Salt Lake City mayor vetoes “‘unprecedented’ benefits plan

By Associated Press


Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson signs an executive order granting domestic partner benefits to city employees in September 2005, as members of GLBT groups look on. The order was put on hold after being challenged in the 3rd District Court by opponents who say it violates a state ban on recognizing same-sex marriage or similar relationships.


Anderson said measure approved by council was intended to avoid issue of marital status equality for same-sex couples

SALT LAKE CITY Mayor Rocky Anderson on Tuesday vetoed an extended benefits plan approved by the City Council that would have offered health insurance and other benefits to designated adults including relatives and roommates with a documented financial dependency on city employees.
“The council’s plan creates a new type of benefit that is unprecedented among public or private sector employers,” Anderson said in a statement.

“There can be no justification for treating employees’ roommates or housemates the same as employees’ spouses or domestic partners, except to avoid the issue of marital status equality, especially as it concerns gay and lesbian employees.”

The City Council adopted the “adult designee” plan this month. To qualify, the designee would have to have lived with the employee for at least a year, and the two would have to be financially connected.

In September, Anderson extended health care and related benefits to the same-sex and unmarried heterosexual partners of city employees by executive order.

The executive order, which the mayor intended to be effective immediately, has been challenged in 3rd District Court. At issue is whether Anderson’s order violates state laws that ban gay marriage or any legal equivalent recognition of marriage for same-sex couples. A ruling is pending.

Anderson said the goal of the executive order was to provide parity between employees with spouses and employees that have spousal-like relationships.

“It extends an existing benefit to additional employees based on considerations of fairness and, in doing so, follows the example of over 8,000 public and private sector employers nationwide,” Anderson said.

The city estimated 30 of its 2,600 employees would sign up for the domestic partner option, costing about $113,000 a year.

The council’s plan was adopted unanimously. Council member Carlton Christensen said the council has several options, ranging from taking no action to overriding the mayor’s veto with a super majority, or five of seven votes.

“It’s a tough and difficult situation,” Christensen said. “It affects a very minor group of employees. If we’re going to do this we need to be as fair and equitable as possible.”

Anderson contends that the timing of the council’s plan seems designed to interfere with the opportunity to obtain a legal decision on benefits equality because it would make the executive order and the court case moot.

Christensen said that was not the intention of the council.

He said council member Jill Love had been working on the plan since last summer but the council wasn’t ready to go forward by the time the mayor issued his order.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, February 24, 2006.

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Seattle priest could become 2nd gay Episcopal bishop

By Associated Press


The Very Rev. Robert Taylor says he hopes the Episcopal Church will focus on issues other than gay marriage.


Taylor, dean of St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, known for work on
social justice issues, community outreach, interfaith efforts

SEATTLE The dean of St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral is among five finalists for the position of bishop of the Diocese of California.

If elected, the Very Rev. Robert Taylor would become the second openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion.

The denomination has been divided on the issue of homosexuality, especially since the 2003 election of the church’s first openly gay bishop, V. Gene Robinson, in New Hampshire.

“I feel just honored and humbled by the trust and faith of the diocese in including me on their list of nominees,” said Taylor.

He added that he hopes the church would focus on issues other than gay clergy, such as poverty, health care and ministering to the larger society.

Taylor is known for his work on social justice, community outreach and interfaith efforts. He helped fight against apartheid in his native South Africa, which he left in 1980 with help from Nobel laureate and Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Taylor, 47, has led St. Mark’s Cathedral on Capitol Hill since 1999. During his tenure, membership has risen from 1,900 to 2,400.

He’s served as chairman of King County’s Committee to End Homelessness and is founding president of the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation, which raises money for Tutu’s peace center in Cape Town, South Africa.

Taylor previously served as rector at St. Peter Church in Peekskill, N.Y., where the congregation grew from about 50 to 550 during his 11 years there.

The finalists to succeed the California Diocese’s Bishop William Swing were announced Monday at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, where the California Diocese is based.

