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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
October 8, 2004

Ohio man is beaten to death in a suspected hate crime

Waverly, Ohio--The murder of a gay man on October 2 is being investigated as a possible hate crime, and may result in the death penalty for the alleged killers.

Daniel Fetty, 39, was found severely beaten and naked in a dumpster shortly before 1 am.

Police had been called to investigate a fight in this town of 4,500 about 50 miles south of Columbus. Patrolman Tim South saw the three suspects, Martin Edward Baxter, 28, Matthew Wayne Ferman, 22, and James Veachel Trent, 19, run behind a nearby building.

South then discovered Fetty and called for an ambulance. Fetty was taken to Pike Community Hospital, then flown to Grant Hospital in Columbus, where he died shortly before 1 pm.

Baxter, Ferman and Trent were arrested within hours of the call, and face charges of aggravated murder and aggravated robbery. Investigators believe they took Fetty’s pay from his job at Emmitt House restaurant, where Fetty had worked trying to save enough money for an apartment.

The victim was living in his car after his previous apartment was destroyed in a fire. He was also hearing-impaired and used a hearing aid, leading to speculation that he might not have heard his attackers before they set upon him.

Friends of Fetty, however, believe that his sexual orientation may have also been a motive for the attack, and Pike County Prosecutor Robert Junk in investigating that possibility.

“That’s something we want to make sure we get to the bottom of,” he said. “We don’t want to rule out anything.”

Junk and the investigators are looking at the fact that Fetty was stripped naked as one of the indicators that robbery was not the sole, or even primary, motive of the attack.

“That factor and the severity of the beating,” he said, “this is something we, and I, take seriously and we will check it out.”

He noted that in most cases of robbery, someone might be punched or stabbed, but not severely beaten.

“I’m relieved that the police there moved so quickly to identify these guys and make arrests,” said Gloria McCauley, executive director of the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization in Columbus.

She was concerned about the severity of the beating, noting that it often means a hate crime.

“That to me is what causes flags to be raised,” she said. “In robbery, you don’t usually have that kind of overkill. We certainly want to know what other motivations are there other than robbery.”

At the October 4 arraignment, the three were charged and bond was set at $1 million each.

Junk is still considering whether to seek the death penalty. He said that, even if they are convicted of something less than aggravated murder, which can carry the death penalty in itself, a lesser murder charge coupled with aggravated robbery can also carry death penalty specifications.

A grand jury was to be convened on October 7.

Junk was incensed at the brutality of the crime, and concerned about the possibility of a hate crime.

“If the evidence is true, it’s a pretty horrific crime regardless” of whether  or not it is a hate crime, he said.

Junk made it clear that the investigation of a hate crime will continue.

“There’s no such thing as having too much evidence or too much information,” he noted.

 

 


Gay marriage and Mary Cheney are topics in vice presidential
debate

Cleveland--Two questions about same-sex couples were part of the vice presidential debate held October 5 at Case Western Reserve University. The answer to one was surprisingly short.

An hour into the debate, moderator Gwen Ifill asked Vice President Richard Cheney to explain his administration’s support for a constitutional ban on same-sex unions.

“I want to read something you said four years ago at this very setting,” Ifill said. “ ‘Freedom means freedom for everybody.’ You said it again recently when you were asked about legalizing same-sex unions. And you used your family experience as a context for your remarks.”

“Gwen, you’re right,” answered Cheney. “Four years ago in this debate the subject came up. And I said then and I believe today that freedom does mean freedom for everybody. People ought to be free to choose any arrangement they want. It’s really no one’s business.”

“That’s a separate question from the issue of whether or not government should sanction or approve or give some sort of authorization to these relationships,” Cheney continued. “Traditionally, that's been an issue for the states. States have regulated marriage, if you will. That would be my preference.”

However, Cheney continued, since the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court changed that state’s definition of marriage to include same-sex couples, “the president felt it was clear to make it clear that that’s the wrong way to go as far as he’s concerned.”

“Now, he sets the policy for this administration,” said Cheney, “and I support the president.”

In his response, Sen. John Edwards recognized Cheney’s openly lesbian daughter Mary, without naming her. She works for her father’s campaign.

