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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Minnesota High School Sued To Allow Lesbian Royalty

A federal lawsuit was filed Friday in Minneapolis on behalf of two openly lesbian members of Champlin Park High School's Snow Days royalty who want to walk into a pep fest on Monday as a couple.

The lawsuit is just another development in a controversy that was sparked by the school's decision to change their tradition of having the 24 members of student royalty walk in as couples, (boys with girls). Now, the students will walk individually, accompanied by a parent, teacher or other adult mentor.

The students at the center of this issue, 18 year old seniors Desiree Shelton and Sarah Lindstrom, did not initiate the lawsuit. It was filed on Friday in the U.S. District Court in Minneapolis on their behalf by representatives of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the Faegre & Benson law firm.

A district spokeswoman said the Champlin Park High School principal didn't want the young women to walk in together because he feared they would be teased, but the lawsuit said denying them that opportunity was discrimination and an infringement of their First Amendment rights.

Anoka-Hennepin School District officials said the decision was made to stress that students should be honored as individuals, and not by sexual preference. Champlin Park Principal Michael George made the call earlier this week after speaking with district officials, said district spokeswoman Mary Olson.

Olson said the feeling behind the decision was "just that this would be more comfortable for everyone.

"We believe we have come up with a better practice that is more tolerate and acceptable to all students," Olson said, adding that the traditional method assumed students were heterosexual while the new system makes no assumptions at all.

Sam Wolfe, a lawyer for the Southern Poverty Law Center, said that wasn't good enough. "The intent is really clear," he said. "The district does not want the same-sex couple walking in together." However, walking into together was precisely why Shelton and Lindstrom campaigned to be elected by their peers in the first place. "Their intention was to make a political and public statement about gender roles" and lesbian and gay students, the lawsuit said.

Mary Bauer, legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, one of the groups that brought the lawsuit, said, "It's kind of astonishing that two girls walking together is so shameful and terrible for other people to witness" that the event would be altered.

A mediation session had been set for Saturday morning. If that fails, a court hearing was scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Monday. The pep rally is set for 1:30 p.m.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Gay Couple alleges Police Brutality in Philadelphia

I read this article today on the Philadelphia Gay News website and thought I would share it.

"A local gay man is alleging that several Philadelphia police officers used excessive force against him and his partner, as well as homophobic and racist language.

Following a run-in late last month with police, Luis Berrios filed a complaint with the Internal Affairs Bureau Dec. 30, and again on Jan. 13 when department officials said they hadn’t received it, as well as with the Police Advisory Commission Jan. 14.

The PAC serves as the civil oversight committee for the police department.

PAC deputy director Kelvyn Anderson confirmed that the agency received Berrios’ complaint, but formal action has not yet been taken.

Berrios, who lives on the 4500 block of North Seventh Street in Hunting Park, said a neighbor called police in the early morning of Dec. 28 after he and partner Jason Mendez got into an altercation.

When police arrived, Berrios said he asked the officers to take his partner home and that he didn’t want to press charges.

“We’ve been together for two years and I’d never seen him like that. I told the police he needed time to sober up, and one of the officers assured me that they’d take him home and it’d be OK,” Berrios said.

Four officers initially arrived, and Berrios said he first told them that Mendez was his brother so as to avoid any potential awkwardness, but Mendez told police the truth.

Berrios said he walked into the kitchen when he heard Mendez yelling, “Babe, they’re beating me up,” and returned to see his partner in handcuffs and the officers with their batons drawn.

“I asked what they were doing and the one said that [Mendez] cursed at his partner and he told me to back up,” Berrios said. “They told me to just calm down or that I’d be next.”

Berrios said he went to his back porch and made a phone call and that, on his way back in, he saw the officers taking Mendez out front and heard one of them say, “Once he hits the snow, he’ll calm down.”

He said the officers threw Mendez face-first into a pile of snow, repeatedly calling him “nigger” and “faggot.” He said one of the officers must have called for back-up, as 10-12 officers eventually arrived on the scene.

When Berrios approached and asked the officers to let Mendez up, he said they became confrontational with him.

“I never cursed at them, I never spoke out of line, I didn’t show aggression at all,” he said. “One of them came up and said, ‘Put your hands down’ — I was speaking with my hands because I was excited and emotional — and I asked them to just let me calm down. Jason was in the snow and he was saying he couldn’t breathe and they were just stomping on his ankles and hitting his legs with the batons, calling him faggot. And one of the officers said, ‘If you want to help him, put your hands against the wall, faggot.’”

