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November 4, 2011

News Briefs

Over half of women are attracted to women, study finds

Boise, Idaho--A new study found that 60 percent of women have felt some level of attraction to other women.

The Boise State University study covered 484 college students, gay, straight and bisexual. Among the female students, 45 percent said they had kissed another woman.

Half said that they fantasize about women.

About twenty percent of the men in the study said that they had kissed another man, another 20 percent said they fantasize about men, and 15 percent said that they were attracted to men.

Finegan’s killer gets 30 to life

Cleveland--Richard A. Wilson, the man accused in the 1982 murder of Mary Ann Finegan and the rape of her companion, was sentenced to 30 years to life on October 12.

Wilson pled guilty on August 10, then filed a pro se motion to retract the plea. Cuyahoga County Judge Brian J. Corrigan assigned Wilson new public defenders and set a hearing date on the motion.

Wilson claimed he was coerced into pleading guilty by his first set of defense attorneys.

On October 12, Corrigan and Judges Ronald Suster and Joan Synenberg denied the motion to retract the guilty plea and sentenced Wilson to the maximum penalty. The judges were restricted to the sentencing guidelines in place in 1982.

Wilson, now 58, will be 88 on his first possible release date.

Out servicemembers challenge DOMA

Boston--The Servicemembers Legal Defense Network filed suit in federal court on October 27, challenging the Defense of Marriage Act’s effects on gay and lesbian military personnel’s spousal benefits.

“This case is about one thing, plain and simple. It’s about justice for gay and lesbian service members and their families in our armed forces rendering the same military service, making the same sacrifices, and taking the same risks to keep our nation secure at home and abroad,” executive director Aubrey Sarvis noted. “These couples are in long term, committed, and legally recognized marriages, and the military should not be forced to turn its back on them because the federal government refuses to recognize their families.”

The suit notes that DOMA, instead of “defending” marriage, would instead require service personnel to dissolve their marriages and marry people they did not love to get the same benefits as their heterosexual counterparts.

“Securing benefits for a service member’s spouse allows the service member to do his or her job for the nation with the confidence that they’re not putting their families at risk,” said Abbe Lowell and Christopher Man, the co-counsel in the case. Lowell and Man are with Chadbourne & Parke, the firm working pro bono with SLDN. “It takes the worry out of the equation and allows them to serve with dignity and honor.”

One of the plaintiff couples in the case are Steve Snyder-Hill, a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve who was booed during a Republican presidential debate when he asked if the candidates would reinstate DADT, and his husband, Joshua Snyder-Hill. Capt. Hill is a Columbus native.

HIV first came to humans in 1921

Quebec--A new book by AIDS pioneer Jacques Pépin posits that HIV first entered humans in 1921, about six decades before most books on the disease set the date.

According to Pépin, colonial policies took a virus in some chimps, put it in hunters and spread it through disease eradication programs, prostitutes, a blood bank in Haiti and sex tourism, all factors in the spread of the once-isolated virus.

He worked in Guinea-Bissau with the HIV2 strain, which is weaker and harder to spread. It seemed to be dying out, and was found mostly in elderly people. That led him to the theory that programs to wipe out syphilis, leprosy, tuberculosis and other diseases in Africa that were in place until the 1960s had a hand in the transmission of HIV2.

The full journey of the disease from one subspecies of chimpanzee living between two rivers to the current pandemic is in his book, The Origins of AIDS from Cambridge University Press.

Denmark to legalize same-sex vows

Copenhagen, Denmark--This northern European nation will be the eighth in Europe to legalize same-sex marriage, under plans released by the coalition government.

The government said the first weddings could be held in Church of Denmark premises by March 2012. The country already has civil partnerships, which were instituted 22 years ago, and public support for full same-sex marriage runs at nearly 70 percent.

The legislation will be introduced early in 2012. Denmark will join Belgium, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden in Europe, Argentina and Canada in the Americas, and South Africa in allowing full same-sex marriage, along with six states in the U.S., the District of Columbia, and Mexico City, whose marriages are recognized throughout Mexico.

