TV & Radio
Full Story Behind 'Iran Gay Hangings' Mired In Controversy
by Rex Wockner 365Gay.com Editor-At-Large
Posted: August 3, 2005 12:01 am ET
The two male teenagers hanged in Mashad, Iran, July 19 were executed not for having sex with each other, as has been reported, but for raping a 13-year-old boy, Human Rights Watch is claiming.
The New York Times and the Times of London separately reported the same thing.
Mahmoud Asgari, 18, and Ayaz Marhoni, 19, allegedly raped the boy at least 14 months prior to their executions, meaning at least one, and perhaps both, of them were minors at the time.
According to Scott Long, director of HRW's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Project: "On the morning of July 19 -- that is, just before the executions -- a long article in Quds, a Farsi daily published in Mashad, described the case. It is clearly identified there as a rape case, with a lengthy interview with the father of the 13-year-old apparent victim. The account there is that the case dates back two years, that the boy in question was seized outside a shopping area by the two boys ultimately convicted, who took him to a deserted area where five other boys were also waiting. (It's not clear what happened to the five other members of what is described as a gang.) He was gang-raped at knifepoint, according to his father's account, which is supported by three passersby who interrupted the act. Passersby were attacked with knives and had their cars vandalized."
It also now seems that an article from the Iranian Students News Agency, translated and circulated by the London gay group OutRage!, was not the first article about this case, as OutRage! believed, and may not have been translated correctly.
OutRage! had reported that the ISNA article said the boys were executed for consensual gay sex. But HRW says the headline and the first sentence of the article make it clear they were hanged for "sodomy by coercion" ("lavat beh onf"). "Lavat beh onf," HRW said, is an archaic phrase that is not the normal way to refer to rape.
"Ultimately," said HRW's Long, "one has to ask what is the basis for believing that the boys were tried for consensual sodomy. It boils down to an English-language article on the Iran Focus Web site having made no mention of the rape charge. There is no other substantial evidence."
OutRage! continues to disagree. (Historically, both OutRage! and Human Rights Watch have proven to be reliable sources.)
"The ISNA report seen by our contacts in Iran makes no mention of rape or of a 13-year-old boy. It states they were hung for homosexual acts," OutRage! leader Peter Tatchell said this week. "OutRage!'s sources for our reportage of this story include clandestine gay and lesbian activists inside Iran, members of the democratic and left Iranian opposition, and the Web sites of government-sanctioned news agencies in Iran.
"We work with many exiled gay Iranians in London," Tatchell said. "They confirm that smears and torture against gay people are routine in Iran. Whenever the regime wants to deflect criticism, it trumps up charges of alcoholism, adultery, rape and drug abuse against the victims of its brutality.
"OutRage! is aware of other cases in the region where a false claim of rape has been used by parents to spare a family the shame of having a gay son and to save him from imprisonment and/or execution."
Iran's Shariah-law capital offenses include murder, rape, armed robbery, apostasy, blasphemy, serious drug trafficking, repeated sodomy, adultery, prostitution, treason and espionage, according to Agence France-Presse.
Concern In Europe, U.S..
Meanwhile, the European Union Presidency, currently held by the United Kingdom, has denounced the executions.
"The European Union wishes to convey its deep concern over reports of a public execution of two youths in Mashad on 19 July 2005 despite the fact that one of the youths, Mahmoud Asqary, was aged under 18 at both the time of the crime and the execution," the Presidency said.
"The EU recalls its long-held position that capital punishment may not, in any circumstances, be imposed on persons below 18 years of age at the time of the commission of their crime. Such a punishment is in direct contravention of Iran's obligations under the ICCPR [International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights] and also the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child."
In the U.S., three members of the U.S. House of Representatives have written to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice demanding she get to the bottom of the story.
"We write to express our concerns over the recent execution of two gay teenagers in northeastern Iran," said U.S. Reps. Barney Frank, D-Mass., Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., and Tom Lantos, D-Calif. "The exact details of the case remain unclear, and because the conflicting reports about the nature of the charges against the two boys make it difficult to react appropriately, we urge the State Department to do everything it can to clarify the circumstances of this case.
"Initial reports were that the 16-year-old and 18-year-old boys ... were punished for homosexual activity with each other," the congressmen said. "In other reports, the Iranian authorities claim the teenagers were accused of raping a 13-year-old boy. Some human rights groups suspect that this charge may have been trumped up as an excuse for the brutal treatment of gay people and to undermine public sympathy for the boys."
