14th Febuary 2003 (# 5) News Clippings Digest
- 14th Febuary 2003 (# 5) News Clippings Digest
1. HOUSTON CHRONICLE Energy companies are under fire to ensure gay
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/ )
Energy companies under fire to ensure gay rights
By L.M. Sixel, Houston Chronicle
Most years, the most exciting things shareholders vote on at
annual meeting are board members and the accounting firm that will
But this year, shareholders have a lot more to look forward
Activists from investment management funds, religious groups
employee pension funds are putting shareholder resolutions on 15
proxies that, if they pass, would require companies to promise they
discriminate against gays and lesbians.
The investors, shepherded by the New York City-based Equality
Project, are focusing on several Texas energy companies, including
Resources, El Paso Energy and Dynegy, which have been slow to adopt
lesbian nondiscrimination policies. More than 300 of the Fortune 500
already forbid sexual orientation discrimination on their equal
The group is already making headway.
Dynegy, for example, received a shareholder resolution in
from the comptroller in New York City who serves as the custodian
New York employee and teacher retirement funds.
Dynegy was already considering whether to add sexual
its nondiscrimination policy when it received the letter, Dynegy
David Byford said.
It quickly revised its Web site and Intranet site and put up
in employee common areas to reflect the new nondiscrimination policy.
TXU in Dallas also received a resolution from the New York
comptroller and consequently "added language" to its
policy statement that will be reviewed by its board in February, a
Shelley Alpern, assistant vice president at Trillium Asset
in Boston, takes exception to explanations like TXU's.
"Every company always says this: 'We always had the policy,'"
Alpern, who describes Trillium as an investment firm that tries to
the social and environmental records of the companies in which it
But they really don't, she said, describing most "policies" as
general promises that the company doesn't discriminate on any
Alpern said the policies are important because only 12 states
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
creates a quasi-contract that an employee can later use to claim
The policy statement also makes it easier for an employee to
internal grievance when a company has specifically gone on record
prohibiting sexual orientation discrimination.
The Equality Project is also trying to get a shareholders'
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
signed receipt proving delivery - but officials at Reliant Resources
they can't find it now.
It may have been sent to CenterPoint Energy, which was the
company to Reliant Energy, Sandy Fruhman said.
While energy officials look for the resolution, officials
Equality Project said they'll take the matter up with the Securities
Exchange Commission if they have to.
Currently, Reliant doesn't specifically spell out that it
discriminate based on sexual orientation. The company, however, has
policy that provides an environment free from discrimination,
Mel Scott, an El Paso spokesman, said he wasn't aware of the
From all accounts, shareholder advocacy is becoming more
investors evolve from passive owners to active ones.
As of Feb. 1, at least 862 shareholder proposals were filed
publicly traded companies compared with 802 in all of 2002,
according to a
recent report from the Investor Responsibility Research Center and
Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.
The hottest topics? Excessive CEO compensation, global
dividing the jobs of CEO and chairman, along with gay and lesbian
Some companies are undoubtedly making the change to avoid the
controversy swirling around Exxon Mobil.
Mobil had a specific nondiscrimination policy regarding gays
lesbians before it merged with Exxon. But the new merged company
adopted the same policy, and shareholder proposals in 2000 and 2001
attracted widespread media attention.
The New York City Retirement System has submitted another
this year that Exxon Mobil is opposing.
Exxon Mobil already has an all-inclusive policy that forbids
forms of discrimination, spokeswoman Sandy Duhe in Irving said.
reason to specifically mention sexual orientation.
While gay and lesbian activists battle Exxon Mobil, they're
the decision this week by ConocoPhillips to add sexual orientation
list of nondiscrimination policies.
Just a week ago, an official with ConocoPhillips said it had
to change its nondiscrimination policy to specifically include sexual
orientation until a federal law forced it to, said Kim Mills,
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
merged company for not adopting the old Conoco nondiscrimination
a few days later heard ConocoPhillips had changed its mind.
Employees were informed earlier this week that the company
discriminate based on sexual orientation, Mills said.
A spokeswoman for ConocoPhillips said the company fully
"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
on sexual orientation, it shouldn't be a problem."
. To voice comments, call 713-220-2000 and dial in code 1002.
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 )
Don't hide the E. Lynn Harris
Michael Fifueroa, South end guest columnist
Langston Hughes, Benjamin Banneker, George Washington Carver,
Tubman - gay? The LGBT Student Union, and the LGBT Student Union of
"Historically Black, Historically Gay" showcase in the student union
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
today, I noticed a small crowd around our display, so I stopped to
was going on. I was there for a half hour answering questions.
