in the news/7
Volume 17/Issue 25

Fraud Tied to Gays, Transsexuals

Prosecutors in Tampa, FL, say a Gay man there has raked in millions of dollars by using Transsexuals who assume both male and female identities to confuse and con victims out of money, the St. Petersburg Times reports.

Andrew Stephans, 30, has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to make, possess, and utter counterfeit checks. Sheriff's detective Pam Hall said Stephans recruited Transsexuals to fraudulently open bank accounts and cash checks. "It's a very tight-knit community," Hall said of the 1,000 Transsexuals she estimates were involved in the fraud ring. "It's their own subculture, and they stick together." [from the Advocate]

Ky County Bans Bias

Jefferson County, Kentucky commissioners have passed an ordinance that outlaws sexual orientation discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations.

The outpouring of emotion at the Oct. 12 meeting during which the commissioners voted exceeded any witnessed by longtime commission observers, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. "This legislation is a slap in the face of God," said the Rev. A.J. Dummitt. The three commissioners who voted for the legislation were branded liars by some opponents, who vowed to try to vote the commissioners out of office.

In contrast, members of a group called the Fairness Campaign, which has lobbied for local anti-discrimination ordinances for nearly a decade, praised the commissioners. "You are taking a stand for liberty and justice for all," said Dan Farrell, a Fairness Campaign coordinator.

Jefferson County's action came on the heels of equal rights ordinances passed recently by Louisville, Lexington and Henderson, Ky. Bowling Green is also considering an equal rights measure.

The Fairness Campaign says it hopes the local actions will provide momentum for a statewide non-discrimination law including sexual orientation. State Rep. Kathy Stein, a Lexington Democrat, already has filed a bill with the General Assembly that would add sexual orientation to the state's anti-discrimination laws. But she has acknowledged that passing the bill may be difficult.

Conservative legislators concerned by the number of Kentucky cities and counties banning discrimination against Gays and Lesbians are preparing to push for a statewide law next year that would prohibit local Gay rights ordinances.

State Rep. Tom Kerr has begun drafting a bill that would forbid cities and counties from granting legal protections based on sexual orientation and would void local Gay rights laws already in place. A similar measure, known as Amendment 2, enacted by the Colorado Legislature, was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1996.

Meanwhile, the American Center for Law and Justice, the legal arm of the Christian Coalition, recently filed a federal suit challenging the Louisville civil rights ordinance and has promised to add Jefferson County's new law to the lawsuit.

KY Gay-Rights Leader Gets $25,000 Prize
by Jim Hannah, The Courier-Journal

After leading the successful fight for Gay-rights ordinances in four parts of Kentucky, Maria Price has another reason to celebrate.

Price, executive director of the Kentucky Fairness Alliance, has been named one of four winners of a 1999 Stonewall Award for improving the quality of life for Gays and Lesbians in the United States. She will receive a $25,000 prize.

"It is crazy," said Price, a Louisville resident. "I have never seen anything like it. I have only known a couple of people who have gotten this award in the past. They are usually from a bigger city, like New York or Chicago. I didn't know anything about it until they called and told me I won."

With this year's prizes, the Chicago-based Anderson Prize Foundation, a family-run organization established in 1991, will have given nearly $900,000 in Stonewall Awards to 36 people in eight years. The awards are named for a 1969 revolt by Gay people in New York against police, claiming brutality.

Recipients are selected by an anonymous panel of Gay-rights leaders from across the country, foundation spokeswoman Paulette Barrett said.

Barrett said the Kentucky Fairness Alliance, which lobbies lawmakers on issues important to Gays and Lesbians, is regarded as a model for state-rights organizations because it reaches beyond cities and into rural communities to create links among race, sexual orientation and economics.

Grass-roots Gay activism has helped win a series of victories this year for Kentucky homosexuals. Since January, four local governments have added sexual orientation to their anti-discrimination laws, including Jefferson County, which voted last month to ban such bias in employment, housing and public accommodations.

There will be no award ceremony for Price. The foundation will simply send her a check.

Price, 34, said the majority of the money remaining after taxes will go toward maintaining her family's farm in Lawrence County, Ill., which was hit hard by this year's drought.

Price grew up on the farm, where she raised animals to help pay for college. She said that the deterioration of the farm economy and the impact of that on people triggered her interest in social justice.

Price studied theology at St. Mary of the Woods College, near Terre Haute, IN., and taught the subject in Catholic high schools in Louisville until 1992.

She became director of the fledgling Kentucky Fairness Alliance in 1995.

MMOW Organizers Unveil Plans, Route

Organizers for the Millennium March on Washington for Equality, the 4th national march for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender civil rights, scheduled for Sun., Apr. 30, 2000, recently unveiled the march's route and plans. Like past marches, the Millenium March will feature both a civil rights march through the streets of Washington, DC and a massive rally on the National Mall.

"An actual civil rights march through the streets of Washington, DC has been an integral part of every previous LGBT national march and the Millennium March will follow this tradition," Malcolm Lazin and Dianne Hardy-Garcia, co-executive directors of the event, recently announced.

During the 1993 March on Washington, many marchers waited more than five hours to march and some at the end of the march arrived at the rally as it was closing, due to the size of the crowd and the length of the the march route.

