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Gov.'s pro-gay statement; Mr. Internat'l Rubber dies
NATIONAL ROUNDUP: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2013-03-05

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Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla told a local newspaper that sexual orientation should not determine who is eligible to adopt a child in the U.S. commonwealth, according to the Washington Blade. The governor's comments—which he made while in Washington, D.C., for the annual National Governors Association meeting—came less than a week after the Puerto Rico Supreme Court narrowly upheld the island's gay adoption ban. Gay singer Ricky Martin and LGBT-rights advocate Pedro Julio Serrano are among those who criticized the decision.

Mr. International Rubber (MIR) 2013 Jason Lynch passed away Feb. 25 in Boston at age 38, according to ChicagoDen.net . Lynch, who represented New England, won MIR in November 2012 in Chicago. The announcement came via Facebook from his husband, Stephen. Lynch was planning his first international trip as MIR to Montreal when he died.

On May 9, Razoo.com will host the first national day of giving for the LGBTQ community, Give OUT Day, according to a press release. Give OUT Day is a new national initiative that will engage hundreds of organizations and mobilize thousands of people on a single day across the country to give in support of the LGBTQ community. Razoo specializes in online Giving Days, which are unique 24-hour giving competitions; the most successful Giving Day was GiveMN, which raised more than $16 million for Minnesota charities.

Hundreds of angry parents and citizens have joined a Facebook "prayer" page after a high school student in northern Mississippi came out as transgender, according to DeepSouthProgressive.com . With the support of the Mississippi ACLU, a student who is only being identified as "Leah" has taken the first steps toward beginning her transition by dressing according to her gender. Teachers and staff were supportive; however, many parents have taken the opposite stance.

The body of openly gay Clarksdale, Miss., mayoral candidate Marco McMillian was found in a levee Feb. 27—and a 22-year-old man has been charged with his murder, according to the Washington Post. The Coahoma County Sheriff's Department said in a news release that Lawrence Reed of Shelby, Miss., was charged in the death of McMillian. An investigation began Feb. 26 when a man crashed McMillian's SUV into another car on U.S. Highway 49; the candidate was not in the car. McMillian's family said that the coroner who performed the autopsy on the victim's body said he was beaten, dragged and set on fire before his body was dumped near a river, Reuters reported.

In Boston, the brothers of Phi Alpha Tau at Emerson College are raising funds to pay for gender-reassignment surgery for Donnie Collins, one of the fraternity members, according to Queerty.com . "Donnie means a lot to us, and this surgery really means a lot to him," Phi Alpha Tau member Andy Schlebecker told Queerty. "He is one of those guys who goes out of his way to make everybody feel comfortable, and we just want to allow him to feel comfortable in his own skin, too." The brothers have launched an IndieGoGo page that has already garnered more than $8,000.

Speaking of Emerson College, out gay CNN anchor Don Lemon shed tears at one point while talking with students there about everything from diversity to his mother's text messages, according to Emerson.edu . He wept while discussing the first time he received a police escort as a CNN reporter: "I remember when I didn't have money and I had to beg a police officer to let me on the train so I could get [home] from school." Lemon came out in his 2011 autobiography, Transparent.

New York's Fire Island has banned nude sunbathing, according to USA Today. The change was sparked by increased complaints about assault, sex, masturbation and prostitution, along with damage from Superstorm Sandy that decimated sight-obscuring sand dunes near popular Lighthouse Beach. Officials are enforcing the ban at five Fire Island beaches where nudists gather. However (according to Out.com ), the ban won't affect the beaches at Cherry Grove and Fire Island Pines, the gay community's preferred hangouts.

Almost 300 businesses as well as professional and municipal employers filed a friend-of-the-court brief this morning in support of Edie Windsor's challenge to the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) before the Supreme Court, according to an ACLU press release. The brief argues that DOMA obliges employers to treat an employee married to someone of the same sex and an employee married to someone of a different sex unequally, and that the law strains business efficiency and damages morale. Signers include Amazon.com, Apple, Bank of New York, CBS, Starbucks and Xerox as well as the cities of Seattle, Boston and San Francisco, among others.

