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NATIONAL Presidential candidates, HIV news, Seattle LGBTQ bars, Tom of Finland
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2020-01-21

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Presidential candidate Tom Steyer was baffled by his own comments he previously made on protecting the health of LGBTQ asylum seekers when asked to flesh out his plan during a New York Times interview, The Washington Blade noted. Asked to elaborate on his comments, which he made during the CNN Democratic Town Hall on LGBTQ issues, Steyer professed to have no knowledge of them, responding "I did?" when told he said them. During CNN's "Equality in America" town hall late last year, Steyer said his administration would put in place stronger measures to protect the health of LGBTQ asylum seekers.

Openly gay Rep. Mark Pocan, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders for president and was named Bernie 2020 Wisconsin campaign chair, a press release noted. "Bernie Sanders' authenticity, honesty, and movement for equality is the antidote our nation needs now," Pocan said, in part.

The 32nd annual Creating Change Conference took place in Dallas—and only two presidential candidates had representatives in attendance: Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren, LGBTQ Nation reported. "Team Warren knows the importance of meeting LGBTQ+ voters where they are. We were excited to hear from them at Creating Change in Dallas and share Elizabeth Warren's plans to protect and lift up the community," Warren campaign LGBTQ+ Outreach Director Daniel Lander. "We're proud to show our support for the Creating Change Conference and to continue to share Pete's vision for a country that is defined by belonging and not by exclusion," Buttigieg's campaign said in a statement.

Pete Buttigieg attended a Black gay fundraiser in Los Angeles, LGBTQ Nation noted. The fundraiser was held at the home of Jordan Fudge, a managing partner of the venture capital firm Sinai Ventures, and was co-hosted by Fudge and Empire writer/director Lee Daniels. During the fundraiser, longtime HIV activist BLACK AIDS Institute co-founder Phill Wilson called Buttigieg a charismatic, active listener and "a candidate that is worthy of serious, serious consideration."

Speaking of Buttigieg, a popular Providence, Rhode Island, LGBTQ nightclub says the campaign of the Democratic presidential hopeful canceled a fundraiser with Buttigieg's husband due to concerns over the venue's appropriateness, WPRI.com noted. Chasten Buttigieg, husband of the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, had been slated to headline the fundraiser at the Dark Lady. Buck Asprinio, the general manager of the Dark Lady, said members of the campaign who arrived at the venue ahead of the event said they asked staff members to remove the "dancing pole" in the middle of the club—and the venue refused to do so. The event was then moved to the Hotel Providence.

Researchers said the dominant strain of HIV in the United States is becoming "more infectious" and "virulent" via the process of "natural selection," Newsweek reported. This suggests that while HIV might be on the decline thanks to public health measures, the virus that remains appears to be more transmissible than it was in the past. Researchers from the University of California San Diego, working alongside scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC ), were looking at the sub-type B strain of HIV that is found across the country. They published their findings in Nature Communications in December.

The White House's initiative to end the spread of HIV/AIDS is at odds with the federal health department's efforts to accommodate health workers' religious beliefs, according to members of the HIV/AIDS panel, Bloomberg Law noted. Four members of a White House panel are urging the Trump administration to avoid taking actions that could hinder LGBT individuals' ability to get care. The religious-conscience movement and an initiative to end the spread of HIV in the country by 2030 are both top priorities for President Trump.

Seattle LGBTQ+ bars will hold a "Bush Bash" on the evening of Saturday, Jan. 25, with major donations going to Australian fire relief, a press release noted. Participating establishments will include queer/bar, Diesel, The Lumber Yard Bar and R Place. In Australia, almost 30 people have lost their lives; an estimated 15.6 million acres of bush, forest and parks have been burned; and almost 1 billion animals have died. See "BUSH BASH PARTY - Saturday 25th Jan 2020" on Facebook.

Tom of Finland Foundation has opened the exhibition "Heaven and Hell" at the TOM House, in Los Angeles, a press release noted. Artists include Bruce LaBruce, G.B. Jones, Matt Connors, Tabboo!, Heather Benjamin, Rafa Esparza, Nickolaus Typaldos, Matt Lifson, Aimee Goguen and others. The items can be viewed through Feb. 13 by appointment, with a closing event Feb. 14.

