Quest logoQuest News  Volume 12 No. 9      May 26, 2005
Compiled & written by Mike Fitzpatrick
Top Stories:                              

Gard Hires “Christian” Law Firm To
Defend Assembly In ACLU Lawsuit

Pocan, Doyle, AW’s Ott Bash “Purely Political” Decision
 
Madison - Republican lawmakers have asked an Arizona-based “Christian” legal firm to represent the Legislature in fighting a lawsuit that seeks benefits for partners of gay state workers. The GOP-controlled Joint Committee on Legislative Organization voted 6-3 along party lines May 18 to authorize the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) to represent the Legislature.
  Lawmakers aren’t a party in the lawsuit. But ADF attorney Glen Lavy said he will make a role for them by inserting them as co-defendants GardGov. Doylealong with the state. “Domestic partners are not married and should not be treated as if they are,” Lavy said.
  Glen Lavy, senior counsel for the ADF, used to practice law in Milwaukee and will lead the legal team representing the Legislature. He said the fund, founded in 1993 by a group of ministers and supported by private donations, “represents mainstream American opinions.”
  Six lesbian state workers in the University of Wisconsin System and the Corrections and Transportation departments filed the lawsuit in Dane County Circuit Court in April. The American Civil Liberties Union is backing them. The lawsuit alleges a state law preventing state employees’ gay partners from getting health benefits violates the Wisconsin Constitution’s equal-rights protection clause. The lawsuit asks a judge to require state agencies to provide the benefits.
  The state Department of Justice typically defends the state in lawsuits, unless a conflict of interest arises or the case is indefensible. DOJ spokesman Scot Ross said the department is still deciding whether to fight the lawsuit.
Assembly Speaker and announced Congressional candidate John Gard (R-Peshtigo) is co-chairman of the organization committee and said taxpayers would have to cover more benefits if the lesbian workers win the case. “Taxpayers can’t rely on Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager or Governor Jim Doyle (both Democrats) to defend them because they support the ACLU,” Gard said. “We have no choice but to look for legal help elsewhere.”
  Doyle had earlier included a provision in his budget this year to spend $1 million to provide domestic partner benefits to UW System employees. Republicans stripped it out of the budget.
  Ross said it’s sad the Legislature is trying to turn a court fight into a political one. Doyle spokeswoman Melanie Fonder said Republicans just want to make a statement against domestic partner benefits.
  ADF’s co-founder, James Dobson, created a stir this year for criticizing a children’s video featuring cartoon characters, saying it promoted homosexuality. Dobson attacked a video from the We Are Family Foundation starring scores of children’s cartoon characters, including SpongeBob Squarepants. He said the video was meant to desensitize children to homosexual and bisexual behavior.
  Dobson is the author of the book “Marriage Under Fire: Why We Must Win This Battle.” He wrote on the website of his Focus on the Family ministry that tolerance and diversity “are almost always buzzwords for homosexual advocacy.”
  The Alliance Defense Fund would work for the state for free, according to the committee’s motion to authorize participation. Openly gay State Representative Mark Pocan (D-Madison) blasted Gard for getting Dobson involved. “If bringing in fringe extremists who think cartoon characters are gay is the only way to fight providing health care benefits to Wisconsin’s families, it is a sad day in Wisconsin,” Pocan said.
   Pocan recounted other outrageous statements and actions by ADF leaders as well. “The Alliance Defense Fund solicited funds on Christian Radio with an ad claiming, ‘Pro-life demonstrations may soon be illegal. …Religious broadcasting may soon be censored. Hiring homosexuals in Christian Schools, churches and even as Sunday School teachers may soon become law of the land. …Don’t let Christianity become a crime,’” Pocan said.
 Pocan also recounted First Amendment arguments made by Alan Sears, the President and CEO of the Alliance Defense Fund. “Sears argues Pocanthat the constitutional guarantee against state-sponsored religion is actually designed to ‘shield’ the church from federal interference, thus allowing Christians to take their rightful place at the head of the government,” Pocan said. “He along with their Vice President Craig Osten, expanded on themes from The Homosexual Agenda: Exposing the Principal Threat to Religious Freedom, which tie homosexuality to pedophilia and other ‘disordered’ sexual behavior.”
  Pocan also quoted the revolutionary,extremist viewpoint of Rev. D. James Kennedy, another co-founder of the Alliance Defense Fund. Pocan noted that Kennedy has oft repeated that it is “our job is to reclaim America for Christ, whatever the cost.”
  Pocan tied Gard’s move to his ambitions for higher office as well. “John Gard is clearly obsessed with gays and lesbians. I know of few people who so regularly think about sex. Perhaps he should look more closely at those issues rather than aligning the State of Wisconsin with fringe hate groups to gain political support for his fledgling Congressional race,” Pocan concluded.
  Action Wisconsin’s Chris Ott noted that this is the first time in the history of the United States that a state legislature has retained an evangelical Christian group to defend the body in a civil action. “The decision by the Republican leadership to hire an evangelical Christian group to represent the entire state legislature in a lawsuit is shocking and unprecedented, Ott said. “It demonstrates the dangerous trend toward politicizing the judicial process. It is an attempt to usurp the role of the duly elected Attorney General in defending the state of Wisconsin. And it reveals a level of personal hostility toward gay Wisconsinites on behalf of a small group of Republican leaders that appears to know no bounds.”
  Ott questioned the GOP leadership’s motives. “Republican leaders have told us they hired the evangelical Christian group because the Chris OttLegislature--not the courts--is the proper body to consider this issue. Yet the Legislature has consistently refused to even consider the issue,” Ott said. “Domestic partner benefit bills introduced in past sessions were refused hearings. And now the Joint Finance Committee is refusing to give fair consideration to Governor Doyle’s request for UW System domestic partner benefits.”
  Ott also noted the private sector has moved far ahead of politicians on domestic partnership issues. “Republican leaders have told us they oppose partner benefits for state employees because they must defend taxpayers. Yet any one of the 233 Fortune 500 companies that offer domestic partner benefits will tell you their cost increase was insignificant, and that there is actually a bottom-line benefit to offering them,” Ott said.
  Ott also tied the decision to the ongoing, GOP-led battle over the proposed constitutional ban on marriage and civil unions for same-sex couples. “Republican leaders have also told us they must amend the Wisconsin Constitution to ‘define’ and ‘protect’ marriage. Yet the amendment they propose would ban civil unions and any meaningful legal protection to thousands of Wisconsin families,”Ott said. “So what’s the real issue? Legislative leaders seek to deny gay and lesbian citizens of Wisconsin even the most basic protections afforded to other families--and they’re willing to put that ideologically driven goal before the best interests of the state.