Spain might, however, lose same-sex marriage with the election of a conservative government. The Popular Party, favored to win on November 20, has promised to repeal the marriage law passed in 2005.

New Hampshire may repeal marriage

Concord, N.H.--The House Judiciary Committee approved a measure on October 25 that would replace the state’s year-old same-sex marriage law with civil unions, but recommended shooting down another bill that would just repeal same-sex marriage.

The bills now go to the House, where a vote is expected early in 2012. If the repeal attempt is successful there, it then goes to the Senate.

Even if the New Hampshire Senate approves either bill, however, Gov. John Lynch has vowed to veto any attempt to repeal same-sex marriage. Lynch, though, is not running for re-election next year, so if the Republicans maintain a majority in the legislature and can win the gubernatorial race, their efforts may then be successful.

The Republicans took control of the legislature in 2010, and immediately began working against the same-sex marriage law. The bill that would change marriages into civil unions is far from the original civil unions in the state, which conferred most of the state benefits of marriage.

The new civil union law would let anyone refuse to recognize civil unions, and would allow discrimination against civilly united couples in housing, employment and public accommodation on religious grounds.

Equality Ohio staffer returns to Navy

Columbus--Lee Reinhart, the community organizer for Equality Ohio, was sworn into the United States Naval Reserve on October 24.

Reinhart, who was discharged from the Coast Guard in 2002 under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy after having served in the Navy for four years, was sworn in by Rep. Mike Quigley.

After DADT was officially removed in September, Reinhart was eager to re-enlist.

“I entered the Navy wanting to give back to my country and serve my country,” he said. “I’m proud to be back in uniform.”

“After Lee was discharged he didn’t give up. He continued to advocate for those who want to serve their country, regardless of their sexual orientation,” said Equality Ohio executive director Ed Mullen. “He serves as a model citizen for all to follow.”

TG seven-year-old can join Girl Scouts

Denver--A transgender 7-year old who wanted to join the Girl Scouts might have her dreams fulfilled after the Colorado council said that the scout leader who rejected her was unaware of Girl Scout policy on the matter.

Bobby Montoya was born a boy, but presents as a girl. She asked her mother Felisha Archuleta to let her join the Girl Scouts, but when Archuleta approached a troop leader, she was told that because Bobby has “boy parts,” she could not join.

Since then, the Girl Scouts of Colorado issued a statement that read, in part, “If a child identifies as a girl and the child’s family presents her as a girl, Girl Scouts of Colorado welcomes her as a Girl Scout.”

Archuleta told local television news, however, that she had yet to receive official word from the Girl Scouts, or an apology.

HPV vaccine recommended for boys

Atlanta--A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention panel has recommended routine vaccination against human papilloma virus for 11- and 12-year old boys.

HPV can cause genital warts, and has been linked to cervical cancer in women. The CDC has already recommended vaccinations for girls, and vaccinating boys can also protect them from some types of cancers when they grow up, such as those of the anus and throat, as well as preventing vaccinated heterosexual men from spreading the virus to unvaccinated women.

Gardasil, the HPV vaccine, is $100 a shot, and a course of three injections is recommended. With the panel’s recommendation in place, many insurance policies will now cover it.

Between men and women, an estimated 25,000 HPV-related cancers hit Americans each year.

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices unanimously voted for the inoculation of boys, and the CDC will likely follow suit and make the policy official.

Man beaten and burned in Scotland

Cumnock, Scotland--A gay man was brutally murdered on October 22.

Stuart Walker, 28, was found beaten and burned. An 18-year old, Ryan Esquierdo, was in police custody by the end of the week, and is now charged with murder and theft.

Police said that, while homophobia was not believed to be the motive behind the attack as of October 28, they were keeping an open mind and would not rule it out.

Police also said there was a possibility that Walker had been sexually assaulted before the murder.

He was seen passing a fire station at 2:30 am, and a passerby found his body two hours later; police are looking for witnesses who might have seen him in that window of time.

Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron on October 26 took the opportunity during Prime Minister’s question time in the House of Commons to urge the public to help police solve Walker’s murder.

Compiled by Brian DeWitt, Anthony Glassman and Patti Harris.








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