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NATIONAL Virginia's pro-LGBTQ moves, trans teen, Dr. Fauci, AIDS Quilt
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2020-04-14

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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed a law requiring the state's Department of Motor Vehicles to offer a non-binary option on driver's licenses, according to The Washington Blade. The governor signed Senate Bill 246, which now offers driver's license applicants the option to mark "male," "female" or "non-binary" when designating their sex. "Historically, transgender and non-binary Virginians have experienced challenges obtaining accurate identity documents due to unnecessary barriers," said Equality Virginia Executive Director Vee Lamneck. "This law helps to change that, and we are proud that Virginia has now joined the ranks of 16 other states and D.C. who already offer a third gender marker option on state driver's licenses and IDs."

Also, Gov. Ralph Northam signed the Virginia Values Act, making Virginia the first Southern state to provide comprehensive protections for the LGBTQ community against discrimination, WCYB.com reported. Senate Bill 868 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, public and private employment, public accommodations, and access to credit. "Equality Virginia has been working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for years to create a safer and more welcoming commonwealth for LGBTQ people," said Equality Virginia Executive Director Vee Lamneck in a statement. "This law will have a transformative and positive impact on the lives of LGBTQ Virginians and bring Virginia into alignment with its voters."

A federal lawsuit claimed that TSA officers allegedly insisted a trans teen show her genitals before flying, NewNowNext.com reported. The suit stated the teen set off a false positive when she entered the scanner. She told the scanner operator that she was transgender and that if they tried scanning her using the other gender marker on the machine, the issue would be resolved; instead, the TSA employee flagged a supervisor. The supervisor allegedly needed the teen to expose herself and allow the supervisor to touch her genitals; the teen refused. A TSA spokesperson told NewNowNext the agency does not comment on pending litigation. According to the TSA webpage on trans travelers, agents only submit travelers to patdowns, and it is against policy to perform strip-searches.

Dr. Anthony Fauci said April 7 that the visibility LGBTQ people brought to themselves during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic helped change the tide for public perception, The Washington Blade noted. Fauci made the remarks during the daily White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing when responding to COVID-19's disproportionate impact on Black Americans, saying the disease has "shed a light" on health disparities in the United States—much like HIV/AIDS did with LGBTQ people. As head of the National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases, Fauci was responsible for developing medications to treat HIV/AIDS at the height of the epidemic.

Leftover fabric from the AIDS Memorial Quilt is now being used to make coronavirus masks, People.com noted. "During the AIDS crisis, I could go and do something," said AIDS Memorial Quilt Chief Coordinator Gert McMullin. "But now, I can't. I'm not used to sitting around and not helping people." The masks are being used at facilities run by Bay Area Community Services, which serves the homeless and people suffering from addiction. The face masks are helping both employees and residents.

Amid what the American Medical Association called a "disturbing pattern of violence toward Black transgender women," a new report from Media Matters for America found that corporate evening broadcast and cable TV news discussed anti-trans violence only eight times, for a total of 18 minutes and 23 seconds, in 2019, a press release noted. CNN's historic LGBTQ town hall, held Oct. 10, accounted for an additional 15 minutes, bringing the total coverage of anti-trans violence in 2019 to 33 minutes and 25 seconds across 13 discussions. The full report is at https://www.mediamatters.org/justice-civil-liberties/outside-town-hall-tv-news-spent-20-minutes-covering-anti-trans-violence.

Robby Browne—one of New York City's most celebrated residential agents—died from coronavirus after battling cancer for several years, The Real Deal reported. Over a career that spanned more than three decades, the openly gay agent built a star-studded roster of clients including Hilary Swank, Uma Thurman and Jon Bon Jovi; in 2014, he sold billionaire Jon Stryker's penthouse at 50 Central Park West for $42 million. In 2007, the year he turned 60, he accepted Corcoran Group's broker of the year award dressed in a woman's bathing suit and dancing to the Village People's "YMCA."

Jonathan Frey—the fiance of Shannon Bennett, the Broward County Sheriff's deputy who recently died from COVID-19—spoke out about his heartbreak after losing the "amazing and dynamic" man he was ready to spend the rest of his life with, People.com reported. "Ultimately, I want Shannon's story to be told. … He was just so amazing. He was dynamic, and he was so full of life," Frey said, while urging others to adhere to the safety measures that are in place amid the coronavirus pandemic.

However, in a shocking turn of events related to Bennett's passing, some officers are claiming that Davie Police Chief Dale Engle tried minimizing their worries by saying that Bennett's death was caused by his "homosexual" lifestyle, The Miami Herald reported. Engle made the remarks during an angry tirade against the officers after a patrol briefing on April 7, according to a complaint filed to town administration by a state police union that represents the officers. Engle was placed on administrative leave "pending further review of allegations," the town administration said in a statement.

