National Briefs

Posted on 24 Aug 2006 at 6:41pm
By Staff Reports

Lesbian loses partner benefits case in New York court

ROCHESTER, N.Y. Monroe Community College did not discriminate against an employee when the school refused health benefits for the woman’s lesbian partner, a judge has ruled.

State Supreme Court Justice Harold Galloway dismissed a lawsuit that Patricia Martinez brought against the school, and said the college did not violate her civil rights.

Martinez, a word processing supervisor, sued the school, arguing that the college granted benefits to heterosexual married couples, but denied them to Martinez and her partner. The couple had married in Canada.

New York law does not recognize same-sex marriage, and so the state is not required to recognize same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions, Galloway said.

To do so “would be to make an end-run around what the Court of Appeals has declared to be the will of the New York State Legislature, which currently defines marriage as limited to the union of one man and one woman,” Galloway wrote in a nine-page decision.

Jeffrey Wicks, Martinez’s lawyer, said he will appeal the case to the Appellate Division of the state Supreme Court.

HRC launches “‘Out In Scripture,’ a new online resource for people of faith

The Human Rights Campaign has launced “Out In Scripture,” a free, weekly online resource for clergy and lay people of faith, officials announced this week.

The Web site will provide insights into the Bible from a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and straight-supportive perspective.

The debut of the site marks the first and only major online preaching resource devoted to assisting clergy in planning their sermons and spiritual discussion groups, Human Rights Campaign officials said.

“Ministers around the country have been asking for a resource just like this to help them prepare sermons that are faithful to the authentic lives of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and their families while also true to the biblical text,” said Joe Solmonese, Human Rights Campaign president. “This resource will offer them the tools to do just that. It will also be an empowering resource for people in isolated situations or for those who belong to unsupportive congregations.”

The resources on the site are developed, written, and reviewed by teams of scholars from leading theological schools around the country and a variety of Christian congregations.

Visit www.hrc.org/scripture for more information.

Republican candidates for governor in Arizona seek LGBT votes, support

PHOENIX Two Republican candidates for governor are seeking support from gay voters as they take stances at odds with two other candidates over a proposed state constitutional amendment on marriage.

The proposed amendment, Proposition 107 on the Nov. 7 general election ballot, would define marriage as the union of a man and a woman and also prohibit state and local governments from giving legal status to other unions.

Candidate Gary Tupper has criticized the amendment, calling it unnecessary, intrusive and divisive.

“I support equal rights to all minorities,” Tupper said. “I don’t pick and choose which minorities I support. Our campaign is reaching out to folks the Republican Party has ignored for far too long.”

Fellow candidate Mike Harris spoke in defense of marriage during several public appearances last month, but more recently he came out against the amendment.

Civil partnerships with the same rights as marriage “would be ideal,” he said in an Aug. 14 campaign e-mail that expanded on comments he made in an interview with Echo Magazine, a gay publication.

The amendment “goes too far,” Harris said in the e-mail.

The other two GOP gubernatorial candidates, Don Goldwater and Len Munsil, support the amendment.

Lambda Legal Western Regional office welcomes new staff attorney

Lambda Legal announced this week that Tara Borelli has joined the organization as a staff attorney in its Western Regional Office in Los Angeles.

“Tara is an adroit litigation attorney with a sharp legal mind and a demonstrated commitment to securing justice and full equality for LGBT people and people with HIV,” said Jon Davidson, legal director at Lambda Legal. “We’re thrilled to have her join our legal team.”

Borelli said her “passion is to fight for justice for those who have found the Constitution’s promise of “‘liberty and justice for all’ to ring hollow in their daily life experiences.”

Prior to joining Lambda Legal, Borelli was an associate at the Seattle law firm of Newman & Newman. She relocated to Los Angeles from Washington in June this year to join Lambda Legal.

400 marchers turn out to celebrate gay Pride in Reno parade

RENO, Nev. Some 400 people marched through downtown Reno on Sunday to cap the two-day gay Pride celebration.

More than 25 groups took part in the 40-minute parade. Parade participants danced to music and led cheers along the route. The crowd, three to four deep in spots along the sidewalks, celebrated with them.

Displaying signs like “Believe in Fairies,” “Help Us To Give Back To Your Community,” and “Come Together,” participants tossed candy to the crowd.

Kevin Ray, an organizer of Reno’s 10th annual gay Pride celebration, said he hopes this year’s event will generate about $500,000 for the Reno-Lake Tahoe economy through spending on rooms, restaurants and gasoline.

Forge Forward to hold first national conference in Wisconsin

Forge Forward is planning its first annual conference for March 29-April 1 next spring in Milwaukee, Wisc., at the Four Points Sheraton hotel.

Forge Forward is a conference focused on the lives of trans-masculine individuals those born with a female or intersex body who now identify somewhere on the masculine spectrum and their significant others, friends, families and allies.

