NGLTF TAPS LORRI JEAN AS DIRECTOR
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has named Lorri L. Jean as its new executive director, replacing recently resigned leader Elizabeth Toledo.
Jean is the former executive director of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and will take over in early June.
Minnesota sodomy law struck down
A Minnesota district judge has struck down the state's sodomy law, ruling in favor of the American Civil Liberties Union's Lesbian & Gay Rights Project.
In making her ruling, district Judge Delila F. Pierce "declares [ the sodomy statute ] to be unconstitutional, as applied to private, consensual, non-commercial acts of sodomy by consenting adults, because it violates the right of privacy guaranteed by the Minnesota Constitution."
The ACLU, which filed Doe, et al. v. Jesse Ventura, et al., has said it will defend Pierce's ruling if state Gov. Jesse Ventura's administration attempts to limit its impact.
Minnesota's sodomy law dates back to the 1800s and prohibits oral and anal sex between any adults. Penalties include up to a year in jail and up to $3,000 in fines.
HIV-positive dental hygienist appeals firing
An Atlanta dental hygienist who was fired from his job because of his HIV status is appealing his discrimination case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit this week.
Spencer Waddell, 38, was fired from Valley Forge Dental Associates in 1997 after his employer found out that he has HIV. Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund sued on his behalf, claiming his employer violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. The American Dental Association and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have joined Lambda in the suit.
A lower court dismissed Waddell's suit last August, saying that dental hygienists pose a significant risk for HIV transmission because they use sharp instruments.
In a similar victory, an Oregon ski patroller was returned to his job after a judge ruled that he could not be fired for refusing an HIV test.
The ski resort that employed the man had demoted him to overnight snow plow duty in 1996 after learning that his wife has AIDS. A U.S. District judge in Eugene, Ore., ruled that the resort violated the ADA by taking him off the ski slopes.
Schlessinger radio show on rocks in New York
Two months after the cancellation of her low-rated TV show, Dr. Laura Schlessinger is taking another hit, as her biggest radio affiliate moves her to the late-night shift, The New York Post reports.
Beginning May 29, New York's WABC/770 AM will move Schlessinger's two-hour show to 11 p.m. The station trimmed an hour from the usually three-hour show last fall.
Hundreds at rally attack anti-gay bill in Mass.
Hundreds of GLBT activists and allies turned out for a recent hearing in Massachusetts to speak out against a bill that would prohibit any legal recognition of same-sex couples.
H. 3375, dubbed Super DOMA by gay groups, would define marriage as between one man and one woman and would outlaw legal standing for domestic partners and civil unions.
The hearing lasted a marathon 11-plus hours before adjourning.
Out editor causing a stir with baseball column
Out magazine editor Brendan Lemon has been making waves with the Letter from the Editor in the May issue of the magazine, in which he writes, "For the past year and a half, I have been having an affair with a pro baseball player from a major-league East Coast franchise, not his team's biggest star but a very recognizable media figure all the same."
Lemon goes on to discuss the difficulty his lover has in being forced to keep their relationship—and his sexuality—secret. "At some level," he writes, "I am writing about this relationship because I want the ballplayer to come out and make my life easier. I have spent many nights, awakened by a 3 a.m. phone call after a West Coast game, talking with this guy about his homosexuality and the way it affects his behavior toward his teammates, and I have concluded that coming out would, on balance, lessen his psychic burden."
Baseball's Billy Bean and Glenn Burke ( now deceased ) came out only after leaving the major leagues.
Wis. Scouts asks
national to reverse ban
The Boy Scouts Council serving several southeastern Wisconsin counties has formally asked the national organization to lift its ban on gay leaders, AP reports.
"A fundamental difference many of us would like to see is a policy having to do with behavior and behavior with youth members, rather than membership in any group," said Larry Kahan, a member of the Four Lakes Council executive board.
The council serves Dane, Sauk, Iowa, Richland, Columbia and Adams counties. Dane County is the home of the state capital, Madison, Wis. Madison is part of the legislative district served by openly lesbian U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin.
Trans teen wins right
to wear girls clothing
An agreement reached last week in Brockton, Mass., will allow a 15-year-old transgendered student to wear girls clothing to school, the Associated Press reports.
Beginning next fall, "Pat Doe" will be allowed to wear female clothes to Champion Charter School in Brockton. Doe was ordered not to return to South Junior High last fall because officials found her clothing disruptive. Doe has been diagnosed with gender identity disorder.
A judge was expected to approve the agreement. The Champion Charter School is designed for students who require a non-traditional educational setting.
colleague has conflict
Wall Street Journal staffers are fuming over a perceived conflict of interest for columnist Kara Swisher, who writes about AOL Time Warner at the same time that her partner, Megan Smith, relies on the company for funding, The New York Post reports.
Smith was a founder of Planet Out, which was bought by gay.com last year. Planet Out recently secured $8.2 million in new financing and listed AOL Time Warner Ventures first among other participants.
Swisher and her editor deny that any conflict exists, and Swisher defended her columns. "Megan and I spend a gigantic amount of time avoiding conflict of interests. ... AOL invested in Megan's company four to five years before I met her. ... I have always thought AOL would be a big company, even when other journalists thought it would fold."