People just couldn't believe that so many of their historic
heroes were gay. I think that it is important that people know that
throughout history lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgender people
huge contributions to the world.
Angela Davis; activist, Howard Rollins; actor in the
and TV show "In the Heat of the Night," Alice Walker; novelist, Billy
Strayhorn; wrote "Take the 'A' Train" with Duke Ellington, Max
first Black anchor on a national news program, Samuel Delaney;
fiction writer, Nona Hendryx; former member of Labelle, Alvin Ailey;
Paris Barclay; Emmy award winning director of "NYPD Blue," Josephine
entertainer, Langston Hughes; poet, Barbara Jordan; congresswoman,
Hansberry; playwright and author of "Raisin In the Sun," Sharon
Transgender activist and author of "A Finer Specimen of Womanhood" A
transsexual speaks out, Benjamin Banneker: designer of Washington,
all are among the many who have made contributions to Black History
It's the part of black history that tends to get lost in the
celebration. Martin Luther King Jr. cemented his place in history
"I Have A Dream" speech, but if not for the handling of the
pulling together of the million details it required to conduct the
Washington by his colleague, Bayard Rustin, it never would have
Rustin was a gay man and his homosexuality was hardly a secret.
For black lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender, Black
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
authors of color to the front window exhibits, but works by James
Audre Lorde go missing. It's a good month to read Terry McMillan
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
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
the harder it becomes for us to truly know ourselves and accept
for the diverse group of individuals that make up our race.
It would be taking a giant step into tolerance if we would
include and embrace all facets of black history and not just the
feel comfortable with.
Are the awesome oratorical powers of Barbara Jordan
discovering she was a lesbian? Do the sweet melodies of "Take
Train" suddenly become harsh and displeasing to the ear knowing that
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
like acceptance. Maybe then, Black History Month can truly become a
celebration where all the voices of its participants ring equally
The South End, February 14, 2003
Wayne State University, 5425 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202
(E-Mail: editor@... ) ( http://southend.wayne.edu )
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
lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender interest groups. The colorful
display - wallpapered with issues of Between the Lines and adorned
single book on prominent black homosexuals in history and several
of some of these figures - has called to question whether or not the
does a disservice to Black History Month and the African American
as well as the accuracy in the sexual preferences of some of the
The showcase lacks authors, documents and Web sites to learn
about the heroes displayed, making arguable claims about Harriet
orientation easily refutable, and even more easily dismissed. The
Student Union would have made better use of their space with poster
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
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
homosexuality. While homosexuality can be concealed much easier
skin, one rarely runs the risk of being blackmailed, losing a job,
and the warmth of family - upon the revelation that he or she is
This is all the more reason to pay special tribute to those who have
deal with both struggles.
Black History Month should be treated with respect, and so
It's important to make any association with this month an
It's most important - a lesson that the squabble over this showcase
illustrates perfectly - to remember and recognize our fellow human
not for what they were born as, but what they've chosen to do with
time on earth.
Houston Voice (glbt), February 14, 2003
500 Lovett, Suite 200, Houston, Texas 77006-3942
(E-Mail: editor@... ) ( http://www.houstonvoice.com )
Fight over Gay-Straight Alliances heats up
Klein parents urge district to fight lawsuit; Bellaire GSA members
support for Klein teens
By Penny Weaver
While parents and some local residents this week voiced
a Gay-Straight Alliance at Klein High School, students at a nearby
urged officials to allow a GSA for Klein teens.
The American Civil Liberties Union on Jan. 22 filed a lawsuit
District Court in Houston against northwest Houston's Klein
School District and two school officials, alleging that the district
biased because it has not approved an application for a Gay-Straight
Klein school officials, however, said the lawsuit is
that the application still was under consideration along with
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
decision not to approve the club application led by student Marla
"violates the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and
Equal Access Act because their prohibition of the club is based on
content and the viewpoint of the speech of the clubs and its
On Monday, a few dozen people rallied against the proposed
GSA at the
KISD board meeting - the first since the lawsuit was filed, the
Chronicle reported Wednesday. Some protesters addressed trustees
meeting's public comment period, but no one spoke in favor of the
according to the newspaper.
