Columbus--Ohio�s capital city will seat its first openly lesbian city council member September 13.
Mary Jo Hudson, 41, was selected September 3 to replace the retiring Richard Sensenbrenner. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community leaders are hailing the appointment as �historic� and �timely.�
�It�s a thrill and an honor, or maybe in reverse order,� said Hudson, an attorney and long time LGBT activist who was passed over by council to fill a vacancy in December 2002.
Hudson was chosen from 29 applicants, six of whom were interviewed as finalists. She will become Ohio�s sixth openly lesbian or gay elected official and the fourth currently serving.
The Columbus city council has seven members, all elected at large. All are currently Democrats. Vacancies are filled by appointment.
By tradition, city council uses appointments to broaden the constituencies active in city government. LGBT leaders decried council when Hudson was not appointed in 2002 to fill the vacancy left when Jennette Bradley resigned to become Ohio�s lieutenant governor.
That post was filled by Patsy Thomas. When announcing Thomas� appointment, council president Matt Habash said she was chosen because she helped the city shut down crack houses.
The perceived slight of the LGBT community was one of the incidents that led to public contention between the city and LGBT leaders for more than a year.
Habash cited Hudson�s experience working with businesses and her ability to appeal to voters as reasons she was chosen over the others this time. The six finalists included Columbus school board member Andrew Ginther, who was endorsed by the Democratic Party.
�The decision was made because [Hudson] was the best candidate in the pool,� said Stonewall Columbus executive director Kate Anderson, adding that council did not feel it had to meet a �demographic requirement� this time.
Hudson is an attorney at the firm Bailey Cavalieri. Her practice includes representation of small businesses, corporations, and nonprofit organizations.
Hudson has been a leader in the LGBT community and the broader community since the 1980s, including positions on Stonewall�s board. She is an organizer of Ohioans for Growth and Equality and the Ohio Human Rights Bar Association, and was involved in defeating �defense of marriage� legislation in 1997, 1999, and 2001. She also helped lead the 1998 campaign for domestic partner benefits for Columbus city employees.
Hudson was a delegate to the 2004 Democratic National Convention,� serves as an advisor to Mayor Michael Coleman� and is one of his appointees to the city�s Community Relations Commission.
Hudson will resign those city posts and her positions on the national Human Rights Campaign board and on the HRC Foundation, citing conflict of interest.
Hudson will also resign her post as treasurer of the Ohioans Protecting the Constitution campaign to defeat the proposed anti-marriage constitutional amendment.
Lynn Greer, an LGBT activist who ran in 1992 for the city council seat ultimately filled by Habash, said Hudson was chosen because she has �done the requisite work required� within the broader community and the Democratic Party.
Anderson said Hudson�s appointment is �a pick-me-up� and a �boost� that are badly needed due to attacks on the LGBT community in Ohio, such as the passage of the �defense of marriage� act last winter and the current campaign to amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage.
�I am not going to hide who I am,� said Hudson. �I will do all I can for the LGBT community.�
�But most important for the LGBT community is that I do a really good job as a council member,� said Hudson. �I have to be sure I stay there.�
Hudson acknowledged that the LGBT community will have expectations of her, as she will have expectations of the community. Hudson will stand for election in November, 2005.
�I expect a tough primary opponent in May and a tough race next year,� said Hudson.
�I have to be sure I stay,� said Hudson, �but I hope to add to the legacy left by [gay Toledo city council president] Louis Escobar and [lesbian former Dayton commissioner] Mary Wiseman that created more opportunity for LGBT people who want to be involved.�
�We can do it,� said Hudson. �We can be involved. We can have a place at the table. Sexual orientation is no barrier.�
Ohio has two other openly gay or lesbian elected officials in addition to Hudson and Escobar. They are Haskins mayor Kenneth Fallows and Bloomdale city council member Skeeter Hunt, the first LGBT Ohioan elected to office in 1995. Former Oregon city council member Gene Hagedorn did not seek re-election last year.
Article 12 will be on the
Cincinnati--Eleven years ago, voters passed Issue 3, which put Article 12 into the city charter.
Now they will be asked to vote for another Issue 3, to remove the anti-gay measure.
