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NATIONAL Conversion-therapy bans, GetEQUAL folds, gay Trump backers
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times.
2018-04-03

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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee made it official: Conversion therapy is now banned in the state, Metro Weekly reported. Inslee signed into law a bill that bans the practice of conversion therapy on minors, and penalizes licensed therapists or counselors who attempt to change a youth's sexual orientation or gender identity. Inslee's signing of the bill makes Washington the 10th state to ban the practice legislatively; the District of Columbia and several localities in various states have passed similar legislation.

Also, a measure to prohibit health professionals from practicing "gay conversion therapy" on minors cleared the Maryland Senate, The Miami Herald reported. The Maryland Senate voted 34-12 for the bill, which now goes to the House. The measure would classify the practice as unprofessional conduct and subject providers to discipline by the state licensing board. Sen. Richard Madaleno, an openly gay lawmaker who is running for governor, said forcing youths to seek counseling to make someone else happy is "a recipe for disaster, for depression, for anxiety and for suicide in all too many cases."

In yet another related development, conversion therapy will soon be banned in Milwaukee, JSOnline.com reported. Mayor Tom Barrett is set to sign a ban on the controversial practice after the Milwaukee Common Council approved such a ban. Ald. Cavalier Johnson, the measure's lead sponsor, stressed that the ban applies only to fee-based conversion therapy services for minors—not free counseling from faith leaders.

GetEQUAL Executive Director Gabriel Garcia-Vera announced that the direct action group would shut down immediately following a social-media scandal surrounding the termination of a former staffer, LGBTQ Nation noted. Former Movement Building and Campaign Manager Aaryn Lang accused Garcia-Vera and the board of transphobia and racism—which Garcia-Vera denied, although he said he couldn't discuss employee performance issues outside of the organization. Meanwhile, there's speculation that PFLAG may shut down as well; newly hired Executive Director Jaime Grant and Director of Financing Brian Carney were terminated, and the group has operated with an almost-million-dollar deficit for the past two years.

A gay Trump supporter who opposes marriage equality is running for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, LGBTQ Nation noted. Colton Buckley announced that he's running for state representative in a seat vacated by a Republican who got elected to the state senate. In part, he has said, "I would rather deal with a Republican who'll say, 'I don't necessarily agree with you,' than deal with someone who aligns themselves with Hillary Clinton and the Democrats, where the Clinton Foundation has taken tens of millions of dollars from Saudi Arabian nations, where if I live there as a gay man, I would be publicly executed."

Chadwick Moore—the former Out magazine editor who "came out" as conservative in The New York Post last year—claims he was kicked out of gay bar Metropolitan for being a Donald Trump supporter, Page Six noted. However, a statement on the spot's Facebook page said that his unceremonious ejection had nothing to do with Moore's beliefs, saying, "We understand that your political views do not match ours, but that doesn't mean you are not welcome here." The bar claimed that Moore's brother "started a fight at our sister bar [Macri Park]" before they arrived at Metropolitan, and that's why they got booted.

A New Orleans resident has become the seventh trans woman to have been killed in the United States this year, Gay Star News reported. The body of Amia Tyrae Berryman, 28, was found at the Shades Motel on Airline Highway in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Berryman had gunshot injuries. It's believed 2017 was the deadliest year on record for trans murders in the United States. A Human Rights Campaign report released November identified 25 trans murders in the previous 11 months.

A record number of organizations supporting LGBTQ people announced today that they are taking part in a joint effort to help with Puerto Rico recovery by sending volunteers and resources to the island, a press release announced. The project has been spearheaded by staff from Advocates for Youth, the Human Rights Campaig, and PFLAG National, in partnership with Waves Ahead. As plans developed, more organizations including CenterLink, SAGE, and Intersections International, and media outlets such as The Washington Blade committed to participation. Visit facebook.com/wavesahead.

