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NATIONAL Homeless man shot, women's college, Rachel Maddow
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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A Southern California security guard welcomed in the new year behind bars after being charged with murder in the fatal shooting of a gay Black homeless man he suspected of shoplifting at a Walgreens in Hollywood, California, noted. Donald Vincent Ciota II, of Covina, is accused of shooting 21-year-old Jonathan Hart in the back inside the Sunset and Vine store on Dec. 2, 2018. Ciota now faces up to life in prison if convicted; his bond has reportedly been set at $3 million. Ciota's defense attorney, famed lawyer Mark Geragos, said of his client, "He was assaulted. He defended himself."

The second-oldest all-women's college in the United States will begin accepting transgender women and non-binary students starting in fall 2019, Metro Weekly reported. Stephens College, in Columbia, Missouri, has announced the adoption of a new admissions policy that "expanded [the college's] definition of womanhood to include both sex and gender," according to a list of "Frequently Asked Questions" it published to accompany the announcement. Transgender students who wish to enroll at Stephens will be required to prove that they identify and live as female through legal documentation; the college will also admit students who were assigned female at birth but identify as nonbinary.

LGBT figures Rachel Maddow and Ronan Farrow were among TheWrap's 11 media winners of 2018. Regarding Maddow, wrote, "America in the Trump era has also created a crop of #resistance heroes, with the brightest star being [her]." Of Farrow, the website stated, "Once an obscure MSNBC journalist, Ronan Farrow has rocketed to fame while reporting some of the biggest stories of the MeToo movement." Some of the others on the list included CNN host Chris Cuomo, former White House communications director Hope Hicks and even Megyn Kelly ( in part, because of her $30-million severance package ).

Dorothy Beam—an LGBT-rights activist and archivist of son Joseph Beam's writings—died last December in West Philadelphia at 94 of advanced colon cancer, reported. Dorothy was proud that Joseph had edited In the Life—the first anthology of Black gay men's writing—but didn't know that her only child was HIV-positive. ( Joseph died in 1988, at age 33—three days shy of his next birthday, according to . ) A service for Dorothy was held Jan. 9 at Vine Memorial Baptist Church.

The nomination of lesbian attorney Chai Feldblum for a third term on the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission died in the Senate when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell ( R-Kentucky ) declined to allow a vote to break a hold placed on the nomination by U.S. Sen. Mike Lee ( R-Utah ), The Washington Blade reported. Lee, in early December, invoked a Senate rule that gives a single senator the ability to hold up and potentially kill a presidential nomination when he filed an official objection to Feldblum's nomination on grounds that he disagrees with her record of support for LGBT rights.

Nancy Pelosi is again speaker of the House, as Democrats retook control of the chamber Jan. 3 for the first time in eight years, reported. The first woman to hold the position, Pelosi is now the first person to reclaim the speaker's gavel in more than six decades. Among other things, Pelosi pledged the House will act on guns by passing "bipartisan background check legislation," pass the Equality Act to end discrimination against LGBTQ individuals, and protect those she called "our patriotic, courageous Dreamers"—young immigrants who arrived in the United States illegally as children.

One of Democratic Virginia Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton's first orders of business was to hang a trans flag outsider her office door, LGBTQ Nation noted. Wexton, who is the aunt of a transgender child, is the first Congressperson to hang the flag. "The trans community has been under attack," Wexton told the Washingtonian. "I wanted to show my solidarity because we are talking about my friends and family."

In Colorado, a new plaque recognized the Boulder County Courthouse as a building on the National Register of Historic Places, noted. It's where former county clerk Clela Rorex issued the first same-sex marriage licenses in the nation—in 1975. Rorex received a surprise visit from Colorado Governor-elect Jared Polis—himself openly gay—during the ceremony, The Denver Post added.

Equality California released a statement praising Gov. Jerry Brown as he left office. Executive Director Rick Zbur said, in part, "Governor Jerry Brown has long championed the cause of LGBTQ equality in California, making more progress in his four terms than any other governor in the nation to date. From decriminalizing same-sex relationships in 1975 and appointing the state's first openly gay judge in 1979 to signing more than 55 pro-equality bills into law during the last eight years, Governor Brown has affirmed his commitment to ensuring all Californians are treated with equal dignity and respect. We have not always agreed with the governor's approach to achieving full LGBTQ equality, but we have never once doubted his sincere dedication to our cause."

