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NATIONAL Justice in Policing Act, trans women killed, marches, W.Va. politician
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2020-06-15

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The National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund issued a statement in support of the Justice in Policing Act, a press release noted. Executive Director Rea Carey said, in part, "The Justice in Policing Act is a critical step towards unraveling the systemic racism embedded within law enforcement. We thank Speaker Pelosi, Leader Schumer, Congressional Black Caucus Chair Bass, Chairman Nadler, and Senators Booker and Harris and others for their commitment to tackling police violence. The senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and so many others have inspired an unprecedented movement against anti-Blackness."

Two Black transgender women were killed last week—Dominique Rem'mie Fells, of Pennsylvania; and Riah Milton, of Ohio, LGBTQ Nation reported. Although police are investigating both cases, the women are believed to be the 11th and 12th trans people murdered this year. Fells' body was found near the Schuylkill River in southwest Philadelphia; authorities suspect she might've been run over by a train. Milton, a 25-year-old, was shot to death in Liberty Park, a public park in Liberty Township, Ohio; police believe three young people lured her there to steal her car.

Thousands gathered in Boston to raise awareness for transgender rights—specifically, Black transgender rights—and to raise money for the Transgender Emergency Fund of Massachusetts, which helps low-income and homeless transgender people across the state, NBC Boston reported. Protesters carried "Black Trans Lives Matter" signs at the Trans Resistance Vigil and March, which kicked off at Franklin Park; there was a one-hour vigil with speeches, followed by a march to Nubian Square.

Also, thousands of people gathered in Hollywood on June 14 for an All Black Lives Matter march, organized by Black members of the LGBTQ+ community, ABC7News.com noted. A statement of solidarity was painted on Hollywood's best-known street ahead of the solidarity protest. The mural of towering letters spelling out "ALL BLACK LIVES MATTER" in the colors of the rainbow now sits at the intersection of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue, where the march started. The mural will not stay there permanently and the city plans to find a new home for the installation.

Adding to the marches that took place around the country this past weekend, protesters packed the courtyard of the Brooklyn Museum and surrounding parkway in New York City on Sunday in support of Black trans lives, merging the fight to protect two deeply marginalized groups, NBC News reported. A number of groups, including the Marsha P. Johnson Institute, The Okra Project and Black Trans Femmes in the Arts, co-organized the June 14 rally and march.

Civil-rights leader and Seattle Gay News ( SGN ) publisher George Bakan, 79, was found dead at his desk June 7, The Seattle Lesbian reported. In the latter part of his life, Bakan devoted the majority of his time advocating for marriage equality, affordable LGBTQ+ senior housing and telling the stories of our time. He was the editor-in-chief of the SGN for nearly four decades.

LGBTQ Victory Fund-endorsed candidate Rosemary Ketchum won a seat on the Wheeling City Council ( representing Ward 3 )—becoming the first out trans person ever elected in West Virginia, an organizational press release announced. LGBTQ Victory Fund President & CEO Annise Parker said, "Rosemary has shattered a lavender ceiling in West Virginia and will join the growing number of out trans elected officials serving nationwide. Trans people are severely underrepresented in elected office—with just 26 out trans officials anywhere in the country—so Rosemary's victory will resonate well beyond her state."

A coalition of Indiana's prominent LGBTQ community—including state Sen. JD Ford, the Indy Council's LGBTQ Caucus, Indy Pride, Indiana Pride of Color and Shelly's Voice—launched the "#PrideVotes" voter-registration campaign ahead of the 2020 election, a press release from the group noted. Hoosiers wishing to register to vote can visit IndianaVoters.com and click "Register to Vote" on the bottom left corner. Also, Indy Pride has made a commitment to heavily promote voter-registration efforts for its "Virtual Indy Pride Celebration," scheduled for Saturday, June 20.

Transgender nightlife host and model Iman Le Caire has started a petition to change the name of Fire Island Pines Harbor Park to Marsha P. Johnson Park in honor of the pioneering activist, who played a pivotal roll in the 1969 uprising at New York City's Stonewall Inn, NewNowNext.com reported. "Fire Island Pines must embrace the movement, be part of the change and become a strong ally to our LGBTQ+ [Black] and [Brown] siblings," Le Caire wrote on the Change.org petition page. Johnson and fellow activist Sylvia Rivera—both of whom fought at the vanguard of the game-changing '69 riot against a police raid—will be honored in a new monument in NYC's Greenwich Village.

New footage outside the Rikers Island jail cell in New York City where transgender woman Layleen Xtravaganza Cubilette-Polanco died last June revealed that guards tried to wake her for approximately an hour and a half before calling for help, NBC News reported. Her family said the 10 hours of footage taken from a surveillance camera inside the restrictive housing unit where Cubilette-Polanco's cell was located showed that Rikers staff failed to provide her with medical care that could have saved her life. Cubilette-Polanco's death has sparked an outcry from LGBTQ activists, who say it is an example of the dehumanization transgender women face behind bars, and from people who advocate for bail reform.

In Florida, the Jacksonville City Council restored discrimination protections for LGBTQ people that were enacted in 2017 but struck down last month by a Florida appeals court, Jacksonville.com reported. The Florida 1st District of Appeals declared the law unenforceable May 1, based on a technical issue with the process the council used to pass the law. The court didn't find any issues with the law itself, which left the door open for the council to pass a replacement law.

The D.C. LGBTQ archival activist group Mattachine Society of Washington and gay historian/author Eric Cervini are releasing on their websites hundreds of documents detailing the federal government's persecution of LGBTQ people in the 1950s and 1960s, The Washington Blade reported. The Mattachine Society and Cervini said they obtained the documents through Freedom of Information Act requests and years of visits to the National Archives, the Library of Congress, presidential libraries, and from private citizens. Cervini said he obtained the documents he compiled while conducting research for his new book on the work of D.C. pre-Stonewall gay-rights pioneer Frank Kameny called The Deviant's War: The Homosexual vs. The United States of America.

