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NATIONAL Child-abuse bill, anti-trans attacks, Ariz. HIV/AIDS bill, Michigan gym
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2019-04-16

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U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine ( D-Virginia ) introduced legislation for the first time ever that seeks to protect LGBT kids from child abuse, The Washington Blade reported. The Protecting LGBTQ Youth Act seeks to prevent the mistreatment of LGBT youth. According to 2011 analysis from the National Institutes for Health, LGBT youth are 3.8 times to face sexual abuse and 1.2 times more likely to face parental physical abuse. Co-sponsoring the Protecting LGBTQ Youth Act is Sen. Tammy Baldwin ( D-Wisconsin ), the first out lesbian elected to the U.S. Senate.

Equality California released a statement from Executive Director Rick Zbur after the Fresno Bee reported that a group of approximately 40 demonstrators gathered to celebrate Transgender Day of Visibility in Fresno were repeatedly attacked by three men in diesel trucks, employing a tactic called "rolling coal" and yelling anti-transgender slurs. Zbur said, in part, "The LGBTQ community will not be scared, intimidated or deterred from our fight for full lived equality. We will stand united against anti-transgender hate and violence, anywhere in California or across the country, and we will defeat it every time."

In Texas, police say a man who is accused of attacking transgender woman Muhlaysia Booker in the Dallas neighborhood of Oak Cliff was offered $200 to beat her, The Dallas News reported. Edward Dominic Thomas, 29, was arrested on a charge of aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury, two days after the attack, which was recorded on video. Police Lt. Vincent Weddington said that the case is being investigated to determine if it meets the criteria of a hate crime and that the department has contacted the FBI. Authorities added that another suspect who has been identified but not arrested repeatedly stomped on Booker's face.

The Arizona legislature moved a step closer to repealing a controversial 28-year-old law prohibiting HIV/AIDS instruction that "promotes a homosexual lifestyle," KTAR.com reported. Republican state Rep. T.J. Shope, the speaker pro tempore, amended an existing Senate bill to repeal the provisions concerning homosexuality, which he called "antiquated." The House voted 55-5 in favor of the bill, which needs Senate approval before going to Gov. Doug Ducey's desk.

The Michigan Supreme Court won't intervene in a lawsuit over a transgender woman in the women's locker room at a health club, WWJ Newsradio reported. Yvette Cormier said her membership at Planet Fitness was wrongly terminated in 2015 after she complained and warned other women at the Midland gym about the transgender person. Cormier's lawyers allege that the policy creates a hostile and offensive environment for women and children.

Lambda Legal reached a settlement on behalf of a same-sex couple who was denied a marriage license in upstate New York last year by the town clerk of the Town of Root, who objected to marriage between same-sex couples on religious grounds, according to a press release. On July 2018, Dylan Toften and Thomas Hurd visited the town clerk's office in Root, New York, and the town's clerk, Laurel "Sherrie" Eriksen, declined to process the couple's request. As part of the settlement, the clerk read a public statement at a town meeting agreeing to abide by her responsibility to provide marriage licenses to all couples who are legally qualified and without exception, as well as apologizing to Toften and Hurd.

The leaders of two D.C.-area LGBT-supportive Catholic groups say they're optimistic that Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory—the newly appointed head of the archdiocese of Washington—will continue his policies of welcoming LGBT Catholics into the fold of the church that he established during his tenure as the Archbishop of Atlanta for the past 14 years, according to The Washington Blade. Dignity Washington President Vin Testa and New Ways Ministry Executive Director Francis DeBernardo noted that Gregory—who's on the path to become the first African-American cardinal—forcefully defended two priests who came under attack by conservative Catholic activists for allegedly violating church teachings in their support for the LGBT community.

A D.C. Superior Court judge scheduled a second trial for two men charged with the July 4, 2016, murder of transgender woman Deeniquia "Dee Dee" Dodds for Feb. 25, 2020, The Washington Blade reported. The decision by Judge Milton C. Lee to schedule a new trial for defendants Monte Johnson, 23, and Jolonta Little, 28, came one month after the jury in the first trial announced it was deadlocked over the pending charge of first-degree murder against the two men, prompting Lee to declare a mistrial.

Actor/activist Omar Sharif Jr. issued a challenge to the Sultan of Brunei after the country instituted Sharia law—including stoning people to death as punishment for being gay, LGBTQ Nation noted. "I will volunteer myself second to be executed according to Brunei's new anti-lgbt law on the condition that the Sultan's son is first, and that the Sultan himself cast the first and last stones," Sharif tweeted. Perez Hilton outed Prince Azim as gay, describing him as "a flamer," and Sharif seemed to confirm the rumor as well.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced a ban on state-funded travel to South Carolina, citing a measure on the books that enables faith-based foster agencies to "discriminate" against gays and others, CNBC.com reported. The ban became effective April 15, and will prohibit state-funded and state-sponsored travel to South Carolina. Nine other states were previously subject to California's travel ban: Alabama, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health have developed an all-in-one immunotherapy approach that may potentially lead to a cure to HIV, The Georgia Voice noted. The scientists have developed a way—called the "kick and kill" method—to kick HIV cells out of hiding in the immune system and kill them. ( The discovery was made in a lab using HIV-infected cells and published in EBioMedicine. ) The research team is now seeking funding to begin human clinical trials.