In addition to Taylor, candidates include the Rt. Rev. Mark Handley Andrus, an assistant bishop of the Diocese of Alabama; the Rev. Jane Gould, rector of St. Stephen’s Church in Lynn, Mass.; the Rev. Bonnie Perry, rector of All Saints’ Church in Chicago; and the Rev. Canon Eugene Taylor Sutton, canon pastor at Washington National Cathedral in the nation’s capital.

Perry is also openly gay.

Finalists will meet with members of the diocese April 24-29. The election is scheduled on May 6. The bishop-elect is to be confirmed at the denomination’s national gathering in June.

The Diocese of California has about 27,000 members in the Bay Area.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, February 24, 2006.

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Judge refuses review for man convicted of killing Shephard

By Associated Press


Russell Henderson

CHEYENNE, Wyo. A federal judge has refused to grant a review of the case of Russell Henderson, one of two men convicted in the 1998 murder of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard.

U.S. District Judge Clarence Brimmer last week rejected Henderson’s motion for a writ of habeas corpus. Henderson’s attorney, Tim Newcomb, argued that Henderson was never told of his right to appeal, thus effectively denying Henderson his right to appellate counsel.

A state district court and the Wyoming Supreme Court previously rejected Henderson’s motion.

In April 1999, Henderson pleaded guilty to his role in the robbery and murder of Shepard. He was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences, but prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty be-cause of the plea deal.

Henderson and Aaron McKinney beat Shepard and tied him to a fence outside Laramie in October 1998. Shepard was alive when he was found 16 hours after the beating, but died later from his injuries. The murder ignited a nationwide debate over whether more laws were needed to discourage hate crimes.

McKinney is also serving two life terms.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, February 24, 2006.

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Utah senator amends ban on gay-straight allliances

By Jennifer Dobner Associated Press


Senator Christ Buttars says House Bill 97 would clarify the rules governing school clubs for school districts in Utah.


State attorney general said bill’s original language would violate federal equal access laws; sponsor says measure necessary to stop “‘recruitment’

SALT LAKE CITY Back on Capitol Hill after 15 days in the hospital, Senator Chris Buttars has amended his bill against gay clubs.

The amended bill was endorsed by the Senate Education Committee on a 4-2 vote Monday, and will now get a debate by the full Senate.

Buttars, a Republican, adopted language in a similar House bill regarding the definition of human sexuality. Some said the original language would ban gay-straight alliance clubs from Utah’s public high schools, but the Utah attorney general said it would run afoul of federal equal access laws.

There is question now what Buttars’ Senate Bill 97 would do, if anything. Some say the amended definition still could allow for the clubs to be banned, or at least force name changes, as state law bans any discussion of human sexuality in schools.

Also attending the hearing Monday was Representative Aaron Tilton, a Republican, whose version of the school clubs legislation was endorsed by the House Education committee last week. Buttars’ amendment adopted the same broad definitions used by Tilton.

Tilton has said his intention is not to ban any club.

Buttars said his bill would clarify for state school districts what the rules are for granting charters for non-curricular clubs. He said districts need the clarification so they can make decisions without fear of lawsuits from the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Otherwise if you wanted to have a Texas Hold ‘Em club, poker, you could do that and they could say we’re not gambling, we’re just teaching them how the game works,” Buttars said. “You could have the same thing with a Nazi club, or any other extreme club.”

Senator Patrice Arent, a Democrat, said the school boards and state school officials believe the bill does not grant them any authority they do not already have.

Buttars contends that the alliances, which exist at 14 schools across the state, are vehicles used by gays and lesbians to “recruit” others.

“I’ve said all the way along to screen out, in a school of 2,000, kids that are confused or that might have a question and they can come to this and be indoctrinated,” Buttars said.

No public testimony was taken at the hearing, although Buttars was allowed to have a constituent speak on behalf of the bill.

Scott M. Soulier said his high-school-age niece attended a gay-straight alliance meeting at her Salt Lake Valley school and was then “targeted, recruited and indoctrinated to the extent that she questions her beliefs that she has been taught in her home.”

