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NATIONAL Consent decree, Lyft, AOC, priest, Univ. of Michigan
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2019-08-06

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After more than three years of litigating, a North Carolina federal judge approved a consent decree that would protect the rights of transgender citizens in the state to access public accommodations like restrooms and locker rooms according to their gender identities, Out.com reported. In March 2016, the North Carolina General Assembly ( under former Gov. Pat McCrory ), passed the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, which came to be known as HB2. The law, which was aimed at reversing and discouraging local ordinances that would protect the LGBTQ+ community, was mostly wielded against the state's trans citizens seeking to use public facilities that correspond with their gender identities.

Kevin Seaman—an interdisciplinary artist, cultural worker and drag queen whose drag persona is LOL McFiercen—and The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence reached a collaborative agreement with Lyft to ensure individuals in the queer and drag communities are not discriminated against by drivers using Lyft's platform, a press release stated. Under the Agreement, Lyft reaffirms its commitment to creating a safe environment for drivers and riders and agrees to develop new content to educate drivers about issues affecting the LGBTQ community, including in the context of gender identity and gender expression. Lyft has also agreed to maintain a readily available method for riders to report discrimination via the Lyft App, among other changes.

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ( D-Queens, Bronx ) recently visited Queens Community House's Queens Center for Gay Seniors ( QCGS ), QChron.com noted. Center members welcomed the congresswoman, more widely known as "AOC," with a standing ovation as she was greeted by Queens Community House Executive Director Ben Thomases and QCGS Director Chynna Pitlock. The politician spent nearly two hours in conversation with the seniors; topics of conversation included Census 2020, healthcare and LGBTQ issues as well as solutions for other parts of the country.

Parents from a faith community in Salt Lake City are sounding the alarm on the replacement for a priest ( Andrzej Skrzypiec ) who had been removed from his post for allegedly soliciting sex from a prostitute, the New York Daily News reported. The Salt Lake City Diocese has named Rev. Erik Richtsteig to become the new youth priest in one of the city's parishes. Richsteig had to be counseled about his online posts, which promote hate of LGBTQ groups and make fun of women, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. In a post on Facebook, the paper noted, the priest said that images shared by LGBTQ individuals in June ( Pride month ) looked "like a gnome vomited."

Cari Wade Gervin—a longtime political reporter who covers Tennessee news, politics and gossip site The Dog and Pony Show—accused 59-year-old Tennessee state Rep. Bill Sanderson ( who had a long anti-LGBTQ voting record ) of "openly soliciting sex" and sending "sexually explicit messages and pictures to men almost 40 years his junior" while voting repeatedly in favor of anti-LGBTQ legislation, LGBTQ Nation reported. Sanderson resigned, reportedly to run his business, White Squirrel Winery; however, Gervin claims his resignation was partly in response to the revealing of his same-sex encounters.

A filed court document says that a federal court should bar University of Michigan lawyers from going after the sexual history of a student suing the school for not stepping in when a professor allegedly sexually harassed and assaulted him, the Detroit Free Press reported. Andrew Lipian filed the suit in 2018, alleging that while he was a student at U-M's School of Music, Theatre & Dance between fall 2016 and August 2018, he was sexually harassed and assaulted by David Daniels, a tenured professor who is openly gay. The lawsuit also alleges the university knew for years of Daniels' sexually harassing behavior and did nothing. Daniels has denied the allegations, and he and husband Scott Walters have denied claims that they assaulted Samuel Schultz in 2010.

In a press release, LGBTQ Victory Fund condemned Memphis-based radio talk show host Thaddeus Matthews for what it called "homophobic comments and false accusations" about Memphis City Council candidate Davin Clemons. Clemons—the LGBTQ liaison for the Memphis Police Department—would become the first openly LGBTQ person elected to the city council if he wins his race in October. The organization stated Matthews said, "I'm not going to hold him being a homosexual against him," but Matthews repeatedly states he supports Clemons' opponent because he is a "family man" and that his "wife is a woman." Mayor Annise Parker, president/CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund, said, "Thaddeus Matthews's bigoted attack on Davin is both cringe-worthy and insidious—an unsubtle and failed attempt at doublespeak that insults the intelligence of his listeners and the people of Memphis."

Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) leaders in Texas and Ohio responded to the mass shootings in, respectively, El Paso and Dayton, a press release noted. HRC Texas State Director Rebecca Marquez said, "Texans and all Americans deserve so much more. We need our legislators to take action. We need common-sense gun violence prevention now." HRC Ohio State Director Shawn Copeland echoed Marquez's thoughts. According to Everytown for Gun Safety, more than 33,000 gun-related deaths happen every year.

