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  WINDY CITY TIMES

NATIONAL Court ruling, Trevor Project, trans man killed, George Floyd statements
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2020-06-01

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A federal district court ruled that the U.S. Social Security Administration's ( SSA's ) refusal to consider the claims for survivor's benefits by same-sex spouses who were unable to be married for nine months because of state marriage bans is unconstitutional, a Lambda Legal press release noted. The ruling came in Ely v. Saul ( formerly Ely v. Berryhill ), the lawsuit Lambda Legal filed in November 2018, against SSA on behalf of Michael Ely, who married his partner of 43 years, James "Spider" Taylor, immediately after Arizona's ban on marriage for same-sex couples was struck down in 2014. The federal court's ruling is at https://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/ely_az_20200527_order.

The Trevor Project spoke out against the U.S. Department of Education's reported decision to treat a Connecticut policy allowing transgender athletes to participate in girls sports as a civil-rights violation. In a statement, Trevor Project Vice President of Advocacy & Government Affairs Sam Brinton said, "Title IX was meant to ensure that gender would never be a barrier to opportunity in our nation's schools; this decision by the administration to use it instead to exclude transgender athletes completely warps this landmark civil rights law into a tool of discrimination. At The Trevor Project, we hear directly from transgender and nonbinary youth who only want to be included as who they are. They don't deserve to be sidelined by their federal government."

In Florida, approximately 20-30 people gathered with candles, flowers and posters to honor the life of Tony McDade, Out.com reported. Social media was inundated with posts about McDade calling for justice after the 38-year-old Black transgender man was shot and killed by Tallahassee police. Police alleged McDade ( who authorities and some media misgendered ) had a gun, although others dispute that account. Also, reports revealed that, prior to the fatal incident, McDade had uploaded a long video to his Facebook page; in it, he recounted being attacked by five men in what he called a racist and transphobic attack, and he promised retribution.

Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David made statements about headline-making incidents involving two Black men. About George Floyd ( who was killed by Minneapolis police ), David tweeted, "We as a nation are continuously traumatized by these horrific incidents of abuse that all too often result in the deaths of Black men. This cannot continue. We must all demand answers, we must all demand accountability, and we must all demand change." About Christian Cooper ( the gay editor/bird-watcher who had a white woman call the police on him in Central Park ), David commented, "This is absolutely unacceptable, infuriating and unfortunately reflective of how men of color are often treated."

The National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund also made a statement about George Floyd's passing. The Fund said, "Our thoughts are with the family and friends of George Floyd during this time of grief. How many more deaths do we have to witness before race-based violence is taken seriously? Our elected leaders must be called out for allowing hatred and injustice to continue unchecked."

CNN contributor and former White House aide Keith Boykin was arrested over the weekend while covering a protest against police brutality and institutionalized racism that occurred in New York City, LGBTQ Nation reported. Boykin said that he was taking pictures and video in Harlem of a protest that was "entirely peaceful." As the protest moved to the West Side, though, police said that they would make arrests. In a CNN segment, the gay Black journalist siad he identified himself as a member of the press, but "they arrested me anyway," he said.

Pennsylvania state Rep. Brian Sims took to Facebook Live to rail against Pennsylvania Republican House leaders for allegedly concealing the fact that a Republican member of the House State Government Committee had contracted COVID-19, and potentially exposed Democratic lawmakers to it by not wearing a mask, Metro Weekly reported. Sims, an openly gay member of the State Government Committee, specifically called for the resignation of, and the possible prosecution of, the member who allegedly tested positive, whom he identified as Rep. Russ Diamond ( R-Annville ), as well as Speaker Mike Turzai ( R-Marshall Township ) and other Republican leaders. In his Facebook Live broadcast, Sims ( who revealed he recently donated a kidney ) criticized Republicans for their response to the news of a positive test and for their hypocrisy in pushing to reopen government and public spaces while knowing at least one, if not several, of their members were infected with COVID-19.

The HRC issued a statement regarding the passing of Ron Simmons, an LGBTQ-rights advocate and academic who helped transform Us Helping Us into the first and only African American-founded, community-based AIDS service organization for Black gay and bi+ men in Washington, D.C. "Dr. Ron Simmons was a leader who showed so many in our movement that the fight for full equality does not begin or end with one aspect of our lives, but requires us to support each other fully and holistically," said Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David. "Dr. Simmons made combating the HIV epidemic his life's calling, and he was tireless in his efforts to demand justice and equity for Black and Brown communities who tragically continue to be the most impacted by HIV—especially Black gay and bi+ men, and Black transgender women." In a separate statement, Phill Wilson, founder and former CEO of the Black AIDS Institute, said, "The Black LGBTQ community lost one of our godfathers last night. Ron Simmons was a leader, mentor and historian."

