3rd December 2002 (# 5) News Clippings Digest
- 3rd December 2002 (# 5) News Clippings Digest
1. SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL A divided Orlando City Council voted
Monday to protect gays from discrimination in the private sector
2. SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL Palm Beach County delays vote on
harassment protection for gay students
3. DAILY CALIFORNIAN Column: Sea Scouts Court Decision Reinforces
City's Rights to not financially support groups that discriminate
4. DETROIT FREE PRESS Phelps to appear in Ferndale
5. ABC NEWS (Australia) Gay Games Ltd unlikely to survive $2.5m debt
South Florida Sun-Sentinel, December 3, 2002
200 E. Las Olas, Fort Lauderdale, FL, 33301
(Fax: 954-356-4624 ) (E-Mail: letters@... )
( http://www.sun-sentinel.com )
Orlando votes to protect gays
By Mark Schlueb, Sentinel Staff Writer
In a decision residents said will turn Orlando into a city of
tolerance or moral decay, a divided City Council voted Monday to
gays from discrimination in the private sector.
Orlando joins a growing list of jurisdictions that prohibit
bias, including 12 states, the District of Columbia and more than 120
"This vote is not an affirmation of a sexual lifestyle. It
be - we don't have that authority," said council member Daisy Lynum,
sponsored the motion in support of the law. "It is against people
others because of their sexual lifestyle."
The law prohibits employers from denying jobs and promotions
of sexual orientation. Landlords cannot refuse prospective lessees
they are gay or lesbian. Public accommodations such as hotels, bars
restaurants cannot refuse service to gays. It takes effect Jan. 1.
The new city code works both ways: Gay-owned businesses
employment to straight applicants.
Churches, religious organizations and private clubs are exempt
the law. It also doesn't apply to the smallest businesses - those
fewer than six employees - or to landlords with fewer than four rental
Because there is no similar anti-discrimination protection
federal or state law books, the new rules apply only within Orlando
limits. Complaints will be investigated by city staffers; cases
valid will be subject to mediation and fines up to $500.
For the second time in as many weeks, several hundred people
a public hearing on the issue. More than 80 people addressed the
during the five-hour hearing.
Though most speakers were polite, some opponents said gays
disease and are prone to pedophilia. And some supporters compared
critics' views to those of Nazis who persecuted gays along with Jews
Much of the discussion centered on the very need for the law:
whether gays and lesbians truly face discrimination in Orlando.
Some opponents of the measure said that stories of anti-gay
discrimination presented to the City Council hadn't been properly
In reality, some speakers told the council, most gays and
have no trouble getting ahead financially in a city as open and
"I don't recall any evidence of armies of homosexuals who
find jobs or could not find housing," said Longwood resident Gary
who added that the law may unfairly protect "marginal employees" from
Many speakers condemned the law on moral and religious grounds.
"The decision you make today tells children that leading a gay
lifestyle is OK, even though you as elected officials know God
Orlando resident Judy Madison Johnson said.
But supporters said that spiritual beliefs should not be an
ingredient in a recipe for legislation.
"We're not here talking about religion. We're here because
are being denied jobs and apartments," said Orlando resident Pedro
Gonzales said he had been fired along with three gay co-workers not
after he came under the supervision of a new manager who criticized
Those arguments seemed to cement the position of the council's
majority, whose members voted the same way they did two weeks ago.
In addition to Lynum, council members Phil Diamond, Ernest
Patty Sheehan supported the law. Mayor Glenda Hood and council
Vicki Vargo and Betty Wyman voted against it.
"I have not changed my opinion on what I feel is right for this
community," said Hood, who has said she hasn't seen convincing
discrimination in her city.
Opponents urged the mayor to veto the law, an action that
it off the books unless five council members agreed to overturn her
But after the meeting, Hood said she would let the council's
stand. Hood - who has been on the losing side of a vote on only one
issue in 10 years as mayor - has never vetoed a council action.