“I think that the vice president and his wife love their daughter,” said Edwards. “I think they love her very much. And you can’t have anything but respect for the fact that they are willing to talk about the fact that they have a gay daughter, the fact that they embrace her. It’s a wonderful thing.”

Edwards said there are millions of parents like Cheney and his wife Lynne, who want their children to be happy.

“I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, and so does John Kerry,” he continued. “I also believe that there should be partnership benefits for gay and lesbian couples in long term, committed relationships.”

“But we should not use the Constitution to divide this country,” Edwards added. “No state for the last 200 years has ever had to recognize another state's marriage. This is using the Constitution as a political tool, and it's wrong.”

The next question, to Edwards, was on the same topic.

“John Kerry comes from the state of Massachusetts,” said Ifill, “which has taken as big a step as any state in the union to legalize gay marriage.”

“Yet both you and Senator Kerry say that you oppose it. Are you trying to have it both ways?”

“We both believe that marriage is between a man and a woman,” answered Edwards, restating his belief that gay and lesbian couples should have benefits and be treated respectfully. He noted the difficulty couples can have with hospital visitation and funeral arrangements.

“I want to make sure that people understand that the president is proposing a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage that is completely unnecessary,” said Edwards. “There is absolutely no purpose in the law and in reality for this amendment. It’s nothing but a political tool. And it’s being used as an effort to divide this country on an issue that we should not be dividing America on.”

Cheney, in a move that took Ifill by surprise, chose not to use his 90 seconds of rebuttal time.

“Well, Gwen, let me simply thank the senator for the kind words he said about my family and our daughter. I appreciate that very much,” said Cheney.

“That’s it?” asked Ifill.

“That’s it,” said Cheney.

AIDS in the U.S.

Ifill also asked the men to address the state of the AIDS epidemic in the United States. Both used more of their time talking about AIDS in other parts of the world than the U.S., discussing the $15 billion promised by President Bush to fight AIDS in Africa.

Cheney said he was not aware that African-American women between ages 25 and 44 are 13 times more likely to die of AIDS than their white counterparts.

Edwards said that the AIDS epidemic in Africa and the genocide in Sudan represent “two huge moral issues for the United States.”

Neither talked about AIDS among men who have sex with men.

Pryce won’t discuss marriage

After the debate, Republican Rep. Deborah Pryce of Columbus, who chairs the House conference committee making her the fourth most powerful Republican in Washington, was asked why her party is using same-sex marriage and the federal marriage amendment as a campaign issue.

Pryce voted against the amendment on September 30, but supported a bill to bar federal courts from hearing challenges to the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act. That measure, passed by the House in July, is also said to be an appeal to Republican social conservatives.

“I won’t talk about that,” said Pryce before turning and walking away from the reporter.

Issue 1 is ‘not divisive’

Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman said Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell is active with the campaign and speaks to him often.

Blackwell said earlier that he was enlisted by Mehlman to help the Bush campaign by promoting the Issue 1 state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnerships.

“All things flow from [Mehlman],” said Blackwell to a daily newspaper about his role with the amendment.

Mehlman said he couldn’t remember if it was Blackwell or him who first suggested the plan, “and I wouldn’t tell you if I did remember.”

Mehlman said the Bush campaign’s position is that the marriage amendment issues are for the states to decide and for the campaign to stay out of.

“I don’t know what kind of impact [the amendment] will have on the Ohio election,” said Mehlman.

Mehlman said the Bush campaign is not using the federal marriage amendment in a divisive manner.

“It’s not a divisive issue,” said Mehlman. “I believe the federal marriage amendment is not divisive.”

Mary Cheney appears on stage

Mary Cheney and her partner Heather Poe appeared with the rest of the Cheney family on the stage after the debate. Their absence from an onstage family gathering at the GOP convention a month earlier has been criticized.

However, they did not come to the Veale Center “spin room” to meet reporters, nor did they respond to a Gay People’s Chronicle request for an interview.

Mary Cheney’s older sister Liz Cheney, who also works for the campaign, did meet reporters and give interviews. One of her handlers elbowed this reporter in the chest to block access to her.

Edwards spoke to his supporters at an outdoor rally on Wade Oval following the program.


Federal Marriage Amendment loses for a second time

Washington, D.C.--A proposed amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning same-sex marriages and civil unions got a majority of votes, but less than the required two-thirds when the House of Representatives voted on it September 30.

