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NATIONAL Scammer jailed, fertility study, queer billboard, panic-defense bill
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2020-01-14

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After scamming gay men for over half a decade, Tyler Buchanan, 28, now faces up to 10 years in prison, Queerty noted. Buchanan pled guilty to using Craigslist and other websites to place ads offering gay sex services and blackmail respondents out of roughly $250,000. He pled guilty to federal felony charges using an interstate facility to facilitate an unlawful activity, transmitting threatening communications with intent to extort, receiving and disposing of proceeds of extortion and criminal forfeiture; he will be sentenced May 11.

Boston IVF announced the results of its transgender fertility clinical study—which shows that trans men who utilize egg freezing for fertility preservation have similarly successful clinical outcomes to those of cisgender patients, PR Newswire noted. The study, based on eight years of patient data, found that trans men who had begun the transition process via testosterone therapy had similar egg yields as those of cisgender female patients. More than one-half the transgender male patients had been on testosterone therapy before undergoing ovarian stimulation cycles, and all had discontinued testosterone for an average of four months before starting their treatment cycles.

The National LGBT Cancer Network commissioned a video billboard in Times Square saying "Hey queers, we love you! Stay healthy in 2020!," according to a press release. The 56 foot x 29 foot billboard opens with a video of a pride flag waving, "hey queers, we love you!" and "take care of your health in 2020!" roll out first, followed by "eat well, stay active, get screened, see friends, be tobacco-free" and the organizational logo. Visitors to Times Square can see the video live at 1500 Broadway Avenue at 43rd Street, the ad runs about once every 15 minutes through the end of February.

Pennsylvania Senate Bill 212, which would ban LGBT-panic defenses in criminal cases across the state, has been pending in the state Senate Judiciary Committee for almost a year, the Philadelphia Gay News reported. The Judiciary Committee is chaired by state Sen. Lisa Baker. When asked if she would schedule a vote on the measure, Baker, a Republican, emailed, "I am not ruling out the possibility of any future action. But we need to take a closer look at the implications of the proposal and get input from the legal and justice communities." On Sept. 6, 2018, state Sen. Lawrence Farnese ( D ) introduced the bill, which was initially assigned the number SB 1244, but it died in committee Nov. 30, 2018; on Feb. 4, 2019, he reintroduced the bill, and it was assigned SB 212 as its new number.

A coalition of civil rights, business and political leaders is launching a petition drive initiative to expand Michigan law by including anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ residents, BridgeMI.com noted. Organizers who announced the effort hope to spur action by the Republican-led legislature, whose leaders have cited religious-freedom concerns in resisting similar legislation, or put the issue on the November ballot for voters to decide. Petition language submitted to state election officials would expand the definition of "sex" in the Michigan Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act of 1976 to include "sexual orientation" and "gender identity or expression" regarding housing, public accommodation and employment.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar is facing scrutiny on the campaign trail for voting to confirm more than half of President Trump's judicial nominees—including one with a longtime anti-LGBTQ record, The Washington Blade revealed. With weeks remaining before the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 3, Klobuchar's vote to confirm David Ryan Stras to the U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals could dissuade supporters of LGBTQ rights and other progressives from supporting her in the Democratic presidential primary. Among other things, as a Minnesota Supreme Court justice, Stras, in 2012, joined an opinion allowing an anti-gay marriage amendment to come intact to the ballot with a title obscuring its purpose and effect; voters rejected said amendment. Klobuchar was among just four Democrats who joined Republicans in voting for Stras.

Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit challenging New York State's policy prohibiting transgender minors from correcting the sex designation on their birth certificates—a critically important document for transgender people seeking to navigate through life with accurate government documents, an organizational press release noted. The minor challenging the policy—identified anonymously by his initials, M.H.W.—is a 14-year-old transgender boy born in Ithaca, New York, and currently residing in Houston. In 2014, New York began permitting people 18 years of age or older to correct the sex designation on their birth certificates without the need for surgery, but the state bars minors from correcting the sex designation on their birth certificates.

