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Anti-bullying law bolstered; Sykes to host Trevor event
National roundup: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2014-04-29

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Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has signed a bill designed to build on the state's 2010 anti-bullying law by strengthening protections for LGBT students as well as students with disabilities, according to Boston.com . Patrick called the new law ''an important step toward ensuring that all young people are able to learn and thrive'' in schools. The 2010 law was designed to crack down on bullying and cyberbullying in addition to requiring schools to establish anti-bullying programs.

The Trevor Project announced that Emmy-winning comedian Wanda Sykes will host TrevorLIVE in New York ( TrevorLIVE NY ) on June 16 at the Marriott Marquis, according to a press release. Additionally, The Trevor Project will honor YouTube phenomenon Tyler Oakley with the Trevor Youth Innovator Award, and will honor Goldman Sachs with the Trevor 20/20 Visionary Award. Multi-talented director, producer, and choreographer, Adam Shankman ( Rock of Ages; Hairspray ) will direct the show, with special guests and Trevor Hero Award honoree to be announced.

The Southern Baptist Convention hosted a summit on ethics and religious liberty, and Pastor J.D. Greear of Summit Church reportedly made jaws drop with his speech. According to The Huffington Post, Greear appeared to equate the preaching against homosexuality today to the bravery of preaching again slavery in the 1800s. In 1845, the convention was founded on an explicitly pro-slavery stance—a fact that was not lost on some Twitter users ( with one stating, "This is incredibly ironic coming from Southern Baptists" ).

A federal judge ruled that online daters failed to show that SuccessfulMatch.com misled them into believing their HIV and STD statuses would remain private, according to Courthouse News Service. Jane Does 1 and 2, of Canada and Washington state, filed a federal class action against SuccessfulMatch.com in 2013, claiming the website preyed on the vulnerability of people who have tested positive for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases, which led them to join its PositiveSingles.com dating site.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg dismissed discrimination claims from the chief diversity officer of Gallaudet University, who was demoted after she signed an anti-gay marriage petition, according to Courthouse News Service. Angela McCaskill sued the college for the deaf, her co-worker Martina Bienvenu and Bienvenu's partner, Kendra Smith, alleging defamation, negligent hiring and discrimination. Boasberg dismissed McCaskill's complaint in its entirety for failure to state a claim.

Immigrant and LGBT youth activists from the Immigrant Youth Coalition, Gay-Straight Alliance Network, and the National Queer and Trans Latin@ Alliance united for two actions on April 24 to support the release of undocumented LGBTQ youth in ICE ( U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ) detention, according to a press release. Over 1,000 people have rallied behind GSA Network board member Mario Vasquez's petition to President Obama demanding GSA alum Yordy Cancino and all youth in detention be allowed to return home. Vasquez delivered his petition to the White House.

The Navy has reassigned a former commander of the Blue Angels, its acrobatic fighter squadron, and is investigating allegations that the elite team of pilots engaged in hazing, sexual harassment and other forms of discrimination, according to a Washington Post item. The Navy announced that it had relieved Capt. Gregory McWherter, a two-time commander of the Blue Angels, of duty for alleged misconduct. An internal military document has shown that there was an environment rife with sexually explicit speech, the open display of pornography and jokes about sexual orientation.

A 74-year-old Boise, Idaho, woman wants to overturn a constitutional amendment that says the state doesn't recognize same-sex marriage after learning the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery won't allow her to be buried with her partner's ashes, LocalNews8.com reported. Madelynn Taylor served in the U.S. Navy for six years. She said after her spouse, Jean Mixner, died in 2012 she went to the veteran's cemetery to make arrangements for them to be buried together, but cemetery rules require a valid marriage certificate—and Idaho does not recognize their 2008 marriage in California.

In Georgia, Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to overturn the state's ban on same-sex marriage, Time reported. The suit seeks to vacate the voter-approved constitutional amendment passed in 2004 that bans marriage equality in Georgia. The Georgia lawsuit leaves only four states with bans on gay marriage that remain unchallenged: Alaska, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.

The landlord of Lulu's—a straight Brooklyn bar known for its music and free pizza—allegedly won't allow the establishment's owner to convert it into a gay bar, according to The Huffington Post. "The leased Premises shall be used by Tenant as a restaurant and bar," reads the lease. "It shall not be used for adult entertainment, and shall not be operated as a gay or lesbian bar and/or restaurant." Owner John McGillion has said he's been fighting landlord Janet Berger of Guard General Merchandise Corp. over the clause for more than a year. McGillion estimates that turning Lulu's into a gay bar would increase business by 40 to 50 percent.

