Tag Archives: portland

Mother convicted of murdering 4-year-old she thought was gay

Oregon jurors took a little more than an hour to convict a 25-year-old woman of murder in the death of her 4-year-old son. A prosecutor who emphasized that the boy’s sister had witnessed the fatal beating said earlier that a motive behind the violence was the woman’s belief that the boy was gay.

Sentencing for Jessica Dutro was set for April 18 in Washington County Circuit Court.

Little Zachary Dutro-Boggess died of intestinal tears caused by abdominal trauma, The Oregonian reported. He collapsed at the homeless shelter where his family was living southwest of Portland.

Jurors were told that Zachary’s then-7-year-old sister watched her mother and her mother’s boyfriend beat the boy on Aug. 12, 2012.

“They beat up my brother, then he died,” the girl told her counselor. “I seen them.”

The boyfriend, Brian Canady, earlier pleaded guilty to manslaughter and assault for his role in the boy’s death.

The case drew widespread attention after prosecutors asked the court to allow Facebook messages from Dutro into evidence.

In one message to her boyfriend, Dutro wrote using a slur that Zachary would be gay. “He walks like it and talks like it ugh,” she wrote. That made her angry, she added, and directed Canady to “work on” Zachary “big time.”

Prosecutor Megan Johnson told the court the message showed Dutro’s motive for subjecting Zachary to a pattern of abuse. Judge Don Letourneau deemed the message admissible.

Defense lawyer Chris Colburn said the message did not prove any motive on Dutro’s part. Colburn argued none of the evidence tied Dutro to the crime.

In her closing argument, Johnson focused on the little girl’s words, rather than on the Facebook messages.

In his closing, Colburn addressed the Facebook comments and Dutro’s use of a slur.

What she wrote was meant as a joke, he said. While it was offensive, he said it would be ridiculous to draw a connection between the message and the little boy’s death.

Campaign to preserve Kurt Cobain home in Aberdeen

A Portland woman has started an online campaign to save the childhood home of Kurt Cobain in Aberdeen, Wash., as a museum to the Nirvana grunge rock icon.

KXRO reports Jaime Dunkle hopes to raise $700,000 through gofundme.com. She says the house will not be fixed or updated but will remain as it is because “it’s real.”

Cobain’s mother put the bungalow on the market last September for $500,000. It was last assessed at less than $67,000.

The house is a short walk from a riverfront park dedicated to Cobain’s memory, and the family said it would welcome a partnership to make the home into a museum.

Oregon businessman to pay $400,000 to transgender customers he barred from club

A bar owner in Portland, Ore., must make financial amends after barring transgender people from the establishment last year. He’s been ordered to pay a $400,000 penalty, which is owed to the customers he ousted from the club.

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries civil rights division imposed the penalty against Chris Penner, owner of the Twilight Room Annex, The Oregonian reported recently.

Eleven people will share in the penalty, with amounts ranging from $20,000 to $50,000.

It’s the first penalty imposed under the 2007 Oregon Equality Act, which protects the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender Oregonians in employment, housing and public places. Some other complaints ended in settlements.

The bureau’s civil rights division began investigating the bar formerly known as The P Club last year after owner Chris Penner left a voice message for one of the T-Girls, a social group for transgender people that met at the bar on Friday nights.

According to the complaint filed with the bureau, the message said: “People think that a.) We’re a tranny bar, or b.) We’re a gay bar. We are neither. People are not coming in because they just don’t want to be here on a Friday night now.”

The complaint listed 11 aggrieved persons. 

The T-Girls said they were devastated and humiliated. They said they went to the bar every Friday for two years because they felt safe there – the bartender treated them well, and bouncers walked them to their cars as they left.

“The individuals had found a place at the P Club where they found they could share their lives, their stories,” Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian said. “When that is stripped away, that is an indignity that is severe.”

Penner denied last year that he is biased, and had once hosted a weekly dance night for gays in the space, and a gay pool team has practiced in the bar.

But, he said, other customers complained that the T-Girls left the stall doors open and seats up in the women’s restrooms, and business had dropped.

Penner’s lawyer, Jonathan Radmacher, said his client was not surprised by the decision: Avakian brought the complaint, and his deputy affirmed it.

“The writing was on the wall,” Radmacher said, “but we went through the process because we thought it was important that the facts came out.”

In 2001, Portland enacted a law banning discrimination against LGBT people in employment and public places.

