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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Ariz. sheriff's new troubles; Olympia Snowe retiring
NATIONAL ROUNDUP: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy CIty Times..
2012-03-07

This article shared 4066 times since Wed Mar 7, 2012
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There's another controversy involving Paul Babeu, the Arizona sheriff who allegedly threatened to have his Mexican ex-lover deported, according to ABC15.com . It turns out there was an investigation involving claims of abuse when he was headmaster of the now-defunct DeSisto School in Stockbridge, Mass., during the years 1999-2001. A Massachusetts Office of Child Care Services' investigation revealed that the school was not licensed, and that there were claims of sexual and physical abuse. Also, it turns out that Babeu's sister, Lucy, confronted Paul when she discovered a 17-year-old male student living with him.

The ex-boyfriend of Arizona sheriff Paul Babeu plans to sue him and Pina County, according to an Advocate.com item. Jose Orozco's attorneys filed a notice of claim seeking $1 million in unspecified damages. Babeu—who is running for Congress—allegedly threatened to have Orozco deported if he revealed their relationship.

U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, one of the few moderate Republicans in the legislative body, will not seek a fourth term in 2012, according to the Chicago Tribune. Snowe said in a statement, "Unfortunately, I do not realistically expect the partisanship of recent years in the Senate to change over the short term." Snowe—who voted to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in December 2010—is now the 10th senator who plans to retire at the end of the current term.

The Virginia Senate approved a watered-down version of measure requiring women to undergo ultrasounds before having abortions, according to the Chicago Tribune. The bill, which passed 21-19 Feb. 28, now heads to the state House. The measure was amended to ban the requirement of trans-vaginal ultrasounds; it was also changed to exclude rape and incest victims who report the attacks to the police.

In Texas, Vincent Pryor accepted the Atticus Circle Award for his courage in coming out to his football team his senior year at Texas Christian University in 1994, according to the Dallas Voice. Pryor was gratified by the honor, but added that his journey to being a confident football player who owned his sexuality was long and painful. Atticus Circle is a group that educates and rallies straight people to advocate for LGBT equality.

In Atlanta, attorney Jay Abt said that his client, Dorian Moragne, was not the person yelling anti-gay slurs at a man whose beating was videotaped and posted online, according to a FoxCarolina.com item. Abt said the person filming the incident seemed to be the one yelling the statements. Slurs are heard in the video as three men punch and kick Brandon White; one of the attackers also slammed a tire on him.

In North Carolina, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told a crowd at a gay-rights event in Charlotte that it is "hugely important" to re-elect President Obama in November, according to NewsObserver.com . She also stressed the importance of defeating the proposed state constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage. The latter vote takes place in May.

Virtually unknown to the late gay activist Frank Kameny's circle of friends and political associates in the LGBT-rights movement, Timothy Lamont Clark, 35, was named in Kameny's will as the sole beneficiary of his estate except for his papers, which he bequeathed to the Library of Congress, according to the Washington Blade. The will, filed in 2007, also named Clark the personal representative of his estate; the position is similar to an executor, in that Clark has full authority to decide how the estate's assets and possessions should be managed. Clark said he began a 19-year friendship with Kameny when Clark was 15, and Kameny became a mentor to him.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie will not defend the state's ban against same-sex marriage in light of a pending lawsuit against Hawaii's department of health, which grants marriage licenses, Advocate.com reported. Abercrombie told the Hawaii Reporter, "Under current law, a heterosexual couple can choose to enter into a marriage or a civil union. A same-sex couple, however, may only elect a civil union. My obligation, as governor, is to support equality under law. This is inequality, and I will not defend it." Hawaii has a law allowing civil unions, but has had a constitutional amendment against marriage equality since 1998.

In Minnesota, St. Louis Park is expected to pass a resolution objecting to a proposed state constitutional amendment that would prohibit same-sex marriage, according to On Top Magazine. St. Louis Park would be the fourth municipality to oppose the ban, joining Minneapolis, Duluth and St. Paul. "I don't believe our state's constitution exists to take away people's rights," said St. Louis Park Councilman Jake Spano, who suggested the resolution.

In San Diego, activist Allan Spyere has been released from immigration detention, SDGLN.com reported. Spyere was arrested Feb. 5 for failing to signal while making a left turn, and was charged with a DUI. Upon booking, authorities learned that Spyere's J1 student visa had expired; he was turned over to Immigration & Customs Enforcement. At a Feb. 16 hearing, Spyere was allowed to post bail.

Gay Oklahoma teen Cody Rogers has launched a Facebook page after being beaten unconscious at a party, according to the Huffington Post. Rogers, 18, sustained injuries after defending his 21-year-old female friend. After the incident, Rogers shared a photo of himself in which his face is bloody. He also started a Facebook page entitled "Help Stop the Stomping" in an effort to promote protection for the state's LGBT residents. Oklahoma is one of 19 states with no protection for LGBT people in their hate-crime bills.