Massive Heart Attack Fells
Milwaukee MCC’s Rev. Lew Broyles


Milwaukee - Rev. Lew Broyles, pastor of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Community Church and long time gay activist died Monday afternoon, May 16, of a  massive heart attack while visiting a friend in Mississippi. Broyles, who recently had begun a health improvement Rev. Lewregimen, had just returned from a midday jog when he was stricken. He was pronounced dead at the scene by local paradmedics.
  As part of  his pastoral duties, Broyles also hosted the Milwaukee public access cable program “Gay by God’s Will.” Broyles also was employed at the Center for AIDS Intervention and Research in Milwaukee.
 Broyles served as a member of the PrideFest Task Force and was scheduled to lead the gay wedding ceremony at PrideFest in June. Broyles also recently completed a video project with the Medical College of Wisconsin on LGBT health issues. Broyles was a highly visible figure in the community and had most recently attended the May 14 Men’s Voices Milwaukee Spring concert held at the UW-M’s Helene Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts.
  Broyles also served as the acting board chairman of SAGE-Milwaukee and had be a leading figure in the current revision of the LGBT senior citizens’ group’s By-Laws. Broyles also served on the board of HIT’s International Gay Bowling Tournament 25th Anniversary event.
  Broyle’s family of origin live in Ohio. Complete funeral plans had not been announced at Quest’s deadline. A memorial service has been scheduled at the Milwaukee Metropolitan Community Church for 2 PM on Saturday, June 4.  The church is also accepting donations in Broyles’ memory.

HRC: Nuclear Option Could Be
Devastating for LGBT Equality


Washington, DC - As the Senate debates the so-called “nuclear option,” the Human Rights Campaign has again urged Congress to preserve the minority’s ability to block extreme judicial nominations.
  “Senator Frist is trying to change the rules in the middle of the game,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese in a prepared statement May 19. “The senators pushing this measure have called it the ‘nuclear option,’ showing that even they recognize its severity and consequences for our government. Roughly 200 nominees have gone through and fewer than ten of the most extreme are being held up because of their dismal records on civil liberties. Changing the rules in the game right now is a blatant and dangerous power grab.”
  HRC has been a part of the Coalition for a Fair and Independent Judiciary for the past three years. This coalition of progressive groups works to protect the integrity of the judicial branch through activities such as lobbying, congressional briefings and media events. To encourage its members to express opposition to any attempt to abolish or weaken the filibuster, HRC has sent out Action Alerts and issued op-eds to ensure that the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community knows what is at stake.
  “Consider what a difference one extreme judicial nominee’s appointment can make,” added Solmonese. “Had Judge Robert Bork been confirmed, he would have sat on the bench in Lawrence v. Texas rather than Justice Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion. Judge Bork is an outspoken opponent on GLBT rights. Lawrence, the Supreme Court case that struck down discriminatory sodomy laws, was a very close decision. One judge could very well have made the difference in deciding whether or not to brand the GLBT community as criminals.”
  A procedure that delays votes through unlimited debate, the filibuster allows the minority party to prevent the confirmation of extremist judges to lifetime seats on the federal bench. The filibuster has been used by Republicans and Democrats alike.
  The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community. For more information, visit HRC online at: www.hrc.org

World & National News:

Australia: Gay Icon Kylie Minogue Battling Breast Cancer - Gay pop icon Kylie Minogue has announced plans to postpone her planned “Showgirl” tour while she undergoes treatment for breast cancer. The 36-year-old pop star, whose hits include “The Locomotion” Kylie Minogueand the gay anthem “Can’t Get You Out of My Head,” announced on her website  that the “early breast cancer” diagnosis was detected while she was in Melbourne visiting family.
  “I was so looking forward to bringing the ‘Showgirl’ tour to Australian audiences, and am sorry to have to disappoint my fans,” Minogue said on her website. “Nevertheless, hopefully all will work out fine and I’ll be back with you all again soon.”
  Minogue was back in Australia prepping for the tour having just finished a number of dates throughout Europe. Minogue, whose star has shown bright in Europe and Australia since the mid 90s, is considered be many to be the European Madonna. Her career has seen several ups and downs, including a recent resurgence in the United States thanks to the platinum selling 2002 album Fever.
  Management for Minogue says the petite star’s spirits are high and she plans to do “whatever it takes” to return to the road in peak form.
  This is the third gay diva to battle breast cancer in the last year and a half. Singer Anastacia, also a gay icon throughout Europe, successfully battled breast cancer in 2004. Her cancer was also detected early and the singer is in remission. American lesbian rock icon Melissa Etheridge is also undergoing treatment for breast cancer, also caught very early.

