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14th Febuary 2003 (# 5) News Clippings Digest

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  • grahamu_1999 <grahamu_1999@yahoo.com>
    14th Febuary 2003 (# 5) News Clippings Digest 1. HOUSTON CHRONICLE Energy companies are under fire to ensure gay rights 2. THE SOUTH END (Wayne State
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 18, 2003
      14th Febuary 2003 (# 5) News Clippings Digest

      1. HOUSTON CHRONICLE Energy companies are under fire to ensure gay
      rights
      2. THE SOUTH END (Wayne State Unviersity, Michigan) Don't hide the
      E. Lynn Harris: "Historically Black, Historically Gay" showcase in
      the student union has been getting quit a bit of attention
      3. THE SOUTH END Editorial: Mixing black and rainbow
      4. HOUSTON VOICE (glbt) Fight over Gay-Straight Alliances heats
      up; Klein parents urge district to fight lawsuit; Bellaire GSA
      members offer support for Klein teens
      5. 365GAY.COM New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler Reintroduces Gay
      Partners Immigration Act

      Houston Chronicle, February 14, 2003
      801 Texas Avenue, Houston, TX, 77002
      (Fax: 713-220-6575 ) (E-Mail: viewpoints@... )
      ( http://www.chron.com/ )
      http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/business/1778407
      Energy companies under fire to ensure gay rights
      By L.M. Sixel, Houston Chronicle
      Most years, the most exciting things shareholders vote on at
      their
      annual meeting are board members and the accounting firm that will
      audit the
      company's books.
      But this year, shareholders have a lot more to look forward
      to.
      Activists from investment management funds, religious groups
      and
      employee pension funds are putting shareholder resolutions on 15
      company
      proxies that, if they pass, would require companies to promise they
      won't
      discriminate against gays and lesbians.
      The investors, shepherded by the New York City-based Equality
      Project, are focusing on several Texas energy companies, including
      Reliant
      Resources, El Paso Energy and Dynegy, which have been slow to adopt
      gay and
      lesbian nondiscrimination policies. More than 300 of the Fortune 500
      already forbid sexual orientation discrimination on their equal
      employment
      opportunity statements.
      The group is already making headway.
      Dynegy, for example, received a shareholder resolution in
      December
      from the comptroller in New York City who serves as the custodian
      for the
      New York employee and teacher retirement funds.
      Dynegy was already considering whether to add sexual
      orientation to
      its nondiscrimination policy when it received the letter, Dynegy
      spokesman
      David Byford said.
      It quickly revised its Web site and Intranet site and put up
      posters
      in employee common areas to reflect the new nondiscrimination policy.
      TXU in Dallas also received a resolution from the New York
      City
      comptroller and consequently "added language" to its
      nondiscrimination
      policy statement that will be reviewed by its board in February, a
      company
      spokeswoman said.
      Shelley Alpern, assistant vice president at Trillium Asset
      Management
      in Boston, takes exception to explanations like TXU's.
      "Every company always says this: 'We always had the policy,'"
      said
      Alpern, who describes Trillium as an investment firm that tries to
      improve
      the social and environmental records of the companies in which it
      invests.
      But they really don't, she said, describing most "policies" as
      general promises that the company doesn't discriminate on any
      grounds.
      Alpern said the policies are important because only 12 states
      have
      laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.
      And in those states that don't have laws prohibiting sexual
      orientation discrimination - which includes Texas - the policy
      statement
      creates a quasi-contract that an employee can later use to claim
      breach of
      contract.
      The policy statement also makes it easier for an employee to
      bring an
      internal grievance when a company has specifically gone on record
      prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination.
      The Equality Project is also trying to get a shareholders'
      resolution
      on the ballot at Reliant Resources and El Paso Energy.
      The New York City comptroller, acting on behalf of the city's
      employees and teachers, sent a request in late December - and
      received a
      signed receipt proving delivery - but officials at Reliant Resources
      said
      they can't find it now.
      It may have been sent to CenterPoint Energy, which was the
      successor
      company to Reliant Energy, Sandy Fruhman said.
