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NATIONAL Mich. lawsuit, Michelle Obama, Harvey Milk, gay teen politician
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2018-11-20

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Lambda Legal and Michigan Protection & Advocacy Service ( MPAS ) announced the successful settlement of a 2015 lawsuit filed on behalf of John Dorn against the Michigan Department of Corrections ( MDOC ), a Lambda Legal press release noted. Lambda said the lawsuit was filed after Dorn was disciplined far more severely than another incarcerated man based solely on his HIV status, which was in violation of Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act. The settlement with the MDOC includes substantive changes to the MDOC policy directive, an MDOC review and reconsideration of other individuals who were classified to administrative segregation under the former policy, and a monetary settlement of $150,000.

Michelle Obama shared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show—and in her new memoir, Becoming—that she ( and daughter Malia ) tried to slip past the Secret Service to celebrate marriage equality with advocates, NewNowNext.com . Obama said, "It took 15 minutes to get outside. We stood along with all the cheering crowd, off to the side, mind you, so no one would see us, with security surrounding us. And we tried to have our tender, mother-daughter moment. But we just took it in. I held her tight, and my feeling was, we are moving forward. Change is happening."

Stuart Milk, the nephew of the late gay icon Harvey Milk ( who was assassinated 40 years ago this year, on Nov. 27 ), recently spoke at the University at Albany, The State University of New York, according to AlbanyStudentPress.net . Stuart, who is gay himself, explained that Harvey knew about his sexuality before Stuart knew about it himself, and he felt so humbled to know that Harvey was always behind him to watch over. After his death, Stuart said that he was humbled by his uncle's efforts to increase visibility throughout the United States and continued his legacy at home and abroad as well. Harvey was a human-rights leader and the first openly gay elected state official in California, as well as one of the first in the United States.

In Texas, Cross Coburn—a gay 19-year-old Groves city councilman ousted by voters in a recall drive—stood defiantly before his former colleagues recently as they affirmed the election results removing him from office, the Beaumont Enterprise reported. Coburn was targeted for recall after nude photos of him from a gay-dating app were anonymously mailed to City Hall earlier this year. The recall measure passed Nov. 6 by a two-thirds majority. Mayor Brad P. Bailey said the council will likely vote on Coburn's replacement at its Nov. 26 meeting.

GLSEN spoke out against Education Secretary DeVos' proposed new Title IX rules for schools handling allegations of sexual harassment aimed at scrapping Obama-era guidance that sought to protect students raising accusations of sexual harassment and assault, in favor of bolstering the rights of accused students, a press release noted. "The U.S. Department of Education's proposed regulations could create cruel and unnecessary obstacles for survivors of sexual harassment, including LGBTQ students who already experience higher rates of sexual harassment in schools than their peers," said GLSEN Executive Director Eliza Byard. "All students deserve to have school administrators take their experiences seriously and support them throughout a process that can often be deeply traumatic." This proposal begins a 60-day public comment period, and the administration can still make changes before the regulation is finalized.

In Baltimore, authorities found 43-year-old gay fitness coordinator and waiter Brendon Michaels beaten to death in his apartment, according to Queerty. Fire department discovered the body, and police have no suspect or motive. Michaels won $50,000 in the Maryland lottery in 2011. Before his death, he worked as the fitness center coordinator at Carroll Community College and as a part-time waiter at Olive Garden.

A Southern California man pled not guilty to the murder of a gay University of Pennsylvania student in a hate crime, The Huffington Post noted. Samuel Woodward, a 21-year-old from Newport Beach, California, entered the plea regarding the January stabbing death of 19-year-old college sophomore Blaze Bernstein, who was home visiting his family on winter break. Bernstein, who was gay and Jewish, went missing after he went out with Woodward to a park in Lake Forest, California; his body was found days later buried at the park in a shallow grave.

A group of LGBTQ asylum-seekers who split from the larger migrant caravan has arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border, NewNowNext.com noted. Around 80 migrants, the majority of whom identify as LGBTQ, made it to Tijuana on Nov. 11—and they were met with hostility and fear while facing an uncertain future. They were the first of more than 3,600 Central Americans to arrive at the border, NPR reported, after splintering off in Mexico City after weeks of harsh treatment from others in the group, as well as townsfolk along the way.

A new campaign aims to draw attention to the conservative Christian legal group Alliance Defending Freedom ( ADF ), which has been labeled an anti-LGBTQ "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center, NBC News noted. Since its founding nearly 25 years ago, ADF has been linked to efforts seeking to criminalize homosexuality, restrict transgender people's access to sex-segregated facilities and permit businesses to deny service to LGBTQ people. A Times Square billboard is expected to remain through February, and directs viewers to the Citizens for Transparency's website ( nogaysallowed.org/ ).

Polk County has elected Florida's first openly gay school board member, OrlandoWeekly.com noted. Sarah Fortney, a 34-year veteran of the classroom, became the state's first openly gay member of a school district after she bested Publix store manager Scott Jones for the Polk County School Board's District 3 seat.

Police in Seattle have again said they are not investigating the death of a young gay man who died after injecting silicone into his body, Gay Star News noted. The cause of death of Jack Chapman ( who changed his name to Tank Heathcliff Hafertepen in 2016 ) is now listed as "accidental" rather than "natural." His death was caused through the use of silicone; he used it to boost the size and appearance of his genitals.

