National: News

Ky. court rules against gay adoption

In a harshly worded opinion, the Kentucky Court of Appeals has barred judges from allowing lesbians to adopt as though they are a stepparent.

Ruling 3-0 in a Jefferson County case, the court said that stepparent adoptions are allowed only when the stepmother or father is married to the biological parent, and marriages between gays are forbidden by both statute and Kentucky's constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.    READ MORE »

Atlanta  |  news

Piedmont finds drilling a tough go

Piedmont Park officials drill and drill. But they are having little success.

The Piedmont Park Conservancy, the non-profit caretakers of the crown jewel of Atlanta's park system, wants to drill to tap underground sources of water. That will, in turn, allow them to irrigate the park and skirt tough city restrictions on outdoor watering. Those rules meant large-scale events including the Atlanta Pride Festival were booted from city parks this year.

There's more after the jump.    READ MORE »

Bob Costas speaks on Matthew Mitcham

imageBob Costas, NBC’s prime time host for its coverage of the Beijing Olympics, talks about the network’s lackluster coverage of Matthew Mitcham in a wide-ranging interview with

In this exclusive interview with, Bob Costas, NBC Primetime Host for the Beijing Olympics and one of the nation’s most respected sports’ broadcasters, discusses NBC’s omissions in the Mitcham coverage, how and when the sexuality of an athlete may merit mention in sports coverage, homophobia in professional sports, and what it might take for a professional athlete to come out.

Wisc. church fires its gay music director

The music director of a Wisconsin Catholic church has been fired for living "an openly gay life," reports the Wisconsin State Journal.

Charles Philyaw had worked as director of music liturgy for the St. Andrew Catholic Church in Verona since 2004, eventually directing the church choir, leading the liturgy committee, and playing for multiple masses on a weekly basis.

But in June, according to the State Journal, the church's parish priest, the Reverend Dave Timmerman, informed Philyaw he was being let go because he led an openly gay life. Philyaw and his partner, James Mulder-Philyaw, were active participants in the Verona religious community.    READ MORE »

Ike doesn’t slow gay bar in Galveston

As Galveston told its remaining residents on Monday to leave the Texas island devastated by Hurricane Ike, Robert's Lafitte, a gay bar, was planning a pre-curfew drag show and Tina Turner sing-along.

The first of two bars to reopen after Ike's onslaught on Saturday, Robert's Lafitte is a haven in the storm -- for gays, straights, anyone who needs a place to drink and find comfort.

‘HIV POZ’ gets OK for Calif. license plate

Julien Pierre fought the California DMV and, surprisingly, won.

The HIV-positive software engineer will soon have the vanity plate he wanted -- "HIV POZ" -- for his Toyota Prius after pushing the issue with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

Gay Fla. couple claims harassment

There aren't many openly same-sex couples in Spring Hill.

But Perry Hogg and Jesse Worf, a gay couple who have been together for more than two decades, say they've never had a problem.

That is, until they moved to their current home on Masada Lane.

Atlanta  |  news

Rights museum heads to downtown

imageWhen the Center for Civil & Human Rights breaks ground next year, it will do so on a 2.5-acre parcel of land tucked between the World of Coke and the Georgia Aquarium in downtown Atlanta.

When the doors of the $125-million facility open in 2011, key moments in Atlanta's gay history will be included, according to Doug Shipman, the center's executive director.

“There are a couple of different places that specific gay and lesbian issues come in,” Shipman says. “You have both a historical piece and a contemporary piece. You’ll see that in exhibitions and in programming. We have very specially outlined how we want to tackle the issues.”

Read the full story from Project Q Atlanta.    READ MORE »

Atlanta  |  news

Piedmont weathers first fest of ‘09

Piedmont Park survived its first festival of the year last weekend, thanks to small crowds that apparently did little to damage the turf in the vast park.

Atlanta’s commissioner of parks, recreation and cultural affairs, Dianne Harnell Cohen, said she didn’t see any damage from the two-day Atlanta Arts Festival held at the city’s most popular park.

“From what I observed the show was well attended, people were respectful of the park, and normal activities continued,” said Cohen, who attended the festival on Saturday and Sunday.

There's more after the jump.    READ MORE »

Atlanta  |  news

‘HIIV POZ’ license plate OK’d in Calif.

Julien Pierre fought the California DMV and, surprisingly, won.

The HIV-positive software engineer will soon have the vanity plate he wanted -- "HIV POZ" -- for his Toyota Prius after pushing the issue with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

An effort to sell an AIDS awareness license plate in Georgia stalled earlier this year.

Watch a news clip about Pierre's story after the jump.    READ MORE »

Atlanta  |  news

CNN’s live man-on-man action

Nothing like a little man-on-man kissing and nipple tweaking to perk up CNN's so serious "American Morning."

CNN reporter Allan Chernoff was stationed outside Lehman Brothers this morning to report on the firm's demise into bankruptcy. As his live report aired about 8 a.m., two men seemed to console one another within the live shot, then turned up the heat with more consolation of the mouth-on-mouth variety. They topped it off with some nipple licking. All the while, Chernoff continues his report.

