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NATIONAL Suicidal partner, Cory Booker, serial killer, trans group's crisis
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2019-08-27

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In Philadelphia, a 20-year-old Black man took his life after being the target of relentless bullying because of his relationship with a trans woman, Vibe.com reported. #RipReese trended on Twitter after a video of Maurice Willoughby, better known as Reese, was seen being harassed by others in his neighborhood. "Y'all can say whatever you want about Faith. I really don't care if she's not passable. I don't care if she wasn't born a woman. She's a woman to me and I love her flaws. That's what makes her Faith," Reese wrote on Facebook prior to his death. It's unclear how long the couple were together, but the young man had her name tattooed on his forehead.

Senator and 2020 presidential hopeful Cory Booker ( D-New Jersey ) talked about his non-binary "niephew" in an interview, LGBTQ Nation noted. Speaking with the National Center for Transgender Equality's Executive Director Mara Keisling, Booker said, "My brother's child, my 'niephew'—which is a combination of niece and nephew—is a trans activist," adding they "helped their uncle be someone who is more aware of specific issues facing trans youth in schools today." During the interview, Booker also mentioned trans-rights pioneer Babs Siperstein as his "activist inspiration" and a "legend" in New Jersey.

Florida has put to death Gary Ray Bowles—the man known as the "I-95 killer" who was convicted of killing three people and admitted to killing several more in a 1994 spree targeting gay men, CNN.com reported. Bowles' attorneys had appealed to the Supreme Court for a stay, arguing that Bowles is intellectually disabled and that was something no court had considered; however, the court decided not to stay the execution. Bowles is the 99th person to be put to death in Florida since capital punishment resumed in 1976.

National Center for Transgender Equality ( NCTE ) staffers walked out over union problems and charges of racism, NewNowNext.com reported. The walkout came in protest of the firing of the organization's survey outreach coordinator Lissette Miller, who had been tasked with bolstering participation in the United States Transgender Survey. Staff say Miller, who is Black and Nicaraguan, represents the latest failure of the organization to retain staff of color. Also, staff have been pushing management for improved working conditions since at least late 2017, as people were desperate for reimbursements and more paid time off to recoup from jobs that taxed them intellectually and emotionally.

An Ohio teenager—18-year-old Justin Olsen—was arrested after threatening to open fire at a gay bar and a Planned Parenthood clinic, LGBTQ Nation reported. When the FBI raided Olsen's home he shares with his father, the bureau seized 25 guns ( 15 rifles and 10 semi-automatic pistols ) and more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition the teen had been stockpiling. Olsen is charged with aggravated menacing, but claims he was only making jokes about shooting federal agents and LGBT people.

The former operators of a conversion-therapy camp have been indicted on a number of charges related to alleged abuse, including human trafficking and forced labor, LGBTQ Nation reported. Gary and Meghann Wiggins are accused of forcing at least four boys at their home for troubled youth in Texas to work for them in their businesses as well as abusing and neglecting them. Gary had previously run a conversion therapy camp in Alabama for boys.

In Florida, Tampa Mayor Jane Castor announced an executive order at the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce International Business & Leadership Conference that will recognize certified LGBT-owned businesses, Tampa Bay Times reported. That means the city will treat them similarly to minority and women-owned businesses in when seeking bids for government contracts. Tampa is the second city in the state to adopt the program after Orlando.

A board member of the conservative LGBT group Log Cabin Republicans quit following the organization's decision to endorse President Trump's 2020 reelection bid, according to The Hill. Jennifer Horn announced the decision in a letter to the group's chair and vice chair, The Washington Post reported. Log Cabin Republicans Chairman Robert Kabel and Vice Chairwoman Jill Homan announced the endorsement in a Washington Post opinion piece.

On a related note, President Trump, for the first time, acknowledged the endorsement of his 2020 campaign by the Log Cabin Republicans, The Washington Blade reported. When the Blade asked Trump about anti-LGBT steps his administration has taken, he ignored the question and responded, "Well, you know, I just got an award and an endorsement yesterday from the exact group. ... I think I've done really very well with that community, as you know, Peter Thiel and so many others, they're — they're with me all the way, and they like the job I'm doing, and I just got a big endorsement from the Log Cabin group."

Los Angeles police have launched a hate-crime investigation after a video showing transgender women being forcibly removed from a popular downtown bar went viral on social media, HuffPost reported. The women said they were physically and verbally assaulted by two other patrons at mezcal bar Las Perlas and then bar staff aggressively ousted them. Cedd Moses—founder of Pouring With Heart, the company that owns the bar—initially defended the actions of his staff; later, he struck a more contrite note in a follow-up statement after public backlash.

The Daily Beast recently talked with Evan Bergeron—a lawyer who could make history in the primary, set for Oct. 12: If he wins, he would become the first openly LGBTQ person ever elected to the Louisiana state legislature and only the second out LGBTQ elected official in the entire state. "I am confident because our message to voters is, 'We need someone in Baton Rouge who will be effective from day one,'" said Bergeron, who is running against six other Democrats in an area of New Orleans known as Uptown. Bergeron has received the endorsement of the influential LGBTQ Victory Fund, which supports out LGBTQ candidates across the country.

A federal appeals court ruled that Kim Davis—the Kentucky county clerk who in 2015 gained widespread attention for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples—may be sued for damages by two of those couples, Reuters noted. In a 3-0 decision, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati said Davis can be sued in her individual capacity, although sovereign immunity shielded her from being sued in her former role as Rowan County clerk. Out.com added that the federal panel announced that the Commonwealth of Kentucky is responsible for paying the couples $225,000 in legal fees from their 2015 cases.