The Modern Military Association of America ( MMAA )—the nation's largest non-profit organization working to advance fairness and equality for the LGBTQ military and veteran community—released the following statements ahead of the one year anniversary of the Trump-Pence transgender military ban, which went into effect last year on April 12. "For far more than a year, the Trump-Pence administration has shamefully told thousands of qualified transgender military members that we aren't good enough and our service doesn't matter. Yet time and time again, we continue to prove them wrong," said Patricia King, the Army's first out transgender infantryman and MMAA's federal advocacy manager.

In Georgia, the Dawson County sheriff's office arrested nine men during a three-day sting operation last month, charging them with a string of misdemeanors and felonies—and some without any merit whatsoever, according to a Queerty item that cites Project Q Atlanta. Police accused at least one of the men of offering drugs in exchange for sex to an undercover cop, though screenshots of the conversation included in the man's arrest warrant don't support the allegations at all. The sheriff's office also went after eight other men, between the ages of 23 and 50, over three days in early March—and the arrested men's names and mugshots were then leaked to a local newspaper, where they were then published.

William Talen, 69, was arrested after trying to plant an LGBTQ Pride flag at a COVID-19 tent hospital in New York City operated by an anti-LGBTQ preacher, Metro Weekly reported. The 68-bed tent hospital in Central Park was established by evangelical Christian aid organization Samaritan's Purse—run by anti-LGBTQ preacher Franklin Graham—and is intended to help treat overflow patients from Mount Sinai Hospital experiencing COVID-19-related respiratory distress.

The executive director of Being Alive Los Angeles, Garry George Bowie, died April 7 from complications to his lungs after testing positive for COVID-19, WeHoTimes.com reported. Established in 1986, Being Alive is a nonprofit client-driven organization that focuses on the mental health and wellness of people living with HIV/AIDS. Bowie's husband, Jeff Wacha, posted on his Facebook Timeline, in part, "I truly meant I couldn't imagine my life without him, always sure that I would never have to know. Now he's not here, and I am lost. I don't have any idea how I'll work through this. I lived for Garry. He was my entire world."

On April 9, the Tallahassee City Council unanimously passed Florida's most inclusive ordinance to protect minors and vulnerable adults from conversion therapy, a National Center for Lesbian Rights ( NCLR ) press release noted. "The Tallahassee City Council has shown much-needed courage and leadership in standing up for LGBTQ youth in the face of vicious attacks by Liberty Counsel and other hate-based groups that promote dangerous lies and misinformation about LGBTQ people," said NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter. Tallahassee joins more than 70 municipalities, 20 states and the District of Columbia that have adopted similar protections.

The Pride Center of Maryland announced this year's Baltimore Pride has been postponed, The Washington Blade noted. According to a press release, the Pride Center of Maryland is working with Baltimore City to reschedule the June 20-21 event, likely pushing it back to late August or September. Baltimore Pride is scheduled to celebrate its 45th anniversary this year. Other events organized by the Pride Center of Maryland, such as the second annual Pride Job Fair, have yet to be postponed; currently, the event is still scheduled to take place on Wed., May 6.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) Foundation and GLSEN announced it will hold a virtual graduation ceremony to honor the LGBTQ+ high school and college class of 2020 on Friday, May 8, at 4 p.m. ET, a press release noted. As the country is encouraged to practice social distancing, many institutions are canceling or postponing their graduation ceremonies; this effort will honor the nearly half a million LGBTQ+ students HRC estimates are graduating this spring, who may be impacted by these cancellations and disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Registration is at https://act.hrc.org/page/58860/event/1?ea.tracking.id=ot_loc_oev_graduation_050820.

CNN's Anderson Cooper accused President Trump of "hijacking" the White House coronavirus task force press briefing on April 6, saying the president is trying to rewrite the history of "reprehensibly irresponsible" early response to the disease, The Hill reported. "If you tuned into it hoping you were going to hear from the country's top scientists, you were likely disappointed," Cooper said on his show, AC360. He added, "What the president showed us today is what the nation's top scientists have to deal with every day—a president who now uses these briefings as a reelection platform, an opportunity to lie, to deflect, to attack, to bully, and cover up his own deadly dismissals of the virus for crucial weeks."

Discrimination—and the fear of it—along with a desire for safe and welcoming neighborhoods differentiate LGBT homebuyers and sellers from non-LGBT homebuyers and sellers, according to National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professional's ( NAGLREP ) fourth annual LGBT Real Estate Report, a media release stated. Also, NAGLREP members cite affordability ( 63 percent ), competition from other buyers ( 57 percent ), inventory levels ( 57 percent ) and amount needed for a down payment ( 46 percent ) as overriding concerns for their LGBT clients. The report is at https://naglrep.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/2020-lgbt-re-report.pdf.

