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HRC to honor Anna Wintour; openly gay officials now in 48 states
NATIONAL ROUNDUP: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times.
2012-01-11

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The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) will host its annual Greater New York Gala dinner Feb. 4 at the Waldorf-Astoria, a press release noted. This year's event comes as lawmakers passed historic marriage-equality legislation, making New York the largest state in the country to allow same-sex couples to legally marry. HRC will honor fashion-media icon Anna Wintour with its Ally for Equality Award; the out creator of the hit series Glee and American Horror Story, Ryan Murphy, will present the honor to her.

With Republican Mayor Greg Davis of Southhaven, Miss., coming out of the closet, there are now openly gay or lesbian public officials in 48 states, Care2.com reported. Davis made the comments after a newspaper revealed that his expenses included a visit to an adult store for gay men while he was in Canada. Only Alaska and South Dakota do not have openly LGBT officials or politicians.

The parents of a Florida A&M University band member killed while he was being hazed have revealed their son was gay, according to Advocate.com . However, Robert Champion Jr.'s parents do not believe sexual orientation was the primary reason for last year's attack. Last November, the student, 26, was found unresponsive on a bus in Orlando after a football game against Bethune-Cookman University.

In Santa Barbara, Calif., two men were attacked New Year's Eve by three men who thought the victims were gay, according to Independent.com . A police spokesperson said the two victims were walking toward their car when the three attackers confronted them. One of the suspects made an anti-gay slur, and the three then punched the victims. One of the victims suffered a broken jaw and a severe head injury that required staples to close; the other had only minor injuries.

Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann ended her bid for the White House after coming in a distant sixth in the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, according to the Chicago Tribune. The congresswoman's decision could favor rival Rick Santorum, who came in a very close second to Mitt Romney in the caucuses. Santorum, Bachmann and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is "reassessing" his campaign, have been courting support from evangelical Christians.

Gay-rights groups praised Michele Bachmann's withdrawal from the GOP presidential race, according to On Top Magazine. Bachmann decided to step aside after finishing sixth in Iowa, where she was raised. In remarks to supporters Jan. 3, Bachmann listed President Obama's support for gay rights as one reason he should not be re-elected. R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, said Bachmann's focus on "divisive social issues demonstrated her lack of credibility."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has begun awarding a total of almost $339 million to state and local health departments across the United States to fund HIV-prevention activities this year, according to a press release. The awards are for the first year of a five-year funding cycle and represent a new direction for CDC HIV funding designed to achieve a higher level of impact with every federal HIV-prevention dollar spent. Funds were awarded to health departments in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, eight U.S. territories and eight cities with heavy HIV burdens.

Gov. Christine Gregoire of Washington state announced that she will press for passage of marriage equality during an upcoming special session, Advocate.com reported. "It is time," she said. "It's over time for us to ensure gay and lesbian couples have equal rights, and that means marriage in Washington state." Even though the state has a domestic-partnership law that grants many of the benefits marriage would, Gregoire added, "I don't think about the legal protections of a marriage license. Instead, I think about love, I think about commitment." Groups such as Washington United for Marriage applauded her speech.

The Iowa District Court for Polk County ordered the state's department of public health to issue a birth certificate for 2-year-old Mackenzie Gartner, a child born to a married same-sex couple in 2009, according to a Lambda Legal press release. The certificate will list both spouses as Mackenzie's parents in reliance on their marriage and the spousal presumption of parentage it creates. One of the mothers, Heather Gartner, said, "Every child faces challenges in life, but being unfairly burdened by the state and deprived of the ability to show who her legal parents are should not be one of them."

In Texas, the Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) Board of Trustees voted 4-1 on Jan. 3 to add gender identity and expression to its nondiscrimination policies, according to a Lambda Legal press release. Lambda Legal South Central Regional Director Roger Poindexter said, "With this vote by the DCCCD Board of Trustees, Dallas County becomes the only county in Texas where all major public and governmental entities extend full protections to all. ... the near-unanimous vote is a strong signal that discrimination against anyone because of their gender identity or expression will not be tolerated."

Jerame Davis has been selected as the new executive director of National Stonewall Democrats (NSD), according to a press release. Davis had been serving as the NSD interim executive director since late 2011. Before joining the staff, he was vice president of the Indiana Stonewall Democrats affiliate. NSD also elected a new executive committee.

