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U.S. News Archive
September 20 - September 26, 1999





This page contains news for the period Monday, September 20, 1999 through Sunday, September 26, 1999.



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Friday, September 24, 1999

Connecticut town's pool policy violates marital status nondiscrimination law

An article published today in the Washington Blade reports that the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities issued a finding Sept. 15 favorable to four same-sex and two opposite-sex unmarried couples seeking family memberships at the Cornerstone Aquatics Center.

The center, managed by the Town of West Hartford, refused to give a family rate to the unmarried couples and insisted they purchase more expensive individual memberships.

Mary L. Bonauto and Maureen Murphy, the attorneys involved in the case, argued that the heterosexual couples were wrongly discriminated against because of marital status, and that West Hartford, which manages the pool, made it impossible for same-sex couples to apply for "family" memberships, since they can’t legally marry.

Following the favorable finding, the next step is for both parties to enter into mediation, Bonauto said in a press release.

California Governor to sign bill for gay or elderly couples, veto bill for all partners

A story appearing today in the Sacramento Bee reported that California Governor Gray Davis has announced he will sign AB 26 and will veto SB 75.

AB 26 will create a state registry for same-sex domestic partners of any age and for opposite-sex domestic partners if both parties are over the age of 62. Registration will guarantee one partner access to the other in a hospital emergency situation. AB 26 would also authorize the state Public Employees Retirement System to administer a domestic partner health benefits plan for employees or state retirees with a same-sex partner or elderly opposite-sex partner.

The governor's approval of the bill by Assemblywoman Carole Migden had been widely anticipated -- as had Thursday's announcement that Davis will veto a bill by Sen. Kevin Murray that would offer more benefits to domestic partners.

This story said that the Governor's spokeswoman, Hilary McLean, said that the governor had worked with Migden, D-San Francisco, on the legislation, AB 26. McLean said Davis concluded that SB 75 by Murray, D-Culver City, was "unnecessary" because it covers much of the same ground.

The story does not rebut this assertion, even though SB 75 would provide protection to a large group of domestic partners not covered by AB 26, namely, heterosexual couples under the age of 62. The group excluded from AB 26 is actually larger than the two groups who are included in that bill. The story underplays the fact that two major provisions in SB 75 are wills and conservatorship proceedings, protections that would be helpful to domestic partners in times of illness and death. AB 26 does not deal with these two crucial areas of concern.


Thursday, September 23, 1999

Judge Rejects Insurance Ban

According to a Reuters news wire story, a Superior Court in Fulton County, Georgia, has struck down a state ban on domestic partner insurance. Judge Wendy Shoob ruled that Georgia Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine's refusal to allow insurance companies in Georgia to provide health coverage for unmarried live-in partners was unconstitutional. Oxendine imposed the ban after the Atlanta City Council voted a few years ago to grant insurance benefits to unmarried partners, including homosexual couples.


Tuesday, September 21, 1999

Government funds programs promoting abstinence until marriage

An article appearing in the Detroit News today discusses government funding for educational programs telling students not to have sex until they marry. The article does not mention the fact that the legal age of consent is 16 in many states and that consensual intercourse is legal in all 50 states when people reach the age of 18. About 80% of young people are sexually active by the age of 20. The article does not mention the unreasonableness of asking people to abstain from sex until they are 25 or 30 years old if they are not going to marry until then. It also does not mention that since gays and lesbians may not legally marry a same-sex partner, a "no sex until marriage" programs in effect is telling gays and lesbians to abstain from sex for their entire lives.

The article focuses on a program in Orange County, California known as "Choices." The story says that programs such as Choices, whose 20 speakers brought its message of chastity last year to 17,000 students in Southern California's Orange County, are changing the face of sex education in the United States.

Teaching "sexual abstinence until marriage" is blessed by federal and state governments. With $500 million in public funds, hundreds of new programs are instructing children that premarital sex will likely have "harmful psychological and physical effects" and that condoms and other contraceptives are unreliable. California, the only state to reject federal money for abstinence-only programs, has funded "Choices" with approximately $400,000.

As programs such as they spread, they are challenging the long-established triad of sex education -- human sexuality, safe sex and birth control. This turn of events has caused some religious conservatives to proclaim victory over what they see as the corrosive effects of the '60s. "The sexual revolution came and went and sex lost," declares Leslee Unruh, president of the National Abstinence Clearinghouse in Sioux Falls, S.D., which has counted about 1,000 abstinence programs nationwide. In the last two years, 698 new abstinence-only programs and 21 new media campaigns have been funded by the federal government with state matching funds.


Monday, September 20, 1999

Program trains unmarried fathers, preparing them for jobs and encouraging them to be involved with their child

A column written by Ronald Browenstein published today in the Los Angeles Times focuses on an innovative project in Indianapolis known as the Father Resource Program.

About one-third of children in the United States live in families without fathers in the home. The  Census Bureau will release its annual report on poverty in the next few days. The report is expected to conclude, as it does every year, that most poor children live in fatherless families.

Brownstein says that research shows that children growing up without fathers in the home are twice as likely to abuse drugs, commit crimes or drop out of school as those with two parents to support them.

He says that the 5-year-old program, which serves primarily black men ages 17 to 27, is at the forward edge of a fragile grass-roots movement laboring to break the cycle of separation. Around the nation -- typically in modest circumstances like this -- programs are springing up to help men, usually unmarried young men, reconnect with their families.

Several times a year the program gathers a group of 20 young men -- almost all unmarried, most recruited by word of mouth or radio advertising -- for a six-week, all-day "fatherhood boot camp." In part of the program. the young men (who are paid weekly stipends of about $90) are counseled on parenting skills, anger management, the role of fathers and the need to avoid additional pregnancies without marriage. A psychologist works with them on managing their relationship with their child's mother. The rest of the program focuses on job readiness skills: how to write a resume and conduct themselves in the workplace. At the end of the six weeks -- if they pass a drug test -- an employment counselor helps them to find work.

The goal of the program is to stabilize their lives to the point where they can not only pay child support but have them support their children emotionally.



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