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NATIONAL Marriage advocate divorcing, Black gay couple, trans death
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2019-10-08

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A Utah state lawmaker who filed a lawsuit that successfully overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriage is separating from his husband, U.S. News & World Report noted. State Sen. Derek Kitchen announced in an Instagram post that he and Moudi Sbeity have decided to divorce, adding even if the couple had known their marriage would end, they would make all the same decisions. The couple, who own a cafe, will remain business partners.

A photo of a Black gay couple—Tyler Hightower and boyfriend Ahdeem Tinsley—kissing has gone viral, NBC News noted. "Posting this because representation matters. The black, gay, and happy gworls are out here!" Hightower wrote in an Oct. 1 tweet. "We live together and have two cats. … We are at our 1 year and 8th month mark and still going strong!" Hightower, a cancer research coordinator, and Tinsley, a construction manager, met about two years ago through a dating app.

Police are investigating the death of Elisha Stanley, who is reportedly one of at least 19 transgender people known to have been killed in the United States this year, Out.com noted. Stanley—who lived in Washington, D.C.— was on a trip to Pittsburgh when she was allegedly murdered, according to Ciora Thomas, a trans activist based in the Pennsylvania city. Thomas, the CEO of SisTers PGH CEO, wrote on Facebook that a funeral was held for Stanley Sept. 19.

A former franchise owner of popular gay-themed burger restaurant chain Hamburger Mary's is suing the Florida Department of Health for discrimination in a case involving a local hepatitis A scare, ABCActionNews.com noted. Kurt King, who owned Hamburger Mary's Restaurant Bar and Grille in Ybor City, alleges the health department and Dr. Douglas Holt—Hillsborough County's public health head—"treat homosexual persons differently as demonstrated by the false reporting of Hepatitis A," according to a lawsuit.

California will expand access to HIV prevention drugs by allowing pharmacies to offer the medications without a prescription under a law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, the Los Angeles Times reported. Senate Bill 159, by Sen. Scott Wiener ( D-San Francisco ) and Assemblyman Todd Gloria ( D-San Diego ), allows pharmacists to dispense pre-exposure prophylaxis, known as PrEP, and post-exposure prophylaxis, known as PEP, in a way similar to birth control and emergency contraceptives. The law will also ban insurance companies from requiring prior authorization before the HIV prevention drugs are provided.

The Municipality of Anchorage will pay $100,001 and allow the Hope Center homeless shelter to forbid transgender women—settling a lawsuit brought by the faith-based Anchorage shelter for women, the Anchorage Daily News reported. The settlement came a little more than a month after U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason issued a preliminary injunction declaring that Anchorage's anti-discrimination ordinance could not be applied to the shelter as the case moved toward trial in early 2020. Assistant municipal attorney Ryan Stuart said the municipality settled in part because of the "important guidance" provided by the preliminary injunction and because the municipality wants to refocus its work on homelessness rather than litigation.

LGBTQ advocates hand-delivered a letter signed by more than 70 local, state and national LGBTQ and allied organizations to members of the Council of the District of Columbia in support of the Community Safety and Health Amendment Act of 2019 ( B23-0318 ), which would remove criminal penalties from the buying and selling of sex in D.C. while maintaining existing laws on sex trafficking, a National Center for Lesbian Rights press release stated. It would also create a task force to monitor the implementation and effects of the act. The letter stated, in part, that passing this bill would be "critical to the health and wellbeing of the LGBTQ community, including by improving public health and decreasing the vulnerability of marginalized sex workers, particularly transgender women of color."

Charleston, West Virginia, Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin canceled an upcoming appearance at the West Virginia Book Festival after its administrators declined her request that they not have a presentation from Orson Scott Card—an author with outspoken anti-LGTBQ views, The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported. Card ( who wrote Ender's Game ), she said, has a "well documented history of views that are contrary to the City of Charleston's commitment to being an inclusive and welcoming community," and she asked the board re-evaluate its decision to host him. Card has sat on the board of the National Organization for Marriage, which opposed same-sex marriage; also, he has suggested that many gay people were raped, molested or abused into becoming gay.

A law that allows Maryland residents to obtain a gender-neutral state ID took effect Oct. 1, The Washington Blade noted. The Maryland General Assembly approved the law earlier this year; it took effect without Republican Gov. Larry Hogan's signature. D.C. is among the other U.S. jurisdictions that provide gender-neutral IDs.

In Florida, a federal judge has struck down Tampa's ban on so-called conversion therapy, a treatment promoted by some religious groups as a way to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity, TampaBay.com reported. U.S. District Judge William Jung ruled that the law, enacted in 2017, may conflict with a patient's right to privacy and a parent's right to choose health care for their children.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) plans to expand its legal efforts by joining with law firms to bring strategic impact litigation to combat what HRC called "the relentless attacks on LGBTQ equality by the Trump-Pence administration and other anti-equality activists at home and abroad," a press release noted. HRC will work with Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, BakerHostetler, Linklaters, Sidley Austin, Steptoe & Johnson LLP, andWinston & Strawn for domestic litigation, and global law firm Clifford Chance for international litigation.

The Modern Military Association of America ( MMAA )—the nation's largest non-profit organization for the LGBTQ military and veteran community—announced that it will provide LGBTQ and HIV+ competency training through its Rainbow Shield certification program to the entire New York State Division of Veterans' Services, a press release noted. The state of New York will become the first in the nation with all of its veterans' services staff certified through the program.

