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Don Lemon defends remarks; man sues for sex-sting arrest
National roundup: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2013-11-13

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Openly gay CNN host Don Lemon is defending himself after his controversial remarks about the New York City Police Department's stop-and-frisk practices caused a Twitter revolt, according to The Huffington Post. During a radio commentary about the controversial practice, Lemon asked, "Would you rather be politically correct, or safe and alive?" That line prompted a Twitter hashtag and such tweets as "Don Lemon on bulimia: Would you rather look great or be a big ole fatty?" Lemon has responded by saying he certainly does not endorse the procedure and that his comments were "grossly misinterpreted."

A Hawthorne, Calif., man arrested during a police sex sting in a Manhattan Beach restroom has filed a $5 million federal lawsuit against the city and its police department, claiming officers falsely targeted him and violated his civil rights by releasing his name and photograph to the media, according to the Daily Breeze. Charles Samuel Couch, 22—a caregiver for a mentally disabled boy at the time—alleges undercover officers wrongly targeted him March 9, 2011, as he sat in a changing area inside the restroom to wait for the child to use the bathroom. Officers arrested 18 men, including Couch, and issued a controversial release to the news media April 3, 2012.

The pro-LGBT Family Equality Council announced a campaign for National Adoption Month that demands all 50 states stop putting up barriers to adoption by LGBT individuals and families, according to a press release. The campaign is being launched in cooperation with several major child-welfare and social-justice organizations. Family Equality Council Executive Director Gabriel Blau said the Allies for Adoption Campaign seeks to call attention to America's need for adoptive parents, and the massive pool of LGBT people who are currently being overlooked.

Lambda Legal has filed suit against a Chicago-based cab company after one of its drivers allegedly ejected a gay couple for kissing in May, according to Windy City Times. Sun Taxi and Associates has been hit with an Illinois Department of Human Rights complaint over the May 30 incident. Steven White and Matt McCrea made headlines in June when they alleged that driver Jama Anshur ejected them from his cab late at night on a trip back from O'Hare Airport.

A student at Florida Atlantic University says he was not allowed to rent a laptop from the school's library because he is gay, Raw Story noted. Senior Abdul Asquith told WPTV he tried to check out the laptop to study, but the librarian said his photo ID did not match his appearance or voice. The librarian told Asquith he appeared to be a woman; however, his university ID states he is male.

Gov. Mary Fallin says Oklahoma National Guard facilities and employees who are paid with state tax dollars won't process benefits for married, same-sex couples, defying an order from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, accoriding to an item in The Republic. Fallin says the Oklahoma Constitution explicitly defines marriage as between a man and a woman and prohibits marriage benefits for same sex couples. Stephen Peters, president of the American Military Partner Association, said in a statement, "It's completely unacceptable for Governor Mary Fallin to insist on discriminating against these service members and their spouses. It's clear that Secretary Hagel is going to have to take further action to change this disgraceful bigotry."

General Motors made a groundbreaking policy change and announced that the company would extend marriage benefits to the spouses of same-sex employees—even if the couple resides in a state where same-sex marriage isn't legal, according to The Huffington Post. The only catch is that the couple must have been legally married in one of the states in which same-sex marriage is legal. The changes will include pension plans, savings plans and health care plans for legally married same-sex couples.

A California student who identifies as agender is recovering after having reportedly been set on fire by a fellow teen while on board a moving bus, The Huffington Post noted. A 16-year-old Oakland High School student was arrested after setting fire to a skirt being worn by Sasha Fleischman, who had fallen asleep while returning home to East Oakland, Calif. on the bus. Fleischman, 18, does not identify as male or female but rather as nonbinary gender, according to his mother, Debbie.

The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that a woman who donated an egg to her lesbian partner has parental rights to the child, according to NBC Miami. The case involves two lesbians who began raising the child together. One donated an egg that was fertilized and implanted in the other. However, the Brevard County couple split two years after one woman gave birth in 2004, and the birth mother eventually left the country.

The debate went on much longer than expected but the Hawaii Senate voted Nov. 12 to give final legislative approval to a bill allowing same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses, according to Windy City Times. The bill now goes to Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who has indicated he would sign it Nov. 13. It will take effect Dec. 2, making Hawaii the 15th state plus the District of Columbia to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The Illinois legislature passed its marriage-equality bill before Hawaii, but its Democratic governor, Pat Quinn, will not sign the bill until Nov. 20 and the law does not go into effect until June 1, 2014.

Newly elected Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has reiterated a campaign pledge to sign two executive orders on the day he takes office in January—and one involves a statewide version of ENDA, according to The Washington Post. The ENDA bill, which McAuliffe said he'll sign first, will protect LGBT state employees from job discrimination. The other order would limit the value of any gifts to himself or immediate family to $100.