"We have worked with DC officials and representatives of the US Parks Dept. to devise a shorter and more direct route to the march," said Duane Cramer, a co-chair of the march and a member of the MMOW board of directors. "The new route will allow more than one million GLBT people along with our friends, families and allies to participate in both the march itself and the rally on the Mall," Cramer added.

The march is scheduled to begin at 11am, Apr. 30, 2000, and the procession will be led by state, regional and national GLBT leaders and organizers.

"The rally event will be framed by the Washington Monument at one end of the Mall and the US Capitol building at the other," noted Cramer, and will feature an impressive array of GLBT leaders, grassroots organizers, unsung heroes of the GLBT justice movement, political leaders and entertainers, according to Lazin and Hardy-Garcia.

A free E-mail newsletter is available by writing and more information can be obtained from the March's Web site at

Bush Asked to Say "AIDS"

AIDS Action sent a letter to Texas Governor and presidential candidate George W. Bush on Nov. 22 asking him to utter the word "AIDS" in public. AIDS Action's own research as well as reports from Texas members of the national AIDS organization have revealed that TX Gov. Bush has never said the word AIDS as part of a public appearance, speech or media interview.

"Millions of Americans affected by HIV and AIDS deserve to hear the voice of a leading governor and presidential candidate," said Daniel Zingale, AIDS Action executive director. "Compassion begins with a willingness to talk."

One of the most infamous moments in the history of the epidemic was President Reagan's unwillingness to publicly say "AIDS" during the first, critical years of the epidemic. Then, fear and hysteria could have been quelled by the voice of one of the most powerful communicators of modern times.

Today, the crisis point of the epidemic is complacency among a new generation of young people at risk for HIV, many of whom think the epidemic is over or an "80s thing." To the contrary, young people today make up half of all new infections, totaling 20,000 each year.

"If you succeed in your campaign, your continued silence would be a backward step during an accelerating crisis," Zingale wrote, "Leadership through an epidemic isn't a game of hopscotch. It simply requires a conviction for action and a strong sense of compassion."

AIDS Action discovered Gov. Bush's silence on AIDS as part of a survey of the presidential candidates released this summer. The survey found that the candidates with the most comprehensive records of HIV/AIDS were Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Vice President Al Gore (D). AIDS Action also consulted with several of its members in Texas, none of whom recall any public address on AIDS by the governor.

There have been nearly 50,000 cases of AIDS in Texas since the beginning of the epidemic and thousands more HIV infections.

G.W. Bush
"Probably" Won't Meet with Gay LCR

Republican presidential candidate and Texas Gov. George W. Bush told NBC's Meet the Press on Nov. 21 that he probably would not meet with Log Cabin Republicans (LCR), a Lesbian and Gay political organization, because it would create "a huge political scene."

He elaborated by saying, "I am someone who is a uniter, not a divider. I don't believe in group thought, pitting one group of people against another."

A number of Bush's GOP rivals for the Republican nomination expressed their thoughts on Bush's statements. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has met with LCR, told CBS' Face the Nation that he believes "strongly in the party of Abraham Lincoln. And the Log Cabin Republicans are a part of our party." Publisher Steve Forbes told CNN's Late Edition, "If people want to talk to me, that's fine. They might not like what I have to say on issues, such as same-sex marriage [but] I'm open to meeting a lot of people."

During the course of the hour-long Meet the Press, Bush also touched on issues including same-sex marriage rights and adoptions by same-sex couples - both of which he opposes on the grounds that "a person in my position ought to be promoting the ideal, and the ideal world is for a mom and dad to adopt a child."

Rich Tafel, executive director of LCR, responded to the interview, saying: "He meets with scores of groups, including the Christian Coalition, and lectures the Republican Party on the importance of reaching out to minority groups like Latinos and African Americans, and now he says he won't meet with Gays because we are a 'group.' He's run a Rorschach campaign, reflecting back what donors and supporters want to hear even if the messages completely contradict each other."

Lesbian and Gay issues have been focal points in the campaign platforms of all the major candidates for next year's elections, with Democratic frontrunners Vice President Al Gore and Bill Bradley publicly decrying the anti-Gay Knight Initiative proposed in California and Bradley calling for an amendment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation among the existing list of protected groups.


Possible Lawsuits Over Doll

Boxer Mike Tyson and supermodel Tyson Beckford are considering lawsuits against the manufacturer of a Gay black doll that bears the name Tyson, the New York Daily News reports. The doll, made by Totem International, is the third in a line of Gay dolls, following the popular Billy and Carlos dolls. The Tyson doll is represented as a television reporter who likes to wear leather on weekends. A spokesman for Mike Tyson said the boxer's attorneys will probably review the possibility of a suit. Edward Hayes, an attorney for Beckford, told the paper that "Tyson does sue people who infringe on his image and name. It's a little coincidental that this company has come out with a doll which, just like Tyson Beckford, has a shaved head and tattoos." John McKinnterick, a spokesman for Totem, told the News that any resemblance is coincidental. "It's just a nice name," he said. "We wanted something that was African-American-sounding but without being stereotypical." [from the Advocate]

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