The vote was 227 in favor, 186 opposed, and 20 not voting. All but 27 Republicans voted for the amendment, all but 36 Democrats voted against it.

The vote effectively stopped the Federal Marriage Amendment from moving forward in the foreseeable future. The Senate rejected a similar measure 50‑48 in July.

The House measure was amended a week before the vote to also ban civil unions and other relationships that confer “legal incidents” of marriage. Last summer’s Senate version did not contain that wording.

All six Ohio Democrats--Sherrod Brown, Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Marcy Kaptur, Dennis Kucinich, Tim Ryan and Ted Strickland--opposed the measure. Two Ohio Republicans joined them: Deborah Pryce and David Hobson.

The remaining Ohio Republicans voted for it: David Boehner, Steve Chabot, Paul Gillmor, Steve LaTourette, Bob Ney, Mike Oxley, Rob Portman, Ralph Regula, Pat Tiberi, and Mike Oxley.

The bill was sponsored by GOP first-term Rep. Marilyn Musgrave of Colorado. It had 121 co-sponsors including Ohioans Boehner, Ney and Oxley.

Virginia Republican Edward Schrock, who was outed August 19 by a web site, also co-sponsored the measure and voted for it.

Schrock said he would not run for re-election after Blogactive.com’s owner Mike Rogers produced audio tapes allegedly of him cruising for gay sex on telephone chat lines.

Two other outed GOP House members, David Drier of California and Mark Foley of Florida, voted against the amendment.

All three of the House’s openly gay or lesbian members, Republican Jim Kolbe of Arizona and Democrats Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Barney Frank of Massachusetts, also voted against it.

An election-year ploy

Democrats objected to the Republicans’ bringing the measure to a vote as well as the substance of it. They pointed out that the new amendment was not considered by any committee, and said Republicans were trying to score election-year points.

Other hot-button bills considered by the House the same week included another constitutional amendment against flag burning and a measure to prohibit the U.S. Supreme Court from hearing  challenges to the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance.

With ten days left in the session when the amendment was considered, ten major appropriations bills were unfinished. These included a transportation one that was put on hold to debate the amendment. The new fiscal year began the next day, and temporary resolutions kept the government running.

Proponents also knew that the measure had no change of passing the House, or of the Senate taking it up again this session.

Musgrave countered Democrat charges of “legislative malfeasance” by saying this was no different than considering bills to rename post offices without first having completed the budget.

‘Marriage is not a right’

Each side had one hour and 15 minutes to speak. Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas managed debate for the amendment’s backers. The Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat, John Conyers of Michigan, managed its opponents.

Proponents, primarily Republicans, argued familiar themes that the amendment is needed to protect the nation from “judges who are unraveling life” and “judicial activism.”

Ohio Republican Steve Chabot of Cincinnati said, “Marriage is an institution, not a right.”

“One way or another, we know that the Constitution will be amended,” said Chabot. “The question is, is it done the appropriate way, or is it done by unelected, activist judges and courts who will alter our social fabric?”

Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican, added, “Just because all people are created equal does not mean that all kinds of marriages are equal, just like it does not mean that all kinds of flags are equal or all kinds of governments are equal.”

The measure’s backers introduced a new argument for it: a claim that judges have the power to amend the Constitution.

“Either radical, unelected judges are going to amend the Constitution from the bench to redefine the traditional view of marriage or the peoples’ representatives here in the House” are going to do it, according to Republican Tom Feeney of Florida.

‘Creates two classes of people’

Proponents also asserted that gay rights are not civil rights, to which the Democrats responded by presenting members of the Congressional Black Caucus to say they are.

Democrat John Lewis of Georgia, who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, said, “This is not a good day in America. This is a sad day in the House of the people. This is unbelievable. It is unreal. I thought as a nation and as a people we have moved so far down the road toward one family, one House, one America. To pass this legislation would be a step backward.”

Dennis Kucinich of Cleveland said, “This amendment creates two classes of people based on sexual orientation. We could not remain a United States half slave, half free. We could not remain a United States if a woman’s right to vote or to choice were denied, and we cannot remain united if our brothers and sisters are denied equal protection of the law because of their sexual orientation.”