Still, the impact of the law remains to be seen.
Critics said it has few teeth; the fine is relatively low, and
measure cannot be the basis for a private civil lawsuit.
Opponents said it will lead to other legislation designed to
legitimacy to gays, including domestic-partner benefits, same-sex
and the promotion of homosexuality in public schools.
Some predicted that Orlando's reputation as the king of family
vacations will be replaced by one on par with those of Sodom and
"Are we going to say to America that this is what Orlando
for?" asked resident Sheila Spencer. "Is it fair that when family
visit, we have to warn them about this?"
But Page said the ordinance won't stop discrimination. "It
it will continue to happen; this ordinance will not stop it. But
statement," he said. "What it will do is bring some relief and some
to those who have been discriminated against."
. Mark Schlueb can be reached at mschlueb@...
South Florida Sun-Sentinel, December 3, 2002
200 E. Las Olas, Fort Lauderdale, FL, 33301
(Fax: 954-356-4624 ) (E-Mail: letters@... )
( http://www.sun-sentinel.com )
Palm Beach County delays vote on harassment protection for gay
By Scott Travis, Education Writer
Gay rights supporters arrived at Monday's Palm Beach County
Board meeting expecting victory, but they left disappointed that their
12-year effort to protect gay students from harassment faced another
Superintendent Art Johnson withdrew a proposal from a Monday
meeting that would add sexual orientation to the list of categories
students are protected from harassment and discrimination. The
categories are race, religion, color, sex, national origin, age,
and marital status.
Johnson said he wants the Palm Beach County School Board to
the issue further at a workshop. No date has been set.
The School Board had seemed poised to pass the measure
board took two preliminary votes that indicated support.
About 30 supporters and opponents showed up at Monday's
unaware the issue was being postponed.
"This was disappointing. A lot of people took off time from
come here," said newly elected state Rep. Mary Brandenburg, who came
speak in favor of the proposal.
Brandenburg, a former West Palm Beach city councilwoman, said
suspected that Johnson and the School Board delayed the matter
had generated controversy. She said West Palm city commissioners
often schedule workshops as a way of delaying matters they hoped
Opponents of the policy were pleased, saying the delay gives
more time to show the School Board evidence that defends their
They say such a change could subject the district to lawsuits,
school officials don't clearly define what "sexual orientation" means.
"This could be a gateway to all sexual orientations, Boca Raton
parent Jill Lewis said. "Someone could say pedophilia is a sexual
The debate has come up twice before, in 1991 and 1999. In both
cases, the School Board passed a general anti-harassment policy that
specifically list gay students. In 1999, the board was ready to
sexual orientation until a School Board lawyer said that the change
subject the district to lawsuits.
"It took a long time to get the School Board to support this,
had the votes, and then Art does this," said Rusty Gordon, the
Florida vice president for the Florida Triangle Democratic Caucus and
chairwoman of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Political
Committee for Florida National Organization for Women.
Chief Academic Officer Joe Orr said that wasn't the case
recommended the postponement to Johnson. Orr met with opponents of
measure last week. They expressed concern that the School Board was
on the matter without giving the public enough of a chance to voice
"The last time this issue came up, about 200 people filled the
room. This time, the board has taken two readings on the policy, and
somehow it went unnoticed," he said. The board had about a dozen
to discuss at Monday's meeting, so it wasn't a good time to have a
discussion on a single issue, he said.
The board voted 5-1 in October to give preliminary support to
anti-harassment proposal. But opponents think they can sway some
members to change their votes.
They also are asking School Board members to read a memo by
district lawyer Jean Marie Nelson, who says that a greater number of
students will be able to file complaints against the School Board if
policy passes. The memo also notes that Collier County School Board
removed "sexual orientation" from that district's anti-discrimination
harassment policy, after their lawyer advised it could increase
"Right now, all students are protected equally from harassment,
gay students," said Chris Nick, a conservative activist from Lake
hope the School Board will listen to the legal advice."
