This page contains news for the period July 14, 2001 through July 20, 2001.
July 2001 >>
Thursday, July 19, 2001
Californias San Diego county
approves domestic partner benefits to county employees
A story published today by the Union-Tribune reports that
the San Diego County government has quietly made medical benefits for domestic partners
available to its employees.
County officials said they do not know how many of the
17,000 county employees will take advantage of the domestic partner benefits or what it
might cost the county.
San Diego County is not the first local government agency
to offer such benefits. Workers for the city of San Diego can purchase medical benefits
for domestic partners if they list them as a tax dependent.
The county's program is similar.
In an interview yesterday, Supervisor Ron Roberts defended
"It's not about endorsing a lifestyle," Roberts
said. "It's about being fair to our employees."
Rusty Burkett, president of the Deputy Sheriff's
Association of San Diego County, said the domestic partner issue did not create a
controversy when it was offered to his union.
"There's a lot of guys and gals who live with their
girlfriends and boyfriends so that kind of took any punch out of anything someone would
say," Burkett said.
About 2 percent of the U.S. population, approximately 5.5
million people, lives as unmarried partners, according to the latest U.S. Census.
Domestic partner benefits are becoming more common in
private industry, and "the county is catching up with the times," said Jess
Durfee, of the San Diego Democratic Club, a gay organization. "It's long
County employees can cover a domestic partner for health,
dental and vision plans as though they were a dependent. To do so, the employee and
partner must sign a form stating they are unmarried partners.
Georgia's Fulton county rejects
domestic partner benefits
A story published today by the Atlanta Journal and
Constitution reports that Georgia's Fulton county on Wednesday soundly defeated a plan to
couples health insurance.
The County Commission voted 5-2 to reject domestic partnership benefits, which would have
let gay and heterosexual county employees who have lived with a partner for at least a
year apply for insurance for their partner.
Commission Chairman Mike Kenn who voted no said no one could say how much the
benefits would cost the county, and that the ordinance was broadly written. It would have
required that a county employee and partner not be married or legally separated from
anyone else, and that they not be related by blood. Employees also would have had to
notify the county within 30 days if a relationship ended.
"With those kinds of lax eligibility requirements, almost anyone could have
applied," Kenn said.
Patrick O'Connor, the county finance director, said each person added to Fulton County's
insurance plan costs the county about $2,400 a year. O'Connor said it was impossible to
predict how many people would apply for the benefits.
Commissioners Bob Fulton, Tom Lowe and Bill Edwards also opposed the legislation. Only
Commissioners Nancy Boxill, who introduced the ordinance, and Karen Elaine Webster, who
seconded it, voted for the proposal.
Fulton said after the vote, "I just don't think that kind of program is an
appropriate program to fund with taxpayers' money."
Edwards said he was "willing to give it to the homosexuals, but not the
Wednesday, July 18, 2001
German court clears way for
A story released by Reuters reports that Germany's top
court cleared the way on Wednesday for the introduction of same-sex marriages when it
dismissed efforts by two conservative regional states to block a new law.
Starting next month, lesbian and gay couples in Germany
will be able to wed in registry offices and share a common surname.
The constitutional court in Karlsruhe dismissed appeals by
the states of Bavaria and Saxony to block the law, court officials said.
The two states said the law, which has already passed
through parliament, was an attack on traditional family values.
Under the law, homosexual couples will be entitled to the
same inheritance rights as heterosexual couples and foreign partners of German gays and
lesbians will be allowed to join them in Germany.
``The registration of same sex partnerships does not damage
the family or marriage. The protection of marriage and family life should not mean
discriminating against homosexuals,'' the Green party said in a statement.
But Bavaria's conservative Christian Social Union (CSU),
sister party of the opposition Christian Democrats, blasted the court ruling as a ``black
day for families.''
The law will come into force although the constitutional
court still has to give a final decision on whether the law contravenes the German
constitution. A decision is expected next year.
Tuesday, July 17, 2001
Researchers say domestic partner
relationships do not harm children
A story published by the New York Times reports that a research paper that is stirring
both interest and controversy which was written by two sociologists argue that there is no
evidence that having gay or lesbian parents harms children. In reviewing two decades of
research on the topic, the authors have also concluded that social scientists in fact have
found provocative differences, but have played them down for fear that their findings will
"It doesn't make sense to claim that there are no differences based on the
research that's been done so far," said Dr. Judith Stacey, a professor of sociology
and gender studies at the University of Southern California and the lead author of the
paper, which appeared in The American Sociological Review.