In Missouri, St. Ann Catholic School music teacher Al Fischer was fired after church officials discovered he planned to marry his male partner of 20 years in New York, according to STLToday.com . Fischer, who was fired Feb. 17, sent a letter to students' parents informing them of "my joyful news, and my sad news" that he was getting married and that the school was letting him go. The Rev. Bill Kempf, St. Ann's pastor, said in a statement, "With full respect of this individual's basic human dignity, this same-sex union opposes Roman Catholic teaching, as it cannot realize the full potential a marital relationship is meant to express."

Conservative Internet publisher Andrew Breitbart has died at age 43 of natural causes, ABC News reported. Breitbart helped start the Huffington Post and was an editor at the Drudge Report; he also published several websites, including Breitbart.tv and Big Government. The latter broke the ACORN child sex-trafficking scandal and the photo situation that led to the resignation of U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y.

In Tennessee, the ACLU urged Haywood County school authorities to criticize principal Dorothy Bond for harassing gay children and threatening to expel them if they show public affection for each other, the Nashville Scene reported. Last month, Bond said that gay students are "not on God path" and that gay people are "ruining their lives." Hedy Weinberg, executive director of the ACLU of Tennessee, said, "We expect school officials to clearly state that they do not condone this type of harassment and targeted discrimination, and to take action to ensure that it does not happen again." Truth Wins Out later reported that Bond resigned.

The Aequalitas Project has announced the public launch of WikiQueer, the nonprofit's LGBT wiki program, according to a press release. WikiQueer is a web-based, not-for-profit, free-content encyclopedia and resource project, and it's based on an openly editable model. Anyone with Internet access can write and make changes to WikiQueer articles—except in certain cases where editing is restricted to prevent disruption or vandalism. The website is www.WikiQueer.org .

In Indiana, Purdue University is seeking the school's first director of gay and lesbian student services, the Chicago Tribune reported. The job posting seeks applicants for who will work to "foster a more welcoming and inclusive environment focused on student success." Most of the other schools in the Big Ten conference have had the post for years.

In Kentucky, an openly gay Mason who was suspended last year for "un-Masonic conduct" has been indicted for theft, Kentucky.com reported. John Wright, a former treasurer of a Richmond lodge, was charged Feb. 22 with theft by failing to pay back more than $10,000. From 2009-2011, Wright allegedly dealt with funds belonging to the Masons ( said to be the world's oldest and largest fraternity ) as his own. His recent suspension resulted from being accused of deserting his wife because of his homosexuality.

David Brock, the head of the organization Media Matters for America, is the center of controversy after agreeing to pay ex-partner William Grey $850,000 so Grey wouldn't release damaging information about the group's donors and the IRS, Inquisitr.com reported. Grey accused Brock in a civil suit of taking $170,000 in items, including an $8,000 Louis Vuitton suit bag. Media Matters is a tax-exempt organization that is a watchdog on the conservative media.

In Massachusetts, Newton Mayor Setti Warren has appointed the first transgender representative to the city's human-rights commission, Boston.com reported. Transgender-rights activist Holly Ryan was named for a three-year term. "Holly has a terrific record of public service here in our community," said Warren. "She believes in equal rights for all people, transgender and otherwise, and she is going to be a great commissioner."

Community Marketing, Inc. has announced that its 13th International Conference on Gay & Lesbian Tourism will be held Oct. 31-Nov. 2 in San Francisco, according to a press release. Multiple workshops will focus on Internet marketing to the LGBT community, and there will be featured presentations on the latest LGBT tourism market statistics, successful marketing techniques and case studies. See www.communitymarketinginc.com .

In documents filed in Centre County Court in Pennsylvania, prosecutors say that former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky molested eight boys on the school's main campus, according to PittsburghLive.com . Sandusky allegedly molested 10 boys ranging in age from 8 to 17, including one who was abused during bowl trips to Florida and Texas. Sandusky, 68—who is still under house arrest—claims he is innocent.

In Florida, the Key West City Commission voted unanimously to pass an equal benefits ordinance that requires companies doing business with Key West to provide domestic partners with benefits equal to those offered to married employees, according to a press release. The law was drafted with the assistance of students in the Columbia Law School Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic. Broward County adopted a similar law in November, also drafted with the clinic's support.

In Mississippi, gay-rights activists tried to rally in Jackson to draw attention to the need for equality under the law for LGBT residents of the state, but were turned away by the police, according to a GETEQUAL press release. Despite having applied for a permit for a march in the city to highlight LGBT discrimination, organizers were informed shortly before the event that their permit had been denied and they had no right to rally in the city. "Mississippi is notorious for basic human rights violations," said Bob Gilchrist, the event organizer. "It's a shame that, in 2012, the state is still maintaining that reputation."

The San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee and its board of directors have announced the slate of nominees for the public's choice for Individual Community Grand Marshal, Organizational Community Grand Marshal and the Pink Brick, a faux award given to a detractor of the LGBT community, according to a press release. Grand marshal nominees include activist Sister Roma and National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Kate Kendell. Peter LaBarbera, president of the Naperville, Ill.-based Americans For Truth About Homosexuality, is up for the Pink Brick. The vote concludes March 31; visit www.sfpride.org/vote.

