RIDAY. AUGUST II
THRF wants insurance companies to comply with new law
In anticipation of new legislation
scheduled to take effect on Sept. 1,
the Texas Human Rights Foundation is monitoring the insurance
industry's underwriting practiced
regarding testing of insurance applicants for exposure to the virus
that causes AIDS. These
practices, heretofore governed by
formal rules under the State
Board of Insurance, will now be
regulated by a state statute passed
in the recent legislative session.
THRF is a non-profit foundation
which has operated a statewide,
toll-free telephone line since July
1988, through which callers can
receive free legal counseling and
attorney referrals for AIDS-related legal problems (1-800-828-6417).
THRF became involved in the
issue of insurance practices and
AIDS testing in August of last
year when it filed a formal complaint with the State Board of Insurance against Midland National Life Insurance Company. The
complaint alleged that Midland's
underwriting practices violated
the board's anti-discrimination
regulations by using zip codes to
determine which applicants for insurance would be required to take
a blood test to detect the presence
of HIV antibodies, the test that indicates exposure to AIDS.
After much prompting from
THRF, the board proceeded to investigate the companies use of zip
codes, and determined in Februar-
y that Midland's selection of certain codes to determine who would
be required to take the test was
overly broad. The board instructed Midland to re-evaluate its
AIDS testing policy to make sure
it was grouping applicants ac
cording to actual levels of risk presented, rather than an
unsubstantiated assumption of
where "risk groups" were located.
board. Midland conceded that its
use of three digit zip codes may
cover larger geographical areas
than those identified by the CDC
and stated that it was "willing to
change (its) underwriting guidelines in an attempt to more precisely define those areas as designated by the CDC. A Midland
official, Jack L. Briggs, however,
went on in that response to criticize the board for yielding to "political pressures and ... sympathetic feelings" and trying to force
"do for those with
AIDS or HIV infection what they
do not do for those whohaveother
serious health risks"
Houston attorney David Bryan,
THRF's legal director; expressed
satisfaction with Midland's decision to limit testing to high risk areas identified by theCDC, but noted that under the new legislation,
Midland will apparently have to
drop its use of zip codes entirely.
As to Midland's accusation of
yielding to political pressure, Bryan commented, "THRF followed
proper procedures in complaining
te the insurance board; the complaints examiner found Midland's
initial underwriting guidelines
(did not) group insurance applicants according to the level of risk
presented; and Midland responded by modifying its guidelines ...
so I fail to see any basis for claiming improper pressure was ap-
Bryan said he recently decided
to reopen the Midland matter
from THRF's perspective because
of a bill passed in the 1989 legislative session which appears to supersede previous regulations governing who can be required to take
an HIV antibody test. While the
regulations prohibit an insurer
from using the marital status, occupation, gender; beneficiary designation or zip code to determine
an applicant's sexual t
the new statute will prohibit an insurer from using such classifications to determine who will be required to take an HIV antibody
"This new law clearly makes
testing by zip code, as practiced by
Midland, illegal. Therefore, although an insurer could make
testing determinations based on
age it cannot, come September, require testing based on zip code or
other territorial classifications."
THRF's AIDS project coordinator, has been in contact with the
insurance board to determine the
effects ofthe new lawontheinsur-
ance industry. She intends to play
an active role in monitoring thein-
dustry's compliance. Persons who
are aware of violations are urged
to file a complaint with the State
Board of Insurance, and to send a
copy of the complaint to THRF
Tucker also noted that "the new
insurance law calls for the board
to gather data and information relating to the effect of HIV exposure on the availability, adequacy,
and affordability of health insurance coverage in this state." The
data program is to be in place no
later than Jan. 1, 1990, and the
board is directed to prepare reports on this issue to be made
available to the public.
Tucker urged person experiencing skyrocketing premiums, denial or limitation of coverage, or other barriers to insurance coverage
to contact the board to make their
concerns known, and to inform
THRF as well.
