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NATIONAL Iowa judge dies, N.Y. items, Buttigieg's mixed news, RuPaul
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2019-11-18

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One Iowa Executive Director Courtney Reyes released a statement mourning the passing of Chief Iowa Supreme Court Justice Mark Cady, who passed away of a heart attack while walking his dog. Reyes said, "At One Iowa, we are saddened to hear of Chief Justice Cady's death. Earlier this year, we celebrated the tenth anniversary of one of his most impactful decisions: Varnum v. Brien. His words in that [same-sex marriage] decision have touched the lives of countless LGBTQ people not just in Iowa, but nationwide."

On the day after Veterans Day, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law legislation giving service members who obtained "other than honorable" or "dishonorable" discharges for being LGBTQ access to state veterans benefits, The Washington Blade reported. The new law also restores benefits eligibility for veterans who received less than honorable discharges as a result of military sexual trauma, traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder. President Obama signed repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in 2010 and the administrative ban on transgender service was lifted in his final year in office, but President Trump in 2017 reinstated the transgender military ban, which is currently in effect.

New York's court system is planning to expand the gender options on jury documents to be more inclusive of people who do not identify as male or female, CBS New York reported. State court spokesman Lucian Chalfen said the system aims to have the updated juror information card set for distribution by early January. The new cards—which tell people when they must attend jury duty—will include the gender options female, male, transgender, nonbinary, intersex and other, he said.

Perceptions that out gay presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has a problematic relationship with African-American voters were compounded by his campaign's rollout of a recent press release and open letter, Gay City News reported. Several South Carolinians listed as backers of his Douglass Plan for Black America said they did not, in fact, support the plan and felt the campaign misrepresented them. Columbia City Councilmember Tameika Devine, for example, told The Intercept that the campaign framed the letter as if she was endorsing him. And in yet another sign of the bungled rollout of the plan, it was revealed that the campaign used stock photos of people in Kenya on the web page outlining the Douglass Plan.

However, Buttigieg had some good news, as he is the new Democratic front-runner in Iowa, CNN.com noted. The mayor of South Bend, Indiana, held a clear lead in the first-in-the-nation caucus state, climbing to 25 percent in a new CNN/Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll of likely Iowa caucusgoers that came out Nov. 16. That marked a 16-point increase in support for Buttigieg since the September CNN/DMR poll. Behind Buttigieg, there was a close three-way battle for second with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 16 percent, and former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders each at 15 percent.

On Dec. 10, Gov. Gavin Newsom will induct the first drag queen into the California Hall of Fame—but it will be RuPaul Charles instead of the late San Francisco drag queen Jose Julio Sarria ( who had broad support across the state ), The Bay Area Reporter noted. Charles is well-known for RuPaul's Drag Race, which airs on VH1; he and his husband, Wyoming rancher Georges LeBar, married in San Francisco in 2017. Some of this year's other inductees include Maya Angelou ( posthumous honor ), athlete/Olympic medalist Brandi Chastain, chef/restaurateur Wolfgang Puck, civil-rights leader the Rev. James M. Lawson Jr. and skateboarder/entrepreneur Tony Hawk.

San Francisco officials are looking at several sites to house LGBT homeless individuals, in particular youth and transgender people, that could open in 2020 and fulfill several campaign promises made by Mayor London Breed, the Bay Area Reporter noted. According to the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, it plans to open a trans-focused temporary shelter dorm and a Navigation Center for transitional age youth 18 to 24, many of whom identify as LGBTQ, sometime in the new year.

A former employee at a high-profile event company in New York City filed a discrimination complaint, claiming the agency slashed his pay and then fired him because of his sexuality, NBC News noted. Eventique allegedly attempted to alienate and degrade Wesley Wernecke after CEO Henry Liron David learned he is gay. Among the other things, the suit claims Wernecke had just begun to work for Eventique—which stages events for high-profile clients, such as Nike, Twitter and Amazon—when David began to push him out of his role. David's lawyer, Gena Zaiderman, called the claims "baseless."

