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Bradley Manning developments; HIV/AIDS activist Freehill dies
National roundup: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2013-07-24

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Col. Denise Lind, the judge in the military trial of out Private First Class Bradley Manning, ruled against a defense motion to dismiss the most serious charge—aiding the enemy—and opted instead to rule on all 21 charges against the former Army intelligence analyst at the trial's conclusion, according to the Wall Street Journal. Lind cited Manning's military-intelligence training, and specifically his training concerning efforts by U.S. foes to uncover sensitive secrets, as she threw out the defense motion asking her to drop the charge. Manning has pleaded guilty to charges of funneling secret documents to WikiLeaks, but is contesting the more serious charges.

Also, during the trial, Manning's former supervisor, ex-Spc. Jihrleah Showman, testified that the soldier had no allegiance to the U.S. flag or nation, according to Courthouse News Service. In their case in chief, several government witnesses said they found no evidence that Manning expressed any "anti-American" beliefs. Trial evidence has shown that Manning—a 5' 2", gay intellectual during the time of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"—endured ridicule and alienation from other soldiers in his unit. Showman has admitted she called Manning "faggotty" for not being able to do many push-ups.

Longtime HIV/AIDS-rights activist Gunther Freehill died in Washington, D.C., on July 15 from a heart attack, according to an HIVPlusMag.com item. Freehill served as the former director of public affairs at the L.A. County Office of AIDS; a board member of AIDS Action; a bureau chief at Washington, D.C.'s, HIV/AIDS Administration; and a "near founder" of ACT UP/L.A. A former Catholic, Freehill was also a vocal activist against the AIDS policies of the Catholic Church.

Gay-rights groups and legislative officials took a stand in Boston against conversion therapy, which subscribes to the belief that doctors can change a person's sexual orientation with enough intervention, according to BostonMagazine.com . Members of the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), MassEquality and Fenway Health stood behind a bill sponsored by state Rep. Carl Sciortino, D-Medford, in an attempt to ban the practices in Massachusetts and keep so-called "conversion therapy" from being used on children. If passed, the bill would prohibit any licensed healthcare professional in the state from using techniques or therapies that would otherwise try change the ''sexual orientation or gender identity'' of anyone under 18 years old.

A group of artists working under the mission title "HACKmarriage" has been going to bookstores and libraries around San Francisco and covering the formal definition of marriage with a sticker featuring an amended version, according to a Huffington Post item. Currently, the Oxford American Dictionary defines marriage as "the legal relationship between a husband and wife." HACKmarriage's new, concise version reads: "mar·riage /'marij/ n.1 the formal union of two people by which they become partners for life."

The New York City AIDS Memorial's board of directors announced that the organization has reached its initial goal of $4 million to finance the design and construction of the new memorial, according to PR Newswire. The memorial—which will be located in the planned St. Vincent's Hospital Park in the West Village neighborhood—will honor the 100,000+ New Yorkers who have died from AIDS, celebrate the caregivers and activists who fought against it, and educate current and future generations about the history of the AIDS crisis and the ongoing struggle to defeat the disease.

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is continuing to campaign to defend his state's anti-sodomy law, launching a new website meant to scare parents into believing the law would protect children, Advocate.com reported. Cuccinelli's website, VAChildPredators.com, claims that at least 90 people prosecuted under the state's anti-sodomy laws were sex offenders, and that they would no longer be registered sex offenders if the law is deemed unconstitutional.

Two women pled not guilty to charges stemming from a physical altercation with a drag queen known as Heidi Glüm inside a fast-food restaurant in Washington, D.C., according to Advocate.com . The alleged assault took place June 23, when Raymone Harding and Rachel Manna Sahle got into a screaming match at Manny & Olga's takeout restaurant with Miles DeNiro, an openly gay man who was dressed in drag. The altercation was captured on video and posted to YouTube, and showed the suspects and Glüm yelling at one another before the suspects allegedly began punching Glüm. Harding and Sahle were released on personal recognizance, and are scheduled for initial hearings on misdemeanor simple assault charges Sept. 5.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has signed a controversial abortion bill that has been in the national spotlight, according to CNN.com . The bill originally failed to gain approval because of a Democratic filibuster state Sen. Wendy Davis led. The measure bans abortions past 20 weeks of gestation, mandates that abortion clinics become ambulatory surgical centers and tightens usage guidelines for the drug RU486, among other things.