Louisana: Louisiana Ponders Appropriateness of Gay Literature - Louisiana has become the third state this year whose legislature debated whether to keep books “containing the theme of homosexuality” from minors. Representative A. G. Crowe  introduced a resolution May 19 to make access adults-only for gay-themed and other “age-inappropriate materials that are publicly cataloged.” House Concurrent Resolution 119 states that “materials concerning human sexuality and those of an arguably prurient nature should not be readily available to children, nor should the distribution of such materials to children be supported by public funds.”
  Crowe said in the May 20 News Orleans Times-Picayune that he initiated the resolution after a constituent shared his concerns about his 4-year-old daughter borrowing “King and King” from the St. Tammany Parish Library branch in Slidell. “I am not espousing censorship,” Crowe asserted, adding that “there should be a way to keep children from picking out these types of books.” The complainant, Dan Danese, declined to file a request for reconsideration, telling the Times-Picayune, “I’m deciding to skip the whole useless step” and turn to lawmakers “to see if they will cooperate with the people’s will.”
  Some point to the recent spate of similar legislation as part of a new initiative by the Religious Right. An Oklahoma lawmaker filed a similarly worded resolution May 11, several weeks after the Alabama legislature let a bill die that would have banned “printed or electronic materials or activities that sanction, recognize, foster, or promote a lifestyle or actions prohibited by the sodomy and sexual misconduct laws of the state.”

Maryland: GOP Guv Vetoes Gay Rights Bill - Republican Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has vetoed legislation that would grant unmarried couples, including gay partners, certain rights if they register with the state. The action ended weeks of intense deliberations within the governor’s office on a politically sensitive issue that was championed during the past legislative session by gay-rights activists.
  “Phone calls are pouring into our office from people across the state who are shocked, hurt and dismayed at how such a moderate piece of Erlichlegislation conferring basic human rights could be rejected by a supposedly moderate governor,” said Dan Furmansky, executive director of Equality Maryland, the LGBT civil rights group that had lobbied for the Medical Decision Making Act of 2005.
  Ehrlich won praise from a leading Republican lawmaker for making a “principled decision.” “The bill has a lot of flaws and a lot of unintended consequences, and I think this is the right decision,” said House Minority Whip Anthony J. O’Donnell. “I know the governor wrestled with this decision because he may be sympathetic to some of the intentions. But sometimes bad laws are the result of good intentions.”
  The bill was opposed by most Republican lawmakers, but some analysts believed Ehrlich might sign it or allow it to become law without his signature in a nod to swing voters who helped put him in the governor’s mansion in 2002.
  Modeled on laws in California, Hawaii and other states, the legislation would have granted nearly a dozen medical and funeral-related rights to unmarried partners who register with the state. Among the rights: to be treated as an immediate family member during hospital visits, to make health care decisions for incapacitated partners and to make private visits in nursing homes.
  Openly-gay Democratic Maryland House Delegate Richard S. Madaleno said Ehrlich’s action showed that “the moderate wing of the Republican Party in Maryland, which the governor is supposed to represent, has dwindled into obscurity.”
  “Truly moderate Republican governors around the nation, like Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, have lent support for far more comprehensive measures than those the governor killed today,” Madaleno said.
  Lawmakers could still override Ehrlich’s veto when they reconvene in January, although the outcome would be hard to predict. Democratic support in the state Senate was strong enough to resurrect the bill. The margin in the House, meanwhile, fell just short of being veto-proof, although several Democrats were absent. Only three of 43 House Republicans and four of 14 GOP senators voted for the bill on the floor.
  Ehrlich’s ambivalence over the bill was evident last month as he spoke publicly about it during the closing days of the session. “I’m sympathetic to certain situations, particularly end-of-life situations,” Ehrlich said during a radio interview on Baltimore’s WBAL. But he said that the bill had flaws and that letting it become law “is just something I have to weigh.”

Massachusetts: On Their First Anniversary, Gay Weddings Are Now Routine - Since Massachusetts legally wed the first same-sex couple a year ago May 17, eighteen states have passed constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage. According to a Boston Globe poll released May 15, half of all Americans don’t want their states to recognize another state’s same-sex marriage licenses. Some say the issue contributed to polarizing the country during the 2004 presidential election last fall, ultimately helping to re-elect George W. Bush.
  But in Massachusetts, same-sex marriage has become routine, and - although Republican Governor Mitt Romney and some conservative groups are seeking to outlaw the nuptials - routinely accepted.
  For the nearly 6,200 gay and lesbian couples who got married in Massachusetts since May 17, 2004, the best thing about the last twelve months has been that they still have their marriage licenses - and the rights that go with them - unlike the same-sex couples who married last year in San Francisco. “It has been a terrific year,” said Mary Bonauto, the lead lawyer in the Goodridge vs. Massachusetts Department of Public Health case that helped legalize gay marriage here. “Gay and lesbian people now feel like they are equal members of society.”
  Nine years ago, Hillary Goodridge recalls, when their daughter Annie was born, she was not allowed to see her or her biological mother, Julie Goodridge, because she was not legally related to them. The Goodridges became lead plaintiffs in the lawsuit that led to same-sex marriage in Massachusetts.
  Last summer, when Hillary Goodridge wound up in a hospital after a broom handle hit her in the face as she tried to extract one of Annie’s toys from a tree, a nurse asked whether Hillary’s husband was in the waiting room.
“I said, ‘SHE’ is in the waiting room,” Hillary Goodridge told the Associated Press. “He smiled and said, ‘Of course. Would she like to come in?’ And then I knew I wouldn’t have to worry.”
  The right to marry brought relief not only to same-sex couples but also to single gays and lesbians, said Joshua Friedes, the advocacy director for the Freedom to Marry Coalition of Massachusetts, a group of about 20,000 same-sex marriage activists across the Bay State. “What I love is that in Massachusetts I feel fully equal,” said Friedes, who is single. “When I look at the street, I know that I’m no different from anyone walking down the street. I have the same rights. And that is incredibly powerful.”
  After the initial euphoria over the right to marry, same-sex marriage has become part of everyday life. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health recorded 1,635 same-sex marriages in May 2004, only 300 fewer than heterosexual ceremonies. Friedes said the number was so high because many of the couples who got married last May had been together for years, or even decades. “What we had was an incredible backlog,” he said.
  Now, the Boston Globe’s wedding pages feature nuptial announcements for gay and straight couples alike. As the controversy has died down, so has the number of gay weddings: In the first two months of 2005, only 148 gay couples wed. Fewer than ten couples have divorced, according to the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders. At the same time, Massachusetts’ straight residents appear to be more accepting of same-sex marriage. A Boston Globe poll in March indicated that 56% of people here supported same-sex marriage, up from 40% in the spring of 2004.
  “Gay and lesbian couples have been married, and the sky is not falling down,” said Rabbi Devon Lerner, a leader of the Boston-based Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry.
  Bonauto said she expected support for same-sex marriages to grow nationwide as more straight people realized gay families posed no threat to them. She pointed to Connecticut, which legalized civil unions for gays and lesbians this year.
  “Nobody expected these discussions with Americans to be over in ten minutes,” Bonauto said. “We’re in the middle of a profound movement and a profound conversation in this country about how we’re going to live up to our promise of treating everyone equally under law.”

