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NATIONAL Brayla Stone, anti-LGBTQ attacks, Virginia Values Act, Fire Island
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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Brayla Stone, a 17-year-old Black trans girl, was murdered in Sherwood, Arkansas, near Little Rock on June 25, a National Black Justice Coalition ( NBJC ) press release noted. Her killer has yet to be identified and members of the media continue to deadname her. NBJC Executive Director David J. Johns said, in part, "Brayla Stone is the 8th transgender person killed in the last seven days. Brayla Stone was seventeen years young when someone murdered her because we live in a society where it is not yet explicit that when we say BlackLivesMatter we mean all Black lives, which includes Black trans women and girls. ... Both the continued tragic and often silent loss of Black trans, Black queer, and Black non-binary lives as well as the continued adultification of Black girls should be lost on no one—especially as we celebrate the 51st anniversary of Pride and the Stonewall resistance." Police in Sherwood, Arkansas, arrested Trevone Miller, 18, on a charge of capital murder in connection with Stone's death, noted.

An 18-year-old transgender man, Kristian Rouse, was brutally attacked in Bakersfield, California—and the attack left him hospitalized for a month, LGBTQ Nation reported. Rouse's mother, Euryduce Darrington, and Rouse's ex-girlfriend went on a well-being check, and found Rouse lying on the floor. Although he has since been admitted to a long-term acute care hospital in Covina, he still can't fully use his right arm or leg, and he's unable to talk because of scar tissue in his throat. So far, police haven't mentioned any suspects or made any arrests.

Christian Council, a gay man, was severely beaten near his home in Oklahoma City by two people who were shouting anti-gay slurs, LGBTQ Nation reported. He was left unconscious and now has difficulty breathing. Police arrested two suspects in connection to the attack: Amery Dickerson and Bennett Stone—but they are only facing possible misdemeanor assault and battery charges and are not being held in jail. Oklahoma's hate crimes law does not include sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Virginia Values Act—which prohibits discrimination in public and private employment, credit, housing and public accommodations on the bases of sexual orientation and gender identity—went into effect July 1, Charlottesville Tomorrow noted. Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David said in a statement released July 1, "Today is a day that LGBTQ Virginians—and people of color, people of faith, immigrants, women and more—have been awaiting for decades. Now, they will finally be legally protected from discrimination at work and in their communities."

On a related note, a Norfolk wedding photographer is suing Virginia, arguing the Virginia Values Act violates his First Amendment rights, The Virginian-Pilot noted. The photographer, Chris Herring, believes the measure forces him to promote same-sex marriage against his religious beliefs. Herring, who is Christian, already serves LGBT clients for brand and adventure shoots, said Kate Anderson, senior legal counsel with the conservative Christian nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing him; however, Anderson added Herring does not photograph same-sex weddings because they conflict with his beliefs.

Police were called at least twice to an LGBTQ beach party at New York City's Fire Island Pines on the Fourth of July because revelers weren't wearing masks, with hundreds of shirtless and maskless gay men dancing on the crowded beach, LGBTQ Nation noted. At least one person who was diagnosed with COVID-19 just before going has been identified. After being identified, the man posted on social media "Go f**k yourselves. I hope all of you get f**king COVID." The images and videos led to an outcry on social media, as few revelers appeared to be wearing masks while hundreds danced shoulder to shoulder.

Due to concerns over COVID-19, VA Pride announced that the 2020 edition of its annual PrideFest—originally scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 26—will not occur, noted. "Our first and foremost concern is for the health and safety of our community," VA Pride President James Millner said in a statement. "While there was some hope that restrictions on larger outdoor events would have eased by September, we could not, in good conscience, hold an event that put anyone at risk."

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) responded to the enactment of Georgia's HB 426, which prohibits bias-motivated crimes based on certain enumerated characteristics; and the passage of HB 838, which would prevent police accountability and add law enforcement as a protected class under state law, a press release noted. "Georgia is one of a small handful of states in this country that lacked a statewide hate crimes law, making the passage of HB 426 a step forward for some victims of bias-motivated crimes. However, this law does not contain explicit protections for people who are the victims of violence based on their gender identity, which is unacceptable," said HRC President Alphonso David. "[However], it is deeply disturbing and shocking that lawmakers in Georgia have concurrently passed legislation that would make law enforcement a protected characteristic under state hate-crimes law."

