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NATIONAL Cartoonist's memorial, mayor dies, Idaho bill, panic defense, political news
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2020-03-03

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A public celebration of the life and work of Howard Cruse, a pioneer in the LGBTQ cartooning movement, will be held in New York City on Saturday, March 28, 6-8:30 p.m., at The LGBT Community Center, a media release stated. Cruse, a veteran LGBTQ and civil rights activist, was the author of the award-winning graphic novel Stuck Rubber Baby, a semi-autobiographical epic about race and sexuality in the South during the 1960s. Stuck Rubber Baby will be reissued in a 25th-anniversary edition by First Second Books in May. Cruse died Nov. 26 at the age of 75, succumbing to complications from lymphoma.

At Wilton Manors City Hall, flags were at half-staff in honor of Justin Flippen—the openly gay, 41-year-old mayor who passed away suddenly, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported. City officials said that Flippen apparently was driving to a City Commission meeting when he became ill and died. Police Chief Paul O'Connell said that the medical examiner's office determined Flippen died of a brain aneurysm. The 2018 election in which Flippen became mayor was a milestone for Wilton Manors, when it became one of the few cities in the country to have all LGBT elected officials.

The Idaho House of Representatives passed a bill that would ban transgender people from changing the sex listed on their birth certificates—despite a federal-court ruling two years ago declaring such a ban unconstitutional, a Lambda Legal press release stated. Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Kara Ingelhart said, "Essential identity documents should accurately reflect who you are, and the court two years ago recognized that the government cannot rob transgender people of this basic tool to navigate through life. It defies belief that Idaho legislators would seek to resurrect this archaic and frankly dangerous law." Lambda Legal filed the original lawsuit in spring 2017.

Washington state legislators passed a measure prohibiting homicide defendants from claiming a defense that panic brought on by a victim's sexual orientation or gender identity, Time.com reported. Nine states—California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Nevada, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island—have legislatively banned the use of gay or transgender panic as a legal defense. The Washington measure is named after Nikki Kuhnhausen, a transgender teen who was killed last year, The Columbian reported.

Bernie Sanders' former regional field director for Michigan, Ben Mora, was fired after it was revealed he ran an anonymous Twitter account that slurred and insulted other Democratic presidential candidates, LGBTQ Nation reported. Many of the gay staffer's tweets targeted out candidate Pete Buttigieg; Mora, using the account @perma_ben, tweeted that Buttigieg "is what happens when the therapist botches the conversion." "I have heard about it," Sanders told journalist Jake Tapper after being asked about the "Bernie Bros" terrorizing social media and frequently vociferously attacking women. "It's disgusting. Look we don't want that crap. That is not what this campaign is about."

LGBTQ Victory Fund condemned a homophobic remark by Michael Bloomberg's North Carolina state director James Mitchell and demanded Bloomberg apologize, a press release noted. According to Gen, Mitchell referred to fellow presidential candidate Buttigieg as "Butti-Jay" when appealing to influential North Carolinians in the campaign's state headquarters. He then acknowledged he was referencing Buttigieg's sexual orientation, using one of those influencer's nickname for Buttigieg: "Butti-gay."

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) announced its endorsement of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for re-election, a press release noted. According to the organization, in 2019, the Pelosi-led House passed the Equality Act for the first time in history—giving the bill a top 10 number, indicating its high priority for both her and her caucus. In addition to the Equality Act, Pelosi led the fight for the landmark Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Florida state Rep. Al Jacquet, D-Delray Beach, announced he was stepping down from the leadership role after Florida Politics reported about a video posted to the lawmaker's Facebook page, the Orlando Sentinel reported. In the video, Jacquet refers to Democratic primary opponent and Lake Worth Beach City Commissioner Omari Hardy as a "batty boy"—a slur for gay men used in the Caribbean, especially in Jamaica. Hardy wrote on Twitter that he is not gay, but was nevertheless offended by the remark—not only for the LGBT community, but for the two mothers who raised him. Jacquet apologized, but did not reference Hardy or his LGBT colleagues.

Also regarding Florida, LGBTQ Victory Fund condemned the campaign of Miami Gardens Councilmember Erhabor Ighodaro, calling it "one of the most homophobic campaigns we've seen from a Democratic candidate this year," a press release noted. Ighodaro is running for a Florida state Senate seat against openly gay state Rep. Shevrin Jones; at a Feb. 20 campaign event, Ighodaro said, "We still have people who have values in the Democratic Party. And we have values—we're gonna fight for our families. Yes. There is an image that God says a marriage should look like, that families should look like."

Presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg once sought major cuts to HIV/AIDS and homeless youth programs used disproportionately by LGBTQ people and the city's residents of color when he was New York City mayor, The Washington Blade reported. Onetime Bloomberg ally Christine Quinn, a lesbian and former speaker of the New York City Council, told the Washington Blade the purposed cuts were "hard for me to explain and indefensible." Also, Quinn heaped praise on the late New York City Council member Lewis Fiddler—a Brooklyn Democrat whom she said "really was the champion" of providing runaway shelter beds, even though his jurisdiction was "a place where supporting the LGBT community gets you not one vote."

Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights—along with private counsel Womble Bond Dickinson, Brazil & Burke and law professor Clifford Rosky—filed a federal lawsuit ( Gender and Sexuality Alliance v. Spearman ) challenging a South Carolina law that prohibits public-school health education from including any discussion of same-sex relationships except in the context of sexually transmitted diseases, a press release noted. The lawsuit is filed on behalf of the student organization Gender and Sexuality Alliance, as well as the Campaign for Southern Equality and South Carolina Equality Coalition, including their members who are public school students in the state. The suit is at LambdaLegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/sc_gender_20200226_complaint.

Democratic Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear defended a photograph of him posing with drag queens at a recent LGBTQ-rights rally, a WYMT.com item noted. He is accusing a Republican lawmaker ( state Sen. Phillip Wheeler ) of using homophobic tactics by displaying the photo at a recent campaign rally. The lawmaker accused Democrats of corrupting traditional values.

A teacher in Texas reached a $100,000 settlement with her school district after being suspended for showing students a photo of her then-fiancee, GoMag.com noted. Stacy Bailey, 35, was suspended from Charlotte Anderson Elementary School in Arlington, Texas, in September 2017. The district had reportedly "received complaints from parents about Ms. Bailey discussing her sexual orientation with elementary-aged students," per a press release from the school district. Bailey plans to donate $10,000 to a charity helping LGBTQ+ students in schools.

This year, for the first time, City of Glendale, California, will be offering a fully immersive Pride, to be held Saturday, May 30, at Glendale's Central Park, a press release noted. Pride is the grassroots effort of several Glendale-based organizations and volunteers including glendaleOUT, Gay and Lesbian Armenian Society ( GALAS ), Equality Armenia, The Blunt Post, and with media sponsorship by Revry. The festival will feature diverse music and entertainment by a local DJ and emcee and wrap-up with a dance party at sundown; in addition, a Kids' Village will create a special space for rainbow families, with unique programming such as "Drag Story Telling."

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) Foundation announced that HRC President Alphonso David would kick off a cross-country interfaith religion and faith tour, "Coming Home to Faith: A Search for Common Ground," to explore and strengthen the relationship between LGBTQ and faith communities across the United States, a press release stated. The tour officially launched March 1 with a visit to the Historic African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas in Philadelphia.

Between 1990 and 2019, at least 593 people were arrested under Missouri laws that criminalize people living with HIV and hepatitis B and C, according to a new report from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. To date, the estimated cost of incarceration related to HIV/hepatitis crimes is $17.7 million. The full report is at WilliamsInstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/2002-HIV-Criminalization-MO-FINAL.pdf.

The National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals ( NAGLREP ) announced the launch of its LGBT Mortgage Advisory Group to represent the interests of LGBT home buyers and mortgage professionals focusing on advocacy, education and empowerment, a press release noted. The LGBT Mortgage Advisory Group is chaired by Kimber White, president-elect of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers ( NAMB ); in October, White will become the first openly gay president in NAMB's 47-year history. Valerie Saunders, executive director of the NAMB, is the LGBT Mortgage Advisory Group co-chair.

In New Jersey, Bayonne Board President Maria Valado said it would implement an LGBTQ curriculum starting in September because it was mandated by the state, TapInto.net noted. Earlier this year, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation into law requiring boards of education throughout the state to include instruction that "accurately portrays" the political, economic and social contributions of persons with disabilities and LGBT people."

A Michigan high school teacher would not allow a student with two mothers to write about same-sex marriage for a class assignment, NBC News noted. Angela McDermitt-Jackson, the mother of Hill McCloy High School student Destiney McDermitt, said the teacher told her daughter that she could not write about same-sex marriage because the topic might offend someone in the class. Linden Moore, superintendent of Montrose Community Schools, said in a statement that "the teacher attempted to avoid disruption and controversy by limiting the topics that students could choose for a writing assignment."

One Million Moms, sheltered under the anti-LGBTQ hate group American Family Association, launched an action alert targeting the children's cartoon character Clifford the Big Red Dog, LGBTQ Nation noted. The organization is upset that the show contains "a child character named Samantha, who has two mommies." "There was no disclaimer at the beginning of the episode where their relationship is explained," the alert warns.

Chris Matthews announced that he was retiring from MSNBC, with Hardball coming to an end March 1, Deadline noted. Matthews did not appear on MSNBC's coverage of the South Carolina primary on Feb. 29, which led to speculation over his absence. Laura Bassett wrote in GQ recently that he had "inappropriately flirted" with her before an appearance on his show, "making me noticeably uncomfortable on air." Recently, Matthews garnered criticism for comparing Bernie Sanders' victory in the Nevada caucuses to the World War II Nazi takeover of France.


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