On Jan. 10, various HIV services organizations and activists held a rally in front of CBS Headquarters in New York City to demand accountability and an apology from CBS New York for publishing an article and coverage that stigmatized HIV, a press release noted. The original headline read, "'Absolutely Ridiculous': HIV-Positive Suspect Released By Judge After Attacking, Spitting In Port Authority Officer's Mouth." According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC ) and the National Institutes of Health ( NIH ), HIV is not transmittable by saliva—a fact that has been known for decades, the press release continued. CBS News later released a statement in an article that ran in Gay City News: "This online story should not have been published. It does not meet our journalistic standards, nor does it reflect our core values. The person who wrote and published the story and social media post failed to review the copy with our news managers. This individual is no longer employed by CBS New York."

The Oregon Court of Appeals once again heard oral argument in the case of the Portland-area bakery that denied service to a lesbian couple based on religious objections to serving same-sex couples, a Lambda Legal press releaes noted. Two years ago, the court upheld a 2015 ruling by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries ( BOLI ) that the owners of Gresham-based Sweetcakes By Melissa violated the state's nondiscrimination statutes when they refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. The U.S. Supreme Court vacated that ruling in June 2019 and directed the Oregon court to reconsider its prior decision in light of the Supreme Court's 2018 ruling in favor of a Colorado baker in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

Researchers said that nearly half of U.S. residents now see gender on a spectrum, rather than along the binary, NewNowNext.com noted. Half of women and four in 10 men say that gender is a spectrum. That number jumps dramatically among people between ages 25—34 ( 55 percent ); it's even higher among LGBTQ people, 84 percent of whom see gender on a spectrum.

A diverse group of civil rights and social-justice leaders sent a letter asking House Democratic leaders to schedule a markup and vote on the NO BAN Act ( H.R. 2214 )—a bill that would end President Trump's Muslim ban and end religious discrimination in immigration laws, according to a Muslim Advocates press release. More than 200 House members have signed on to be co-sponsors of the bill; additionally, nearly 400 civil rights, faith, national security and community organizations ( including the Human Rights Campaign, CODEPINK, Interfaith Alliance, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the NAACP and the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund ) have endorsed it, as have corporations like Airbnb and Postmates.

The Los Angeles LGBT Center opened its first facility in South Los Angeles-Center South, CBS Los Angeles reported. The 5,500-square-foot space at 2313 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. will provide comprehensive programs and services—such as HIV testing, access to PrEP and PEP services, housing case management, mental health services and a drop-in safe space which can also be used to host community events—for LGBT people of color living in South L.A. Acoording to the LGBT Center's website, all of Center South's programs and services will be provided to everyone for free or at low cost with a focus on serving the needs of young gay and bisexual men of color ages 12 to 29.

BLS Pharma, Inc. filed a complaint against Genetronics, Inc. and Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc. for breaching a contract to supply a needle-free injection system that BLS Pharma was using to develop a drug-device combination ( DDC ) for testosterone replacement therapy, Business Wire noted. Testosterone replacement therapy is a multi-billion-dollar market primarily used to treat male hypogonadism, a condition in which the body fails to produce enough testosterone. It is also a necessary treatment for transgender individuals transitioning and on lifetime hormone therapy from female to male.

After much ridicule, Republican Arizona state Sen. Sylvia Allen pledged to remove a section of Senate Bill 1082, a bill she authored, that sought to ban the word "homosexuality" from all public school teaching materials, LGBTQ Nation noted. Kathy Hoffman, Arizona's elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction, said she was "appalled" at Allen's bill, which seeks to dramatically revise the state's sexual education curriculum. She also said lawsuits are likely if Allen's bill becomes law.

Delaware's Republican party chairwoman, Jane Brady, called for the resignation of a party official after he used in a slur for a gay man in a Facebook post, The Hill reported. New Castle County Republican Party Chairman Chris Rowe was slated to resign, Delaware Online noted. He told the The Delaware News Journal that he wouldn't apologize for what he said, framing his comments as "locker room talk."

