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National: Trans teen's letter, Cruz blasted, Michelle Obama's statement
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2016-04-26

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A transgender ninth-grader wrote a letter to N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory about the so-called "bathroom bill," a press release stated. The boy, Skye Thomson, sent it to the governor, and the National Center for Transgender Equality posted it on Twitter and Facebook. In part, Thomson wrote, "I've dealt with bullying my whole life. And now I feel that my own state lawmakers and governor are bullying me as well. ... HB2 just gives other students all the more reason to hate us." A Twitter hashtag ( #meetwithskye ) has been launched in order to continue to get the word out and pressure McCrory to fulfill his face-to-face meeting with Thomson.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) blasted presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz about a campaign ad that targets transgender people. In a statement, HRC Communications Director Jay Brown said, "Ted Cruz's transphobic smear campaign peddles a dangerous brand of hate and ignorance. At a time when transgender women are at a disproportionately high risk for violence and assault, Ted Cruz's reckless ad puts them at even greater risk. Moreover, what message does Ted Cruz think this sends to transgender youth across this country? We deserve a president who'll fight to protect the rights and dignity of everyone—not a reckless, feckless politician who'll do or say anything to score a point."

The women's-rights organization UltraViolet has slammed NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, saying that he failed to stand with North Carolina's LGBTQ community, according to a press release. Talking with ESPN, Silver said, "For us, with a team in Charlotte, we want to work with the business community and elected officials frankly to change the law. But we didn't think it would be productive to set ultimatums. We want to work and engage with the people of North Carolina and move away from what is problematic for the League." UltraViolet Executive Director Nita Chaudhary said, ""North Carolina's new anti-LGBTQ law is more than just 'problematic'—it is an extreme attack on the LGBTQ community in the State and a threat to queer people everywhere."

First Lady Michelle Obama gave the commencement address at Mississippi's Jackson State University. According to a transcript from the White House, she said, in part, "If we fail to exercise our fundamental right to vote, then I guarantee that so much of the progress we've fought for will be under threat. Congress will still be gridlocked. Statehouses will continue to roll back voting rights and write discrimination into the law. We see it right here in Mississippi—just two weeks ago—how swiftly progress can hurtle backward, how easy it is to single out a small group and marginalize them because of who they are or who they love." Recently, the state passed a law that allows those with religious objections to deny certain services to same-sex couples.

Former Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Harris Wofford announced he is marrying a man 50 years his junior—almost 20 years after his wife died, according to CNN. Wofford, a Democrat who was also a top advisor to John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr., announced his marriage to Matthew Charlton in a New York Times op-ed. Fifteen years ago, Wofford ( then 75 ) met Charlton ( who was 25 ) on the beach, with Wofford writing that there was an "immediate spark."

Target is making a stand on the debate around what type of bathrooms transgender people can use, The Associated Press reported. In a statement posted on its company website, the Minneapolis-based retail giant said transgender employees and customers can use the restroom or fitting room facility that "corresponds with their gender identity." "Inclusivity is a core belief at Target," said the retailer in a statement. "It's something we celebrate." In 2010, Target donated $150,000 toward a GOP gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota who publicly opposed same-sex marriage.

Lambda Legal urged the U.S. District Court in Colorado to deny the federal government's motion to dismiss the lawsuit Lambda Legal filed on behalf of an intersex client, Dana Zzyym, a press release stated. The U.S. State Department denied Zzyym a passport because Zzyym refused to choose a gender on the passport application form, and the form does not provide any gender-marker designation other than "M" for "male" or "F" for "female." The brief and more about the lawsuit, Zzyym v. Kerry, are at http://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/zzyym_co_20160422_opening-brief.

The Colorado State Supreme Court ruled to let stand an appellate court ruling that Masterpiece Cakeshop violated Colorado's anti-discrimination law when it refused to sell a same-sex couple a cake for their wedding reception, an ACLU press release stated. The highest court in Colorado today affirmed that no one should be turned away from a public-facing business because of who they are or who they love," said Ria Tabacco Mar, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union's LGBT Project, who argued the case. "We all have a right to our personal beliefs, but we do not have a right to impose those beliefs on others and harm them."

A superior court in Pennsylvania rejected Bill Cosby's appeal and lifted a hold on criminal trial proceedings, paving the way for the sexual assault case to move forward in county court, CNN reported. A stay, or hold, was put on the proceedings pending the ruling on the motion to reject the appeal, which has been lifted. Cosby faces felony charges in the 2004 alleged sexual assault of former Temple University employee Andrea Constand, who is an out lesbian.

Advocate.com ran a piece on 17 anti-gay public figures who have been revealed, over the years, to be gay or bi. Among them are George Rekers, an anti-gay activist and co-founder of the Family Research Council; former Alabama Attorney General Troy King; former Young Republican National Federation president Glenn Murphy Jr.—who was found guilty of sexual assault for performing oral sex on an unwilling male; ex-U.S. Sen. Larry Craig; California Republican Congressman David Dreier; former Puerto Rico Sen. Roberto Arango; evangelical pastor Ted Haggard; and former California state Sen. Roy Ashburn.

Transgender Law Center sent a letter to the Kenosha Unified School District demanding that transgender students be allowed to use facilities that match their gender identity or face legal consequences for violating federal law, according to a press release. Ashton Whitaker, a 16-year-old transgender boy and a student at Tremper High School, had been using the boys' restrooms without incident since the beginning of the school year, until school administrators intervened and threatened him with disciplinary action if he continued to use the boys' restroom. Recently, Whitaker received permission to run for prom king, CBS58.com noted.