Watch the video after the jump.    READ MORE »

Hallmark under fire for gay cards

The Idaho Values Alliance has urged the owner of seven Hallmark stores not to carry a set of four greeting cards created to celebrate same-sex marriage. By Hallmark's acknowledging gay marriage, the company "is doing what 48 states and the federal government have refused to do, and that is to recognize homosexual marriage," Bryan Fischer, IVA's executive director, said in a statement.

Three of the cards feature gender-neutral illustrations, with either hearts or flowers. A fourth shows the torsos of two men in tuxedos holding hands.

The IVA specifically asked Philip Jordan, owner of seven Hallmark stores in Nampa, Idaho, not to carry the cards. An associate manager at one of the stores told, an LGBT news website based in Idaho, that his store was not planning on selling the cards as part of its inventory, though interested customers could purchase the cards upon request.

Read the full story from the Advocate.    READ MORE »

Calif. firefighters sue over gay Pride parade

Four San Diego firefighters have filed a lawsuit against the city government for damages after alleging they were sexually harassed while participating involuntarily in the 2007 gay pride parade.

The Los Angeles Times reports the firefighters say they were ordered to drive their fire truck along the three-hour parade route even though they say peers had complained of being harassed during previous pride parades. The trial was expected to begin today.

The suit alleges that mandatory participation was part of a policy by Fire Chief Tracy Jarman, according to the firefighters' attorney, Charles LiMandri. Jarman, who is a lesbian, marched in the parade.

One of the firefighters alleged that after questioning the parade assignment, the "lesbian battalion chief" gave him an unsatisfactory job rating.

"This is not an anti-gay thing," LiMandri said, according to the Times. "These guys have served the Hillcrest community for years with dignity and honor. They just feel firefighters should not be forced to participate in a parade where firefighters have been harassed in the past."

Read the full story from the Advocate.    READ MORE »

Author of ‘Daddy’s Roommate’ fires back

The author of the book Sarah Palin reportedly tried to have removed from her hometown library blasted back Saturday evening, saying the Alaska Governor had a "small-town mind," was an enemy of intellectual freedom and a "disastrous choice" for vice president.

"I rather suspected one of my books might be the one she targeted," said Michael Willhoite, author of "Daddy's Roomate" and several other children's books. "I can tell you right now, Ms. Palin is a very good mother and everything. But she is my mortal enemy. She is one of the enemies of the First Amendment and I can hardly [organize] my thoughts here, I am so offended by this."

Reached by phone, Willhoite was ultimately not surprised he had once been Palin's target. In fact, he admitted to being "strangely flattered" that he was "on her list."

"I wasn't on Nixon's enemies list," he said, "I was too young for that."

Read the full story from the Huffington Post.    READ MORE »

Atlanta  |  news

Size matters for Piedmont Park

When it comes to size, the smaller the better for Piedmont Park.

Several thousand people are expected in the park this weekend for the second annual Atlanta Arts Festival. But not so many that the festival got booted from the park, like its larger cousins including the Atlanta Pride Festival. That's because the city of Atlanta's drought-related restrictions, put in place in January, banned festivals that draw more than 50,000 people. The Atlanta Arts Festival is expected to attract fewer than 20,000 people.

There's more after the jump.    READ MORE »

High school for gays proposed in Chicago

uring the past two years, Sarah Wurtz, an out lesbian at Lakeview High School, has learned to weather the jeers and stares of students and teachers with a sense of resignation.

"I don't like people looking at us like we're doing something completely wrong," said Wurtz, 17, whose girlfriend also attends the school. "I always feel more comfortable when I'm with people who accept it or are like me."

If she were to get her wish, it might look something like a proposed high school that would welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and sexually questioning students—groups that supporters say often face violence and harassment at school. But the plan isn't likely to become a reality before 2012, and that's only if it passes through the bevy of criticism it faces from both sides of the political spectrum.

Conservatives say the Social Justice High School-Pride Campus would be a misuse of public funds and require administrators to take a moral stance on homosexuality, a judgment well above their pay grade. Even some gay rights advocates argue that isolating the gay and lesbian population from the mainstream would be damaging and prevent different groups of students from learning to interact.

"If we're going to set up a separate school, let's put the bullies in the school and not our gay kids," said Rick Garcia, public policy director of Equality Illinois, the state's largest gay rights group. "Kids should be able to go to school in a safe environment wherever they are."

The plan comes from the people who run the Greater Lawndale Little Village High School for Social Justice. They say the new campus would be open to all students, but would especially seek to foster a violence-free atmosphere for students who are often targeted for their sexual identities.

The school proposal is in the early stages. A public hearing is set for Sept. 18, and the proposal requires approval by an evaluation team and then Chicago Public Schools Chief Arne Duncan before it goes before the school board.

