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Entries in Lesbian (18)

Sunday
Jul152012

Lesbian Shooting: Survivor Recuperating From Brain Injury, Working With Police To ID Shooter

Portland Texas Police Department(NEW YORK) -- Mary Kristene Chapa is intent on helping police catch the man who shot her in the head and murdered her girlfriend at a Texas park last month, even from her hospital bed as she recuperates from brain injuries.

"She wants very badly to help us identify Mollie's murderer," Portland, Texas, Police Department Chief Randy Wright said.

Police released a second sketch of the suspect today, which was refined from the first version Chapa worked with a forensic artist to create.

"It is unusual to go back and refine a suspect drawing," Wright said. "But in this case, our eyewitness sustained a brain injury that initially affected her ability to communicate effectively. The good news is she has made exceptional progress. Her sight and speech have improved and she can now interact with the artist much better."

Wright said Chapa had requested a second meeting with the sketch artist to refine the image.

The physical description of the suspect did not change from the first version Chapa provided, Wright said.

The assailant is described as a white male in his 20s, 5 foot 8 inches tall, thin build, 140 pounds, with brown hair and a scruffy beard.

Chapa and her girlfriend, Mollie Olgin, were both shot in the head at Violet Andrews Park in Portland on June 22.

Olgin was found dead next to her girlfriend by a couple the next morning. Police believe the women were shot sometime around midnight.

The shooting is not being investigated as a hate crime.

A close friend of Olgin remembered the last time she saw her "bubbly" friend and how happy she was. She said Olgin proudly showed off a ring that said "Mollie Loves Mary," which is Chapa's first name, though she goes by her middle name, Kristene.

"If you were her friend or [she] barely met you, she'd give you the world and then some," said the friend, who did not want to be identified.

The Portland Police Department is being assisted by federal law enforcement agencies, the Texas Rangers and Texas Department of Public Safety.

Several vehicles were at Violet Andrews Park the night of the shooting, according to witnesses. Officers are appealing to anyone who was in the area that night to come forward with any information they may have, no matter how inconsequential it may seem.

Mario Olgin, Mollie's father, told ABC News' Corpus Christi affiliate that he is hopeful the person who did this to his daughter would be apprehended.

"She was happy," Mario Olgin said. "Justice will be served."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun262012

Lesbian Teen Couple Found Shot In Texas Park, 1 Survives

Mollie Judith Olgin, 19, right, and Mary Christine Chapa, 18, are shown in this undated photo. (Handout)(PORTLAND, Texas) -- Police in Texas are searching for an assailant who targeted a teenaged lesbian couple in a close-range shooting that left one woman dead and the other in the hospital; authorities said the incident is not being investigated as a hate crime.

Detectives are constructing a timeline of events, processing bullet casings found at the scene and are interviewing witnesses to understand what led up to the shootings of Mollie Olgin, 19, and Mary Kristene Chapa, 18, in the small town of Portland, Texas, a few miles from Corpus Christi.

"The families are devastated, obviously, but there's really no information that we've been able to determine yet that would indicate there was anyone who would want to do this to either of those girls," Police Chief Randy Wright told ABC News' Corpus Christi affiliate.

In knee-high grass near a scenic lookout at Violet Andrews Park on Saturday morning, police say a couple discovered the bodies of the two women, who friends say were dating.

Police believe both women were shot in the head around midnight. Olgin was pronounced dead at the scene. Chapa was taken to a local hospital and has since regained consciousness.

"The evidence suggests that there was a third party or parties involved," Wright said.

Friends of the couple told local media they had been dating for five months.

Vigils across the country have been planned to honor the two women.

Cleve Jones, a gay rights activist, noted the timing of the crime, which happened during Pride weekend.

"Last Friday, as millions of LGBT people and their allies were celebrating Pride, something awful happened in Portland, Texas. We need to respond publicly to this tragedy," he wrote. "Whoever shot Mary Christine Chapa and Mollie Judith Olgin, whatever the motive, regardless of where it happened, two beautiful girls were shot and one was killed. We need to honor the memory of Mollie and pray for the recovery of Mary."

Mary Kristene Chapa was last listed in critical but stable condition.

A celebration of Olgin's life will be held this Friday.

