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Feminist Daily News Wire
September 20, 2005
House Unexpectedly Passes Gay and Gender Hate Crimes Amendment
The House of Representatives last week voted 223-199 in favor of an amendment from Representative John Conyers (D-MI) that adds actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and disability to federal hate crime laws. The amendment to the Children's Safety Act provides grants to the states to help prosecute these crimes. The measure was endorsed by more than 175 law enforcement, civil rights, civic, and religious organizations, including the National Sheriffs’ Association, International Association of Chiefs of Police, US Conference of Mayors, and Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.
The Senate, which will now take up the legislation, had passed similar bills several times. House conservatives, however, had always blocked them, arguing that such cases should be dealt with on local or state levels without extra federal involvement.
“Gays and lesbians should not have to live in fear anywhere in the United States of America,” said Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), one of three openly gay members of Congress and the only lesbian. “Today’s vote is significant both substantively and symbolically, reminding us, as Dr. Martin Luther King did, that, ‘the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice’.”
CMA pulls legal brief supporting gay bias
But court rejects medical association substitute statement
- Wyatt Buchanan, SF Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
The California Medical Association has withdrawn a controversial legal brief it filed supporting the rights of two doctors to argue that they could refuse on religious grounds to artificially inseminate a San Diego County lesbian.
The association is trying to file a new brief co-written by Kaiser Permanente lawyers that would argue almost the opposite. In it, they contend that neither Guadalupe Benitez's sexual orientation nor her marital status was medically relevant to whether her doctors were obliged to treat her.
"CMA does not condone invidious discrimination by physicians, including discrimination of patients based upon sexual orientation," the new brief states. "Further, CMA does not support a religious exemption to statutes prohibiting invidious discrimination."
But the clerk of the state's Fourth District Court of Appeal in San Diego has rejected the new document on the ground it was filed too late to be considered before oral arguments set for Oct. 11 over whether the doctors can claim a religious exemption in the case. Gay rights advocates plan to challenge the rejection of the new brief.
Medical association spokesman Peter Warren and association CEO Jack Lewin said they withdrew the first brief because it needed clarification, and because of a recent California Supreme Court ruling. The California Supreme Court ruled this summer that the state's civil rights law requires businesses to treat domestic partners like married people.
"CMA continues to believe that the defendant physicians deserve a right to due process and a jury trial," Lewin said in a statement released Tuesday. "However, it is clear that CMA's policy commitment to oppose any form of invidious discrimination had been so significantly confused and misrepresented, that it was in the best interest of CMA to withdraw the brief."
Attorneys and supporters of Benitez applauded the association's decision to withdraw the original brief.
They had criticized its contention that doctors have the right to argue in court that they can cite religious grounds in denying certain medical care to gays and lesbians, if that refusal was based on the patient's marital status.
"The CMA is affirming principles of nondiscrimination in health care that they have stood for for a long time," said Joel Ginsberg, executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association in San Francisco. "We are pleased to see them clarify their position and come out strongly against discrimination based on one's sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status."
Benitez's attorney said the medical association's initial brief was confusing.
"They've really abandoned the previous argument, and what's important is that this new brief is clear and understandable and consistent with the antidiscrimination policy that the California Medical Association and Kaiser Permanente have had for a long time," said Jennifer Pizer, senior counsel for the Western regional office of Lambda Legal, a group that specializes in gay and lesbian rights.
The new brief sets aside two exceptions to the argument against discrimination. The association argues that "physicians should not be liable for discriminating on bases that are medically relevant or for violating standards that were not established at the time of their actions."
Kaiser Permanente was not part of the original filing, and its attorneys did not return a call for comment.
Benitez's doctors argued in court documents that they should not have to treat Benitez because inseminating an unmarried woman contradicted their religious convictions, though they stated in other proceedings that Benitez's sexual orientation was their concern.
The new brief states that discrimination harms patients and society, and that legal and ethical standards prohibit physicians from invidiously -- or harmfully -- discriminating.
The new brief also states that physicians can treat patients differently based on medically relevant factors and can refuse to perform certain procedures on religious grounds, if they refuse such treatment for all patients.
E-mail Wyatt Buchanan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Page B - 1
Hormone Replacement Therapy Raises Breast Density
Tue Sep 20, 7:02 PM ET
TUESDAY, Sept. 20 (HealthDay News) -- The use of estrogen/progestin hormone replacement therapy for up to two years is linked with increased mammographic breast density, which can hinder the sensitivity of mammography screening and increase a woman's breast cancer risk, researchers say.
Reporting in the Sept. 21 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, investigators at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle analyzed data from 413 women who took part in the Women's Health Initiative, a randomized trial of more than 16,000 women who received either estrogen plus progestin or a placebo for menopausal symptoms.
The Women's Health Initiative found that women who received the hormone therapy were more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer, and were also more likely to be diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. The study also found that women who had hormone therapy were more likely to have abnormal mammograms than women who took the placebo.