New Jersey: Gallup Poll Sees “Mixed Bag” Of Opinions on Gay Issues - Though Americans have grown increasingly tolerant of homosexuality over the past three decades, U.S. public opinion on the subject is still ambiguous. Most Americans believe LGBT people deserve equal rights in the workplace, but people are closely divided over whether homosexuality is an acceptable way of life. Barely half believe same-sex relations between consenting adults should be legal, and a majority says such relations are immoral. Fewer than half want to see gay marriages legally sanctioned.
  According to Gallup trends, by the late 1990s public attitudes toward gays and lesbians had advanced considerably compared with the 1970s, and even with the early 1990s. The percentage saying gay people should have equal job opportunities grew from 56% in 1977 to 74% in 1992 and to 88% by 2003. Similarly, the percentage saying homosexuality should be considered an acceptable alternative lifestyle was only 34% in 1982 and 38% in 1992, but expanded to 50% by 1999.
  However, that progression has largely stalled in the last few years. Today, the percentage saying the so-called “gay lifestyle” should be considered acceptable remains at just 51%, while 45% say it should not be acceptable.
Similarly, there has been little movement since 2001 in the percentage saying they personally believe same-sex relations are morally acceptable. Since 2001, that figure has averaged 42%, and stands at 44% today. A slim majority of Americans -- ranging between 52% and 55% -- have consistently said that same-sex relations are morally wrong.
  Even though Americans say gays and lesbians should have equal job rights, generally, they make sharp distinctions among the types of professions gay people should be hired for. Three-quarters or more say gay people should be hired as salespersons, doctors, in the armed Gallup Pollforces, and for the president’s cabinet; a majority believes they should be hired as high school teachers. But there is substantial resistance for having gay men and women employed as members of the clergy or as grade school teachers. Though a slim majority believes gay people should serve as grade school teachers, more than 4 in 10 Americans think they should not.
  Americans are evenly divided over gays and lesbians in the clergy. Gallup recorded significant movement in these occupation trends between 1992 and 1999, with public support expanding for gay men and women being employed in most of these professions. But as with other indicators, these figures have changed relatively little over the past six years.
  Not helping matters for gay rights advocates is that recent scandals in the Catholic Church over priests sexually abusing young boys may have spilled over into attitudes about gay people serving as teachers or clergy. Between 2003 and 2005, Gallup recorded seven-point declines in the percentage saying gays and lesbians should be hired as clergy (from 56% to 49%), and in the percentage saying gay men and women should be hired as elementary teachers (from 61% to 54%). There has been a five-point decline (from 67% to 62%) in the percentage saying gays and lesbians should be hired as high school teachers. At the same time, there were smaller (and not statistically significant) declines in support for hiring gay people as doctors, members of the president’s cabinet, in the armed forces, and as salespersons.
  While gay couples battle for the right to marry, it might surprise some to know that, more fundamentally, barely half of Americans believe that homosexual relations between consenting adults should be legal. This attitude has changed relatively little since 1977 when 43% supported same-sex relations being legal. While this figure peaked at 60% in 2003, it stands at only 52% today.
  As with many issues, public opinion about homosexuality can be influenced by nuances of question wording. In a split-sample experiment, Gallup tested alternative terms for referencing gay Americans and found that the wording used does make some difference. Referencing this population as “gays and lesbians” results in somewhat more favorable, pro-gay responses than does using the term “homosexuals.”
  Specifically, the percentage of Americans saying that this population should be hired as high school and elementary teachers is 9 to 10 points higher when the question is asked about “gays and lesbians” rather than “homosexuals.”

Pennsylvania: Gay People Apparently Have A Nose For Each Other - A new study shows that gay men and women respond differently to pheromones. Philadelphia scientists collected samples of underarm sweat from 24 donors of “varied gender and sexual orientation” and then asked 82 heterosexual and homosexual men and women to test these for any potential appealing qualities.
  According to the researchers, gay men and women showed preferences that were not those of heterosexual people of either sex. Gay men preferred the scent of gay men and heterosexual women, they said. But the scent of gay men was the least preferred by heterosexual men and women and by lesbian women. The scents gays’ prefer is mostly not liked by straights of either sex
  “Our findings support the contention that gender preference has a biological component that is reflected in both the production of different body odors and in the perception of and response to body odors,” said Charles Wysocki of the Monell Chemical Senses Center.
  A separate study by Swedish scientists did a more substantial research into what it is about male sweat that might trigger response in the brains of gay men and heterosexual women. According to them, the hypothalamus region of the brain became activated when men detected an oestrogen steroid known as EST, and women’s brains lit up when they got a whiff of a testosterone derivative known to biochemists as AND.
  They used brain imaging equipment to test the responses of gay men, and heterosexual men and women, to EST, AND and other smells such as lavender. AND set the hypothalamus alight in homosexual men and heterosexual women. EST worked for heterosexual men alone.
  So the research shows that the human brain responds differently to these potential pheromones- the agencies of attraction in the animal world - and that there could be a link between sexual orientation and brain function.

