National Briefs

Posted on 19 Jul 2007 at 7:58pm
By Staff and Wire Reports

Judge rules in favor of lesbian moms in dispute over birth certificate

PORTLAND, Ore. A Multnomah County Circuit Judge has decided that two Oregon laws on parental rights violate the state’s constitution when applied to same-gender couples but said an upcoming legislative change will remedy it.

Judge Eric Bloch’s decision comes after a same-sex couple filed a lawsuit against the state last year. The couple, Jean Frazzini and K.D. Parman, had a child two years ago through artificial insemination. The child’s birth certificate recognizes only Parman the birth mother as the child’s parent. The birth certificate arrived at their home with Frazzini’s name crossed out.

They filed suit, saying it violated an earlier decision that found providing benefits to couples but not allowing the same benefits to same-sex couples, constitutes illegal discrimination.

Judge Bloch found in their favor and determined Oregon’s new domestic partnership law would be a solution to the problem if it is goes into effect as planned on Jan. 1.

However, the couple and the gay rights support group backing them say a signature-collection effort is already under way to delay and ultimately overturn the law.

Foley pays for nearly half-million dollars in legal fees with campaign funds

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. Former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, who resigned from Congress amid an Internet teen sex scandal, has racked up nearly a half-million dollars in legal fees paid from his campaign account, according to recent filings.

Foley spent $277,367 on legal fees from February to April, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. That’s on top of the $206,000 in campaign cash Foley spent on attorneys from last November to January.

Foley’s filing indicated that he still has about $1.4 million in campaign cash as of July 15.

The FEC has ruled that such expenditures for legal fees that arise from congressional duties are generally lawful, but Foley must still return money to donors who request refunds.

Foley’s legal fees were paid to the Washington, D.C. law firm of Zuckerman Spaeder LLP. A spokeswoman for the firm declined comment Monday, July 16.

In a May letter to the FEC, Foley wrote that his legal fees are being spent “in responding to an investigation that was initiated by then, Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert.”

Following Hastert’s call for a House ethics investigation, the FBI and Florida law enforcement said they, too, would begin their own reviews to determine if criminal charges should be filed.

The ethics committee eventually lambasted House Republicans, and Hastert, for turning a blind eye to Foley’s behavior, even though they were aware of problems months before.

State and federal authorities continue to investigate whether Foley broke any laws.

“It is still active, but I think we’re coming to a close in hopefully the weeks to come,” said Kristen Perezluha, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Foley resigned from Congress in September after being confronted with sexually explicit Internet communications to male pages who had worked on Capitol Hill. Soon after, he checked himself into an Arizona facility for what his attorneys said was for treatment of “alcoholism and other behavioral problems.”

His attorneys at the time also announced the Florida Republican was gay and an alcoholic and alleged that he had been molested by a priest as a teenage altar boy. They maintain Foley never had inappropriate sexual contact with minors.

Foley returned from rehab to attend a November wake for his father, Edward, who died of cancer. Since then, Foley’s whereabouts have not been confirmed, and he has rarely been seen in public.

Dodd criticizes Clinton, Edwards for remarks on limiting presidential debates

SALT LAKE CITY Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd on Saturday, July 14, criticized rivals John Edwards and Hillary Rodham Clinton, who were overheard discussing among themselves their hope of limiting the number of Democrats in presidential debates.

The private exchange was picked up by several broadcasters on an open microphone after an NAACP forum in Detroit on Thursday, July 12. All the Democratic contenders took part in the program, including Barack Obama, Bill Richardson, Joe Biden, Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich.

“I’d remind them that the mike is always on,” Dodd told reporters on Saturday, July 14, after addressing a state convention of Utah Democrats.

“Celebrity and money are not going to decide this race,” he said. “People take some offense at it in these early primary and caucus states.”

Edwards, a former North Carolina senator, and New York Senator Clinton had agreed that the debates would be more meaningful if there were only a handful of candidates.

“We should try to have a more serious and a smaller group,” Edwards said, and Clinton agreed.

“Our guys should talk,” Clinton said, complaining the format had “trivialized” the discussion.

Dykes on Bikes win lawsuit, right to trademark name after years of legal sparring

SAN FRANCISCO The name “Dykes on Bikes” is inoffensive and a legitimate trademark, a federal appeals court ruled this week.

The Dykes on Bikes motorcycle club, which leads San Francisco’s annual gay Pride parade, had spent years sparring with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in hopes of protecting the phrase, finally winning a trademark in 2005.

The office has twice rejected the group’s application, saying that “dyke” is a vulgar term.

Michael McDermott, a lawyer from Dublin, Calif., sued after the USPTO granted approval, calling the name “disparaging to men” and “scandalous and immoral.”

On Wednesday, July 11, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington D.C. tossed out McDermott’s suit, ruling he had no legal basis claim offense.

“We had no idea it would take this long,” Dykes on Bikes President Vick Germany said. “I think it took on a bigger meaning than when we first started. … This is not just a victory for us but for the community as a whole.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 13, 2007

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