Up and downs left the community dizzy
As 2005 becomes 2006, it is time to reflect upon some of the happenings of the last 12 months, a year that saw highs and lows, the good and bad in fairly equal measure for the LGBT community.
President Bush, safe after his November 2004 re-election, said that he would not push for a constitutional amendment to bar same-sex marriage nationally as long as the �Defense of Marriage Act� stood up in court. The religious right was livid, especially after the amount of political capital the president spent on pushing state and federal marriage amendments leading up to the election.
Eric Patterson�s home was the target of vandalism and arson following his complaints to police about drug trafficking in his Akron neighborhood. �White fag move,� �Your ass next fag,� �Fag�s all dye� and the initials of the North Side Gangstas, a local gang, were among the graffiti found in the house, where multiple fires were set using gasoline or some other propellant.
The first week of February saw the 20th anniversary issue of the Gay People�s Chronicle, founded by Case Western Reserve University anthropology professor Charles Callender. After Callender�s death in 1986, Bob Downing and current publisher Martha Pontoni resurrected the paper, which went from being a monthly local periodical to a statewide weekly newspaper.
The battle over �abstinence only until marriage� education heated up as AIDS service organizations increased efforts to return diverted funds to more proven prevention methods. Later in the year, figures were released showing that 13 percent of female students at Timken High School in Canton were pregnant, despite all of them having been given the �abstinence only until marriage� education.
Voters in Topeka, Kansas coming out in record numbers for a primary election, slapped down a measure put forward by rabidly anti-gay preacher Fred Phelps that would have barred the city from ever granting civil rights protections to LGBT people. The measure was almost identical to Article 12 of the Cincinnati City Charter, which was repealed by voters last year after a dozen years on the books. The Topeka version added �gender identity and expression� to the reasons why people couldn�t be granted civil rights.
The Phelps clan put forward the initiative to overturn a rights ordinance passed in 2004. Phelps� granddaughter Jael also ran against Kansas� first openly gay official, councilor Tiffany Muller. Muller came in second in the primary, Phelps last. She did not go on to the April election, in which Muller was defeated.
Sing Out Toledo took its final bow, exiting the stage after just under nine years in the public eye. It was one of only two mixed-gender LGBT and allied choruses in the state.
Then-candidate and now Cleveland mayor-elect Frank Jackson explained his 1992 proposal to quarantine people with HIV who expose others to the virus. �It was like a sore thumb, but sometimes a sore thumb has to stick out for people to pay attention,� Jackson said, arguing that until then, the matter was not discussed openly, and he brought it to a head.
Citing health concerns, Stonewall Columbus� charismatic executive director Kate Anderson steps down after three years in the saddle. Program director Kellye Pinkleton is later named interim executive director as the board searches for a permanent replacement.
Pope John Paul II dies on April 2, and just over two weeks later, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is named Pope Benedict XVI. While Catholics as a whole mourned, then celebrated, LGBT advocates both within and outside the denomination pointed out the hard-line anti-gay stance the late pontiff took, and noted that many of those positions came from Ratzinger, who was the head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office that centuries before had instituted the Inquisition.
The tandem of John Paul II and Benedict XVI instituted a ban on gay seminarians, released just weeks ago by the Vatican.
Jim West, the conservative mayor of Spokane, Washington, became embroiled in controversy when the city�s daily newspaper discovered his online profiles seeking gay sex, as well as allegations that he offered to trade city hall jobs for nookie. When he was a state legislator, West consistently voted against pro-LGBT legislation. A recall effort proved successful in the November general election, and West was voted out of office.
Started a quarter century ago as the Cleveland chapter of Black and White Men Together, People of All Colors Together-Cleveland celebrated its 25th anniversary at a banquet with Mandy Carter as its keynote speaker. Carter, one of the country�s foremost African American lesbian activists and executive director of Southerners on New Ground, told the assembled partygoers that, while LGBT organizations strive to build bridges with other groups, �You guys have done it.�
The Canadian House of Commons passed a full same-sex marriage bill 158 to 133, and the measure became law after it easily passed the Liberal-controlled Senate. The Conservatives bitterly opposed the measure, and on the first day of an election campaign in December brought the issue back up. Conservative leader Stephen Harper pledged to take the legislation back before Parliament, but since the majority of provinces and territories have had court decisions ruling in favor of marriage, he would have to invoke the �notwithstanding clause� of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, something never done by the federal government.
A national Parent-Teacher Association meeting in Columbus gave space to and had a workshop by Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, but did not give space to Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays. P-FOX, which mimics P-FLAG�s name, accused the PTA of bias, and organized workshops and a film screening at the Hyatt hotel adjacent to the Columbus Convention Center, but their event was sparsely attended.
