Officer who produced anti-gay videos can stay in the Navy

NORFOLK, Virginia — A Navy panel says the former commander of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier who produced raunchy videos aboard the ship can remain in the service.

The board of inquiry issued its recommendation Wednesday, Aug. 24. It had been looking at whether to dismiss Capt. Owen P. Honors from the Navy.

Honors was relieved of command in January after media reports about the videos surfaced. The videos included simulated same-sex shower scenes, anti-gay slurs and references to prostitution in foreign ports.

Honors says the videos were made to improve morale while teaching important shipboard lessons. He helped produce and appeared in the videos that aired on the ship between 2005 and 2007, when he was the ship’s executive office.

Both sides satisfied in talks over school district policy

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Both sides say they held productive talks toward settling two lawsuits against Minnesota’s largest school district challenging its policy requiring staff to remain neutral when sexual orientation is discussed in the classroom.
The plaintiffs say the policy prevents the Anoka-Hennepin School District from protecting kids perceived as gay from bullying and harassment.

Both sides issued a statement Tuesday night, Aug. 23, after talks mediated by U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven Rau in St. Paul saying they “look forward to future constructive dialogue.” They also say they’ve agreed not to comment further on the settlement process.
No new talks are scheduled.

The lawsuits were filed this summer on behalf of six former and current students by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Center for Lesbian Rights after previous settlement efforts failed.

Gay council candidate says he is target of anti-gay messages

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — A gym owner who says he’s the first openly gay candidate to run for Charlottesville City Council says he’s been receiving anti-gay messages.

James Halfaday told the Daily Progress one of his fliers was returned Aug. 7 with a disparaging message and his face crossed out. He said he sought legal advice but was told the defaced flier didn’t constitute a threat, so there was little he could do.

Halfaday said the flier is the latest in a string of attacks, including a July 31 email accusing him of “promoting perversion” and an insulting Facebook message in May. The Facebook message was configured to make it look like it was sent by Kathy Galvin, one of Halfaday’s six opponents in the Democratic primary, but both campaigns and party officials say Galvin had nothing to do with it.

A letter to Halfaday and Galvin from Charlottesville Democratic Committee co-chairs Tom Vandever and Jim Nix says the message was likely generated “by an unknown third party” with the goal of damaging the campaigns of both candidates.
Nix and Vandever urged both campaigns to keep the incident quiet to lessen its impact.

Halfaday said he originally wanted to keep the hate mails quiet because he assumed they would die down and he didn’t want to start an “uproar” in the gay and lesbian community.

He said he chose to come forward now because he’s run a successful campaign despite the negatives, adding that he’s not going to be intimidated.

Jonathan Stevens, a Galvin campaign adviser, said he thought the Facebook issue was a “dead letter” a long time ago.

“It was put aside as one of those nasty little things that can happen on the Internet,” Stevens said.

Nix said that, to his knowledge, Halfaday is indeed the first openly gay person to run for City Council.

“This is 2011, it’s not 1970 or something like that,” Nix said. “Sadly, we do still live in an age where some people just don’t accept that and do mean things.”

Philadelphia trans inmate being moved to men’s prison

PHILADELPHIA — A transgender woman who has been incarcerated at Riverside Correctional Facility, the city’s only prison for women, for the past 14 months is being moved to a facility for male prisoners after complaining that a corrections officer had forced her to perform oral sex on him, according to reports by The Advocate.

Jovanie Saldana, 23, who has been living as a female since she was 12, was charged in June 2010 with felonies including armed robbery. Prison officials reportedly did not know Saldana was transgender until they recorded a telephone conversation between her and her mother while investigating Saldana’s allegations against the corrections officer.

The Advocate reports that Saldana, who has not had gender-reassignment surgery, should have undergone a cavity search when she was first incarcerated in the prison, and then again each time she returned following outings for court appearances.

Lorenzo North, president of the union representing corrections officers, has said that the error in searching Saldana is proof that the officer Saldana accused of sexual abuse is innocent, according to the Advocate.

Teacher didn’t violate policy with anti-gay Facebook post, officials say

Lake County School District Superintendent Susan Moxley has reinstated Mount Dora High School social studies teacher Jerry Buell, suspended after making anti-gay posts to his Facebook page, saying the posts did not violate the school district’s code of conduct, has reported. Mount Dora is in Florida.

Buell, the district’s former teacher of the year, was transferred to an administrative position while district officials investigated complaints over his Facebook page. Buell allegedly posted on Facebook that same-sex unions are a “cesspool” that make him want to throw up. The posts reportedly angered a number of his Facebook “friends,” including current and former students.

Mount Dora High School graduated Brett Winters filed the complaint against Buell, saying that his Facebook posts indicated he was “dangerous to
gay students.”

Buell insisted he was “exercising my [free speech] rights as a citizen of this country.”

The district is still investigating comments Buell made on a school web page and a class syllabus, and the teacher has been given a list of directives to follow, although that list has not been made public.

Fred Karger invited to California GOP’s convention

Openly gay Republican presidential candidate Fred Karger has been invited to speak at the upcoming California GOP convention, according to reports by On Top Magazine. The invitation came within an hour of the publication of an article in the San Francisco Chronicle in which Karger accused the party of giving him “the cold shoulder.”

Karger has said that his 2 percent showing in several recent polls marks him as a legitimate candidate, and State GOP Communications Director Mark Standriff said Karger has always been welcome in the California GOP.

But Jimmy LaSalvia, executive director of the gay Republican group GOProud said Karger is not a credible candidate.

“Unfortunately, Fred Karger is playing a stunt, and his stunt has run its course,” LaSalvia told On Top.

Voluntary manslaughter conviction an option in McInerney trial

LOS ANGELES — A California judge has decided jurors may consider voluntary manslaughter in the trial of a teen accused of murdering a gay classmate at school.

Ventura County Superior Court Judge Charles Campbell decided Tuesday, Aug. 23, the panel could opt for the lesser charge rather than first-degree murder if they find Brandon McInerney guilty of killing 15-year-old Larry King.

The Ventura County Star reports Campbell felt that not allowing jurors to consider voluntary manslaughter would be problematic if there is an appeal.

The shooting occurred in February 2008 at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard. McInerney, who is now 17, did not testify.

Closing arguments were expected to begin Thursday, Aug. 25.

The trial was moved to Los Angeles because of pretrial publicity.