1st union in Vermont
Just after midnight July 1, Brattleboro, Vt., became the first town in the U.S. to issue a same-sex civil union license. Kathleen Peterson, 41, and Carolyn Conrad, 29, marked their five-year relationship by being "CU'd," reported Reuters.
Town Clerk Annette Cappy presented the couple with the license, which gives them legal recognition and most of the benefits and responsibilities of marriage.
The couple passed a dozen silent protesters as they entered a small park to a candle-lit fountain, where about 75 friends, relatives and members of the public watched as Justice of the Peace T. Hunter Wilson told the couple, "By the powers vested in me by the state of Vermont I join you in civil union," Reuters reported.
Also last week, a Vermont Superior Court judge refused to block the civil-union law. A month ago 15 people, including 11 members of the Vermont House who opposed civil unions, sued in an attempt to overturn the law.
Meanwhile, The ( Barre, Vermont ) Times Argus reports that the town clerk in Topsham, Vt., says she will not personally issue civil-union licenses to same-sex couples and is asking residents whether the town should defy state law by not making the licenses available at all. The law, states that if a town clerk does not want to issue the licenses he or she must at least appoint someone else to do so.
Clinton issues order
banning anti-gay bias in fed. education programs
According to the The Safe Schools Coalition ( SSC ) , President Clinton issued an executive order June 23 prohibiting sexual orientation-based discrimination in federally conducted education and training programs and activities.
Most public schools, although they receive federal funds, are not federally conducted, and hence not affected by this Executive Order. However, the schools run by the Defense Department, and their extracurricular activities would be covered. It will no longer be permissible to subject a child ( or a person of any age ) to discrimination in a federally run school on the basis of his or her being perceived to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or heterosexual.
This Order also protects federal employees and their families from discrimination in federal training events.
The Executive Order directs each executive department and agency to begin submitting to the Attorney General of the United States a report that summarizes "the number and nature of complaints filed with the agency and the disposition of such complaints."
Lambda: Court should reinstate property claims
Arguing that vital protections are at stake for lesbian and gay families, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund last week filed an amicus brief that urges Washington state's highest court to review a ruling that stripped a man of the home and business he had shared with his same-sex partner of nearly 30 years.
The amicus briefs urges the Washington Supreme Court to hear the appeal in Vasquez v. Hawthorne, in which the Court of Appeals last February said that, because Frank Vasquez and Robert Schwerzler were not a different-sex couple, Vasquez had no right to the property he acquired with Schwerzler, his partner of 27 years. The men had no legal wills at the time Schwerzler died in 1995.
Six police officers deny taunting transsexual
The Philadelphia Gay News reports that six local police officers accused of mistreating a trans woman recently denied any wrongdoing before the Police Advisory Commission.
Joyce Taylor, 45, says she was physically and verbally abused by police officers while under investigation for possibly stealing a car, a charge which proved to be unfounded. The incident occurred Jan. 12, 1998.
Taylor claims she was tormented by police, who called her "fucking cross-dresser," "fag-ass man," "bitch," "motherfucker" and "that."
Man gets 15-30
for gay bashing
Herbert Haak 3rd, one of two men acquitted in the killing of jogger Kimberley Ernest in Philadelphia, last week got 15 to 30 years, the maximum sentence, for his role in the robbery and beating of a gay man three days before Ernest's body was found, reports The Philadelphia Daily News.
Judge Ricardo C. Jackson gave Haak the longest allowable sentence for conspiracy and robbery charges in the beating of Christopher Beck.
The incident occurred on Oct. 30, 1995, when Haak and Richard Wise, his co-defendant in the Ernest murder trial, followed Beck, demanded his leather jacket and made derogatory remarks about his sexuality, the paper reported. Beck started running but was caught and beaten.
Haak told the judge he was innocent and this was retaliation by the police and DA's office because of his acquittal in the Ernest case, PDN said. Haak and Wise were acquitted in the rape, beating and strangulation of Ernest when DNA tests failed to link either man to the crime.
Baptist Homes will
pay to keep gays out
Associated Press reports that an executive committee of the Kentucky Baptist Homes for Children recently voted unanimously to accept new restrictions on a state contract that will cut their budget by more than half.
The agency's refusal to employ gay people is being challenged in court. In its new contract, Baptist Homes agreed to reimburse the state for the legal costs of any lawsuit that results from that policy. It also agreed that the state could stop sending children to Baptist Homes for any reason.
The church agency's refusal to employ openly gay workers, and its firing of Alicia Pedreira, a lesbian social worker in 1998, led to a federal lawsuit, AP reported.
Fla. man sentenced to six mos. for beating 'gay' dog
Last week in Ocala, Fla., a man convicted of beating a dog he thought was "gay" was sentenced to six months in jail, 100 hours of community service, ordered to pay a $500 fine and take an anger management course, reports AP.
George Stephens Finley fractured the skull of his former wife's poodle-Yorkshire terrier mix, then threw the animal against a tree trunk. The dog was taken to a vet and euthanized.