"Mollie touched the lives of everyone and will always be remembered for her intelligence, beauty, compassion, humor and her kind heart," her family wrote in her obituary.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
May042012

Colorado Lesbian Wendy Alfredsen Mom Granted Paternity in Custody Battle

ABC(CENTENNIAL, Colo.) -- A lesbian mother who fought for custody of her child by becoming the first woman allowed to file a paternity suit in Colorado has finally been granted access to her daughter.

The case was a custody battle ripped from the headlines: In the middle of a messy divorce, one parent took the child and fled the country, leaving the other to work the legal system in hopes of seeing the child again. In the case of Wendy and Lena Alfredsen of Centennial, Colo., the custody debacle was complicated by the sexual orientation of the lesbian parents, who had few legal rights under Colorado state law.

The Alfredsens decided to start a family in 2006 and adopted two biological sisters. Because Colorado law at the time of the adoption did not allow for a child to have two gay parents, each woman became the legal parent of one girl.

In 2009, when the women decided to part ways and Wendy Alfredsen hired legal representation, Lena Alfredsen took her legal child and went to Norway to live. Wendy Alfredsen, who had no warning about the impending move, thought she might never see her other daughter again.

"She didn't get to say goodbye to her parent or sister," Wendy Alfredsen told ABC News affiliate KMGH. "How can that not damage a kid?"

Wendy Alfredsen and her attorney, Ann Gushurst, decided to fight for custody of the girl by taking advantage of a recent decision in Colorado that allowed non-biological parents to file paternity suits.

"I think any parent would fight tooth and nail for their kids," Wendy Alfredsen told KMGH. "I didn't know what contact I would have, what role I would play, especially not legally being her parent."

In January, Gushurst convinced Judge Steven Collins in a courtroom packed with legal aides, clerks and judges that a woman should have the same right as a man to file for paternity of a child. The judge agreed.

The decision will allow non-biological parents who have shown a history of parenting to fight for custody, which is a boon for gay parents and for children, Gushurst said.

"It means that we're talking the first steps in realizing that children have rights to be with their parents," Gushurst told KMGH. "We give a lot of lip service to the best interest of the child, but children don't really have a legal standing in our court system."

Following the decision by Collins, both Wendy and Lena Alfredsen agreed to share custody of both children.

Lena Alfredsen and one daughter continue to live in Norway, where Lena is from, while Wendy and the other daughter continue to live in Colorado, Gushurst said. They are continuing to work out parenting arrangements.

"It's a huge milestone," Wendy Alfredsen told KMGH. "I just did what any parent would do for their child. But it does feel good to know that we're making a change."

Alfredsen, who has traveled to Norway several times to see her adopted daughter, said the girl still considers her to be one of her moms.

"She always screams and jumps in my arms and says, 'Mommy, I missed you,' and, 'Mommy, I love you,'" Alfredsen told KMGH. "It doesn't matter the amount of time that's passed."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May032012

NC Pastor Apologizes for Encouraging Violence Toward Gay Children

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(FAYETTEVILLE, N.C.) -- A North Carolina pastor who told parents in a Sunday sermon that they should hit their children if they began to act gay has retracted his advice, saying he should have spoken more carefully.

Pastor Sean Harris, of the Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, N.C., apologized in a statement released this week for "any and all words that suggest that child abuse is appropriate for any and all types of behaviors, including (but not limited to) effeminacy and sexual immorality of all types."

In the sermon, given Sunday in support of a proposed North Carolina amendment defining marriage as being between a man and a woman, Harris talked at length about homosexual behaviors. At one point, he instructed fathers who "see that son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist."

Harris said that gay tendencies in young children should be "squashed like a cockroach" and that if parents see young boys acting like girls, fathers should "give [them] a good punch."

"When your daughter starts acting too butch, you reign her in," Harris said in the sermon, which was posted in a video online. "You're going to act like a girl and walk like a girl and talk like a girl and smell like a girl, and that means you're going to be beautiful and you're going to be attractive and you're going to dress yourself up."

Harris later told the Fayetteville Observer newspaper on Tuesday that he "would never ever advocate" hitting a child.

"If I had to say it again, I would say it differently, no doubt," Harris told the newspaper Tuesday.

Despite retracting his statement that parents should be violent toward seemingly-gay children, Harris reiterated that parents should reinforce traditional gender roles in children.

"I do not apologize for the manner in which the word of God articulates sexual immorality, including homosexuality and effeminacy, as a behavior that is an abomination of God," he said in a written statement.

Gay rights activists in Harris' community equated his tactics with the Westboro Baptist Church, a fundamentalist Christian church.

