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Bayard Rustin fellowship; Najimy, Mock to speak at summit
National roundup: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2013-09-11

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The National Black Justice Coalition, an LGBT advocacy organization, and the Albert Shanker Institute are joining forces to create an educational fellowship named after the late gay civil-rights leader Bayard Rustin, the Washington Blade noted. The two groups announced the launching of the new fellowship during a tribute to Rustin held at D.C.'s Lincoln Theater during the week of the 50th-anniversary commemoration of the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington. The fellowship will focus on research, policy development and advocacy in the field of public education, with a concentration on three areas, including the elimination of discrimination and bullying against students based on "race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation and gender expression," according to a joint statement.

Kathy Najimy, Janet Mock and Robert Hanson will be at the 15th annual Out & Equal Workplace Summit that will take place in Minneapolis Oct. 28-31, according to a press release. Najimy is an actress who has been in projects including Sister Act, Hocus Pocus and the Emmy-winning TV show King of the Hill. Mock is a transgender writer/activist who founded the #GirlsLikeUs project while the openly gay Hanson is CEO of American Eagle Outfitters. The summit will conclude with a gala dinner that political humorist Kate Clinton will host; out country singer Steve Grand and Grammy-winning R&B singer Thelma Houston will entertain.

Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Texas filed a friend-of-the-court brief asking the Texas Supreme Court to overturn a ruling from the Fifth District Court of Appeals and allow two married same-sex couples to get divorced, according to a Lambda Legal press release. In the brief—which addresses the cases of In the Matter of the Marriage of J.B. and H.B. as well as State v. Naylor—Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Texas argue, among other things, that forcing legally married same-sex couples to deny they were ever married is discriminatory, and would impose significant emotional and financial harm.

Six U.S. organizations have signed a statement supporting Russia's "gay propaganda law," Advocate.com reported. The organizations—World Congress of Families, the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, Mission: America, GrasstopsUSA, Population Research Institute and His Servants—join an international coalition of more than 100 conservative groups that have lauded the legislation. Larry Jacobs, managing director of the World Congress of Families (headquartered in Rockford, Ill.), claimed the law is instrumental in protecting the health of children.

"A Day with HIV" will take place Sept. 21—and Positively Aware magazine is looking for photos to mark the occasion, according to a press release. The Chicago-based publication wants people (HIV-positive or -negative) to take a photo to capture a moment of their day, and then send it along with a caption to Photo@ADayWithHIV.com . Select photos will appear in a special section of the November/December issue of Positively Aware magazine. This year's photo judges include fashion designer/HIV advocate Mondo Guerra, of Project Runway fame; celebrity photographer Duane Cramer; and David France, the Oscar-nominated producer and director of the AIDS documentary How to Survive a Plague.

The Obama administration has cleared the way for the spouses of gay and lesbian veterans to receive military benefits, with the Justice Department declaring it will no longer enforce a provision of the law that states only opposite-sex married couples are eligible, according to the Huffington Post. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a Sept. 4 letter to Congressional leaders that the Justice Department had determined the Supreme Court's rationale in a decision overturning part of the Defense of Marriage Act should also apply to Title 38, the part of the U.S. code that governs veterans' benefits. Title 38 currently defines marriage as between a man and a woman, meaning that only heterosexual spouses receive the benefits,including health care, disability and survival benefits.

California's prison inmates will soon be able to marry same-sex partners, as long as their significant other is not also incarcerated, according to Advocate.com . Michael Stainer, the director of the adult institutions division for the state Department of Corrections, made the announcement establishing the same marriage rights for gay and bisexual inmates as other inmates in heterosexual relationships. The policy change follows the judicial dissolution of California's Proposition 8.

A 23-year-old gay man in Denver will require reconstructive surgery after his face was brutally beaten as he left a hookah bar Sept. 2, Advocate.com reported. The attacker broke several bones in Olson's face. He does not have health insurance, and the surgery may cost more than $50,000. Authorities are determining if the attack was a hate crime.

According to a survey of incoming students, one in 10 Harvard College students will be non-heterosexual in 2017, Gay Star News reported. The Harvard Crimson surveyed incoming students of its freshman class Aug. 5-28 regarding various demographics. Responding to one question, 4 percent said they identify as gay, 2 percent said they were bisexual and 3 percent said they were "questioning." The poll also showed that LGBT students are more likely to have been accepted on their accademic efforts alone.

Mississippi has joined Texas in not helping same-sex spouses enroll for federal benefits, despite a Pentagon directive requiring the military to treat all married couples equally, the Washington Post reported. Maj. Gen. John Nichols, commanding general of Texas Military Forces, said in an internal memo dated Aug. 30 that the Texas Constitution and the state's "Family Code" do not align with the Defense Department policy—and the Mississippi National Guard has cited similar reasons. Sept. 3 marked the first day that gays in the military could apply for benefits.

