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National: Marriage milestone; gay man at SOTU; 'they' prevails; Stanford program
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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In Nevada, Clark County partnered with the Las Vegas business community to mark a local gay marriage milestone on New Year's Eve, according to the Associated Press. The country stated that Phoenix residents Ronald Bauman and Dumitru Alexeev received the 5,000th same-sex marriage license issued in Clark County since the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the constitutionality of gay marriage in the state. The couple—who married Jan. 1—received a basic wedding package at Luxor Wedding Chapel, stays at Circus Circus Las Vegas and Mandalay Bay, and tickets to the "Michael Jackson One" show and the High Roller.

Ryan Reyes—the boyfriend of slain San Bernardino, California, terrorist attack victim Daniel Kaufman—sat in the balcony during President Obama's State of the Union ( SOTU ) address, The L.A. Times reported. Near Reyes in the balcony, a seat was left open for Kaufman and the hundreds of other people who have died from gun violence over the last year. Kaufman, 42, died when Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, opened fire on a holiday party at the center in December.

The singular "they," the gender-neutral pronoun, has been named the Word of the Year by a group of more than 200 linguists at the American Dialect Society's annual meeting in Washington, D.C., according to The Washington Post. In a landslide vote, the language experts chose singular they over "thanks, Obama," ammosexual, "on fleek," and other contenders for this annual award.

A San Diego police officer fatally shot a man accused of threatening his boyfriend with a knife during a domestic dispute, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. Officer Richard Butera shot Joshua Adam Sisson after he began to "aggressively advance" toward the officer with a knife, police said. It was the third time Butera had fatally shot someone since June 2013.

Stanford University's business school is offering a leadership program intended to help more gay leaders, The Wall Street Journal reported. The Graduate School of Business will hold the first Stanford LGBT Executive Leadership Program in late July. The weeklong boot camp, hailed as the first of its kind at the university level, will cater to midcareer leaders who identify as LGBT. Participants will undergo personal leadership assessments and get management training as well as instruction in design thinking. Tuition will be about $12,000 and the ideal candidate, the faculty say, has about 10 years of professional experience and five years of management experience.

Oklahoma Wesleyan University President Everett Piper wrote a commentary in which he boasts of being "proud" to lead an institution that sought a waiver from the government so that it could discriminate against transgender people, according to a Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) press release. Chad Griffin, president of the HRC, replied, "Mr. Piper's assertions are despicable, but, sadly, not surprising, given his track record of working with anti-LGBT organizations like the World Congress of Families. Piper should be ashamed." n the report, Hidden Discrimination: Title IX Religious Exemptions Putting LGBT Students at Risk, HRC spotlights 56 colleges and universities based in 26 states across every region of the country that since 2013 have requested religious exemptions under Title IX.

A policy brief released from The Fenway Institute and the Center for American Progress examines controversial state and local legislation that would prevent transgender people from using gendered public facilities, such as restrooms or locker rooms, that align with their gender identity, a press release stated. The brief debunks myths about safety concerns regarding the use of these spaces by people who are transgender and describes the many negative outcomes that these discriminatory bills could cause. Lastly, it calls on states to pass laws that protect the rights of all Americans to access public accommodations regardless of gender identity. The policy brief, "State Anti-Transgender Bathroom Bills Threaten Transgender People's Health and Participation in Public Life," is available at

The National LGBTQ Task Force has joined a coalition of LGBTQ, racial-justice and health-equity organizations in filing an amicus brief in Whole Woman's Health v. Cole, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down restrictions on abortion providers enacted by the State of Texas in 2013, according to a press release. Whole Woman's Health will be heard on March 2, MSNBC noted. It is the only case scheduled for argument that day, suggesting it could last longer than the standard one hour allotted for the court to hear from the parties.

Alabama, Arizona, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Utah all have some type of legislation restricting discussion of homosexuality in the classroom, according to PinkNews. As a result of such laws, any teachers in these states who address LGBT issues in the classroom may risk being fired.

Fewer than four years after out business and tech mogul Chris Hughes purchased The New Republic, the 32-year-old Facebook co-founder has put the venerable political publication up for sale, reported. In December 2014, Hughes oversaw substantial changes to the publishing structure of the century-old political magazine, cutting the annual number of issues in half; moving the magazine's headquarters from Washington, D.C., to New York City; and restructuring the outlet to be a "vertically integrated media company."