The representatives urged Rice to investigate and clarify the facts surrounding the execution of the two teens, "including whether the charges and the conviction were due to their homosexuality, and if they were, [to] issue a strong condemnation of this brutal killing."
They also urged Rice to "condemn Iran for its national policy of persecution of its citizens based on sexual orientation."
Back in Europe, the Netherlands' Immigration and Naturalization Office announced July 28 that it will no longer expel illegal Iranian immigrants who are gay, pending completion of a Ministry of Foreign Affairs study on the situation of gays in Iran.
Gay Life In Iran
Is gay life in Iran as dire as some reports on this case suggest?
According to a new interview with the publishers of the Iranian gay magazine MAHA conducted by the Web site GayRussia.ru, it is not.
The magazine is distributed from inside Iran via e-mail in PDF format. (If it were published on the Web or in traditional magazine format, it likely would be blocked or banned by the government.) The magazine has 600 subscribers.
"After eight months of hard work, eight issues and four supplements have appeared, covering issues such as gays and family, depression among GLBT, a report about lesbians in Iran, etc.," the publishers wrote in the e-mail interview. "MAHA also publishes a separate supplement for gay aid and to help GLBT to find a friend. Today MAHA has two editors, one gay and one lesbian, and MAHA's readers are all over the country and even some Iranian GLBT in exile."
The publishers said gays are no longer routinely persecuted in Iran.
"The regime does not systematically persecute gays anymore, there are still some gay Web sites, there are some parks and cinemas where everyone knows that these places are meeting places for gays," they wrote. "Furthermore it is legal in Iran that a transsexual applies for sex change and it is fully accepted by the government.
"There are some media which sometimes -- not often -- write about such issues. Having said that, the Islamic law, according to which gay punishment is death, is still in force, but it is thought [to be] not much followed by the regime nowadays.
"Thanks to the Internet and contact with the international community, people get the info, and Iran society has changed a lot, and support for GLBT rights is growing in Iran, though we still have a long way to go," the publishers said. "On the whole, we are optimistic about the future as Iran's situation cannot continue [as is] and people are pushing for reforms and changes."
Firms must treat domestic partners like married pairs, top state court says
- Bob Egelko, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, August 2, 2005 - San Francisco Chronicle
California businesses must treat same-sex domestic partners the same as married couples, the state Supreme Court ruled Monday in the case of a golf club that denied a family membership to a lesbian couple.
The unanimous ruling was the court's first on the state's domestic partner law, which took effect this year and granted to registered partners most of the rights of spouses under state law.
Jon Davidson, legal director of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and lawyer for the couple in the case, called the ruling "an important recognition of our humanity.''
While it was a victory for the 27,000 couples who have registered with the state as domestic partners, it fell short of the broad anti-discrimination mandate sought by their advocates.
The justices crafted a narrow decision and sidestepped arguments by Davidson and other gay-rights lawyers that a business policy favoring married couples discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation -- similar to arguments raised in a separate case challenging California's ban on same-sex marriage. There was no need to address that issue in this case, the court said Monday, because no evidence was offered that the golf club's policy was intended to discriminate against gays and lesbians.
Instead, the justices said the Unruh Act, a California law requiring businesses to treat customers equally, prohibits discrimination against registered domestic partners.
California first established a registry for domestic partners -- same- sex couples of any age and opposite-sex couples in which one partner is older than 62 -- in 1999. The law at first provided only limited benefits, including the right of hospital visitation, but was expanded this year to become the broadest such measure in the nation. It grants the equivalent of spousal status, except for joint tax filing under state law and the numerous rights of married couples under federal law. Monday's ruling extended the requirement of equal treatment to businesses.
Two initiatives being circulated for next year's state ballot would repeal the domestic partner law and also would write California's current ban on same-sex marriage into the state Constitution, derailing a case now on its way to the state's high court.
Monday's decision "raises the stakes in the pending initiatives, those that are preserving marriage along with the essence of marriage,'' said attorney Matthew Staver of Liberty Counsel, which represents sponsors of one of the proposed ballot measures.
The case involved a lawsuit filed in 2001 by B. Birgit Koebke and Kendall French of San Diego, a couple since 1993 and registered domestic partners since 2000. Koebke had bought a membership in the Bernardo Heights County Club for $18,000 in 1987 and sued after the club refused to grant French a family membership available to married couples. Members' spouses can golf for free, but unmarried guests have to pay $40 to $75 a round and can play only six times a year.
