Whenever you have a world divided among beliefs in gay rights, and you have men in power that decide what crimes to target, there is undoubtably a chance for discrimination and police profiling. The U.S. is on the verge of the worse economic decade for the middle class in U.S. History and our police departments are spending ludicrous spending and overtime on undercover stings that target the emotions of this community by drawing them in by sex decoys, only to later arrest them for charges that are not equally pursued among the average U.S. citizen.
The headlines are filled with the stories that seem to build a growing belief that LGBT communities are seeing increased profiling of many habits in the gay community which include frequent use of known websites, places, and clubs of the LGBT community
Manhattan D.A. Candidate Calls for Investigation of ‘Gay Profiling’ by N.Y.P.D.
By Azi Paybarah
It’s in response to a recent series of arrests of gay men in Manhattan sex stores allegedly for lewd behavior. Critics say the arrests were unfair because the men were only responding to advances initiated by the undercover police officers.
In a public statement, Aborn said he wanted the city’s Commission on Human Rights to investigate the matter, saying, “In the 1990’s in this country we were concerned — and still are — about the ‘crime’ of driving while black — police stopping African-American motorists because of the color of their skin. Today, we also need to be concerned about the ‘crime’ of shopping while gay. We cannot tolerate ‘gay profiling.’ Not in New York, not anywhere.”
Aborn also launched an online petition to muster support for the investigation.
According to Gay City News, retiring Manhattan D.A. Robert Morgenthau has agreed to review the arrests. The issue recently made its way from Gay City News to more mainstream news outlets.
Advocates confer with Patrick aides
By Maria Cramer
| GLOBE STAFFOn a cool August evening, a man was walking on a paved path through the Medford section of Torbert Macdonald Park when he locked eyes with a stranger. The man, a computer technician who is gay, believed that the look suggested that the stranger wanted sex, according to gay-rights advocates.
But the stranger was an undercover state trooper, who arrested the technician – not for a sex crime, but for trespassing – after he wandered 50 feet off the path, according to a police report.
State Police arrested 31 men at the park this past summer, most of them for trespassing, reviving fears in the gay community that the police were once again targeting gay men. The sexual orientation of most of the men is unknown, but their arrests prompted gay-rights advocates to meet recently with high-ranking public safety officials in Governor Deval Patrick’s administration.
“There is some concern whether or not the State Police are up to old tactics,’’ said Amanda Escamilla, a victim advocate with Fenway Health’s violence recovery program, who attended the meeting on Nov. 4. “There is reasonable belief that it could be happening again, and, if it is, we want to make sure that it stops.’’
In 1989, State Police agreed to stop using undercover officers as decoys to crack down on alleged sexual activity between men at highway rest stops, according to a Globe report at the time.
‘We were not focusing on sexual activity.’David Procopio State Police spokesman
But police officials say the recent work at the Medford park did not target any one group. Their overall goal, they say, was to maintain safety in state-owned parks and protect delicate grounds, which have been damaged by people veering off main paths to use drugs or engage in sex.
Officials at the state Department of Conservation and Recreation said that “men who have sex with men’’ go off main paths at the Middlesex Fells Reservation to have trysts, trampling on natural resources, according to a draft of the department’s resource management plan.
The language rankles advocates, who said it unfairly blames one group of people. DCR officials said they would revise the language in the plan’s final draft.
Karen Wells – undersecretary of law enforcement for the Executive Office of Public Safety, which oversees the State Police – said troopers are prohibited from targeting specific groups of people.
“I’m very comfortable from the top down that [police] are treating these types of cases appropriately,’’ she said. “I’m also confident that they’re not sending troopers out as decoys.’’
Wells organized the Nov. 4 meeting after hearing concerns from advocates.
“I think it takes a little time to figure out what’s really going on here,’’ said Bruce Bell, who runs the legal information line at the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders and who attended the meeting. “The issue is, are [troopers] really just there to kind of make eye contact and find out more about the person, or are there police who are trying to get people to think, ‘I’m gay, and I want to go have sex off trail with you,’ and encourage the person to go off the trail?’’
The technician, who is also a gay rights activist, alerted GLAD after his arrest and said he had learned of other gay men arrested under similar circumstances at Macdonald Park, said Donald Gorton, chairman of the Anti-Violence Project of Massachusetts.
Advocates have not independently corroborated his allegations.
Throughout history, gay people have relied on furtive glances to communicate sexual interest because to proposition aloud could lead to arrest for solicitation or assault from homophobes, Gorton said.
The use of plainclothes officers could, no matter what the intention, lead to disparate treatment of gay men, Gorton said.
“We’re the ones who those law enforcement tactics fall on most heavily,’’ he said.
The plainclothes officers are members of a unit that focuses on a variety of transgressions, including drug use or illegal swimming at reservoirs, said State Police spokesman David Procopio.
The unit began sending uniformed troopers to Macdonald Park following complaints from residents, including one married couple who reported in March that two men emerged from the woods acting suspiciously, said Procopio.
Plainclothes police, which included one female trooper, were deployed after a woman reported she had been raped there in June, he said. That crime remains unsolved.
People were arrested for trespassing after troopers saw them veer off paths in violation of posted signs, Procopio said. There were no arrests for illicit sexual activity.
Civil rights lawyers and police generally agree that engaging in sex outdoors is not illegal, as long as couples are out of public view.
