HOUSTON VOICE • JANUARY 7, 2000
Around the Nation
Both Democrats endorse litmus test on gays for military brass
DURHAM, N.H.—Vice President AJ Gore and his
Democratic opponent. Bill Bradley, said Wednesday that if
they were elected president they would require their
appointees to the Joint Chiefs of Staff to fully support allowing gays to serve openly in the military, the Nezv York Times
reported. Although both candidates had previously opposed
the Clinton administration's "don't ask, don't tell" policy,
their comments in the fourth Democratic debate of the primary season were a strikingly forceful embrace of gay rights.
Their remarks came in response to a question of whether they
would support a "litmus test" on gays in the military in nominating members of the Joint Chiefs. Gore was the more
expansive, saying he wanted to make the same sweeping I
changes toward allowing gays to serve openly in the military
mat President Harry S. Truman made toward racially integrating the armed forces. Bradley said simply that the commander in chief issued orders and soldiers followed them.
Retired members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other military
experts warned Wednesday that subjecting future members
to a litmus test would hurt the armed services.
Vice President Al Gore said
during a presidential debate
Wednesday with Bill Bradley
that he would support a litmus
test on gays in the military in
selecting the Joint Chiefs.
McCain meets gay soldier but stands firm on 'Don't Ask' policy
WASHINGTON—An openly gay Army reservist was unable to convince his senator
and hero, John McCain, that he should quit supporting the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy,
the Arizona Republic reported Dec. 30. Steve May, who is facing a possible Army discharge,
said after a private meeting with McCain that he's not sure the GOP presidential candidate
fully understands the consequences of the policy. "Like most Americans, 1 don't know that
John McCain has had the opportunity to think critically about this policy since it was
implemented," said May, a Republican state representative from Phoenix. May publicly
disclosed that he was gay after he was honorably discharged in 1995, then found himself
recalled in early 1999 during the war in Kosovo. Now, the Army is moving ahead with
plans to discharge May despite stellar performance ratings.
Gay couples file claim against Wash, state seeking benefits
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP)—Two gay couples have filed a claim against the state of Washington
demanding that medical insurance coverage be given to same-sex domestic partners of state
employees. Lawyers for the 19,000-member Washington Federation of State Employees filed the
claim against the Health Care Authority, a prerequisite to a lawsuit, earlier this month. The couples are asking for financial damages, but the real goal is to pressure the state into offering the
benefits, said Ed Younglove, a lawyer representing trie federation. "We're going to do everything
we can to persuade them to change their policy." But lawyers for the state said the issue is one
of policy that belongs before the legislature. Gary L. Christenson, administrator for the Health
Care Authority, met with Younglove and union officials Dec. 28 to discuss the matter.
Gay students seek ruling against Orange County school district
ORANGE COUNTY, Calif.—Attorneys asked a federal-court judge to issue a preliminary
injunction allowing a gay-support club to begin meeting at El Modena High School, the Orange
County Register reported Dec. 30. The Orange Unified school board voted unanimously Dec. 7
to deny students' request to form a Gay Straight Alliance club. The students are suing to overturn the decision. If the injunction is granted, it will allow the club to meet pending the suit's
outcome. "We believe it is clear the students are likely to prevail in their lawsuit, but there is no
telling how long a lawsuit will take," said David Codell, an attorney representing two El
Modena students, Anthony Colin and Heather Zetin. School trustees offered to allow the club
to meet in a school classroom if the students change its name and ban discussion of sex, reproduction, AIDS or sexually transmitted diseases.
West Hollywood rejects mandatory condom distribution law
WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (AP)—The City Council unanimously turned down a proposal ordering bars and nightclubs to offer free condoms at the door, citing anecdotal evidence that many businesses were already voluntarily handing them out. The council on
Monday night voted 5-0 to expand the voluntary distribution program that has been in
place for eight years and approved the purchase of an additional 50,000 condoms for the
program. After more than two hours of discussion, council members decided that forcing
bars to offer condoms would create too much resistance in the city's efforts to educate people about safe sex. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation was the driving force behind the
mandatory proposal, citing it as a public health issue. The foundation, the nation's largest
HIV-AIDS medical provider, hopes to get the mandatory distribution issue on the
November ballot. "A bar does not open without beer or without a fire extinguisher. It should
not open without condoms," said Michael Weinstein, the foundation's president.
-From staff and wire reports
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