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  WINDY CITY TIMES

NATIONAL Pro-LGBT groups' lawsuit, LPAC's search, iconic gay bar closes
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2018-01-30

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Lambda Legal and OutServe-SLDN asked a federal district court to permanently block enforcement of the Trump Administration's plan to ban transgender people from serving openly in the U.S. Armed Services, per a press release. The motion for summary judgment filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington follows four U.S. district court rulings and two federal appellate court rulings that granted and preserved preliminary injunctions against enforcement of the ban. It is the first such motion in any of the cases challenging the military ban that was developed in response to Trump's July 26, 2017, tweets.

LPAC—a political action community for LGBTQ women and allies, and works to elect candidates who champion LGBTQ rights, women's and gender equality, and social justice—formally launched a nationwide search for its next executive director, a press release noted. The search will be conducted by Gumbs + Partners, an executive search firm specializing in diversity recruitment in the non-profit arena, with a specialty in social justice organizations. LPAC was founded in 2012 as the first lesbian Super PAC ( political action committee ).

Also regarding LPAC, the organization has announced its first endorsements of the 2018 elections, according to a separate press release. LPAC announced its first 2018 endorsement and support of the following candidates: Angie Craig, U.S. representative-Minnesota District 2, Kate Brown, governor of Oregon, Dana Nessel, attorney general of Michigan and Joy Silver, state Senate-California District 28. LPAC will provide technical support and financial support to campaigns as appropriate.

The Gangway—a historic establishment credited as the San Francisco's oldest continuously operating gay bar—has closed, Eater San Francisco noted. The bar's liquor license transfer to a new owner was recently completed, and the Gangway suddenly closed, according to patrons and employees, who received the news suddenly via text message. The business at 841 Larkin Street—known for its nautical theme and all-day drinking hours—opened in 1910, surviving Prohibition and catering to a gay clientele by 1960.

Actress/education advocate Cynthia Nixon has reportedly not ruled out challenging Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the 2018 gubernatorial race, Observer.com noted. In August, the Wall Street Journal reported that Nixon, an Upper West Side resident known for her advocacy on education issues, was considering challenging Cuomo in the Democratic primary. The out Sex and the City actress is a staunch ally of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who often feuds with Cuomo.

Several people are expressing outrage after controversial Facebook posts surfaced on the account of the owner of Atlanta's Burkhart's Pub, AJC.com noted. Palmer Marsh has owned the gay and drag bar in the city's Ansley Square for decades. A screenshot that appears to show him using a racial slur about former President Barack Obama has been widely circulated in recent days. Other posts in the screenshot do appear on Marsh's account, including one that reads: "If the South had won, we would be a hell of a lot better off." A rambling post from Jan. 15 that referenced "under-the-radar racists," electric vehicles and "the Chinese" was taken down or removed from public view. Many people had left angry comments on the post.

A gay businessman and one-time police officer who is married to another man says GOP leaders in a north Alabama county refused to let him run for sheriff after a review that included questions about his sexual orientation, according to a MyrtleBeachOnline.com item. Jason White told the News-Courier of Athens that members of the Limestone County Republican Executive Committee voted to deny his bid for sheriff in a decision he believes is linked to the fact he is gay. White, 40, said he now plans to run for sheriff as an independent, and Republicans must find another candidate if they want an opponent for longtime incumbent Mike Blakely, a Democrat.

Twins Aiden and Ethan Dvash-Banks were born four minutes apart—but the U.S. government doesn't consider them equal, as Aiden is considered a U.S. citizen while Ethan is undocumented, according to a Guardian item. The boys' parents are a married gay couple, and even though they legally share the same two fathers, the government has ruled only one is eligible to be a citizen. In a new federal lawsuit, the Los Angeles family is challenging a policy that they say discriminates against LGBT people by denying birthright citizenship to the children of gay couples based on blood relationships.