Supporters argue that school districts are more likely to face
lawsuits when they fail to have policies protecting gay students from
harassment. Several school districts have drafted policies giving
protection to gay students as part of a lawsuit settlement.
. Scott Travis can be reached at mailto:stravis@sun-
Daily Californian, December 3, 2002
Dwight Way, Berkeley, CA, 94704
( E-Mail: opinion@... )
Sea Scouts Court Decision Reinforces City's Rights
By Robert R. DeKoven
Like the City of San Diego, which provides 18 acres of Balboa
the Boy Scouts (nearly free of charge), the city of Berkeley had been
providing the Berkeley Sea Scouts free berthing privileges at its
Unlike the city of San Diego, which should have revoked the Boy
Scouts' free privileges, the City Council in Berkeley, realizing that
Boy Scouts violates its anti-gay bias laws, revoked its special
Sea Scouts took the city to court and a unanimous appellate court
the right ruling: ending government privileges for the Sea Scouts.
The U.S. Supreme Court held that the Boy Scouts has a right,
private group, to forbid atheists and gays from serving in it and the
cannot compel them otherwise. This is the same rationale that allows
private men's country club to exclude women.
However, the appellate court here found that Berkeley is not
the Sea Scouts to accept gays. The city merely is preventing the
enjoying "a certain city subsidy, free rent, unless it is open to all
residents without regard to the barriers created by the types of
discrimination Berkeley seeks to discourage."
The case is remarkably similar to the ongoing issues in San
because, like San Diego, which has granted the Boy Scouts exclusive
the park for years, Berkeley has done the same with its marina (in
of the Sea Scouts program).
The appellate court's reasoning is persuasive because it notes
city can condition grants. Notably, the court said that Bob Jones
University cannot receive tax-exempt status if it discriminates on
of race; and schools that engage gender bias can lose funds.
even gay men, ages 18 to 26, cannot serve openly in the military, but
still must "register for the draft" to receive federal student aid
While Berkeley didn't raise the issue, it's obvious that a city
cannot engage in "segregation" in the operation of public parks and
facilities. In the 1960s, the U.S. Supreme Court held in numerous
that cities - or private groups, like the Boy Scouts, that operate a
of the park for the city - cannot maintain a "segregated" facility.
The term "segregation" extends beyond race to those classes of
invidious discrimination recognized in federal and state law. The
Supreme Court has held that homosexuality is such a class and that a
would have to show some rationale for showing bias against gays and
The City Attorney for Berkeley correctly found that the city
longer grant a subsidy to the Boy Scouts and now three judges have
and it's likely that higher courts will uphold the case.
The San Diego City Council should instruct the San Diego City
Attorney to cease defending the Boy Scouts' lease with the city. The
Scouts should be footing the bill - not taxpayers - to defend its
Secondly, in light of this ruling - and the fact that there
a change with the City Council - the council should do the right
notify the Boy Scouts that it must change its policies because it is
breach of the lease agreement, which requires the Boy Scouts to
all city laws.
The Boy Scouts must now pay Berkeley fair market value of the
just like any other tenant. Here, however, the Boy Scouts cannot
the fair market value for Balboa Park in San Diego. Just like the Ku
Klan cannot contract to operate a city pool on a segregated basis,
Scouts cannot maintain a portion of the public park but make it "off
to youth, parents and San Diegans who "may" be gay, lesbian, bisexual,
questioning or non-believers.
The Boy Scouts, just like any group, must adhere to anti-bias
it wants to contract with the city.
But the Boy Scouts can still access public schools like gay-
There is much ado about the Boy Scouts having access to public
facilities for meetings. The Department of Education is soliciting
about how to make schools accessible to the Boy Scouts and
The federal law was unnecessary. A federal appellate panel
(consisting Republican and Democratic appointees) ruled recently that
student groups must have equal access to school facilities, student
and school support materials.