The Hamilton County Board of Elections on September 8 unanimously approved a ballot measure to repeal Article 12, which bars the city from extending legal protections to gay men, lesbians and bisexuals.
�We�re going to send Article 12 out of our city charter the way it came in, with a yes vote on Issue 3,� said Justin D. Turner, campaign manager for Citizens to Restore Fairness, which gathered signatures to put the issue on the ballot.
Article 12, the only measure of its kind in the nation, was intended to repeal a 1992 gay and lesbian equal rights ordinance and prohibit any future ones.
Equal Rights Not Special Rights, the anti-gay group that pushed for the original passage of the measure, attempted to torpedo the repeal efforts, arguing that the language City Council was putting on the ballots was deceptive. Council changed the language, removing a description. It now asks, �Shall Article XII be repealed?�
ERNSR argued that protections could be extended based on sexual orientation despite Article 12. However, in a suit against a 2002 hate crime ordinance, they argued that it barred such protections.
Turner explained that it was simply chance that gave the repeal effort the same issue number as the original measure.
�There is state law that dictates how things are coordinated,� he said. �First comes state initiatives, and there is only one possible this election, then the local ones. We just happened to be the second city issue that turned in our petitions.�
Turner emphasized that the Article 12 repeal was not simply about gay equal rights, but about bringing the city back together.
�Our whole focus is to unite our city,� he noted. �We want to get past the divisiveness and bitterness of the campaign over a decade ago.�
�We�re just going to do everything we can to get people to vote yes on 3.�
Washington, D.C.--President George W. Bush will not have the endorsement of the group representing gay Republicans as he seeks a second term.
The 25-member national board of the Log Cabin Republicans voted September 7 to withhold endorsement of Bush. The vote was 22-2. The board also called for a shift in the group�s resources to other federal races and state races, but does not endorse any other presidential candidate. The Log Cabin board is chaired by Bill Brownson of Columbus.
�There are certain moments that require us to put the struggle for equality ahead of partisan politics, and this is one of those moments,� said Log Cabin executive director Patrick Guerriero.
Guerriero said the vote resulted from a six months of discussions over what he called a 12 to 18 month shift in the Bush campaign strategy directed by Karl Rove, intent on turning out 4 million conservative evangelical voters that Rove believes did not support Bush in 2000.
Log Cabin did endorse Bush in 2000, and exit polling indicates that 1 million gay and lesbian voters supported him.
�The White House has been disloyal to Log Cabin and the million who supported him,� said Guerriero.
Guerriero said the decision was based on many factors, not just Bush�s push for a federal constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriages and civil unions. He said the decision also involved the party�s anti-gay platform and campaign message.
�It was the totality of the record,� he said. �Karl Rove is obsessed with the 4 million evangelicals and he is using the GLBT community as a wedge issue in the swing states. We will not remain silent when our families are used as wedge issues.�
Guerriero said the decision is the start of a strategy to move the Republican Party toward a more inclusive position in the 2006 and 2008 elections.
He said that while he was at the Republican National Convention, delegates told him privately that they supported Log Cabin�s�s goals, but that they had to remain loyal to Bush to get through this election.
Guerriero said Log Cabin will put its resources into defeating anti-gay ballot initiatives where they believe they can make a difference, specifically in Oregon. They also intend to open a California office to support Arnold Schwarzenegger if he seeks re-election.
According to Guerriero, Log Cabin also plans to financially support federal candidates they see as LGBT-friendly, specifically Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, who is expected to chair the Judiciary Committee if Republicans hold the Senate.
Specter voted for the federal marriage amendment, but supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and a hate crime bill that includes sexual orientation.
Guerriero said the group is �having conversations with� Sen. George Voinovich of Ohio, whose votes are similar to Specter�s.
Guerriero said Rep. Deborah Pryce of Columbus is �someone we could strongly support.�
Pryce, who chairs the powerful House conference, opposes the federal marriage amendment, but voted for legislation to prevent gays and lesbians from challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act in any court. She also spoke in favor of that bill.
Man jailed after body is found in his basement
Dayton--A Dayton man was indicted on three charges September 3 in what appears to have been an internet pickup turned to murder.
