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McGreevey rejected; Rev. Eddie Long possibly settling
NATIONAL ROUNDUP: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2011-04-27

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In Delaware, the supreme court has ruled that the former partner of a woman who adopted a child from Kazakhstan has de facto parental rights, according to Advocate.com . One of the women initially adopted the child, but the host country does not allow two women to adopt the same child. Little more than a year later, the women ended their relationship, with the non-adopting partner suing for custody.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled in an American Civil Liberties Union case that the mere scent of marijuana no longer justifies a search or seizure, because the possession of a small quantity of the drug is no longer criminal in that state, according to a press release. In November 2008, Massachusetts residents voted to decriminalize the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana.

Openly gay WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning has been transferred from the maximum-security facility Quantico to medium-security Fort Leavenworth, Kan., according to Newser.com . Human-rights organizations had complained that Manning was being subjected to excessively harsh treatment; Manning had complained of, among other things, being forced to strip every night and stand naked. Manning is accused of leaking secret documents to WikiLeaks, but has not been indicted after almost a year.

Speaking of Manning, protesters disrupted an early morning, big-ticket fundraiser for President Obama at a San Francisco hotel April 21, serenading the president with about Manning, according to the Los Angeles Times. Obama was delivering remarks to the crowd of about 200 supporters when Oakland, Calif. activist Naomi Pitcairn stood up from a table and declared that she and her cohorts at her table had written a song for the president. They then sang, "Each of us brought you $5,000/It takes a lot of Benjamins to run a campaign/I paid my dues/Where's our change?" The group members all held up small signs that read, "Free Bradley Manning."

In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is helping gay-rights groups mobilize for a marriage-equality bill, the New York Times reported. Cuomo's staff aims to help the groups raise more than $1 million for a media blitz, hire a political consultant and deploy field organizers. Several gay rights organizations—the Empire State Pride Agenda, the Human Rights Campaign, Freedom to Marry, Log Cabin Republicans and Marriage Equality New York—plan to form a single organization called New Yorkers United for Marriage.

The pro-LGBT group Out & Equal has lauded Home Depot for linking its website to the organization, according to a press release. The link appears on the company's Career pages, and Out & Equal is listed along with a wide range of diversity groups, such as the NAACP; the Urban League; and the National Hispanic and Pan Asian chambers of commerce. The anti-gay American Family Association recently used the inclusion of Out & Equal to renew its call for a boycott of Home Depot stores.

Virginia's board of social services has voted 7-2 not to add language to adoption regulations that would have prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The revised regulations will now go to Gov. Bob McDonnell, who thinks the current standards are fine. Under Virginia law, single people—regardless of sexual orientation—and married couples may adopt; however, unmarried couples cannot.

On the eve of the 120th day since President Obama signed legislation allowing for repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT), Servicemembers Legal Defense Network unveiled a digital clock (at www.sldn.org/clock& its website, marking the time passed since the signing and renewing its call on the U.S. military to accelerate the timeline for training the armed forces on repeal. SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis said, "While the clock ticks, America's LGB service members remain under 'Don't Ask' investigations. Training the armed forces on repeal is not complicated, and the Services should accelerate and complete this process in the second quarter of this year."

Because Kentucky does not recognize same-sex marriage, Louisville's Douglass Boulevard Christian Church will not sign marriage licenses for heterosexual couples, according to Advocate.com . The congregation unanimously approved the action. The church's clergy will still perform marriage ceremonies for both opposite- and same-sex couples ,and will help heterosexual couples find a civil servant to sign their licenses.

GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) will honor Barclays Capital; Chely Wright; supporters Susie Scher and Allison Grover; and the 2011 Educator of the Year at its eighth annual Respect Awards: New York, to be held May 23 at Gotham Hall. The Respect Awards, held annually in Los Angeles and New York, honors corporations, individuals, students and educators who have made a significant difference in the areas of diversity, inclusion and the Safe Schools Movement, and who serve as exemplary role models.