Members of the Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project ( BLMP )—a first-of-its-kind program housed at Transgender Law Center and made possible by a Open Societies Foundation Fellowship—released a statement in advance of its second national gathering in D.C. on Jan. 25. In part, BLMP said, "The fact is the U.S. has a fiscal, moral, and ethical responsibility to provide refuge for migrants, particularly those who are Black, Brown or poor, given the centuries of intentional harm it has done to our communities across the globe. Whether or not Trump is racist is not the point and is a gross understatement of what he is. His administration's severe disregard for historical context is part of the mechanism that ensures its power. For us at BLMP, this mechanism is rooted in white supremacy, capitalism and patriarchy."

The U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a $700,000 jury award for Lori Franchina, a lesbian firefighter who experienced extensive unchecked harassment from her co-workers at the Providence, Rhode Island, fire department, according to a joint press release from the ACLU, GLAD, NCLR and Lambda Legal. In ruling in Franchina's favor, the Court concluded there was more than enough evidence to support her "sex plus" discrimination claim under Title VII of the U.S. Civil Rights Act, where the "plus" in Franchina's case is her sexual orientation. The ruling clarifies in the First Circuit that the existence of sexual-orientation discrimination does not negate a sex-discrimination claim under Title VII.

A new bill being proposed before the Idaho state legislature would prohibit counselors from engaging in conversion therapy with young people, KSL.com reported. The "Youth Mental Health Protection Act," HB-398, is sponsored by Rep. John McCrostie, D-Boise, and would prohibit licensed, professional counselors from engaging in conversion therapy with people under 18. It would also prohibit any state funds from being used for conversion therapy in any way, according to EastIdahoNews.com .

The American Military Partner Association ( AMPA ) announced that industry giants Comcast NBCUniversal and USAA will be joint presenting sponsors of the 5th Annual AMPA National Gala—the nation's largest LGBT military event of the year—on Saturday, May 12, at the Washington Hilton, a press release noted. Attended by hundreds of LGBT service members, military spouses, veterans, and allies from across the country and around the world, the event honors modern military families for their service and sacrifice to the nation. Past speakers, honorees, and special guests at the annual event have included former Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy Rosemary Williams, and marriage-equality activists Edie Windsor and Jim Obergefell.

A gay-friendly church in Charlotte, North Carolina, has been vandalized again, WRAL.com noted. Media outlets reported that officials with Wedgewood Church said the front doors were spray-painted with a misspelled, derogatory phrase. Co-pastor Chris Ayers said it is the seventh time the church has been targeted by vandals. The front doors at the church are painted to look like a big rainbow flag. Ayers said Wedgewood has a congregation of about 80 people and about half are LGBT.

Josh and Lolly Weed—viewed by some as proof that a gay man and a straight woman can make a successful Mormon marriage—have announced their divorce, KUTV.com reported. In the same blog post where they announce their divorce, they offered an apology to the LGBTQ community. The couple wrote, together and then individually in the same blog post, that they came to understand over time that their deep platonic love was not a substitute for romantic love and that such a relationship is vital to everyone's happiness.

A central Virginia man has been convicted of committing a hate crime against a co-worker, WHSV.com noted. James William Hill III, 36, of Chester, assaulted a co-worker at the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Chester in May 2015. Evidence showed that he did it because of the co-worker's perceived sexual orientation and, afterward, he admitted to an Amazon manager and a Chesterfield County Police Officer that he dislikes people who are gay, adding that he thought people who are gay should expect to be assaulted because of their sexual orientation. Hill faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison when his sentencing happens.

Equality California called on state superintendent candidate Marshall Tuck to divest himself from a financial contribution from Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson Jr., per a press release. "As the nation's largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization, we were extremely disappointed to learn that Marshall Tuck has accepted financial support in both his current and 2014 campaigns for California State Superintendent of Public Instruction from Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson, Jr., a well-known opponent of LGBTQ equality," stated Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. The press release stated, among other things, that Ahmanson's company, Fieldstead & Company, bankrolled the anti-LGBTQ Proposition 8 in 2008, contributing $1.4 million to its passage.

