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National roundup: Cherokees OK marriage, Pittsburgh says no, HB2
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2016-12-20

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The Cherokee Nation, one of the largest registered Native American tribes in the U.S., has officially decided to recognize same-sex marriage, Bloomberg.com reported. The tribe, as a separate sovereign, isn't bound by the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark 2015 marriage-equality decision Obergefell v. Hodges. However, its judgment relies in part on evidence of historical recognition of same-sex relationships among Cherokees.

Pittsburgh City Council has unanimously banned conversion therapy for anyone under the age of 18, LGBTQ Nation reported. The move makes the city the first in the state of Pennsylvania to do so, and officials say they hope more will follow suit. Conversion therapy is illegal in five states and Washington, D.C.

GMHC released a statement following the passing of Gina Quattrochi, the CEO of Bailey House, the first supportive housing agency in the country for people living with HIV/AIDS. GMHC CEO Kelsey Louie said, "We mourn the loss of Gina Quattrochi, who was a force of nature in the fight against the epidemic, transforming the conversation about HIV/AIDS and homelessness." Bailey House's website read, "Gina's commitment and dedication to her work and her tireless advocacy leave an indelible and permanent legacy. Her life touched countless people, and her vision and passion left a deep impact on those who knew her."

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory called for a special session to consider repealing House Bill 2 ( HB2 ) after the Charlotte City Council voted unanimously to rescind its expanded nondiscrimination ordinance, LGBTQ Nation reported. After months of the majority of the Charlotte City Council refusing to compromise on its ordinance offering protections to the LGBTQ community, including the controversial transgender bathroom and locker room protections, the council unanimously rescinded it on Dec. 19. Gov.-elect Roy Cooper has vowed to repeal HB2.

Days after a video surfaced showing Orange Coast College professor ( and Latina lesbian ) Olga Perez Stable Cox telling students that Donald Trump's election was an "act of terrorism," violent threats have forced the instructor to flee her home state of California, The Washington Post noted. Cox—who was secretly recorded by one of her students last month when she was discussing the presidential election—received a flood of angry emails, phone calls and Facebook comments, some of which were violent and threatening, the Orange County Register noted. In total, more than 1,000 messages were directed at Cox, OCC and her union. In the end, Cox turned her final week of class this semester over to a substitute.

Outgoing Army Secretary Eric Fanning said he does not believe the incoming Trump administration will attempt to undermine openly LGBT service in the military, On Top Magazine reported. Also, he reiterated that reinstating "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" would be a difficult task. Fanning, the nation's first openly gay Army secretary, made his comments at the 2016 International LGBT Leaders Conference.

An executive order issued by Louisiana's governor that was aimed at protecting the rights of LGBT people in state government was thrown out Dec. 14 by a judge who said the governor exceeded his authority, ABC News reported. State District Judge Todd Hernandez ruled that Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards' anti-discrimination order is unconstitutional because it seeks to create or expand state law. The order prohibited discrimination in government and state contracts based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Pete Buttigieg, the openly gay mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is considering a run for chair of the Democratic National Committee ( DNC ), Towleroad reported. A Harvard graduate and military veteran who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan, Buttigieg came out in 2015 in an op-ed. Former DNC Chair Howard Dean said on MSNBC that he met with Buttigieg and was impressed by him and resume.

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has appealed his suspension from office to a special Supreme Court appointed to hear that appeal, AL.com reported. In September, the Alabama Court of the Judiciary suspended Moore without pay for the remainder of his term, finding that he violated judicial ethics. The main issue was an administrative order Moore wrote to probate judges in January telling them they still had a duty to enforce Alabama's ban on same-sex marriages.

A federal appeals court ruled that students at a Central Florida middle school have the right to form a gay-straight alliance club, ClickOrlando.com reported. The decision by the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals came after the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida appealed a previous judge's decision that school officials could deny the club recognition. The court's reversal opinion found the club should have equal access to use school facilities, just like other extracurricular clubs.

In Virginia Beach, Virginia, the school division postponed a gay-pride assembly at Cox High School, shortly after incoming school board member Victoria Manning complained that such an event shouldn't be held during instructional time, The Virginian-Pilot noted. The school's Gay-Straight Alliance had planned the event for months. It was to be optional for students, and would have included a Q&A session with a student panel and a speech from Michael Berlucchi, the president of Hampton Roads Pride.

Gay political consultant and former Republican presidential candidate Fred Karger has launched efforts to go after the tax-exempt status of the Mormon church over their 2008 involvement in California's Proposition 8 Campaign against same-sex marriage, LGBTQ Nation reported. Karger, the first ever openly gay presidential candidate of a major political party in America, has worked on the presidential campaigns of candidates such as Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He founded Californians Against Hate in 2008 in part to investigate the church's role in providing financial support for the campaign to ban gay marriage in the state.