A viral photo showed about 30 male members of the Baraboo High School Class of 2019 giving the Nazi salute before their junior prom last spring—but gay student Jordan Blue did not take part, Instinct Magazine noted. Blue can be seen in the top right of the photo with his arms down, his face showing only a neutral expression while most of his classmates are pictured laughing. Blue, who came out as gay earlier this year, shared with Vice reporter Jules Suzdaltsev that he's been the target of bullying by the boys since middle school.

Seven months after her controversial hiring, Mazzoni Center CEO Lydia Gonzalez Sciarrino—a straight woman leading the LGBT healthcare provider—will be stepping down, Philly.com reported. In March, some in the queer community, including the Black and Brown Workers Cooperative activist group, called for Sciarrino's firing, while Mazzoni defended her hire. Mazzoni Chief Operating Officer Ron Powers, a 20-year veteran of the organization, also is resigning, the Gay News reported. The paper said three staffers would lead the center after Sciarrino leaves next month.

Chappy, a gay relationship app for men, announced a partnership with GLAAD called "Chats for Charity" that will raise money for the organization for each chat session initiated on the app, a press release noted. This feature will become a fixture of the app in 2019, but Chappy will begin donating immediately.

A new study in the Journal of Homosexuality finally provides some concrete evidence that sexual-orientation conversion therapy during adolescence is associated with poor mental health outcomes, a Psychology Today item noted. The study recruited 245 LGBT people between 21 and 25, who were asked "Between ages 13 and 19, how often did any of your parents/caregivers try to change your sexual orientation ( i.e., to make you straight )?" and "Between ages 13 and 19, how often did any of your parents/caregivers take you to a therapist or religious leader to cure, treat, or change your sexual orientation?" They also had participants complete several mental-health measures.

Truth Wins Out—a non-profit organization founded by author/LGBT advocate Wayne Besen, and best known for monitoring right-wing extremism and outing hypocritical "ex-gay" activists—has reopened its doors, per a press release. In a video released to its supporters, Besen said he decided to re-enter the political arena because of the dramatic resurgence of hate and bigotry caused by Donald Trump and his Republican Party sympathizers.

Hillary Clinton surprised a crowd including Anna Wintour, Lupita Nyong'o and Ashley Graham at Glamour's Women of the Year Awards, Page Six noted. Clinton—who is rumored to be considering another presidential run—encouraged the women in the crowd to run for office. Also speaking at the awards was another potential presidential candidate, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., as well as John Legend, who cried while introducing his wife, Chrissy Teigen.

Andrew Gillum, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate in Florida, conceded to his Republican opponent, former Rep. Ron DeSantis, on Saturday, ending a protracted fight that saw the Tallahassee mayor take back his Election Day concession during a statewide recount, CNN.com noted. The concession ended Gillum's first bid for statewide office in Florida, but the run—despite his loss —seemingly vaulted the 39-year old politician into the upper reaches of Democratic politics.

In a step toward further acknowledgment of the LGBTQ+ student population, Nashville Christian institution Lipscomb University has hired an official liaison to improve relations with that community, according to Lumination Network.Dannie Woods, an alumna of Lipscomb, joined the Student Life office to "be a bridge-builder between Student Life and our LGBT student community," she told Lumination Network. As recently as the 2013-14 school year, "homosexual behavior" was specifically outlawed in the student handbook under the Sexual Morality policy.

Actor/comedian Bill Cosby, who is serving a three-to-10-year prison sentence for a 2004 sexual assault, now awaits another trial for allegedly molesting a minor in 1974, The Huffington Post noted. LA Superior Court Judge Craig Kaplan announced that the civil trial will begin Oct. 7, 2019, just more than a year after Cosby was sentenced to prison for sexually assaulting former Temple University basketball coach Andrea Constand. Judy Huth claims that Cosby sexually assaulted her in 1974 during a party at the Playboy Mansion when she was 15.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice may interview for head coach of the Cleveland Browns, according to an ESPN report that Deadline cited. If Rice actually moves forward, she would be the first woman to ever interview for an NFL head coaching job. Cleveland GM John Dorsey said he was open to hiring a woman for the position. However, Dorsey has denied the ESPN report, saying, "Our coaching search will be thorough and deliberate, but we are still in the process of composing the list of candidates and Secretary Rice has not been discussed," TheWrap noted.

A federal judge ruled in favor of CNN and reporter Jim Acosta in a dispute with President Trump, ordering the White House to temporarily restore the press credentials that the Trump administration had taken away from Acosta, The Washington Post reported. In a victory for the cable network and for press access generally, Judge Timothy J. Kelly granted CNN's motion for a temporary restraining order that will prevent the administration from keeping Acosta off White House grounds. The White House revoked the reporter's press pass after a heated exchange between him and Trump and a brief altercation with a press aide at a news conference.

An emotional Monica Lewinsky revealed that she contemplated suicide after her affair with President Bill Clinton was first uncovered, InsideEdition.com noted. "I remember looking out the window and thinking the only way to fix this was to kill myself, to jump out the window," Lewinsky says in an upcoming A&E special. The former White House intern is featured in a new six-part docuseries for the network called The Clinton Affair, which debuted Nov. 18.


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