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1999 THE YEAR.

The past 12 months saw their share of tragedy--and of good news too

JANUARY

Activists lobby for hate-crimes bill: Dozens of activists come to Washington to lobby for the federal Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Although the bill eventually passes the Senate, the Republican leadership allows it to be removed from a budget resolution in a House-Senate conference that reconciles differing versions of bills.

Baldwin takes office: Democrat Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, the first out lesbian elected to Congress, is sworn in to the U.S. House of Representatives.

Police officer commits suicide: Thomas Gilbert Kalt, Philadelphia's first openly gay police academy recruit, commits suicide three weeks after graduating.

Methodist ministers preside over lesbian wedding: More than 90 Methodist ministers preside over a union ceremony for Jeanne Barnett and Ellie Charlton in Sacramento.

Tobias nominated as DNC treasurer: Finance writer and gay activist Andrew Tobias is nominated to be the treasurer of the Democratic National Committee.

Mauresmo bursts onto tennis scene: Amelie Mauresmo, a 19-year-old French lesbian, upsets top-seeded Lindsay Davenport in the Australian Open. Mauresmo, who loses to Martina Hingis in the finals, says she is out "because it's part of my life."

FEBRUARY

The Marine who was a porn star: The Advocate reveals that Capt. Rich Merritt, who was featured anonymously in a New York Times Magazine story about gays in the military, performed in porn videos while he was in the service. Merritt, who came out publicly after he retired from the Marines at the end of 1998, declines to comment.

Gay man killed in Alabama: Billy Jack Gaither, a gay man in Sylacauga, Ala., is beaten to death with an ax handle and his body left on a pile of burning tires by Steven Mullins and Charles Butler. The pair are later convicted of capital murder but sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Activists protest immigration laws: Members of the Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task Force demonstrate outside the Immigration and Naturalization Service headquarters in New York City to protest policies that discriminate against binational gay couples.

Falwell outs Teletubby: Evangelist Jerry Falwell's magazine outs the Teletubby Tinky Winky as gay because he is purple and carries a purse. Falwell later denies knowing about the article in advance. As a result of the controversy, Falwell's cousin Brett Beasley comes out publicly as a gay man.

Increased resistance to HIV drugs: Scientists attending the annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections in Chicago report that drug failures are growing among HIV-positive patients and that drug-resistant virus strains are spreading.

Arts funding restored: The Mecklenburg County, N.C., commissioners vote to rescind a two-year-old policy banning arts funding. The policy had been instituted because of a local production of Angels in America.

Author's attackers arrested: Two men in Ireland are arrested and charged with an attack on Robert Drake, a gay writer and literary agent who had been nearly beaten to death in January. The men, who claimed Drake made a pass at them, are later convicted of the crime. Drake spends months in a rehabilitation hospital recovering from the attack.

Gay groups condemn death penalty: A coalition of 11 gay organizations, including the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, issue a statement condemning the prospect of the death penalty in the Matthew Shepard case.

MARCH

Judy Shepard interview: In an exclusive interview with The Advocate, one of the first she has given to the media, Judy Shepard discusses her son Matthew, who was murdered in Wyoming the previous October, "He was just a kid who liked everything," Shepard says.

Springfield dies: Pop icon Dusty Springfield dies of breast cancer, After her death, she is revealed in an Advocate cover story to have been a lesbian but disliked both the label and the stigma attached to it,

Military report released: A report from the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network finds that discharges under "don't ask, don't tell" have nearly doubled since the policy took effect in 1993,

Minister suspended: The Rev. Gregory Dell, a Methodist minister in Chicago, is suspended after a church trial concludes he violated Methodist law by officiating at the marriage of two men,

Gay MBA conference held: The first-ever Gay and Lesbian Business Conference is held at Harvard Business School.

APRIL

Henderson pleads guilty: Just as his trial is about to get under way, Russell Henderson pleads guilty to the murder of Matthew Shepard, He is sentenced to two consecutive life terms in prison,

Age of consent left unchanged: The British House of Lords refuses to lower the age of consent for gays from 18 to 16, the lawful age for heterosexuals,

Maryland bill fails: Despite personal lobbying by Democratic governor Parris Glendening, the Maryland legislature fails to pass a bill banning antigay discrimination, Glendening said that he saw the bill as a memorial to his late brother Bruce, who died of AIDS complications.

London pub bombed: A gay bar in London is bombed, killing three people and wounding 70 others, The police later arrest David Copeland in connection with the attack and other bombings in London minority neighborhoods.

Pitt hunger strike: Students at the University of Pittsburgh stage a 17-day hunger strike to protest the school's refusal to offer domestic-partner benefits to gay employees, As part of its legal defense against a complaint filed against the school by gay workers, the school challenges the validity of the city's nondiscrimination ordinance,

Adoption ban repealed: The New-Hampshire senate votes to repeal the state's ban on gay adoption, approving a bill already passed by the state house of representatives, Gov. Jeanne Shaheen signs the bill into law.

