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Click here for Live Issues Archive March 2002 - November 2002


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Live Issues- Archive

 San Francisco Chronicle, November 14, 2001 · San Francisco Examiner, November 14, 2001 · Las Vegas Review-Journal, December 9, 2001 · USA Today, November 26, 2001 · Law: Family Matters;Love, death and equity · Washington Blade November 30, 2001 · Washington Monthly, November 2001 · Commercial Closet, November 5, 2001 · Los Angeles Times, December 10, 2001 · Gay People's Chronicle, December 7, 2001 · Associated Press, October 22, 2001 · Open Letter to U.S. News Organizations · Minneapolis Star Tribune, October 22, 2001 · Village Voice Literary Supplement, Fall ·Yahoo! News October 17, 2001 · Texas Triangle October 15, 2001 ·USA Today October 15, 2001 ·New York Magazine, June 11 · Asbury Park Press, June 4 · Oakland Press, June 4 · Indianapolis Star, June 4 · Austin American-Statesman, June 3 #1 · Austin American-Statesman, June 3 #2 · Missoula Independent, May 31 · Los Angeles Times, May 21 · Seattle Times, May 20 · Newsday, May 18 · Out Magazine, May · Los Angeles Times,April, 29  

This section, which grows frequently, offers up-to-the-minute examples of articles representing the spectrum of social, political and cultural issues that constitute the journalism landscape. The fulcrum issue involves sexual minorities, but the teaching lessons inherent are common to the craft of good journalism.

Educators can lift these stories from the Web as appropriate to the segment or course they are teaching. For example, journalism and society – the Eminem controversy pitting free speech against civil liberties. Or, journalism and the law – the Boy Scout decision. Or, journalism and privacy – the recent story of an editor who announced in his magazine that he is the lover of an (unnamed) major-league baseball player of some note.

We update this section regularly with abstracts of topical sexual-diversity articles available online. They range from articles raising issues of ethics, statistical accuracy, stereotyping or sensationalism, to articles embodying sophisticated, in-depth analysis. They follow in reverse chronological order.

Subject Areas: Religion, civil rights issues, workplace equity
San Francisco Chronicle
November 14, 2001

Salvation Army says no benefits for partners
National panel overturns regional OK

Christopher Heredia, Chronicle Staff Writer

National leaders of the Salvation Army have rescinded a decision allowing regional offices to set their own policies on employee benefits, deciding instead to limit them to spouses or dependent children - excluding domestic partners.

The decision, announced late Monday after a vote by the Salvation Army Commissioner's Conference, came less than two weeks after Western Territory officials announced they would begin offering benefits to "one legally domiciled adult" including registered domestic partners.

The benefits issue has been contentious since 1998, when the Salvation Army severed ties with San Francisco over a local law that requires companies contracting with the city to offer the same benefits to domestic partners as they do to spouses.

In October, the Salvation Army decided to permit its four territories to set their own employee benefit policies. Western Territory officials announced Nov. 1 they would break with tradition and offer domestic partner benefits.

However, the Salvation Army's national headquarters in Alexandria, Va., was flooded by e-mails and phone calls from individuals and groups opposed to the idea.

"We must stand united in the battle that will undoubtedly follow from those who would now challenge our biblical and traditional position," Commissioner Lawrence R. Moretz said in a written statement on Monday.


Click here for the full-length story. 

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Subject Areas: Transgender issues; complexities of social mapping; covering differences

San Francisco Examiner
November 14, 2001

It's not always perfect for transgenders

By Tanya Pampalone Of The Examiner Staff

There is no one more qualified for her job than Susan Stryker.

The executive director of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society of Northern California holds a Ph.D. in U.S. history from Berkeley, a postdoctoral research fellowship in sexual studies from Stanford and she fits into two of the four GLBT categories: she is a transsexual lesbian.
Yet Stryker, like many transgender people, is not wholly embraced by the very community she represents.

While some find shelter in the GLBT community, many transgenders, which includes transsexuals, drag kings and queens and cross-dressers, have been attacked and protested from within the very place they seek refuge.
Transsexuals have been ridiculed by some gays and lesbians for being confused about their own sexuality...

Transsexuals have been ostracized for mutilating their bodies, with one writer recently recommending that they skip hormone treatment and medical procedures and "live androgynously," a suggestion, transgender activists say, that is the same as trying to convince gays to live as straight.

"Just because someone is gay, lesbian or bisexual doesn't mean that they understand transgender issues," Stryker said, sitting in her Market Street office wearing baggy jeans and black Doc Martens.

Stryker is one of more than 15,000 transgendered people living in The City... The local number mirrors national statistics, with between 1 percent and 2 percent of the population being transgender.

In the early '70s, there were witch hunts - where lesbian and gay groups openly discriminated against transsexuals, throwing them out of prominent organizations. As the gay rights movement gained momentum throughout the '70s and '80s, transgendered people were left out of the gay parade.

That started to change in the '90s...

Riki Wilchins, executive director of Gender PAC, a national gender rights advocacy group, says gender rights is the next civil rights battlefield.
Gender PAC has supported people like Brandon Teena, the female-to-male teenage transgender whose life was portrayed in the movie "Boys Don't Cry," ...

Click here for the full-length story.

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Subject Areas: Schools coverage; youth movements; social impact of teen identity issues

Las Vegas Review-Journal
December 9, 2001

Gay students stand up to be counted at some local high schools


Although prejudice and discrimination remain, high school students seem to be making an effort to overcome biases, especially with respect to how gay and lesbian teen-agers are treated.
Clubs that directly offer diversity among their members, such as Gay Straight Alliance, or GSA, are on the rise. GSA is popping up in high schools across the valley, including Las Vegas Academy, Green Valley, Eldorado, Silverado and most recently at Durango and Coronado.