"I am concerned about the proposal," Damon Shook, senior
the Champion Forest Baptist Church, told the board, the Chronicle
"This type of organization neither fits with the rules and
the district, nor with the educational mission of the Klein
"I personally stand with you to oppose this and see that it
come to pass," Shook added.
Jeff Lohey, a parent of Klein students, echoed those
according to the Chronicle.
"I don't think this club has any place on our children's
he said. "The decision to challenge the ACLU lawsuit is absolutely
Liz Johnson, assistant superintendent for community
the newspaper that the school district does not intend to rule on
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,"
George, president of the ACLU's Houston chapter and Dukler's
the Chronicle. "But they don't have a right to stop the club
law says it must be allowed."
George said he expects a hearing date in Dukler's case to be
Feb. 21, the Chronicle reported.
Also this week, student members of Bellaire High School's GSA
letter to Klein officials in support of a GSA.
In the letter, the students state, in part: "The recent
surrounding students' attempts to establish a Gay-Straight Alliance
has made Klein High School an infamous target of various civil rights
groups. As a principal, this is surely not the reputation you wish
your school. However, given the controversial nature of
your conservative community, your hesitation to allow the club is
understandable. Unfortunately, in the heated debates around the
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
(MYRBS), one of the most prominent surveys concerning this subject
nation, nearly 6 percent of high school students identify as gay,
or bisexual (GLB)," the students state in the letter. "The 1999
revealed that nearly one-third of all GLB students have attempted
within the last year, over four times the rate of heterosexual
They are also much more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs in order
the hatred they perceive.
"In addition to the damage inflicted on students' health, the
high school suffers because of perceived intolerance. An intolerant
climate contributes to a diminished academic performance for the
"One common fear associated with GSAs is the promotion
deviancy.' However, this fear is an inaccurate one. In our
running and participating in the Bellaire High School GSA, sexual
has neither been promoted nor significantly discussed.
"GSAs offer incredible experiences for the entire school.
has focused on ending intolerance, prejudice, and discrimination for
minorities, whether based on race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual
orientation," the letter states. "We have promoted work and
service, helping with various HIV/AIDS programs, among other
providing a message of acceptance, we have helped to reverse the
that plague GLB students.
"While some citizens of your community have accused GSAs of
clubs about sex, our work has clearly shown that this accusation is
the truth," the students said in the letter. "For the safety and
all Klein students, the Bellaire High School GSA urges you to end
hesitation and allow a GSA in your school."
365Gay.com, February 14, 2003
Nadler Reintroduces Gay Partners Immigration Act
by Paul Johnson, 365Gay.com Newscenter, Washington Bureau Chief
Washington, D.C. - Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) Thursday
"The Permanent Partners Immigration Act". If passed, the
help countless numbers of bi-national gay and lesbian partners remain
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
Act" would allow those US Citizens and lawful permanent residents
who are in
a permanent partnership, to sponsor their partners for immigration
just as any legal spouse would.
Currently, because there is no legally recognized marriage
gay and lesbian couples under the immigration law, many bi-national
permanent partnerships are torn apart when one partner moves to the
"My bill is simply a matter of common sense and fairness,"
"Why do we allow the government to tear apart committed and
couples just because of who they love? The answer is that there is
excuse for this gratuitous cruelty, and my bill would correct that."
The amendment Nadler is proposing is relatively simple. It
the term "or permanent partner" to those sections of the Immigration
Naturalization Act that apply to legally married couples.
For purposes of the bill, "permanent partner" is described
individual 18 years of age and over who: Is in a committed, intimate
relationship with another individual 18 years of age and over in
parties intend a lifelong commitment; is financially interdependent
that other individual; is not married or in a permanent partnership
anyone other than that other individual; is unable to contract with
other individual a marriage cognizable under [the Immigration and
Naturalization Act]; and is not a first, second, or third degree
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
treats loving partners like legal strangers to one another," said
Goldberg President at the Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task
Lorri L. Jean, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive
said: "We call on those in Congress who are opposed to
support Congressman Nadler's efforts to narrow the gap by recognizing
committed, loving, bi-national adult relationships through the
Partners Immigration Act."
"PPIA is a simple matter of fairness allowing same-sex
where one partner is from a different country - to remain together
United States," said Winnie Stachelberg, Political Director of the
Nadler introduced the same legislation without success in the
and 107th Congresses.
Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany,
Iceland, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa,
and the United Kingdom all allow people to sponsor their permanent
for immigration purposes.
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