MAY

Jenny Jones verdict: A jury in Pontiac, Mich., finds that the Jenny Jones show and its corporate owner, Warner Bros., are responsible for the murder of Scott Amedure, a gay man killed in 1995 by Jonathan Schmitz after Amedure confessed on the show that he had a crush on Schmitz, The show is ordered to pay $25 million to Amedure's family.

"Ex-gay" ads run: Television commercials promoting a "cure" for homosexuality begin running on a Washington, D.C., station, The ads had been announced the previous October, hut the campaign was apparently postponed because of the negative publicity "ex-gay" ads received in light of Matthew Shepard's murder.

Texas hate-crimes bill fails: A hate-crimes bill fails in the Texas legislature. Gov. George W. Bush, considered the leading GOP presidential candidate, had opposed the measure, saying, "It's hard to distinguish between one degree of hate and another." Although 26 hate-crimes bills are introduced in state legislatures during the year, only one, in Missouri, passes,

Court victory in Canada: In a ruling that has implications for the entire country, the Canadian supreme court rules that Ontario's legal definition of "spouse" should be broadened to include same-sex partners.

Nevada passes gay rights bill: The Nevada legislature passes an employment nondiscrimination bill, which is signed by Republican governor Kenny Guinn. The bill makes Nevada the 11th state to ban antigay discrimination in the workplace.

JUNE

Hormel appointed: During a congressional recess President Clinton uses executive privilege to appoint gay philanthropist James Hormel as ambassador to Luxembourg, Hormel, who will be able to serve until near the end of Clinton's second term in 2001, had had his nomination blocked by a handful of conservative Republicans since October 1997.

Robertson setbacks: The Bank of Scotland abandons a financial deal with televangelist Pat Robertson after his remarks that Scotland is a "dark land" where "homosexuals are riding high," One week later the Internal Revenue Service rejects the ten-year bid by Robertson's Christian Coalition for tax-exempt status.

Judge rebuked for bias: A panel of the Illinois court of appeals harshly criticizes circuit court judge Susan McDunn for trying to block three uncontested second-parent adoptions by lesbian couples, McDunn, who went so far as to solicit a religious right group's involvement in one case, was moved to traffic court as a result of her rulings.

Clinton signs gay pride proclamation: President Clinton signs a proclamation declaring June Gay Pride Month, In it he describes the activists at the Stonewall rebellion as "a courageous group of citizens [who] resisted harassment and mistreatment."

Gore heckled by AIDS activists: At the kickoff of his presidential campaign, Vice President Al Gore is repeatedly heckled by AIDS activists. They say Gore is siding with drug companies over a controversial South Africa law that allows the country to make AIDS drugs without patent approval. The dispute between the United States and South Africa is settled later in the summer.

JULY

Billy Bean comes out: Former major-league baseball player Billy Bean comes out in an interview in the Miami Herald.

Airlines offer domestic-partner benefits: Concluding a long-running legal battle over a San Francisco law that mandates businesses with city contracts to offer domestic-partner benefits, a federal judge rejects a request from the Air Transport Association to exempt member airlines from the law, United Airlines almost immediately announces that it will offer the benefits to all its gay employees; American Airlines and US Airways quickly follow suit.

Vatican rebuke: The Vatican rebukes Father Robert Nugent and Sister Jeannine Gramick for their pro-gay ministry, permanently barring them from public outreach to gays and lesbians.

Gay couple murdered: Gary Matson and Winfield Mowder, a gay couple, are murdered in their home near Redding, Calif. Police charge Matthew Williams and Tyler Williams, brothers linked to white supremacist groups, with the murders.

Soldier killed: Pfc. Barry Winchell, perceived by his fellow soldiers to be gay, is killed in his barracks at Fort Campbell, Ky. Pvt. Calvin Glover and Spec, Justin Fisher are charged in the attack, Activists allege antigay bias was a motive.

Clinton meets with officials: President Clinton meets in the White House for more than an hour and a half with 12 gay and lesbian elected officials.

AUGUST

Pentagon releases new guidelines: The Pentagon releases guidelines against antigay harassment in the armed forces. The guidelines had been prepared two years earlier but languished until Pfc. Barry Winchell's death in July, which resulted in heavy publicity,

Boy Scouts loses case: The Boy Scouts of America organization is dealt a blow to its policy against gay troop members when the New Jersey supreme court rules that the organization violated James Dale's rights after ousting him in 1990 for being gay.

Schmitz found guilty: Jonathan Schmitz is found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of Scott Amedure, who in 1995 confessed on the Jenny Jones show to having a crush on Schmitz. Schmitz's earlier conviction had been thrown out due to a judicial error.

