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NATIONAL Colorado governor, Texas judge, trans woman killed, Indiana, festivals
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2020-04-28

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Colorado Gov. Jared Polis defended his decision to lift some restrictions imposed to fight the spread of the coronavirus and permit some businesses to reopen, Politico reported. In an interview on CNN's State of the Union, Polis, a Democrat who happens to be gay, said the state had to move forward "with the information we have." Pressed by host Jake Tapper on whether his decision "could theoretically cost your constituents their lives," Polis emphasized the need for "sustainable" practices in the state, such as social distancing. Polis' new "safer at home" order lets some businesses, such as salons, open and permits elective medical procedures to resume, with certain added protections; clubs and gyms remain closed, and restaurants remain take-out only.

A Texas judge said she was forced to remove a rainbow pride flag displayed in her courtroom after a local defense lawyer filed a complaint with the State Commission on Judicial Conduct, NBC News reported. Judge Rosie Speedlin Gonzalez, an out lesbian, said the agency mandated that she also remove a pen, eyeglasses and a mouse pad with rainbow patterns, along with a serape, a colorful traditional Mexican cloth. The State Commission on Judicial Conduct told NBC News it could neither confirm nor deny anything related to the issue, citing "strict confidentiality rules."

Baltimore City LGBTQ Affairs announced on Facebook that a transgender woman from Pennsylvania was murdered in Baltimore, The Washington Blade reported. According to a blog post by the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ), Johanna Metzger "is believed to be the sixth transgender or gender non-conforming person violently killed this year in the U.S., and the eighth death in Baltimore since HRC began tracking this data in 2013."

In southern Indiana, a lesbian couple found hateful messages scrawled on their home and vehicles, LGBTQ Nation reported. On April 10, Keri and Katrina Sprinkle woke up to find the words "LESBIN" [sic] and "QUEER" spray-painted on their truck; penises were painted on the truck and their driveway, too. "I was in total shock," Keri told WLKY. "I collapsed in the middle of the street and just started crying."

Also in Indiana, the LGBTQ Center in South Bend says it's still providing its normal counseling and group sessions, but online, WSBT.com noted. The center's H.R. Jung said it's crucial to make sure people in the LGBTQ community have a strong group of people to confide in—especially when some of them are immunocompromised from HIV, while some are afraid to seek medical help for fear of being misgendered or being the subjects of jokes.

San Francisco's leather and kink celebrations, the Folsom Street Fair and Up Your Alley fair, have been canceled and will be replaced with virtual events, LGBTQ Nation noted. Organizers said they considered simply shutting down the long-running street festivals but felt obligated to provide an online alternative. The virtual events will still happen on the previously scheduled dates; Up Your Alley weekend starts July 26 and Folsom Street Fair weekend begins Sept. 27.

Also, in North Carolina, all in-person 2020 Charlotte Pride Festival and Parade, as well as 2020 Charlotte Black Pride Week, have been canceled, Spectrum Local News noted. But there are plans to move forward with other events virtually, according to a release from organizers. Charlotte Black Pride's full week of activities were originally scheduled for July 12-19, and the annual Charlotte Pride Festival and Parade was originally scheduled for Aug. 1-2, 2020, including its full slate of other community activities July 24-Aug. 2.

Georgia Equality endorsed a slate of 18 candidates—including 10 LGBTQ individuals—in state legislative races and said the picks would help bring "fairness and safety for LGBTQ Georgians" to the State Capitol, Project Q Atlanta reported. The endorsements include just one Republican—a gay man running for a state Senate seat. Among those are the five current LGBTQ members of the state House seeking re-election: state Reps. Park Cannon, Karla Drenner, Sam Park, Renitta Shannon and Matthew Wilson.

President Donald Trump's openly gay acting intelligence chief, Richard Grenell, rejected a request from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff for details about his efforts to reorganize the leadership of the office he is temporarily running, Politico reported. In a letter to Schiff that Politico obtained, Grenell chides Schiff for asking about the leadership changes without acknowledging the appointment of two women as acting leaders of the National Counterterrorism Center.

A letter from the lieutenant governors of 20 states including Connecticut, California and Pennsylvania want the FDA to drop its three-month ban on LGBT men from donating blood, WSHU.org reported. Connecticut Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz says there is no medical justification for the FDA rule which is a holdover from the AIDS crisis of the 1980s.

Former South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg ( D ) said that some LGBTQ people felt "empowered" by being negative about his campaign and his sexual orientation, LGBTQ Nation reported. Buttigieg also talked about the "negativity" he faced from LGBTQ people: "Part of that is how social media works. Part of that comes along with politics." Pete and Chasten Buttigieg were talking with actor Billy Eichner in an online interview organized by GLAAD.

The Los Angeles LGBT Center responded to President Trump's announcement that he is temporarily banning new immigrants from obtaining permanent status in the United States—also known as green cards—for 60 days amid the COVID-19 outbreak. In a statement, Chief of Staff Darrel Cummings said, "This is one more deplorable and senseless attack on immigrants to stoke the president's base at a time when he should be working on a national plan to massively increase testing for COVID-19 and provide personal protective equipment to frontline medical and emergency response workers. It's time to stop scapegoating immigrants and start seriously addressing this epidemic—one that has killed tens of thousands of our family members and friends in this country."