Openly gay Republican Jim Kolbe of Arizona complained that his party would not recognize him to speak against the amendment. He eventually spoke on time given to him by a Democrat.

‘We will be back, we will be back’

Barney Frank, an openly gay Democrat from Massachusetts, challenged Republican John Carter of Texas, who is a former divorce judge.

Carter said he presided over 20,000 divorces. “It is a shame that we have to go through this attack on marriage, but to add a further attack on marriage by redefining the definition of marriage would be an abomination to our children.”

Frank interjected, “I am prepared to own up when I am at fault. Am I responsible, as a gay man, for any of these 20,000 dissolutions?”

Carter said that there was a gay person in six of them, then said he didn’t say anything about gay marriage.

“I apologize for assuming that the gentleman was referring to gay marriage,” said Frank. “This is a debate about gay marriage.”

“I am sorry Rush Limbaugh has been divorced three times, but it ain’t my fault,” he continued, “and it’s not the fault of any of my friends.”

Frank turned to DeLay and said, “Why do you turn love into a weapon?”

Democrats spoke more about the impact on gay and lesbian people’s lives and less about preserving the Constitution than their Senate counterparts did three months ago.

In his closing for the Republicans, DeLay argued that the only definition of a family is “a man and a woman that can create children and rear them.”

“If you get busted by a gang or mugged by a gang, that is the result of undermining marriage,” said DeLay.

Then he revealed why he scheduled the vote.

“Believe me, everybody in this country is going to know how you voted today.”

Admitting that the measure was unlikely to pass, DeLay concluded, “We will be back, and we will be back, and we will be back. We will never give up. We will protect marriage in this country.”

 

 


Suit against registry will wait to see if Issue 1 passes

Cleveland--An appeals court has decided to wait until after the election to decide if Cleveland Heights can keep its domestic partner registry.

The registry, which was the first in the nation to be created by voters last year, opened January 26. Anti-gay city council member Jimmie Hicks, Jr. sued the city to have it shut down. After losing the first round, he appealed to the Ohio Eighth District Court of Appeals.

Appeals court magistrate Ute L. Vilfroy granted Hicks’ motion on September 19 to see if Issue 1 passes before proceeding with the case.

Issue 1 is the proposed amendment to Ohio’s constitution banning same-sex marriages, civil unions and any relationship that “intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage.”

Hicks is represented by attorney David Langdon of Cincinnati with the Alliance Defense Fund of Scottsdale, Arizona, a consortium of religious-right groups that often sues against domestic partner measures. After he first filed the suit on February 19, he was joined by anti-gay former state school board member Charles Byrne.

Hicks and Byrne appealed Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Robert T. Glickman’s May 28 ruling that the registry is constitutional and is consistent with Ohio’s home-rule provisions.

Glickman also ruled that Hicks and Byrne were not harmed by the registry.

“The Cleveland Heights domestic partner registry is not beyond the scope of the municipalities’ grant of power,” wrote Glickman in response to Langdon’s argument that it conflicts with the Ohio “defense of marriage act” passed last winter.

That law, written by Langdon, prohibits political subdivisions from granting same-sex couples and unmarried opposite-sex couples the “benefits of marriage.”

Hicks and other opponents argued that the registry creates a new class of people attempting to imitate marriage.

Glickman disagreed, writing that “Foreign jurisdictions are not bound to acknowledge the registry or confer any rights or obligations . . . The registry does not create any result, either within the city or outside its territory, other than the mere existence of names on a list.”

Langdon, who also wrote the Issue 1 constitutional amendment, says he still believes the registry violates DOMA, but even if it doesn’t, it most certainly violates the amendment.

The amendment reads, “This state and its political subdivisions shall not create or recognize a legal status for relationships of unmarried individuals that intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage.”

In the event it is approved by voters, “the domestic partner registry would, in the opinion of Rev. Hicks and Mr. Byrne, thereby be prohibited on an additional and independent constitutional ground,” wrote Langdon.

Langdon said the court should, “as a matter of judicial economy, postpone the litigation until after the voters have either approved or rejected the proposed constitutional amendment, thereby potentially avoiding unnecessary and duplicative litigation.”

Cleveland Heights Law Director John Gibbon countered unsuccessfully that “judicial economy would be best served by moving forward with the present appeal as soon as possible.”

