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NATIONAL Conversion therapy, honoring trans pioneers, case against ex-guv
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2019-06-04

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Colorado banned gay conversion therapy as openly gay Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill one day before the start of LGBT Pride Month, ABC News reported. Polis actually signed two bills dealing with LGBT rights: the conversion-therapy bill, and another allowing transgender and intersex individuals to update the genders on their birth certificates without needing proof of surgery by a court order or a legal name change. An estimated 20,000 LGBT children from 13 to 17 years old were expected to receive conversion therapy in states where the practice is not banned, according to a January 2018 study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.

Maine banned gay conversion therapy for minors, joining more than a dozen other states that have outlawed the controversial practice, NBC News reported. Democratic Gov. Janet Mills signed the bill May 29, and it will take effect 90 days after the legislature adjourns this month. Maine joins 16 other states and the District of Columbia that have banned the practice.

Presidential candidate/New York City Mayor de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray announced that the next She Built NYC monument will honor pioneering transgender activists Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera—key leaders in the Stonewall Uprising that sparked the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBTQ rights in the United States, a press release noted. Johnson and Rivera founded STAR House, a housing and support organization for homeless LGBT youth and sex workers; they were also leaders in the Stonewall Uprisings and lifelong advocates for transgender and LGBTQ rights.

Jury selection began in what is expected to be a monthlong civil trial over allegations that former Gov. Terry Branstad pressured an official to quit because he was gay—a case Branstad's attorney claimed will escalate into an "unhinged attack on the Republican Party," The Des Moines Register reported. Iowa Workers' Compensation Commissioner Chris Godfrey, a Democrat, sued Branstad for discrimination in 2012. Godfrey, who couldn't be fired under a provision in Iowa law intending his six-year term to be insulated from politics, alleged Branstad ( now the U.S. ambassador to China living in Beijing ) pressured him to resign by cutting more than a third of his salary.

New York's Gov. Andrew Cuomo ( D ) condemned an apparent act of anti-LGBT sentiment after two gay pride flags were burned outside a Harlem bar, The Hill reported. The governor tweeted that he was "disgusted" by the "repugnant" flag-burnings, which occurred just before the start of Pride Month. The New York Post reported Saturday that the arsonist remained at large, and that the fires were extinguished by rain before police arrived. The flags targeted by the arsonist were apparently set up by owners of the Alibi Lounge, a gay bar.

Playboy announced its collaboration with The Trevor Project—the world's largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ+ youth—to help drive awareness and raise funds for its "50 Bills 50 States" initiative, a press release noted. The partnership anchors Playboy's "PRIDE IS GOOD" campaign, inspired by the 1960s rallying cry for equality "Gay is Good." As part of the multifaceted campaign, Playboy commissioned seven queer artists to create unique renderings that enable all people to express themselves and feel proud of who they are. Seth Bogart, Winston Elliott, C. Finley, Sarah Maxwell, Nina Palomba, Favianna Rodriguez and Loveis Weiss reimagined the iconic Playboy Bunny Ears to create colorful, expressive and celebratory pieces for "PRIDE IS GOOD."

Advocacy groups sued the Trump administration and state of South Carolina on behalf of a same-sex married couple after a Christian ministry allegedly denied them from participating in its federally funded foster-care program, ABC News reported. The American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal filed the lawsuit, citing a decision by the administration's Health and Human Services to waive an anti-discrimination rule for the South Carolina ministry.

A weekend tweet by Providence, Rhode Island, Bishop Thomas J. Tobin warning his congregants not to support or attend LGBTQ Pride Month events prompted a national outcry and protests, The Boston Globe reported. The reverberations reached into the morning services at St. Raymond's Roman Catholic Church, where attendees, including Gov. Gina Raimondo, passed beneath a wooden sign that reads "All Are Welcome In This Place." After much blowback, Tobin issued a second statement, saying, in part, "I regret that my comments yesterday about Pride Month have turned out to be so controversial in our community, and offensive to some, especially the gay community. ... The Catholic Church has respect and love for members of the gay community, as do I. Individuals with same-sex attraction are beloved children of God and our brothers and sisters."