Arent said, “The experience I’ve heard today is not the experience we’ve heard from other students. I don’t think this is a bill that will accomplish anything in terms of helping our young people.”

Students and advisers involved with the clubs have said they do not discuss sexuality and that the clubs are support groups.

If the Senate and House bills both continue to pass, the sponsors would have to find a way to coordinate their legislation in statute, or decide which version of the bill should get a final endorsement by both legislative houses.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, February 24, 2006.

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Colorado lawmakers hear testimony on civil unions bill

By Steven K. Paulson Associated Press


Representative Tom Plant announces during a January press conference that he and Senate President Joan Fitzgerald planned to introduce a bill to legalize same-sex civil unions.The Colorado House Judiciary Committee held public hearings on the measure this week.


Similar measure under consideration would give limited rights to same-sex couples, other people who can’t marry, such as siblings

DENVER Tim Sagen says he owns his home and pays his taxes, just like his married neighbors do, but has considerably fewer rights under Colorado law because he and his partner are gay.

“We are by any standards model citizens,” he told the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, urging lawmakers to approve a proposal to recognize domestic partnerships for same-sex couples.

The committee heard from a half dozen supporters of the measure, which would allow Coloradans to decide the issue in November, but the members delayed a vote.

Representative Tom Plant, a Democrat who sponsored the measure, said the bill House Bill 1344 would not change Colorado’s marriage law, just extend certain rights to same-sex couples, such as hospital visitation, inheritance without a will and shared employer benefits.

“It extends to same-sex couples the same responsibilities and benefits that are currently afforded to people who are engaged in a marriage relationship. It shall have done nothing to change the definition of marriage in the state of Colorado as being between one man and one woman,” Plant said.

Sagen, a retired electrical engineer, told lawmakers he should have the same rights as others.

“We have the same commitment to our relationship as any opposite-sex couple. We support each other in our dreams and aspirations,” he said.

Lawmakers are considering another proposal that would automatically give some rights to same-sex couples, but only if they’re also given to other people who cannot marry but are living together, such as roommates or daughters and mothers. Gay rights advocates have called the measure from Senator Shawn Mitchell, a Republican, a ploy that doesn’t give same-sex couples anything they can’t currently get if they hire a lawyer and draw up a contract. Mitchell, who has voted against previous civil union legislation, said he opposes anything that would re-create marriage in all but name.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, February 24, 2006.

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Tree-lined inspiration

Local gay painter Jay Maggio explores vibrant landscapes, woody perennials



NICE TRUNK: Maggio finds glistening inspiration from the loneliness of trees. His newest exhibit goes up Friday at The Pan American Art Gallery.

He paints trees. But when Dallas artist Jay Maggio’s brush hits the canvas, the trees come alive, glistening and almost speaking to the beholder.

A quote from the “artist statement” highlights what’s behind Maggio’s vision: “The lone, large tree in an infinite expanse of land reflects a feeling of oneness, inspiring a sense that we represent a small

but important part of our country, our world, our universe.”
On Friday, he presents new works at the Pan American Art Gallery. This is his second solo exhibition at the Pan American.

Raised in New Roads, La., Maggio developed an early love for trees. Set on surreal and colorist landscapes, his paintings are an homage to their majesty and grace.


Maggio

Maggio attended Louisiana State University, studying automotive design. But he first moved to North Texas in the early ’80s when he transferred and eventually graduated from Northwood University in Cedar Hill.
His career as a painter didn’t really take off until 2000, and then it really took off. Back then, some individual pieces were fetching more than $7,000.
Maggio was most recently honored with a solo exhibition at Northwood University. His paintings have been collected by the Scottish Rite Hospital of Dallas, the Turtle Creek Association, AIDS Services of Dallas, and by private collectors throughout the U.S.

Each of the paintings tells a story some celebrating the renewal of nature with trees in full blossom, one suggesting infinity in its repetitive forms, others bearing colors as cold as death itself.

