Friday, October 15, 2004

British Airways to Gay Couples: No Kissing, Please 

Cape Argus Online (via QueerDay) reports that a South African man is seeking to file a discrimination suit against British Airways after being arrested for an altercation that began with British Airways flight attendant instructing him that he could not kiss his male partner, as it was "offensive to the other passengers." The flight was from South Africa to London.

Neal Vincent Potgieter's attorneys have filed papers with the Cape High Court, in which the initial incident of affection display is described as the couple having "kissed each other good morning and hugged in a manner which anyone would have accepted had such a kiss and embrace been between two heterosexual people."

Potgieter took issue with the restriction, and the situation escalated into a verbal argument with the crew, for which Potgieter was arrested upon arrival at Heathrow, and held in custody for 14 hours. He pled guilty to "disobeying a lawful command on board a UK-registered aircraft."

The surprise twist in the case is that while Potgieter's claim against British Airways is that "in allegedly discriminating against him on the basis of his sexual orientation, British Airways breached a "partially verbal, partially written and tacit" contract with him," the airline argues that because the claim is not for damages from death or injury, they can't be sued. They also argue that South Africa's antidiscrimination sections of the South African Constitution do not apply to international flights. The claim limitation argument is based on the Warsaw Convention of 1929. Potgieter argues that the damage limitation clauses do not exclude claims for discrimination.
UPDATE (11:10 am): 365Gay.com has a more detailed article on the incident, which answers some of the questions I had upon reading the initial article.

-Why were they "kissing good morning" on the plane? It was an overnight flight, and the flight crew had awoken the passengers to prepare for landing.

-Why would he have pled guilty to a lawful command if he feels the command was solely based on discriminatory motivations? Is "stop kissing" really considered a lawful command? Apparently he was so angered about their treatment that he refused to fasten his seatbelt. That was the action for which he was arrested and for which he spent three days in jail awaiting a hearing.

The incident took place in September 2000, and the plaintiff is seeking $260,000.


Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Log Cabin Republicans File Suit Over Don't Ask, Don't Tell 

The Log Cabin Republicans announced today that they will be filing a suit against the government in an effort to have the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy declared unconstitutional, and to bar the military from enforcing the law.

Law firm White & Case LLP is handling the case pro bono for LCR, and lead attorneys Dan Woods and Marty Meekins will be filing Log Cabin Republicans v. United States of America in US Federal District Court for the Central District of California.

Log Cabin Executive Director Patrick Guerriero described the reason for the suit as follows:
"Public opinion, the experience of our allies, and the national security interests of our nation all lead to the inescapable conclusion that gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly and honestly in our military," said Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director Patrick Guerriero.

"A lawsuit should not be necessary, when public opinion overwhelmingly favors gays and lesbians serving openly and honestly. A lawsuit should not be necessary when the experience of our allies in the war on terror, including Great Britain, Israel and Australia, all allow gays and lesbians to serve openly and honestly. A lawsuit should not be necessary when our military has lost thousands of needed military personnel under this policy. However, under these circumstances, where we are a nation at war fighting a global war against terrorism, we can no longer sit by and wait for our elected officials to find the political courage to do the right thing," said Guerriero.
The suit charges that the "policy imposes a discriminatory set of rules on gay and lesbian members of the Armed Forces in violation of their constitutional rights of due process, freedom of speech, and equal protection."

White and Case attorneys agreed to take on the new challenge based on Supreme Court decisions in Romer v. Evans, Lawrence v. Texas and Hamdi v. Rumsfeld.


Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Louisiana Amendment Struck Down 

Louisiana District Judge William Morvant has declared that the recently approved marriage amendment to Louisiana's constitution violated a requirement that proposed amendments address only a single issue. The amendment bars gay couples from both marriage and civil unions. A similar pre-election argument was rejected as not being possible until such time as the amendment had been approved. Amendment supporters say they will appeal the decision.


Monday, October 04, 2004

DeMint: No Gay Teachers 

As an update to last week's post on the homophobic e-mail from the campaign of SC Representative and Senate candidate Jim DeMint, here's news (via QueerDay) that during a no-holds-barred debate with opponent Inez Tenenbaum, Rep. DeMint stated that gay men and lesbians should be prohibited from teaching in public schools. From the article:

Tenenbaum, the state education superintendent, called DeMint’s position “un-American.”

DeMint said after the debate that he would not require teachers to admit to being gay, but if they were “openly gay, I do not think that they should be teaching at public schools.”

Tenenbaum later told reporters that “the private life of our teachers should stay private. I was shocked to hear him say that.”

Don't Ask, Don't Tell for the public school system? DeMint doesn't mind gay teachers, as long as they act straight? I'd hate to imagine what how he would propose the schools handle openly gay students.
UPDATE (10/7): Rep. DeMint has issued no apology for his statements regarding the fitness of gay teachers, but he has apologized for another statement he made Tuesday while trying to explain his earlier comment about banning openly gay teachers. Apparently he was speaking "as a dad," not as an aspiring senator, when he said:
"I would have given the same answer when asked if a single woman, who was pregnant and living with her boyfriend, should be hired to teach my third grade children," DeMint told the newspaper for Wednesday editions. "I just think the moral decisions are different with a teacher."

Hmm - how many other groups of voters can he offend before election day?


Falwell on Preaching, Politics and Taxes 

365Gay.com reports that Jerry Falwell held a three day conference this weekend at his Liberty University School of Law, to help other ministers expand their parishes and improve communications. He also gave a seminar on how to talk politics in church without running afoul of IRS regulations. This is something Falwell knows about, having run afoul of those very laws in the past, and being once more questioned about repeating his politics from the pulpit activities.

Among the favored political topics is advocating church members to fight same-sex marriage, promote passage of a Federal Marriage Amendment, and re-elect George Bush. Here is Falwell's summary of the conference.

The seminar on politics from the pulpit was cohosted by Mat Staver of the Liberty Counsel, one of the organizations at the front of the effort to overturn gay marriage in Massachusetts and to prevent it everywhere else.


General Meeting 10/7 

OUTLaws will be having our first official meeting of the academic year this Thursday, October 7, from 4:00-5:30 in Room 301. There will be pizza, so stop on by.

We're hoping to do some event planning, so if you have any ideas, bring them along!


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