Matthew Caddy, 52, was not in court to answer the charges. Caddy is considered at risk of a suicide attempt, and is being watched at the Montgomery County Jail. He is being charged with gross abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence and possession of criminal tools.
Further charges may be filed when the coroner�s office issues their report on cause of death of Daniel Everson, 43, of Litchfield, Minn.
Everson�s body was found in Caddy�s basement on August 31 after a tip was phoned in to police from the office of an attorney to whom Caddy had spoken, according to Det. Carol Johnson, a Dayton Police Department spokesperson. Caddy later that day returned to the house with his attorney, where he was taken into custody.
Investigators believe that Everson had been dead for several days before his body was retrieved.
Police are also investigating other properties Caddy owned, concerned that other men might be held hostage or worse.
Everson apparently came to Ohio in July for a two-week vacation after meeting Caddy online. His family was alerted to his disappearance when his employer called, wondering why he had not returned to his job after his vacation.
According to the victim�s brother, Larry Everson, Daniel Everson had visited people he had met online before by taking a bus, and the victim�s car was found parked near a Greyhound stop in Litchfield.
Dayton police have asked for the computer Everson had in his apartment, reported the Dayton Daily News.
This is the third time Caddy has been in trouble for abducting men. In 1977, under his birth name of Stephen Lee MacFarland, he was charged with aggravated robbery, rape and kidnapping in connection with an assault on a male co-worker from the Suicide Prevention Center. Caddy pleaded guilty to lesser charges of sexual battery and kidnapping for the assault, in which he handcuffed and later tried to strangle his co-worker. He was given probation, which was lifted three years later.
In 2003, an Australian man told police that Caddy tied him up and held him captive briefly, but charges were never brought in that case. Caddy met the Australian on the internet.
Caddy had once been involved with Dignity Dayton, a group for LGBT Catholics, but apparently left the group around 20 years ago.
On September 2, Caddy�s next-door neighbor Charles Gregg was arrested after police received a call from another neighbor indicating that someone had broken into Caddy�s house. Police arrived at the scene and caught Gregg leaving from a window on the east side of the house. He was wearing latex gloves, which he quickly removed after seeing police officers.
The officers informed him of his rights and arrested him. Gregg indicated that he would like an attorney present during questioning, but during the drive to the police station, officers noted that Gregg was �nervous� and �peculiar,� according to Johnson.
�He claimed he was curious,� she said.
The neighbor who called police said that Gregg had gone to Caddy�s home repeatedly in the ten days prior to the discovery of Everson�s body.
Prosecutors did not charge Gregg with burglary, and investigators do not know if he was involved in Everson�s death.
�It�s definitely something that we could speculate on, but there�s nothing conclusive,� Johnson said.
More Ohio marriage ban petitions are challenged
Columbus--Opponents of an Ohio constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage have found more defects on petitions to put the measure on the November ballot, and have challenged them in 33 counties so far.
The challenges could delay a vote on the measure, which also bans civil unions and state recognition of any relationship other than marriage between one man and one woman.
County courts have begun hearings on the challenges, with the first held September 7 in Champaign County, 30 miles west of Columbus.
Nineteen of the challenges have been turned into lawsuits by the county election boards. Additional suits are being filed daily and more hearings are expected to be scheduled through the end of the month.
Columbus attorney Don McTigue, who represents Ohioans Protecting the Constitution, the group campaigning against the amendment, said earlier that a total of 60 to 65 protests could be filed.
Those protests identify defective signatures and other problems with petition forms. Some of the challenges say that entire forms should be voided due to failure to follow Ohio law.
Secretary of State Ken Blackwell�s office released an updated report on the status of the petitions September 7 showing 224,448 valid signatures from 82 of 88 counties. Those counties had submitted a total of 390,508 signatures.
The Ohio Campaign to Protect Marriage, the group trying to put the marriage ban amendment on the ballot, needs a total of 322,899 valid signatures to qualify for the November 2 ballot. These must include 5% of the total 2002 votes for governor in each of 44 counties.
One of the six counties still not processed by Blackwell�s office is the large county of Hamilton (Cincinnati), which turned in 54,080 signatures initially. The other large counties, Cuyahoga (Cleveland) and Franklin (Columbus), had rejection rates of 43 and 42 percent, respectively.
