Thursday, April 6, 2000
A story published today in the Beacon Journal
reports that some conservative lawmakers in Ohio believe so strongly that abstinence is
the only policy to teach kids when it comes to sex education, they're willing to abstain
from federal money to prove it.
As a March 31 deadline passed for the state to
take action on a $855,321 grant, Ohio last week became the first state ever to turn down a
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grant that includes money for sex education.
Although the CDC was willing to give the state a
little more time, that gesure probably won't change the picture. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-West
Liberty, said he doesn't foresee any compromise soon.
"I sure hope it's dead,'' Jordan said. "Let them keep the money.''
Ohio lawmakers decline federal funding for sex education
A joint education committee held hearings Jan. 20 and 21, but never
voted on whether to accept the federal funds after some legislators demanded the money be
used to fund abstinence-only programs.
And because the CDC issues grants in five-year cycles, Ohio is in
danger of losing grants for more than just this year, said Paul Marshall, director of the
office of budget and governmental relations for the Ohio Department of Education.
April 4, 2000
A story published today by the Associated
Press reports that a couple who live together and plan to marry within a year will not be
charged under New Mexico's 37-year-old law banning cohabitation by unmarried couples.
Prosecutor dropping cohabitation case in New Mexico
"It's not in anybody's best interest to have the courts clogged
with this kind of case," District Attorney Mike Runnels said Monday.
The story says that Richard Pitcher and Kimberly Henry were accused
by Pitcher's ex-wife of violating the 1963 law, which prohibits unwed people from living
together as "man and wife."
Henry had been summoned to appear in court Tuesday for arraignment,
but Runnels said he will ask the court to dismiss the case.
Pitcher's ex-wife, Vickie Avants, told a deputy sheriff that her
ex-husband and his fiancée had been living together since February. Avants, who has a
child with Pitcher, said the arrangement would expose the child to a "non-family
Anyone convicted for the first time is warned by a judge to
"cease and desist." Future offences are punishable by a fine of up to $500 or up
to six months in jail or both.
Monday, April 3, 2000
Gay dad battles prejudice in
A story published today by the Associated
Press reports that it is a real struggle for a single gay man to adopt children, even
special needs children, in Indiana. The experience of Craig Peterson serves as an example.
Peterson wanted to be a father. He believed that four adopted
children would soon fill the empty halls of his suburban Indianapolis home and share the
comfortable life he'd built as a successful salesman.
The story says that Peterson knew he would have to overcome the
stigma of being single and gay. He found a group of siblings, three boys and a girl, all
black and all brain-damaged from fetal alcohol syndrome. They were kids who required
special attention, kids others looking to adopt might pass over.
Peterson, who is white, went through months of interviews and
training. His patience and perseverance paid off. The adoption board voted unanimously to
place all of the children with him.
But then the little girl's foster parents, Saundra and Earl
Kimmerling, learned that Peterson is gay. They protested, rallying state and local
politicians to their side.
The story hit the local newspaper, with Earl Kimmerling saying
adoption by a homosexual was against God's will and it would be unjust to place Mary in
such an "immoral" household.
Within a week of learning that Peterson is gay, the Kimmerlings
filed to adopt Mary.
"We have her and we're a family," Saundra Kimmerling said
at the time. "We've been a family and now it's going to be official."
However, the little girl was later molested by Earl Kimmerling, 52,
who was charged and found guilty. He is currently serving a 40-year prison sentence.
The ACLU of Indiana has now filed a federal lawsuit on Peterson's
behalf, accusing authorities of violating his constitutional rights by reversing the
The story says that Jim Hmurovich, director of the division of
family and children, claims that proper procedures were followed. "Everything we do,
we have to do in the best interest of the children," Hmurovich said.
Peterson has tried to remain strong throughout, being a father to
the boys, teaching them to ride bikes, explaining to them as gently as possible what has
happened to their sister.
Recently, Michael, 5, posed a question. "Father," he
asked. "Can't we call Mary to make sure we know she's OK?"
"Maybe someday we'll be able to do that," Peterson
Dear Abby says that a
pregnancy should not force people to marry quickly
In today's "Dear Abby" column, a reader,
known as "Lessor Learned in Florida," writes about his own experience of a
"shotgun" wedding in response to his girlfriend's pregnancy. He warns another
reader, known as "Soon to Be a Grandpa," not to pressure his son to marry his
pregnant girlfriend just because of the pregnancy.
The Florida dad says that about two years ago
he found out that his girlfriend was pregnant. He wanted to "do the right thing"
and so they married after knowing each other five months.