Still, most schools are not allowed to use the name GSA because "gay" is considered a reaction-provoking word.

Many high schoolers now support clubs such as the Gay Straight Alliance and others that offer openness and diversity.

Stephanie Hui, a Durango senior, said, "I think (the club) is a brilliant idea. That way people can be informed and understand that it is not a disease to be gay..."

"I honestly think the acceptance is declining," said Durango junior Natalie Smart. "People think it's cool to beat up gay people or whatever."

Free Zone (Durango's GSA name) adviser Daniel Barber, a social studies teacher, became a part of the group because he felt it was "a righteous cause."

However, Barber has met differing opinions among fellow staff members, including Mark Roach, a government teacher at Durango.

"I seriously doubt whether the majority at high school age level are mature enough to even discuss the issue, let alone accept the fact that there is a group on campus," Roach said.

A Green Valley senior agreed.

"Homosexuality goes against my religious beliefs," said Lisa Cleary. "However, when it comes to the individuals themselves, I feel indifference. I don't support it, but I'm not going to discriminate against them..."

Click here for the full-length story.

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Subject Areas: Covering statistics and polling; researching techniques; gay youth issues; covering social issues
USA Today, November 26, 2001

Gay teens less suicidal than thought, report says
By Marilyn Elias, USA TODAY

Gay and lesbian teenagers are only slightly more likely than heterosexual kids to attempt suicide, contrary to past studies that suggest gay youths have about triple the rate of trying suicide, says a Cornell University psychologist in a controversial report due next month.
Studies finding that about 30% of gay adolescents have attempted suicide exaggerated the rates because they surveyed the most disturbed youngsters and didn't separate thoughts from action, says Ritch Savin-Williams. Nearly all research on the topic has drawn teens from support groups or shelters, where the most troubled gather, and has taken at face value the claim of a suicide attempt, he says.

Savin-Williams' own two studies, to appear in The Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, focus on 349 students ages 17 to 25. When they said they had tried to kill themselves, he asked what method they used. He also separated out the small minority that attended support groups. Among key findings:

Over half of reported suicide attempts turned out to be "thinking about it" rather than trying anything.

One study of 83 women showed a true suicide attempt rate of 13% for those who hadn't attended a support group. (Between 7% and 13% of all teens have tried to kill themselves.) For the small minority from support groups, 45% had tried suicide.

The other study of 266 college men and women found that gay youths were not significantly more likely than straight classmates to have tried to take their own lives. Again, the homosexual students were more likely to report "attempts" that further questioning revealed as thoughts.

"They're trying to communicate that they do have difficult lives," Savin-Williams says. "But most gay kids are healthy and resilient." Poorly designed studies that exaggerate their suicide risk "pathologize gay youth, and that's not fair to them," he says.

Even if fewer gay teens than previously thought are trying to kill themselves, "nobody disputes the fact being gay or lesbian in high school is not a very pleasant experience," says David Smith of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest gay advocacy group in the USA.

Click here for the full-length story.

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Subject Areas: Covering survivors and victims; human interest angles out of tragedy; gays bid for survivor rights
Law: Family Matters
Love, death and equity

By Vicki Haddock

Loss has haunted Keith Bradkowski lately - and he may be in store for yet another.

Ten months ago his job as a Marin hospital administrator was eliminated.

Then, on Sept. 11, he lost the love of his life - a flight attendant on American Airlines Flight 11, which plunged into the World Trade Center. In the surreal blur that followed, Bradkowski notified relatives and provided the Medical Examiner's Office with information to help identify the remains, including the serial numbers of the couple's matched wedding bands.

Now Bradkowski is fighting to keep from losing something else: his claim for payment from the federal government's special Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund, which was set up to aid families of those killed in the terrorist assaults.

His right to compensation would be uncontestable if his partner had been Jenny instead of Jeff - if the couple had been husband and wife.

Instead, Keith Bradkowski and Jeffrey Collman were domestic partners. The Novato man, and dozens of others in his situation, are asking the U.S. Justice Department to render an unprecedented decision that would make domestic partners as eligible for federal compensation as spouses of the opposite sex.

The debate over affirming gay and lesbian partnerships has cut a well-worn groove in American political and cultural discourse. Most people know the arguments and rebuttals. Most everyone's mind is made up.

But Bradkowski - as sure a victim of Sept. 11 as any other - puts a human face on what's at stake. Whatever rationale exists for the status quo rang hollow to him when he was denied Collman's death certificate because he flunked the legal test - next of kin.

Faced with a similar dilemma, New York Gov. George Pataki weeks ago ordered the state's Crime Victim Board to treat surviving partners the same as surviving spouses in awarding benefits. The Red Cross did likewise.

The federal fund potentially could reimburse families of almost 4,000 people killed in the Sept. 11 attacks and provide aid for some 7,000 people injured in exchange for agreements not to sue. The total tab is expected to reach billions of tax dollars.

Email Vicki Haddock at vhaddock@sfchronicle.com.

Click here for the full-length story.

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Subject Areas: Covering social conflict; religion coverage; ambiguity in civil rights struggles

Washington Blade
November 30, 2001

Religion under siege?
Recent legal, political rights battles pit gays against freedoms of those who discriminate

By Lisa Keen

In the early days of the gay civil rights movement, conservative opposition came in the form of appeals to religion, particularly Christianity, and its tradition rejection of homosexuality. While some anti-gay pressure is still based on similar claims, a new type of faith-based objection to gay rights is gaining currency.