A group of Indiana students claims officials in their school district prevented them from using the words "gay" and "LGBT" to describe their gay-straight alliance club and imposed restrictions that don't apply to other student groups, Courthouse News reported. According to a lawsuit filed in Fort Wayne federal court, school administrators at Leo Junior-Senior High School did not allow the student club to be called Leo GSA, for gay-straight alliance, and instead decided on Leo Pride Alliance, in which "pride" is a school acronym for "Professionalism, Respect, Integrity, Diligence and Excellence."

GLAAD, in a statement, praised both NASA and Rice University for standing up to the Trump Administration and "indefinitely postponing" the visit of Russian Nationalist Dmitry Rogozin to the United States. The move comes after GLAAD and the media exposed Rogozin for his rampant anti-LGBTQ activism. GLAAD President/CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said, "Dmirty Rogozin's anti-LGBTQ animus has no place visiting the United States, and it's reassuring that fair-minded people put marginalized communities and their safety ahead of the Trump Administration's toxic political agenda." Among other things, Rogozin has tweeted, "It's not Russia that threatens the West. Its foundations will crash down under the pressure of ISIS and gays."

The Center for Health and Gender Equity ( CHANGE )—a U.S.-based sexual and reproductive health and rights organization—launched the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Index: Grading U.S. Global Health Assistance in partnership with the Global Women's Institute at the George Washington University. The index is the first tool ever to critically assess the U.S. government's global health policies and funding that impact sexual and reproductive health and rights, and measures its performance by grading it annually. The U.S. government's overall grade in 2016 was a B ( 85.1 ) and a C ( 76.7 ) in 2017. See

Julie Johnson made history in November as one of the first two openly gay lawmakers from Dallas County elected to the state legislature on the same night—but she didn't expect her wife, Susan Moster, to make history of her own a few weeks later when she became the first same-sex spouse invited to join the Legislative Ladies Club, a social group made up of the spouses of the members of the Texas House, reported. She and Johnson married in 2014 in San Francisco, but celebrated their 12th anniversary as a couple on New Year's Eve 2018. Johnson is the first married openly gay lawmaker in the Texas legislature's history.

As of Jan. 1, 19 states and 21 cities increased their minimum wages, USA Today reported. Also, Illinois hunters can wear bright pink in 2019 to meet safety requirements during gun deer seasons; Ohio has a a mandatory cursive-writing curriculum; only dogs, cats and rabbits from shelters or rescue groups can be sold at pet stores in California; Tennessee has banned "sanctuary cities"; and, following six other states and the District of Columbia, Hawaii can allow doctors to provide fatal prescription medicine to terminally ill patients who make several requests; among many other new laws. In addition, New York City residents have a new option for denoting gender on their birth certificates: gender "X," noted.

A high school in West Virginia is facing pressure to take further action after an assistant principal was suspended for only four days after telling a transgender student "you freak me out" during a disturbing sequence of events in a school bathroom, Gay City News reported. Liberty High School student Michael Critchfield, 15, told the Associated Press that the situation unfolded in late November, when assistant principal Lee Livengood asked him why he was in the boys' bathroom and told him that he "shouldn't be in here." The ACLU of West Virginia noted in a written statement that a school district investigation is still underway.

Arizona teachers could be fired for talking about "controversial" topics like politics, religion, racism, or LGBTQ rights if a new bill becomes law, LGBTQ Nation reported. Republican state Rep. Mark Finchem has introduced legislation that would ban public and charter school teachers from engaging in "political, ideological or religious" advocacy or discussion with their students. The measure would also prohibit teachers from "blaming one racial group of students for the 'suffering and inequities' experienced by another racial group."

Facebook apologized to notorious anti-LGBT Christian evangelist Franklin Graham for banning him from the social network over a 2016 transphobic post, Gay Star News reported. Graham's original post supported North Carolina's so-called "bathroom bill" against trans people being able to use appropriate toilet facilities. While Facebook took down the post at the time, it has now been reinstated. Graham, the son of the late evangelist the Rev. Billy Graham, was only banned for 24 hours.

Sinclair Broadcast Group hired longtime Fox News veteran James Rosen—who was ousted earlier this year amid reports of sexual misconduct during his tenure as the channel's chief Washington correspondent, noted. It's a return for Rosen, who saw his 18-year career at Fox News evaporate in 2017, when the network announced just before Christmas that he had left.

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