During the trial, prosecutor Sarah Ritterhoff Williams said Finley was enraged because the dog, a neutered male, repeatedly attempted to engage in sexual activity with a younger dog, AP reported.
Fired lesbian sues schools
In California, a former Burbank Elementary School teacher is suing the Modesto City Schools in federal court, alleging discrimination based on sexual orientation, reports The Modesto Bee.
The suit claims Laurel Ware was harassed and forced out of a job last year because she is gay.
NY cabbies applaud
murder of transsexual
On June 23 in New York City, Amanda Milan, a 25-year-old Black transsexual woman was heading home when she was verbally attacked with gender-slurs by a Black man, according to an internet site operated by the transgendered community.
After a verbal confrontation, Milan turned and walked toward a fleet of NY yellow cabs. The abuser was handed a knife by another man who egged him on, and as Milan opened a cab door, the man ran up to her from behind and slashed her throat, severing her jugular, before fleeing. While a few bystanders tried to help, several of the yellow cab drivers parked along the street reportedly cheered and applauded as Milan bled to death.
She died on the way to hospital. Both suspects are in custody, awaiting a grand jury indictment.
Soulforce arrests at
The Cox News Service reports that in Long Beach, Calif., about 80 members of Soulforce were arrested at a gathering of the Presbyterian Church ( U.S.A. ) . The demonstrators were charged by police with blocking a roadway, a misdemeanor.
While thousands of Presbyterians were inside the arena, more than 120 representatives and friends of Soulforce were outside calling for full inclusion of gays in the church.
The General Assembly voted to continue a two-year moratorium on revisiting its ban on ordaining homosexuals as ministers and elders. Church policy prohibits ministers from performing same-sex unions.
Trial begins of man who killed lesbian couple
AP reports that a 49-year-old man is on trial for the 1998 murder of a former girlfriend and her lesbian partner in Portland, Ore.
Eric Walter Running is accused of aggravated murder in the shooting of Jacqueline Anderson, 29, and Barbara Gilpin, 44. Prosecutors say that on the night of the murder, Running and Anderson were arguing while drinking at the karaoke bar. After Running left, Anderson was joined by her lover Gilpin, AP said.
According to prosecutors, Running returned to the bar and asked Anderson to leave with him. When she refused, he threatened to kill her. Later he came back with a shotgun and killed both women, AP reported.
The defense are not denying that Running was the shooter, but that he could not be held responsible because of untreated depression.
NY police suspended,
accused of ignoring
Donna Gaudino, a veteran New York City police officer, was suspended June 26 for failing to assist a teenager who told her he had been sexually abused after the annual Gay and Lesbian Pride March, reports The New York Times.
The 17-year-old said he was groped by a 250-pound man after a crowd gathered outside a bar on Christopher Street. The teen said he reported the assault to Gaudino, who refused to take a report. He then found two other officers who helped him; by then the assailant could not be found.
Officer Gaudino was suspended for failure to take proper police action, a charge which, if proven true, could result in her dismissal from the department, the Times said.
New HIV infections double in San Francisco
San Francisco health authorities are reporting a sharp increase in new HIV infections, marking the start of what many doctors fear is a dangerous new stage in America's AIDS epidemic, reports Reuters.
Health officials estimate that, after years of relative stability thanks to prevention programs, safer-sex publicity and new drug treatments, new HIV infections in San Francisco doubled to 900 in the past year.
Health officials blame the rise on the success of AIDS prevention and treatment efforts, which have combined to make the disease seem less threatening for many gay men.
Geico pulls ads for Dr. Laura radio program
NationalGayLobby.Org was notified last week that as of July 1, GEICO Insurance Co. will stop advertising on the Dr. Laura radio program.
Notification of GEICO's decision to withdraw its financial support for Dr. Laura came during a phone call placed by GEICO Vice President of Marketing Ted Ward to NGL Executive Director Michael Romanello. Ward also said GEICO had canceled its plans to advertise on the Dr. Laura television show set to air this fall.
AIDS to kill
'one in two Africans'
According to a new report by the United Nations, the AIDS virus will kill half of all young adults in Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe, and the virus is wreaking social and economic havoc on the worst affected nations. The UN recommends that $4 billion is needed annually to contain the epidemic, which has so far claimed 19 million lives.
found guilty of murders
Fox News reports that a British white supremacist was found guilty of murder and sentenced to six life sentences after a series of bombings against minorities in London that killed three people and injured more than 100.
David Copeland, 24, admitted planting the bombs, but said he should only be charged with manslaughter because of mental illness. The first nail bomb exploded in Brixton, a Black neighborhood in south London. The second was planted in a Bangladeshi neighborhood, and the third at a gay bar in Soho. The bomb in the gay bar killed a pregnant 27-year-old woman, two male friends and injured 70 others.
Study: gays don't undermine Israeli military
A new study of gays and lesbians in the Israeli Defense Forces has found that after Israel's 1993 decision to allow gays to serve openly, military performance did not decline.