Gibbon argued that affirming Glickman’s opinion that the registry is just a list would decide the matter whether or not the amendment passes.

Gibbon noted that “since the domestic partner registry on its face does not create or recognize a legal status for the relationship of the signers and specifically states that it does not intend to create any legal rights or confer any legal status,” it will be ruled constitutional even if the amendment passes.

The suit will go forward after the election. It is expected to be decided ultimately by the Ohio Supreme Court.

 


A broad coalition can defeat
Issue 1, town hall is told

Columbus--Herb Asher has a fantasy about the upcoming vote on an Ohio constitutional amendment to ban civil unions and gay marriage.

“On election day or the day after, when Ohio turns out to be critical in the presidential race and John Kerry carries Ohio by the narrowest of margins,” he said, “we can owe it to the mobilization caused by Issue 1.”

The Ohio State University political science professor then sarcastically added, “Of course, we know that Karl Rove’s fingerprints are nowhere near this amendment.”

Rove is President Bush’s top political advisor.

“On election day when we win, we can say: Thank you, Karl,” Asher said.

He noted that this issue will mobilize people who would not normally come together to vote.

Asher spoke at a September 28 town hall meeting on the amendment, which would ban gay marriage, civil unions, domestic partnerships and anything that “intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage” for all unmarried couples, gay and straight.

“We are a real long way” from his fantasy, Asher acknowledged to the 100 people gathered in OSU’s Longaberger Alumni House.

He pointed to a recent New York Times article on ten other states with similar amendments on the ballot. Of these, the paper said only Oregon had a slim chance of defeating it.

Asher pointed out that no other state has a measure that goes as far as the one in Ohio.

“Ohio’s measure is so offensive, so radical that we are going to have to defeat this,” he said. One of the arguments being used against it is that it would affect the economic and job climate of the state.

“But, this is not just about jobs,” he said, “It is about equality.”

He argued that a broad-based coalition needed to be formed in order to send a clear message that Ohioans “reject this kind of mean-spiritedness to inject this kind of language into the Ohio constitution.”

“It is going to be necessary, that in order to defeat this awful bipartisan amendment, that we are going to need a bipartisan coalition.”

The day of the town hall meeting, Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro, a Republican, came out against Issue 1.

Asher said that even though Petro is against gay marriage, he had come out opposed to Issue 1 because “it goes too far.”

Asher also felt that it was very important for Ohio State, which recently gave domestic partner benefits to faculty, staff and students, to speak to its people to help defeat Issue 1. He said that the university spoke to many groups--faculty, staff, students, alumni, parents--and that all together, they too would be affected adversely if Issue 1 becomes a reality.

Chad Foust, a member of the board of governors for Ohioans for Growth and Equality, also spoke at the meeting.

He discussed Ohioans for Protecting the Constitution, the group formed to help defeat Issue 1.

Foust also noted the “questionable tactics” that the supporters of the amendment had used “in gathering signatures and putting this on the ballot.”

He said that the opposition often uses phrases like “protecting the sanctity of marriage.”

“Well, what I want to know is, what exactly is the sanctity of marriage and how is this measure protecting that?” he asked.

Foust also said that the media never questions the proponents of Issue 1 about their rhetoric and what the amendment is truly trying to get.

He said that the GLBT community would find it easy to get discouraged about the Ohio measure, especially because similar amendments have passed by wide margins this summer in Missouri and in Louisiana.

He echoed Asher’s sentiments about needing a large and unlikely coalition of labor, religious groups, businesses, Republicans, Democrats and others to defeat Issue 1.

Both believe that the extreme nature of the issue would actually help people get agitated and out at the voting booths to vote it down.

The rest of the evening allowed audience members to ask questions and share resources about how to defeat Issue 1 in November.

The forum was co-sponsored by OGE, Stonewall Community Action Network, Log Cabin Republicans, Stonewall Democrats of Central Ohio, the Human Rights Campaign-Columbus and the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization.

 


The ‘uniter’ brought his opponents together, Noble says

Cleveland--George W. Bush made good on his promise to be a “uniter, not a divider,” according to National Stonewall Democrats executive director Dave Noble.

Of course, it might not be what Bush had in mind.