According to these new challenges to gay civil rights, legal protections and demands for equal treatment of gay couples trample the religious freedom of those who discriminate against gays based upon deeply held theological beliefs.

Polls show that over time, fewer and fewer Americans consider homosexuality "a sin." A Gallup poll released in June showed a continuation of a gradual, and to some degree steady, increase in the liberalization of American public opinion about homosexuality.

The new approach does not appeal to the public to reject gay rights as offensive to religion, but switches gears, claiming the need for similar civil rights protection for "religious freedom" - in this instance, the freedom of conservative Christians and other individuals, groups and institutions to practice their faith by discriminating against gays.
At least three legal challenges are making their way through the federal court system based upon this sort of demand for protection of religious freedom. The outcome of the court cases is difficult to predict, but their potential impact, noted one civil rights attorney, could "knock out gay rights laws nationwide."

Gays v. 1st Amendment?

In two cases, Hyman v. Louisville and Hyman v. Jefferson County, a Baptist gynecologist named J. Barrett Hyman is challenging the constitutionality of human rights ordinances in Louisville and Jefferson County, Ky., because the ordinances prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Hyman is arguing that his anti-gay religious beliefs leave him vulnerable to prosecution under the local ordinances because he won't hire gay employees. Chief Judge Charles Simpson of the U.S. District Court for Western Kentucky rejected Hyman's plea, saying, "While discrimination against individuals on account of their sexual orientation or gender identity may be a religious practice for Dr. Hyman, the ordinances' prohibitions are textually and contextually secular."

Another Kentucky case in federal court also pits gay rights against religious freedom. Alicia Pedreira and seven others have sued a Baptist-run home for at-risk youth for violating the U.S. Constitution when Pedreira was fired over the Baptist "core value" that homosexuality is wrong.
The lawsuit argues that the agency's firing of Pedreira constituted religious-based discrimination.

Click here for the full-length story.

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Subject Areas: AIDS coverage; Sexual mores; Terminology; gay culture.

November 2001

Hit The Road: HIV infection among gay men is on the rise. This time, it will take more than condoms to stop it.

By Andrew Webb

....There have always been gay men who refused to practice safer sex, but between the advent of AIDS and the late 1990s, barebacking - anal sex without a condom - was mostly practiced on the fringes of gay society. Plenty of evidence suggests, however, that over the last few years barebacking has become common, if not de rigueur, among gay men in general.

Certainly, the advent of new drug treatments has contributed to this trend, as has the loneliness that seems inherent in gay life. But those factors don't explain everything. Also driving the increase in barebacking is the peculiarly amoral nature of the dominant gay culture, which springs from a well-articulated ideology that views unfettered sex as the defining feature of gay identity. As a result, heading off the next AIDS epidemic will take a lot more than free condoms and stern lectures from well-meaning health officials.

In June, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released preliminary data from a seven-year, seven-city study of 15- to 22-year-old gay men that showed an alarmingly high incidence of unprotected anal sex - 41 percent of respondents. CDC researchers have also found disturbing increases in the percentage of men under 25 reporting multiple sex partners, and of men having unprotected sex with multiple partners who don't even know whether their partners are infected. Researchers estimate that the increase in unprotected sex among gay men is rising exponentially: 50 percent in the last two years.

The effects are already apparent. The estimated number of new adult-adolescent AIDS cases diagnosed in the United States sharply decreased between 1996 and 1998, thanks to a concerted public health effort. But those gains have almost ground to a halt. The estimated number of new AIDS cases decreased by only one percent between 1998 and 1999.

There's reason to believe that gay men, and not intravenous drug users or other high-risk groups, are driving this change. In 1999, San Francisco researchers reviewed the results from about 9,000 people who had been tested in area clinics. Among the most recent infections, not a single woman who was tested turned up positive, nor did any IV drug users - except those who were gay. Those with new infections were gay men, mostly white, and in their thirties.

Clearly, the fear mongering that was public health officials' primary weapon against HIV infection for most of the 1990s is no longer working. It's no surprise, really. After all, condoms may offer protection against disease, but they hardly protect against the other things that drive us toward risky behavior - like loneliness, a simple human emotion that gay men probably understand better than most...

For most gay men, sex has never been safe and often still isn't. Condoms or no, in almost half the states, consensual sex between two men remains a criminal offense.

With all gay sex deemed immoral, gay men have no language for defining what's acceptable sexual behavior and what isn't, and no social consequences for violating those norms to help shore up their willpower. Without recognizing these complicating factors in gay sexuality, public health officials' simple exhortations for safer sex will likely fail at a tremendous cost... By 1999, no longer were huge numbers of men dying of "AIDS complications." And advertising aimed at gay men, depicting healthy, hunky models (black and white) engaged in strenuous activities, further minimized the risks of HIV. To young men coming into the world of gay sex then (and now), HIV and AIDS were things old guys got. It didn't affect them. Without the fear of imminent death hanging over them, men let their guard down, relaxed their vigilance in complying with the old condom code. Thanks to the advent of new drugs, HIV is one of the rare, fatal infectious diseases that can now exist in people who are largely healthy, potentially creating thousands of Typhoid Marys to keep the virus alive and kicking in new victims.
That means that gay men are going to have to change their behavior if they are going to avoid another replay of the funeral-a-day '80s and early '90s. So far, though, few people - gay or otherwise - are calling for such change.

