Kansas appeals court upholds
states anti-sodomy law
A story released today by the Associated Press reports that the Kansas state Court of
Appeals has rejected a challenge to a state law punishing young adults who have sex with
underage partners more harshly if those partners are of the same gender.
A three-judge panel ruled against Matthew R. Limon, who was seeking to overturn his
sentence of 17 years and two months in prison for having sex with an underage boy in
February 2000, when Limon was 18.
Had either the defendant, Limon or the other party been of the opposite sex, the
maximum sentence would have been one year and three months in prison.
The case attracted the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union, which argued
the law discriminates against homosexuals, and the DKT Liberty Project, a Washington group
with a Libertarian philosophy, which said it represented gender discrimination.
But in an unsigned opinion issued Friday, Appeals Judges Henry W. Green Jr., David S.
Knudson and G. Joseph Pierron Jr. said the U.S. Supreme Court has held that states may
treat homosexual acts differently than heterosexual ones.
"Neither does this decision deal with the wisdom of the statute involved, as that
is left to the Legislature in our governmental system, with its separation of
powers," the appeals panel wrote.
Limon still may appeal to the Kansas Supreme Court.
The case is State v. Matthew R. Limon, No. 85,898.
Red Cross sets aside fund for
A story published today by the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports that the American Red
Cross is setting aside $15 million of its terrorist attack relief fund to assist the Sept.
11 victims' extended families and domestic partners.
Red Cross officials announced Thursday that the fund would help nontraditional family
members, which could include same-sex partners and fiances.
Red Cross chairman of the board, David McLaughlin said that it would disburse 90
percent of the fund by Sept. 11, 2002.
Domestic partners of British
parliament members given pension rights
A story published today by the Independent reports that same-sex and unmarried partners
of U.K.s Member of Parliaments and civil servants are to be given the same pension
rights as married couples.
Under a legal change to be made by October, unmarried partners will be entitled to
widow's or widower's pensions.
But teachers, soldiers and health service workers who are not being given the same
benefits despite years of campaigning, accused the Government of hypocrisy and
The National Union of Teachers said ministers were applying double standards. "We
have become used to one rule applying to MPs and an entirely different set of rules for
the rest of us," said a spokeswoman. The public service union Unison accused the
Government of "discrimination against people who are living outside legal
Evan Harris, the Liberal Democrat who has been leading the campaign for equality in the
House of Commons, said the rights should be extended to all gay and unmarried people in
the public sector.
"The change to the MPs' scheme will put further pressure on Members to ensure that
less well-off workers such as those in the health service can have access to the same
benefits," Mr. Harris said.
"It will send a strong signal to the private sector that they should also extend
these rights." he added.
Monday, February 4, 2002
Montana University system sued over
denial of domestic partner benefits
A story released today by the Associated Press reports that the American Civil
Liberties Union filed suit Monday, contending the Montana university system violates the
rights of its gay and lesbian employees by denying their partners health insurance and
"We're not asking for special treatment, but to have the same access to health
insurance that other couples have," said Carla Grayson, a professor at the University
of Montana in Missoula. Grayson and partner Adrianne Neff are plaintiffs in the lawsuit
against the state, the university system and its leaders.
Unmarried, heterosexual partners of state employees may obtain health insurance if they
sign a statement of common-law marriage. The lawsuit filed in state District Court asks
for an order requiring same-sex domestic partners of university system employees be given
the same access to insurance and other benefits.
"This is a matter of basic fairness - of whether gay employees should be
compensated less than straight employees for doing the same work," said Scott
Crichton, ACLU executive director for Montana.
Equal protection of laws without regard to sexual orientation or marital status is
guaranteed by the Montana Constitution, he said.
"The regents specifically considered this ... and the advice I gave them at that
time was that I did not think they were under any legal compulsion to offer these
benefits," said LeRoy Schramm, lawyer for the university system. "I don't think
anything has happened in the last year that would require me to change my opinion."
Doctors backing up same-sex parents
A story published today by the Beacon Journal reports that in 47 states, gay and
lesbian parents are denied the parental rights that are available to heterosexuals.
Now, the American Academy of Pediatrics believes it's time for a change. Today, the
academy is releasing a new position statement saying that children of same-sex couples
deserve the protection of two legal guardians.
Dr. Barbara Howard, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Committee on
Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health who practices in Baltimore, said those
same issues concern pediatricians, too.
"Pediatricians are already seeing these kids who have parents in this situation,''
she said, "and they're in the position of not being able to treat them without the
legal authority of the other parent, which is awkward and sometimes dangerous.''
