News Briefs

Big Award for Gay Student Harassed in Kansas

Dylan Theno, whose complaints of sexual harassment in school began in the seventh grade, has won $250,000 in a lawsuit against the Tonganoxie School District in Kansas for failing to protect him against gender-based bullying. He was taunted as “faggot,” “flamer,” and “masturbator boy,” despite pleas to administrators to intervene. He eventually dropped out and got a GED.

The religious and political right got together in Nashville for Justice Sunday II, the sequel to a rally earlier this year to demand federal judges who will overturn Roe v. Wade, stop same-sex marriage, and end curbs on religious expression in public spaces.

Robert Bork, nominated by President Ronald Reagan to the Supreme Court in 1987 but rejected for being too extreme, said that the high court has defined homosexuality “as a constitutional right” and that “there is nothing the states can do about it, nothing the people can do about it,” the Washington Post reported.

Republican House Majority Leader Tom Delay of Texas said he wanted to bar the Supreme Court from reviewing acts of Congress.

Zell Miller, the former Democratic Georgia governor and U.S. senator who keynoted the Republican National Convention in New York last year with a speech histrionically slamming Senator John Kerry, asked, “How is it that the government thinks we need a ‘no smoking’ sign by gas pumps to remind us of that danger, but does not think we need a reminder of the danger of a sinful lifestyle?”

A blogger at Wonkette.com responded to Miller, “Just a guess here, Zell, but that might be because adultery does not result in one bursting into flames. Not unless you’re fucking really fast.”

Supreme Court Nominee Cross-Dressed

Judge John G. Roberts, President George W. Bush’s pick for the high court, seems headed for confirmation barring being caught with a dead girl or a live boy, as the saying goes. Pro-Choice America-NARAL’s TV ad linking trying to link him to violence against women backfired badly and had to be pulled.

In 2002, Roberto Hernandez of San Francisco received a call from someone pretending to have met him in a gay bar and seeking to hook up with him. The call was actually from a Houston DJ seeking to humiliate Hernandez on “The Raul Brindis and Pepito Show,” now owned by Univision. This week, a judge ordered the company to pay Hernandez $250,000 for mental anguish and $20,000 in punitive damages, the Miami Herald reported.

Hernandez said he was upset that the judge did not address the issues of sexual harassment and invasion of privacy. “I want to show how this homophobia and non-tolerance is so devastating,” he told the newspaper.

The FCC fined Univision $28,000 in the case several months ago.

Pride Agenda Issues Primary Picks

The Empire State Pride Agenda has issued its endorsements for the September 13 primary elections. As announced on Gay Pride Sunday in June, the group is supporting City Council Speaker Gifford Miller for the Democratic nomination to face off against incumbent Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg in November. ESPA is endorsing the incumbent Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum who faces several primary challengers, including Norman Siegel, the former head of the New York Civil Liberties Union who ran in 2001 and is the lead attorney in one of several cases statewide in which gay and lesbian couples are seeking the right to marry.

The group also made endorsements in four open City Council races, throwing its support to lesbian Democratic district leader Rosie Mendez who is seeking to fill the District 2 Lower East Side seat held by lesbian Margarita Lopez; to attorney Dan Garodnick who is running for the District 4 East Side seat held by Eva Moskowitz; to Jessica Lappin, who is running to fill the District 5 East Side seat held by Miller, for whom she worked as chief of staff; and to Inez Dickens, a Democratic district leader looking to win Bill Perkin’s District 9 seat in Harlem. Lopez, Miller, and Perkins are all term-limited from seeking reelection to the Council, and Perkins, Lopez, and Moskowitz are all vying for borough president.

Should Garodnick win his primary, he will face off against a gay Republican, Patrick Murphy, who has been active with the Log Cabin Republicans, particularly in that group’s fight against a federal constitutional amendment barring gay marriage.

The Pride Agenda made no endorsement in the District 8 race uptown to fill the seat held by Philip Reed, a gay man who is also term limited, because none of the candidates in that race returned the group’s issues questionnaire.

ESPA also endorsed two incumbents—G. Oliver Koppell in Bronx District 11 and Helen Sears in Queens District 25—who face primary opponents.

One interesting omission from the Pride Agenda slate is a pick in the Manhattan borough president’s race, which has two out candidates—Lopez and attorney Brian Ellner. The group declined comment on why no endorsement was made in that race.

