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14th March 2003 (# 3) News Clippings Digest

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  • grahamu_1999
    14th March 2003 (# 3) News Clippings Digest 1. SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL Boca Raton apartment complex excluded gay men, lawsuit says 2. MARSHFIELD
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 17, 2003
      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 )
      http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/palmbeach/sfl-
      plawsuit14mar14,0,15065
      52.story
      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
      apartment
      complex on Thursday, claiming they were denied housing and
      discriminated
      against because they were gay, according to the lawsuit.
      Dr. Fred Sternbach, 47, visited the Royal Colonial Apartments
      on
      Spanish River Road last year looking for a place to live for a year
      while
      his new house was being built. He and partner Stephen Miller, 41,
      were
      demolishing their Boca Raton home and wanted a nice place on the
      water in
      the meantime.
      Sternbach said he filled out an index card with his name,
      indicated
      two people would be living in the home and wrote down "partner" as
      the
      relationship.
      "I said to myself, 'Is there any reason not to put this
      down?'"
      Sternbach recalled.
      He told himself not to be ridiculous. It was 2002 and this
      was Boca
      Raton. But an hour later, Sternbach said he got a phone call from
      the
      property manager inquiring what "partner" meant.
      Did he mean fiancée or wife, she wanted to know. No, he told
      her, he
      meant partner.
      The property manager then informed him the apartment complex
      only
      rents to married couples, Sternbach said.
      Sternbach requested a copy of the apartment complex's rental
      policy,
      but was denied, he said.
      "I was furious," Sternbach said. "I was angry. I was hurt.
      I was
      disgusted that I was being treated this way. I went through a whole
      range
      of emotions and so did Stephen."
      Nearly a year ater the apartment complex refused to give
      Sternbach a
      copy of its policy or allow him to speak to the owner, Sternbach
      took his
      case to court.
      Royal Colonial representatives could not be reached for
      comment
      Thursday. Sternbach and Miller allege that Royal Colonial violated
      a Palm
      Beach County ordinance, passed in 1990, that protects gays from
      housing
      discrimination. It also forbids discrimination based on marital
      status.
      Four other Florida counties and eight cities have similar laws.
      "Unfortunately we know this is still happening in Palm Beach
      County,"
      said attorney Rand Hoch, a founder and member of the board of
      directors of
      the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council. "If these people in
      fact can
      prove their case, it's a clear-cut violation of the fair-housing
      ordinance."
      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
      exclusive," Hoch
      said.
      According to a survey commissioned by the Kaiser Family
      Foundation in
      2001, 34 percent of lesbian, gay or bisexual people have been turned
      away
      from buying or renting a home because of their sexual orientation or
      know
      someone who was denied housing.
      Lawsuits alleging housing discrimination based on sexual
      orientation
      are less common than those alleging employment discrimination, but
      they're
      not unprecedented, said Greg Nevins, an attorney with the Lambda
      Legal
      Defense & Education Fund, which filed the lawsuit. The lawsuit
      seeks a
      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
      trying to
      seek redress," Nevins said.
      Anti-gay attitudes shouldn't determine where people can live,
      Nevins
      said. But most people who are denied housing eventually find places
      that
      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
      nobody
      should be denied housing based on their sexual orientation,"
      Sternbach said.
      "I never thought this would happen to me. It's different when it
      happens to
      you. It really hits home."
      Together for 16 years, Sternbach and Miller would be married
      if any
      state would grant them a license, Sternbach said.
      "We can't get housing because of that, but if we were married
      or
      considered in the eyes of the law a married couple, this wouldn't be
      an
      issue," he said. "We will make these landlords understand they need
      to obey
      the law. They need to change their practices, they need to obey the
      law,
      and they need to stop discrimination."
      . Staff writer Peter Franceschina and staff researcher
      Barbara Hijek
      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 )
      http://www.wisinfo.com/newsherald/mnhlocal/277238032342205.shtml
      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
      Church,
      which takes up about one city block near downtown Topeka, Kan.