“He certainly has united the progressive movement,” Noble said in an interview with the Gay People’s Chronicle. “He’s certainly united people in Florida, for example, who are saying they’re going to make sure they vote, they’re going to make sure their aunt votes, their cousin votes, their coworker votes, make sure they’re not going to get away with what they did in 2000.”

“Are we going to win in a huge landslide?” he questioned hypothetically. “We’re not going to win in a huge landslide, but I’m very confident that we will see a swearing in of a new president in January and see a nice shift in some seats in the Senate and the House.”

Noble cited a New York Times article showing that, in some Democratic areas, voter registration is up 250%, compared to a 25% increase in voter registration in comparable Republican areas.

Noble said, “There was just a report the other day that 100,000 young people in Wisconsin have registered to vote in the last two months. These people aren’t showing up in polls, they’re not showing up as likely voters, but you know they’re pissed off and they want to take their country back.”

Noble distanced his group from Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry’s equation of civil unions with full same-sex civil marriage, but insisted Kerry is the most pro-gay candidate in history.

“Stonewall Democrats said the day that John Kerry came out for the Massachusetts amendment . . . that he has taken the wrong position in amending the Massachusetts constitution, even if it specifically allowed for civil unions,” Noble noted. “It’s not equality, it’s not the right position to have.”

“That being said, we unequivocally support John Kerry for president. George Bush has created more damage to us and will continue to do so when he has the opportunity to appoint Supreme Court justices,” he added. “I think even more damaging is the culture he is creating and propagating by talking about us as second-class citizens, and the cover that it gives folks . . . I think we had really come a long way in the 1990s to being more fully accepted in society and now it’s becoming sort of chic again to be against LGBT equality.”

“That’s the legacy George Bush leaves. John Kerry will be a partner in our progress and he’s not 100% there on everything we care about. No candidate has ever been,” Noble stressed. “But we understand that when you’re at the edge of a civil rights movement, you need to bring people along with you.”

“Someone who supports federal recognition of civil unions, to me, is a hell of a lot better of a starting place than someone who wants to see us permanently discriminated against in the Constitution,” he concluded.

In addition to campaigning against the president, the Stonewall Democrats are also fighting his main weapon in voter mobilization: state anti-marriage constitutional amendments, calculated to bring evangelical Christian voters to the polls to vote for the amendments and, the Republicans hope, also vote for Bush.

“In some places, like Michigan, where the contested candidates are up by . . . a bunch, that’s where a lot of our primary focus is, on defeating these marriage amendments,” he said. “Certainly, working to defeat the marriage amendments motivates people that might not otherwise be motivated by some candidates, so we need to make sure that we’re seizing that energy in our community.”

“Ohio has emerged as our number one target of all the states we’re in,” Noble noted. “We have two state directors, David Howard in Cleveland who is working with our chapters and is working to organize new Stonewall chapters in cities that haven’t had them, Cincinnati, Dayton, Warren, Youngstown, Akron, and strengthening the chapter in Toledo to complement the chapters that exist in Columbus and Cleveland,” he said.

“We also have T.J. Brown, the director of our Stonewall Student Network, who is working on 20 campuses to create lasting Stonewall Democrat chapters on these campuses that can not only be involved in this election cycle, but help build the infrastructure that we need to make sure the right Democrats are getting office in Ohio in years to come.”

“One of the things that really drove the creation of the student network and is driving its work this year is not just making sure that LGBT young people get out and vote, but really taking advantage of the fact that young people that are not LGBT are still allies,” he said. “Almost 60 percent of young people under 29 support full-out marriage equality and obviously support the rest of our legislative agenda.”

“Even more than that, those who might not be 100 percent with us on marriage yet, certainly feel that George Bush’s priorities are way out of whack.”

“Barney Frank talked about this election cycle as being so important because the right really has rolled the dice and decided that they want to run a gay-bashing campaign in order to win this election,” he noted. “If we win and show them that that doesn’t work, this could really be the last national election where we see a mainstream party like the Republicans actually try mainstream efforts to gay-bash in public like this.”

“If they’re successful this election cycle and we lose . . . the right-wing ideologues running the party are going to say . . . ‘We don’t need to create space for you and your pro-gay, pro-choice positions because we win as long as we run a campaign like in 2004, it was successful, so why should we be more inclusive?’ ”

 


A wide variety of events will mark Coming Out Day

Come out. Speak Out. Vote.

