HOUSTON VOICE • APRIL 28, 2000
Around the Nation
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NGLTF picks newly out NOW official as new executive director
WASHINGTON—The National Gay & Lesbian Task
Force named Elizabeth Toledo, a vice president of the
National Organization for Women, as its new executive
director last week. Toledo, 38, a Latina mother who came
out as a lesbian less than a year ago, will replace Kerry
Lobel, who resigned April 7 alter three years at NGLTF's
helm, the Washington Blade reported April 21. Jerry Clark,
co-chair of NGLTF's board, said Toledo's recent decision
to come out was not viewed as a negative by the board.
"We really think her example will be an inspiration for a
lot of people who are not already out, and should be,"
Less than one year after NOW Vice President Elizabeth Toledo
came out, she has been named executive director of the
National Lesbian & Gay Task Force.
Prosecutors drop hate charges over prep student's knife attack
GREENFIELD, Mass. (AP)—A former prep school student has been sentenced to three
years probation after admitting using a knife to cyt the word "HOMO" into the back of
another student. Matthew Rogers, 20, of Franklin, Tenn., was also given a suspended 2.5-
year jail term and ordered to perform 144 hours of community service at his April 19 sentencing on two misdemeanor assault charges. Rogers' roommate, Jonathan Shapiro, 18, of
Keene, N.H., was also charged in the attack. Judge Bertha Josephson questioned prosecutors closely about their decision to drop hate crime charges as well as felony assault charges
as part of the plea bargain. Prosecutor Renee Seese said Rogers did not consider his 17-
year-old victim to be a homosexual and described the assault as hazing. Police described
the cuts as shallow, but deep enough to draw blood. Authorities said the students had
argued over the British rock band Queen and the characterization of its music as "gay."
Rogers lost an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy, because of the incident.
Rulings against domestic partner benefits in Pittsburgh, Virginia
PITTSBURGH (AP)—The University of Pittsburgh was within its legal rights to deny
health benefits to same-sex partners of employees, a judge ruled April 20. Judge Robert
Gallo said that Pitt's policy is neutral because health benefits are offered to all employees
regardless of sexual orientation, and Pitt also denies benefits to unmarried partners of heterosexual employees. The city of Pittsburgh had been trying to force the university, through
its Commission on Human Relations, to comply with the city's anti-discrimination ordinance. The judge also ordered the commission to halt its investigation of discrimination
charges against the university. Deborah Henson, a former Pitt instructor who sued when
the university denied benefits to her lesbian partner, said she would appeal.
Meanwhile, in Richmond, a unanimous Virginia Supreme Court struck down Arlington
County's law that conferred health insurance benefits on the unmarried domestic partners
of local government employees, the Washington Post reported April 22. The court ruled 7-
0 that the Virginia General Assembly had never expressly granted such authority to local
governments. The county said it would not appeal.
Navy secretary says military is no 'testing ground' for gay rights
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP)—Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig told an audience at the
U.S. Naval Academy that the military should not be considered a testing ground for gay-
rights issues. Responding to a question about gays in military service, Danzig said April 17
that American society "hasn't reached a consensus" on gay rights. "In the end, the military
itself shouldn't be a driver of that, but a follower of the consensus of society," he said. "It
is really much more an issue for society-at-large as it is for the military," he said. "The military isn't essentially a testing ground."
Meanwhile in West Hollywood, Calif., the $1.2 million price tag for the city's proposed
veterans memorial has raised eyebrows, the Los Angles Times reported April 21. Some taxpayers and city council members are concerned about costs, while others question why this
small, gay-friendly city would pay tribute to the military at all.
Michigan city repeals 40-year-old ban on serving gays in bars
ROYALOAK, Mich—Just 10 days after city commissioners found out that this Michigan
city had banned bars from serving gays more than 40 years ago, they unanimously repealed
the law, the Detail/ Free Press reported April 20. Red-faced officials said the ban hadn't been
enforced for as long as anyone remembered. But word of the ban still sent a flash of angst
through a town whose gay merchants and customers helped fuel its ien.uss.ince. "That language was more than four decades old,and at the time it was written, the city lifted it, word
for word, from what then was state law," said City Attorney Chuck Semchena. The state
since had revised its code and removed its reference to gays, Semchena said April 19.
■—From staff and wire reports
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