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National: Chick-fil-A situation; Indiana guv apologizes
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2013-07-03

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The president of the fast-food restaurant chain Chick-fil-A has once again put himself into the marriage-equality debate, this time criticizing the recent Supreme Court rulings, MySanAntonio.com reported. On Twitter, Dan Cathy posted, "Sad day for our nation," adding that the country's founders would be "ashamed" of the modern generation. The post was later deleted. Chick-fil-A officials acknowledged the post, saying Cathy was offering a personal comment.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has admitted that some of the hundreds of comments that his staff deleted from his official Facebook page were targeted because they expressed disagreement with his opposition to same-sex marriage, FreeP.com reported. He also apologized, adding that the action went beyond the office's internal policy of removing only profane, inflammatory or uncivil comments. The mea culpa followed two days of assertions from Pence and his office that staff members were removing only comments that were profane or uncivil.

In Pennsylvania, colleagues silenced openly gay state Rep. Brian Sims when he attempted to speak about the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, the Huffington Post reported. When Sims tried to speak, several state legislators blocked him using a procedural maneuver. One of those lawmaker, conservative state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler), told TV station WHYY that he believed Sims' comments would be a violation of "God's law." Two other Democrats attempted to speak in support of Sims, but they, too, were blocked. At the end of the session, Sims rose to speak again, criticizing Metcalfe and others who had blocked him.

CNN is reviving the show Crossfire this fall, according to Deadline.com . Hosting from the right will be Newt Gingrich and S.E. Cupp, with Stephanie Cutter and Van Jones hosting from the left. In addition, all four hosts will appear across the network's programming and its special coverage surrounding elections and political events. Crossfire, which aired weeknights from 1982 to 2005, examined political and social issues in a televised debate.

Within hours of the U.S. Supreme Court striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act in the landmark United States v. Windsor case, the American Civil Liberties Union announced a nationwide campaign to bring Republicans into its efforts to strike down barriers to the freedom to marry in states across the country, according to a press release. With the goal of working both with and within the Republican Party, the ACLU has hired Steve Schmidt, vice chairman of public affairs at Edelman. Previously, Schmidt has worked on Capitol Hill as the communications director for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Grace Bonney—who launched the DIY and decor blog DesignSponge with her husband, Aaron Coles—came out as a lesbian on a blog, according to a press release. On why she married a man even though she knew she was a lesbian, she told YourTango, "I love my family, and I love my friends, more than myself essentially. I thought I could put up with [being married to a man] if it meant I could keep my friends and family." Bonney and Coles divorced in 2011.

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's historic decision to strike down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), 11 national LGBT advocacy organizations, including Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), jointly issued a series of factsheets to provide guidance to same-sex couples and their families as they navigate accessing federal rights, benefits and protections. according to a press release. "After DOMA: What it Means For You" LGBT Organizations Fact Sheet Series covers topics ranging from bankruptcy to veteran spousal benefits. See http://www.glad.org/current/post/after-doma-fact-sheets.

Conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh has made his statement about the pro-gay Supreme Court rulings, according to Media Matters. Limbaugh said, "With all of today's Supreme Court decisions on all of the gay issues, all the fatwas, we had DOMA, we had Proposition 8, so now all the gay issues are behind us. ... So now the gays are free to turn out and support Republicans now." Media Matters commented that "Rush Limbaugh ignored the various obstacles the LGBT community continues to face, from employment discrimination to the ability to use public accommodations."

The day DOMA died, U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York and Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California reintroduced the Respect for Marriage Act, according to SDGLN.com . The measure would repeal the entirety of DOMA and assure all married couples equal treatment for all federal programs and purposes. The bill was introduced in both houses with identical language intended to fully repeal DOMA.

In Georgia, Duluth Police Officer Bobby Johnson claims he's being harassed by his superiors because he's openly gay, MyFoxAtlanta.com reported. Johnson says the gay slurs, sexual comments and harassment from commanding officers constantly occurred, adding that he reached a point where it couldn't take it any longer. The Duluth City Council voted to approve a $20,000 settlement with Johnson over the discrimination allegation, but he rejected the deal.