Washington: Spokane’s Anti-Gay Closet Case Mayor Back On The Job -  Mayor Jim West has returned from a self-imposed leave of absence taken shortly after allegations surfaced that he offered city jobs to men he met in gay online chat rooms.
  West spent much of  his first day back on the job May 19 in meetings, city spokeswoman Marlene Feist told The Spokesman-Review. The mayor made no statements and did not make himself available to discuss his plans for the nearly three years left in his term.
  West, a longtime opponent of gay rights, announced May 9 that he was taking a leave to prepare his defense against the claims. The Spokesman-Review has published a series of stories that included allegations that West molested two boys in the 1970s. West has denied those allegations, but he has acknowledged seeking dates on Gay.com. The newspaper has also alleged he has offered gifts, favors and positions at City Hall to lure young men. The city and the FBI are investigating the claims that West used his office to solicit dates. The statute of limitations has expired on the molestation claims.
  On May 18, City Councilwoman Cherie Rodgers submitted a resolution calling for West to resign immediately. She said it is scheduled for a vote May 30. The seven-member council does not have the power to remove the mayor - only a public recall vote can do that - and Rodgers may not even have enough votes to pass her resolution. But she hopes West will see the scandal is hurting the city.
  “With all the media attention we have received, it’s difficult to get anything done up here,” Rodgers said. West has not responded to interview requests.

State News:

Madison: UW Regents To Review Stout’s Gay ROTC Turn Away - University of Wisconsin President Kevin Reilly has asked the Board of Regents to re-examine a decision made by UW-Stout Chancellor Charles Sorensen to reject bringing ROTC to campus. UW spokesman Doug Bradley said Sorensen declined a proposal from the campus’ student senate and faculty senate to invite the military organization to start a chapter on campus. UW-Stout currently has a joint ROTC arrangement with UW-La Crosse.
  On May 18 the Stout Chancellor’s office said the program would go against its efforts to promote diversity.  “It’s not about the Army.  It’s about an academic program here at the university, operated by the university, offering university credit that discriminates against gay people,” Stout spokesman John Enger said. “It had nothing to do with anti-military, anti-war, nothing political whatsoever.”
  Bradley said the purpose of the regent discussion is not to overrule Sorensen, but to make sure his decision is in keeping with regent policy and federal rules. Federal legislation requires universities that receive federal money to give the military the same access as other recruiters.
  Enger said UW-Stout has never barred military recruiters from campus. In this situation, he added, the university declined to install a new program. Sorensen’s decision also came under fire from three Republican state senators.
  GOP legislators Ron Brown and Dave Zien, both of Eau Claire, and Sheila Harsdorf of River Falls claimed in a joint statement that UW-Madison has rejected the idea of removing ROTC programs even though some students object to it. They said the best way to deal with political objections is through political process.
  “Perhaps our fear that this decision is rooted in animosity generated by the anti-war actors toward our military would best be allayed if UW-Stout rejected all federal involvement in their campus activities,” they wrote, adding that “it should be noted that federal law requires universities that receive federal funding to give the military access to campuses.”
  The military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on sexual orientation is being challenged in the U.S. Supreme Court.
  “While ongoing legal challenges have enabled UW-Stout to avoid federal scrutiny, we think accepting federal funding while disobeying federal law is a risky decision for the financial stability of UW-Stout,” the Republican lawmakers said.

Madison: Cremation Bill Could Deny Gay Final Wishes - Action Wisconsin has raised concerns about AB 75, a bill that will create new regulations governing cremations in Wisconsin, because it could deny gay and lesbian people their rightful role in the decision of how to deal with the remains of a dearly loved partner.
  “Lifelong partners could be denied this final solace by AB 75’s requirement that the deceased’s written designee for end-of-life decision-making be consulted only after first offering this authority to every other surviving relative,” Action Wisconsin executive director Christopher Ott said.
  Lynn Wolter and her partner Jean Church, of Arcadia, were together for 15 years. They demonstrate the problems gay couples already face and how the bill could make it worse. Church, who was recognized as an Educator of the Year in 2004, passed away the same year after a struggle with cancer.
  Respecting the environment was important to Church personally and professionally as a sixth grade teacher. Church’s mother was cremated, and Church also wanted to be cremated, in keeping with her value of treading lightly on the earth.
  “The funeral home person who took Jean to be cremated was a personal friend of Jean’s, and even though she had not fully respected our right to be equal parents of our young daughter, she did support me at a difficult time and handled the cremation very well,” said Wolter. “This bill could have put the funeral home worker in a position to deny our family and Jean’s wishes.”
  Because lesbian and gay partners cannot legally marry, they are seen as strangers to one another in the eyes of the law. Their ability to make
end-of-life decisions often depends upon the whims of hospital administrators, funeral home directors, and other strangers.
  When Church passed away, her wishes were respected at the funeral home, but to this day the hospital refuses to release her medical records to Wolter. In order for Wolter to access their life insurance policy, she had to get Church’s sister to sign the medical release forms.
 “Instead of passing a constitutional ban on civil unions and marriage that will make all these matters much worse, our lawmakers should take steps to ensure gay couples are never heartlessly treated as legal strangers in the middle of life’s most painful circumstances,” said Ott.
  Action Wisconsin has submitted written testimony to the members of the Senate Veterans, Homeland Security, Military Affairs, Small Business and Government Reform Committee, which was scheduled to consider the bill May 18. AB 75 has already passed the Assembly.