In this new study, researchers found that women who had hormone therapy had a 6 percent increase in mammographic density over the first year, while the women taking the placebo experienced a 1 percent decline in mammographic density. After two years, the changes persisted in both groups, but were somewhat weaker.
The findings appear in the Sept. 21 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
In response to the findings, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals issued a prepared statement, saying, "While the study shows an increase in mammographic density in participants on estrogen plus progestin therapy, it is unclear from the study and others whether changes in mammographic density are an actual marker of increased breast cancer risk or simply an interesting biologic effect."
"The information from this most recent publication should be considered as part of the individualized assessment of risk and benefit for women who are taking or considering estrogen and progestin therapies," added Candace Steele, the director of Wyeth global public relations.
Breastcancer.org has more about mammograms.
独新政権、連立協議を与野党譲らず 模索長期化も - 朝日・朝刊
申請１６５種、性別・本籍記載不要に 県が初の見直し 個人情報保護も (読売・鳥取版 2005/09/20朝刊)
鳥取県 - TransNewsWeb
A third option on gay marriage by Vikram David Amar, Ethan J. Leib
CHANGING ATTITUDES ABOUT FAMILIES
Is fear of same-sex marriage fear of nontraditional parenting?
- Peggy Drexler
Tuesday, September 20, 2005 - SF Chronicle
It's no surprise that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is the latest political headliner to find himself in the hot seat over same-sex marriage. Last year, he told Jay Leno that he thinks such marriages are fine, but let the people decide. Now, their elected leaders have done so -- yet the governor promises to veto the bill. At the same time, deep fears and widely held beliefs remain persistent when it comes to people of the same sex forming families.
A politician trying to have it both ways is nothing new. What's new (and surprising to many people) is what we're learning about the actual families that lesbian and gay couples are creating: They work remarkably well for children. To the extent that public reluctance to fully embrace same-sex marriage is based on a concern for the children of such relationships, a growing body of research should help allay those fears. In fact, two-mom and two-dad families are showing that they can raise children as well as heterosexual couples can. Marginalizing them does not serve their children.
What same-sex couples and their children need most are the civil and legal rights that families with married parents have. By now it should be clear that the "Father Knows Best" myth is, and always has been, just that: a myth. For one thing, traditional families of mom, dad and kids are in a distinct minority. U.S. Census Bureau figures show that in 1970, 40 percent of all American households were married couples with children age 18 or under. Today, these "mom and dad" families represent just 23 percent of all households, and that number is shrinking every year.
At the same time, the proportion of families headed by women has grown by 50 percent since 1980. What's more, lesbian couples are having children at nearly the rate of their married heterosexual counterparts. The 2000 Census reported that 34 percent of families headed by women with women partners have children under age 18. That compares with the rate of married couples, of whom 46 percent have children under 18.
Many Americans bemoan these and other changes in the family and worry about the apparent erosion of traditional families. Without evidence, we just assume that female-only parenting is deficient or flawed. But in fact, socioeconomic status is a stronger predictor of child welfare than almost any other index. Not marriage status. Not the number of parents in the household, or their gender, for that matter. Still, we persist in seeing single-mom families as wanting, two-mom families as unnatural, and both as threatening to a boy's masculinity.
In my own research on the sons of these "maverick moms," I have found that nontraditional families are defying expectations and assumptions about what it takes to raise strong, healthy children. These boys and their mothers have surprised me with strong evidence that boys will be boys. Boys raised by women show an innate and astonishing ability to establish a strong and resilient sense of their own masculinity. Good mothers can and do foster this awareness. Their boys exhibit what I call boy power: the pairing of healthy aggression with empathy in a way that sons in mom-and-dad families don't often manage.
Masculine role models are everywhere. Boys from two-mom families turn successfully to other family members, coaches, teachers and caretakers for experiences that impart the business of being a man. Many actually have more male figures in their lives than boys from traditional families, and benefit from choosing male role models. Two of my studies have shown that when they are secure in their attachments to those who raise them, these boys are at no more risk for "father hunger" than their peers.
Good parenting is not anchored to gender. A good female parent will change diapers and coach soccer. Parenting is about the human heart, which has no gender. More than anything, children need loving parents who connect with them and are home for dinner. Closeness and communication pay off. Maverick moms have close, communicative relationships with their sons, who exhibit a high degree of emotional savvy. As evidenced in my research, these head-and-heart boys relate to females with great respect and openness, which augurs well for their heterosexual romantic relations as adults.
We mythologize traditional families and demonize nontraditional families. As long as the myths and demons persist, so will our fears. Increasingly, research shows that we need not fear for the children of same-sex couples. In fact, they and their parents can teach us a great deal.
Peggy Drexler, Ph.D., is assistant professor of psychology in psychiatry at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University and a former gender scholar at Stanford University. Much of the research she cites in this op-ed is taken from her book, "Raising Boys Without Men: How Maverick Moms Are Creating the Next Generation of Exceptional Men" (Rodale, 2005).
