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Man sentenced for Stonewall attack; Ann Coulter to appear on The A-List: Dallas
NATIONAL ROUNDUP: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times.
2011-10-05

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Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and 67 additional members of Congress joined Congressman Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and lead sponsor of the Uniting American Families Act, in pushing to protect LGBT binational families from unnecessary deportations, according to a press release. The 69 members sent letters to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric Holder requesting that LGBT family ties be considered in pending deportation cases involving binational same-sex couples.

In Florida, the Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (MDGLCC) and the LGBT Visitor Center on Miami Beach has launched the Pink Flamingo Hospitality Program, Business Wire reported. YES Institute, an MDGLCC partner, will conduct the program. YES institute will provide one-hour educational workshops for hoteliers that address fears and misinformation that lead to discrimination.

During a fight during a pro hockey match, the Philadelphia Flyers' Wayne Simmonds appeared to call marriage-equality supporter and New York Rangers player Sean Avery a "fucking faggot," according to Advocate.com . When asked, Simmonds said he couldn't remember "every single word" he said. Avery said that he didn't know if Simmonds' slur was in response to Avery's declaration of his support for same-sex marriage, adding that Simmonds has used that kind of language "for years." GLAAD is calling on the National Hockey League to take action, but Simmonds, 23, has denied making the slur.

In Utah, 40-year-old gay Mormon Bryan Michael Egnew took his own life after losing his family and being excommunicated, according to Pride in Utah. Egnew went on a Mormon mission at age 19; was married in a temple to wife Amy; and had five children. Friend Jahn Curran, who knew Egnew since their college days at Brigham Young University, said that he (Curran) eventually came out of the closet, but that Egnew was too afraid to do so. Recently, however, Egnew did reveal his sexuality to his family, resulting in his wife leaving with the children and his excommunication.

In Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh prison guard Harry Nicoletti has been arrested and charged with physically and/or sexually assaulting more than 20 inmates, including a transgender woman, according to Advocate.com . Nicoletti, 60, faces 92 criminal charges, including "several counts each of institutional sexual assault, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and official oppression." Also, Nicoletti is a defendant in two civil suits from prisoners alleging the "systematic abuse of inmates—especially those convicted of child-sex crimes, or believed to be homosexual."

The Matthew Shepard Foundation is among only 25 U.S. charities chosen to compete for grants ranging from $125,000 to $1 million through the American Giving Awards, presented by Chase, according to a press release. The Foundation, founded by the parents of 1998 Laramie, Wyo., hate-crime victim Matthew Shepard, works to "Replace Hate with Understanding, Compassion and Acceptance" through community outreach, advocacy and education. Winners will be selected based on the public's votes on Facebook and Chase.com; the current round ends Oct. 5.

Asheville, N.C., Mayor Terry Bellamy, who has opposed gay rights in the past, recently signed a proclamation honoring the Blue Ridge Pride Festival, according to Chron.com . Bellamy's move followed public pressure from City Councilman Bill Russell and a meeting with gay-rights activists. Blue Ridge Pride spokeswoman Ashley Arrington praised Bellamy for signing the resolution. The festival took place in Pack Square Park Oct. 1.

In New York, Matthew Francis was sentenced to two years in prison for an anti-gay attack at the Stonewall Inn in October 2010, the Wall Street Journal reported. Francis, 22, pled guilty Sept. 8 to assault as a hate crime and to attempted robbery, although his attorney argued that drug and alcohol use prompted the incident, not hatred. Co-defendant Christopher Orlando, 18, who also attacked the victim, will be sentenced in January.

In Minnesota, the Anoka-Hennepin School District is under fire once again because many teachers are not passing the area's LGBT policy, according to Advocate.com . The district has a policy requiring staff members to be neutral on matters concerning homosexuality—but not heterosexuality. Nine students in the district who have been perceived as LGBT have committed suicide over the past two years.

In Texas, Primera Police Chief Joe Rodriguez has admitted to sending transgender porn to a constable after he was reported to police and accused of harassment, according to FoxNews.com . However, Rodriguez said that he "accidentally" texted the images from his personal phone, adding that he meant to send it to his cousin. The current constable, Robert Lopez, is running against Rodriguez for re-election in 2012.

The Family Equality Council has created a new digital booklet to help parents and educators develop school policies that respect, include and protect children of LGBT parents, a press release stated. Among other things, "Opening Doors" is designed to educate LGBT parents about the experiences their children sometimes face in schools and inform educators how they can best create welcoming and inclusive environments. See http://www.familyequality.org/openingdoors.

In California, West Hollywood celebrated the grand opening of its $64-million library complex, Advocate.com reported. The new library features an exterior mural by street artists Shepard Fairey, Kenny Scharf and Retna as well as a coffee shop, an HIV-information center and a large collection of LGBT-related books. Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne wrote, "It is tough to think of many civic projects that can match the upbeat, gregarious appeal of the library."

In Texas, minister Tom Brown wants El Paso to revoke insurance benefits for the city employees' domestic partners, Advocate.com reported. Brown is seeking to oust El Paso's mayor in addition to two city council members who supported health benefits for same- and opposite-sex partners of the city's workers. Brown said, "They want to reward fornicators, and they want to reward homosexuals."

Also in Texas, 14-year-old Dakota Ary's suspension was reduced to one from three days after he made an anti-gay comment in his German class, according to the L.A. Times. Ary's attorney, Matthew Krause of the Liberty Counsel, said the suspension was unjustified and that Ary is entitled to express his opinions. Krause said, "Dakota wasn't disrupting class. He wasn't bullying or harassing anybody. He was just stating his personal opinion on a topic somebody brought up and in a civil and respectful manner."