Memorials emphasize continuing Mickey Leland's work
By SHERI COHEN DARBONNE
The Montrose Voice
While Mickey Leland's Washington press secretary gave her final
statement in that role, urging people to continue working for the
causes the late Congressman embraced, the Houston Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus and other
groups in his district put together
responses reflecting the same sentiments.
Alma Newsome on Tuesday,
Aug. 15, urged Leland supporters
to contribute to hunger relief programs or food banks instead of
sending flowers to the Congressman's family, HGLPC had released a statement the day before
asking the Montrose community
to remember Leland by giving donations to Stone Soup, a food pantry for people with AIDS.
"Mickey dedicated his life to end
world hunger, and has fought for
compassion (for) and to end discrimination against people with
AIDS;' HGLPC President Ray
Hill stated in the release. "The
loss will be greatly felt in the gay
and lesbian community in Hous-
Other Houston hunger organizations including the Houston
Food Bank and Interfaith Hunger
Coalition were targeted for food
drives in Leland's honor this
week. Newsome, in her stateme.it,
had specifically mentioned the
Houston Food Bank and the famine relief fund for Sudan and
HGLPC board member Cicely
Wynne, charged with organizing
the board's response, said the caucus will send a sympathy card to
Leland's family and Houston
staff in addition to coordinating
the Stone Soup drive.
The Houston Food Bank also
honored Leland with a 1989 Partnership Award for Leland's help
in the past several years in obtaining $250,000 and other contributions. The award was accepted by
Licia Green, the head of Leland's
Houston office, on Tuesday.
The remains of the L6 victims of
the Aug. 7 crash were recovered
by military personnel at the
mountainside crash cite Tuesday,
ending the wait for Leland's family and staff. However, the bodies
of Leland and the other Americans aboard the plane will probably not be returned to the United
States until next week, as identification uf the victims by forensic
specialists is expected to take that
long. This week, the focus shifted
from recovery of the bodies to an
investigation to determine what
caused the plane, carrying Leland
and 16 others on a hunger mission
in Ethiopia, to crash into a mountain not far from the plane's desti-
Leland's wife Allison, at a press
conference at Ellington Air Force
Base on Tuesday, announced funeral arrangements for her hus-
A community memorial celebration will be held at 7:30 p.m. tonight, (Aug. 18) at Hannah Hall
Auditorium on the campus of Texas Southern University. Leland
was a TSU graduate.
A Mass of Christian Interment
will be said at 10:00 a.m. Saturday
at St. Anne's Catholic Church,
2140 Westheimer, the Leland family parish.
Private interment will be held
Meanwhile, although community leaders werestill overcome with
shock and grief, the fate of the
now vacant U.S. Congressional
Dist. 1ft seat was already a topic of
hushed concern. Leland is described by most as "irreplaceable."
"You must remember, however,
that we are talking about Barbara
Jordan's seat," Hill noted. "When
she retired (the seat) ... we said
that we would never be able to fill
her shoes ...a lot of us at that time
didn't trust ILeland) to be a champion of our cause in Congress."
Nevertheless, Hill said he is not
npressed with the records of the
andidates most likely to seek the
"None have either the
of Jordan's oratorical
the strength of Mickey's courage"
Hill said he is considering asking HGLPC to support a strategy
of running a caucus-supported
candidate "if the field is crowded
enough" for such a candidate to
make a showing.
Hi I lir ( arr, executive director "1
Harris County Democrats, said
that though the liberal I lenioeral
ic district was "certainly not in
any danger of being taken over...
by conservative Republicans," she
considered the loss of Leland irreversible.
"It is my opinion, like many others, that Mickey cannot be replaced ... there will not be another
Mickey Leland," Carr said. However, she noted, "Only a liberal
Democrat (can) win in that dis-
Carr said she could not speculate on the race for his seat so soon
after the tragic news. "Right now,
it's really hard to concentrate on
anything like that."