In Colorado, the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund filed a complaint on behalf of a 6-year-old girl whose elementary school prevented her from using the girls' bathroom, according to the Washington Blade. The organization claimed that the Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8 told Coy Mathis' parents late last year she would have to use a boys', staff or nurse's restroom after winter break. Mathis—whose family was interviewed by Katie Couric Feb. 26—has expressed herself as a girl since she was a toddler.

Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop, 96— who was one of the few voices of reason during the start of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s—died Feb. 25. Koop, a pediatric surgeon by training, was appointed to his national post by President Reagan in November 1981 and served until October 1989. On March 31, 2011, Koop published his own memories of the era in The Annals of the Forum for Collaborative HIV Research. Koop's paper, "The Early Days of AIDS, As I Remember Them," was based on what he described as his "last major address" on HIV/AIDS, which was presented in Washington Nov. 18, 2010.

In Ohio, Miami University student Brett Hatton was charged with gross sexual imposition, assault and unlawful restraint after police said he attacked his gay roommate after returning home from drinking, according to WLWT.com . The roommate claimed that Hatton threw him onto his own bed several times, rubbing the roommate's genitals the last time. The roommate said he was able to fight off Hatton and go to a friend's room for help; he told police he wanted to pursue criminal charges.

The Phoenix City Council passed a measure that extended anti-discrimination protection to LGBT individuals, according to the Phoenix Business Journal. The measure was aimed not just at city workers and those that it does business with, but involved a wide swath of the community extending to housing sales and apartment leases, employment, and accommodations such as restaurants and hotels.

Out U.S. Army PFC Bradley Manning took "full responsibility" Feb. 28 for providing the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks with various classified and sensitive military, diplomatic and intelligence cables, videos and documents, according to Wired.com . Manning pled guilty to 10 of 22 charges the Army has against him, including improperly storing classified information; having unauthorized possession of such information; willfully communicating it to an unauthorized person; and other "lesser-included" offenses. Manning pled not guilty to 12 more charges, including the most serious: aiding the enemy, which carries a sentence of life in prison.

Actor Clint Eastwood was among the more than 80 conservative figures who signed a "friend of the court" brief, filed with the United States Supreme Court, arguing in favor of federal marriage equality for same-sex couples, according to CBS News. The brief was also signed by former GOP presidential contender Jon Huntsman, former Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman and GOP strategist Steve Schmidt, who oversaw Republican Sen. John McCain's 2008 campaign for the presidency.

By a vote of 286-138, the House passed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act Feb. 28, expanding protections for Native American women, LGBT individuals and immigrants, according to MSNBC.com . The bill, which Joe Biden wrote in 1994, has been reauthorized twice in its history without dispute. House Republicans unveiled their own version of the bill Feb. 22, excluding parts of the Native American provision, as well as certain protections for LGBT victims—but that version came under heavy scrutiny.

The Obama Administration—in the form of U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli—submitted a brief that called the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional because it violates "the fundamental guarantee of equal protection," according to SouthFloridaGayNews.com . The brief uses a specific section of the 1996 law, which was signed by then-President Bill Clinton, to insist that the result means "the law denies to tens of thousands of same-sex couples who are legally married under state law an array of important federal benefits that are available to legally married opposite-sex couples."

Jimmy Lee Hales, a Mormon student at Brigham Young University, came out to his family and friends in a five-minute YouTube video that has already been viewed more than 100,000 times, according to the Huffington Post. Gay Mormons exist, Hales says in the video, but it can be a lonely existence. Some people in the video seem unsurprised by the news, while others think he's joking. His sister, Christy, even asks if he could be bisexual.

Transgender nursing student Domaine Javier has filed a lawsuit against California Baptist University after being expelled from the school, according to KABC. Javier, 25, was expelled from the private Christian school in August 2011 after she appeared on an episode of an MTV show called "True Life" to discuss the stigma experienced by transgender people. The lawsuit—which seeks $500,000 in damages—alleges that Javier's civil rights were violated because she was expelled on account of her gender identity.

