National Briefs

Posted on 09 Aug 2007 at 8:06pm
By Staff and Wire Reports

5 more members of Congress, including high-ranking veteran, support DADT repeal

Five new lawmakers, including the highest-ranking military veteran in Congress, have joined 126 other lawmakers in supporting legislation to repeal the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on lesbian, gay and bisexual service personnel, according to a statement released this week by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

U.S. Reps. Michael A. Arcuri, D-N.Y., Brian Baird, D-WA, Adam Schiff, D-CA, Joe Sestak, D-PA, and Brad Sherman, D-CA, all became co-sponsors of The Military Readiness Enhancement Act on Friday, Aug. 3, bringing the total number of supporters to 131.

Sestak is Congress’s highest-ranking veteran, having served 31 years in the United States Navy and retiring as a three-star Admiral.

Gay Episcopal bishop announces support for Obama in presidential campaign

CONCORD, N.H. The Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for president on Thursday, Aug. 2.

“I will not be speaking about the campaign from the pulpit or at any church function,” V. Gene Robinson said in a conference call with reporters. “That is completely inappropriate. But as a private citizen, I will be at campaign events and help in any way that I can.”

Robinson’s 2003 election as bishop of New Hampshire had continuing repercussions that threaten to break up the worldwide Anglican Communion, of which the Episcopal Church is part. He has been hailed by the gay rights community as a role model and pioneer.

PFOX settles with school district in lawsuit over distributing gay conversion flyers

McLEAN, Va. An organization that advocates therapy to convert gays has settled a lawsuit with Arlington County school officials over their refusal to distribute its fliers to high-school students. As a result, the group is now considering targeting its message to even younger students in middle schools.

Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, or PFOX, sued school system administrators and board members earlier this year in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, claiming that they improperly blocked their request to send out fliers to high school students.

School officials denied any discrimination. They said all outside groups are barred from distributing fliers at high schools, basically because students don’t read them. But those rules were not part of the school board’s written policy, said schools spokeswoman Linda Erdos.

Last month the school board formally revised its written policy, allowing flier distribution only at middle and elementary schools.

A settlement, reached last week, specifically states that PFOX will have the same access given to other groups and can submit fliers for distribution to middle and elementary school students if it wishes, said PFOX’s lawyer, Timothy Tracey. Tracey said Monday that PFOX is considering distributing its fliers at middle schools but has no plans to do so at elementary schools.

Lesbian couple claim victory in battle with YMCA to be considered “‘family’

DES MOINES, Iowa A Des Moines lesbian couple say they’ve won their battle to be considered a family by the Greater Des Moines YMCA.

M and Sandra Patton-Imani had filed a complaint with the city’s human rights commission when their YMCA family membership was revoked because they were not considered a family. The couple said Monday, Aug. 6, that they will sign an agreement with the YMCA that changes the nonprofit organization’s definition of family from a heterosexual couple to include cohabiting adults.

The city commission in February ruled the YMCA’s definition of family may violate a city ordinance that prohibits discrimination in public accommodations based on sexual orientation.

YMCA officials initially said the couple was eligible for a “member plus” program that costs the same as a family membership and allows a member to add another person to their membership plan. The city of Des Moines decided that wasn’t good enough and forced the YMCA to change its policy or lose a $102,000 federal grant.

Poll indicates most voters in “‘swing’ states don’t care about gay group endorsements

A new poll released Wednesday, Aug. 8, shows that endorsements from gay rights groups have little impact on voters overall in three key states.

The poll, conducted by Quinnipiac University’s Swing State Poll, assessed the impact of such endorsements on voters in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvannia.

In Ohio, 54 percent of those polled said endorsements by gay rights groups made no difference, and 34 percent said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate backed by a gay rights organization. Only 10 percent said they would be more likely to vote for such a candidate. Results were similar in Pennsylvania and Florida.

At the same time an endorsement by a labor union was an overall negative in all three states.

Peter Brown, assistant director of Quinnipiac’s polling unit, summed up the poll results: “Being perceived as the candidate of gay rights turns off more voters than it attracts, although in general being considered the candidate of a special interest group seems to be a political loser.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 10, 2007

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