Lower courts ruled in the club's favor, saying the Unruh Act does not forbid discrimination based on marital status. But the state Supreme Court said marital status discrimination is prohibited in at least some circumstances -- in particular, when the customers are registered domestic partners.
"A business that extends benefits to spouses it denies to registered domestic partners engages in impermissible marital status discrimination,'' said Justice Carlos Moreno in the 6-0 ruling.
He noted that businesses can easily distinguish registered partners, who have documented their relationship with the state, from other couples or casual friends.
Like the decision to marry, a decision to enter into a domestic partnership results in "the creation of a new family unit with all of its implications in terms of personal commitment as well as legal rights and obligations,'' Moreno wrote. For those couples, he said, "the Legislature has granted legal recognition comparable to marriage.''
In other circumstances, Moreno said, a company's policy favoring married over unmarried customers can be justified by "legitimate business reasons.''
He said the country club in this case had offered legitimate reasons for denying membership to other unmarried couples -- for example, a desire to limit use of its facilities and an unwillingness to ask intrusive questions that might differentiate committed couples from social friends.
The same rationales would justify denying benefits to pre-2005 domestic partners, whose rights and responsibilities were less than they are under the current law, Moreno said. He noted that the former law contained no overall declaration of equality and made partnerships easier to dissolve than the divorce-type proceedings under current law.
Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar dissented on that point. She said domestic partners "were far more than friends'' under the former law, which required them to declare their exclusive commitment and joint residence in registering with the state.
John Shiner, a lawyer for the country club, called the ruling "a complete vindication of its conduct and procedures through last year,'' before the expanded domestic partners law took effect. He said Bernardo Heights would follow the new law but declined to say whether it would grant spousal memberships to domestic partners, citing the club's argument that it is a private association exempt from the Unruh Act. The state's high court rejected similar arguments from a Bay Area country club in a 1995 case.
Koebke, in a statement issued through her lawyers, called the ruling "a great victory for California families.'' As a result, she said, "Kendall and I are one step closer to being able to play golf at Bernardo Heights on an equal basis.''.
The case is Koebke vs. Bernardo Heights, S124179.
E-mail Bob Egelko at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Page A - 1
Posted on Tue, Aug. 02, 2005
Court: Golf club rights extend to same-sex pairs
STATE RULING PRELUDE TO MARRIAGE BAN FIGHT
By Howard Mintz
The California Supreme Court on Monday added considerable legal clout to the state's new domestic partner protections, concluding that private country clubs must treat same-sex partners the same as married couples.
The decision came in one of a series of gay rights cases that are serving as a prelude to the historic legal showdown over whether California's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, a matter that could be heard by the Supreme Court by the end of this year. In Monday's decision, the justices ruled that a San Diego country club violated California civil rights laws by refusing a spousal discount to a lesbian couple that it extends to married members.
While the ruling did not tip the court's hand in how it will view the gay marriage issue, the justices made it clear that the domestic partner law was intended to offer the same legal protections that married couples enjoy. The decision could give registered domestic partners stronger protections with a host of businesses, from mortgage lenders to health clubs.
``In creating domestic partnerships, the Legislature has also created a policy favoring such partnerships similar to the policy favoring marriage,'' Justice Carlos Moreno wrote for the court.
Legal experts say Monday's ruling could cut two ways in the ongoing challenge to the state's gay marriage ban -- it shows the court is receptive to gay rights arguments but also could be exploited by gay marriage foes who argue that same-sex couples don't need the right to marry because of the domestic partner law.
The San Diego case involves Birgit Koebke, who pays $500 a month in membership fees to the Bernardo Heights Country Club. Married members can have children, grandchildren and spouses play the golf course for free, but Koebke must pay for her partner, Kendall French, to golf, and she can be a guest only six times a year.
The couple sued, arguing that the policy was discriminatory under civil rights laws and that it also violated the domestic partner provisions that went into effect the beginning of this year. California Attorney General Bill Lockyer backed the couple in the Supreme Court.
A trial judge and a state appeals court both ruled in favor of the country club, which argued that California's civil rights law permitted businesses to distinguish between married and unmarried couples if they could show a legitimate business interest in their policy. Club attorneys maintained that they'd be unable to limit the number of members and face problems because of a lack of resources.