Procopio said that the sexual orientation of the men arrested is unknown because it does not factor into the decision to arrest.
“I want to make very clear that we were not focusing on sexual activity,’’ he said. “We fully respect the rights of everyone to use that park. All we ask is that anyone who use it do so lawfully.’’
Wells said she did not believe that troopers at the park were told to make eye contact, but she said that eye contact is an essential component of detecting suspicious behavior.
She said she would be open to training troopers on that issue, but plainclothes police will probably continue to patrol the park.
Advocates and officials said they plan to meet again next week in hope of reaching common ground. At the last meeting, advocates met the State Police lieutenant who acts as liaison to the gay community and were encouraged to contact her directly.
“I feel now that if I do get a complaint that I do have a place where I can go,’’ Bell said. “They will listen.’’
Priest in gay porn probe leaves parish
Belfast, Northern Ireland (CNN) – An Irish priest at the center of a gay porn controversy has asked to leave his parish and take sabbatical leave from the priesthood, he said Sunday.
The Catholic Church in Ireland had launched an investigation after reports Father Martin McVeigh accidentally showed pictures of naked men to parents of children preparing for their First Holy Communion.
The incident happened at the start of a PowerPoint presentation at a grade school in Pomeroy, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland in March, said the leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady.
Parents said in a statement they were “horrified” by what they saw and called for action to be taken against the priest.
The church reported the incident to police, who said no crime had been committed.
In a statement Sunday, McVeigh apologized “for the hurt caused” and “his failure to check his presentation in advance.”
However, he insisted he “was not responsible for the presence of the offending images and in this respect I ask you to accept my innocence.”
Bishop: Vatican should rethink celibacy
The priest also confirmed he had destroyed the memory stick that contained the images.
He said: “After the images were inadvertently shown, I immediately removed the memory stick from the laptop. In my shock and upset and in my concern to ensure that the images would never be shown again, I destroyed it later that evening.”
McVeigh described the past month as “the most difficult” of his life and said he would be taking a break.
“In the hope of bringing resolution and healing to the division and pain within the parish, I have taken the decision to ask Cardinal Brady to allow me to leave the parish of Pomeroy and to take sabbatical leave,” said McVeigh, adding: “The memory of this awful episode will remain with me for the rest of my life.”
Brady said he accepted McVeigh had no advance knowledge of the pornography.
In a statement Sunday, Brady said it had been “a traumatic time for the whole parish community and for Father McVeigh personally.” The cardinal also apologized for the incident.
He issued an update on the church investigation, saying other computers used by McVeigh had been “forensically examined by an independent technical expert and no inappropriate imagery has been found.”
Brady added an additional laptop stolen from the local church sacristy since the March 26 meeting “did not form part of the technical examination.”
The cardinal said he had accepted McVeigh’s request for leave on the understanding he would return to the diocese on its completion.
The latest controversy comes after a series of child sex abuse scandals involving Catholic Church clergy in Ireland. The government-backed investigations say thousands of children have been abused by priests and other church figures over the last 80 years.
In March, the Vatican released a major report into the problem, begging forgiveness from victims. However, victims hit out at the report’s finding that new safeguards are working.
Police profiling in Palm Beach
Wednesday, 11 January 2012 11:47Written by Jason Parsley
SFGN’s Year Long Investigation Reveals PBSO Targeting Gay Men In Parks
Randy McGilton, Shawn Browser, and Gerry Sanders have never met but they have something in common: They were all arrested by the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office in a five-year undercover operation targeting gay men having sex in parks.
And they weren’t the only ones.
Those three men represent just a few of the more than 600 arrests made by Detectives Peter Lazar and his partner Vaniclov “Van” Garner, from 2005 to 2010. SFGN reviewed more than 300 of those police reports starting with the year 2007, but PBSO acknowledged their operation began two years before that.
Only a handful of the arrests – four to be exact — were between two men. The rest of them involved an undercover detective soliciting another man for sex using tactics that one lawyer called “disgusting,” while another lawyer questioned the legality of the detectives’ behavior.
“They approach, lure and entice guys who are sitting alone in their car, start a sexually charged conversation and then look for a way to arrest them,” said Fort Lauderdale attorney Russell Cormican, who estimates he’s probably represented upwards of a 100 men over the past 15 years who got busted for public sex (see “What is Entrapment”).
Two of the men mentioned above, McGilton and Browser, were charged with exposure of sexual organs, while the third, Sanders, was charged with loitering in a public restroom.
McGilton and Browser admitted they were guilty of the crime, but neither explored the possibility that they each might have been a victim of entrapment. Most arrestees do not; they can’t afford to do so. While the third, Sanders, denies any wrongdoing and believes he was a victim of an overzealous cop looking to make an arrest.
In fact, Sanders is still worried about retaliation from the cops and did not want his real name used for this article. At first glance his story might seem hard to believe, but police reports confirmed most of the major details as he described them to SFGN (see Sanders’ full story).
Simply put, Sanders was taking a jog through the park, took a short break, and washed his face in the restroom. Sanders, who noticed two men acting strangely in the restroom, mistook the undercover detectives for potential muggers. After leaving the bathroom he got in his car and left with the detective following him through the park. The incident ended with Sanders being charged with loitering in a public restroom.
Sanders said he’s straight and has a girlfriend. He insists he was not at the park looking for sex.