New York-based genderless streetwear brand Private Policy is launching support for the Ali Forney Center's ( AFC's ) #LoveAli campaign in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic, a press release noted. ( AFC is the nation's largest and most comprehensive services and shelter provider for homeless LGBTQ youth. ) The AFC #LOVEALI T-shirts retail for $80 each, and are available for purchase through a GoFundMe site and on Private Policy's website ( PrivatePolicyNY.com ). Private Policy is joined in raising funds for AFC through the T-shirt collaboration with long-time AFC supporter Billy Porter ( of FX's Pose ), Tan France ( of Netflix's Queer Eye ), Bowen Yang ( of NBC's Saturday Night Live ) and artist and activist Chella Man.

Kayleigh McEnany—who was recently appointed President Trump's fourth press secretary—is being criticized by LGBTQ advocates for a history of anti-LGBTQ statements and rhetoric, Metro Weekly reported. GLAAD noted, for example, that McEnany argued that the Supreme Court's decision in the Obergefell v. Hodges case overturning those bans was a threat to religious liberty, and that she praised former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's dissent in the case in a tweet. McEnany replaced Stephanie Grisham, who will return to her old position as First Lady Melania Trump's chief of staff.

A group of LGBT nightlife and business figures issued an open letter to San Francisco Pride officials and city leaders April 9, asking that the event be postponed to the fall in light of the novel coronavirus outbreak instead of occurring entirely online in June, The Bay Area Reporter noted. This year's 50th San Francisco Pride celebration is scheduled for June 27-28. Responding to the letter, public officials said it was too early to determine if fall would be a good time to hold a Pride parade and festival from a public health perspective.

Living Out is a high-end condominium community taking shape near downtown Palm Springs that will aim to create a welcoming, safe and inclusive living experience for LGBTQ seniors, Palm Springs Life noted. Loren Ostrow—principal of KOAR International LLC and president/CEO of Living Out LLC—said, "Within the park-like setting, there will be recreation and exercise pools, spas, pickleball and bocce ball courts, a putting green, dog park, walking paths, BBQ areas and multi-functional lawn spaces." The nine-acre property, at 1122 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, will also have numerous other conveniences, such as a dining room and a piano bar/lounge/coffeehouse, a movie theater, fitness center, game room, card room and other items. The condos are projected to be available for move-in by September 2021, and will range in price from the mid-$600,000s to just more than $900,000.

Even as California sees glimmers of hope amid the coronavirus outbreak, authorities warn that the Golden State won't be getting back to normal anytime soon, The Los Angeles Times reported. Officials expect months more of some social distancing policies, warning that lifting the strict rules too early could worsen the health crisis. In fact, it's unlikely the new coronavirus will be completely eradicated, and the disease could become seasonal, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CBS this week.

Linda Tripp—who secretly recorded her conversations with Monica Lewinsky about the then-intern's relationship with President Bill Clinton in the White House—died at age 70, CNN.com reported. Tripp, a friend of Lewinsky's at the time, turned the 20 hours of tapes over to special prosecutor Kenneth Starr. The scandal ultimately led to Clinton's impeachment for perjury and obstruction of justice, although he was ultimately acquitted in the Senate.

Nordstrom announced a partnership with Kaas Tailored and Providence Health & Services, and they are now committed to making nearly 1 million medical masks, a press release noted. The retail giant has also partnered with Ascension, one of the largest hospital networks in the country. Nordstrom is also offering additional support to partner organizations like the Seattle Foundation, YouthCare and Hetrick Martin Institute—all of which are supporting COVID-19 relief efforts.

The Nevada festival known as Burning Man will be virtual this year and take place in the multiverse because of the ongoing threat of coronavirus, CNN.com noted. Organizers will apparently live-stream dance and art exhibits, yoga classes and other forms of artistic training. The annual nine-day festival would've taken place Aug. 30-Sept. 7 in the temporarily constructed city known as Black Rock City, in the Black Rock Desert.

In response to changing consumer behavior due to COVID-19, nationwide changes have been made to the Mega Millions and Powerball starting jackpot amounts and minimum jackpot roll increases, a press release announced. Once the current jackpot grand prizes have been won, the new starting jackpot amounts will be determined and announced prior to each Mega Millions and Powerball drawings. Previously each game had a starting jackpot amount of $40 million. The amount the jackpots will increase by between drawings for both Mega Millions and Powerball, will be established based on each game's sales and interest rates, with no set fixed minimum amounts.


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