Middleton: ELCA Lutheran Synod Votes To Oppose State’s Proposed Civil Union Ban - The regional branch of the nation’s largest Lutheran domination is opposing an amendment to the state Constitution that would prohibit marriage or civil unions among gays and lesbians. The South-Central Wisconsin Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America includes 13 counties and 150 congregations. The vote by the Synod Assembly opposing the proposed amendment to the constitution took place on May 7 in Middleton.
  About 450 representatives of the various congregations attended, and the resolution was approved with a voice vote, said David Berggren, secretary of the Synod Council and pastor of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Sun Prairie.
  “The first part of the amendment, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, we felt was redundant. It’s already state law,” Berggren said. “The second part was the real sticking point. It says that ‘a legal status identical or substantially similar to marriage shall not be recognized in this state.’ “
“That wording goes much farther. It would affect partner benefits,” said Constance Kilmark, vice president of the Synod Council and a member of St. Stephen’s Lutheran Church in Monona. “This would be the first time rights would be restricted by the Constitution instead of expanded.”
  Pastors and other representatives of Lake Edge Lutheran Church in Madison who attended the Synod Assembly submitted the resolution, said Shirley Funk, a pastor at Lake Edge Lutheran. “We feel the proposed amendment is discriminatory regarding health care benefits, hospital visitation and so on,” Funk said.
  The constitutional amendment, proposed by Republican legislators, has been approved by one session of the state Legislature. It would need to be approved in identical form during the current session of the Legislature and then approved with a statewide vote by citizens in order to change the Constitution.
  Joshua Freker, communications director for Action Wisconsin, noted  “it is clearly a major step forward for this major religious body to stand up strongly against this ban on civil unions and marriage. We know the Milwaukee Presbytery, a local body of the Presbyterian Church, has taken a stand, and so has an interfaith group called Christians for Equality in Wisconsin.”
  A group of United Church of Christ pastors has also placed newspaper ads opposing the amendment.
  The synod resolution states in part that “the second sentence of the proposed amendment would legally undermine certain human and civil rights of homosexuals and become the first amendment to the Wisconsin Constitution to limit rather than expand or protect human rights and freedoms. ... The bill directly impacts the welfare of members of our congregations as well as the general public.”

Milwaukee: IGBO Holds Silver Anniversary Tourney May 25-30 - With all the pageantry of a Silver Jubilee, Milwaukee will host the International Gay Bowling Organization’s 25th Anniversary Gala here, May 25 - 30, 2005. Tournament headquarters will be the Holiday Inn - City Centre, 611 West Wisconsin Avenue with the actual tournament run at AMF Bowlero in Milwaukee and the AMF Lanes in West Allis.
  In addition to the team tournament bowling tournament, a full schedule of special events are planned. An Iroquois Sunset Boat Cruise take IGBO 25place on Friday evening, May 27. Tournament attendees will enjoy a sunset boat cruise aboard the Iroquois as they travel through downtown on the Milwaukee River and wind their way out to the Milwaukee Harbor adjacent to beautiful Lake Michigan. The cruise will depart at 7 PM and return at 9. On board attendees will enjoy the music of one of Cream City’s top  local DJ’s and hors’ d’oeuvres along with a cash bar. Cruise goers will be able to dance or sit back and relax as they take in the awesome Milwaukee skyline from the harbor as the sunsets behind the buildings of downtown. Cost will be $20 per person, with reservations taken up to the time of departure. Space is limited to the first 140 people.
  For those bowlers who just can’t seem to get enough bowling, a 9 pin no tap tournament will be held at AMF West throughout the tournament weekend. Cost will be $10 for each three game block and tourney goers may enter as often as they wish. All entry fees received less lineage fees will be returned to the bowlers.
  There also will be a Women’s Pool Tournament the women tourney goers to socialize outside of bowling. The event will be held at Landmark Lanes on Saturday, May 28  from 5 - 9 PM with an entry fee of $20.
  A Women’s Retro Dance Party is also scheduled pool side at the Holiday Inn host hotel May 27 from 8 - 12 PM/
Attendees will enjoy an evening of dancing under the stars to the cool retro music of 25 years ago as well as a chance to socialize and make new acquaintances or rekindle friendships from the past. There will also be dance and contests, raffles and other surprises. Men are welcome to attend as well. After that, the event is scheduled to move to a party at Walkers Pint, 818 South 2nd St, Milwaukee.
  On Sunday, May 29, there will be a viewing of a portion o0f the AIDS Memorial Quilt at the Midwest Center from Noon - 6 PM. A special memorial service will be held onsite at 3 PM. The tournament will conclude with a Dinner and Awards program beginning at 6 PM at the Midwest Center. Following the program a farewell party at the Center will begin at 9 PM.
  The weekend’s events conclude on May 30 with an IGBO Executive Committee meeting at the Holiday Inn beginning at 9 AM.
  IGBO operates two tournaments each year: the Annual tournament, and the Mid-Year tournament. Local committees from around the globe bid to host these week-long events. The Annual tournament is always held in May during the week preceding the United States Memorial Day holiday. The Mid-Year tournament is generally held during the week of the United States Veterans Day holiday, in November. For more information about the International Gay Bowlers Organization, visit their website at:www.igbo.org.

