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Marjorie Hill leaving GMHC; Elton's foundation to honor Hillary
National roundup: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2013-09-18

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The board of directors for the New York City-based organization GMHC (formerly Gay Men's Health Crisis) and CEO Dr. Marjorie J. Hill have mutually decided that Hill should leave, according to a press release. As of Sept. 29, Hill will no longer serve as CEO of GMHC. "Leading GMHC during the last several years has truly been an honor, but after more than seven years as GMHCs CEO, longer than any other head of an HIV/AIDS service organization, it is time for me to pursue new opportunities," said Hill. Janet Weinberg, GMHC's chief operating officer, will continue to serve as GMHC's interim CEO.

Hillary Clinton's support of gay rights has earned her a special honor from the Elton John AIDS Foundation, as the former secretary of state will receive its first Founder's Award, the New York Daily News reported. In a statement, the foundation cited a 2011 speech in which Clinton asserted that gay rights were human rights for helping envision a world without AIDS. Others honorees include celebrity chef Sandra Lee, business mogul Ronald Perelman and Howard Rose, a founding board member of the organization; Anderson Cooper will host the Oct. 15 gala, to be held in New York City.

In New York City, Bill de Blasio received the most votes in the mayoral race—but it was unclear (as of the following day, Sept. 11) if he got enough to avoid a runoff, according to the New York Daily News. The tally had de Blasio with 40.2 percent of the vote, while former Controller Bill Thompson received 26 percent. Lesbian City Council Speaker Christine Quinn had 15.5 percent, Controller John Liu had 7 percent and embattled former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner had 4.9 percent of the vote.

Although lesbian Christine Quinn didn't win her mayoral race in New York City, the city added three out city council members, according to Advocate.com . Corey Johnson, who is gay, defeated lesbian civil-rights attorney Yetta Kurland in District 3. Carlos Menchaca unseated incumbent Sara Gonzalez to become Brooklyn's first openly gay councilmember as well as the city's first Mexican-American one (in District 38). Lastly, the Bronx's Ritchie Torres beat five other candidates in District 15.

Larry Keller, the Republican mayor of gay-friendly resort town New Hope, Pa., says his decision to refuse to marry a gay couple left him "heartbroken," according to On Top Magazine. The couple obtained their marriage license in Montgomery County, which began issuing licenses to gay and lesbian couples, defying a state ban in the process. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has sued the county to block it from issuing additional licenses.

In Arizona, organizers of an initiative campaign for a 2014 ballot measure to legalize same-sex marriage are dropping that effort in favor of waiting until 2016, according to an ABC15.com item. The Equal Marriage Campaign says it had broad support but that key national advocacy groups withheld backing that was needed to make a 2014 run. The advocacy groups had said 2014 didn't provide enough time to rally support for a state constitutional amendment and that the larger voter turnout in 2016, a presidential election year, would help.

The Iowa Court of Appeals heard arguments in Lambda Legal's case representing Nick Rhoades, an HIV-positive Iowan in his appeal for post-conviction relief, according to a Lambda Legal press release. Rhoades was initially sentenced to 25 years in prison with registration as a sex offender after having a one-time sexual encounter with another man (Adam Plendl) during which they used a condom. Despite the fact that Plendl did not contract HIV, Rhoades was convicted under Iowa's HIV criminalization law.

The AFL-CIO has vowed to work for passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA): Protecting America's Workers, saying momentum is on the group's side to win freedom from discrimination for all workers, according to a press release. ENDA would prohibit employment discrimination on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity in all 50 states. Only 17 states and the District of Columbia have laws banning employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and four states have laws barring employment discrimination based only on sexual orientation.

Lambda Legal filed a brief on behalf of Fair Wisconsin and five same-sex couples in the Supreme Court of Wisconsin, asking the court to uphold the state's domestic-partnership law as constitutional, a press release stated. The conservative group Wisconsin Family Action is appealing a Court of Appeals decision that favored the law. Oral arguments in the state's highest court are scheduled for Oct. 23.

In South Carolina, a student and his mother are claiming that high school math teacher Alan Ingram bullied the student as being "gay" so much the teen attempted suicide, according to Courthouse News Service. John Doe and his mother sued the Charleston County School District in the Charleston County Court of Common Pleas; however, Ingram is not named as a defendant although he's named throughout the complaint. The family seeks damages for gross negligence and pain and suffering as well as costs of the lawsuit and medical bills.

In Minnesota, English/religion teacher Kristen Ostendorf was forced out after she revealed to fellow faculty that she's in a committed relationship with another woman—and she was let go from Fridley's Totino-Grace High School the next day, according to SheWired.com . In August, Ostendorf was in a conference with 120 fellow teachers when she said, "I'm gay, I'm in a relationship with a woman, and I'm happy." Ostendorf is the second educator to be forced out of the Catholic school in recent months after revealing an LGBT identity; the school's president, Bill Hudson, resigned in July after an anonymous source outed him.

In a controversy that threatened to overshadow the 30th anniversary of Dallas' gay Pride parade, some LGBT activists expressed outrage after organizers reminded participants that the event is to be family-friendly, and that nudity and lewd behavior will no longer be tolerated, according to the Dallas Voice. Michael Doughman, executive director of the Dallas Tavern Guild, which puts on the parade, called the controversy "much ado about nothing." However, activist Daniel Cates criticized the rules, claiming they were fueled by an "increasing number of attending heterosexuals and corporate sponsorship[s]." Dallas Pride took place Sept. 15.

Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney's Office told a Washington, D.C., Superior Court judge that the office is considering classifying an assault charge filed against the second of two women accused of attacking a gay male drag performer in June as a hate crime, according to the Washington Blade. Prosecutors said they may upgrade the charge of simple assault against Raymone Harding, 28, after making a similar announcement for co-defendant Rachel Manna Sahle, 22. The women were arrested after being captured on video dragging Miles Denaro by the hair across the floor of the restaurant after knocking him down and punching and kicking him.

In Pennsylvania, a state judge said that D. Bruce Hanes, the register of wills for Montgomery County, doesn't have the legal authority to override the state's constitutional ban on marriage equality and, therefore, must stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Advocate.com reported. Hanes said he'll comply with the order even though he's disappointed with the decision. More than 170 same-sex couples have received marriage licenses through Hanes; the ruling did not address whether Pennsylvania will consider those couples legally married or not.

In Iowa, Council Bluffs youth pastor Brent Giroeux, 31, was charged last year with suspected sexual exploitation of a minor by a counselor or therapist after at least eight young men filed complaints that the pastor molested them, according to Advocate.com . Giroeux pleaded guilty to third-degree sexual abuse and was initially sentenced by a judge to 17 years in prison; however, the judge suspended the sentence to allow Giroeux to receive sex-offender treatment, followed by five years' probation. Giroeux is a married father of four; his wife is filing for divorce.

In Cleveland, police delivered a letter warning the owner of the local gay bar Cocktails Lounge to stop his frequent calls for police assistance—despite several documented instances of anti-gay hate crimes committed outside the bar in recent weeks, according to Advocate.com . After apparently calling the police nine times in the past year, authorities warned the bar's owner that "repeated calls to the same property place an undue and inappropriate burden on the taxpayers of the City of Cleveland." Over Labor Day weekend, Jared Fox, a gay man, was beaten by a group of as many as 20 young people as he walked to Cocktails.

Lambda Legal sent a letter to the commanding general of the Texas Military Forces urging him to abide by U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) guidelines and allow married same-sex military couples to register for federal benefits at any military base in the state, according to a press release. Lambda Legal submitted the letter to Major General John F. Nichols, adjutant general of Texas, on behalf of Alicia Butler, the wife of 1st Lt. Judith Chedville, a member of the Army National Guard who served in Iraq and Kuwait. Even after presenting a valid marriage license, Butler was denied access to the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System registration process at Austin's Camp Mabry, and was told they would instead have to travel to a federal facility.

AIDS United has created an endowment fund that honors the memory of the late AIDS activist/educator Sean Sasser, according to a press release. The fund "will be used to mobilize philanthropic and community support for programs improving health outcomes for gay men of color," the release stated. The HIV-positive Sasser—who first came into the public eye in 1993 as the boyfriend of Pedro Zamora on MTV's The Real World—passed away Aug. 7 from mesothelioma, a rare lung cancer. A public memorial, at which AIDS United will make the official announcement of the fund, will take place Sept. 21 at National City Christian Church in Washington, D.C.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) announced that Brad Clark, currently the executive director of One Colorado, will join the organization to create and lead new strategies for narrow the gaps between states that have and do not have full LGBT equality, according to a press release. Clark will lead a cross-organizational effort to integrate, optimize and channel HRC's work in order to do the most good in the greatest number of places across this country.

The Center for American Progress, the Sellers Dorsey Foundation and the Federal Agencies Project have launched Out2Enroll, a campaign to inform LGBT communities about new coverage options available through the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and to encourage LGBT individuals to enroll in coverage, according to a press release. To accompany the launch, Out2Enroll released a fact sheet that provides an overview of the most important information LGBT community members need to know about their coverage options through the new health insurance marketplaces in each state. See www.Out2Enroll.org .

National Gay and Lesbian Action Fund Executive Director Rea Carey was one of more than 100 women—including undocumented immigrants—arrested recently for blockading an intersection outside the U.S. House of Representatives to protest what the group saw as the chamber's inaction on comprehensive and inclusive immigration reform that treats women and children fairly, according to a press release. Prior to the act of civil disobedience, more than 300 women and children gathered for a press conference in front of the Capitol Building, where national leaders such as Terry O'Neill of NOW spoke about women and what they see as a failed system.

Transgender woman Nikki Araguz—who is seeking to claim her late husband's death benefits—is now waging another legal battle in Texas: seeking to marry again, according to Advocate.com . The Harris County clerk denied Araguz and her fiance, William Lloyd, a marriage license. Texas law considers her male, even though she presented a document certifying her gender transition, and does not allow same-sex marriage. Araguz was previously married to firefighter Thomas Araguz, who died in a fire in 2010; she has been fighting his family in court for his death benefits.

Lambda Legal announced a landmark settlement for Cori McCreery, a transgender woman in South Dakota who was terminated from her job after she informed her employer that she would be taking steps to transition from male to female at work, according to a press release. Backed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Cori's settlement includes $50,000 plus public notice on the EEOC website, public notice on the workplace bulletin board, a mandatory policy in the office on workplace protections, a yearly three-hour all-staff mandatory training on workplace protections, and a letter of apology and letter of recommendation for McCreery.

The Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada has hired Bob Elkins as its new CEO, according to a press release. Prior to joining The Center, Elkins served as the director of business development at AT&T Interactive, where he managed the company's strategic relationships. Elkins moved from Southern California to Las Vegas in April, when his partner, Mark Hoyer, accepted a position as the head of hair and make-up for Cirque du Soleil's production of Zarkana at Aria Resort and Casino.

The National AIDS Memorial Grove is extending the deadline for students to apply for a scholarship as part of its Young Leaders Scholarship Program, according to Business Wire. The original application deadline of Sept. 30 has been moved to Nov. 1. Scholarships range from $1,000 to $2,500 and will be announced on World AIDS Day, Sunday, Dec. 1. For more info, interested persons should visit www.aidsmemorial.org .

Free Speech Coalition, a trade association for the adult-film industry, announced that shooting could begin again Sept. 20 after a two-week moratorium caused by HIV cases in the industry, according to a Chicago Tribune item. At least two actors (Cameron Bay and boyfriend Rod Daily) have announced they are positive. Critics, including the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, said that the test results show that producers still are not doing enough to protect performers by requiring them to wear condoms.

One of the five men accused of killing an up-and-coming transgender rapper in Milwaukee was sentenced to life in prison, Advocate.com reported. Ashanti McAlister, 19, admitted to shooting 22-year-old Evon Young three times after other gang members had suffocated and strangled the victim. Young's body was also set on fire, and then discarded in a dumpster. Two other gang members have already been convicted and will face sentencing next month. The remaining two men involved in the murder are awaiting trial.

Investigators trying to solve the beating death of transgender Harlem woman Islan Nettles are appealing to the public for help in a case that is becoming increasingly complicated, according to a Huffington Post item. The unusual request came as prosecutors prepare to present evidence to a grand jury to determine if suspect Paris Wilson, 20, should face murders charges in Nettles' death. Initially, the case against Wilson appeared clear-cut; however, another Harlem man, apparently at the urging of Wilson's friends and relatives, told detectives he attacked Nettles.

Rutgers University is supporting its women's college dean, a distinguished women's studies scholar who has been accused of bias against lesbians, according to USA Today. The university and Douglass Residential College Dean Jacquelyn Litt are named in the lawsuit filed by Laura Federico, who was fired last year from her public-relations job at the school. Federico says she lost her job because Litt didn't like lesbians and "felt that women who had men behind them were stronger and better employees."

University of Central Missouri freshman Alex Worthley received a letter of discipline from school officials after he reported receiving multiple violent threats from his school-assigned roommate, allegedly because he is gay, according to the Huffington Post. Worthley claims that his now-former roommate told him that he didn't like gay people, asked to not be assigned a gay roommate, and threatened him with a knife on three occasions. An excerpt from the school's letter reads, "There seems to be a strong possibility that some of your own actions and comments were part of the reason this situation escalated from jesting to threatening."

In Chicago, former city treasurer Judy Rice, in running for a judgeship, came out of the closet to Windy City Times. In doing so, Rice said, "It's a factor about me. There are many factors about me, the fact that I'm African-American, that I'm female, that I'm a lesbian, that I'm an attorney, that I've been in business school." Rice added that she has a partner, physician Barb Heller.

In a new campaign ad, openly gay Democratic House candidate Carl Sciortino Jr. comes out to his Tea Party father—as a liberal Democrat, according to the Huffington Post. Sciortino's ad features his father, Carl Sciortino Sr., lightheartedly bemoaning his son's liberal leanings. Sciortino, a member of the Massachusetts House, is running to fill Sen. Ed Markey's (D) empty seat in the U.S House. The special election in the heavily Democratic district is set for Dec. 10, with the primary Oct. 15.

In Michigan, lawyers representing Gov. Rick Snyder and the state of Michigan in a case alleging the state's ban on same-sex joint adoptions violates the U.S. Constitution have argued the state's constitutional amendment defining marriage is necessary to "regulate sexual relationships" to encourage population growth, according to MLive.com . Hazel Park couple April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse contend that the ban violates the federal guarantee of due process in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

In the Chicago area, a record $3 million settlement was achieved on behalf of a lesbian couple in a medical malpractice cause of action, according to a press release. Represented by John G. Kelly of the Law Offices of John G. Kelly, P.C., the case stems from the failure to diagnose ovarian cancer in a 49-year-old woman. She and her partner alleged that a radiologist at a Chicago-area hospital identified a complex cyst during an ultrasound ordered by the plaintiff's family physician. Although the radiologist recommended follow-up scans be performed on the cyst within 12 weeks, no such scan was ever ordered by the physician or ob/gyn doctor seen in follow-up.


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