Transgender Law Center sent a letter to South Carolina's Horry County Schools warning that the district would face legal action unless it acts immediately to ensure transgender students are able to use the restroom that matches the gender they live as, according to a press release. Transgender Law Center is representing a high school senior and transgender boy, R., who had been using the boys' bathroom without incident until Socastee High School suddenly banned him from the boys' bathroom in his senior year. Transgender Law Center is the largest national organization dedicated to advancing justice for transgender and gender-nonconforming people through litigation, policy advocacy and public education.

In Indiana, a same-sex couple said they feel violated after their cars were tagged with anti-gay slurs, WISHTV.com reported. Ryan Kennedy said the graffiti "looked like there was sun streaks on the car." However, yellow paint covered his vehicle. "On this side when I walked around from the gas cap all the way up to the mirror, big letters that said, 'AIDS,'" Kennedy said, adding, "It stings, personally. I mean, I probably don't even know the person, but it's obviously a very personal attack."

Merriam-Webster, the leading U.S. publisher of dictionaries, added "cisgender" and "genderqueer" to its lexicon, HRC.org noted. The new definitions are, with cisgender, of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity corresponds with the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth; and, with genderqueer, of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity cannot be categorized as solely male or female.

AIDS Walk New York and Gay Men's Health Crisis ( GMHC ) launched a subway ad-campaign series titled "Hate is NOT a New York Value" to stand up to what they call hateful rhetoric from the presidential campaign trail. GMHC, the beneficiary of AIDS Walk New York, says its clients—most of whom are people of color, low-income, members of the LGBT community—or women, are being bombarded with stigmatizing and degrading messages emanating from this year's election season. The new wave of posters feature actors Alan Cumming, LaChanze and Nick Adams as well as prominent AIDS activist Peter Staley.

The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Institute ( Victory ) released a new research brief titled "More Than Represent: LGBT Elected Officials Drive Equality in the States" that shows the relationship between the number of openly LGBT public officials a state has and its level of LGBT equality, according to a press release. Among other things, the report says that more openly LGBT public officials in a state leads to a greater number of LGBT legal protections. The report is at https://www.victoryfund.org/sites/victoryfund/files/media-files/More_Than_Represent_0.pdf.

Attorneys for Voyeur nightclub want a Philadelphia judge to dismiss the lawsuit of Nicholas D. Forte, a gay man who was brutally beaten outside the club two years ago, The Philadelphia Gay News reported. Forte's injuries included a broken eye socket, a broken nose, a broken rib and multiple facial fractures. Forte was assaulted outside Voyeur by Miguel Maldonado, a Voyeur bouncer, and Matthew Morris, a Voyeur patron; Maldonado and Morris were convicted of multiple offenses connected to the incident, and remain incarcerated in state prisons. Recently, Voyeur was successful in its request that Forte's claim for punitive damages be dismissed; however, attorneys for Forte intend to revisit the issue.

The Gangway, San Francisco's oldest gay bar, may live on, SFWeekly.com noted. After a dispute over wages with a disgruntled employee soured him on hanging onto the bar until his scheduled retirement, Jung Lee decided to get out. However, a scheduled deal with Breaking Chad—which planned to rename it Daddy Bones—has reportedly fallen through.

Whole Foods is fighting back against a Texas pastor who accused the Austin-based grocery chain of decorating a cake with an anti-gay slur, Fox News noted. Jordan Brown, an openly gay pastor who preaches at the non-denominational Church of Open Doors, said he ordered a cake with the words "Love Wins" written in blue icing; however, Brown said when he got to his car, he saw "Love Wins F**" had been scrawled instead. Whole Food has countersued, claiming Brown fabricated the entire incident.

Big Gay Ice Cream might be in big trouble for its unicorn logo, The New York Daily News reported. New York City artist Sam Simon says Big Gay Ice Cream hired him in 2011 to paint a unicorn mural in the East 7th Street store—but now claims the popular dessert purveyor has since infringed on that design. After Simon's mural was completed, Big Gay Ice Cream hired another artist to copy the design and use it as the company's logo—including on merchandise, he alleges in a new Manhattan federal lawsuit.

A Meetup invitation labeled "Gay Guys Parties" made making the rounds, sparking outrage over what some say were its overt racism and political incorrectness, according to NewNowNext.com . Organizers Derrick, Jake and Connor invite guys to join them for a monthly party—but only if they're "young, fit, masculine, White men—str8-identified, gay, and bisexual," adding that "recent grads from DC-area campuses" and "white military men" were more than welcome. Moreover, an African-American man runs the group, which reportedly has more than 200 guys as members.

The owner of an adult website that fetishizes Mormons has criticized the organizers of Utah Pride for denying his site the right to be a vendor at the 2016 festival in Salt Lake City, according to NewNowNext.com . LeGrand Wolf started the site MormonBoyz dot com during the 2012 presidential race, when Mitt Romney gained national attention as what could have been America's first Mormon president. It mostly features explicit sex scenes between older men posing as Mormon elders and young missionaries under titles like Elder Brown: Corrupted and Curious, and Elder White's Disciplinary Action.

Former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, known for his anti-gay views, is returning to the Fox News Channel, according to Deadline. He will provide political analysis across various daytime and primetime programs as well as regularly contribute to the channel's election-cycle coverage. He signed off his previous show in January 2015.


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