The Legislature passed a similar ban for the whole state in 2007. Since then, the Labor Bureau has received 182 complaints of discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation. 

Oregon County requiring unisex bathrooms

Oregon’s most populous county is requiring that gender-neutral bathrooms be included whenever a county-owned building is constructed or remodeled, a move to accommodate transgender employees and visitors.

Multnomah County board Chairman Jeff Cogen signed the executive order earlier this week. The Portland-based county is among the first local governments in the nation to have such a rule. It was patterned on legislation recently approved by the city of Philadelphia and was inspired by a local high school that earlier this year designated six single-occupancy restrooms as unisex.

It’s not known how many of the county’s 4,500 employees are transgender. County officials, however, say the directive will make life better for those who are uncomfortable using restrooms labeled “women” or “men.”

“What we have is complaints; people who just tell us their stories,” said Kalissa Canyon-Scopes, policy director for the county’s Office of Diversity and Equity.

Those stories include transgender employees who rush home at lunch to use the bathroom, find a business with a single-occupancy toilet or hold it in all day.

Addie Jones, program assistant at Sexual and Gender Minority Youth Resource Center, said some transgender residents avoid eating and drinking to lessen their need to use a public bathroom. For them, Jones said, it is preferable to the intimidating looks and embarrassing questions (“Excuse me, don’t you know you’re in the wrong restroom?”) they get when entering a bathroom assigned for people who don’t look like them.

The order is not expected to cost much money. The county only one has one construction project in the pipeline, a new Multnomah County Health Department headquarters that will employ 250 workers and include clinics for the public.

The county will also assess its 120 existing buildings to see if they include gender-neutral bathrooms. If they do, signs will be added to alert employees and the public.

In the county’s main building, for example, there are traditional men’s and women’s restrooms on the first floor, but single-toilet bathrooms are on four of the other five floors.

Rather than construct a new bathroom on the first floor, the level most used by the public, the county simply put up a sign that states: “Gender neutral restrooms located on floors 2, 3, 4, 5.”

“That has a very significant practical impact, but not a very significant expense,” Cogen said.

Anti-gay-marriage group fights to keep donors a secret

The Maine Supreme Judicial Court will hear arguments this week on a national anti-gay-marriage group’s efforts to keep its donor list confidential.

The National Organization for Marriage is appealing a Superior Court judge’s decision refusing to vacate subpoenas issued by the Maine Ethics Commission demanding the names of NOM’s donors in a 2009 gay marriage referendum.

Voters that year overturned a law passed by legislators allowing same-sex marriage in Maine. The National Organization for Marriage donated about $1.9 million in the campaign.

Maine’s campaign disclosure law requires groups that raise or spend more than $5,000 to influence elections to register and disclose donors. NOM says the identities of its donors are shielded by the First Amendment.

Oral arguments before Maine’s high court are scheduled for April 11 in Portland.

Oregon high school creates gender-neutral bathrooms

Portland’s largest public high school has reclassified six bathrooms as unisex to create another option for students and faculty who might feel uncomfortable with traditional bathrooms.

The move is a first in the district and relatively uncommon nationwide for K-12 schools. The school has as many as 10 transgender students.

Transgender Grant High School student Scott Morrison says he stopped drinking water at one point so he wouldn’t have to choose between gender-specific bathrooms.

Now, Morrison says he doesn’t have to struggle with the choice. Four student bathrooms and two staff restrooms, all single-stall, were part of the conversion.

“It’s a godsend,” Morrison said.

Kristyn Westphal, the Grant High vice principal who helped lead the initiative, said administrators acted after counselors raised concerns.

“We just need to make sure that all students are safe and comfortable here, and that they have their needs met,” Westphal said. “If they feel unsafe using the bathroom, that’s a problem.”

Michael Silverman, executive director of New York-based Transgender Legal Defense, said the issue of transgender rights will continue to grow.

“What we are seeing is the beginning of one of America’s next big civil rights challenges,” Silverman said.

At Grant High School, officials designated smaller bathrooms throughout the school as “unisex” in February. For restrooms containing two bathroom stalls, officials installed interior locks to prevent multiple students from using them at the same time.

The conversion cost less than $500.

Sasha Buchert, communications manager of Basic Rights Oregon, called the change “a really wonderful partnership between student advocates trying to create a safe space for transgender and nonconforming students and the school system to find a solution that will ensure folks can go to school and focus on learning.”

