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National roundup: Bisexual politicians, shooting conviction, Trump ban
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2017-10-03

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U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema is running for the Senate seat held by Jeff Flake, ending months of speculation about her political future and giving Democrats a top-tier fundraiser with experience on Capitol Hill, AZCentral.com reported. In a video announcing her bid,the Arizona Democrat recounts her upbringing in a family that fell from the middle class into homelessness. She made her way to Congress, Sinema says, with hard work and help from "family, church and, sometimes, even the government." In 2012, she became the first openly bisexual person elected to the U.S. House.

Just a year after winning election, Gov. Kate Brown, who's openly bisexual, announced that she will seek a final term in office in 2018, KOIN.com noted. "As your governor, it's my job to make things better and stand up to anyone who would take our rights away," Brown said. A former Oregon secretary of state, Brown ascended to the governorship in February 2015, when former Gov. John Kitzhaber stepped down amid scandal. Oregon's unusual line of succession made Brown the first openly bisexual governor in the nation's history and Oregon's second female chief executive. In November 2016, Brown was elected to complete the last two years of Kitzhaber's four-year term.

A Los Angeles man has been convicted of first-degree murder after shooting his gay son and stabbing his wife to death in March 2016, according to NewNowNext.com . Shehada Issa, 70, originally claimed he killed son Amir in self-defense after the 29-year-old killed Issa's wife, Rabihah; however, prosecutors countered that Issa fabricatied that scenario, and had killed his son because of his sexuality. When Issa is sentenced Oct. 26, he will face the possibility of life in prison without parole.

Equality California announced in a press release that the National Center for Lesbian Rights ( NCLR ) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders ( GLAD )—the LGBT legal organizations leading the fight against the Trump Administration's transgender military ban—have joined as co-counsel in its lawsuit challenging the ban, Stockman v. Trump. Equality California is a plaintiff in the suit together with seven individual plaintiffs who are currently serving or have taken steps to enlist. The three organizations today also filed a motion for preliminary injunction in the U.S. District Court for Central California to immediately stop the ban and prevent "further irreparable harm" to transgender Americans who are currently serving in the military or have been barred from enlisting.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) was among the groups who responded to the Las Vegas mass shooting that has resulted in at least 59 deaths and 500 injured persons. In a statement, HRC President Chad Griffin ( pointing out other mass shootings, including last year's Orlando tragedy at Pulse Nightclub ) said, "HRC backs common-sense gun violence prevention policy measures and policies aimed at addressing the epidemic of hate that has fueled anti-LGBTQ-motivated murder, assault, and discrimination. ... Common-sense gun violence prevention measures endorsed by HRC include banning access to assault-style rifles, expanding background checks, and limiting the ability for suspected terrorists and those with a history of domestic abuse to access guns."

The Birmingham City Council has made it a criminal offense for any entity operating in the city to discriminate against a person based on his or her race, sexual orientation, national origin, gender identity or disability—making it the first city in Alabama to pass such an ordinance, AL.com reported. The city-wide non-discrimination ordinance covers housing, public accommodations and employment. Any business entity in Birmingham accused of discrimination would face a trial in municipal court. The ordinance now goes to Mayor William Bell, a Democrat, who has promised to sign it into law, Metro Weekly noted.

A federal judge has dismissed a St. Cloud, Minnesota, couple's lawsuit challenging a state law for the right to refuse to shoot wedding videos for same-sex couples, according to a KUTV.com item. Chief U.S. District Judge John Tunheim in Minneapolis dismissed Carl and Angel Larsen's case. The couple—who own the videography company Telescope Media Group—sued over a segment of the Minnesota Human Rights Act that bars discrimination by businesses, the Star Tribune reported. They argued that the law amounted to "a state effort to stamp out expression opposing same-sex marriage."

In New Jersey, Michael "Billy" Bisogno is dropping out of the crowded race to succeed Candice Osborne as Jersey City's Downtown council member, shaking up a key race, NJ.com reported. An actor and LGBT activist, Bisogno, 35, was one of six candidates in the Ward E council race. He was hoping to become the first openly gay person elected to the nine-member City Council. Bisogno linked suspending his council campaign to his new role as executive director of Hudson Pride Connections Center.

Gay Men's Health Crisis ( GMHC ) has opened its state-of-the-art Substance Use Clinic at the organization's Midtown headquarters in New York City, building on the services the agency already offers to more than 12,000 people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS each year, a press release stated. The New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services ( OASAS ) Article 32 licensed outpatient clinic will allow GMHC to incorporate enhanced and innovative substance use treatment and counseling into its comprehensive service-delivery model. GMHC CEO Kelsey Louie was accompanied at the opening by New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray, New York State Assemblyman Richard Gottfrie and others.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) was among those responding to the Alabama Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In a press release, HRC Alabama State Director Eva Kendrick said, "Given Roy Moore's track record of flouting laws and attacking the civil rights of LGBTQ people across our state, we already know he won't stand up for all Alabamians when it matters most. In the run up to Dec. 12, we urge every fair-minded person across Alabama to say #NoMoore and reject the politics of bigotry and hate." Moore won the Alabama Republican primary runoff for U.S. Senate on Sept. 26, defeating Sen. Luther Strange—an appointed incumbent backed by President Donald Trump and allies of Sen. Mitch McConnell.

Two men who were subjected to physical attacks and anti-gay commentary by then-Marshall University football player Steward Butler moments after they kissed in Huntington, West Virginia, in 2015 have turned their painful situaiton into a career, The Herald-Dispatch reported. Butler was charged with two counts of battery and felony civil-rights violations after saying an anti-gay slur and striking Zackary Johnson and Casey Williams in their faces. Cabell County assistant prosecutor Lauren Plymale said the couple "have used this experience to help them grow and they are both now employed as police officers."

CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers has set up a fundraising page for those wishing to make donations to Puerto Rico, a press release noted. CenterLink has been in contact with our member center there, Centro Comunitario LGBTT de Puerto Rico ( centrolgbttpr.yolasite.com/ ) regarding what assistance is needed and how it can best be provided. The page is at connect.clickandpledge.com/Organization/lgbtcenters/campaign/PuertoRicoRelief; questions can be directed to Denise Spivak, senior director or Programs & Outreach for CenterLink, at denise@lgbtcenters.org .

Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, released a statement after President Donald Trump accepted the resignation of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. "After decades of targeting marginalized communities for his own profit, karma finally caught up with Tom Price," she said. "It's a relief that an anti-LGBTQ activist like Price was removed from the Trump administration's highest ranks, but LGBTQ Americans must remain vigilant and prepare for the next nomination—as they could bring the same discriminatory agenda as the rest of the president's picks."

A trans teenager has claimed he was kicked out of his Christian private school because of his gender identity, PinkNews reported. Stiles Zuschlag had attended the New Hampshire Tri-City Christian Academy since kindergarten—and is saying he was told homeschooling or counselling would be more appropriate because he is transgender. He has since transferred to a Maine public high school to complete his senior year.

A Catholic university in Michigan cancelled a lecture by a theologian due to right-wing attacks over that theologian's LGBT-positive stances, according to the New Ways Ministry blog. The Center for Catholic Studies and Interfaith Dialogue at Madonna University, in Livonia, planned to host Dr. M. Shawn Copeland of Boston College. The cancellation was prompted by attacks from the right-wing group Church Militant, which criticized Copeland for being a "pro-LGBT speaker." Copeland has declined to comment, but the chair of her theology department at Boston College, Dr. Richard Gaillardetz, criticized such right-wing groups.

Harrison Browne, a transgender man, has announced that he would delay his medical transition to sign with the New York Riveters and play another season in the National Women's Hockey League, NPR reported. Last year, Browne was done with the league, retiring at age 23 in order to undergo hormone therapy and surgery as part of his transition. The league doesn't require that players identify as female, but says they must not be using hormone therapy if they are transgender men.

Assistant referee Matthew Nelson has become the first official in Major League Soccer to publicly come out as gay, The Chicago Tribune noted. Nelson first came out to his friends and family in June before making the public announcement last week. "Since coming out, I have been able to focus more on performing to the best of my ability as an assistant referee," wrote Nelson in a post on OutSports.com . Nelson has officiated more than 70 MLS matches since making his professional debut in 2012.

Michael Moore's dressing room will be the site of a meeting after the curtain for his Broadway show, The Terms of My Surrender, Page Six. Gay-rights activist Allen Roskoff is bringing a group of 20 Democratic leaders on Oct. 5, when Rob Reiner will be Moore's guest star. The group includes state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Brooklyn Democratic boss Frank Seddio, acting Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez and six city council members, among others.

Nate Silver—the stats whiz who left the New York Times in 2013 to take his FiveThirtyEight blog to ESPN—exchanged a few barbs on Twitter with Maggie Haberman over polling and coverage of the 2016 election, Mediaite noted. Initially, Silver mocked Haberman's recent report in the Times that Trump advisers have been using private email accounts. After Silver's pointed statements, Haberman returned the favor by apparently mocking Silver's 2016 polling predictions.

Chronicle, the new collaborative visual storytelling platform, has launched an initiative to crowdsource stories from LGBTQ+ individuals and organizations to create a chronicle to tell the bigger story and visual history of the community, according to a press release. People and organizations add photographs with descriptive details directly to the LGBTQ+ chronicle ( currently 1948-present ) timeline to help build and be part of the story. The chronicle can be accessed at OneChronicle.com/chronicles/lgbtq.

Communities around the country proclaimed Oct. 2 "Thurgood Marshall Day" in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the day Marshall was sworn in as the nation's first African-American Supreme Court justice, a press release noted. Congressional leaders such as U.S. Reps. Maxine Waters, Karen Bass, Nanette Diaz Barragan, Donald Payne Jr. and Alcee Hastings as well as state Sen. Bobby Powell contributed their support by issuing congressional proclamations to help illuminate Marshall's legacy on the historically significant day.

The organizers of a gay-themed bake sale in Salt Lake City, Utah, have asked the Mormon church to match the $4,400 in donations the event raised and lend the faith's support to programs that promote safety for LGBTQ youths struggling with suicide, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. "In our hearts, we truly believe that we all want the same thing," co-organizers Kat Kellermeyer and Hillary McDaniel ( both LGBTQ former Mormons ) wrote in a letter to the public affairs office of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Proceeds from the bake sale will go to the center's new Survivors of Suicide Support Group for those ages 16 to 20.

Greater Palm Springs Pride announced the grand marshals for the annual Palm Springs Pride Parade in a press release. This year's marshals are Navy SEAL Kristin Beck, singer-entertainer/restaurateur Michael Holmes, and the celebrity couple of fitness expert Craig Ramsay and celebrity hairstylist Brandon Liberati. Awards will be presented to the celebrity and community grand marshals at "OUT PSP: A Kick Off to Pride," on Oct. 25; all marshals will ride in the Pride Parade on Nov. 5.

The internal disciplinary trial of a police officer who tackled retired pro tennis player James Blake and slammed him to the ground in a mistaken arrest concluded—but the public and even Blake aren't entitled to the details of any possible punishment, ESPN.com reported. "That I'm not entirely entitled to know what happens when it involved me just makes no sense," Blake said to The Associated Press. "Something needs to change."


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