A young gay man who was detained in San Diego by immigration authorities has been reunited with his fiance in New York City, according to SDGLN.com . Ivan "Max" Flores Acosta, 26, was "paroled" from the Otay Detention Facility in San Diego County and immediately flew home to New York, said his fiance, Donald Ziccardi. Ziccardi had not seen Acosta since he was abruptly deported to Mexico in February.

In Michigan, a federal judge temporarily prevented a state law from taking effect that would have barred many public entities from providing health insurance to the domestic partners of their employees, according to an ACLU press release. The American Civil Liberties Union and Kirkland & Ellis LLP challenged the law on behalf of five gay and lesbian public employees, as well as their long-term domestic partners, who either lost their health insurance or would have lost their insurance as a result of the law. More information on this case, including profiles of clients, can be found at aclu.org/lgbt-rights/bassett-et-al-v-snyder.

The mother of the Sonoma Valley, Calif., teen beaten, robbed and subjected to anti-gay slurs earlier this year struggled for composure at a sentencing hearing as one of the attackers read her a letter of apology, PressDemocrat.com reported. The mother, Kristin Land, said the 17-year-old gang member, whose name has not been disclosed because he is a minor, earlier pleaded guilty to three charges. The teen was one of several attackers who jumped and robbed Land's gay, 18-year-old son March 29 at El Verano School.

Same-sex marriage proponents marked yet another victory June 27 after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected appeals from Arizona and Nevada involving the rights of same-sex couples, the Denver Post reported. The justices let stand an appeals court ruling striking down an Arizona law that made state employees in same-sex relationships ineligible for domestic-partner benefits. The Nevada case was a challenge to the state's ban on same-sex marriage. Republican Gov. Jan Brewer denied that Arizona had targeted same-sex couples and criticized the court for not recognizing the state's right to limit employee benefits.

The mother of murdered gay man Matthew Shepard had a visceral reaction to the recent historic U.S. Supreme Court rulings, according to People.com . "I told him I didn't think I would see it in my lifetime, but he probably would in his," Judy Shepard told the publication, her voice shaking. "It's so sad—and ironic—that it turned out the other way." Judy added, "I wish he'd been here to see it. This case warms my heart, to think that his dream is still coming true." In October 1998, Matthew Shepard was lynched on a Wyoming fencepost for being gay.

A Brooklyn court awarded $3.5 million to Jewish gay activist Chaim Levin, who sued his cousin for allegedly molesting him for several years when he was a boy, according to the New York Daily News. Levin, now 24, claimed in a Brooklyn Supreme Court lawsuit that he was repeatedly molested by his first cousin Sholom Eichler at a synagogue, at a relative's home and at an upstate bungalow where the family vacationed. A court referee ordered Eichler to pay Levin $1 million for pain and suffering and $2.5 million for future pain and suffering due to the repeated assaults.

In Tennessee, Collegedale is poised to become the first city in the state to extend employee benefits to domestic partnerships, according to TimesFreePress.com . Collegedale commissioners voted four to one to include same- and opposite-sex domestic partnerships in their employee benefits policy. If leaders approve the change in August, the town will be the only one among the state's 346 cities to cover domestic partnerships.

Two men from Florida are the first binational, married, same-sex couple granted a green card, according to Advocate.com . The green card for Julian March and Traian Povov, who live in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is the first ever granted in the United States. The couple were married in New York last year. Povov is from Bulgaria.

The AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland has expanded its capacity to provide services to northeast Ohio by affiliating with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), according to Business Wire. AHF is a global organization that provides medicine and advocacy to more than 200,000 people in 28 countries, and is the largest provider of HIV/AIDS medical care in the United States. The Taskforce serves more than 1,200 clients and their families in six counties in Ohio.

Three LGBT activists staged a sit-in at the Tampa office of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), calling for an end to what the advocates see as the legislator's dangerous moves to radically increase border security in the Senate immigration bill and for an end to his obstruction of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, according to a GetEQUAL press release. However, a Rubio staffer told police officers that one of the people in the room—GetEQUAL Co-Director Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez (who is undocumented)—"is here illegally" and the activists were led away in handcuffs.