Milwaukee: Mil-M-AIDS Tourney Yields $2000 For BESTD Clinic - The 17th annual Mil-M-AIDS (Milwaukee and Madison Against AIDS) Bowling Tournament fundraiser recently held  at the AMF Bowlero, has netted almost $2,000 for the Brady East STD Clinic. The tournament, which is held alternatively in Milwaukee and Madison, raises funds for a variety of organizations.  This year Camp Heartland, BESTD Clinic and the Hunger Task Force are the recipients of the event’s proceeds.
  “Its great to have organizations such as Mil-M-Aids hold fund raising events for our benefit,” said BESTD President Kevin Lynch.  “Because we are entirely run and staffed by volunteers, donations go directly to the aid of our clients.  We are grateful for being included in this year’s Bowling Tournament.”
  The Brady East STD Clinic is a Milwaukee based clinic whose services include: free, anonymous or confidential HIV testing and counseling, free hepatitis vaccinations, free men’s STD testing, diagnosis and treatment;  outreach HIV testing and counseling clinics, educational programming,  and support groups.
  The BESTD clinic is a not-for-profit Wisconsin corporation led and staffed entirely by volunteers. Its primary sources of financial support are donations and fund-raising activities. No fees are charged for services and no one is ever refused service that BESTD offers. The clinic has been serving the community since 1974.  For more information call 414-272-2144 or visit us online at: www.bestd.org.
 
Milwaukee: Wisconsin Men’s Health Survey To Tally At PrideFest - Just five minutes of time can make a difference can make a difference in the health of gay men throughout Wisconsin. PrideFest attendees will see the slogan, “5 Minutes = a Healthier Community” and the Wisconsin Men’s Health Survey logo at a booth and on t-shirts of volunteer interviewers at this year’s festival June 11-12. A sample of men attending PrideFest will be asked to participate in a study to assess men’s health and HIV prevention needs.
  The AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin, Brady Street Clinic, Center for AIDS Intervention and Research, and Milwaukee LGBT WI Survey LogoCommunity Center are teaming up with other LGBT and HIV services agencies, the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct a survey at Milwaukee PrideFest of men who have sex with men (MSM) ages 18 and older. The goal is to interview 500 men at PrideFest this year.
  The CDC has collaborated with local communities and state health departments to conduct the survey at LGBT Pride events over the last three years in low and moderate HIV morbidity areas, including in Minneapolis last June. The survey collects information about HIV prevention services, testing, and risk behaviors.
  The survey provides a great opportunity to learn about the HIV prevention needs of men in our community.   The results will help agencies tailor their prevention services and solicit additional funds. The recent increase in HIV infection rates among Wisconsin MSM makes the survey particularly relevant this year.
  The survey is conducted by volunteers trained in interview techniques and confidentiality protocols. They use hand-held computers to conduct the anonymous survey. Interviewers wear t-shirts that identify them as being part of the survey project.
  To ensure validity of the study, interviewers will approach men based on a sampling pattern. According to a researcher working on the study, “If your friend gets approached and you don’t, don’t take offense. We want to ensure that we reach a representative sample of men at Milwaukee PrideFest.”  If you are approached, please take 5 minutes to talk with the interviewer.  You can make a very real difference.

LaCrosse: ARCW’s LifePoint Needle Exchange Expands
-  ARCW’s La Crosse office has begun providing clean needle exchange services.  The agency’s LifePoint now provides services in eleven cities throughout the state, among which are Madison, Milwaukee, and Green Bay. Kristine Buchholz is the lead prevention staff providing services with Jennifer Webber, Social Services Case Manager, providing back-up.
  Prior to the program’s inception Associate Director of Prevention Lisa Danelski and Al Graewin  of the La Crosse County Health Department provided an in-service for the city’s police officers to educate them on HIV and needle exchange.
  ARCW operates the nation’s leading statewide clean needle exchange program, Lifepoint, serving injection drug users, their spouses and their partners throughout Wisconsin. Lifepoint includes one-for-one exchange of used needles for new ones, HIV prevention education and risk reduction counseling, HIV and Hepatitis C counseling and testing and referrals for drug treatment and other social services. Lifepoint is conducted through a fleet of vans that visit over 20 exchange sites at ARCW offices and at other locations convenient to participants.

Green Bay: ARCW Recipient Of Rainbow Over Wisconsin Grant - The MSM prevention outreach program at the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin has received a $4000 grant from Rainbow Over Wisconsin. The ROW board approved the grant request at its May meeting here May 9.
  The grant will fund distribution of condoms to venues in central, northeast, and eastern Wisconsin with significant gay male clientele.  The ROW Logogrant funds will also be used to support ARCW’s innovative “I Am Sex Ed” outreach in Wisconsin gay chat rooms. Recent studies have shown that many chat room users are not being reached by safer sex messages and are more likely to engage in risky behavior with anonymous contacts negotiated in chat rooms or via private messaging. ARCW’s northeastern regional MSM outreach is part of a more that $100,000 annual program funded by a variety of sources, among which are ROW, the United Way, the Until There’s A Cure Foundation and the agency’s annual “Have A Heart” dinner and auction.
  Founded following the success of the “Alive With Pride 95” gay pride event by the region’s tavern keepers, Rainbow Over Wisconsin (ROW) has grown from a group that had served to coordinate bar benefit shows to a non-profit, tax-exempt community foundation whose members include area business owners, LGBT activists and people who simply want to make northeast Wisconsin’s gay community the best it can be.
  Like its sister organizations - Milwaukee’s Cream City Foundation and Madison’s New Harvest - ROW financially assists the work of local and regional groups serving the LGBT community in central, eastern and northeast Wisconsin through its Community Enrichment Fund grant program. In the last eight years, Rainbow Over WI has funded more than 45 projects developed by over two dozen groups.