Colorado's civil-unions bill, which grants same-sex couples similar rights to that of married couples, passed through the House Judiciary Committee on an 8-3 vote, the Huffington Post noted. All Democrats voted in favor of the bill with one Republican joining them for the second consecutive year. Rep. Mark Ferrandino, Colorado's first openly gay speaker of the House, tweeted his excitement at the development: "Excited to see Civil Unions pass its 1st committee today with bipartisan support. Thank you Rep Murray for your courageous stand!!! #coleg"

In Atlanta, 32-year-old gay man Allen Fromherz was stabbed several times during a fight—and a witness helped detain his attacker as he tried to flee before police arrived, according to Project Q Atlanta. Police arrested Michael Taylor Zimmerman, 26, and charged him with three felonies—aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery, and possession of a knife during a crime. After the fight, Fromherz—who suffered several cuts to his face and arms—was transported to Grady Memorial Hospital.

A new poll taken by the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce has found that a large percent of likely voters oppose renaming San Francisco International Airport after slain gay-rights pioneer Harvey Milk, according to CBS San Francisco. In the poll of 500 likely voters conducted at the end of January, 61 percent expressed their opposition. A Change.org petition in favor of the renaming has already gathered about 20,000 signatures; however, San Francisco Supervisor David Campos is still trying to find enough city supervisor votes to place the measure on the November ballot.

A Kentucky llama farmer is on the ropes financially a year after being fired because he's gay, according to On Top Magazine. Kevin (no last name given), who runs the 18-acre LLA-Nanny Farms, was fired from his post as director of a day care center in Ashland. He said that a judge was sympathetic but ruled against him because Kentucky does not outlaw workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation. Now that unemployment has run out, Kevin said he risks losing his farm.

In Mesquite, Texas, 27-year-old Sondra Scarber was beaten unconscious by a man hurling anti-gay slurs at her after she tried to protect her girlfriend's son from bullies at a playground, Gay Star News reported. Scarber's jaw has been wired shut as she recovers from the attack which occured nearly three weeks ago. So far, authorities do not consider the attack to be a hate crime.

In Connecticut, school officials have allowed a student to wear an anti-gay T-shirt, citing freedom of speech, according to the Huffington Post. The lawyer for the school district this month wrote to the American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut, saying Wolcott High School student Seth Groody may wear the T-shirt, which shows a slash mark through a rainbow. (The other side showed a male and female stick figure holding hands above the message "Excessive Speech Day.") The ACLU said it disagreed with Groody's views about gay rights, but added he has the right to state those views.

In Indiana, the Sullivan County School District—reacting to the uproar over a teacher's comments that she believes gays have no purpose in life—suspended the instructor, according to an ABC News item. Superintendent Mark Baker issued a statement saying the teacher has been placed on administrative leave out of concern "for the safety and security of everyone in our buildings." The superintendent did not identify the teacher, but special education teacher Diana Medley's comments have circulated widely on social-networking sites amid news coverage concerning a non-school sanctioned prom that would ban gay students.

As many as 6 million adults and children in the United States have an LGBT parent, and an estimated 3 million LGBT Americans have had a child at some point in their lives, according to an analysis released Feb. 27 by the Williams Institute of UCLA. Including single and married or partnered LGBT people, the study found that nearly half of LGBT women and a fifth of LGBT men under age 50 are currently raising a child. This new report also reinforces an emerging picture of LGBT families as racially and ethnically diverse, and living in places and in economic conditions that contradict popular impressions.

For the first time, doctors are reporting that they have cured a child of HIV, according to USA Today. The landmark finding will help scientists better understand the nature of HIV, physicians say, and could potentially help countless HIV-positive babies in developing countries. Experts note that the girl's story is also unique, and won't immediately lead to a cure for the 34 million people living with HIV worldwide. "I'm sort of holding my breath that this child's virus doesn't come back in the future," said Hannah Gay, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, who treated the 2 1/2-year-old Mississippi girl.

The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) praised the reintroduction of the Safe Schools Improvement Act, according to an organizational press release. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Penn.) and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), introduced a Senate bill with bipartisan support that addresses bullying and harassment for all students, including the categories of actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. "We join with more than 100 organizational partners in GLSEN's National Safe Schools Partnership to call for the passage of this essential bullying-prevention measure," said GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard.