The D.C. spot Nellie's Sports Bar, which caters to a mostly LGBT clientele, posted a message on its Facebook page apologizing for displaying a flag ( the Thin Blue Line flag ) created in the 1960s to honor police officers but, which in recent years, has been embraced by white supremacists, The Washington Blade reported. The apology and a decision by Nellie's to take down the flag came after the local LGBT group No Justice No Pride reported on social media, including Facebook, that Nellie's had been displaying a flag used by opponents of the Black Lives Matter movement as well as by white nationalist groups to disparage efforts to curtail police shootings of Black men.

While the national annual HIV-infection rate dropped by an estimated 15 percent between 2008 and 2015, a few key subgroups saw a rise in yearly new HIV infections, also known as HIV incidence, a POZ.com article noted. During this period, HIV incidence among men 25 to 34 who have sex with men ( MSM ) increased by an estimated 45 percent while the rate increased 25 percent among Latino MSM. The CDC has stated that the declining overall HIV rate seen in recent years is likely driven by a rising rate of full suppression of the virus among those living with HIV in the United States.

Alabama's first openly gay legislator bid farewell to the state's House of Representatives, NBC News noted. State Rep. Patricia Todd, a Democrat from Birmingham, will not seek re-election after serving 12 years. Todd said on the House floor that her colleagues are "incredible, beautiful people" who all treated her with equality, even though some she thought she "would never get along with or like."

The first transgender law-enforcement commander in the United States has been selected to attend the FBI National Academy, CBS Denver reported. Leslie Mumford is now in charge of the SWAT team with the sheriff's office. However, she is due to leave for the academy in July.

Miami Beach Gay Pride ( April 2-8 ) is paying tribute to the victims, families and friends of the PULSE Nightclub mass shooting by orchestrating "Pride Lights the Night," where buildings throughout the greater Miami area will light up awash in the colors of the Pride rainbow flag, according to a press release. Buildings that are part of this event include Miami Tower, American Airlines Arena, Miami Beach City Hall, Faena District, Hard Rock Stadium, New World Center, Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and InterContinental Miami, among many others.

LGBT people are eight times more likely to be targeted by revenge porn, a study has revealed, according to PinkNews. One in 25 people in the United States has either been threatened with or made the victim of revenge porn, but this includes just 2 percent of straight people. On the other hand, 17 percent of LGBT people have been targeted with threats or actual posts of pornographic images or videos of them which they did not consent to being online.

Former Sex and the City star and longtime LGBT activist Cynthia Nixon has turned a personal attack from a political opponent into her de facto campaign slogan after former Speaker of the New York City Council Christine Quinn branded her an "unqualified lesbian," according to PinkNews. The candidate—who is raising more funds than New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo with individual donors—is now giving out badges on her website bearing the phrase. The "Unqualified Lesbian buttons" are available in two colours, blue and white, for donors who give $5 or more to the Cynthia Nixon for New York campaign.

Lambda Legal has hired Diana Flynn, the chief of the appellate section of the civil rights division at the Department of Justice ( DoJ ), as its new litigation director, a press release noted. Flynn joins her former DoJ colleague Sharon McGowan, who left DoJ in February 2017 to become Lambda Legal's director of strategy, overseeing both the organization's litigation and policy work. In addition, the civil-rights organization has hired Charles Fields as its new chief operating officer.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) Foundation released a report underscoring the urgent need for inclusive employer-paid family and medical leave for transgender and non-binary workers, a press release stated. The report, which reveals the unique barriers faced by these workers, draws on responses to the HRC's 2018 U.S. LGBTQ Paid Leave Survey—called the largest and most comprehensive survey ever of its kind. The report finds, among other things, that only 36 percent of transgender and non-binary respondents report that their employers have LGBTQ-inclusive leave policies. The report is at https://assets2.hrc.org/files/assets/resources/HRC-TransReport-Mar29-.pdf.

