Last updated: May 7, 2004

Iraqi Prisoners Sexually Abused

May 7, 2004 -- Opinion by John Riley

The recent photos demonstrating beyond all doubt the homophobic sexual abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US service men and women, is something we in the LGBT community can not ignore.

These acts were committed by homophobic, sadistic personnel trained in and by a homophobic, homohating command structure that goes right up to the president of the United States. The homophobia of the "Don't Ask-Don't tell policy sets a climate of abuse of within the military of its own personnel, how could better treatment be received by those perceived to be the enemy. What worse insult could their be than to pose the enemy in what they consider to be "depraived acts."

The recent photos of Private Lynndie R. England demonstrates that homophobic violence is not the exclusive domain of men and shows the limits of some of the politics promoted within the women's community. While women need to be a part of every part of US society that alone will not make a better world. It is true that women are in general less likely to commit violence they are not immune. It is extremely important that we progressives within the LGBT community organize against this deadly immoral war , speak out against sexual abuse within the military and work to stop the US empire builders from succeeding in their morally depraived plan to seize the riches of the world by military force.

We need to build a multi-issue progressive LGBT movement to fight a criminal system of exploitation based on racism, sexism and homophobia. We need to organize, demonstrate and challenge the system and the values the system holds in alliance with other communities facing different oppressions.

Making our voices heard as LGBT people speaking out against this abuse will help to minimize homophobic reactions within Muslim and Arab communities.

I have provided a link to a site where pictures of the abuse of these prisoners is posted. I encourage people who haven't seen these images to take a deep breath, and look at these pictures to inform yourself of what the US is doing in Iraq. Despite what the minimizers at the NY Post and other corporate media say, this abuse is not isolated to a few "bad apples" indeed we can find this type of abuse in US prisons. While the abuse rarely has this level of documentation, it does occur throughout the country. One of the guards accused of misconduct is a prison guard at a Pennsylvania prison (see story below). We rarely read about domestic prison abuse in the pages of the corporate because the corporate media wants to focus on crimes committed by poor and working class individuals, not crimes committed by the state.

Death Penalty Abolitionists Expose Prison Abuses in Pennsylvania by Guard Involved in Torture

Dear Supporters, Allies, and Members of the Media,

On Wednesday, May 5, the New York Times published a story about Americans who
were directly involved in the disgusting human rights abuses that have taken
place in the Abu Ghraib Prison in Baghdad. Disturbingly, there is a direct
link between Abu Ghraib Prison and the State Correctional Institution at Greene
(SCI-Greene), a super-maximum security prison in western Pennsylvania and home
to the overwhelming majority of the state's death row prisoners. Charles A.
Graner, Jr., an army reservist cited in a military report as supervising the
torture of Iraqi prisoners, is a CURRENTLY EMPLOYED as a prison guard at

Reports of prisoner abuse have plagued SCI-Greene since it opened less than a
decade ago as a "shining jewel in the crown" of the Pennsylvania Department
of Corrections. In 1998, a DOC investigation found many instances of abuse of
prisoners and took disciplinary action against a handful of SCI-Greene staff.
The DOC refused to make public internal videotapes of the abuse and the
Greene County District Attorney declined to begin criminal prosecution of any

Pa. Abolitionists and other organizations spoke out against the allegations
of abuse long before the DOC acknowledged these heinous acts, and we took a
clear position calling for much greater disciplinary action than the DOC was
willing to take. In fact, the abuse has continued, as Pa. Abolitionists has
received compelling documentation of at least one savage beating of a non-death-row
prisoner at SCI-Greene in 2004. The response of one DOC administrator to
these serious allegations was seemingly feigned disbelief: "Abuse?! At
SCI-Greene?! At Greene?!?!"

