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  WINDY CITY TIMES

National RoundUp
by Andrew Davis
2007-07-11

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The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation ( GLAAD ) has called on FOX News to apologize for what the organization calls a 'sensational, irresponsible report.' According to a GLAAD statement, The O'Reilly Factor crime analyst Rod Wheeler talked about he called a 'national epidemic' of 'lesbian gangs' that attack young girls, with Wheeler saying there are more than 150 such gangs in the Washington, D.C., area alone. The statement said that Gaithersburg, Md., Detective Patrick Word told the Southern Poverty Law Center Intelligence Report that 'there is no evidence whatsoever of a lesbian gang epidemic in this region.' Wheeler has apologized.

In San Francisco, an appeals court cited a technicality in overturning the suspension of a police officer who, in 2005, made videos that were criticized as racist, sexist and anti-gay, according to 365Gay.com . In so ruling, the court said that Police Chief Heather Fong did not follow proper legal procedure in suspending Andrew Cohen for four days without pay. Cohen's video shows officers employing stereotypes of transsexuals, gays, women, Asians and Blacks.

Cascade Investment, which was set up to invest the money of billionaire couple Bill and Melinda Gates, is among the investors that have bought a $26.2 million stake in the troubled San Francisco-based PlanetOut, which is behind Out magazine and Gay.com, according to The Independent. Since becoming a public company in 2004, PlanetOut has been the subject of numerous rumors involving cash-flow difficulties.

The Rev. Brad Schmeling, an out minister who informed his bishop that he was in a same-sex relationship, lost his final appeal and his standing with the Evangelical Lutheran Church, according to 365Gay.com . Schmeling was initially found guilty of violating church policy in January, but the parishioners at St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Atlanta ( Schmeling's church ) supported him.

While presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton won mostly raves for her comments about HIV/AIDS during a recent debate, a few people have also criticized the remarks, according to Gay City News. In part, Clinton said, 'If we don't begin to take it seriously and address it the way we did back in the '90s, when it was primarily a gay men's disease, we will never get the services and the public education that we need.' In response, Tokes M. Osubu of Gay Men of African Descent said, 'Knowing what I know about the epidemic it never was a gay men's disease. It affected gay men more than any other group, but it never was a gay men's disease.'

In Florida, Bill Smatt—who has raised a controversial banner in his lot that reads 'God created Adam + Eve, not Adam + Steve'—has filed papers to run for mayor of Miami Beach in November, according to 365Gay.com . Several gay-rights groups as well as some of Smatt's neighbors have complained to city hall about the banner. Among other things, Smatt has said that, if elected, he will abolish the city's domestic-partner registry.

Maryland's State Board of Education will allow public schools in Montgomery County to teach LGBT-inclusive sex-education courses in the coming school year, according to The Washington Blade. Three conservative organizations—Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum; Parents & Friends of Gays & Ex-Gays; and Family Leader Network—challenged the curriculum, but state officials said that their arguments were baseless.

Hate-crime survivor David Ritcheson recently jumped to his death from a Carnival Cruise ship's upper deck while in the Gulf of Mexico, the Associated Press reported. Last year, the teenage Ritcheson was hit and sexually assaulted with a patio umbrella pole; subsequently, he went through more than two dozen operations and used a colostomy bag. Two men were found guilty of aggravated sexual assault.

Shirley Phelps-Roper, the daughter of anti-gay Kansas minister the Rev. Fred Phelps, has been formally charged with negligent child abuse, flag mutilation and disturbing the peace after letting her 10-year-old son stomp on a U.S. flag during a military funeral, 365Gay.com reported. Phelps-Roper—who, along with about a dozen other members of Topeka's Westboro Baptist Church, condemned homosexuality—insisted that the U.S. Constitution protects what her son did.

In North Carolina, the Winston-Salem City Council has approved an amendment to its policies that protects its workers from sexual orientation discrimination, 365Gay.com reported. Among the other North Carolina cities that protects its employees are Greensboro, Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh.

A woman has claimed that a Manhattan eatery kicked her out because she looked too much like a man, the Associated Press reported. Khadijah Farmer said that a bouncer at Caliente Cab Company restaurant burst into the bathroom while she was in there, saying that a customer complained that a man was in the women's restroom. The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, which is representing Farmer, wants the restaurant's staff to undergo sensitivity training.

In Florida, Palm Beach County Juvenile Court Judge Peter Blanc ruled that a teenager was not guilty of a hate crime—but was guilty of aggravated battery—for attacking a pre-op transsexual, First Coast News reported. Blanc said that the teen beat the man out of anger because he initially thought the victim was a woman, and not because of bias against the person's sexual orientation.

After removing the gay newspaper Out & About from 34 of its Nashville, Tenn., stores, Kroger Co. will allow the publication to again be distributed there, the Associated Press reported. A store spokeswoman initially cited a company policy against having publications with 'political, religious or other specific agendas.' However, members of Nashville's gay community boycotted two stores, reportedly costing them more than $15,000.

In Florida, four members of a Georgia evangelical group were arrested at St. Petersburg gay pride celebrations, 365Gay.com reported. They were cuffed because they went beyond a free-speech zone established a block from the festival. The pride festival, which was the city's fifth, has become St. Petersburg's largest cultural event.

In California, a jury awarded $6.2 million to a Los Angeles Fire Department firefighter who claimed she was harassed because she is Black and lesbian, DailyNews.com reported. Brenda Lee said that her superiors made disrespectful comments and forced her to unsafely undergo very tough drills because of her sexual orientation and ethnicity.

In Delaware, several of the men kicked out of Dewey Beach nightspot Big Mike's Frozen Tundra claimed they were removed because they were gay, according to The Daily Times. One man who was ejected said that ' [ t ] hings were fine until we had eight or nine gay guys join us. Then someone said, 'You guys need to leave because we don't roll that way.''

Social conservatives are criticizing Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, saying that he should have attempted to stop hotel porn movie offers when he was on the Marriott board, the Associated Press reported. Phil Burress, president of Citizens for Community Values, said that 'everyone on that board is a hypocrite for presenting themselves as family values when their hotels offer 70 different types of hardcore pornography.'

Republican former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist—who twice tried to lead attempts to have the U.S. Constitution prohibit same-sex marraige—will teach courses at his alma mater, Princeton University, the Associated Press reported. During the upcoming year, Frist, 55, will teach a graduate course on health policy and an undergraduate course on a similar subject.

Olivia, the record label-turned-travel enterprise, will turn 35 years old in January 2008, according to a company press release. As the anniversary approaches, the company will launch what is called 'traveltainment,' which is being described as a 'new, holistic approach to its vacations.'


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