Fourteen states still have laws criminalizing anal sex between two consenting adults, according to an Advocate.com item. Ten states (Idaho, Utah, Michigan, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana) ban all forms of sodomy, while four others (Montana, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas) prohibit sodomy between two people of the same gender.

University of Iowa gender and women's studies professor Ellen Lewin had a rather eye-opening reponse after receiving a mass email from the College Republicans about an upcoming event, Newser.com reported. Upon receiving a message about Conservative Coming Out Week—during which conservatives "come out of the closet" and wear red—Lewis typed, "F*** YOU, REPUBLICANS," and hit "Reply All." She later apologized, but the university's president, in a mass email, said, "Intolerant and disrespectful discord is not acceptable behavior."

A new erection-enhancing condom from Durex is expected to give men a bedroom boost, according to myfoxdfw.com . It's called CSD500, but it's nicknamed "Viagra for condoms." CSD500 contains a blood flow-boosting gel that helps men maintain a firmer erection for a longer time as the solution is absorbed through the skin. It is expected to sell in Europe later this year, and could be a hit in the United States, one of the world's largest condom markets.

At a speech to the conservative think tank the Sutherland Institute, marriage-equality opponent Maggie Gallagher claimed that gays have interfered in her efforts to create a "marriage culture" and are spreading "accusations and hatred" against those who oppose same-sex marriage, according to Advocate.com . She also said, "By the very act of declaring that two men in a union are in a marriage we are announcing that marriage has nothing to do with bringing mothers and fathers and children together."

In Minnesota, bullying led two eighth-grade girls—Haylee Fentress and Paige Moravetz—to fulfill a suicide pact, leaving behind suicide notes for their families, according to ABC News. Fentress' aunt, Robin Settle, said that the girl had complained to her family that she felt alienated and bullied. Moravetz and Fentress became fast friends, with Moravetz teaching Fentress to skate; in fact, the two were so close that Fentress had hyphenated her last name on Facebook with "Moravetz."

If gay Republican presidential candidate Fred Karger can meet the criteria, he will participate in a May 5 GOP debate in South Carolina sponsored by Fox News, Advocate.com reported. The South Carolina GOP has invited Karger, but he must pay a $35,000 filing fee in order to take part and average 1 percentage point in five national polls. Karger may have trouble fulfilling the latter requirement.

In Arizona, the Flagstaff City Council has started drafting an LGBT-rights ordinance, according to Advocate.com . However, council members probably will not consider the measure until they return from their summer recess in August. The ordinance will likely ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in the areas of education, public accommodations, housing and employment.

In California, Lyralisa Stevens, 42—a transgender inmate who says she has been repeatedly raped since her incarceration eight years ago—is suing in federal court for state-funded gender-reassignment surgery so she can be in a women's prison, according to Advocate.com . Stevens is serving 50 years to life for the murder of a woman following a fight over clothes. Opposing counsel is arguing that the state should only have to provide for "minimally adequate care," not an operation that may cost taxpayers $50,000.

LGBTQ individuals and allied activists from two different groups walked within the Fifth Avenue Easter Parade in New York City April 24 in memory of Americans whose lives have been lost as a result of prejudice and hate against those because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, according to a joint release from the organizations Connecting Rainbows and Queer Rising. The groups formed two processions, walking through tens of thousands of people from 44th and 57th Streets on Fifth Avenue, carrying large signs showing faces of some of those killed or driven to suicide due to hate against them. Both processions met in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral (where two individuals went inside and lit candles) and were led by a large banner that read, "Protect the Sanctity of Our Lives. Full Civil Rights NOW!"