      While energy officials look for the resolution, officials
      from the
      Equality Project said they'll take the matter up with the Securities
      and
      Exchange Commission if they have to.
      Currently, Reliant doesn't specifically spell out that it
      won't
      discriminate based on sexual orientation. The company, however, has
      a
      policy that provides an environment free from discrimination,
      Fruhman said.
      Mel Scott, an El Paso spokesman, said he wasn't aware of the
      resolution.
      From all accounts, shareholder advocacy is becoming more
      common as
      investors evolve from passive owners to active ones.
      As of Feb. 1, at least 862 shareholder proposals were filed
      at U.S.
      publicly traded companies compared with 802 in all of 2002,
      according to a
      recent report from the Investor Responsibility Research Center and
      the
      Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.
      The hottest topics? Excessive CEO compensation, global
      warming,
      dividing the jobs of CEO and chairman, along with gay and lesbian
      antidiscrimination policies.
      Some companies are undoubtedly making the change to avoid the
      controversy swirling around Exxon Mobil.
      Mobil had a specific nondiscrimination policy regarding gays
      and
      lesbians before it merged with Exxon. But the new merged company
      hasn't
      adopted the same policy, and shareholder proposals in 2000 and 2001
      attracted widespread media attention.
      The New York City Retirement System has submitted another
      resolution
      this year that Exxon Mobil is opposing.
      Exxon Mobil already has an all-inclusive policy that forbids
      all
      forms of discrimination, spokeswoman Sandy Duhe in Irving said.
      There's no
      reason to specifically mention sexual orientation.
      While gay and lesbian activists battle Exxon Mobil, they're
      cheering
      the decision this week by ConocoPhillips to add sexual orientation
      to its
      list of nondiscrimination policies.
      Just a week ago, an official with ConocoPhillips said it had
      no plans
      to change its nondiscrimination policy to specifically include sexual
      orientation until a federal law forced it to, said Kim Mills,
      education
      director for the Human Rights Campaign in Washington, D.C., an
      500,000-member advocacy group for gays and lesbians.
      Mills said she quickly sent out a news release condemning the
      newly
      merged company for not adopting the old Conoco nondiscrimination
      policy and
      a few days later heard ConocoPhillips had changed its mind.
      Employees were informed earlier this week that the company
      doesn't
      discriminate based on sexual orientation, Mills said.
      A spokeswoman for ConocoPhillips said the company fully
      supports its
      nondiscrimination policy.
      "This is an excellent move," said Mills, who added she is
      glad to see
      the company act so quickly. "If a company truly doesn't
      discriminate based
      on sexual orientation, it shouldn't be a problem."
      . To voice comments, call 713-220-2000 and dial in code 1002.
      Send
      e-mail to lm.sixel@....


      The South End, February 14, 2003
      Wayne State University, 5425 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202
      (E-Mail: editor@... ) ( http://southend.wayne.edu )
      http://southend.wayne.edu/days/2003/February/2132003/oped/harris/harr
      is.html
      Don't hide the E. Lynn Harris
      Michael Fifueroa, South end guest columnist
      Langston Hughes, Benjamin Banneker, George Washington Carver,
      Harriet
      Tubman - gay? The LGBT Student Union, and the LGBT Student Union of
      Color's
      "Historically Black, Historically Gay" showcase in the student union
      has
      been getting quit a bit of attention.
      I'm the secretary of the LGBT Student Union of Color, and the
      co-designer of the showcase. As I was walking through the Student
      Center
      today, I noticed a small crowd around our display, so I stopped to
      see what
      was going on. I was there for a half hour answering questions.
      People just couldn't believe that so many of their historic
      black
      heroes were gay. I think that it is important that people know that
      throughout history lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender people
      have made
      huge contributions to the world.