Because mainstream society has set them apart (morally, philosophically, culturally, physically), gay people have developed their own vaguely defined morality and ethics. This alternative, sometimes-perverse morality, I believe, underlies the current barebacking trend. And because that alternative morality (or amorality) was created in response to ostracism from mainstream society, society as a whole - conservatives and liberals alike - bear some responsibility for the rise in unsafe sex.

Any new efforts to slow the spread of HIV, particularly among gay men, must be multifaceted and nuanced, taking into account the unique characteristics of gay culture. While the condom code was based on individual fear and safer sex, these new strategies must emphasize responsible sex and demand that gay men consider the effect of their actions on the well-being of larger society, not just on themselves. Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, director of Sexually Transmitted Disease Prevention and Control Services in San Francisco, has suggested a number of measures, some coercive,which he thinks would slow the increase of new HIV infections among gay men. Putting aside political realities when brainstorming on this subject, Klausner also raised the possibility of quarantining those who cannot control their infectivity - e.g., those barebackers who've infected 20 different people and still refuse to use condoms. Many of these measures would probably be infeasible in the current political climate.

Click here for the full-length story.

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Subject Areas: Dangers, plusses of statistics; Consumer issues; Internet as a source; Gays and consumerism; Challenging assumptions

Commercial Closet,
November 5, 2001

New Research Brings Updates and Controversy

By Mike Wilke

“Over recent years, many marketers have been seduced by the concept of a fiercely loyal gay "dream market" that is widely believed to have higher than average education and income levels.

But the concept of wealthy gays is now in debate and few corporations, except American Express and Subaru, have conducted their own research into the niche. Most have approached the market on gut instinct or by referring to general, existing studies. The result has been few are demanding - and paying - for better research of a group difficult to survey.

Nonetheless, new research is becoming available, even as changes are arriving in the way people think about the gay market.

New Market Study Brings Up Old Issues

A new study focused specifically on the gay market was released with some controversy. OpusComm Group, in conjunction with the S.I. Newhouse School at Syracuse University and media/entertainment company GSociety, have compiled the "2001 Gay/Lesbian Consumer Online Census." About 6,300 U.S. respondents completed the 40-minute-long questionnaire online, making it the largest survey of the market.

The study found higher-than-average incomes for gays, ground covered in earlier studies from Simmons Market Research Bureau and criticized for methodological purposes. In the OpusComm survey, the median combined household income of surveyed couples was $65,000, nearly 60 percent higher than the 1999 U.S. average income of $40,800, and that more than a fifth reported earning more than $100,000.

About half of respondents said they were partnered and 13 percent of couples have children under 18 years of age living at home. The study also looks at media usage, and purchasing habits in 13 categories, including food & beverage, child care, home & garden, electronics, personal care, sports & fitness, along with more developed gay ad categories such as finance, clothing and travel. It found that lesbians and gays spend an average of between $100 and $299 on entertainment each month.

But the survey immediately brought sharp criticism from several market experts, who were concerned about a self-selected audience of respondents, that there was no means to prevent multiple responses in the survey, about the use of "census" in the name because it implies a complete group count, and that the poll calls itself the "first of its kind" when there were similar earlier surveys.

Click here to full story

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Subject Areas: : Covering politics; gays and lesbians as political factors; covering controversial social change
Los Angeles Times
December 10, 2001

Capitol Gains for Gay Pols Legislature's four lesbians help push California to the forefront in the fight for equal rights.

By JENIFER WARREN, Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO - Making history can be uncomfortable, and so it was for Sheila Kuehl.

As California's first openly gay legislator, she weathered the scorn of conservative colleagues who publicly denounced her "unnatural" lifestyle and killed many of her early bills.

Conservatives here still quote Scripture to condemn gays as sinners, but Kuehl has company now. Three other lesbians have joined her in the Legislature, and their ideas are steadily finding their way into law.

Seven years after Kuehl's arrival in Sacramento, gay Californians enjoy growing prominence in all corners of political life. They are city council members, state university trustees, park commissioners and trusted advisors to the governor.

This rising profile carries muscle, and it is paying off with ever-expanding rights and legal protections for gay men and lesbians.
The most recent evidence surfaced in October, when Gov. Gray Davis - a famously cautious politician - signed a bill bestowing a bundle of new benefits on gays who register as domestic partners with the state. Only Vermont, where gays may enter "civil unions" that resemble marriage, does more.

Although four out of 120 legislators hardly amounts to numerical clout, the women who hold those jobs are central players in Sacramento. Migden, chairwoman of the powerful Assembly Appropriations Committee, is a close ally of Davis...

Kuehl is considered one of the sharpest minds in the Capitol and ... has twice been ranked tops in integrity by California Journal... As for the newcomers, Goldberg, a former Los Angeles councilwoman, distinguished herself as a quick study on the energy crisis and is known for her work on education and labor issues. Kehoe, a former San Diego councilwoman, was named assistant speaker pro tempore, a high-profile assignment requiring her to frequently run Assembly floor sessions.

'Lavender Caucus' Not Single-Issue Group

The four women have shown "they are not single-issue people," said Brian Bond of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, a Washington-based group that works to elect homosexuals. Although statehouse conservatives retain strong philosophical disagreements with their lesbian colleagues, in most cases they respect the women's work...

Sen. Ray Haynes (R-Riverside), an evangelical Christian, said he views homosexuality as immoral and does not believe that gay couples deserve rights enjoyed by married heterosexuals. But he called Kuehl "honest and honorable..."

