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NATIONAL Matthew Shepard, recall falls short, Out & Equal, Scotty Bowers dies
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2019-10-22

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The parents of slain gay Wyoming man Matthew Shepard blasted U.S. Attorney General William Barr for failing to stand up for LGBT civil rights in a statement read at a Justice Department ceremony marking the 10-year anniversary of a hate crime law bearing their son's name, Reuters reported. Judy and Dennis Shepard did not attend, but Cynthia Deitle—a former FBI agent and current executive with the Matthew Shepard Foundation LGBT rights organization—read a scathing letter they wrote, drawing applause from many in attendance at the event commemorating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

Republicans and a conservative PAC in Oregon announced that they fell short of the necessary signatures to recall Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, LGBTQ Nation reported. Brown, who is bisexual, was not only the first out person ever to hold a governorship when she was elected in 2016; she was re-elected in 2018 by a 6-percent margin. Two separate campaigns were mounted by state Republicans who aimed to remove her from her position, but neither came up with the requisite 280,050 signatures, according to The Oregonian.

In response to a tweet from the Out & Equal conference quoting a trans man named Jonathan, Dow CEO Jim Fitterling invited the man to come work at the company, according to an Out & Equal item. Jonathan said, "Now I'm a chemistry major and my favorite classes are organic chemistry and microbiology. I'm taking 6 classes and 19 credits this semester at age 14. Through all of this I was also transitioning and figuring myself out." Also, at the same session where Jonathan spoke, a Dell executive announced a new internship program at Dell specifically for high-achieving trans individuals. More than 6,000 people attended the conference.

George Albert "Scotty" Bowers—best known to the public for the explicit tales of mid-century Hollywood trysts that he carried in secret until his later years—died at his home in Laurel Canyon, California, at age 96, LAMag.com reported. Bowers claimed he had a client roster that included Cary Grant, Bette Davis, Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, Rock Hudson, Cole Porter, Tyrone Power, George Cukor, Lana Turner, Laurence Olivier, Ava Gardner and even J. Edgar Hoover. There are also a documentary about Bowers' life called Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood as well as the 2012 memoir Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars.

The National Black Justice Coalition ( NBJC ) joined former Essence magazine Editor-in-Chief Susan Taylor and the National CARES Mentoring Movement to support a youth delegation offering testimony about the experiences of Black youth struggling with trauma, stress and mental health—specifically, Black queer students—at "Hearing Their Stories: Students and How They Handle Their Mental Health," hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus ( CBC ) Taskforce on Black Youth Suicide and Mental Health, a press release noted. Justin Calhoun, a senior political science major at Howard University and a member of the NBJC Youth and Young Adult Advisory Council, testified at the Capitol Hill event and talked about his own experiences, among other things. "Black queer people face unique health disparities because of stigma, discrimination, and denial of our civil and human rights," said Calhoun. "Because Black queer students are at greater risk for mental illness, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts greater attention must be paid to supporting us."

On Oct. 15, George Timothy Reed—also known as drag queen Carmella Marcella Garcia, "The Grand Ole Gal of the South"—passed away in Bowling Green, Kentucky, after a fight against cancer, Agency33 noted in a press release. Reed was a live country artist, jazz vocalist, stand-up comedian, emcee and vocal impressionist. Titled won included Miss Gay US of A at Large 1989, Miss Universe at Large 1992 and Miss Continental Plus 1995. Reed also had a very successful second career as a pageant coach, helping young women clinch state titles in Maryland, Kentucky and Florida, and even guided Miss America 2004, Ericka Dunlap, to winning the national crown.

Jim Williams—co-founder and longtime co-publisher of Baltimore OUTloud—died Oct. 4 at Seasons Hospice in Baltimore County following a long illness, The Washington Blade reported. He was one of the four original founders of the newspaper, becoming co-publisher following the retirement of founding publisher Mike Chase in 2009. A memorial service will be held for Williams on Saturday, Dec. 7, at Brown Memorial Park Avenue Presbyterian Church.

GLAAD released a statement at the conclusion of the fourth presidential primary debate Oct. 15—stating there was no mention of issues important to LGBTQ Americans from the moderators or 2020 presidential candidates. The organization noted that during The New York Times and CNN debate, the only question touching on LGBTQ-specific issues was a question about Ellen DeGeneres's recent comments about George W. Bush. "We are living in an alarming time for LGBTQ Americans. ... The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments and will now decide whether employers should be granted the right to discriminate against LGBTQ Americans," said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. "The election media cycle now needs to reverse course and ensure questions that address marginalized communities take center stage during debates and are not relegated to the sidelines."

