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National roundup: Asian-American ad, another trans death, bribery trial
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times.
2017-07-05

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For the first time ever, emotionally moving videos of Asian parents of LGBT children appeared as pop-up ads on YouTube, a National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance ( NQAPIA ) press release noted. The ads played on YouTube in seven languages—Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog and Hindi—for Pride Month June 24-30. The ads were part of a comprehensive Asian family acceptance campaign entitled "Family Is Still Family;" visit NQAPIA.org/wpp/api-parents-who-love-their-lgbt-kids-multilingual-psa-campaign/.

The Human Rights Campaign issued a press release indicating its horror upon learning that a 17-year-old transgender woman, Ava Le'Ray Barrin, was shot and killed in Athens, Georgia, on Sunday, June 25. Jalen Breon Brown, 21, has been charged with Barrin's murder, after allegedly shooting her during an altercation in an apartment parking lot. Barrin is the youngest known transgender murder victim in the U.S. this year. Since Jan. 1, advocates have tracked at least 14 deaths from anti-transgender violence across the country.

Michael Weiss, co-owner of Philadelphia gay bar, Woody's, apparently paid for District Attorney Seth Williams' airfare for vacations in Key West, San Diego and Las Vegas—but only shrugged when federal prosecutors asked for a motive for the generosity. Philly.com reported. "I don't believe I bribed anyone," Weiss testified ( under a grant of immunity ) during Williams' corruption trial at one point. On June 29, Williams abruptly resigned from his office and agreed to plead guilty in a surprise move that ended the federal bribery trial.

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs ( NCAVP ) issued a pres release regarding the intimate partner violence ( IPV )-related homicide of Gerald Moore that happened June 24. According to local media reports, Moore died after being stabbed multiple times by Ronald Redeaux, his roommate with whom he was in a relationship. Redeaux had been arrested for domestic battery. NCAVP's report "Intimate Partner Violence in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and HIV Affected Communities in 2015," released in October 2016, documented 13 IPV homicides in 2015.

The National LGBTQ Task Force ( "the Task Force" ) is celebrating the restoration by the Department of Health and Human Services ( HHS ) of a sexual orientation question to the survey of older adults. The Task Force will redouble its effort for the addition of a gender identity question to the national survey. "This is a tremendous victory over the political forces who are trying to erase LGBTQ people from vitally important population surveys," said Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey.

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced efforts to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion in 2019, a press release noted. As part of the state's commemorative efforts, cultural events will be promoted statewide and New York will host the largest international LGBT pride celebration in 2019: Stonewall 50/WorldPride. n conjunction with Stonewall 50, New York City will host WorldPride, the largest international LGBT Pride celebration, in 2019; the event, held in various locations worldwide, features parades, performances and festivals that promote LGBT pride.

If Jared Polis succeeds in winning election as governor of Colorado, he would become the first openly gay person to win a gubernatorial race in the United States, The Washington Blade reported. During an interview with the publication, the five-term member of the U.S. House identified renewable energy and education as marquee issues for his candidacy—but downplayed the significance of achieving a potential first. Last year, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, who's bisexual and married to a man, earned the distinction of becoming the first openly LGBT person elected governor after her appointment to the role following the resignation of her predecessor; however, no one who has identifies as openly gay has won a governor's race.

The Texas Supreme Court ruled that the spouses of gay and lesbian public employees are not necessarily entitled to the same government-funded benefits that are provided to opposite-sex couples, Courthouse News Service reported. In the unanimous opinion, the state's high court reversed a lower court's ruling in Pidgeon v. Houston that public employers cannot deny same-sex spousal benefits to their employees. "This absurd contortion of the Obergefell ruling defies all logic and reason, especially in light of the Supreme Court's explicit ruling on Monday that marriage is marriage and equal is equal. We will take steps to protect these families," said Kenneth D. Upton, Jr., senior counsel in Lambda Legal's South Central Regional Office in Dallas, in a press release.

The number of hate crimes in California increased about 11 percent last year, the second consecutive double-digit increase, but the overall number still was a third lower total than a decade ago, according to a Los Angeles Daily News item. African-Americans, Jewish individuals and gay men were among the most frequent targets. There were 931 such crimes reported statewide in 2016, nearly 100 more than in 2015.