The United Church of Christ�s biennial General Synod approved a resolution in favor of full marriage equality by a four-to-one margin, cementing the denomination as one of the most committed to social justice.
�There are also many biblical models for blessed relationships beyond one man and one woman,� the resolution reads. �Indeed, scripture neither commends a single marriage model nor commands all to marry, but rather calls for love and justice in all relationships.�
The Columbus Stompers dance group brought home the gold after their trip to the 12th annual International Association of Gay and Lesbian Country-Western Dance Clubs convention. The Stompers won first place in the Medley division, which combines couples dancing with line dancing. It is the third time the Stompers have won the competition. Later in the month, the Ohio Splash won second place in the medium team category at the International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics championships, bringing 35 medals back to Ohio, including six gold.
Six thousand people descended on the Michigan Womyn�s Music Festival, making its 30th year a memorable one.
�Having over 6,000 women spanning seven generations gather for the 30th anniversary of the Michigan Womyn�s Music Festival was an amazing affirmation of the importance of this empowering creation of community,� said Holly Pruett, a volunteer organizer for the event.
Michael Jennings was found guilty and sentenced to 25 years to life in the 2002 killing of Gary McMurtry, known to audiences across the state as Brazon. Jennings broke into McMurtry�s house dressed all in back, and stabbed the drag performer to death with what police described as a �samurai sword.� Jennings had earlier been found not competent to stand trial, and spent over two years undergoing psychiatric treatment so he could face prosecution.
Toledo faced an odd circumstance in its city council primaries: two gay candidates running for seats. Thomas Meinecke was knocked out in the primary, but Dave Schulz, president of the Log Cabin Republicans of Northwest Ohio, went on to the general election, when he was defeated in his bid.
The Red Ribbon Walk for AIDS in Cincinnati and Supporters Reaching Out in Toledo were both successful fundraisers. AIDS Volunteers of Cincinnati raised $130,000 in the pledge walk, while the dinner-dance benefiting David�s House Compassion brought in $20,000.
The success of AIDS fundraisers continued with the October 1 Dr. John T. Carey Memorial AIDS Walk in Cleveland, for the first time on a Saturday and on the city�s east side. Despite the difficulties faced by nonprofits in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland executive director Earl Pike estimated that the event brought in $180,000 for local AIDS service organizations.
An increase in arrests and executions of gay men in Iran following the election of a hard-line president brought urgent cries for help from the international community, as photos of teenagers being hung on what are believed to be trumped-up charges circulated through the news media and over the internet. Iran, a Muslim theocracy, uses Islamic law, and men who have sex with other men will often find themselves facing charges of rape, even if the act was consensual.
The Kansas Supreme Court struck down a �Romeo and Juliet� law that provided lower penalties for young adults sleeping with minors if they were of the opposite sex than if they were of the same sex. The case involved a developmentally disabled 18-year-old, Matthew Limon, who engaged in oral sex with a 14-year-old at the group home in which they lived. He was sentenced to 17 years in prison, compared to the maximum 15 months he could have gotten had the younger teen been a girl. Limon served 5� years before being released.
The third of three men pleaded guilty in the beating death of deaf gay man Daniel Fetty. He had been found stripped of his clothes and severely beaten in a Waverly, Ohio trash receptacle, and three suspects were arrested hours later. Twelve hours after being found, Fetty died. Since all three of his alleged assailants pleaded guilty, there will not be a trial in which all the details, many of which have been withheld by police, will come out.
While four congregations left the Episcopal Diocese of Ohio over the 2004 ordination of an openly gay bishop in New Hampshire, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force�s Creating Change Conference repeated the idea that the LGBT equal rights movement must seize the moral high ground in public debate.
�Putting the rights of a minority up for a popular vote is always wrong,� said executive director Matt Foreman. �This is not democracy. This is the tyranny of the majority, and it�s immoral.�
As part of its 30th anniversary celebration, the former Gay Education and Awareness Resources Foundation, later rechristened the Lesbian-Gay Community Service Center of Greater Cleveland, officially became the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland at a reception at Asterisk Gallery, a suitable location for their new asterisk-inspired logo to be introduced.
Keith Phillips, a young man jailed under Ohio�s importuning law months after it was struck from the books, was finally vindicated by the Eleventh District Court of Appeals. The law, which made it a crime to proposition someone of the same sex if it was likely to offend them, had harsher penalties than similar measures on opposite-sex harassment. Phillips can now sue the city of Warren, along with his former attorney Ben Joltin of Youngstown, Municipal Judge Thomas P. Gysegem and Wayne Trimble of Warren.
David Furnish made an honest man out of Sir Elton John within days after couples were allowed to enter into civil partnerships in the United Kingdom.
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