As for Browser, he posted an ad on Craigslist looking for a quick hook up. The detectives responded to it, and they agreed to meet at Okeeheelee Park where they promptly arrested him as soon as he exposed himself. Browser also did not want his real name used.
“They got me all excited by responding to an ad on Craigslist…so I pursued it…I met them in the park…they led me down a road…insisted that I’d whip it out before I could suck him,” he wrote in an email to SFGN.
As for McGilton’s story:
“They approached me. I was standing there for a minute. I wasn’t giving off any signals,” he said. “They asked me what I like to do. [The undercover detective said] my friend likes to fuck. Do you want to get fucked? I told him not really.”
He did, however, end up exposing himself to the detectives who promptly arrested him.
Like many of the other men arrested, McGilton and Browser had to pay fines, attend prostitution classes, and take an AIDS test. Many who wind up in this situation plead no contest and do not hire an attorney because they don’t have the funds or are too embarrassed to fight.
Some like Sanders, though, come to regret that decision.
“Because of my financial situation I didn’t get an attorney to fight it. It was just easier to plead the way I did. My girlfriend told me to fight this. Basically the judge said this is just loitering in a bathroom,” he said. “I was warned about the detective. I was told, you go up against him and you have problems. I didn’t want to push the issue.”
Cormican pointed out that: “What these defendants do not realize is that once they plead no contest they compromise their ability to sue afterwards for false arrest. In fact those who accept the state’s offers are usually required to waive their right to sue.”
Even though loitering in a public bathroom is a misdemeanor and may not be a big deal, it still showed up on Sanders’ record and he had to explain the situation at work.
As far as SFGN can tell the operation started sometime between 2005 and 2007 and lasted until 2010. During that time the two police officers made more than 600 arrests of purportedly gay men in public parks throughout Palm Beach County, from Jupiter to Boca. More than half of the arrests were men aged 45 to 70.
That was the detectives’ only job – going undercover and soliciting men for sex and then arresting them. SFGN did not come across any arrests of men having sex with women and only a handful of arrests that involved two men. Even though SFGN requested all of the arrest records that both detectives made since 2007, only about 320 were handed over. The others may have occurred before SFGN’s request.
A few arrests, though, were of female prostitutes, but none were of female detectives soliciting straight males in parks. If that were the case Russell Cormican is sure plenty of straight men would be arrested. Out of all of the men Cormican has represented, none of the men were straight men busted by a female cop.
“I’ve never ever seen an operation where police utilized a female officer to come on to men,” Cormican said. “If you took an attractive female officer and put her by the restroom in a city park and she walked up to guys as they went in and out and asked them to show their private parts, I think they would arrest a lot of guys.”
When asked why they don’t set up an operation like that he stated:
“That’s a good question. That’s probably a better question to ask the police. They’re targeting gay men, that’s the answer,” he said. “[The police department’s] answer is usually that they’ve received complaints about gay men having sex in the bathrooms. But they usually propose the sex acts themselves.”
What is usually happening in these types of operations Cormican asserts:
“They’re essentially going out and creating their own crime,” he said. “They’re creating the entire incident from the beginning to the end themselves. It’s an artificially created act. If that police officer was not there that day, it wouldn’t have occurred.”
SFGN also reviewed a deposition (see deposition) where Detective Lazar explained his undercover operation in detail.
This is how it goes down:
“No, that’s all I do. Myself and my partner, that’s all we do. We have other park deputies that are uniformed that they do the car burglaries, the vandalism and patrol the parks. That’s what they do,” Lazar stated in a deposition.
“Sometimes I will wear shorts and a tank top. Sometimes it is just a t-shirt with some pants. Each time is a little different,” he bragged. “Six-hundred arrests, at least 300 of those are mine. In total, we have over 600 now in the last three years.”
He continued: “When people talk about the weather, they want to talk about, ‘Hey, do you want to have a good time?”
During the conversation with these men he would sometimes keep his hands in his pockets and pretend he was playing with himself. In many cases the detectives would tell the defendant they like to “suck” or would squat down waiting for the other guy to expose himself (more stunning facts).
“I am playing the role of somebody looking for sex,” he admitted.
If the other person gets too aggressive and asks to see the detective’s genitals, they’ll pretend to get nervous in order to avoid doing so. The detectives also try to make sure to strengthen their cases while in the act.
“I could have arrested him when he exposed himself the first time, but I want more than just a little bit. I would like to get a better case, than his pants were up a little bit, and I had to walk up and see it. I want something a little bit more like him rubbing himself,” Lazar said.
Further answers are difficult to obtain since PBSO Sheriff Ric Bradshaw has so far refused to speak with SFGN except for sending one prepackaged response through his Public Information Officer Teri Barbera.
This is what Bradshaw sent:
“First of all, SEX in public parks, bathrooms, nature trails, etc. is ILLEGAL per Florida State Statue – 800.03 Exposure of sexual organs:
It is unlawful to expose or exhibit one’s sexual organs in public or on the private premises of another, or so near thereto as to be seen from such private premises, in a vulgar or indecent manner, or to be naked in public except in any place provided or set apart for that purpose. Violation of this section is a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. A mother’s breastfeeding of her baby does not under any circumstance violate this section.