Organizers said the group is committed to creating an inclusive environment where diversities and commonalities are fully explored and celebrated, to empowering and informing all those who are challenging traditional gender rules or roles and those who love and provide services to them, to creating a safe space in which people feel supported and encouraged to express their complex individuality and to creating an experience that is fun, enlightening, and even life changing.

To learn more about the conference go to www.forge-forward.org or call 414-559-2123.

Toddler dies while being “‘toughened up’ by mother’s boyfriend

Teaching a three-year-old boy to be “a soldier” and not a “sissy” proved to be a fatal lesson for Mikey Vallejo-Seiber.

In a preliminary hearing in Riverside, Calif. on Tuesday, Judge Elisabeth Sichel ruled that there was sufficient evidence to try Alex Mendoza for first-degree murder in the death of his former girlfriend’s child.

“Children pay a high price when parents and caregivers insist on raising boys to be “‘real men.’ The cost was tragic in this case,” said Taneika Taylor, director of GenderPAC’s Children As They Are program.

Mendoza, who was openly critical of Mikey’s upbringing, attempted to “toughen up” the toddler by calling him a “sissy,” slapping him and urging him to beat up his Elmo doll, according to the toddler’s mother. The three-year-old died in the hospital after suffering massive internal injuries from being kicked, punched and dropped on his head while in Mendoza’s care.

Mikey’s mother Pamela Seiber, pleaded guilty to child endangerment charges and was sentenced to the maximum term of six years on Aug. 14. Mendoza has entered a plea of not guilty.

Anti-gay lobbyist hired to promote Schwarzenegger in California

Equality California, an LGBT rights organization, this week criticized the California Republican party for hiring Ben Lopez, the chief lobbyist for the anti-LGBT Traditional Values Coalition, to “promote” Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to right-wing Californians.

Equality California called the move “a blatant slap in the face” to the state’s LGBT community and “all fair-minded Californians.”

Lopez and Lou Sheldon, president of the Traditional Values Coalition, have aggressively opposed equality measures, including non-discrimination in employment, healthcare and housing, Equality California officials said, and are leading the effort to pass a constitutional amendment to repeal domestic partnerships and prohibit marriage equality.

Voelkel installed as program director of Institute for Welcoming Resources
Faith leaders gathered Aug. 22 for the installation of the Rev. Rebecca Voelkel as program director of the Institute for Welcom-ing Resources, a National Gay and Lesbian Task Force program that works with the welcoming church movement in eight mainline protestant denominations.

The institute merged with the Task Force earlier this year, marking an unprecedented joining of LGBT secular and faith-based organizing.

Lesbian gang attacks and stabs man in New York City

A group of lesbians from Newark, N.J., attacked and stabbed a straight man in downtown New York City early in the morning on Aug. 28 after the man apparently came on to one of the women.

Wayne Buckle, 28, was allegedly whipped by belts and then stabbed with a steak knife by Patreese Johnson in retaliation for the unwanted advance, the New York Daily News reports.
According to a police source, one of the women yelled “She’s my girl, and no one hits on my girl” during the incident.

Later, at the police station house, where the seven suspects were charged with gang assault and criminal possession of a weapon, another woman told the Daily News that Buckle “called us [homophobic slur] and he said he was going to f— us all.”

Another of the suspects said the man spat on the women and threw a cigarette at them. “This is a hate crime,” the woman told the newspaper.

Buckle was recovering at a local hospital in critical but stable condition.

GLAD Names Mandy Carter 2006 Spirit of Justice honoree

Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders announced that Mandy Carter, one of the country’s foremost grass roots, multi-issue activists, will be its 2006 Spirit of Justice honoree.

A self-described “Southern out black lesbian social justice activist,” Carter has been a grass roots organizer for the past 37 years, GLAD officials said in a written statement this week. She was a founding member of Southerners On New Ground (SONG) and the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC).

“Mandy’s passion for social justice and talent for coalition-building have made her one of our most effective and inspiring activists,” says Lee Swislow, GLAD’s executive director.

“I’m thrilled to be honored by GLAD, whose values I share and whose work I admire,” said Carter. “Even when times are rough, I feel fortunate to be part of a community striving for equality and justice.”

The award honors individuals whose work and achievement reflect a profound dedication to the ideal of a just society.

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force sues record company over rights to trademark

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force announced this week that it has filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court against Centaur Entertainment, Inc. for trademark infringement, unfair competition, false representation, fraud and violation of related federal and state laws, among other claims.

Centaur has produced dance music CDs, including CDs showcasing D.J.s appearing at popular LGBT events such as the annual Winter Party Festival in Miami’s South Beach.

“Since its founding 13 years ago, the Winter Party has been 100 percent owned and produced by our community, with tens of thousands of volunteer hours donated to it,” said Matt Foreman, the Task Force’s executive director. Over the last 13 years, the Winter Party has generated nearly $1.5 million in grants to Miami-Dade organizations serving the LGBT community. Since the Task Force assumed responsibility for the event and the Miami Recognition Dinner, more than $300,000 has been donated to the Dade Community Foundation to re-grant to local LGBT organizations, Task Force officials said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, August 25, 2006.

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