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National: Intersex awareness; therapy; Sotomayor; GLAAD PSA
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2015-10-20

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Intersex Awareness Day takes place Oct. 26 of each year, according to IntersexDay.org . This year marks the 11th anniversary of the first day. In addition, Nov. 8 is Intersex Solidarity Day. Houston, Texas, will mark Intersex Awareness Day and Intersex Visibility Month by lighting the City Hall in lime green; there will also be talk at the building Oct. 25.

A young Republican lawmaker is proposing legislation in New Hampshire to ban conversion therapy—a move that is sure to cause friction within the GOP when lawmakers reconvene in January, LGBTQ Nation reported. State Rep. Eric Schleien, 27, said he doesn't think it's possible to change someone's sexual orientation through so-called conversion therapy, and research has led him to believe trying to do so can be dangerous. However, some fellow Republican lawmakers say the effort could undermine religious liberty and parental rights.

Nearly four months after siding with the majority ruling in the marriage-equality case Obergefell, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has officiated her first same-sex wedding since assuming the bench, according to a SheWired item. The brides were Ingrid Duran and Catherine Pino of Washington, D.C. Also present at the ceremony were U.S. Treasurer Rosa Gumataotao Rios, Rep. Xavier Beccera ( D-Calif. ), Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard ( D-Calif. ), Rep. Grace Napolitano ( D-Calif. ) and Rep. Ruben Gallego ( D-Ariz. ).

GLAAD announced the release of a public service announcement ( PSA ) that's meant "to inspire, inform, and reignite the passion and action needed to beat the HIV and AIDS epidemic once and for all," according to a press statement. The PSA, produced by Martian Entertainment, was created by GLAAD and The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation as part of an ongoing partnership that started earlier this year with a resource guide for journalists covering HIV/AIDS. The PSA begins with Elizabeth Taylor's speech at the 1992 Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert, and includes participation from Meredith Vieira, Whoopi Goldberg, Jonathan Groff, Michael Emerson, Tituss Burgess and Bebe Neuwirth. The PSA is at http://www.glaad.org/video/video-glaad-and-elizabeth-taylor-aids-foundation-launch-hiv-and-aids-psa.

After years of research, a promising HIV/AIDS vaccine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine is moving into the critical human testing stage, The Baltimore Sun reported. The school's Institute of Human Virology—headed by Dr. Robert Gallo, who helped discover the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS and who developed the HIV blood test—announced the next big step. The institute's vaccine is just one of about 30 such drugs in some stage of human trials, according to AVAC, an advocacy group devoted to HIV-prevention efforts.

Shortly before ending her life Oct. 14, transgender Utah woman Ashley Hallstrom went to her Facebook page to leave one final post, People reported. "From a very young age, I was told that people like me are freaks and abominations, that we are sick in the head and society hates us," Hallstrom, 26, wrote. "This made me hate who I was. ... I believe my last words can help make the change that society needs to make so one day there will be no others like me." After posting her goodbye message and uploading a new profile photo, Hallstrom then drove to nearby Logan Canyon, where police say she walked into traffic and was hit by a dump truck on the highway.

David Boies—the attorney who joined former Solicitor General Theodore Olson in the lawsuit Perry v. Schwarzenegger, which sought to overturn California's Prop 8 ban on same-sex marriage—broke down in tears during an emotional talk on dyslexia at Yale University, Page Six noted. Boies appeared with others who've battled the disorder, including power producer Brian Grazer, WME/IMG honcho Ari Emanuel, economic forecaster Diane Swonk and Cleveland Clinic innovator Dr. Delos Cosgrove. The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity hosted the chat, "Slow Readers, Fast Thinkers."

The Transportation Security Administration ( TSA ) is dropping the use of the term "anomaly" to describe transgender passengers after a woman said she was mistreated last month at Orlando International Airport, according to The Hill. The TSA has been under fire for its treatment of transgender passengers since a woman, Shadi Petosky, complained on Twitter about being held at an airport security checkpoint for 40 minutes because of an "anomaly" that was cited when she passed through one of the TSA's full-body X-ray machines.