Exactly one year prior to yesterday's NYT article, SCI-Greene guard Charles
A. Graner, Jr., was called up for active duty in Iraq. According to the army
report made public this week, Graner was given a supervisory positions at Abu
Ghraib because he had civilian experience as a prison guard. It seems quite
likely that Graner took what he had seen and experienced "working with"
prisoners at SCI-Greene with him to Abu Ghraib where he instructed others involved in
these major human rights abuses. The Times story details Graner's background:

"Specialist Charles A. Graner, Jr., is a guard at one of Pennsylvania's most
heavily secured death row prisons, accused by his former wife of violent

"An internal Army report made public this week described Specialist Graner,
35, as supervising some of the abusive behavior. He also appears in several
photographs, including one in which he stands with arms folded over a pile of
naked Iraqi men.

"Specialist Graner, who wears a Marine Corps eagle tattoo on his right arm,
served in the corps from April 1988 until May 1996, when he left with the rank
of corporal, according to military records. He went to work immediately at the
State Correctional Institution Greene, in southwestern Pennsylvania, where he
has held an entry-level corrections officer position ever since.

"Two years after he arrived at Greene, the prison was at the center of an
abuse scandal. Prison officials declined to say whether Specialist Graner had
been disciplined in that case, citing privacy laws.

"Inmates and advocates for prisoner rights asserted in 1998 that guards at
the prison routinely beat and humiliated prisoners, including through a sadistic
game of Simon Says in which guards struck prisoners who failed to comply with
barked instructions.

"After an investigation, the warden was transferred, two lieutenants were
fired and about two dozen guards were reprimanded, demoted or suspended.

"Specialist Graner was involved in a bitter divorce. In court papers, his
wife, Staci, accused him of beating her, threatening her with guns, stalking her
after they separated in 1997 and breaking into her home. Since 1997, local
judges have issued at least three orders of protection against him, records show.

"One court document filed in February 1998 typified Staci Graner's
complaints. 'Charles picked me up and threw me against the wall,' she said. She added
that he had begun sneaking into her home at night to scare her. 'I just don't
think this is normal behavior, and he does frighten me,' she wrote."

Whether Graner was involved in the SCI-Greene abuses or disciplined for them
by our state's DOC, one wonders if more aggressive investigation and a
"zero-tolerance for abuse" policy by DOC administrators might have prevented some of
the inexcusable human rights abuses that have further disgraced the U.S. and
increased the likelihood of future terrorist acts. While it is unclear what
will happen to the thugs who tortured the Iraqi prisoners, it is absolutely
appalling that at least one of them -- a supervisor of the torture, no less -- is
CURRENTLY ON OUR STATE'S PAYROLL, receiving salary and benefits from our tax

At an absolute minimum, Pa. Abolitionists believes that the Pennsylvania
Department of Corrections should immediately begin a serious and open
investigation into allegations of abuse in our state prisons. Further, it is our opinion
that the DOC should adopt a "zero-tolerance" policy on abuse, immediately
terminating criminal employees who assault prisoners. We call on the guards'
union to cease defending abusive guards, as their actions jeopardize the safety
and lives of decent human beings working in the prisons.

For those wishing to voice their feelings to the Pa. DOC, contact information
is provided below along with links to news articles about "our public
servant" Charles Graner and links to articles about the 1998 abuse scandal at

Jeff Garis
Executive Director

Pa. DOC Contact Info:

Dr. Jeffrey A. Beard, Secretary
Pa. Department of Corrections
2520 Lisburn Road
P.O. Box 598
Camp Hill, PA 17001-0598
(717) 975-4918

Louis S. Folino, Superintendent
SCI Greene
169 Progress Drive
Waynesburg, PA 15370
(724) 852-2902

Pa. DOC Policies for Employees in the Military Reserves:

Links to Newspaper Articles about Current DOC Employee Charles A. Graner, Jr.:

Fayette reservist implicated in scandal
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, May 5, 2004

SCI-Greene guard accused in Iraqi prisoner abuse case
Observer-Reporter, May 4, 2004

Links to Articles about Prisoner Abuse at SCI-Greene:

News Release Issued by the International Secretariat of Amnesty International
November 1997

"'The Greene Experience' - Life on SCI-Greene's Death Row" by Roger Buehl
January 22, 1998