In 2005, PBC Parks & Recreation contacted PBSO requesting assistance with illegal sexual activity occurring in PBC park bathrooms and nature trails. PBSO began to enforce ALL illegal sexual activity in public bathrooms, which were mainly located next to playground areas. This enforcement resulted in numerous arrests over the last few years. The individuals arrested were issued a “notice to appear” in court for the charge of Exposure of Sexual Organs.
PBSO responds to all requests to stop illegal activity, regardless of its location, that is what the public expects from our agency.”
And while the statute may be clearly defined, Bradshaw’s statement leaves a bit more to the imagination.
According to the Director of PBC Parks and Recreation they never contacted PBSO about combating illegal sexual activity and was surprised when informed of the undercover operation.
“Wow. I was not aware of that,” said Craig Murphy, director of park operations. “I don’t remember requesting any [assistance].”
Murphy stated he would be aware if anyone else had requested assistance.
“I would be aware of something like that,” he said. “[PBSO] sends us weekly operating reports. I haven’t seen anything out of the ordinary.”
PBSO used to have a Parks Division, but it has since closed down due to budget cuts, according to Barbera. Now Parks and Recreation must rely on the other PBSO units and individual municipalities to assist in patrolling the county’s parks. The undercover operation has also since been stopped because of those same budget cuts.
SFGN also requested to interview Detectives Lazar and Garner. Barbera said Lazar has since retired and did not answer when asked where he retired to. Garner is now a homicide detective, but Barbera said he declined to be interviewed. But that doesn’t mean nobody else was willing to talk about the officers.
In particular, Michael Salnick, a successful and high profile attorney based in Palm Beach County, did have this to say about Detective Lazar:
“In my experience with Mr. Lazar, I never found him particularly credible or believable,” he said. Salnick filed a complaint against Lazar in 1992 for unprofessional conduct and the internal investigation revealed it to be valid. Lazar was given a written reprimand.
Salnick has been practicing law in West Palm Beach for 30 years.
Another well known attorney, Jeffrey Weiner of Miami-Dade County, had a lot to say about the matter. While he couldn’t comment specifically about Palm Beach County he’s seen other police departments in South Florida routinely target gay men.
“Many departments unfortunately repeatedly target gay men,” he said. “It’s disgusting and terrible. Miami Beach is one of the worst in that regard.”
Weiner has been practicing law for more than 38 years and is a former president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and a former president of the Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys Association.
“The bottom line is, we’re often and usually able to get these cases dismissed. Many times there are no crimes except in the minds of the police officers,” he explained. “Prosecutors are a lot more reasonable than the cops on the beat. But it’s terrible what they put people through. The means they use are really offensive. The games they play.”
He added: “As a lawyer, I’m offended by this behavior by the police.”
Cormican said these types of arrests are embarrassing for defendants and many times they do not want to take it to trial even though there would be a good chance of either dismissal or acquittal.
“Usually it’s straight guys who are married or a gay guy running around on his boyfriend and don’t want a public battle with police. They just want it out of their lives. Something like this has the potential to impact their personal relationships,” Cormican said. “So a lot of people don’t want to fight these and police take advantage of that.”
McGilton and the other men contacted by SFGN were all surprised that the information about their arrests were still available. All of them say they were led to believe by authorities it wouldn’t stay on their record.
“I’m surprised it’s on my record. That’s why I’ve had a hard time getting a couple of jobs. Never realized that,” McGilton said. While Browser said: “They told me not to worry that it will disappear in 3 years or so….I’m really bummed tho that a complete stranger got hold of this…I guess it’ll show up as criminal record when I apply for a job.”
Cormican confirms that this isn’t unusual.
“Sometimes the police will even tell people up front don’t fight it. Don’t get a lawyer. Just go talk to city prosecutor. Don’t bother fighting it,” he said. “A lot of people elect to do that because it’s an embarrassing thing. The police really do push them that way. And I think a lot of it is because the police really don’t want people to stand up and fight these things. There are defenses there. What they’re doing is probably illegal.”
While no one from the PBSO would speak with SFGN, Tony Plakas, Executive Director of Compass, the gay and lesbian center of Palm Beach County, did come to Bradshaw’s defense and said he doesn’t believe there to be any widespread homophobia in the ranks of PBSO. He went on to say Bradshaw has been an ally of the LGBT community and praised the sheriff’s outreach efforts to the community.
In another case Jim Walker, (not his real name), hired an attorney who recommended taking it to trial and said it would most likely be thrown out, but he instead decided to settle without a trial and plead no contest.
“I should have gone to court. The attorney recommended it,” he said regretfully. “It would have been dropped. But I was afraid I would know someone there. I’m married with four kids. I sat in my car and cried for an hour. I was scared to death.”
And at 78 years old he has no plans on coming out of the closet.
“I can’t. My wife, it would be the end of her,” he said. “At this point too many people would be hurt.
Just Your Friendly Local Preacher Advocating Death to Gays
Worley believes that placing gays in camps will ensure homosexuality dies out since gays “don’t reproduce.” Worley isn’t apologizing for his sermon, saying,”We offer NO apologies in believing the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. If you live in this area or are ever passing through, I invite you to come visit with us at Providence Road Baptist Church.”
A protest against Worley and his church is planned for May 27. Read more here.
Transgender Man Beaten In Memphis
By Josh Hinkle
Kelley attacked the victim at this intersection, the corner of
Yates and Poplar.
A suspect in Memphis, Tenn., faces aggravated assault charges after sending a transgender man to Methodist Germantown hospital with bruises and a concussion.
