NATIONAL BRIEFS

Posted on 06 Jan 2006 at 4:59am

Judge rules against church in case over anti-gay-marriage amendment

HELENA, Mont. A judge has ruled against a Baptist church that claimed its freedom of speech and religion were violated by a ruling that it should have disclosed work to help a ballot measure.

The issue dates back to 2004′s Constitutional Initiative 96, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman and passed by about a 2-to-1 margin.

The state commissioner of political practices found that Canyon Ferry Road Baptist Church in East Helena should have reported its activity in support of the constitutional ban on gay marriage. The office has not moved to prosecute the case, though.

The office decided the church became an “incidental campaign committee” by holding meetings, distributing petitions and being involved in political activities.

The church argued the state campaign laws are unconstitutional.
Earlier this week, District Judge Donald Molloy of Missoula ruled against the church and its lawsuit challenging the commissioner of political practices’ decision.

“In my view, the plaintiffs are wrong,” Molloy wrote. “The state has no right to establish a religion, and it has no right to keep people from practicing the religion of their choice. But nothing in the First Amendment keeps the state from exercising its regulatory authority over the political process, even when the politicking takes place in the “‘sanctuary.’”

Man convicted of beating HIV-positive man to death is sentenced to 30 years,/b>

SALEM, Ore. A man convicted in the beating death of a Salem man suffering from HIV has been sentenced to at least 30 years in prison.
Justin Starrett, 26, was convicted last week of murder in the death of Kirk Jones, who was in declining health because of HIV and hepatitis.

Starrett was drinking at Jones’ apartment at the time of the Jan. 5 beating. Starrett testified that he attacked Jones after Jones made sexual advances. Starrett said he was molested as a child and that was a factor in his reaction.
A third man in the apartment, David Decker, 35, was previously convicted of felony murder and burglary, and sentenced to at least 25 years in prison. Prosecutors said Decker encouraged Starrett to act violently toward Jones, who was openly gay.

Gay man files 2nd lawsuit related to alleged anti-gay attack outside restaurant

MADISON, Wis. A former University of Wisconsin-Platteville student has filed a second lawsuit alleging he was attacked outside a restaurant because he is gay.

Brett Timmerman’s lawsuit, filed in Grant County Circuit Court under Wisconsin’s hate crimes law, seeks unspecified damages for emotional distress and attorney fees. A district court judge dismissed a federal suit in March.

Timmerman’s state suit alleges he suffered a ruptured eardrum and says his attackers falsely accused him of starting the altercation that still gives him nightmares. He said in an interview that he can’t go to the bathroom alone in Platteville because he’s afraid he might get jumped again.

Timmerman, now 23, attended UW-Platteville in 2005. The lawsuit alleges he and a female friend were walking into a Platteville sandwich shop in July 2005 when Oden Waite, another UW-Platteville student, and Enove Urias accosted him.

The lawsuit says Waite made an anti-gay remark to Timmerman, and then Urias slapped him. Timmerman’s friend tried to intervene, but Waite pushed her aside, put Timmerman in a headlock and took him to the ground, the lawsuit says.

Waite spit on Timmerman twice during the confrontation, it says.

A police officer broke up the scuffle.

Transgender substitute teacher rehired at Ocean County elementary schoool

LITTLE EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, N.J. Months after the hiring of a transgender substitute teacher roiled parents at an Ocean County elementary school, the woman was rehired with nary a peep from the audience.

Lily McBeth, 72, was one of several substitute teachers the Pinelands Regional Board of Education voted to hire on Sept. 28. None of the handful of residents who attended the meeting spoke on her hiring. McBeth underwent a sex change operation more than a year ago.

“I think this is a sign of progress, that the community indeed accepts and embraces Lily McBeth’s right to teach in the classroom,” Steven Goldstein, chairman of the gay rights group Garden State Equality, told the Asbury Park Press for Friday’s newspapers.

McBeth did not attend the Pinelands Regional meeting.

A retired medical marketing executive, McBeth was a father of three who was formerly named William. She also worked as a substitute at Pinelands Regional and in the Little Egg Harbor district before undergoing her sex-change operation.

Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center sues IRS for release of documents

The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center filed suit against the Internal Revenue Service in U.S. District Court on Sept. 26, seeking to force the IRS to release documents, under the auspices of the Freedom of Information Act, related to the agency’s decision to reject the center’s application for nonprofit status in the early 1970s.

The center, then known as the Gay Community Services Center, was the first organization with the word “gay” in its name to apply for nonprofit status.

The IRS took more than a year after the application was first filed, in 1971, to deny the application, saying that the center was “not organized and operated exclusively for charitable and education purposes.”

The IRS finally granted the center its nonprofit status in 1974, after many appeals, but only on certain conditions, including that the center would not “contend that homosexuality is normal” and that its “officers and directors are not avowed homosexuals.”

In the recently-filed suit, center officials said the IRS is “trying to cover up its misconduct.”

The center first requested the documents, under the Freedom of Information Act, in March 2005. Although the Freedom of Information Act requires the IRS to respond within 20 days, the agency did not respond until October last year, issuing written notification that the documents had been located but were being reviewed by the IRS Office of Collection Policy.

Center officials said that as of Sept. 26, the IRS had not produced “a single document” in response. They said the request was first filed in an effort to gather the information leading up to the center’s 35th anniversary.

Family Pride to honor Robinson, Sundance Channel at LA awards dinner

Family Pride, a national organization advocating for families headed by same-sex couples, will hold its National Awards Dinner Oct. 14. This year’s honorees are openly gay Episcopal archbishop the Rev. V. Gene Robinson and the Sundance Channel.

The dinner is held each year to honor peoples or organizations who have made significant contributions to family equality and to celebrate Family Pride’s donors and supporters, according to a Family Pride spokesperson.
The dinner will be held at the Bel Age Hotel in Los Angeles. Singers Jason and DeMarco and comedian Bob Smith will perform.

To purchase tickets or for more information go online to

www.familypride.org/awardsdinner or call Sara Lecket at 202-331-5015.

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