14th March 2003 (# 3) News Clippings Digest
- 14th March 2003 (# 3) News Clippings Digest
1. SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL Boca Raton apartment complex
excluded gay men, lawsuit says
2. MARSHFIELD NEWS-HERALD (Wisconsin) Phelps pays a visit
(includes a lot of background on Fred)
3. GAY.COM U.K. Parliamentary watchdog to investigate gay MP's
relationship with escort
4. THE ADVOCATE (glbt) Poll shows gays are more skeptical of
Bush's Iraq policy than heteros
South Florida Sun-Sentinel, March 14, 2003
200 E. Las Olas, Fort Lauderdale, FL, 33301
(Fax: 954-356-4624 ) (E-Mail: letters@... )
( http://www.sun-sentinel.com )
Boca apartment complex excluded gay men, lawsuit says
By Nancy L. Othón, Staff Writer
BOCA RATON - A Palm Beach County couple sued a Boca Raton
complex on Thursday, claiming they were denied housing and
against because they were gay, according to the lawsuit.
Dr. Fred Sternbach, 47, visited the Royal Colonial Apartments
Spanish River Road last year looking for a place to live for a year
his new house was being built. He and partner Stephen Miller, 41,
demolishing their Boca Raton home and wanted a nice place on the
Sternbach said he filled out an index card with his name,
two people would be living in the home and wrote down "partner" as
"I said to myself, 'Is there any reason not to put this
He told himself not to be ridiculous. It was 2002 and this
Raton. But an hour later, Sternbach said he got a phone call from
property manager inquiring what "partner" meant.
Did he mean fiancée or wife, she wanted to know. No, he told
The property manager then informed him the apartment complex
rents to married couples, Sternbach said.
Sternbach requested a copy of the apartment complex's rental
but was denied, he said.
"I was furious," Sternbach said. "I was angry. I was hurt.
disgusted that I was being treated this way. I went through a whole
of emotions and so did Stephen."
Nearly a year ater the apartment complex refused to give
copy of its policy or allow him to speak to the owner, Sternbach
case to court.
Royal Colonial representatives could not be reached for
Thursday. Sternbach and Miller allege that Royal Colonial violated
Beach County ordinance, passed in 1990, that protects gays from
discrimination. It also forbids discrimination based on marital
Four other Florida counties and eight cities have similar laws.
"Unfortunately we know this is still happening in Palm Beach
said attorney Rand Hoch, a founder and member of the board of
the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council. "If these people in
prove their case, it's a clear-cut violation of the fair-housing
Hoch said he was surprised that more than a decade after the
ordinance was passed, someone could be unfamiliar with the
law. "Maybe they
think it's worth the money to keep their apartment complex
According to a survey commissioned by the Kaiser Family
2001, 34 percent of lesbian, gay or bisexual people have been turned
from buying or renting a home because of their sexual orientation or
someone who was denied housing.
Lawsuits alleging housing discrimination based on sexual
are less common than those alleging employment discrimination, but
not unprecedented, said Greg Nevins, an attorney with the Lambda
Defense & Education Fund, which filed the lawsuit. The lawsuit
court order forcing Royal Colonial to stop discriminating as well as
punitive and compensatory damages.
"A part of the reason why we're doing the case is there are
underreported forms of discrimination that people suffer without
seek redress," Nevins said.
Anti-gay attitudes shouldn't determine where people can live,
said. But most people who are denied housing eventually find places
will accept them, Nevins said, and they take no action.
Sternbach, however, immediately began making phone calls and
contacting attorneys, he said.
"Housing is and should be a basic fundamental right, and
should be denied housing based on their sexual orientation,"
"I never thought this would happen to me. It's different when it
you. It really hits home."
Together for 16 years, Sternbach and Miller would be married
state would grant them a license, Sternbach said.