"I like Sheila. She's a nice lady. But I'll never believe that sort of sexual behavior is acceptable."

There are still only 40 openly gay elected officials in California, out of a national total of about 205. Moreover, California is home to well organized conservative groups that oppose any expansion of gay rights.

AB 25 spawned an uproar inside the Capitol as well, with Republicans pulling out Bibles during Assembly debate... The legislation passed, but failed to receive a single Republican vote in either house.

Click here to full story

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Subject areas: Civil protections grow for gays, lesbians; analyzing statistics; Covering government
Gay People's Chronicle
December 7, 2001

Gay civil rights laws now cover a third of the nation
Almost a sixth of Ohio's people are included
by Brian DeWitt

As the dust clears from an unsuccessful challenge to Maryland's gay and lesbian civil rights law, a surprising fact emerges: Forty percent of the U.S. population is now covered by one of these measures.

This includes almost a sixth of Ohio's population, although the state has no law protecting its gay and lesbian citizens.

With Maryland's law now in effect, a dozen states and the District of Columbia now have gay and lesbian civil rights laws. Most of these are broad measures covering housing, public accommodations, loans, education and other areas. Two, in Hawaii and Nevada, are limited to employment only.

The other states with laws are California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Jersey.

The U.S. has 281.4 million people, according to the 2000 census. About one in eight lives in California (34 million), one of the states with a law. Adding in the other 11 states and D.C. brings this number to 74 million people, over a quarter of the nation's population.

In states without a law, a growing number of people are covered by local gay and lesbian civil rights ordinances... there are now 128 of them, including 11 in Ohio. New ones have been passed this fall in Normal, Illinois; Bangor, Maine; and three weeks ago in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Most of the nation's largest cities have these laws. They range from fair housing ordinances to measures that also include employment, public accommodations, education and union practices.

An additional 59 localities have measures covering only their public employees...

Taking care not to count city residents twice in these cases produces a figure of 38 million people covered by local ordinances in states without a law.

Adding that figure to the 74 million covered by state laws gives us 112 million Americans - 40 percent - that are covered by a gay and lesbian equal rights measure of some kind.

The Cincinnati human rights ordinance was repealed by the city council in 1995. In 1998, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed to stand a Sixth Circuit appeals court opinion upholding Issue 3.

Click on full story.

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Austin American-Statesman
June 3, 2001

The voices of gay Austin
By Michael Barnes and Sean Massey, American-Statesman Staff and Special to the American-Statesman

“An overwhelming majority of lesbians and gay men feel safe, comfortable and satisfied with the quality of life in Central Texas. Yet they miss certain aspects of traditional gay culture and community, such as social spaces, businesses and other resources dedicated to gay men and, especially, lesbians. A first-of-its-kind newspaper study found that gay men and lesbians came to Central Texas for the same reasons that brought other newcomers -- high levels of education, jobs, natural beauty and tolerance of difference. Yet they are less content with the lack of social opportunities in a city with no lesbian and gay community center or cohesive gay district.”

To retrieve the story, visit The Austin American-Statesman’s archives page.

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Subject Areas: Covering diversity; News decision-making
Associated Press
October 22, 2001

Gay Hero Emerges From Hijacking
By Margie Mason

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Mark Bingham was a strapping 220-pound, 6-foot-5 rugby player who had fought off muggers on the street and run with the bulls in Spain before taking on the terrorists on United Flight 93.

One of the heroes to emerge from America's biggest tragedy, Bingham has also become a symbol of hope to the nation's gays – a man whose sexual orientation made no difference when lives were at stake.

"I think Mark was always my personal hero,'' said Paul Holm, Bingham's former partner of six years. "We didn't run around waving gay flags, but we were very proud to be gay and if people asked, he told them.''
Flight 93 was en route from Newark, N.J., to San Francisco on Sept. 11 when Bingham, 31, called his mother saying they had been hijacked by three men who said they had a bomb. Bingham, sitting within reach of the cockpit, is believed to be one of those who fought the terrorists and caused the plane to crash into a Pennsylvania field instead of its apparent target in Washington.
Now, liberals and conservatives alike invoke Bingham's name as an example of America's strength and spirit.

California's top politicians presented Holm with an American flag, and San Francisco Supervisor Mark Leno wants to build a Bingham memorial in the city's predominantly gay Castro District.

"If he knew that lives were at stake, I'm convinced with every bone in my body that he would have jumped into action,'' Holm said. "He was physically fit and strong and guns and weapons didn't bother him.''

Bingham, who lived most of his life in Northern California but moved to New York not long before the terrorist attacks, also was a proven leader. He had coached his gay rugby team, the San Francisco Fog, was president of his fraternity at the University of California at Berkeley and started his own public relations firm, the Bingham Group, in San Francisco and New York.

"We have the chance to be role models for other gay folks who wanted to play sports, but never felt good enough or strong enough. More importantly, we have the chance to show the other teams in the league that we are as good as they are," Bingham wrote.

The attacks have helped lead to some political change: Republican New York Gov. George Pataki decided that partners of gays killed in violent crimes can get benefits from the New York Crime Victims Board.

"Do you think for a minute that one of those men or women fleeing the towers trying to save themselves ... do you think one of them thought for a minute, 'I wonder what the sexual orientation of that fireman is?'" Pataki said.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a supporter of "don't ask, don't tell," wants Bingham and other Flight 93 passengers to get a Congressional Gold Medal, Congress' highest civilian honor. On the Net: http://www.markbingham.org

Click here for the full-length story.