Pan American Art Gallery, 3303 Lee Parkway at Hall Street. Maggio attends the opening reception, Feb. 24 from 6 p.m.-9 p.m. Free. Exhibition continues through April 1. Regular hours: Tue.-Fri., 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat., 12-6 p.m. 214-522-3303.



DIGITAL ABSTRACTION
If you attend the Uptown Players’ production of Aida at the Trinity River Arts Center, check out the gallery across the hall from the theater space. Local gay artist William H. Miller is showing “Digital & Paint,” a mixed-media exhibit of large-format digital work.

To create his digital works, like “Framed, above, Miller begins with computer painting programs, like Corel Canvas Painter IX. When completed, the works are printed onto canvas and stretched over frames. Sometimes Miller embellishes the design with acrylic paint.


Miller

Through March 5 at the Trinity River Arts Center Gallery, 2600 Stemmons Freeway. Suite 180. Wednesday-Saturday, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Sundays, noon to 2 p.m. www.whimdesigns.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, February 24, 2006.

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Clinton’s stance on gay marriage splits activists in New York

By Beth Fouhy Associated Press


Senator Hillary Clinton supports the Defense of Marriage Act her husband signed in 1996. But she also opposes efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage.


Empire State Pride Agenda director says he supports senator’s re-election bid, but participating in event would send wrong message

NEW YORK Calling Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton “a complete disappointment” because of her opposition to same-sex marriage, the director of an influential gay rights organization told associates he will not participate in a fundraiser hosted by several of her gay supporters.

The refusal by the director of Empire State Pride Agenda to lend his name or raise money for the March 10 fundraiser set marriage equality as a new benchmark for candidates seeking political support from the gay community.
Other gay advocates said Clinton has been a leader on other issues of concern to gay voters, and her position on marriage should not disqualify her from their support.

In an e-mail to board members earlier this month, Alan Van Capelle of Empire State Pride Agenda said he still supports Clinton’s re-election, “despite her regrettable statements” on same-sex marriage and her support of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act.

But he said supporting next month’s fundraiser, organized by prominent gay Clinton supporters including New York City Council President Christine Quinn, “will actually hurt our community.”

“It will send a message to other elected officials that you can be working against us during this critical time and not suffer a negative pushback from the gay community,” Van Capelle wrote.

Joe Tarver, a spokesman for the organization, said the Empire State Pride Agenda would have no further comment on Van Capelle’s e-mail, which was sent Feb. 10 and marked “confidential.”

But, Tarver added, “We are being overwhelmed by positive e-mails and phone calls around the country about Alan’s views on this. We think we’ve touched a nerve on something.”

Clinton opposes same-sex marriage but supports civil unions, which confer many of the same benefits to gay couples.

Her position mirrors that of her colleague, Senator Chuck Schumer, also a Democrat from New York, but puts her at odds with other prominent Democrats running statewide in New York this year. Among them is Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, a candidate for governor, who said he would support legislation legalizing gay marriage if elected.

Clinton also supports the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 federal law signed by her husband that defines marriage as “a legal union of one man and one woman as husband and wife.” She opposes a Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, which many gay rights advocates cite as their most pressing political concern.

“If there’s one line in the sand, it’s the federal marriage amendment, and Hillary is strongly and inalterably opposed,” said Fred Hochberg, a Clinton supporter and dean at Milano, the New School for Management and Urban Policy. “I’m trying to be very pragmatic, and when I talk to gay and lesbian people around the country, that’s the key issue.”

State Senator Tom Duane, who is co-hosting the March 10 fundraiser, said Clinton was a “great friend” to the gay community despite her opposition to same-sex marriage.

He cited her efforts to boost funding to fight crystal methamphetamine addiction among gays, and her recent votes against confirming Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Duane added that he is hopeful the senator would eventually shift her views on same-sex marriage.

“I would like her to support our right to get married, and I’m not giving up on the possibility of convincing her.

“But I’m not going out of my way to alienate her, either,” Duane said.
The controversy comes as Clinton embarks on a multi-state fundraising swing for her re-election campaign.

She spoke to supporters at a New York nightclub Tuesday evening and headed to Florida and North Carolina on Thursday.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, February 24, 2006.

