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NATIONAL Puerto Rico setback, gay-bar attacks, election news, Artists for Artists
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2020-06-09

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Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vazquez Garced signed a new civil code that removed explicit non-discrimination protections for the island's LGBTQ citizens, LGBTQ Nation reported. The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ), singer/rapper Bad Bunny, and gay Latinx pop star Ricky Martin had all asked Garced not to sign the changes into law without first ensuring that they didn't erode existing LGBTQ civil liberties. Garced didn't mention LGBTQ people in the statement she issued after signing the bill, but she did mention George Floyd, the 46-year-old Minneapolis resident whose death in police custody has inspired worldwide protests against ani-Black police brutality.

Authorities opened fire with flash bangs on an LGBTQ bar in Raleigh, North Carolina, after they received an anonymous tip that the bar was giving water bottles to protestors, according to LGBTQ Nation. Tim Lemuel, the owner of the Ruby Deluxe, said that on May 31, his business was vandalized with a white-supremacist symbol and the bar's glass doors and windows were broken. Lemuel decided to stay at his business June 1, and he set up a first-aid station and handed out water bottles. Police arrived later and told them to move; as Lemuel walked back toward his bar, authorities said, "You've been told," and opened fire. The Wake County sheriff's office said the shooting was justified because it worked and forced the first-aid station to disband.

On a similar note, Des Moines, Iowa, LGBTQ bar The Blazing Saddle was raided by police earlier this week for providing first aid for protestors, LGBTQ Nation reported. People connected to the venue posted a video to Facebook showing around a dozen armed police officers raiding the bar on the first day of Pride Month. Police allegedly arrived in two trucks with guns pointed and arrested three people outside of the bar; other staff members went inside and locked the door, and police made them unlock it.

Sixty-eight openly LGBTQ candidates endorsed by LGBTQ Victory Fund appeared on primary ballots during Pride Month—the most ever in the organization's 29-year history. ( Elections in several states took place June 2 and 9, and will also happen June 23 and 30. ) Just a few of the candidates include Malcolm Kenyatta ( Pennsylvania House of Representatives ), Sam Park ( Georgia House of Representatives ), Cody Thompson ( West Virginia House of Delegates ), Sean Maloney ( U.S. House of Representatives-New York ) and Daneya Esgar ( Colorado House of Representatives ).

Former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign is launching a nationwide voter outreach effort in June to coincide with Pride Month and engage millions of LGBTQ voters ahead of the November presidential election, CBS News reported. The coordinated outreach—dubbed "Out for Biden"—will target the estimated 11 million LGBTQ voters throughout the country, with a focus on racking up support in battleground states. The "Out for Biden" initiative will be spearheaded by a current group of 32 LGBTQ politicians and allies.

Pat Hackett won the Democratic primary for Indiana's 2nd Congressional District, putting her on track to become the first openly LGBTQ member of Congress from the state, an LGBTQ Victory Fund press release noted. Hackett will face incumbent U.S. Representative Jackie Walorski—an anti-LGBTQ member who consistently votes against non-discrimination protections and other bills supportive of LGBTQ people. District 2 includes the city of South Bend, whose former mayor, Pete Buttigieg, became the first openly LGBTQ Democratic presidential candidate in U.S. history.

LGBTQ Victory Fund-endorsed candidate Jessica Benham won her primary for a Pennsylvania state House seat and is on track to become the first openly LGBTQ woman elected to the Pennsylvania state legislature, an organizational press release stated. Benham will also become the first openly autistic person elected to a state legislature anywhere in the United States. Her district is heavily Democratic, making her the favorite in the general-election race.

A series of screen prints featuring Jean-Michel Basquiat, Frida Kahlo and Andy Warhol wearing masks will benefit Houston artists affected by the coronavirus pandemic, The Houston Chronicle noted. Tra' Slaughter created the screen prints using archival pigment ink on 11" x 17" archival paper. Each hand-numbered and signed print is limited to 25 each, and retails for $55 each. Slaughter is president of Artists for Artists, a Houston nonprofit that offers emergency financial support to artists in times of medical or personal crisis. All proceeds from the prints go to A4A's COVID-19 emergency relief grants; see Artists4Artists.org .

After nearly two weeks of controversy, the Christopher Street West/LA Pride Board of Directors will be turning over their proposed June 14 solidarity march to All Black Lives Matter, an advisory board of Black LGBTQI+ activists and community leaders, The Washington Blade reported. The initial announcement by CSW/LA Pride on June 3, "to peacefully assemble a protest in solidarity with the Black community […]" rankled Black activists and allies who labeled it insensitive and tone-deaf, disrespecting the Black community, especially LGBTQI+ people of color. The now deleted press release suggested that CSW/LAPride had conferred with Black Lives Matter, which it had not. ( Editor's note: There was no response from Christopher Street West when Windy City Times asked the organization if it would be working directly with Black organizations. )

Baltimore Safe Haven—a nonprofit organization that provides food, shelter and other services for the area's LGBTQ community—held a Black Trans Lives Matter protest rally and march June 5, The Washington Blade reported. The event was one of many held in Baltimore and nationally following the killing of George Floyd by then-Minneapolis police officers May 25. "It's time that we say Black Trans Lives Matter are in Black Lives Matter, too," said Rev. Merrick Moses, a Baltimore religious leader and LGBTQ activist who was invited to read a prayer at the rally. "Because oftentimes we feel left out and we are interjecting ourselves right now that we matter, too."