A "Teacher of the Year"—who skipped last year's White House awards ceremony to support marginalized communities—kneeled during the national anthem at a college football game with President Donald Trump and Melania Trump, Yahoo! noted. Kelly Holstine, Minnesota's 2018 Teacher of the Year and the director of educational equity at the LGBTQ-rights group OutFront Minnesota, attended the College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday in New Orleans. The former English teacher from Shakopee, Minnesota, who was the first openly gay teacher to receive the award, lined up for the national anthem with her colleagues, only 15 feet from the president and the first lady; as singer Lauren Daigle performed, Holstine took a knee.

Lambda Legal, Immigration Equality and pro bono counsel Morgan Lewis urged federal district courts in Georgia and Maryland to compel the U.S. State Department to recognize the U.S. citizenship of two children born abroad to married same-sex couples ( Roee and Adiel Kiviti, and Derek Mize and Jonathan Gregg ) who are themselves U.S. citizens, a joint press release stated. The groups said that children born abroad to married different-sex parents who are U.S. citizens are routinely recognized as such—but that the State Department is deliberately misapplying federal statutes to deny similar treatment to the marital children of same-sex couples.

Equality California and its Nevada-based statewide affiliate, Silver State Equality, released a joint 2019 LGBTQ federal legislative scorecard, a press release noted. In the U.S. House of Representatives, 47 of California's 53 members* and three of Nevada's four members received scores of 100 percent; all four of California and Nevada's senators ( including the Golden State's Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein ) received scores of 100 percent. The scorecard is at https://issuu.com/equalitycalifornia/docs/eqca_sse_19_federalscorecard?fr=sY2VmYzcxMDI4Nw.

Lambda Legal, the ACLU and ACLU of Ohio filed a motion for summary judgment in the Southern District of Ohio, asking the court to overturn the state's policy prohibiting transgender people from correcting the gender markers on their birth certificates, a Lambda Legal press release noted. The groups said the policy is discriminatory and violates the plaintiffs' constitutional rights to privacy, free speech and equal protection. A copy of the motion for summary judgment is at https://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/ray_oh_20200116_motion-for-summary-judgment.

On Jan. 20, the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) announced that hundreds of HRC volunteers would take part in nearly 30 community service events across the nation in a day of service and action honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., according to an organizational press release. HRC saidit would partner with more than 30 service providers and local organizations across 27 cities, states and regions, including Chicago, San Diego, Boston/New England and Alabama, among others.

Members of the LGBTQ+ organization San Francisco Pride say they passed an amendment to ban Google, YouTube and Alphabet, as well as the Alameda County sheriff's office, from future celebrations after a vote at a monthly membership meeting, SFGate.com reported. SF Pride members and former Google engineers Laurence Berland and Tyler Breisacher said they are urging the board of directors to formally approve the motion at the meeting on Feb. 5.

A study shows that popular dating services like Grindr, OkCupid and Tinder are spreading user information like dating choices and precise location to advertising and marketing companies in ways that may violate privacy laws, The Chicago Tribune noted, citing The New York Times. Grindr—the world's most popular gay dating app—transmitted user-tracking codes and the app's name to more than a dozen companies, essentially tagging individuals with their sexual orientation, according to the report, which was released by the Norwegian Consumer Council.

William Bradley Morgan—a former dancer at Atlanta strip club Swinging Richards—was sentenced to life in prison for murdering his boyfriend in October 2016, Queerty noted. His lover was Brian Campbell, a senior Comcast executive; the men had been in a relationship for around a year and lived together in an Atlanta condo, but both had wives elsewhere, reported WXIA-TV. According to prosecutors, "Morgan's drug addiction, his reliance on Campbell, and the overall complications caused by the fact that both men were married and engaged in a secret romance, led Campbell to consider ending the relationship with Morgan.," adding that when Morgan realized Campbell was ending it, he shot him twice in the head.

Just hours before the deadline to file new bills for the 2020 legislative session, Republican lawmakers in Florida filed four anti-LGBT bills, On Top Magazine noted. According to NBC News, the bills propose to "ban gender-affirming health care for transgender children, repeal municipal and county ordinances protecting LGBTQ workers, and legalize so-called gay conversion therapy in places that had banned the medically debunked practice." The measures were introduced by state Reps. Anthony Sabatini, Bob Rommel, Michael Grant and Byron Donalds as well as state Sens. Joe Gruters and Keith Perry.

