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3rd December 2002 (# 5) News Clippings Digest

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  • grahamu_1999
    3rd December 2002 (# 5) News Clippings Digest 1. SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL A divided Orlando City Council voted Monday to protect gays from discrimination
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 5, 2002
      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 )
      http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/florida/orl-
      asecgayrights03120302dec03,0,3320609.story?coll=sfla%2Dnews%2Dflorida

      Orlando votes to protect gays
      By Mark Schlueb, Sentinel Staff Writer
      In a decision residents said will turn Orlando into a city of
      either
      tolerance or moral decay, a divided City Council voted Monday to
      protect
      gays from discrimination in the private sector.
      Orlando joins a growing list of jurisdictions that prohibit
      anti-gay
      bias, including 12 states, the District of Columbia and more than 120
      cities
      and counties.
      "This vote is not an affirmation of a sexual lifestyle. It
      can't
      be - we don't have that authority," said council member Daisy Lynum,
      who
      sponsored the motion in support of the law. "It is against people
      who harm
      others because of their sexual lifestyle."
      The law prohibits employers from denying jobs and promotions
      because
      of sexual orientation. Landlords cannot refuse prospective lessees
      because
      they are gay or lesbian. Public accommodations such as hotels, bars
      and
      restaurants cannot refuse service to gays. It takes effect Jan. 1.
      The new city code works both ways: Gay-owned businesses
      cannot deny
      employment to straight applicants.
      Churches, religious organizations and private clubs are exempt
      from
      the law. It also doesn't apply to the smallest businesses - those
      with
      fewer than six employees - or to landlords with fewer than four rental
      units.
      Because there is no similar anti-discrimination protection
      found in
      federal or state law books, the new rules apply only within Orlando
      city
      limits. Complaints will be investigated by city staffers; cases
      deemed
      valid will be subject to mediation and fines up to $500.
      For the second time in as many weeks, several hundred people
      attended
      a public hearing on the issue. More than 80 people addressed the
      council
      during the five-hour hearing.
      Though most speakers were polite, some opponents said gays
      spread
      disease and are prone to pedophilia. And some supporters compared
      their
      critics' views to those of Nazis who persecuted gays along with Jews
      during
      the Holocaust.
      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
      vetted.
      In reality, some speakers told the council, most gays and
      lesbians
      have no trouble getting ahead financially in a city as open and
      accepting as
      Orlando.
      "I don't recall any evidence of armies of homosexuals who
      could not
      find jobs or could not find housing," said Longwood resident Gary
      Whitlock,
      who added that the law may unfairly protect "marginal employees" from
      rightful dismissal.
      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
      condemns it,"
      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
      people
      are being denied jobs and apartments," said Orlando resident Pedro
      Gonzales.
      Gonzales said he had been fired along with three gay co-workers not
      long
      after he came under the supervision of a new manager who criticized
      his
      sexual orientation.
      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
      Page and
      Patty Sheehan supported the law. Mayor Glenda Hood and council
      members
      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
      evidence of
      discrimination in her city.
      Opponents urged the mayor to veto the law, an action that
      would keep
      it off the books unless five council members agreed to overturn her
      veto.
      But after the meeting, Hood said she would let the council's
      vote
      stand. Hood - who has been on the losing side of a vote on only one
      other
      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
      the
      measure cannot be the basis for a private civil lawsuit.
      Opponents said it will lead to other legislation designed to
      add
      legitimacy to gays, including domestic-partner benefits, same-sex
      marriage
      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
      Gomorrah.
      "Are we going to say to America that this is what Orlando
      stands
      for?" asked resident Sheila Spencer. "Is it fair that when family
      comes to
      visit, we have to warn them about this?"
      But Page said the ordinance won't stop discrimination. "It
      happens,
      it will continue to happen; this ordinance will not stop it. But
      it's a
      statement," he said. "What it will do is bring some relief and some
      healing
      to those who have been discriminated against."
      . Mark Schlueb can be reached at mschlueb@...
      or
      407-420-5417.


      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 )
      http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/palmbeach/sfl-
      pgay03dec03,0,6464142.story?coll=sfla%2Dnews%2Dpalm

