DECEMBER 3, 1999 • HOUSTON VOICE
Around the Nation
Advocacy group flunks Bush, gives Gore X' on AIDS report card
NEW YORK—Texas Gov. George W. Bush flunked and Vice President Al Gore did just slightly better on the annual World AIDS Day Report Card that Lambda Legal Defense and
Education Fund released Sunday. "This year, we find hope in a national resurgence of activism.
But people's lives continue to be endangered by callous and compromising public officials,"
said Kevin M. Cathcart, Lambda's executive director. For the last four years, the nation's oldest
and largest gay rights legal organization has issued the report card, grading public policy
efforts and highlighting trends in treatment, prevention and civil rights. Gov. Bush received an
"¥" on the report card for his push of "abstinence education," a "Just Say No" approach to sex
that Lambda says is based on subjective moralizing rather than effective techniques designed
to help young people avoid HIV infection. Gore received a "C" for retreating from his strong
record on AIDS issues and siding with pharmaceutical companies out to block South Africa
from producing affordable, generic versions of HIV treatments for its citizens, the report said.
In total, Lambda handed out 22 grades to a wide range of groups and individuals working on
Calif, anti-gay marriage initiative renamed by attorney general
SACRAMENTO, Calif.—Attorney General Bill Lockyer has ordered the name of a March ballot measure that would ban same-sex marriages in California changed from "Definition of
Marriage" to "Limit on Marriage." Lockyer made his ruling, which affects the measure's title on
the ballot and in other official election materials, on Nov. 23 in response to a complaint by opponents who said the original title was misleading. The initiative states that "only marriage
between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." A recent poll by the San
Francisco Examiner and KTVU showed support for the measure, which is known as the Knight
Initiative because of principal author GOP state Sen. William "Pete" Knight, had slipped from
54 percent in June to 51 percent.
Meanwhile, two California brothers, one a high school teacher and the other an attorney,
have started circulating petitions to legalize same-sex marriage, the San Francisco Examiner
reported. The measure, which may be the first attempt to legalize same-sex marriage through
a ballot initiative, would change the state constitution to allow gay couples to many in
California, but it would not require churches or religious groups to perform the ceremonies.
Tom and John Henning will have to collect at least one million signatures in the next 150 days
to place the measure on the November 2000 ballot.
Supreme Court to rule on harsher sentences under hate crime laws
WASHINGTON—In a case that could have implications for hate crimes laws that include sexual orientation and other categories, the Supreme Court agreed Nov. 29 to dedde whether judges can
impose longer sentences under state hate-crime laws based on their own determination that someone was motivated by bias to commit a crime. The court said it will hear a New Jersey man's argument that a jury, not the judge, must decide whether racial bias was a motive when he fired shots
into a black family's home.
Calif, high school students sue to form gay-straight alliance
SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP)—Two gay students filed a federal lawsuit Nov. 24, accusing the
Orange Unified School District of violating their right to free speech by refusing to let their Gay-
Straight Alliance Club meet on campus. The suit also claims the district violated the federal
Equal Access Act, which requires that schools treat non-curricular student groups the same
regardless of the religious, political or philosophical content of speech at their meetings. Students
Anthony Colin, 15, and Heather Zetin, 16, proposed the club in September as a place for all students at El Modena High School in Orange to discuss issues related to sexual orientation. The
school district initially refused to allow the club to meet on campus, but the school board voted
7-0 two weeks ago to publicly consider the matter on Dec. 7. The suit, which names the school
district, its board members and the high school's principal, was a preemptive strike of sorts,
according to the teen-agers' attorneys.
Prosecutors will seek death penalty in killing of Calif, gay couple
REDDING, Calif.—Citing the "significant
amount of planning that went into two murders,"
District Attorney McGregor Scott said last week he
will seek the death penalty for two brothers accused
of murdering a gay couple. No trial date has been
set for the defendants, Benjamin Matthew Williams,
31, and James Tyler Williams, 29. They are accused
of robbing anil shooting to death Gary Matson, 50,
and Winfield Mowder, 40, on July 1 at the couple's
Happy Valley home. Benjamin Williams admitted
in a jailhouse interview earlier last month that he
shot the men because he believed their homosexu-
ality violated (lod's law. Investigators also suspect
the brothers of participating in the June firebomb-
ings of three Sacramento Synagogues. No charges
have been filed in those attacks.
Benjamin Matthew Williams (left) and
James Tyler Williams (right) (ace the death
penalty for a murder Benjamin admitted
was motivated by anti-gay hate.
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