Among those possibly expected
to announce as contenders are
Houston City Council members
Rodney Ellis, Anthony Hall and
Ben Reyes and State Representatives Larry Evans and Harold
Dutton. State Senator Craig
Washington, tagged by Wynne
and others in Montrose politics as
possibly the best choice, has
stated flatly that he will not run.
Lee Harrington, a past president of the Gay Political Caucus,
said he was disturbed that no
mainstream media coverage of Leland's background referred to his
long time support of the gay community.
"I haven't even seen the word
gay in any of the (nongay) publications;' Harrington said.
"The question gays should ask
in Houston ... is which politician
would stand up even for (the
rights of) people with AIDS,"
Harrington said. "Mickey stood
up, and even conducted a Congressional investigation on Houston's
responses to the AIDS crisis to
find out why more were not
Standing up. We will never forget
Food or monetary donations
Stone Soup, located at 1004 California, anytime the pantry is
open. Hill said. The hours of operation are 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on
Monday, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Tuesday and Thursday; noon to
4:00 p.m. Wednesday and 10:00
a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturday.
Pride in the '90's: Don't drop the 'ball'
Editorial by SHERI COHEN
This Wednesday, Aug. 23, officers
will be elected for Houston Gay
and Lesbian Pride Week 1990.
What this means is that gay pride
is entering a new decade in this
city. How we react te that signal
will reflect whether we are indeed
entering a new cycle, or recycling
the same old arguments that destroy, not celebrate, our pride.
The meeting starts at 7:00 p.m.
Wednesday at Dignity Center. The
co-chairs who are elected then, if
history repeats itself, will direct
not only the organization of
events but the tone and structure
of the entire celebration. Who
shows up at this meeting, what
they believe and how strongly
they stick by what they believe
will determine quite a bit, since we
are not only planningfor one week
but opening the doors to the next
Houston's annual pride celebration means a lot to me. In 1975,1
helped organize the first gay pride
"march" through the streets of
downtown Houston. This city was
so closeted then that over half the
participants were here for a Texas
Gay Task Force convention. We
borrowed a "Grand Marshal"—
Vito Russo—from New York. The
idea of a full-fledged parade-
down Westheimer, yet, and with
floats—was like an activist's
dream. It just couldn't happen
The TGTF conference at the
University of Houston, and the
march, were put together hastily
and almost single-handedly by a
(then) radical activist even
though (or perhaps because) he
was told it couldn't be done. Because he and others dared to challenge their restrictions, our celebration evolved into something
we can, and should, all be proud.
But I'm beginning to wonder now
if some of these regulated guys
don't consider the pride parade itself an unnecessary spectacle and
Something I once felt made our
city's pride planning process special was the attention given to in-
clusiveness. The committees always seemed to be discussing how
to keepgay and lesbian pride week
open to everyone in the community, how to be responsive to the
needs of every group. Now, it appears that like young authors
Marshall Kirk and Hunter
Madsen, many right herein Houston think the 20 years since Stonewall have been a failure, a "party"
that effected no real progress. It
seems to me they are taking a lot
for granted. It's frightening.
Please understand that I am certainly not criticizing the previous
committee, nor their efforts to
bring some structure and organization to the gay pride week celebration. I'm merely saying that
In 1989, we adopted a "dress
and behavior code" for participation in the parade. What comes
next? Will we prohibit drag altogether because some entertainers
may get disproportionate play in
the nongay media? Will we exclude PWAs because their situation focuses "negative" attention
on gays or has been "overplayed?" (These are things I've
actually heard!) Or, in the spirit of
Kirk and Mads en's recommended
public relations blitz, maybe we
should re-route the parade to benefit businesses which are in the
beat fiscal position to help advance our new campaign. Never
mind the ones that have given so
much for so many years that we
aren't even sure what's left.
If we are celebrating pride in
our community, then we must celebrate—not discourage—diversity.
