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NATIONAL Legislators walk out, hit-and-run arrest, lawsuits, Dan Reynolds
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2020-02-18

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Democratic lawmakers in Virginia's legislature walked out as a Republican-invited pastor delivered a prayer that condemned homosexuality, LGBTQ Nation reported. Robert Grant Jr. of the Father's Way Church in Warrenton, Virginia—who was invited by Del. Michael Webert ( R )—delivered the opening prayer for the House of Delegates. According to those who were present, Grant specifically denounced same-sex marriage and abortion, saying that God would bring "wrath" upon those who are on the wrong side of those political issues. Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn ( D ) banged her gavel to end the prayer early and started the pledge of allegiance.

Philadelphia police made an arrest in the case of lesbian Tiffany Reed, who was killed in a hit-and-run, Philadelphia Gay News reported. Police announced homicide by vehicle charges against Todd Burton, 21, of Philadelphia. He was jailed on $200,000 bail, according to court records. Reed was preparing to get married this month to her girlfriend Indiana Johnson.

Texas filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Supreme Court over a California law that prohibits official travel to states that California deems discriminatory against LGBTQ people, throwing into question whether the ban affecting 11 states can remain, Politico reported. California lawmakers passed the travel ban in 2016 after North Carolina enacted a law that required people to use gender-specific bathrooms according to their sex at birth. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra added Texas to the list of prohibited travel states in 2017 after it passed a law allowing child welfare providers to refuse to carry out services that violate their religious beliefs.

The families of three female high school runners filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block transgender athletes in Connecticut from participating in girls sports, NBC News noted. Selina Soule, a senior at Glastonbury High School, Chelsea Mitchell, a senior at Canton High School and Alanna Smith, a sophomore at Danbury High School are represented by the conservative nonprofit organization Alliance Defending Freedom.

A lesbian filed a discrimination complaint against the Washington, D.C. Burger King where she works, alleging that her manager repeatedly harassed her due to her sexual orientation and caused her to have severe anxiety and even attempt suicide, according to an LGBTQ Nation article that cites The Washington Blade. At one point, the manager approached Ingrid ( who did not want her surname published ) in front of a group of male construction workers and asked her who "the man" was in her relationship with her girlfriend. Ingrid, 19, filed her complaint with the D.C. office of Human Rights on Dec. 23 after she said no action was taken when she filed both a written and verbal complaint with the Burger King store manager and district manager.

Imagine Dragons frontman Dan Reynolds recently took a trip to Washington, D.C., where he met with lawmakers about banning conversion therapy nationwide, Queerty noted. Reynolds was joined by Neon Trees' Tyler Glenn and RuPaul's Drag Race's Carmen Carrera. Thy met with several lawmakers—including Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, co-chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, and Rep. Ted Lieu, a vice-chair of the Equality Caucus, at the U.S. Capitol to push for a federal ban on conversion therapy. They also spoke with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Mitt Romney, among others.

Conor Climo—the Las Vegas man charged in August in federal court for planning to carry out a terrorist attack on a synagogue and gay bar—pled guilty to the charges, Towleroad noted. U.S. District Judge James Mahan questioned him about encrypted internet chats with an FBI informant and his membership in Feuerkrieg Division, an offshoot of a U.S.-based neo-Nazi group called Atomwaffen Division. Climo would have faced a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine at trial; however, because of his plea "could face between two and three years behind bars at sentencing May 14," according to the AP.

In Pennsylvania, a new campaign to call for civil-rights protections for those in the LGBTQ community launched, the Meadville Tribune reported. The issue is particularly important now because the U.S. Supreme Court is soon expected to hand down decisions on cases focused on whether federal law offers protection from employment discrimination based on sexual orientation, said Jason Landau Goodman, executive director of the Pennsylvania Youth Congress, a Harrisburg-based advocacy group focused on LGBT issues. Pennsylvania is the only state in the northeast that does not provide state-level protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, he said.

Billionaire Philip Anschutz, whose portfolio includes Coachella and London's O2 Arena, gave more than $1million to anti-LGBT+ causes in 2018—despite previously denying the donations, PinkNews reported. As of October 2019, the 80-year-old Christian conservative was ranked by Forbes as the 41st richest person in the United States, with a net worth of $11.5 billion. The newest donations, to institutions such as to Colorado Christian University and Sky Ranch Christian Camps, have not stopped despite giving $1 million to the Elton John AIDS Foundation at one point.

St. Louis County Executive Sam Page announced the county settled the discrimination lawsuit with gay police officer Lt. Keith Wildhaber for about $10.25 million, KMOV.com reported. Initially, a jury awarded Wildhaber nearly $20 million in his lawsuit that said he was passed over for promotion because he is gay. He even said he was told to "tone down his gayness." Page said the county will plan to bond the money over 10 to 30 years, adding that the county's budget will likely be affected about $500,000-$600,000 each year over that time.

The Archdiocese of Seattle is being accused of forcing two popular teachers to resign their positions due to their same-sex relationships, LGBTQ Nation reported. The teachers in question worked at Kennedy Catholic High School in Burien, Washington, and claim they found out about their ouster through a memo emailed to parents on Valentine's Day. Now, parents, students, and local councilmembers are calling out the archdiocese for the decision; the archdiocese claims the teacher's resignations were voluntary.