Eighteen-year-old Chase Mason Kelley attacked the man Saturday night, punching him repeatedly until the victim was unconscious reported WREG. The police report says the brother of the perpetrator also tried to hit the victim with his Jeep, but failed.
The victim is expected to make a full recovery WREG reports. Kelley, however, could face more charges. “If a hate bias based on gender identity can be proven, the attacker may be subject to stronger penalties under the Matthew Shepard, James Byrd hate crimes law that passed in 2009,” Jonathan Cole of the Tennessee Equality Project told WREG.
CSU Assault Victims Identify Attackers
By Josh Hinkle
Danny Gocha, right, with the accused football players.
Three Colorado State University football players were suspended from the team after assaulting four first-year students last week.
The four were assaulted in Fort Collins, Colo., as they were walking home from a party. The players yelled gay slurs as they beat the four students. John Haley and Danny Gocha were transported to Poudre Valley Hospital with black eyes, bruises and cuts. Gocha’s eyes are swollen shut, and a visible shoe print has been imprinted into his back. The other two victims suffered minor injuries. “It wasn’t really much of a fight,” Haley told the Coloradoan. “It was basically just a beating.”
Nordly Capi, Mike Orakpo and Colton Paulhus, all student athletes, were suspended from the team, the Coloradoan reports. Jim McElwain, the CSU football coach, has barred interviews with the players and has not elaborated on his decision. Other CSU football players took to Facebook and made personal visits to the hospital rooms of the victims. The Coloradoan reported that football player Trey Cassidy posted on Facebook that he feared this would influence public opinion of the entire team.
Following a full investigation by Fort Collins police, CSU will conduct it’s own investigation to determine which sanctions will be applied to the offending students. In response to Haley’s posting on Facebook, the Coloradoan reports that Jody Donovan, vice president of CSU’s student affairs, posted, “Students who violate the law or university policies are held accountable for their actions. Colorado State University does not tolerate this behavior.”
Outpouring in Chile over gay man’s death
(CNN) – The issue of hate crime legislation has gripped Chilean leaders as one family on Friday prepared to bury their 24-year-old son, who was apparently targeted because of his sexual orientation.
Daniel Zamudio, a gay man, was attacked in a Santiago park on March 3 and died from his injuries Tuesday.
The Zamudio house was decorated with flowers and white balloons in observance of the young man’s death, which caused outrage throughout the country.
Hundreds of neighbors and others lined the streets as cars from the Zamudio home made its way to a cemetery for his funeral.
People crowded around cars in the funeral procession at some points, waving flags or photographs of the young man.
Others held up signs in memory of Zamudio or calling for the quick passage of a hate crimes law in the country.
Only close family was allowed inside the cemetery, CNN Chile reported. Meanwhile, others gathered at a stage where musicians played and speakers celebrated Zamudio’s life and called for change.
Zamudio’s attackers reportedly beat him for an hour, burned him with cigarettes and carved Nazi symbols on his body.
Four men thought to belong to a neo-Nazi group have been arrested. They were identified as Raul Lopez Fuentes, 25, Patricio Ahumada Garay, 25, Alejandro Angulo Tapia, 26, and Fabian Mora Mora, 19.
After Zamudio died, authorities raised the charges against the men to aggravated murder.
“As a government, we did this in the name of millions of Chileans who, after the murder of Daniel Zamudio, feel that Chile has to change,” regional Gov. Cecilia Perez said.
On Friday, the United Nations added its call for passage of an anti-discrimination law.
“We deplore the violent criminal act that took the life of this young man and urge the Chilean Congress to pass a law against discrimination, including on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, in full compliance with relevant international human rights standards,” said Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the U.N. high commissioner for human rights.
“The case should be seen in the wider context of hate-motivated violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons around the world,” he added.
A U.N. report on the issue released last month found evidence of “startling high levels” of homophobic violence around the world, he said.
Chilean President Sebastian Pinera addressed the incident this week.
“We want to reiterate today that we have made a commitment. We are not going to tolerate any kind of discrimination against Chilean citizens based on their socioeconomic status, their religion or sexual orientation,” he said.
The incident has put the issue of hate crimes legislation back on the legislative agenda.
A hate crimes bill was introduced seven years ago but has languished as conservative groups blocked its passage.
“At every turn, this law has been cut. At every turn, there have been efforts to trim it. There was even resistance to having discrimination based on sexual orientation included in the (bill). This is something Chile can no longer permit. And now, after the death of Daniel, which has brought this moment of sensibility, it is time to pass” the bill, said Carolina Toha, president of the liberal Party for Democracy.
Chileans are calling for action, said Rolando Jimenez, president of Movilh, a gay rights organization.
“What we are asking for is to change the conditions of life, improve the quality of life, recognition of the right to dignity and equality for all gay, lesbian and transgendered Chileans,” he said.
The family has thanked the public for the outpouring of support.
“We are surprised and greatly appreciative of all the support we have received from social media, Daniel’s classmates, his friends, people from the north, from the south, from the world,” said Zamudio’s brother, Diego Zamudio.
Two Men Kiss at Santorum Rally, Get Booted
Two men were removed from an Illinois rally for Rick Santorum after they shouted over the presidential candidate and kissed in front of a crowd of 2,100 people.