Former N.J. Gov. Jim McGreevey's bid to become a priest has been rejected, according to the New York Post. He tried to join the priesthood but the Episcopal Church said no. It was not his sexual orientation that barred him; rather, church officials were bothered by the bitterness of McGreevey's divorce. Some leaders also were leery of McGreevey's sudden embrace of their faith after his scandal, and suspected the church was being used. McGreevery, 53, lives in Plainfield, N.J. with his partner, real-estate executive Mark O'Donnell.

The conservative group ProtectMarriage has filed a motion asking that Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling against California's Prop 8 be vacated because of his sexual orientation, according to Newser.com . ProtectMarriage, which sponsored the 2008 ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage, is arguing that Walker's decade-long same-sex relationship presents a conflict of interest. A law-school dean doubted that the motion will be granted.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that more than a thousand extremely low-income persons living with HIV/AIDS will continue to receive permanent housing as a result of $23 million in grants, according to a press release. The funding is offered through HUD's Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS Program (HOPWA), and will renew HUD's support of 22 local programs in 18 states.

In Washington, D.C., a cab driver booted a gay couple out of his taxi for kissing, according to Advocate.com . Ari Fredge, 45, and partner Christopher Holloway, 51, said that when they shared a quick peck on the cheek, the driver immediately slammed on his brakes, shouting, "My cab is not a bed. You cannot have sex in my cab!" The cabbie then allegedly kicked the couple out of his vehicle and (unsuccessfully) attempted to make them pay $6.35 for a four-block ride.

Kathy Kushnir, the executive director of Marriage Equality Rhode Island, has announced her resignation, according to Advocate.com . "I leave Marriage Equality Rhode Island with a great sense of pride and satisfaction knowing we have moved this critical debate forward," said Kushnir in the statement. "I have every confidence marriage equality will be achieved this year for all Rhode Islanders." Organization spokesman Bill Fischer denied that the resignation was linked to the marriage campaign's status, adding, "Her decision is personal."

In New York, state officials have granted conjugal visits to gay inmates who are married or are in civil unions, according to Advocate.com . Inmates may also be more likely to be allowed out of prison to visit a terminally ill loved one. The state board of corrections formalized the policy regarding conjugal visits, but it took more than two years to do after then-Gov. David Paterson ordered state agencies to recognize same-sex marriages.

In Florida, a male student was removed from class at Tampa Bay's Riverview High School for wearing high heels, according to Advocate.com . A friend said that the unidentified student felt "shame" for being called out of class. A teacher contacted the principal's office, saying that the boy's shoes were disruptive.

In Tennessee, the so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill has advanced of the state Senate's Education Committee, according to Ms. Magazine. The measure would prohibit elementary- and middle-school educators from mentioning homosexuality to students. State Sen. Stacey Campfield, the bill's chief sponsor, has been pushing similar legislation for six years, originally in the state House.

In Texas, the state House passed a budget provision 110-24 that requires any college with an LGBT center to offer the same financial support to a "traditional values" center, according to Advocate.com . The group that worked with the bill's sponsor, Wayne Christian, is the Young Conservatives of Texas. The group's senior vice chairman, Tony McDonald, has admitted he hopes that all public universities in the state will defund LGBT centers instead of backing conservative centers.

In Georgia, Bishop Eddie Long and New Birth Missionary Baptist Church are reportedly close to reaching an out-of-court settlement in a case involving sexual misconduct, according to AJC.com . Four men—Maurice Robinson, Jamal Parris, Anthony Flagg and Spencer LeGrande—have sued Long, the church and the LongFellows Youth Academy, alleging Long took them on trips and gave them gifts in exchange for sex. Judge Johnny Panos said that mediation has been difficult but that a settlement is near.

Approximately 300 people gathered in Maryland April 25 for a vigil held in response to the beating transgender victim Chrissy Lee Polis suffered in a Baltimore McDonald's, Advocate.com reported. In the graphic video filmed April 18, two women attacked Polis while one patron and employee attempted to intervene, while others laughed. Teonna Monae Brown faces first and second-degree assault charges; the identity of the younger accomplice, charged as a juvenile, has not been released.


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