Others, while supporting the change, also worry that equating single-stall unisex restrooms with the transgender population can be stigmatizing. Jenn Burleton, the executive director of TransActive, said most transgender students simply want to use the restroom of their identified gender.

Oregonians unite for 2014 marriage equality ballot push

Oregon activists have established a campaign – Oregon United for Marriage – to drive a ballot initiative in November 2014.

The campaign, announced over the weekend by Basic Rights Oregon, will first organize a petition drive seeking the ballot question to legalize civil marriage in the state.

Rallying events are being planned in Medford, Pendleton, Grants Pass and Portland for the initiative, which would ask voters to amend the state constitution to guarantee marriage equality.

“We have been on the defensive for decades,” said Jeana Frazzini of Basic Rights Oregon. “Now we have momentum on our side.”

She noted the marriage equality victories at the polls in Maine, Maryland and neighboring Washington, as well as the defeat of an anti-gay amendment in Minnesota.

“Now is the time to expand this conversation to unite Oregon in support of the freedom to marry,” said Frazzini. “I’m excited about the opportunity for our stories to be told, our neighbors to be engaged, and new leaders to emerge.”

Portland bar owner accused of bias against transgender customers

The Oregon labor commissioner has filed discrimination charges against a Portland bar owner accused of telling transgender patrons to stay away.

KATU reports Commissioner Brad Avakian filed the charge this week against the Twilight Room Annex, formerly known as the P Club.

Bar owner Chris Penner is accused of asking a group of transgender patrons known as the Rose City T-Girls to stop visiting because he didn’t want it to be known as a “tranny bar.”

The complaint against Penner said he called at one regular customer and left a message saying don’t return to the bar. In another message, Penner allegedly said, “I’ve done some investigating why my sales are declining and there’s two things I keep hearing: People think that a) we’re a tranny bar or b) we’re a gay bar. We are neither. People are not coming in because they just don’t want to be there on a Friday night now.”

At the time he was accused last August, Penner said he was shocked and baffled by the discrimination allegation. He said he has gay and lesbian staff, and the bar has hosted same-sex wedding receptions and Pride events.

Gay weddings began at midnight in Maine

Arriving in a limo, Donna Galluzzo and Lisa Gorney had all the trappings of a traditional wedding: Rings, flowers, wedding vows, an entourage and a friend to officiate. With tears in their eyes, they were among the first gay couples to exchange wedding vows early Dec. 29 after Maine’s same-sex marriage law went into effect at midnight.

“We’re paving the way for people to go after us. I think it’s just amazing. It’s freeing. It’s what’s right,” an emotionally drained Gorney said after their ceremony in front of City Hall.

After waiting years and seeing marriage rights nearly awarded and then retracted, gay couples in Maine’s largest city didn’t have to wait a moment longer than necessary to wed, with licenses issued at the stroke of midnight as the law went into effect.

Steven Bridges and Michael Snell were the first in line, and they received cheers from more than 200 people waiting outside after they wed in the clerk’s office.

“It’s historic. We’ve waited our entire lives for this,” said Bridges, a retail manager, who’s been in a relationship with the Snell, a massage therapist, for nine years. Bridges, 42, and Snell, 53, wore lavender and purple carnations on black T-shirts with the words “Love is love.”

Voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington state approved gay marriage in November, making them the first states to do so by popular vote. Gay marriage already was legal in New York, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia, but those laws were either enacted by lawmakers or through court rulings.

In Maine, Gov. Paul LePage signed off on the certified election results on Nov. 29, so the new law was to go into effect 30 days from that date. The law already is in effect in Washington state; Maryland’s takes effect on Jan. 1, the first day of 2013.

Nobody knew exactly how many couples would be rushing to get their marriage licenses early Saturday in Maine. Falmouth joined Portland in opening at midnight. Other communities including Bangor, Brunswick and Augusta planned to hold special Saturday hours.

In Portland, the mood was festive with the crowd cheering and horns sounding at midnight as Bridges and Snell began filling out paperwork in the clerk’s office in Portland City Hall. There were free carnation boutonnieres and cupcakes, and a jazz trio played.

Outside, the raucous group that gathered in front of the building cheered Bridges and Snell as if they were rock stars and broke into the Beatles’ “All You Need is Love.”