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Dysfunctional “‘Family Reunion’

By Steve Warren Contributing Film Critic

Bigger budget, directorial control couldn’t salvage Tyler Perry’s sequel



HIT IT WITH A SKILLET: Unstoppable matriarch Madea (Tyler Perry, left) advises her niece Vanessa (Lisa Arrindell Anderson) about keeping a man.

A year ago, few white people had heard of Tyler Perry. But he was well-known to African-Americans. If they hadn’t seen him touring in his plays, they had made him a multi-millionaire by buying the videos of his stage performances.
Then came the movie version of “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” which brought Perry to a larger, multiracial audience. It was successful enough to allow another of his plays to get the big-screen treatment, this time with a bigger budget and the writer-star sitting in the director’s chair.

In “Madea’s Family Reunion,” Perry plays the same three characters: Madea, the feisty, irascible grandmother; Joe, her flatulent, dirty-minded older brother; and Brian, Madea’s successful middle-class son.

Perry’s directing duties seem to have taken away from the time he spends in Madea’s fat suit. Since she’s the heart of the piece, it doesn’t matter that they spent more money on music rights and other trappings. However you dress a body, without a heart, it’s dead.

Perhaps the novelty has worn off, but “Diary” swung wildly between intense melodrama and wacky comedy. “Reunion” lacks Kimberly Elise, who jacked up the drama. And with less Madea, it just isn’t as funny.

The plot is pretty much the same but with Elise’s character divided between two sisters. Lisa (Rochelle Aytes) is the woman who’s mistreated by her man (Blair Underwood as Carlos, a self-described “collector of beautiful things”), while Vanessa (Lisa Arrindell Anderson) is the woman who finally finds a good man (Boris Kodjoe as Frankie) but isn’t sure she can trust him.

Carlos, who beats Lisa frequently, is in league with her mother, Victoria (Lynn Whitfield), a Mommie Dearest if ever there was one. She’s basically selling off her daughter, having depleted her trust fund, for Carlos’ money.

“Women sometimes have to deal with things to be comfortable,” she counsels Lisa, who only tries to escape Carlos at night, while he’s home to catch her and threaten, “I love you to death and I mean that.”

If there weren’t so many long speeches, especially the sermonettes toward the end, there would be room for the subplot about Nikki (Keke Palmer), a troubled child placed in Madea’s foster care by a judge. Madea’s a strict disciplinarian (“I’m from the old school”) who doesn’t spare the rod, so we get the odd message that beating women is wrong but beating children is funny.
There are positive messages, too, more than in the average Sunday service. Between Cicely Tyson’s preaching and Maya Angelou’s inspiring words, Madea spits out wisdom like, “It ain’t what people call you. It’s what you answer to.”

Jenifer Lewis, playing a wedding planner, goes as far over the top as in her TV movies. But in this crowd nobody notices.

Madea is still a great creation, but her creator while he may have more money than God has to realize he can’t do it all alone.

MADEA’S FAMILY REUNION
Director: Tyler Perry
Cast: Tyler Perry, Maya Angelou, Jenifer Lewis and Cicely Tyson
Opens today in wide release
2 hr., 3 min. PG-13

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, February 24, 2006.

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National Briefs

By The Associated Press

Lancaster resigning as executive director of scholarship foundation
Vance Lancaster is stepping down after two years as executive director of the Point Foundation, and officials said the organization will immediately start a nationwide search for his replacement.

The Point Foundation provides financial support and mentoring to GLBT students. It is the first national GLBT scholarship foundation.

Lancaster said he is resigning because he and his partner, John Taylor, plan to start a family and they want to devote more time to their real estate investment business.

He will stay on as executive director through June 30 to give the foundation time to find a replacement.

Valuing Our Families conference set for April in Fort Lauderdale
Family Pride Coalition, the national organization for GLBT-headed families, will hold its annual “Valuing Our Families” conference on April 1 at the Metropolitan Community Church’s Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
SunServe, a Fort Lauderdale GLBT service organization, will co-sponsor the conference.