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Subject Areas: Ethics; Outing; News decision-making

October 22, 2001

Open Letter to U.S. News Organizations
From Robert Dodge, President of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association

Since the September 11 attacks, many of us have been touched by countless accounts of heroism. Americans learned about how ordinary people became extraordinary in a moment. We know about these people because journalists in print, online and broadcast have told their stories. We know much about their lives, families and friends and what made them special…

But many Americans may be deprived knowing about the gay heroes. That is because some news organizations have selectively chosen to obscure or ignore the sexual orientation of some of those who also lost their lives.

Consider the story of Franciscan priest Father Mychal Judge, the chaplain of the New York Fire Department who was killed while administering the last rites to injured rescue workers at the World Trade Center. Although Father Judge was openly gay and often worked in the gay community, this fact went unreported in many stories generated by the mainstream press.

Mark Bingham of San Francisco was among the heroes on United Airlines flight 93 who tried to overpower hijackers and prevented the Boeing 757 from hitting targets in Washington, D.C. Bingham was also openly gay.

Then there was David Charlebois, the first officer on American Airlines flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon. Mr. Charlebois, a 10-year veteran pilot, lived in Washington, D.C., with his partner of 14 years.

Some journalists may embrace outdated ideas that identifying openly gay and lesbian heroes will cast a negative image on their memory. This decision is based on a presumption that being gay or lesbian is wrong, a bias that works completely against news objectivity. It is the same as withholding information about the spouse, children and other features about the heterosexual heroes.

What about legitimate concerns about "outing" someone, or disclosing the sexual orientation of someone who preferred privacy? We suggest more and better reporting.

Click here for the full-length story.

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Subject Areas: Covering politics; covering government; press and social movements
Minneapolis Star Tribune
October 20, 2001

10 openly gay candidates seek office in Minneapolis this year
By Mark Brunswick, Star Tribune

Ten openly gay candidates, including five for City Council, are running for elected office in Minneapolis this year, by most reckonings the largest such contingent in the country.

If all were victorious – and all are considered to at least have a shot – the city would have at least one gay officeholder on each of its elected bodies, from the council to the Board of Estimate and Taxation.

Though Minneapolis has a history of gay and lesbian involvement in its dominant DFL Party, observers are taking note, particularly given estimates that only 205 of 500,000 elected officials nationwide are openly gay.

"Minneapolis is out in front of the curve," said Brian Bond, executive director of the Victory Fund, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that raises money for gay candidates.

Yet that doesn't translate into a specific "gay agenda," said Allan Spear, a former state senator from Minneapolis who broke ground when he came out in 1974. He suggested instead that this year's circumstances are the culmination of years of work by disparate candidates who cut their teeth on neighborhood, school and health issues – the traditional breeding grounds of up-and-coming politicians.

All of the candidates endorsed by Stonewall DFL – the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender caucus of the party – do support such things as the extension of domestic-partner benefits and reproductive rights.

Ken Darling, who has written extensively in local newspapers and magazines about gay politics and social issues in the Twin Cities area, said there has been no back-room maneuvering by the well-connected to create such a slate and no traditional litmus test on issues.

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Subject Areas: Press and civil rights; Media and society; Covering mass media
Village Voice Literary Supplement, Fall 2001

Dangerous Liasons
By Michael Warner

All the Rage: The Story of Gay Visibility in America, By Suzanna Danuta Walters; University of Chicago Press.
No lesbian or gay man old enough to remember life before Will and Grace has failed to notice that things have changed in the virtual world of infotainment. Gay characters, and a few actual gay people, have cropped up with unwonted (perhaps unwanted) frequency on sitcoms, in films, in ad campaigns, and in the news – the mass media's fruit of the month. The question is whether things have changed anywhere else, and if so, how.

To some extent every dominated group must confront the same question: Is visibility enough? Do we really want pop icons to identify with?

Lesbians and gay men are perhaps more susceptible to the lure of public recognition than others. Unlike racial or ethnic groups, they suffer less from economic deprivation than from the way straight society takes their impossibility for granted. All of us have had the experience of growing up in a world where everyone around us assumes that we're heterosexual until proven guilty. If we feel otherwise, we discover suddenly that we are "in the closet." So visibility is not nothing. But when straight culture begins telling us every night in prime time that it isn't homophobic after all, we have to wonder what kind of progress this is.

There is a moment at the end of The Wizard of Oz when the quest seems to be over, and the now debunked wizard doles out his prizes to the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion. Even as a child I was always surprised by the idiotic satisfaction that our heroes seemed to take in his trinkets. Is that all they wanted, just some kind of public recognition from somebody, no matter how empty? Of course I got the idea: Don't stand around waiting for the Great One to alter anything in the world; your only problem is your attitude. It is one of the great enduring myths of American culture: All you have to change is your self-esteem.

So now we have our visibility. The straight media gave us a big, red, heart-shaped clock. Time to take our self-esteem and shut up?

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Subject Areas: Covering business; working with statistics; Journalism and Society
Yahoo! News
October 17, 2001

Gay purchasing power reaches new high
By Beth Shapiro

SYRACUSE, New York – The median combined household income of American gay couples is $65,000, nearly 60 percent higher than the 1999 U.S. average income of $40,800, a first-of-its-kind study reveals.

OpusComm Group, Inc., in conjunction with the S.I. Newhouse School at Syracuse University and media/entertainment company GSociety, Inc., has developed what it says is the first comprehensive and in-depth census of the economics and buying habits of the gay and lesbian market.

