National Briefs

Posted on 06 Jul 2006 at 3:03pm
By Staff and Wire Reports

California Supreme Court gives go-ahead to lawsuit by teens over alleged lesbian affair

SAN FRANCISCO Two teens expelled from a Lutheran high school because of an alleged lesbian relationship can sue the school even though it is a private religious institution, the California Supreme Court ruled.

The court refused to consider California Lutheran High School’s appeal of a lower court’s ruling that the 16-year-old girls’ civil rights may have been violated when they were kicked out in September.

In declining on July 28 to take up the case, justices cleared the students’ lawsuit to go to trial. The suit filed in Riverside County Superior Court seeks readmission for the students, unspecified damages and an injunction barring the Wildomar school from excluding gays and lesbians.

California Lutheran argued that as a religious organization it had a constitutional free speech right to exclude gay students and that it was not subject to a state law prohibiting businesses from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.

The lawsuit alleges that principal Gregory Bork acted on third hand information when he questioned the girls about their relationship. Bork then wrote the students’ parents, saying the teens’ behavior violated school rules against conduct that is “contrary to Christian decency.”

The names of the girls, both juniors, were withheld in court documents. Their attorneys would not say whether they are lesbians.

Gay philanthropist, early Microsoft executive commits suicide

SEATTLE Ric Weiland, one of the first five Microsoft Corp. employees and a major local philanthropist, has died.

He was 53 when he committed suicide June 24, the King County Medical Examiner’s Office said on June 30. Friends said he suffered from depression and died at his Seattle home.

Weiland went to high school with Microsoft co-founder and good friend Paul Allen, and was a lead programmer and developer for the company’s BASIC and COBOL systems, two of the first personal computing interfaces, from the company’s earliest days.

After leaving Microsoft in 1988, Weiland dedicated most of his time to philanthropy. He donated tens of millions of dollars to a number of local charities, including the Pride Foundation, the Lifelong AIDS Alliance, United Way of King County and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. He was an influential member of the gay community.

Weiland was a member of the Pride Foundation’s board of directors from 1997 to 2002 and helped the foundation persuade General Electric Co. to include sexual orientation in its non-discrimination policy.

He was a regular contributor to the Lifelong AIDS Alliance from the beginning of the AIDS epidemic and had increased his donations in the past few years.

Weiland also gave to his undergraduate alma mater, Stanford University; the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network; the American Foundation for AIDS Research; and the National Audubon Society.

Survivors include Weiland’s partner, Mike Schaefer; nieces Emily Smelser and Heidi Kupitz; nephews Fred Smelser and Henry Smelser; and grand-nephew Josiah Kupitz.

Woman leading effort to amend Arizona Constitution killed in car crash

PHOENIX A woman who was spearheading the ballot effort to prohibit gay marriage and define traditional unions in Arizona has been killed in a rollover crash outside Seligman, authorities said.

Lynn Stanley, chairwoman of the Protect Marriage Arizona Coalition, died in a crash early Monday on Interstate 40, according to the state Department of Public Safety.

Authorities said Stanley, 58, was returning to Phoenix from Las Vegas, where she was visiting two sisters, at the time of the accident.

The Protect Marriage coalition collected some 300,000 signatures to place its measure on the November ballot, said Nathan Sproul, a political consultant for the effort.

The group had planned to submit its petitions Wednesday, with Stanley on hand to celebrate the accomplishment. Her death has led the initiative to delay its submittal until Thursday, the deadline to turn in signatures.

2 more Episcopal dioceses distance themselves from denomination over gay issues

NEW YORK Two more Episcopal dioceses that consider gay relationships sinful are distancing themselves from the denomination by seeking oversight from fellow Anglicans overseas instead of the American church.

The Dioceses of Springfield, Illinois, and Central Florida have joined four other dioceses in rejecting the authority of the Episcopal presiding bishop-elect a step short of schism and asking Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams to assign them another leader. The other dioceses are Pittsburgh, South Carolina, San Joaquin, California, and Fort Worth.

Springfield Bishop Peter Beckwith said in a statement June 30 that his diocese objects to Nevada Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who will be installed Nov. 4, because she supports ordaining partnered gays and blessing same-sex couples, among other reasons.

Sheriff investigating cross burning at gay man’s home in Tennessee

ATHENS, Tenn. The Meigs County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a possible hate crime after someone burned a cross at the home of a gay man.

The cross, between 6 and 8 feet tall, was discovered by Brandon Waters, along with a derogatory message, late on July 29 at his home.

Sheriff Walter Hickman said if the burning is determined to be a hate crime, it could warrant federal charges.

As far as he can recall, Hickman said the incident is the first of its kind in the county’s history.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, July 7, 2006.

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