      Angela Davis; activist, Howard Rollins; actor in the
      film "Ragtime"
      and TV show "In the Heat of the Night," Alice Walker; novelist, Billy
      Strayhorn; wrote "Take the 'A' Train" with Duke Ellington, Max
      Robinson;
      first Black anchor on a national news program, Samuel Delaney;
      science
      fiction writer, Nona Hendryx; former member of Labelle, Alvin Ailey;
      dancer,
      Paris Barclay; Emmy award winning director of "NYPD Blue," Josephine
      Baker;
      entertainer, Langston Hughes; poet, Barbara Jordan; congresswoman,
      Lorraine
      Hansberry; playwright and author of "Raisin In the Sun," Sharon
      Davis;
      Transgender activist and author of "A Finer Specimen of Womanhood" A
      transsexual speaks out, Benjamin Banneker: designer of Washington,
      D.C. -
      all are among the many who have made contributions to Black History
      Month.
      It's the part of black history that tends to get lost in the
      celebration. Martin Luther King Jr. cemented his place in history
      with the
      "I Have A Dream" speech, but if not for the handling of the
      logistics and
      pulling together of the million details it required to conduct the
      March on
      Washington by his colleague, Bayard Rustin, it never would have
      happened.
      Rustin was a gay man and his homosexuality was hardly a secret.
      For black lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender, Black
      History
      Month must be somewhat bittersweet. They're invited to join in the
      celebration of black achievement and accomplishment, but only if
      they keep a
      discreet silence of their role in it.
      Strange, isn't it, how this is a month where every library
      pushes its
      authors of color to the front window exhibits, but works by James
      Baldwin or
      Audre Lorde go missing. It's a good month to read Terry McMillan
      and Toni
      Morrison, but not so for Sapphire, E. Lynn Harris or Essex Hemphill.
      Black History Month is kind of funny in the way it seems to
      self-censor what parts of our history should be told and what should
      be
      glossed over. There are gay black people in this so-
      called "community" and
      the longer it takes those of us who know it and refuse to face the
      truth,
      the harder it becomes for us to truly know ourselves and accept
      ourselves
      for the diverse group of individuals that make up our race.
      It would be taking a giant step into tolerance if we would
      begin to
      include and embrace all facets of black history and not just the
      ones we
      feel comfortable with.
      Are the awesome oratorical powers of Barbara Jordan
      diminished by
      discovering she was a lesbian? Do the sweet melodies of "Take
      the 'A'
      Train" suddenly become harsh and displeasing to the ear knowing that
      Duke
      Ellington's collaborator was a gay man?
      It makes no sense that black people can shut out a portion of
      ourselves because we disapprove of how they live their private lives.
      If we start with merely being more tolerant of the differences
      between others, and ourselves, then later we can move on to bigger
      issues
      like acceptance. Maybe then, Black History Month can truly become a
      celebration where all the voices of its participants ring equally
      loud and
      clear.


      The South End, February 14, 2003
      Wayne State University, 5425 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202
      (E-Mail: editor@... ) ( http://southend.wayne.edu )
      http://southend.wayne.edu/days/2003/February/2132003/oped/rainbow/rai
      nbow.ht
      ml
      Editorial: Mixing black and rainbow
      The South End Editorial Board
      A showcase in the student center celebrating
      the "historically black"
      and "historically gay" has created a stir among members of both
      blacks and
      lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender interest groups. The colorful
      display - wallpapered with issues of Between the Lines and adorned
      with a
      single book on prominent black homosexuals in history and several
      pictures
      of some of these figures - has called to question whether or not the
      message
      does a disservice to Black History Month and the African American
      community,
      as well as the accuracy in the sexual preferences of some of the
      historical
      figures mentioned.
      The showcase lacks authors, documents and Web sites to learn
      more
      about the heroes displayed, making arguable claims about Harriet
      Tubman's
      orientation easily refutable, and even more easily dismissed. The
      GLBT
      Student Union would have made better use of their space with poster
      boards
      and large-print essays on Paris Barclay or Lorraine Hansberry
      instead of a
      bowl of multi-colored, multi-flavored condoms.
      Both black people and members of the GLBT community have a
      common,
      unjust and shamefully unnecessary fight for equal rights in society.
      Even in the present, the government and law enforcement
      pre-criminalizes being black; the world's three major religions
      criminalize
      homosexuality. While homosexuality can be concealed much easier
      than dark
      skin, one rarely runs the risk of being blackmailed, losing a job,
      friends
      and the warmth of family - upon the revelation that he or she is
      black.
      This is all the more reason to pay special tribute to those who have
      had to
      deal with both struggles.