Republican Maine Gov. Paul LePage has distanced himself from two anti-gay activists attempting to defend his earlier Vaseline remark, according to On Top Magazine. LePage originally told reporters, "[state Sen. Troy] Jackson claims to be for the people, but he's the first one to give it to the people without providing Vaseline." In a press conference billed as a defense of LePage, anti-gay activists Michael Heath and Paul Madore commended LePage's remark. LePage has denied any affiliation with the activists.

In New York City, members of the AIDS-activist group ACT UP protested outside Mt. Sinai Medical Center after a gay man who had recently had unsafe sex visited the emergency department there and had difficulty getting a regimen of anti-HIV drugs, according to Gay City News. On July 5, the man was referred to the hospital's emergency department, where he was told that there is no such thing as post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). The man was then asked to leave the hospital.

More than eight months after President Obama first made the nomination, the process for confirming the first openly gay Black male to sit on the federal bench appears to have stalled, the Washington Blade reported. The confirmation of William Thomas, who was named for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, hasn't yet passed the first step in the process. The Thomas nomination has become entangled in a dispute between the Congressional Black Caucus and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (who hails from Florida) over the hold he's placed on Thomas and Brian Davis, a Black judicial nominee who was nominated for a seat on the U.S. District Court for Middle District of Florida.

In San Francisco, authorities have closed the steamrooms at the Castro and SoMa locations of the locally owned gym Fitness SF because they couldn't police the sexual activity, according to SFist.com . The Fitness SF management said it decided to close the steamrooms at both locations after allegedly receiving loads of negative feedback. "We've received too many complaints," they explained, adding, "Now that the steamrooms are closing, we'll expand the shower area with more stalls and provide stalls with doors."

In another gym-related incident, a Manhattan man is suing his gym for damages after he fractured a shoulder by slipping and falling in the steam room on what he described as a "foreign white substance, the New York Daily News noted. Marc Moskowitz, 66, claimed in court papers that managers at the Bally Total Fitness gym on East 55th St. were aware that gay "cruising and lewd behavior" is "commonplace at the steam room, sauna and locker rooms." In the lawsuit, Moskowitz defined "cruising" as "the act of searching for homosexual partners in public places" and claimed "it is prevalent at Bally's across the country."

Several activists were arrested in California for protesting a meeting of their city council, which voted to reverse a mayoral decree designating June as LGBT Pride Month, according to Advocate.com . Police removed the protestors from the council meeting in Porterville. Said protestors, including Robin McGehee of LGBT direct action group GetEQUAL, were charged with disturbing the peace at the packed assembly, which debated Mayor Virginia Gurrola's recent declaration.

Beyonce, rapper-mogul husband Jay Z and lesbian New York City mayoral candidate Christine Quinn were among those who attended a New York City rally July 20 as people demanded justice for Trayvon Martin, according to the New York Post. More than 100 demonstrations took place across the United States (including Chicago, were rapper/actress MC Lyte spoke and thousands attended) as people organized the events in response to a Florida jury finding George Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter.

A federal judge says he will hear arguments Oct. 1 on the legality of Michigan's ban on gay marriage and adoption by same-sex couples, according to the Lansing State Journal. Judge Bernard Friedman set the date in what could be a groundbreaking lawsuit that two lesbian Detroit-area nurses, Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer, filed. The couple and three adopted children live under one roof in Hazel Park; however, Michigan law bars the women from jointly adopting each other's kids.

House Republican leaders announced in a court filing that they will not be defending remaining statutes similar to the Defense of Marriage Act that ban recognition of same-sex couples' marriages, Buzzfeed.com . Judge Richard Stearns had asked the parties in a lawsuit addressing the rights of service members and veterans and their spouses to give "any reasons why judgment should not enter for plaintiffs in this case," following the Supreme Court's June 26 decision striking down section 3 of DOMA.