"Pa. Department of Corrections to Investigate Abuse at Greene"
April 9th, 1998

"Brutality Scandal Explodes at SCI Greene"
April 11, 1998

"Guards Applaud Prison Official's Swift Demotion"
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
April 21, 1998

"The Hole Truth"
Philadelphia City Paper
April 30, 1998

"Whitewash in Greene County" by Mumia Abu-Jamal
May 4, 1998

"State prison officers demoted, fired;
Waynesburg officers reprimanded for abuse of inmates"
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Wednesday, May 06, 1998

"13 More Guards Disciplined at Pennsylvania Prison as Scandal Grows"
May 20, 1998

"Dead Serious"
Philadelphia City Paper
May 28, 1998

"Under Sentence of Death: Conditions on Pennsylvania's Death Row"
Amnesty International USA

"Beatings at Greene County" by Dr. Julian Heicklen
[provides extensive documentation of abuse at SCI-Greene]



by Michael Kink and the Staff of Housing Works

(Oct 9, 2003) We’ve still got a huge HIV/AIDS problem here at home: increasing HIV infections (40,000 per year nationwide), increasing AIDS diagnoses, new increases in AIDS deaths. But domestic AIDS funding has been flat in the
last several years – and this year, some programs face cuts for the first time ever.


1. Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA): TEN MILLION DOLLARS AT STAKE

Homeless people with AIDS get sicker faster, die more often, and incur preventable costs for expensive medical treatment that could be saved by investments in supportive housing. The House budget included $10 million
more for HOPWA than the Senate budget, and it’s important to keep that $10 million in the final budget: every HOPWA dollar saves lives and saves money.

House Members: Please sign on to the letter on HOPWA circulated by Reps. Shays, Nadler & Crowley today (contact David Greengrass in Rep. Nadler’s office).

2. Ryan White Title III (Community Health Centers): 4.4 MILLION DOLLARS AT STAKE

This year’s House budget included the first cut in Ryan White AIDS funding in the history of the epidemic: a $4.4 million cut to Title III Community Health Center funding. In the face of increasing HIV infections and
increasing need, particularly in communities of color, any cut in funding is deadly.
Senators and House Members: Please contact leadership and appropriations folks and let them know Ryan White Title III funding saves lives across the nation.


This year’s House budget included a $39 million add to ADAP funding, and the Senate added $25 million. President Bush had proposed a $100 million increase for ADAP this year, and we are hope that conferees will consider that higher figure. Nationwide, fifteen state ADAP programs have waiting lists or restrictions on medications and services. In West Virginia, two people recently died of AIDS while on the waiting list for ADAP. Increased funding for ADAP is literally a life-and death issue.

Senators: Please sign on to the letter on Ryan White & ADAP circulated by Senator Schumer today.
House Members: Please contact leadership and appropriations folks and let them know ADAP funding saves lives.The Housing Works New York State AIDS Issues Update is reported, written and edited by Michael Kink and staff at the Housing Works Albany Advocacy Center. You can reach us by phone at 518-449-4207, by fax at 518-449-4219, & by email at

Housing Works provides housing, advocacy and services to homeless people living with AIDS and HIV. Housing Works is the nation’s largest community-based AIDS organization and the nation’s largest
minority-controlled AIDS organization.


Governor Davis Signs the Gay Rights bill in California.

photo(s) by Paul Barwick. More photos can be found at





Activists protest Bush’s deadly “snake oil” HIV prevention polices during Presidential Advisory Meeting Demand science, not politics, shape HIV prevention

(August 7, 2003) Washington, DC: Hundreds of people living with HIV, activists and service providers from a coalition of AIDS organizations protested during the 22nd meeting of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA). Activists demanded an end to President Bush’s attack on effective HIV prevention programs that promote comprehensive sex education, needle exchange, access to condoms, and other interventions that have been proven to prevent the spread of HIV. Carrying bottles of “snake oil” and coffins to dramatize the deadly impact of HIV policies motivated by ideology, not science, the protesters rallied outside the meeting while activists testified to PACHA members.