Club attorneys could not be reached for comment. But the Supreme Court unanimously rejected the club's argument, saying treating domestic partners Koebke and French equally posed no threat to the business.
``Extending the spousal benefit to her,'' the justices wrote, ``would not create the stampede on the fairway that the (club) appears to envision.''
The decision gives the partners a chance to seek damages from the club, although the court limited it to conduct since the new domestic partner law went in to effect. Kathryn Mickle Werdegar dissented from that part of the ruling.
The justices are expected to rule sometime this month on another major gay rights case, involving the custody rights of same-sex couples who have children through artificial reproduction. The Supreme Court also in the coming months must decide whether to tackle the gay marriage challenge immediately or leave the issue for a state appeals court to rule upon first.
A San Francisco judge earlier this year found the state ban on gay marriage unconstitutional.
Jon Davidson, legal director for the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, a pro gay-rights organization, said the latest Supreme Court ruling was ``respectful'' of the rights of same-sex couples, but didn't alter the fact they should still be entitled to marry.
``It really didn't answer the question posed by the marriage cases about whether or not having a two-tiered system is constitutionally adequate,'' Davidson said. ``Of course, it isn't.''
Contact Howard Mintz at email@example.com or (408) 286-0236.
the full text of the Supreme Court's decision (PDF)
Ruling puts partners on par with spouses
Ann Rostow, PlanetOut Network
Tuesday, August 2, 2005 / 11:43 AM
SUMMARY: The California Supreme Court ruled that businesses cannot treat domestic partners differently from the way they treat married couples.
In a decision with profound implications for gay and lesbian couples in the Golden State, the California Supreme Court ruled Monday that the state's Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act of 2003 prohibits businesses from treating registered domestic partners differently from the way they treat married couples.
The ruling came in the case of B. Birgit Koebke, a member of the San Diego area Bernardo Heights Country Club, who sought membership rights for her domestic partner, Kendall French. Although Koebke had paid $18,000 to join the golf club, and although she continued to pay $500 a month in dues, her partners was considered a guest, not a family member. While other members enjoyed free golf and unlimited use of the facility with their husbands and wives, French was obliged to use one of her partner's six annual guest passes, sign in and pay greens fees. Unlike other family members, she could not sign for food or drink, or make use of the club on her own.
Starting in 1995, when their relationship began, Koebke repeatedly asked the club's managers to make an exception for French, who became her registered domestic partner when California's statewide partner program took effect in 2000. Not only did she meet a brick wall in response, but as time went on, she also became a pariah at the club, the subject of gossip and harassment over minor dress violations and other matters.
In the course of her dispute and subsequent lawsuit against the club, she also discovered that the club made many exceptions to the rules for heterosexual members, allowing unrelated partners and friends to use members' privileges, as well as grandchildren and others not specified in the bylaws.
Koebke's main claim, that marital status discrimination is a violation of state civil rights law, did not convince the lower court or the state appellate court that reviewed her case. The appellate court did leave open the possibility that the club was violating the law by enforcing its bylaws in an arbitrary fashion, but it closed the door to the idea that marital status discrimination was illegal in principle.
To some extent, the high court agreed, ruling that there could be legitimate business reasons for a company to condition some services on marital status. But the five-member majority also ruled that no such distinctions could be made between a registered domestic partner and a married spouse. Under the 2003 revision of the state domestic partner law, the Legislature explicitly stated that it intended to equalize the legal status of committed same-sex couples and married heterosexuals. As such, the court ruled, the two institutions must be given identical weight.
The case will now return to trial court, unless Bernardo Heights revises its policies, which is likely. In a comment to the Associated Press, the club's lawyer, John Shiner, said Bernardo Heights "will take whatever action is necessary to comply with the decision of the Supreme Court."
The case was argued by Jon Davidson, legal director of Lambda Legal. "Today's ruling," Davidson said in a statement on Monday, "brings gay and lesbian couples one step closer to equality. But at the end of the day, our clients are still left as second-class citizens, because they are barred from the right that would have eliminated this case in the first place, the right to marry."
US: California court bolsters partnership rights for gays
Top justices in the western state of California ruled that same-sex unions are on par with man-woman marriages when it comes to country club membership benefits, attorneys said. The decision stemmed from legal action taken by B. Birgit Koebke and Kendall French after Bernardo Heights Country Club denied them the same access to its golf course afforded members in heterosexual marriages, according to a lawyer representing the couple.(BH)
Top US state judge puts golfing gay couples on par with heterosexual unions
Tue Aug 2, 2:58 AM ET
SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - Top justices in the western state of California ruled that same-sex unions are on par with man-woman marriages when it comes to country club membership benefits, attorneys said.
