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National: Anti-hate campaigns, bisexual governor, another United situation
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2017-04-18

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Media Matters For America—in coalition other organizations including the National Center for Transgender Equality, The National LGBTQ Task Force, SoulForce, The Equality Federation and The Matthew Shepard Foundation— launched the Eliminate Hate campaign, a press release stated. The campaign is a new effort aiming to expose, undermine and mitigate the influence and impact of anti-LGBTQ hate groups, while empowering and supporting local leaders and community members confronting extremism in their daily lives. Judy Shepard, who founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation, said, "Enough is enough. It's time our institutions—especially the media—start recognizing the extremely corrosive effects of their slander and act accordingly."

Equality California announced the launch of a media campaign called "#ResistHate" to recognize and promote California's exceptional diversity, a press release noted. The campaign seeks to foster a statewide culture of solidarity that resists fear, bigotry and hate, and instead encourages unity among the state's LGBTQ community and all communities that experience prejudice, injustice and discrimination. The new year-long campaign features images evoking love, unity and California pride, and will appear on 125 billboards in various markets across the state.

Bisexual Oregon Gov. Kate Brown came out again in a debate with her Republican opponent—as a domestic-violence survivor, LGBTQ Nation noted. Brown revealed that fact after an audience member asked about the recently released "Count Her In" report from the Women's Foundation of Oregon, which reveals that more than half of Oregon women and girls experience domestic or sexual violence during their lifetime. Brown became governor in 2015 after the Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber resigned due to a scandal, making her the first openly bisexual governor in the country. She must be elected this November to stay in office through the end of the term.

A gay man who was flying on United Airlines for his honeymoon cruise has claimed he was almost denied entry to the plane because of his mobility device, LGBTQ Nation reported. Trey Harris—who has spondylitis, a form of autoimmune spinal arthritis that sometimes causes pain that keeps him from walking—uses a Segway miniPro. Although United and the Transportation Security Administration had initially approved the device, Harris was told at the gate he couldn't bring it with him. Harris ( who wants an apology from United ) and his husband decided to leave the device at the airport and rent a scooter for several hundred dollars in San Diego.

Hawaii's LGBT community is lobbying for equal access to the financial help that married, heterosexual couples enjoy under state law regarding fertility treatments, NBC News noted. LGBT couples are pushing for legislation that would require insurance companies to cover in vitro fertilization for more couples—including making Hawaii the first state to require the coverage for surrogates, which would help male same-sex couples who must use a surrogate. Hawaii is one of eight states that require insurance companies to cover in vitro fertilization.

Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union ( ACLU ) and ACLU of North Carolina condemned the decision by the U.S. Department of Justice to dismiss its lawsuit challenging House Bill 2, according to a joint press release. "Here is yet another instance of the Trump administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions withdrawing the federal government's support from transgender individuals, and they are using the fake repeal of HB 2 as cover," said Lambda Legal Legal Director and Eden/Rushing Chair Jon W. Davidson. HB 142—the anti-transgender replacement for HB 2—continues to bar any protections for transgender people using restrooms or other facilities in schools or other state or local government buildings in North Carolina.

In the wake of the news that President Trump has raised $53 million in the first 75 days of his presidency, Fight Back PAC announced its launch as the first grassroots superPAC in the nation dedicated to defeating President Trump and his Republican allies in Congress at the ballot box, a press release stated. Fight Back PAC, unlike most superPACs that raise millions from Big Money interests, will be a people-powered Super PAC, employing a smart Small Money strategy that raises the majority of its funding from the grassroots in donations of $5 to $50. Interested persons can visit FightBackPAC.com .

Club Skirts and Tito's Vodka joined forces at this year's Dinah by donating a $10,000 matching grant to the National Center For Lesbian Rights ( NCLR ), a press release noted. In addition to the pool parties, concerts and DJ sets, this year's Dinah had a decidedly activist undertone. The Dinah hosted "Party With a Purpose" on April 2, featuring a call to action from NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendall and Dinah owner Mariah Hanson. While The Dinah 2017 is now over, the fundraising continues until May 10; people can text "DINAH" and a donation amount to 41444.

The widow of Omar Mateen—the Pulse nightclub shooter who pledged allegiance to ISIS before taking 49 lives in a June 2016 massacre—pled not guilty to charges of aiding and abetting her husband and obstructing justice, Advocate.com reported. Salman Mateen has maintained she had no knowledge of Mateen's plans to attack the LGBT nightclub, but she was arrested in January and charged with providing material support to ISIS and obstructing the investigation. Her trial is set for June 5.

