A number of civil- and gay-rights groups have expressed serious concerns about President Bush's faith-based initiative.
The American Civil Liberties Union's Lesbian & Gay Rights Project and the People For the American Way Foundation are among those involved.
"In their current form, the president's proposals are a direct threat to lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgendered persons all across America. In response to criticism that these new plans blur the line between church and state, the administration is now using more moderate and inclusive rhetoric. But it's the plans, not the pitch, that matters here—and the plans are dangerous," said Matt Coles, director of the rights project.
"President Bush's new faith-based plan puts church and state on a direct collision course," said PFAWF President Ralph G. Neas. "We urge the president to consider constitutional methods to encourage religious groups' involvement in social service programs, such as tax proposals that provide incentives for all nonprofit groups to run such programs."
Almost 600 mourn
coach killed by dog
Nearly 600 people crowded into a chapel at St. Mary's College of California to celebrate the life of popular lacrosse coach Diane Alexis Whipple, 33, who was mauled by a dog outside her Pacific Heights apartment late last month, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
"Alexis taught me to take advantage of every day," said Sharon Smith, Whipple's partner of seven years. "Although our time with her was short, we were blessed that God gave her to us for 33 years. I love you, Alexis."
Whipple was attacked by two dogs—an English mastiff and Canary Island cattle dog—as their owner struggled to pull them away. The owner, lawyer Marjorie Knoller, was also injured in the attack.
The dogs were in the care of Knoller and her husband, Robert Noel, both attorneys. Shortly after the attack it was discovered that the dogs were secretly owned by two members of the Aryan Brotherhood in a California state prison. The animals had a history of unprovoked violence and were allegedly part of an underground scheme being carried out by the men while they were in the maximum security prison at Pelican Bay.
State prison officials say the dogs were being bred for the Mexican Mafia.
In another twist, one of the men, Paul "Cornfed" Schneider, 38, has been adopted by Noel and Knoller in a rare adult adoption.
Officials issue new guidelines on AIDS meds
Federal health officials have signalled a major shift in their policy on AIDS meds, now suggesting that treatment be delayed until symptoms arise because of concerns about the drugs' toxic effects, The New York Times reports. The guidelines were written by a federal panel and suggest treatment not begin until the immune system seriously weakens or until HIV levels in the blood reach a certain level.
The panel, organized by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, still recommends therapy for anyone who develops symptoms of AIDS. Therapy should also be given to people whose blood tests show they have been infected for less than six months, in the belief that early treatment might strengthen the immune system.
Chicago trans accused
in Michigan murder
Michigan prosecutors have accused a Chicago transsexual of killing her wealthy uncle to get money for sex-change surgery.
Vonlee Titlow, 33, was arraigned in Michigan last month after waiving an extradition hearing from Chicago. She has been charged with first-degree premeditated murder in the Aug. 12, 2000, death of her uncle, Donald Rogers, of Troy, Mich.
Prosecutors say Titlow agreed to kill Rogers, 74, after being offered about $100,000 from another relative. Rogers, a wealthy businessman, owned a tool-and-die company in Troy.
Titlow was living with Rogers when she allegedly poured vodka down his throat after he was intoxicated and then smothered him with a pillow.
Rogers' blood-alcohol level was 0.44; his cause of death has been ruled to be asphyxiation and intense alcohol poisoning, Troy police said.
Titlow's attorneys told the Detroit Free Press that heart problems, not murder, were the cause of Rogers' death and expressed confidence that Titlows will be acquitted.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Titlow met and began a romantic relationship with a Michigan man the month after the killing and eventually confessed to killing Rogers. The man, who reportedly did not realize Titlow was transsexual, went to police, and as a witness for them secretly recorded a conversation with Titlow in which she confesses to the killing.
Titlow is being held in the Oakland, Mich., County Jail without bond and faces a preliminary hearing Feb. 14. She could face a life sentence if convicted.
Ark. House committee rejects gay adoption ban
A committee of the Arkansas House of Representatives recently voted 10-9 against a bill that would have prohibited gays and lesbians from adopting or becoming foster parents, the Little Rock Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports.
The bill's sponsor, Republican Rep. Randy Minton, said of the measure, "Homosexual households are incapable of providing adequate role modeling ... for relationships crucial to the formation of healthy, stable families."
House Bill 1026 would have prohibited the Department of Human Services from "placing any child with any adoptive or foster parent who is a homosexual."
Wis. activists urge action by United Way
Action Wisconsin: A Congress for Human Rights is urging residents to contact the United Way of Dane County, Wis., over the agency's new non-bias policy.
The policy, adopted by the United Way's board Jan. 30, 2001, mandates that the agency will not fund any beneficiary engaged in unlawful discrimination. It goes on to describe "unlawful discrimination" as any discrimination in violation of any United States, Wisconsin or Dane County law, regulation or ordinance.
Action Wisconsin activists are concerned that the policy leaves a loophole through which the Boy Scouts could be funded because their policy on gays has been ruled by the Supreme Court to be lawful.
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GLSEN concerned over Bush education plan
The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network is concerned about President Bush's newly released education plan, noting that several of its provisions will negatively impact GLBT youth.
GLSEN was particularly concerned about Bush's plan to give vouchers to public school students so they can afford private schools.
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