Task Force names new second
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Darlene Nipper (pictured), a seasoned leader with nearly two decades experience in non-profit management and program development, public policy advocacy and outreach, budget management and coalition building, has been named deputy executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, effective Oct. 1, 2008. Executive Director Rae Carey held the position before she was chosen to replace Matt Foreman, who stepped down as Task Force head earlier this summer.

Judge rules against adoption ban
KEY WEST, Fla. — A Monroe Circuit Court judge has found the state’s 31-year-old ban on adoptions by gays and lesbians unconstitutional. The ruling from circuit judge David J. Audlin Jr., stemmed from the case of an openly gay Key West foster father who has been trying to adopt the 13-year-old boy he has raised since 2001. The adoption was ruled to be in the “best interest” of the unidentified teen, who has special needs.

The social worker assigned to conduct a home study in the case “highly” recommended the man and his partner, noting that they provide a “loving and nurturing home,” “fair and consistent” discipline and financial security. During the proceeding the boy was asked why he wanted to be adopted by his foster father. “Because I love him,” the teen explained.

Florida is one of only two states (along with Mississippi) that explicitly bans adoption by gay parents. The law has been ruled unconstitutional twice in the past, but both challenges have been lost in higher courts.

Ruling halts trans ballot fight
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Maryland Court of Appeals, the state’s high court, ruled Sept. 9 that a referendum petition seeking to repeal a new law prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity may not appear on this November’s ballot, reversing a decision by a lower court that would have put basic civil rights protections to a vote in Montgomery County.

In November 2007, the Montgomery County Council voted unanimously to pass a law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, and taxi and cable service. The measure was signed into law and set to take effect Feb. 21, 2008, but was put on hold when signatures were submitted in support of a petition to place a repeal measure before voters.

Twelve Montgomery County residents filed a lawsuit challenging the validity of signatures that were submitted, as well as the process used to certify them. In July, the Circuit Court for Montgomery County ruled that the measure should appear on the November ballot, concluding that the lawsuit was untimely. The Court of Appeals decision reverses the Circuit Court ruling.

LGBT high school proposed
CHICAGO, Ill. — LGBT advocates want to create a Chicago high school for LGBT students. The Greater Lawndale Little Village School for Social Justice has submitted a proposal to Chicago Public Schools, which will make a decision about the school by the end of October. The school, named Pride Campus, would serve students who feel isolated and unsafe at their current schools.

“We hope this venue will further the process by providing a venue where policy and practices supportive of LGBTQA students can be formulated and spread throughout the rest of Chicago Public Schools,” Pride Campus design team spokesperson Bill Graves told Chicago’s Windy City Times.

If approved, Pride Campus would open in fall 2010. There is currently one school in the U.S. specifically serving LGBT students, New York City’s Harvey Milk High School. The executive director of Harvey Milk High School is part of the Pride Campus design team.

Study examines Big Apple couples
NEW YORK, N.Y. — A new study compiled by UCLA’s Williams Institute from Census 2000 data finds that there are nearly 26,000 same-sex couples in New York City, most of whom (62 percent) live outside of Manhattan. “We need to look beyond ‘Will & Grace’ to understand the lives of gay and lesbian New Yorkers,” study co-author and Senior Research Fellow Gary Gates said.

Census data show that the city’s same-sex couples are raising an estimated 8,400 children in their homes, with 92 percent of children being raised by same-sex couples outside of Manhattan. These families have average household incomes between 7 percent (Brooklyn) and 36 percent (Staten Island) lower than their married counterparts. They are also less likely than their married counterparts to own their own homes in every borough except Manhattan.

There are also significant differences in the characteristics of same-sex couples among the five boroughs. For instance, while same-sex male couples outnumber female couples by a 3-to-1 margin in Manhattan, the proportions are fairly even in Queens and Staten Island and female couples outnumber male couples in Brooklyn and the Bronx.

David Stout

David Stout is the associate editor of QNotes. He can be reached at editor2@goqnotes.com.