The decision stemmed from legal action taken by Birgit Koebke and Kendall French after Bernardo Heights Country Club denied them the same access to its golf course afforded members in heterosexual marriages, according to a lawyer representing the couple.
Striving for a "family friendly environment" is a legitimate business goal that is undermined, not bolstered, by discriminating against gay couples who qualify as domestic partners, state Supreme Court Justice Carlos Monroe wrote.
"Today's ruling brings gay and lesbian couples one step closer to equality," said Jon Davidson, a gay rights attorney and lead lawyer for the couple. "We won an important battle today, but we need to continue to fight the fight."
"At the end of the day, our clients are still left as second class citizens because they are barred from the right that would have eliminated the need for this case in the first place -- the right to marry."
The majority ruling by the panel of justices sided with the lesbian couple on the legal point, but denied the pair's request for cash damages.
Koebke bought a membership to the southern California country club for 18,000 dollars in 1987, according to court paperwork. The membership came with the option of extending full-member access too her spouse, Davidson said.
The suit contended the rule was loosely applied, allowing for a boyfriend of one member and grandchildren of another to behave as members.
Koebke and French, both golf devotees, began dating about a decade ago, according to the suit.
When Koebke asked to extend her membership benefits to French, the club nixed the idea, according to Davidson.
Koebke presented the club with a certificate of domestic partnership in 1998, only to have them again refuse to accept French as her spouse for membership requirements, court paperwork indicates.
Koebke contended in court documents that the club feared it would "open the floodgates" by being branded "gay friendly."
Club lawyers countered in court that the organization's stance was intended to discourage freeloading, keep tee times open for regular members, and foster a "family-friendly atmosphere."
"Promoting a family environment is not furthered by excluding families formed through domestic partnerships," Justice Kathryn Werdegar wrote, noting that such inequity actually contradicted that goal.
"The Court recognized the spirit and intent behind California's domestic partnership law," said Davidson, a director at Lambda Legal Defense Fund.
"We are gratified that the court recognized that couples who register as domestic partners deserve to be treated equally to spouses by businesses in California."
Koebke hailed the decision as "a great victory for California families."
Calif. court bolsters partnership rights for gays
By Jim Christie
Mon Aug 1, 6:22 PM ET
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California businesses must grant registered domestic partners the same benefits they give married heterosexuals, the state's top court ruled on Monday after a lesbian couple sued a country club for discrimination.
The California Supreme Court's decision expanding a state civil rights law stems from a lawsuit charging the San Diego club with denying the couple privileges enjoyed by married members.
Birgit Koebke and Kendall French have been in a relationship since 1993. Koebke, a club member, in 1995 asked the club's directors to allow her to designate French her "significant other" so they could golf together as do married couples. The club declined.
The court held registered domestic partners are the equivalent of spouses under a state civil rights law. So a business that "extends benefits to spouses it denies to registered domestic partners engages in impermissible marital status discrimination."
Additionally, it held that California's Domestic Partnership Act must be construed liberally, as the state legislature had intended, to "equalize the status of registered domestic partners and married couples."
"What the court is saying is that businesses in California cannot deny registered domestic partners the benefits they provide to spouses," said Jon Davidson, legal director of the gay rights group Lambda Legal and the lawyer for Koebke and French.
The court said the Bernardo Heights Country Club may have had a business interest in drawing distinctions between unmarried members and married couples, so now the women must convince a lower court that the club indeed discriminated against them.
It said there was evidence the club may have allowed unmarried members privileges it denied the women.
"We'll go back to the trial court and make short shrift of it," club lawyer John Shiner said. "The policy of the club has always been to follow the law ... and it will continue to follow the law."
The ruling comes amid a legal showdown over same-sex marriage after San Francisco allowed more than 4,000 homosexual couples to wed last year until it was halted by a court order.
A fight over gay marriage continues in California courts, as it does in many U.S. states. Meanwhile, California recognizes domestic partnerships with nearly all the rights granted to married heterosexuals.
Court Ruling Aids Domestic Partnerships
State justices say businesses must give spousal privileges to registered couples. Case could complicate debate on same-sex marriage.