Harry Hains—a rising actor and model who was gender-fluid—died at the age of 27, Queerty noted. Hains' death was announced via his mother, Jane Badler, on Instagram. She posted, "On Jan 7 my beautiful son died. He was 27 and had the world at his feet. But sadly he struggled with mental illness and addiction. A brilliant spark shone bright too short a time ... I will miss you Harry every day of my life." Last year, in an interview with gay magazine Attitude, he expressed the desire to become a "gender-fluid" icon.

Katie Sowers, an offensive assistant coach for the San Francisco 49ers, is a pioneer in the coaching ranks as the second female assistant in NFL history and the first who is openly gay—and she is getting notice for her trailblazing career in a new ad for Microsoft's Surface Pro computer, Outsports noted. "I'm not here to just be the token female. I'm here to help us win," Sowers says in the ad. Sowers played quarterback for the Kansas City Titans of the Women's Football Alliance, a professional tackle football league, and was a member of the U.S. national football team that won the 2013 IFAF Women's World Championship, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

The president of the NBA's Golden State Warriors married his longtime partner, NBC News noted. Rick Welts and Todd Gage were married by San Francisco Mayor London Breed in her office. He and Gage have been together nine years, Welts said in a Twitter post. Welts, who came out as gay in 2011, has been an instrumental part of the Warriors' success over the last nine years, helping the team appear in five straight NBA Finals and win three championships.

Marianne Williamson ended her 2020 presidential bid, LGBTQ Nation reported. The Democratic candidate failed to qualify for the last few debates and couldn't capture voters' attention or money. While the candidate made a big splash with her first two debate appearances, her call for a "moral and spiritual awakening" didn't resonate with voters more interested in punishing President Donald Trump.

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker announced Jan. 13 that he is also dropping out of the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, NPR reported. In an email to his supporters, Booker cited a number of reasons—most notably, a lack of money to continue. Booker was viewed as a powerful communicator on the campaign trail; however, his candidacy never really caught fire with Democratic voters, as they seek a candidate best positioned to take on President Trump.

Abby Huntsman announced on The View that she is leaving the show to help run her father Jon Huntsman's gubernatorial campaign in Utah, as well as to spend more time with her family, Deadline noted. Huntsman has co-hosted The View since September 2018. Jon Huntsman, who ran for president in 2012, resigned as U.S. ambassador to Russia last year, and later announced his bid to return to the governorship of Utah.

Vans, the skateboarding apparel company, has just released two sneakers that give off definite queer vibes, LGBTQ Nation noted. The company's I HEART SK8-HIs and I HEART SLIP-ONs both have "I [heart] BOYS, I [heart] GIRLS" printed on them, and several of their styles for infants, toddlers, and children feature velcro straps and hearts in every color of the rainbow. Vans also has other rainbow-colored footwear available in its store.

In Utah, Project Rainbow recently hosted Fashion Fluid at the Gateway Mall, a free pop-up boutique for LGBTQ youth, ABC4.com noted. Hundreds of articles of clothing were donated and collected during its Flag Campaign. The boutique helps youths shop for the types of clothes to help them with their identities, and provide a positive experience with other LGBTQ individuals.

White House adviser Ivanka Trump was met with a friendly reception from the crowd while delivering a keynote address at the CES tech gathering in Las Vegas, the nation's biggest consumer electronics trade show, The Hill noted. However, her appearance ignited intense backlash from women and other tech workers who argued that her background did not align with what the annual tech conference is meant to represent. Twitter users posted the hashtag #BoycottCES to voice frustration with Trump's appearance.

U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter ( R-California ) officially stepped down from ConJan. 13—more than a month after he pled guilty to conspiracy to misuse campaign funds, Politico reported. Hunter and his wife, Margaret, were indicted in August 2018 for allegedly diverting $250,000 in campaign funds for personal use, including to pay for lavish family vacations and their children's school tuition. Gov. Gavin Newsom ( D-California ) does not have to call a special election because the nomination period has closed and it's an election year, raising the possibility that the seat could remain vacant for the rest of 2020.


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