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  WINDY CITY TIMES

NATIONAL Election news, Pulse Nightclub, drag queen attacked
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2018-05-15

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Ohio state Rep. Nickie J. Antonio won the Democratic primary election on Nay 8 and will almost certainly become the first openly LGBTQ state senator in Ohio come November, a Victory Fund press release touted. Antonio, a Victory Fund Spotlight candidate, defeated an anti-LGBTQ challenger who authored an anti-trans amendment to Cleveland's non-discrimination ordinance when a city council member. Of the nine Victory Fund-endorsed candidates, seven won their primaries and two advanced to the general election runoffs, including Orange County ( North Carolina ) Superior Court Clerk candidate Mark Kleinschmidt, North Carolina state representative hopeful Deb Butler and Indiana state senate candidate J.D. Ford.

Mark Harris—a Baptist pastor with a long history of social conservatism—won the GOP primary in North Carolina's 9th Congressional District, ousting Rep. Robert Pittenger, who is now the first congressional incumbent of either party to lose a primary this cycle, The Huffington Post noted. Harris' upset victory could make it easier for Democrats to pick up the seat in November. The 9th District is on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's list of targets. Dan McCready, a former Marine Corps captain who founded a solar farm company, easily won the Democratic primary.

Democratic gubernatorial challenger Cynthia Nixon, a self-proclaimed lesbian, is using the phrase "Vote for the homo, not for the Cuomo" in her campaign against incumbent New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the New York Daily News noted. She switched up a campaign slogan he's rumored to have coined during his father's ( Mario Cuomo ) failed run against Mayor Ed Koch in 1977. Posters with the original slogan—"Vote for Cuomo, not the homo"—were intended to capitalize on homophobia and innuendo about Koch's sexuality.

In his race for San Diego County Supervisor District 4, Nathan Fletcher is campaigning as a Democrat who promises to be a progressive vote on issues, but is now struggling to explain a controversial, anti-LGBT voting record while he was in the State Assembly, SDGLN.com noted. In 2008, Fletcher ran as a pro-life, pro-gun conservative Republican for the 75th Assembly District and won—thanks largely to high profile endorsements from individuals like Karl Rove, leaders within the far-right evangelical community, and supporters of the controversial Prop 8 Initiative that banned same-sex marriage.

Monterey County sheriff candidate Scott Davis told KSBW that he wants to become the first openly gay sheriff in California history—and he is running against his boss, Sheriff Steve Bernal. In a KSBW video, Davis recently talked about being gay, and explained why he is a champion of LGBTQ and immigrants' rights. The video is at http://www.ksbw.com/article/monterey-county-sheriff-s-candidate-scott-davis-hopes-to-be-california-s-first-gay-sheriff/20533145.

Scott Lively—the author of a book claiming that the Holocaust was orchestrated by gay men who ran the Nazi Party—will appear on a Massachusetts gubernatorial primary ballot later this year after garnering enough support at the Republican Party's state convention, Newsweek.com noted. Lively will now face off with incumbent Gov. Charlie Baker in September's primary. Lively ( the founder of an anti-LGBT group, Abiding Truth Ministries ) wrote a 1995 book, The Pink Swastika, in which he asserted that the Nazi Party that took power in Germany in the 1930s was controlled by "militaristic" gay people who inspired the murder of approximately 6 million European Jews.

Orlando's onePULSE Foundation has created an interim memorial dedicated to the victims of the June 2016 Pulse Nightclub massacre, NewNowNext.com reported. The memorial—which will serve as an temporary fixture until the foundation finds an architect to design a permanent memorial and museum—has opened to the public. Before the public launch, members of the foundation came together with survivors, first responders, local leaders, and families of victims to honor the 49 lives lost to anti-LGBT gun violence during the shooting.

Alabama's first openly gay lawmaker will head an LGBTQ coalition in Florida after her retirement this year, U.S. News & World Report noted. Democratic Rep. Patricia Todd from Birmingham has accepted a job as executive director of One Orlando Alliance, a coalition of LGBTQ organizations formed after the 2016 PULSE nightclub shooting. Todd has served 12 years in Alabama's House; she helped pass a law to allow marijuana medication for seizures and unsuccessfully pushed to add sexual orientation as a protected category under a hate-crime law.

Philadelphia drag queen Aloe Vera was recently attacked and had to go through surgery, Instinct Magazine noted. The attack, by a 34-year-old man named Carmelo Villanueva, was so serious that it prompted the need for jaw surgery. A fundraiser was held May 7 for Vera at the ICandy Nightclub in Philadelphia's Gayborhood so that she could pay off the operation.

Mourners held a vigil May 13 for a transgender woman who was murdered in Dallas, NBCDFW.com reported. Police found 26-year-old Carla Patricia Flores-Pavon unconscious in her apartment; authorities later said she had been choked. Monica Roberts, a board member of Dallas-based Black Transwomen Inc., attended the vigil and expressed disappointment that the murder was not being handled differently.