Jennifer Crisler, the coalition’s executive director, will be keynote speaker at the event. gay Congressman Barney Frank and gay author Armistead Maupin will be the honorees at the celebration dinner closing the one-day conference. Actress Sharon Gless, a former honoree, will attend.

Local honorees will include Karen Doering of the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Michael Galacher of South Florida Family Pride.

The conference will include workshops on conversations for teens about coming out, relationship enhancement for adults and making schools safe and inclusive. There will also be activities for the younger children.

For more information, go online to www.sunserve.org or call 954-764-5150.

Early bird registration open for Family Week in Provincetown
Early bird registration is open through March 31 for the 11th annual Family Week in Provincetown, presented by Family Pride Coalition. Family Week in Provincetown is July 29-Aug. 5.

Family Week activities include educational and advocacy workshops and social activities for GLBT parents and their children. Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere will be offering social and educational programming for children age 9 and under. Additional opportunities include whale-watching tours, barbecues, beach parties, a family parade and a family dance.

Early bird registration is $165 per family and $125 for single-parent families. After March 31, registration fees increase to $190 per family, and $150 for single-parent families. On-site registration will be $215 and $175.

Registration forms are available online at www.familypride.org and by calling 202-331-5015.

Marriage ban oppponents lobby at theater showing “‘Brokeback Mountain’
A group opposing a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in South Carolina is turning out at a theater showing the gay-themed cowboy film “Brokeback Mountain” to campaign for votes. Melissa Moore, volunteer coordinator for an advocacy group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues, recently handed out brochures encouraging people to vote against a state constitutional amendment this November.

“Brokeback Mountain” about two male Wyoming ranchers who fall in love has grossed more than $66 million in 10 weeks. It is a contender for several Academy Awards.

Moore and others with the South Carolina Equality Coalition were hoping to draw on the appeal of the movie to talk with people about the amendment that passed the General Assembly last year by a combined vote of 131-4.

South Carolina Equality Coalition chairwoman Linda Ketner says the South Carolina proposal is more severe than most. She said it would prevent a private company from being able to recognize a domestic partnership for insurance purposes.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, February 24, 2006.

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Efforts to ban gay adoption heating up in 16 states

By Staff and Wire Reports

Battle lines are being drawn in the second front of the culture wars in the U.S., as drives get underway in 16 states to ban adoption by gays and lesbians through ballot inititiatives in the November general elections.
“Now that we’ve defined what marriage is, we need to take that further and say children deserve to be in that relationship,” Greg Quinlan of Ohio’s Pro-Family Network told USA Today.

Ohio was one of 11 states where constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage were approved by voters in the 2004 general election.

Lesbian entertainer Rosie O’Donnell drew attention several years ago with her efforts to overturn Florida’s ban on adoption by gays and lesbians.

The law has been in effect in Florida since 1977, although a measure pending in the legislature there would allow judges to grant exceptions.

Gays and lesbians are allowed to be foster parents in Florida.

Mississippi bans adoption by gay couples, but gay and lesbian singles can adopt.

Utah bans all unmarried couples, regardless of sexual orientation, from adoption.

Bills to restrict gay adoption are in the works in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Indiana, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia.

Five of those states also are discussing ballot initiatives.

In Massachusetts, Roman Catholic bishops are asking for an exemption from state anti-discrimination laws to allow the church to ban gays and lesbians from adopting through its social service agencies.

GLBT Texans have already fought measures to prohibit gays and lesbians from being adoptive or foster parents in several consecutive sessions of the Legislature.

Each time, efforts spearheaded primarily by Representative Robert Talton, a Republican of Pasadena, have been defeated, usually bottled up in committee by Democrats.

Patrick Guerriero, president of Log Cabin Republicans, told USA Today the adoption bans are the part of an overall conservative strategy to stymie GLBT rights.

“The game plan was first to go to states where it was easy to pass anti-marriage amendments and then launch a second round of attacks on gay adoption,” he said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, February 24, 2006.

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