      Palm Beach County delays vote on harassment protection for gay
      students
      By Scott Travis, Education Writer
      Gay rights supporters arrived at Monday's Palm Beach County
      School
      Board meeting expecting victory, but they left disappointed that their
      12-year effort to protect gay students from harassment faced another
      setback.
      Superintendent Art Johnson withdrew a proposal from a Monday
      policy
      meeting that would add sexual orientation to the list of categories
      in which
      students are protected from harassment and discrimination. The
      existing
      categories are race, religion, color, sex, national origin, age,
      disability
      and marital status.
      Johnson said he wants the Palm Beach County School Board to
      discuss
      the issue further at a workshop. No date has been set.
      The School Board had seemed poised to pass the measure
      Monday. The
      board took two preliminary votes that indicated support.
      About 30 supporters and opponents showed up at Monday's
      meeting,
      unaware the issue was being postponed.
      "This was disappointing. A lot of people took off time from
      work to
      come here," said newly elected state Rep. Mary Brandenburg, who came
      to
      speak in favor of the proposal.
      Brandenburg, a former West Palm Beach city councilwoman, said
      she
      suspected that Johnson and the School Board delayed the matter
      because it
      had generated controversy. She said West Palm city commissioners
      would
      often schedule workshops as a way of delaying matters they hoped
      would go
      away.
      Opponents of the policy were pleased, saying the delay gives
      them
      more time to show the School Board evidence that defends their
      position.
      They say such a change could subject the district to lawsuits,
      especially if
      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
      orientation."
      The debate has come up twice before, in 1991 and 1999. In both
      cases, the School Board passed a general anti-harassment policy that
      doesn't
      specifically list gay students. In 1999, the board was ready to
      include
      sexual orientation until a School Board lawyer said that the change
      could
      subject the district to lawsuits.
      "It took a long time to get the School Board to support this,
      but we
      had the votes, and then Art does this," said Rusty Gordon, the
      Southeast
      Florida vice president for the Florida Triangle Democratic Caucus and
      chairwoman of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Political
      Issues
      Committee for Florida National Organization for Women.
      Chief Academic Officer Joe Orr said that wasn't the case
      here. He
      recommended the postponement to Johnson. Orr met with opponents of
      the
      measure last week. They expressed concern that the School Board was
      voting
      on the matter without giving the public enough of a chance to voice
      their
      opinions.
      "The last time this issue came up, about 200 people filled the
      board
      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
      policies
      to discuss at Monday's meeting, so it wasn't a good time to have a
      lengthy
      discussion on a single issue, he said.
      The board voted 5-1 in October to give preliminary support to
      the
      anti-harassment proposal. But opponents think they can sway some
      board
      members to change their votes.
      They also are asking School Board members to read a memo by
      school
      district lawyer Jean Marie Nelson, who says that a greater number of
      students will be able to file complaints against the School Board if
      the
      policy passes. The memo also notes that Collier County School Board
      members
      removed "sexual orientation" from that district's anti-discrimination
      and
      harassment policy, after their lawyer advised it could increase
      liability.
      "Right now, all students are protected equally from harassment,
      including
      gay students," said Chris Nick, a conservative activist from Lake
      Worth. "I
      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-
      sentinel.com
      or 561-243-6637.