“Bush’s war on comprehensive, science-based HIV prevention efforts are killing people of color in the United States—when 70% of new HIV infections are among people of color,” said Amanda Lugg, of African Services Committee. “This White House is ‘playing doctor’ to please reactionary conservatives—and jeopardizing millions of lives on the process.”

The protest at the PACHA meeting comes one week after the annual Centers for Disease Control HIV Prevention Conference where top Administration officials were confronted with public criticism from activists and public health experts alike, who predict the dramatic changes in HIV prevention efforts will have dire impact. “This Administration is willing to let people get infected with HIV in order to avoid talking honestly about drug use and sex, and to cater to extreme conservatives,” said Jose DeMarco, an HIV positive member of ACT UP Philadelphia. “Bush’s new HIV policies have a body count—this is a matter of life and death.”

Protesters cite a litany of HIV prevention policy shifts as part of a concerted effort by the White House to put narrow, reactionary ideology ahead of proven best prevention practice. These include:

• a 66% funding increase for ineffective HIV prevention programs that only teach abstinence; comprehensive HIV prevention programs are being flat funded.

• persistent attacks on HIV prevention programs that target sexually active gay men, and other communities unpopular with the White House

• pressure on NIH researchers to censor their funding proposals, for fear that use of terms such as “sex workers,” “men who have sex with men,” or “transgender” will mean rejection. Experts are afraid that research that gets in the way of the ideological agenda of the White House will not be funded.

• a sweeping new CDC prevention initiative, constructed with no input from communities hardest hit by the AIDS epidemic, that will eliminate funding for programs that work in keeping HIV negative people negative. Instead, funding will shift to efforts to prevent people living with HIV from transmitting the virus.

Louis Jones, a member of the NYC AIDS Housing Network who is living with HIV and who testified to the Committee, said: “We need a President that relies on science, not politics, in responding to this crisis. President Bush must illustrate his commitment to protecting communities of color, where HIV is spreading rapidly. His policies should be based on what has been proven to save lives—the human cost of funding cuts is massive.”

Lavern Holley, a protester from CitiWide Harm Reduction and a board member of the NYC AIDS Housing Network who is living with HIV, said: “We need to continue to step up the pressure on this administration to ensure full federal funding for HIV prevention and services, to prevent further censorship of prevention research and to the reverse the government’s policy of blocking access to condoms, needle exchange and other proven prevention strategies.”






Researcher David Holtgrave calls flat funding

"public health malpractice"

ATLANTA, June 30, 2003-- Claude Allen, deputy secretary of Health and Human Services, was met with silent protest when thousands of participants at the 2003 National HIV Prevention Conference stood and held signs bearing the words "STOP THE WAR ON HIV PREVENTION."

Allen, a widely known opponent of comprehensive HIV prevention, spoke at the closing session of the conference, in the place of CDC director Julie Gerberding. Once the press secretary to Sen. Jesse Helms, Allen has been nominated to a federal judgeship. After the audience respectfully listened to him, his remarks were met with widespread booing and hissing.

"Allowing Claude Allen -- a man with such hostile viewpoints on the basic tenets of HIV prevention -- to close the conference speaks volumes about the Bush administration's true agenda on these issues," said Terje Anderson, executive director of the National Association of People with AIDS.The audience reaction was the latest response to dramatic changes announced by the CDC regarding its priorities for prevention approaches and funding. "It's a shame that we have to go to such lengths to get the attention of our government and for our perspective to be heard," said Gene Copello, executive director of Florida AIDS Action. "But after three days of workshops extolling the importance of community involvement in HIV prevention, the CDC still wasn't willing to include us in the most important decisions made about HIV and our communities."

Ronald Johnson, GMHC's associate executive director, said, "When 70 percent of new HIV infections in the country are among people of color, it's more important than ever to empower those most at risk to decide what will work and how it will be implemented."David Ernesto Munar, AIDS Foundation of Chicago's associate director, said, "It's vital to continue to challenge inadequate levels of federal funding, censorship of prevention research and the government's continued attacks on access to condoms, needle exchange and other effective prevention strategies. We just can't let Claude Allen have the last word.