The U.S. Senate confirmed anti-LGBT politician Sam Brownback as ambassador for religious freedom, with Vice President Mike Pence casting a vote to break a partisan tie, according to Advocate.com . All 49 Democrats in the chamber voted against Brownback's confirmation, and 49 Republicans voted in favor, with two Republican senators absent ( John McCain and Bob Corker ), so Pence, in the vice president's capacity as president of the Senate, broke the tie.

New polling from CNN shows that Oprah Winfrey would defeat Trump 51 percent to 42 percent in a head-to-head matchup in 2020, TheWrap noted. However, former Vice President Joe Biden would beat Trump by 57 percent to 40 percent, and Sen. Bernie Sanders would defeat Trump 55 percent to 42 percent, the poll found. The poll was commissioned by CNN and performed by the research firm SSRS on Jan. 14-18.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation ( HRC ) will honor longtime ally and LGBTQ advocate Betty DeGeneres with an Upstander Award at 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. The announcement came on the day her daughter—Ellen DeGeneres, who came out publicly two decades ago on her sitcom Ellen—celebrated her 60th birthday. HRC previously announced that it will also honor transgender advocate Gavin Grimm with an Upstander Award during the Time to THRIVE conference. HRC previously announced that it will also honor transgender advocate Gavin Grimm with an Upstander Award during the same conference.

San Diego Pride and Habitat for Humanity announced a new partnership that has brought together LGBTQ community members from across the San Diego region to build homes, according to a Pride press release. Locations include build sites in Logan Heights and ReStores in Kearny Mesa, National City and Escondido.

Three senior Republicans confirmed that Las Vegas casino mogul Steve Wynn, 76, stepped down as Republican National Committee finance chairman, Politico reported. The decision followed a report in the Wall Street Journal alleging that Wynn engaged in sexual harassment. Wynn was President Donald Trump's handpicked choice for the finance position.

In a move that apparently stunned the city and shook up the June special election races, District 2 Supervisor Mark Farrell was sworn in as interim mayor of San Francisco, the Bay Area Reporter noted. Due to her being board president, London Breed—the first Black woman to serve as the city's mayor, had automatically taken on the position upon the sudden death of then-Mayor Ed Lee on Dec. 12. However, Breed didn't get enough votes from the board to remain mayor, while Farrell did.

Coca-Cola-backed Monster Energy is in hot water after allegations of sexist and abusive behavior by executives, according to a Business Insider item that cites the Huffington Post. n one case, makeup artist Sara Rabuse, who had worked with Monster, claims she was strangled by her then-boyfriend, an executive at the company. Coca-Cola, which has a 18.1-percent stake in Monster, denied knowledge of the lawsuits in a statement to HuffPost.

In a sexual-abuse scandal that reverberated across the sports scene, former Olympic team doctor Larry Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison for molesting young gymnasts and other athletes, the L.A. Times reported. County Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina delivered the sentence in a Michigan courtroom after a week-long hearing that saw more than 150 women—including Olympic stars—confronted Nassar with impassioned statements. Nassar will also be imprisoned an additional 60 years for separate child-porn crimes. Also, Lou Anna Simon resigned after 13 years as president of Michigan State University in the wake of the Nassar scandal, The Huffington Post noted.

Chris Christie joined ABC News as a contributor, TheWrap reported. The former New Jersey governor debuted as a new political analyst joining the network's news division on Good Morning America. Christie—who briefly served as the head of Donald Trump's transition team and chaired the White House's Opioid and Drug Abuse Commission—returned to air to comment on the president's State of the Union address.

Morning Consult has released the initial edition of the Most Polarizing Brands in America Rankings—a ranking of the companies, brands and organizations that are the most politically divisive, per a press release. Among those in the top 25 are Chick-fil-A, HuffPost, Trump Hotels, Fox News, CNN, Breitbart, Koch Industries, Bass Pro Shops and the NBA, among others.


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