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National News
National News
by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

1,000 at Oklahoma City Sally rally
More than 1,000 people rallied at the state Capitol in Oklahoma City April 2 in support of beleaguered state Rep. Sally Kern.

Kern has been under fire since March 7 when the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund posted an audio clip on YouTube of a speech in which Kern called Gays more dangerous to America than terrorists.

At the rally Kern said she cannot apologize for the comments because "when God calls something a sin, then it's a sin." In the original speech, which Kern apparently was not aware was being recorded, she said: "The homosexual agenda is destroying this nation, OK? It's just a fact.

"Studies show that no society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted more than, you know, a few decades.

"I honestly think it's the biggest threat even - that our nation has - even more so than terrorism or Islam, which I think is a big threat, OK?

"Because what's happening now, they're going after - in schools - two-year olds! ... They're going after our young children, as young as two years of age, to try to teach them that the homosexual lifestyle is an acceptable lifestyle.

"This stuff is deadly and it's spreading and it will destroy our young people, it will destroy this nation."

400 protest Phelpses in Topeka
More than 400 people staged a protest in Topeka, Kan., March 30 against the "God Hates Fags" Fred Phelps group, best-known in recent years for picketing military funerals with the claim that God is punishing America for its acceptance of homosexuality.

The "Million Fag March" took place in the city's Gage Park, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

"The theory has been to ignore them, and they'll go away," co-organizer Chris Love told the paper. "It's been 20 years, and they're still here. Now we are too. ... It's just time to show people that not everyone in Kansas is like the Phelpses."

Alabama girls win prom battle
Two female high-school students in Scottsboro, Ala., got to go to their prom together March 29 after a judge said the Board of Education had acted illegally in banning them.

According to local media, Jackson County Circuit Judge John Graham cited a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that U.S. states and their agencies cannot target homosexuals for special discriminatory treatment, and another federal court ruling that prohibits publicly funded schools from barring Gay couples from school functions.

Chelsea Overstreet, 17, and Lauren Martin, 16, did not speak to reporters after the decision.

Scottsboro, pop. 14,951, is in northeastern Alabama, 40 miles east of Huntsville.

Konica Minolta takes away health benefits after couple moves
The Konica Minolta corporation has taken away 9/11 survivor Robert Ryan's health insurance after he and his partner, who works for the company, relocated from New Jersey, which has a civil-union law, to Idaho, which does not.

Ryan has suffered from depression, asthma and other problems related to the 9/11 attacks. He escaped from the south tower of the World Trade Center after terrorists slammed a jet into the north tower, and was trampled by a crowd in the process. A second plane then hit Ryan's office tower, four floors above where he had been working. He later went on disability and, before meeting his partner, Ralph Martinelli, spent his savings to stay afloat.

"I'm still working at the same company, doing the same job," said Martinelli. "Why shouldn't I be able to cover my partner in Idaho like I did in New Jersey? This would never happen to a married couple."

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, which has taken on the couple's case, Konica Minolta "currently interprets its policy as requiring employees to re-register as domestic partners with the state every time that they move, even though many states have no way for same-sex partners to do so."

Many other companies that provide such benefits accept a marriage, civil-union or domestic-partnership certificate from anywhere, or just an affidavit of the relationship.

"Konica Minolta wants all the good will that comes with providing domestic-partner insurance, but they clearly don't want to have to provide the benefits. Otherwise they would never be interpreting [their] policy in such a restrictive way," said Jack Van Valkenburgh, executive director of the ACLU of Idaho.

Ed Barocas, legal director of the ACLU of New Jersey, added: "Underlying all of this is the confusion and mistrust engendered by terms like 'civil union' and 'domestic partnership' as opposed to 'marriage.' Same-sex couples are asked to prove that their relationships aren't imaginary every time they move, and employers take advantage of the lack of uniformity to treat people unfairly."

Konica Minolta has not commented on the matter.

Missoula library comes out
While the public library board in Nampa, Idaho, recently voted to remove The Joy of Gay Sex from the shelves, the Missoula Public Library in Montana is gearing up for "Out at the Library," The Missoulian reported March 30.

The Gay history exhibit originated at the San Francisco Public Library in 2006 and has visited only a dozen other libraries across the U.S.

Co-curator Molly Kliss told the newspaper she will invite Gay-themed authors with ties to Montana or the West to make presentations during the show, which runs from April 17 to May 31.

"It's an opportunity to focus on a part of our history that is sometimes ignored," Kliss said.

Patricia Nell Warren, author of the groundbreaking Gay novel The Front Runner, will speak at the exhibit grand opening. She grew up in Deer Lodge, Mont.

Arizona anti-Gay amendment killed
An effort to amend Arizona's Constitution to ban same-sex marriage died in the House of Representatives April 3 when opponents amended it to also create domestic partnership for same-sex couples.

Led by state Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, legislators voted 28-27 to alter the bill. Four Republicans joined Democrats in wielding the tactic, which made the bill unpalatable to its author and supporters.

"We are now able to focus on the issues that unite the people of Arizona," said Equality Arizona Executive Director Barbara McCullough-Jones. "Equality Arizona celebrates today's decision with the thousands of people who called on the Legislature to stop this divisive measure."

With assistance from Bill Kelley
 

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