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National roundup: Catholic Univ.; amfAR battle; Texas hate-crime assaults
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2017-09-26

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The seminary at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., rescinded an invitation to Rev. James Martin amid ongoing criticism he is too welcoming toward the LGBT community, NewNowNext.com reported. Martin—who was appointed advisor to the Vatican's secretariat for communications earlier this year—released his book Building a Bridge in June. In it, he addressed how Catholics can be more inclusive, and criticized church leaders for turning their backs on LGBT people, especially in the wake of the Pulse nightclub massacre. Martin does have his allies, as Jesuit leaders sang his praise in a statement, calling him "a meaningful voice in our Church."

An agreement between movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and fashion icon Kenneth Cole to donate a portion of the proceeds from an auction item at amfAR's starry gala to the nonprofit that helped stage "Finding Neverland" has sparked a battle on the AIDS charity's board, according to Page Six. Four members of the board complained to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman after Cole, amfAR's chairman for nearly 13 years, agreed that $600,000 raised by an 2015 auction item donated by Weinstein would go to American Repertory Theater. Four board members—Vincent Roberti, Arlen Andelson, Jonathan Canno and Mervyn Silverman—claim Cole acted improperly when he approved the deal without first putting it before a board vote. The 14 other board members, including Harry Belafonte and Diana Taylor, are backing Cole.

A third Texas man has pleaded guilty to hate-crime assaults on men because the victims were gay, a Fox San Antonio item stated. Chancler Encalade pled guilty in Plano to assaulting men because they were gay; previously, Nigel Garrett and Cameron Ajiduah entered similar pleas to crimes under the federal hate-crimes statute. Encalade, Garrett and Agiduah have admitted that they and Anthony Shelton used a dating website for gay men to arrange to meet their victims in the victims' homes. Once there, they would bound their victim with tape, physically assault and verbally abuse the man for being gay, then steal items from their homes.

College Park, Maryland, Mayor Patrick Wojahn and City Council member P.J. Brennan—both of whom are gay—were among the suburban city's leaders who came under fire for backing a controversial proposal to allow non-citizen residents to vote in local elections, The Washington Blade reported. Wojahn infuriated many of the residents who spoke out against the proposal by casting the deciding vote to kill a proposed resolution to place the issue before the voters in a referendum in November rather than let the City Council decide the matter. Supporters of giving non-citizen residents the right to vote in College Park's local municipal elections noted that other Maryland municipalities ( including Hyattsville, Mount Rainier and Takoma Park ) approved non-citizen voting rights measures in recent years and have not encountered any problems.

The National LGBTQ Task Force announced that Kierra Johnson has been named the organization's next deputy executive director, according to a press release. Currently the executive director of Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity ( URGE ), Johnson will join the Task Force staff Jan. 1, 2018. Johnson previously served on the National LGBTQ Task Force's board of directors and on its National Action Council, and has keynoted at the organization's annual Creating Change Conference.

LGBT-rights organization Equality Pennsylvania sought legal intervention after a board member it recently removed shared financial information about the organization online, Philadelphai Gay News reported. The boards of Equality PA and the Equality PA Education Fund voted Sept. 14 to revoke Sharron Cooks' board membership and her position as vice president of advocacy, according to social-media posts from Cooks. Cooks, a Black trans woman, later contended she was forced off the board because of white supremacy; she also made several allegations about staff, saying, for example, "Equality Pennsylvania had to fire the entire staff because of mismanagement of fund [sic] by Ted Martin."

In Seattle, a transgender woman was insulted by a group of three men and then beaten, according to LGBTQ Nation. The woman was at the Rancho Bravo restaurant in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of the city. The police report says that the victim had a cut, a swollen eye, and blood on her face and chest; the suspects are still at large, and Rancho Bravo said on Facebook that it does not have surveillance cameras in the dining area "out of respect for personal privacy."

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, U.S. Sen.Tammy Baldwin was among those who successfully fought to include an amendment to the FY 2018 State Department appropriations legislation to prevent the elimination of two critical offices for ensuring LGBTI rights are a U.S. foreign policy priority, according to a press release from her office. "America must lead by example, and eliminating offices that help facilitate LGBTI human rights is not the right example to set," said Baldwin. "I'm proud to have led the fight to reverse the Trump Administration's cuts to these two critical programs. Together, we can continue the march for fairness, freedom and full equality for all." This March, President Trump ordered a reorganization of the State Department and the United States Agency of International Development ( USAID ), to include the elimination or downgrade of certain critical Special Envoy offices and human rights programs.

KB Home has cut CEO Jeffrey Mezger's bonus by a quarter and has warned him that if he doesn't get control of his anger he could be out of a job after he was caught on tape hurling anti-gay and sexist slurs at neighbor Kathy Griffin, LGBTQ Nation noted. Griffin's longtime boyfriend, Randy Bick, called the police to register a noise complaint against Mezger, whose grandchildren were having a pool party next door. Mezger can be heard on audio caught by Bick and Griffin's security cameras calling Griffin a "bald d-ke" and a "f—king c—t."

