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Anti-gay church vandalized; Scouts remove gay leader
National roundup: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2014-04-02

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The New York Police Department is investigating the vandalism of the anti-gay ATLAH World Missionary Church as a hate crime, Gay Star News reported. A suspect spray-painted the phrase "God is Gay" on the message board of the New York City church that has displayed such signs as "Jesus Would Stone Homos." The church has also warned its neighbors with the following: "'Obama has released the homo demons on the black man. Look out black women. A white homo may take your man."

The Boy Scouts of America has followed through on its ban against gay Scout leaders, booting a man it says "deliberately injected" his sexuality into scouting, according to The Washington Post. The scouts removed Scoutmaster Geoff McGrath, 49, who is believed to be the first openly gay adult to be barred since last year's ballot in which the Scouts voted to accept openly gay youth but not gay adult leaders. McGrath, an Eagle Scout who is married to his partner of 20 years, had filed an application for a new troop last year through Rainier Beach Methodist Church; he said Troop 98, in Seattle's Rainier Beach neighborhood, was approved.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder extended federal recognition to the marriages of about 300 same-sex couples that took place in Michigan before a federal appeals court put those unions on hold, ABC News reported. Holder's action will enable the government to extend eligibility for federal benefits to the Michigan couples who married March 22, which means they can file federal taxes jointly, get Social Security benefits for spouses and request legal immigration status for partners, among other benefits.

A Maryland House of Delegates committee advanced legislation to prohibit discrimination against transgender individuals, according to an LGBTQ Nation item. The Health and Government Operations Committee approved the the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014 ( HB 1265 ) by a vote of 14 to eight. The measure would ban discrimination against transgender Marylanders on matters relating to housing, employment, credit and use of public accommodations such as hotels and restaurants.

In Puerto Rico, a volleyball team, friends and family wept as they buried their gay friend who was shot by a gunman, Gay Star News reported. Jesus David Hernandez Otero, 21, was remembered as a clever student and a compassionate team player. Hernandez was found on a beach in Dorado, half-naked with three bullet wounds on his torso after having been missing for a week. The case is being treated as a homicide, although authorities initially treated it as a hate crime.

Puerto Rico attorney Ada Conde, who married her longtime partner on the U.S. mainland, has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to have their marriage recognized in her home territory, according to the Associated Press. The lawsuit comes as the debate on gay rights intensifies in Puerto Rico, where legislators and religious groups have recently clashed on several issues. Conde said she has been in a relationship for nearly 14 years with Ivonne Alvarez, an accountant and financial adviser whom she married in Massachusetts in August 2004.

A federal judge has ruled that a Philadelphia suburban organization cannot intervene in a same-sex couple's suit challenging laws that fail to recognize their Massachusetts marriage, Courthouse News Service reported. Isabelle Barker and Cara Palladino, a couple married in Massachusetts, sued Pennsylvania, their current state of residence, in federal court in September, seeking a permanent injunction directing the state to recognize their and others' legal out-of-state same-sex marriages. James Schneller, representing the city's "Metro Task Force," attempted to intervene—but U.S. District Judge Mary McLaughlin denied the organization's application.

Massachusetts state Rep. Carl Sciortino is planning to step down to become the new executive director of The AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, LGBTQ Nation reported. Sciortino, who is gay, also revealed that he has been living with HIV. The Medford Democrat has been a vocal advocate for the LGBT community. The organization said Sciortino will become the first person living with HIV to lead AIDS Action since its founding in 1982.

A Kansas man who provided sperm to a lesbian couple has asked the state's supreme court to direct a district court judge to block the state's request that the man undergo paternity testing, according to LGBTQ Nation. The motion was filed on behalf of William Marotta of Topeka. The state was seeking to have Marotta declared the child's father so he can be held responsible for about $6,000 in public assistance the state provided, as well as future child support.

A study has revealed that one in 10 men who have sex with men is looking for "non-gay" men on a dating site, Gay Star News reported. In research published in Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, it found one in 10 men who use Craigslist M4M section are specifically seeking out "sexual partners who do not identify as gay." Researchers believe these men are looking to either fulfill a "fantasy" or because it allows closeted men to seek out others for anonymous sexual encounters.

In Florida, a federal judge has ruled that a school board that refused to grant official club status to the gay-straight student alliance must face constitutional claims, according to Courthouse News Service. Carver Middle School Gay-Straight Student Alliance and a female student identified only as H.F. sued the school board of Lake County, Fla., for refusing club recognition that carries certain benefits. The alliance claimed in court that the school violated the Equal Access Act and its First Amendment right to free speech.