The Michigan Pastor's Alliance is opposing the petition signature drive in the state to put an LGBTQ-supported law change on state ballots, WBCKFM.com noted. The alliance reported more than 100 active pastors from around Michigan state are signing on to the group's public campaign against the signature drive. The pastors claim the LGBTQ supported effort is designed to give a small group of Michigan residents special rights, and promote religious discrimination.

Books with gay and transgender topics got a record number of objections at U.S. libraries and schools in 2019, said research that shows growing protests over LGBT+-themed literature, Reuters reported. Eight of the top 10 "most challenged" books that parents and community members sought to be removed from shelves dealt with LGBT+ topics, said the American Library Association. At the top of the list were Alex Gino's George, about a young trans girl, and Susan Kuklin's Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out; in third place was Last Week Tonight with John Oliver Presents a Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, a same-sex parody of the children's book A Day in the Life of Marlon Bundo, by Karen and Charlotte Pence, wife and daughter of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.

Marion University hockey player Brock Weston came out in an emotional essay for OutSports, Queerty noted. Weston, 25, said he long resisted coming out, following a series of gay rumors on campus of the Font du Lac, Wisconsin, university—but things changed last year, he said. "I knew I had to come out to my team when I had a meltdown in my apartment last spring with my roommate and a really close friend present," Weston wrote, adding that his team has been really receptive.

PFLAG National presented its weekly "Something to Talk About Live" series on Facebook and YouTube, featuring Rev. Troy Perry, founder of the Metropolitan Community Church, and Pastor Jay Bakker, son of Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker and founder of Revolution Church, a press release noted. The event is part of a newly announced program called "PFLAG Connects," which extends PFLAG's support, education and advocacy efforts further into the digital space. The 30-minute discussion was rooted in the role of allies in supporting LGBTQ+ people in their faith tradition. Visit PFLAG.org/connect for more about the program.

The Indiana State Department of Health is collaborating with the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI ( Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis ) to conduct a scientific study to measure the spread of COVID-19 throughout the state, a press release noted. The closely monitored study will include random sample testing for SARS-CoV-2—the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19—viral infections and antibodies in Hoosiers. In total, at least 20,000 Hoosiers will be tested for the study.

Because of coronavirus-related concerns, the National Gay Flag Football League announced it will not host the Gay Bowl this year, set for October in Hawaii, Outsports noted. ( It was set to be the 20th Gay Bowl. ) However, NAGAAA, the national gay softball league, is moving forward with their intention to host the Gay Softball World Series in Columbus this August. Also, ASANA, which organizes softball and football tournaments for LGBTQ women, is currently moving forward with its events, which are set to take place in Virginia Beach in September. The Bingham Cup, the LGBTQ rugby championship that takes place every two years in honor of gay rugger Mark Bingham, announced the event is currently postponed until 2022; it will take place in Ottawa, Canada.

Steve Hotze, the leader of the anti-LGBT hate group the Conservative Republicans of Texas, sued over an order requiring residents to wear face masks in public places for the next 30 days, Towleroad noted. Hotze previously sued Democratic Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo over her stay-at-home order, which he is asking the Texas Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional. Five years ago, Hotze bankrolled a successful campaign to repeal Houston's LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance.

Facebook will celebrate the country's graduating seniors with a live-streaming event next month that will include a commencement address by Oprah Winfrey and a lineup of other celebs, Page Six noted. In addition to Winfrey's keynote, the May 15 event will feature Miley Cyrus performing her perseverance-themed hit "The Climb." Celebrities on tap to address the class of 2020 in the live-stream include Jennifer Garner, Lil Nas X, Awkwafina and Olympic champion gymnast Simone Biles. "#Graduation2020: Facebook and Instagram Celebrate the Class of 2020" will kick off Friday, May 15, at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT. The multi-hour live broadcast will stream on Facebook Watch ( available at Facebook.com/facebookapp ).

Sen. Elizabeth Warren's ( D-Massachusetts ) eldest brother, Donald Reed Herring, died from complications related to the novel coronavirus at age 86, The Hill reported. Warren told The Boston Globe, which was first to report the news, that she is "grateful to the nurses and other front-line staff who took care of my brother, but it is hard to know that there was no family to hold his hand or to say 'I love you' one more time."

In his first interview since abruptly retiring from Hardball, Chris Matthews owned up to the allegations of inappropriate behavior against him, Variety noted. In late February, journalist Laura Bassett revealed that Matthews made unprofessional comments to her while she was getting her makeup done to appear on his show. Less than a week later, Matthews announced his retirement from Hardball on air, surprising many viewers at home and some of his colleagues at MSNBC.

Lululemon apologized after its art director shared a "bat fried rice" T-shirt design on social media that has been slammed online as "racist" and "anti-Asian" amid the coronavirus pandemic, USA Today noted. Trevor Fleming, the senior global art director of Lululemon, shared a link on Instagram to the T-shirt design first shared by California artist Jess Sluder. The athletic wear retailer said it has since cut ties with Fleming, adding that the controversial T-shirt "is not a lululemon product."


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