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NATIONAL Pre-teen suicide, drag-queen situation, Truth Awards, Stormy Daniels
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2018-03-20

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A 12-year-old bisexual boy in Mississippi committed suicide after allegedly being bullied for coming out, Gay Star News reported. Andrew Leach was found dead March 6 at the family home after death by hanging. However, his father, Matt, said Andrew was tormented by classmates for talking about his sexual orientation, saying, "He was struggling a lot internally with sexual orientation."

A Philadelphia drag queen came under fire after performing in a Nazi-inspired outfit, according to NewNowNext.com . Satine Harlow sported a red windbreaker emblazoned with a swastika and black cap reminiscent of Nazi S.S. officers in her show at ICandy. The look was reportedly inspired by Mel Brooks' The Producers, but, an audience member told Philadelphia "when I checked Satine's Instagram page, how they promoted themselves was a different story." In a since-deleted image, Harlow ( real name: Eric Ziker ) showed off the swastika cape and added "Heil Hitler" in bold text. Subsequently, Harlow, who identifies as Jewish, criticized those who were offended in a social-media post.

African-Americans in the LGBTQ community were honored at the fourth annual Truth Awards, held Feb. 24 at the Taglyan Cultural Complex in Los Angeles, a press release noted. The Truth Awards honored former NBA referee Violet Palmer with a Lifetime Achievement Award; other honorees included actor Rockmond Dunbar, celebrity makeup artist Damone Roberts, singer/songwriter Rahsaan Patterson, entertainment publicist Ellene Miles, journalist Tre'Vell Anderson, and reality star and health educator Chandi Moore. For more information about the Truth Awards and its honorees, visit BetterBrothersLA.com/truthawards.

Gay photographer Keith Munyan has provided a twist in the Storny Daniels situation, according to Advocate.com . ( Daniels refers to the two men as "my dads." ) Daniels was renting Munyan's L.A. home in 2006 when Donald Trump rang the residence. Munyan was there and listened in on the phone call, with Daniels' permission. Munyan confirmed to The Washington Post that Daniels and Trump had a sexual encounter and that during the conversation Trump promised Daniels a condo in Florida, although the actress wanted a spot on Trump's reality show, The Apprentice.

Just days after People For the American Way filed suit against the Department of Housing and Urban Development ( HUD ) and the Justice Department to force the agencies to release documents about reported actions they have taken to remove protections from LGBTQ people, HuffPost reported on a leaked memo showing that HUD plans to remove anti-discrimination language from its mission statement, an organizational press release stated. In 2017, HUD removed a guidebook from its website which provided training on how to provide transgender people equal access in homeless shelters, Newsweek noted. After President Donald Trump was inaugurated, the department also canceled a survey of pilot programs to reduce LGBT homelessness in two cities and dissociated itself from a study on LGBT housing discrimination.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights ( NCLR ) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders ( GLAD ) filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit to find that sexual-orientation discrimination violates Title VII of the 1964 federal Civil Rights Act because it is a form of sex discrimination, a press release from the organizations noted. The brief argues that earlier court decisions dating back to the 1970s—which barred lesbian and gay people from bringing employment discrimination claims under Title VII—have led to what the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals called a "confused hodgepodge of cases." That exclusion has caused lower courts to reach inconsistent results and erected unique barriers to sex discrimination claims by lesbian, gay and bisexual people that other employees do not face.

Washington, D.C., resident David Bright, 31, pled guilty to two counts of second-degree murder while armed for the February 2016 murder of two housemates that law enforcement sources said were gay men, The Washington Blade reported. Police and prosecutors have said Bright's motive for fatally shooting Clifton David Francis, 51, and David Aumon Watkins Jr., 45, appeared to involve money, and that there was no evidence to indicate the incident was a hate crime based on the victims' sexual orientation. Bright is scheduled to be sentenced May 11.

The right wing has apparently staged a campaign against the Equal Employment Opporunity Commission's Chai Feldblum, who is lesbian. After President Trump renominated Feldblum ( whose term expires July 1 ) for another term, the American Family Association ( AFA ) has started a petition against her, with AFA President Tim Wildmon saying, "I say let her term expire, and replace her with a Constitutional conservative who will protect the First Amendment."

Celebrities ( such as Sara Ramirez, Matt Bomer and Andy Cohen ), civil-rights leaders ( e.g., Rev. Al Sharpton, U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan ), LGBT advocates, hundreds of businesses, faith leaders and many others are uniting to celebrate "Open To All Week," affirming that businesses open to the public should be open to all, according to a press release. "Open To All Week" coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court's 1968 civil-rights decision in Newman v. Piggie Park ( which observed businesses could not discriminate against African-Americans ), and comes at an urgent moment as the court is now preparing to hand down its decision in a similar case ( Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission ), involving a Colorado business that refused service to a same-sex couple See OpenToAll.com .