Those rejections were made by the county election boards before Ohioans Protecting the Constitution filed challenges to reject more.
Alan Melamed, who heads OPC, predicts the Ohio Campaign to Protect Marriage will come up 50,000 signatures short before the court challenges.
However, OCPM qualifies for a ten-day period to submit replacement signatures for disqualified ones, and OCPM head Phil Burress has said that his group will turn in 100,000 more.
OCPM has not stopped collecting signatures since they turned in the initial forms August 3. Circulators, paid $2 per signature, have covered the state in an attempt to ensure that the measure gets on the ballot.
Melamed said the paid collectors belie OCPM�s claims that their effort is broad, grassroots and volunteer-driven, but cautions opponents from getting too optimistic about the possibility of the measure not making the ballot.
�The biggest challenge is convincing people you can�t sit back and wait until its a sure thing,� said Melamed. �By then it will be too late to start. We need to be working and raising money now.�
The Ohio Ballot Board has designated the initiative Issue 1 if it does qualify.
Ten days, or 40, to collect more?
Melamed, an attorney, said that Ohio election law is unclear in many areas, and the court challenges could go either way.
This includes OCPM�s ability to spend over a month collecting replacement signatures.
The law says amendment backers have an additional ten days to turn in more signatures after the Secretary of State issues a letter declaring the number has fallen short.
�That�s a plain read of the law,� said Melamed, adding that what OCPM is doing is allowed because Secretary of State Blackwell has issued opinions for other initiatives saying they may collect signatures before he issues the letter.
His interpretation could give OCPM an additional six weeks to collect since the original petition was filed. The original signatures were gathered in about 12 weeks.
Law could bar all challenges
Melamed said there are other laws that could stop all protests and send the measure to the ballot September 23, or 40 days from election day, which will be countered by McTigue with laws that say that as long as a protest is pending, the matter cannot be sent to ballot.
�It may be politically hard for judges to follow the rules in an election year if they think they will be seen as not preserving the rights of electors,� said Melamed, so they might just send it to the ballot.
Melamed said the law is also unclear about the ability to protest the signatures that come in on the second round.
�We will argue that the second round should be scrutinized the same as those that came in first,� said Melamed, �but doing that could take until the middle of October, so the judges may let the county board numbers stand.�
Cincinnati--After more than 27 months of construction and a decade of research and planning, a gay- and feminist-friendly National Underground Railroad Freedom Center was christened at a daylong Festival of Freedom on August 23.
Set on a bank of the Ohio River where as many as 100,000 escaped slaves first stepped on free ground, the museum is envisioned as a symbol of hope for the city�s strained racial relations. With the slogan �Doors opened in August. Minds shortly thereafter,� the center occupies an area that was a prominent stop along a network of homes and buildings where slaves could safely stay while escaping to free states before the Civil War.
The opening event showcased choruses and bands after a walk by nearly 1,500 people carrying candles to help light an eternal flame that honored the slaves who crossed from Kentucky over the Ohio River to freedom.
Acknowledged here is gay San Francisco supervisor Harvey Milk, who was assassinated in office. Also noted is the AIDS-related death of Indiana teenager Ryan White.
Joining them in the Hall of Heroes is Bayard Rustin, the openly gay anti-war activist who helped Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. organize his campaign, putting together the March on Washington.
The late Rev. Maurice McCrackin is remembered. He campaigned in 1993 against the Issue 3 anti-gay charter amendment, now known as Article 12.
A few protesters who appeared late in the evening spoke out against what they think is a lack of progress on race-related issues here. Some protesters near the stage heckled First Lady Laura Bush, Mayor Charlie Luken and Spencer Crew as they spoke. They shouted �No justice, no peace� and �Bush is the devil.�
Luken recognized the hecklers, saying �That is the spirit of the Freedom Center. It�s a place where everybody can come together.�
Contact the Freedom Center at 513-3337500 or www.freedomcenter.org.
