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NATIONAL Conversion therapy, E.J. Johnson, anti-LGBT attacks
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2019-01-29

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Mayor Muriel Bowser signed the "Conversion Therapy for Consumers under a Conservatorship or Guardianship Amendment Act of 2018," also known as ACT 22-573—a bill that extends Washington, D.C.'s conversion therapy protections for LGBTQ youth to also include adults who are under the care of guardians or conservators, according to a Trevor Proejct press release and a PinkNews report. With ACT 22-573, Washington, D.C. becomes the first to enact legislation that protects people over the age of 18 who are subject to legal guardianship from conversion therapy.

With a unanimous City Council vote, Denver became Colorado's first jurisdiction to ban use of conversion therapy to try to change the sexual orientation of minors, The Washington Blade reported. Psychology's governing bodies have denounced conversion therapy, which treats being LGBT as a mental illness. Research shows such therapy increases the risk of suicide, drug abuse and depression among teens.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation ( HRC ) announced that it will honor LGBTQ advocate E.J. Johnson ( whose father is legendary NBA player Magic Johnson ) with the Upstander Award at the organization's sixth annual Time to THRIVE Conference on Feb. 15-17 at the Anaheim Marriott in Anaheim, California, according to a press release. "E.J. is a powerful role model to LGBTQ youth everywhere—showing through his work to end LGBTQ homelessness that all young people deserve a safe and inclusive place to thrive, and an equal chance to succeed in all aspects of their lives," said Vincent Pompei, director of HRC's Youth Well-Being Project and Time to THRIVE conference. Johnson, a television and fashion personality, made his television debut in 2014 on E!'s reality-TV series Rich Kids of Beverly Hills.

Gay couple Tristan Perry and Spencer Deehring were attacked in an apparent hate crime in Austin, Texas—because they were holding hands, Instinct magazine noted. A man on the street called them a homophobic slur; after Deehring responded, the man called out to his group of friends who were previously unseen. The couple—who suffered multiple injuries, including chipped teeth, bruises and lacerations—launched at GoFundMe page to defray the medical costs, at it raised at least five times their goal of $4,000.

North Carolina police said two women sexually assaulted a transgender woman at a Raleigh bar, USA Today noted. News outlets report 38-year-old Amber Harrell and 31-year-old Jessica Fowler are charged with second-degree kidnapping and sexual battery. The woman told Raleigh police that Harrell and Fowler, among other things, started verbally abusing her, exposed themselves and started touching her.

After spending almost three years in Dallas County's Lew Sterrett Justice Center awaiting trial on charges he murdered his landlord, Christian Colbert pled guilty and waived his right to a jury trial in exchange for a sentence of 25 years in the state penitentiary, The Dallas Voice reported. Colbert—who worked with The Dallas Voice in the early 2000s—is charged with the murder of his Oak Cliff housemate, Ron Shumway. After Shumway's death, Colbert buried his body in the backyard under a layer of cement.

GLAAD called on the White House to release official bookkeeping notes from President Donald Trump's meeting with Ginni Thomas, the wife of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and what it called "her anti-LGBTQ group," Groundswell, according to a press release. Ginni led a meeting with Trump at the White House, where participants reportedly denounced transgender Americans and claimed the historic, nationwide marriage equality ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court was "harming the fabric of the United States." GLAAD added Ginni to its Trump Accountability Project—a list of administration officials and related individuals with anti-LGBTQ activist records.

New York City could get an openly gay mayor, as council speaker Corey Johnson launched a campaign to back his potential run for the office, PinkNews reported. Johnson, the out speaker of New York City Council, confirmed he is considering a run to replace term-limited Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose is set to leave the office in 2021. The potential candidate officially launched a Corey 2021 campaign well in advance of the election, which is slated for November 2021.

Corktown Health Center received $500,000 from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund to offer care and support for older LGBT adults, Crain's Detroit Business reported. The Detroit health center is the first focused on LGBT health in Michigan, according to its website. The two-year grant will fund its Silver Rainbow Health Initiative, according to a news release. The program will be a collaborative effort between Corktown Health, SAGE Metro Detroit and the Wayne State University School of Medicine.

The Biden Foundation's As You Are, in partnership with the Institute for Innovation and Implementation at the University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Social Work, published an educational animated video about family acceptance for LGBTQ youth, according to a press release. Additionally, the video is featured prominently as part of the foundation's new As You Are resource library, a clearinghouse of resources related to family and community acceptance. The video, entitled "Support for LGBTQ Youth Starts at Home," is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyXRwX3aeOU&feature=youtu.be.

With teachers from the L.A. Unified School District returning to their classrooms, the L.A. LGBT Center has announced online launch of LGBT history lesson plans which these teachers—and teachers statewide and nationwide—can use at no cost, a press release noted. Ranging in topics from the Black Cat Tavern Riots to the AIDS crisis, these lesson plans meet the standards of California's 2011 FAIR Education Act. See LALGBTCenter.org/lgbthistory.