Florida dad says wrote to Abby:
"If you think marrying someone you hardly know is stressful,
wait until the birth of a child. I love my beautiful daughter with all my heart. However,
my marriage to her mother was the most traumatic experience I have ever been through!
"Abby, you were right on the money when you said that marriage
can wait. The young man should not put himself in a bind to prove he is committed to the
unborn child. That is what I did and it was the worst decision Ive ever made.
The divorce (we were married eight months) still causes much pain for me and everyone I
"Things are finally starting to normalize. We have joint
custody of our daughter.
"Please tell 'Soon to Be a Grandpa'to warn his son. I know the
son feels like his relationship is different and he can make it work. I felt the same way.
He should enjoy his newborn and participate in his/her life as much as possible. But
marriage is not the answer. If it turns out that their commitment to each other is
genuine, best of luck to them! However, nothing is harmed by a little patience."
Abby responded: "Dear Lesson Learned: I agree; a child should
be raised in a home where the parents love each other. "
North Carolina man fined
$500,000 for adultery
A story published today by the Associated
Press reports that a North Carolina man who makes about $12 an hour working in a factory
has been ordered to pay $500,000 for having an affair with another man's wife.
James Hill filed a lawsuit against Allen Winebarger in December
1998, saying his 18-year marriage to Carol Hill was close and loving until she met
Winebarger, who is 13 years younger than Carol Hill and coached two of their children in
Winebarger, however, said Carol Hill had complained of James Hill's
alcohol use, an interest in pornography and not spending enough time with her and the
children. Winebarger described his relationship with Carol Hill as a close friendship. But
he admitted that the two went away for a weekend while she was still married, and that
they share the same bed at the mobile home they moved into in Weaverville - with her three
The story says that last month, Superior Court Judge Zoro Guice
ordered Winebarger to pay $500,000 to Hill.
While adultery remains a crime in North Carolina, critics say such
"alienation of affection'' lawsuits are archaic and stem from an era when women were
considered property. North Carolina is one of only a dozen or so states with alienation of
affection laws on the books.
"It takes two individuals to have an affair,'' says Asheville
family law attorney Howard Gum. "So the spouse is at least as guilty, in my mind
anyway, more culpable because, after all, they are breaking the marriage vow. Yet, that
spouse is insulated from any consequence as a result of the wrongdoing, and some
individual who is a `stranger to the marriage' has to go through the process of being
Supporters say the lawsuits are an effective way to hold someone
accountable for "intruding'' in a sacred covenant.
Sunday, April 2,
Gay scholar argues against
A story published today in the Providence
Journal reports that the legalization of same-sex marriage is not a primary goal for all
gay rights advocates. The story focuses on the views of William S. Hampl, a University of
Rhode Island doctoral candidate who is also gay.
The story says that in the workplace and elsewhere in society,
married people have status. They seem to be taken more seriously than single people,
because they are seen as more mature. They are said to be more likely to be invited to
dinner parties. They are also more likely to be elected to public office.
It emphasizes that these are just a few of the reasons why
homosexuals should be allowed to legally marry, goes the argument by many gays and
lesbians -- many, but not all.
"To read gay news magazines, one might think gays think of
nothing else but marriage,'' said William S. Hampl, who is gay and who presented what he
said are seldom-heard opposing views on the subject at the recent Symposium on Lesbian,
Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues at the University of Rhode Island.
Hampl, a URI doctoral candidate, based his talk on a 1999 book by
"queer theorist'' Michael Warner. Entitled The Trouble with Normal: Sex, Politics,
and the Ethics of Queer Life , the book explores -- among other things -- whether marriage
is a good idea for anyone, gay or straight.
Warner's book explores the historical roots of marriage as a means
of reinforcing male domination, and he questions the intrusion of state authority into
private and intimate relationships. "The state,'' writes Warner, "merely
certifies a love that is beyond law.'' In this way, he says, the state "justifies its
existence as keeper of the law.''
Hampl says that a gay or lesbian couple seeking to be legally
married displays "a willful ignorance of the best of queer politics.'' Because
marriage is so deeply embedded in the cultural unconscious, a gay or lesbian couple is
likely to consider it ennobling -- that they are "less worthy if you don't have it,''
He explains that a couple may also desire marriage as a means of
obtaining health care, or to share their property, as a sign of mutual belonging.