The event was held at the Christian Liberty Academy in Arlington Heights. Fifteen minutes into Santorum’s speech at the academy, Timothy Tross and Ben Clifford shouted loud enough to get the attention of the crowd and then kissed in front of everyone. Guards booted them from the rally, while the crowd strangely chanted, “U.S.A.”
“I don’t think the message should be about what my sexuality is,” Tross told thePalantine Patch. “It’s the message that he’s saying about sexuality that matters.”
Outside of the academy, protesters showed solidarity against Santorum’s antigay stances. Some protesters were alumni from nearby Christian schools (Santorum spent his senior year at nearby Carmel Catholic High School).
“There was something that bothered us about having someone so offensive in our hallowed halls,” Sue Delabruere, a former student of the school that later became the Christian Liberty Academy, told the Patch.
Priest Who Denied Mourning Lesbian Communion Gets Suspended
The Catholic priest who denied a lesbian communion at her mother’s funeral in Maryland has been suspended, but church officials say the disciplinary measure is unrelated to that action.
Father Marcel Guarnizo, the vicar of St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Gaithersburg, has been placed on administrative leave from ministry for “engaging in intimidating behavior toward parish staff and others that is incompatible with proper priestly ministry,” according to a letter from Bishop Barry Knestout, an administrator in the archdiocese of Washington, D.C., which encompasses Washington and the Maryland suburbs, The Washington Post reports. The letter was read at all masses at St. John Neumann this weekend.
At the funeral for Loetta Schoenholz Johnson in February, when her daughter Barbara Johnson came forward to receive communion, Guarnizo reportedly told her, in front of others in attendance, “I cannot give you communion because you live with a woman and that is a sin according to the church.” He also left the altar when Johnson delivered a eulogy for her mother and did not attend the burial. Johnson received apologies from the archdiocese and from the Reverend Thomas LaHood, who is the church’s pastor and Guarnizo’s immediate supervisor, but she and her family have said they want to see Guarnizo fired.
Regarding Knestout’s letter, Johnson declined to comment to the press, but the family released a statement reading in part, “While we understand this letter does not pertain to the events that occurred at our mother’s funeral, we are hopeful that Bishop Knestout’s decision will ensure that no others will have to undergo the traumatic experiences brought upon our family.” LaHood said Sunday that as the disciplinary process continues, Guarnizo will have the opportunity to present his side of the story.
The Post notes that there are differing opinions within Catholicism as to whether being in a same-sex relationship disqualifies a person from receiving communion, but archdiocesan officials have said any issues of eligibility should be handled privately. Meanwhile, some Catholic bloggers have denounced Johnson and defended Guarnizo. Thomas Peters, writing at CatholicVote.org, called the situation “a blatantly political attempt by Johnson to generate sympathy and support for gay marriage and to foment public judgement against the Church.”
In any case, it is clear that Guarnizo and LaHood, despite the latter’s apology to Johnson, adhere to the church’s stance against homosexuality. In the February 12 edition of his weekly letter to parishioners, LaHood went so far as to find similarities between same-sex marriage and slavery, saying that each “uses other people as objects to fulfill someone else’s needs.”
Military Kiss goes viral
In just under a week, a photo of a Marine sergeant kissing his boyfriend after returning from a six-month deployment to Afghanistan has been “liked” on Facebook more than 42,000 times and garnered more than 10,000 comments — most of them supportive.
Sgt. Brandon Morgan, a 25-year-old from Oakdale, Calif., returned to Marine Corps Base Hawaii on Feb. 22 from his third deployment in four years and was met by his boyfriend, Dalan Wells.
A friend snapped the photo, which depicts Morgan with his legs wrapped around Wells, an American flag in the background.
It was later posted on the “Gay Marines” Facebook page; from there, the photo went viral.
“It’s a homecoming picture — gay, straight, lesbian, no matter who you are, love is love,” Morgantold Hawaii TV station KHON. “We haven’t fought for more rights or better rights than others. We fought for equal rights, and now we have them.”
Homecoming photos of military members are common, but Morgan and Wells’ photo is among the first showing a gay couple expressing affection since the repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy five months ago.
In December, two female sailors in Norfolk, Va., shared a homecoming kiss that landed on the front page of some U.S. newspapers, including the Seattle Times and the Virginian-Pilot. The two had been chosen by raffle for the Navy’s “first kiss” honor, and the ship’s commanding officer said at the time that the crew’s reaction was positive.
That media coverage led to a barrage of commentary — both positive and negative. But in Morgan’s case, the photo was circulated largely without the help of print media, with thousands of people sharing the photo and with blog posts calling attention to it.
Morgan told the Associated Press he didn’t intend the photograph to go viral and that he looks forward to such homecomings becoming commonplace.
“We all know this will die down and become the norm. It is the norm — everyone is allowed, no matter who you are, to have a homecoming now,” he told the wire service.
The founder of the Facebook page, Brett Edward Stout, a former Marine, posted a video message after the photo began circulating. He explained that the page, created while the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was still in place, was intended to give gay military members a voice.
“What I didn’t expect was that the page did have one last role to play in the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ fight: closure,” Stout said. The photo of Morgan and Wells, he said struck “close to home” and gave gay military members “catharsis.”
