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Gay politician loses cool; server fired for lying
National roundup: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times.
2013-12-11

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U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, a gay Democrat from Colorado, lost his cool on the House floor when the presiding officer chastised a colleague for mentioning the undocumented immigrants sitting in the House gallery to hear the chamber debate the languishing immigration reform bill, according to Advocate.com . After Rep. Joe Garcia finished his floor speech, Rep. Jackie Walorski ( R-Ind. ), who was serving as Speaker Pro Tem, reminded the Florida Democrat that members of Congress are not allowed to address anyone sitting in the chamber's gallery. This angered Polis, who said, "Madame Speaker, the gentle people in the gallery … would not have to be in the gallery … advocating—if this House simply took up the bill."

A New Jersey waitress who raked in thousands in donations after claiming a couple didn't tip her because she's gay was fired from her job Dec. 7, according to the New York Post. The restaurant announced Dayna Morales' termination on Facebook shortly after it was revealed she was returning donations from supporters across the world. Morales had originally claimed a couple stiffed her on a $93.55 bill and left a note saying, "I'm sorry but I cannot tip because I do not agree with your lifestyle." However, the couple produced receipts showing an $18 tip.

In Maine, a South Portland man who police say killed his former boyfriend before turning the gun on himself wrote online of his "dark thoughts" in the hours before the murder-suicide, OnlineSentinel.com reported. Patrick Milliner, 30, shot himself in the head after shooting 22-year-old Matthew Rairdon twice ( in the head and chest ) Nov. 30. Milliner posted on Facebook that he was upset about the end of his relationship with Rairdon and about spending Thanksgiving alone.

In Mississippi, a DeSoto County judge refused a request from a woman seeking a divorce from her partner, WMCtv.com reported. Lauren Czekala-Chatham, of Hernando, married her partner legally in California. She asked for a divorce, saying she is trying to protect her son's inheritance. Because Mississippi doesn't recognize same-sex unions, a judge denied the request at a hearing; Czekala-Chatham has filed an appeal.

A fraternity at Maryland's Morgan State University is on probation until 2015 following accusations that it rejected a recruit because of his sexual orientation, according to CBS Baltimore. The university determined the Alpha Iota chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi did discriminate against Brian Stewart because he is gay. Stewart—who holds a 3.2 GPA and has interned at the White House—said he complained to make sure other students don't endure the same discrimination. Ironically, Stewart receives scholarships from Kappa Alpha Psi to attend Morgan State University.

The American Legislative Exchange Council ( ALEC )—a far-right organization known for its advocacy of "Stand Your Ground" laws and restrictions on voting rights—has a history of anti-gay propaganda, according to SDGLN.com . People for the American Way ( PFAW ) uncovered and released an ALEC memo from 1985 called "Homosexuals: Just Another Minority Group?" that reportedly makes the organization's anti-gay sentiment clear. In the 1985 memo, ALEC devoted an entire section likening LGB people to pedophiles.

In Utah, U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby has said he'll do his best to rule by early next year on a legal challenge to a same-sex marriage ban throughout the state, according to LGBTQ Nation. Shelby heard arguments from both sides Dec. 4 as he weighed what will be a precedent-setting decision on Utah's 2004 voter-passed law. Lawyer Peggy Tomsic contended marriage is a fundamental right; however, attorneys for the state countered it's not the courts' role to determine how a state defines marriage.

Five years after a Northern California woman said she was gang-raped while her attackers taunted her for being a lesbian, the trial of one of the four men charged has started in a Contra Costa County courtroom where the 33-year-old victim is testifying, LGBTQ Nation reported. Humberto Salvador, 36, of Richmond, Calif., is charged with 15 felonies that include kidnapping, street terrorism, carjacking and gang rape in the Dec. 13, 2008, attack. Prosecutors are presenting the case as a hate crime.

The 9th Circuit ruled that U.S. immigration officials must review the asylum claims of a gay man who was beaten by his college classmates in East Siberia, according to Courthouse News Service. The man—referred to in court papers as "John Doe"—is from the Republic of Buryatia, a federal subject of Russia in East Siberia. Doe claims that, after his classmates at East Siberian Technological University in Ulan-Ude discovered he was gay, they teased, harassed and beat him so badly that he had to spend three weeks in the hospital. He came to the United States later that same year to attend the American Language Communications Center in New York on a nonimmigrant student visa.

A former federal law clerk who was denied health benefits for her domestic partner won back pay from an executive committee of the 9th Circuit's Judicial Council, according to Courthouse News Service. Margaret "Gosia" Fonberg—now an attorney in Portland—clerked for U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin in the District of Oregon from 2009 to 2013. In 2009, she tried to enroll her domestic partner in her health plan; however, the federal Office of Personnel Management would not allow it.

In Paris, Tenn., a violent beating some are calling a hate crime happened inside a health food store, according to WBBJ-TV. Police say the owner was beaten unconscious, robbed of $1,200 and had a three-letter anti-gay slur written on his forehead in marker. Paris police say as three men beat the man they called him defamatory names; the victim told police he awoke to see two of the men pouring gas on the floor.

Gay Republican groups are criticizing Rep. Randy Forbes ( R-Va. ) over his reported comments that gay Congressional candidates should not receive money from the GOP to run for office, The Washington Blade reported. The groups were responding to an article published in Politico that cited a half-dozen anonymous sources as saying Forbes has undertaken "a lengthy crusade" to halt support for gay candidates. Forbes scored a zero ( out of 100 ) in the Human Rights Campaign's most recent Congressional scorecard.

