Rick Santorum, speaking at the St. Joseph's University commencement, had fewer audience members than expected, reports the New York Post. Students were offered the chance to leave before Santorum received his honorary degree and made a speech. More than 10 percent of the students left, accompanied by a combination of applause and booing.
The recent Gallup Poll on Values and Beliefs shows that the majority of Americans, 60%, think homosexuality should be legal. Most Americans (90%) believe gays and lesbians should receive equal opportunities at work. Not-so-recent polling suggests that a majority of Americans are still opposed to granting benefits of marriage or civil unions to gay and lesbian couples. See www.gallup.com . The Human Rights Campaign hailed the poll, which also shows that the country is evenly split, 49 percent in favor and 49 percent against, on allowing gay and lesbian couples to legally form civil unions, giving them some of the legal rights of marriage.
For the first time in the 22-year history of the AIDS epidemic, an unprecedented group of influential Black gay leaders has issued a call to action in the war on AIDS. The group of 39 Black gay professionals urged widespread action to stem the spread of HIV in Black communities. The group also announced a nationwide campaign to lower the increasing rates of HIV transmission among Blacks in the U.S. In a first-of-its-kind summit convened by the Los Angeles-based Black AIDS Institute, the group met in Miami at the end of April to hammer out a strategy for dealing with AIDS in their communities and industries. The summit meeting was co-chaired by Emil Wilbekin, the editor of Vibe magazine, and E. Lynn Harris, the bestselling author.
Trans students, and others, at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., will have a chance this year to live on a 'gender-blind' dormitory floor, reports the Hartford Courant. The floor, thought to be the first of its kind at a major university, will allow freshmen to opt for a room assignment without regard to gender. University housing said they created the floor to accommodate the estimated 12-15 trans students living in dorms who, until now, were assigned roommates based on their biological gender.
The Boy Scouts in Miami-Dade, Fla., will not see new funds from the United Way, reports the Miami Herald. The Board of the United Way of Miami-Dade voted unanimously to withhold its nearly half-million dollar annual contribution to the scouts, which primarily paid for staff in impoverished areas of the South Florida area. The funds were withdrawn after board members say they believed the national organization did not support an agreement that would provide diversity training for scout leaders in Miami-Dade.
A gay family was expected to appear on the Today Show this morning for the second time, reports the San Mateo News. The California family is composed of a daughter and two lesbian moms. The daughter, Marina Gatto, 15, is a high school freshman and has several activist notches in her belt already. She was the youngest grand marshal of the San Francisco gay pride parade, she has spoken to numerous audiences about diversity, and she's the student class president. In addition to diverse families, the Gattos say they'll discuss pending litigation against San Mateo County officials who allegedly leaked information to Ramona Gatto's ex-husband that Ramona was a lesbian.
A Cleveland-area state senator introduced a new bill that would protect Ohio residents from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, reports the Gay People's Chronicle. Senate Bill 77 simply adds 'sexual orientation' to the list of protected classes in Ohio's human-rights law. The law would define 'sexual orientation' as real or perceived homosexuality, bisexuality or heterosexuality. The bill does not include protections against gender discrimination. Another bill was introduced in the Ohio house in March that would provide gender protections as well. The two bills are believed to be the first such bills in Ohio history.
A Seattle teacher, trying to make a point about avoiding offensive terms in class, is on paid administrative leave after calling one of his Black students a 'nigger' to make a statement. According to the Seattle Post Intelligencer, Brian Emanuels attempted to correct one of his students who used the term 'gay' to describe an assignment. Emanuels said the term is derogatory and should not be used in his classroom. After discussing the issue with his student, Emanuels said 'This n- - - - - can come back in the classroom,' followed immediately by 'Is that OK to use that term? Of course not. It's completely unacceptable and offensive.' The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Seattle is urging the school to fire Emanuels.
Two college students will face civil-rights charges for throwing eggs at a gay student group's booth at Cal Poly in California, reports The Advocate. The District attorney's office said the nature of the crime caused their office to charge the men with violation of civil rights and damage to property. If convicted, the two could face up to one year in jail, a $5,000 fine, and 400 hours of community service.
The first complaint under the Tacoma, Wash., gay-rights law was dismissed last week, reports the Tacoma News Tribune. The law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. Former assistant city attorney, Robert Porter, filed the charges after he was fired for what the city called poor work performance. Porter alleged that he was fired when it was found out that he was a gay man and was adopting a child. City investigators said Porter's coworkers knew he was gay long before he adopted the child. Porter may appeal the commission's decision.
This is the strongest support to date in favor of gay and lesbian relationship recognition, in a Gallup Poll from May 2002, 46 percent of Americans favored civil unions, while 51 percent opposed.
The average California family headed by a same-sex couple shares many similar characteristics with other state families—including the number of children being raised, home ownership and home value—according to an Urban Institute analysis of newly released Census 2000 data commissioned by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. 'This study should serve as a wake-up call to both state and federal leaders. Families headed by same-sex couples are much more similar to most other families than they are different,' said HRC's David M. Smith. 'The newly released Census 2000 data provides a detailed portrait of gay and lesbian families that can inform and frame public dialogue about issues that affect all American families,' said Gary Gates, Ph.D., of the Urban Institute's Population Studies Center. 'It reveals that laws on adoption, marriage, immigration, tax and military service clearly impact all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation.'
The study showed that the average same-sex couple with children in California is raising 2.01 children, while other average couples are raising 2.08 children. While the size of families raised by same-sex couples is roughly the same as families headed by heterosexual couples, the number of rights and protections they are granted is not. Without any form of legal relationship recognition for same-sex couples, laws that most American families enjoy are not always available to children and families of same-sex couples.
'Given these findings, it is all the more mind-boggling that the California Supreme Court was [just] asked to nullify thousands of legal relationships between gay and lesbian parents and the children they are raising,' said Lisa Bennett, who runs the HRC Foundation's FamilyNet project. 'What kind of society grants some children full rights and ties to both parents, but denies the same security to other children, simply because of who their parents are?'
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