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National roundup: Chris Christie, controversial bar closes, heroic officer
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2017-08-01

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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation requiring the state's Department of Education to provide guidance to public schools about policies for transgender students, NBC News reported. The law seeks to ensure a supportive and nondiscriminatory learning environment for transgender students by providing guidance on using a student's preferred name and pronoun—to be reflected on the student's ID card—and blocking schools from forcing students to use bathrooms that conflict with their gender identities unless "reasonable alternative arrangements" are provided.

In March—when Mister Sister opened in Winooski, Vermont—owner Craig McGaughan received outrage over the bar's name, as members of the local LGBT community took it as a slur against transgender women. However, after weeks of complaints and bad press, McGaughan changed Mister Sister's name to The Bridge Club—but it was too late, as a notice on the Bridge Club website announced it is closed for good, NewNowNext.com reported. "Fake social justice terrorists put us out of business," read a message superimposed over the Mister Sister logo. A GoFundMe campaign McGaughan started to raise $100,000 earned less than $2,000.

President Donald Trump awarded the Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor ( Medal of Valor ) to Special Agents David Bailey and Crystal Griner of the United States Capitol Police as well as officers Nicole Battaglia, Kevin Jobe and Alexander Jensen of the Alexandria Police Department for their efforts on June 14, a White House press release stated. All five first responders were on the field in Alexandria, Virginia, when a heavily armed assailant opened fire on U.S. House of Representatives Majority Whip Steve Scalise and about 20 other unarmed people, including several members of Congress. Griner, a lesbian, was shot in the ankle during the incident, many media outlets reported.

President Trump's decision to ban transgender people from serving in the military sparked a wave of condemnation from Democrats and Republicans alike—but it also has resulted in a boost to Virginia trans candidate Danica Roem's campaign fund, The Washington Post noted. Roem said she received a $50,000 donation from Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, who chairs the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, after Trump announced the transgender military ban. She is trying to unseat Del. Robert G. Marshall ( R-Prince William ), a social conservative who has sponsored a "bathroom bill" and a ban on gay people from serving in the state's National Guard.

A member of an elite special warfare unit in the Navy has come out as transgender, according to The Washington Post. Lt. Cmdr. Mark Walton said in an email that the person is a Navy Special Warfare Combatant Craft Crewman. They often support Navy SEALs but also conduct their own missions. The unidentified person appears to be the first member of the Special Warfare Command to identify as transgender.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand led a bipartisan letter signed by 44 additional senators to Secretary James N. Mattis, urging him to advise President Trump against implementing the announcement he tweeted that transgender individuals can no longer serve in the military, according to a Human Rights Campaign press release. Just a few of the senators who backed Gillibrand included Bernie Sanders ( I-Vermont ), Tammy Duckworth ( D-Illinois ), Richard Durbin ( D-Illinois ), Susan Collins ( R-Maine ), Mark Warner ( D-Virginia ) and Elizabeth Warren ( D-Massachusetts ). Collins was the only Republican to sign the letter.

South Carolina's highest court ruled that people in same-sex relationships throughout the state should get the same legal protections against domestic violence as heterosexual couples, CBS News reported. The court was asked to weigh in after a woman tried to get a protective order against her former fiancée, also a woman, and was denied. Acting Justice Costa Pleicones, who wrote the majority opinion, said during oral arguments in March 2016 that he felt the law was "pretty clearly unconstitutional in its discriminatory impact upon same-sex couples."

The ACLU of Montana challenged in the Montana Supreme Court the legal sufficiency of a proposed anti-LGBTQ ballot initiative, I-183, according to an organizational press release. The petition argues that the ballot and fiscal impact statements fail to adequately explain the initiative's impacts on transgender individuals and state and local budgets. After passing similar legislation, North Carolina's economy is predicted to lose more than $3.76 billion; I-183's fiscal impact statement did not address such long-term financial impacts.

The Justice Department, intervening in a private employment case ( Zarda v. Altitude Express ), urged a federal appeals court to rule that civil-rights law does not bar job discrimination based on sexual orientation, The Washington Post reported. The 2nd Circuit case involves a skydiving instructor, Donald Zarda, who claimed he was fired by a company called Altitude Express based on his sexual orientation. Zarda died in a skydiving accident before the case went to trial; two executors of his estate have replaced him as plaintiffs.

Inmates at Michigan's Alger County Correctional Facility—where a prisoner was allegedly killed by his cellmate—say prison staff ignored requests from the pair to be separated ahead of the killing, The Detroit Metro Times reported. The issue between the two, the prisoner sources say, was the victim's sexual orientation. The suspect in the killing of Rodriguez Montez Burks, 23, has not yet been named, but corrections officials say he has been isolated; Burks had nine months until he was eligible for parole.

A man who accused Seattle Mayor Ed Murray of sexually abusing him decades ago has demanded more than $1 million from the city, saying Murray defamed him, U.S. News & World Report noted. Delvonn Heckard filed the claim, seeking from $1 million to $3 million. He said the mayor used his position to falsely accuse Heckard of participating in an "anti-gay right wing conspiracy" against the mayor. ( Both Heckard and Murray are gay. ) Heckard is one of four men who have accused Murray of sexually abusing them years ago; Murray denies the claims, but declined to seek re-election.