State-by-State Laws on Gay Marriage Produce Patchwork Quilt
Feb. 9 (Bloomberg) — The patchwork quilt of U.S. state laws on same-sex marriage, which Washington is now poised to legalize, leaves gay and lesbian Americans with different rights depending on geography. To opponents, that’s just the way things work in a union of self-governing states.
If Washington Governor Christine Gregoire signs the bill passed by lawmakers yesterday, which she sought, her state would become the seventh in the U.S. to grant so-called marriage equality.
Still, gay couples who wed there wouldn’t see their marriages recognized by the federal government or at least 40 other states that either outlaw same-sex marriage or haven’t addressed it, according to Freedom to Marry, a New York-based advocacy organization that supports gay marriage. That’s fine with John Eastman, chairman of the National Organization for Marriage, an advocacy group working against it.
“We have this system of laboratories called the states where we can try different experiments and see what works well and what doesn’t, without imposing a national rule on everybody,” said Eastman, a professor at Chapman University School of Law in Orange, California.
“We have patchwork laws on all sorts of things” that vary from one state to another, such as custody laws and third-cousin marriages, Eastman said in an interview. “It hasn’t seemed to have brought us down yet.”
Up for Consideration
New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia allow gay marriage. Lawmakers in Maryland and Illinois are weighing legalization, while North Carolina and Minnesota propose to bar the practice through voter referendum. Voters in Maine may decide whether to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.
In New Jersey, Democratic legislators who control both chambers have pushed for legalization in the face of a veto threat from Republican Governor Chris Christie. Today, Senator Christopher Bateman, a Republican from Somerset, submitted a resolution to amend the state constitution to redefine marriage as “the legally recognized union of two persons of any gender,” according to his spokesman, Adam Bauer.
The amendment would require approval from both the Legislature and voters in a referendum. Bateman is against gay marriage and voted as such in 2009, Bauer said.
For advocates like Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, the patchwork of laws translates to “a house divided.”
“We are one country, not 50 separate kingdoms, and we all deserve equal protection under the law,” he said in an e-mail. “Same-sex couples should not have to play ‘now you’re married, now you’re not’ depending on which state they are in, or where their employer sends them, or where their kids go to college.”
Nor should they be treated as “legal strangers,” he said, by the federal government because of the Defense of Marriage Act, a 1996 law signed by President Bill Clinton, a Democrat. The law prohibits the federal government from recognizing same sex spouses, even those couples married in states where it’s legal. The Obama administration said last year it would no longer oppose court challenges to the law.
Same-sex married couples, for instance, can’t file joint federal returns, which have the effect of lowering taxes, because the Internal Revenue Service defines a marriage for federal tax purposes as “only a legal union between a man and a woman as husband and wife.”
Washington state lawmakers yesterday approved a bill sought by their Democratic governor to legalize same-sex marriage. The measure includes an exemption for religious organizations to decide who qualifies for their wedding ceremonies and which marriages to recognize.
The law would normally take effect 90 days after the end of the legislative session on March 8, said Karina Shagren, a spokeswoman for Gregoire. It may face a repeal campaign, which would put it on hold pending a referendum, she said.
A day earlier, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco voted 2-1 to strike down California’s Proposition 8, a voter initiative that prohibited same-sex couples from marrying. Gay nuptials had begun in 2008 after the state’s top court overruled a ban passed by voters in 2000.
Carla Hass, an attorney for the Proposition 8 proponents, tell her clients were deciding whether to petition for a rehearing before the full appeals court or take the case directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.
A Supreme Court ruling throwing out Proposition 8 wouldn’t necessarily affect other states because the appeals court’s Feb. 7 ruling specified that the gay marriage issues in the case are unique to California.
In 2011, a majority of Americans for the first time favored making gay marriage legal, 53 percent compared with 44 percent a year earlier, a Gallup poll showed. Political independents and Democrats accounted for the change as Republicans’ views hadn’t budged, Gallup said.
The state-law quilt will eventually have to be dealt with because it’s incapable of being maintained administratively at both the federal and state levels, said Douglas NeJaime, an associate professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.
The Defense of Marriage Act, which also says states don’t have to recognize gay marriages performed in other states, could be repealed by Congress or, more likely, the U.S. Supreme Court could be asked to rule on it, he said. Either will take years, he said.
LGBT against anti-gay church in Des Moines
More than a hundred people gathered in front of a Des Moines, Iowa church on Sunday to protest a sign that it displayed earlier that claimed, “Gay is Not OK.”
The sign was quickly changed to “Adultery is Not OK,” but the move still angered many, prompting a protest in 20-degree weather in front of the Fort Des Moines Church of Christ, the Des Moines Register reports.
Meanwhile, the church’s senior pastor, the Rev. Michael Demastus, led a sermon inside the church. Demastus welcomed attendees, but said that if anyone protested inside, during the service, they would be escorted off the premises, and possibly arrested. During his sermon, Demastus continued to denounce homosexuality, and said it is equally sinful to adultery or premarital sex.
San Diego may elect openly gay GOP mayor
SAN DIEGO—Two leading Republican contenders for mayor of America’s eighth-largest city are openly gay, and voters have barely noticed. It doesn’t come up at campaign appearances or in l.ocal news coverage
District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis and City Councilman Carl DeMaio haven’t made their marks as gay rights activists, which may help explain why their sexual orientation has been a non-issue even among social conservatives. Neither makes a secret of being gay, but they don’t draw attention to it, either.
