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NATIONAL Laverne Cox, activist dies, Calif. trans bill, UpStairs Lounge
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2018-09-25

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Transgender Law Center ( TLC ) announced that this year's Claire Skiffington Vanguard Awardee for SPARK! 2018 will be actress Laverne Cox, a press release noted. TLC introduced the award in 2005 to recognize community members who have been part of the movement's vanguard. Past awardees include Miss Major, Willy Wilkinson and Rev. Louis Mitchell. Cox will accept the award at SPARK!, TLC's gala, on Oct. 18 at the Bently Reserve in San Francisco.

In Virginia, longtime LGBTQ-rights activist Guy M. Kinman Jr. has died at age 100, Richmond.com noted. He moved to Richmond in 1960 after serving as an Air Force chaplain during the Korean War and, before that, a Presbyterian minister throughout Illinois and Minnesota. Once in Richmond, he was married for 10 years before embracing his sexuality in his 50s. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to First Unitarian Universalist Church of Richmond, the Virginia Museum of History & Culture and Diversity Richmond, as well as the Guy M. Kinman Jr. scholarship within VCU's Department of Gerontology.

Lambda Legal applauded AB 2119, which was signed into law by California Gov. Jerry Brown. His signing of the bill made California the first state in the union to explicitly guarantee gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth in the state's foster care system, a press release stated. Lambda Legal Counsel and Youth in Out-of-Home Care Project Director Currey Cook said, "Across the United States, transgender and gender-nonconforming foster youth suffer greatly when their access to critical, affirming medical and mental health care is denied or delayed. California's leaders have made history by making it clear that among the most vulnerable children in their state are guaranteed access to the care and services they need."

The City of New Orleans is attempting to find the lost remains of Ferris LeBlanc, a World War II veteran who died in a 1973 fire that killed 32 people at a popular French Quarter gay bar called the UpStairs Lounge, ABC News reported. Five members of the Office of Mayor LaToya Cantrell were tasked with the search shortly after the release of an ABC News documentary that highlighted his family's increasingly desperate effort to locate his remains and return them to California for a proper military burial. The UpStairs Lounge fire—intentionally set by an arsonist who was never arrested by local authorities—was the largest mass murder of LGBTQ citizens in United States history until the Pulse nightclub massacre in 2016.

LGBTQ activists say that Texas law-enforcement authorities misidentified one of four women they say was killed by Border Patrol supervisor Juan David Ortiz, making things worse for those who knew transgender woman Nikki Enriquez, KREM.com reported. "Disregarding the victim's gender identity and misgendering them in news reports adds further insult to injury, compounding the tragedy by invalidating who the victims were," GLAAD said in a statement. Enriquez was killed only hours before Ortiz was apprehended by investigators in Laredo, Texas.

Transgender Law Center and co-counsel from the law firm of King & Greisen LLP filed an amended complaint on behalf of Lindsay Saunders-Velez, a 20-year-old Black transgender woman incarcerated by the Colorado Department of Corrections ( CDOC ), a press release stated. The amended complaint adds a retaliation claim under 42 U.S.C., Section 1985, and alleges that CDOC has used harassment and intimidation in an attempt to dissuade Saunders-Velez from pursuing her case against them. The initial case—Saunders-Velez v. Colorado Department of Corrections, filed last year without an attorney—challenged her treatment in CDOC custody, including CDOC's policy of incarcerating transgender women in men's prisons.

On National Voter Registration Day ( Sept. 25 ), the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) published a full-page ad ( which doubles as a poster ) in USA Today urging people to pledge to vote for equality in the upcoming midterms, an organizational press release noted. HRC called on voters in the ad to join the more than 10 million LGBTQ voters and 52 million "Equality Voters" in making a difference this November by checking their voter-registration status and making a plan to #TurnOUT and vote. HRC has already helped to register more than 28,000 voters.

Also, HRC released a letter to U.S. Department of Homeland Security ( DHS ) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen calling on her to take action ensuring the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ( ICE ) addresses the alarming rate of reported sexual abuse that LGBTQ people face while in ICE detention, another press release stated. LGBTQ people make up less than 1 percent of people in immigration detention, but account for 12 percent of the reported victims of sexual abuse and assault in ICE detention—meaning that LGBTQ people are 97 times more likely to report being sexually abused in detention than non-LGBTQ people in the same conditions.

