December 30, 2010 at 3:17 pm EST | by Staff reports
National news in brief





Austin, Texas hate crime victim Bobby Beltran. (Photo courtesy of Dallas Voice)


Austin gay bashing prompted by hug

DALLAS — Two Austin, Texas, men claim they were the victims of a hate crime the day after Christmas, according to a reports from the Dallas Voice, a gay Texas paper, and On Top Magazine, a Cleveland-based national gay news website.

Bobby Beltran and Christopher Ortega say the attack was prompted by an embrace they shared after leaving a downtown gay bar called Rain early Sunday morning. Five men who saw them hug yelled homophobic slurs at the two from inside their car. The men say they were punched, kicked and yelled at for about three minutes. About 20 people observed it but didn’t try to intervene, the Voice reported. The attack ended when one of the men warned the others that police were coming, On Top reported.

The men told a Texas NBC news affiliate the police were not helpful and said, “We’ll never catch these guys.”

Gay W.Va. miner accuses employer of sexual harassment

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Troubled coal producer Massey Energy Co. is facing more legal problems, this time in the form of a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a gay miner, according to an Associated Press report.

Sam Hall’s lawsuit claims he endured years of verbal abuse and threats from co-workers and managers at several Massey mines in West Virginia. The lawsuit names Massey subsidiary Spartan Mining Co. and a Spartan foreman as defendants, the report said.

Hall’s lawsuit chiefly seeks a court order requiring Spartan’s management to put an end to the threats, intimidation, name calling and the like. And it seeks court-ordered monitoring by the West Virginia Human Rights Commission, as well as unspecified damages.

“He wants to be a coal miner and he wants to be protected and safe,” Hall’s lawyer, Roger Forman, told the AP. “This is a dangerous job and you can’t be preoccupied about what other people are going to do.”

Hall still works for Massey, where he started his mining career in 2005. He has stayed with the company, transferring as mines ran out of coal and closed over the years, the AP report said. Through it all, he’s put up with harsh treatment from name-calling co-workers, according to the complaint.

“He didn’t want to sue anybody, he wanted to work it out,” Forman told the AP. “There needs to be some education of people who act that way.”

At one mine, a co-worker allegedly spray painted a picture depicting Hall engaged in a gay sexual act and attaching a sign accusing Hall of pedophilia to his car. At another mine, Hall “became seriously worried because the harassing slurs accelerated to violent threats, such as ‘I would like to see all faggots die.'”

Florida men found murdered on Christmas were partners

WILTON MANORS, Fla. — Two men whose bodies were found last week inside their rented home in Wilton Manors, Fla., were partners and appear to have been murdered, the South Florida Gay News reported.

The bodies of Kevin Powell, 47, and Steve Adams, 52, former residents of Hollywood, Fla., were discovered by the sister of one of the victims who called police when her brother failed to arrive at her home for planned holiday festivities. Powell had Diabetes and his sister was fearful he may have needed medical care.

Investigators are looking for the victims’ vehicle, a black 2003 Saturn Vue with Florida tag 989VRL. The investigation continues. At this time, investigators do not have a motive and have not named any suspect. The South Florida Gay News called the case a “double homicide” but did not give details about how the men appear to have been murdered.

Allentown, Pa., considers extending medical benefits to gay couples

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Allentown, a small town in eastern Pennsylvania, may soon become the first municipality in the Lehigh Valley to offer medical benefits to partners of gay employees, whether active or retired, the Morning Call, a regional Pennsylvania paper, reported this week.

Under a domestic partnership bill before council, partners of gay employees would be eligible for health benefits as long as the couple can illustrate they live together and are jointly responsible for household finances, the Call reported.

Many private companies and institutions in the Lehigh Valley, such as Muhlenberg College and the Morning Call, offer similar benefits, as does the city of Philadelphia.

“This is about equality and doing the right thing for our very hard-working city staff members,” Adrian Shanker, a city resident and vice president of the Pennsylvania Diversity Network, which supports the Lehigh Valley’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, told the Call.

He said the bill is “about recruiting and retaining the most talented employees for the city of Allentown.”

The bill, introduced on Dec. 15 and slated for a final vote as early as next month, has broad support among council members, who say gay couples deserve the same benefits as their heterosexual counterparts, the Call said.

Mayor Ed Pawlowski has yet to reveal his position on the measure, saying it’s “under review.”

Gay man leads N.C. church association

RALEIGH, N.C. — The newly elected president of the North Carolina Council of Churches is gay, a significant point as churches in the south are often slower in accepting gays into church life.

The News Observer, a North Carolina paper, reported that Stan Kimer, is one of only two of the country’s 33 similar church councils that has elected an openly gay leader. That makes Kimer’s presidency of the N.C. Council — a coalition of 17 Christian denominations and eight individual churches that work on social issues — historic in the South.

As president, Kimer leads a 35-member governing board that sets the council’s direction on a host of social issues, including racial equality, health care, immigrant rights and environmental conservation. He was elected to a one-year term and could run for a second one-year term.

Kimer, who retired from IBM last year after serving as director of sales operations for its global business services, is now a private consultant. He lives in Raleigh with his partner of 19 years, Rich Roark, a loan manager for Capital Bank, the Observer reported.

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