San Diego, which has had Republican mayors since 1992, could easily become the nation’s largest city to ever choose an openly gay GOP leader, said Donald Haider-Markel, a Kansas University political science professor who published a book last year on gays in public office. Gay Republicans have historically been hindered by lack of support from party leaders and financial backers.
Mayor Jerry Sanders, a former police chief being forced out by term limits, faced a mutiny in his party in 2007 when he abruptly announced that he believed gays should have rights to marry, saying his lesbian daughter and members of his staff deserved no less. He captured national attention when he fought tears at a news conference to explain his change of heart to support same-sex marriage on the eve of his re-election bid.
“It is Bible truth that the Republican Party hierarchy threatened to take Jerry’s endorsement away,” said Fred Sainz, his communications director at the time.
About one-third of San Diego County’s Republican Party central committee voted to yank its backing of Sanders, said Chairman Tony Krvaric, but Sanders kept the endorsement and went on to win easily.
That episode now seems like distant history.
The mayoral race comes as voters nationwide are increasingly willing to elect gays to public office and as Republicans shift their energies from hot-button social issues to bread-and-butter questions about the size and role of government in shaping the economy.
A nationwide Gallup poll in June showed 67 percent of voters surveyed would elect a gay president, up 12 percentage points from four years ago. The Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund says the number of openly gay officeholders nationwide doubled in the last four years to about 500. They include Annise Parker, a Democrat who was elected mayor of Houston in 2009.
Yet there are only about 20 openly gay Republican elected officials nationwide, according to the Victory Fund.
Dumanis, 59, is running on her experience managing a large organization. The three-term San Diego County district attorney is backed by Sanders and boasts a law enforcement background.
DeMaio, 36, is almost single-mindedly focused on city finances. The businessman-turned-city councilman is spearheading a proposed ballot measure that would put new hires on 401k accounts and curb pension payments for all workers.
The other top Republican candidate is Nathan Fletcher, 34, a two-term state assemblyman and Marine combat veteran who says San Diego needs a visionary, not just a nuts-and-bolts manager. Also running is U.S. Rep. Bob Filner, 69, a liberal Democrat and former city councilman.
If no one wins a majority in the June election, the top two finishers advance to a November runoff. Others have five months to put their names on the ballot, but the wide-open contest is already taking shape.
Republican leaders say the party wants fixes for San Diego’s $2.1 billion unfunded pension liability, a growing deficit that regularly threatens to close fire stations, parks and beach bonfire pits. Whether a candidate is gay, they say, is irrelevant.
“If the candidates don’t make it an issue, voters won’t make it an issue,” said Krvaric, who calls himself a social conservative.
Dumanis appears often in public with her partner of 13 years, Denise Nelesen, communications manager for the San Diego County Aging and Independence Services agency. The couple married in 2008, two months before California voters approved Proposition 8 to ban same-sex marriage.
Dumanis was openly gay when she first ran for office in 1994, winning election to San Diego municipal judge. She says her sexual orientation has surfaced only occasionally during campaigns, and that appearances with her partner put people at ease.
“People get to know that our lives are the same as their lives,” Dumanis said. “It’s easier to hate a stereotype than it is a person. I make a point of introducing Denise wherever I go.”
DeMaio has been in a committed relationship for more than two years with Jonathan Hale, publisher of San Diego Gay & Lesbian News and a website that features racy pictures of bare-chested men. DeMaio says he told family, friends and co-workers in 2000 that he was gay.
Nicole Ramirez Murray, a longtime gay activist in San Diego, criticized DeMaio in a recent column for the San Diego LGBT Weekly because DeMaio identified himself as single in a questionnaire for The San Diego Union-Tribune.
DeMaio says he listed himself single because that’s what he is under California law. He noted that he often appears publicly with his partner in his conservative district.
DeMaio was silent during the Proposition 8 campaign, unlike Dumanis, who was outspoken against the marriage ban. He says he believes that gays should be entitled to marry but that he wouldn’t take up the issue as mayor.
DeMaio, who has endeared himself to fiscal conservatives and enraged organized labor, says any discussion of his being gay is intended to distract voters from the city’s finances.
“(Sexual) orientation is not an issue. It’s not a plus or a minus,” he said.
The straight candidates may appeal strongest to gay voters.
Fletcher, who is married to a former aide to President George W. Bush, was the only Assembly Republican to vote for a bill in July that requires gay history be taught in California public schools. He spoke passionately on the Assembly floor in May to call for an end to the military’s policy of prohibiting gays and lesbians from serving openly and supports a legal right to same-sex marriage.
Filner benefits from being the lone, widely known Democrat. The party has steadily extended its lead over Republicans among San Diego’s registered voters over the last decade, enjoying an 11-point advantage. Sixty percent of gay voters in San Diego are Democrats, according to a June poll by the Competitive Edge & Research polling firm in San Diego.
“They’re kind of off-limits to Republicans,” said John Nienstedt, the firm’s president. “The gay votes are going to go Democratic.”
It remains to be seen if Republican voters will vote for a gay mayor. Several said they would at a rally last month for Rick Perry’s GOP presidential bid, where DeMaio gave his standard speech about city finances before the Texas governor spoke.
Glenn Stock, a 51-year-old real estate broker who likes DeMaio, said a candidate’s sexual orientation is “not even in play.”
“Right now we’ve got to get our house in order,” he said. “We need jobs. We need city services.”