Tuesday, November 24

Census worker in Kentucky killed self, officials conclude | McClatchy

By Bill Estep | Lexington Herald-Leader

A U.S. Census worker found dead in a secluded Clay County cemetery killed himself but tried to make the death look like a homicide, authorities have concluded.

Bill Sparkman, 51, of London, might have tried to cover the manner of his death to preserve payments under life-insurance polices that he had taken out. The policies wouldn’t pay off if Sparkman committed suicide, state police Capt. Lisa Rudzinski said.

“We believe it was an intentional act on his part to take his own life,” said Rudzinski, who helped lead the investigation.

Bill Sparkman, the census worker found hanged Sept. 12 in a remote patch of Daniel Boone National Forest in Clay County. An autopsy report is pending. Photo courtesy of Corbin Times-Tribune. AP - FILE - In this undated 2008 photo, Bill Sparkman speaks to a 7th grade class during a lesson about sound waves. Authorities have released Sparkman's body to his family nearly a month after he was found dead with a rope around his neck in rural eastern Kentucky. (AP Photo/The Times-Tribune, File)

Sparkman’s nude body was found Sept. 12 by people visiting the cemetery. There was a rope around his neck tied to a tree, and he had what appeared to be the word “fed” written on his chest in black marker.

His census identification card was taped to his head.

The bizarre details of the death caused a firestorm of media coverage and widespread speculation on the Internet, including that someone angry at the federal government attacked Sparkman as he went door to door, gathering census information.

There has been some anti-census sentiment in the country this year, and Sparkman apparently tried to capitalize on that with his ruse.

If there had been no writing on his chest and his identification hadn’t been taped to him, police could have concluded more quickly that Sparkman’s death was a suicide, Rudzinski said.

Instead, it took considerably more investigation to rule out homicide. Police even analyzed the ink on Sparkman’s chest to see how the letters were applied, in order to determine whether it was more likely that someone else wrote on him or he wrote on himself.

Tests indicated that the letters were applied from the bottom to the top — not the way an assailant facing Sparkman would write them. Police concluded that Sparkman wrote on himself, Rudzinski said.

Ultimately, there was no evidence to point to murder, she said.

Tests results showed that there was no DNA other than Sparkman’s on the rag in his mouth or on another rag found near his body. Those results, which police received only recently, were a pivotal development.

Other evidence also pointed to suicide as the manner of Sparkman’s death, police said.

For instance, there was no evidence that Sparkman had struggled with anyone. There were no wounds on his body, Rudzinski said.

Tests ruled out any theory that he was drugged and unconscious when he was tied to the tree, making the lack of signs of a struggle more significant. Also, Sparkman’s glasses were taped to his head. The question that raises is why a killer would care whether Sparkman, who had poor vision, could see what was going on.

On the other hand, if Sparkman was writing on his chest or preparing to kill himself, it would matter that he could see.

And although it is true that Sparkman died of asphyxiation from the rope around his neck, he was not dangling from the tree the way people commonly perceive hanging, Rudzinski said.

His legs were bent at the knee and his knees were less than six inches off the ground, Rudzinski said.

Sparkman could have stood up, taken the pressure off his neck and not died.

Sparkman’s hands were bound, but loosely, allowing him to move them shoulder-width apart, Rudzinski said.

The significance of that is that Sparkman could have created by himself all the conditions found at the scene, such as tying the rope around his neck and putting a rag in his mouth, Rudzinski said.

Sunday, November 22

Vermont Judge Awards Custody of Child to Non-Biological Lesbian Mom

I don't know if I agree with either of the partners getting sole custody, although since the biological parent refused to comply with the court's orders I can somewhat understand the judge's reasoning. I think both parents need to remain in the child's life, but putting your child's feelings and best interests first is not something that a person can be forced to do, it is something that they need to do on their own, because they want to. Unfortunately, the biological mom is putting herself and her own feelings in front of all else, and that's why she lost her daughter. I just pray there isn't a case of parental kidnap in this poor little girl's future...

