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Volume 15/Issue 15

by PlanetOut,, a Worldwide Online Community of Gay, Lesbian, Bi and Trans People

1st Lesbian in Mexico Congress

Mexico's July 6 elections not only broke the stranglehold the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) has held for decades, they also seated an open lesbian in the national congress for the first time. In fact, it's believed that Patria Jimenez may be the first open lesbian or gay in a national legislature in all of Latin America. Jimenez called her election, "extremely important as a demonstration of the ideals and human rights of homosexual people, being in a place where they can exercise their rights like everyone else." Jimenez has been an activist in the gay liberation movement for twenty years.

All 500 seats in the Chamber of Deputies were up for grabs, 300 filled by direct election and the remaining 200 by of each party's percentage of the total vote. Jimenez was number 12 on the list of the PRD (Democratic Revolutionary Party), which took about 36% of the vote in her five-state region which includes Mexico City.

Openly gay candidate Francisco Robles Manning and his openly lesbian co-candidate Nayeli Fuentes Vidal were defeated in their bid to represent Mexico City's "Zona Rosa" gay area in the congress when their Cardenista Party lost votes to the PRD groundswell.

Carlos Castillo Peraza of the conservative National Action Party (PAN), who was both gay-baited and accused of being a religious extremist, was soundly defeated in his bid for Mayor of Mexico City by the PRD's Cuahtemoc Cardenas. Both PAN on the right and PRD on the left made substantial gains to diminish PRI's traditionally total control, creating a new era of compromise in Mexican politics after what's agreed to have been the country's most peaceful and fair election.

Frank Slams Whitewater

Openly gay U.S. Congress member Barney Frank (D- MA) has written a letter to Whitewater independent counsel Kenneth Starr accusing investigators of anti-gay bigotry in their questioning of openly gay White House official Bob Hattoy regarding his recruitment of open gays and lesbians for jobs in the Clinton administration. Starr has responded with a very different version of the April interview that Hattoy had reported was like "something out of the McCarthy era" (the post-World War 11 Communist-baiting, anti-Semitic and gay-baiting investigations by Senator Joseph McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee).

Frank released a statement July 13 calling the Hattoy interview "one more outrageous example of Kenneth Starr's insensitivity and incompetence" and that the "implicit bigotry which this displays is one more reason why it is clear that the time has come for Mr. Starr to wrap up his unsuccessful investigation." At the same time Frank made public his July 3 letter to Starr which said, "This appears to have been wholly inappropriate and improper.... Were these investigators so laggard in their understanding of American politics that they thought that demonstrating-or perhaps threatening to demonstrate-that the president had hired openly gay and lesbian employees would somehow give you leverage over him?"

Starr responded in a letter July 1 1 that the Hattoy interview was "routine and extremely cordial." "Mr. Hattoy volunteered that it was his job to locate homosexuals" and he "was not asked whether he had been successful in that effort. We were simply asking, as we would with any witness" what his duties had been. The Democrats have been escalating their attacks on the independent investigation of a 1978 Arkansas real estate deal involving both then-Governor Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary Rodham Clinton. After spending $30 million over the course of most of Clinton's Presidency the investigation has apparently failed to assemble adequate evidence to bring any charges against either of the Clintons, while reaching ever wider and deeper into their personal and sexual lives in what Democrats charge has been a partisan smear campaign.

Hattoy is best known for speaking of his personal experience of AIDS at the Democratic National Convention that nominated Clinton for his first Presidential election. Currently serving as a White House liaison to the Department of the Interior, Hattoy revealed in late June that he had been interviewed in April for two hours by two Whitewater investigators. Initially the interview appeared to focus on some fund-raising events relating to the investigation and on the possibility that Hattoy might have helped Clinton friend, former Arkansas associate attorney general and convicted mail fraud and tax evader Webster Hubbell's wife obtain a job in the Department of the Interior. As Hattoy told it, early in the interview the questioning suddenly turned to, "By the way, one of your jobs was to hire homosexuals in the highest positions in government.... Do you think you were successful?"

Hattoy has now reaffirmed that this was something he was asked, not something he "volunteered" as Starr says, because Hattoy clearly recalls answering that he had been "very successful." He said he was "appalled" and "chilled" by this turn in the questioning.

School Bias Banned in CT

C onnecticut became the third state to enact protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation in public schools as Republican Governor John Rowland signed the measure into law on June 27. The other two state laws were passed by Massachusetts in 1993 and Wisconsin in 1985; a similar measure was recently defeated in California's lower house. GLSTN, the national Gay, Lesbian and Straight Teachers Network, applauded the move and credited the law's enactment to SANE (Safe and Affirming Network for Education), a coalition of two dozen education, political and religious groups in Connecticut.