Fourteen couples received marriage licenses, and five of them married on the spot, a city spokeswoman said. Many of those who received their marriage license were middle-aged, and some said they never envisioned a day when gay couples could wed just like straight couples.

“I came out years ago and the only thing we wanted was to not get beaten up,” said Steven Jones, 50, who married his partner, Jamous Lizotte, on his 35th birthday.

Not everyone was getting married right away.

Suzanne Blackburn and Joanie Kunian, of Portland, were among those in line to get their license at midnight, but they planned to have their marriage ceremony later. One of their grandchildren wanted them to get married on Valentine’s Day.

“I don’t think that we dared to dream too big until we had the governor’s signature,” Blackburn said. “That’s why it’s so important, because it feels real.”

Bridges and Snell already considered themselves married because they’d held a commitment ceremony attended by friends and family six years ago. Nonetheless, they thought it was important to make it official under state law, as Snell’s two daughters watched.

Katie and Carolyn Snell, the daughters, said the ceremony made formal what they knew all along to be true about the couple.

“It’s just a piece of paper,” said Katie Snell. “Their love has been there, their commitment has been there, all along. It’s the last step to make it a true official marriage because everything else has been there from the start.”

For more coverage and a video, go to the Portland Press Herald: http://www.pressherald.com/politics/Maine-same-sex-couples-begin-license-process-at-1201-am.html

Mainers rally for marriage equality

After months of mostly one-on-one campaigning, gay marriage supporters are rolling out television advertising, bumper stickers and yard signs as they seek to make Maine the first state to legalize same-sex marriage through a statewide vote.

Opponents also are stepping up their efforts.

Hundreds of gay marriage advocates gathered earlier this week at Portland City Hall to launch a “Yes on One” referendum push over the next eight weeks leading to the Nov. 6 election. Mainers United for Marriage followed up with a $100,000, weeklong television campaign that began on Sept. 11.

Speaking from the steps of city hall, Portland Mayor Michael Brennan joined several ministers and activists in asking Mainers to approve the referendum.

“My greatest hope is that the first marriage ceremony to be performed after the election in November will be here in Portland at City Hall,” Brennan said.

It’ll be the second vote in three years on gay marriage in Maine.

The Maine Legislature legalized gay marriage in 2009, but the law was overturned in a “people’s veto” vote later that year. Gay marriage supporters gathered signatures to put it on the ballot again.

Gay marriage opponents are also stepping up their efforts. The Roman Catholic Church has kicked off a series of meetings to promote its view of marriage being between a man and a woman. And the National Organization for Marriage has made a $500,000 matching contribution to fight same-sex marriage.

The Rev. Bob Emrich, chairman of Protect Marriage Maine, which opposes same-sex marriage, said “radical activists” are putting their own interest ahead of children.

“The data confirms what we know to be true – the ideal environment for children to thrive is one where they receive the love of both a mom and a dad,” he said.

But this week’s rally by gay marriage supporters, which featured the orange and blue colors that will be used by the “Yes on One” campaign, featured a pair of clergy members who’ve changed their views on gay marriage.

One of them, the Rev. Will Brewster, a fourth-generation Episcopal priest from Kittery, said he thought gay couples should be satisfied with civil unions or domestic partnerships until his youngest son, who’d led a scout platoon in Iraq, called a family meeting to announce he was gay.

“No parent dreams about their child entering into a ‘domestic partnership,’” Brewster said. “We dream about them getting married.”

Sarah Dowling of Freeport, who’s been in a committed relationship for 18 years with Linda Wolfe, spoke about a recent emergency room scare that revealed a humiliating reality for those who aren’t married.

“I was not only scared that I might lose the love of my life, but also panicked because I forgot to bring all of the paperwork that gives us as much status as a couple and a family as the law and a lawyer can provide,” Dowling said.

“Not everyone understands what a domestic partner is. But everybody understands what a wife is,” she added.

Maine is one of four states that are voting on gay marriage in November. It’s the only referendum initiated by gay marriage supporters.

Matt McTighe, campaign manager for Mainers United for Marriage, said campaign volunteers still have plenty of work to do, and he pointed out that the National Organization for Marriage plans to spend $385,000 on advertising in the three weeks leading up to Election Day.

McTighe said gay marriage opponents are fond of pointing out that they’ve never lost at the ballot.

“Together we can change that,” he said. “We can kick the last leg out from the stool they’ve stood on to belittle our relationships and attack our families for years.”