Civil-rights, women's rights and sports groups, as well as a number of athletes, sent letters urging the National Collegiate Athletics Association ( NCAA ) to move the 2021 men's basketball championship from Idaho due to the passage of a state law banning many transgender and intersex students from participating in sports, an ACLU press release noted. Among the current and former athletes signing the letters were World Cup champion Megan Rapinoe, NBA players Jason Collins and Reggie Bullock, and tennis champion Billie Jean King.

A bill to ban the use of gay and transgender panic in defense cases against charges of violent acts or hate crimes on members of the LGBTQ community is on its way to the desk of Gov. Jared Polis, who is openly gay, The Daily Sentinel reported. The measure, SB221, would have Colorado join 10 other states that similarly have banned the use of that defense. The National LGBT Bar Association describes "panic defense" as a legal strategy that asks a jury to find that a victim's sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for a defendant's violent reaction, including murder.

The art of the man who invented the rainbow flag is front and center in the GLBT Historical Society Museum's online exhibit "Performance, Protest & Politics: The Art of Gilbert Baker," the venue's website noted. In 1978, San Francisco artist Baker conceived a new symbol to represent the LGBTQ community: the rainbow flag, first displayed at that year's Gay Freedom Day Parade. The original flags had eight instead of the current six colors; they were pink ( sex ), red ( life ), orange ( healing ), yellow ( the sun ), green ( nature ), turquoise ( art and magic ), blue ( serenity ) and purple ( the spirit )—with pink and turquoise being dropped. See GLBTHistory.org/gilbert-baker-exhibition.

Christian Cooper—who made national headlines when a white woman named Amy Cooper ( no relation ) called the cops on him in Central Park last month— is using his newfound fame to endorse a fellow openly gay man in hopes that he will beat his homophobic opponent, Instinct Magazine noted. He is endorsing Councilman Ritchie Torres in a heated race to rep the South Bronx in Congress; Torres is going up against many others including Ruben Diaz Sr., who has a lengthy history of bashing the LGBTQ community.

Colorado Employer Benefit Trust's ( CEBT's ) board of trustees agreed to reprocess and pay all of transgender individual Niamh Anderson's previously rejected claims for their gender-confirming procedure, a Lambda Legal press release announced. The Town of Limon's health-insurance plan administrator initially denied several claims for the procedure because of a blanket exclusion that effectively precludes any gender-affirming healthcare. Then, Lambda Legal lawyers filed charges of discrimination on Anderson's behalf with the Colorado Civil Rights Division against Limon, CEBT and health-plan administrators, alleging violations of the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act. CEBT's board also removed the categorical transgender healthcare exclusion from the plan; included an express statement that medically necessary gender-confirming procedures are covered for all plan participants; and provided notice on its website of the policy change to all plan participants.

In Alaska, more than 100 people protested outside a Ketchikan flower shop that reportedly refused to sell flowers for a same-sex wedding, KRBD.org reported. Tommy Varela is planning to marry fiance Stephen Kossak in Ketchikan this summer, but said flower shop Heavenly Creations declined to take his mother's flower order for Varela's Aug. 1 wedding.

PowerOn—the national program to support at-risk and underserved LGBTQ individuals by providing them technology at no cost through local partner LGBTQ organizations—announced it awarded technology grants to 14 partner centers, The Washington Blade reported. Some of the organizations included Chicago's Brave Space Alliance; Persad Center, Pittsburgh; Waves Ahead, San Juan, Puerto Rico; Rainbow Center, Tacoma, Washington; and LGBT Life Center, Norfolk, Virginia.

Beyonce called on Kentucky's attorney general to bring about justice in the wake of Breonna Taylor's death and ultimately "demonstrate the value of a Black woman's life," CNN.com noted. The music icon wrote an open letter to Attorney General Daniel Cameron calling for criminal charges against the three Louisville Metro Police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Taylor.

The Palm Springs Gay Men's Chorus issued an open solidarity statement in the aftermath of George Floyd's death. In part, it read, "Change starts with you, and as the LGBTQ community has learned, it cannot be done quietly for out of a movement back in 1969…change happened, and we need to keep that momentum going so we stand. Black Lives Matter!"

In New York, the Rochester Institute of Technology will create a permanent display this fall in the Student Alumni Union for the Black Lives Matter flag, the school reported ( at RIT.edu ). That news was announced by President David Munson during the "Calls for Justice within RIT" online interfaith vigil, which was held in memory of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and other victims of police violence. More than 200 members of the RIT community took part in the online vigil.

President Donald Trump will give his acceptance speech for the Republican nomination in Florida, the Republican National Committee announced—but the state has reported a record number of new coronavirus cases recently, ABC News noted. On June 13, the Florida Department of Health confirmed 2,581 new cases of COVID-19, ABC affiliate WPLG reported—a 35-percent increase over the previous one-day high of 1,902 new cases reported June 12. Trump is expected to give his acceptance speech on Aug. 27 at Jacksonville's VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, which holds 15,000 people.

CrossFit founder Greg Glassman faced major backlash when the 63-year-old founder of the branded workout program posted a racist tweet mocking the murder of George Floyd and the current coronavirus pandemic—and now he's out as CEO, USA Today noted. In response to a tweet about racism being a public health crisis, Glassman tweeted, "It's FLOYD-19." The uproar from that tweet led to athletic brand Reebok letting its longtime partnership with CrossFit expire, and gyms across the country ending their affiliations with the program.


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