Syphilis outbreak reported: Six syphilis cases, all linked to a gay chat room, are reported among gay men in San Francisco. Some activists accuse the local health department of fostering hysteria through its handling of the episode.

Legislator targeted by military: Steve May, an openly gay state legislator in Arizona who is an Army reservist, is investigated by the Army for discussing his homosexuality during a legislature floor debate.

SEPTEMBER

Gore interview: In an interview with The Advocate, Vice President Al Gore speaks at length about gay youth, "don't ask, don't tell," and gay marriage, "I don't believe that having made us, God intends us to suffer discrimination and prejudice in all our days on this earth," the Democratic presidential candidate says.

British politician admits gay past: Michael Portillo, a former British defense minister and a potential leader of the Conservative party, admits that he had gay experiences as a young man.

Bills pass in California: A measure that prohibits antigay discrimination against students, sponsored by Democratic assemblywoman Sheila Kuehl, passes the California legislature by a single vote. A similar bill had failed by one vote in June. Another measure, providing domestic-partner benefits to gay state government workers, also passes. Both bills are signed into law by Gov. Gray Davis.

British military ban under attack: The European Court of Human Rights rules 7-0 that the United Kingdom's ban on gay military personnel violates the rights of gays and lesbians in the military. Two months later Defense Minister Geoffrey Hoon says the ban will be replaced with a policy that prohibits expressions of sexuality by gay or straight personnel.

Transsexual teacher dismissed: Dana Rivers, a transsexual teacher at an Antelope, Calif., high school, is dismissed by the school board after parents file complaints. Rivers had taught at the school for several years as David Warfield before deciding to become a woman. She resigns her position and settles her lawsuit against the board in November.

OCTOBER

Bradley interview: In an interview with The Advocate, Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley suggests that the 1964 Civil Rights Act be amended to include gays and lesbians. "That would clearly indicate that discrimination against gays is in the same category as discrimination against other protected groups," Bradley says. Some civil rights leaders criticize the position, saying it would open up the act to amendments by conservatives.

Bush says no to gay appointees: Texas governor George Bush, the presumed front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, says in an interview with a Christian group that he would not "knowingly" appoint a gay person to a high-level position in his administration. In April Bush had told The New York Times that he would not have a problem appointing someone gay to his administration as long as the person's politics agreed with his own.

Mormon involvement in Knight campaign: The San Francisco board of supervisors votes to ask the Internal Revenue Service to determine if the Mormon Church violated federal law by taking the lead in supporting the anti-Day-marriage initiative on California's March 2000 ballot. The church had issued a statement urging its faithful in California to support the ballot measure.

New liaison appointed: Julian Potter is named President Clinton's liaison to gays and lesbians, replacing Richard Socarides, who left to join a strategic-communications firm.

France passes couples law: The French National Assembly passes a bill granting unmarried couples, including gay and lesbian couples, some of the same legal rights that married couples have.

Falwell and White meet: The Rev. Jerry Falwell and the Rev. Mel White, the gay man who was once Falwell's ghostwriter, meet in Lynchburg, Va., along with followers of both men. Falwell vows, "You will find me in the future showing more love than in the past." But during the event Falwell compares gays and lesbians to alcoholics and adulterers.

NOVEMBER

Second Shepard verdict: Aaron McKinney is found guilty of felony murder in the beating death of Matthew Shepard. Facing the death penalty, McKinney authorizes his attorneys to make a sentencing deal with Shepard's parents that includes two consecutive life terms in prison and a permanent gag order on McKinney and his defense team.

Wachs comes out: Los Angeles city councilman and mayoral candidate Joel Wachs acknowledges on a cable television show that he is gay.

Ammiano in runoff: Tom Ammiano, the gay president of the San Francisco board of supervisors, places second in the mayoral race, forcing incumbent Willie Brown into a runoff election. Ammiano had mounted a write-in campaign only three weeks before the election and spent less than $20,000 on his campaign.

Creech defrocked: The Rev. Jimmy Creech, a Methodist minister, is convicted of violating church law by marrying a gay couple and is stripped of his clerical status.

DECEMBER

Trade protests: Tens of thousands of demonstrators, including AIDS and lesbian activists, gather in Seattle to protest the meeting of the World Trade Organization.

Lesbian candidate prepares for race: Gerrie Schipske, a nurse practitioner and labor-union health care attorney, files papers to run as a Democratic candidate for a congressional seat in Long Beach, Calif.

Lobel resigns: Saying she has accomplished the goals she set for herself when she took the position three years ago, Kerry Lobel announces that she is resigning as executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, effective in April 2000.
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Article Details
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Author:Gallagher, John
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 18, 2000
Words:2639
Previous Article:Strangers in TV land.
Next Article:CRISP WIT.
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