Two Catholic theologians have condemned the U.S. bishops conference's defense of discrimination against the LGBTQ community as scientifically and theologically flawed, according to New Ways Ministry. Todd A. Salzman and Michael G. Lawler, both Catholic theologians at Creighton University, shared their assessment of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' lobbying against LGBTQ non-discrimination legislation, as well as the conference's disapproval of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that protects LGBTQ people from discrimination in the workplace. The theologians' critique was published by the National Catholic Reporter, at

Walmart will stop the sale of "All Lives Matter'' merchandise on its website, noting that it is putting its emphasis on Black people and other people of color whose lives are being "impacted by ongoing racial injustice," USA Today noted. The nation's largest retailer is removing the items from third-party sellers "indefinitely'' after hearing from some employees and customers who were concerned about the meaning behind the merchandise.

A gay restaurant worker from Miami said he was harassed by a group of homophobic customers, called antigay slurs, knocked to the ground, beaten, chased—and then fired from his job, Queerty noted. Jaquan Walker was working at a Miami Beach BurgerFi when he got into an argument with a group of customers who made fun of his voice. Walker said he's looking for another job, but he has been having difficulty because of record high unemployment numbers and the coronavirus pandemic, which is currently raging out of control in Florida. Miami Beach Police say they are looking for two men in connection to the beating. The police report describes the incident as an "anti-gay battery."

A Scottsdale, Arizona, city councilman who drew condemnation after he used the phrase "I can't breathe" during a speech at an anti-mask ordinance rally announced he will not resign from the council, reported. Councilman Guy Phillips insisted he'd used the phrase innocently and explained that his "adrenaline took over" during a speech lambasting the city's recently enacted mandatory mask ordinance. He maintained that he spoke without recognizing the phrase's connection to the death of George Floyd.

President Donald Trump criticized New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio over the $1 billion NYPD funding cut, yet he siad de Blasio will use the money for a Black Lives Matter street "sign"—which Trump called a "symbol of hate," reported. De Blasio responded in a tweet showing his support for the Black Lives Matter movement. "Here's what you don't understand: Black people BUILT 5th Ave and so much of this nation," the mayor said. The mayor also said a majority of the NYPD are people of color.

A group of ex-Cabinet secretaries and White House officials in the George W. Bush administration launched a PAC to support presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden—part of a growing network of Republican groups backing Biden over Trump, noted. The PAC, 43 Alumni for Biden, claims to have hundreds of former Bush officials in its ranks and aims to boost Biden through "testimonial videos" from high-profile Republicans and voter turnout efforts in key battleground states, Reuters reported.

Jemele Hill apologized after a critic discovered a decade-old transphobic tweet and others attempted to "cancel" the outspoken journalist, noted. Hill was responding to Barstool Sports CEO Dave Portnoy who, years ago, compared activist/former 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick to an "ISIS guy" and likened him to a terrorist. In response, Portnoy found a tweet from 2009 which Hill referenced MLB player Manny Ramirez using a fertility drug; she said, "My fb friends are calling him 'Manny the Tranny'… so inappropriate and hilarious." Hill has since deleted the tweet but stated in a series of tweets that she wanted to be held accountable and has grown as a person in the past decade.

Somerville, Massachusetts, introduced a new domestic-partnership policy that recognizes polyamorous and platonic relationships, Queerty noted. The legislation was passed by a unanimous vote of the City Council and signed into law by Mayor Joseph Curtatone. The president of the council that passed the legislation says the current coronavirus pandemic has made some people think again about what constitutes a domestic partnership, including who should be covered on someone's health insurance or allowed hospital visitation rights.

A white woman in Watsontown, Pennsylvania, was captured on video raising her middle fingers at Black Lives Matter protestors and telling them, "You f*ckin' communists," and "You live off of white people," LGBTQ Nation noted. One of the protestors responded by telling her, "We love you!" She responded by saying "F*ck off! Keep your HIV over there!" The woman was part of a group that was heckling the protestors. Her companions included "motorcycle club members, men in Trump hats, Three Percenters, and other local residents," according to Central Pennsylvania photographer Paul Weaver.

The NBA team the Washington Redskins will undergo a "thorough review" of its controversial name, prompted by recent events around the country and feedback from the community, Politico noted. Head coach Ron Rivera said in the statement that he will work closely with Snyder on the review, calling it an issue of "personal importance."

Ghislaine Maxwell—the British socialite accused of supplying Jeffrey Epstein with underage sex trafficking victims—was arrested in New Hampshire, according to the Chicago Tribune. Maxwell was once Epstein's girlfriend and close confidante. She also, according to Epstein's accusers, was madam and chief enabler of Epstein's international sex-trafficking scheme that victimized more than 70 women and girls.

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