A group of Pennsylvania-based transgender women have filed a lawsuit over a statute that forces them to use their birth names, Queerty noted. The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund filed the suit on behalf of Alonda Talley, Chauntey Mo'Nique Porter and Priscylla Renee Von Noake. All three women identify as transgender; however, because they were convicted of felonies in the past, the state forces them to use their birth names on legal documents.

A transgender woman and two men were shot and killed on the east side of Detroit, NewNowNext.com noted. Police responded to a home where the two men, ages 20 and 21, were found dead and the trans woman, 20, was taken to the hospital where she passed away from her injuries. The yet unnamed trans victim is at least the sixth transgender person killed in the United States this year—all of whom died as a result of gun violence.

The Trump administration plans to launch a new panel to offer "fresh thinking" on international human rights and "natural law"—a move some activists fear is aimed at narrowing protections for women and members of the LGBT community, Politico reported. The new body, to be called the Commission on Unalienable Rights, will advise Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to a notice the State Department quietly published on the Federal Register. Several human-rights activists said they were surprised by the move and trying to learn details.

After hundreds of anti-abortion activists held a rally against him outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Philadelphia, pressure was put on openly gay state Rep. Brian Sims to issue an apology for the actions that spurred the protests, Philadelphia Gay News reported. In a fundraising letter May 18, Sims issued his first apology—but the letter has only fueled more outrage from his critics. In the letter, Sims continued to show his anger toward anti-abortion activists, but he did acknowledge his role in creating problems for the clinic by energizing those activists at a time when restrictive anti-abortion rulings have threatened women's constitutional rights.

Gay people are flocking to Hinge, following an endorsement of the dating app from Pete Buttigieg, Advocate.com noted. Fortune reported that gay profiles have spiked by 30 percent since April 1—about the time Buttigieg stepped into the national limelight. In interviews, he has sometimes discussed how he met his husband, Chasten, on the app. Pete met Chasten on Hinge in 2015.

NBC4 Washington anchor Meagan Fitzgerald announced on-air that she's engaged to girlfriend Kelly Heath, Yahoo! Finance noted. While Fitzgerald had mentioned Heath before on social media, she chose to speak about her relationship for the first time during a broadcast at the start of Pride Month. Fitzgerald immediately began receiving messages of congratulations on her engagement and thanks for sharing her story.

The Golden Crown Literary Society announced that the world premiere of the feature-length documentary In Her Words: 20th Century Lesbian Fiction will take place at the upcoming 15th Annual Conference. to be held at the Wyndham Grand Downtown Pittsburgh on July 10-14, a press release noted. The film includes interviews with figures such as Rita Mae Brown, Dorothy Allison, Sarah Waters, Ann Bannon, Elana Dykewomon, Katherine V. Forrest and Jewelle Gomez, among others. The film is narrated by award-winning LGBTQ historian Lillian Faderman.

Lyft is the first ridesharing app to ask what pronouns you use when you ride in a car—whether that's male, female, plural pronouns or other options, Mashable reported. Lyft's outgoing chief marketing officer, Joy Howard, said i that the pronoun addition is part of Lyft's "Two is Too Few" campaign calling out the gender binary engrained into our society.

A retired police officer was awarded $1.8 million after it was determined by jury that the police chief discriminated against him for being in the military and because be believed the officer was gay, Queerty reported. Kenneth Hagel worked as a Sea Girt police officer and was a member of the U.S. Navy Reserves in Lakehurst, New Jersey, for more than 30 years, during which time he was deployed to Kuwait, Guam and Spain. Hagel identifies as straight and is married to a woman; however, Hagel was subject to homophobic slurs and abuse , and was denied promotions on two separate occasions.

A public library in Ohio canceled a drag event after receiving "'veiled threats" from various messages, Gay Star News noted. The Delaware County District Library planned a one-day Drag 101 class—aimed at a primairly teen audience—on June 5. However, numerous messages received by the library, some highly negative, led to the decision to cancel the event. Library spokesperson Nicole Fowles said the library received "hundreds" of phone calls and emails.

