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National Roundup
Special to the Online Edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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In Akron, Ohio, a priest who was arrested after crashing his car offered oral sex to police in exchange for his release, according to a Wisconsin Gazette item. Father Ignatius Kury, who leads the Holy Ghost Ukraininan Byzantine Catholic Church, went on a 20-minute rant that included propositions and threats made to officers. Kury, who also exposed himself to police, had a blood-alcohol level that was three times the legal limit.

The country's first out lesbian judge has announced her retirement, according to an item. San Francisco (Calif.) Superior Court Judge Mary Morgan—who led efforts to address the problems of mentally ill defendants—said farewell March 4. Then—California Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Morgan to the San Francisco municipal court in 1981; she later moved to Washington, D.C., and then returned to California in 2003. California's superior court system has 10 openly gay or lesbian judges.

U.S. Navy officials have started discharge proceedings against Petty Officer Stephen C. Jones, who claimed he and another sailor fell asleep watching the CW show The Vampire Diaries when they were caught in bed together, according to . Jones has insisted nothing happened; however, authorities are saying the sailors crossed "professional lines." The repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" won't officially take effect until 60 days after Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and others formally certify to Congress that the military is ready to fully integrate gays and lesbians.

The Palette Fund, a philanthropic organization, has announced its 2011 slate of grantees, according to a press release. In the area of LGBT youth, recipients include Out in Front: Stonewall Community Foundation, Jeffrey Fashion Cares; the True Colors Fund; the National LGBT Cancer Network; the New York LGBT Center; the Point Foundation; the Queer Youth Fund; Out in America; and the Family Acceptance Project. The Palette Fund ( ) honors the legacy of Rand Harlan Skolnick through collaborative grantmaking and programs that value human rights and education.

The Massachusetts Office of Travel + Tourism (MOTT) has announced the launch of a new microsite designed to serve as a resource directory for same-sex couples getting married in the Commonwealth: The new site provides a step-by-step guide to everything people need to know about planning same-sex nuptials in Massachusetts.

Liberty Hill Foundation's annual Upton Sinclair Dinner will honor noted LGBTQ-rights philanthropist and donor organizer Tim Gill May 11 at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles, Calif., according to a press release. The Upton Sinclair Award, which Gill will receive, is given annually to a person whose life-long crusade for equality and justice inspires us even today. Liberty Hill is one of the country's leading social-justice foundations, with a 35-year track record of investment in community leaders at the frontlines of change.

The Rhode Island Marriage Coalition has unveiled a television ad advocating for the passage of marriage-equality legislation in Rhode Island, according to a press release. The 60-second commercial features six Rhode Island couples from a variety of backgrounds discussing the meaning of marriage and why the time has come for the state's general assembly to adopt marriage-equality legislation.

PFLAG National held its third annual Straight for Equality Awards Gala March 14 in New York City. Oscar-nominated actress Rosie Perez received the Straight For Equality in Entertainment award; champion college wrestler-turned-coach Hudson Taylor received the Straight for Equality in Sports award; and best-selling author Charlaine Harris (The Sookie Stackhouse series, basis for the HBO series Ttrue Blood) was honored with the first-ever Straight for Equality in Literature award. Financial services leader MetLife received the Straight for Equality in Business award.

Out lesbian Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., chose March 8, International Women's Day, to introduce legislation to speed ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the Constitution, according to a press release. "The ERA is intended to ensure equality for women and men in all areas of society," said Baldwin. "It is an immediate and decisive remedy to end sex discrimination in federal and state laws and provides a clear benchmark for judicial interpretation." Dozens of groups—including the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund, Katrina's Dream and the Clearinghouse on Women's Issues—have endorsed Baldwin's measure.

In Pennsylvania, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has suspended 21 priests from active ministry amid allegations of sexual abuse or other inappropriate behavior with minors, according to the New York Times. The mass suspension is considered the largest in the history of the sexual-abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. If charges are upheld, the church could face a payout of millions of dollars in legal settlements.

Freddy Schmitt was recently fired from his job at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport for using a gay slur—although he didn't use the term pejoratively, according to . Schmitt, a World War II vet, was discussing the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" when he said, "Back then, a faggot coulda saved my life." His superiors will not rehire the 82-year-old Schmitt, despite a clean job record and testimonies from fellow workers.

