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  WINDY CITY TIMES

NewsWrap
by Raphael Abantés
2003-12-24

This article shared 2646 times since Wed Dec 24, 2003
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Abbott Laboratories announced a wholesale price increase of 400% for the anti-HIV drug Norvir, reports UPI. The protease inhibitor is used to boost the levels of other drugs in several combination therapies. Critics say the large increase is meant to push patients off of Norvir and onto the more recently developed Kaletra. A Sacramento Superior Court last week refused to stand in the way of a new state law that offers same-sex couples legal protections and imposes many responsibilities for their relationships. Judge Thomas M. Cecil denied requests by Sen. Pete Knight and Randy Thomasson of Campaign for California Families to issue a preliminary injunction, which would prevent the state from putting the law into effect. Judge Cecil ruled Knight and Thomasson, who have brought legal challenges to the law claiming it violates Proposition 22, had not shown it was 'reasonably probable' the challenges would succeed. The injunction would have prevented the state from explaining to Californians registered as partners that the new law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2005, will significantly increase the state law rights and duties that come with domestic partnerships. The new law is much closer to equality for same-sex couples. Signed into law by former Governor Gray Davis Sept. 19, the law provides basic protections and imposes significant responsibilities on registered domestic partners in California. Protections for families headed by same-sex couples include: community property, mutual responsibility for debt, parenting rights and obligations such as custody and support, and the ability to claim a partner's body after death. The law does not allow for joint tax filing and certain other protections under state law, and does not provide access to more than 1,000 federal protections that married couples enjoy. After publicly admitting for months that it fired a top-notch gymnast solely because he has HIV, Cirque du Soleil told the San Francisco Human Rights Commission that some positions that don't involve bodily contact are suitable for people with HIV—such as dishwashers, food and beverage staff, office assistants, prep cooks, ushers and merchandise 'hawkers.' 'Even 20 years ago, Cirque du Soleil's comments would be suspect. Today, they are shockingly ignorant,' said Hayley Gorenberg, Lambda Legal's AIDSProject Director, who represents gymnast Matthew Cusick, who Cirque fired because he has HIV. 'If Cirque du Soleil ran the Lakers in the 1990s, Magic Johnson would have been transferred to wash dishes in the stadium restaurant after he disclosed his HIV status.' Cirque's position was made public in a five-page letter the company filed with the San Francisco Human Rights Commission, which launched a formal investigation last month because Cirque leases public property for its local show. With respect to its show in San Francisco, Cirque said that it contracts with temporary staffing agencies and 'there are many employment positions that would be suited to an individual with HIV.'

H&M stores was attacked for its labor practices by the Empire State Pride Agenda in a press conference last week in New York. H&M targets the gay community through advertising, and when they recently moved into the Chicago market, labor groups tried to educate gay consumers about the company's labor practices. In an ad titled 'Thinking About Shopping At H&M? Think Again!' in New York's Gay City News, the Pride Agenda highlighted a series of practices it says it wanted GLBTs to know about, including allegations of subcontracting with sweatshops in Asia to make clothes, employee harassment stemming from unionization efforts at H&M's New Jersey distribution center and workplace injuries at the same NJ facility. Pride Agenda said unions have been very supportive of NYC gays in their efforts to get the NY City Council to pass a bill requiring contractors to provide same-sex partner benefits. Alan Van Capelle, executive director of the Pride Agenda, said, 'Gay shoppers need to know about H&M's labor practices and about those who stand with us in our fight for workplace equality. H&M aggressively markets to our community and we are among their most loyal customers. Our voices can make a difference if we let H&M know that decent working conditions, fair levels of compensation and affordable benefits are just as important to H&M's gay customers as they are to H&M's employees.' The New Jersey Assembly narrowly approved controversial legislation that would grant certain legal rights and financial benefits to same-sex couples, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. A state Senate committee approved an identical measure. The bills could be merged and sent to Gov. McGreevey, who has indicated he would sign the legislation, the paper said.

Arizona's Supreme Court will deliberate on the issue of same-sex marriage, reports Echo magazine. Tod Keltner and Don Standhardt filed a lawsuit demanding a marriage license= from the Clerk of the Maricopa County Superior Court. After they lost an early round, they appealed to the state Supreme Court. The high court's decision to review will let Ryan present their case again, with the help of two Arizona State University law professors. While the justices said the state could prohibit gays and lesbians from marrying since they could not have children, they paid little heed to Ryan's claims that unions allowed between infertile or elderly partners would be just as childless, the paper said. Their attorney said Arizona even permits marriage between first cousins, which is usually illegal, if both are over 65 years of age, or they obtain a doctor's written confirmation that they cannot have children.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is considering a request from the state senate to advise the legislative body on the feasibility of civil unions as a remedy to the Court's ruling last month, reports the Boston Globe. The Court ruled that banning same-sex marriage infringed on the rights of gay residents. Several scholars believe the ruling allows only full-fledged marriage meets the requirements set by the Court, but the senate asked the Court to provide an advisory on whether civil unions will suffice.

An Internet site thought to be the nation's largest online adoption service is under fire now because it refused to list an advertisement from two gay men seeking a birthmother, reports the San Jose Mercury News. Adoption.com refused to list the ad from Rich and Michael Butler, saying research shows children should be raised in a traditional two-parent family. The Butlers are suing the site in California. Adoption.com, an Arizona-based company, says they're not subject to California laws. Despite the company's stance on gays, the site does provide a directory that includes resources for gay parents.

The U.S. 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in California dismissed an appeal by the Boy Scouts to a ruling that could boot the Scouts from 18 acres of city-owned land near the San Diego Zoo, reports the Union Tribune. The Court of Appeals ruled the appeal was premature because of other pending decisions. U.S. District Judge Napoleon Jones Jr. ruled this summer that the city gave preferential treatment to the Scouts. News Tips?


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