But Hampl argues that other, more cynical, reasons for wanting to
marry include wanting to "stick it in the face of heterosexuals,'' or even just
wanting to get wedding presents. Hampl mentioned one gay man's goal of marrying a
succession of AIDS patients in order to collect their life insurance -- not a bad idea, in
Hampl's opinion, if that money is diverted to AIDS-related causes.
The story says that supporters of legalizing gay marriage have
argued that society would benefit from the change, because the stereotype of a dominant
husband and submissive wife would be balanced by a model in which the two partners are
But Hampl claims that this works only in theory. In real life, he
says, gays themselves often inquire of gay couples: "Which one of you does the man
"It's not just an innocent question,'' said Hampl, but one that
goes to the heart of the relationship. "Who wears the pants? Who's the breadwinner?
Who's in control?''
The story says that another argument in favor of gay marriage is
that it will strengthen ties between the heterosexual and homosexual communities, because
married people in both categories will have marriage in common.
But the downside, said Hampl -- again citing Warner -- is that the
homosexual community gets divided into two camps: those for and those against marriage.
Indeed, the whole issue of gay marriage distracts attention from other gay concerns, he
said. Plus, he said, a gap would be created between married and unmarried homosexuals,
"leaving the unmarried to appear even more deviant than they already do'' in the eyes
of the legal system.
Those who choose not to marry would find themselves the subject of
speculation: "So why aren't they getting married? So what's their problem?''
Also, predicted Warner, the state is likely to crack down on
unmarried gays, by criminalizing all sex outside of marriage, by harassing gays, and by
censoring sexually explicit materials.
Hampl said gays and lesbians should not overlook what many
heterosexual couples have discovered through the centuries: that "marriage can
sometimes be a stifling burden'' in which a person is "stuck going through the
motions,'' trying "to keep up appearances to avoid divorce.''
Ultimately what matters, he said, is that "our relationships
make us happy. If they don't, we change them.'' As things stand now, "no lawyers are
According to the story, audience members had a range of reactions to
Hampl's presentation, with several agreeing that the current interest in marriage among
homosexuals is a reaction to the AIDS epidemic.
Most also concurred that, even if the institution of marriage is
flawed, it should be an option for gays, because a truly egalitarian society offers the
same rights to all.
Saturday, April 1, 2000
Massachusetts Supreme Court
explains its fertility treatment decision
A story published today in the Boston Globe
reports that the highest court in Massachusetts yesterday extended Massachusetts'
tradition of personal freedom into the arena of high-tech fertility treatments, saying
courts will not support ''forced procreation,'' requiring people to become parents against
In a 7-0 decision, the Supreme Judicial Court explained why earlier
this year it refused a woman's request to be implanted with four frozen embryos remaining
from her previous marriage. Her ex-husband, although he had signed seven agreements giving
the woman control over the embryos if they divorced, changed his mind and then sued to
block the procedure.
The court in February had issued an order siding with the former
husband. Yesterday it issued a 20-page opinion outlining its reasons.
The story says that Massachusetts is only the third state where a
Supreme Court has faced issues about control of frozen embryos and the first to tackle the
question of what should be done when prospective parents disagree over how embryos can be
''We derive from existing state laws and judicial precedent a public
policy in this Commonwealth that individuals shall not be compelled to enter into intimate
family relationships, and that the law shall not be used as a mechanism for forcing such
relationships when they are not desired,'' Justice Judith Cowin wrote.
''This policy is grounded in the notion that respect for liberty and
privacy requires that individuals be accorded the freedom to decide whether to enter into
a family relationship,'' Cowin wrote.
George Annas, a lawyer and medical ethicist at Boston University,
said the court's decision mirrors the way the courts have dealt with marriage: it's a
personal choice, not a mandate from government.
''We are not going to force someone to get married, and we're not
going to force you to become a parent,'' he said. ''This will be a highly important
opinion in the rest of the country as well.''
New form to inquire about 'cohabitation' of prospective foster and adoptive parents
A story published today in the Desert News
reports that the Utah Division of Child and Family Services has revised its application
form used for adoptions and foster homes.
People in Utah looking to adopt or become foster parents will have
to sign a form affirming that they are not cohabiting, according to the state's definition
in a new law that takes effect May 1. The law defines living together as being involved in
"a sexual relationship."
The state DCFS is charged with inquiring into the
nature of a couple's relationship under a statute the Utah Legislature passed last month
prohibiting unmarried couples, including gay and lesbian couples, from becoming adoptive
and foster parents.
The form will advise applicants that
"Cohabiting means being involved in any sexual relationship with that person."