The You Can Play Project—with the support of some National Hockey League players and others—has launched an aggressive advocacy program aimed at changing the "sometimes homophobic culture of locker rooms," according to PR Newswire. Several hockey players, including some All-Stars, are filming public service announcements to support You Can Play. Co-founder Patrick Burke—a straight ally whose gay brother, Brendan, was killed in a car accident in 2010—said, "We want to make locker rooms safe for all athletes, rather than places of fear, slurs and bullying."

Dozens of Harvard University students, faculty and staff rallied on campus to call on the University to award honorary degrees to seven students who were persecuted and expelled in 1920, according to a press release. The students were targeted by a university-sanctioned body known as the "Secret Court" that targeted students who were gay or perceived to be gay. At the rally—which took place outside an event hosted by Lady Gaga and Oprah Winfrey to launch the Born This Way Foundation—demonstrators presented more than 5,000 signatures from a Change.org petition to Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust, urging her to award these expelled students honorary degrees.

NBC News/Wall Street Journal released a national survey on marriage equality that reflects the ongoing shift in public opinion on the issue—across a number of demographics, including party affiliation, age and ethnicity. The survey showed marriage equality has strong majority backing among Democrats ( up 12 points from 2009 ) and a plurality of independents ( up 9 points ) . There was a large increase in support among African Americans; it's now 50 percent, up from 32 percent just two years ago. The poll of 800 adults was conducted Feb. 29-March 3.

The national law firm of Quarles & Brady LLP announced that it will change its domestic-partner benefits policy with regard to same-sex domestic partners, according to a press release. While Quarles & Brady already included same-sex domestic partners in healthcare coverage, this change eliminates the additional costs an employee may have to pay as well. Because of tax laws, health insurance coverage costs more for domestic partners than married couples—a problem the firm has remedied by providing a salary "gross-up" to counter those additional costs.

In Virginia, 17-year-old Asante Cotman said he was suspended for three days for refusing to remove his high heels at Charles City High School, according to the Huffington Post. Cotman told WWBT that he was ordered to remove the shoes because he was "disrupting the school." However, he added, "I didn't see how it was bothering anyone. I wasn't revealing [ anything ] ."

In Florida, the owner of St. Petersburg's Bishop Tavern and Lounge has apologized to transgender woman Alex Borrego, who was turned away on ladies night, the Huffington Post reported. A bouncer approached Borrego and her friend, reportedly saying, "You guys don't get to participate because you're dudes." After the incident, friends of the two started a Facebook page about the situation. The bar's owner, Dean Marshlack, saw the page and quickly issued an apology.

The United States Department of Justice ( DOJ ) and the Department of Education ( DOE ) recently concluded that the Anoka-Hennepin ( Minn. ) School District violated Title IX and Title IV of the Education Code by inadequately addressing a hostile environment against students on the basis of sex, including the failure to conform to gender stereotypes, according to a press release. This determination was released in connection with an agreement reached by the Anoka-Hennepin school board, DOJ, DOE and the coalition of civil-rights groups and private attorneys representing six student plaintiffs.

The Human Rights Campaign has launched the website "Mitt 'N Match" to showcase Mitt Romney's "constantly changing positions on issues important to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans," according to a press release. "Mitt 'N Match" ( www.MittNMatch.com ) allows users to see his various stances on open military service, workplace non-discrimination and relationship recognition. "Mitt Romney changes positions on LGBT issues more often than he changes clothes," said HRC President Joe Solmonese. "It is mind boggling that someone can go from once saying he would be more pro-gay than Ted Kennedy to signing a draconian pledge sponsored by the National Organization for Marriage."

The new book Flagrant Conduct: The Story of Lawrence v. Texas claims that the couple at the center of the groundbreaking Supreme Court case about gay sex never actually had sex, according to Advocate.com . Police charged Tyron Garner and John Geddes Lawrence with having anal sex after they burst into Lawrence's Houston apartment following a 911 call; however, Lawrence said they weren't even touching.

Katy Butler, a bullied high school student from Michigan, delivered more than 200,000 petition signatures to the Los Angeles office of the Motion Picture Association of America ( MPAA ) March 7, urging the MPAA to lower the rating of the anti-bullying documentary Bully from "R" to "PG-13," according to a press release. Butler's own experience with school bullying, including having her finger broken in the seventh grade by bullies, led her to start the campaign on Change.org to pressure the MPAA to change the rating of the film.

U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, a Democrat who was the first African-American member of Congress from New Jersey, died March 6 at age 77, the New York Times reported. Payne, who served 12 terms, announced last month he was undergoing treatment for colon cancer. Newark Mayor Cory Booker called Payne "a defender of and advocate for the rights, liberties, equal opportunities, and dignity of all people."

The New York LGBT group Empire State Pride Agenda has fired its executive director, Ross Levi, according to Advocate.com . The group's two branches—the Empire State Pride Agenda Inc. and the Empire State Pride Agenda Foundation Inc.—"broadly embraced" the decision to fire Levi during a conference call March 5. Board members were apparently disappointed with Levi's leadership during the marriage-equality campaign. Levi's tenure lasted slightly less than two years.


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