"Before Allen's speech, David Holtgrave of Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health, called the failure to fully fund prevention and follow best prevention practice "public health malpractice." Citing the CDC's own data in support of community-level intervention, Holtgrave said, "We have values statements that are sometimes crowding out science. We need to use the science that is available." He received a standing ovation from the crowd."Now more than ever, we need courageous people like David Holtgrave to come forward and speak the truth about the cost to the nation and our lives if we don't fully fund HIV prevention," said Keith Cylar, co-president of Housing Works."The depth of anger seen today makes it clear that people across the country are frustrated and also ready to further mobilize," said Shana Krochmal, communications director of the STOP AIDS Project. "Narrow political agendas are still being allowed to trump science by the best and the brightest in prevention."This latest response by participants was the culmination of three days of community mobilization, including:

A meeting held Tuesday night, when more than 250 people packed into a room in the basement of the conference hotel, spilling out into the hall and the exits, and speaking out about the impact of federal AIDS policies on their communities.

Thousands of participants cheered and government officials were shocked when invited speakers at the opening session challenged changes in prevention policies.

Delegates from around the country wore colorful stickers and badges during the week: "Condoms are not weapons of mass destruction," "Don't blame positive people," "Censorship is not research," "Real funding saves lives, flat funding kills."



Associated Press, July 30, 2003

Bush Casts Aside Calls to Legalize Gay Marriage

Associated Press, July 30, 2003

WASHINGTON -- President Bush said Wednesday he has government lawyers
working on a law that would define marriage as a union between a woman and a
man, casting aside calls to legalize gay marriages.

"I believe marriage is between a man and a woman and I believe we
ought to codify that one way or the other and we have lawyers looking at the
best way to do that," the president said a wide-ranging news conference at
the White House Rose Garden.

Bush also urged, however, that America remain a "welcoming country" -
not polarized on the issue of homosexuality.

"I am mindful that we're all sinners and I caution those who may try
to take a speck out of the neighbor's eye when they got a log in their own,"
the president said. "I think it is important for our society to respect
each individual, to welcome those with good hearts."

"On the other hand, that does not mean that someone like me needs to
compromise on the issue of marriage," he added.

Bush has long opposed gay marriage but as recently as earlier this
month had said that a constitutional ban on gay marriage proposed in the
House might not be needed despite a Supreme Court decision that some
conservatives think opens the door to legalizing same-sex marriages.
The Supreme Court struck down a Texas law that made homosexual sex a
crime, overturning an earlier ruling that said states could punish
homosexuals for having sex.

Conservative Justice Antonin Scalia fired off a blistering dissent of
the ruling.

The "opinion dismantles the structure of constitutional law that has
permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual
unions, insofar as formal recognition in marriage is concerned," Scalia
wrote. The ruling specifically said that the court was not addressing that
issue, but Scalia warned, "Do not believe it."

Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colo., is the main sponsor of the proposal
offered May 21 to amend the Constitution. It was referred on June 25 to the
House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution.

To be added to the Constitution, the proposal must be approved by
two-thirds of the House and the Senate and ratified by three-fourths of the


Pacifica Board Meeting Cancelled

Close Door Mediation of By-laws Differences


AIDS activists disrupt Karl Rove's speech at black tie College Republican soirée

Rove's White House lies about global AIDS funding and access to generic medicines, while millions die

(Washington, D.C. July 25, 2003) Chanting and holding signs reading "Dying for AIDS drugs? Karl says drop dead" and "Bush's lies kill, generic medicines now!", angry AIDS activists staged a noisy disruption of an appearance by top White House advisor Karl Rove at the National Conference of the College Republican National Committee, at the Washington Hilton.

"President Bush is breaking his promise to fully fund a $3 billion global AIDS bill signed into law in June. Bush is breaking his promise that countries can put access to medicines and public health ahead of the patent rights of greedy drug companies. The deadly global AIDS fraud perpetrated by this White House has gone far enough," said Sean Barry, a protester. "Rove pulls the strings in this Administration, and Rove has the blood of people with HIV on his hands."

Two days ago, lawmakers in the House of Representatives, under the direction of Rove's White House, opposed efforts to fully fund the bill President Bush signed into law in June that would provide $3 billion in global AIDS funding in 2004, with $1 billion for the nearly bankrupt Global Fund, the only multilateral program spending money on treatment for dying people with AIDS.

Experts point out that life saving programs in the hardest hit countries around the world could readily absorb the $3 billion promised by Bush; the White House, on the other hand, claims funding the Global Fund with $1 billion in 2004 would be profligate.

"President Bush just went to Africa, ground zero of the AIDS catastrophe, and is immediately breaking his promise to fund the Global Fund with $1 billion in 2004. The White House wants to 'go slow' on fighting a threat to humanity Secretary of State Colin Powell calls worse than terrorism. That's criminal," said Danae McElroy, a protester.

The disruption of Rove's speech comes on the heels of the global AIDS funding vote in Congress, and on the lead up to crucial talks at the WTO, at the Cancun Ministerial (Sept 10-14), where US and drug company intransigence has blocked a deal on access to medicines in poor countries that lack capacity for efficient domestic manufacturing. Karl Rove has been linked to intense negotiations with US drug companies in determining White House policy on what is considered a make-or-break issue for the Cancun Ministerial.

"While Bush lies about life saving AIDS funding, he's preventing countries from implementing policy that assures they can maximize medicines access by purchasing low cost generics," said Sasha Post, a protester. "The US promised they would permit countries to put public health before patent rights--for killer Karl, that's just one more promise to walk away from."

--support funding for the Global Fund immediately, by keeping Bush's promise to spend $3 billion fighting global AIDS in 2004, with $1 billion for the Global Fund

--support a deal at the WTO on access to generics for countries with inefficient domestic manufacturing capacity that is simple to implement, doesn't exclude countries with moderate levels of development, isn't restricted to a list of diseases, and doesn't force poor countries to enact onerous "safeguards" to prevent diversion to rich country markets

--stop bilateral and regional trade policies that increase countries' obligations to protect drug company patent rights at the expense of public health and access to important medicines

Leaked Memo Shows President Betraying

Promise to Africa;

White House Helps Derail Emergency Action on AIDS


Washington (July 16) -- Today, just as the House Appropriations Committee was due to consider increasing global AIDS funding, the White House sent a letter that urged Congress limit the funding.

While in Uganda, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice claimed that Bush was urging lawmakers to allocate the full amount authorized ($3 billion), according to an AP report. The letter, however, urged Congress fund only what the President had requested in February -- roughly $2 billion for AIDS, Tb and malaria programs as well as AIDS research, including just $200 million for the cash-strapped Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tb and Malaria.

The Committee was to consider an increase in funding for the Global Fund that had been approved last week by the Foreign Operations Subcommittee. The Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ), had approved a hike in funding for the Global Fund, raising the US contribution to $400 million (a total of $500 including the contribution expected via the Labor, Health and Human Services budget). But, the White House letter, directed at Kolbe, attempted to discourage approval of this larger contribution.

"This is a betrayal of the Africans who last week welcomed the President to their communities," stated Dr. Paul Zeitz, Executive Director of the Global AIDS Alliance. "The President could simply have accepted the increase for the Global Fund, approved by a Republican-led subcommittee. Instead, he had to actively discourage increased spending. This is an outrage, especially at a time when the Global Fund is facing a massive shortfall in available funds for projects that can, in fact, responsibly and effectively use them."

The letter, from Dr. Joseph F. O'Neill, Director of the Office of National AIDS Policy, called the President's proposal "a solid first step," even though the proposal meets just 14.8% of global need for AIDS spending in 2004 and only 6.6 % of what the Global Fund needs next year.

The Committee did not follow the White House request regarding the Global Fund contribution and instead passed the additional spending approved by the Subcommittee.

Led by Congresswoman Barbara Lee and other members of the Black Caucus, 116 Representatives had appealed to the President to back emergency funding to fully fund the $3 billion level authorized. But, an effort by Rep. Lowey to raise the overall amount for global AIDS spending to the $3 billion level, via emergency funds, was defeated 28 to 33.

