National Briefs

By Staff and Wire Reports

Bill would extend partner benefits to federal employees

WASHINGTON Legislation that would extend domestic partner benefits to federal employees was introduced in Congress on Wednesday, Dec. 19.

The Domestic Partner Benefits and Obligations Act of 2007 was introduced by Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., and 19 other co-sponsors.

Under the act, a federal employee and same-sex domestic partner would be eligible to participate in federal health benefits, the Family and Medical Leave program, long-term care, insurance, and retirement benefits, according to a press release from Lieberman’s office. Such employees and their domestic partners would also assume the same obligations that apply to married employees and their spouses, such as anti-nepotism rules and financial disclosure requirements.

“It’s time for the federal government to catch up to the private sector, not just to set an example but so that it can compete for the most qualified employees and ensure that all of our public servants receive fair and equitable treatment,” Lieberman said in a prepared statement. “It makes good economic and policy sense. And it is the right thing to do.”

Gay father of six admits trying to hire detective to kill his wife

RENO, Nev. A 50-year-old father of six has admitted that he asked an undercover detective to kill his wife who lives in Utah.

James Gau, of Reno, pleaded guilty in Washoe District Court to one count of solicitation to commit murder and faces 2-15 years in prison at his February sentencing. Deputy District Attorney Bruce Hahn said Gau remains free on bail following Friday’s court appearance.

Detectives said Gau told an officer posing as the hit man that he was gay and wanted to be with his new boyfriend. Detectives said Gau moved to Reno in the last several weeks after separating from his wife and telling her he wanted to live with his boyfriend.

For weeks, police said Gau tried to recruit people to kill his wife before meeting in July with the undercover officer and giving the officer a picture of his wife with their six children and her address.

Police said Gau promised to pay the detective a couple of thousand of dollars once his wife’s insurance policy paid out.

Convicted child molester alleges jurors were biased because he’s gay

MERCED, Calif. A former high school teacher convicted of child molestation got to postpone some bad news for Christmas.

A judge agreed to delay the sentencing for Jesus Rivera on Monday, so his defense can prepare its case for a retrial.

Rivera was accused of molesting five of his students in 2003 at Golden Valley High School, where he worked as a drama and Spanish teacher. He was convicted in November on six of nine counts.

The defense alleges juror misconduct, saying some were biased against Rivera because he’s gay.

Rivera faces a maximum of six years in prison at his sentencing on Jan. 29.

Ex-TV news anchor sentenced after being caught in “‘Dateline’ sting

INDIO, Calif. A former television news anchor arrested last year in a sting operation targeting pedophiles was sentenced to three years probation, 90 days of house arrest and 100 hours of community service after pleading guilty to misdemeanor offenses.

Jim Philbrick, 45, who had worked for NBC affiliate KMIR and CBS affiliate KPSP, was also ordered Friday by Riverside County Superior Court Judge John Ryan not to visit any Internet chat room frequented by minors.

Philbrick pleaded guilty Nov. 7 to attempting to distribute harmful matter to a minor over the Internet and soliciting a lewd act in a public place. He will not have to register as a sex offender because the charges were not felonies.

Philbrick was arrested in March 2006 after an Internet sting set up by the Palm Springs Police Department and the Internet activist group Perverted Justice, which often works with the television show “Dateline.”

Investigators said Philbrick admitted visiting a chat room for gay adults but told them he believed he was role-playing with other adults. Authorities said he was arrested after he chatted with a 25-year-old Florida man from Perverted Justice who posed as a minor.

New York gay lawyer wins custody of surrogate child carried by niece

A New York gay lawyer who made an agreement with his niece that she would bear a child for him through gestational surrogacy won a ruling from Minnesota’s Court of Appeals on Dec. 11, approving custody and full parental rights, according to the Web site Gay City News.

The unanimous ruling in an opinion by Judge Bruce D. Willis held that the child in question has only one legal and biological parent, the young boy’s father, the Web site reported.

Willis’ opinion identifies the father as P.G.M., a 38-year-old attorney who lives in New York City and is HIV-positive, according to Gay City News. Several years ago, he entered into a legal contract with his sister’s daughter, J.M.A., under which he provided sperm to fertilize a donated egg in a test tube that was then implanted in his niece, who carried the fetus to term. As part of such agreements, the woman agrees in advance she is not the legal mother and will not attempt to assert any parental rights, but will surrender the child after its birth.

Ga. hate crimes bill may get bogged down over gays, lesbians

Georgia’s proposed hate crimes law could become bogged down in a debate over whether to include sexual orientation, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Those who support the legislation say the key hurdle may be defining whom it is intended to protect. “We understand that there are legislators who are going to be more skeptical about the bill if it includes sexual orientation,” said Bill Nigut, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League. Nigut said his group nonetheless supports the inclusion of gays and lesbians.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 28, 2007

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