The Phoenix City Council voted to appoint Councilwoman Thelda Williams to the vice-mayor post, over Councilman Michael Nowakowski, AZCentral.com reported. The LGBT community had mobilized against Nowakowski; he was caught on video in 2016 talking about his opposition to same-sex couples marrying and transgender people using the restroom of their choice. "It is THE DUTY OF EVERY PHOENIX CITIZEN to OPPOSE THE ELECTION OF THIS KNOWN HOMOPHOBE!" the Arizona Democratic Party LGBT Caucus posted on Facebook.

In Ohio, Franklin County Municipal Court will now offer LGBT-specific domestic violence intervention, WOSU.org reported. Municipal Court judges Eileen Paley and James O'Grady devised the program after same-sex marriage became legal in all 50 states. "When that Supreme Court case came down, I think we had a little bit more of self-identifying in the community, so I started seeing more domestic violence in the courtroom between LGBTQ partners," Paley said.

Several local LGBTQ-serving organizations will host a conference on April 28 to increase culturally competent services in San Diego County for victims and survivors of sexual violence who identify as LGBTQ, a press release noted. The one-day conference, entitled "#MeTooLGBTQ," will be held at The San Diego LGBT Community Center. Partnering organizations include San Diego Pride, The San Diego LGBT Community Center, Center for Community Solutions, California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists-San Diego Chapter, North County Lifeline and 211 San Diego.

The Mazzoni Center—a South Philadelphia healthcare provider that serves the LGBT community—has named a new CEO, BizJournals.com noted. The health care provider's board of directors hired Lydia Gonzalez Sciarrino to serve as CEO following a five-month national search, succeeding Stephen A. Glassman, who was serving as interim CEO. Gonzalez Sciarrino was most recently chief executive of Whole Family Health Center, which she developed from a small HIV/AIDS clinic into a profitable healthcare organization with two offices in Florida.

One of the student survivors of the Parkland, Florida, mass shooting is calling for people to target Fox News host Laura Ingraham's advertisers after she posted a critical tweet about him being rejected from colleges, The Hill reported. "David Hogg Rejected By Four Colleges To Which He Applied and whines about it. ( Dinged by UCLA with a 4.1 GPA...totally predictable given acceptance rates, )" she tweeted. Hogg replied a few hours later, tweeting at the Fox News host and asking who her biggest advertisers were. She lost at least three sponsors ( TripAdvisor, Wayfair and pet-food company Nutrish ) before apologizing, TheWrap noted. ( Hulu and a few others also later withdrew as sponsors. )

Stacey Dash has thrown in the towel when it comes to running for Congress, TheWrap reported. The conservative Clueless star announced she is abandoning her bid to represent parts of Los Angeles County. In part, she said she believes that "the overall bitterness surrounding our political process , participating in the rigor of campaigning, and holding elected office would be detrimental to the health and well-being of my family."

Openly gay right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos has closed his charity for white men—but there are lingering questions about where the six-figure sum raised for the foundation went, The Hill noted. In January 2017, Yiannopoulos opened applications for the "Yiannopoulos Privilege Grant," $2,500 college scholarships meant for low-income, white men. But questions surround how the $100,000 raised for the fund was handled, NBC News reported. Yiannopoulos announced last April he garnered $12 million in funding to launch a media company, MILO, Inc.

Walmart will no longer carry Cosmopolitan magazine at its checkout lines after a lobbying group voiced concerns that the content is inappropriate for shoppers, TheWrap noted. Instead, the magazine will be relegated away from checkout toward the store's regular magazine racks. In a press release, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation announced that it had successfully pressured the retailer to make the decision.

For the first time in NFL history, the Los Angeles Rams announced that two men would join its cheerleading squad, ABC News reported. Quinton Peron and Napolean Jinnies will step out on the field this season, cheering and dancing alongside the previously all-female team. The two men and California natives were among the 76 finalists who auditioned for the Rams cheer team and told Good Morning America they were elated to make the squad, especially after the lengthy audition process.


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