In New Jersey, Seton Hall University associate nursing professor Theodora Sirota said an adviser to the anti-gay group the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) misused her research, according to Advocate.com . Rick Fitzgibbons, a member of NARTH's scientific advisory committee, wrote an online article in November citing Sirota's research in opposing adoption by same-sex couples. However, Sirota issued a statement that said, in part, "My study was only about women raised in the context of heterosexually organized marriages where fathers were identified as gay or bisexual. My research was not about and did not measure anything in women raised by gay parent couples or by single gay fathers."

As civil unions were legalized in Delaware Jan. 1, more than 400 people lined up on New Year's Day to make things official, according to Inquisitr.com . Attorneys Lisa Goodman and Drewry Fennell were the first same-sex couple to be joined in a civil-union ceremony. Rev. Patricia Downing led the ceremony while U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., and Lt. Gov. Matt Denns both gave readings for the couple.

Chatham, N.J., has installed Bruce Harris as its leader—and he's believed to be the first openly gay, Black GOP mayor in the nation, DailyRecord.com reported. "I have felt it is my duty to serve the community," Harris, 61, said. "I think that public service is interesting, and finding ways to meet the challenges facing a small community like Chatham Borough is personally rewarding." Despite his trailblazer status, Harris said he did not enter politics to break barriers.

Log Cabin Republicans (LCR) issued a press statement criticizing the Weekly Standard for the "promotion of grossly antigay material through its e-mail marketing program." According to LCR, the Weekly Standard letter included "accusations that LGBT Americans want to indoctrinate an entire generation of American children with pro-homosexual propaganda and eliminate traditional values from American society," among other things. LCR Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper said, "The Weekly Standard is a respected conservative publication. Eugene DelGaudio's delusional rants are beneath the dignity of its informed readership."

In New Hampshire, GOP presidential hopeful Rick Santorum was booed after comparing marriage equality to polygamy, according to a Human Rights Campaign (HRC) press release. While answering a question about same-sex marriage, Santorum asked, "If you're not happy unless you're married to five other people, is that OK?" HRC President Joe Solmonese said, "Rick Santorum's views are out of step with the majority of Americans across demographics and faiths. ... It's something most Americans will not stand for."

An unofficial fan website affiliated with the University of Alabama reportedly sold T-shirts for the Jan. 9 national championship football game between the Crimson Tide and the Louisiana State University Tigers that made fun at the latter school's French heritage—and appeared to be a celebration of gay-bashing, according to the Huffington Post. The shirt read, "Hey Homeauxs: We Just Beat the Hell out of You 24-10." However, the site ( www.heyhomeauxs.com ) had been taken down. Alabama beat LSU 21-0 for the national championship Jan. 9.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has confirmed that transgender people can deduct their hormone therapy and sex-reassignment surgery expenses, according to a Transgender Equality item. This announcement indicates that the IRS will follow the U.S. Tax Court's 2010 ruling in O'Donnabhain v. Commissioner, which held that gender identity disorder (GID) is a medical condition, and transgender people receiving hormone therapy or gender-reassignment surgery as treatment for GID may deduct these costs as medical expenses.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced revisions to the Uniform Crime Report's (UCR) definition of rape that will lead to a more comprehensive statistical reporting of the crime nationwide, according to a press release. The new definition is more inclusive, better reflects state criminal codes and focuses on the various forms of sexual penetration understood to be rape. The new definition of rape is: "The penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim." The FBI will use the definition to collect information from local law enforcement agencies about reported rapes.

In Texas, gay Republican leader Rob Schlein said that he'd vote for GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum over President Obama, according to the Dallas Voice. Santorum, who has compared same-sex marriage to bestiality, finished in a virtual tie in Iowa with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. "We're going to all vote for the Republican, no matter who it is, even Rick Santorum," Schlein said. "Any Republican, including Rick Santorum, will do a better job than Barack Obama on the economy. It doesn't matter what anti-LGBT positions he's taken in the past."

Two men, including a former top aide to Gov. Scott Walker, were arrested and charged with embezzling from veterans' groups, the latest development in an ongoing John Doe investigation into Walker's current and former staff, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm said former Walker aide Tim Russell and Kevin Kavanaugh, the former treasurer of a Milwaukee-area veterans group, were those arrested. A third man—Brian Pierick, Russell's longtime partner—was also arrested and faces charges of felony child enticement and having a child expose his genitals.

New York City's Ali Forney Center—the nation's largest organization working on behalf of homeless LGBT youth—announced it received a two-year matching $500K challenge Grant from the Calamus Foundation, according to a press release. This grant will make possible the launch of the nation's first 24-hour drop-in services center for homeless LGBT youth. The new 24-hour services center will be available seven days a week, and will offer homeless LGBT youth support and vital services.