A poll the Washington Post released shows D.C. Council member Muriel Bowser ( D-Ward 4 ) ahead of gay Council member David Catania ( I-At-Large ) 56 percent to 23 percent if the two run against each other for mayor in the November general election, The Washington Blade reported. Catania, a 16-year veteran of the vouncil, entered the race for mayor in March as an independent, becoming the first serious openly gay contender for D.C. mayor.

Equality Illinois is calling on the Illinois House of Representatives to protect minors by passing the Conversion Therapy Prohibition Act this spring after the House Human Services Committee approved it nine to six, according to a press release. The measure would prohibit mental health providers from engaging in any effort to change the sexual orientation of anyone under the age of 18. The bill's chief House sponsor is state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, who happens to be lesbian.

Nice Jewish boy Adam Cohen is taking legal action against naughty Jewish boy Duncan Pflaster for his conflicting calendar of kosher hotties, according to The Huffington Post. Pflaster sent out a call on Craigslist in February for models to pose in a "Naughty Jewish Boys" calendar that was "intended as an alternative to the emasculating 'Nice Jewish Boys' calendar currently out." Cohen promptly sent a cease-and-desist letter; Pflaster responded by offering to include disclaimers on the website and calendar indicating that his product is not affiliated with "Nice Jewish Guys" in any way.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights ( NCLR ) and Equality California ( EQCA ) are launching a petition campaign urging California Public Employees' Retirement System—CalPERS—to divest from Russian companies that supposedly support the torture and abuse of LGBT youth in Russia, according to a press release. CalPERS—the largest public pension fund in the nation—has invested more than $25 million in mail.ru and MegaFon, which are tied to VK.Com, the Russian Internet company that has allegedly allowed Occupy Pedophilia to post videos of LGBT teenagers being kidnapped, tortured and beaten.

The U.S. branch of World Vision has changed course, saying it would return to its policy of not hiring Christians in same-sex marriages, according to NPR. The Washington-state-based charity caused an uproar among its supporters when it initially announced that based on the changes many churches were making, it would allow the hiring of avowed Christians who had been legally married to someone of the same sex. In reversing course, World Vision sent a message to its supporters asking "forgiveness."

In Dallas, the Southern Methodist University Senate voted 34-3 to add an LGBT seat to the student governing body, according to a Dallas Voice item. The issue must now go for a vote before the entire student body, and it requires a two-thirds vote. Several other Senate seats are reserved for groups of minority students, while others are designated for off-campus residents as well as specific dorms and frats and sororities.

An Oregon mother of three is on trial for allegedly murdering her 4-year-old son, who prosecutors say was subjected to regular beatings. According to Queerty.com, Dutro wrote to her boyfriend Brian Canady that she thought her son Zachary was gay, because "he walks and talks like it. Ugh." Son Zachary was brought to a Portland hospital last August, and he was discovered to have had trauma to his abdomen that caused tears in his bowel. He was put on life support, but died of his injuries two days later.

Building on what it calls "remarkable early success," dating/social-networking site LGBTQutie.com has announced an expansion into 10 new states, including Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, New Mexico, Texas and Louisiana, according to a press release. The site reportedly isn't just for those seeking romance; LGBTQutie.com also functions as a traditional social network, enabling members to make new friends or coordinate events in their community. The site launched last November.

In Chicago, Lambda Legal has unveiled a marriage victory ad campaign on the CTA Red line, making Chicago the site of the national non-profit legal organization's first transit ad campaign, according to a press release. Lambda Legal—whose lawsuits Darby v. Orr, Gray v. Orr, and Lee v. Orr were instrumental in the battle for the freedom to marry in Illinois—will run the ads through April 15. The campaign bears the slogan,"You make your life, we make it legal." The ads also feature Lambda Legal marriage plaintiffs Lakeesha Harris and Janean Watkins from Chicago and Timothy Rice and Don Julian of Alto Pass, Ill., as well as the organization's board co-chair, Karen Dixon, and her spouse Nan Schaffer, formerly of Chicago.

The Queer Immigrant Women's Project is looking for lesbian/gay/bisexual/queer women from Latin America to complete a survey. ( Participants must be at least 18. ) The survey should take approximately 15-25 minutes to complete, and is anonymous. Twenty participants will be chosen to receive $25 Visa debit cards. See https://sfsu.co1.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_7U743Lgqq9CyGnX.