Cindy Guerra, the former chair of Florida's Broward Republican Party, has changed her party affiliation to Democrat so she can vote for out presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, saying her opposition to Donald Trump drove her decision, LGBTQ Nation reported. "I find him very impressive. I do think he's qualified," Guerra told the Sun Sentinel. "Here's the thing: I am not going to vote for Donald Trump—ever. I think Pete Buttigieg is far more qualified than Donald Trump. I think he's far more intelligent. I think he is far more humane."

LGBTQ-rights advocate Mary Griffith passed away after a lengthy illness on Feb. 7 at her home in Walnut Creek, California, at age 85, a press release noted. She was 85. She is survived by her husband, Robert; children Joy Griffith, Ed ( Suzy ) Griffith and Nancy Griffith; grandchildren Caiden, Ernesto Jesse, Jordyn, Ben and Clancy; and brother Charles Griffith. Sigourney Weaver starred as Mary Griffith in the Emmy Award-nominated and GLAAD Award-winning Lifetime movie Prayers for Bobby.

After the U.S. Senate confirmed Andrew Brasher for a lifetime position to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit along party lines, Lambda Legal criticized the move. In a statement, Senior Attorney Sasha Buchert said, "Andrew Brasher's confirmation to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals is the latest blow to LGBT people across the country and an affront to civil rights. In particular, this confirmation threatens civil rights for all LGBT people living in the deep South, as Alabama, Florida, and Georgia all lack explicit nondiscrimination protections at the state level. At only 38 years old, Brasher has developed a reputation for his anti-LGBT advocacy at the Alabama Solicitor General office, working alongside the notoriously anti-LGBT group, Alliance Defending Freedom."

President Donald Trump said he would vote for a gay presidential candidate—a question revived by the success of former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg's White House bid, Politico noted. In a wide-ranging interview on Fox News personality Geraldo Rivera's podcast, the president also said he thinks it's possible that American voters could one day elect a gay candidate to the White House. Trump had previously praised the historic nature of Buttigieg's White House bid, calling it a "sign of great progress" in an interview with Fox News earlier this year.

Jackson Mahomes, the younger brother of Super Bowl Champion and MVP Patrick Mahomes, has been the subject of multiple videos, and even compilations, dedicated to social media users making fun of Jackson and his sexuality, LGBTQ Nation noted. People have tweeted their anti-LGBTQ remarks publicly in light of Patrick's success and Jackson's rise in popularity. However, Jackson recently tweeted to thank those who sent "over 300 DM's of positive things" to him. ( While Jackson has been reported as "openly gay," his sexuality in his own words couldn't be confirmed at publication. )

The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation ( ETAF ) announced it will host its inaugural fundraising gala, "The Elizabeth Taylor Ball to End AIDS," on the backlot of Fox Studios—home to the storied film Cleopatra, which starred Elizabeth Taylor—on April 30, a press release noted. Presenting co-sponsor Gilead Sciences will accept the first Elizabeth Taylor Commitment to End AIDS Award. ( BVLGARI and American Airlines are also sponsoring the event. ) The Host Committee includes Dr. Gabriel and Christine Chiu, President Bill Clinton, Colin Farrell, Aileen Getty, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, Kathy Ireland, Sir Elton Johnand David Furnish, Earvin "Magic" and Cookie Johnson, Elizabeth Segerstrom, Sharon Stone and Whoopi Goldberg.

The Kennedy Center, BONDVISION Media and BLACK GIRLS ROCK! collaborate to co-produce the second annual BLACK GIRLS ROCK! Festival ( BGR!FEST ) in Washington, D.C., on March 5-8, a press release noted. It will be an immersive multi-day live experience curated to celebrate the cultural contributions of Black women artists, thought leaders and creatives. Lauryn Hill, Alice Smith, Naturi Naughton, Victory Boyd, Tarana Burke and more are slated to attend/participate.

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ( D-New York ) is in a new race—Rupaul's Drag Race, as the congresswoman will be a guest judge on season 12 of the reality competition, NBC News noted. Ocasio-Cortez teased the return of the show, which premieres Feb. 28 on VH1, saying in a tweet, "This was absolutely, 100% a peak experience. I am SO excited for the new season. Thank you @RuPaulsDragRace for having me!" In a video accompanying the tweet, Ocasio-Cortez says, "I pledge allegiance to the drag."

Televangelist Jim Bakker claimed his so-called cure for STIs—"Silver Solution"—will now completely cure the Wuhan coronavirus, LGBTQ Nation noted. Silver Solution is a liquid sold on Jim Bakker's website for $115 ( "or more," if buyers want to simply give him more money ) for 64 fluid ounces. His site claims that it uses "catalytic instead of chemical action" to heal people.

Hope Hicks, formerly President Donald Trump's most trusted and longest serving aide, is expected to return to the administration in the coming weeks, ABC News noted. Hicks, who departed in early 2018, will return in the coming weeks as a senior adviser reporting to Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law. Her official title will be counselor to the president. News of her resignation came the day after Hicks testified before the House Intelligence Committee that she had occasionally told white lies on Trump's behalf.


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