A bill that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity has been introduced in the Virginia Senate, according to On Top Magazine. State Sen. Adam Ebbin, an openly gay Democrat, introduced the Virginia Values Act ( SB 868 ). The bill has been referred to the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee, the Washington Blade reported. The measure would protect LGBT people in employment, housing, public accommodations and credit.

In Louisville, Kentucky, a 15-year-old girl got expelled from her Christian high school because she wore a rainbow sweater, LGBTQ Nation noted. Kayla Kenney celebrated her birthday with her family at a restaurant, and her mother, Kimberly Alford, posted a picture of her daughter to Facebook; the student had a sweater with a rainbow on it and a multicolored cake. However, Whitefield Academy head Dr. Bruce Jacobson emailed Kenney saying that the picture "demonstrates a posture of morality and cultural acceptance contrary to that of Whitefield Academy's beliefs"—even though she wasn't making a statement about LGBTQ rights.

SAGE Puerto Rico, a SAGE affiliate since 2018, aided LGBT elders suffering after a series of earthquakes hit the U.S. commonwealth, a press release noted. SAGE CEO Michael Adams urged supporters to "take the time and give resources that SAGE Puerto Rico needs to provide vital services and mental health supports to LGBT elders on the southernmost part of the island." The towns of Cabo Rojo, Lajas, San German, Guayanilla, Guanica and Penuelas were hit hardest, and continue to be impacted by the multiple earthquakes occurring every day.

The board of directors of MassEquality announced that Tanya Neslusan has accepted the position of executive director of the organization, a press release noted. Neslusan is an experienced political and social justice organizer, and lifelong resident of central Massachusetts. In 2018, she completed EmergeMA Candidate Training and threw her hat in the ring to unseat a seven-term state representative.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) condemned the Tennessee legislature for passing HB 836, a bill that would allow child-welfare organizations—including taxpayer-funded adoption and foster-care agencies—to turn away people seeking to care for a child in need, including LGBTQ couples, interfaith couples, single parents and others, a press release stated. The bill passed through both chambers and will now be sent to the governor's desk; HRC urged Gov. Bill Lee to veto this bill.

HBO is in production on the first project in its multi-film deal with best-selling author and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ronan Farrow, a press release noted. Farrow will collaborate with Oscar-nominated directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady of Loki Films to investigate threats, intimidation and violence directed at journalists working to expose corruption and abuse by governments, corporations and other powerful interests. The film will follow subjects in the United States and internationally. Farrow is a contributing writer to The New Yorker; his book Catch and Kill, chronicling his investigations into Harvey Weinstein and other influential figures, is currently a New York Times best seller.

MSNBC is reportedly pursuing former Fox News anchor Shepard Smith for a primetime slot on the cable network, On Top Magazine reported. Smith, who is gay, abruptly left Fox News in October. Other networks, including CNN, are also reportedly pursuing Smith.

The Trump re-election campaign's new senior legal adviser, Jenna Ellis, has a long history of making controversial comments about LGBTQ people, NBC News revealed. Ellis, a regular Fox News commentator, has published multiple disparaging remarks about gay and transgender people, and Muslims. The comments were made as recently as October ( taking aim at the 2019 LGBTQ Democratic presidential town hall in Los Angeles ) and extend as far back as 2016, when she called the designation of the Stonewall Inn in New York as a national monument a "celebration of sin."

Food-service provider Aramark announced a partnership with Certify My Company to assist self-classified suppliers in obtaining third-party diversity certifications, The Daily Times noted. The partnership furthers Aramark's commitment to increase overall spend with small and diverse suppliers to 25 percent by 2025. A diverse business is generally defined as one that is 51 percent owned and controlled by women, ethnic minorities, veterans, LGBTQ people or disabled person( s ).

Rapper Kanye West announced he will appear at Awaken2020, a stadium-sized prayer rally in Arizona hosted by some of the nation's most anti-LGBTQ religious conservatives, LGBTQ Nation noted. After West's announcement so many people rushed online to get free tickets to the event, the group's website crashed. The event will feature Dominionist preachers like Lou Engle and Cindy Jacobs; Engle has said the United States has become like Nazi Germany because of gay rights.


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