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NATIONAL Anchorage vote, eighth trans murder, Grindr apology
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2018-04-10

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Results in Anchorage's local election showed a majority of voters rejecting a contentious ballot initiative to regulate restrooms, locker rooms and "intimate facilities" by sex at birth instead of gender identity, after what was one of the most expensive campaigns in city election history, the Anchorage Daily News reported. The measure, Proposition 1, would have rolled back a legal protection for transgender people that has been in effect for more than two years. In a statement, Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said, "Community leaders, businesses, faith leaders, and public officials all spoke out in support of equality. Together, we sent a powerful message that Anchorage is a welcoming and inclusive city for all—including transgender people."

Sasha Walls, a transgender woman from South Carolina, was shot multiple times and killed on Easter morning—but police don't have any clues yet who killed her, LGBTQ Nation reported. Authorities say Walls' car idled in the middle of a country road for over two hours with her body slumped over the steering wheel as motorists drove around without stopping. Walls is the eighth known transgender woman murdered in the United States in 2018. Transgender women of color are particularly vulnerable to attack and, as happened in Walls' case, frequently misgendered in media and police reports.

Daniel Potucek, a gay attorney for the Transportation Safety Administration in Washington, D.C., was found dead in a stranger's vehicle, NewNowNext.com reported. Police discovered Potucek's body, which had no visible signs of injury, sitting in the passenger seat of a Mazda SUV parked in a residential D.C. neighborhood. The SUV belongs to D.C. resident Alexander MacLennan, who has claimed he has never met Potucek and does not know how the victim got into his car.

Jack Harrison-Quintana, vice president of social impact at gay dating app Grindr, released a video on Grindr.com as well as its app, "apologizing from everyone here at the Grindr team for all of the distress that we've caused over the last 48 hours," according to Advocate.com . Grindr says it will stop sharing the HIV status of its users with other companies, CNN reported. Grindr made the decision after first defending the practice, which involved sending user profile information—including HIV status and test dates—Apptimize and Localytics, companies that test the performance of Grindr's products. Grindr told CNNMoney that it had already deleted HIV data from Apptimize, and was in the process of removing it from Localytics.

Point Foundation's annual New York event featured journalist Ronan Farrow ( who came out during the ceremony, LGBTQ Nation noted ) and actress/singer Laura Benanti being honored, a press release noted. Farrow was presented with the Point Courage Award by MSNBC's Thomas Roberts, himself a past Point honoree. Benanti was introduced by fellow Broadway star Celia Keenan Bolger, who presented Benanti with the Point Impact Award. Actor Jussie Smollett performed and comedian Michelle Collins hosted; celebrities who attended the event included Ted Allen, Jason Collins, Larry Flick, Tyler Ford, Tamron Hall and Don Lemon, among others. Point is the nation's largest scholarship-granting organization for LGBTQ students of merit.

In California, LGBT legislators are presenting a resolution in which the state formally apologizes for past discrimination and discriminatory laws that oppressed and persecuted the LGBT community, The Los Angeles Blade reported. On April 5, the Assembly passed Assembly Concurrent Resolution 172 authored by Assemblymember Evan Low ( D-Silicon Valley ), chair of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus, and co-authored by all members of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus.

Mississippi's Supreme Court ruled that a woman has parental rights to a 6-year-old boy born to her ex-wife when the two were married, WREG.com reported. Christina "Chris" Strickland brought the appeal, challenging a lower court decision that an anonymous sperm donor still had parental rights and that Strickland did not. Strickland ultimately hopes to win 50-50 custody of the child, who bears her last name and was born by Kimberly Day through artificial means when Day and Strickland were married.

NewNowNext reported that young lesbians and bisexual girls are 95-percent more likely to be disciplined at schools than their straight peers, according to a 15-year survey of some 5,000 U.S. families. However, the report's author, Princeton sociologist Joel Mittleman, says that only about a third of the risk can be explained by students' misbehavior. He believes discrimination by faculty and administrators could be a real factor.

Lambda Legal scored a victory in March when a federal court ruled that Idaho was constitutionally required to provide accurate birth certificates to transgender people that reflect their gender identity—and now the state has begun accepting applications to correct those certificates, a Lambda Legal press release noted. The organization also stated that it scored a similar win in Puerto Rico, and recently filed a challenge to Ohio's refusal to provide accurate birth certificates to transgender people.

Lambda Legal filed a class-action lawsuit in California Superior Court against A.J. Boggs & Company on behalf of 93 low-income Californians living with HIV whose confidential medical records, including their HIV status, were compromised by a data breach of A.J. Boggs's California AIDS Drug Assistance Program ( ADAP ) online enrollment system, a press release stated. ADAP is part of the federal Ryan White CARE Act, through which states are eligible to receive federal funding to conduct a program that helps ensure access to HIV medications for lower-income people living with HIV who are not eligible for Medicaid and do not have an alternative source to obtain HIV medications at a reasonable cost. In California, approximately 30,000 people are enrolled in its ADAP.

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin has once again urged President Trump to publicly condemn the crackdown against gay and bisexual men in Chechnya, The Washington Blade noted. Griffin, in a letter to Trump, noted that Novaya Gazeta, an independent Russian newspaper, reported authorities in the semi-autonomous Russian republic in the North Caucasus had arrested more than 100 men because of their sexual orientation since the beginning of 2017. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are among those who have condemned the crackdown.