11/22/09-by Paula Brooks (LezGetReal)
In a stunning decision, Rutland Vermont Family Court Judge William Cohen ruled Friday that he is awarding sole custody of 7-year-old Isabella Miller to her non-biological lesbian mother, Janet Jenkins.

For six years, the case has been jumping between courts in Vermont, where Jenkins lives, and Virginia, where her former lesbian spouse, Lisa Miller, now lives.
The couple split up in 2003 after entering a civil union in Vermont, have since then been battling in the courts over custody and visitation rights to their daughter Isabelle, who was born to Miller.

However, Miller soon fled to her home state of Virginia and declared that she was no longer a lesbian. She then engaged the Conservative Christian law firm, The Liberty Council, to attempt to deny her partners the visitation right awarded to her by the Vermont Court by demanding sole custody in a Virginia court.

In 2007, Virginia’s Supreme Court sided with Jenkins and the Vermont courts.

After that ruling Miller and the Liberty Council then appealed to the US Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case.

The Liberty Council returned to the Virginia Circuit Courts to halt the visitation order, but the judge in that case stated that Virginia’s Supreme Court had already ruled.
The Liberty Council then again appealed to the Virginia’s Supreme Court. A Virginia Supreme Court Justice however cited the Parental Kidnap Prevention Act, which requires courts in other states to adhere to pre-existing custody and visitation awards and is meant to prevent just this kind of “Justice Shopping” and refused to hear the case, again giving sole jurisdiction to Vermont.

On January 28th of this year, the case was returned to Vermont, where Vermont Judge William Cohen allowed Miller to retain custody, but ordered unsupervised visitation to Jenkins for four days in March, over the Memorial Day holiday and for five weeks in this summer.

In September after Miller failed to comply with the visitation order, Cohen told her and her lawyers that he was tired of Miller’s repeated disobedience to his visitation orders and warned Miller that she would lose custody if she didn’t comply with the prior orders.

Friday, Cohen said in his order that granting sole custody of Isabella to Jenkins was in the child’s best interest because Miller has consistently refused to comply with prior custody and visitation orders.

“The court concludes that it is in the best interest of (Isabella) that Ms. Jenkins exercise parental rights and responsibilities,” the judge said Friday. “This court stated that continued interference by Ms. Miller with the relationship between (Isabella) and Ms. Jenkins could lead to a change of circumstances and outweigh the disruption that would occur if a change of custody were ordered.”

Judge Cohen did note in his decision that the change in custody would cause some short-term disruption in Isabella’s life because she would need to move to a new home, school, and community. However, Cohen said, the transition wouldn’t be out of the norm for a 7-year-old.

Lisa Miller’s attorneys vowed to appeal the order, but legal experts both in Vermont and Virginia say that Miller may be running out of legal options and caution that Virginia’s court of appeals, where Miller’s lawyers say they will file an appeal to Cohen’s order, have previously upheld the Vermont judge’s decisions and may not look kindly upon another appeal.

Friday, November 20

Bay Windows - New England's largest GLBT newspaper

Bay Windows - New England's largest GLBT newspaper

Pastor Donnie McClurkin’s gay church
by Rev. Irene Monroe
Bay Windows Contributor
Wednesday Nov 18, 2009

The Church of God in Christ (COGIC) is the largest African American and largest Pentecostal church in the United States. It’s also the largest denominational black church in the country and the loudest in rebuking homosexuality.

Many of the gospel music industry mega-stars can be heard at COGIC. The church’s charismatic worship style shouts to a black male queer gospel aesthetic making COGIC a church is conflicted with itself.

Black gay male mega-stars are now ex-gay or closeted. They publicly deny their sexual orientation at the church’s annual convocation.

Case in point: speaking at the COGIC’s 102nd Holy Convocation International Youth Department Worship Service on Nov. 7 at the Memphis Cook Convention Center, Pastor Donnie McClurkin, the poster boy for African American ex-gay ministries, talked about his conflict.

