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Gallery | Dan Choi, Daniel Hernandez Jr., Gov. Jack Markell, former Rep. Patrick Murphy among honorees at Equality Forum dinner
More than 700 supporters attended Equality Forum's 2011 International Equality Dinner Saturday night at National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.
Here are a few key photos from the dinner. Click any of the pictures to view a larger gallery from the evening. All photos by STEVE ROTHAUS / Miami Herald Staff.
Corey Bernstein, GSA president of The Hudson School in Hoboken, N.J., accepts the Best GSA Exhibit Award.
Equality Forum Executive Director Malcolm Lazin presents the National Hero Award to Daniel Hernandez Jr., who helped save the life of his boss, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona. Click here to read a profile of Hernandez in Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer.
Delaware Gov. Jack Markell gives remarks.
Autumn Bayles of Equality Forum's Board of Governors and Malcolm Lazin present the International Business Leadership Award to Steve Pinetti, Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants.
Former West Point cadet Katherine Miller and Malcolm Lazin present the International Role Model Award to former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy and Lt. Dan Choi.
By GEOFF MULVIHILL, Associated Press
HADDONFIELD, N.J. -- A former Rutgers University student accused of watching a surreptitious webcast of a classmate's same-sex liaison is seeking to enter an intervention program that could result in the dismissal of invasion of privacy charges. The classmate later committed suicide.
Molly Wei, a 19-year-old from West Windsor, applied to enter the pretrial program last month. If she's accepted, a judge could set conditions, such as staying out of legal trouble, doing community service and maintaining a job or attending school.
If she meets those conditions for a specified time period - it could be up to three years, though one year is typical - the charges would be dropped.
Wei is charged with two counts of invasion of privacy and could receive a five-year prison sentence if she's convicted. Such a long sentence would be unusual for a first-time offender.
Prosecutors see her as the lesser suspect in an alleged crime that's linked to a tragedy.
Tyler Clementi committed suicide by jumping from the George Washington Bridge on Sept. 22, hours after his roommate, Dharun Ravi, allegedly tried to watch a second encounter between Clementi and a man via webcam from Wei's computer.
Clementi's death sparked national conversations about bullying and suicides by young gays and lesbians.
Ravi was indicted last week on 15 counts. The most serious charge was bias intimidation, which alleges he acted because Clementi was gay. A conviction could mean he'd spend up to 10 years in prison on that charge alone.
Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan has said that Wei's case is not planned to be presented to a grand jury. That could indicate that either a plea deal is being struck or she's heading for the pretrial intervention program.
It's common for people who do not have criminal records and are accused of low-level crimes to apply for the program. The applications are not considered public records.
She could be accepted if the Middlesex County prosecutor's office and pretrial intervention program officials agree. She would also need a judge's approval to enter the program.
Her application was first reported by The Home News Tribune of East Brunswick.
Her lawyer, Rubin Sinins would not comment on the case but did not dispute the report.
James O'Neill, a spokesman for the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office, said that Wei's case remains active but would not comment further.
Wei and Ravi both left Rutgers soon after they were charged.
Information from: Home News Tribune, http://www.mycentraljersey.com
By BETH DeFALCO and JENNIFER PELTZ, Associated Press
TRENTON, N.J. -- Accused of a hate crime for allegedly using a webcam to spy on his college roommate's same-sex encounter, the roommate of Tyler Clementi is now also finding that it's not just what you tweet, but also what you delete, that can get you in trouble.
Dharun Ravi, accused of using Twitter to invite people to watch Clementi's most private moments, was charged last week with several counts of bias intimidation and invasion of privacy. But perhaps just as surprising were the charges of evidence tampering that an indictment said stemmed from Ravi's attempts to delete text messages and a Twitter post.
"It's really novel way to take old-school evidence-tampering" charges into the newer spheres of social media and cyberspace, said Bradley S. Shear, a Bethesda, Md., attorney who counsels clients and blogs about social media and the law.
"It can help demonstrate that your virtual behavior, online activities, are just as important, if not more so, than everything you do in your everyday life," he said.
Ravi, 19, and another student, Molly Wei, were both charged with invasion of privacy for events that happened in the days leading up to Clementi's public suicide in September in which he jumped off the George Washington bridge.
Authorities said Ravi used Wei's computer in her room to activate his computer in his room using Skype, and viewed Clementi and another man's intimate moments. Ravi is accused of trying to do the same thing days later and inviting others to view the webcast.
Clementi's death came on the heels of a spate of gay teenagers nationwide killing themselves after being taunted, and it quickly galvanized national efforts by celebrities and activists to fight suicide and the bullying of gay teenagers.
Last week - nearly seven months after the 18-year-old Clementi, a talented violinist, took his life - a grand jury indicted Ravi on additional counts, which included bias intimidation and evidence tampering.
Several messages left with Ravi's attorney, Steven Altman, were not returned.
Prosecutors in at least one other U.S. case have argued that a defendant's efforts to delete his social-media postings essentially amounted to evidence tampering.
A former Air Force airman accused of killing his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter in Great Falls, Mont., was charged with solicitation to tamper evidence after authorities said he told his father to erase his Facebook, MySpace and email accounts to try to conceal potential evidence.
Prosecutors ultimately dropped the charge against Jerimie Hicks, saying they didn't believe it could be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
Hicks was convicted in November of deliberate homicide and a different evidence-tampering solicitation charge involving a bloody uniform. He was sentenced to 100 years in prison.
Online or off, evidence-tampering charges entail proving someone didn't just get rid of something but did it to destroy evidence, lawyers say.
"It's fairly routine that until they become suspects, people are deleting electronic files," said Orin Kerr, a George Washington University Law School professor. "It's an understandable impulse to take it down."
