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Elton John at AIDS conference; liberal Republican vs. anti-gay Democrat
NATIONAL ROUNDUP: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times.
2012-06-26

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Sir Elton John will give the keynote address at the 19th International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., on July 23, according to Marketwatch.com . As well as being a globally known musician, John is the founder of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, which has raised more than $275 million in the United States and the United Kingdom. President Bill Clinton and philanthropist Bill Gates will also speak at the conference, which will take place July 22-27 and is expected to draw 25,000 attendees.

In Kansas, socially liberal Republican Dakota Bass is entering the race for a state legislative seat against anti-gay Democratic incumbent Jan Pauls and Erich Bishop, the openly gay son of a former Ku Klux Klan member, according to the Huffington Post. Bass said he entered the race to oust Pauls, who authored the state's ban on same-sex marriage. Bishop said he is running mainly on property-tax issues, but he also opposes Pauls' anti-LGBT views.

The conservative gay-rights group GOProud has endorsed Republican Mitt Romney as president, CBS News reported. The organization cited his economic positions while noting its differences with the candidate on the issue of same-sex marriage. GOProud Executive Director Jimmy LaSalvia said, "At this critical juncture, we need a president with the experience and expertise to turn this economy around—someone who knows how the free markets work."

One person who's not happy with GOProud's endorsement is gay columnist/author Dan Savage, who used a slur to slam the group, according to Examiner.com . Savage tweeted, "The GOP's house fa**ots grab their ankles, right on cue ... Pathetic." Conservatives then criticized Savage, with one person tweeting, "Going to apologize for calling people 'fa**ots' like you did when you called someone a 'pansy'?"

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.—who is reportedly being considered to be GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's running mate—has reiterated his opposition to same-sex marriage, according to Advocate.com . Rubio told Christianity Today, "In terms of the Bible's interpretation of marriage, what our faith teaches is pretty straightforward. ... [I] have to be honest [that] what I believe marriage should be in our laws." Rubio spokesman Alex Conant confirmed Rubio's stance, saying the senator belives "our laws should recognize the institution of marriage as a union of one man and one woman."

The Bi-Partisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG) has filed a motion to stay the proceeding in Pedersen v. Office of Personnel Management, the challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) now pending in federal court in Connecticut, according to a press release. The case, filed by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), involves six married couples and a widower from Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire who have all been denied federal benefits because of DOMA. GLAD's Mary L. Bonauto said her organization will oppose the motion to stay.

The two most powerful elected officials in New York City—Mayor Michael Bloomberg and lesbian City Council Speaker Christine Quinn—are planning to file a joint amicus brief in support of Edith Windsor's challenge to DOMA, according to Advocate.com . Windsor, 83, sued the federal government over $363,000 in taxes she had to pay on the estate of her late wife and partner of more than 40 years, Thea Spayer, because they were not recognized as married.

Recently, David Price—chair of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Board's Fundraising Committee—presented a check in the record-breaking amount of $211,291 to The Miami Foundation's GLBT Community Projects Fund, according to a press release. The donation represents two-thirds of the combined net proceeds from the 2012 Winter Party Festival and the 15th Annual Recognition Dinner, both held in Miami Beach.

Lesbian U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.—who could become the first out person in the U.S. Senate—has released her first campaign ad, Advocate.com reported. In the ad, Baldwin talks about improving conditions for workers competing in the global economy. Baldwin is running against for the open seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl.

In New Jersey, the co-defendant who testified at the trial of a man charged with fatally shooting a transgender woman has been sentenced to time served, according to NJ.com . Marquise Foster, 26, was originally charged along with Alrashim Chambers in the September 2010 killing of Victoria Carmen White. A jury acquitted Chambers, 25, of all charges at his recent murder trial in Superior Court in Newark, despite Foster's testimony naming Chambers as the killer.

Marriage-equality advocates have a problem with the wording of the question slated to be on Maine's ballot in November, Advocate.com reported. The question is, "Do you want to allow same-sex couples to marry?" Matt McTighe, campaign manager for Mainers United for Marriage, said the question "fails to address important parts of the initiative that will be on the ballot in November." McTighe and others want the secretary of state to revise the question "to more accurately reflect the citizen's initiative" called "An Act To Allow Marriage Licenses for Same-sex Couples and Protect Religious Freedom."

In New York City, a group of people is pushing for Christopher Street to become a gay landmark, according to DNAInfo.com . Robert Ziegler of the West Village Coalition said he wants to see rainbow flags and a walk of fame along the street from its start at Sixth Avenue to the Hudson River. Ziegler plans to collect at least 2,000 signatures before presenting the proposal to the city. The Stonewall Inn—the site of the Stonewall riots in 1969—is located on Christopher Street.