The Arcila-Adams Trans Resource Center—a new resource hub providing services including healthcare and therapy referrals, job services as well as help enrolling in insurance and food assistance programs—opened at Philadelphia's William Way LGBT Community Center, WHYY.org noted. The project, which has been in the works for a year, will centralize information and services available across the city for trans people.

As the world recognized International Transgender Day of Remembrance ( TDoR ) on Nov. 20 and closed Transgender Awareness Week, the National Black Justice Coalition ( NBJC ) continued to call upon members of the Black community to show up as accomplices in working to eradicate the epidemic of violence that haunts the lives of Black transgender and gender non-binary people. In a press release, NBJC Board and Black Trans Advisory Council ( Black TAC ) member Kylar Broadus said, "Trans visibility is important to trans people and others. We have always been visible in society ( cities ) and not an anomaly. Trans visibility helps to educate and inform."

Hillary Clinton said in an interview that there are "legitimate concerns" for cisgender women if transgender people get more acceptance, according to LGBTQ Nation. She and Chelsea Clinton talked to the BBC's Mishal Husain to promote their new book, The Book of Gutsy Women, which is made up of profiles of courageous women. When asked if she found it "difficult" to accept someone who "self-defines" as a woman, Hillary said, "Well, I do think there is a legitimate concern about women's lived experience and the importance of recognizing that, and also the importance of recognizing the self-identification."

In Kansas City, the city council approved an ordinance banning conversion therapy, which tries to change a gay or transgender person's sexual orientation or gender identity, TheRepublic.com reported. The city's ban will apply only to minors and to licensed medical or mental health professionals; it does not bar religious leaders from talking to young people about their sexuality or gender identity. A St. Louis aldermanic committee also approved legislation banning the therapy, sending the issue to the full Board of Aldermen.

Mastercard announced a partnership with bank BMO Harris Bank and Superbia Credit Union to offer "True Name"—an option that allows transgender and non-binary people the option of using their chosen names on their payment cards without having to change their legal name, People.com noted. According to Mastercard, 32 percent of people who have shown IDs with a name or gender that did not match their presentation reported being harassed, denied services or attacked.

In Virginia, there's outrage in Loudoun County over books dealing with LGBTQ issues available this year in elementary and high schools, Fox5DC.com reported. Dozens of parents and educators came to speak at a recent school board meeting—some furious about the books and others angered by efforts to pull them from shelves. Loudoun County Public Schools spent nearly $2 million on books for "diverse classroom libraries" in elementary and high schools.

A second tribe in South Dakota has adopted hate crime protections for LGBT people, South Dakota Public Broadcasting noted. The Crow Creek Tribe met with proponents of the amendment and passed it unanimously. Some federal hate-crimes legislation applies to tribes; however, adding codes to their own books helps ensure repercussions for offenders by with an additional $1,000 fine and increased jail time. The amendment Crow Creek adopted is modeled after the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, also known as the Matthew Shepard Act.

LGBT Detroit, a Black LGBTQ+ service provider, will host "Cold As Hell: A Celebration of Black LGBTQ+ Sexual Expression," Jan. 31-Feb. 1, a press release noted. The series is open to the entire community, yet centers on Black LGBTQ+ individuals in content, focus and experience. LGBT Detroit Executive Director Curtis Lipscomb said, "In a post-marriage equality and a new HIV prevention era, it's long past time for us to push back against regressive conventions and to positively explore our bodies and sexuality without shame." Tickets are $35 each; to RSVP, see "Cold As Hell" on Facebook or visit LGBTDetroit.org/events.

On Nov. 16, Louisiana Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards narrowly won reelection, CNN projected. He defeated Republican challenger Eddie Rispone, who was backed by President Donald Trump. Edwards claimed victory in a deep red state Trump won by 20 percentage points in 2016. Trump held two rallies in Louisiana over the past 10 days before the election, but the attempt at a last-minute boost was not enough to carry Rispone over the finish line.

