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  WINDY CITY TIMES

NATIONAL Adoption-agency case, Chick-fil-A, LGBTQ candidates, Cher
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2020-08-24

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The U.S. Supreme Court set Wed., Nov. 4, as the date when it will hear oral arguments on whether a taxpayer-funded, religious-affiliated adoption agency can lawfully reject same-sex couples—a case that could have significant impact on policies and laws prohibiting discrimination across the board, The Washington Blade reported. The case is Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, which was filed by Becket Law on behalf of Catholic Social Services. The case came about after the City of Philadelphia learned in March 2018 that Catholic Social Services—which the city had hired to provide foster care services to children in child welfare—refused to license same-sex couples despite signing a contract prohibiting agencies from engaging in anti-LGBTQ discrimination.

On another note involving the case, Lambda Legal submitted a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of itself and 26 local, state and national organizations that serve LGBTQ youth urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold an appellate court ruling denying Catholic Social Services' ( CSS' ) request that Philadelphia be ordered to contract with the agency, according to a press release from CenterLink—one of the organizations connected with said brief. A few of the other groups connected with the brief include The Trevor Project, Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico, Philadelphia's William Way LGBT Community Center and Louisville Youth Group Inc.

In Texas, the Fourth Court of Appeals ruled that a group of conservative activists doesn't have grounds to sue San Antonio over the City Council's refusal to allow a Chick-fil-A restaurant at San Antonio International Airport, ExpressNews.com reported. Council members initially voted to approve a contract with an Atlanta-based concessionaire to bring a slate of new vendors to the airport, but then told the company to strike Chick-fil-A and find another food vendor, with Councilman Roberto Trevino citing Chick-fil-A's history of donating to anti-LGBTQ groups.

Three openly LGBTQ non-incumbent candidates endorsed by LGBTQ Victory Fund—Joshua Hicks, Ricky Junquera and Michele Rayner—won their Florida state House primary races Aug. 18, putting the state on-track to double the number of openly LGBTQ members of the state legislature in November, an organizational press release noted. Currently just three openly LGBTQ people serve in the state House, including Reps. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Jennifer Webb, who won their uncontested primaries on the same date. State Rep. Shevrin Jones, who is running for the Florida state Senate, also won his primary and will likely be the first out LGBTQ member of that chamber.

On Monday, Aug. 31, Cher will headline an LGBTQ+ fundraiser for Joe Biden, and the event will also feature South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Deadline reported. Also scheduled to take part in the virtual event are LGBTQ politicians U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin ( D-Wisconsin ) and Rep. David Cicilline ( D-Rhode Island ). The tickets for the event start at $1,000 per person, and rise to $100,000, either for donating or raising that amount. Donors of $50,000 and above will get to participate in a "virtual clutch." Cyndi Lauper is on the bill for an LGBTQ+ event Monday, Sept. 14, with Buttigieg, U.S. Rep. Sharice Davids ( D-Kansas ) and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot ( all LGBTQ politicians ); tickets start at $100 per person.

Two men were in custody and a third was at large after a group of people were caught on video jeering as three transgender women were assaulted and robbed in Hollywood, KTLA.com reported. The primary suspect, 29-year-old Carlton Callway, was arrested in Bakersfield on suspicion of robbery with a hate-crime enhancement; and Willie Walker, 42, was arrested in Hollywood on suspicion of extortion. The suspect still being sought, 22-year-old Davion Williams, is accused of assault with a deadly weapon.

Anderson Cooper criticized My Pillow founder Mike Lindell for touting an unproven drug as a potential "cure" for COVID-19, calling the prominent supporter of President Donald Trump a "snake oil salesman" in a CNN interview, USA Today noted. Lindell has been advocating the use of oleandrin, an extract from the oleander plant, as a treatment for the coronavirus. "You have no medical background, you're not a scientist," Cooper said. "A guy called you in April, said he had this product. You are now on the board and going to make money from the sale of this product. ... How do you sleep at night?"

In Michigan, in a vote that didn't happen until around 2 a.m. on Aug. 20, the Holland City Council approved expanding the city's nondiscrimination ordinance to protect people who identify as LGBTQ, WOODTV.com reported. The measure passed eight votes to one. It was the second time in a decade the city council was asked to amend the ordinance to include the LGBTQ community. For the first time since the COVID-19 outbreak began, the meeting, which started the evening of Aug. 19, was held in person.

Long Beach, California, Mayor Robert Garcia lost both his mother, Gaby O'Donnell, 61, and his stepfather, Greg O'Donnell, 58, to COVID-19, NBC News reported. The mayor, who tested negative for the coronavirus, said he had limited contact with his mother and stepfather due to social-distancing requirements, and had pleaded with his constituents to follow those same protocols in their homes as the pandemic continued to claim lives. Despite his personal loss, Garcia has continued to work; the openly gay mayor was one of a group called "17 rising stars"who gave the keynote address Aug. 18 during the virtual Democratic National Convention.