      Daily Californian, December 3, 2002
      Dwight Way, Berkeley, CA, 94704
      ( E-Mail: opinion@... )
      http://www.dailycal.org/article.asp?id=10432
      Sea Scouts Court Decision Reinforces City's Rights
      By Robert R. DeKoven
      Like the City of San Diego, which provides 18 acres of Balboa
      Park to
      the Boy Scouts (nearly free of charge), the city of Berkeley had been
      providing the Berkeley Sea Scouts free berthing privileges at its
      city-owned
      marina.
      Unlike the city of San Diego, which should have revoked the Boy
      Scouts' free privileges, the City Council in Berkeley, realizing that
      the
      Boy Scouts violates its anti-gay bias laws, revoked its special
      status. The
      Sea Scouts took the city to court and a unanimous appellate court
      reached
      the right ruling: ending government privileges for the Sea Scouts.
      The U.S. Supreme Court held that the Boy Scouts has a right,
      as a
      private group, to forbid atheists and gays from serving in it and the
      state
      cannot compel them otherwise. This is the same rationale that allows
      a
      private men's country club to exclude women.
      However, the appellate court here found that Berkeley is not
      forcing
      the Sea Scouts to accept gays. The city merely is preventing the
      group from
      enjoying "a certain city subsidy, free rent, unless it is open to all
      residents without regard to the barriers created by the types of
      invidious
      discrimination Berkeley seeks to discourage."
      The case is remarkably similar to the ongoing issues in San
      Diego
      because, like San Diego, which has granted the Boy Scouts exclusive
      use of
      the park for years, Berkeley has done the same with its marina (in
      support
      of the Sea Scouts program).
      The appellate court's reasoning is persuasive because it notes
      that a
      city can condition grants. Notably, the court said that Bob Jones
      University cannot receive tax-exempt status if it discriminates on
      the basis
      of race; and schools that engage gender bias can lose funds.
      Ironically,
      even gay men, ages 18 to 26, cannot serve openly in the military, but
      they
      still must "register for the draft" to receive federal student aid
      funds.
      While Berkeley didn't raise the issue, it's obvious that a city
      cannot engage in "segregation" in the operation of public parks and
      other
      facilities. In the 1960s, the U.S. Supreme Court held in numerous
      cases
      that cities - or private groups, like the Boy Scouts, that operate a
      segment
      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
      U.S.
      Supreme Court has held that homosexuality is such a class and that a
      state
      would have to show some rationale for showing bias against gays and
      lesbians.
      The City Attorney for Berkeley correctly found that the city
      could no
      longer grant a subsidy to the Boy Scouts and now three judges have
      agreed,
      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
      Boy
      Scouts should be footing the bill - not taxpayers - to defend its
      policies.
      Secondly, in light of this ruling - and the fact that there
      has been
      a change with the City Council - the council should do the right
      thing and
      notify the Boy Scouts that it must change its policies because it is
      in
      breach of the lease agreement, which requires the Boy Scouts to
      comply with
      all city laws.
      The Boy Scouts must now pay Berkeley fair market value of the
      berth,
      just like any other tenant. Here, however, the Boy Scouts cannot
      simply pay
      the fair market value for Balboa Park in San Diego. Just like the Ku
      Klux
      Klan cannot contract to operate a city pool on a segregated basis,
      the Boy
      Scouts cannot maintain a portion of the public park but make it "off
      limits"
      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
      law if
      it wants to contract with the city.
      But the Boy Scouts can still access public schools like gay-
      straight
      groups
      There is much ado about the Boy Scouts having access to public
      school
      facilities for meetings. The Department of Education is soliciting
      comments
      about how to make schools accessible to the Boy Scouts and
      other "patriotic
      groups."
      The federal law was unnecessary. A federal appellate panel
      (consisting Republican and Democratic appointees) ruled recently that
      all
      student groups must have equal access to school facilities, student
      funds
      and school support materials.
      In an era in which the courts have decimated the free speech
      rights
      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-
      Straight
      Alliance; the Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship can meet near
      Students for
      Atheism; and the R.O.T.C. can meet near the Committee Against
      Militarization
      and the Draft.
      . Robert R. DeKoven is a professor at the California Western
      School
      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/ )
      http://www.freep.com/news/locoak/nhate3_20021203.htm
      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
      because "God
      hates Ferndale" for tolerating gays and lesbians.
      Yet, in a twist that might unite Ferndale's deep split between
      gays
      and conservative Christians, the release also said one of the targets
      is the
      church of a fundamentalist preacher recently censured by city
      officials for
      making antigay statements at City Hall.
      At the First United Methodist Church, the Rev. Dennis Paulson
      has
      bought 6,000 yards of yellow crime-scene-style tape with a "Hate Free
      Zone"
      imprint. Paulson is offering it to all the churches for encircling
      their
      grounds if pickets carry out their planned demonstrations Dec. 21-
      23. His
      church is on Phelps' list.
      At a City Council meeting last month, Ferndale Police Chief
      Michael
      Kitchen urged residents to avoid the demonstrators. Councilman Craig
      Covey,
      who is gay, said he had met with gay and lesbian community leaders
      from
      metro Detroit.
      "We are not planning any counterdemonstrations," Covey said.
      But he
      encouraged gays and lesbians to attend Ferndale's church services the
      weekend Phelps is expected, "to show support for our churches and to
      show
      the world we're not afraid."
      Covey said he will attend services at the Methodist church
      where
      Paulson called Phelps "a complete embarrassment to Christianity."
      The Kansas group has targeted the Ferndale City Council,
      singling out
      Covey, and five churches the group said distorted biblical teachings -
      including Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, led by the Rev. Tom
      Hansen, the
      Police Department's volunteer chaplain who has sharply criticized
      gays.
      Phelps and his followers have been reviled for picketing at the
      funerals of AIDS patients and of Matthew Shepard, the gay University
      of
      Wyoming student who was beaten to death in a hate crime in 1998. The
      same
      pickets, from Topeka's Westboro Baptist Church, also have assailed
      many
      conservatives who the group says aren't tough enough on gays and
      lesbians.
      Phelps, 73, said Monday that he hopes to have 14 demonstrators
      in
      Ferndale, about half of them his family members. He has 13 children
      and 52
      grandchildren.
      Since his ordination as a Baptist minister in 1947, he said,
      his only
      duty has been to "show my people their sins."
      The Westboro church, in its news release issued in November,
      used an
      obscene slur in referring to gays and lesbians. Several Topeka
      churches and
      community groups have banded together to oppose Phelps'
      demonstrations and
      statements.
      . Contact Bill Laitner at 248-586-2608.


      ABC News (Australia), December 4, 2002
      http://www.abc.net.au/news/justin/nat/newsnat-4dec2002-25.htm
      Gay Games Ltd unlikely to survive $2.5m debt
      The administrator appointed to the company that ran this
      year's Gay
      Games in Sydney says the company will probably have to be liquidated.
      Sydney 2002 Gay Games Limited was placed in voluntary
      administration
      on Monday owing an estimated $2.5 million to creditors.
      Administrator Peter Marsden says the financial problems seem
      to have
      arisen from revenue projections not being met during the games, held
      in the
      first week of November.
      "The timing was probably unfortunate. The Bali bombings in
      September
      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
      equipment for
      the games ceremonies and is owed about $4,000. General manager Lex
      Strauss
      says he is disappointed.
      "It's really upsetting because we've been a proud supporter of
      a lot
      of gay events, you know, the mardi gras, a lot of events in Sydney,
      and we
      supplied them with service for the Gay Games. I'm very upset," he
      said.
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