Harris did not return calls for comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Mar122012

Md. Priest Who Denied Lesbian Communion at Funeral Placed on Leave

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A priest who denied communion to a gay woman at her mother’s funeral mass has been put on leave by the Washington D.C.-area archdiocese, but the archdiocese said the suspension is not related to the communion controversy.

In a statement, the archdiocese said Father Marcel Guarnizo was placed on administrative leave because of “credible allegation that Father Guarnizo had engaged in intimidating behavior toward parish staff and others.”

The statement did not elaborate on what that behavior might have been.

Guarnizo, a suburban Maryland priest, had been criticized by Barbara Johnson and her family for his behavior at the funeral of Johnson’s mother. Johnson, who is a lesbian, said Guarnizo denied her communion at her mother’s funeral mass.

“He covered the bowl with the Eucharist with his hand and looked at me, and said I cannot give you communion because you live with a woman and that is a sin in the eyes of the church,” Johnson told ABC News affiliate WLJA in Washington.

“She was clearly distraught,”  her older brother Larry Johnson told ABC News.

Both Barbara and Larry Johnson wrote letters to the Archdiocese of Washington, saying they believe that Guarnizo’s actions then and during the rest of the funeral were unacceptable. The Johnsons say the priest walked out of the service while Barbara Johnson was delivering her eulogy.

Family members also say the priest failed to come to the grave site, and the burial was attended by a substitute priest found by the funeral director.

As for the decision to suspend Guarnizo, Larry Johnson told ABC News: “I think the actions of the diocese speak for themselves. Whatever the ultimate reasons were, as far as I’m concerned, this individual, for the time being, will not be in parish life."

“I think this is a pretty significant action that they took,” he said. “I don’t think they would have taken it lightly.”

The Johnson family issued a statement Monday saying that they “pray for the Archdiocese of Washington, Father Guarnizo, and all Catholics during this time of upheaval.”

“While we understand this letter does not pertain to the events that occurred at our mother’s funeral, we are hopeful that Bishop Knestout’s decision will ensure that no others will have to undergo the traumatic experiences brought upon our family,” the statement said. “We urge all Catholics to put aside political points of view, and pray that our Church will remain in Christ’s love."

But the head of DignityUSA, a group that focuses on gay and lesbian rights and the Catholic Church, said the incident is part of a wider problem.

“The reality is in some ways it is very emblematic of the hierarchy’s approach to gay people, transgender people,” Marianne Duddy-Burke said. “There are little messages of rejection that happen all the time.”

Guarnizo did not return an email asking for a comment about the communion incident.

The Archdiocese of Washington issued a statement that indicated Guarnizo should have taken up the matter of whether Johnson could receive communion in private.

“When questions arise about whether or not an individual should present themselves for communion it is not the policy of the Archdiocese to Washington to publicly reprimand the person,” the statement said.

Duddy-Burke said the archdiocese’s response misses the point.

“I would hope that it provides a wake-up call to church leaders to make them see where the extremes of their policy are leading,” she said. “My concern is they will just see this as an isolated incident and fail to see the context.”

Larry and Barbara Johnson both received letters from the archdiocese apologizing “that what should have been a celebration of your mother’s life…was overshadowed by a lack of pastoral sensitivity.”

Guarnizo has been in the Washington area for a year, after serving as a priest in Russia. The Archdiocese of Washington has launched an inquiry into his alleged intimidating behavior toward staff and others. In its statement, the archdiocese said, Guarnizo will remain on leave “until all matters can be appropriately resolved with the hope that he might return to the priestly ministry.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb242012

Gay Texas Judge Refuses to Perform Marriage Ceremonies

File photo. (http://tonyaparkerforjudge.com)(DALLAS) -- Texas Judge Tonya Parker cannot legally marry a woman in her state, so she refuses to perform any marriage ceremonies until there is equality. She finds it "oxymoronic" to perform a ceremony that cannot be performed for her.

Parker, an openly gay judge, told a group at a Stonewall Democrats of Dallas meeting Tuesday that when she turns a couple away, she uses it as an opportunity to teach them a lesson about marriage equality.

"I don't perform marriage ceremonies because we are in a state that does not have marriage equality and until it does, I'm not going to partially apply the law to one group of people that doesn't apply to another group of people," Parker said in a video of the Tuesday discussion. "And it's kind of oxymoronic for me to perform ceremonies that can't be performed for me, so I'm not going to do it."