The Senate Appropriations Committee meets tomorrow to consider their version of the foreign aid bill. The NAACP and other major organizations have appealed to Senators to back the full $3 billion. Click here to download gif file


ACT UP/Philadelphia Activist and Member of Health GAP Asia Russell with Nelson Mandella at International AIDS Conference in Paris. The demos were put on by activists with the "Fund the Fund" campaign.

Members of the AIDS (news - web sites) awareness group ACT-UP demonstrate for more
funding for AIDS research during the second IAS conference on HIV (news - web
sites)/AIDS in Paris, July 16, 2003. More than 5,000 participants from 120 countries are
attending the three-day conference which coincides with the 20th anniversary of the
discovery of HIV-1. Photo by Philippe Wojazer/Reuters

Act up militants hold posters as they protest during the 2nd IAS Conference
on HIV (news - web sites) pathogenesis and treatment, in Paris,
Wednesday, July 16, 2003. Twenty years after the discovery of HIV, the
conference planned to provide news insights into HIV disease that can lead
to new research directions, help speed translational research and move
advances into clinical practice. (AP Photo /Philippe Wojazer, Pool)

Members of the AIDS (news - web sites) awareness group ACT-UP wear
masks representing British Prime Minister Tony Blair (news - web sites) (R)
and French President Jacques Chirac (L) as they demonstrate for more
funding for AIDS research during the second IAS conference on HIV (news -
web sites)/AIDS in Paris, July 16, 2003. More than 5000 participants from
120 countries are attending the three-day conference which coincides with
the 20th anniversary of the discovery of HIV-1 by a French researcher.
REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

U.S. President George W. Bush (news - web sites) (L) and his guide give a
thumbs up as they ready to tour the Mokolodi Nature Reserve in Botswana,
July 10, 2003. Also riding in the vehicle are first lady Laura Bush and
daughter Barbara (R). The President earlier met with Botswana President
Festus Mogae to discuss trade, the AIDS (news - web sites) epidemic and
the war on terror. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque


Members of from the activist groups Student Global AIDS Campaign and ACT UP, dressed as grim reapers, demonstrate
against President Bush (news - web sites)'s AIDS policy in front of the
White House on Monday, July 7, 2003. The devastating AIDS pandemic is
one of the major themes of Bush's five-nation trip to Africa. (AP
Photo/Gerald Herbert)



MSNBC and the Anti-Gay 'Savage'


For eight years, Michael Savage has used his San Francisco-based radio talk show as a platform to spew hateful, defamatory rhetoric targeting women, people of color, immigrants and the LGBT community.

Among his statements: that the United States "is being taken over by the freaks, the cripples, the perverts and the mental defectives"; that gays and lesbians are "perverts" and that "the gay and lesbian mafia wants our children"; that America is a "'she-ocracy' where a minority of feminist zealots rule the culture...together, they have both feminized and homosexualized much of America to point where the nation has become passive, receptive and masochistic"; that MSNBC's Ashleigh Banfield is "the mind-slut with a big pair of glasses," and when speaking of immigrants, "You open the door to them, and the next thing you know, they are defecating on your country and breeding out of control."
On February 12, MSNBC announced it had offered Savage his own weekly cable television talk show. GLAAD launched a public education campaign to call attention to Savage's hateful attacks on diverse Americans, leading a broad-based coalition that called on MSNBC, NBC News and "Savage Nation" sponsors to reconsider their decision to associate their brands with Savage's bigotry.


Hundreds Celebrate in Chicago, IL

Press Statement by the Chicago Anti-Bashing Network


Now that we've won, where do we go from here?

While we celebrate our huge victory in the courts, we must remember that the experience of other
civil rights struggles shows that formal legal equal does not necessarily mean REAL equality.
Following the important court work of Lambda Legal and others, we must organize our community to
ensure EFFECTIVE IMPLEMENTATION of this great decision.