President Donald Trump said that he consulted "my generals" before announcing via tweet last July a ban on transgender individuals serving in the military—but a new batch of internal emails reinforced the view that the Pentagon was blindsided, Military.com noted. "Everyone was caught flat-footed," Air Force Brig. Gen. Kyle Kremer, director of manpower and personnel for the Joint Chiefs, wrote to Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford and Air Force Gen. Paul Selva after Trump's tweets. "These emails reveal that President Trump's reckless and impulsive tweets targeting our nation's brave transgender service members were as shocking and surprising to the Pentagon as they were to the rest of us," said American Military Partner Association President Ashley Broadway-Mack in a statement from Communications Director Nick Stone.

The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California rejected the Trump-Pence Administration's latest attempt to implement its transgender military ban, denying a motion to dissolve the nationwide preliminary injunction previously issued in a lawsuit filed by Equality California and seven active duty service members and recruits seeking to join the military, a press release noted. "Anyone willing to risk their life to protect our country should be treated fairly and with dignity and respect," said Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur. "As long as President Trump continues to double down on this unpatriotic and discriminatory ban, we'll continue to fight him with everything we've got—and we have a pretty good track record of winning."

A diverse coalition of social-justice organizations ( including Human Rights Campaign and UnidosUS, among others ) unveiled a new digital ad featuring singer-songwriter actor John Legend that urges viewers to contact their senators and tell them to reject the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, according to a press release from the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. as well as The Leadership Conference. The digital ad was being released as Kavanaugh's nomination faced additional scrutiny because of sexual-assault allegations by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. The ad is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geu4PGQrSwY&feature=youtu.be.

A man who allegedly attacked a gay man died just hours later in a shootout with police, LGBTQ Nation reported. Alexander Carballido, 40, was being chased by Miami police after he allegedly committed a violent hate crime against a gay man; Carballido then pulled out an AK-47 assault rifle and started firing on over a dozen police officers who were pursuing him.

A fitness model admitted to cops he tried to murder his roommate a few days after moving to New York to dance at a gay strip club, The New York Post reported. "The guy tried to make moves on me, I told him no, then he said he'd shoot me so I had to defend myself," Geoffrey Tracy allegedly told police after he stabbed Gregory Kanczes 16 times. Kanczes—who was stabbed in the neck, chest and shoulder—survived the attack and was eventually released from Bellevue Hospital. Tracy is free on $500,000 bond.

A mistake attributed to an oversight at Target Corp.'s website operations resulted in a handful of words—including "transgender," "queer" and "Nazi"—being stripped from some book descriptions on Target.com , StarTribune.com reported. The words were replaced with an asterisk or series of asterisks, even though they were not among a list of words the Minneapolis-based retailer would normally consider blocking, a spokeswoman said. Cael Keegan, author of the November release Lana and Lilly Wachowski, noticed the redactions and alerted his publishing company, the University of Illinois Press. Target said it was working with its staff and had corrected most of the book summaries.

Despite losing the special mayoral election in June by 1.1 percentage points to London Breed, gay former state Sen. Mark Leno has ruled out challenging her in 2019 when she seeks a full, four-year term, The Bay Area Reporter revealed. Leno said, "I have no plans to run at this time, adding that any serious challenger would need to soon enter the race. He declined to comment on how he felt his opponent in the race has been handling being mayor since her swearing-in ceremony in July.

A school district in Chula Vista, California, has named its first-ever transgender homecoming queen, NewNowNext.com noted. Sweetwater Union High School students voted for Karl Cruz, 18, to wear the crown—and she said the honor and warm reception were surprising. Principal Maribel Gavin said she wasn't as surprised by the outcome of the vote, but did offer she was "extremely proud."

The Los Angeles City Council approved $850,000 to aid the construction of the LGBT Center's Anita May Rosenstein Campus, which will include affordable housing, homeless beds, and homelessness services in Hollywood, NBC Los Angeles reported. Los Angeles City Councilman David Ryu said, "This campus will mean 98 units for seniors, 25 units for youth, and 100 beds for homeless youth with services, staff and street improvements surrounding the center. I firmly believe that when completed, the Anita May Rosenstein Campus will be the pride of Hollywood."

