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NATIONAL Law-school poll, Brandi Carlile, adoption ruling, Comcast situation
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2019-10-29

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A new Marquette Law School poll revealed that respondents oppose a decision allowing business owners with a religious objection to LGBTQ people to deny services to those people, 57 percent to 34 percent, Vox noted. Also, they oppose overruling Roe v. Wade 61 percent to 29 percent; and oppose a decision striking down the Obama era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects young immigrants from deportation, 53 percent to 37 percent.

Lesbian folk-rock icon Brandi Carlile pulled out of a women's summit over news that former White House staffer Kirstjen Neilsen planned to attend, Out.com reported. Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit took place Oct. 21-23 in Washington, D.C.; its website billed the event as "convening the preeminent women in business—along with select leaders in government, philanthropy, education and the arts—for wide-ranging conversations that inspire and deliver practical advice." Names on this year's list of included former U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice, sexual harassment whistleblower Anita Hill, Arizona Sen. Martha McSally and Hawaii Congresswoman/presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard.

A federal judge has denied Michigan's request to halt his preliminary injunction that preserved a Catholic adoption agency's ability to refuse to place state wards with LGBT couples, ClickOnDetroit.com noted. Judge Robert Jonker in Grand Rapids declined the stay. It had been sought by state Attorney General Dana Nessel and the state Department of Health and Human Services, while the case is appealed. Jonker said state attorneys "offered nothing new" and "failed to come to grips" with the factual basis supporting an inference that Nessel engaged in "religious targeting."

A Comcast Corp. executive who served as the media giant's "key contact" to LGBTQ groups claims he was discriminated against for being gay, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Klayton Fennell, a senior vice president of government affairs and principal for LGBTQ external affairs, claimed he was called derogatory names, passed over for promotions, denied equal pay, and encouraged to leave the Philadelphia headquarters—all while being asked to publicly represent Comcast's diversity efforts. Comcast, which ranked number two on Fortune's top 100 places to work in 2018, denied his claims.

The hygiene company Always announced that it will change the labels on its packaging to be gender-inclusive, Out.com noted. According to U.K. newspaper The Daily Mail, trans activists have called for the company to stop ignoring non-binary and trans customers in its packaging, which typically features a female symbol. The brand responded saying that it will debut a wrapper design without the Venus insignia in stores by January 2020.

Internal focus groups conducted by Pete Buttigieg's presidential campaign this summer reveal a possible reason why he is struggling with African-American voters: Some see his sexuality as a problem, The State reported. The 21-page report—conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group with Black Democratic South Carolina voters in mid-July and obtained exclusively by McClatchy—found that "being gay was a barrier for these voters, particularly for the men who seemed deeply uncomfortable even discussing it. … [T]heir preference is for his sexuality to not be front and center." Buttigieg, the 37-year old South Bend, Indiana, mayor, is openly gay and married to husband Chasten.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) Foundation announced the first-ever National #HBCUOutLoud Day, providing an important opportunity for everyone who cares about supporting the LGBTQ community and Historically Black Colleges and Universities ( HBCUs ) to speak up and speak out, a press release noted. On Oct. 16, the foundation hosted a discussion on Capitol Hill exploring the ways Congress can partner with HBCUs to support LGBTQ diversity and inclusion efforts on campuses.

Vice President Mike Pence recently visited Uline—a Wisconsin business-supply company owned by prominent anti-LGBTQ donor Richard Uihlein, according to a Human Rights Campaign press release. The release also stated that, in 2017, Uihlein donated more than $100,000 to Roy Moore's failed U.S. Senate bid—including at least $50,000 after the Washington Post allegations were made public. Earlier this year, over the course of one week, Pence appeared at an Erick Erickson-sponsored conference as well as an event organized by the Alliance Defending Freedom, and met with anti-LGBTQ extremist Sam Brownback.

In Tennessee, comments made by a Sevier County Commissioner sparked anger and support at a meeting, WVLT.tv reported. Commissioner Warren Hurst took to the floor on Oct. 21 to speak about the commission's pending vote on becoming a gun sanctuary city. "We got a queer running for president, if that ain't about as ugly as you can get," he said, later adding, "I'm not prejudiced—a white male in this country has very few rights and they're getting took more every day." GLAAD called on Hurst to apologize for his anti-LGBTQ statement, adding, "Call Hurst at 865-453-8513 and demand he apologize to his constituents."