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has refused to accept the donation Martin Shkreli, the Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO who controversially raised the price of an AIDS medication, Advocate.com reported. Instead, Sanders donated the sum—$2,700, the maximum amount allowed from a private donor—to Whitman-Walker Health, a Washington, D.C.-based clinic that specializes in the treatment of HIV patients and the LGBT community. Shkreli made headlines recently when he hiked the price of Daraprim, a vital part of treating toxoplasmosis ( which disproportionately affects patients with HIV and AIDS ), by more than 5,000 percent—from $13.50 to $750 per pill.

More than 200 LGBTQ advocates and faith leaders were slated to take part in the Faith & Family LGBTQ Power Summit Oct. 20-23, a press release noted. Hosted by the National LGBTQ Task Force, the gathering aimed to focus on elevating the voices of LGBTQ faith leaders, addressing attacks by anti-LGBTQ politicians using religion to discriminate against LGBTQ people, and providing communities of faith with tools to create a welcoming environment for LGBTQ people. Bishop Yvette Flunder, who represents a coalition of over 100 Christian churches and ministries, was slated to give the keynote address.

People and groups are invited to join the more than 60 organizations worldwide that have signed on as endorsers or partners in the second annual National Day of Action to End Violence Against Women Living with HIV, which is Oct. 23, according to a press release. In-person events are planned in about 15 cities nationwide, many featuring a screening of Empowered, a new film from the Kaiser Family Foundation featuring five members of Positive Women's Network ( PWN-USA ) who have survived intimate partner violence. Visit https://pwnusa.wordpress.com/.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) responded to comments from U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, who said at Iowa's Drake University that LGBT people should just go back in the closet if they fear discrimination, according to a press release. Paul said, "If you are gay, there are plenty of places that will hire you" and "the things you do in your house, if you leave them in your house, they wouldn't have to be part of the workplace." HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof replied, "Rand Paul is going to find very little support for his views among the nine out of 10 Americans who have an LGBT person in their lives. But Rand Paul's comments do beg the question of whether his fellow candidates will call him out for embracing a platform of discrimination."

A lesbian is attempting to be the first out LGBTQ mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah, The Washington Blade reported. Ahead of the Nov. 3 non-partisan mayoral election Nov. 3, Biskupski acknowledged the symbolic importance of her bid. "We are in the capital city of the Mormon Church," Biskupski said. "They were really behind Prop 8 in California. They were one of the bigger advocates for pushing Prop 8 and getting it passed in California. For our community, we've been really diligently working to overcome Prop 8 and our own ban on marriage [equality] here." A new poll showed a virtual dead heat in the race between Biskupski and incumbent Mayor Ralph Becker.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights ( NCLR ) and the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) released sample legislation for state legislators and equality groups who want to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy, according to a press release. This first-of-its-kind sample legislation draws from best practices in the jurisdictions that have passed successful laws, the more than 20 states that have introduced similar legislation, the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act ( a federal bill that takes a fraud-based approach to regulate conversion therapy ) and the experience of legal experts working on this issue. The sample legislation is at hrc-assets.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com//files/assets/resources/ModelAntiConversionTherapyBill_2016_&; 2 ).pdf.

The campaign signs of a gay mayoral candidate in Michigan have been the target of vandalism, Advocate.com reported. Ken Siver—a former city councilman who is running for mayor of Southfield, a Detroit suburb—revealed that one of his signs was defaced with anti-gay slurs; two others were destroyed. In response, Siver and his campaign erected another sign next to one that was torn. It reads, "Hate is not a Southfield community value."

A new major study shows that LGBT parents invest more time into their children than their heterosexual counterparts, PinkNews reported. The study—that was launched to tackle prejudice against same-sex parents—found that the difference is most pronounced in families with two mothers, where parents spend an average 40-percent more time on child-centered activities. Author Kate Prickett, from the University of Texas, said, "Our findings support the argument that parental investment in children is at least as great—and possibly greater—in same-sex couples as for different-sex couples.

A judge accepted the deals offered to two men who entered guilty pleas in exchange for no jail time in the beating of a gay couple in Philadelphia last year, Advocate.com reported. Philip Williams, 24, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and conspiracy, while 26-year-old Kevin Harrigan pleaded guilty to simple assault and conspiracy; the third person charged, 24-year-old Kathryn Knott, rejected the deal and will stand trial next month. The men will be placed on probation and pay restitution; they will also complete 200 hours of community service at LGBT organizations, and have agreed to not enter City Center Phildelphia—where the attack took place—for the duration of their respective probations.