That is the theme for National Coming Out Day 2004 on October 11.

“This year, we need more than, ‘I’m gay and it’s okay,’” said Cheryl Jacques, the president of the Human Rights Campaign. “We need our families and friends to say, ‘It’s not okay to use gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues as a wedge.’ We must talk to and involve our families and friends. Their voices are some of the strongest in the fight for equality.”

Her sentiments were echoed by Dave Noble, executive director of the National Stonewall Democrats.

“Every day until the election is Coming Out Day,” he said.

National Coming Out Day celebrates the anniversary of the 1987 March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights, and across Ohio, dozens of events are planned for the weeks surrounding the actual date.

At Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Spectrum, the school’s gay-straight alliance, organized a trio of events, including a sexuality fair on October 12 at 11:30 am in the Thwing Center Ballroom, an open mike night for coming out stories at the Arabica at 11300 Juniper Avenue at 7 pm on October 13, and their annual dance, Spectrum Hits the Spot, on October 14 at 9 pm in the Spot under the Leutner Dining Hall. For more information, call 216-421‑2935 or log onto Spectrum’s website, http://home.cwru.edu/spectrum.

In Dayton, Eternal Joy Metropolitan Community Church is holding a special prayer breakfast for National Coming Out Day on Saturday, October 9. The guest speaker will be Rev. Stephen Van Kuiken, a heterosexual minister who was tried by the Presbyterian church for marrying same-sex couples. Van Kuiken decided to leave the church rather than stop performing the ceremonies. The breakfast will be at 9 am at the Wellington Grille restaurant and is $20. Reservations are required, and may be made by calling Eternal Joy at 937-254‑2087.

In another show of support from the religious community, the Unitarian Universalist Society of Cleveland, 2728 Lancashire Rd. in Cleveland Heights, will hold a special service entitled “What’s in Your Closet?” as part of their October 10 worship services at 11 am.

Later that day, a special concert at Club 202 in Columbus, 202 East Long St, will benefit the fight against Issue 1, the proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution that would not only ban recognition of same-sex marriage, but bar the state from recognizing or granting benefits to any unmarried couples, gay or straight. Performers at the show include Bitch, formerly of Bitch and Animal, Katie Reider, Donna Mogavero, Wahru, Mary B and the Royal Renegades, among others. Cover is $10, $5 for students, and the show starts at 6:30 pm, a half-hour after the doors open. Call 614-221‑8880 for more information.

In Cincinnati, the Know Theater Tribe will present two days of performances of Out! True Coming Out Experiences, performances based on essays, poetry, stories and anecdotes of the coming out of Cincinnati residents. Know is accepting donations of $10 to $15 for admission, or a donation to Citizens to Restore Fairness, the group that is backing Issue 3 to repeal Article 12 of the Cincinnati city charter barring the city from granting protections to gay men and lesbians. Both shows will be at 8 pm in the courtyard of Arnold’s Bar and Grill, 210 East Eighth Street, and more information is available by calling 513-300‑5669 or online at www.knowtheatre.com.

In Columbus, a panel discussion with professors from various disciplines will cover “What Sexuality Teaches Us and Can Teach You” on October 11 at 7 pm in Room 150 of the Younkin Success Center, 1640 Neil Ave. A reception will follow.

On the same day, the GLBT Student Services office will publish a full-page advertisement in The Lantern, Ohio State University’s newspaper, listing the names of GLBT people and supporters in the university community. More information about the ad and the program are available by contacting GLBT Student Services at glbtss@osu.edu or 614-688‑8449.

Ohio University’s Open Doors LGBT and allies group organized OutWeek, nine days of queer events surrounding National Coming Out Day. By the time this issue hits the streets, a Queer Aquarium, ice cream social, same-sex hand-holding day, An Evening with Judy Shepard, a variety show and rally will have already occurred.

However, still to come are the Open Doors Casa Dance at Casa Nueva at 10:30 pm on October 9, an outing at noon on October 10 at Stroud Run State Park, a performance by queer spoken word artist Alix Olson on October 11 at 8 pm in the Baker Center Ballroom, and a candlelight vigil in honor of Matthew Shepard at 8:30 pm on October 12.