In California, short-order cook Angel Cifuentes sued Brinker Restaurant Corp. (doing business as Chili's Bar and Grill), three former co-workers and four supervisors, claiming sexual battery and sexual-orientation discrimination, among other charges, Courthouse News Service noted. The complaint claims that even though Cifuentes is straight, bosses allegedly told him "You are gay; you like it," referring to touching and lewd comments from other males.

U.S. Army private Chelsea Manning (formerly known as Bradley Manning) has filed a formal pardon request with President Obama, according to Courthouse News Service. Manning received a 35-year sentence in military prison for giving more than 700,000 files to WikiLeaks. Manning's attorney, David Coombs, said that Manning personally typed her pardon request from prison, and it includes a lengthy paragraph describing her disillusionment with U.S. actions following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

A Washington, D.C., superior court judge sentenced gay restaurant manager Joel Bromwell to four years in jail for the March 21 hit-and-run accident in which the vehicle he was driving struck and killed a 71-year-old woman, the Washington Blade reported. Bromwell, 32, pled guilty in May to the charges of involuntary manslaughter and driving under the influence of alcohol in connection with the incident. The maximum sentence for the two offenses is 30 years in jail.

GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) has announced the recipients of its Respect Awards in Los Angeles, according to an organizational email. (Awards are also held in New York.) Jim Parsons (from TV's Big Bang Theory) and partner Todd Spiewak will receive the Inspiration Award, while entertainment company Lionsgate will be honored with the Chariman's Award. TV producer Linda Bloodworth-Thomason (Designing Women) will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. Interestingly, Lionsgate is distributing the upcoming film Ender's Game, based on a book by anti-gay advocate Orson Scott Card, Advocate.com noted. The event will take place Oct. 18 in Beverly Hills, Calif.

San Antonio, Texas—the nation's seventh-largest city—has added sexual orientation and gender identity protections into ordinances governing city employment, contracting, housing and public accommodations, according to a Human Rights Campaign (HRC) press release. The City Council passed the updates eight to three. "The San Antonio City Council did the right thing ... in updating their ordinances to reflect the basic value that all city residents deserve to be treated equally under the law," said HRC President Chad Griffin. "Mayor Julian Castro's support and leadership on getting this done shows his real commitment to making San Antonio a world-class city where all citizens are treated with dignity and respect."

Leading financial firms UBS and Moody's are the latest major companies to back the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (or ENDA), legislation expected to come to the Senate floor this fall that would ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, a Human Rights Campaign (HRC) press release stated. Currently, in a majority of states, there are no laws prohibiting an employer from firing or refusing to hire someone simply because he or she is gay or transgender. Matt McTighe, campaign manager for Americans for Workplace Opportunity (which annunced the companies' support) said, "Businesses know that in an increasingly global and competitive marketplace, attracting and retaining top talent is key to success. That means evaluating employees based on their hard work and merit, not on whether they're gay or transgender."

In Miami, Therapy—originally a house and techno party spot—is abandoning its business model and is becoming a gay male strip club, according to the Miami New Times. However, the space will be keeping the name and ownership. A soft opening was held Sept. 6-7 for the spot for which flyers proclaimed is "a private nightclub that accents adult entertainment."

A Missouri man allegedly exposed more than 300 partners to HIV, according to Inquisitr.com . David Lee Mangum, 37, admitted to having unprotected sex with hundreds of men without telling them he had the virus that causes AIDS. Mangum's case has prompted Stoddard County prosecuting attorney Russell Oliver to ask anyone who had sex with the suspect or any anonymous male they met on Craigslist to stop sexual activity and get tested for HIV.

In Florida, the Broward County sheriff's office has announced that porn actor John Snavely, 26, was arrested for the 2010 slaying of businessman Samuel Del Brocco, according to the Miami New Times. Snavely was a staple of South Florida's booming adult-film industry; known as Joshua Logan, Snavely starred in straight and gay adult movies filmed in Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Authorities were tipped when Snavely was arrested in June for drugs; collecting his DNA led officers to match it to samples taken at the scene of Del Brocco's murder.

A mom's letter to her gay son after his Facebook post coming out has gone viral, according to Inquisitr.com . In the note, posted by Michelle Conway McClain to her Facebook page, the mom begins by telling son Zach that his revelation is fine with her and changes nothing. The mother wrote, "Zach, I was surprised by your Facebook post where you came out. I want you to know that I love you unconditionally. I love you with my actions, not just my words. I'm so proud of you."