At Southern Utah University, vandals attacked campaign posters for Payden Adams, a gay student who was running for vice president of the student activities association, according to . The university's Queer-Straight Alliance president, Benjamin Smith, said that this was just the latest in a series of attacks on Adams' campaign literature. Smith added that ads for National Coming Out Day were also defaced two years ago.

Joran van der Sloot—who is a suspect in the 2005 disappearance of Alabama's Natalie Holloway in Aruba—is seeking a lesser charge regarding the murder of Peruvian lesbian Stefany Florez, according to an item. His attorney, Maximo Altez, said that van der Sloot is claiming temporary insanity. Flores, 21, was killed May 30, 2010—almost five years to the day when Holloway disappeared.

Former GOP U.S. senator and possible presidential candidate Rick Santorum opposes same-sex marriage—but may approve of gay sex, according to . In a guest column in The Des Moines Register, Santorum wrote, "I believe if two adults of the same sex want to have a relationship that is their business. But when they ask society to give that relationship special recognition and privileges, then we should be able to have a rational debate about whether that is good public policy."

The Colorado Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a civil-unions measure—more than 18 years after voters passed an amendment that banned protections for gays and lesbians, reported. (The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the amendment in Romer v. Evans.) The bill, introduced by gay Democratic senator Pat Steadman, offers many of the legal rights and responsibilities that marriage has.

In Minnesota, a medical examiner has ruled that gay teen Lance Lundsten killed himself, according to . Lundsten, 18, was found in his home Jan. 15, needing medical attention; he was pronounced dead at Douglas County Hospital. Family members initially believed that Lundsten died from a medical condition.

In Arkansas, officials are investigating the murder of 25-year-old transgender woman Marcal Camero Tye, reported. St. Francis County Sheriff Bobby May said that "it appeared ... that [Tye had] a head wound and that [the victim] had been [dragged] by a car." May added that a witness reported hearing two gunshots in the area. May later said that the murder is not a hate crime, according to .

NPR President/CEO Vivian Schiller has resigned because of comments by a fellow executive who called the Tea Party racist and that the network would fare better without federal money, according to the Miami Herald. The video of the NPR executive—who has also resigned—was posted March 8 by James O'Keefe, an activist whose undercover videos have targeted such organizations as Planned Parenthood.

Possible presidential candidate Ron Paul has expressed his support of the Defense of Marriage Act, according to . The congressman told a conservative Iowa religious group that he supported the act as a matter of states' rights. However, Paul, 75, became confused when he was asked about the Iowa Supreme Court ruling favoring marriage equality; he responded—before an aide intervened—that he had not read that "report but supported each state's right to legislate on marriage."

In New York, Jonathan Lovitz, an openly gay man, was excused from jury duty because he said that discrimination against gay people made him a second-class citizen, making it impossible for him to be objective, according to . Lovitz—an actor, singer and model who will be on the Logo show Setup Squad—posted on his Facebook page, "I raised my hand and said, 'Since I can't get married or adopt a child in the state of New York, I can't possibly be an impartial judge of a citizen when I am considered a second class citizen in the eyes of the justice system.'"

Also in New York, Judge Lynn Kottler has dismissed a case involving Jose Andujar, who sold condoms with political messages, according to . Andujar, who was selling the condoms last September, argued that his products were within the confines of the "written material" law. His President Obama condom read, "Hope is Not A Form of Protection," while the Sarah Palin condom said, "When Abortion is Not An Option."

Point Foundation—the nation's largest scholarship-granting organization for LGBT students of merit—has announced the creation of a scholarship in memory of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, who committed suicide last year, according to a press release. The Tyler Clementi Point Scholarship was created with the cooperation of Clementi's parents, Joe and Jane, to honor his memory and further the efforts to end the bullying that many LGBT youth face within educational environments. To donate, visit or call 866-33-POINT.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., has reintroduced the Equal Access to COBRA Act, which would allow many domestic partners the same access married spouses currently have to COBRA health coverage if their partners loses their jobs, according to a press release. The law would apply to companies that already offer health coverage to domestic partners and their children—which includes more than half of Fortune 500 corporations. Boxer originally introduced the measure last year, and Rep. Anthony Weiner D-N.Y., has introduced a companion bill in the House.

