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NATIONAL ROUNDUP: Jane Lynch offer; Mass. Senate situation
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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Actress Jane Lynch is offering a chance for a group of six to join her and her family at a VIP Day at Disneyland, according to a press release. The trip will be auctioned off Feb. 9 at Family Equality Council's Los Angeles Awards Dinner. However, online bidding is available now at bidders don't have to be present at the dinner to win.

Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick has named his choice for the interim replacement for outgoing U.S. Sen. John Kerry—and it is not openly gay former Congressman Barney Frank, who stated he wanted the position, according to LGBTQ Nation. Patrick chose William "Mo" Cowan, his former chief of staff, to fill the open seat vacated by Kerry, whom the Senate confirmed as the next secretary of state by a vote of 94-3. Patrick also announced the special election to fill the slot permanently will be held June 25.

Scott Brown—the Massachusetts Republican who surprised many with his victory in the 2010 special election—announced that he will not enter the special election to replace outgoing senator John F. Kerry, who will be secretary of state, according to NBC News. The decision by Brown, who lost his senatorial seat last November to Elizabeth Warren, leaves the Republican Party scrambling to find a candidate for the June 25 election. Brown was a relative moderate during his time in the Senate, breaking with Republicans to approve the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," among other issues.

In the wake of anti-gay remarks he recently made, 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver will work with the Trevor Project to learn more about LGBTQ youth, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Before the Super Bowl, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver reportedly said that gay teammates would not be welcome in the locker room, according to . In addition, Culliver suggested that gay athletes keep their sexuality private until 10 years after they retire. He later said he was "just kidding around" and apologized.

On Dr. Phil McGraw's talk show, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo—who admitted to fabricating Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o's fake girlfriend in an elaborate hoax—said he felt a deep romantic love for the football player, the Chicago Tribune reported. McGraw said on Today, "Here we have a young man that fell deeply, romantically in love." Te'o told talk-show host Katie Couric that he is not gay.

In a related development, Tuiasosopo claims the hoax had ''everything to do'' with escaping from real life because he had been molested as a child, according to a Yahoo! Sports item. Tuiasosopo told McGraw he was repeatedly molested, beginning at age 12, by someone who was close to his father—a church pastor and youth minister.

Detroit will become the first city in the country to sell the Rosa Parks Forever Stamp at a special ceremony at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History Feb. 4, according to . On Dec. 1, 1955, Parks was arrested in Montgomery, Ala., for refusing to give up her seat on a city bus to a white man. She was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 1999.

Miami Beach, Fla., is asking the Food and Drug Administration to let gay people donate blood, according to . The city commission unanimously passed a resolution Jan. 16. In the United States, any man who has had sex with another man since 1977 is banned for life from donating blood; the federal policy was enacted in 1985, when the risk of AIDS from transfusions was first acknowledged.

A small group of gay-rights activists will revive the Oregon chapter of the national LGBT organization Log Cabin Republicans, according to . James Owens said he and other activists decided to revive the chapter after seeing the big GOP losses both locally and nationally in the last election. The group could wind up having a higher profile if Basic Rights Oregon moves ahead with an initiative in 2014 to allow same-sex marriage in the state.

In Arizona, state Sen. Steve Gallardo has introduced four measures that aim to eliminate sexual-orientation and gender-identity discrimination in the areas of employment, marriage and adoption, according to the Tucson Weekly. For example, Senate Bill 1163 "prohibits discrimination by an employer or prospective employer against an employee or job applicant based on their gender, gender identity or expression or sexual orientation." Gallardo said, "To discriminate against someone based on who they love is no different than discriminating against me for the color of my skin or against someone because of their gender."

Also in Arizona, the city of Flagstaff has advanced a gay-rights measure, reported. The bill would actually protect sexual preference, gender identity and veterans from discrimination in employment and public accommodations. The new ordinance (as opposed to a proposed one that was rejected in 2009) exempts most of the employers in town: state, county and federal agencies operating inside the city limits; religious-based organizations; "expressive groups" like the Boy Scouts; and businesses with fewer than 15 employees.

In Oregon, gay teenager Jadin Bell died after a suicide attempt that took place in the schoolyard of an elementary school, reported. Bell hung himself Jan. 19, but was taken off life support Jan. 29. Family and friends said the boy was the target of vicious bullying, both at school and online. Bell had reportedly begged his parents for home-schooling; when that failed, he appealed to school administrators for help. Oregon Health and Science University spokesman confirmed that Jadin Bell died early Feb. 3 at the Portland hospital, the Huffington Post noted.