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) announced the endorsement of numerous pro-equality leaders for re-election across California, a press statement noted. Just a few of them include U.S. Reps. Barbara Lee, Eric Swalwell ( a former presidential candidate ), Judy Chu, Grace Napolitano, Maxine Waters, Adam Schiff, Ami Bera and Ro Khanna.

Philly Pride Presents Executive Director Franny Price announced that Philadelphia's in-person Pride celebration, Philly PrideDay, is canceled this year due to COVID-19, Philadelphia Gay News reported. However, Philly Pride will go virtual Sunday, June 14, following a trend in online celebrations.

In Florida, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said he'll sign legislation that would replace a 2017 law banning discrimination against LGBT people that was recently struck down by a state appeals court, First Coast News reported. When the City Council debated the 2017 legislation that added sexual orientation and gender identity to the list of protected classes in the city's human rights ordinance, Curry avoided taking a position and allowed it to become law without his signature after the council passed it. Recently, a reporter with Florida Politics asked Curry what he would do if the council passed legislation to replace the law that has been ruled unenforceable; Curry said since the law has been in place for several years and was struck down on a technicality, he would sign its replacement into law if it came to his desk.

Transer, a new dating application, is changing the world of transgender dating in the digital age, PR Newswire stated. Transer makes it possible to meet and connect with verified trans women seeking real, active relationships. Now available for iPhone and Android devices, Transer brings many traditional dating functionalities to the forefront. Offering users unlimited swipes, and users can chat totally free. See GoTranser.com .

The campaign Fair and Equal Michigan announced it would file 177,865 signatures May 27 for a ballot initiative to add gender, sexual orientation,and gender identity or expression to the state's nondiscrimination law, Ballotpedia News reported. ( The ballot initiative would also ban discrimination on the basis of the religious beliefs of an individual. ) However, at least 340,047 valid signatures needed to be collected for the ballot initiative. Fair and Equal Michigan filed a legal complaint challenging the signature requirement in the Michigan Court of Claims on May 26. Fair and Equal Michigan—along with plaintiffs Sen. Adam Hollier ( D-2 ) and Rep. Mari Manoogian ( D-40 )—argued that the signature threshold should be decreased to 127,518 because the coronavirus pandemic and related orders had the effect of limiting the campaign's circulation period to 45 days.

GLAAD announced the return of the podcast LGBTQ&A, a press release noted. Hosted by Jeffrey Masters, and produced by The Advocate magazine in partnership with GLAAD, this season's guests will include Francois Clemmons, Alok Vaid Menon, Linda Perry, Jennifer Finney Boylan, Kimberly Drew, Alice Wu and Rufus Wainwright. Previous guests include Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Laverne Cox, Roxanne Gay, Trixie Mattel, Shangela, Gigi Gorgeous, Deray McKessen, Chani Nicholas and Justin Tranter.

In New Jersey's Sussex County, High Point Regional High School has become the latest and one of the last schools in the county, if not the state, to adopt a policy on transgender student rights, NJHerald.com reported. Approval of the policy, which the board passed seven to two, came after the board's policy committee agreed to remove a provision that would have allowed transgender females to participate in girls' sports and transgender males to participate in boys' sports. All other aspects of the proposed policy remain, including—but not limited to—the requirement that the school allow trans students to use restrooms in accordance with their stated gender identity.

Anti-lockdown protestor Michael Drewer drove up and down the streets of Loveland, Colorado, with a message to Colorado Gov. Jared Polis ( who's openly gay ) painted on the back of his Chevy Silverado: "OPEN OUR GYMS F*GGOT," Queerty noted. Earlier that week, Polis announced that "businesses such as gyms and nightclubs are highly social and a timeline on those has not been determined yet. Some gyms are open to appointment-only personal training for now." A local Antifa group said, "He's a boring and bigoted man living a sad life, whose only joy seems to come from skipping leg day, calling gay people slurs, and spreading viruses."

A new book claims Bill Clinton had an affair with British-born socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, who is accused of helping recruit underage victims for Jeffrey Epstein, the New York Post reported. The ex-president—who denies cheating on wife Hillary Clinton with Maxwell—reportedly engaged in the romps during overseas trips on Epstein's private plane, a customized Boeing 727 that's since become known as the "Lolita Express." Clinton—who has a long history of being accused of sexual misconduct—has never been accused of engaging with an underage female with Epstein.


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