A Republican politician who was caught with an underage sex worker recevied 15 years in prison, LGBTQ Nation reported. In March 2017, Oklahoma state Sen. Ralph Shortey was arrested after he was found in a hotel room with a teenage boy. Text messages showed that he promised the teen "money for spring break" in exchange for "sex stuff."

The San Francisco Youth Commission swore in a new nonbinary chair ( Bahlam Javier Vigil ) and transgender vice chair last week, and almost one-third of its members identify as LGBTQ, The Bay Area Reporter noted. The commission is a body of 17 youth between the ages of 12 and 23 who represent the city's 11 supervisorial districts. The youth commission had its first full meeting on Sept. 17 and will convene again Oct. 1.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) announced its endorsement of a record 28 pro-equality candidates in the Michigan state legislature, a press release noted. A few of the candidates include Stephanie Chang ( Senate District 1 ), Matt Koleszar ( House District 20 ) and Yousef Rabhi ( re-election to House District 53 ). Michigan is one of 30 states in the country that lacks explicit state-level protections for all LGBTQ people.

Cuyahoga County, Ohio, is considering an ordinance that would make it illegal for any business to discriminate against any person based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, WKYC.com reported. The ordinance, co-sponsored by County Executive Armond Budish, is an addition to already existing protections for other groups ( such as race or religion ) already covered by state law. A "Commission on Human Rights" would also be set up to promote " diversity, inclusion, and harmony" in the area. The county's seat is Cleveland.

The Queer Health Hackathon took place Sept. 21-23 at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the event's website stated. The event 'is dedicated to providing a harassment-free conference experience for everyone, regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, mental or physical disability, physical appearance, neuro( a )typicality, religion, level of knowledge, level of experience, parental status, marital status, socioeconomic status or background, political affiliation, or any other attribute." The Tegan & Sara Foundation ( TSF ), which backed the conference, aims to help LGBTQ girls and women.

Ian Buruma—under fire for publishing an essay by a disgraced ex-Canadian radio star—is no longer the editor of The New York Review of Books, The Huffington Post noted. Buruma had been on the defensive since the Review's Oct. 11 issue was published with the theme, "The Fall of Men." It featured a piece by Jian Ghomeshi, a former CBC radio personality ousted after multiple allegations of sexual misconduct and assault. Buruma, in an interview with Slate after the Ghomeshi piece was published online, said he was "no judge of the rights and wrongs of every allegation."

Bill Cosby's sexual-assault victim, Andrea Constand, declined at his sentencing hearing to rehash what the disgraced actor/comedian did to her—but her parents and sister unleashed on the former sitcom star, Page Six noted. Constand, who testified at length during two trials, kept her statement to Montgomery County Judge Steven O'Neill brief, saying Cosby's fate rested in his hands. A jury found that Cosby gave the former Temple University basketball administrator pills and sexually assaulted her after she slipped into a drugged-out stupor at his home in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania, in 2004.

Colin Kaepernick will join the likes of African-American icons as he will receive Harvard's highest honor in African and African-American studies in October, USA Today noted. Kaepernick—along with seven others, including comedian Dave Chapelle—will receive the W.E.B. Du Bois medal "in recognition of their contributions to African and African-American culture and the life of the mind." Past award winners include Muhammad Ali and Maya Angelou.

TLC—in partnership with Redbook magazine and Love Is Louder, a project of The Jed Foundation—gathered several influential advocates, celebs and industry executives for its second annual Give a Little Awards at the Park Hyatt hotel in New York City, a press release noted. This year's honorees were TLC star Jazz Jennings, TV personality/host Kelly Osbourne, Emmy Award-winning choreographer/actor/author Derek Hough, recording artist Jessie Chris and three national contest winners who are actively deploying various bullying prevention tactics in their communities: Kristen Caminiti ( Kindness Grows Here ), Dianne Grossman ( Mallory's Army ) and Jaylen Arnold ( Jaylens Challenge ).

NiK Kacy, the founder and president of gender-free luxury brand NiK Kacy Footwear, is bringing the first Equality Fashion Week to Los Angeles in partnership with the newly renovated boutique hotel Montrose West Hollywood, a press release noted. Equality Fashion Week ( will take place during LA Fashion Week, Oct. 5-9—and is the first LGBTQ+-focused fashion week to take place in Los Angeles, celebrating the queer fashion community in all its colorful spectrums in a five-day experience of LGBTQ+ artists and designers. See EqualityFashionWeek.com .


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