Read the full story from the Chicago Tribune.    READ MORE »

Atlanta Pride searches for festival site

With a decision on Piedmont Park’s availability to host Atlanta Pride and other large-scale festivals not due until the fall, the Atlanta Pride Committee is scrutinizing any venue with room enough to host the estimated 300,000 people who attend over a three-day weekend.

Pride organizers said they will create a short list of possible locations in late September or early October. The Pride Committee will announce the new venue on or before Oct. 11, National Coming Out Day.

After being barred from its traditional home in Piedmont Park in January because of drought concerns, Pride lost more than $160,000 in 2008 in the scramble to find a new venue and line up sponsors on short notice. Organizers credit the late timing, rather than its location at the Atlanta Civic Center over July 4th weekend, for the losses. But they are opening the floor for new venues.

Pride Board Chair Deirdre Heffernan and former festival director Jennifer Sheffield, who is a member of the venue selection committee, said they are looking at every location in the Atlanta metro area with the capacity to host 300,000 people over three days.

“One of the things we have to look at is that we bring a significant number of people from outside the metro area to our event, and there has to be access to hotels, there has to be access to the airport, it has to be within reason,” Sheffield said.

Possibilities could include 10th Street at Grady High School, the Atlanta Civic Center, Atlantic Station, Centennial Olympic Park, Jim R. Miller Park in Cobb County, the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers, the Georgia World Congress Center, the Georgia International Convention Center, Stone Mountain and Piedmont Park.

Read the full story from Southern Voice.    READ MORE »

HIV-positive teacher sues school for wrongful firing

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is filing a suit against a Maryland school for allegedly firing a teacher because he is HIV positive.

Chauncey Stevenson, who taught second grade and after school music classes at Chesapeake Academy in Arnold, had been employed from 2003-2006 and received good evaluations from supervisors, reports the Baltimore Sun. His contract was not renewed for the 2006-2007 school year, which caused him to file a complaint with the EEOC. The EEOC filed the suit on after no settlement was made with the school.

"They were advised that he was HIV-positive and he was fired, despite the fact that he wanted to come back to work," EEOC attorney Jacqueline H. McNair told the Sun. "He was a good teacher and well-liked."

The EEOC says Chesapeake Academy violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, which defines HIV as a disability, therefore making it unlawful to wrongfully terminate someone with the virus.

Read the full story from the Advocate.    READ MORE »

Drag star dies during Dallas performance

Before she hit the stage, Ilene Alloverya told Donna Dumae that she had a dramatic performance in store. It was the last number of Dumae’s 12th annual "Friends Helping Friends" fundraiser for AIDS Services of Dallas held last Sunday, Aug. 31 at the Dallas Eagle.

At one point during her "Nobody Does It Like Me" number, Alloverya crawled across the floor to accept a tip from Dumae.

"During the song, he threw out his arms and then just dropped to the floor. It was incredible. At first, I laughed, thinking ’Oh Ilene, you were right. That certainly was dramatic,’" remembers Don Jenkins (a.k.a. Donna Dumae).

But then Ilene Alloverya didn’t move. So Jenkins hit the stage yelling, "Ilene!" Others in the audience rushed the stage, too. A registered nurse began cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and Eagle owner JD Buchert began mouth-to-mouth, Jenkins remembers, "But it was too late."

"It appears he suffered a massive coronary arrest," Jenkins says.

Chip Doran (a.k.a. Ilene Alloverya) was 55 years old - a retiree and former Dallasite who relocated to Austin and drove to Dallas for the Labor Day weekend fundraiser. The United Court of the Lone Star Empire, a 30-year-old volunteer organization that raises money for Dallas charities, organizes "Friends Helping Friends."

Read the full story from Edge Boston.    READ MORE »

Obama pledges ‘equality for all’

Editor’s note: Barack Obama’s presidential campaign this week agreed to respond in writing to a series of questions submitted by William R. Kapfer, co-president of Window Media, the Blade’s parent company.

Washington Blade: What personal experiences or friendships in your life have shaped how you view gay issues?

Barack Obama: Michelle and I have been blessed with many openly gay and lesbian friends and colleagues whom we have been close to for many years. While that fact has made the issue facing the LGBT community more personal, the fundamental reasons I have for supporting equality are greater than any individual. I am running for President because I believe that we as a nation need change. We need to end the divisive politics of George W. Bush and pursue policies that treat all of us, regardless of identity or background, with dignity, equality and respect.

Blade: Do you have any role models who are openly gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender?

Obama: A college professor of mine helped me to see the lives of LGBT people from a different perspective. He was the first openly gay professor that I had ever come in contact with, or openly gay person of authority that I had come in contact with. And he was just a terrific guy. His comfort in his own skin and the friendship we developed helped to educate me on a number of these issues.

Blade: Would you decline to nominate a qualified Supreme Court justice, cabinet member or other appointed position just because the person is openly gay?

Obama: No. If elected, my appointments will be made on the actual qualifications of the candidates for office, and nothing else. In my administration, my first criteria will be competence and capability.

Read the full story from the Washington Blade.    READ MORE »