A 19-year-old Texas councilman whose nude photos from a dating app were exposed is defending the snaps as "freedom of expression," The New York Post reported. Cross Coburn, who is gay, said he believes homophobia is behind the X-rated photo leak, which came to light when an envelope with the pics was anonymously delivered to Groves City Hall, where he is the youngest sitting councilman. Coburn ( whose term ends November 2019 ) claimed that the screenshots of raunchy conversations and shirtless photos—including one showing his genitals—were stolen from his private dating profile.

Stephanie Yellowhair—a Native American member of the LGBTQ community who was arrested on the show Cops in the early 2000s and originated the phrase "Excuse my beauty"—has passed away at 41, Vice.com noted. The video of her arrest has been viewed and GIF'd hundreds of thousands of times, RuPaul has used the phrase, a Drag Race contestant released a single named after it, Yellowhair had a Facebook page and blog named after it, and it inspired a scene in Reno 911.

The Walmart Foundation has announced that the National Black Justice Coalition ( NBJC ) is the recipient of a $250,000 grant to further its work in driving cultural competence at historically Black colleges and universities ( HBCUs ) and strengthening inclusion and cohesion with a focus on the Black LGBTQ/SGL community, a press release noted. NBJC will use the grant to expand its initiative, "The Road to Black America Embracing LGBTQ Equality," with some of the nation's leading HBCUs.

The Atlanta Police Department is launching its first-ever LGBT Citizens Police Academy through a program on April 17-18, AJC.com noted. "Outreach to the LGBT community is vital to Atlanta Police because of the need for stronger understanding and trust with all the communities we serve," officials said in a press release. The specialized program will be facilitated by Atlanta Police Department's LGBT Liaison Unit officers, Senior Police Officer Eric King and Officer Courtney Mack. All older than 21 are welcome to apply, although there is a standard background check.

A gay Atlanta business leader will be taking the reins of an important civic institution, The Georgia Voice reported. With the departure of Derreck Kayongo, the Center for Civil and Human Rights will welcome the arrival of interim CEO Brian Tolleson. Tolleson is a Center board member ( and a former vice president of marketing and creative at Viacom ) who was important in the founding of The LGBT Institute, and he is currently the CEO of the digital-content agency BARK BARK.

A New Jersey judge has ordered the owner of a bar to pay more than $9,000 in legal fees for a gay couple who filed suit after being assaulted inside the establishment, Philadelphia Gay News reported. The legal fees and costs are in addition to $31,000 in damages awarded to David Monaco and Florin Nikollaj by Superior Court Judge Michael J. Kassel. On March 16, Superior Court Judge Donald J. Stein ordered King Street Pub to pay the legal fees and costs of Monaco and Nikollaj, totaling $9,390.02.

In a passage from Cecile Richards' new memoir, the Planned Parenthood chief says Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, during Donald Trump's 2016 transition as president-elect, made an offer that felt like a "bribe": an increase in federal funding for Planned Parenthood in exchange for its agreement to stop providing abortions, People.com noted. Richards—in Make Trouble: Standing Up, Speaking Out, and Finding the Courage to Lead—says she was leery of taking the meeting in January 2017, but, after the defeat of Planned Parenthood's champion, Hillary Clinton, she was open to finding possible new allies in the president-elect's more moderate-leaning daughter and son-in-law.

Police in Tennessee have arrested an anti-gay pastor accused of molesting children ( mostly boys ) in his congregation, Metro Weekly reported. Matthew Dennis Patterson—who led Nolensville Road Baptist Church in South Tennessee—resigned last year, but members of the congregation quickly raised complaints with the police over reports he was engaging in "strange activities" with children. Eight counts of aggravated assault have been brought against Patterson, with each charge related to a different child.

The Atlantic has parted ways with Kevin Williamson, the conservative columnist who faced a storm of controversy over his previous comments on abortion after being hired last month by the magazine, CNN reported. Editor-in-Chief Jeffrey Goldberg told staff that Williamson's comments calling for women who have had abortions to be punished by death ran "contrary to The Atlantic's tradition of respectful, well-reasoned debate, and to the values of our workplace."

U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold ( R-Texas ) announced he would resign immediately from Congress, after an ethics inquiry was opened into allegations of sexual harassment and other inappropriate behavior from former staff members, Politico.com reported. He had said he would not run for reelection, but he had previously resisted calls to step down. Farenthold has come under harsh scrutiny for using taxpayer money to settle a 2014 lawsuit brought by a former staffer over allegations of gender discrimination, sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment.

Sinclair Broadcasting has withdrawn a $25,000 donation to the National Press Photographers Association ( NPPA ), TheWrap reported. The NPPA says the actions from Sinclair were punitive and a result of a previous statement from the group in recent days that had been critical of the media company. Sinclair has faced a near-weeklong crisis after Deadspin published a mashup of their local news anchors reading prepared anti-media talking points. The conservative-leaning channel also requires local stations to run political commentary from former Trump staffer Boris Epshteyn.

Speaking of Sinclair, Jamie Allman, a conservative commentator at a Sinclair-owned television station, resigned after tweeting that he planned to sexually assault Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg with "a hot poker," TheWrap reported. Allman hosted a show on KDNL, a Sinclair Broadcast Group-owned ABC affiliate in St. Louis, as well as a morning FM radio show.


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