Three of the four alleged killers of Gwen Araujo, 17, in 2002 in Newark in San Francisco’s East Bay got a deadlocked jury and a mistrial their first go around. Now the new trial is underway and Michael Magidson, Jose Merel, and Jason Cazares, are pointing fingers at each other, breaking a united defense front. The other alleged perp, Jaron Nabors, pleaded guilty to “voluntary manslaughter” in exchange for turning state’s evidence against his former friends.

In the first trial, the threee defendants did not testify and used a “transgender panic” defense, saying they brutally killed Araujo after they determined that she was biologically male. Merel and Mgidson had sex with her on occasion prior to the murder.

Santorum’s Thugs Bounce Dissenters

Right-wing Republican Senator Rick Santorum, who is up for reelection in Pennsylavania next year, is on a tour promoting his book, “It Takes a Family.” Some dissenting college students showed up for his appearance at the Concord Mall’s Barnes & Noble in Delaware, only to attract the attention of the senator’s advance team.

One of the students, Hanna Shaffer, 18, told the News Journal that a Santorum worker “called them ‘shameful’ and said she was disgusted by the reasons they were there, that they should be there to support [Santorum].” An off-duty cop hired by Santorum for the occasion threatened the students with arrest and removed them, telling them that they were banned from the bookstore and the mall.

The Metropolitan Community Church has a signed lease to meet in an AIDS hospice run by the Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans, but this week it was evicted from there because it advocates same-sex marriage, the gay Christian church said in a release.

Rev. Jim Mitulski, director of leadership development and seminary relations for MCC, said, “As a person living with HIV/AIDS, let me say out loud and clear: if the Roman Catholic Church won’t honor our weddings, don’t insult us by offering to conduct our funerals.”

Rev. Troy Perry, founder of the MCC denomination, said, “I am challenging our brothers and sisters in other faith communities around New Orleans to receive a special offering this Sunday to help MCC of Greater New Orleans locate and move into a permanent worship space.”

German Gays Seek Papal Ceasefire

Several LGBT rights groups in Germany have written to Pope Benedict XVI, a native of that country, seeking a dialogue on sexual orientation issues when he visits Cologne this week for World Youth Day, a Catholic jamboree.

“Our goal is to ensure that people whose sexual orientation has been given by God are morally supported by the Catholic Church,” the coalition said in a statement.

“I wish for a relaxation in the relationship” between the church and gays and lesbians, Heiner Koch, general secretary of World Youth Day told the Daily Express of Cologne. But there was no official word back from the Vatican on the pope’s willingness to meet.

Down with HIV

A much-publicized study in the British medical journal The Lancet says that University of North Carolina researchers have discovered a “potential” way to eradicate HIV in those infected through the use of valproic acid, a treatment for bipolar illness.

The current drug cocktails reduce viral loads tremendously, but HIV continues to hide out in the body, lying dormant.

The new study looked at four people already on the cocktails, giving them Fuzeon to stop HIV from entering their healthy cells followed by a three-month course of valproic acid. Three of the subjects saw their latent HIV infection reduced by 75 percent, giving researchers hope that the remaining virus could be eliminated with “HDAC inhibitors, intensified therapy or both,” Dr. David Margolis said.

Dr. Chris Gadd of Aidsmap in Britain called the results “encouraging,” but cautioned that “this does not mean that we should be over-confident about the eventual introduction of this approach,” saying it needed “a fuller investigation.”

Crystal Meth Relation to HIV Infection Documented

A study out of San Francisco found that those who use crystal methamphetamine have three times the chance to contract HIV than those who do not. Researchers found that those who used the party drug had a greater propensity to drop their inhibition and engage in unsafe sex. Clinics in Houston and New York have seen a similar connection.

Kanako Otsuji, 30, a member of the Prefectural Assembly in Osaka, came out as a lesbian at Tokyo’s first gay pride gathering in three years last weekend, the Kyodo News Agency reported. “By declaring I am homosexual, I would like to highlight the problems and put an end to the vicious circle of discrimination and prejudice,” she said.

The event was attended by about 3,000 people in the central shopping district. Otsuji’s autobiography, dealing with her lesbianism, is due later this year.

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