In California, Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a law ( authored by San Francisco Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener ) that lets opposite-sex couples register as domestic partners, KTLA.com reported. California has recognized domestic partnerships since 2000; however, the law only applied to same-sex couples who, at the time, were not allowed to get married. The law's goal was to give same-sex couples the same legal protections as marriage.

A recent General Social Survey revealed that 23 percent of Black women in the 18 to 34 age group identified as bisexual—a proportion that's nearly three times higher than it was a decade ago, NewsOne reported. In the 10 years that the survey has included a question on sexual identity, rates of identification among gay men, lesbian women and bisexual men haven't changed much. Bisexual identifying women, on the other hand, account for virtually all of the growth among those who say they're lesbian, gay or bisexual. Of all of the women who responded to the 2018 survey, more than one in 18 identified as bisexual; one decade ago, only one in 65 did.

A study of more than 70,000 cancer survivors conducted by Boston University researchers shows that LGBT cancer survivors receive less access to follow-up care for preventing and detecting recurrences, as well as screening for long-term effects of cancer treatments, than their heterosexual counterparts, WBUR.org reported. That can lead such sexual minorities, especially LGBT women, to suffer from poorer mental and physical health post-cancer in a country where there could be more than 1 million LGBT cancer survivors in need of care. The study is at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31106409.

Washington House Democrats selected Rep. Laurie Jinkins of Tacoma to succeed Frank Chopp as speaker of the House—making her the first woman and first LGBTQ person to hold that position in that state, LGBTQ Victory Fund announced. Jinkins will become one of three openly LGBTQ people currently serving as the leader of a state legislative chamber, joining California President Pro Tem Toni Atkins and Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek.

The National Black Justice Coalition ( NBJC ) officially launched its Words Matter: Gender Justice Matters toolkit at the 2019 NAACP Convention in Detroit, a press release noted. The goal of the toolkit is designed to facilitate uncomfortable and, at times, difficult conversations that give voice to the consequences behind violent speech, othering and unchecked language used to perpetuate violence, hate and oppression. See http://nbjc.org/words-matter-gender-justice-toolkit.

LGBTQ Victory Fund endorsed New York City Councilmember Ritchie Torres in his 2020 race for New York's 15th Congressional District, a press release noted. In the primary, Torres will face one of the most anti-LGBTQ Democrats in the entire nation—fellow Councilmember Ruben Diaz Sr.—and the primary winner will almost certainly win the general election in this heavily Democratic area. Torres will become the first openly LGBTQ Afro-Latinx person ever elected to Congress if he is victorious in November 2020.

The Trump administration—under mounting pressure to lower prescription drug prices ahead of next year's elections—plans to consider allowing states to import lower-priced medications from Canada, the L.A. Times noted. The move, long advocated by consumer groups and opposed by the pharmaceutical industry, will not immediately clear the way for widespread importation; also, it isn't clear when consumers would be able to access cheaper prescriptions.

Muslim Advocates Public Advocacy Director Scott Simpson called on Cherokee Guns in Murphy, North Carolina, and Allison Outdoor Advertising to take down a billboard that invites gun violence against Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib—most of whom have received credible assassination threats, an organizational press release noted. Muslim Advocates urged supporters to send emails to Allison Outdoor Advertising and Cherokee Guns asking them to take the billboard down immediately, at https://muslimadvocates.org/action/encouraging-gun-violence-against-congresswomen-is-wrong-take-the-billboard-down/.

A purported internal announcement at Microsoft states that the company is temporarily suspending donations from its employee-funded Microsoft Political Action Committee ( MSPAC ) while it restructures the program, Fast Company noted. "We have heard from many employees that greater transparency is needed when it comes to MSPAC policies, giving criteria, and how decisions are made in terms of the candidates we support," reads the document, addressed "to MSPAC Members" and bearing the signature of Microsoft's corporate VP for U.S. government affairs, Fred Humphries Jr.

The man who was president of the University of Wyoming when it drew national attention for the 1998 slaying of gay student Matthew Shepard is retiring as chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte ( UNCC ), U.S. News & World Report noted. Philip Dubois first came to UNCC in 1991 as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, then left in 1997 to serve as president of the University of Wyoming before returning in 2005 to become UNCC's fourth chancellor.

Key West, Florida—internationally known as a top LGBTQ destination—will host a weekend of all-male adult activities Aug. 14-18, during the annual Tropical Heat celebrations, a press release noted. The schedule will include pool parties, brunch with local drag queens, dance parties and adult-themed gatherings held at the island's LGBTQ resorts, guesthouses and entertainment venues.


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