Last year, Kathryn Knott spent five months in jail because of her role in a horrific hate crime in Philadelphia—and now, in the civil trial, she is claiming self-defense, LGBTQ Nation reported. In 2014, Knott and 14 of her suburbanite friends were in the city to celebrate a birthday; they crossed paths with gay couple Zachary Hesse and Andrew Haught, and then beat the couple while shouting anti-gay slurs. Now she is facing a civil suit from the victims, who are seeking $500,000 in damages from her and two men in the group, Philip Williams and Kevin Harrigan.

A new study says that LGBT community-health centers have been a major provider of health services to LGBT people, but there are significant gaps in the types of services offered by centers across the country, according to a press release. The study identified 213 LGBT community-health centers operating in 37 states, including Chicago's Center on Halsted. The article is titled "Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender ( LGBT ) health services in the United States: Origins, evolution, and contemporary landscape," and is at http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0180544.

Authorities have identified a suspect in an arson that damaged a Phoenix LGBT youth center, a U.S. News & World Report item stated. Phoenix Fire Department officials say recovered video evidence shows 26-year-old Darren William Beach Jr. pouring liquid on the floor of the one.n.ten center on July 12 and then stepping outside just before a room goes up in flames; authorities are looking for him. Youth center officials say Beach was a participant in their program, but aged out of eligibility when he turned 25.

The leader of the Claremont Colleges' Queer Resource Center has been fired over several tweets in which he openly critiqued heteronormativity, "well-meaning white women" and the police, NewNowNext.com noted. Higgins was hired just last month to head the resource center for the consortium of California colleges, which includes Pomona, Scripps, Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd and Pitzer. In response to Higgins' dismissal, a group of 100 student affairs employees and college students sent an open letter to Collins-Eaglin, slamming the firing as a "gross injustice."

In Portland, a video taken outside of the gay bar Scandals PDX showed a man harassing patrons and making comments that involve mentions of extreme violence, according to OregonLive.com . Scandals PDX, which opened in downtown in 1979, is one of Portland's most well-known gay bars. Sgt. Pete Simpson, spokesperson for the Portland Police Bureau, said that officers responded to Scandals "on the report of a man outside the bar yelling and making verbal threats."

As part of an ongoing partnership with Slack Technologies, Inc., Transgender Law Center ( TLC ) has announced the next phase of Transform Tech, an initiative that launched in April with a summit for transgender people working in the technology sector and leaders in the field to connect and discuss challenges, a press release noted. This second phase will focus on the creation of a comprehensive set of curriculum for use across the technology sector to better assure the inclusion and retention of transgender and gender nonconforming ( TGNC ) employees, potential talent and clients. TLC will build on its long standing partnerships with the tech and business communities by offering curriculum on a variety of topics from trans-inclusive healthcare policies, data collection practices and restroom/facility usage.

Part-time actor/comedian Lil Duval was a guest on New York'radio show The Breakfast Club—and said he would kill a trans woman if he slept with her and didn't know, SDGLN.com reported. Seemingly wanting to get the comedian fired up, co-host DJ Envy put trans writer Janet Mock's book on the table with her photo facing Duval. ( Mock had been a guest on their show just days prior. ) Not amused by the radio bit, Laverne Cox went on Twitter to express her disapproval and concern. "Some folks think it's ok to joke about wanting to kill us," Cox posted. "We have free speech but that speech has consequences and trans folks are experiencing the negative consequences with our lives. It hurts my spirit cause this isn't funny. Our lives matter. Trans murder isn't a joke."

The 29th Annual Conference & Career Fair, Lavender Law—the annual conference of The National LGBT Bar Association—is taking place until Aug. 4 in San Francisco, a press release noted. More than 1,500 legal professionals from law firms, non-profits, government agencies, corporations and law schools were expected to attend. Among the slated speakers were John Cabeca, director of the Silicon Valley United States Patent and Trademark Office; and Hilary Ware, the vice president and associate general counsel at Netflix.

Hillary Clinton is calling her new book What Happened, and is promising unprecedented honesty as she remembers her stunning defeat last year to Donald Trump, USA Today reported. Simon & Schuster told The Associated Press that Clinton's book will be a highly personal work that also is a "cautionary tale" about Russian interference in last year's election and its threat to democracy. n public remarks since last fall, the Democrat has cited Russia as a factor in her defeat to her Republican opponent, along with a letter sent by then-FBI Director James Comey less than two weeks before the election.

U.S. Rep. John Delaney ( D-Maryland ) announced that he will run for the White House in 2020, The Hill noted. In an op-ed published in The Washington Post, Delaney said he would not seek re-election to the House in 2018 and laid out his agenda. Delaney called for an infrastructure overhaul, tax reform and increased investment in science and research.

In New York City, the Queens Museum honored the history of the LGBT community in the borough at a now-closed exhibit, Caribbean Life News reported. "The Lavender Line: Coming Out in Queens" was a multimedia display chronicling the history of the queer community from the 1990s to the present day. One of those images in the exhibit was of members of the Caribbean Equality Project ( CEP ), a Queens-based queer advocacy organization; another illustrated the evolution of the Queens Pride Parade from a community event in 1993 to a festival that attracts crowds of more than 40,000.

Renee Hall has been appointed the new chief of the Dallas Police Department—becoming the first woman to lead the department in its 136-year history, Face2FaceAfrica.com reported. Hall's appointment means women of color now hold the top three law enforcement positions in Dallas County. Hall joins Sheriff Lupe Valdez, the first openly gay Latina to be elected Dallas county sheriff; and District Attorney Faith Johnson, the first Black woman appointed to the position.


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