Page B - 7
China sacks officials over forced abortions
By Vivi Lin and Benjamin Kang Lim
Tue Sep 20, 1:37 AM ET - Reuters
China, which enforces a one-child policy in cities, has sacked and detained officials in coastal Shandong province for forcing pregnant women to undergo abortions or sterilizing couples with more than two children.
The dismissals and detentions appeared to be in line with a push by Hu Jintao, the Communist Party chief and state president, to instill official accountability since he assumed power in 2002.
Yu Xuejun, spokesman for the National Population and Family Planning Commission, said the authorities had launched an investigation after receiving successive complaints of forced abortions and sterilizations by family planning officials in the city of Linyi this year.
"According to the results of a preliminary investigation, some persons concerned in a few counties and townships of Linyi did commit practices that violated the law ... while conducting family planning work," Yu said on the commission's Web site.
"Currently, the responsible persons have been removed from their posts. Some of them are being investigated for liabilities and some have been detained," Yu said without giving a figure for officials sacked and detained.
Yu urged commission staff to learn a lesson from the case and "correct any infringements on citizens' rights."
China's population exploded after Mao Zedong exhorted the people to multiply in the 1950s to make the country strong.
But China -- now the world's most populous nation with 1.3 billion people -- put the brakes on growth more than two decades ago, imposing the tough one-child policy in urban areas.
A hefty fine is slapped on urban residents with more than one child. Rural people and members of ethnic minority groups are allowed a maximum of two children.
International human rights groups have accused overzealous Chinese family planners of forcing women to abort, in some cases in the ninth month of pregnancy, or to undergo hysterectomies, but Beijing regularly denies the claims or keeps silent.
Tuesday's rare admission of official wrongdoing came after a blind activist, Chen Guangcheng, accused Linyi officials of forcing couples with two children to be sterilized and forcing women pregnant with a third child to undergo abortions.
"It falls far short of the number of officials who should be punished," Chen, who has since been put under house arrest in Shandong, told Reuters on Tuesday.
A source close to Chen said about 120,000 Linyi residents had been forced to undergo abortions or sterilization, but a Shandong family planning official said the figure was an exaggeration.
Linyi police took into custody and beat up family members and neighbors of couples who had fled to avoid the forced procedures, said the source, who sought anonymity. Some died in detention.
"Only lower-level officials will be punished. The Linyi mayor and town chiefs won't be punished," the source said by telephone.
Chen was stopped from coming to Beijing this month and held by police at an inn for about 30 hours. He staged intermittent hunger strikes and was joined by more than 10 local residents, two of whom are still in detention.
President Hu has championed the poor as part of a campaign to ease tensions between corrupt officials and ordinary people, avert unrest and perpetuate the Communist Party's decades-old monopoly on power.
Chinese have become increasingly aware of their legal rights, including those at the grassroots level, in recent years.
China admits forced abortions, sterilisations in eastern province
Mon Sep 19, 2:20 PM ET - AFP
China's family planning agency admitted that officials in the eastern province of Shandong had carried out forced abortions and sterlisations, state media reported.
National Population and Family Planning Commission spokesman Yu Xuejun said the commission and Shandong family planning agency had sent two joint teams to investigate reports of forced abortions and sterilisations in Linyi city since early this year, Xinhua news agency reported.
"Initial investigation indicates illegal family planning practices that violate people's legal rights and interests do exist," he said.
"Those who are responsible have been dismissed from duty. Some are under investigation, some in detention. Further measures will be taken by government departments concerned according to legal competence and procedure."
Yu said the commission would train staff on the "rule of law" and require them to "correct any infringements on citizens' rights".
Time magazine last week reported that at least 7,000 people in Shandong were forcibly sterilised earlier this year by officials under pressure to limit the growth of the country's massive population.
Quoting lawyers who spoke to local family-planning officials, the magazine said that between March and July, 7,000 people underwent forced abortions and sterilisations in Shandong's Yinan county north of Linyi.
It further reported that the lawyers alleged that several villagers were beaten to death while under detention for trying to help family members avoid sterilisation.
In March, the report said, distraught peasants had complained to a local legal activist, Chen Guangcheng, of the forced sterilisations and the detention of family members.
Many people in his village, he told Time, had been imprisoned for defying the sterilisation order.
Chen, the report said, was placed under house arrest by mid-August after he filed a class action against Linyi officials accusing them of contravening national family-planning law.
China's population reached 1.3 billion earlier this year and the demographic explosion is putting pressure on already insufficient natural resources and jobs.
It is expected to increase by about 10 million people annually to reach a peak of 1.46 billion in the mid-2030s, state media quoted population experts as saying last year.
Beijing introduced its controversial one-child policy more than 25 years ago and state officials have credited the programme with delaying by four years the point at which the country's population hit the 1.3 billion mark.
The policy makes it illegal for urban couples to have more than one child but allows rural couples to have a second child if their first is a daughter.
China on Saturday said it would maintain its one-child policy.