Activist Fred Karger (president of Rights Equal Rights) has said that Brian Brown, president of the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage (NOM), earned more than $500,000 in 2011, LGBTQ Nation reported. In a press release, Karger asked, "They tried their best to avoid me, were rude and evasive, but what else is new? … What are they trying to hide?" NOM saw a steep decline in the amount of money it raised in 2011—dropping to $6.2 million from the $9.1 million it raised the previous year.

A pit bull whose owner sent him to a Tennessee pound after catching him mounting another male dog was saved from being euthanized, the New York Daily News reported. Dog over Stephanie Fryns, moved by the dog's plight, adopted him with just hours to spare and named him "Elton," after gay singer Elton John. "A male mounting another male is thus not displaying [gay] tendencies, but is simply saying, 'I'm boss around here,'" animal expert Stanley Coren said in Psychology Today.

A bill that would have would have allowed same-sex couples in Wyoming to create domestic partnerships carrying most of the legal rights of marriage died by a vote of 35-24 in the state House of Representatives, according to LGBTQ Nation. The vote came just two days after a House committee shot down the full marriage-equality bill by a 5-4 vote. Meanwhile, a bill that would bandiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is headed to the state Senate.

When asked about his position on same-sex marriage, U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) offered what some have called a strange response, according to the Huffington Post. The Capitol Fax blog posted video of Schock being asked by a reporter why he didn't support marriage equality—and the politician simply says, "Uh, well, I, I just haven't." When pressed, he said, "I think everybody has a set of beliefs on issues, social issues in particular, that are a reflection of how they were raised and their set of beliefs."

Ed Koch—the former New York City mayor who used the catchphrase "How am I doin'?"—died of congestive heart failure Feb. 1 at 88. Koch, who was an attorney before he was involved in politics, was a U.S. congressman from 1968 until he ran for mayor of the city in 1977. He served three terms until David Dinkins defeated him in a Democratic primary. The former mayor never married, and his sexuality was the subject of constant speculation. Playwright/LGBT-rights advocate Larry Kramer once told New York Magazine that Koch "was a closeted gay man, and he did not want in any way to be associated with [AIDS]," according to .

In Alabama, Lauderdale County High School coach Bob Grisham is being investigated by the school district after reportedly making controversial statements about gays and Michelle Obama, according to a Huffington Post item. in a tape leaked to officials, Grisham allegedly blames "fat-butt Michelle Obama" for the school's low-calorie lunches and says "what [queers] do is wrong and an abomination against God."

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) announced its endorsement of lesbian City Council Speaker Christine Quinn for mayor of New York City Feb. 1, according to a press release. HRC President Chad Griffin said that Quinn "approaches every issue she cares about with passion and drive. Whether it's equality for all New Yorkers, great public schools or twenty-first century infrastructure, Chris is ready to fight for the city New Yorkers deserve."

The 4th Annual National Educator Conference Focused on LGBTQIA Youth will take place Feb. 15-17 in San Diego, Calif., according to a press release. Among the highlights are plenaries, a NOH8 campaign photo shoot and a cultural plunge. In addition, Betty DeGeneres, MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts and actor George Takei are slated to receive awards at a ceremony.

In Tennessee, the so-called "Don't Say Gay" bill has been revived, as Republican state Sen. Stacey Campfield has filed a measure that would discourage talking about homosexuality in schools, according to . The measure—called the "Classroom Protection Act"—builds on "Don't Say Gay" and would prohibit elementary and middle school teachers from bringing up homosexuality. It would also require guidance counselors to report to parents conversations about their child's sexuality.

The Wyoming Senate narrowly rejected a bill that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, according to . Opponents claimed Senate File 131 would create a protected class of employees and would result in lawsuits against employers. The sponsor, Sen. Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie, said bill aimed to recognize and prevent discrimination. Almost two dozen other states have adopted similar measures.

President Barack Obama said he is in favor of the inclusion of open gays in the Boy Scouts of America. He was asked the question by CBS journalist Scott Pelley on Super Bowl Sunday, Obama said "nobody should be barred" from the Boy Scouts: "Gays and lesbians should have access and opportunity the same way everybody else does." Meanwhile, Texas governor and onetime GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry urged the Scouts to maintain their ban on openly gay scouts and troop leaders, according to .

Virginia's lower house passed a bill that would allow student groups at public universities to deny members because they conflict with the groups' religious beliefs, reported. LGBT leaders in the state believe the bill, which passed by an 80-19 vote, will give student groups a free pass to deny and boot gay and transgender members.

Four naked protesters were arrested as they took to the steps of San Francisco City Hall in a brazen challenge of the city's ban on public nudity on Feb. 1, the first day it went into effect, the Huffington Post reported. One woman and three men were taken into custody as approximately a dozen other protesters in various states of undress paraded around with painted slogans on their bodies. In December, the board of supervisors voted 7-4 in favor of the ordinance, which bans exposed genitals in most public places.