Jeffrey Solomon discusses his new show about teens� and teachers� struggle for acceptance
Columbus--Two years ago, Jeffrey Solomon came to town as part of the National Gay and Lesbian Theater Festival and rocked Ohio audiences with two amazing shows: MotherSON and Santa Claus is Coming Out. These solo pieces received top honors at the 2002 festival--Best of the Festival, Best Director, Best Technical Elements and Best Male Solo Performer.
Solomon returns to this year�s National Gay and Lesbian Theater Festival, but as director of a new piece he has written called Building Houses on the Moon. This is a touring play about the struggle for acceptance by LGBT youth and educators. The play is being co-sponsored by the Columbus chapter of PFLAG, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays and the Kaleidoscope Youth Coalition, two groups who are active in the struggle for GLBT youth equality and related issues.
The piece, produced by Houses on the Moon Theater Co., was inspired by internet posts from LGBT youth around the world, as well as interviews with students and educators. It deals with gender and sexual orientation identity issues, the role of straight allies, homophobia, family and peer relationships, and inclusion and safety at school.
The vignettes feature two actors playing multiple roles, including a transgender college boy assigned to the girl�s dorm, a teacher under the gun when her support for a gay student leads to the school�s first same-sex prom couple, and a junior high school girl�s sleep-over where pressure to conform is taken to a new level by Justin Timberlake�s number one fan. This mosaic of remarkable stories evoke the isolation but also the courage and hopefulness of youth on the frontier of inclusion.
Solomon talked about his latest venture from his home in Philadelphia.
Kaizaad Kotwal: What have you gained personally from working on this production?
Jeffrey Solomon: In researching the play, I got to meet so many pioneers and unsung heroes--like the 15-year-old high school sophomore who became the first person in her school to come out. Or the elementary school social worker, a straight married woman who was accused by her town of being a lesbian because she brought in books affirming LGBT families. Or the second-grade teacher whose simple honest response to his student�s question about his married status prompted a huge controversy and a district policy banning the discussion of homosexuality without parental permission.
This is a remarkable time because the unprecedented visibility of gay images and the unwillingness of gay people, and those who care for them, to stay silent. The most meaningful part of working on this production has been the ability to hear these true stories and then find a way to translate them to the stage so that countless young people and adults can also be as moved and engaged by them as I was.
KK:� Do you wish you had seen such a play when you were that age?�
JS: Yes, I wish I had seen such a play in high school.
I wish anyone had sent me the simple message: �You are okay.� I think this play does that with lots of humor and humanity.
KK:� Do straight kids have anything to gain from seeing this show?
JS: Gay stories are not just for gay people. This play is just as much about how to be an ally if your friend or family member comes out to you. It also deals with homophobic violence, which is obviously an issue that must be addressed by the entire community. I think young people are dying to talk about the 500-pound purple elephant in the room. They are hungry for some discussion and some information. Even the most stereotypical macho jock, the kid who is squirming in his chair uncomfortably during our performance or making homophobic jokes to his friends, is dying to talk about it.
The same kid will ask, �Um, so, are you like, really gay?� And I�m like, �Yes, really. I really am gay.� And something amazing has happened in that simple exchange. The invisible has become visible. The unmentionable has become mentionable. And the ignorance and fear begins to dissipate.
KK:� What is next for you?
JS: Houses on the Moon is touring a brand new play of mine called Tara�s Crossing which deals with political asylum for LGBT people in the U.S. This has been a remedy available to refugees since 1994 if they can prove they are being persecuted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
KK:� What is next for this show?
JS: We are touring extensively. We expect to do a show some time this fall for high school administrators for Philadelphia Public Schools. The most exciting aspect of the show is that adults and youth find it equally entertaining, so we can perform Building Houses on the Moon during the day for the students, after school for a teacher training and then at night for the whole community. We have been searching for the right partner to put together a film version of the play that can be presented as entertainment but also packaged educationally with a teacher�s resource guide.
The play will have its Ohio premiere with performances on September 15 at 7 pm, September 17 at 8 pm and September 18 at 4 pm at the Columbus Performing Arts Center, 549 Franklin Ave.
For more information on the play, see www.housesonthemoon.org on the web. For more information on P-FLAG, call 614-2279355 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on Kaleidoscope Youth Coalition, see www.kaleidoscope.org or call 614-2947886.