moore, and Alec Baldwin--who are opposed to war and the team’s actions.
“Team America is a metaphor for the military might of America,” Parker says. “A lot of us have heard the phrase ‘Stop policing the world’ and ‘You think you’re the world’s police.’ So we’re like, let’s just make that a totally real thing.”
As mentioned earlier, a gay-friendly sensibility has played a role in much of Parker and Stone’s output. Besides South Park, in 1998’s live action Basketball, Parker and Stone famously French kissed each other.
Stone says they scrapped a gay-themed subplot from Team America involving "an actor and his big hang-up with his father, who was convinced his son was gay because he was in theater. Maybe he was, maybe not.” Yet their overall embracing of gayness in their work has sparked quite a few rumors that the pair is actually gay--which is fine with them.
“When ‘South Park’ first started there were all these rumors that Trey and I were gay--we don’t care if people want to think that.”
With inspiration from the 1960s TV series Thunderbirds and Bruckheimer-Bay blockbusters, Parker and Stone began pitching Team America in 2002 as “a big stupid action event movie with all puppets,” Stone recalls. Of course, this would also be a big comedy--although not entirely due to jokes and gags.
“We do comedy, but to make [this idea] funny you have to do the most serious shit you can think of. Which means puppets dying, drowning, getting raped, falling in love, having sex.”
Indeed, the film’s content is entirely on par with the Bruckheimer-Bay blockbuster model--only on 20-inch marionette scale.
“We’re blowing up all sorts of good stuff,” Stone giddily relays. “Everything is custom made for 20-inch puppets and because we built all these great locations, Trey and I have always been like, ‘Can we figure out a way in the script to blow this up now that we have built it?’ [Some puppets have gotten] really fucked up. We burned some puppets pretty good, waterlogged some. And they’re pretty expensive.”
“Our main guy, Gary, goes through the typical movie plot points of, if you were plucked from obscurity and asked to serve for your country, what would you do?” Stone says. “Would you sacrifice your dreams and future for a greater cause? He does, screws up, the team breaks up, they get caught and he has to save the day.”
On the look of Team America’s puppets, Stone says, “There’s a fine line between cute and interesting-looking and creepy and Chucky-looking. We tried to stay on the cute and cool side instead of the Chucky side.”
Although some marionette characters are based on real life public figures, including Baldwin and his outspoken Hollywood ilk along with Michael Moore and Kim Jong-Il, the filmmakers decided against depicting Osama bin Laden, George Bush or John Kerry.
Osama was always excluded because “we were too afraid he might get caught,” admits Stone. However, “We had a Bush and Kerry puppet planned and we never did them--it felt cheap. The film’s gotten a bigger scope and feel than we originally thought, having [The Matrix] cinematographer Bill Pope, and [openly gay] producer Scott Rudin, and it actually feels cheap to go after Bush and Kerry jokes. Those are the kinds of things late night TV does, and last for two weeks and date your movie a little bit. So we opted against that.”
One thing’s for sure: Team America will be bakery-fresh--as of late August, Parker and Stone were in frantic production. Both are voicing characters, with impersonators lending their talents to the real life A-list celebrity characters.
Why not bring in the real deal?
“If they wanted to work for free, maybe,” Stone says. “But if we had some money, we wanted to spend it on shit to blow up.”
The pair have put their own paychecks and profit points into bringing many of their past and present projects to the small and large screens, Team America being the latest.
“That’s kind of par for the course,” Stone admits. “Although we’re pretty rich, not near as rich as we could be, we always would rather put stuff on screen than take the money. We always get screwed at stuff like that, but at the end of the day Paramount is paying for us to make an R‑rated puppet movie.”