Bil Browning, managing editor of news website LGBTQ Nation and founder of since-shuttered Bilerico.com, is officially part of LGBTQ history, Press Pass Q noted. Browning and his husband, Jerame Davis, donated dozens of items that are now part of "Illegal To Be You: Gay History Beyond Stonewall," an exhibition unveiled in June at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. Curator Katherine Ott said the items showcase LGBTQ history, activism and the "everyday experience of being queer."

While organizers of a straight pride rally in Modesto, California, had envisioned an event that would draw several hundred people, the rally turned out to be a few dozen people gathered in a barn, which was cut short by the venue's owner, followed by a protest in front of Planned Parenthood, which was closed, The Modesto Bee reported. The events staged in opposition of the rally drew far more, with about 250 people each attending two events ( including a counterprotest ) meant to mark the city's diversity.

Just weeks after elected leaders in western Virginia voted to protect LBGT employees from discrimination, they've changed course and rescinded their policy, Fox5DC.com reported. In July, the Frederick County Board of Supervisors unanimously decided to extend the county's anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policy to LBGT county employees—but recently rescinded that development by a vote of six to one. Del. David LaRock ( R-Hamilton ) played a role, telling FOX 5 he believes being gay is a choice; in an opinion piece, he compared gays and "gender impersonators" to smokers.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) responded to former Rep. Jason Lewis' announcement of his run for U.S. Senate against incumbent Sen. Tina Smith. In a press release, HRC Regional Campaign Director for Minnesota Lindsey Clark said, "Jason Lewis is a dangerously out-of-touch extremist who compared LGBTQ people to rapists and criminals and complained that he could no longer call women 'sluts.' Lewis' views are out of step with Minnesota and he has no business pursuing higher office." While in Congress, Lewis never earned more than a 0 on HRC's Congressional Scorecard.

A jury ruled that author Nicholas Sparks ( The Notebook ) didn't do anything wrong when he fired a school headmaster who accused him of discriminating against minority students and barring an LGBTQ club at the North Carolina private school he founded, The Charlotte Observer reported. Sparks—who lives in North Carolina and writes many books set in the state—was sued by Saul Hillel Benjamin, headmaster at the Epiphany School of Global Studies in New Bern; Benjamin's controversial exit in 2013 led to the federal lawsuit. The jury ultimately cleared Sparks on all counts of defamation and violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

All 2,044 women held at Michigan's only women's prison were called into individual meetings with officials and asked to state whether they are straight, gay, bisexual or transgender, Detroit Free Press reported. Many prisoners at Women's Huron Valley Correctional Facility, near Ypsilanti, were upset by the questioning, according to Tammy Weidenhamer—a former prisoner who received a phone call from an upset friend who is still incarcerated. Corrections Department spokesman Chris Gautz said the questioning was required to comply with a prison audit related to the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act.

Women's March Foundation has launched a Back To School Nationwide Voter Registration initiative focusing on youth, a press release noted. The national initiative will encourage Women's March Foundation Warriors ( volunteers ) across the country to connect with their local colleges and universities, requesting to participate in voter registration drives. See WomensMarchFoundation.org or https://actionnetwork.org/forms/back-to-school-voter-registration-kit-request?source=direct_link.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg completed three weeks of radiation treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, NPR reported. The radiation therapy, conducted on an outpatient basis, began Aug. 5, shortly after a localized cancerous tumor was discovered on Ginsburg's pancreas. The treatment included the insertion of a stent in Ginsburg's bile duct, according to a statement issued from the court.

A decades-old investigation into the murders of Black children in Atlanta has been officially reopened—coincidentally converging with renewed interest in the case thanks to the second season of the Netflix series Mindhunter, according to Rolling Stone. Earlier this year, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Atlanta police chief Erika Shields announced that, following advancements in DNA technology, the city would be retesting evidence associated with the Atlanta child murders—a series of gruesome killings of more than 25 Black children and adolescents in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

A Florida jury has convicted Michael Drejka, a white man, who fatally shot an unarmed Black man, Markeis McGlockton, in July 2018, NPR reported. Drejka's defense used the state's "stand your ground" law, saying he feared for his safety when the two men got in an argument over the use of a handicapped-accessible space in a convenience store parking lot in Clearwater. Drejka could get up to 30 years in prison.

Roy Moore—the disgraced Alabama Senate candidate who is seeking to win the Republican nomination again in 2020—attempted to justify the ban on transgender military service by invoking both the Bible and an old episode of the hit sitcom MASH, Salon.com noted. Also, during a Dekalb County Republican Breakfast Club meeting in the Alabama community of Fort Payne, Moore—a longtime opponent of same-sex marriage—said he would oppose civil unions as a substitute, because he believes the government should not recognize any act involving "sodomy."

Joe Arpaio, the notorious 87-year-old former Arizona sheriff who was pardoned by President Donald Trump in 2017, announced a bid to reclaim his old job in the state's Maricopa County, HuffPost noted. Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt in 2017 for violating a 2011 order that barred him from detaining people based merely on his suspicions about their immigration status.

GayRealEstate.com—a service that connects buyers and sellers with compatible agents—conducted a survey and found that that a majority of LGBTQ homebuyers prioritize "environmentally conscious communities" as important, a press release noted. Previously located in Colorado, the GayRealEstate.com team recently moved to California—in part, drawn to the state's eco-friendliness.


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