Jeff Mateer, Donald Trump's nominee for a federal judgeship in Texas, delivered two 2015 speeches saying that transgender children are evidence of "Satan's plan," supporting conversion therapy and linking marriage equality to bestiality, according to the Human Rights Campaign tipsheet AM Equality. CNN noted that Mateer—the current first assistant attorney general of Texas—was serving at the time as general counsel of the First Liberty Institute, a religious liberty advocacy group known before 2016 as the Liberty Institute. He joins Trump anti-LGBTQ nominees such as Stephen Schwartz, Mark Green and others.

Former White House communications figure Anthony Saramucci, while co-hosting The View Sept. 22, said that Donald Trump's former strategist Steve Bannon and chief of staff Reince Priebus were the two "most unlikeable" people in the White House, according to Deadline. Bannon is a "great speechwriter" with "great linguistic skills," but "has a little bit of messianic complex" and white nationalist "tendencies," Scaramucci said. Also, Scaramucci denied calling former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer "Melissa McCarthy" behind his back, insisting he called him "Liar Spice. "

The CEO of DaddyBear—a gay dating app that aims to connect "wealthy gay daddies" with so-called "healthy gay bears"—has apologized for stigmatizing HIV after saying the company tried its "best to make sure that all users you meet will be healthy and without HIV," according to Queerty. In an apology, the CEO ( only known as "Justin" ) said he learned from his mistakes, and blamed his prior stance on an ex-boyfriend who allegedly contracted HIV after having unprotected sex with another guy outside the relationship. In the press release, Justin also thanked writer Mark S. King for making the company "know why it is not right to promote a gay app that excludes HIV-positive men from joining."

The National Center for Lesbian Rights ( NCLR ) won the Arizona Supreme Court case McLaughlin v. McLaughlin, which ruled that a woman was the legal parent of the child she and her same-sex spouse conceived through assisted reproduction during their marriage, according to an organizational press release. As the Arizona Supreme Court recognized, the U.S. Supreme Court rulings in Obergefell v. Hodges and Pavan v. Smith require states to treat married same-sex parents and married different-sex parents equally under the law.

New York City's Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center is offering a group meeting for LGBTQ cancer survivors Oct. 3, according to a press release. This group for LGBTQ cancer survivors will address adjustment to life after cancer treatment including issues such as emotional adjustments, changes in physical functioning, altered self-image, persistent fatigue, isolation and other post—treatment related concerns. To participate, email virtualprograms@mskcc.org .

Megyn Kelly stopped by the Ellen DeGeneres Show to promote her new show on NBC—and told DeGeneres that she would have President Trump on her show, LGBTQ Nation noted. DeGeneres, however, quickly said she wouldn't. "He is who he is and he gets enough attention and he has his Twitter account and he has ways to get his message across," DeGeneres said. "There's nothing I'm going to say to him that's going to change him and I don't want to give him a platform, because it just validates him."

Former FBI Director James Comey struggled to give the convocation address at Howard University, speaking over a group of about 20 students who sang and chanted continuously throughout the speech, Politico reported. Protesters seated near the back of Howard's auditorium stood with raised fists and began singing "We Shall not be Moved" as Comey stepped to the lectern and thanked the university's president. The group ran through multiple other chants, including "no justice, no peace," "f*** Jim Comey" and "get out Jim Comey, you're not our homie." No effort was made to remove the demonstrators.

NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists announced that NPR'S "Weekend Edition Saturday" host Scott Simon is the recipient of the 2017 Randy Shilts Award for LGBTQ Coverage, a press release noted. The award honors journalists who consistently bring stories of the LGBTQ community to life in mainstream media outlets. Simon will receive the Randy Shilts Award during NLGJA's Dateline:DC event on Nov. 16 at the Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams Signature Store in Washington, D.C.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) reacted to Donald Trump's actions extending his Muslim travel ban issued earlier this year in a press release. "Donald Trump's travel ban poses a serious threat to individuals trying to get to the United States in order to claim asylum—including LGBTQ Muslims and immigrants seeking to escape violence and persecution," said JoDee Winterhof, HRC senior vice president for policy and political affairs. "Trump is recklessly putting lives in jeopardy by blocking them from reaching safety in the United States. HRC will continue to stand up against all forms of Islamophobia and call out the danger this travel ban creates for LGBTQ people abroad." The far-reaching travel ban expands his last executive order to apply to eight countries and is to be kept in place indefinitely.

In Virginia, the first-ever LGBT Pride event in the Tri-Cities was held Sept. 17 at DJ's Rajun Cajun in Old Towne Petersburg, The Progress-Index noted. The organizers of Petersburg Out and Proud: A Celebration of Pride and Community Education aim to raise awareness of the thriving LGBT community in Petersburg and the surrounding areas. Drag performer Victoria C. Snow as well as Kristin Sayer and Carolyn McShane of Sayer McShane were the among the featured entertainment.

Organizers of the controversial "Free Speech Week" on the University of California-Berkeley campus said the event was cancelled, KQED reported. Gay conservative pundit Milo Yiannopoulos held a press conference Sept. 23 canceling the four-day event, which was scheduled to start Sept. 24 and was set to feature a long list of right-wing speakers including former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. Left-wing protesters shut down a Feb. 1 event featuring Yiannopoulos before it even started.


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