Vermont lawmakers have passed a bill that will require all single-user bathrooms in public buildings or places of public accommodation to be marked as gender-neutral, CNN reported. The bill passed with a large majority in the House in April 2017, and then took a year to reach the Senate, where it passed unanimously. According to the bill, "a single-user toilet may be identified by a sign, provided that the sign marks the facility as a restroom and does not indicate any specific gender."

Republican Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law a bill that critics say will allow adoption and foster care agencies to ban same-sex couples on religious grounds, The Hill reported. The bill states that private child-placement agencies should not be required by law to "participate in any placement of a child for foster care or adoption when the proposed placement would violate the agency's written religious or moral convictions or policies."

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan signed a bill into law that will protect Maryland youth from the practice of conversion therapy by health professionals, a National Center for Lesbian Rights press release noted. According to the release, the bill-signing was the result of targeted grassroots advocacy efforts by the NCLR, local Maryland LGBTQ advocacy group FreeState Justice and the Human Rights Campaign. Conversion therapy survivor and NCLR Born Perfect Campaign Strategist Mathew Shurka said, "The state of Maryland took an important step to ensure that all of Maryland's young people know that they are born perfect."

AIDS Walk New York will bring together 20,000 people on Sunday, May 20, in Central Park to raise millions of dollars for Gay Men's Health Crisis ( GMHC ) and other tri-state area AIDS service organizations, a press release noted. The event will feature a line-up of stars including Matt Bomer, Zachary Quinto, Queer Eye's Antoni Porowski and Tan France, Rosie Perez, Nico Tortorella, the Pointer Sisters, RuPaul's Drag Race contestants and many more. Participants will have a choice of the traditional 10K walk through Central Park and the streets of the Upper West Side, or the Macy's-sponsored five-mile run contained entirely within the park.

The Bureau of Prisons rolled back some measures that helped prevent transgender prisoners from being harassed, assaulted and sexually abused, USA Today reported. The rules, posted just two days before President Trump's inauguration, laid out a number of guidelines for how prisons and guards should treat transgender inmates. Now, under Trump, some of the policies have been altered, according to an updated manual posted to the Bureau of Prisons website.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) responded to news that the Trump-Pence Administration has ordered the Bureau of Prisons to use "biological sex" in determining how transgender prisoners are assigned housing, putting them at significant risk of sexual abuse, assault and other types of discrimination, a press release noted. In part, HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy said, "The decision to disregard a transgender person's gender identity is harmful and disrespectful. This unconscionable decision ignores medical expertise and defies common sense. Transgender people under the control of the Bureau of Prisons will face greater risk of violence and discrimination."

Among New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's potential replacements is Alphonso David, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's chief counsel, LGBTQ Nation noted. David's appointment would be a particularly pointed statement by the state legislature, which will name Schneiderman's successor—in addition to being a gay Black man, David is the son of immigrants. Born in the United States, David was raised in Liberia; after his father was jailed in a military coup, the family sought asylum in the States, and it was granted because David was a U.S. citizen.

The Kansas Legislature approved a bill that allows faith-based adoption agencies to turn away gay and lesbian couples based on religious beliefs, and Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer said he would sign it, Reuters reported. Under the measure, the Kansas Department for Children and Families cannot block any foster or adoption agency, including those that receive public funds, from participating in its programs only because it refuses to adopt or place children with LGBT people. Seven states have similar laws on the books, according to Human Rights Watch.

The four young men accused of attacking a gay couple on South Beach face stiffer penalties after prosecutors charged them under Florida's hate-crime enhancement law, the Miami Herald reported. The group was charged with aggravated battery committed with prejudice, which means each could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted of the attack that took place during Miami Beach's annual gay-pride parade. Lopez and his companions, Luis M. Alonso Piovet, 20; Adonis Diaz, 21; and Pablo Reinaldo Romo-Figueroa, 21, began to call the victims "maricones," an anti-gay slur in Spanish; video shows they then repeatedly punched the two victims, Rene Chalarca and Dmitry Logunov, in the face, causing cuts and bruises.

In Houston, Ben and Rene Ruiz, who were in the midst of a divorce, died in a murder-suicide inside a million-dollar home near the Galleria, ABC13.com reported. Authorities said police were called to the home for a welfare check after a close and longtime friend of the couple got a disturbing text. The couple, who have been common-law married since 1996, have a marriage license from 2016 but recently filed for divorce in March.

Domestic terrorist Mark Anthony Conditt was a user of Grindr, police have revealed—despite his history of homophobic blog posts, PinkNews reported. Conditt was responsible for a series of bomb attacks in Austin, Texas, in March, killing two people and injuring six. He killed himself in an explosion on March 21, detonating a bomb in his car as he was pulled over by police.