Berrios said when he complied, the arresting officer, listed in court records as Officer Robert Tavarez, handcuffed him. He said the officer attempted to push him in the snow also, but he resisted, and Tavarez instead pushed him against the police car.

“I don’t know what he did with the baton but it felt like he put it between the cuffs and just started twisting it back the opposite way,” Berrios said. “I kept telling him how much it was hurting and he just said, ‘Shut up, pussy faggot.’ I closed my eyes and all I could hear was Jason screaming. And I told him I have a dislocated wrist, and he said, ‘Shut the fuck up, or you’ll have a broken wrist.’ He said, ‘Let me hear you squeal, faggot.’

“And I just started screaming in pain and telling them to just take me, to just put me in jail if they wanted to, so he’d stop. I begged the other officers to make him stop and my neighbor was standing there crying because she knew she couldn’t do anything. I was crying and finally just started banging my head against the windshield to try to knock myself out because I was in so much pain.”

During this time, Berrios said he could see that at least two officers had placed Mendez in the back of one of the cars and were hitting him with their batons. He said his neighbor later told him they took Mendez out of the car and put him back on the ground and attempted to pick him up by the back of his shirt and pants and throw him into the back of a police wagon but missed on the first try, causing him to fall face-first onto the ground.

Berrios said neither he nor his partner was read their Miranda rights.

Once he was in the car, Berrios said another officer came to the car and said there had been “paparazzi” — neighbors taking video and photos of the incident.

“He was asking who was going to take the fall for this,” Berrios said. “He asked who they could blame it on because they had paparazzi out there. And he said he was just going to write that [Mendez] struck him, and I was trying to ask how they can say that happened when he was in handcuffs and shackles. But they said they’d follow the one officer’s report in the other car and then give it to them to look it over and write their report based on that.”

When the pair arrived at the 25th District, Berrios said Mendez was transported to Episcopal Hospital by police.

He said Mendez was bruised “from head to toe,” had deep scratches all over his body, about 15 nail marks around this throat and a cut-open mouth, as well as large patches of hair that had been ripped out. Berrios later sought medical attention for frequent swelling and numbness in his hands.

Berrios was ultimately charged with simple assault, recklessly endangering another person and possession of an instrument of crime with intent — during the altercation with his partner, Berrios said he struck him with a clothes iron because Mendez was pinning him down and did not realize he was having an asthma attack.

Mendez faces charges of simple assault, aggravated assault and recklessly endangering another person.

Berrios said both he and Mendez told officers they did not want to press charges against one another, but police spokesperson Lt. Ray Evers said that, in domestic-violence cases, state law permits charges to be brought if injuries are sustained, with or without the consent of the injured parties.

A neighbor bailed Berrios out the next day, while Mendez remains in custody at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. Mendez was arrested last year for drug charges and was on two years’ probation, and a judge placed a detainer following his arrest.

Berrios is also on two years’ probation for a retail-theft charge in Delaware County.

PAC deputy director Anderson could not give a timeline on when action may be taken on the case, but said it will first be evaluated by the organization’s executive director, as well as during a hearing by its Investigative Review Committee.

Evers said that, when complaints are filed with the PAC and Internal Affairs, a notification is placed on the files of the officers involved until a determination of potential wrongdoing is made.

Berrios faces a hearing in his case on Jan. 27, and Mendez the following day."

Article written by Jen Colletta, she can be reached at jen@epgn.com.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same TRAILER

No, I am not making this stuff up, this is really a trailer for the upcoming film called, "Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same," directed by Madeleine Olnek.



Described by Sundance as “a witty, wholly original comedy," the film is about the adventures of lesbian space aliens on the planet Earth, and the story of the romance between Jane, a shy greeting card store employee, and Zoinx, the woman Jane does not realize is from outer space. Meanwhile, two government agents, or 'Men In Black, ' are closely tracking Jane and the aliens while harboring their own secrets. Sundance promises it features “fetching extraterrestrials” in their “search for romance on the New York lesbian dating scene.” “Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same” will have its world premiere on January 24, 2011, 11:30PM at the Sundance Film Festival (Park City at Midnight section). For tickets go to http://festival.sundance.org/2011/boxoffice..

The film was written and directed by Madeleine Olnek, a downtown New York City playwright/director whose edgy comedies regularly attract sell-out audiences. Newsday has called Olnek╩╝s work “Uproariously Neurotic Comedy.” Olnek is also one of the authors of the popular acting technique book, A Practical Handbook for the Actor (foreword by David Mamet). The William Goldman Screenwriting Fellow at Columbia University; her work was recognized there with the “Adrienne Shelley Award for Best Female Director.” Her two Sundance shorts “Hold Up” (online at logo.com), and “Countertransference” (to be presented again by Sundance, part of the “Sundance Classics” online during this years festival).

“Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same” stars Susan Ziegler as “Zoinx,” and actor/writer Lisa Haas ("Dyke Dollar" and GO Magazine's 100 Women We Love Class of 2009) as “Jane.” It also stars out comedienne Jackie Monahan (winner of the prestigious "Joke of the Year" from Time Out New York, "Hot Gay Comics" on HERE TV and "One Night Stand" on LOGO), writer/performer Cynthia Kaplan (“Why I’m Like this”) and Rae C Wright; and features stellar performances by Alex Karpovsky ("Tiny Furniture," "Beeswax") and Dennis Davis (“Hold Up”) as the government agents who are following Jane and Zoinx’s romance. Most of the actors are part of an informal “stock company” and have appeared in many of Olnek’s plays and films.

Press and Industry Screening: Wednesday, January 26, 7:30 p.m. Holiday Village Cinema II, Park City; Festival Screenings: Monday, January 24, 11:30 p.m. Library Center Theatre, Park City; Tuesday, January 25, 3:00 p.m. Redstone Cinemas 8, Park City; Thursday, January 27, 6:00 p.m. Tower Theatre, SLC; Saturday, January 29, midnight Yarrow Hotel Theatre, Park City.

The official website of the festival is http://festival.sundance.org/2011/.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

January Lesbian Sex Toy Review

This month’s lesbian sex toy review is all about the Ultimate Exciter. This purple clitoral vibrator has 9 setting with a variety of speeds, pulses and vibrations. It has a long handle with an angled, hallowed out, tip that is designed to cradle your clit perfectly. It even has smooth rubber-like nibs around the tip, for extra sensation.

One of the best parts of this vibrator is the long thin handle, which is perfect for slipping between you and your partner while having sex. Of course you can also use if for solo play, and you will have much less of a reach than your average vibrator.

Another benefit of this vibe is that the velvety skin not only smooth to the touch, but also waterproof, so you can add a little fun to your shower or bath.

Each of the 9 settings on this vibrator are a little different, so you’re bound to find at least one that you like. It starts with a low constant vibration and goes up to a high vibration with different length pulses, you just cycle through with a push of a button.

Dimensions: 7-1/2" x 1-1/4" (widest part of tip)
Batteries: Two AAA Batteries (not included)

If you would like to check it out for yourself, you can find the Ultimate Exciter at mypleasure.com.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sperm Donor Owes Lesbian Couple Child Support

Last week the Ohio Court of Appeals ruled that a gay man who had donated sperm to a lesbian couple for the purpose of having a baby and subsequently sought a declaration of paternity, was obligated to pay child support.

Domestic partners Laura Prince and Vicki Griffin had asked their gay friend Curtis to donate sperm so they could have a baby. After some resistance, Curtis did agree, and a child was born to Laura Prince in July 2002. The lesbian couple and the sperm donor had signed a written agreement providing that the donor's name would not appear on the birth certificate and he would not be designated as the father, but that he could babysit the child from time-to-time.

After the birth of the child, Curtis instituted an administrative proceeding before the local Child Support Enforcement Agency to determine his paternity. And in November of 2002, an administrative paternity determination that he was the father was issued. Several months later, the agency ordered Curtis to pay child support of $282.56 per month, but he successfully appealed to a trial court, which found that the mothers had waived the support. That court’s records also showed that Curtis had sought an order for parenting time with the child, but was told he would have to file a separate motion on that issue, which he never did.

Curtis subsequently moved from Ohio to Florida, where he currently lives. Prince, later decided that she needs child support for her baby, and so the Summit County agency filed an administrative action seeking child support on her behalf in December 2008. A magistrate who heard the case in April 2009, with both Curtis and Prince appearing without lawyers, rejected Curtis’ argument that as a sperm donor he should not be held liable for child support. And consequently was ordered to pay $533.22 a month.

Curtis then attained an attorney and tried to appeal the support through a trial court. And after much back and forth from a trails court to an appeals court, Judge Moore of the appeals court stated that, “Any challenge regarding artificial insemination should have been raised at that time.” Having failed to do that in 2003 precluded Curtis, six years later, from mounting that defense against a child support claim.

So, Curtis will be responsible to pay the child support, $533.22 a month, to Prince, and this ruling is enforceable in Florida.

 

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