A transgender woman in New Jersey has filed suit accusing a Walmart store and one of its managers of firing her due to anti-trans bias, after instances of harassment that saw her called "he/she" and "that fucking tranny," Advocate.com reported. The woman, Samantha Azzarano, began working at a Walmart in Deptford, New Jersey, in September 2012. Allegedly, no co-workers complained about her until manager Sheena Wyckoff joined Azzarano's team in January 2014. Wyckoff, the suit says, referred to Azzarano as "Samantha, Robert … he/she … whatever" and "that fucking tranny." Wyckoff also allegedly unjustly began reprimanding Azzarano, yelling at her, and accusing her of undermining Wyckoff's authority.

A monthlong police investigation has concluded that a gay man who reported being the victim of a hate crime at a University of North Dakota ( UND ) fraternity invented the story and actually instigated the fight, the Associated Press reported. Police strongly recommended charging Haakon Gisvold, 18, who is not a UND student, with providing false information to police; however, prosecutors declined. Gisvold told police in early September that he was the victim of anti-gay taunting and an assault at the Lambda Chi Alpha house. Fraternity member Eric Hanson said the outcome of the investigation was "a relief for everyone."

Researchers have revealed details of a saliva test that has enabled them to predict the sexual orientation of sets of male twins with 67-percent accuracy—but the openly gay lead researcher has quit the research because he is so concerned about the possible consequences of the study, Gay Star News noted. Working at University College Los Angeles' Center for Gender-Based Biology, postdoctoral scholar Tuck C. Ngun and his colleagues have followed up previous research that found that gay brothers share a sequence of five genetic markers in the region of the X chromosome. Ngun, who is himself gay, has expressed caution over the implications of the research—to the extent that he has decided to abandon the research for the time being.

In Kentucky, the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church picketed Kim Davis' office, huddling outside the Rowan County Clerk's office for about 30 minutes, LGBTQ Nation reported. The church decided to take aim at Davis' prolific marital history ( four marriages ) and claim she's "living in sin." Standing on the lawn, members of Westboro wielded signage with slogans like "Christians' caused f*g marriage," "Divorce + marriage = adultery," "Divorce remarriage & same-sex 'marriage' are all sin," and "God hates fa* enablers."

A North Carolina man had an anti-gay message ( "Die fag" ) spray-painted on his car days after marrying his husband, Spectrum reported. Andrew Windam-Harris' Jeep Charokee was vandalized while he was at work at a local takeout restaurant. After spending two hours scrubbing the paint off, Windam-Harris discovered the phrase had also been keyed into the door panels, costing him about $500 to repair. He said his partner lives in fear of what else might happen to them.

In Florida, the same-sex couples who filed a federal lawsuit challenging the state's refusal to add both of their names to their children's birth certificates asked the court for immediate protection for their families, according to Equality Florida. The request for a preliminary injunction, filed by Debbie and Kari Chin of St. Petersburg and Yadira Arenas and Alma Vazquez of Winter Haven, says, "Defendants' discriminatory denial of equal birth certificates to Plaintiffs and their children ... violates plaintiffs' fundamental right to marry and to have their marriages treated equally and denies these families the privacy, dignity, legitimacy, security, support, and protections available to similarly-situated married different-sex parents and their children."

The National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals ( NAGLREP ) announced that activist Jim Obergefell, the namesake of the historic Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court case on marriage equality, and Sherry Chris, CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, were the recipients of this year's Pinnacle Award at its annual conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a press release noted. Based in Jupiter, Florida, NAGLREP has 1,000 members and 35 affiliate chapters.

When it comes to social media, people in the United States are coming out as LGBT in record numbers, The Huffington Post noted. In honor of both Spirit Day ( Oct. 15 ) and National Coming Out Day ( Oct. 11 ), Facebook's Research and Data Science division has published a new report that details ( possibly correlated ) trends. One trend detailed that approximately 800,000 people updated their Facebook profiles to express a same-gender attraction or custom gender in the past year, while fans of LGBT-specific groups have increased 25 percent.

Former Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., has been billed more than $2.7 million in legal fees, as federal prosecutors pursue him in criminal grand jury proceedings and a court fight over document production, The Chicago Sun-Times noted. Schock, who quit Congress on March 31, has since June paid $1.9 million to eight law firms and owes $746,985 to a ninth, according to a report.