A spokeswoman for the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct said the commission had no comment.

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Parker is the first LGBT person elected as a judge in Dallas County and she is believed to be the first openly LGBT African-American elected official in the state's history, according to the Dallas Voice.

Parker described examples of discrimination in the courtroom that she has seen and been able to stop.

She once heard a case involving a man who allegedly molested a young boy in which a participant used the terms "homosexual" and "child molester" interchangeably.

"When a man molests a little girl, people don't call him heterosexual," Parker said in the video. "So, when this man molests this little boy, assuming [the] allegations to be true, you are not going to stand in my courtroom and call him a homosexual."

Another example she gave was the Texas Supreme Court's jury instruction that dictates that jurors cannot discuss cases with their husbands or wives.

"Well, I might have modified it a little bit," Parker said to her audience. "And I said, 'Do not discuss this case with your husband, your wife or your partner.'"

She said these are small ways of making her point but she believes it is important to go out of her way to do things that others in the LGBT community might not be able to do because they are not in her position of power.

"I want to help those folks to have dignity, in that moment that they are with me, to know that I see you," she said. "I see you."

Parker did not immediately respond to a request for comment from ABC News. A court clerk said she was in court day.

Parker's goal as a judge is to "make sure laws are applied equally to everyone who comes to court and that we take the opportunity to put issues on people's radar's that might not otherwise be there."

Seven states currently allow gay marriage. Maryland would become next one next week, if the governor signs into law a recently passed bill as promised.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb092012

Washington State Lawmakers Pass Same-Sex Marriage Act

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(OLYMPIA, Wash.) -- Washington state is on the verge of becoming the seventh state in the U.S. to allow same-sex marriages after House lawmakers passed a bill Wednesday to legalize these unions.

However, the joy felt by supporters of homosexual nuptials may be short-lived because its opponents have vowed to let Washington residents determine the future of the law by putting it up for a vote in November.  In that case, gay and lesbian couples won’t be able to wed until the referendum is decided in 10 months.

If same-sex marriage foes are unable to get the required number of signatures for a November referendum, the law will go into effect 90 days after Gov. Chris Gregorie signs it next week.

Washington, which passed a Defense of Marriage Act in 1998, has been more open toward gay rights since then, instituting a Domestic Partnership law five years ago.  Polls have also shown that a majority of residents would not vote to overturn a same-sex marriage law passed by the Legislature.

Besides the District of Columbia, only New York, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Iowa permit gays and lesbians to legally wed.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct312011

Lesbian Couple Crowned Homecoming King and Queen

Rebeca Arellano(SAN DIEGO) -- Two California high school students became one of the first lesbian couples crowned homecoming king and queen in the nation this weekend.

Rebeca Arellano, a senior at Patrick Henry High School, was made the school's first female homecoming king when her name was announced Friday at a pep rally.

Arellano's girlfriend, Haileigh Adams, who also attends Patrick Henry High School, was made homecoming queen at Saturday night's dance.

"I was happier than when I won, my little Haileigh has just been announced Homecoming queen and I couldn't feel happier! Thanks to every single one of you! You guys made this happen and we are all part of something huge. I can't fully express how grateful I am. I am in completely shocked that this happen. My girl looks absolutely flawless," wrote Arellano on Facebook Saturday night.

The two girls told ABC News that they're thankful for the abundance of support they've received from family, friends, and students and staff at the school.

Arellano said one of her teachers told her, "Today school is a bit better because of you girls."

Arellano's Facebook wall is covered with congratulatory notes from her friends.

"Thank you all for allowing this change to happen," Arellano posted on Facebook.

Adams said they have received negative feedback as well.

"We have a lot of support, but there are also a lot of people who are angry about it," she said.

"Anonymous Patrick Henry students are saying they're embarrassed and that it's wrong for a girl to take the spot of king. But there's no other way for us to run as a couple. It's not really fair for us not to have the right to run as a couple."

Arellano posted a statement to those who opposed her on her Facebook wall that read: "For all the girls who think tradition should be continued, go back to the kitchen, stop having sex before you're married, get out of school and job system, don't have an opinion, don't own any property, give up the right to marry who you love, don't vote, and allow your husband to do whatever he pleases to you. Think about the meaning of tradition when you use it in your argument against us."

