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National: More trans deaths, Biden's same-sex marriage, $1M donation to Hillary
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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Dee Whigham, 25, has become the 16th transgender person killed in the United States this year, reported. Whigham, who was a nurse, was found stabbed to death in a hotel room near Biloxi, Mississippi, on July 23, according to Gulfport's Sun Herald newspaper. Jackson County sheriff's deputies arrested 20-year-old Dwanya Hickerson in connection with Whigham's murder, after releasing images from the hotel surveillance cameras that reportedly showed Hickerson leaving the hotel where Whigham was killed.

...And there has been a 17th trans-related death as well. Autostraddle reported that Skye Mockabee of Cleveland, Ohio, was found dead July 30 in a parking lot. According to, Mockabee is the fourth transgender woman murdered in the county in the last four years. The others were Brittany Stergis, 22, Betty Skinner, 52, and Ce Ce Dove, 20.

Vice President Joe Biden has officiated his first wedding—and it was for a gay couple, an LGBTQ Nation item noted. Biden presided over the union of Joe Mahshie and Brian Mosteller, both longtime White House aides. The White House says the couple asked Biden to officiate. The ceremony took place at the Naval Observatory, the vice president's official residence, with immediate family attending.

Mel Heifetz, a real-estate investor and one of the most generous supporters of gay-rights causes in the country, has contributed $1 million to Hillary Clinton's campaign, The Hill reported. "I don't want to see our country taken apart by [Donald] Trump," Heifetz told The Hill in an interview at an inn nearby one of his properties in downtown Philadelphia. Heifetz previously made headlines when he gave $1 million to the pro-Obama super-PAC Priorities USA during the 2012 campaign.

Lee Daniels, the out gay co-creator of TV's Empire, spoke passionately of his own family's struggles as he endorsed Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention, Page Six reported. He called her a true advocate for victims of gun violence who can help turn "their heartache into action." However, he added ( talking about his eventual support of Clinton ), "I wondered if Hillary knew who I was—not just the work I do in entertainment, but who I really am."

Clay Aiken revealed on Chelsea Handler's Netflix talk show Chelsea that he believes Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump could be the next U.S. president, The Washington Blade noted. The openly gay singer/aspiring politician was joined on a panel by fellow former Celebrity Apprentice contestants NeNe Leakes, Khloe Kardashian and Lisa Lampanelli to discuss their time on the show and Trump's possible presidency. Aiken told the group he plans to vote for Hillary Clinton, but thinks a Trump win isn't too far off from reality.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio ( R-Fla. ) will speak next month at an event alongside numerous anti-LGBT activists, On Top Magazine reported. Next month's two-day event, to be held in Orlando, is sponsored by The Florida Renewal Project and is part of the conservative group's "Rediscovering God" campaign. After dropping out of the GOP nomination race, Rubio cited the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando in reversing course on whether he would seek a second term in the Senate.

In Indiana, a federal appeals court has upheld the dismissal of a lesbian's lawsuit against Ivy Tech Community College because federal law doesn't protect people who claim workplace discrimination because of sexual orientation, the Associated Press reported. A three-judge panel of 7th U.S. Court of Appeals upheld a lower court's dismissal of a complaint filed by Kimberly Hively of South Bend, a former part-time Ivy Tech instructor who said the college didn't hire her full-time because she's a lesbian.

Pride School Atlanta is set to open its doors Aug. 8 for its first class of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students, noted. Founder Christian Zsilavetz told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution the school has five students, ages 10 to 17, and some home-schooled students may attend at least part-time. Tuition is expected to run about $13,000, with the school recently hosting a fundraiser at the church to raise money for scholarships to offset the fees.

A federal judge told Kansas that, for three more years, he will monitor its compliance with the U.S. Supreme Court's historic decision legalizing same-sex marriage across the nation, LGBTQ Nation noted. U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree issued a permanent injunction barring the state from treating same-sex couples differently than opposite-sex couples in allowing them to marry or extending "other rights, protections, obligations or benefits of marriage" to them. The U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision on same-sex marriage last year, and two months later Crabtree declared the state's ban unconstitutional. However, he held off on issuing a permanent order to see how fully the state complied.

A man was attacked outside a gay bar in New York by a group shouting homophobic slurs, NewNowNext noted. The men punched and kicked the unnamed 25-year-old victim, police say, resulting in his leg being broken in two places. The man said he had just departed Vodka Soda in Hell's Kitchen on July 17, when five men followed him down the street shouting anti-gay slurs in Spanish. While Hell's Kitchen is a major gayborhood in New York, leaflets were recently found on windshields in the area threatening to "kill homosexuals."

Bill Cosby has dropped a lawsuit that demanded Andrea Constand, the accuser in his criminal case, repay the money from their confidential 2006 court settlement, NBC News reported. Cosby had sued Constand, a lesbian, for breach of contract for speaking to police who reopened the criminal investigation last year. No trial date has been set for Cosby's felony sex-assault trial; he is accused of drugging and molesting Constand at his home near Philadelphia in 2004.