      Black History Month should be treated with respect, and so
      should its
      heroes.
      It's important to make any association with this month an
      honor.
      It's most important - a lesson that the squabble over this showcase
      illustrates perfectly - to remember and recognize our fellow human
      beings,
      not for what they were born as, but what they've chosen to do with
      their
      time on earth.


      Houston Voice (glbt), February 14, 2003
      500 Lovett, Suite 200, Houston, Texas 77006-3942
      (E-Mail: editor@... ) ( http://www.houstonvoice.com )
      http://www.houstonvoice.com/houston/030214gsa.php3?pub=hou
      Fight over Gay-Straight Alliances heats up
      Klein parents urge district to fight lawsuit; Bellaire GSA members
      offer
      support for Klein teens
      By Penny Weaver
      While parents and some local residents this week voiced
      opposition to
      a Gay-Straight Alliance at Klein High School, students at a nearby
      school
      urged officials to allow a GSA for Klein teens.
      The American Civil Liberties Union on Jan. 22 filed a lawsuit
      in U.S.
      District Court in Houston against northwest Houston's Klein
      Independent
      School District and two school officials, alleging that the district
      is
      biased because it has not approved an application for a Gay-Straight
      Alliance.
      Klein school officials, however, said the lawsuit is
      premature and
      that the application still was under consideration along with
      several other
      student proposals for in-school groups.
      The lawsuit, filed in federal court, is against the district,
      Superintendent Jim Surratt and Principal Pat Huff. It alleges that
      the
      decision not to approve the club application led by student Marla
      Dukler
      "violates the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and
      the
      Equal Access Act because their prohibition of the club is based on
      the
      content and the viewpoint of the speech of the clubs and its
      members."
      On Monday, a few dozen people rallied against the proposed
      GSA at the
      KISD board meeting - the first since the lawsuit was filed, the
      Houston
      Chronicle reported Wednesday. Some protesters addressed trustees
      during the
      meeting's public comment period, but no one spoke in favor of the
      club,
      according to the newspaper.
      "I am concerned about the proposal," Damon Shook, senior
      pastor at
      the Champion Forest Baptist Church, told the board, the Chronicle
      reported.
      "This type of organization neither fits with the rules and
      regulations of
      the district, nor with the educational mission of the Klein
      Independent
      School District.
      "I personally stand with you to oppose this and see that it
      does not
      come to pass," Shook added.
      Jeff Lohey, a parent of Klein students, echoed those
      sentiments,
      according to the Chronicle.
      "I don't think this club has any place on our children's
      campuses,"
      he said. "The decision to challenge the ACLU lawsuit is absolutely
      warranted."
      Liz Johnson, assistant superintendent for community
      relations, told
      the newspaper that the school district does not intend to rule on
      the GSA
      application. Since the issue now is before the court, she told the
      Chronicle, the district's lawyers will handle the matter.
      "These people have the right to protest anything they want,"
      David
      George, president of the ACLU's Houston chapter and Dukler's
      attorney, told
      the Chronicle. "But they don't have a right to stop the club
      because the
      law says it must be allowed."
      George said he expects a hearing date in Dukler's case to be
      set for
      Feb. 21, the Chronicle reported.
      Also this week, student members of Bellaire High School's GSA
      sent a
      letter to Klein officials in support of a GSA.
      In the letter, the students state, in part: "The recent
      controversy
      surrounding students' attempts to establish a Gay-Straight Alliance
      (GSA)
      has made Klein High School an infamous target of various civil rights
      groups. As a principal, this is surely not the reputation you wish
      upon
      your school. However, given the controversial nature of
      homosexuality in
      your conservative community, your hesitation to allow the club is
      understandable. Unfortunately, in the heated debates around the
      decision,
      the facts and statistics, as well as the ultimate well being of your
      students, have been overlooked.
      "According to the 1999 Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior
      Survey
      (MYRBS), one of the most prominent surveys concerning this subject
      in the
      nation, nearly 6 percent of high school students identify as gay,
      lesbian,
      or bisexual (GLB)," the students state in the letter. "The 1999
      MYRBS
      revealed that nearly one-third of all GLB students have attempted
      suicide
      within the last year, over four times the rate of heterosexual
      students.
