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Gay men try to enter sorority; ex-governor claims gay-related extortion
NATIONAL ROUNDUP: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times.
2012-06-13

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A group of gay men interested in Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA)—also known as MIAKAs—is threatening to file a lawsuit against the sorority, alleging homophobia and gender discrimination, Atlanta Black Star reported. AKA is the oldest and most renowned sorority founded for African-American women; it was founded in 1908 at Howard University. News of MIAKAs first surfaced a couple years ago when men founded unofficial chapters of AKA at Texas Southern University and Prairie View A&M.

An attorney for former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said an ex-party chair tried to extort Crist with allegations that he's gay, Advocate.com reported. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement distributed a report that showed former state Republican Party chair Jim Greer wanted Crist to change his deposition in a case investigating Greer. Greer claimed via email that "Crist was a homosexual and had homosexual relationships." Crist was married in 2008 to Carole Rome.

The Hillcrest Brewing Company, which is being promoted as the "world's first out and proud LGBT brewery," is opening in San Diego's Hillcrest neighborhood, the Huffington Post reported. The Hillcrest Brewing Company will serve homemade microbrews on tap as well as wine and a rotating selection from other local microbreweries.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) released a groundbreaking study of LGBT-identified young people and a associated study of straight teens that shows large disparities between the two groups, according to a press release. With more than 10,000 respondents ages 13-17, "Growing Up LGBT in America" is the largest known survey of LGBT teens. Among the findings was that nearly half of LGBT youth (47 percent) say they do not "fit in" in their community while only 16 percent of non-LGBT youth feel that way. See www.hrc.org/youth.

Rev. Keith Ratliff has resigned from his post as the Iowa/Nebraska state conference president of the NAACP after the national organization issued a statement supporting marriage equality, Advocate.com reported. Ratliff has been an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage, and spoke at a rally last year in support of limiting marriage to heterosexual couples.

A teen online radio talk-show host stated that homosexuality is a "belief" and that he is disgusted by the issue of sexual orientation, according to Advocate.com . Caiden Cowger, 14, said, "The person is not born that way, no matter what Lady Gaga says." He also said that several of his peers have come out of the closet—and Cowger blames President Obama and Vice President Biden for making them gay. CNN contributor Dana Loesch defended Cowger, tweeting, "Another conservative teen under attack for being ... a conservative teen. Remember when adults praised civic participation?" Recording service Spreaker has shut down Cowger's show, calling it hate speech.

The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) and a coalition of child welfare advocates and experts have issued "Recommended Practices to Promote the Safety and Well-Being of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) Youth and Youth at Risk of or Living with HIV in Child Welfare Settings," according to a press release. The "Recommended Practices" document offers guidance to state and local child-welfare agencies to ensure safe, appropriate care in the best interests of LGBTQ children in the child-welfare system. See www.lambdalegal.org/publications/recommended-practices-youth.

The New Mexico Court of Appeals has upheld a ruling that Elane Photography violated state anti-discrimination laws by refusing to take pictures of a gay couple's commitment ceremony, according to the New York Daily News. The court agreed with a previous ruling that stated the photo studio is considered public, similar to a restaurant or store. The studio argued that its refusal was not an act of discrimination, but a reflection of the owners' religious and moral beliefs.

In an interview with The Advocate, California Attorney General Kamala Harris talked about the Prop 8 battle. She told the publication, "What's most important, and what I would love to see, is the highest court in the land ultimately make a decision, and the right decision. That would be to find that Prop 8 is a violation of equal protection under the Constitution, and to stop denying LGBT people the right to marry." Recently, Harris received the George Moscone Ally Award at Los Angeles Gay Pride.

Comedian Sarah Silverman, Glee actress Dot Marie Jones and drag performer Carmen Carrera will be the celebrity grand marshals at San Francisco's Pride Parade, which will kick off June 24 at Market and Beale streets, according to the Huffington Post. Among those receiving honors are former San Francisco Mayor Willie L. Brown Jr. (Lifetime Achievement Grand Marshal), Bishop Christopher Senyonjo (Global Grand Marshal), the ACLU of Northern California (Organizational Community Grand Marshal) and individual marshals.