Outspoken LGBT-rights activist Dan Savage sounded off on Bill Maher's controversial suggestion of a "gay mafia" during a HuffPost Live interview. Maher recently angered a number of LGBT advocates when he implied that Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich's resignation was the result of pressure from a "gay mafia." Savage shrugged off the idea of a gay mob, noting, "No gay rights organizations had called for him to step down," adding that a gay mafia, if it existed, would be "the slowest mafia on Earth to move, when you look at all the enemies of LGBT equality."

In New York, five men who prosecutors said were members in a Hasidic neighborhood-watch group in Brooklyn were indicted in connection with a brutal beating of a gay Black man in December, according to LGBTQ Nation. Taj Patterson, 23, a fashion student at the New York City College of Technology, said he was attacked in the early morning hours of Dec. 1, 2013, by more than a dozen ultra-Orthodox men shouting anti-gay epithets. Authorities say the suspects were part of the Williamsburg Safety Patrol Unit, a local civilian watch group. The attack left Patterson blind in his right eye.

A federal appeals court has upheld a 2013 district court ruling that cleared former Sesame Street puppeteer Kevin Clash in three lawsuits brought by men who said he sexually abused them when they were underage, LGBTQ Nation reported. The U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the charges against Clash, 53, saying the claims were made outside New York's statute of limitations. Three men claimed Clash molested them more than 10 years ago, when they were minors; however, New York law states that a lawsuit must be filed within six years of the alleged event, or three years after a plaintiff turns 21.

City officials in Louisville, Ky., have told the town council they can't approve expenses to keep a city pool open late for local Boy Scouts because the organization's ban on gay scout leaders violates the city's anti-discrimination ordinance, according to LGBTQ Nation. Councilwoman Cindi Fowler sought to direct neighborhood development money to expand swimming hours at a local park for scouts pursuing their swimming badges. However, the request was blocked because of the scouts' discrimination policy.

Alaska's supreme court has ruled that same-sex couples throughout the state must receive certain property tax exemptions given to married couples, despite a ban on gay marriage, Reuters reported. The state had prevented gay and lesbian couples from taking advantage of a tax break for senior citizens and disabled veterans that, in some circumstances, takes into account marital status. In 1998, Alaska voters amended the state's constitution to restrict marriage to between a man and a woman.

The Pentagon issued a new declaration of its goals for human rights—and although the document affirms for the first time inclusion of gay, lesbian and bisexual service members, it omits any reference of either transgender troops or civilian workers, The Washington Blade reported. The document, known as the Department of Defense Human Goals Charter, sets forth principles for the Pentagon to "create a culture of inclusion" in the U.S. armed forces, both on the military and the civilian side. Although the document sets goals for the department, it doesn't necessarily reflect a change in policy or law.

GMHC announced plans for the first-annual "Light Up New York" initiative taking place from May 12-18, the week leading up to this year's highly anticipated AIDS Walk New York, according to a press release. Participating partners will light the exteriors of their buildings, homes and offices to make the city's skyline glow red. Film legend Isabella Rossellini will host the Empire State Building's high-profile lighting ceremony as part of the effort on Thursday, May 15.

A longtime staple in the Philadelphia LGBT community is closing its doors, as the country's oldest LGBT bookstore, Giovanni's Room, will close May 17, according to Philadelphia Gay News ( PGN ). Ed Hermance, who has owned the store for 38 years, announced his plans for retirement in the fall, planning to sell both the business and the two buildings it encompasses. He announced a potential sale agreement several weeks ago, but told PGN the buyer could not come up with enough money to finalize the sale. Hermance blamed retailers such as Amazon for the tough environment independent bookstores are currently facing.

GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, will honor New York Times bestselling author Janet Mock, AT&T and the 2014 Educator of the Year as well as Gay-Straight Alliance of the Year at the 11th annual GLSEN Respect Awards: New York, presented by Wells Fargo on May 19 at Gotham Hall, according to a press release. Mock will receive the Inspiration Award while AT&T will be honored with the Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion Award. Dr. Laura Taylor—an assistant superintendent for Champaign Schools in Champaign, Illinois—will be honored as Educator of the Year, while The Park City High Gay-Straight Alliance of Park City, Utah will also receive an award.

A group of clergy in North Carolina filed a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn the state's ban on same-sex marriage, CNN reported. The lawsuit, which the United Church of Christ filed, argues the ban violates the First and 14th amendments, and stigmatizes same-sex couples and the people and institutions that would support them. Among the defendants are North Carolina Attorney General Ray Cooper, several country district attorneys and the register of deeds.


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