Calling Someone Gay Isn't

Defamatory, Judge Rules

BOSTON -- Stating that someone is homosexual does not libel or slander that person, particularly in light of new court decisions granting gays more rights, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner dismissed a lawsuit by James Albright, a former bodyguard and boyfriend of pop singer Madonna. Allbright said he was libeled because his name appeared in a photo caption in a book about Madonna -- under a picture of Madonna walking with a gay man.

"In fact, a finding that such a statement is defamatory requires this court to legitimize the prejudice and bigotry that for too long have plagued the homosexual community," she wrote in her opinion on Friday.

Gertner said other courts' rulings that stating someone is gay is defamatory had relied on laws criminalizing same-sex sexual acts that might well be unconstitutional. Previous decisions had not taken into account more recent decisions recognizing gays' equal rights, she said.

She pointed to a Supreme Court ruling last year that found a Texas sodomy law unconstitutional, and to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's ruling last year that it would be unconstitutional to prevent gays in the state from marrying.

* SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Springfield will no longer offer health benefits to the unmarried domestic partners of city employees now that same-sex couples are legally allowed to marry in Massachusetts. Mayor Charles Ryan said couples have 90 days to marry and retain insurance coverage.

* CLEARWATER, Fla. -- The Church of Scientology settled a lawsuit that accused staff members of allowing a church member, Lisa McPherson, 36, to become severely dehydrated and die in 1995.

* LOS ANGELES -- A man whose two young children were found stabbed to death with their throats cut was arrested for an investigation of murder, authorities said. Carlos Martinez, 32, was held without bail at a hospital after undergoing surgery for serious, self-inflicted injuries, police said.

* CLARKSVILLE, Ark. -- Teresa Dick, 31, was convicted in the death of daughter Molly Holt, 10, in a house fire last year because the child was chained to a bed by her ankles. Jurors recommended consecutive seven-year sentences for Dick.

* SULPHUR SPRINGS, Tex. -- About 24,000 chickens were destroyed after avian flu was found on a Texas farm that supplies poultry distributor Pilgrim's Pride, state officials said. The infection was discovered through routine blood tests, the company said.

* LOS ANGELES -- After 25 people became ill with salmonella poisoning associated with eating almonds, Paramount Farms of California recalled 13 million pounds of raw almonds, federal regulators said.

* BUFFALO -- Horrified motorists sprang from their cars Friday to stop a woman who was repeatedly slamming her 7-month-old daughter onto a concrete sidewalk, police said. The baby later died of massive head trauma. Kirsten Vanderlinde, 36, who receives mental health care as an outpatient, was charged with second-degree murder.

-- From News Services