Storm chaser Joey Krastel's video went viral after he dropped to his knee to ask his boyfriend, Chris Scott, to marry him as a tornado flew toward them, Accuweather.com noted. "When Chris and I met in 2015, storms and tornadoes were the first thing that we bonded over. I have been obsessed with severe weather since seeing my first tornado outside my childhood home outside of Baltimore and have been chasing storms since I got my driver's license," Krastel said. The tornado was later classified by the national weather service office as an EF2 storm.

The valedictorian of a Wisconsin high school said that the administrators banned him from speaking at his graduation because of his sexuality, Local12.com reported. Nat Werth graduated with a 4.0 grade point average at Sheboygan Lutheran High School's commencement ceremony—but he said he was not allowed to speak. Werth's father said he spoke to the high school's principal, who allegedly said administrators did not trust Werth to stay on script.

Another House Republican thwarted attempts to pass a bipartisan disaster aid package—further delaying $19 billion in emergency relief and frustrating lawmakers whose states were hit by devastating hurricanes, wildfires and flooding, Politico reported. U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie ( R-Kentucky ), who objected to the bill's passage during a voice vote, demanded that the vote be held after the House returns from recess—making it unlikely that President Donald Trump can sign the package before early June. In part, Republicans have complained that the bill ignores the White House's emergency funding request for the southern border—which leaders of both parties agreed to leave out for the sake of speed. Massie joined U.S. Rep. Chip Roy ( R-Texas ) in blocking the measure.

The organizers of AIDS/LifeCycle, a 545-mile bike ride, announced that participants raised more than $16.7 million—the highest fundraising amount in the history of the event—to support San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the HIV/AIDS-related services of the Los Angeles LGBT Center, a press release announced. More than 2,200 cyclists pedaled out of San Francisco's Cow Palace on June 2 ( on the 26th year of riding ) to end AIDS with more than 650 volunteer "roadies" supporting them during the seven-day journey.

Abercrombie & Fitch is teaming with The Trevor Project—the world's largest suicide prevention and crisis-intervention organization for LGBTQ young people—with the #FaceYourFierce campaign, a press release noted. The latest features Trevor ambassadors include content creator/activist Tyler Oakley, actor Johnny Sibilly, model Taylor Phillips, WNBA star Stephanie Dobson, Out Magazine Editor Phillip Picardi, producer Crystal Anderson, model/activist TJ, musician Mena Sachdev, digital creator Kyle Kreiger and professional cheerleader Napoleon Jinnies. See TheTrevorProject.org .

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, who became the first Republican member of Congress to call for President Donald Trump's impeachment, took aim at Attorney General William Barr—charging that the nation's top law enforcement officer has "used his position to sell the president's false narrative to the American people," Politco noted. Spanning 25 Twitter posts, the Michigan lawmaker accused Barr of having "deliberately misrepresented" the findings of Robert Mueller's investigation in a March 24 letter to Congress summarizing the special counsel's findings.

MSNBC's town hall with Sen. Kamala Harris becomes the second most watched of this election cycle—behind only Sen. Bernie Sanders on Fox News Channel, in April, Deadline noted. Delivering 2.209 million total viewers, the Lawrence O'Donnell-moderated town hall bested all 21 of CNN's town halls to date in total viewers.

Sun-Maid Raisins ended its sponsorship with the Fresno Grizzlies after the minor-league baseball team aired a Memorial Day video that depicted U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez among the country's "enemies of freedom," CNN.com noted. The company said in a statement that the decision to pull the sponsorship was not political but rather "the right thing to do." The Fresno Grizzlies apologized to Ocasio-Cortez in a tweet.

Massachusetts authorities say a group of Jewish teens helped save the life of a drowning man with a tattoo of a swastika, NBC News reported. The four youths—all students at an Orthodox Jewish high school in suburban Brookline—spotted the body of a man partially submerged in Chestnut Hill Reservoir.

Twitter blocked the account of "Kenneth in the 212" blogger Kenneth Walsh after he shared alleged photos of former Congressman Aaron Schock ( R-Illinois ) filming himself in the buff, Towleroad noted. The images were taken from a video that also circulated, and remain live on Twitter. The alleged hypocrisy of Schock—who had an anti-LGBT voting record while a politician—has been talked about much in recent weeks after photographs were taken of him with a group of gay men at the Coachella Music festival, and talking up various men at a West Hollywood pool.


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