Before the U.S. Senate passed ENDA, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook urged the U.S. government to approve the measure, according to the L.A. Times. In an opinion piece that ran online in the Wall Street Journal, Cook spoke about his company's employment anti-discrimination policy, which includes LGBT individuals. "As we see it, embracing people's individuality is a matter of basic human dignity and civil rights," Cook wrote. "It also turns out to be great for the creativity that drives our business."

A gay Honolulu police officer is asking Honolulu Police Department ( HPD ) Chief Louis Kealoha to distance the department from comments made by police union president Tenari Maafala, the Huffington Post reported. Maafala, an HPD officer and president of the State of Hawaii Police Officers ( SHOPO ) Union, told state legislators he would never enforce same-sex marriage legislation if it became law, adding, "You would have to kill me." Corporal John "Zeuz" Zeuzheim, a 13-year HPD veteran, said in a letter, "I am beyond words with how shocked, appalled and horrified I am that any officer, much less the president of SHOPO, would identify himself as such and then speak the words he has."

A gay Oklahoma man claimed he and his boyfriend were allegedly asked to leave a Walmart store because of their sexuality, The Huffington Post noted. Jonathan Pacheco and his boyfriend were shopping at a Walmart in Chickasha, Okla., when he claims an employee posed a series of questions about homosexuality before ultimately asking the pair to leave the store. A Walmart rep told the Post, "This is clearly unacceptable to us and to our customers. The associate involved is no longer with the company."

More than 50 years after creating a boneless chicken sandwich that would one day feed millions, S. Truett Cathy, the small-town Georgia cook and entrepreneur who created Chick-fil-A, is stepping aside as chairman and CEO, according to AJC.com . Chick-fil-A employees were notified that Cathy, 92—whose net worth is about $6 billion—was stepping down and would be replaced by his son, Dan Cathy, the company's chief operating officer and president. Dan has caused controversy with his comments about same-sex marriage.

Ron Strouse of Doylestown defeated Republican opponent Bruce Rutherford to become Pennsylvania's first openly LGBT mayor, according to EPGN.com . Strouse, 65, is a chef and manages two local restaurants and also chairs the Doylestown Human Relations Commission. In other state news, openly gay Harrisburg City Controller Dan Miller ran on the Republican ticket after losing to Democratic challenger Eric Papenfuse in the primary; however, Papenfuse defeated Miller.

A transgender woman will soon ask the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ( LDS ) to officially recognize her as a woman, according to KUTV.com . Leahnora Isaak, 50, lived most of her life as Bob Isaak, who was married and had three daughters; last year, Bob decided to begin living life as a woman. She is also a member of the LDS Church, but because she still appears on church records as a man, she has been asked to attend priesthood meetings instead of relief society meetings.

Javier Pagan, one of the first responders during the Boston Marathon bombings, is back on a magazine cover, Boston.com noted. Pagan—the openly gay office who also serves as the LGBT liaison for the department—is joined by fellow officers Rachel McGuire and Kevin McGill as well as Red Sox slugger David Ortiz on the current cover of Sports Illustrated. Pagan has also been on the cover on Boston Spirit magazine.

In Colorado, parents are up in arms over a recently implemented transgender bathroom policy at Florence High School, according to Examiner.com . The school put in place a policy that allowed transgender students to use the bathroom associated with their preferred gender. Parents claim girls don't feel safe in the bathrooms a school where a transgender boy is allowed to enter the girls' bathrooms and locker rooms. The policy was implemented after requests by LGBT activists demanded such a policy.

Four same-sex couples filed a federal lawsuit in Boise challenging Idaho's laws that prohibit same-sex couples from marrying and refuse to acknowledge the legal marriages of same-sex couples who married in other states, according to a National Center for Lesbian Rights press release. The couples, all from Boise, include university instructors, a teacher of deaf children, and a military veteran who served with the Idaho National Guard in Iraq. Three of the couples are raising children together.

The president of the American Bar Association ( ABA ), who was set to be the keynote speaker at a daylong New York conference Nov. 18 about investing in Russia, has withdrawn from the event, Gay City News reported. After pressure and entreaties from gay leaders, an ABA spokesperson said that James Silkenat will not be speaking at the forum. In a statement, Silkenat said, "I remain committed to engaging with those in Russia who are working to put an end to human-rights abuses in their country, and I will look for effective ways to oppose Russia's policies and practices that oppress the LGBT community."

The U.S. Coast Guard has added protections based on sexual orientation to its equal opportunity policy, prompting new calls for the Pentagon to do the same with other branches of the military, according to The Washington Blade. The guidance, made public by the American Military Partners Association, says "sexual orientation and genetic information" are now included as part of equal opportunity and anti-discrimination/anti-harassment policy statements within the Coast Guard. The guidance is signed at the bottom by Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp.