Gregory J. King has joined the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) as director of the office of public affairs, according to a release. King will represent and advise the chairman, the acting general counsel and other NLRB senior leaders on matters relating to media relations, public affairs, social media, and internal and external communications. Among King's previous positions was communications director for the Human Rights Campaign.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) has called on the Social Security Administration to swiftly extend Social Security survivor benefits to all same-sex couples and their families, according to a press release. "All federal agencies should endeavor to provide swift and equal access to programs and benefits for all same-sex couples, regardless of their state of residence, using existing administrative authorities," Senator Boxer wrote in a letter to Social Security Administration Acting Commissioner Carolyn Colvin.

State Rep. Patricia Todd, the first openly gay lawmaker in Alabama's history, said she plans to challenge the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, according to USA Today. Todd, who plans to marry her partner Sept. 14 in Massachusetts, said she expects a number of lawsuits in states where marriage equality is banned. Twenty-nine states, including Alabama, have banned same-sex marriage in their constitutions, while five other states have laws prohibiting it.

In Wisconsin, one of five men charged in the gang-related killing of transgender Milwaukee rap artist Evon Young has been convicted, according to the Wisconsin Gazette. A jury found 19-year-old Ashanti Mcalister guilty of first-degree intentional homicide in the death of 22-year-old Young, who disappeared New Year's Day. Sentencing is set for Aug. 12.

In Utah, out gay Democratic state Sen. Jim Dabakis proposed to partner Stephen Justesen at a rally at Salt Lake City's Club Sound, according to Yahoo! News. The couple met 26 years ago. Dabakis, who took office earlier this year, is an art dealer and founding chair of the Utah Pride Center. In 2011, he became the first openly gay person to lead a state party in Utah.

On Friday, July 12, the first-ever nationwide blood drive will take place to bring attention to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA's) ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood—and Ryan James Yezak will capture the demonstration for his documentary Second Class Citizens, according to a press release. The drive will take place nationally from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. PST and will consist of eligible gay and bisexual male donors showing up to get tested at a specified donation center in their respective cities and then attempting to donate their blood. Visit www.gayblooddrive.com .

The "ex-gay" movement—a group of mostly right-wing fundamentalists who believe people can "change" their sexuality—is trying to organize an "ex-gay pride" parade, according to Out.com . "We're declaring July as the first Ex-Gay Pride month," Christopher Doyle, head of the organization Voice of the Voiceless, told the Christian Post. According to Doyle, he and his colleagues have petitioned the White House to back their cause, but to no avail.

Two men who beat a gay Atlanta man while yelling gay slurs and recording the attack were sentenced just weeks after they became the first people in Georgia convicted under a federal hate crime law, Project Q Atlanta reported. Christopher Cain and Dorian Moragne—two of the four men who beat Brandon White Feb. 4, 2012—were sentenced to 10 months in prison along with three years supervised release. Under a plea agreement, the men will serve their federal sentence at the same time as their state sentence. In July 2012, the two men were sentenced to 10 years in prison, with five years to serve.

Marriage-equality advocates are listing the states that will be the next battlegrounds, according to NBC News. Among the states that could approve same-sex marriage this year are Illinois, which had one legislative chamber pass it this spring; New Jersey, which may try to override Gov. Chris Christie's veto; and Hawaii, which has had civil unions since 2012. Possible battleground states for next year include Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Ohio and New Mexico.

In Michigan, a challenge to the state's marriage-equality ban will be heard, according to Advocate.com . Lesbian couple Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer were told by a federal judge in Michigan in March that their lawsuit challenging the state's voter-approved ban would have to wait until the Supreme Court ruled on the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Now, Judge Bernard Friedman plans to set a trial date at a conference slated for July 10.

The San Francisco Human Services Agency (HSA) released its biennial homeless count—and, for the first time in the survey's history, respondents were asked to identify their sexual orientation, according to the Huffington Post. Of the 1,000 participants, nearly one-third identified as LGBTQ. While earlier studies have estimated a high LGBTQ homeless population in the city, the survey results have surprised even experts in the field.


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