Dr. Stacey and a colleague, Dr. Timothy J. Biblarz, also of U.S.C., reviewed 21 studies
of the children of gay or lesbian parents published from 1981 through 1998.
The sociologists noted that in many studies, they said, there are suggestions that both
the experience of having two parents of the same sex and of growing up in a home accepting
of homosexuality influence children's behavior, self-image and life goals.
Some of the distinctions noted by researchers, Dr. Stacey said, had to do with
attitudes toward sexuality and sexual behavior. Others involved how flexibly children
interpreted gender roles: several studies, for example, found that the sons and daughters
of lesbian mothers were less likely to have stereotyped notions of masculine and feminine
behavior, and more likely to aspire to occupations that crossed traditional gender lines.
Still other studies, Dr. Stacey and Dr. Biblarz found, charted differences in how
children raised by gay or lesbian parents expressed themselves verbally, how close they
were to their biological mothers' partners, and how equally their parents divided
parenting duties and household chores.
And while many researchers found that the children of homosexual parents often faced
teasing and harassment from their peers, the sociologists wrote, the studies also showed
that such children "seem to exhibit impressive psychological strength."
Yet in spite of these "provocative" findings, Dr. Stacey and Dr. Biblarz said
that many researchers virtually turned their backs on such results.
"We recognize the political dangers of pointing out that recent studies indicate
that a higher proportion of children with lesbian/gay parents are themselves apt to engage
in homosexual activity," Dr. Stacey and Dr. Biblarz wrote in their paper.
"Nonetheless, we believe that denying this probability is apt to prove
counterproductive in the long run."
In an interview, Dr. Stacey said she was not suggesting that the researchers were
actively censoring their results.
Rather, she said, "People are appropriately anxious when the consequences are so
weighty, and when your research is going to be so instantly taken up and used in a variety
"It's not so much political correctness but political anxiety," Dr. Stacey
The claim that researchers have played down differences when they have found them was
greeted with some skepticism by Dr. Susan Golombok, whose 1996 study of the children of
lesbian couples was among those mentioned in the review paper.
Dr. Golombok, a professor of psychology at the City University in London, said she
found the Stacey- Biblarz analysis of her work "a bit disingenuous."
"The implication is that we have somehow distorted or misrepresented our findings,
and I feel it's rather unfair," Dr. Golombok said. "We've always been very
straightforward about our findings."
Homosexual parenting remains a politically charged issue, even as the number of
children with openly gay mothers or fathers has increased.
The findings of researchers are often cited in custody disputes involving gay or
lesbian parents and swept up into larger societal debates over a variety of gay rights
issues, including same-sex marriage and gay adoption.
A vast majority of these studies have concluded that the sons and daughters of gays and
lesbians are no more anxious, depressed, insecure or prone to other emotional troubles
than the children of heterosexuals. And most researchers, including Dr. Stacey and Dr.
Biblarz, find these results convincing, because they have remained consistent across
studies carried out under a variety of conditions.
But conservative critics, among them Mr. Lynn D. Wardle, a law professor at Brigham
Young University, who has argued that the custody of children should be presumptively
awarded to heterosexual parents, have criticized the methods of many studies and charged
that research on gay parenting is tainted by researchers' ideological bias in favor of gay
On the other side, many researchers assert that the critics are often themselves
biased, and that they distort and misrepresent scientists' work.
In this polarized climate, any finding of "difference" in the children of
homosexual parents has often been equated with "deficit." And scientists who
study sexual development in such children have found the path perilous.
"The politics in this area are very paralyzing," said Dr. John Michael
Bailey, an associate professor of psychology at Northwestern University, who studies
sexual development. "Every camp wants to use the results to further the result they
Canadians in favor of same
rights for homosexuals, survey suggests
A story released by the Canadian Press reports that a Canadian survey conducted by the
Leger Marketing indicated that 75.7 percent of Canadians felt gays and lesbians
should have the same rights as heterosexuals. The same poll also showed that 53.1
percent of the respondents believed homosexuals should have the right to adopt children.
"There's a definite laissez-faire attitude of Canadians toward homosexuality,"
said Christian Bourque, vice-president of Leger Marketing.
Homosexual adoption has also been a hot topic lately in Canada when a Nova Scotia Supreme
Court judge recently ruled that homosexual couples have the right to adopt children in
Currently same-sex adoptions are allowed only in Ontario, British Columbia and Alberta,
with Alberta including its provision under an allowance for same-sex step-parents.