Medicaid beneficiaries in California are taking the HIV-prevention pill in greater numbers than ever before, Plus magazine noted. Across the United States, PrEP use is also rising significantly, according to data released recently. Blacks and Latinos, however, have been slow to embrace the medication, even though HIV infection rates among them are much higher than among whites.

The United States District Court for the District of Maryland ruled that a transgender students' right to use the restroom and locker rooms in alignment with their gender identity is protected by federal and state law, according to a joint press release from the ACLU and FreeState Justice. In M.A.B. v. Board of Education of Talbot County, Max Brennan ( M.A.B. ), a boy who is transgender, was forced by Talbot County Public Schools policy to use separate restrooms and locker rooms because he is transgender. The lawsuit was originally filed by FreeState Justice, and the ACLU and ACLU of Maryland subsequently joined as co-counsel.

The nation's historic first LGBT Democratic club has voted "no endorsement" for California gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom for the June primary, The San Francisco Examiner noted. The Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club announced its endorsements, and backed the potential first gay mayor of San Francisco, Mark Leno, as well as gay supervisorial candidate Rafael Mandelman—but stopped short of backing Newsom, the former San Francisco mayor who married same-sex couples in 2004. Tom Temprano, an out gay member of City College of San Francisco Board of Trustees, said perhaps the non-endorsement was a sign of the low campaign presence Newsom seems to have in San Francisco, which many view as all sewn up for the candidate.

An attorney for former NFL player Aaron Hernandez said his client's homosexuality was the main reason prosecutors accused him of the 2012 murders of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado, NewNowNext.com noted. In Aaron Hernandez Uncovered, which premiered March 17 on Oxygen, George Leontire said he spoke with Hernandez about being gay before the athlete committed suicide: "[He] acknowledged it. Acknowledged the immense pain that it caused him."

The Washington legislature has passed a bill to ban licensed therapists from trying to change a minor's sexual orientation, KING5.com reported. The Senate agreed on changes made in the House to Senate Bill 5722 and passed it on a 33-16 vote. It now heads to Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature. The bill would deem it "unprofessional conduct" for a licensed healthcare provider to perform conversion therapy on a patient under 18.

About 20 activists affiliated with No Justice No Pride demonstrated in front of the Robert F. Kennedy Department of Justice Building in Washington, D.C., on March 20—gathering in support of four Columbus, Ohio-based activists who were arrested after disrupting the Stonewall Columbus Pride Festival and Parade on June 17, 2017, The Washington Blade reported. ( Demonstrators also marched in Columbus. ) Wriply Bennet, Kendall Denton, Ashley Braxton and DeAndre Antonio Miles-Hercules were subsequently arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, among other charges. Bennet, Braxton and Denton were sentenced with fines, community service and probationary periods; Miles-Hercules, who has a felony charge of aggravated robbery and is being processed separately, is still awaiting trial.

It's official: Former Sex and the City actress and activist Cynthia Nixon announced that she is officially throwing her hat in the New York gubernatorial race, running in September's Democratic primary against incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo, CNN reported. Nixon is forming a team of alumni of the New York political sphere, including Rebecca Katz and Bill Hyers—who worked on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's first campaign—to help her ahead of the primary. Nixon ( who identified as bisexual several years ago ) is a mother of three, and married to activist Christine Marinoni.

The Oregon Supreme Court handed down the longest suspension in its history to a judge who refused to marry same-sex couples in the state—but stopped short of removing him from office, according to a KTVL.com item. Marion County Circuit Court Judge Vance Day had come to the attention of authorities after allegations he had refused to marry gay couples and had broken gun laws. In 2016, an ethics commission recommended that Day be removed from office. Instead, the court ordered Day suspended for three years.

The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance ( NQAPIA ) blasted a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruling that upheld SB4, which the organization called "Texas's anti-immigrant/ anti-sanctuary city law" in a press release. NQAPIA Executive Director Glenn D. Magpantay said, "We are outraged by the decision! Texas SB 4 will subject Asian Americans, LGBT people, Black immigrants and Latinos to illegal profiling about their immigration status by local law enforcement." NQAPIA and LGBT Asian groups and allies in Texas submitted an amicus ( "friend of the court" ) brief to illustrate the impact the law would have on LGBT Texans, Asian Americans, and immigrants; it's at http://www.nqapia.org/wpp/nqapia-brief/.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) released a statement condemning Trump's decision to replace Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with Mike Pompeo. "Mike Pompeo's longstanding opposition to LGBTQ equality makes him a reckless choice to lead our nation's diplomatic efforts," said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. "The decision to nominate anti-LGBTQ Mike Pompeo could have serious consequences for the United States and LGBTQ people around the globe. The State Department has a crucial role to play in advancing human rights—a role which was already rapidly declining under Tillerson. This decision has the potential to make a dire situation even worse. Pompeo does not deserve to be confirmed."

