Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Two Anti-Gay Vancouver British Columbia School Trustees Hire Attorney To Stop National Organization For Organization From Using Videotape Of Them In Campaign Against Same Sex Marriage, Gay Inmates Sue After Being Banned From Entering Successful Prison Drug Rehabilitation Program, Baltimore Police Investigate November Sexual Assault Of Transgender Teenage Girl, Atlanta Police Investigate Violent Robbery Of Two Gay Men, Britain Domestic Spy Agency Named One Of Country’s Most Gay-Friendly Employers, Oxford Soccer Player Fired Following Anti-Gay Tweet, Andy Roddick

Two Vancouver school trustees have hired a lawyer to stop a U.S. organization from using a videotape of them in its campaign against same sex marriage. The Vancouver Sun reports that Ken Denike and Sophia Woo of the NPA say they never intended for their message about the need for better scrutiny of school resources to be used by the National Organization for Marriage when they agreed to be interviewed by videographer Rick Stout. By placing the video on its website, the Washington, D.C., lobby group created the false and misleading impression that it has the support of Denike and Woo in its battle against gay marriage, their lawyer Jonathan Tweedale stated in a letter Tuesday. "Had you or your videographer disclosed to my clients that the interview footage was going to be used to further the agenda of the National Organization for Marriage . . . my clients would have refused to provide the interview at the outset," he said in the letter, a copy of which was forwarded to the Vancouver Sun today. "My clients have suffered and continue to suffer damage as a result of your misrepresentations and the false and misleading portrayal of my clients in the unauthorized video." Tweedale ordered the organization to stop using the video immediately, but it was still featured on the organization's Marriage Anti-Defamation Association's website as of 4:00 pm Wednesday. The letter explains that Denike and Woo were interested in calling attention to the need for a more vigilant review of online school resources to ensure there are no inappropriate links. They raised the issue after it was revealed that a gay-friendly teaching resource called Out in Schools included a link to a website containing a sex video. That website had changed its focus after the link was created. Denike and Woo agreed to the interview with Stout to promote that concern, the lawyer said. "It was never my clients' intention to make any comment on the protracted U.S. debate concerning same sex marriage. The issue raised by my clients had nothing to do with that debate." Gay activists, political opponents and others criticized Denike and Woo after the video came to light late last year for apparently working with the anti-gay-marriage group and inviting their videographer onto school board property. But the MADA video wasn't the only controversy for the two trustees. Another video showed them addressing a summer picnic and warning their mainly Chinese audience that Vision Vancouver trustees were planning to introduce an anti-bullying policy similar to one in Burnaby that offers specific protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students. That message appeared misleading because Vancouver already has one of the strongest such policies in the province.

A Palm Springs man is accusing the Riverside County California Sheriff’s Department of discriminating against gay jail inmates because of a policy that, in effect, bans homosexuals from a successful drug rehabilitation program. Michael Lamar Salomonson, 46, a chronic methamphetamine user, was arrested and charged with burglarizing a Palm Springs home in December. His attorney said that, during plea negotiations, the Riverside County district attorney’s office agreed to send Salomonson to the 180-day Residential Substance Abuse Program at the detention center in Banning in lieu of a two-year jail sentence. But, reports The Los Angeles Times, sheriff’s officials refused to enrol Salomonson in the program. Under jail policy, inmates who enter into county jails and disclose they are gay are placed into protective custody and separated from the general jail population. Inmates in protective custody are routinely rejected for the drug rehab program, said Roger Tansey, the public defender in Indio representing Salomonson. “It’s a wonderful program, but they won’t let him in," Tansey said. “I think it’s just easier for the jail to run it this way, but you can’t legally discriminate just because it’s easier for you." Tansey said he has no qualms about the policy to place gay inmates in protective custody, but believes the Sheriff’s Department should alter the drug rehabilitation program to accommodate those inmates. He has filed a motion in Riverside County Superior Court to compel the Sheriff’s Department to accept gay inmates in the program. Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Jerry Gutierrez, who supervises the county jails, said the inmates in the jail’s drug treatment program are housed together throughout the intense, six-month treatment process. Because of that, the program is limited to those inmates in the general population. Enrolling inmates in protective custody, a population that also includes those with medical disabilities, victims of jail assaults and inmates convicted of sexually assaulting children, could create a volatile situation, he said. “Our goal is to treat everyone who needs to be treated in our program, but there’s only so much that can go around,' said Gutierrez said. “We only have so many resources.’’ Gutierrez said the county will consider expanding the rehabilitation programs if enough inmates in protective custody qualify. Run by correctional counsellors and mental health professionals, the program provides daily therapy, counselling, education and 12-step recovering meetings. Participants also are eligible for vocational training. The vast majority of those enrolled are methamphetamine users.