In Ohio, U.S. District Magistrate Judge Tim Black has ruled in favor of gay couple John Arthur and James Obergefell, both 47, according to www.WTSP.com . Arthur, who is bedridden with the neurological disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), recently wed partner Obergefell in Baltimore. The couple then sued Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and the Cincinnati doctor responsible for approving death certificates, arguing for the right to be buried next to each other. Black noted that his ruling was specific to Obergefell and Arthur only.

Nate Silver, the openly gay statistician who became famous for his eerily accurate predictions of the outcomes of the past two national elections, has left the New York Times to join sports network ESPN, according to an Advocate.com item. Silver will take the statistical blog he founded that was co-opted by the Times, Five Thirty Eight, with him to the sports giant that the Walt Disney Company owns. Among other things, Silver is expected to become a regular contributor to Keith Olbermann's new show on ESPN2.

In California, San Diego County Clerk Ernest J. Dronenburg, Jr. has asked the state Supreme Court to halt the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Advocate.com noted. This development marked the latest in a series of efforts from conservatives to invalidate the recent ruling striking down the state's ban on marriage equality, Proposition 8. Dronenburg claimed that the legal requirement to marry same-sex couples is causing him to "suffer irreparable injury and damage."

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit on behalf of seven same-sex couples seeking domestic partner benefits in Montana, the Washington Blade reported. The state Supreme Court in December 2012 denied an ACLU appeal that challenged every Montana statute that denied gays and lesbians legal protections afforded to married heterosexual couples. The justices in their ruling said, however, the group could pursue what an ACLU press release described as "statute-specific efforts to secure equal treatment for same-sex couples in the state."

In a debate in Virginia's gubernatorial race against Democratic businessman Terry McAuliffe, Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II defended his anti-gay stance, according to the Washington Post. As they both accused each other of everything from waffling on issues to bullying, Cuccinelli said that his beliefs about "the personal challenge of homosexuality" had not changed but that as governor, he would strive to make Virginia a place where everyone has equal opportunity. McAuliffe said he would sign a bill overturning Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage.

Letters were sent out July 16 to 240 patients who received a colonoscopies from Neosho Memorial Regional Medical Center in Chanute, Kan., in the last seven months because they may have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C, according to HIVPlusMag.com . Neosho's CEO, Dennis Franks, said the hospital's procedure failed to properly disinfect one type of endoscope—the equipment used in a colonoscopy—but added that the chance of infection is "extremely low." Franks wrote that all the patients who may have been exposed will receive free screenings for the infectious diseases.

The pro-LGBT group Truth Wins Out (TWO) commended Exodus International's former political lobbyist, Randy Thomas, after he apologized to the LGBT community for saying he inflicted harm and increased hate during his tenure at Exodus International, the largest "ex-gay" organization in the nation until it shut down recently, according to a press release. TWO also said that Thomas specifically expressed regret for working to further the career of Andrew Comiskey, who TWO calls "one of the vilest 'ex-gay' activists in the industry."

In Austin, Texas, the bar The Red Room—which formerly catered to an LGBT clientele—has new owners who are reportedly turning away that same demographic, according to Advocate.com . The new owners have advised the staff that the bar will no longer be deemed a gay bar, and gay patrons were asked to leave on the first night of operation under new ownership. The owners say they were asked to leave because a private event was being held, although a former Red Room bartender disputes that.

Citing the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the appeal of the U.S. District Court ruling in Golinski v. U.S. Office of Personnel Management, according to a Lambda Legal press release. Golinski is the Section 3 challenge Lambda Legal and Morrison & Foerster brought on behalf of Karen Golinski, a federal court employee denied family health coverage for her spouse, Amy Cunninghis. Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Tara Borelli said, "This order is the icing on the cake, and we at Lambda Legal could not be more delighted."

Emile Griffith—a former world boxing champion who spent decades haunted by his fatal beating of then-champion Benny Paret in the ring and bothered by the public's interest in his sexuality—died July 23 at age 75, according to the L.A. Times. The fatal win over Paret occurred in 1962 after the victim angered Griffith by calling him an anti-gay slur. Outside a New York gay bar in 1992, Griffith was severely beaten by at least five men who attacked him with bats and chains, leading him to a later life of dementia. In a recent interview with the New York Times, Griffith acknowledged sexual relations with men and women.


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