Man hit by car escaping gay bashers dies after life support is removed
NEW YORK A man who was attacked in a suspected hate crime and hit by a car while trying to escape died after his family decided to take him off life support, officials said.
Michael Sandy, 28, died Oct. 13. He had been in critical condition at Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center after running into traffic on the Belt Parkway on Sunday evening.
Two of the men arrested in the attack are now facing charges of murder and manslaughter as a hate crime.
Authorities announced the more serious charges facing John Fox, 19, and Ilye Shurov, 20, on Monday. The two men also face counts of assault and attempted robbery as hate crimes in connection with the attack. A grand jury also was weighing possible charges against a third suspect, Gary Timmins, 16.
According to a police commander who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, one of four men questioned by police had met the victim and convinced him to drive to an isolated parking lot near Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn where a group was waiting.
The confrontation eventually spilled onto the busy parkway, where the victim was hit by a vehicle.
The men questioned said they were heterosexual and indicated they had in the past used the Internet to lure and attack gay men, the official said.
Police were also searching for the vehicle that hit Sandy. The driver did not stop at the scene.
The crime has outraged many, including Christine Quinn, the city’s first openly gay council member and speaker.
“I join all New Yorkers in condemning this hateful and horrific crime,” Quinn said in a statement. “Michael Sandy’s death is a tragic reminder that we must continue to work hard to make intolerance and discrimination unacceptable in our City.”
Quinn said she expects “the district attorney’s office to act aggressively and expeditiously to prosecute this case to the fullest extent of the New York State Hate Crimes and other relevant laws.”
Lambda Legal announces appointment of new director of education, public affairs
Leslie Gabel-Brett, former executive director of the Connecticut Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, has been hired as the director of the department of Education and Public Affairs with the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Kevin Cathcart, executive director of Lambda Legal, said Gabel-Brett brings to the organization “a wealth of knowledge about our work and how it intersects with other movements.”
Gabel-Brett played key roles in several legislative and legal victories in Connecticut, including passage of state laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and instituting family law protections for same-sex couples. She also participated in legal action barring the Boy Scouts of America from participating in Connecticut’s state-sponsored charitable giving campaign because of the scouts’ policy of discriminating against gays and atheists.
Gabel-Brett was chair of the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities from 1990 to 1993. She said Lambda Legal does “vital work, and I am proud to be a part of it.”
Catholic diocese investigated over support of anti-gay-marriage amendment
MADISON, Wis. A watchdog group accused the Catholic Diocese of Madison on Tuesday of failing to publicly disclose its attempts to influence a Nov. 7 referendum on gay marriage.
The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign asked the state Elections Board to take enforcement action against the diocese for failing to register its activities in support of the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and civil unions.
The group cited a flier prepared by the diocese and distributed outside a Catholic church in Madison.
“A YES vote upholds the Catholic teaching that marriage is a union between a man and a woman,” the flier said.
State law requires groups that spend more than $25 to influence a state referendum to register with the Elections Board. Those who spend more than $1,000 must disclose their fundraising and spending.
While nonpartisan, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign issued a statement in June urging a no vote on the referendum. The group said the amendment discriminates against gays and lesbians and would tie the hands of future lawmakers.
Executive Director Mike McCabe said his group’s stance on the amendment had nothing to do with the complaint. Instead, he said the group felt it was important to report what he called a clear violation of the state’s campaign finance laws.
The Elections Board should use the case to send a message to other churches that have gotten involved in the campaign in support of the amendment, McCabe said.
“It appears as though the pro-referendum forces have decided to conceal the full extent of their activity,” he said. “In this case, we found the diocese runs afoul of state law in doing it.”
A spokesman for Madison Bishop Robert Morlino did not immediately return a phone message.
Council opposes home-business permit for gay massage therapist
MANASSAS, Va. An application by a gay massage therapist for a home-business permit has been opposed by members of the community and stalled in the City Council, though the council had approved similar applications in the past.
Howard Daniel has given massages in hospitals and at his patients’ homes.