"We can't get housing because of that, but if we were married
considered in the eyes of the law a married couple, this wouldn't be
issue," he said. "We will make these landlords understand they need
the law. They need to change their practices, they need to obey the
and they need to stop discrimination."
. Staff writer Peter Franceschina and staff researcher
contributed to this report. Nancy L. Othón can be reached at
nothon@... or 561-243-6633.
Marshfield News-Herald, March 14, 2003
Box 70, Marshfield, WI, 54449-0070
(Fax: 715-387-4175 ) ( http://www.marshfieldnewsherald.com )
Minister brings his anti-gay message to area
By Elizabeth Putnam, For the Marshfeld News-Herald
The American flag flies upside down at the Westboro Baptist
which takes up about one city block near downtown Topeka, Kan.
A swimming pool, sometimes used for baptisms, is in the back
The parsonage, which includes a large kitchen, a living room,
library, an office, and several houses adjacent to the complex fill
the block. The worship area makes up the rest.
It's from this compound that the Rev. Fred Waldron Phelps,
his 13 children, at least three dozen grandchildren and others
and disseminate their religious message: "God hates fags."
Phelps and about eight members of his 120-person congregation
travel to Wausau on Saturday and Sunday to picket outside the
Wisconsin Marathon County during a production of "The Laramie
at six churches and the Wausau Police Department. These
out to the filthy lawless sodomite agenda," according to a news
the Westboro Baptist Church.
Wausau residents and passersby will encounter a man who has
his views toward homosexuality from coast to coast, advocated the
penalty for gays, protested outside the funerals of AIDS and murder
and alienated his own community.
Many Christians believe that homosexuality is a sin. But few
Phelps' open hatred of gays and anyone who is tolerant of them.
He and his flock regularly chastise America for accepting
relationships and say tragedies such as the Sept. 11 terrorist
the space shuttle disaster are God's punishment.
The Westboro congregation finds its guidance in a verse from
Testament Book of Leviticus (18:22), which says, "Thou shall not lie
mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination."
The journey for Phelps has been one of ups and downs. He has
hundreds of lawsuits, endured counterprotests, campaigned for the
Senate and Kansas governor and been called one of the most
people in politics by John F. Kennedy Jr.'s magazine, George. But
all, his life has revolved around his interpretations of God and the
Phelps, who did not return phone calls to comment for this
said in a past interview that sodomy "is the only sin known to man
people brag about. (Wausau) needs to have this kind of preaching to
homosexuality has turned this nation into sick folks."
Phelps was born on Nov. 13, 1929, days after the stock market
that spiraled the nation into the Great Depression. Phelps grew up
respected family in Meridian, Miss., home to about 40,000 people
His father, Fred Wade Phelps, was a railroad detective and
of his time traveling. His mother, Catherine Idalette Johnston
Growing up during the Depression had little effect on the
Phelps' father never lost his job, and supplemented his income by
paper mill and a railroad company.
Phelps' mother died of uterine cancer when he was 5. He and
younger sister, Martha Jean, were then raised by a maternal aunt,
Jordan. Jordan died in 1950 in a vehicle crash.
Lifelong Meridian resident Sid Curtis, 75, attended
with Phelps and recalled that he was intelligent and well-liked.
"We didn't live in the same neighborhood, so I just remember
class," said Curtis, who was unaware of Phelps' prominence as an
protester. "Teachers, students took to him."
School was a breeze for Phelps, who received straight A's and
graduated from high school at age 16 as valedictorian.
He was an Eagle Scout and earned appointment to the U.S.
Academy at West Point.
But Phelps never made it to West Point. He changed his mind
attending a Methodist revival the summer after high school
It was at this point he received a calling from God.
Phelps was raised Methodist but studied other religious
searching for one that he believed followed the Scriptures the most.