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan has criticized President Obama's stance supporting marriage equality, according to an item on TheRoot.com . In a video that the organization's purported news source posted, Farrakhan called Obama "the first president that sanctioned what the scriptures forbid." Farrakhan said he's not homophobic ("I'm not your enemy. I'm your brother, and I do love you") but added, "Sin is sin, according to the standard of God."

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said on a recent visit to Taiwan that marriage equality is a "distraction" in the presidential campaign, ABC News reported. He also said that the United States should focus on economic growth, immigration, energy and education. Bush—the son of one former U.S. president and the brother of another—has repeatedly said he's not interested in running for vice president in this year's election.

At Walt Disney World, this year's Gay Days was the event's largest, according to WatermarkOnline.com . The Gay Days host hotel was the Doubletree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld, which has 1,000 rooms. Gay Days President Chris Manley said the hotel reserved 900 rooms for visitors; however, because they sold out so quickly, the organization was able to secure an extra 50. In addition, Manley said that all 120 available spaces at the Gay Days Expo were sold, and those vendors reported more sales than previous years. This was the 22nd year of the event.

Several of the Obama Administration's cabinet secretaries have stated their support for marriage equality, On Top Magazine noted. Secretaries Hilda Solis (Labor), Kathleen Sebelius (Health and Human Services), John Bryson (Commerce) and Timothy Geithner (Treasury) have joined Shaun Donovan (Housing and Urban Development) and Arne Duncan (Education) in publicly endorsing same-sex weddings. "We are proud of our president's history-making support for the right to marry regardless of sexual orientation," Solis said in a statement commemorating LGBT Pride Month.

Marriage-equality opponents have jumped on an ad for a fundraising event for the Obama campaign featuring Sarah Jessica Parker, according to On Top Magazine. In the ad, Parker says, "[T]he guy who ended the war in Iraq, the guy who says you should be able to marry anyone you want and the guy who created 4 million new jobs. That guy—President Obama—and Michelle are coming to my house for dinner on June 14." CatholicVote's Carson Holloway said, "Taken as stated, the president's position, proclaimed by his actress-spokesperson, is to personally advocate for polygamous and even incestuous marriages."

In California, the West Hollywood parish has left the Presbyterian Church over gay rights, according to the Charlotte Observer. However, it is leaving for a different reason than other parishes have departed—for what the Rev. Dan Smith has called the "core-level homophobia in the Presbyterian Church." Some progressives are calling the move odd, citing the Church's recent lifting of the ban on gay and lesbian ministers; this summer, the governing body will vote on same-sex marriages.

Controversial Florida minister Terry Jones symbolically hung effigies of President Obama and Uncle Sam to protest the chief executive's support for women's reproductive rights and gay rights, Gay Star News reported. Jones—who made global headlines two years ago after threatening to burn copies of the Koran—also claimed in a YouTube video that Obama is helping radical Islamic groups. Jones intends to run for president in this year's elections.

In Dallas, Alan Rodriguez has yet to find closure in his case against a fitness center, the Dallas Voice reported. Rodriguez filed a complaint in February 2011 against Tom Landry Fitness Center in East Dallas after the gym refused to sell him and his partner of 10 years a family membership because they are a same-sex couple. The gym, owned by Baylor Health Care System, claims it's a private religious organization and not a public accommodation—therefore exempting it from the city's nondiscrimination clause.

Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray and Congressional Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton were among the local elected officials who took part in the city's 37th annual pride parade June 9, the Washington Blade reported. "I love this parade," Gray told the Blade. "I'm here every year. I wouldn't miss this." Councilman Jack Evans said the parade "highlights the contributions of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community here in the District of Columbia."

In another D.C.-related matter, gay-rights activists expressed anger and sadness over a city corruption investigation that resulted in the resignation of LGBT ally and Council Chair Kwame Brown, according to the Washington Blade. Brown's resignation came hours after federal prosecutors charged him with committing felony bank fraud. However, there was even more tension when gay D.C. Council member David Catania urged Mayor Vincent Gray to resign if he continues to refuse to publicly answer questions about another investigation about his own 2010 election campaign.

Controversial research from the University of Texas at Austin concludes that adult children of parents who have been in same-sex relationships are different than children raised in intact biological families on various social, emotional and relationship levels, according to the Deseret News. However, lead investigator Mark Regnerus said the study doesn't address a variety of factors and added, "Nor does the study tell us that same-sex parents are necessarily bad parents. Rather, family forms that are associated with instability or non-biological parents tend to pose risks for children as they age into adulthood."