At least three men allegedly sexually assaulted a transgender woman in a hotel room in midtown Manhattan, according to Advocate.com . The attack apparently arose from a dispute over money. The woman was treated at Roosevelt Hospital for bruises and abrasions. Police have released surveillance images of the woman and are asking anyone with information to call the NYPD Crime Stoppers hotline, 800-577-TIPS.

LGBT investors indicate high levels of post-election optimism about the political and economic direction of the country, as well as confidence about their own financial future, according to a recent Wells Fargo nationwide survey. Two-thirds (66 percent) of LGBT investors are optimistic about the political direction of the country, compared with 43 percent of the overall population. Three in four expect a stronger US economy over the next two years, much higher than the general population of 47 percent. And two-thirds (65 percent) anticipate stronger local economies over the next two years, compared to 45 percent overall.

Openly gay Eagle Scout Will Oliver delivered more than 120,000 petitions March 4 to the headquarters of the National Geographic Channel, as the network premiered a new reality-TV show that night in partnership with the Boy Scouts of America entiled "Are You Tougher Than a Boy Scout?," according to a press release. Oliver's petition urged the channel to issue a disclaimer denouncing the Boy Scouts of America's ban on gay Scouts and Scout leaders.

Soulforce—an organization that nonviolently resists religious oppression of LGBT people—has criticized what appears to be the forced resignation of vice president for student life, Carl Ruby, from Cedarville University, a press release noted. "It appears that Carl Ruby was compelled to resign because of his compassionate concern for LGBT students at Cedarville," said Rev. Dr. Cindi Love, executive director of Soulforce. Dr. David Olsen—the director of Cedarville OUT, an LGBT alumni association of the school— believes a final straw in forcing Ruby's resignation was his creation of "safe spaces" on campus for LGBT students.

The U.S. Senate confirmed Judge Pamela Chen to be the first openly gay, Asian-American person to preside on a federal bench, according to Advocate.com . Chen was approved by a voice vote for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. During her confirmation hearing, Chen said she would remain fair, and that politics would play no role in her judiciary duties.

Top-earning gay and lesbian couples who married in states where the law permits it may soon be paying more in income taxes as the Supreme Court considers the legality of marriage equality, according to Bradenton.com . For same-sex couples where both earners are making annual salaries of $400,000 or more, a pro-marriage ruling may mean thousands of dollars in higher income taxes. Such high-earning couples already may have added costs when they file their taxes, share employee benefits such as health insurance, and transfer assets.

A Kansas Republican is leading an effort to protect anti-gay service members and to ban same-sex couples from marrying on military installations. According to the Washington Blade, Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, who was elected during the Tea Party wave of 2010, introduced legislation known as the Military Religious Freedom Protection Act. Last year, on the same day that President Obama endorsed marriage equality, Huelskamp amended major funding legislation on the House floor to reaffirm the Defense of Marriage Act.

New York gay summer mecca Fire Island Pines celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, according to a press release. The crown jewel of the 2013 season will be the rebuilt Pavilion Nightclub, slated to open in early spring. Following a fire in November 2011, Blesso Properties tapped design firm Hollwich Kushner Architects to design a new structure from scratch. See www.pinesfi.com .

Two Florida men are awaiting trial after having unprotected sex with a 16-year-old and not disclosing their HIV-positive status, Queerty.com noted. Pembroke Pines residents Darrell Allen Evans, 40, and Huy Kien Trinh, 32, met an unnamed teen on Grindr and invited him over for a rendezvous. The three had unprotected sex—and the adults said they were HIV-negative.

Because of the media attention surrounding anti-gay cartoonist Orson Scott Card, artist Chris Sprouse has left the upcoming Adventures of Superman project, according to USA Today. Fans and retailers called for boycotts of the print comic, and the LGBT-activist website AllOut.org collected more than 16,000 signatures on an online petition asking DC Comics to drop Card from Adventures of Superman. Due to the creative change, the Card story will not appear in the first collected issue out May 29.


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