Phelps was ordained as a Baptist minister in the summer of
He traveled as a preacher and attended three universities
way, Bob Jones University, then located in Tennessee, Prairie Bible
Institute near Calgary, Alberta, and John Muir College in Pasadena,
One stop as a mobile preacher was at the Arizona Bible
Phoenix, Ariz. It was here where he met his wife, Margie, and
On the same day in 1954 that the U.S. Supreme Court issued
Board of Education, Phelps moved to Topeka, where he received a law
from Washburn University and became active in defending the rights of
By 1955, he became pastor at the Westboro Baptist Church,
would create a compound and raise 13 children over the next few
Phelps noticed that gay residents congregated at Topeka's
so he started to picket the park in 1991 and place signs that
your kids! Gays in Restrms", according to a documentary film on
Steve Drain. The picketing and signs sparked citywide disgust,
extensive media coverage and counterprotests. Phelps began preaching
anti-homosexuality and using the phrase "God hates fags" only after
Since then, every day, rain or shine, members of the Westboro
picket for several hours. Churches, schools and media organizations
most often on the list.
Phelps and members of the church have picketed funerals of
those who died from AIDS complications. Members of the congregation
turns traveling to picket. They either fly or drive depending on
Faxes and the Internet site godhatesfags.com also have helped
spread the group's anti-gay message.
Phelps' law career can be seen in about 400 lawsuits mostly in
federal court, which he filed between 1964 and 1989 before he was
from practicing in any court for ethics violations, according to the
Southern Poverty Law Center.
The Law Center said Phelps has sued Topeka officials, for
illegal acts, which was dismissed, Sears department store, for not
delivering a television on time, which was settled and Phelps was
pay $126, a court reporter, for being late with documents, which
Phelps' disbarment at the state level, Washburn University, for
three of his children admission, which was dismissed.
Any lawsuit by the church or against the church is now
handled by one
of Phelps' children, who almost all have law degrees. The church's
comes mostly from tithes and lawsuit settlements.
Topeka, Kan., is a community of about 122,000 people in middle
America. It's the state capital and known for its parks.
Residents have worries of war, the economy and providing
education for their children - like anywhere else. But there are two
worries most residents wish would go away: constant threats of severe
weather and Fred Phelps.
Topeka resident Gloria McElroy drives by Westboro Baptist
demonstrators every Thursday en route to work.
The 53-year-old beauty supply consultant said the worst sight
small children holding signs that say "God hates fags" and "Thank
McElroy calls the group a cult.
"You cannot fathom what it's like until you see it for
McElroy said. "The community has suffered. It's a simple way of
here - great schools. But then there is that."
McElroy, a Christian who does not affiliate with a particular
moved to Topeka from Milwaukee four years ago. Her oldest daughter
grandchildren recently moved from Colorado to Topeka to be closer to
"Dear God in heaven, my grandkids have to see this in front of
churches and funeral homes. At first your reaction draws up from
soles of your feet. I wanted to lash out at them, but that would
down to their level," McElroy said.
But it can take just one person to make a statement against
protests, she said.
"I was driving on Topeka Boulevard and there was this guy,
have been older than 20. He stood there peacefully holding his
Many Topeka residents are tired of constant demonstrations by
of the Westboro church.
Jason Chaika, 37, decided to form an anti-hate group shortly
Sept. 11, 2001, when Phelps and his group were thanking God for the
He created Unity Blvd., which has 80 members, because "we'd
enough of Phelps' bigot cult," Chaika said.
Chaika has never considered moving away from Topeka because
"This is my home. To move would be to admit failure," he
A core group of about 15 residents will counterprotest Phelps
days of the week. Although the Westboro church hasn't decreased its
demonstrations, Chaika believes Unity Blvd. is making a difference,
though the Westboro church continues to demonstrate.
"He's an evil genius. I feel better for speaking up," Chaika
Although four of Phelps' 13 children no longer speak to him,
is a vital part of his life.
The family gathers for birthday parties each month, even when
not someone's actual birthday.
