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posted Friday, June 5, 2009 - Volume 37 Issue 23

National News
by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

Wisconsin Supremes to hear challenge to marriage ban
Wisconsin's Supreme Court will hear a challenge to the state's three-year-old constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriage.

The case was filed by University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh teacher Bill McConkey, whose daughter is Gay.

He claims the amendment passed by voters was improperly constructed because it dealt with more than one issue. The amendment both defined marriage as between a man and a woman and laid out certain rights of unmarried people.

Domestic partnership bill passes Nevada Legislature
A domestic-partner bill has passed Nevada's Legislature, but Gov. Jim Gibbons is expected to veto it.

However, proponents may have enough votes in the Legislature to override a veto.

The measure would extend nearly all state-level marriage rights and obligations to same- and opposite-sex partners. It also bans discrimination based on one's domestic-partnership status, but says that employers can continue to discriminate in family health coverage.

The Legislature also has passed a bill to ban discrimination by public accommodations based on sexual orientation. Existing law bans such discrimination in employment. An attempt to add "gender identity" to the bill failed.

ACLU sues in Tennessee over school internet filters
The American Civil Liberties Union sued two Tennessee school districts in federal court May 19, charging they are unconstitutionally blocking students from accessing online information about GLBT issues.

Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, Knox County Schools and as many as 105 other school districts in Tennessee use internet filtering software to block websites containing pro-GLBT speech, but not websites touting "reparative therapy" or "ex-Gay" ministries.

The "LGBT" filter is not used to block pornography, which is filtered separately, but does block the sites of many GLBT organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign; the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network; and Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.

"Allowing access to websites that present one side of an issue while blocking sites that present the other side is illegal viewpoint discrimination," said lead attorney Catherine Crump of the ACLU First Amendment Working Group. "This discriminatory censorship does nothing to make students safe from material that may actually be harmful, but only hurts them by making it impossible to access important educational material."

The ACLU learned about the filtering from Andrew Emitt, a Knoxville high school student who attempted to search for information on Gay scholarships.

Activist Rodger McFarlane commits suicide
Veteran Gay activist Rodger McFarlane committed suicide in Truth or Consequences, N.M., May 15.

An e-mail sent out by a group of his friends said: "In a letter found with his remains, Rodger explained that he was unwilling to allow compounding heart and back problems to become even worse and result in total debilitation. We know that Rodger was in a great deal of pain. Already disabled in his own mind, he could no longer work out or do all the outdoor activities he so loved. He was also now faced with the realization that he could literally not travel, making employment increasingly difficult."

In 1981, McFarlane set up the first AIDS hotline in the U.S., before AIDS had a name. He went on to head Gay Men's Health Crisis, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and the Gill Foundation. He also was a founding member of ACT UP/New York.

McFarlane co-authored several books, including The Complete Bedside Companion: No-Nonsense Advice on Caring for the Seriously Ill and Larry Kramer's The Tragedy of Today's Gays. In 1993, he co-produced the Pulitzer Prize-nominated production of Kramer's The Destiny of Me.

"Rodger approached every aspect of his life with boundless passion and vigor," his friends said. "While many people go their entire lives wanting to be good at just one thing, Rodger excelled at virtually everything he did. Brilliant activist and strategist, decorated veteran, accomplished athlete, best-selling author, and humanitarian are just a few of the accolades that could be used to describe our friend."



With assistance from Bill Kelley



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