By Maura Dolan
Times Staff Writer
August 2, 2005
SAN FRANCISCO — Businesses that provide discounts, special services or other privileges to married couples must extend the same rights and benefits to same-sex couples registered as state domestic partners, the California Supreme Court decided 6-0 on Monday.
The ruling will affect a broad range of businesses, including banks and mortgage lenders, auto insurers and health clubs. Lenders will have to consider domestic partners' joint income in making loans, and insurers will have to offer the same multiple-driver discounts they give married couples.
The decision adds to a growing body of legislation and court decisions that have put California ahead of most other states in extending rights to same-sex couples.
"This is a very significant step toward equality," said Jon W. Davidson, an attorney with Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund who argued the case. Randy Thomasson, an opponent of the state's domestic partners law, responded to Monday's ruling by calling on voters to "stop the out-of-control courts from trampling marriage and trashing the deeply felt standards of private businesses and organizations."
The court ruled in favor of a lesbian couple who sued a country club in San Diego after it denied the member's partner golfing privileges given to spouses. The couple said the club was violating a state civil rights law.
"A business that extends benefits to spouses it denies to registered domestic partners engages in impermissible marital status discrimination," the court ruled.
The decision directly affects how businesses treat the domestic partners of clients or customers. Employee benefits are covered by separate laws, which include protections for domestic partners.
The ruling applies only to business dealings that have occurred since the new domestic partners law took effect Jan. 1. About 27,000 couples are on the state's domestic partner registry. Most are gay men and lesbians, although unmarried heterosexual couples with one partner at least 62 years old also can register.
Monday's ruling did not address same-sex marriage, an issue that the court is expected to decide in a different case in several months. But the court's reasoning in the country club decision could undercut the argument that a ban on gay marriage amounts to discrimination, said University of Santa Clara Law Professor Gerald Uelmen, an expert on the state high court.
"It does not bode well for same-sex marriage," Uelmen said.
Although State Atty. Gen. Bill Lockyer backed the couple in the country club case, he has argued in court against legalizing gay marriage, saying same-sex couples already have most of the rights of married couples under the domestic partners law.
Nevertheless, Davidson said the ruling contained language that will be helpful to same-sex marriage proponents. He noted, for example, that the court clearly recognized that same-sex couples constitute families.
The ruling came as petitions are being circulated for ballot initiatives that gay-rights activists say would gut the domestic partners law. The court's affirmation of the law is likely to intensify that battle.
"It's because of intolerant rulings like this that Californians are supporting [efforts] to pass a state constitutional amendment that will protect the freedom of private entities to decide their own policies on marriage between a man and a woman," said Thomasson, one of the organizers of Voters' Right to Protect Marriage Initiative.
B. Birgit Koebke, who sued the Bernardo Heights Country Club for refusing to give her partner golfing and other privileges extended to spouses, called Monday's decision "a great victory for California families."
"We are not second-class citizens," said Koebke, 48, a sales executive. "We have every right to the same benefits that all married couples enjoy."
The court said that the state's anti-discrimination law, known as the Unruh Civil Rights Act, may give some unmarried couples who are not registered partners equal access to certain services "under some circumstances." But businesses can lawfully draw distinctions between married and unmarried couples if they are based on legitimate business reasons and do not involve registered partners, the court said.
Koebke and her partner of 13 years, Kendall E. French, 43, said they have been registered as domestic partners since 2000.
According to the court, Koebke paid $18,000 in 1987 for a membership at the Bernardo Heights Country Club, which includes a golf course, a clubhouse and a dining room.
Members can play golf with their spouses and children on an unlimited basis without paying additional fees. Spouses of members also may inherit the membership without a transfer fee upon the member's death.
Friends of unmarried members are supposed to pay guest tee fees, and their playing time is restricted.
Koebke said she asked the club to designate French her "significant other" in 1995. The club refused. She asked the club again in 1998 and 2000 to extend benefits to French, and the club again refused, she said. The club suggested French apply for her own membership.
Koebke contended that the club exempted the live-in girlfriends and boyfriends, and grandchildren, of heterosexual members from the extra fees, while denying the same benefits to same-sex couples.
The country club had argued that extending membership benefits to unrelated friends might lead to overuse of the facilities and discourage the friends from purchasing their own memberships. The club also argued that its marriage policy contributed to the creation of a "family-friendly environment."