After spending more than $800 preparing an application to start practicing in his home and enlisting the support of all his immediate neighbors, Daniel and his partner of 22 years, Richard Devine, were surprised to face opposition.
A group of community members had a bevy of reasons why his application should not be approved.
The city council approved both of the two previous applications they received for home-based massage businesses in the past three years, leading Daniel and his supporters to suspect discrimination. “I think it’s obvious what’s going on here,” Devine said. “It walks like a duck.”
Manassas is already sensitive to questions of discrimination because the city is currently under federal investigation for housing policies that allegedly targeted Hispanic residents.
Many of the people opposed to Daniel’s proposed home business cite concerns about traffic in the neighborhood, but don’t live there. Only two of the 21 residents who publicly opposed Daniel’s application live on his street. Several are members of Manassas’ All Saints Catholic Church.
“This isn’t a Catholic thing; it’s a city thing,” said Amy Bookwalter, who is against Daniel’s proposal. “This is about keeping a residential area a residential area.”
Daniel doesn’t buy it.
“No one has officially come and said it yet,” he said, “But why are all these people concerned about traffic on a street they don’t live on?”
Daniel’s application was initially approved by the planning commission and then went to the City Council. At a public hearing last month, four of Daniel’s neighbors spoke in support, followed by a large group of opponents most of whom Daniel’s neighbors didn’t know.
But they knew about Daniel and his partner. Devine said one opponent told him, “It’s not about your lifestyle.”
“How do people from a different neighborhood know about our lifestyle?” Devine asked.
Later that night, one of Daniel’s supporters found anti-gay graffiti on his car.
Daniel’s application hasn’t been rejected yet, but nobody seconded council member J. Steven Randolph’s motion to approve it. Instead, they discussed the city’s special-use-permit code and voted to refer the matter to its land-use committee.
Three of the council’s six members have already said they’ll vote against the application if it comes up again at next Monday’s meeting.
Gay marriage ban opponents launch ad against amendment
RICHMOND, Va. A new ad sponsored by opponents of a gay marriage amendment likens writing a ban on same-sex marriage into the state constitution to setting the document on fire, and urges voters to examine the proposed change closely before voting next month.
The 30-second spot, in which a document representing Virginia’s Bill of Rights is burned, is the first televised ad by either side of the debate and signals a mile marker in a campaign that’s been largely grass roots.
The Commonwealth Coalition made an initial purchase of $200,000 for the ad, which debuted statewide on CNN on Oct. 14. A second ad will appear next week.
Organizers of va4marriage.org, proponents of the amendment, plan radio spots later this month.
Voters will decide on the amendment Nov. 7.
Taxi driver who feuded with lesbian Playmate loses license
NEW YORK A taxi driver accused of telling police that a former Playboy Playmate had a gun and threatened to kill him in a dispute over a $9 fare has lost his license.
Eric Darko’s taxi license was revoked Oct. 11 by the Taxi & Limousine Commission, which regulates the city’s taxis.
The TLC said a judge determined Darko, who also was fined $3,700, had violated taxi rules relating to passenger refusal, harassment, physical abuse and misrepresentation.
Playboy’s Miss November 1992, Stephanie Adams, says she entered Darko’s taxi in uptown Manhattan late one night in May and asked to be taken to her home downtown. She says Darko drove part of the way but then stopped and refused to take her farther, telling her it was too inconvenient. An argument ensued, and both called police.
Adams, the first openly gay Playmate, says in a lawsuit naming Darko, the city and police, that Darko told the responding officers incorrectly that she had a gun and threatened to kill him.
She says police pointed their guns at her, leered at her and roughed her up while restraining her.
“It was a nightmare,” Adams, 35, said at a Sept. 22 news conference announcing her lawsuit, which seeks $5 million in damages.
Darko has maintained his innocence and accused Adams of causing the ruckus by refusing to pay the $9 fare.
A police spokesman denied any wrongdoing by officers and said Adams didn’t complain at the scene that the officers had misbehaved.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, October 20, 2006.