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NATIONAL ROUNDUP: Military discrimination; Dallas 911 fails activist
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2012-12-11

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Army Veteran and OutServe-SLDN Executive Director Allyson Robinson planned to reach out to fellow West Point graduate and Fort Bragg Commanding General Lt. Gen. Daniel B. Allyn as speculation mounts that the Association of Bragg Officers' Spouses is discriminating against a same-sex military spouse, a press release stated. Since denying membership to Ashley Broadway, whose wife is an active-duty colonel, the association reportedly changed its bylaws to justify Broadway's exclusion.

In Texas, a gay Dallas man died from a Xanax overdose after emergency crews failed to respond to a 911 call from his apartment because of a miscommunication, according to a Dallas Voice item. Matthew Sanchez, 20, the younger brother of gay activist Samuel Sanchez, died Nov. 16 at the apartment the two shared. Sanchez's death is one of three high-profile incidents this year allegedly involving apparent mistakes by Dallas' 911 call center.

In Michigan, bullying led Linden High School junior Josh Pacheco, 17, to take his own life Nov. 27 at his home in Fenton, according to the Huffington Post. Pacheco came out to his mother two months ago, and was frequently bullied inside and outside of school prior to his death. Pacheco's suicide was the second such case in Michigan's Genesee County; in January, Flushing teen Jarrod Nickell also committed suicide after experiencing bullying in school.

Same-sex couples obtained their marriage licenses in Washington state Dec. 6, just hours after Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a law legalizing marriage equality, according to the Huffington Post. King County, the state's biggest county, opened the doors to its auditor's office in Seattle just after midnight PST to start distributing marriage licenses; however, hundreds of people had lined up hours earlier. Because the state has a three-day waiting period, the earliest that weddings could take place was Dec. 9.

The University of Notre Dame has announced plans to provide more support and services for LGBTQ students, including creating a university-recognized student organization, according to the South Bend Tribune. The move is in response to requests to officially recognize a gay-straight student alliance club on campus, which student groups have requested for years. Students involved in the most recent request have withdrawn their application for club status, and are now working with administrators to form the recognized student organization.

U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C.—who stirred controversy with his comments that openly gay people and unmarried sexually active women should not be allowed to teach—announced he will leave his post in January, according to Advocate.com . DeMint will become president of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. GOP Gov. Nikki Haley will name a successor to DeMint; that person will have to run for a special election in 2014.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has asked the Maryland Marriage Alliance to return the $10,000 donation of Michael Peroutka, an active white supremacist and secessionist sympathizer, according to a press release. Peroutka, an active member of the League of the South, was one of the three largest individual donors to the campaign against marriage equality in Maryland. "This is just the latest evidence that no matter how equality opponents try and cloak their work, their efforts are often driven and funded by hate," said HRC Vice President of Communications Fred Sainz.

Conservative media-watchdog organization One Million Moms is angry about Ellen DeGeneres' new Christmas ad for J.C. Penney, according to a Huffington Post item. DeGeneres, a spokeswoman for the department store, is featured in a holiday ad with a group of Santa's elves. In a statement, One Million Moms said, "JCP has made their choice to offend a huge majority of their customers again. Christians must now vote with their wallets." The group first spoke out against DeGeneres in February.

At Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), women's volleyball coach James Finley is claiming he's been fired because he's gay, according to the Washington Blade. Finley, who has filed a complaint with VCU's diversity office, said he learned of his dismissal Nov. 19 when the university's recently hired athletic director, Ed McLaughlin, informed him he decided not to renew Finley's contract as coach. VCU's personnel policy bans discrimination based on sexual orientation.

In Idaho, the Boise City Council unanimously passed an ordinance to ban discrimination of employees, tenants or customers based on sexual orientation or gender identity, according to Arbiter Online. The only other city in the state with such an ordinance is Sandpoint. The Idaho Press Tribune noted that Sandpoint is among 125 cities and 21 states to pass such an ordinance.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley sent out a photo through his "O'Say Can You See PAC" of him signing a proclamation certifying the 2012 election results, according to NBC News. That includes a ballot initiative that passed making marriage equality legal in the state. O'Malley wrote, in part, "After months of hard work, we came together to pass a bill that treats everyone fairly and equally under the law while protecting religious freedom."

In California, Gabrielle Ludwig stands out from her Mission College women's basketball teammates in three ways: (a) she is 50; (b) she is 6' 6" and 230 pounds; and (c) she is transgender, according to USA Today. Ludwig, who is a systems engineer, underwent gender-reassignment surgery in July. Ludwig's partner of two years is Theresa Foakes; Foakes' daughters, 11 and 7, live with Ludwig and call her "Momma Gabbi."

A federal judge has dismissed a gay couple's claims that Continental Airlines' employees embarrassed and humiliated them after they taped a dildo to their luggage, according to an EDGE Boston item. Christopher Bridgeman and Martin Borger—who reside in Norfolk, Va., and were traveling to Costa Rica—said that the airline's workers went through their luggage, found the dildo and taped it to their bag, which embarrassed the couple as everyone in baggage claim could see their sex toy. U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt said, "The Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air, commonly known as the Montreal Convention, pre-empts the claims for damages related to the mishandling of luggage."

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa named lesbian writer Eloise Klein Healy as the first poet laureate of the city, according to Advocate.com . Healy—who has lived in Los Angeles since she was 10—has written six collections of poetry, including Passing and Artemis in Echo Park, which were both nominated for Lambda Literary Awards. Healy will "serve as the official ambassador of Los Angeles' vibrant poetry and literary culture."

Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who ran the state as a Republican and then for the U.S. Senate as an independent, announced that he's switching to the Democratic Party, according to a Chicago Tribune item. Crist tweeted, "Proud and honored to join the Democratic Party in the home of President (at) Barack Obama!" Gay rumors have surrounded Crist, who is married to a woman, for some time. The Huffington Post reported in June that Crist allegedly paid two men to conceal same-sex affairs.

In Florida, Miami Beach cop Eliut Hazzi, who was fired for his alleged role in an attack on two gay men, has been rehired and may also receive back pay of his six-figure salary, according to the Huffington Post. In March 2009, Hazzi and another officer were spotted allegedly beating up a man as well as a witness who dialed 911. An independent arbitrator recently ruled that the city did not have adequate evidence to terminate Hazzi; the Miami Beach Police union had argued that Hazzi was removed from the force unjustly due to heightened pressure after other Miami Beach cops were caught misbehaving.

In the wake of historic victories for gay-rights supporters in the Nov. 6 elections, a pair of USA Today/Gallup Polls find growing acceptance among Americans toward gay men and lesbians, according to the Huffington Post. In a survey of respondents who identified themselves as members of the LGBT demographic, three out of four say they are generally open with others about their sexual orientation. In addition, more than nine of 10 say people in their communities have become more accepting in recent years.

Following several years of declining revenue, LGBT social-justice organizations experienced a 17-percent revenue increase from 2010 to 2011, according to a new report from the Movement Advancement Project. The 2012 National LGBT Movement Report (at www.lgbtmap.org/2012-national-lgbt-movement-report&; provides a comprehensive and standardized look at the LGBT movement's finances across 40 major LGBT organizations that collectively represent 69 percent of the budgets of all LGBT social-justice organizations.

Sarah and Emily Cofer were the first same-sex couple to marry in Washington state Dec. 9, according to Advocate.com . Superior Court Judge Mary Yu married the couple, who are both third-grade teachers, in Seattle at 12:04 a.m. with their nine-month-old daughter, Carter, present. Among other developments, 25 same-sex partners at Seattle's First Baptist Church exchanged vows during a mass wedding.

Merck & Company, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world and a corporate donor of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), has announced that the company will cease future funding to the Boy Scouts until the organization ends its anti-gay stance, according to a Change.org press release. Merck's decision came after Scouts for Equality founder Zach Wahls successfully petitioned Intel and UPS, two large corporate donors of the Boy Scouts, to discontinue funding.

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber has issued a proclamation declaring December Transgender Youth Awareness Month, according to PQ Monthly. The development followed a request from TransActive Education & Advocacy, a Portland-based non-profit serving families of transgender and gender nonconforming children and youth worldwide. Co-signator and guest speaker Secretary of State Kate Brown read the proclamation Dec. 2 at the organization's fifth annual fundraiser, "SuperHeroes for SuperKids."

The Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI's) 2011 hate-crimes statistics have revealed that, for the first time, crimes directed against individuals on the basis of sexual orientation are the second most frequent hate crime committed after crimes based on race, according to a Human Rights Campaign press release. Surpassing crimes committed on the basis on religion, the number of reported hate crimes committed against gay men and lesbians increased from 1,277 in 2010 to 1,293 in 2011. FBI Hate Crimes Statistics can be viewed at www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/hate-crime/2011.

In New York City, the Democratic mayoral race has been rocked after it was revealed that Chirlane McCray, the wife of candidate/public advocate Bill de Blasio, once identified as lesbian, according to Advocate.com . The New York Observer reported on an essay from the 1979 issue of Essence magazine in which McCray candidly discussed her sexual orientation under the headline, "I am a Lesbian." More than a decade later, McCray and de Blasio met while working for then-Mayor David Dinkins; the couple married in 1994, and they have two children together.

In Maine, Portland will probably be the site of the state's first same-sex wedding, according to the Portland Press Herald. The city announced that it will open its municipal offices from 12:01 to 3:01 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 29—the day the state law allowing same-sex marriage takes effect—to issue marriage licenses and perform weddings. Portland's announcement could prompt other communities to follow suit, since most municipal offices in Maine don't have Saturday hours.

Eastern Michigan University will pay $75,000 to counseling student Julea Ward, who was expelled from university for refusing to provide services to gay and lesbian clients, according to Advocate.com . Ward, who filed the lawsuit in April 2009, was training to become a counselor for children. She was released from the program after she said she did not want to counsel a gay client because of her own religious beliefs.

The Arcus Foundation announced a grant of $50,000 to Out-Serve-SLDN, the global association of actively-serving LGBT U.S. military personnel, according to a press release. The grant is to support the leadership of Allyson Robinson, the association's newly appointed executive director. The largesse is the first of a number of "New Leadership" grants the Foundation plans to make in support of promising social justice leaders and their work.

More than 50 LGBT- and immigration-advocacy groups have renewed the call for the Obama administration to take action on behalf of binational same-sex couples, according to the Washington Blade. The development (in the form of a letter to Obama and other officials) happened in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision to take up litigation challenging DOMA. Among the letter's signatories are LGBT groups such as Immigration Equality, the Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force as well as the immigration groups such as the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the National Council of La Raza.

In Tennessee, LGBT-rights activists demonstrated in Memphis, Nashville and Cookeville to call on President Obama to issue an executive order barring federal contractors from practicing job bias based on sexual orientation and gender identity, according to the Washington Blade. Chris Sanders of the Tennessee Equality Project said he organized the demonstration in response to a law signed last year by Gov. Bill Haslem that bans cities from passing LGBT non-discrimination ordinances. The project has also launched an online petition at the White House website.


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