In Quebec and the Atlantic provinces, 85.5 per cent of respondents said gays should have
the same rights as heterosexuals. Other regional numbers were British Columbia, 76.5
percent; Alberta, 71.5 percent; Ontario, 69.8 percent; and Manitoba and Saskatchewan, 67.3
Gay-rights groups hailed the poll results as another sign that attitudes are changing.
"As people come to know us -- who we are -- I think they recognize there's no
rational reason for denying us equality," said John Fisher, executive director of
EGALE, a national gay-rights organization.
"I think it's clear that Canadians support the rights of gays and lesbians to be
treated like equal citizens and to be respected in all aspects of our lives."
Canadians also seemed prepared to offer greater recognition of homosexual couples, with
74.5 percent of respondents saying gay couples should have access to the same tax benefits
as heterosexuals and 65.4 percent saying they supported access to same-sex marriages.
Monday, July 16, 2001
AASP member in Virginia keeps her
day care license for now
A story published today by the Virginian-Pilot reports that
Virginian day care owner, Darlene K. Davis can continue to operate her home-based day care
until state licensing officials decide whether to renew her license.
Davis, 61, was told last month that as long as she had a live-in boyfriend, she was in
danger of losing her license to operate Davis Day Care. Virginia Department of Social
Services officials told her about the extension through a letter she received Friday.
``I haven't done anything to have my license taken from me,'' Davis said. ``All of my
parents are behind me, all of my friends, and I just don't think they have the right to
take away my license just because I live with someone.''
The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia has shown its support for Davis, who has
been a day-care provider for 30 years.
The ACLU warned Social Services officials last month that they could be infringing on
Davis' constitutional rights.
The American Association for Single People, based in Glendale, California, also warned
Social Services of constitutional violations. The nonprofit sent a letter citing a 1979
Virginia Supreme Court decision which states ``unmarried cohabitation should not preclude
an otherwise competent and honest person from obtaining a professional license in
Davis is a member of the nonpartisan group, which protects the human rights of single
individuals, couples, parents and families.
Davis and Cohen, 63, have been living together for 17 years at her home on Crafford
Street in the Bromley neighborhood. Davis, a widow, does not want to get married because
she will lose her military health benefits.
The state is conducting its investigation to determine whether Davis' living
arrangement with Cohen violates a 1877 state law that prohibits unmarried couples to live
``I believe that the right thing will be done,'' Davis said.
Saturday, July 14, 2001
Michigan firm wins Florida county contract
bid due to domestic partner benefits policy
A story published today by the Sun-Sentinel reports that for
the first time since Floridas Broward County began offering incentives to
gay-friendly companies two years ago, a Michigan-based firm has won a government contract
because it provides domestic-partnership benefits.
The incentives swung a $9.4 million deal to redevelop the
North Andrews Gardens neighborhood near Fort Lauderdale to Douglas N. Higgins Inc.
The Michigan company normally would have lost the contract
but received a slight advantage in bidding because the company extended same benefits to
the partners of gay employees as it does to spouses of heterosexual workers. County
purchasing officials said the losing company, Lanzo Construction of Pompano Beach, does
not offer the same policy to their employees.
"It's an important step because the purpose of putting
in the preference was to give companies a reason to follow suit and offer benefits like
the county does," said Jamie Bloodworth, who lobbied for the ordinance. "It's
basically a matter of compensation equality. If you're offering benefits to a traditional
family, you should be offering them to non-traditional families."
The contract calls for Douglas N. Higgins Inc. to improve the
streets, sidewalks and utilities in the unincorporated neighborhood north of Fort
Lauderdale and landscape the area.
It has taken two years for the incentive to have an effect
because it's rare that two bidders are so close that the 1 percent incentive makes a
difference. The county chose the incentive over mimicking a more sweeping law in San
Francisco that requires any company doing business with the city to offer equal benefits
to all workers. But the 1999 ordinance still put Broward at the forefront of local
governments across the country in passing gay rights legislation.
The 1 percent incentive means that a company's $100,000 bid
would be treated as being $1,000 lower if it offers partnership benefits. Thus, the firm
would beat out a competitor that made a lower bid of $99,500.
Commission Chairman John Rodstrom originally had opposed the
law because of concerns about the potential cost to the county but said time has shown
those fears were unwarranted.
"This contract demonstrates the county is serious about
its public policies and ordinances, and that if your company is doing business with the
county, then having these benefits can help you when you're seeking work," he said.