A campaign spokesman for GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said the former governor had nothing to do with a pink flier distributed during his 2002 run for that office, according to Advocate.com . The flier said that Romney and his running mate "wish you a great Pride Weekend!" and then state that "all citizens deserve equal rights, regardless of their sexual preference." However, the Huffington Post has reported that a former campaign volunteer, Aaron Maloy, has taken credit for the fliers.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) will host Her HRC, a national weekend of celebration for women, the weekend of Jan. 14 in almost 20 cities, according to a press release. The mission of the Her HRC program is to gather women to celebrate and build a greater sense of community while learning about the importance of engaging in the LGBT civil rights movement with HRC. See http://www.hrc.org/HerHRC.

A first-of-its-kind forum in Minnesota that will help teachers, social workers, administrators and parents of LGBT individuals create a safe school environment will be held Jan. 20 at Hamline University in St. Paul, Business Wire noted. PFLAG Twin Cities will host the day-long forum, entitled "Cultivating Respect: Safe Schools for All Students." "These stories are heartbreaking and the statistics are horrifying," said Gretchen Murr, board member of PFLAG Twin Cities. "Gay bullying in schools is a national epidemic, and we're acting urgently to create a safer place for GLBT students."

Funders for LGBTQ Issues has just published two reports on LGBTQ grantmaking: its annual tracking report on U.S. foundations, and its third report on grantmaking in the Global South and East, according to a press release. Both reports are based on the latest available data for the year 2010. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Grantmaking, by the U.S. Foundation, reveals that grantmaking institutions awarded $97.2 million to organizations explicitly serving LGBTQ communities—an increase of 3.9 percent in funding over 2009 dollars. A Global Gaze: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Grantmaking in the Global South and East reveals that reported giving to LGBTI communities in the global South and East totaled $35.5 million in 2010.

Soulfource—a non-profit organization committed to the freedom of LGBTQ people from political and spiritual oppression—announced the new co-directors for this year's Equality Ride: Jason Conner and J. Mason, according to a press release. They will lead a team of 15 riders on the organization's fifth two-month bus tour from Philadelphia to San Francisco.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention (NCHHSTP) has released its atlas, according to a press release. The tool will allow users to create maps, charts and tables using HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis, STD and tuberculosis surveillance data. (Tuberculois and viral hepatitis surveillance data actually will be added by mid-year.) A video tutorial has been recorded and is available at http://www.cdc.gov/nchhstp/atlas.

Oklahoma state Rep. Mike Reynolds has introduced a bill that would effectively reinstate "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" for the state's National Guard troops, the Dallas Voice reported. A supporter of state Rep. Sally Kern's "Oklahoma Citizens Proclamation for Morality," Reynolds has also spoken out against so-called "homosexual activists" after a gay minister recognized a same-sex couple in the gallery during an opening prayer. In a statement, Laura Belmonte, chair of The Equality Network, said, "This legislation is demoralizing to Oklahoma's LGBT community and our supporters, and it sends a message that it is acceptable to discriminate against people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender."

Bob Garon—the gay Vietnam War vet from New Hampshire who debated Mitt Romney over marriage equality—is throwing his support behind gay GOP presidential candidate Fred Karger, according to Advocate.com . Karger and Garon met at the Chez Vachon restaurant in Manchester, N.H.—the same place when Romney slid into a booth next to Garon after noticing he was wearing a veteran's hat.

In Michigan, Troy Mayor Janice Daniels has stirred more controversy after landing in hot water for anti-gay comments she posted on Facebook last June, Advocate.com reported. During a talk at Troy High School about establishing an anti-bullying and suicide-prevention forum, Daniels said she wanted to invite "a panel of psychologists who would testify that homosexuality is a mental disease." Daniels claimed people misunderstood her statements, adding that she was referring to the "higher incidence of [overall] disease in the homosexual community."

In Atlanta, two gay men were beaten and robbed a few blocks from where they had attended a going-away party, according to Project Q Atlanta. Drew Childs and Trenton Theiler were attacked by a pair of other men Jan. 8 after the victims went to a goodbye party for Childs, who is moving from Atlanta. Childs later tweeted, "What a night. Said good-bye to all my friends, got mugged, and woke-up in an ambulance. #wondrous #hateatlanta."

In Baltimore, Md., authorities are investigating the sexual assault of a transgender girl that happened in November, WBALTV.com reported. The victim, 16, said she had been walking down Hunter Street when an unknown man approached her, forced her against a fence and assaulted her. The victim added that the assailant then ran away. Police recovered recent surveillance footage; it's at www.youtube.com/watch.


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