The Trump administration tried to make a town get rid of its Pride crosswalks—but the town has refused, NewNowNext.com noted. The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration sent a letter to officials in Ames, Iowa, requesting they remove the Pride crosswalks because they allegedly were a safety hazard. The crosswalks include the Pride flag, with the addition of black and brown stripes to show racial inclusivity; the transgender Pride flag; and the gender nonbinary flag colors as well.

The mother of a gay teen in Morgantown, West Virginia, is suing the Monongalia County Board of Education and several other individuals associated with a youth program for allegedly ignoring anti-gay abuse that led to her son getting raped, LGBTQ Nation reported. WVnews.com reported that the mother told the program's executive director of her son's homophobic bullying back in February 2017. One of the bullies allegedly raped the gay student in the spring of 2017, and the rape survivor then told a teacher about it seven months later.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation ( HRCF ) announced it will partner with General Mills and Honey Nut Cheerios on a new campaign to help raise crucial funds in the fight for LGBTQ equality, a press release noted. Honey Nut Cheerios boxes around the country currently have a Snapcode on the back of the package that can be scanned to unlock exclusive Lenses within Snapchat. Once the box is scanned, Snapchat will offer users a choice between three organizations. As part of this Snap for Good Rewards campaign, Honey Nut Cheerios will donate a portion of $100,000 to the three organizations participating: HRCF, the ASPCA ( The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals ) and Feeding America.

The group Family Equality announced "a partnership that allows us to build even more resources for trans people on their fertility journey," a press release stated. Fertility IQ provides information and resources to prospective parents, and now—with Family Equality's expertise in trans and LGBTQ+ family-building—the organization's working with Fertility IQ to put fertility information directly into the hands of the trans community. Resources on trans family building are at FamilyEquality.org/family-building/trans-family-building/.

An activist is starting a Two Spirit Society chapter in North Dakota to help promote inclusion for the Native American LGBTQ population, The Bemidji Pioneer reported. Cardinal Red Bird introduced his newly formed organization to the second annual North Dakota LGBTQ+ Summit at the Baymont Inn, in Mandan. The term "two spirit" is an umbrella term that describes LGBTQ behavior across all American Indian tribes.

Silver State Equality, Nevada's statewide LGBTQ rights organization, will honor Grammy winner and multi-platinum recording artist Paula Abdul as well as Nevada state Sen. David Parks at the organization's Inaugural Nevada Equality Awards on Wed., Nov. 6, at Jimmy Kimmel's Comedy Club, a press release noted. Since she released her hit debut album Forever Your Girl three decades ago, Abdul has been seen as an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ rights and social justice, and has enjoyed a loyal following within the LGBTQ community. Parks was first elected to the Nevada Assembly in 1996, becoming the Nevada Legislature's first openly gay member.

TLC, in partnership with Love Is Louder, a project of The Jed Foundation, presented its third annual Give a Little Awards, a press release noted. The ceremony, which honors individuals who are working to eradicate bullying for future generations, was hosted by Emmy-winning journalist and TLC personality Lisa Joyner. Honorees included actor Taye Diggs, actress/activist/author Skai Jackson, TLC figure Whitney Thore and community activists such as Danica Roem—the first out transgender candidate to be elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.

The Loudoun County, Virginia, School Board recently approved a strongly worded resolution condemning white supremacy, hate speech and hate crimes against a wide range of minority groups, including LGBT people, The Washington Blade reported. The resolution came in response to a report Loudoun County Public Schools officials commissioned that found racial minority students, especially African Americans, have been subjected to a "hostile learning environment" in school and that school system officials were not appropriately addressing the issue.

Elizabeth Warren's presidential campaign has fired its national organizing director, Rich McDaniel, after an investigation into allegations of what it called "inappropriate behavior," Politico reported. A person familiar with the investigation said that there were no reports of sexual assault, but could not comment further due to confidentiality. McDaniel was the primary states regional director for Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign and the field and political director for Sen. Doug Jones 2017 upset victory in Alabama.

Alloway Township, New Jersey, Mayor Ed McKelvey is under fire for comments he made during a sermon at the Christian Life Center in Pennsville, OutInJersey.net noted. In the videtaped sermon, he took issue with a New Jersey mandate requiring inclusivity for LGBTQ students in the Garden States. At one point, he said, "When you let homosexuality in, it opens the door to complete perversion and the church—we have to do our job and stand up, stand up to it."

A federal judge has granted an injunction blocking Georgia's "fetal heartbeat" law, which bans abortion at six weeks' gestation, Variety noted. Judge Steve C. Jones sided with the plaintiffs—including Planned Parenthood and several women's health clinics—finding that the law violated the Supreme Court's precedents in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Should the state choose to appeal the decision, the suit would be sent to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Federal documents revealed that Planet Fitness CEO Chris Rondeau has been secretly funding anti-gay politicians for the past several years, Queerty noted. In 2016, Rondeau donated $1,200 to Donald Trump's 2016 campaign. Rondeau also gave money to the 2018 Congressional campaign of anti-LGBT former New Hampshire state Sen. Andy Sanborn. Earlier this year, Equinox owner Stephen Ross faced criticism for donating $13 million to the Trump campaign.

Greater Fort Lauderdale will be the host destination for the first-ever Pride of the Americas on April 21-26, 2020, a press release noted. This event brings two continents and 35 countries together. Pride of the Americas will be hosted by Pride Fort Lauderdale, with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau as the presenting sponsor. Pride of the Americas will include social events throughout the destination, a parade, beach party, arts festival, entertainment, sunset concerts, DJs and drag brunches. See PrideOfTheAmericas.org .


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