New Jersey's ban on so-called ex-gay therapy has been upheld in federal court, Advocate.com reported. Judge Freda Wolfson of the U.S. District Court in New Jersey issued a ruling Friday declaring that the New Jersey law "restricts neither speech nor religious expression." The judge dismissed a legal challenge from the right-wing legal group Liberty Counsel, filed on behalf of therapists who wanted to engage in the practice.

GLSEN ( the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network ) is calling on the NFL, its teams, its players and its analysts to denounce the harmful notions of what it means to "be a man," according to a press release. In one instance, in an interview, former NFL player Kordell Stewart said he cannot be gay because he is "100-percent man." GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard said, "Our children are watching and learning dangerous lessons from their heroes about what it means to be a 'man.' ... We often overlook the damaging gender stereotypes expressed in bullying, and the ways that sexism and homophobia work together to isolate and victimize young people."

Gay Texas teen Isaiah Smith ripped out pages from his Bible in protest after classmates bullied him for his sexual orientation—and was then suspended for doing so, according to Queerty.com . Students at Birdville High School in North Richland Hills reportedly used a passage from Leviticus to justify why Smith is going to hell; Smith reacted by tearing out the scripture from his own personal Bible. As a result, Smith was suspended from school for three days.

GLAAD announced Professor Jennifer Finney Boylan and Steve Warren as co-chairs of its national board of directors, according to a press release. The board of directors also elected five new members: Vonzell Brown, Thad Florence, Christina Kahrl, Lana Moore and Anthony Watson. Boylan, an author and regular contributor to The New York Times, is the first transgender woman to serve as co-chair of the organization's board of directors.

Truth Wins Out ( TWO ) has launched a new website, LGBTScience.org, to "counter the anti-gay junk science industry's frequent distortions about the origins of homosexuality," according to a press release. LGBT Science was launched one day before the anti-gay National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality's annual conference in Phoenix. LGBT Science is part of TWO's three-pronged educational strategy that includes the launch of the NALT Christians Project ( NotAllLikeThat.org . ); part three, scheduled to be launched in 2014, will be a comprehensive website thoroughly debunking the "ex-gay" industry.

A federal court has order resentencing in a case where a gay man was murdered for allegedly flirting with the wrong guy, according to Courthouse News Service. Steven James was on death row for the 1981 kidnapping and murder of Juan Maya in Arizona. James and accomplices Lawrence Libberton and Martin Norton allegedly beat Maya savagely, drove him into the desert, and shot him and hit him with rocks before dumping his body in an old mine shaft. James' death sentence will automatically convert to life in prison if the state fails to resentence him within "a reasonable amount of time."

A new report the National LGBT Bar Association released, in conjunction with the National Institute of Military Justice ( NIMJ ), outlines a regulatory process by which the armed services are able to change DD214 military discharge paperwork to reflect transgender veterans' proper names and genders, according to a press release. The memo—authored by Stephen C. Lessard, an attorney with the law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, and members of the LGBT Bar's Military Law Working Group—concludes "that it is imperative that DoD provide additional written guidance to the administrative bodies charged with correction of military records." See www.LGBTBar.org for the full report.

OUT Magazine has unveiled its latest OUT100 list of LGBT individuals. Among those on the list are actor/comedian Lea DeLaria, drag performer Jinkx Monsoon, advocate/author Janet Mock, actor Sir Ian McKellen, Human Rights Campaign Executive Director Chad Griffin, musician Mary Lambert, singer Steve Grand and actress Laverne Cox. Visit www.out.com/out100 for the list.

The Massachusetts Transgender Equal Rights Coalition marked the start of the annual Transgender Awareness week by calling on the legislature to pass the Equal Access Bill, which would protect transgender people from discrimination in places of public accommodation, according to an organizational press release. Taking place nationwide from Nov. 12 — 20, Transgender Awareness Week aims to educate the public about the transgender community and the issues the community faces, and it culminates in the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. This year's Day of Remembrance will pay tribute to nearly 50 victims.

In South Carolina, hundreds of College of Charleston students held up signs, cheered and chanted to show their support for guest Judy Shepard, who urged equal treatment of gays and lesbians, according to PostAndCourier.com . Several hundred students packed the sidewalks outside the Stern Student Center, spilling out onto George Street. Messages had gone out on Facebook for students to show up to counter an anti-gay rally outside the student center. Shepard is the mother of Matthew Shepard, a gay college student who was murdered in Wyoming in 1998.

A high school baseball coach in rural Rhode Island came out as transgender, according to an Advocate.com item that cited Outsports. Stephen Alexander, a basketball star as a teenager in northern Rhode Island, is now believed to be the first openly transgender high school coach in the United States. After school, Alexander headed to New York, where he said he was able to discover himself. But after a few years there, and intensive education and therapy for his family, he returned to Rhode Island ( currently in the city of Glocester ) to become a coach.


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