Pissi Myles—a drag performer from Asbury Park, New Jersey—made quite an impression at President Donald Trump's impeachment hearing, NBC News noted. David Ayllon, Myles' husband and business partner, told NBC News that Myles was covering the hearings for a new startup app called Happs. Myles, according to her bio, is an award-winning drag performer, comedy producer and winner of Philly Drag Wars and Miss Fish NYC who performs regularly in the New York area.

A former Kentucky school principal who worked to ban LGBT-themed books from schools has been indicted on child pornography charges, On Top Magazine reported, citing NBC News. Phillip Todd Wilson was charged in August with possession and distribution of child pornography. In 2009, Wilson—then the principal of the Montgomery County High School—worked with other administrators to ban books with "homosexual content" and other topics such as suicide which he deemed "inappropriate" for students.

The Gay-Straight Alliance of Oregon's West Linn High School organized a walkout of roughly two dozen students to protest homophobic harassment by fellow classmates and the presence of a Chick-fil-A food truck at the school's football games, LGBTQ Nation noted. During the protest, 25 parents and family members stood across the sidewalk from students to show their support for the walk-out. However, another group of students walked out of school the same day wearing "Make America Great Again" hats and waving Chick-fil-A bags around to mock the protesting students, KATU News reported.

Two federal officials condemned "anti-gay" comments by Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, Mayor Jack DeLorenzo, Patch.com reported. Congressmen Bill Pascrell and Josh Gottheimer—who represent New Jersey's ninth and fifth Congressional districts—strongly condemned the comments in a joint statement. After defeating openly gay Councilman Christopher Hillman for mayor, DeLorenzo posted, "Thank you to the citizens of Hasbrouck Heights for your support. The family values of our town have prevailed. Keep Heights great!!!"

The University of Pennsylvania ( Penn ) recently argued in court documents that transgender individuals are not protected from workplace discrimination under a federal act—but has since retracted its argument, saying Penn does not tolerate discrimination, The Daily Pennsylvanian reported. The lawyers' latest arguments were filed in November in court proceedings for a lawsuit submitted July 2. In the suit, the plaintiff, "Jane Doe," a former Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania employee, alleges that the hospital discriminated against her when it terminated her contract in late June because she identifies as transgender.

There will be a celebration of the life of Toni Morrison on Thursday, Nov. 21, in New York at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, a press notice stated. The speakers will include Oprah Winfrey, David Remnick, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Kevin Young, Angela Davis, Fran Lebowitz, Jesmyn Ward, Edwidge Danticat and Michael Ondaatje. The service will start at 4 p.m. ET, and is open to the public. Morrison died Aug. 5 at age 88.

Ernest H. Harrison has been appointed the new music director and conductor of the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles ( GMCLA ), one of L.A. County's longest-running LGBTQ arts organizations, the Los Angeles Times noted. Harrison—a doctoral candidate in choral conducting at USC—was selected in a nationwide search, GMCLA Executive Director Lou Spisto said. Harrison is an associate conductor for the National Children's Chorus, conductor for the Pasadena Conservatory of Music's Cantare Chamber Choir and assistant conductor at Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church.

Republican Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin conceded the governor's race after a recanvass of the previous week's gubernatorial election results, NBC News reported. The vote tally would change after the recanvass due to absentee ballots, Bevin said, but acknowledged it would not be enough to change the results of the race, which had him losing to Democratic challenger Andy Beshear in a heated contest. The Kentucky Constitution requires governors be sworn into office on the fifth Tuesday after an election; this year, that's Dec. 10.

Fake heiress Anna Sorokin has supposedly found love in prison, Page Six noted. She supposedly has a "girlfriend"—although the exact nature of the relationship behind bars ( Albion Correctional Facility ) was unclear. Sorokin, 28, was convicted of scamming about $200,000 from banks and businesses, while also trying to obtain a $22-million loan to supposedly start an elite art club and posing as a rich European socialite called "Anna Delvey."


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