|News and Breaking Stories about the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community
Congress Revisits ENDA
The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a federal bill that would protect gay and lesbian workers from job bias, was first introduced in 1994. In 1996 it came within one vote of Senate passage. On Thursday, June 24, ENDA was resubmitted by a bipartisan coalition of legislators, including Sens. James Jeffords (R-VT), Edward Kennedy (D-MA), and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT). If passed, ENDA would extend basic civil rights protections in the area of employment to cover sexual orientation. President Clinton said that the bill is about "ensuring that Americans, regardless of their sexual orientation, can find and keep their jobs based on their ability and the quality of their work. It is designed to protect the rights of all Americans to participate in the job market without fear of unfair discrimination." Note: The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) and GenderPac have lobbied the Hill to widen the protections in the proposed bill to include transgendered persons. For further information, please contact Betsy Gressler, deputy political director of NGLTF at 202-332-6383 x 3306; Riki Ann Wilchins, executive director of GenderPac, at 212-645-1753; and Wayne Besen of the Human Rights Campaign at 202-216-1580.
Challenge to Arkansas Sodomy Law Goes Forward
On January 28, the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund (LLDEF) first filed a constitutional challenge against the state sodomy law on behalf of seven Arkansas lesbians and gay men, arguing that the law violated the right to equal treatment and privacy, guaranteed in the United States and Arkansas Constitutions. This Arkansas statute, enacted in 1977, makes private oral and anal sex between consenting adults punishable by a maximum fine of $1,000 and a one-year jail term. The Arkansas State Supreme Court ruled on June 24 that a lawsuit initiated by LLDEF could proceed, unanimously rejecting attempts by the Arkansas Attorney General to have the case dismissed. Seventeen states continue to have laws that criminalize certain private sexual acts, including five states which single out sexual behavior between lesbians and gay men. Said Suzanne Goldberg, "This is welcome progress towards defeating this despicable law. We can now look forward to showing that the sodomy law violates the privacy and equal protection rights of lesbian and gay Arkansans." For further comment, please contact Peg Byron, at LLDEF at 212-809-8585.
Florida Court Denies Lesbian Mom Visitation
Penny Kazmierazak and Pamela Query were together for about five years when they decided to have a child. When the couple split up in 1997, Query, the biological mother, refused to allow Kazmierazak to see their child Zoey. In 1998, a Florida trial judge ruled that although she had been Zoeys primary caretaker, Kazmierazak had no legal rights to seek custody. On June 24, an appeals court refused to allow Kazmierazak to present evidence of her relationship with Zoey, and ruled that she does not have the right to seek visitation. Said Kate Kendell of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), "To once again have a court deny the reality of our families and our parental relationships is very discouraging. The legal system is well behind the curve in recognizing that our families exist, are growing in number, and it is well past time that our children receive the same protections as children who are the product of heterosexual relationships." On a related note, on May 26 the ACLU filed a federal lawsuit against the state of Florida, vowing to overturn the nations only remaining ban against gay adoption. For further comment, please contact Kate Kendell, executive director of NCLR, at 415-392-6257.
GLAAD is the nations lesbian & gay multimedia advocacy organization. GLAAD promotes fair, accurate, and inclusive representation as a means of challenging discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 9, No. 8, July 2, 1999