      A swimming pool, sometimes used for baptisms, is in the back
      yard.
      The parsonage, which includes a large kitchen, a living room,
      bedrooms, a
      library, an office, and several houses adjacent to the complex fill
      most of
      the block. The worship area makes up the rest.
      It's from this compound that the Rev. Fred Waldron Phelps,
      nine of
      his 13 children, at least three dozen grandchildren and others
      congregate
      and disseminate their religious message: "God hates fags."
      Phelps and about eight members of his 120-person congregation
      will
      travel to Wausau on Saturday and Sunday to picket outside the
      University of
      Wisconsin Marathon County during a production of "The Laramie
      Project," and
      at six churches and the Wausau Police Department. These
      institutions "sold
      out to the filthy lawless sodomite agenda," according to a news
      release from
      the Westboro Baptist Church.
      Wausau residents and passersby will encounter a man who has
      spread
      his views toward homosexuality from coast to coast, advocated the
      death
      penalty for gays, protested outside the funerals of AIDS and murder
      victims,
      and alienated his own community.
      Many Christians believe that homosexuality is a sin. But few
      share
      Phelps' open hatred of gays and anyone who is tolerant of them.
      He and his flock regularly chastise America for accepting
      same-sex
      relationships and say tragedies such as the Sept. 11 terrorist
      attacks and
      the space shuttle disaster are God's punishment.
      The Westboro congregation finds its guidance in a verse from
      the Old
      Testament Book of Leviticus (18:22), which says, "Thou shall not lie
      with
      mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination."
      The journey for Phelps has been one of ups and downs. He has
      filed
      hundreds of lawsuits, endured counterprotests, campaigned for the
      U.S.
      Senate and Kansas governor and been called one of the most
      fascinating
      people in politics by John F. Kennedy Jr.'s magazine, George. But
      above
      all, his life has revolved around his interpretations of God and the
      Scriptures.
      Phelps, who did not return phone calls to comment for this
      story,
      said in a past interview that sodomy "is the only sin known to man
      that
      people brag about. (Wausau) needs to have this kind of preaching to
      see how
      homosexuality has turned this nation into sick folks."
      Phelps was born on Nov. 13, 1929, days after the stock market
      crash
      that spiraled the nation into the Great Depression. Phelps grew up
      in a
      respected family in Meridian, Miss., home to about 40,000 people
      today.
      His father, Fred Wade Phelps, was a railroad detective and
      spent most
      of his time traveling. His mother, Catherine Idalette Johnston
      Phelps, was
      a homemaker.
      Growing up during the Depression had little effect on the
      family.
      Phelps' father never lost his job, and supplemented his income by
      owning a
      paper mill and a railroad company.
      Phelps' mother died of uterine cancer when he was 5. He and
      his
      younger sister, Martha Jean, were then raised by a maternal aunt,
      Irene
      Jordan. Jordan died in 1950 in a vehicle crash.
      Lifelong Meridian resident Sid Curtis, 75, attended
      elementary school
      with Phelps and recalled that he was intelligent and well-liked.
      "We didn't live in the same neighborhood, so I just remember
      him from
      class," said Curtis, who was unaware of Phelps' prominence as an
      anti-gay
      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.
      Military
      Academy at West Point.
      But Phelps never made it to West Point. He changed his mind
      after
      attending a Methodist revival the summer after high school
      graduation.
      It was at this point he received a calling from God.
      Phelps was raised Methodist but studied other religious
      doctrines
      searching for one that he believed followed the Scriptures the most.
      Phelps was ordained as a Baptist minister in the summer of
      1947.
      He traveled as a preacher and attended three universities
      along the
      way, Bob Jones University, then located in Tennessee, Prairie Bible
      Institute near Calgary, Alberta, and John Muir College in Pasadena,
      Calif.