Hillary Clinton recently posed for a photo with gay-porn star Gavin Waters, who reportedly paid $1,000 for the opportunity at a recent fundraiser in Texas, Gay Star News noted. Some Republicans have attempted to criticize Clinton for the move. Waters is known for his scenes with Colt and Falcon studios.

Jonathan Crutchley, founding partner and owner of gay brands such as Manhunt and Jack'd, has joined the advisory board of The National Coalition of Rent Boys & Allies, an organization advocating for the legal rights of male escort workers, a press release stated. The group formed in response to the Aug. 25 raid on Rentboy.com in New York City by the NYPD and Homeland Security. Federal agents joined the NYPD in shutting down Rentboy on the assertion that Rentboy was using interstate commerce to violate local New York laws.

Florida-based Multimedia Platforms, Inc., ( MMP ), the only publicly traded LGBT media company, has acquired yet another LGBT media outlet: New Frontiers Media Holdings, LLC, Press Pass Q reported. Los Angeles-based Frontiers Media is active in digital, mobile, streaming video, print and outdoor signage, and is perhaps best known as the publisher of the LGBT lifestyle magazine Frontiers. Earlier this year, MMP purchased Next Magazine, New York's leading weekly gay nightlife and entertainment publication, as well as FunMaps, a 33-year-old LGBT travel and leisure publishing company.

In related news, LGBT media is undergoing yet another merger as Q. Digital announced a consolidation of its online properties GayCities and Queerty with new acquisitions of LGBTQ Nation, Dragaholic and Bilerico, Press Pass Q noted. According to a press release, the move allows Q. Digital "to become the single leading independent digital media company serving the LGBTQ community. GayCities, Queerty, and LGBTQ Nation will remain standalone properties, while Dragaholic will become a channel on Queerty. Bilerico Project will become a channel on LGBTQ Nation.

The National LGBTQ Task Force has announced that long-time community organizer the Rev. Rodney McKenzie Jr. has been appointed as the organization's new director of the Academy for Leadership and Action, according to a press release. Most recently, McKenzie served the organization as the faith work director. He succeeds Sarah Reece, who has been tapped as the organization's senior strategist.

Bob McNair, the owner of the NFL's Houston Texans, donated $10,000 to opponents of the city's embattled equal-rights ordinance, The Houston Chronicle noted. Critics of the law, largely Christian conservatives, object to the non-discrimination protections it extends to gay and transgender residents—although the law also lists 13 other protected groups. Supporters of the ordinance, including lesbian Mayor Annise Parker, have warned that repealing the law could damage the city's economy and could jeopardize high-profile events such as Houston's 2017 Super Bowl.

Three lesbian coaches who say the University of Minnesota fired or forced them out in the last year filed a federal complaint against the school's governing body, Courthouse News reported. Shannon Miller, who notes that she is the most successful women's hockey coach in history of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, filed the complaint, and was joined by two other former Bulldogs coaches at the University of Minnesota; Jen Banford coached women's softball, and Annette Wiles coached women's basketball. The 45-page complaint describes a pattern of preferential treatment for men's sports and for straight, male coaches. Two of the women are also Canadian, something the complaint alleges also accounts for discrimination at the University of Minnesota.

PFLAG National honored Esther Jenner Avry, Caitlyn Jenner's mother, with the 2015 Betty DeGeneres Advocate Award, a press release noted. The award—which daughter Pam Mettler accepted on Avry's behalf—was presented by Betty DeGeneres ( Ellen's mother ) at the 2015 PFLAG National Convention: We Are the Change, which took place in Nashville. The Betty DeGeneres Advocate Award honors a person who uses his, her or their visibility to help advance the PFLAG mission.

In Florida, the Broward County Commission updated its domestic partnership ordinance, adding new protections and ensuring that partnerships registered elsewhere will be recognized in the county, Equality Florida noted in a release. The "vote is an affirmation of the enduring value of domestic partnership policies and ensures that thousands of unmarried, committed couples in Broward county will continue to have vital protections for their families," said Deputy Director Stratton Pollitzer.

A Walmart shopper in Alabama got a bit of a surprise while browsing the store's gun department, The Huffington Post noted. Jamie Lee Bracey stumbled across Gun Oil, a lubricant popular with gay men, stocked among the store's weaponry wares back on Sept. 18. According to a video Bracey posted on Facebook, the Walmart in Florence, Alabama, had the product readily available for sale at its gun counter.


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