by Andrew Davis AND AMY WOOTEN
The U.S. House voted to restrict demonstrations at military funerals, a measure aimed at Rev. Fred Phelps' Topeka, Kan.-based Westboro Baptist Church, according to The New York Times. Protesters led by Phelps claim that U.S. military deaths in Iraq constitute divine punishment for America's tolerance of gays and lesbians. Those violating the act, which still needs Senate approval, would face up to a $100,000 fine and up to a year in prison.
In California, amateur figure skaters John Manzon-Santos and Alan Lessik settled with ice skating rink company East Bay Iceland, according to a press release from the National Center for Lesbian Rights, which represented the plaintiffs in part. While training for the Gay Games pairs competition at Berkeley's Iceland, Manzon-Santos and Lessik alleged they were harassed and kicked out of their home rink for skating together.
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney considered doing away with a state commission on gay youth after it issued an unauthorized press release of a gay pride rally on official stationery, Associated Press reported. The commission was the first of its kind in the nation when Gov. William Weld created it in 1992.
Scientists reported in a recent edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that the brains of lesbians react differently to sex hormones than those of heterosexual women, according to the Associated Press. The result agrees with that of an earlier study that had indicated gay men's brain responses were different from straight men, though the difference for men was more pronounced than has now been found in women.
In Virginia, lesbian Lilli Vincenz won a discrimination decision in Arlington after a video store refused to copy gay protest videos from the '60s and '70s, the Washington Blade reported. However, Liberty Counsel, a conservative Christian legal group, has threatened to sue the Arlington County Human Rights Commission, which decided the case. The group claims that the store worker refused to copy because of the content, not the customer's sexual orientation.
A study has found that one in seven East Asian immigrants in New York City carries the hepatitis B virus, according to The New York Times. The infection rate is 35 times the rate found generally.
The D.C. Coalition, which represents African-American gays in the Washington, D.C., area, and the National Black Justice Coalition are calling on District of Columbia Mayor Anthony Williams to expel from his Interfaith Council a city minister who used the terms 'faggot' and 'sissy' to describe gay men in an April 9 sermon, the Washington Blade reported. The Washington City Paper posted an audio recording of Bishop Alred A. Owens' sermon on its Web site.
A bill that would have authorized the federal government to prosecute hate crimes against gay people stalled in the U.S. Senate, the Washington Blade noted. Democrats yielded to Republican pressure against attaching the bill to the Sex Offender Registration & Notification Act, a measure aimed at protecting children from sexual predators.
By a vote of 22-15, the California Senate approved a bill to add the contributions of LGBT individuals in future school social science textbooks, according to the Sacramento Bee. The bill was written by Sen. Sheila Kuehl, D-Santa Monica.
In a press release, Saint Martin's Commissioners of Tourism, Theo Heyliger and Romeo Fleming, confirmed that two additional suspects in the attack against two gay American men were apprehended, bringing the total number to three. On April 6, Richard Jefferson and Ryan Smith, two CBS television producers, were gay-bashed on the Caribbean island with a tire iron, according to Florida's WFOR-TV.
U.S. Congressman Barney Frank, D-Mass., sent a letter sent to Nigerian President Obasanjo expressing serious concern over an anti-gay bill being considered by the Nigerian parliament. One part of the missive reads that Frank, as a gay man and a politician, is 'disappointed by this effort because [ he has ] been from the beginning very supportive of [ Obasanjo's ] efforts to establish a democratic regime in Nigeria while facing serious economic challenges.'