A Suffolk University/USA TODAY Poll revealed that Pete Buttigieg has surged within striking distance of former vice president Joe Biden and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren in the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses, USA Today reported. The poll put Biden at 18 percent, Warren at 17 percent and Buttigieg at 13 percent among 500 likely Democratic caucusgoers.

Kellogg's is launching an LGBT-themed cereal, PinkNews noted. The company launched the special-edition All Together Cereal as it announced a $50,000 donation to LGBT+ advocacy charity GLAAD as it launched the cereal for Spirit Day on Oct. 17. The $19.99 special edition box—available while supplies last—contain six mini-cereal boxes packaged inside one larger exclusive All Together box "to celebrate the belief that we all belong together." See https://www.kelloggstore.com/all-together-cereal-2019.

Nearly 9 million LGBT adults are registered to vote, according to a new press release from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. Half of registered LGBT voters ( 50 percent ) are Democrats, 15 percent are Republicans and 22 percent are independents. The remaining LGBT voters said they identify with another party or did not know with which party they most identify.

In the aftermath of conservative backlash over Beto O'Rourke agreeing to lift the tax-exemption on churches that oppose same-sex marriage, Pete Buttigieg is distancing himself from the comments, The Washington Blade noted. Talking with Jake Tapper, Buttigieg said O'Rourke was wrong to respond in the affirmative when asked if as president he'd tax churches, schools and charities against same-sex marriage, suggesting his fellow candidate was unaware of the full implications of his remarks. Buttigieg said the proposal would defy principles of the First Amendment and penalize many religions, including mosques.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opposed a proposed rule that would ban Utah-licensed mental health professionals from using conversion therapy, The Salt Lake Tribune noted. "The church is concerned that the proposed professional licensing rule is ambiguous in key areas and overreaches in others," it said in a news release. Its objections came on the final day for public comment on the rule. The proposed rule change was crafted at the behest of Gov. Gary Herbert, who said he had "concerns about some of the abuse that I've heard talked about."

In Michigan, the Ferndale City Council voted unanimously to make it a crime to perform so-called gay conversion therapy, the Detroit Metro Times reported. The ban comes about four months after Huntington Woods became the first city in Michigan to prohibit conversion therapy. Ferndale's actions go further by making the practice a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail; Huntington Woods made it a civil infraction.

A Georgia school district is ending its new bathroom policy for transgender students in response to death threats and other harassment, NBC News reported. Pickens County School District cited "many serious safety concerns" in a statement Wednesday explaining its decision to reverse the policy that allowed trans students to use bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity. The district said it implemented the policy in accordance with Adams v. the School Board of St. John's County, Florida—a federal case in which a court ruled a Florida school system must allow a 16-year-old trans boy to use the men's room.

In a press release, the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) lauded Holly Springs, Mississippi, Mayor Kelvin Buck and the Board of Aldermen for enacting city-wide non-discrimination protections that include sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, public accommodations and employment. These protections will extend to nearly 8,000 residents in the city, nearly 80 percent of whom are Black. Holly Springs is the fourth city in Mississippi to pass a fully inclusive comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance, joining Jackson, Magnolia and Clarksdale.

The studio and offices of 89.3 KNON-FM—home of Lambda Weekly, the longest-running LGBTQ radio program in the country—were destroyed in the tornado that hit north Dallas on Oct. 20, The Dallas Voice reported. North Haven Gardens nursery, about two blocks west of KNON and across North Haven Road, was completely wiped out; however, a rehabilitation hospital across the street and the Jewish Community Center behind it weren't touched.

In Florida, Covenant Christian School theater teacher Monica Toro Lisciandro said administrators forced out of her part-time teaching job because of her sexual orientation, FloridaToday.com reported. I want kids to see me and know that you can be a Christian and you can be gay. You can be gay, you can teach at a Christian school. You don't have to feel shame about who you love, or who you are, or how you were born to be," Lisciandro said. "Covenant Christian School, in partnership with supportive parents, exists to glorify God by cultivating wise servant leaders through nurturing Christ-like character, promoting individual academic excellence, and developing a Biblical worldview in its students," reads a statement on the Palm Bay school's website.

Thousands of attendees were expected at Piedmont Park for Atlanta's 49th Annual Pride Festivalm AJC.com noted. There were three marches at the park—each celebrating a different part of the LGBTQ community. In addition, anti-gay protesters faced a barrier: With grants from the Fulton County Arts and Culture Department and the Atlanta Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs, Atlanta writer/artist Matthew Terrell created "hate shields"—four 4-foot-by-8-foot sound-muffling panels that could be lifted at least 20 feet in the air. Anti-gay activists sometimes hoist their megaphones on poles so they can broadcast above the crowd.