The Florida Police Benevolent Association filed a motion with the local courts to keep the identity of the police officer who killed trans man Tony McDade a secret, saying the officer was "the victim of an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon"—but a judge denied the motion, LGBTQ Nation noted. Witnesses say that police shot McDade immediately after exiting their vehicle without shouting any warning at the 38-year-old, while police claim that he pointed a handgun at an officer before they even exited their vehicle and that the shooting followed "standard protocol."

A gay Ohio couple subjected to an anti-gay attack used their temporary public platform to raise more than $5,000 for a local LGBTQ nonprofit organization, Metro Weekly reported. The incident occurred May 22, in Arcanum, Ohio, when Bradley O'Dell and fiance Mike Stone discovered that somebody had used chemicals to burn the homophobic slur "FAG" into their lawn. The couple has since set up a Facebook fundraiser for the Dayton-area nonprofit Have A Gay Day; that fundraiser has since raised more than $5,000. No arrests have been made regarding the vandalism.

Same-sex weddings have generated $3.8 billion in local and state economic activity since the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage five years ago this month, according to a study the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law released, NBC News reported. The report also found that gay weddings have generated an estimated $244 million in state and local taxes in the last five years and support 45,000 jobs a year. Since the court's landmark Obergefell v. Hodges decision, 293,000 same-sex couples in the United States have tied the knot—more than half of the 513,000 currently married gay couples in the country.

A lesbian student is suing a Wyoming sheriff's office after she felt pressured to recant a rape accusation, saying that officers told her "it must be weird being with a man" because of her sexual orientation, LGBTQ Nation reported. Federal district court Judge Alan Johnson is allowing a civil rights lawsuit filed by a former University of Wyoming student against the Albany County sheriff's office to go forward. The student accuses officers of denying her rights because of "her sex, sexual orientation or sexual identity."

While covering the George Floyd situations in New York City and Los Angeles, out CNN anchor Don Lemon questioned why so few celebrities—many of whom live in the cities where these protests are happening—hadn't spoken out publicly, Queerty noted. In part, Lemon said, "I see them on Twitter saying, 'oh, I'm loving what Don's doing' … but they got to do more than that. Especially Black celebrities and Black leaders — and white celebrities. By me calling out your name, it doesn't mean I'm calling you out. It means I love you, Ellen. It means I love you, Oprah. Beyonce released a message—you can't?"

Democratic U.S. Sens. Cory Booker and Kamala Harris provided emotional rebuttals to Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul blocking an anti-lynching bill, Rolling Stone noted. In a floor speech, Paul claimed the Emmett Till Antilynching Act—introduced in the House by Rep. Bobby Rush ( D-Illinois. ), and which had already passed in the House by a wide margin with Republican support—does not "take lynching seriously," which Harris later called "ridiculous." Booker said, in part, "I do not need my colleague, the senator from Kentucky, to tell me about one more lynching in this country. I have stood in the museum in Montgomery, Alabama, and watched African American families weeping at the stories of pregnant women lynched in this country and their babies ripped out of them while this body did nothing."

Out soccer star Megan Rapinoe signed a public letter urging local governments to decrease police budgets in favor of spending more on healthcare, education and other social services, Outsports noted. The letter was authored by Black Lives Matter co-founder Patrisse Cullors, who's also a founding member of the Movement 4 Black Lives, which encompasses more than 100 Black-rights organizations.

Three months after actor John Krasinski started his popular Some Good News series on YouTube, veteran gay journalist Thomas Roberts is launching a 30-minute streaming show to share "gay good news," LGBTQ Nation reported. Roberts posted a video on Facebook to announce that he will host a daily program called Thomas Roberts Live At 5 and that his goal is to present positive news about the LGBTQ community, including stories that other platforms might miss or ignore. Roberts said the show will originate from his home in Atlanta, where he has been sheltering in place since March with his husband Patrick Abner, but that he may eventually take it "on the road."

The people behind the location-based gay dating app Grindr said they will remove its ethnicity filter in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, Out.com noted. The app has long been criticized for letting racism, xenophobia, transphobia, femmephobia and fatphobia run unchecked. "We stand in solidarity with the #BlackLivesMatter movement and the hundreds of thousands of queer people of color who log in to our app every day," a tweet on Grindr's official account read. "We will not be silent, and we will not be inactive. Today we are making donations to the Marsha P. Johnson Institute and Black Lives Matter, and urge you to do the same if you can."

In Florida, a hacker broke into a Collier County NAACP meeting, and not only used racial slurs but also showed pornography, WINKNews.com reported. Sheriff Kevin Ramobsk has launched an investigation into the hack. The NAACP said it feels like this shows no progress has been made.

Comcast shareholders, led by Chairman Brian Roberts, rejected three proposals from investors, including a demand for an outside investigation into sexual harassment at NBC News, The Philadelphia Inquirer rpeorted. The Philadelphia-based cable giant also tossed out shareholder requests to detail its lobbying efforts—Comcast spent more than $15 million in lobbying in 2018—and a proposal that the company's board be led by an independent chairman.


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