The Federal Election Commission is suing former U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, an Idaho Republican, for allegedly misusing more than $200,000 in campaign funds to pay for his personal legal defense, according to Business Week. An undercover policeman arrested Craig in a bathroom at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport June 11, 2007, for reportedly soliciting sex from him. A lawsuit claims that Craig used the money in connection with his arrest, guilty plea and subsequent efforts to withdraw that plea in Minnesota in 2007.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) praised District of Columbia Mayor Vincent Gray for signing into law what it calls the most robust anti-bullying bill in the nation, according to a press release. The law requires every agency in the district to have an anti-bullying policy; enumerates categories for protection including sexual orientation and gender identity; and establishes a taskforce to address bullying and intimidation. HRC President Chad Griffin said, "Today Mayor Gray and members of the DC City Council told every LGBT young person—not just in DC but around the country—that they have value and they have reason to be hopeful."

In New York City, TransJustice, a program of the Audre Lorde Project, and hundreds of transgender and gender non-conforming advocates of color and allies marched to Washington Square Park to demand an end to discrimination and violence on the basis of gender identity and expression, according to a press release. "The discrimination and violence facing trans and gender non-conforming people of color is a concern for all communities in New York, but injustices against this community are silenced," said Lolan Buhain Sevilla of the Audre Lorde Project.

The AIDS Memorial Quilt was taken from its home base at The NAMES Project Foundation in Atlanta to Washington, D.C., for two high-visibility events, Business Wire reported. It was shown at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which ends June 27; and it will be displayed at "Quilt in the Capital," a series of events that will coincidence with the AIDS 2012 international conference in late July. The quilt measures 1.3 million square feet and weighs 54 tons.

Monsignor William Lynn—the highest-ranking cleric accused of jeopardizing children by helping cover up sexual abuse—has been found guilty of one count of child endangerment, according to CNN. He was found not guilty on a second count of endangerment and a conspiracy charge to protect a priest accused of abuse. The jury couldn't agree on a verdict regarding his co-defendant, the Rev. James Brennan, who was charged with attempted rape of a 14-year-old altar boy and endangering the welfare of a child.

David Blankenhorn, the founder of the Institute for American Values and a leading advocate of California's Prop 8, is now in favor of marriage equality, according to Advocate.com . Blankenhorn wrote a New York Times op-ed entitled "How My View on Gay Marriage Changed" that legally recognizing same-sex marriage is "a victor for basic fairness." He added that "with growing numbers of Americans, that the time for denigrating or stigmatizing same-sex relationships is over."

A new youth-driven campaign aims to end bullying where it begins: with kids. According to a press release, "I Choose" ( www.WhatDoYouChoose.org ) is free to schools and communities and asks children and teens to adopt and embrace one of five words representing powerful social concepts: friendship, kindness, respect, compassion and love. The students then discuss the meanings of their words and put the words into action when dealing with a choice involving peer relationships.

Catholics for Equality—the country's largest national political organization of pro-LGBT equality Catholics—joined several Catholic social justice groups in organizing a peaceful protest outside the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., according to a press release. The Catholic groups came together with prayers and hymns under one giant banner that read, "Bishops: We Need Pastors, Not Politicians. Your Antics are Hurting the Church." The peaceful protest took place outside a special event presided over by Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl that the release called "a political campaign rally to motivate Catholics to vote against the re-election of President Obama because of the Health Care Reform Act and his support for LGBT equality."

Michigan state legislator Lisa Brown—who said she was banned from speaking in the state House because Republicans objected to her saying the word "vagina" during an abortion debate—recently performed The Vagina Monologues on the steps of the state capitol in Lansing, according to a Cleveland.com item. Eve Ensler, who wrote the groundbreaking play about women's sexuality, oversaw the performance, which featured Brown and 10 other lawmakers and several actresses. About 2,500 people watched the play, sitting on blankets and lawn chairs.

The National Council of La Raza—the country's largest Latino civil-rights organization—unanimously passed a resolution in support of marriage equality, according to the Washington Blade. Eric Rodriguez, vice president of public policy for the National Council of La Raza, said there was very little opposition to the vote, which came less than a month after the NAACP passed a similar measure. On May 9, President Obama expressed his support of same-sex marriage.

Asher, a 14-year-old transgender individual, has started an Indieagogo campaign to send himself to Arthur Morgan School, a trans-friendly Quaker boarding school in North Carolina, Advocate.com reported. Asher said, "Puberty, middle school, and all that crazy stuff. For trans kids like me, it's even more complicated." Asher added that his current public school has not been helpful.

The White House has taken action after two gay activists gave a portrait of former President Ronald Reagan the middle finger when they recently visited, according to Advocate.com . Matthew Hart, national director for public engagement at Solutions for Progress, and photographer Zoe Strauss both used the gesture—with Hart posted his photo on Facebook with the caption, "Fuck Reagan." After the Drudge Report picked up the item, the White House issued a statement saying the two won't be invited back.

Equality Ohio Executive Director Ed Mullen has resigned after being charged with disorderly conduct and menacing, according to an Advocate.com item. Mullen was arrested after being accused of threatening a man in Columbus while trespassing on the man's property; his relationship with the man is unknown. Mullen ran for an Illinois state legislator seat in 2010.