Lake Geneva: Straight Student Who Wore Dress To Prom May File Lawsuit - One Wisconsin teenager who had a prom night he’ll never forget is fighting a disorderly conduct ticket after he wore a black, spaghetti-strap dress and blond wig to the event.
  “The only thing that Mr. Lofy did wrong was wearing a purse that didn’t match the dress and open-toed shoes before Memorial Day,” said PromMadison lawyer Erik Guenther, who will represent Kerry Lofy. “There’s just no rational basis for the citation and the school district in telling him beforehand that he couldn’t do it.”
  The senior at Badger High School in Lake Geneva will plead not guilty and ask the city to dismiss the ticket, which carries a fine of $249, Guenther said.
  Guenther said he would also advise Lofy, 18, to file a lawsuit against the school for violating his First Amendment rights to free expression by telling him he couldn’t wear a dress and disciplining him for doing so.
  Lofy was suspended for three days this week and ordered to miss his final track meet after wearing the dress to the May 7 prom and dancing in a sexually provocative manner, including lying on another student on the dance floor, school officials and police say.Lofy had indicated he wanted to fight the discipline, but said he could not afford an attorney.
  Guenther, a criminal defense and constitutional law attorney, said his Madison law firm, Hurley, Burish & Milliken, S.C., volunteered to represent him free of charge. “This is a $250 ticket but if you don’t protect the fringes of free speech, the next action is at your front door,” he said. “These acts cannot be tolerated.”
  Lake Geneva school district administrator Jim Gottinger said May 13 he was confident that the school’s dress code and rules for prom were appropriate and would be upheld in court. He said most of the discipline was related to Lofy’s behavior at the event, and his insubordination for ignoring warnings about appropriate attire. Gottinger refused to issue an apology, which Guenther demanded.
  “I don’t see that we were in the wrong,” he said. “We think the attire for the prom is a formal event, and he not only wore a dress but a blond wig as well.”
  Lofy says he is not gay but went to the prom with a gay friend who did not have a date. He had been warned by school authorities not to wear the dress. He was turned away at the door when he showed up in the dress, blue earrings, platform sandals and a necklace, and carrying a purse. He returned an hour later in a leisure suit and was allowed to enter. During a risque dance routine that caught the attention of the 400 people there, the 6-foot, 185-pound Lofy ripped off his clothes to reveal the dress, according to a police report.He was escorted from the building by a police officer and served with the ticket when he showed up for school May 9.

Milwaukee: ARCW Housing Program Selected As Special Project of National Significance - The AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin Housing Program became a three-time designee as a federal Special Projects of National Significance last month when its Harm Reduction Through Stable Shelter (HaRTSS) program was renewed.
  “This grant enhances our ability to provide housing to people in need who have HIV and chronic drug abuse or mental illness,” said Roma Hanson, ARCW Vice President of Social Services. “To be living with HIV and not have a shelter where you can take your medications and get rest can be devastating.”
  The $1.3 million grant will provide intensive housing case management and rental assistance for 210 new clients over three years, with the goal of moving homeless or near homeless individuals into stable housing. Five housing case managers administer the program around the state.
  During the last two years, ARCW assisted 311 clients through HaRTSS. Since the beginning of the program, clients have experienced an increase in income and a substantial increase in housing stability. There has been a substantial decrease among HaRTSS clients in criminal behavior and a decrease in emergency room usage as well. Further, clients enrolled in HaRTSS have shown improvements in adhering to medical regimens and complying with mental health care and AODA treatment plans.
  “This program reinforces ARCW’s mission to meet all of a person’s needs so they can improve their overall health,” said Hanson.
  To be eligible for HaRTSS, an individual must be homeless, HIV-positive, meet income requirements, and have a behavioral health diagnosis such as mental illness or substance abuse. People with HIV in need of housing assistance should call 1-800-359-9272, ext. 6800 or 414-223-6800.

Appleton: Action Wisconsin Begins Ad Campaign - Action Wisconsin has launched the first of a series of full-page newspaper ads that tell the stories of real Wisconsin families who will be hurt by the proposed constitutional ban on civil unions and marriage for gay couples.
  The first ad ran in the May 11 edition of the Appleton Post-Crescent. It features a Menasha lesbian couple and their two-year old daughter. The couple have been together for twelve years, are both schoolteachers, and active in their church. Because they cannot legally marry, they have spent over $10,000 in legal fees for just a few of the hundreds of basic protections that come with marriage. Yet no legal arrangements, no matter how expensive, can allow them to share their health and retirement benefits should one of them get sick or pass away.
  “We believe in the fairness of Wisconsinites. Once people understand that this far-reaching amendment will have an impact on families in their communities, they oppose it. The proposed amendment will deny critical protections, like the ability to share health and retirement benefits or take family leave,” said Action Wisconsin executive director Christopher Ott.
  The ad asks Appleton-area residents to contact state Senators Mike Ellis (R-Neenah), Robert Cowles (R-De Pere), and Alan Lasee (R-Rockland). All three senate districts cover parts of Appleton, and all three senators voted for the ban in March 2004.
  “Senators Ellis, Lasee, and Cowles have demonstrated in the past that they can be fair-minded and are willing to be independent from Assembly Speaker John Gard and his allies in the Senate,” said Ott. “They may not support marriage equality, but this amendment is not exclusively about marriage. It will deny any sort of compromise position, such as civil unions, and could take away existing protections.”
  States they have already passed bans on gay unions are seeing far-reaching consequences. For example, judges in Ohio have ruled that domestic violence charges cannot be filed against unmarried men who have assaulted their girlfriends, because the amendment restricts legal protections exclusively to married couples.
  The ad campaign will begin in Appleton but will later move to other regions of the state, telling the story of a different family in each community.
  Action Wisconsin is leading the statewide fight against the constitutional ban on civil unions and marriage. The organization has grown to eight paid staff members and will expand significantly in the coming months.

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