      They are also much more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs in order
      to escape
      the hatred they perceive.
      "In addition to the damage inflicted on students' health, the
      entire
      high school suffers because of perceived intolerance. An intolerant
      school
      climate contributes to a diminished academic performance for the
      entire
      school.
      "One common fear associated with GSAs is the promotion
      of 'sexual
      deviancy.' However, this fear is an inaccurate one. In our
      experience
      running and participating in the Bellaire High School GSA, sexual
      activity
      has neither been promoted nor significantly discussed.
      "GSAs offer incredible experiences for the entire school.
      Our work
      has focused on ending intolerance, prejudice, and discrimination for
      all
      minorities, whether based on race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual
      orientation," the letter states. "We have promoted work and
      community
      service, helping with various HIV/AIDS programs, among other
      projects. By
      providing a message of acceptance, we have helped to reverse the
      statistics
      that plague GLB students.
      "While some citizens of your community have accused GSAs of
      being
      clubs about sex, our work has clearly shown that this accusation is
      far from
      the truth," the students said in the letter. "For the safety and
      health of
      all Klein students, the Bellaire High School GSA urges you to end
      your
      hesitation and allow a GSA in your school."


      365Gay.com, February 14, 2003
      http://365gay.com/NewsContent/021403nadlerPartner.htm
      Nadler Reintroduces Gay Partners Immigration Act
      by Paul Johnson, 365Gay.com Newscenter, Washington Bureau Chief
      Washington, D.C. - Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) Thursday
      reintroduced
      "The Permanent Partners Immigration Act". If passed, the
      legislation would
      help countless numbers of bi-national gay and lesbian partners remain
      together.
      Nadler said it was not without coincidence the bill was being
      presented just prior to Valentines Day.
      The most prominent feature of the "The Permanent Partners
      Immigration
      Act" would allow those US Citizens and lawful permanent residents
      who are in
      a permanent partnership, to sponsor their partners for immigration
      purposes,
      just as any legal spouse would.
      Currently, because there is no legally recognized marriage
      between
      gay and lesbian couples under the immigration law, many bi-national
      permanent partnerships are torn apart when one partner moves to the
      United
      States.
      "My bill is simply a matter of common sense and fairness,"
      Nadler
      said.
      "Why do we allow the government to tear apart committed and
      loving
      couples just because of who they love? The answer is that there is
      no
      excuse for this gratuitous cruelty, and my bill would correct that."
      The amendment Nadler is proposing is relatively simple. It
      would add
      the term "or permanent partner" to those sections of the Immigration
      and
      Naturalization Act that apply to legally married couples.
      For purposes of the bill, "permanent partner" is described
      as "an
      individual 18 years of age and over who: Is in a committed, intimate
      relationship with another individual 18 years of age and over in
      which both
      parties intend a lifelong commitment; is financially interdependent
      with
      that other individual; is not married or in a permanent partnership
      with
      anyone other than that other individual; is unable to contract with
      that
      other individual a marriage cognizable under [the Immigration and
      Naturalization Act]; and is not a first, second, or third degree
      blood
      relation of that other individual."
      The bill has the endorsement of most gay rights groups.
      "This bill provides an essential fix for US immigration law
      which
      treats loving partners like legal strangers to one another," said
      Suzanne
      Goldberg President at the Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task
      Force.
      Lorri L. Jean, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive
      Director
      said: "We call on those in Congress who are opposed to
      discrimination to
      support Congressman Nadler's efforts to narrow the gap by recognizing
      committed, loving, bi-national adult relationships through the
      Permanent
      Partners Immigration Act."
      "PPIA is a simple matter of fairness allowing same-sex
      couples -
      where one partner is from a different country - to remain together
      in the
      United States," said Winnie Stachelberg, Political Director of the
      Human
      Rights Campaign.
      Nadler introduced the same legislation without success in the
      106th
      and 107th Congresses.
      Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany,
      Iceland, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa,
      Sweden,
      and the United Kingdom all allow people to sponsor their permanent
      partners
      for immigration purposes.
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