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  WINDY CITY TIMES

NATIONAL Kamala Harris, military poll, gay-bar attack, Cracker Barrel
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2019-06-25

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Presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris is introducing a bill to reduce the transmission of HIV by encouraging the use of PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis—a drug that's more than 92-percent effective in preventing new infections, CBS San Francisco reported. If it becomes law, PrEP would be free to most patients. Truvada, as the drug is known commercially, was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2012.

As President Donald Trump's ban on most transgender military servicemembers continues to face legal challenges, 71 percent of U.S. residents support allowing openly transgender men and women to serve in the military, Gallup noted. Majorities across nearly all key demographic groups, except for Republicans, support allowing transgender men and women to serve in the U.S. military. The data are from a May 15-30 Gallup poll, which was conducted prior to a recent U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision that allows the ban to stand for the time being—but calls for a review of the policy that could still jeopardize its legal standing.

Police say a young gay couple was assaulted outside a gay bar in what is being investigated as a hate crime, USA Today reported. Carl Craven and Braden Brecht were attacked by what they described online as "a mob of 15 guys" outside Nellie's Sports Bar. Four teenagers have been arrested and charged with robbery with force and violence. The couple posted a GoFundMe to cover the medical costs of Brecht's injuries, as he's uninsured, and raised $18,000—surpassing their goal of $10,000. Authorities added that the assaults were part of a crime spree that included robberies and assaults, NBC Washington added.

On a related note, more than 300 people turned out in Dupont Circle for a vigil organized by LGBT activists in response to five separate incidents of violence against LGBT people in the D.C. area since June 13, including the murder of a transgender woman, The Washington Blade noted. Several speakers at the vigil criticized D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and the D.C. Council for not approving or advocating for a request by a coalition of LGBT groups earlier this year for an additional $3.5 million in the city's fiscal year 2020 budget for programs that would address the underlying causes of anti-LGBT violence.

Cracker Barrel said it will not permit a Tennessee pastor who has made death threats against gay people to hold an event in one of its stores, Fox13Now.com reported. The company—headquartered in Lebanon, Tennessee, just east of Nashville—said it condemned his "statements of hate and divisiveness." Grayson Fritts, the pastor who doubles as a county police detective, had planned an event at a Cracker Barrel in Cleveland, Tennessee, for his congregation, the All Scripture Baptist Church, on June 29.

In an interview with LGBTQ Nation, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown said he's disappointed but not surprised by another year of silence from the White House during Pride season. "You start with the fact the president of the United States is a bigot. Period," the Ohio Democrat said. "Clearly politicians in Washington like Trump, like most Republicans in the House and Senate, are on the wrong side of history. Many if them know it. They continue to play to their reactionary base. They keep playing to the hate in the Republican party."

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce—the biggest U.S. lobbying organization and the voice of business on Capitol Hill—is finally coming out. After decades of silence on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity, it's become a staunch supporter of the proposed federal Equality Act, which makes explicit civil rights protections for LGBT citizens, Bloomberg reported. The chamber had declined plenty of previous opportunities to stake out a position on LGBT workplace rights, said Chief Policy Officer Neil Bradley, pointing to the group's neutral stance on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Ahead of President Trump's re-election announcement, GLAAD slammed him for what it called "his ongoing hypocrisy and attacks against LGBTQ Americans during his term in office, including more than 114 attacks in policy and rhetoric by his administration after initially claiming to be a 'real friend' toward the LGBTQ community during his 2016 presidential campaign," a press release noted. A few of the Trump administration's anti-LGBTQ+ actions include banning most transgender individuals from serving in the nation's armed forces, opposing the Equality Act and tightening regulations on access to food stamps ( affecting approximately the one in four LGBTQ adults who apply for the SNAP program ).

Gay presidential candidate Mayor Pete Buttigieg is "almost certain" this country has already had gay leaders in the White House, Out.com reported. "I mean, statistically, it's almost certain," Buttigieg said. "My gaydar doesn't work that well in the present, let alone retroactively but one could only assume that's the case."