Because of a $4 million investment by the MAC AIDS Fund and a unique partnership with AIDS United, $1 million in initial grants have been awarded to seven organizations across the United States to help define and expand programs that help keep HIV-positive people in care and on treatment, a press release stated. The organizations are Christie's Place (San Diego), CitiWide Harm Reduction Program (Bronx, N.Y.), Institute for Public Health Innovation/CommonHealth ACTION (Prince George's County, Md.), AIDS Alabama (Birmingham), The Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia (Charlottesville), The Open Door (Pittsburgh) and Mazzoni Center (Phhiladelphia).

Four Scout leaders whose petitions on sparked a national movement to end the Boy Scouts' anti-gay ban delivered more than 1.4 million petition signatures to Boy Scouts headquarters as the organization's board of directors began a three-day meeting to discuss overturning the policy, according to a press release. The petitions were delivered by Jennifer Tyrrell, a lesbian mom removed from her position as den leader of her 8-year-old son's Cub Scout pack; Greg Bourke, a gay dad who was forced to resign his position of assistant scoutmaster; Eric Andresen, the father of an 18-year-old gay Boy Scout who was barred from receiving his Eagle Award; and Will Oliver, a 20-year-old gay Eagle Scout.

In Oregon, Gresham baker Aaron Klein is being investigated for allegedly refusing to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple, reported. The women said that Klein, who owns Sweet Cakes bakery, called them "abominations to the Lord." Klein denies saying that, but admits that he wouldn't make the cake. An Oregon law bans sexual-orientation discrmination in public accomodations, including businesses. However, critics argue that the ban could conflict with Klein's constitutional right to practice his religion.

Could a gay Republican be the next mayor of Los Angeles? According to, Kevin James (not the King of Queens actor) is hoping to be the one for the job. James told The New York Times, "Depending on what room you're in here, sometimes it's easier coming out gay to Republicans than it is coming out Republican to gays." A former prosecutor and current radio talk-show host, James has raised about $700,000 for his mayoral bid, far less than the two top mayoral contenders, Hollywood councilman Eric Garcetti and current mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Arizona legislator Lela Alston introduced a bill that would make it a felony to intentionally expose someone to HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, according to . Alston, a Democrat in Arizona's House of Representatives, was inspired to introduce the bill after a constituent described to her how she was unknowingly infected with an STD. The legislation, referred to a judicial committee, is already gaining sponsors.

A new study has found the more straight men watch pornography, the more likely they are to back marriage equality, according to Gay Star News. Scientists believe the reason is porn opens up the mind to accepting non-traditional sexual situations, like male-on-male sex. Writing in the Communication Research journal, Indiana University Assistant Professor Paul Wright said, "Pornography adopts an individualistic, non-judgmental stance on all kinds of non-traditional sexual behaviors, and same-sex marriage attitudes are strongly linked to attitudes about same-sex sex."

In Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray, Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe and Deputy Police Chief Diane Groomes were among the city officials who attended a memorial remembrance for slain trans woman Deoni Jones, according to the Washington Blade. Jones, 23, was stabbed to death Feb. 2, 2012, while sitting at a bus stop near her home. A 56-year-old District man was indicted on a charge of first-degree murder while armed in connection with Jones' murder.

Todd Kincannon, the executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party, recently tweeted, "This Super Bowl sucks more dick than adult Trayvon Martin would have for drug money," reported. "The left has decided that Trayvon Martin was just this perfect little angel," Kincannon told HuffPo Live. "He was a thug. He tweeted about drug use. This guy, he was a criminal, and the left has decided to make him some sort of martyr. That is what I don't understand." Kincannon was busted last fall for sexting pics of his penis to random women.

Illinois' same-sex marriage bill is headed for a full Senate vote after the measure passed out of the Senate Executive Committee Feb. 5. The committee voted 9-5 to send to the bill for a full vote. Senate sponsor Heather Steans argued that civil unions, passed two years, created a second-class status for LGBT couples.

Holding signs that proclaimed "Gay rights are human rights," a group of gay Vietnamese Americans and their supporters demonstrated Feb. 4 in Westminster, Calif., hoping that they will be allowed to participate in this weekend's Tet parade in Little Saigon, according to . Organizers suggested to the LGBT representatives that they host their own parade on the same day but not be a part of the greater event, which annually draws about 10,000 people. Ha Son Tran—vice president of the Vietnamese American Federation of Southern California—the group helping to put on the parade, said, "We respect their choice, but we want to promote our Vietnamese traditions."

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