The trial of former Penn State University football coordinator Jerry Sandusky has ended after nine days with him being convicted on 45 counts of sexual abuse, according to CBS Sports. Jurors deliberated for nearly two days. Sandusky had faced 48 counts of abuse against 10 male victims; 26 of said counts were felonies. Sandusky was accused of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period, using The Second Mile, his charity for at-risk youth, as a source of victims. His adopted son, Matt Sandusky, had met Sandusky through the organization before also accusing his adopted father of sexual abuse recently.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was a guest star in issue 51 of Marvel Comics' Astonishing X-Men, which featured the wedding of gay X-Man Northstar to longtime boyfriend Kyle, Advocate.com noted. "We've had this partnership with Marvel that goes back to the special edition they did of Peter Parker [Spider-Man's alter ego] trying to find a job with some of the city resources that were available," mayoral spokesman Chris Coffey told Comic Book Resources. There was also an ad that stated New York City was a great place for a destination wedding.

Mary Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, has married longtime partner Heather Poe, according to the New York Daily News. "Very happy to announce that as of this morning, Heather and I are legally married (at least in DC), 20 years to the day after our first date," Cheney reportedly told friends on Facebook. In a statement, Dick Cheney and wife Lynne said, "Mary and Heather have been in a committed relationship for many years, and we are delighted that they were able to take advantage of the opportunity to have that relationship recognized."

To celebrate LGBT Pride Month 2012, volunteers from HyPride—Hyatt's new employee-networking group for members and supporters of the LGBT community that work at Hyatt hotels—volunteered at seven Pride events across the country, according to a press release. Hyatt's HyPride team staffed booths at LGBT Pride Month events in Baltimore; Boston; Chicago; Minneapolis; New York; San Francisco; Seattle; Tampa/St. Petersburg, Fla.; and Washington, D.C.

Many of the nation's top LGBTQ sports leaders joined Nike representatives at that company's world headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., for the first-ever Nike LGBT sports summit to combat bullying and anti-LGBTQ bias and discrimination in sports, according to a press release. Outsports co-founder Cyd Zeigler began developing the summit last year. Zeigler then joined forces with National Center for Lesbian Rights Sports Project Director Helen Carroll and Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network's (GLSEN's) "Changing the Game" Sports Director Pat Griffin.

In Ohio, a truck driver ditched a community AIDS group after learning he and his trailer would be part of a gay-pride parade in Cleveland, according to the Huffington Post. The driver allegedly yelled obscenities and stormed off upon hearing the news—even though his company had volunteered its services to provide the group a float for the parade. The AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland ended up not using its float in the event.

In Moline, Ill., the manager of a banquet hall refused to host a civil-union ceremony for a lesbian couple, saying she wouldn't help "celebrate that sin," according to the Huffington Post. Kristen Stewart, the manager of the University Club in downtown Moline, says she won't host a reception for Taylor Shumaker and her partner of three years—or any other same-sex couple, for that matter—because of her religious beliefs. Interestingly, Stewart's husband, Perry, has since told a news outlet that his wife "misspoke," and that there is no ban on same-sex marriages at his banquet hall.

Carl Siciliano, executive director of the Ali Forney Center, responded to the New York City Council's vote that retained Runaway and Homeless Youth Services (RHYS) funding at 2011 levels, according to a press release. "I am grateful to the New York City Council for preventing the catastrophic cuts to youth shelter beds proposed by the mayor," he said. "But maintaining 250 beds for 3,800 homeless youths is not a victory, especially for the youth whose lives are endangered as they suffer in the streets without access to shelter." Mayor Michael Bloomberg's budget would've cut RHYS funding by $7 million.

Lisa Winters, the former executive director of Bronx Community Pride, was arrested for possibly embezzling $338,000 from the LGBT resource center during her six years there, according to Advocate.com . Winters was charged with grand larceny and falsifying business records. She allegedly spent the funds on personal expenses like a month-long, $25,000 trip to South Africa with her wife in 2007. Winters was let go in 2010 when it was suspected she was embezzling money.

In Texas, teen lesbian couple Mollie Judith Olgin, 19, and Mary Christine Chapa, 18, were found with gunshot wounds to the head, according to MSNBC.com . Olgin died; Chapa was rushed to a hospital, where she had surgery. At last report, she was in serious but stable condition. Friends told another media outlet that the girls had been together five months. Portland (Texas) Police Chief Randy Wright said he didn't have any information about their relationship, noting that "we understood from their friends that they were [in a romantic relationship]. I know from … Mollie's parents that they were very close." He added that police could not tell if the girls' sexuality was connected to the attack. Many LGBT organizations have called for justice.

In Tennessee, Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero briefly talked about the state's now-dead "Don't Say Gay" bill at her city's gay-pride celebration, the Huffington Post reported. Rogero said, "We are building a culture of respect for each other, a culture of openness, a culture of participation, a culture of inclusion and, most importantly, a culture of confidence in who were are and optimism in what we can be. In our city hall, it's OK to say gay." She is reportedly the first Knoxville mayor to walk Gay Street—where the city's PrideFest Parade took place—with gay-rights advocates.

The New York State Conservative Party may withdraw its support of a state Senate candidate because she is married to another woman, according to the Huffington Post. New York Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long said the party's executive committee is reviewing the endorsement of Republican Janis Castaldi. Local party leaders backed Castaldi, not knowing she had married her wife in Connecticut in 2009.


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