Besides birthdays, Phelps spends his free time jogging and
Phelps often receives Kansas City Chiefs and Kansas State
football jerseys and T-shirts as birthday gifts from relatives.
"It's not OK to be gay. It'll damn the soul forever," is the
the Westboro Baptist Church wants Wausau to hear.
During the two-day trip, they hope to "expose a horrific
Microcosm of Sodomite America," according to a news release from the
Phelps hopes Wausau residents will receive his message
like it or not.
But the response from most residents is that they won't like
they plan to ignore any demonstrations. An anti-hate event called
Celebration of Healing After Hatred has been planned for Sunday at
United Methodist Church in response to the demonstrations.
"We want to send a message too," said the Rev. Paul Beckel, a
at the Univeralist Unitarian Church in Wausau. "Hatred will not be
Gay.com U.K., March 14, 2003
Parliamentary watchdog to investigate gay MP's relationship with
Parliamentary standards commissioner Sir Philip Mawer is to
investigate Sheffield MP Clive Betts' relationship with a former gay
The inquiry will concentrate on Betts' employment of Jose
23, as an assistant in his Commons office, reports the Sheffield
will also investigate allegations by a tabloid newspaper that a
document was used in attempts to acquire a UK visa for Gasparo.
Reports suggested that Gasparo tried to use a doctored letter
college to help persuade immigration officials to grant him a
Betts, 53, who denied allegations by The Sun that he met
the Villa Gianni escort agency, has since ended the relationship.
is no longer working at the Commons.
The Labour MP for Sheffield Attercliffe had tried to refer the
allegations to the Parliamentary conduct watchdog in a bid to prove
didn't break rules, but investigations can only be conducted
complaint by somebody else. Now the Commons committee which
has authorised an investigation.
Mr Betts said: "It is my intention to cooperate fully."
The allegations came at the same time as local Labour Party
were starting to decide on reselecting Mr Betts as candidate for the
general election. The reselection procedure has been put on hold.
The Advocate (glbt), March 14, 2003
Poll: Gays skeptical of Bush's Iraq policy
When asked in a recent survey how much confidence they have in
President Bush and his administration to "make the right decisions"
regarding the use or non-use of the U.S. military to attack Iraq,
six out of
10 (60%) heterosexual adults nationwide stated that they are
very confident. In sharp contrast, only 31% of self-identified gay,
lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered adults said they fell the
are highlights of a nationwide Harris Poll of 2,271 adults, of whom
self-identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered. The
conducted online February 19-25, 2003, by Harris Interactive, with
of GLBT data provided by Witeck-Combs Communications, a strategic
relations and marketing communications firm with special expertise
"American leadership at home and abroad requires public trust,
especially at tough times like these," said Bob Witeck, CEO of
Communications. "These findings make clear, however, that this
often-marginalized group of citizens, GLBT Americans, expresses
feelings of alienation with the Administration's decision-making and
prospects of a war in Iraq. Also, given that gays and lesbians
the nation bravely yet are not allowed to serve openly in the armed
their skepticism may run even deeper."
Almost seven out of 10 (68%) GLBT adults feel that President
prefers a military attack on Iraq rather than trying to achieve his
goals without an attack, compared with 51% of heterosexual adults
In addition, when asked, "Would you favor or oppose military action
if President Bush believes Saddam Hussein is hiding weapons of mass
destruction but U.N. weapons inspectors cannot find any and the
Nations does not vote in favor of an attack," over half (56%) of
say they would oppose attacking Iraq, while just over one third
heterosexuals said they would oppose such an attack. The finding
adults who were asked this question - gay and nongay - was 45% in
attacking Iraq, 36% in opposition, and 19% stating they don't know.
Regarding Saddam Hussein and Iraq's alleged ties to al-Qaeda
terrorists, however, there appears to be a closer resemblance
opinions of gay and nongay adult Americans. Forty-five percent of
respondents believe there is some link, and 49% of heterosexual
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