In recognition of Pride Month, U.S. Attorney General William Barr held a closed-door meeting with LGBT attorneys and law enforcement officials who work for the U.S. Justice Department, The Washington Blade reported. There, he heard about ongoing anti-LGBT workplace concerns within the FBI and the Bureau of Prisons. Barr's meeting with LGBT employees stands out in the Trump administration, which is widely seen as hostile to LGBT rights.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki recently apologized to the LGBT community over the handling of anti-gay comments on the video platform, USA Today reported. "I know that the decisions we made was very hurtful to the LGBTQ community and that wasn't our intention at all," Wojcicki said. She was referring to videos containing anti-LGBTQ comments by Steven Crowder about Vox journalist Carlos Maza. After Maza tweeted a video compilation of Crowder's comments, YouTube responded on Twitter that the video did not violate its policies, which led to outcry on social media from YouTube creators and users. YouTube then decided to demonetize Crowder's videos, but not remove them.

A federal civil-rights complaint alleges an Ohio high school student faced harassment from school officials and his basketball coach after they learned he is gay, News5Cleveland.com reported. The lawsuit filed in federal court in Akron says the student at Fairless Local Schools in northeastern Ohio lost virtually all basketball playing time, and was punished with workouts not ordered for other players.

The New York State Assembly voted to pass State Assembly Bill A8375, which prohibits the use of gay and trans "panic" defenses in the state of New York, according to a National LGBT Bar Association press release. New York nows joins California, Illinois, Rhode Island, Nevada, Hawaii, Maine and Connecticut in rejecting the defense.

Controversial former judge and one-time Senate candidate Roy Moore is throwing his hat back into the ring and running for Senate in Alabama, looking to defeat incumbent Doug Jones, CBS News noted. Moore—a Republican with a troubled past that includes racist and homophobic statements as well as sexual-misconduct allegations against him—narrowly lost to Jones in a 2017 special election to fill former Attorney General Jeff Sessions' vacant Senate seat.

In North Carolina, the small city of Hendersonville celebrated Pride for the first time, NPR noted. For some in Hendersonville, Asheville ( a diverse city about 30 miles away ) can feel out of reach. Laura Bannister, organizer of Hendersonville's Pride picnic, said no one should have to leave his/her/their community to celebrate Pride.

A library in Jacksonville, Florida, canceled an LGBTQ youth event after it came under attack from online activists, including Elizabeth "Activist Mommy" Johnston, LGBTQ Nation noted. Students had signed up for the Storybook Pride Prom at the Willowbranch Library; however, the event drew the ire of conservative activists like Johnston. She has previously attracted media attention by calling for a day of protest against public schools for allegedly teaching kids "how to masturbate with each other and engage in oral and anal sex."

Tony Perkins—the former Louisiana state legislator with ties to the KKK who now leads the anti-LGBTQ hate group Family Research Council—has been tapped to chair the U.S. Commission on International Freedom, LGBTQ Nation reported. The Family Research Council masquerades as a Christian charity and enjoys a close relationship with Republican politicians as a major voice for evangelical voters. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appointed Perkins to the board despite the vehement protest of civil-rights groups.

Watermark Retirement Communities is the first nationwide company of senior independent living, assisted living and memory-care residences to pursue SAGE Platinum credentials for all its communities, a press release noted. Locations span the nation, from San Diego to Crystal Lake, Illinois, to Philadelphia, according to its website. SAGE provides leading public-policy support and personal resources focused on LGBT elders.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a 40-foot World War I memorial cross can stay on public land at a Maryland intersection in a case of separation of church and state, NPR reported. This decision reverses a lower-court ruling that said the memorial is unconstitutional because it is on public land and maintained at taxpayer expense.

Keith Raniere—the founder of the "Nxivm" self-help company that prosecutors said secretly housed a sex cult—was found guilty on all seven counts, including racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, forced labor conspiracy, sex trafficking, sex-trafficking conspiracy and attempted sex trafficking, CNN.com reported. The self-help group provided classes to nearly 17,000 people, including prominent figures like Smallville actress Allison Mack and Seagram's liquor heiress Clare Bronfman.


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