Jeffrey Garber, president of OpusComm said, "We've always surmised that gay purchasing power is a force to be reckoned with. What was needed was a yardstick to accurately measure the impact of gay and lesbian consumerism."

The survey, an Internet-based census was designed to poll gay men and lesbians about their education, jobs, spending practices and politics, and make that information available to advertisers.

Nearly 6,000 U.S. respondents completed the 40-minute-long census.

The study reveals a significantly higher median income for gay households than the U.S. median. More than a fifth of respondents reported a total combined income of $100,000 or more.

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Subject Areas: Privacy; access to the Press; Outing
Texas Triangle
October 15, 2001

National Coming Out Project is Evidence of its Own Success
By Matt Lum

DALLAS – It wasn't always such an easy task to get approval to bring 5,000 gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgenders to the State Fair of Texas, nor print a 'coming out' ad in the Dallas Morning News, but this year, "they called us."

The National Coming Out Project – Dallas/Ft. Worth (NCOP-DFW) was started in the fall of 1993. Since then, they have consistently organized the largest National Coming Out Day events in the U.S. and have continued to expand their outreach yearly.

That first year, a news conference was held featuring six gays and lesbians sharing their stories and a coming out celebration was held at the Cathedral of Hope with Rob Eichberg as the keynote speaker.

In 1994, the group took out an advertisement in the Dallas Morning News for the first time featuring a collection of signatures from individuals who "support ending discrimination against gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals."
Placing the ad in the DMN did not go off without a hitch or two.

"They originally told us we could not run such an ad," said Gregory Pynes, who's been involved with the project since day one. "It wasn't until we obtained legal counsel that they agreed to print it."

And even then, the prerequisites of publishing were strident and circumspect.

"In order to sign up for the ad, participants had to fill out a form swearing they were over eighteen and wanted to participate in the campaign," he said. "Someone on our staff would have to see their drivers license, and verify their address and phone number. NCOP representatives also had to sign an affidavit that says we swear we looked at all those drivers licenses and essentially testify those people who signed are who they are."

Pynes said DMN did that to limit their liability from the fallout that was to inevitably ensue with such a highly visible effort.
After the first ad was published in 1994, community reaction dominated the letters to the editor for nearly three months. "Both positive and negative feedback, as usual," Pynes said.

Although the DMN now calls the NCOP-DFW representatives to remind them to place the ad, many safeguards remain in place.

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Subject Areas: Ethics; News Reporting; Feature writing
USA Today
October 15, 2001

Redefining "Family" After 9/11
By Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY

The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks put fresh pressure on a sensitive issue in American social policy — the definitions of "relative" and "family." Already, leading private charities such as the American Red Cross are responding liberally to gays, lesbians and their children among the survivors. But will a new federal fund to compensate survivors do so? Should it?

Some social policy experts say Congress and the courts ought to change or skirt marriage and adoption rules to recognize domestic partners and gay parents.
"It's a tragedy that changes the landscape. Something in me balks at the notion that we're going to say, 'You are mourning and devastated, but you don't qualify for help,'" says Jean Bethke Elsthain, ethics professor at the University of Chicago Divinity School. "Erring on the side of inclusivity and generosity is much closer to Christian understanding of the human person than a cramped and narrowly legalistic approach."
But veteran airline litigation lawyer Tom Demetrio says, "Terrorism does not rewrite the rules."

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New York Magazine
June 11, 2001

Gay Ball! Can gay pro-sports fans finally come out of the closet and be accepted by their teams?
By William Middleton

“‘Out’ editor-in-chief Brendan Lemon's claim that he is having an affair with a closeted major-league baseball player sent the media into full Social Issue alert, from ‘Page Six’ to Sports Illustrated to CNN, which ran a one-hour special wondering, ‘Is America Ready for Openly Gay Athletes?’ But maybe the real question should be, is America ready for gay sports fans?”

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Asbury Park Press
June 4, 2001

New Jersey a haven for gay community
By Naomi Mueller, staff writer

“Since the census does not ask people about their sexual orientation, knowing where gay people live and what percentage of the population is gay is impossible, said David Smith, communications director for Human Rights Campaign, the country's largest gay-rights organization. Anecdotally, however, gay people throughout the country tend to gravitate toward more progressive areas, he said. Because of New Jersey's proximity to New York City and Philadelphia, the state has become a haven for gay people looking for a suburban climate that is friendly to gays, Smith said.”

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Oakland Press
June 4, 2001

Community celebrates gay pride: City puts out incredible welcome mat for area fest
By Denise Jenkin, News Reporter

“The rainbows stretching across Nine Mile Road in Ferndale Sunday weren't a result of the rainy weather. They were just one of thousands of expressions of pride at the 12th annual Metro Detroit PrideFest celebration for people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered.”

Click here to retrieve the story from the Oakland Press website.

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Indianapolis Star
June 4, 2001

In due time, last clubhouse barrier will fall
By Bob Kravitz

“As usual, ESPN is showing on the clubhouse television. ... The moderator, Bob Ley, is asking his guests the important questions, like whether America is ready and whether it really matters if America is ready. ... It began last month when Brendan Lemon, the editor of Out magazine, wrote an open letter to his boyfriend, an established major leaguer, urging him to acknowledge his homosexuality. That letter, Lemon said, was both read and endorsed by the anonymous player, who wanted to float the trial balloon. Now, it is the source of commentaries all over the country. They are talking about it everywhere. Except in baseball clubhouses. Where they don't talk about these things, at least not until they have to talk about these things.”