The court disagreed, noting that privileges for domestic partners would "not create the stampede on the fairway" the club envisioned. Creating a family-friendly environment might be a legitimate business interest, but "that policy is not served when a business discriminates against the domestic partner of one of its members" or excludes "families formed through domestic partnerships," Justice Carlos R. Moreno wrote for the court.
Before the new domestic partners law took effect, "the country club's policy was supported by legitimate business interests," the court said.
The Legislature changed all that when it decided to "equalize" the status of registered partners and spouses, Moreno said. Although the state continues to have a public policy in favor of marriage, the practical reasons for favoring marriage are now embodied in the Domestic Partner Act, Moreno said.
"In creating domestic partners, the Legislature has also created a policy favoring such partnerships similar to the policy favoring marriage," Moreno wrote.
The high court's ruling returns the case to the trial court for further proceedings. John Shiner, lead lawyer for the Bernardo Heights Country Club, said the ruling "validates and vindicates the policies that the club had in place during the years of the litigation" prior to the new domestic partners law. He said the club's board of directors will now decide whether to extend spousal benefits to domestic partners after reviewing the court decision.
"The club will follow the law," Shiner said.
Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar, in a partial dissent, said the decision should have protected domestic partners back to 2000, when the state's first, but less sweeping, domestic partners law took effect.
She wrote: "Even under the law from 2000 to 2004, the member could have had only one registered domestic partner at a time and was restricted in how often he or she could change registered partners."
Times staff writers Molly Selvin and Lee Romney contributed to this report.
Posted on Tue, Aug. 02, 2005
Mr. McCaffrey returning to class in fall as Ms. McCaffrey
MENDHAM, N.J. - A middle school teacher who ended the academic year known as Mr. McCaffrey plans to be back in September known as Ms. McCaffrey. However, some parents are questioning whether children are mature enough to deal with her sex-change.
"I feel it's kind of unfair to put this on young children," said Anna Marie Seavey, a mother of three who would prefer that Kerri McCaffrey not be assigned to the middle school. "It is unfair for us to have to explain it."
The transgendered teacher, who underwent sex-change surgery in February, says she's ready to continue helping children.
"I just want to be Kerri McCaffrey, a great teacher like I've always been," the 41-year-old language arts instructor told The Star-Ledger of Newark for Tuesday's newspapers. "I'm a good influence on children, and I've dedicated my life to them."
Some parents, such as Caren Cusano, are trying to educate themselves on transgender issues. She said she sent an e-mail to McCaffrey to ask for information and to "applaud" the teacher's decision.
"I said to Kerri that if we could have some Web sites so we could explain it in layman's terms to our kids, that would be great," said Cusano, whose children are in elementary school.
McCaffrey, who grew up as Herb McCaffrey, said she struggled with her gender identity since age 7. She married, had two children and taught for 12 years before her surgery in February. Immediately afterward, she still went to school in a jacket and tie.
"If I came out with this in February, I wouldn't have been able to teach because it would have caused such a commotion," she said. "I could not be selfish and hurt the kids in the middle of the year."
McCaffrey said she felt summer would be a better time for students and parents to hear about the surgery and come to terms with it.
Janie Edmunds, the district's superintendent of schools, said she could not comment about McCaffrey because personnel and medical issues are involved.
"I think it's fine," said Rebecca Tishman, who is going into eighth grade and hopes to have McCaffrey as a teacher. "I'm sorry that she was confused for so long."
高松市が申請書類の性別欄廃止 (朝日・香川版 2005/08/02)
高松市内で、性同一性障害など性的マイノリティーへの理解を深めようと活動している「ＰＲＯＵＤ ｉｎ 香川」で活動する女性（２８）＝戸籍上は男性＝によると、住民票の交付や印鑑登録など窓口の本人確認のたびに手続きが滞ったり、人前で性別を聞かれるのが怖くて、二度と窓口に行けなくなる人もいると言う。
Web posted at: 19:50 JST
シアトル（ＡＰ） ロックの天才ギタリストと称された故ジミ・ヘンドリックスについて書かれた新伝記「Room Full of Mirrors」が今夏発売され、この中で、ヘンドリックスが同性愛者を装い、除隊していたとの新事実が示されていることが分かった。伝記はヘンドリックスの死後３５周年にあわせたもので、作者は、チャールズ・Ｒ・クロス氏。
伝記のタイトル「Room Full of Mirrors」は、ヘンドリックスの未発表曲名にちなんでつけられた。
クリス氏は、２００１年に出版されたニルヴァーナのカート・コバーンの伝記「 Heavier Than Heaven 」も手掛けている。
|| Entertainment News ||
August 02, 2005
Book: Hendrix claimed to be gay to avoid Vietnam
Jimi Hendrix might have stayed in the Army. He might have been sent to Vietnam. Instead, he pretended he was gay. And with that, he was discharged from the 101st Airborne in 1962, launching a musical career that would redefine the guitar, leave other rock heroes of the day speechless, and culminate with his headlining performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Woodstock in 1969.