The Human Rights Campaign says that the U.S. Senate should take a hard look at ExxonMobil's record on gay rights when it considers the nomination of Rex Tillerson for secretary of state, NBC Montana noted. The Human Rights Campaign, which ranks corporations on how they treat LGBTQ employees, has consistently given Exxon poor grades. Tillerson is the CEO and has worked at the company for most of his adult life. When Exxon merged with Mobil in 1999, it eliminated Mobil's domestic-partner benefits for gay and lesbian employees and removed a policy preventing discrimination on the basis on sexual orientation, according to HRC.

The HRC called on President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence to denounce comments made by Tony Perkins calling for a "purge" of pro-LGBTQ State Department employees. Perkins, a close Trump ally and the head of the rabidly anti-LGBTQ Family Research Council, called on the incoming administration to have pro-LGBTQ employees "ferreted out" and "replaced by conservatives."

Also, the HRC hailed President Obama's appointment of Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon and attorney Debo P. Adegbile to six-year terms on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. The bipartisan, independent Commission on Civil Rights is charged with advising the development of civil rights policy and enhancing enforcement of federal nondiscrimination statutes.

The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law has launched the All Survivors Project, documenting sexual and gender-based violence against boys and men in situations of armed conflict and displacement, a press release noted. The project, supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees ( UNHCR ), will provide best practices and policy recommendations to improve the global response for all victims. All Survivors Project will have staff in Los Angeles and London. See http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/all-survivors-project/.

Legal advocates, now joined by Lambda Legal, filed papers in Barber v. Bryant, the federal challenge brought by Mississippi civil-rights attorney Robert McDuff and the Mississippi Center for Justice to HB 1523, a press release noted. HB 1523 is Mississippi's anti-LGBT legislation that was enacted in defiance of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision granting marriage for same-sex couples nationwide. In June, a federal district court judge issued a preliminary injunction preventing HB 1523 from taking effect. That ruling is now on appeal before the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

On Dec. 8 in Pennsylvania, the Borough of Carlisle passed the Anti-Discrimination Ordinance, restricting discrimination against any LGBTQ person regarding housing, employment and public accommodations, The Dickinsonian reported. Carlisle becomes the 37th municipality in the state to add protections for the LGBT community, courtesy a 5-2 vote, ABC27.com noted.

The San Francisco Symphony canceled a pair of April 2017 concerts in North Carolina to protest the new state law curbing anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people, The New York Times noted. The orchestra joins a growing list of luminaries who have shunned the state: rockers such as Bruce Springsteen and Ringo Starr; athletes, including the NBA, which moved its All-Star Game to New Orleans; and other classical musicians, like the violinist Itzhak Perlman. The symphony's move shows that the fallout over the law, commonly known as House Bill 2 ( HB2 ), is continuing to resonate after Gov. Pat McCrory, the Republican who signed it into law, lost his bid for re-election.

The American Family Association is attacking Connecticut's comptroller after he launched an investigation to ensure the anti-gay group is eligible to receive donations from a state employee payroll deduction program, The New Civil Rights Movement noted. "State official demands AFA discard its Christian beliefs," read AFA's website. The American Family Association appears on the Southern Poverty Law Center's list of active anti-gay hate groups.

Boasting the support of local politicians and an openly gay tennis legend, a Washington,D.C.-area gay-athlete group has thrown its hat into the ring to host the 2022 Gay Games, The Washington Times noted, citing WTOP Radio. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton and the city council have all formally endorsed the bid, with tennis great Billie Jean King, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue serving as honorary chairs. There are eight cities competing against Washington for the honor, and six of them are in the U.S.: Austin, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and San Francisco.

The January 2017 issue of National Geographic, focusing on "the gender revolution," features a 9-year-old transgender girl, believed to be the first trans person on the 128-year-old publication's cover, according to NewNowNext. "The best part of being a girl," says Avery Jackson in the accompanying caption, "is, now I don't have to pretend to be a boy." Jackson began her transition at age 4, and her parents have become her staunchest advocates. In connection with this, a two-hour documentary, Gender Revolution: A Journey with Katie Couric, will premiere Monday, Feb. 6. The January issue will be available on print newsstands beginning Dec. 27 and online in its entirely at NatGeo.com/gender revolution on Jan. 3.

In Florida, Natasha Richards—a Clearwater-based performer who won dozens of titles in local and national drag pageants—recently passe away at age 44, TampaBay.com reported. Richards, who mentored young drag queens trying to break into the scene, performed at many clubs in the Tampa Bay area, including Flirt Nightclub, a now-closed gay club in Ybor City.

That baseball hazing ritual of dressing up rookies as Wonder Woman, Hooters Girls and Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders is now banned, USA Today noted. Major League Baseball created an Anti-Hazing and Anti-Bullying Policy that covers the practice. The policy, obtained by The Associated Press, prohibits "requiring, coercing or encouraging" players from "dressing up as women or wearing costumes that may be offensive to individuals based on their race, sex, nationality, age, sexual orientation, gender identify or other characteristic."


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