By Staff and Wire Reports

Brian Graden, Judy Shepard take home GLAAD Media Awards
Brian Graden, president of MTV Networks entertainment, and Judy Shepard, mother of gay hate crime victim Matthew Shepard, were among those honored at the 19th annual Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Media Awards held Tuesday night, March 18, in New York City.

Celebrities on hand for the awards ceremony included Barbara Walters, Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, Alan Cumming and Graham Norton.

The GLAAD Media Awards recognize media for fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the LGBT community.

Graden received the Vito Russo Award, presented this year by American Idol judge Randy Jackdson and actor Alec Mapa. The award recognizes an openly LGBT person who has made significant difference in promoting LGBT rights.

Lesbian comedian Kate Clinton presented the Excellence in Media Award to Shepard in recognition of her work to promote LGBT rights through the Matthew Shepard Foundation. The Excellence in Media Award recognizes individuals who have worked to increase the visibility of and understanding of the LGBT community in the media.

Barbara Walters received a GLAAD Media Award for her "20/20" piece, "My Secret Self: A Story of Transgender Children," which shared the award for Outstanding TV Journalism–Newsmagazine with "Don’t Ask Don’t Tell" from "60 Minutes." Presenter Mariska Hargitay accepted on behalf of 60 Minutes.

Episcopalian Bishop V. Gene Robinson and director Daniel Karslake accepted the award for outstanding documentary for "For the Bible Tells Me So." Co-writer and producer Gal Uchovsky accepted for "The Bubble," recipient of the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Film — Limited Release.

A complete list of winners is available online at

Bill aimed at blocking unmmarried partner benefits in Arizona dies
PHOENIX — A bill aimed at blocking a move to allow unmarried domestic partners to get coverage as dependents under Arizona’s state employee and retiree benefits is dead in the water at the Legislature.

The Senate voted 16-14 against the bill after the sponsor switched her vote to position herself to ask for a future re-vote. It would define "dependent" as a spouse or unmarried child of an employee or retiree.

That’s counter to a rule change made by the Department of Administration and awaiting clearance from a state regulatory review council.

The change is supported by gay rights advocates and opposed by social conservatives.

Proposal advances to amend Pa. Constitution to ban gay marriage
HARRISBURG, Pa. — A proposal to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to ban gay marriages and civil unions received approval from a Senate committee Tuesday, March 18, as supporters seek to revive an effort that stalled in 2006.

In a packed Judiciary Committee hearing, opponents tried, but failed, to delay a vote. The committee’s 10-4 vote, however, was just the first step in the long road to changing the state constitution, which ultimately would require a statewide referendum that could be held no earlier than next year.

Opponents sought to keep the bill in committee for more hearings, if only to clear up the meaning of the amendment’s wording on civil unions and how it could impact the current legal rights of gay and lesbian couples.

One supporter, Sen. John Gordner, R-Columbia, insisted that the wording of the ban on civil unions would not affect current rights, such as a domestic partner’s health care coverage or ability to grant power of attorney.

The proposed amendment reads, "No union other than a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as marriage or the functional equivalent of marriage by the Commonwealth."

Sen. Pat Browne, R-Lehigh, who voted against the measure, said those words leave it unclear exactly which legal rights amount to the equivalent of marriage. It is the Senate’s duty to make sure voters understand that before a referendum is held, he said.

"To let people make a determination at the ballot box … is inappropriate," Browne said.

Pennsylvania’s 12-year-old "Defense of Marriage" law defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. However, it is silent on the matter of civil unions, which Gordner said are banned by 19 states.

Maryland Senate approves bill giving couples medical decision-making rights
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Maryland Senate has voted to give unmarried couples rights of medical decision-making, a substitute for considering gay marriage or civil unions.

The Senate voted 30-17 Tuesday, March 18, to allow domestic partners to make decisions for each other in life-threatening situations. The bill comes from complaints by gay couples and unmarried straight couples that they can’t ride in ambulances or visit loved ones in the hospital in some cases.

The bill is likely the only piece of legislation related to gay couples that lawmakers will take up this year. Leading lawmakers say gay marriage or civil unions won’t be considered.

The bill now heads to the House.

Missouri lesbian files for annulment of Massachusetts marriage
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — A lesbian married in Massachusetts has filed for an annulment from her partner in Missouri.

Charisse Y. Sparks and Janet Y. Peters Mauceri Sparks were married in Boston three years ago and moved to Missouri shortly thereafter.

Late last year Charisse Sparks went to Buchanan County court to dissolve the marriage.

The filing creates a legal challenge in a state that voted overwhelmingly four years ago to limit marriage to unions between one man and one woman.

Judge Daniel Kellogg said the case is being treated as an annulment. In her petition, Sparks does not recognize her marriage.

The other woman argues the marriage is legal.

Kellogg has taken the matter under consideration and scheduled another hearing for April 2.

Former OSU librarian sues school, claims anti-Christian discrimination
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A former Ohio State University librarian has sued the school, claiming he faced discrimination for his Christian beliefs.

Scott Savage says he was forced to resign after recommending a conservative book for incoming freshmen.

He says the other picks were too liberal and reflected the school’s promotion of a gay agenda.

Two colleagues filed a sexual harassment complaint against Savage and said the recommendation showed he was homophobic. That complaint was dismissed.

In his lawsuit, Savage says he was personally and professionally harassed by colleagues, forcing him to resign. He is asking for his job back and for the university to change its sexual harassment policies.

An Ohio State spokesman declined to comment.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 21, 2008

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