Leaders of pro-LGBTQI Catholic organization DignityUSA called on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops ( USCCB ) to withdraw or substantially revise the briefs it submitted in conjunction with three employment discrimination cases currently before the U.S. Supreme Court, a press release noted. "The briefs filed by the U.S. Catholic Bishops in these cases totally misrepresent the position of the strong majority of U.S. Catholics, who know it is wrong to fire employees because of who they are or whom they love," said DignityUSA Executive Director Marianne Duddy-Burke. DignityUSA also submitted amicus briefs on these cases, citing its experience working with hundreds of employees already terminated on the basis of religious objections to their identity or relationship status.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ronan Farrow is engaged after asking Pod Save America co-host Jon Lovett to marry him in a draft of Catch and Kill released Oct. 16, USA Today noted. "It had been a long year for me—and for us—but we hung in there," Farrow writes in his book. "Later, when I decided some of that reporting would make its way into a book, I'd send him a draft and and put in a question, right on this page: 'Marriage? On the moon or even here on Earth?' He read the draft and found the proposal here and said, 'Sure.'"

Carlos—a gay resident of Queens, New York, who refused to give his last name—claimed a stranger attacked him Oct. 13 and stole his belongings after the stranger exposed himself and demanded oral sex, LGBTQ Nation noted, citing Gay City News. Carlos told Gay City News: "When I got to the car, he kicked me and I fell. When I fell, he kept hitting me on my back and kicking me on the back. The guy in the car rolled his window and said something to him, but the man said I was trying to rob him—like he was the victim."

After a pro-life group handed out cupcakes at Pennsylvania's Norwin High School, some students complained about the political message, claiming bias, WCJB.com reported. Some students complained about the message, especially because they claim the high school forbids gay and lesbian students from having an LGBT club; instead, it must be called the "diversity club." The school denies preventing an LGBT club, saying it's always been the diversity club. The American Civil Liberties Union says the pro-life group has the right to hand out cupcakes and make an anti-abortion statement, but the school must extend the same right to all clubs.

In Florida, the Duval County Clerk of Courts has not performed wedding ceremonies since Florida's same-sex marriage ban ended in 2015, News4Jax.com noted. The office still continues to issue marriage licenses to all couples; however, the office said its employees are not required by Florida Statute to perform ceremonies, so it no longer provides that service to anyone.

A 15-year-old girl was suspended for bullying after trying to draw attention to what she believed was an unaddressed problem of sexual assaults involving students at her high school—and, now, she's taking the school district to court, TIME reported. The Cape Elizabeth High School student has been at odds with Cape Elizabeth Schools for a month after posting a note in a bathroom that said: "There's a rapist in our school and you know who it is." She and two other students who left similar notes were ordered suspended. The American Civil Liberties Union of Maine is taking on the student's case.

Some criticized New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo for using a racial slur for African Americans while discussing historical discrimination toward darker-skinned Italian immigrants, The New York Daily News reported. The Democrat used the slur in an interview on WAMC radio while speaking about Columbus Day and a recent New York Times article about how Italians overcame bigotry in the United States. Cuomo seemed to realize the word might bother people. He said "pardon my language" before he used the N-word followed by a derogatory slur once commonly lobbed against Italians. ( He was quoting from the article. ) Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who is Black, said he wasn't offended by Cuomo's comments.

GayRealEstate.com noted in a press release that as adoption among same-sex couples has increased exponentially, so has the demand for safe, adequate housing options among LGBTQ parents. Between 10 to 30 percent of LGBTQ homebuyers are parents, according to a recent survey of GayRealEstate.com's more than 1,500 partner agents. While many are biological children, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, the growing number also coincides with the steadily expanding adoption rate among same-sex couples.

Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said the Russians are currently "grooming" a Democrat running in the presidential primary to run as a third-party candidate and champion their interests, CNN.com reported. The comment appears to be directed at Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who has been accused of being cozy with Russia in the past. Gabbard, in a late August interview with CNN, ruled out a third-party bid.

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry plans to leave his position at the end of the year, NPR.com noted. President Trump praised Perry and said he already has a replacement in mind. Perry is one of Trump's original Cabinet members and recently has emerged as a central figure in the impeachment inquiry of Trump. Trump reportedly blamed Perry earlier this month for that now-famous call with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy


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