HOME DEPOT OPPOSES BIAS BAN
by Karen Hawkins
Atlanta-based retailer Home Depot is officially opposing a proposal to add sexual orientation to its non-discrimination policy, Gay.com reports.
On May 30, Home Depot stockholders will vote on the proposal, and the company has urged them to defeat it.
"Our stated policy is that we do not discriminate on the basis of color, race, age, sex, natural origin, religion or disability," said the company response to the stockholder proposal. "This policy mirrors the categories required by the federal laws." Adding any more categories would become too cumbersome, the company said.
More than half of the companies on the Fortune 500 include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policies. Home Depot does offer domestic-partner benefits, but activists are working to make them comparable to the benefits offered to spouses.
Gay Latino to lead ACLU
For the first time in its history, a gay man has been named executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. Anthony Romero, 35, will also be the first Latino to run the national civil-liberties organization. He is currently the director of human rights and international cooperation at the Ford Foundation.
"I hope to begin my tenure as the leader of this vitally important organization by sparking a new dialogue about the bedrock values of American democracy," he told the Associated Press, adding that his goal is to "promote a new generation of committed civil libertarians and civil-rights activists."
Romero, a native New Yorker, is a graduate of Stanford Law School and Princeton University. He will replace Ira Glasser, who has been at the ACLU for 23 years.
Pre-Creating Change conference
To gear up for the Creating Change conference in November, the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center Diversity Committee is hosting a one-day conference in late July. Building Bridges ... and Crossing Them, will focus on issues of economic and racial justice in the GLBT movement. There will also be discussion of seniors, low-income people and gays and lesbians with disabilities.
Ingrid G. Rivera-Dessuit, director of the Racial and Economic Justice Initiative for the Policy Institute of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, is to be the keynote speaker. The conference will be Saturday. call ( 414 ) 271-2656 or email email@example.com . Creating Change is Nov. 7-11 in Milwaukee.
Open lesbian crowned prom king
An openly lesbian senior has been elected prom king at Washington state's FerndaleHigh School, the Bellingham Herald reports. Krystal Bennett, 18, is the school's first female king and identifies herself as its only out lesbian.
She wore a tuxedo and attended the dance with her girlfriend, 19-year-old Connie Terrell. At the prom, she joked that she wanted to be king. Her friends nominated her and classmates voted for her.
Calif. city elects gay majority
With the March election cycle, Signal Hill, Calif., became the third city in the country with a gay majority on its City Council, The New York Times reports.
West Hollywood, Calif., and Wilton Manors, Fla., near Fort Lauderdale, are the two other cities.
Signal Hill now has three openly gay officials ...Mayor Larry Forester, and members Mike Noll and Ellen Ward ...on its five-member council. Officials estimate that about 20%t of Signal Hill's 10,000 residents are gay.
Majority of states have gay-
inclusive hate-crimes laws
The passage of a hate-crimes bill in Hawaii means that for the first time, a majority of the 50 states will have hate-crimes laws covering sexual orientation, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force reports. As it stands, 26 states have laws that include sexual orientation, while four states ...California, Minnesota, Missouri and Vermont ...also include gender identity in their laws.
Hawaii is the only state to pass a gay-inclusive hate-crimes bill this year. Alabama, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Texas have bills pending.
So far this year, NGLTF has tracked more than 500 GLBT-related and HIV/AIDS measures, the majority of which are favorable. Considering only GLBT-related legislation, NGLTF has tracked 370 bills, of which 234 are favorable and 136 are unfavorable.
To read the full NGLTF legislative update, visit www.ngltf.org/statelocal/leg2001.htm. To view NGLTF's state issue maps, visit www.ngltf.org/library
Lambda joins challenge
of anti-gay law in Ohio
Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund is joining a legal challenge to Ohio's importuning law, a statute that makes same-sex sexual advances illegal.
"This law condemns lesbians and gay men for the mere expression of romantic or sexual attraction," said Lambda Senior Staff Attorney Heather Sawyer. "Despite more common street harassment of women by men, the State doesn't regulate similar behavior between persons of opposite sexes."
The Ohio statute makes it a first-degree misdemeanor to make a sexual advance toward a person of the same sex, if that advance is considered offensive. The maximum penalty is six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
The challenge, State of Ohio v. Thompson, is based on the conviction of a man who made passes at a male jogger. The man backed down when the jogger asked to be left alone, but the jogger went to police. The man was charged and convicted of violating the importuning law and sentenced to six months in jail, a decision he later appealed. An appeals court found that the importuning law is a violation of the equal protection clause because it singles out gays and lesbians, but it upheld Thompson's conviction based on an earlier Ohio Supreme Court ruling.
Lambda is urging the Ohio Supreme Court to review the case.
Tenn. court backs lesbian mom
The Tennessee Supreme Court has ruled, 5-0, in favor of a lesbian mother who has joint custody of two children from a former marriage.
The ruling overturns an appeals court decision that barred the mother, Julia Eldridge, from having her live-in female partner, Lisa Franklin, present when her children were visiting. Eldridge's ex-husband had sought to keep Franklin from the children, arguing that he wanted them raised under the Biblical mandate that unmarried adults not live together.
"The record does not show that [ the child in dispute ] is in moral crisis because of Ms. Franklin's presence during overnight visitation," the decision says.
Lambda Legal Defense and the National Center for Lesbian Rights co-wrote an amicus brief in the case.
Rhode Island House OKs
trans-inclusive bias ban
The Rhode Island House of Representatives has passed, 46-41, a measure that would add the phrase "gender identity or expression" to the state's non-discrimination laws.
House Bill 5920 defines "gender identity or expression" as including "a person's actual or perceived gender, as well as a person's gender identity, self-image, appearance, expression or behavior, whether or not that gender identity, self-image, appearance, expression or behavior is different than that traditionally associated with the person's sex at birth."
Ga. lesbian wants
A lesbian in Georgia is asking the state Supreme Court to recognize the civil union that she and her partner had formed in Vermont last year, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution reports.
A state appeals court has agreed to hear the case filed by Susan Freer; a lower court judge has already ruled against her.
Freer told the paper that she hopes having her union recognized will help her get access to her three children, who live with her ex-husband. The children, ages 12 and 9, are reportedly happy for their mother and her new partner. Freer's ex is being represented by Liberty Counsel, a religious right legal group.
Since the civil union law took effect in Vermont last July, 427 Vermont couples have been joined, and 1,566 out-of-state couples have traveled there to be joined.
Cruise sues gay porn star
Tom Cruise is suing a gay porn star for $100 million, accusing him of stating in an interview that the two were lovers and the reason for Cruise's recent breakup with Nicole Kidman. Cruise accuses Kyle Bradford of giving an interview with the French magazine Acustar and claiming the two had a longtime affair. The story ran in Acustar, but Bradford ...whose real name is Chad Slater ...has since issued a statement indicating that he never gave such an interview and never spoke with the magazine.
Cruise is seeking $100 million plus punitive damages and legal costs. In the suit, he strongly denies being gay or ever having met Bradford. The suit says: "Tom Cruise is not and has never been a homosexual."