Police in Baltimore are investigating the sexual assault of a transgender girl that happened in November. WBAL 11 reports that officers were called to the Barclay community at North and Guilford avenues around 3:30 am November 17 to find the 16-year-old victim, who said she had been walking in the 2300 block of Hunter Street when an unknown man approached her, forced her against the fence and assaulted her. The victim said the assailant then ran away. Police recovered recent surveillance footage of the attacker and post a link of it to YouTube on Friday. Anyone with information on the crime or the man's identity is urged to call police at 410-396-2076.

In Georgia, Atlanta police are looking for two men who allegedly beat and robbed two gay men early Sunday morning. The incident occurred around 2:40 am on January 8, according to police spokeswoman Officer Kim Jones. Project Q Atlanta first reported the case. The victims, identified as Drew Childs and Trenton Theiler, told police they were robbed at 9th Street and Argonne Avenue after leaving Blake's on the Park on 10th Street. When the pair reached Argonne Avenue, they were approached by two men, police said. The suspects struck Theiler in the head and Childs several times in the face. They made off with Childs' wallet. "Both parties were transported to Grady Hospital for head injuries," Jones said. "Mr. Childs could not remember what happened and all information came from Mr. Theiler." Atlanta police say the department's LGBT liaison officers will follow-up with the victims. "The Atlanta Police is appealing to the public to help solve a robbery case," the Midtown Ponce Security Alliance said Monday night, calling the incident "brutal." The department is looking for video footage that could be helpful in identifying suspects, the group said. Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Wareham at 404-658-6636. "The individuals who perpetrated this offense can expect proactive efforts on the part of the neighbourhood, and will be liable to lengthy prison sentences under the Georgia Criminal Code once the Atlanta Police apprehends them," says the alliance.

Britain’s domestic spy agency MI5 was named as one of the country’s most gay-friendly employers Wednesday. MI5 was ranked 62 out of 100 for being one of the best employers for lesbian, gay and bisexual staff, according to a list compiled by the equality charity Stonewall. Ernst and Young topped the list, which is based on a confidential survey of more than 7,500 lesbian, gay and bisexual employees. “The Security Service has worked hard in recent years to promote equality and diversity across all areas of its work,” said Jonathan Evans, MI5’s director general. “We are pleased to be recognized by Stonewall, but there is still more we can do.” Gay candidates were not always welcomed into the agency in the past. Many believed their sexual preferences would leave them more vulnerable to blackmail. Since the 2005 suicide attacks when bombers killed 52 people during London’s morning rush hour, both MI5 and MI6 — Britain’s foreign spy agency — have led aggressive recruiting drives for candidates from diverse ethnic and sexual backgrounds. “Competition for a place in the Top 100 was fiercer than ever this year,” Stonewall Chief Executive Ben Summerskill said. Other employers who ranked high on the list include Britain’s Home Office, Barclays, and Goldman Sachs.

An update on a previous post, Oxford City Football Club have terminated striker Lee Steele’s contract after a homophobic remark appeared on his Twitter account. The post, about openly-gay Welsh Rugby star and Celebrity Big Brother contestant Gareth Thomas, read. “I wouldnt fancy the bed next to Gareth Thomas #padlockeda**ehole." Executives at Oxford City FC met Tuesday night to discuss the issue, and released a statement earlier Wednesday morning, reports The Oxford Mail. It read, “Following a Board Meeting last night the club have issued the following brief statement to the FA. The Oxford City board have decided to release Lee Steele in view of his recent comment via social media which is considered seriously contrary to the ethos of the club.”

Andy Roddick (and his cute belly) on court at the Kooyong Classic in Melbourne, Australia, Andy losing his first-round match against Gael Monfils.

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