in the news/6
Volume 18/Issue 4

Gay Minister Calls Republicans "Obscene"

The Rev. Jim Mitulski, Senior Pastor, Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco, recently said, "The California Republican Party have, by their silence, condoned an obscenity. Death is never, I repeat, never funny.... For Republicans to seek political strength at the expense of any minority represents the height of immorality."

At the Republican Prayer Breakfast, last Sept. in Anaheim, Republican State Party Chaplain, Doc Burch, reportedly told a joke which describes Egyptians as adulterers, Syrians as thieves and Jews as cheap barterers. Then, the weekend of Feb. 5, 2000, again at the State Republican Party Prayer Breakfast, jokes mocking Gays, Lesbians and those killed at Columbine High School were told.

The breakfast, it was reported, was used as a platform for the Republican Party to generate support for Proposition 22, the Limitation of Marriage initiative. The San Francisco Examiner reported "the audience roared with laughter," at the jokes.

Burch reportedly said the United States would "pay a price" like Nazi Germany and the former Soviet Union for acceptance of Gay men and Lesbians. He also said, "God doesn't tolerate the way we are living today, embracing all kinds of evil." Also at the breakfast were Republican State Party Chairman John McGraw and Prop 22 author, Pete Knight.

"Does the Republican Party have no sense of values," Mitulski asked. "Most people when they make a mistake say I'm sorry.' These Repubicans, on the other hand we are told, roared with laughter.'"

"The Republican Party, its State Chairman John McGraw and their State Senator Pete Knight have shown they will tolerate anything to further their own political agendas. Senator Knight has succeeded in taking the Republican Party into the gutter. They should be ashamed of themselves," Mitulski concluded.

Gay Student Sues School for Nonprotection

Derek Henkle filed a lawsuit Jan. 28 against several schools, school officials and teachers in Reno, Nev., for failing to protect him from anti-Gay harassment and for violating his constitutional rights to equal protection. He is also making claims of infliction of emotional distress. Lambda Legal Defense and Educational and Education Fund is handling the suit, which is seeking a high school diploma, along with compensatory and punitive damages. Henkle said of his experience: "School for me on a daily basis was an unknown. It was a daily nightmare. It was something I was forced under Nevada law to attend every day, but not given any avenue to be safe while I was there." He said he was frequently verbally and physically attacked, to the point of there being an attempt made by several students to lasso him by the neck and drag him behind a truck. He managed to escape, but no action was taken by the school against these perpetrators.

The suit claims the schools never took action against any person who harassed Henkle, even after his parents made complaints.

Henkle said school officials saw him as the problem and he was moved between three schools as a solution. He also alleges school officials instructed him to hide his sexuality to avoid problems, one principal telling him to stop "acting like a fag."

Jon W. Davidson, Lambda's supervising attorney, said the case is an important wake-up call to schools, which need to learn it is not OK to let Lesbian and Gay students be treated as punching bags. "Unfortunately, the problem of harassment against Gay youth is epidemic in schools across the country," he said. [from GLAAD]

Gay Rhode Island State Legislator
Introduces Pro-Marriage Bill

Openly Gay state Rep. Michael S. Pisaturo, D-Cranston, on Feb. 2 introduced a bill in the state House of Representatives that would allow all Rhode Islanders equal access to civil marriage, according to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund. The Victory Fund, which works to elect qualified openly Gay and Lesbian candidates to public office as a means of ending discrimination, supported Pisaturo's two successful campaigns for the state Legislature.

"This pro-marriage bill is just one example of the fair-minded measures that move forward when Lesbian and Gay Americans are openly represented along with everyone else in our government," said Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund Executive Director Brian K. Bond. "Rep. Pisaturo deserves a great deal of credit for advancing this and other sensible legislation for the people of Rhode Island."

Pisaturo noted that civil marriage confers hundreds of basic legal protections for committed couples - many of which cannot be arranged by other means, even for those who can afford a lawyer.

"All of our state's families should have equal access to the rights and responsibilities of civil marriage," stated Pisaturo. "This bill is not about, nor will it ever require any religious denomination to perform or recognize same-sex marriage; it is only about the government allowing equal access to a civil marriage license for Gay and straight couples alike. Legally, religious and civil marriage are two separate institutions. People of faith are sincerely divided in their beliefs about Gay unions. Our society is deeply committed to religious liberty - and part of that commitment means the state should not dictate which marriage any religion recognizes, and no one religious viewpoint should dictate which marriages the state recognizes."

Pisaturo pointed out that civil marriage ensures hospital visitation rights, the ability to file joint tax returns, inheritance rights, equal access to bereavement leave or sick leave to care for an ailing partner, the ability to make medical decisions without a special power of attorney and literally hundreds of other basic family-friendly legal safeguards.

"This is a pro-family, pro-marriage bill that would allow more Rhode Island families to take on the commitment and responsibility that a civil marriage entails," noted Pisaturo. "Gay men and Lesbians should no longer be excluded from the same protections for our families that others take for granted."

Pisaturo has secured 20 co-sponsors for the Equal Access to Marriage Act. He has introduced similar measures in the past, but this year he believes support has grown sufficiently to hold hearings on the bill. Outside of Vermont, Pisaturo's proposal is the only pro-marriage measure currently pending before any state legislature.

"The government should not be in the business of picking and choosing which citizens are allowed the basic human right to marry the one person they love," added the Victory Fund's Bond. "Our families' access to equal protection under the law should not be subjected to a political popularity contest. The decision of whether and whom to marry is an intensely personal matter best left to the individual, free from government interference."

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