"God did not call you to such perversions. Your only hope is Jesus Christ. Were it not for this Jesus, I would be a homosexual today. This God is a deliverer," McClurkin told his audience.

McClurkin attributed his homosexuality to being raped twice as a child, first at age eight at his brother’s funeral by his uncle, and then at age thirteen by his cousin, his uncle’s son.

Confusing same-gender sexual violence as homosexuality, McClurkin misinterpreted the molestation as the reason for his gay sexual orientation. McClurkin says that his cure was done by a deliverance from God and a restoration of his manhood by becoming the biological father of a child.

In his book Eternal Victim, Eternal Victor, McClurkin writes, "The abnormal use of my sexuality continued until I came to realize that I was broken and that homosexuality was not God’s intention...for my masculinity."

At the Convocation, McClurkin espoused his ex-gay rhetoric by castigating former gospel industry worker Tonéx (Anthony Charles Williams II) who unapologetically stated that he "didn’t struggle with his sexual attraction to men."

A talented singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, rapper, dancer, producer, and preacher, Tonéx has won six Stellar Awards, a GMA Award, and received a Grammy nomination for Best Soul Gospel Album for his 2004 gold album "Out The Box."

Known for his outlandish multi-colored hairstyles and flamboyant garbs with feather boas and fur coats, Tonéx’s image caused consternation in the black gospel and contemporary Christian music communities.

"It wasn’t me trying to make a statement; I’ve always been different," he told George Varga of the San Diego Union-Tribune. "And it really worked. Out of church, people are always asking me what my tattoos mean."

According to McClurkin, black males like Tonéx are gay because of sexual molestation, an absentee father, or because they didn’t have strong male images around them. Tonéx is the son of the revered late Dr. Anthony Williams, Senior Pastor and District Elder in the Truth Apostolic Community Church in suburban Spring Valley.

In an open letter to the Convocation about McClurkin’s homophobia, Bishop Yvette Flunder, an out lesbian who is a third generation preacher with roots in the Church of God in Christ, licensed in the COGIC, and who is now the Presiding Bishop of The Fellowship and Senior Pastor, City of Refuge United Church of Christ, wrote the following:

"I watched a clip of Pastor Donnie McClurkin at the COGIC Convocation Nov. 11, 2009 where he used the words perversion and vampirism in reference to feminine young men and ’evil’ butch young ladies. He suggested that the church had failed them and not been active enough in helping these young people find deliverance. He ranted against gospel artist and pastor Tonéx with regard to Tonéx’s recent affirmation of his own same gender orientation."

Pastor Donnie knows, just as I know, that Tonéx is more the ’rule’ than the exception to the rule. What makes Tonéx unique is not that he is a gay gospel music artist and Pastor, but that he told the truth about his sexuality while not claiming to be delivered.

Gay males continue to find ways of being supported in the COGIC.

For example, "blaquebigayministers" is a Yahoo gay ministers group, boasting 787 members since July 2000 and was founded by COGIC Elder Ronald Kimbrew. Kimbrew served in the Arkansas 1st Jurisdiction as the Assistant Secretary of the Pastors & Elders Council of COGIC from December 1996 to March 19, 2005, and is now the Public Relations Director at Greater Trinity, a COGIC congregation in Arkansas.

The "blaquebigayministers" website states the following:

"Welcome. This fellowship is for support and encouragement especially of black Christian ministers and friends who are ’family’ (bi or same-gender loving) and need a place of refuge. Enjoy the ’fellowship.’"

Kimbrew organized meetings of bisexual and same-gender loving COGIC ministers for most of the national meetings like Memphis Holy Convocation that McClurkin used to take part in, but now denounces.

A reporter following the Convocation asked, "Is COGIC going to be silent while an organized culture of homosexual ministers and bishops populate its pulpits?"

And the answer is yes.

COGIC reaps the benefits of soul, spirit, and sound of black male queer gospel performers each and every Sunday. No one knows this better than McClurkin himself. Imagine the bounty if the church accepted the truth before them.