      One stop as a mobile preacher was at the Arizona Bible
      Institute in
      Phoenix, Ariz. It was here where he met his wife, Margie, and
      married her
      in 1952.
      On the same day in 1954 that the U.S. Supreme Court issued
      Brown v.
      Board of Education, Phelps moved to Topeka, where he received a law
      degree
      from Washburn University and became active in defending the rights of
      blacks.
      By 1955, he became pastor at the Westboro Baptist Church,
      where he
      would create a compound and raise 13 children over the next few
      decades.
      Phelps noticed that gay residents congregated at Topeka's
      Gage Park,
      so he started to picket the park in 1991 and place signs that
      said "Watch
      your kids! Gays in Restrms", according to a documentary film on
      Phelps by
      Steve Drain. The picketing and signs sparked citywide disgust,
      including
      extensive media coverage and counterprotests. Phelps began preaching
      anti-homosexuality and using the phrase "God hates fags" only after
      the mass
      negative response.
      Since then, every day, rain or shine, members of the Westboro
      church
      picket for several hours. Churches, schools and media organizations
      are
      most often on the list.
      Phelps and members of the church have picketed funerals of
      gays and
      those who died from AIDS complications. Members of the congregation
      take
      turns traveling to picket. They either fly or drive depending on
      location.
      Faxes and the Internet site godhatesfags.com also have helped
      to
      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
      disbarred
      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
      alleged
      illegal acts, which was dismissed, Sears department store, for not
      delivering a television on time, which was settled and Phelps was
      ordered to
      pay $126, a court reporter, for being late with documents, which
      resulted in
      Phelps' disbarment at the state level, Washburn University, for
      denying
      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
      budget
      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
      excellent
      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
      is
      small children holding signs that say "God hates fags" and "Thank
      God for
      Sept. 11."
      McElroy calls the group a cult.
      "You cannot fathom what it's like until you see it for
      yourself,"
      McElroy said. "The community has suffered. It's a simple way of
      life
      here - great schools. But then there is that."
      McElroy, a Christian who does not affiliate with a particular
      church,
      moved to Topeka from Milwaukee four years ago. Her oldest daughter
      and two
      grandchildren recently moved from Colorado to Topeka to be closer to
      McElroy.
      "Dear God in heaven, my grandkids have to see this in front of
      churches and funeral homes. At first your reaction draws up from
      the very
      soles of your feet. I wanted to lash out at them, but that would
      bring me
      down to their level," McElroy said.
      But it can take just one person to make a statement against
      the
      protests, she said.
      "I was driving on Topeka Boulevard and there was this guy,
      couldn't
      have been older than 20. He stood there peacefully holding his
      sign 'Not
      today, Fred.'"
      Many Topeka residents are tired of constant demonstrations by
      members
      of the Westboro church.
      Jason Chaika, 37, decided to form an anti-hate group shortly
      after
      Sept. 11, 2001, when Phelps and his group were thanking God for the
      terrorist attacks.
      He created Unity Blvd., which has 80 members, because "we'd
      had
      enough of Phelps' bigot cult," Chaika said.
      Chaika has never considered moving away from Topeka because
      of the
      Westboro Baptists.
      "This is my home. To move would be to admit failure," he
      said.
      A core group of about 15 residents will counterprotest Phelps
      most
      days of the week. Although the Westboro church hasn't decreased its
      demonstrations, Chaika believes Unity Blvd. is making a difference,
      even
      though the Westboro church continues to demonstrate.
      "He's an evil genius. I feel better for speaking up," Chaika
      said.
      Although four of Phelps' 13 children no longer speak to him,
      family
      is a vital part of his life.
      The family gathers for birthday parties each month, even when
      it's
      not someone's actual birthday.
      Besides birthdays, Phelps spends his free time jogging and
      watching
      football.