A new report offers a thorough analysis of the inequities transgender workers face in the workforce—from finding and keeping good jobs, to having equal access to job-related benefits, to obtaining adequate health insurance coverage, according to a Human Rights Campaign (HRC) statement. "A Broken Bargain for Transgender Workers"—a companion to "A Broken Bargain: Discrimination, Fewer Benefits, and More Taxes for LGBT Workers"—reveals, among other things, that 44 percent off trans people who are currently working are underemployed. The report is at www.lgbtmap.org/transgender-workers.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has named Kylar W. Broadus senior public policy counsel of the Transgender Civil Rights Project, according to TheTaskForceBlog.org . As an attorney, Broadus practiced with a focus on LGBT law, particularly, transgender rights. He currently serves as faculty at Lincoln University in Missouri.

An Urban Institute report shows that LGBT teens are at much greater risk of dating abuse than their heterosexual counterparts, according to a press release. "Dating Violence Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth" is one of the first examinations of dating violence and abuse through the distinct lens of sexual orientation and of gender identity. The report is based on a survey of 3,745 youth in seventh to 12th grades, in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey; 6 percent identified as LGBT. The report is at www.urban.org/publications/412892.html.

A group called NALT ("Not All Like That") Christians has launched a video campaign with the message that there is nothing anti-Biblical or inherently sinful about being LGBT, according to Time.com . Modeled after Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" Project, the NALT Project lets anyone upload a video to share why he or she is a Christian and supports gay rights. Supporters of the project now include Auburn Theological Seminary, Covenant Network of Presbyterians, Methodists in New Directions and The Evangelical Network.

The New Mexico Supreme Court has set a date for a hearing to determine if the state's constitution permits same-sex couples to marry, according to Advocate.com . The state's highest court agreed to hear oral arguments Oct. 23 from six same-sex couples the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of New Mexico and the National Center for Lesbian Rights are representing. Recently, several county clerks have begun issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in New Mexico; in August, a district judge in Santa Fe ruled that the state's constitution did not bar same-sex couples from marrying.

The California legislature passed a bill that would help facilitate legal name changes for transgender people, according to Advocate.com . Authored by Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins, Assembly Bill 1121 passed 56-18. If Gov. Jerry Brown signs it, the measure will provide an easier and more inexpensive process for Californians seeking to change their name to correspond to their gender identity. The new system will also protect their privacy.

In New Orleans, Ryan Delaney and Brandon Robb have established what they say is the first private law firm in Louisiana to focus primarily on LGBT issues, Advocate.com noted. Delaney and Robb, who are both gay, say they plan to provide services for a population that often has special needs, in areas that include estate planning and family law, personal injury, LGBT break-up, medical power of attorney and real-estate transactions.

NAACP President/CEO Benjamin Jealous, who is credited with boosting the finances and outreach of the nation's largest civil-rights organization, plans to step down at the end of the year, according to ABC News. Jealous, 40, said he plans to pursue teaching at a university and wants to spend time with his young family. "Because of the dedication and tireless work of Ben Jealous, this country is more just, more equal, and more hopeful," said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin in a statement. "He is nothing less than a modern-day civil rights visionary, and it is my privilege to call him a friend."

College football analyst Craig James was fired after a brief stint with Fox Sports Southwest over anti-gay comments he made while running for political office in Texas, according to a Huffington Post item. James left broadcasting to enter the race for a vacant senate seat in Texas in 2011. During a debate in February 2012, James said that gay people would "answer to the Lord for their actions" and claimed that being gay was "a choice." James also criticized opponent Tom Leppert for attending a gay-pride parade.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie has called for a special legislative session to move forward on a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage, according to USA Today. If legislators pass the measure, Hawaii would join 13 U.S. states and the District of Columbia in allowing gay marriage. The special session would begin Oct. 28. Hawaii does allow civil unions, which some say stop short of providing the full benefits of marriage.

The Indiana University Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Alumni Association (GLBTAA) has launched the nation's first-ever scholarship campaign devoted to assisting LGBT students and promoting leadership on LGBT concerns, a press release stated. Bolstered by an anonymous $500,000 challenge gift, the campaign kicked off with more than $200,000 in cash and pledges. The campaign aims to significantly increase support for both academic and emergency scholarships, which the GLBTAA has funded since 2005 through donations from alumni and friends.

The National Center for Transgender Equality issued a statement lauding a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) directive that the center says "has the potential to meaningfully improve federal oversight of use of solitary confinement in immigration detention." The directive bans placing individuals in solitary confinement solely because of personal characteristics such as being LGBT, and creates special reporting and review requirements for vulnerable populations such as LGBT people and victims of sexual abuse.


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