In Houston, that diversity is in
herent. And if we want participation, we must not only tolerate but
promote inclusiveness. This simply will not happen if the group
that makes the key decisions is
Come to the meeting. Whether
you are a 25-year-old gay white
male, a black transvestite who
lives in Pearland, or even abisexu-
al Filipino woman, you need to be
there. People like you were responsible forthe "20 years of pride" on
all those signs.
If reorganizing "After the Ball"
means we should throw diversity
out the window, and attempt to as-
OKLAHOMA CITY-A new gi-ass
roots direct action group has
formed here called "STAT!" The
name is taken from the Latin word
mean ing "immediately." STAT! concerns include gay rights issues and
the AIDS crisis, nationally and locally. Members feel these issues require urgent attention, and that only through direct action will progress be made.
Inspired by the AIDS Coalition to
Unleash Power of New York City
(ACT UP/N.Y.) and the Gay Urban
TVuth Squad (GUTS) of Dallas,
STAT! currently consists of approximately 40 members and is growing
rapidly. Anger in the community
over slow moving government
agencies and corporations involved
in AIDS issues is also growing.
"STAT!" feels the time for non-violent direct action is now," said
member Matthew Sharp,
The group is planning seminars
on AIDS issues, including the bureaucracy ofthe FDA and NIH. Letter writing campaigns, marches,
and other forms of non-violent protest will stress ST ATI's commitment
to strengthen gay rights and push
for more action on the AIDS crisis.
The group's first activity was participating in Oklahoma City's Gay
Pride Week parade.
For more information, contact
Clay Shears, RO. Box 60886, Oklahoma City, OK 73146-0886 or call
Call out the
Holy libel suit, Robin is trying to
clear his name after being called a
smut king. Burt Ward, who played
Batman's sidekick in the 1960s tele-
i $10 i
a society that co
_mehow less than ac-
can't afford a
point to drop the "ball." If w
there may n
ver be another.
n sadder is, if this
happens, everyone we deal with
will see us a
s a community
each from two tabloids, the Globe
and News of The World, for writing
stories that claimed he was a "porn
boss" who threw parties featuring
orgies and sex shows.
It all started in Dec. 1987 when
the News of the World ran a headline that said "Holy Weirdo!
Batman's pal is porn boss!" and a
story describing Ward's private life
as "sordid" and "sure to shock millions of fans."
The tabloid added that Ward used
the promise of "introductions to
film bosses" to persuade people to
pay $50 each for tickets to parties at
a rented mansion and the Globe followed by saying he was a
"Tinseltown porn king"
Ward claims he suffered loss of
reputation, shame, mortification
and hurt feelings and a trial is set
The United States Conference of
Mayors announced Monday, Aug.
14, that it has released its eighth
Request for Proposals (RFP) for
funding of community based programs for AIDS risk reduction and
education. The targets of the
Round 8 RFP include racial and
ethnic minorities; substance abusers; HIV antibody positive people
and people with AIDS, and people
who reside in areas with fewer
AIDS cases. Approximately 20
grants will be awarded for projects
up to 12 months in duration, in
amounts ranging from $20,000 to
$50,000 each. AS total of $1 million
is available for this funding round.
The primary goal of this funding
round ii in provide education
through community based service
organizations, with an emphasis
on those that have established ties
to the previously mentioned populations, according to the mayors'
statement. In announcing the
availability of the funds, Conference of Mayors Executive Director
J. Thomas Cochran said that the
organization was fully committed
to providing funding and technical
assistance te those groups which
have the best access to people who
need HIV/AIDS information the
tions ... working with local government and the local health departments, have proven their effectiveness in providing accurate and appropriate information ... in ways
that are accepted by their audience," Cochran said. "This must
continue, and we are committed to
Funding for the AIDS grants
was made available by the federal
Centers for Disease Control. With
this latest round, the Conference of
Mayors will have awarded $3.54
million to fund 113 projects across