The highest-ranking openly LGBT official at the Democratic National Committee has departed from her role less than one year after she started serving in the position, The Washington Blade noted. Jess O'Connell, who was named as the DNC's chief executive officer in May, said in a statement that she's leaving the organization in a development first reported by NBC News. O'Connell was brought on to the DNC and departs at a time when Democrats were reeling over the loss of Hillary Clinton in 2016 and the party picked up important off-year wins in elections in Virginia, New Jersey and Alabama.
Log Cabin Republicans officials criticized Democrats for blocking the confirmation of Richard Grenell as U.S. ambassador to Germany, The Washington Blade reported. The Grenell nominationPresident Trump's most high-profile openly gay appointmentis being held up purportedly over comments Grenell made years ago on Twitter about the appearance of women, including Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright and Rachel Maddow. The letter has 22 signatures from Log Cabin members as well as prominent Republicans and commentators, including former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer.
A federal judge dismissed a 14-count lawsuit against Grindr, finding that the gay hookup app was not liable for the malicious harassment wrought by an ex-boyfriend's fake profile, Courthouse News Service noted. U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni dismissed with prejudice all claims but one for copyright infringement, which she dismissed without prejudice. Matthew Herrick blamed Grindr for malicious harassment after a former boyfriend posted fake profiles on the site, "which describe Herrick as being interested in fetishistic sex, bondage, role playing, and rape fantasies and which encourage potential suitors to go to Herrick's home or workplace for sex," Caproni wrote in her case summary.
CNN anchor Don Lemon skipped his show following the accidental death of his older sister at the age of 58, according to a Towleroad item that cites the Times Picayune. L'Tanya "Leisa" Lemon Grimes, 58, of Denham Springs, Louisiana, died after she fell into a neighborhood pond. Lemon later tweeted, "Thanks everyone for your words of sympathy. Please keep my family in your prayers. Leisa was my oldest sister & partner in crime growing up. Always had my back. #RIPbigSis"
For Black History Month, GLSEN has launched a webpage of resoures for supporting Black LGBTQ students ( www.glsen.org/article/supporting-black-lgbtq-students ) the entire year, a press release noted. Interested persons can follow @glsenofficial on Instagram, where GLSEN's Student Advocate of the Year Ose Arheghan will share Black, queer, women and femme icons that should be taught in an inclusive school curriculum. Then, people follow @GLSEN on Twitter, and tune in Feb. 23 for "Here, Black and Queer"a Twitter chat by and for Black LGBTQ youth about including their identities at school.
Lambda Legal announced it will continue its battle against a Picayune, Mississippi, funeral home on behalf of Jack Zawadski, an 82-year-old widower whose family was forced to scramble to find another funeral home to provide services for his husband, Robert "Bob" Huskey, when Picayune Funeral Home refused to host a service for them when told they were a married same-sex couple. Zawadski died last monthand Lambda Legal has since asked the court to substitute Zawadski's nephew, John Gaspari, for Zawadski in the lawsuit. More about the lawsuit is at https://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/cases/ms_zawadski-v-brewer-funeral-services.
A fundraising campaign launched by a gay University of Tennessee graduate and his husband raised more than $300,000 on Feb. 1 in the kickoff event for a plan to establish a private $3 million endowment to permanently fund the LGBT Pride Center at the university's campus in Knoxville, The Washington Blade reported. Chad Goldman, an alumnus of the university, and his husbandLos Angeles businessman, philanthropist and LGBT rights advocate Brian Pendletonhelped organize the Feb. 1 fundraiser at the Nashville home of another University of Tennessee gay alumnus, Gary Bynum.
The Indiana Senate passed a bill that would require parents to opt-in, instead of opt-out, before students can be taught about human sexuality, including "sexual activity, sexual orientation or gender identity," according to an LGBTQ Nation item that cites the Indy Star. The decision to notify parents of potentially "controversial" content is made locally, on a case-by-case basis, Adam Baker, spokesperson for the Indiana Department of Education, told the publication.
A former Oklahoma City mayor has been reappointed to the board of a local charter school after resigning following anti-gay comments he made during a public-affairs TV show, a Seattle Times item noted. Kirk Humphreys had also resigned from the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents after he compared gay people to pedophiles during a local TV show that aired on KFOR-TV in December. However, the board agreed that Humphreys should fill the remaining term of a voting member who resigned in April; the term expires next year.
Gay-rights advocates have launched a "No Gay? No Way!" campaign to pressure Amazon to avoid building its second headquarters in a state that does not protect its residents from discrimination for their sexual orientation or gender identity, according to USA Today. Of the 20 cities on Amazon's list of finalists, nine are in states with no anti-gay-discrimination laws, according to the campaign. They are Austin; Dallas; Nashville; Atlanta; Columbus, Ohio; Indianapolis; Miami; Raleigh, North Carolina; and the Washington suburbs of northern Virginia. Amazon launched a public search for a second headquarters site last year; the current one is in Seattle.
On Feb. 6, Publix announced via Twitter that it is in the process of reversing course on PrEP: "Publix appreciates the concerns shared by our associates and customers. ... We regularly evaluate what is covered by our health plan and have made the decision to expand our health plan's coverage of Truvada to include Pre-exposure Prophylaxis ( PrEP ). We are working with our pharmacy benefits manager to implement this change as quickly as possible." Previously, the Florida-based grocery-store chain refused to cover the HIV-prevention medicine through its private insurance.
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation ( HRC ) announced that it will honor Dallas pediatrician Dr. Ximena Lopezwho founded the only clinic in the Southwest specializing in transgender youthat the organization's fifth annual Time to THRIVE Conference on Feb. 16-18 at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek in Orlando, a press release noted. She will receive HRC's Upstander Award. HRC previously announced that it will also honor advocates Betty DeGeneres and Gavin Grimm with Upstander Awards during the Time to THRIVE Conference.
Hornet teamed with documentary filmmaker and former Bloomberg and ProPublica reporter Patrick G. Lee to create a series that explores the experiences of queer men of color ( QMOC ) on gay apps, according to a press release. According to Lee, "The best advice a friend gave me was to recognize my own value and affirm myself for who I am: I am loved and I am lovable, and it's not my duty to educate others when they are being racist or discriminatory." The first video is at https://hornetapp.com/stories/racism-on-gay-apps-video/.
An anti-LGBTQ Christian group has purchased one of Ohio's oldest gay bars, LGBTQ Nation noted. Bretz Nightclub, in Toledo, closed in late December. The Greater Toledo House of Prayer purchased the building Jan. 3, for $148,000. The group is affiliated with the International House of Prayer.
An organization received a $25,000 grant to support the continued HIV/AIDS prevention and advocacy work for transgender and gender-nonconforming communities in Philadelphia, according to the Philadelphia Gay News. The Trans Equity Project, a program of GALAEI, received a grant from the Walter E. Hering Fund #2 from The Philadelphia Foundation, which works to strengthen economic social and civic vitality in Greater Philadelphia.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services will soon begin offering the Hepatitis A vaccine outside metro Detroit gay bars in an effort to combat a deadly outbreak that has infected nearly 600 people in southeast Michigan, MetroTimes.com reported. Mobile clinics will be on site at bars in Detroit, Warren and Ferndale on designated evenings throughout February. The majority of the vaccination events will be held at bars in Detroit, a city where more that 150 people have been infected.