Hendrix's subterfuge, contained in his military medical records, is revealed for the first time in Charles R. Cross's new biography, Room Full of Mirrors. Publicly, Hendrix always claimed he was discharged after breaking his ankle on a parachute jump, but his medical records do not mention such an injury. In regular visits to the base psychiatrist at Fort Campbell, Ky., in spring 1962, Hendrix complained that he was in love with one of his squad mates and that he had become addicted to masturbating, Cross writes. Finally, Capt. John Halbert recommended him for discharge, citing his "homosexual tendencies."
Hendrix's legendary appetite for women negates the notion that he might have been gay, Cross writes. Nor, he adds, was his stunt politically motivated: Contrary to his later image, Hendrix was an avowed anticommunist who exhibited little unease about the escalating U.S. role in Vietnam. He just wanted to escape the Army to play music—he had enlisted to avoid jail time after being repeatedly arrested in stolen cars in Seattle, his hometown.
Room Full of Mirrors, titled after an unreleased Hendrix tune, is being published this summer to coincide with the 35th anniversary of his September 18, 1970, death from a sleeping-pill overdose. It is Cross's second biography of a popular musician who died at age 27; Heavier Than Heaven, a 2001 bio of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain, was a New York Times best-seller. The new bio is culled from nearly four years of research, including access to Hendrix's letters and diaries along with military records provided by a collector the author won't name. Cross focuses on Hendrix's complex personal life and psyche more than his music. "It's not how much I know about Jimi's B-sides; it's how much I know about the emotional arc of his life," Cross said in an interview.
The portrait that emerges is similar, in many ways, to that of Cobain. Both men grew up in poverty in Washington State, dreamed from an early age of becoming rock stars, found themselves with more fame than they knew how to handle, and eventually retreated into a haze of drug use. Cross, who lives just north of Seattle, describes Hendrix's troubled childhood. Jimi's father, Al Hendrix, and mother, Lucille, both had drinking problems. Al, a landscaper, rarely found decent-paying jobs and frequently split with Lucille. Jimi and his siblings were often left by themselves or in the care of family friends. Jimi eventually flunked out of high school. Before Hendrix even owned a proper guitar, he played air guitar using a broom, then a beat-up hunk of wood with a single string. When he was 16, his father bought him a right-handed electric guitar that Hendrix had to restring to play lefty.
Room Full of Mirrors is filled with nuggets: After a show in Seattle he had a starstruck teenager drive him around his old haunts; he allegedly had an affair with French actress Brigitte Bardot, precipitated by a chance meeting at the Paris airport; promoters at Woodstock refused to let him play an acoustic guitar. (Cross doesn't cite a source for the Bardot liaison and says the actress didn't respond to his attempts to contact her.)
After his military discharge Hendrix formed a band with former Army pal Buddy Cox and began touring Southern clubs on the "Chitlin' Circuit." During those years, from 1963 to 1965, Hendrix played to black audiences with the King Kasuals and as a backup to Solomon Burke, Otis Redding, Curtis Mayfield, and Little Richard. Unable to make a living in the States—primarily because of his color—Hendrix went to England in 1966 and took London by storm with his now-polished blend of soul, blues, and rock. Within eight days of his arrival, he floored guitar gods like Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck. Hendrix remained in London for nearly a year, forming the Jimi Hendrix Experience and releasing his first album.
On his way to the Monterey Pop Festival in summer 1967, he was mistaken for a bellhop by a woman at the Chelsea Hotel during a layover in New York. It was a cold reminder of his ethnicity, Cross writes. Hendrix was always uneasy being one of the first black stars to attract a white audience; he wanted to be welcomed by blacks too. Following Woodstock, his friends tried to arrange a show for him at the Apollo in Harlem, where his friends teased him about his drug of choice—LSD—being a "white" drug. The legendary theater refused, afraid the concert would draw too many whites. (Gene Johnson, via AP)