As an advocate for children, a pediatrician's role goes beyond the examining room,
Howard pointed out. Pediatricians are often asked to testify or offer advice in custody
The new policy statement helps to clarify the importance of the second parent, or what
Howard refers to as the "psychological parent,'' because to a child, this person is a
parent, regardless of legalities.
This statement, she said, is a medical, not a political, one.
"We're ensuring the rights of children who are already in these families,'' Howard
said. "It's not that we're suggesting that homosexuals go out and adopt children --
although the implication is that it's not a harmful thing and there are plenty of children
who need to be adopted.''
Gay rights advocates are hoping that the new stance by the Academy of Pediatrics will
have some legislative effect.
"We hope that policy-makers will be influenced by it,'' said Patricia Logue,
director of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund's Midwest office. "It's
important for the general public who aren't familiar with our families... to hear that
doctors are saying there's nothing to worry about.''
In forming its statement, the Academy of Pediatrics reviewed decades of research,
Children raised by gay or lesbian parents "seem to develop normally in every
way,'' the statement by the Academy of Pediatrics says. "... Parents' sexual
orientation is not a variable that, in itself, predicts their ability to provide a home
environment that supports children's developments.''
The research shows that children raised by gay parents are no more likely to be gay or
have gender identification issues than children raised by heterosexuals, though children
raised in a gay household are slightly more likely to have had at least one relationship
with a member of the same sex. Howard said she suspects those children were just more
likely to report the experience honestly, as opposed to children in traditional families.
Couple struggles to find an
A story published today by the Contra Costa Time reports that Jenny Kung and Hanna Lu
started living together in December and both are seriously planning to buy their own home
together in the next few years. They've opened a joint checking account and credit card
and are starting to share expenses for their home and meals.
While they have a unique set of circumstances because they're a same-sex couple, most
of the financial issues they're facing are no different from those of heterosexual couples
who are serious enough that they merge their assets but are not ready for marriage.
The biggest financial goal on their collective plate is buying the home. Right now,
each owns her own in another city -- Lu has a condo in San Bruno, and Kung has a house in
Sacramento -- that she's renting out. They'd like to keep those to generate income and use
as fall-back residences and buy something together in one of Oakland's nicer
neighborhoods, like Piedmont. But they're not sure how much house they can afford.
Kung and Lu met with Libby Mihalka, a fee-only financial planner in Livermore, to get
advice on their money. After reviewing their assets, debt and spending, she determined
that their goal of keeping their houses and buying a new one in an upscale neighborhood is
out of their reach.
For starters, they don't have the money for a down payment, and it would be hard to use
their homes to generate it. Right now, the rent they're charging just covers their
mortgage payments, insurance and property tax.
Lenders like to see a 20 percent down payment, and they don't have that much to put
down for a $500,000 house. They could get around that by putting down 10 percent and
taking out a second mortgage to cover the remaining 10 percent -- known in the lending
business as an 80/10/10 mortgage. But both of those would have high rates, and the couple
probably doesn't even have the capital and combined income to qualify for such a loan.
To determine whether you can afford a particular mortgage, lenders typically want your
monthly payment to be between 28 percent and 38 percent of your gross pay. Whether they
approve you at the low end of that range or the high end depends on a host of factors,
including the down payment, credit history, the level of other long-term debts, employment
stability, and the economy.
"The problem is real estate is so expensive in this area," Mihalka said.
"If we were in the Midwest, we could buy them a house for $100,000. We wouldn't be
having this conversation."
In the meantime, Mihalka suggests Lu and Kung formally outline their expectations for
their new living arrangement by drawing up a living-together agreement. It details what
belonged to each partner before the relationship and what's owned jointly. That way, if
they break up, it's clear who gets what.
It may seem unromantic to prepare for your break-up just after you've moved in
together, but Mihalka stresses that couples look at this agreements as a way of clarifying
This type of accord is just as important for heterosexual couples as it is same-sex
partners. It's somewhat like a prenuptial agreement for unmarried couples. These are even
more important for unmarried couples because they aren't protected by family laws.
"It irons out all this stuff that can later on become so nasty," Mihalka
Saturday, February 2, 2002
Minnesota House employees
wont get domestic partner benefits
A story released today by the Associated Press reports that a Minnesota House panel has
decided that gay and lesbian House employees won't have access to health benefits for
their domestic partners.
The House Rules Committee approved an insurance package Friday that excludes same-sex
domestic partner coverage. The Senate, however, adopted a domestic partner coverage for
its own employees Tuesday, after it was included in the negotiated contracts for the two
major state employee unions.
"The message I hear is one of lack of respect that is so troubling to me. We don't
respect our colleagues," said Rep. Jean Wagenius, DFL-Minneapolis.
House Republican leaders argue that the offering discriminates against opposite-sex
partners who live together and is an added expense in a time of budget trouble.