An effort to finally codify anti-discrimination protections is dividing Florida's LGBTQ community, after a leading advocacy organization temporarily dropped a push for protections in public places in order to get Republican support for rights in the workplace, The Miami Herald noted. SAVE, a Miami-based non-profit, has announced its support for a bill filed in the Senate by state Sen. Joe Gruters—who is also chairman of Republican Party of Florida—that would prohibit employers and labor groups from discriminating against employees or applicants based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. But—even though many local governments have codified their own LGBTQ protections—the bill faces an uphill climb in a state that fought gay marriage until after the U.S. Supreme Court deemed it legal nationwide, debated a transgender bathroom bill in 2015 and has refused to pay for a memorial for the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre in 2016.

In Virginia, Norfolk's LGBT Life Center is expanding to serve the Hampton Roads LGBTQ community, GayRVA.com noted. LGBT Life Center CEO Stacie Walls-Beegle said that the organization—which is nearing its 30th anniversary—is expecting to fully open its third Norfolk location by March or April. The space is being renovated to become the organization's first full-scale clinical space, and will have three exam rooms, a testing room and an on-site pharmacy.

Virginia-based counselor Christopher Doyle filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit against the governor and attorney general of Maryland, claiming the state's law banning gay conversion therapy for minors violates his constitutional rights, WUSA9.com reported. Doyle is being represented in the lawsuit by Liberty Counsel, a Florida-based organization which pursues litigation aimed at advancing and defending conservative, evangelical Christian causes. Maryland became the 11th state to pass a ban on conversion therapy for minors last year.

Gay Pennsylvania lawmaker Brian Sims made his thoughts known after he was banned from Facebook after sharing a hateful message he had received that contained a specific anti-gay slur, Towleroad reported. Sims told Towleroad the worst thing about being blocked on social media and then seeing a story like this explode everywhere was not being able to respond directly on Facebook, although he could still express his views on Twitter. He also said he was particularly moved to hear comments from women of color who expressed frustration over the algorithm to determine what gets you banned or blocked and the in ability to get a response from the company,

Conservative MSNBC pundit and radio host Hugh Hewitt apologized after describing newly elected Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as "transgendered" on air, LGBTQ Nation noted. Hewitt originally said, in part, "Joe Biden has actually gone through the time machine and transgendered into Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez." Within hours, Hewitt was apologizing and describing his description as a "bad word choice on a sensitive subject."

In Florida, Duval County's first gay bar, Bo's Coral Reef, closed its doors after 55 years, Jacksonville.com reported. The owner closed an Instagram caption by saying, "The Bo's Family will forever be grateful for the gratitude and love shown by every person that has walked through our doors, we could have never achieved the level of success we have without your support." The spot officially closed Jan. 22.

Gay dating app Scruff has removed images of "sexually suggestive embraces that may not align with app store guidelines" as well photos of jockstraps, underwear or bikini-style apparel, Out.com reported. "Given that Scruff is a community that speaks openly and positively about sex, bodies, and intimacy, some feel that such policies are at odds with those values. Such criticism is not unfounded," company CEO Eric Silverberg wrote.

NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists announced the addition of five new coverage categories to its Excellence in Journalism Awards program, a press release noted. The new categories are Excellence in Business Coverage, Excellence in Education Coverage, Excellence in International Coverage, Excellence in Legal Coverage and Excellence in Political Coverage. Award applications are available through Feb. 18; see https://www.nlgja.org/awards/excellence-in-journalism-awards/.

Former NFL player Jeff Rohrer told the late-night news program Nightline he was "scared" before becoming the first player in history to marry a man, US Weekly noted. "I didn't want to hurt the Cowboys and I didn't want to hurt the league. I wanted to be respectful of them," Rohrer, 60, said. The NFL alum initially revealed his sexuality days before marrying Real Housewives of Beverly Hills esthetician Joshua Ross, 36, in November 2018. The couple fell in love in 2015 after meeting at a bar in West Hollywood.

Actress-activist Alyssa Milano said in a commentary piece that she will not apologize for comparing the "Make America Great Again" hats worn by President Trump's supporters to the white hoods worn by members of the Ku Klux Klan, The Hill reported. Milano made headlines over the weekend after attempting to draw parallels between the two groups on Twitter in the wake of a viral video that showed a confrontation between a group of Kentucky Catholic school students and Native American activist Nathan Phillips.

A federal judge has denied attorney Lisa Bloom's motion to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed against her by casino mogul Steve Wynn, Page Six noted. Wynn brought the lawsuit against Bloom and her firm in Nevada last year, claiming she lied when she alleged that he sexually harassed one of her clients. Insiders have said that Bloom's been on a legal losing streak since her ill-fated, short-lived defense of Harvey Weinstein, which she admitted was a "colossal mistake."


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