A Christian marketing group has launched a holiday shopping guide that ranks retail chains on how "faith-friendly" they are, and puts anti-gay stores on the top of the "nice" list, according to NewNowNext.com . Faith Driven Consumer claims its goal is "connecting Christian consumers with faith-compatible companies"; however, it gives four-and-a-half stars ( its top mark ) to Hobby Lobby, which has been accused of both anti-gay and anti-Semitic incidents. On the other hand, LGBT allies such as Apple and Nike—the latter which launched a line of Be True sneakers supporting gay Pride—received only one star each, putting them at the bottom of the list.

U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier ( D-Calif. ) has reintroduced the Stop Harming Our Kids ( SHOK ) resolution—a measure asking the U.S. House of Representatives to encourage states to take steps to prevent minors from being harmed by gay-to-straight conversion therapy, according to LGBTQ Nation. The practice is now banned in California and New Jersey, and several other states—including Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New York, Wisconsin and Ohio—are considering similar measures.

Colorado judge Robert N. Spencer ruled that a baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a same-sex ceremony must serve gay couples despite his religious beliefs, The Huffington Post reported. Spencer said Masterpiece Cakeshop in suburban Denver will face fines if it continues to turn away gay couples who want to buy cakes for their wedding celebrations. Shop owner Jack Phillips had argued that making cakes for gay wedding ceremonies violates his Christian beliefs.

Cecilia Perez-Matos—the youngest daughter of Carlos Andres Perez, a former two-time president of Venezuela—will marry her fiancée, Michelle Santill, in a historic ceremony in December in Cleveland, Ohio, according to a press release. Now an attorney in Miami, Perez-Matos will wed Santill, a celebrity stylist and international hair industry educator. The couple will first travel to New York, where Perez-Matos lived most of her life and where same-sex marriage is legal, to obtain their marriage license before heading to Ohio, Santill's birthplace, where they will be married at the Glidden House; Ohio has not yet passed a marriage-equality law.

An openly gay teacher at a Pennsylvania Catholic school was fired after applying for a same-sex marriage license, The New York Daily News reported. Michael Griffin—a teacher at Holy Ghost Preparatory School in Bensalem, Pa., for 12 years, and a resident of Mount Laurel, N.J.—told a local TV station he was blindsided by his firing. "After 12 years together I was excited to finally be able to marry my partner. Because of that, I was fired," he said. "I feel hurt, saddened, betrayed and except for this post, am at a loss for words."

Lambda Legal announced, in conjunction with the estates of Dr. John Eden and Mr. Robert Rushing, that its legal director position has become the Eden/Rushing Chair, according to a press release. Rushing and Eden ( who passed away, respectively, in 2012 and 2005 ) were among Lambda Legal's very first Guardian Society members and, through bequests, have donated nearly $3 million dollars to the organization. "I am incredibly proud to carry this new title in honor of a couple who understood—first-hand—how critical our work is, and who supported our efforts over many years," said Jon W. Davidson, legal director and Eden/Rushing Chair.

The Trevor Project honored actress Jane Lynch with the Trevor Hero Award, Adam White with the Trevor Youth Innovator Award and Toyota with the Trevor 20/20 Visionary Award at TrevorLIVE in Los Angeles at the Hollywood Palladium, according to a press release. The event, which Kathy Griffin hosted, featured performances from Adam Lambert, Amber Riley, Beth Behrs ( 2 Broke Girls ), Cheyenne Jackson, Darren Criss, Megan Hilty and Sia, among others. Ryan Murphy, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Josh Duhamel and Paula Abdul were among the many celebrities who attended.

The American Civil Liberties Union is launching "My Big Gay ( Il )legal Wedding," a campaign that calls attention to state laws that allow same-sex couples the freedom to marry in 16 states and the District of Columbia, but not in others, according to a press release. The campaign launches with an animated video of Project Runway mentor Tim Gunn asking committed same-sex couples to submit creative ideas. People can visit weddings.aclu.org to learn more ( including official rules ) and submit stories for a chance to win the contest. The ACLU will help five same-sex couples go the extra mile down the aisle—whether it's kayaking across a river or riding a hot air balloon—into a state where it is legal to marry.

A historic number of corporations earned the top score in Human Rights Campaign's ( HRC's ) 2014 Corporate Equality Index ( CEI ), according to a press release. This national benchmarking tool on corporate policies and practices related to LGBT workplace equality found that 304 major businesses—spanning nearly every industry and geography—earned a top score of 100 percent and the coveted distinction of "Best Places to Work for LGBT Equality." See the full report at www.hrc.org/cei.

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs ( NCAVP ) issued a statement expressing its concern about two unsolved homicides of transgender women that recently occurred in Cleveland, Ohio. The most recent victims are Betty Skinner, 52, who was discovered beaten to death in her apartment Dec. 5; and Brittany Nicole Kidd Stergis, 22, found shot to death inside a car Dec. 6. In April of this year, another transgender woman, CeCe Dove, was found in Olmstead Township, near Cleveland. NCAVP is working with local NCAVP member organization Buckeye Regional Anti-Violence Organization ( BRAVO ) in Columbus, Ohio, to raise awareness of these unsolved homicides.

All members of the Louisiana National Guard—including troops who are legally married to same-sex partners in other states—will now be able to apply for benefits at any installation, LGBT Weekly reported. While the Louisiana National Guard had initially required that lesbian, gay and bisexual service members apply for spousal benefits only at federal installations, the secretary of defense has indicated that such a policy illegally creates hardship and inequality for service members in same-sex marriages.

In New York City, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz has raised eyebrows by calling the area the "lesbian capital" of the city and of the Northeast, according to the New York Post. In a radio interview he said, "We have a much larger lesbian population in Brooklyn. New York City is fortunate to have a large LBGT community, but in Brooklyn in particular, the lesbian community, there's no question it's the capital of the Northeast." Markowitz, like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is leaving his post Jan. 1.


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