In Maryland, the state's house of delegates has killed a measure that would legalize marriage equality, according to the Washington Post. The development halted momentum regarding a measure its proponents thought would prevail. The General Assembly, which will end its 90-day session in early April, won't consider the bill again until next January at the earliest.

Several LGBT organizations—the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Equality California, National Center for Transgender Equality, Transgender Law Center, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders and Lambda Legal—have issued a joint statement condemning U.S. Rep. Peter King's "Muslim radicalization" hearings taking place in the House of Representatives, according to a press release. Equality California Executive Director Geoff Kors said, "The targeting of Muslim Americans is deplorable. It has no place in society and is un-American, un-democratic and unjust." King, a New York Republican, has said, "I have no choice, I have to hold these hearings, these hearings are absolutely essential," according to .

The organization Truth Wins Out (TWO) has issued a statement criticizing a segment reporter Lisa Ling did on ex-gays for her show on the Oprah Winfrey Network. TWO Executive Director Wayne Besen said that Ling "was factually inaccurate in several places and whitewashed [controversial interdenominational organization] Exodus International's abominable record of harm and deceit. ... The most glaring error was when Ling portrayed Exodus as a group that no longer made false promises to desperate and vulnerable clients that they could go from gay to straight." Exodus recently released a smartphone app that Apple gave a 4+ rating, according to the group's website.

James "John" Finley Gruber, Jr., the last surviving original member of the Mattachine Society, died peacefully in his home in Santa Clara, Calif., Feb. 27 at the age of 82, according to the Bay Area Reporter. In 1951, Gruber and his boyfriend, Konrad "Steve" Stevens, became the last new members of the Mattachine Society. The society, founded the previous year, was one of the earliest homophile groups in the United States. A memorial service will be held Saturday, March 26, 12-3 p.m., at the Santa Clara American Legion.

In New York, Democratic state Sen. Carl Kruger and his secret companion, Manhattan gynecologist Michael Turano, are among eight men arrested in a government "pay-to-play" corruption scandal, according to the New York Post. The charges include claims that Kruger and others, including previously convicted Queens Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio (who died in prison in January), received bribes and other gifts to help two healthcare companies purchase hospitals. Turano is accused of using bribe money to pay for bills and a luxury car, among other things.

Spiders are usually dangerous—but some people may be lining up for the side effect of one particular arachnid's venom. According to the Daily Mail, research at the Medical College of Georgia has shown that the poison from the Brazilian wandering spider (also known as the banana spider) can cause four-hour erections. The spider, which has a leg span of more than four inches, has already been found in some U.S. and Canadian supermarkets but is normally found in tropical banana plantations.

St. Lucia's tourism minister, Allen Chastanet, has apologized to three U.S. tourists who were assaulted in an anti-gay attack this month, reported. One victim said one of the masked gunmen who broke into their rental home "made slurs against gays, white people and Americans" March 2. According to the victims, Michael Baker and boyfriend Nick Smith were in the shower when they heard their friend, Todd Wiggins, scream in another part of the house; all three were eventually tied up and beaten.

In Michigan, Attorney General Bill Schuette has filed a brief supporting Julea Ward, an Eastern Michigan University student who was dismissed from the school's counseling program for refusing to counsel a gay client, according to . The university has said that Ward failed to meet curriculum criteria and professional guidelines with her stance; however, Schuette claims that Ward's religious beliefs were violated.

British rugby superstar Ben Cohen is embarking on an anti-homophobia personal appearance tour that will include several stops in the United States, according to . Cohen has teamed with English rugby clubs to hold "Beer with Ben" evenings in the United Kingdom and in Atlanta, Seattle, New York and Washington, D.C. The tour will aid the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network.

Former U.S. Sen./Indiana Gov. will be Fox News' newest contributor, according to . Bayh, a moderate Democrat, decided to run for another term as senator because he was appalled by what he saw as the extreme partisanship in Congress. Bayh, who voted in favor of most gay-rights measures, came under fire in 2010 for an AIDS joke he said at an the Indiana Jefferson Jackson Day Dinner.

The Archives Center at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History has received a complete set of reports related to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT), according to the Smithsonian Institution. The reports detail the Department of Defense Comprehensive Review Working Group's analysis of the results of the department's recent survey on DADT. The reports have become part of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Collection in the Archives Center.

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