In Utah, a group of President Trump supporters at a restaurant left waiter Ashton Bindrup a tip—with an anti-gay slur ( "Get out of America f-g" ) written on the $5 bill, LGBTQ Nation reported. "I got this tip today while serving an older couple and their middle-aged son. They were all wearing Trump 2020 hats," Bindrup wrote on Facebook, with photos of the bill. Bindrup added, "And I hate to say it, but as open minded as I try to be, the next time I meet a Trump supporter I will have a hard time not remembering that five dollar bill I got today."

Also in Utah, the Heber City Council approved banner restrictions in response to outcry over LGBTQ pride flags, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. Residents had begun showing up at City Council meetings after the rainbow banners appeared last year, calling the flags "disturbing" and "political." Apart from state and federal holidays, the ordinance requires approval from the city manager for any banners proposed for city light posts, with appeals sent to the City Council for review. Only Heber City, Wasatch County and Heber Valley Chamber of Commerce are allowed to sponsor events or messages for the banners. Events must be nonprofit and nonpolitical.

The California Assembly Appropriations Committee passed bipartisan legislation to allow transgender Californians to update their marriage certificates and the birth certificates of their children to accurately reflect their legal name and gender, while maintaining their privacy, an Equality California press release announced. The bill will now advance to the Assembly floor for a final vote.

Los Angeles's prominent LGBTQIA+ coffee shop Cuties has closed, although it will return to life as an underground coffee pop-up with a big online presence, Eater Los Angeles reported. Owners for the shop in East Hollywood—which had been hailed as a safe gathering space for Southern California's queer, transgender, and other communities—stated on Instagram that "our organization does not bring in enough revenue to pay for our space." Also, co-founder Virginia Bauman says that they are turning over ownership entirely to longtime manager Sasha Jones, naming her CEO of the company and transferring equity in the process. Bauman said, "This brand began with two white folks. If this project is to continue to fulfill its original values, it comes with ownership and leadership, with both centering Blackness."

A man recorded ranting against wearing masks, using homophobic language and exposing himself in a Marshall's department store in California was identified as Tim Gaskin—a former San Francisco artist, magazine editor and television show host, CBS San Francisco noted. The video, shared by San Jose DJ Eddie House, shows Gaskin speaking angrily to a store employee and a man filming him about the store's mask-wearing requirement during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gaskin goes on to call the man recording him a "f*ggot" and, in another video, Gaskin opens his pants and exposes himself.

A federal judge rejected President Donald Trump's effort to block a Manhattan prosecutor's subpoena for his tax returns, USA Today reported. This was another major loss for Trump, who has dismissed the investigation as a political "witch hunt" and has fought all the way to the Supreme Court to keep his financial records private. The ruling by U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero came a little over a month after the Supreme Court ruled Trump cannot keep tax returns and financial records away from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, who was investigating hush-money payments during the 2016 presidential race.

Also, a California Superior Court judge ordered President Trump to pay Stormy Daniels' non-disclosure agreement legal fees, UPI.com reported. Judge Robert Broadbelt ordered Trump to pay Daniels $44,100 to cover her legal fees related to her battle over a $130,000 NDA with Trump's former attorney, Michael Cohen, as part of a hush-money arrangement over an alleged affair.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway announced she will leave her post at the end of the month while her husband, George Conway, said he was withdrawing from The Lincoln Project—both citing a need to focus on their family, CNN.com reported. Kellyanne said in a statement, ""We disagree about plenty but we are united on what matters most: the kids. ... As millions of parents nationwide know, kids 'doing school from home' requires a level of attention and vigilance that is as unusual as these times." In 2016, Kellyanne became the first female campaign manager to win a presidential race.

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon was arrested after being charged with defrauding hundreds of thousands of donors through the "We Build the Wall" campaign, CNBC.com reported. Bannon, along with three of his associates were indicted by investigators at the U.S. Southern District of New York. The others mentioned in the indictment were Timothy Shea, who, in May was announced as the acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration; Brian Kolfage, a Iraq war veteran; and Andrew Badolato.

Jerry Falwell Jr. accused his wife of cheating on him with a hotel employee to explain the bizarre behavior that got him put on leave as president of Liberty University—one of the best known evangelical Christian universities in the country, LGBTQ Nation noted. Over the past few years, Falwell was caught dancing in a nightclub and allegedly inappropriately using his position as Liberty's president to help a young personal trainer build a business. Faculty and staff at Liberty also spoke out against him for his inappropriate behavior, sexually charged comments at the workplace and alleged abuses of power. The last straw was when he posted a picture to social media with a younger woman—and both their pants were open.


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