U.S. Rep. Katie Hill, D-California, announced her resignation from Congress days after she admitted to having an inappropriate relationship with a campaign staffer before coming into office, CNN.com noted. News of Hill's resignation came after the House Committee on Ethics announced it was opening an investigation into allegations Hill ( who identifies as bisexual ) engaged in an improper relationship with a congressional staffer in possible violation of House rules. Earlier this month a conservative blog released intimate photos of Hill, alleging she and her husband had a separate relationship with an unnamed female campaign staffer.

Shelly Fitzgerald—the lesbian guidance counselor whose suspension from Roncalli High School last August kicked off more than a year of controversy for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis—filed a lawsuit against the school and the archdiocese, IndyStar.com noted. The lawsuit alleges that Fitzgerald was discriminated against, the victim of retaliation and subject to a hostile work environment because of sex—hers and/or her spouse's—and because of her sexual orientation. Fitzgerald is seeking unspecified damages due to lost back pay, lost front pay, loss of future earning capacity, lost employer provided benefits and emotional distress.

While fewer straight teens suffer depression than did two decades ago, the same cannot be said for lesbian, gay and bisexual teens, U.S. News & World Report noted. Each year between 1999 and 2017, Massachusetts-based teens reported on struggles with sustained bouts of depressed moods, such as sadness or hopelessness. Among teens who identified as straight, the number who said they were depressed dropped 5 percentage points over that span; among teens who identified as gay or lesbian, depression rates dipped from a high of 55 percent ( in both 2003 and 2015 ) to a low of 44 percent ( in 2011 ). By 2017, risk went up to the same as in 1999: roughly 52 percent.

Coinciding with the Hindu festival Diwali ( Oct. 27 ), the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) and the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance ( NQAPIA ) announced its resource to coming out as LGBTQ for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders has been translated to Hindi, a press release noted. The updated guide is at https://www.hrc.org/resources/hindi-translated-coming-out-living-authentically-as-lgbtq-asian-and-pacific.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been honored with the 2019 Berggruen Prize for Philosophy & Culture—an award annually given to "thinkers whose ideas have profoundly shaped human self-understanding and advancement in a rapidly changing world," The Hill noted. The justice will receive $1 million with the prize, which she will donate to a charity of her choice, the Berggruen Institute said. Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor received the first award in 2016 for his work in the humanities.

A report that details sexual abuse of children by Catholic Church priests in Colorado since 1950 found at least 166 children were victimized by 43 priests—but also that church records were incomplete and that any assumption that the abuse issue has been solved would be inaccurate and lead to more abuse, TheDenverChannel.com reported. The report from former U.S. Attorney Robert Troyer was ordered in February and looked at child sex abuse within the three Colorado dioceses of the church: in Denver, Colorado Springs and Pueblo.

The nation's first openly gay astronaut recently spoke about her six months aboard the International Space Station at her Catholic high school alma mater—although several schools were absent from the event that drew students from across the area, New Ways Ministry noted. Anne McClain came back to Gonzaga Preparatory High School, Spokane, Washington, although her sexual orientation became a sticking point for some local Catholic schools. The Diocese of Spokane, led by Bishop Thomas Daly, stated, "In keeping with Catholic education as one of his top priorities, and valuing the principle of subsidiarity, Bishop Daly supports the pastors and principals of schools in making decisions about school activities."

On Rachel Maddow's MSNBC broadcast, the anchor broke the news that, should any former staffers who believe they were sexually harassed contact NBCUniversal, the company will release those former employees from their confidentiality and non-disclosure arrangements ( NDAs ), Variety reported. Now, former NBC News employee Linda Vester—who previously accused Tom Brokaw of sexual harassment—is criticizing the news organization for its handling of NDAs. "NBC Universal's statement is not enough. The company should not make any former employee, specifically women, go begging on their hands and knees back to NBC to be released from an NDA. Women have already been through hell with this company," Vester said in a statement issued to Variety via her foundation, the Silence Breakers Alliance.