In another matter related to the situation, gay Fort Worth teacher Kristopher Franks, put on paid administrative leave after allegations of improper behavior, has been cleared of all charges, according to the Dallas Voice. Franks was the teacher who sent Dakota Ary to the principal's office after the student made the anti-gay statement. However, Steven Poole, deputy executive director for the United Educators Association of Texas said that the allegations leading to Franks' leave were unrelated to the incident with Ary.

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain said that he should have said something after a crowd booed gay soldier Stephen Hill at a recent debate, according to a Deseret News item. The audience booed Hill as he asked candidate Rick Santorum if he would "circumvent the progress that has been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military." None of the candidates responded to the booing at the time. Cain's comment came the day after President Obama criticized the candidates for not responding while he spoke at the Human Rights Campaign's national dinner.

In other Cain-related news, he appeared on ABC's The View, where he said, among other things, that being gay is a choice. When co-star Joy Behar asked him about his stance regarding this issue, Cain responded, "You show me the science that says that it's not. Could be persuaded. Right now it's my opinion against the opinion of others who feel differently. That's just a difference of opinion." Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Joe Solmonese called Cain's thoughts "jaw-dropping," adding, "HRC is eager to connect Herman Cain with medical professionals who can walk him through the very basic science that he says he is seeking out."

The city of Moab, Utah, held its first-ever pride festival Oct. 1, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. Approximately 300 people walked through downtown as bystanders whistled and waved from the sidewalk. It's one of only two such events in Utah, with the other in Salt Lake City.

The Department of Defense has issued new guidelines that let military chaplains to officiate at same-sex weddings, according to the Miami Herald. The weddings can take place inside or away from military installations in states where marriage equality is legal. However, no chaplain is required to participate if doing so violates personal or religious beliefs. "The guidance issued today strikes the right balance between respecting the faith traditions of chaplains and affording all service members the same rights under current law," said Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of the gay-rights organization Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

In California, Nicholas Klopp has been sentenced to five years in prison in connection with a December attack on a gay man, the Ventura County Star reported. A jury found Klopp—a resident of Piru, Calif.—guilty of felong assault with a deadly weapon but was found not guilty of simple assault and the hate crime related to it. Klopp was at O-Sabi Japanese Restaurant when he threw a drinking glass at Brian Schumacher, who is gay, hitting him above the eye and causing a cut that required three stitches to close. Klopp also punched Aaron Argueta in the jaw.

In New York, lesbian couple Deirdre DiBiaggio and Katie Carmichael are considering a lawsuit after Ledyard town clerk Rose Marie Belforti denied them a marriage license, On Top Magazine reported. Belforti cited her Christian beliefs in reserving to serve the women, telling the New York Times, "God doesn't want me to do this, so I can't do what God doesn't want me to do." Carmichael said, "Gay people have fought so long and hard to get these civil rights. To have her basically telling us to get in the back of the line is just not acceptable."

The New York Fire Department has added its first transgender individual to its staff, according to the Huffington Post. Brooke (full name withheld), a third-generation firefighter, will work at Metrotech headquarters. Brooke, who schedules appointments for recruits, told the New York Post, "I am appreciative of the support that the FDNY has given me during this time in my life. However, it is my expressed wish that the details of my personal and professional life remain private." The department had been aggressively seeking LGBT employees.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has started hearing arguments in the case of a graduate student who refused to counsel lesbian, gay and bisexual clients on any issues related to same-sex relationships during her clinical training, according to an ACLU press release. The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Michigan filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting Eastern Michigan University's right to require the student to follow curricular criteria, including not discriminating against potential clients.

In New York, transgender activist Justin Adkins was arrested Oct. 1 at the Brooklyn Bridge as part of the "Occupy Wall Street" protest, according to Towleroad.com . Adkins, assistant director of the multicultural center at Williams College, said he identified himself as transgender while being arrested. However, Adkins added that he was subjected to a genital patdown, was placed in a cell with violent criminals and was chained to the wall of the only working restroom in the jail for eight hours. Adkins hopes his ordeal will expose how the New York Police Department treats transgender individuals.

Equality California has accused conservative activists who want to repeal the state's new gay-history law of purposefully concealing the sizes and sources of campaign contributions, according to MercuryNews.com . The organization accuses Capitol Resource Institute and Pacific Justice Institute of raising and spending money to qualify the repeal referendum for next year's ballot without registering as campaign committees. The law made California the first state to add lessons about gays and lesbians to public-school curricula.

Conservative pundit Ann Coulter is slated to appear on the Logo show The A-List: Dallas, according to Instinct Magazine. The publication cited a press release that stated, "While Ms. Coulter's political viewpoints are a frequent source of debate, she has always been somewhat supportive of the gay community. In fact, Go Proud, the conservative gay organization, recently named Coulter 'Honorary Chair and Gay Icon.'" Coulter joined "Dallas" cast member Taylor Garret and Jimmy LaSalvia of the Republican gay-rights group GOProud for lunch.

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner has tripled a fee he paid private attorneys to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, from $500K to $1.5 million, according to a Human Rights Campaign (HRC) press release. HRC President Joe Solmonese said, "There seems to be no limit to how much taxpayer money the House Republican leadership is willing to spend to keep this discriminatory law on the books. At a time when budgeting is the watchword in Washington, Americans will be rightly aghast at this boondoggle for right-wing lawyers."

The declaration of "Occupy Wall Street"—an ongoing series of demonstrations in New York City—includes clauses regarding LGBT individuals, according to a press release. In its Declaration of the Occupation of New York City, the organization behind the protests rails against corporate forces that "have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one's skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation." Occupy Wall Street also criticizes what it feels is the prevention of freedom of the press as well as the taking of "our houses through an illegal foreclosure process," among other things.


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