      Phelps often receives Kansas City Chiefs and Kansas State
      University
      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
      message
      the Westboro Baptist Church wants Wausau to hear.
      During the two-day trip, they hope to "expose a horrific
      Doom's Day
      Microcosm of Sodomite America," according to a news release from the
      church.
      Phelps hopes Wausau residents will receive his message
      whether they
      like it or not.
      But the response from most residents is that they won't like
      it, and
      they plan to ignore any demonstrations. An anti-hate event called
      Celebration of Healing After Hatred has been planned for Sunday at
      the First
      United Methodist Church in response to the demonstrations.
      "We want to send a message too," said the Rev. Paul Beckel, a
      pastor
      at the Univeralist Unitarian Church in Wausau. "Hatred will not be
      tolerated."


      Gay.com U.K., March 14, 2003
      http://uk.gay.com/headlines/3961
      Parliamentary watchdog to investigate gay MP's relationship with
      escort
      Parliamentary standards commissioner Sir Philip Mawer is to
      investigate Sheffield MP Clive Betts' relationship with a former gay
      escort.
      The inquiry will concentrate on Betts' employment of Jose
      Gasparo,
      23, as an assistant in his Commons office, reports the Sheffield
      Star. It
      will also investigate allegations by a tabloid newspaper that a
      doctored
      document was used in attempts to acquire a UK visa for Gasparo.
      Reports suggested that Gasparo tried to use a doctored letter
      from a
      college to help persuade immigration officials to grant him a
      student visa.
      Betts, 53, who denied allegations by The Sun that he met
      Gasparo at
      the Villa Gianni escort agency, has since ended the relationship.
      Gasparo
      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
      he
      didn't break rules, but investigations can only be conducted
      following a
      complaint by somebody else. Now the Commons committee which
      oversees him
      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
      members
      were starting to decide on reselecting Mr Betts as candidate for the
      next
      general election. The reselection procedure has been put on hold.


      The Advocate (glbt), March 14, 2003
      http://www.advocate.com/new_news.asp?ID=8034&sd=03/14/03
      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
      somewhat or
      very confident. In sharp contrast, only 31% of self-identified gay,
      lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered adults said they fell the
      same. These
      are highlights of a nationwide Harris Poll of 2,271 adults, of whom
      about 6%
      self-identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered. The
      survey was
      conducted online February 19-25, 2003, by Harris Interactive, with
      analysis
      of GLBT data provided by Witeck-Combs Communications, a strategic
      public
      relations and marketing communications firm with special expertise
      in the
      gay market.
      "American leadership at home and abroad requires public trust,
      especially at tough times like these," said Bob Witeck, CEO of
      Witeck-Combs
      Communications. "These findings make clear, however, that this
      often-marginalized group of citizens, GLBT Americans, expresses
      deeper
      feelings of alienation with the Administration's decision-making and
      the
      prospects of a war in Iraq. Also, given that gays and lesbians
      would serve
      the nation bravely yet are not allowed to serve openly in the armed
      forces,
      their skepticism may run even deeper."
      Almost seven out of 10 (68%) GLBT adults feel that President
      Bush
      prefers a military attack on Iraq rather than trying to achieve his
      main
      goals without an attack, compared with 51% of heterosexual adults
      surveyed.
      In addition, when asked, "Would you favor or oppose military action
      in Iraq
      if President Bush believes Saddam Hussein is hiding weapons of mass
      destruction but U.N. weapons inspectors cannot find any and the
      United
      Nations does not vote in favor of an attack," over half (56%) of
      GLBT adults
      say they would oppose attacking Iraq, while just over one third
      (35%) of
      heterosexuals said they would oppose such an attack. The finding
      for all
      adults who were asked this question - gay and nongay - was 45% in
      favor of
      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
      between the
      opinions of gay and nongay adult Americans. Forty-five percent of
      GLBT
      respondents believe there is some link, and 49% of heterosexual
      adults
      agree.
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