Republican Colorado lawmaker Marsha Looper's campaign manager, Lana Fore-Warkocz, outed Looper's gay son, Advocate.com reported. Fore-Warkocz sent an email praising Hooper for voting against a proposed civil-unions bill despite having a gay son. The email read, "God is truly to be praised for Marsha Looper because she also has a homosexual son. Praise God!" Looper later told The Denver Post she was "disappointed" in her staffer, adding, "My family members' personal lives are not a legitimate avenue for my campaign."

In Massachusetts, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren has made it known that she differs from Republican incumbent Scott Brown when it comes to LGBT rights, according to Advocate.com . Warren—who march in the Boston Pride Parade June 9 with Gov. Deval Patrick and other officials—said "there is still much work to be done" and that she will be "a leader in the fight for full equality." Warren opposes the Defense of Marriage Act and supports ENDA; Brown (who voted for the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell") doesn't share those positions.

U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., are among more than five dozen legislators who signed a letter urging the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to revise its policy banning gay and bisexual men from donating blood, according to a press release. Quigley and Kerry have led bicameral efforts calling for a revised policy, first sending a letter to HHS in June 2010. That same month, the HHS Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability reviewed the ban and recommended the policy be changed.

A new University of Missouri study shows that students who weren't exclusively gay or heterosexual were more likely to misuse alcohol than those who were, according to a media release. "Bisexuals and students whose sexual orientation was in flux reported the heaviest drinking and most negative consequences from alcohol use, such as uncontrolled drinking and withdrawal symptoms," said Amelia Talley, an assistant professor of psychological sciences in the school's College of Arts and Science. "One possible explanation is that people who aren't either completely heterosexual or homosexual may feel stigmatized by both groups." The study was published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Freedom To Marry and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) released a online video featuring Army Captain Stephen Hill and his husband, Joshua Snyder, spotlighting the drawbacks of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) for gay and lesbian service members, according to a press release. Hill—who drew national support when he was booed during a Republican presidential debate after asking a question via video regarding repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"—recently returned from a deployment to the Middle East. The video is the latest piece of the new "Freedom to Serve, Freedom to Marry" national campaign highlighting the stories of military families harmed by DOMA.

Trans United for Obama has launched a campaign to rally transgender people, their allies, families and supporters to re-elect President Obama, according to a press release. The campaign—which a group of transgender advocates, educators, bloggers, authors, and their families and allies organized—aims to educate people about what it says are "the historic changes that the Obama Administration has accomplished in the past three and a half years to secure equal rights and protections for all Americans, including transgender people." See www.transunitedforobama.org/index.html .

According to emails The Boston Globe uncovered, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has had a problem with the words "transgender" and "bisexual," Advocate.com reported. While Romney was governor of Massachusetts, his administration blocked a "Guide to Bullying Prevention" from being published because it included references to bisexual and transgender people. The guide was eventually published—when Democrat Deval Patrick became governor.

In North Carolina, Peter Lucas Moses, 27, has pled guilty to murdering 28-year-old Antoinetta Yvonne McKoy as well as 4-year-old Jadon Higganbothan—who Moses thought was gay, the Huffington Post reported. Moses is also allegedly the leader of the Black Hebrews, a radical religious sect whose members included women and children who called him "Lord." Both of Moses' victims had been shot in the head.

In Dallas, Rev. Frederick Haynes III recently gave a sermon that supported President Obama's position on same-sex marriage and criticized fellow African-American leaders, according to a Huffington Post item. Haynes—head pastor at Friendship-West Baptist Church—said, "Notice it does not say that all straight men are created equal. It does not say that all men, unless you are gay or lesbian, are created equal. [Obama] swore upon oath to uphold, protect and defend the Constitution—not the Bible, but the Constitution of the United States."

Campus Pride has reviewed more than 300 colleges and universities, according to LGBT friendliness, the Huffington Post reported. More than two dozen factors were taken into consideration, including course offerings, housing and policies. Among the 28 schools that received a top rating of five stars are the Ohio State University, Stanford University, Indiana University, Dartmouth College, Princeton University and the University of Chicago.


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