But Kerr said the key to the crime is intent.
"If someone deletes information because they don't want it to be a news story, that's different than trying to keep police from arresting them," Kerr said.
The alleged harassment of Clementi and the case against his roommate will be made using many of the young men's own words from their postings on Twitter, Facebook and in chat rooms.
For Clementi, those words also offer insight into his mindset before he killed himself only weeks into his freshman year. For Ravi, his words will be used against him, as well as the posts he tried to erase.
The intimidation of Clementi went back to Aug. 6 - the day Ravi "learned the name of his roommate," according to prosecutors.
In an Aug. 22 post on Twitter, according to Forbes.com, Ravi said: "Found out my roommate is gay," and linked to a thread that Clementi is believed to have posted on a gay community chat room.
Less than a month later on Sept. 19, a cached copy of Ravi's account shows he tweeted: "Roommate asked for the room till midnight. I went into molly's room and turned on my webcam. I saw him making out with a dude. Yay."
In a gay-themed chat room, a poster who appears to have been Clementi later described finding a webcam trained on him, reading his roommate's Twitter feed and pondering what he should do, according to a report first published on the Gawker gossip website.
The poster wrote: "don't wanna report him and then end up with nothing happening except him getting pissed at me."
Two days later, Ravi tweeted: "Anyone with iChat, I dare you to video chat me between the hours of 9:30 and 12. Yes it's happening again."
In the chat room, Clementi posted that he unplugged Ravi's computer and searched for hidden cameras before a liaison that night.
He also mentioned that he emailed his resident adviser to ask for a room change, adding that the adviser "seemed to take it seriously."
Later that day, Clementi posted on his Facebook account: "Jumping off the gw bridge sorry."
Associated Press news researchers Rhonda Shafner and Brooke Lansdale in New York contributed to this report.
The gay website Queerty is no more:
From Dyana Bagby of GA Voice in Atlanta:
Gay couples and families who want to spend eternity together may soon have the chance to do so with plans for a gay section in an Atlanta cemetery.
John Suggs of Dignity Memorial said the idea of having a gay section in a cemetery seemed like a natural progression gay men and lesbians gather more acceptance in mainstream society.
Pentagon defends lifting military gay ban; U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Deerfield Beach, criticizes repeal
WASHINGTON -- Senior Pentagon leaders are defending repeal of the ban on gays serving openly in the military to House Republicans who labeled it as political correctness and social engineering.
Undersecretary of Defense Clifford Stanley says the military is moving deliberately in changing the policy that has been in place since 1993.
Stanley tells a House panel that the military services are currently undergoing training on how to implement the new policy.
But Republicans criticized the repeal Friday. Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina said the policy was driven by politics. Rep. Allen West of Florida called it the result of social engineering interest groups.
BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com
In a shift, foreign spouses of American gays and lesbians will be allowed to apply for green cards while courts weigh the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
"It’s a very significant relief for couples who have faced separations or exile," said Steve Ralls, a spokesman for gay-oriented Immigration Equality in Washington. "The final resolution will depend on DOMA’s ultimate constitutionality."
"Those spousal applications will not be denied but kept pending until DOMA’s constitutionality is settled by the courts," Ralls said.
The Obama administration in February announced it would no longer defend DOMA's constitutionality. Attorney General Eric Holder said the section of the 1996 law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman is unconstitutional. House Speaker John Boehner later said the House may go to court to defend the law.
On Monday, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) confirmed to gay Metro Weekly that it would hold related cases "in abeyance" until a high court decides DOMA's constitutionality.
"There’s been no change in policy," USCIS spokesman Christopher Bentley said.
Friday, I co-moderated an online panel discussion, How Can Donors Accelerate Equality? Click here to listen to the recorded discussion.
Here are the details:
Panel: How Can Donors Accelerate Equality?
- What are the current areas of focus for these donors?
- How do donors make choices between issues and organizations?
- And how do they measure impact and evaluate success?
- How do they balance giving for political campaigns and non-profits?
- Ron Ansin, Founder, Ronald M. Ansin Foundation
- Joanne Herman, Author, Transgender Explained for Those Who Are Not
- Alix Ritchie, Founder, Provincetown Banner
- Paul Yandura, Cofounder, Scott+Yandura
- Leslie Payne, Senior Director, Arabella Philanthropic Advisors
- Steve Rothaus, Journalist, Miami Herald
TMZ reports that Elizabeth Taylor's funeral will be today and that the star will be buried at Forest Lawn in Glendale, Calif.
Among the other celebrities at Forest Lawn: Taylor's friend Michael Jackson.
Also at Forest Lawn, according to the Seeing Stars website:
Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Jimmy Stewart, Jean Harlow, Humphrey Bogart, Mary Pickford, Errol Flynn, Spencer Tracy, George Burns & Gracie Allen, W.C. Fields, Tom Mix, Sammy Davis Jr., Walt Disney, Red Skelton, Robert Young, Lon Chaney, Ethel Waters, Alan Ladd, Dick Powell, Robert Taylor, Wallace Beery, Ted Knight, Sam Cooke, Joe E. Brown, Sydney Greenstreet, Nat King Cole, Jack Oakie, Ed Wynn, Jack Carson, Norma Shearer, Chico Marx, Dorothy Dandridge, Robert Cummings, Sid Grauman, Dan Daily, William Boyd ("Hopalong Cassidy"), Marie Dressler ("Tugboat Annie"), Irving Thalberg, Casey Stengel, Larry Fine, Aimee Semple McPherson, Edward Everett Horton and Jean Hersholt, plus authors Louis L'Amour, Theodore Dreiser and L. Frank Baum.