National Briefs

By Staff and Wire Reports

Largo city commissioners vote to fire transgender city manager

LARGO, Fla. One of five commissioners who voted to fire a transsexual city manager said his management style, not his lifestyle, led to the dismissal.

Largo City Commissioner Gay Gentry said City Manager Steve Stanton was a “hard-nosed, my-way-or-the-highway” boss who expected more understanding of his personal situation than he showed to some of his roughly 1,200 employees in 14 years as the city’s top official.

Commissioners voted 5-2 early Saturday, March 24, to fire Stanton from his $140,000-a-year job. Stanton was forced last month to reveal he was a transsexual and planned to live as a woman and eventually pursue a sex-change operation.

Stanton defended the employment decisions he made, including firing a public works employee who stayed home with his elderly mother when a hurricane was approaching.

Stanton and his attorney said the commissions’ two votes to fire him in the last month are discriminatory. They have not said if he will sue the city. His employment contract says he can be fired without cause at any time.

Stanton, 48, said he plans to concentrate on the transition from life as a man to life as a woman and will begin the process of legally changing his name to Susan.

Iowa Senate votes to include LGBT people in state’s anti-discrimination law

DES MOINES, Iowa The Iowa Senate has approved a significant expansion of the state’s civil rights laws, adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of traits that are protected from discrimination.

The bill passed 32-17 Monday, March 26, and moves to the House for more debate.

Republicans sought to limit the measure, including pushing a provision that would have specified that the bill would not affect the state’s ban on gay marriage. The Legislature nearly 10 years ago approved a measure defining marriage as between a man and a woman.

Sen. Nancy Boettger, R-Harlan, sought to exempt schools from the gender identity provisions, saying the measure could allow cross-dressing in schools.

The measure is the second piece of gay rights legislation debated in the Legislature this year. Last month the Legislature approved a bill that adds sexual orientation to the list of characteristics for which students in school can’t be harassed. That measure has been signed into law by Gov. Chet Culver.

Minnesota Senate OKs benefits plan for same-sex partners of state workers

ST. PAUL The Senate on Saturday, March 24, voted to allow same-sex partners of state workers to buy into the state’s health insurance program, even as opponents charged it was a stealth attempt to clear a path for legalized gay marriage.

Supporters said they only want to provide equal treatment to all people who work for the state, regardless of sexual orientation.

Originally, the measure was to provide the same access to health benefits as that of any state employee’s spouse. But, pointing out that Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s administration had objected to the potential cost, senators decided to instead allow the partners of state employees to buy into the state’s insurance program.

“The complaint I’ve heard from the administration is they didn’t like the cost,” said Sen. Don Betzold, DFL-Fridley. “I’ve taken care of that.”

Soulforce members arrested in Kentucky after sit-in at Baptist seminary

LOUISVILLE, Ky. Members of a gay rights group were arrested Monday, March 26, after staging a sit-in at a Baptist seminary whose president is drawing criticism for his comments on prenatal treatments that would influence a child’s sexual orientation.

The group, Soulforce, attempted to meet with the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s president, the Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr., an influential evangelical leader.

Twelve were charged with criminal trespassing a misdemeanor and booked into jail, Louisville police said.

The sit-in in front of Mohler’s office lasted about two hours, said Jarrett Lucas, a co-director of a Soulforce tour that is visiting Christian colleges.

The group did not contact officials at the private campus in advance of the visit, said Lawrence Smith, the seminary’s vice president of communications. Smith said a small group left when they were asked by police to leave, but the others stayed.

Wisconsin judge gives go ahead for pre-operative transsexual, woman to marry

MILWAUKEE A transsexual and a woman were married Friday, March 23, after a judge found there was no legal reason to prevent it.

Milwaukee County Circuit Judge David Hansher said he had spoken to a doctor who advised that Barbara Lynn Terry, 58, remained a man physically even though he lives as a female. Terry, born in Iowa as Ronald Terry, married 22-year-old Australian Nicole Winstanley. Milwaukee County Clerk Mark Ryan said the pair applied for a marriage license March 5 and a license was issued March 12.

He said they showed documents stating that Terry was a male and Winstanley was a female and made a sworn statement to that effect.

Last 5 colleges, universities breaking ties with Baptist Convention in North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. The last five colleges and universities with ties to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina are preparing to split with the organization, a move that would cost each school about $1.2 million a year.

Some schools fear the conservative direction of the denomination might limit their academic freedom. The convention voted last year to ban gay-friendly churches from the organization.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 30, 2007

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