Dozens of companies—including Google, Microsoft Corp., CBS Corp. and Viacom Inc.—urged a federal appeals court to rule that a law banning sex discrimination in the workplace offers protections to gay employees, Business Insider reported. The brief, submitted by 50 companies to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan, marks the first time such a large group of businesses has backed arguments about employment discrimination that LGBT groups and the administration of former President Barack Obama have made for years.

In New Jersey, Middlesex County Superior Court Judge Marcia Silva approved the name change of a transgender teen, saying the move is in his "best interest" because it matches his gender identity, NJ.com reported. Under the ruling, the now-17-year-old, whose parents are divorced, was granted a name change from Veronica to Trevor. Trevor's mother filed for the name change on Trevor's behalf in 2016; however, his father initially opposed the change, questioning if it was in the teen's best interest.

A Brooklyn grand jury indicted a man on hate-crime charges for the assault of a lesbian subway rider that left her with a concussion, fractured nose, a broken eye socket and multiple deep cuts that required eight stitches, LGBTQ Nation noted. Prosecutors say when Antoine Thomas, 27, boarded the downtown Q train at Union Station in Manhattan on May 21, he sat next to the victim and her girlfriend, and started shouting homophobic slurs at them. Thomas is due back in court Sept. 8.

In North Carolina, Matthew Fenner said he pleaded with authorities for two years to investigate his allegations that congregants at his North Carolina church attacked him to expel his "homosexual demons," WLOS reported. An Associated Press investigation found that Rutherford County law enforcement authorities told Fenner his only option was to pursue misdemeanor charges against the Word of Faith Fellowship church members. It took nearly two years before five church members were indicted; the first didn't go on trial until May, but that ended in a mistrial.

NLGJA announced that longtime meteorologist Sam Champion will lead a panel of meteorologists in discussion at NLGJA's National Convention Opening Reception, a press release noted. Champion will lead the group in a discussion of what it's like to be out on the air as a meteorologist. He will be joined by Drew Tuma and Adam Joseph. Additional panelists will be announced soon for the event, to be held Sept. 7-10 in Philadelphia.

The owner of a gay bar in Vermont has abandoned the name Mister Sister and is seeking forgiveness after three months of bitter controversy, USA Today reported. The new name of the Winooski area's only gay bar, which opened in March, will be The Bridge Club. The original name, which owner Craig McGaughan initially described as inclusive, sparked controversy because some people viewed the term as a slur against transgender people.

Rebecca Storozuk, 29, is Orange County, Florida's first transgender deputy, and she told a Central Florida TV station her transition on the job has been "fantastic," according to LGBTQ Nation. "I knew I was a [transgender individual] forever, and I originally identified as a gay male because I thought that would be easier than trying to explain being trans," said Storozuk. "I just couldn't do it. I was terrified for so long." Storozuk began her career in the U.S. Army right out of high school, and has been with the sheriff's office since 2012.

Courthouse News reported that the former wife of a woman who gave birth through artificial insemination cannot claim legal guardianship of the child now that their divorce is final, the Arizona Court of Appeals said in a split ruling. Heather Turner became pregnant in September 2015, after which she and her wife, Liza Oakley, drafted a will that gave Oakley custody of the child if Turner were to die. When Turner and Oakley filed for divorce in May 2016, Oakley's standing in the family became unclear, as Turner asked the courts for sole custody of the child.

The mother of a 16-year-old transgender boy who is being denied access to the boys' restroom at his high school is suing a Florida school board, SouthFloridaGayNews.com reported. The boy attends the Allen D. Nease High School in Ponte Vedra, Florida. According to the complaint filed against the St. Johns County School Board, the boy's mother says her son began being denied access to boys' restrooms after an anonymous report was made in September 2015.

A former Maryland school employee who told police he is HIV-positive was arrested for allegedly sexually abusing at least 10 male students on school property and at his home, People.com reported. Carlos Deangelo Bell, 30, had been arrested in connection with the alleged production of child pornography and on three counts of second-degree assault. Sheriff Troy Berry told NBC 4 Washington that the 10 boys identified as alleged victims of Bell were middle-school and pre-adolescent students.

Cable-news host Greta Van Susteren is leaving MSNBC after about six months after joining the network, TheHill.com noted. In a memo to employees, MSNBC President Phil Griffin called Van Susteren "a well-regarded television veteran and one of only a few broadcasters who can say they've hosted shows at all three major cable news networks." Ari Melber, MSNBC's chief legal correspondent and host of the The Point on weekends, will be her successor.


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