Maryland House of Delegates Speaker Michael Busch ( D-Anne Arundel County ) died of pneumonia at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore at age 72, according to The Washington Blade. Busch, a Democrat, became speaker in 2003 and played an important role in advancing LGBT equality in Maryland in the latter stages of his career. His advocacy largely began with the fight for marriage equality in 2012.

A Holt couple who have adopted five foster children sued the State of Michigan in an attempt to reinstate a policy that allows faith-based adoption agencies that receive taxpayer dollars to refuse to work with same-sex couples to place children, The Detroit Free Press reported. The suit is over a settlement of a case in which two same-sex couples objected to state taxpayer dollars going to faith-based agencies that refused to work with same-sex couples.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia is suing the town of Richlands on behalf of a gay man who claims his First Amendment rights have been violated, The Washington Blade reported. Mark Mullins—the owner of Mountain Magic and Tarot Reading—alleges in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia that Richlands officials breached his free speech and religious freedom rights by effectively preventing him from opening a tarot reading business in the town.

A gay South Dakota prisoner's claim that his death sentence was unconstitutionally tainted by homophobia was denied U.S. Supreme Court review, Bloomberg Law noted. In rejecting Charles Rhines' appeals on April 15, the justices declined to take up what would have been a hot-button case on multiple levels. However, although heated dissents have been common of late, there was no protest from any of the justices as the high court cleared the way for Rhines' execution for a brutal 1992 murder.

In California, the San Jose City Council voted to surround the anti-gay restaurant Chick-fil-A at the Mineta San Jose International Airport with rainbow and transgender flags, Advocate.com noted, citing The Mercury News. The idea came from former county supervisor Ken Yeager, a gay man who thought the flags could be used "as a counter-signal to the discrimination supported by Chick-fil-A."

In Florida, a Christian advocacy group is challenging local laws that ban conversion therapy, The South Florida SunSentinel reported. Liberty Counsel, headquartered in Orlando, has filed an appeal in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals arguing that bans in Boca Raton and Palm Beach County are unconstitutional. The case is filed on behalf of counselors Robert Otto, of Boca Raton, and Julie Hamilton, of Palm Beach Gardens—both licensed marriage and family therapists.

A bill to eliminate marriage licenses in Alabama and, instead, have couples file an affidavit that probate judges would record as part of a marriage document moved a step close to becoming law, AL.com reported. The House Judiciary Committee approved the bill by Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Range. Albritton has tried to pass similar bills since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in 2015.

Two male cheerleaders have signed up to the cheerleading squad for the New England Patriots, PinkNews noted. The Super Bowl champions announced that Driss Dallahi and Steven Sonntag had joined as cheerleaders on March 30—ahead of the 2019 NFL season. The pair explained that they were inspired to pursue their dreams after seeing Los Angeles Rams cheerleaders Napoleon Jinnies and Quinton Peron perform.

Warner Bros. retaliated after President Trump and his team apparently took it upon themselves to use music from The Dark Knight Rises to accompany a video promoting Trump's 2020 re-election hopes, TheRoot.com noted. Trump tweeted out the video, which featured an odd collection of imagery—among them, Washington landmarks, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Rosie O'Donnell and Amy Schumer, intermixed with scenes from various Trump rallies, Trump visiting a factory and meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong Un. But apparently it was the video's additional use of the score from Dark Knight that caused the video to go dark; the video disappeared after Warner Bros. shut it down, lodging an unauthorized-use complaint.

Democratic presidential hopeful Kirsten Gillibrand confronted some of her previous stances on immigration, saying they "didn't care" about the needs of diverse Americans, Politico.com noted. Before becoming a senator in 2009, Gillibrand represented a largely Republican district in the House and expressed ideas on immigration—from blocking certain benefits for undocumented immigrants to establishing English as an official language—that have come back to haunt her as she seeks the Democratic nomination in 2020.

In Illinois, there's a unique aspect of nature occurring, as two male bald eagles are helping a female keep the eggs in the nest warm, KXAN.com noted. The female, Starr, and males, Valor I and Valor II, each take turns watching the nest. This is strange because the birds are usually territorial and often known to be in monogamous pairs, but the trio has been together since the fall of 2017.


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