The 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas decision, which supposedly outlawed
segregation, was at first a DEAD LETTER as racists at all levels of government stymied its
implementation -- until the Civil Rights Movement grew to sufficeint strength in the 1960s to begin
FORCING change through mobilizing large numbers of African Americans and allies in the streets. That's
why the Chicago Anti-Bashing Network, DC Radical Faeries, and veteran Lesbian activist Robin Tyler of
Los Angeles launched the nationwide campaign to have celebrations/protests on the night of the Court's
decision - 38 cities from Fairbanks, Alaska to San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Now that we've won, there is a huge danger that COMPLACENCY or ELECTORAL DIVERSIONS will sap
our victory, preventing us from exploiting the full potential of this important decision. Those who oppose us
often complain that if they "give us an inch, we'll take a mile." Well, we've gotten that inch, now let's take
that mile! We have a tremendous opportunity to open up a sea-change in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual &
Trans-gendered politics, but only if we exploit every opportunity to expand on the Court's decision.
Think there's nothing left to do? Here's just a few suggestions for future action:

* We need equal marriage rights, like they just won in Canada, so that our relationships are treated with
dignity, and we enjoy the host of material benefits which come with marriage: access to our partner's
health coverage, equality in adoption and foster parenting, inheritance rights, immigration rights, and
Social Security and pension survivors' benefits.

* We need equal employment, housing and access to public accomodations protections, such as would
be guaranteed by Illinois's House Bill 101. A Federal law outlawing discrimination in these areas is

* We need an end to public subsidies and contracts -- our tax dollars -- going to institutions that refuse to
hire us: the Boy Scouts, the Salvation Army and Catholic Charities, to name a few.

Formal legal equality and kind words are pale substitutes for genuine equality. We have every right to
celebrate a huge victory today, but let's not be satisfied. Let's continue organizing for FULL equality!

Above photo from the celebration rally of about 300 people June 26th in Chicago, hailing the most important court victory in the history of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered movement. Activists rallied in 38 cities from San Juan, Puerto Rico to Fairbanks,
Original photo and others from the source:


500 Celebrate Sodomy Decision in New York

(June 26, 2003-Manhattan, NY) More than 500 gathered in Stonewall Park to celebrate the Supreme Court's decision stricking down sodomy laws across the nation.on Thursday June 26. Similar rallys were held in 32 cities, the largest was San Francisico which had over 1,000. Chicago had several hundred celebrants. Lambda Legal represented the defendents.

Photos by Andrés Duque/Wockner News

Photos by Andrés Duque/Wockner News


Lesbian Barbie?

By George Reilly

The mother of a 14-year-old middle school student who wore a "Barbie is a Lesbian" T-shirt to class is suing New York City in federal court. The woman says her daughter was humiliated and harassed by schoolmates and staff because she is a lesbian and is open about her sexual orientation.

The lawsuit accuses New York City of failing to protect the girl at her middle school in Queens. The suit seeks unspecified damages and a court order barring the school from suspending the girl for wearing the T-shirt. It also wants the school to establish policies to protect gay pupils. City lawyers hadn't seen the lawsuit and couldn't comment.

Canadian Gays Refused Marriage License

By George Reilly

The CBC is reporting that a gay couple in Calgary, Alberta was refused a marriage licence at the registry office, just days after Ottawa opened the doors to gay marriage in Canada.

Keith Purdy and Rick Kennedy were told the laws of Alberta don't allow for same-sex marriage. Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien announced Tuesday Ottawa will draft legislation allowing same-sex couples to marry in Canada. But Alberta Premier Ralph Klein says gay marriage won't happen in his province, and has threatened to use the Canadian Constitution's notwithstanding clause to block the new law. Following their rejection from the registry office, Purdy and Kennedy went across the street to file a human rights complaint. Purdy says they filed the complaint "to force the issue and force the province to talk about the issue and change the law." But Klein has made it clear the law will not be changed in Alberta. On Thursday, he reiterated the province's stance on gay marriage, saying: "We would do what we could to protect gays and lesbians short of recognizing marriage."