The LGBT Programs Center is also hosting an opening night reception after the Friday, October 15 performance of The Laramie Project, Moisés Kaufman’s play about the aftermath of Shepard’s murder.

More information about all of the O.U. events are available at http://welcome.to/opendoors, or by calling 740-593‑0239.

Back in Cleveland, Wild Plum Productions and the Cleveland Lesbian-Gay Center present a Coming Out Day coffeehouse at 7 pm on October 11. Held at 6600 Detroit Avenue, it will feature poetry and spoken word as well as musical performances. Details are available by calling 216-651‑5428 or online at www.lgcsc.org.

 


 

Better read than dead

Murder is no pain in the neck for
this undead sleuth

Armistead Maupin, I’d like you to meet a couple of friends of mine. This is Agatha Christie, the master of the British drawing-room mystery, and this is Bram Stoker, the man who wrote Dracula.

They’re both dead? Everyone knows that! If death doesn’t hinder Prof. Simon Kirby-Jones in Dean James’ trio of novels, why should Christie and Stoker’s deaths bother you?

James’ novels Posted to Death, Faked to Death and Decorated to Death combine elements of Stoker, Christie and Maupin (who is, thankfully, still alive) providing a fun, light-hearted reading experience.

Some explanation is in order, then. Prof. Simon Kirby-Jones, respected writer of histories on female monarchs, also writes historical romance and hard-boiled female sleuth novels under a duo of pseudonyms. Having recently moved to Snupperton Mumsley, a small village outside of London, he seems to find himself surrounded by dead bodies.

That wouldn’t be so surprising, considering that he’s a vampire, except that none of the corpses were killed by him.

Apparently, vampire scientists at the National Institutes of Health in the United States found out that some drug meant to help hemophiliacs actually can stave off a vampire’s need to feed on the blood of the living, so most vampires nowadays live relatively normal, uh, lives.

Kirby-Jones, for instance, is full of Southern charm and a love for his new home, provided by the vampire who introduced him --forgive the melodrama--to the world of the night.

The first novel, Posted to Death, now available in paperback from Kensington, introduces the reader to the dramatis personae inhabiting Snupperton Mumsley, like Sir Giles and his mother Lady Prunella Blitherington, the vicar and his wife, the hot gay owner of the local bookstore and, because it’s a murder mystery, the dashing Detective Inspector Robin Chase.

After an ugly confrontation at a meeting of the church board, the postmistress is found murdered. Everybody in town is a suspect, since everyone in town had secrets the nosy Abigail Winterton has discovered, and many of them are being blackmailed by her.

After eliminating some of the suspects, Kirby-Jones realizes that the murderer might be closer to him than he thought, and may pose a danger even to the undead.

In the second novel, Faked to Death, Kirby-Jones finds himself at a weekend writers’ workshop with someone claiming to be one of his pseudonyms. When she gets a very large, very heavy planter dropped on her head, even he becomes a suspect.

In the most recent novel, Decorated to Death, a prominent television interior decorator with a bad attitude finds himself on the receiving end of a fatal bludgeoning. Kirby-Jones must overcome jealousy and serve as an informant for Detective Inspector Chase, who has finally come to value the professor’s ability to winnow information out of people.

James, who manages the Murder by the Book store in Houston, has created a quirky, enjoyable protagonist in Simon Kirby-Jones. Simultaneously a paean to the classic British mysteries and gently mocking them (Lady Blitherington? Jessamy Cholmondley-Pease?), the novels are fairly light fare. In culinary terms, they would probably be a nice salad of mixed field greens topped with some marinated, grilled chicken. Not prime rib or filet mignon with all the trimmings, certainly, but more than able to satisfy an appetite.

The mechanism of having the main character be a vampire is surprisingly believable, scarcely less mundane than other detectives relying on their gut or their “sixth sense.”

Thankfully, James also takes the high road in terms of sex, scattering rather chaste references to it throughout the books instead of trying to piece together a murder mystery out of explicit sex scenes, as so many other writers do. His writing seems to back up the idea that homosexuality is about more than what two people do in bed.

All in all, three amusing novels. A fourth would certainly be appreciated, especially given the continuity from one to the next.

 

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