National Briefs

Posted on 29 Jun 2006 at 9:11pm
By Staff and Wire Reports

Decision to keep sexually-explicit books costing library some donations

NAMPA, Idaho The recent decision by the Nampa Public Library Board to retain two sexually explicit books could make it more difficult for the city to raise money for a new library building.

Larry Knapp, a Nampa businessman, said he is withholding $10,000 and others who usually give large donations to city projects will not do so because of the books.

“Why would you want to create a larger problem,” Knapp told the Idaho Press Tribune. “If it were a company I owned, I would be more swift in responding.”

In December, after being rebuffed by the library board, Nampa resident Randy Jackson asked the Nampa City Council to remove “The Joy of Gay Sex” and “The Joy of Sex” from the Nampa library. The books contain drawings and photos of sexual activity.

The board declined to remove the books at a meeting last week, but agreed to move the books as well as about 60 others with sexually oriented topics to higher, more inaccessible shelves, which are out of the reach of children.

Private schools worried discrimination lawsuit could affect tuition programs

PIKEVILLE, Ky. Officials at private colleges and universities are worried state assistance for students who attend their institutions could come to an end in the fallout of a lawsuit filed against a private school that expelled a student because of his sexual orientation.

The Kentucky Fairness Alliance is challenging the constitutionality of the state giving money to the University of the Cumberlands for a pharmacy school.

The lawsuit came about after the University of the Cumberlands expelled Jason Johnson, 20, this spring for revealing he was gay on the popular Web site Myspace.com. Officials at the small Baptist school in Williamsburg said Johnson’s admission violated university policy.

The Fairness Alliance claims because the school has the right to discriminate, it shouldn’t be allowed to accept $10 million in coal-tax money from the state to build a pharmacy school. Money for the pharmacy school was included in the state budget lawmakers passed in April.

“Our issue is the singling out of gay students,” said Fairness Alliance spokeswoman Christina Gilgor. “We would like the Constitution to be followed across the board and if that affects the way private schools are funded, so be it.”

If the lawsuit is successful, officials at other schools are worried it could have a ripple effect on the amount of money the state sets aside for students who want to attend private universities.

Idaho Democrats include opposition to anti-gay-marriage amendment in platform

BOISE, Idaho Idaho’s Democratic Party has adopted a platform opposing the sale of public lands, against pre-emptive, unilateral military action and passage of an anti-gay-marriage constitutional amendment, and supporting reproductive rights.

Delegates from around the state crafted the platform during the party’s state convention in Idaho Falls over the weekend. The platform was crafted around several core beliefs community, democracy, opportunity, justice, freedom, responsibility, stewardship and accountability and includes positions on controversial policy issues, The Idaho Statesman reported.

The platform includes the party’s support of efforts to reduce the number of uninsured Idaho residents, support of housing and medical programs for veterans and support for labeling beef with its country of origin. The platform also backs the right to own and use firearms and supports the rights of independents to vote in primary elections.

The party also agreed to respect tribal sovereignty and self-government, urge the repeal of the USA Patriot Act and other laws that members believe infringe on civil liberties, and work to increase the state and federal minimum wages.

Having a specific platform allows party activists to garner more support, Ada County delegate Jason Kent said.

“As Democrats we have to stand behind what we believe in,” he said.

But Democratic candidate Larry Grant of Fruitland, who is running against Republican Bill Sali of Kuna for the 1st Congressional District seat, said the specific policy positions are not designed to exclude Democrats who disagree.

“There’s no litmus test on any of these issues,” Grant said, “which means we probably won’t have total agreement on a platform and probably all candidates won’t agree.”

And ultimately, the platform means little to those Democrats in office, Senate Minority Leader Clint Stennett of Ketchum said.

“For the people in office and in the Legislature, it has very little impact on our daily lives,” Stennett said. “Ultimately, platforms are used by opponents to pick out the left-wing and right-wing points and try to tie them around candidates’ necks.”

Maryland governor appoints openlygay man as district court judge

ANNAPOLIS, Md. Gov. Robert Ehrlich has named an openly gay judge to serve on the Baltimore District Court.

Ehrlich appointed Christopher Panos, 47, a special master in the city Circuit Court family division, to a fill a court vacancy.

Panos and his partner of 17 years, Dennis Cashen, are raising a young daughter, Cate.

“This is indicative of social progress within the form of a judicial nomination,” Panos told The (Baltimore) Sun.

The governor’s appointment comes more than a week after he fired one of his appointees to the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, Robert J. Smith, for saying on a talk show that gays and lesbians lived a life of “sexual deviancy.”

Ehrlich, a Republican, has been careful about gay issues since being elected governor with strong crossover support from Democrats.

The governor’s balancing act was on display during this year’s General Assembly session, after a Baltimore judge ruled that Maryland’s law prohibiting same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Ehrlich first said he did not think a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman was necessary, then said an amendment was necessary.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, June 30, 2006.

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