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  WINDY CITY TIMES

National Roundup
by Andrew Davis
2005-04-27

This article shared 2598 times since Wed Apr 27, 2005
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In a move that angered many of the company's gay employees, Microsoft Corporation, the $37-billion Redmond, Wash.-based software giant, quietly withdrew its support for House Bill 1515, the anti-gay-discrimination bill under consideration by the Washington State legislature, according to The Stranger. According to the article, Microsoft made the move after being pressured by Ken Hutcherson, the Evangelical Christian pastor of Antioch Bible Church in Redmond. Hutcherson met with a senior Microsoft executive in February and threatened to organize a national boycott of the company's products if it did not change its stance on the legislation, according to gay-rights activists and a Microsoft employee. The Seattle Times reported that the Washington Senate rejected the gay civil-rights bill by one vote, 25-24. The measure, which sailed through the House in February, would ban discrimination against gays and lesbians in housing, insurance, and jobs. Many groups criticized the bill's defeat. The Associated Press reported that, in an internal memo e-mailed to employees, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer attempted to shoot down suggestions that Hutcherson had any influence. The company pointed to its long history of progressive policies for GLBT employees. The New York Times reported that Ballmer said he and Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, both personally supported the bill 'but that the company had decided not to take an official stance on the legislation this year. He said they were pondering the role major corporations should play in larger social debates,' the Times reported.

The man charged in the March 16 slaying of Wanda Alston, director of Washington, D.C., Mayor Anthony Williams's gay affairs office, was scheduled to plead guilty to a charge of second-degree murder while armed in a plea bargain agreement, according to the Washington Blade. Under the city's criminal statute, defendant William M. Parrott, Jr., 38, who is charged with Alston's murder, could receive a maximum sentence of up to 40 years in prison for the charge of second-degree murder while armed.

A Newark, N.J., man who admitted fatally stabbing a 15-year-old lesbian during a confrontation on a downtown street was sentenced to 20 years in prison, Advocate.com reported. Richard McCullough had faced up to 30 years after pleading guilty last month to aggravated manslaughter, aggravated assault, and bias intimidation. McCullough, 30, had been charged with bias murder in the May 2003 killing of Sakia Gunn, but that charge was dropped as part of a plea bargain.

In California, a lesbian mother has won custody of her children on appeal after a Kern County judge had previously ruled it would be a detrimental to her children to be with their mother, according to the Bakersfield Californian. The mother's attorney, Nannette Stomberg, argued in the appeal that Kern County Superior Court Judge Richard J. Oberholzer 'allowed his apparent bias against same-sex domestic partnerships to govern his decision,' according to the 5th District Court of Appeal opinion.

In Wisconsin, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit seeking domestic-partnership benefits for state employees. Partners of state workers, including University of Wisconsin employees, are not covered under the state's health insurance program and do not quality for such benefits as family leave.

Gay-rights leader Evan Wolfson criticized conservative groups for their intolerance toward same-sex marriage in a rare, face-to-face debate between leaders on opposite sides of the issue, the Associated Press reported. Wolfson, the executive director of Freedom to Marry, debated the Rev. Lou Sheldon, the chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, in an event at Stanford Law School. Wolfson said people pushing for a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage are 'using government as a weapon to impose their religious view on others.'

Tennessee's proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage is being challenged in court, reported The Tennessean. The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee announced it has filed a lawsuit in Davidson County Chancery Court about how lawmakers took up the resolution, which was passed earlier this year and is headed to the voters.

After being rejected by countless companies, jeweler Udi Behr has taken to selling wedding and commitment rings for same-sex couples online, according to Newsweek. Behr has launched LoveAndPride.com, which sells rings for $500-$5,000. Ten percent of the profits go to Marriage Equality, a gay-rights organization.

Despite objections from same-sex-rights activists, the College Republicans carried out plans for a lecture at the University of California-San Diego that featured gay conservative talk-show host Steven Yuhas, who spoke in condemnation of same-sex marriage, according to the UCSD Guardian. The April 22 event attracted approximately 40 people.

A Montgomery, Ala., Episcopal church has split from the national church over its appointment of New Hampshire's openly gay bishop. Nearly 80 percent of the Church of the Ascension's 1,600-member congregation, including two of its three priests, decided to leave the church and form a new parish in the Anglican Communion called Christchurch, the Associated Press reported.

Also in Alabama, state Rep. Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa, has received a 'muzzle' award from The Thomas Jefferson Center for Protection of Free Expression for attempting to suppress 'the expression of a viewpoint that is at odds with his own personal views,' according to AP. Allen is attempting to ban the use of public funds for purchase of books or materials that recognize or promote homosexuality as acceptable.

Florida Legal hosts the 9th International Conference of Gay and Lesbian Criminal Justice Professionals in Key West June 8-11. See www.fla-legal.com .


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