In California, Quan Nguyen—a former computer analyst and ardent gay-rights activist in the Vietnamese community who garnered wide attention when photographers captured him kissing partner Bob Tucker during a 2010 Tet Festival parade—has died at age 45, according to the Orange County Register. Nguyen was diagnosed with encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease, in 2009 and his health had deteriorated in recent months; he died of heart failure in his Garden Grove home.

Out entertainer Billy Porter will headline the 13th annual Trailblazers Benefit Gala hosted by Live Out Loud, a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring, nurturing and empowering LGBTQ youth, according to PR Newswire. On Monday, April 28, Porter will join more than 500 leaders in business, arts, politics and more to honor individuals who have made a positive impact among the LGBT youth community and recognize several young LGBT leaders with college scholarships. Honorees include Ariel Foxman, editor at InStyle Magazine and playwright Terrance McNally.

The Go-Go's headlined the 9th Annual Florida AIDS Walk and Music Festival on March 30 at Fort Lauderdale's South Beach Park, according to Business Wire. The nonprofit AIDS Healthcare Foundation ( AHF ) hosted and AHF Pharmacy presented the fundraising 5K walk and subsequent concert. Local nonprofits benefitting from the funds included SunServe, Latinos Salud, Broward House, the Poverello Center, The Pride Center at Equality Park, the Positive Young People Foundation, and AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

A gay married couple who had trouble getting family coverage under the federal health care law have dropped their lawsuit seeking to overturn Ohio's marriage-equality ban, according to the Associated Press. Al Cowger Jr. and Tony Wesley Jr. married in New York in 2012 and live in suburban Cleveland, and said Ohio's ban was preventing them and their 8-year-old daughter from enrolling in a family policy. Cowger's attorney said the couple obtained coverage, resulting in them dropping the suit.

The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association ( NLGJA ) announced today that it is accepting applications for a new executive director, according to a press release. Outgoing executive director Michael Tune, who is leaving to pursue new professional interests, will continue in his role through April 12. Until the selection is made, NLGJA President Jen Christensen, the board and staff will take on the duties of the executive director. Applications will be accepted until April 30; visit www.nlgja.org/opportunities/executive-director.

U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley spoke to OutLaw, an organization for LGBT students at the University of Chicago Law School, about re-evaluating the FDA's criteria that prohibits men who have sex with men ( MSM ) from donating blood, according to a press release. MSM are currently prohibited from donating blood for life based on their sexual orientation rather than their level of risk. "Healthy would-be donors are turned away based solely on their sexual orientation—a policy that is not only prejudiced, but is also out of line with our national need for blood donations," said Quigley.

Lambda Legal asked a federal court to order the State of Indiana to recognize the marriage of a lesbian couple in Munster, according to a press release. Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney and their two children are seeking immediate relief from Indiana's ban on marriage for same-sex couples, as Quasney was diagnosed with stage IV cancer and cannot wait any longer for the protections of marriage. Quasney and Sandler have been in a committed relationship for 13 years, and they have two children under the age of 3.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation honored 304 major U.S. employers as its 2014 "Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality" at the 12th Annual LGBT Workplace Awards Reception, according to a press release. Companies receiving the "Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality" distinction scored 100 percent on the HRC Foundation's 2014 Corporate Equality Index, the national survey of Corporate America's treatment of LGBT workers. The 2014 Corporate Equality Index report is available at www.hrc.org/cei.

Mississippi quietly resurrected its religious-freedom law on the last week of the legislative session, prompting alarm from gay-rights activists who say, if passed, it could be used to justify discrimination in the name of religion, according to MSNBC. The Mississippi version is narrowed from the religious-freedom proposals that conservatives have championed across the country, and now largely mirrors the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. If Gov. Phil Bryant signs, the law will go into effect July 1, the ACLU stated.

A local DJ and cast member for season six of MTV2's and Nick Cannon's "Wild N Out" improv comedy show tweeted a series of anti-gay messages attacking an openly gay student at Winston-Salem State University ( WSSU ), according to QNotes. Brian "B-Daht" McLaughlin said he would not support the candidacy of WSSU junior Aaron McCorkle for the school's Mister Winston-Salem State University post, saying things such as "If y'all let a drag Queen be Mr #WSSU, I quit. Straight up." McCorkle said the harassment and verbal abuse has been limited to the Internet. The Human Rights Campaign has called for school officials to stop the harassment.


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