Former California Gov. George Deukmejian died May 8—and Q Voice News stated that he left a decidedly anti-gay legacy. For example, the publication noted, Deukmejian vetoed two bills ( one in 1984 and one in 1986 ) that would have prevented discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation. Also, Deukmejian vetoed a bill in 1986 that would have prevented AIDS patients from being fired or denied housing. Deukmejian—who Bloomberg and other media outlets said more than doubled the size of the prison system in the state during his two terms in office during the 1980s—was 89.

On May 17, Rutgers University—Camden will confer an honorary doctor of laws degree to Anita Hill, a school press release noted. ( In 1991, Hill accused then-nominee for the Supreme Court Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment. ) She is chairing the Commission on Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality in the Workplace created in late 2017 in response to the surging national crisis regarding sexual harassment, particularly in the media and entertainment industries. Hill will receive her honorary degree from the school at the commencement ceremony for the Rutgers Law School in Camden, where she also will deliver her accepting remarks and the keynote address.

The Mormon church said it will sever its century-old ties with the Boy Scouts of America at the end of next year and place its remaining 425,000 boys into a gospel-focused youth program it is developing, Time.com noted. The announcement by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Boy Scouts didn't come as a complete surprise after the religion last year removed 185,000 boys between the ages of 14 and 18. The Boy Scouts decided in 2015 to allow gay troop leaders and announced last year it would allow girls in its ranks. In May 2018, the organization said it will change the name of its flagship program next year to Scouts BSA to account for the inclusion of girls.

A church in West Virginia has been voted out of its local Baptist association because its pastor says gays and lesbians should be welcomed, according to a U.S. News & World Report article. The Times West Virginian reported the Fairmont Baptist Association voted to disfellow the First Baptist Church in early April. Pastor Valerie Gittings had endorsed a local human rights ordinance protecting sexual orientation. In a February statement, she said "many progressive Christians reject outright the idea that homosexual behavior is a violation of God's law."

Google's annual developers conference, "i/o 2018," started May 8—and many posted on Twitter that attendees were being encouraged to wear "pronoun stickers," SFGate.com noted. ABC 7 reporter Matt Keller tweeted a photo of a station at the conference check-in with stickers reading "they," "him" and "her" and a sign reading, "We care about your pronouns. Add a sticker to your badge to share with others which ones you prefer." Pronoun stickers are becoming increasingly common at conferences to foster inclusiveness and reduce instances of misgendering.

Pittsburgh City Paper recently profiled Jarrell Brackett, who will become the city's first openly gay professional boxer when he steps into the ring May 25. In part, Brackett said, "I really want to be that guy that every other guy is compared to. Be the first openly gay boxer? Great. I'm in! I'm proud of that. I want my community to be proud of that." He added, "I am a black, gay, left-handed male who went to private schools and grew up to be happy. ... God didn't create us to make money, he made us to serve him and to enjoy our lives to the fullest. That's what I'm doing."

Philadelphia Pride has announced the names for its grand marshal panel—and, for the first year ever, it's introducing a couple to the mix, Instinct Magazine noted. The couple gaining the inaugural honor are Dante Austin and Robert "Tito" Valdez. Austin is the LGBT liaison to the sherriff's office and Valdez is an assistant city solicitor in the child welfare department.

A California student says she was told to cover up her LGBTQ T-shirt at school, according to LGBTQ Nation. Eighth-grader Andria Zavala ( of Clark Intermediate School in Clovis, California ) said that she was sent to the principal's office when a guidance counselor saw her wearing a white T-shirt that said "Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Questioning" on it. Zavala has said that other students are allowed to wear clothes with logos and beliefs written on them.

A woman in St. Michael, Alaska, is accused of ordering the rape of a man who failed to pay his drug debt to her, LGBTQ Nation reported. Julia Haworth, 30, is facing charges stemming from an assault that occurred in April 2017, when prosecutors say she promised Austin Matthias, 24, a bottle of alcohol in exchange for raping a man. Matthias was indicted last June on two counts of first-degree sexual assault, and Haworth was indicted on one count of solicitation of sexual assault and one count of first-degree sexual assault.

Town & Country magazine is apologizing after Monica Lewinsky said she was disinvited from its annual social change summit because former President Bill Clinton was attending, CNN noted. Lewinsky had posted cryptically on Twitter Wednesday, "dear world: please don't invite me to an event ( esp one about social change ) and —then after i've accepted— uninvite me because bill clinton then decided to attend/was invited." At the event, Clinton introduced March for Our Lives panelists, including Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students Emma GonzÔlez and Delaney Turr, at the magazine's fifth Philanthropy Summit held at the Hearst Tower in New York City.

Oliver North, the new head of the National Rifle Association, has a controversial past as the central figure in the 1980s Iran-Contra affair—but he has also courted controversy for his views on LGBT rights, the Washington Blade noted. In a speech at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference, North, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps, compared fighting against gay rights to the abolitionists' fight during the 19th century against slavery. Years after President Obama signed repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," North also engaged in veiled criticism of openly gay service.


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