The new law amends the existing anti-discrimination section of the state's Education Statutes to recognize sexual orientation as a protected category. The state Senate approved the bill by a vote of 35 - 1 in the wee hours of June 6. The state House of Representatives approved it late in the evening of the final day of the legislative session after an hour of debate, proposed amendments and filibustering, by a vote of 96 - 48.

Probation for Killer of TX Gay

D aniel Bean was given a life sentence in the brutal stabbing death of open gay Fred Mangione, but his half-brother Ronald Gauthier has been given 10 years' probation for the same crime. The Harris County, Texas jury found Gauthier guilty of murder and could have selected any of a range of punishments up to life imprisonment. One juror told the Houston Chronicle that the jury felt the prosecution had failed to prove that Gauthier was actively involved in the stabbing itself. Gauthier claimed he was not in Mangione's van when Bean killed him there, while the prosecution argued that Gauthier had held Mangione during the stabbing. When Gauthier and Bean were arrested soon after the slaying, there was no blood on Gauthier's shirt or jacket, although some was found on his pants legs. Gauthier had joined Bean in bragging about the crime to the arresting officer and in threatening to mess with the "fags" beforehand.

Texas State District Judge Werner Voigt placed a number of conditions on Gauthier's probation when he handed down the sentence on June 30. Gauthier will remain in jail until he can enter Harris County boot camp, which may be several months. He must avoid all contact with Bean, with whom he's been very close, and with hate groups, such as the German Peace Corps in California whose tattoo Bean wears. He must also shun guns and knives. He must write letters of apology to Mangione's long-time partner Kenneth Stern and to the people of Harris County. He must pass a high school equivalency exam, attend community college and hold a job, while also performing 1,000 hours of community service. The judge has every intention of sending Gauthier to jail if he violates the terms.

Gauthier is also ordered to stay at least 150 feet away from Stern. Shortly before Stern discovered Mangione's body, Gauthier had suddenly attacked him in the Katy, Texas bar where the four men met. Gauthier is currently living in the same neighborhood as Stern, leading Stern to fear for his own safety.

On January 4, 1996, Stern and Mangione had gone out to look at wedding rings in anticipation of their upcoming anniversary. They stopped at a neighborhood bar they frequented and Mangione worked the tables trying to sell Avon products. His effeminate manner annoyed one patron who made some homophobic remarks. When Bean and Gauthier appeared ready to intervene to protect Stern and Mangione, it opened a friendly conversation among the four men. In reality, Bean and Gauthier had reassured the angry patron that they were going to harm the "fags."

But when the four went out in the van to buy cigarettes, Stern was under the impression that Bean and Gauthier were not only companionable but possibly interested in sex. When they returned to the bar, Stern was the first to enter. Gauthier then came in and started beating Stern. Bean followed and threw a bloody knife on the bar. Bean and Gauthier fled, only to be picked up shortly after by a police officer who at first thought they were youth violating curfew. Stern went out to the van to check on Mangione and found him dead of 35 stab wounds from a large knife.

Hawaii's New DP Law Under Attack

H awaii's pioneering new "reciprocal beneficiary" relationships for people who cannot legally marry became law on July 8-and became the target of a federal lawsuit by five of the state's largest employers on July 11.

Because the new law requires private employers to extend the same benefits to employees' reciprocal beneficiaries as to married employees' spouses, the companies are projecting millions in increased personnel costs, although other employers across the U.S. have not experienced any such huge increases when making benefits available to domestic partners.

The Hawaiian companies' fears extend to single employees selling their benefits to the highest bidder via the Internet because the qualifications for reciprocal beneficiaries are relatively easy--something that would not have come into question had the legislature simply given gays and lesbians the equal marriage rights they'd sought through the courts. The companies aren't willing to wait a year for the legislature to tinker further with the law in its next session as planned.

Governor Ben Cayetano had allowed the reciprocal beneficiaries measure to become law without his signature because of concerns about the potential for fraud.

Filing the lawsuit are Outrigger Hotels and Resorts (800 single employees whose potential reciprocal beneficiaries could cost the company an additional $3 million per year), the Bank of Hawaii (potential increase of $3 - 4.5 million), C. Brewer & Co. Ltd., Hawaiian Electric Industries (potential increase of $1.5 million), and Theo H. Davies & Co. Ltd.

Their lawsuit claims that the state may have violated the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) regulating benefits plans-also a claim in the Air Transport Association's lawsuit against San Francisco's new law requiring equal spousal benefits for its contractors' employees' registered domestic partners.

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