A pastor who said the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting "got what they deserved" has been found guilty on eight molestation charges for a sexual relationship he had with a 15-year-old boy and girl from his church, NewNowNext noted. Kenneth Adkins, 57, was found guilty after just an hour of jury deliberation. According to Georgia's mandatory minimum sentencing laws, because Adkins has a prior record, he may never be a free man again. Following the shooting at Pulse, Adkins tweeted that he had "been through so much with these Jacksonville homosexuals that I don't see none of them as victims. I see them as getting what they deserve!!"

The pro-LGBT group One Iowa praised the Iowa Senate for passing HF134, a bill that prevents municipalities from using "familial status" to determine occupancy for rental properties, a press release stated. One Iowa Executive Director Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel said, Tthe use of familial status to determine occupancy should be eliminated. Allowing municipalities to define 'family' and use that definition to determine who can and can't rent a home opens the door to discrimination against LGBTQ families." The bill will now move to Gov. Terry Branstad's desk to be signed into law.

A Scottsdale, Arizona, restaurant has closed its doors just two months after being sued by the federal government for allegedly allowing the harassment of gay employees, KTAR.com reported. In a two-sentence post on its website, 5th & Wine said it closed for good. Two employees—one gay, one straight—said they were subjected to name-calling, inappropriate comments, innuendos and touching. The employees complained to management, who allegedly did nothing to stop the harassment and even took part in some of it.

The former associate athletic director at the University of Iowa is squaring off against the school in a trial that centers on her claim that she suffered discrimination as a lesbian who fought bias in college sports, LGBTQ Nation reported. The trial in a lawsuit brought by Jane Meyer is expected to decide if Athletic Director Gary Barta's personnel decisions were necessary judgment calls or tainted by discrimination. Several University of Iowa coaches, including football's Kirk Ferentz, are expected to testify at the trial, scheduled for up to three weeks in Des Moines.

In a press release, the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) called out the Alabama Senate Health Committee for advancing H.B. 24, and renewed its call for the full Senate to reject this proposal when it comes up for a floor vote. According to Rewire's legislative tracker, "HB 24 would prohibit the state from discriminating against child placing agencies on the basis that the provider declines to provide a child placement that conflicts with the religious beliefs of the provider." HRC Alabama State Director Eva Kendrick said, "H.B. 24 stigmatizes LGBTQ people while harming the children in Alabama's child-welfare system."

Gay athlete Jake Martin, of The Ohio State University, left this year's Big 10 men's gymnastics tournament with the team title, an individual title, and recognition as co-Big Ten men's gymnast of the year, Outsports noted. Martin—a redshirt senior who attended last year's championships on crutches after tearing his Achilles tendon—helped Ohio State win its second consecutive team title, and he won high bar with a score of 14.375. Ohio State edged the University of Illinois for the team championship.

GayRVA.com noted that the Virginia Supreme Court upheld a lower court's dismissal of a law suit against Fairfax County Public Schools ( FCPS ) because of the groups "lack of standing." The judge, according to the Associated Press, said the student's complaint of "'general distress' over the non-discrimination policy" was not enough to bring a suit against the rule. When FCPS codified protections for LGBTQ students, local conservative groups got mad; however, their attempts to roll back the protections have been dealt another blow.

Caleb Bankston, a former contestant on the Survivor reality show, died in a railway accident in Alabama at age 27, LGBTQ Nation noted. Jefferson County Deputy Coroner Bill Yates says Bankston, who was working at the Alabama Warrior Railway in Birmingham, was thrown from a train in a partial derailment on June 24. Bankston appeared on Survivor: Blood vs. Water in 2013 with his fiance, Colton Cumbie.

Details have come to light regarding the background of the doctor involved in that controversial United Airlines video that went viral. The New York Post noted that Dr. David Dao of Elizabethtown, Kentucky, had his medical license suspended in 2003 following his arrest on charges including unlawful prescribing and trafficking in a controlled substance. Also, he was accused of providing prescriptions for Vicodin and other narcotics to a former patient he later hired as his office manger, who was identified in news reports at the time as Brian Case. The men repeatedly hooked up in motels, with Dao paying Case around $200 each time and also sharing in the drugs, according to a 130-page file that the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure compiled.

Melania Trump's lawyer, who just won a reported $2.9-million libel lawsuit settlement for the first lady from The Daily Mail, says news organizations should "take notice" of recent libel settlements and that "news organizations that act recklessly should be concerned about the consequences of their actions," TheWrap reported. Charles Harder—the Los Angeles lawyer for Melania Trump who also helped bring down Gawker.com—said that "journalists, editors and publishers should take notice of the various recent lawsuits, jury verdicts and settlements, and act responsibly and ethically."


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