It's the real thing: Coca-Cola to get partner benefits
The Human Rights Campaign commended the Coca-Cola Co. for announcing plans last week to extend healthcare benefits to same-sex domestic partners of its U.S.-based employees. They are the 99th member of the Fortune 500 to do so. The benefits begin Jan 1.
The Coca-Cola Co. released a statement saying employees will be able to sign up during the fall benefits enrollment period. The company also said it is researching opportunities for implementing its policy on a global basis. "Our company is committed to attracting and retaining the most diverse workforce in the world," Coca-Cola said in the statement. "Our goal is to ensure that the Coca-Cola Company is the best place for all people to work. This extension of benefits is another step toward achieving that goal."
NGLTF, NCLR praise Rep. Barney Frank on trans issues; guide out
On June 22, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Lesbian Rights praised the historic actions of U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., to include transgendered people in a bill considered at a House Judiciary Committee hearing. The committee ultimately approved the bill without the proposed language.
Frank proposed adding "gender identity, characteristics or expression" into HR 1248, a bill reauthorizing grant money for domestic-violence programs under the Violence Against Women Act of 1994. Frank's amendment modified Rep. John Conyers', D-Mich., original amendment to include sexual orientation and other categories. Frank's provision was approved by the committee, but the original Conyers' amendment was defeated on a party-line vote, so neither measure was incorporated into the version of the bill that passed the committee.
More information on legislative initiatives that include transgendered people can be found in "Transgender Equality: A Handbook for Activists and Policymakers," by NCLR and the NGLTF Policy Institute. The book is available free from NGLTF online in the Library + Publications section at www.ngltf.org or for $10 by ordering online or calling ( 202 ) 332-6483, ext. 3205.
NY State passes
On June 23, both houses of the New York State Legislature approved a bill to enhance penalties for hate-motivated offenses, including crimes motivated by anti-gay hate. When Gov. Pataki signs the measure, it will be the first statewide law in the history of New York State to specifically include protections for lesbians and gay men.
The state Assembly had passed a hate-crimes bill for the last 11 years, but the Senate Republican majority had refused to act because the measure included "sexual orientation" in addition to race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, religion, age, and disability. On June 7, however, Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno brought the Governor's bill to the floor for a vote, and it passed by 48 to 12, with the support of 24 Democrats and 24 of the 36 Republican senators.
Victory Fund backs Joel Wachs for L.A. Mayor
The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund is endorsing longtime Los Angeles City Council member Joel Wachs, an independent, in his bid for mayor of Los Angeles. His election would make him the first openly gay mayor of any of the nation's largest cities, and the first Jewish mayor of Los Angeles.
Wachs, a fiscally conservative and socially progressive member of the Council, has a strong record of supporting gay issues back to the 1970s. In 1978, he sponsored the nation's most comprehensive sexual orientation non-discrimination law that had until then been enacted, and in 1984 he wrote the first law in the country prohibiting discrimination against people living with AIDS. He only came out as gay in the past year.
CDC say Gonorrhea
is on rise
AP reports that a new government study says that Gonorrhea climbed nine percent in the U.S. in 1998 after 12 years of decline.
Debra Mosure, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, speculated that safe-sex practices are being abandoned because of more effective AIDS drugs, but some states said improved testing was partly responsible for the increase in reported cases.
In the 50-state survey, the Midwest had the highest increase of any region—16.4 percent, AP said.
Suzanne B. Goldberg, one of the nation's most experienced litigators in lesbian and gay civil rights, is leaving the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, where she has been an attorney since 1991.
Goldberg has played a pivotal role in the organization's efforts to overturn sodomy laws, enforce fair immigration rules, defend domestic-partner programs, and secure workplace protections.
Most recently, Goldberg helped represent two gay men in their successful legal challenge to the Texas sodomy law, after they were arrested in one of the men's Houston home; an Appeals Court cleared the men and said the law violates the equal rights protections of the State Constitution.
Goldberg is to join the full-time faculty of Rutgers University Law School.
Two charged in
slaying of gay man
A criminal complaint provides details of the beating that left 45-year-old Jeff Wahlen dead, reports The Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Two men met Wahlen outside an adult bookstore in June 1997 and arranged a meeting that lead to Wahlen being stabbed 50 times. Paul Foss, 27, and Daniel Chipman, 30, have been charged with being party to the crime of first-degree intentional homicide. Wahlen's body was found in a motel room in Green Bay, Wisc., in June 1997, the paper said.
Chipman was ordered held in lieu of $100,000 bail, and Foss remains in custody, serving an eight-year sentence for an unrelated armed-robbery attempt.
Judge to hear
The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development has ruled there is probable cause that a former commercial real estate firm partner was fired because of his sexual orientation, reports The Wisconsin State Journal.
The ruling stems from a complaint filed by Michael Reisinger against Michelson Associates and Michelson Management. Don Michelson denied any discrimination took place.
The judge can either dismiss the case or rule that discrimination occurred.