The National Coalition for LGBT Health has announced "OUTfront for LGBT Health" as the theme of the 16th annual National LGBT Health Awareness Week, on March 26-30, according to a press release. The Coalition, which created National LGBT Health Awareness Week in 2003, also announced the more than 130 partner organizations joining with the coalition for the week, including Alliance for Positive Change, Women with a Vision, The AIDS Institute, Equality California and Center for Black Equity, among others. See HealthLGBT.org .

In Hawaii, a well-known Democratic candidate for Congress who gained notoriety opposing President Donald Trump's travel ban targeting mostly Muslim countries is being forced to explain a 1995 rant perceived as intolerant of gay people, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. Hawaii Lt. Gov. Doug Chin said he won't "quibble" about what's on a recording posted on YouTube last year, or its context, and has apologized. Kaniela Ing, a state representative from Maui running against Chin for the Democratic nomination, said the recording was "scary."

Peter Boykin—the founder of the campaign group Gays for Trump who is running for the North Carolina House of Representatives under the slogan "MAGA for everyone—recently described transgender soldiers as "mentally challenged," Newsweek reported. LGBT activists have called the comments "offensive" and misinformed. Boykin, 40, hopes to use recent changes to district boundaries to turn the seat in Guilford County 58th district red in the autumn election.

The Hispanic National Bar Association ( HNBA ) named Lambda Legal staff attorneys Omar Gonzalez-Pagan and Richard Saenz as two recipients of the 2018 HNBA Top Lawyers Under 40 Award, according to a press release. Gonzalez-Pagan's work spans all aspects of Lambda Legal's impact litigation, policy advocacy and public education efforts, and he was a member of the legal team in Obergefell v. Hodges. Saenz is a staff attorney and the Criminal Justice and Police Misconduct strategist at Lambda Legal; prior to Lambda Legal, he founded the HIV/LGBT Advocacy Project at Queens Legal Services in New York City.

Republican Maine House candidate Leslie Gibson is quitting the race after calling a Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivor a "skinhead lesbian" and calling another a "bald-faced liar," according to a SunSentinel item. Gibson was widely criticized earlier for insulting the survivors of last month's shooting at the Parkland high school, which killed 17 people. Previously unopposed in his bid to represent the district just north of Portland, his comments drew a Democratic opponent days later.

The Dallas Overwatch team released a player from its roster that had multiple suspensions for homophobic and racially charged comments, according to a Metro Weekly item that cites PC Gamer. ( The Overwatch League is a competitive tournament for the video game Overwatch, released in 2016 by Blizzard Entertainment. ) Felix Lengyel, who goes by the gamer tag "xQc," reportedly mutually agreed to part ways with The Dallas Fuel after being suspended twice in the league's inaugural season.

In February, Virginia Commonwealth University student groups Queer Action and Queer & Trans People of Color ( QTPOC ) Collective sent a letter to Godfrey's detailing numerous issues that they had with the Richmond gay bar, GayRVA.com noted. In the letter, which was released to the public March 1, the groups cited issues such as "lack of gender inclusive bathrooms at [Godfrey's], as well as people being policed for using the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity; excessive force being used against patrons by police; and numerous anti-black incidences with drag performers, staff members, and police officers." ( The letter is at docs.google.com/document/d/1QiyP-GzNK91viQ2dQiFcIGzwhqTa0tGiliBPiRc4HdQ/edit. ) Godfrey's responded by saying it is commited to diversity.

Sen. Jeff Flake ( R-Ariz. ) took aim at his own party over its unwavering support of President Donald Trump, The Huffington Post noted. "Never has a party abandoned and fled its principles and deeply held beliefs so quickly as my party did in the face of the nativist juggernaut," Flake ( who is not running for re-election ) said in a speech to the National Press Club, according to the Arizona Republic. "We have become strangers to ourselves." He called on the Republican Party to act now to "mitigate and repair the damage" caused by Trump.

More than a year after she publicly supported Donald Trump's candidacy, Caitlyn Jenner continues to distance herself from the increasingly unpopular president, saying that his administration has been the worst ever for trans people, The Huffington Post reported. "As far as trans issues, this administration has been the worst ever," she told Newsweek at the Champions of Jewish Values International Awards Gala in New York on March 9. Jenner appeared at the president's inauguration in January 2017, but she's been critical of the administration's policies in interviews and on social media.

The Michigan Senate passed bills inspired by the Larry Nassar sexual abuse case, ESPN.com reported. The legislative body voted to retroactively give the imprisoned sports doctor's victims and other accusers more time to sue, restrict governments' ability to claim immunity from lawsuits and require more people to report suspected abuse to authorities. The legislation—sent to the House for further consideration—had received pushback from universities, governments, businesses and the Roman Catholic Church over the broader financial implications of facing an unknown number of suits for old claims.


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