In an era in which the courts have decimated the free speech
of K-12 students, this case sends the right message.
The school is a "limited public forum" and, as such, it must be
accessible to student groups representing every viewpoint.
So, yes, the Boy Scouts can meet in a room next to the Gay-
Alliance; the Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship can meet near
Atheism; and the R.O.T.C. can meet near the Committee Against
and the Draft.
. Robert R. DeKoven is a professor at the California Western
of Law. Respond at mailto:opinion@...
Detroit Free Press, December 3, 2002
321 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit, MI, 48231
(Fax: 313-222-6774 ) (E-Mail: letters@... )
( http://www.freep.com/ )
Preacher is set to picket in Ferndale
Antigay minister says God hates city
By Bill Laitner, Free Press Staff Writer
Yards of yellow "Hate Free Zone" tape soon could swath Ferndale
churches as the city braces for a pre-Christmas visit by an antigay
extremist from Kansas.
The Rev. Fred Phelps of Topeka and his followers said in a news
release that they plan to picket city leaders and five churches
hates Ferndale" for tolerating gays and lesbians.
Yet, in a twist that might unite Ferndale's deep split between
and conservative Christians, the release also said one of the targets
church of a fundamentalist preacher recently censured by city
making antigay statements at City Hall.
At the First United Methodist Church, the Rev. Dennis Paulson
bought 6,000 yards of yellow crime-scene-style tape with a "Hate Free
imprint. Paulson is offering it to all the churches for encircling
grounds if pickets carry out their planned demonstrations Dec. 21-
church is on Phelps' list.
At a City Council meeting last month, Ferndale Police Chief
Kitchen urged residents to avoid the demonstrators. Councilman Craig
who is gay, said he had met with gay and lesbian community leaders
"We are not planning any counterdemonstrations," Covey said.
encouraged gays and lesbians to attend Ferndale's church services the
weekend Phelps is expected, "to show support for our churches and to
the world we're not afraid."
Covey said he will attend services at the Methodist church
Paulson called Phelps "a complete embarrassment to Christianity."
The Kansas group has targeted the Ferndale City Council,
Covey, and five churches the group said distorted biblical teachings -
including Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, led by the Rev. Tom
Police Department's volunteer chaplain who has sharply criticized
Phelps and his followers have been reviled for picketing at the
funerals of AIDS patients and of Matthew Shepard, the gay University
Wyoming student who was beaten to death in a hate crime in 1998. The
pickets, from Topeka's Westboro Baptist Church, also have assailed
conservatives who the group says aren't tough enough on gays and
Phelps, 73, said Monday that he hopes to have 14 demonstrators
Ferndale, about half of them his family members. He has 13 children
Since his ordination as a Baptist minister in 1947, he said,
duty has been to "show my people their sins."
The Westboro church, in its news release issued in November,
obscene slur in referring to gays and lesbians. Several Topeka
community groups have banded together to oppose Phelps'
. Contact Bill Laitner at 248-586-2608.
ABC News (Australia), December 4, 2002
Gay Games Ltd unlikely to survive $2.5m debt
The administrator appointed to the company that ran this
Games in Sydney says the company will probably have to be liquidated.
Sydney 2002 Gay Games Limited was placed in voluntary
on Monday owing an estimated $2.5 million to creditors.
Administrator Peter Marsden says the financial problems seem
arisen from revenue projections not being met during the games, held
first week of November.
"The timing was probably unfortunate. The Bali bombings in
had a significant impact on the number of people that actually came to
Australia for the games," he said.
Sound and Lighting company Grafton supplied most of the
the games ceremonies and is owed about $4,000. General manager Lex
says he is disappointed.
"It's really upsetting because we've been a proud supporter of
of gay events, you know, the mardi gras, a lot of events in Sydney,
supplied them with service for the Gay Games. I'm very upset," he
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