Lesbian feminist activist/author/publisher Jeanne Cordova died Jan. 10 at age 67, according to Frontiers Media. Spouse Lynn Ballen, and friends Jenny Pizer, Doreena Wong and Dina Evans were with Cordova when she passed. The German-born Cordova was a journalist and award-winning author for her work When We Were Outlaws: a Memoir of Love and Revolution; she also wrote Kicking the Habit: A Lesbian Nun Story and Sexism: It's a Nasty Affair.

Florence King—the author, conservative essayist, satirist and expert on the South—has died at 80 at an assisted-living facility in Fredericksburg, Virginia, noted. She self-identified as a "conservative lesbia feminist," and often fused opposite positions together. Although King wrote for the influential conservative magazine National Review for a quarter of a century and almost right up to her death, she also bragged that she once wrote pornographic novels to earn a fast buck.

Megachurch leader and author T.D. Jakes said that LGBT people should attend congregations that affirm their lives and that politics do not need to reflect biblical ethics, adding that his position on homosexuality is both "evolved and evolving, noted. When The Huffington Post asked Jakes if he believed gay people and the Black church can co-exist, he replied, "Absolutely… I think it is going to be diverse from church to church. Every church has a different opinion on the issue and every gay person is different. And I think that to speak that the church—the Black church, the white church or any kind of church you wanna call it—are all the same, is totally not true."

Lambda Legal urged the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse a lower court ruling and allow Jameka Evans to present her case alleging that Georgia Regional Hospital of Savannah harassed and punished her, eventually forcing her resignation, because she is a lesbian, according to a press release. Last April, Evans filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia against her former employer, Georgia Regional Hospital, claiming the hospital was violating Title VII by discriminating against her because of her sexual orientation and her nonconformity with gender norms of appearance and demeanor. The district court dismissed Evans' complaint.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) will honor New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and award-winning actor Sigourney Weaver will be honored at the 2016 Greater New York Gala on Saturday, Feb. 6, a press release stated. In addition, HRC announced Grammy Award-winning British singer and songwriter Jess Glynne will perform.

A former head of "ex-gay" church Exodus International officiated the wedding of two gay men, according to . In 2008, Wendy Gritter, the executive director of the Toronto-based New Direction, ended the group's affiliation with Exodus, citing its "reparative therapies" as her reason. New Direction now vows to offer a "safe and spacious place for sexual minority persons to explore and grow in faith in Jesus Christ."

The National Gay Media Association ( NGMA ), which brings together the top regional newspapers serving the U.S. LGBT communities, announced the addition of three new papers to its membership: Watermark in Orlando, The Pride in Los Angeles and Philadelphia Gay News, a press release noted. Other NGMA members are The Washington Blade, The Bay Area Reporter ( San Francisco ), Bay Windows ( Boston ), Between the Lines ( Detroit ), the Dallas Voice, Gay City News ( New York City ), GA Voice ( Atlanta ), South Florida Gay News and Windy City Times ( Chicago ).

In Tennessee, Sevier County officials released info in the case of an Ooltewah High School freshman who police say was sodomized with a pool cue Dec. 22 in a cabin in Gatlinburg during the Smoky Mountain Christmas Classic Basketball tournament, reported. Two of the suspects are 16, while the third is 17; all three have been charged with aggravated rape. The victim was rushed to the hospital with serious internal injuries.

Washington, D.C., Police Chief Cathy Lanier issued an internal message to all members of the force announcing that the department's Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit ( GLLU ) has changed its name to include the words bisexual and transgender, The Washington Blade reported. "In an effort to be inclusive to all members of the LGBT community, the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit will change its name to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Liaison Unit ( LGBTLU )," Lanier said in her message. The name change comes 10 months after Lanier named Sgt. Jessica Hawkins, an out transgender woman, as supervisor of the GLLU.

In Florida, state Sen. Eleanor Sobel ( D-Hollywood ) and Rep. Evan Jenne ( D-Hollywood ) filed legislation that would create a statewide domestic-partnership registry offering a defined set of legal rights and protections to unmarried couples who participate, Equality Florida noted in a press release. Equality Florida's CEO Nadine Smith said, "Even as marriages are now taking place for same-sex couples, domestic partner benefits continue to ensure that all Florida's families will be treated fairly. By offering a domestic partner registry, our state can demonstrate its respect for the broad diversity of families that exists here."

Two months after he officially retired from the gay-porn industry, Jasper Robinson died at the age of 21 in December, noted. Before announcing the end to his porn career via an October tweet, Robinson appeared in dozens of adult films for studios including CockyBoys and Boy Crush. Robinson is the third young gay porn star to die in recent months; Zac Stevens, 25, and Dimitri Kane, 20, died in November, with reports indicating they took their own lives.

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