The National LGBTQ Task Force issued a press release expressing the group's disappointment with the acquittal of six police officers charged with the murder of Freddie Gray. Reverend Rodney McKenzie Jr., director of the Academy for Leadership and Action at the National LGBTQ Task Force, said, "Those in our broken criminal justice system who use unjust loopholes and a flawed bureaucracy to stifle justice must be held accountable. There is something seriously wrong when an entire group of people are singled out, scapegoated, and excessively policed simply because of who they are. We cannot allow the ongoing targeting and murdering of Black people in the hands of police to continue."

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) hailed Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson for filing a brief on behalf of 12 states and the District of Columbia supporting the recent release by the departments of education and justice of historic guidance advising schools on how to ensure dignity and equal treatment of transgender students in federally funded schools, a press release stated. California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington state and Washington, D.C., are joining the amicus brief supporting transgender students, filed in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Texas. "These leaders are showing the nation what it means to stand up for all students, ensuring that our transgender youth are affirmed and respected in one of the places they should feel most safe—their schools," said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow.

Chelsea Clinton said during a Democratic National Convention luncheon that the "most offensive" thing about the Republican National Convention was the embrace of widely discredited "ex-gay" conversion therapy in the party platform, The Washington Blade reported. Although Clinton called Republican remarks in Cleveland as a whole "divisive, degrading, demeaning," she said language in support of conversion therapy should itself be a "clarion call" to elect her mother, Hillary Clinton, as well as Democrats up and down the ballot.

British YouTuber Colin McSwiggan is alleged to have faked injuries he claimed were sustained during an anti-gay hate crime and faces charges of filing a false police report, PinkNews noted. He was due to appear in the Los Angeles International Airport Courthouse July 19—but was unable to attend due to a family holiday in Spain. West Hollywood police said the YouTuber was arrested after officers witnessed him vandalizing a car near the club. They also claimed the YouTube star lied about the attack in order to avoid punishment, causing the injuries to himself while in custody. McSwiggan's pre-trial hearing will take place Sept. 26.

Following the state of Texas' latest assurance to the U.S. Department of Justice that it will work toward fully complying with Prison Rape Elimination Act ( PREA ) in future years, Lambda Legal sent a letter to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice ( TDCJ ) PREA ombudsman, urging investigations into several reports of sexual assault and abuse against LGBT people in Texas's prison system, a press release stated. Among the experiences gathered in Lambda Legal's letter to the TDCJ PREA Ombudsman include two transgender women who report that they were told by TDCJ staff that LGBT people can't be raped or sexually assaulted; and a gay man who reports that he was sexually extorted and, when he reported the threats, TDCJ staff called him a "faggot," with his requests to be placed in safekeeping being denied.

A top aide to the late John F. Kennedy Jr. has said that Kennedy would've run for president this year, according to TheWrap. JFK Jr., who died in a tragic plane crash in 1999, often denied he would seek office during his lifetime, instead focusing on his glossy political magazine George. But RoseMarie Terenzio, his chief of staff, said he was eyeing multiple elected positions prior to his death—including the New York Senate seat that went to Hillary Clinton.

One year after the policy change went into effect that allowed gay men to become troop leaders, the Boy Scouts of America ( BSA ) continues to grow like it has for the past 20 years, according to . The move initially caused concern about the longevity of the organization, and many of the BSA's largest supporters were religious organizations like the Catholic, Latter-Day Saints and Baptist churches, which all expressed concerns about the rule change.

The Kiehl's Life Ride is set to kick off Wed., Aug. 3, in New York City, a press release stated. Skin-care company Kiehl's, RxArt and amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, are joining forces for the 7th annual Kiehl's life ride, an 11-day journey from New York City to Philadelphia in efforts to raise money and awareness for HIV/AIDS. At each stop, the public will be invited to meet the celebrity riders, learn more about amfAR and contribute to the non-profit. Celebrity riders include Gilles Marini, Teddy Sears, Grant Reynolds and Luke Wessman.

Out Apple CEO Tim Cook confirmed the company is working on augmented reality ( AR ), Computerworld reported. He also discussed this season's smash hit in AR, Pokemon Go, which is expected to generate $3 billion for Apple over the next two years: "The number one thing is to make sure our products work well with other developers' kind of products like Pokemon, that's why you see so many iPhones in the wild chasing Pokemons."

Speaking of Apple, it has now released a rainbow-flag emoji, Gay Star News reported. In its new statement, the Californian company said that it has added more than 100 new and redesigned emoji characters for its iOS 10 update that's coming this fall. Beside that emoji, the update also "brings more gender options to existing characters, including new female athletes and professionals," as well as more family options, e.g., single parenthood.

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