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NATIONAL: Twin sons' dilemma, Center Global, risky Buttigieg comment
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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The Hill reported that the State Department continued an ongoing fight to require one of a gay couple's twin sons to undergo a DNA test to prove his citizenship, according to Immigration Equality, a nonprofit that represents LGBTQ people in immigration cases. In January 2018, Andrew and Elad Dvash-Banks sued the department after it informed them that one of their twin sons, Ethan—born through a surrogate like his brother, Aiden—had been denied citizenship because he only carried DNA from Elad, an Israeli citizen.

D.C.-based group Center Global held its annual awards ceremony, honoring Human Rights Campaign Global Director Ty Cobb with its Global Advocate Award and Gleb Latnik—an LGBT activist from Russia who now lives in D.C. with his husband—with its Global Courage Award, The Washington Blade noted. Center Global has provided assistance to more than 200 other LGBT asylum seekers from around the world since it formed in 2012.

In a speech to the Human Rights Campaign, openly gay presidential canddiate Pete Buttigieg warned of a "crisis of belonging in this country," arguing it was exacerbated by "so-called identity politics" that emphasize how one person hasn't walked in another's shoes—"something that is true, but it doesn't get us very far." He drew a direct line between the obstacles faced by a Black, trans woman excluded by mainstream society and an out-of-work auto worker excluded by the new economy. Buttigieg also called out President Trump on several occasions.

In Maine, the owner of a children's bookstore in Waterville said she is surprised and disappointed at backlash she's received over a "Drag Queen Story Hour" event that will feature a man dressed as a woman for a children's story hour at the store, noted. The June 1 event is being organized as part of the 2019 Central Maine Pride Festival and is intended as a way of promoting diversity and educating people on the LGBTQ community, said Ellen Richmond, owner of the Children's Book Cellar.

Liberty Counsel, the legal organization behind the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, is accusing the State Department of promoting "the LGBT agenda," LGBTQ Nation reported. Rightwing Watch speculated that Liberty Counsel may be worried that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will issue a statement for the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia ( IDAHOBIT ), which he did at around this time last year.

In their first major test, members of the Texas House's LGBTQ Caucus helped defeat a bill that they characterized as an assault on gay rights and protections, the Texas Tribune noted. The five female lawmakers in the first-of-its-kind caucus used a parliamentary maneuver to delay and ultimately defeat House Bill 3172 by Fort Worth Republican Matt Krause.

Vice President Mike Pence told Liberty University's graduates to "be ready" to be hated for their beliefs, LGBTQ Nation reported. Pence was speaking at the Christian university's 2019 commencement, warning them that they are marginalized because of who they are. He said that "attacks on Christian education" are "un-American"—a line that he has used repeatedly when discussing his wife Karen's choice to work at a school that bans LGBTQ people.

Chris Hughes, the gay co-founder of Facebook, has published an op-ed in the New York Times calling on the government to break up the monolithic social media company, LGBTQ Nation noted. In a lengthy and detailed piece, Hughes makes the argument why the company's control over so much of modern life is a danger to society.

In North Carolina, an attorney representing an inmate in the Neuse Correctional Institution in Goldsboro sent a letter to the prison's superintendent and the N.C. Department of Justice threatening to sue if she was not permitted to marry her fiancee by June 13, Indy Week noted. According to the letter—sent by Elizabeth Simpson of the Durham-based Carolina Justice Policy Center—Sandy Dowell was informed earlier this month that the prison's head chaplain "did not want to approve the marriage request because it was 'same-sex' and had never been done in North Carolina prisons before."

California school districts are implementing these new laws inconsistently, according to a new sweeping report-card style analysis from the Equality California Institute, noted. Public middle and high schools were required to follow the sex ed laws in the California Healthy Youth Act beginning in 2016, but the state board of education recently approved a new framework for teaching sex education.

The Connecticut Senate overwhelmingly endorsed a measure to ban the so-called "gay panic defense"—a legal strategy that asks a jury to find a victim's sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for a defendant's actions, The CT Mirror reported. The defense has been invoked in crimes as serious as homicide—including by a defendant in the case of Matthew Shepard, a gay student in Wyoming who was beaten, tortured and bound to a fence in 1998. Shepard died six days later from severe head injuries.

In Florida, former Wilton Manors Mayor King Wilkinson has died at 80, the Sun Sentinel noted. He served two terms as mayor starting in 1994, according to the Wilton Manors Historical Society. But in 1996, he became the subject of controversy when he tried to stop the opening of a restaurant, allegedly because it was gay-owned; his political career crumbled in 1998 after political opponents again accused him of being anti-gay.

To mark Pride Month, Bud Light will sell rainbow-colored aluminum bottles in bars nationwide from May 27 to June 30 and donate to GLAAD $1 from each case sold, noted. The rainbow bottles are among Pride Month actions the company is taking this year with GLAAD. It's also a sponsor of the Governors Ball Music Festival May 31-June 2 in New York and will host an all-LGBT lineup of performers on its own stage.

On a related note, Stoli Vodka is paying special tribute to the Stonewall Riots with a special "Spirit of Stonewall" Limited Edition bottle, a press release noted. The bottle was designed by award-winning LGBTQ visual artist Lisa Marie Thalhammer, who incorporated key imagery from the LGBTQ movement, including five hands and three protest signs at the corner of Gay and Christopher Streets outside of the Stonewall inn; and a high heel to represent the trans activists who initiated the 1969 uprisings.

And if that wasn't enough, Utah-based Ogden's Own distillery unveiled a gay-themed Five Husbands vodka for the 2019 Utah Pride Festival, NBC News noted. Steve Conlin, CEO of Ogden's Own Distillery, said the underrated progressiveness of Mormon-majority Utah and the success of Five Wives vodka were reasons he wanted to launch the gay-themed limited edition.

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