To retrieve the story, visit The Indianapolis Star’s online library.

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Austin American-Statesman
June 3, 2001

The voices of gay Austin
By Michael Barnes and Sean Massey, American-Statesman Staff and Special to the American-Statesman

“An overwhelming majority of lesbians and gay men feel safe, comfortable and satisfied with the quality of life in Central Texas. Yet they miss certain aspects of traditional gay culture and community, such as social spaces, businesses and other resources dedicated to gay men and, especially, lesbians. A first-of-its-kind newspaper study found that gay men and lesbians came to Central Texas for the same reasons that brought other newcomers -- high levels of education, jobs, natural beauty and tolerance of difference. Yet they are less content with the lack of social opportunities in a city with no lesbian and gay community center or cohesive gay district.”

To retrieve the story, visit The Austin American-Statesman’s archives page.

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Austin American-Statesman
June 3, 2001

“Out” in Austin: About this study
By Michael Barnes and Sean Massey, American-Statesman Staff and Special to the American-Statesman

“This study of Austin's gay community began last summer as a friendly after-dinner bet. Yet its roots go back 17 years. ... Massey and Barnes did not expect 1,265 responses -- a considerable sample, according to Carol Cosenza, project manager for the Center for Survey Research at University of Massachusetts, Boston. ‘That's an amazing number,’ she says. ‘Usually the studies (of gay men and lesbians) are of 100 or 200.’ After analyzing this preliminary data, it took months to conduct longer e-mail and face-to-face interviews with 40 of the participants.”

To retrieve the story, visit The Austin American-Statesman’s archives page.

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Missoula Independent
May 31, 2001

Out In Montana
By Ron Selden

“Acceptance and persecution, a willingness to help and a quickness to condemn. Being openly homosexual in most parts of Montana is like climbing into a kaleidoscope—you’re surrounded by an entire spectrum of attitudes, but the spectrum is always shifting. Your neighbors might recognize and even accept your homosexuality, but your government never will. You might start to feel safe being out of the closet in Montana, but as this winter’s outbreak of anti-gay violence proved, you probably shouldn’t. And above all, while Montanans pride themselves on preserving their individual freedoms, the state’s political leaders have been trying their hardest to write laws that regulate individual behavior, refusing to offer even the most basic protections for homosexuals. They are all uneasy social paradoxes, but they are ones same-sex activists feel are slowly swinging their way.”

Click here to retrieve the story from the Missoula Independent website.

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Los Angeles Times
May 21, 2001

Pieces of the Puzzle
By Melissa Healy, Special to The Times

“Researchers are finding tantalizing clues about what causes homosexuality and what signs may indicate its likelihood early in life.”

To retrieve the story, visit the Los Angeles Times’s Archives site.

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Seattle Times
May 20, 2001

Ferndale gets jolt at prom: His royal highness is an open lesbian
By Eli Sanders, Seattle Times staff reporter

“People in this town are annoyed with Krystal Bennett. It's not because she's a lesbian, they say, but because she demeaned a time-honored high-school tradition. What happened is this: On April 28, at the Ferndale High School senior prom, Bennett was voted prom king. No one in Ferndale, including Bennett, knows whether the vote was a joke or a statement. But by embracing the gender-bending election results, Bennett, the only openly gay student at Ferndale High School, caused waves of consternation to ripple through this town near the Canadian border.”

Click here to retrieve the story from the Seattle Times website.

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May 18, 2001

Gay Player Trapped In Intolerant World
By Johnette Howard

“Over the past few days the topic has been the buzz on sports talk radio shows, the cable TV networks, and various Internet chat rooms across the country. The Editor's Letter by Brendan Lemon appeared in the May edition of Out magazine and it begins: ‘For the past year-and-a-half, I have been having an affair with a pro baseball player from a major-league East Coast franchise, not his team's biggest star but a very recognizable media figure all the same.’ ... Big-time sports being what they are, and sometimes that means a place where men make a lucrative living even after being exposed as bigoted, drug-using, gun-toting, wife-beating incorrigibles, it says a lot about how deep homophobia runs that being a mid-career gay male athlete is still arguably the most explosive or ‘dangerous’ thing you can be.”

To retrieve the story, visit Newsday’s archives page.

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Out Magazine
May 2001

Letter From The Editor
“For the past year-and-a-half, I have been having an affair with a pro baseball player from a major-league East Coast franchise, not his team’s biggest star but a very recognizable media figure all the same. During this time, none of my friends has been privy to this liaison, a concealment that has been awkward at times but nothing in comparison to the maneuverings that my ballplayer has had to make. I am surprised that I have put up with this discretion requirement for so long. There is more than a little irony in the editor of the nation’s largest-circulation gay magazine skulking around with someone so deep in the closet.”

Click here to retrieve the story from the Out Magazine website.

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Los Angeles Times
April 29, 2001

A Thousand Stories
By Michael Quintanilla, Times Staff Writer

“Letters, diaries, magazines and artwork share space at L.A.'s new ONE Institute and Archives, a massive repository of gay historical material. ... In all, the institute contains more than 2 million individual archival pieces, including 100,000 photographs, 30,000 books, 5,000 gay and lesbian magazines in more than 20 foreign languages, drawers of buttons, stickers and signs, military artifacts, gay pride parade banners and innumerable personal and public papers on just about every imaginable gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issue and topic.”

To retrieve the story, visit the Los Angeles Times’s Archives site.

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