Adams and Arellano both came out their freshman year of high school, and they began dating in February of their sophomore year. They say their parents were supportive both when they came out and when they started dating.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Sep202011

'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Is Officially Over

Bill Clark/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- With virtually no fanfare, the Pentagon's policy of forcing members of the military to keep quiet about their sexual orientation or else face discharge ended on Tuesday, meaning that all branches of the armed forces can now act on applications from openly gay and lesbian people.

"Don't ask, don't tell" -- first instituted after long debate in 1993 -- was repealed by Congress last December and signed by President Obama.  Since then, the Pentagon has reviewed its policies and had all 2.25 million current military members undergo training to ensure an orderly transition.

Before the repeal, the Pentagon conducted a survey and found that most soliders said that having homosexuals among them would not be disruptive.  The Marine Corps was the least receptive to the idea.

Over the past 17 years, 14,000 service members were kicked out of the military for being gay or lesbian.  Many said they were "outed" by others.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug192011

NJ Bridal Shop Refused to Sell Wedding Dress to Lesbian Bride

Comstock/Thinkstock(SOMERS POINT, N.J.) -- Popular reality wedding shows such as "Say Yes to the Dress" depict how emotionally trying the purchase of a wedding dress can be, but Alix Genter found that out for herself when she was refused her dream dress from a New Jersey bridal boutique.

Genter, a graduate student at Rutgers University, was refused the sale of wedding dress at Here Comes the Bride, in Somers Point, N.J., after she says its manager found out she was a lesbian and insulted her about her pending "illegal action."

Donna Saber, who owns and manages the small bridal boutique, had initially called Genter to follow up on the availability of a special light-weight version of the dress Genter had coveted from her shop. Saber told ABC News that when she prepared to call Genter about her order, she noticed that she had crossed out the word "groom" and put in the word "partner" instead.

"When I mentioned it to her, 'Oh, I see you crossed out groom and put in partner,' I got a barrage," Saber said. "I literally got a barrage of 'bigot' and other really cruel words...I might be the kind of person that when you get at me, I might continue the fight, and maybe I shouldn't say this, but I have my beliefs. I did say that I, to the best of my knowledge in the state of New Jersey, that we do operate in New Jersey. If she had remained calm, I would have been able to tell her, that it's illegal, it's an illegal action, that her marriage was illegal in NJ. "

Same sex marriage is illegal in New Jersey, but partnerships are recognized.

Saber told ABC News that she mentioned the information on the form to Genter out of curiosity.

Genter had her own account of what happened. "She said she wouldn't work with me because I'm gay," Genter told Philadelphia Daily News columnist Ronnie Polaneczky. "She also said that I came from a nice Jewish family, and it was a shame that I was gay. She said, 'There's right, and there's wrong. And this is wrong.'"

This exchange of words ended with a refusal by Saber to sell Genter the Eden Bridals designer gown.

Genter is planning to wed her longtime partner in a civil union in New Jersey, where the couple lives, the Philadelphia Daily News reported. They plan to follow their legal union with a formal ceremony in New York and are planning a large celebration for 200 of their closest friends and family to be held next July.

Here Comes the Bride, whose advertising slogan is "Come find the perfect wedding gown for you," sells about 1,000 dresses a year. Saber says business hasn't suffered because of the recent publicity.

Even so, her store's Yelp profile has received well over 300 reviews, most of them of them negative, in the last 24 hours alone from individuals all over the country, which proves that the topic of gay marriage remains a sensitive issue. The boutique's Facebook page administrator had removed similar comments from its public wall.

Saber says that she does regret her words towards Genter and said that on Friday afternoon she left Genter a voicemail expressing apology for her behavior. Genter didn't respond to the apology, telling ABCNews.com, "I can't have this in my life and I've decided not to talk to any more press. I've said what I've needed to."

Kathryn Hamm, president and co-founder of gay-friendly wedding vendor directory GayWeddings.com, said "It's not surprising that this happened, but the good news is that it's happening with less frequency among wedding vendors in the industry. For what it's worth, I can understand how vendors who haven't considered this issue may not be in favor of it [gay marriage] -- it feels scary and intimidating."

In June 2011, New York joined Washington, D.C., Iowa, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont with its legalization of same-sex marriage.

Same-sex unions in New York State are not differentiated from traditional unions statistically, but more than 5,000 couples in New York City have applied for marriage licenses within the last two months, compared with 4,191 over the same time period last year, Mark Botnik of the New York City Mayor's office told ABCNews.com

The jump in marriage license applications and ceremonies has kept the New York City Clerk's office has been busy.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio