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NATIONAL Activists' honor, N.J. attorney general, gay bar closes, Warhol display
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2019-12-02

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Three longstanding LGBT legal activists will be honored by the American Bar Association Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity with its eighth annual Stonewall Award during a ceremony on Feb. 15, 2020, at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Austin, Texas, a press release noted. The 2020 award recipients are James J. S. Holmes, a partner at Clyde & Co. in Los Angeles who helped create the ABA Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity; New York City Human Rights Commission Chair Carmelyn P. Malalis; and Chase Strangio, a staff attorney at the ACLU's LGBT & HIV Project in New York, and who was a member of the legal team of Obergefell v. Hodges.

On the Transgender Day of Remembrance ( Nov. 20 ), New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced new rules for law enforcement officials to abide by when interacting with transgender and non-binary people, APP.com reported. The LGBTQ Equality Directive instructs police how to properly use transgender and non-binary individuals' chosen names and pronouns—in person and in writing—and governs how to appropriately conduct searches.

Club Ripples—an iconic Long Beach, California, gay bar that had been part part of the LGBT community for more than 40 years—has closed, PressTelegram.com reported. As its last moves, the spot offered free food to all patrons Nov. 20-30, and hosted a VIP-only party Dec. 1. In the 1940s, the building was an ice cream parlor. It became a gay bar in the 1950s, although that closed in 1968. Later, Shirley Temple's first husband, John Agar, bought the property and called his restaurant Land's Inn. The space became Club Ripples in the 1970s.

Jordan Eagles planned to fill the Andy Warhol Museum with blood to commemorate World AIDS Day ( Dec. 1 ), The Art Newspaper noted. The immersive installation will consist of several projections from the artist's "Illuminations" series, which ruminates on the politics surrounding queer blood and the prejudice LGBTQ people face because of the stigma of HIV and the FDA's discriminatory blood ban against men who have sex with men. The project would take over a gallery inside the Pittsburgh museum's current exhibition Andy Warhol: Revelation, which examines the pop artist's relationship to Catholicism.

Lambda Legal, in partnership with Black AIDS Institute, launched a new website—"Cut the Stigma"—for their joint campaign to end misconceptions around HIV in Black communities, a press release noted. The statement noted that eight of the 10 states with the highest rates of new HIV diagnoses are in the South, adding that the face of HIV is disproportionately Southern, and it belongs to Black gay and bisexual men. See CutTheStigma.org .

A Michigan diocese said it supports a priest who told a parishioner that because of her same-sex civil marriage she should not receive the Eucharist, Catholic News Agency reported. The diocesan statement came after a Nov. 26 report from local news channel WOOD TV 8, which stated Fr. Scott Nolan of St. Stephen Parish in East Grand Rapids had "denied Communion" to Judge Sara Smolenski, chief judge of the Kent County District Court. LGBTQ Nation noted that Nolan had previously accepted $7,000 from Smolenski intended for caring for the church grounds.

The Fenway Institute released a new report on emerging best practices in the management of LGBTI people in correctional settings at the Massachusetts State House, a press release noted. Report co-author Timothy Wang, Senior Policy Analyst at The Fenway Institute, moderated a panel discussion about key recommendations in the report, "Emerging Best Practices for the Management and Treatment of Incarcerated Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex ( LGBTI ) Individuals." Among the best practices and key recommendations discussed were continuing to follow the recommendations for housing outlined in Prison Rape Elimination Act ( PREA ) standards; and being equipped to handle LGBTI people's health needs. The report is at FenwayHealth.org/report-identifies-emerging-best-practices-in-the-management-of-lgbti-people-in-correctional-settings.

In Indiana, in a victory for supporters of LGBTQ rights, three Christian conservative organizations have failed in their legal fight to invalidate local pro-LGBTQ ordinances in Indianapolis, Carmel, Bloomington and Columbus, IndyStar reported. A ruling filed by Hamilton Superior Court Judge Michael Casati granted motions of summary judgment sought by attorneys for the four cities and the state of Indiana. Casati found that the case made by the three plaintiffs—the Indiana Family Institute, Indiana Family Action and American Family Association—had no standing or "ripe claims."

In a proclamation recognizing World AIDS Day, U.S. President Donald Trump again omitted any recognition of LGBTQ people as among the groups primarily affected by the epidemic, The Washington Blade reported. Trump also omitted LGBTQ individuals in 2017 and 2018—but the latest absence of LGBTQ people stands out even more because Trump takes the occasion to tout his administration's plan to beat HIV by 2030. In contrast, former U.S. President Barack Obama, in his 2016 proclamation, spelled out HIV/AIDS predominantly affects "gay and bisexual men, transgender people, youth, black and Latino Americans, people living in the Southern United States, and people who inject drugs."

In a turn, conservatives are going after Chick-fil-A—because the fast-food chain donated to the Southern Poverty Law Center ( SPLC ) in 2017, Mediaite noted. "Chick Fil A betrayed us," Turning Point USA founder Kirk tweeted. "We stood by them for years during every attack and controversy… Despite this they announced they will no longer support Christian organizations." Recently, Chick-fil-A announced that it had stopped donating to several Christian charities, including the Salvation Army, following criticism from LGBT activists.

The Louisville Metro Police Department's LGBTQ liaison officer has sued the department, alleging that he was discriminated against based on his sexual orientation, Officer Johnny Burgraff said in a suit filed Nov. 22 in Jefferson Circuit Court that he was subjected to inappropriate remarks by a lieutenant—and passed over for a position as public information officer—because he is gay.

America Media launched "Plague: Untold Stories of AIDS and the Catholic Church," a six-episode podcast series, on World AIDS Day ( Dec. 1 ), a press release noted. Reported by Michael O'Loughlin—who has covered the Catholic Church and LGBTQ issues for more than a decade—the series explores both the lights and the shadows in the Catholic Church's response to the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and '90s. People can subscribe at podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/plague-untold-stories-of-aids-and-the-catholic-church/id1488020105 and see the trailer at AmericaMagazine.org/plague.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert announced that the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing will propose a new administrative rule preventing licensed mental health professionals in the state from subjecting LGBTQ youth to the life-threatening practice of conversion therapy, an NCLR press relese noted. The new rule will be identical to the language of H.B. 399, legislation that was introduced in the state legislature by Rep. Craig Hall in February 2019 and that secured widespread public support before narrowly failing to pass. "It is vital that our leaders support LGBTQ youth. We are grateful to Governor Herbert for his leadership and for making sure all youth know they are born perfect. It is lifesaving," said conversion therapy survivor and NCLR Born Perfect Strategist Mathew Shurka.

More than half of LGBT respondents in a recent survey of Southerners reported fair to poor mental health, The Washington Blade noted. Rates spiked for bi and trans young people 18-24 and were exacerbated for those with lower incomes, the Charleston City Paper reported. The 2019 Southern LGBTQ Health Survey from the Campaign for Southern Equality and Western North Carolina Community Health Services collected responses from 5,617 participants from 13 states—making it the largest-known survey of LGBTQ health issues in the South.

The Naming Project—a leading LGBTQ youth and faith-based organization—announced its first-ever summer camp for adults taking place June 12-15 at Bay Lake Camp in Deerwood, Minnesota, a press release noted. After fifteen successful summers providing a place for LGBTQ youth to explore their identities and religion, The Naming Project will expand to serve adults older than 21. Visit www.thenamingproject.org/adult-camp. For more information on the youth camp, visit: http://www.thenamingproject.org/summer-camp.

A Rocketman mash-up video was released for World AIDS Day that stars Garret Clayton, Jesse Pattison, Merrick Hanna, Montana Tucker, Jai Rodriguez and Santwon McCray, a press release noted. Pattison said, "My inspiration for this has began with my love, and adoration of Elton's music. I knew I had to create something after watching Rocketman for the first time. As World AIDS day was approaching, I couldn't think of a better way to share a foundation that has my heart." The video can be downloaded at https://vimeo.com/user105658869/review/376619646/4f00e3681e.

Donald Trump Jr. recently criticized a Queerty story about not sexually discriminating against HIV+ people, the website reported. "Well I can think of one thing," Trump tweeted in response to an article titled "What you stand to lose by not having sex with people with HIV." However, social-media users rapidly slammed Trump for his post. For example, "We're days away from the 31st WORLD AIDS DAY," wrote ACT UP NY, "and the President's son is typing anti-science stigma inducing bull sh*t." Also, Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David called for Trump to apologize.

Lambda Legal announced that Michael D. Shutt—formerly senior director for campus life at Emory niversity and an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Georgia—will become director of Lambda Legal's Southern Regional Office, based in Atlanta, a press release noted. As Southern Regional Director, Shutt will oversee programming and outreach efforts in Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina and Mississippi.

Rosa Parks was honored with a new statue in downtown Montgomery, Alabama, on Dec. 1—64 years to the day she was arrested for refusing to move to the back of a city bus, CNN.com noted. The day marked the second annual Rosa Parks Day in Alabama, after the state legislature approved the honor for the civil rights icon last year. Parks was on her way home from work on December 1, 1955, when she refused to give up her seat on a public bus for a white man; her subsequent arrest prompted the 381-day boycott of the Montgomery bus system, organized by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

In Ohio, Notre Dame Academy students came up with their own way to voice their displeasure after chaperones forced eighth-graders to leave a live performance of The Nutcracker in Chicago that portrayed a male same-sex couple, The Toledo Blade noted. Printed on the school's spirit rock in big block letters Tuesday were the words "God Loves U." That message of inclusiveness appeared on campus as school leaders backpedal and apologize for their decision to walk students out of the show, which they were attending as part of a weekend field trip to the Windy City.

Penn Nursing—ranked as the best nursing school in the world—received a $100,000 grant from the Robert I. Jacobs Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation for HIV research, Philadelphia Gay News reported. The grant is for an investigation led by one of the top local experts in the field of HIV research, Dr. Jose A. Bauermeister, a presidential professor of nursing and director of the Program on Sexuality, Technology and Action Research ( PSTAR ) at Penn Nursing. He also serves in the National Institutes of Health on Sexual and Gender Research.

Troy, Tennessee, may not have a Christmas parade this year after threats were reportedly made about a pro-LGBTQ float that would be in the parade, LocalMemphis.com reported. The float would have included a rainbow flag based on a scripture in the bible that says "love everybody," including those who identify as LGBTQ. The mayor said the parade could be rescheduled.

In Iowa, Republican state Rep. Skyler Wheeler was so upset about the transgender flag that he called it part of a "rainbow jihad," LGBTQ Nation noted. The Transgender Day of Remembrance was Nov. 20, and the Iowa Capitol building flew the light blue, pink, and white flag in honor of people who were murdered due to transphobia. His colleague state Rep. Dean Fisher ( R ) said that he is considering legislation to limit the flags that can be flown over the building.

In California's Sacramento County, a DoorDash delivery driver sent disturbing messages to a teenage boy, Fox40.com reported. The teen ordered Wendy's off DoorDash when he was home alone. After dropping off the food, the driver kept messaging him, first asking the teenager if he lived alone; the driver went on to ask the boy to come with him on his deliveries before offering to take him to a hotel. The Sacramento County Sheriff's Office said since no crime was committed, there was not much they could do; however, the company fired the driver and cancelled the teen's account ( since account holders must be at least 18 ).

New York state lawmakers introduced legislation that would ban doctors from performing or supervising virginity examinations, or "purity exams," after rapper T.I. boasted that he accompanies his daughter to a gynecologist each year to ensure she is still a virgin, HuffPost noted. Doctors performing the exams typically check to see whether a female patient's hymen is intact, even though medical professionals do not consider it a reliable indicator of past sexual activity.

Twitter has said it will "pause" plans to disable inactive accounts following user backlash, a day after announcing plans for a huge cull of such accounts, the BBC reported. The social network said it now would not remove accounts until it had a process for "memorializing" dead users on the network. It admitted not having a policy in place was a "miss on our part."


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