A new task force will identify what additional help and services may be needed for Atlanta LGBTQIA students, AJC.com reported. Atlanta Board of Education Chairman Jason Esteves announced the creation of the group this month, saying the LGBTQIA Task Force will be made up of students, teachers, administrators and outside experts. Those experts are expected to include elected officials and representatives from Georgia Equality and the Counter Narrative Project, an Atlanta-based organization that supports Black gay men and their allies.

Federal health officials visited Miami to learn more about why HIV infection rates are higher in South Florida and Puerto Rico than most of the rest of the country and what they can do to change that, WLRN.org reported. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Brett Giroir— who is also an admiral in the U.S. Public Health Service and a pediatrician—said he visited community health centers and organizations in Miami that are doing "great things" that he hopes to see replicated elsewhere in the country.

In Philadelphia, two years of union negotiations drew to a close at Mazzoni Center—bringing the organization's healthcare workers paid leave for gender-affirming surgeries, higher wages and a labor-management committee to increase collaboration between staff and leadership and make best practice recommendations, Philadelphia Gay News reported. The contract also outlines that the Union's Education Fund will provide tuition reimbursement and other continuing education opportunities for staff, a 95-percent paid health insurance plan for employees that provides annual assistance with copays, funding for seeing gender-affirming surgery specialists and other benefits.

Futurism reported on the existence of a DNA test app called "How Gay Are You?" that claims to analyze data from commercial DNA tests, including those from 23andMe and MyHeritage, in order to detect users' sexualities—and now, even the researchers who conducted the study the controversial app cites as its scientific underpinning have called for its removal. "We have recently been made aware of an app titled 'How gay are you,' which claims to show an individual's genetic score for 'same sex attraction,'" they wrote in the letter, sent by the Broad Institute and obtained by Futurism. "As authors of the Science paper, which you cite, we are writing to urge you to take down this application immediately."

The Democratic presidential debate will be held next month at Tyler Perry Studios, according to several party officials—sidestepping the suburbs for the newly opened $250 million complex near Atlanta's airport, WSOCTV.com noted. The studio was selected for the Nov. 20 debate after jockeying that pitted Perry's studio in heavily Democratic southwest Atlanta against the new performance arts center in Sandy Springs, the once-solid Republican territory that's become increasingly competitive.

Students at a California high school have started a petition to get members of the football team punished for allegedly using homophobic slurs, LGBTQ Nation noted. Football players at Wilcox High School in Santa Clara chanted the word "fag" at a 14-year-old male cheerleader who was cheering at the game and called him "gay." The teen's parents didn't want him to cheer at the game that evening because of the bullying at the rally, but he insisted. The petition —entitled "Consequences for homophobic football players at Adrian Wilcox High School," on Change.org—has thousands of signatures.

The Greater Phoenix Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce ( GPGLCC ) has appointed its first ever executive director, Deanna Jordan, BizJournals.com reported. Jordan's main focus will be identifying business trends and initiatives that impact small and midsize LGBT businesses. Jordan, who began her new job on Sept. 23, explained the reason GPGLCC hired her as its first executive director after 40 years in business is because "the tide of the political arena" has changed.

The U.S. Postal Service is honoring the late PBS NewsHour anchor Gwen Ifill with a commemorative Forever stamp, PBS.org noted. The stamp features a 2008 photo of Ifill with the words "BLACK HERITAGE" at the top and Ifill's name at the bottom. It is the 43rd stamp in the Black Heritage series and one of several new designs that will be issued next year. On Nov. 14, 2016, Ifill died from complications of cancer at age 61.

Dennis Chiamulera claimed in a lawsuit that TLA Video in Philadelphia—"one of the nation's leading providers of adult films [which] specializes in gay and lesbian cinema"—broke privacy laws by selling its' customers information to mailing list brokers and data aggregators, The New York Post reported. TLA will even break down whether its customers are gay or straight and what films they rented or bought, Chiamulera also claimed. The company's actions aren't just inconvenient, charged Chiamulera—who said he's endured "a barrage" of junk mail— but dangerous for "vulnerable members of society" such as members of the LGBTQ community.


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