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National roundup: Clinton liaison; trans suicide; Voices on Point gala
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2015-10-06

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Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has appointed a new staffer to serve as LGBT liaison for her bid for the White House, The Washington Blade reported. Dominic Lowell, whose official title will be director of LGBT outreach, has joined the campaign after serving as director of strategic partnerships for Rock the Vote, where he coordinated progressive movement outreach. According to a bio from the campaign, Lowell, 29, coordinated with more than 100 organizations to advance Rock the Vote's pro-voting and pro-engagement mission.

A 16-year-old transgender boy from Wisconsin died by suicide after losing his battle with depression, Gay Star News reported. Skylar Lee was a junior at Madison West High School as well as an active member of the city's gay-straight alliance, LGBTI theater group and an advanced ballroom dancer. Lee scheduled a Tumblr post at 6 a.m. on the morning of his death; it read he did not take his life because he was transgender and nor did want to be turned into a "sob story." According to the Planet Transgender blog, Lee is the 17th reported transgender person to have died by suicide this year.

More than 400 guests attended the fourth annual Voices on Point gala in Los Angeles to support higher education opportunities for LGBTQ students, according to a press release. Caitlyn Jenner presented the Point Horizon Award to two Point alumni: Rhys Ernst, co-producer for Amazon's Transparent, and Zach Zyskowski, a producer on CBS' Big Brother. The evening—which celebrated the accomplishments of Point Foundation ( Point ) scholarship recipients—also saw celebrities such as Sara Ramirez, Greg Louganis, Amy Landecker and Joey McIntrye, among others.

Out and proud Apple CEO Tim Cook was honored with the visibility award by the Human Rights Campaign at its 19th annual national dinner, The New York Daily News noted. Cook delivered a speech about why he came out and how there's still a long way to go in terms of equality. Cook said he decided to come out to help those who don't have the courage to do so.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation ( AHF ) is sparking controversy by blaming Grindr and related apps for a rise in STDs with new roadside billboards, Project Q Atlanta reported. The billboard campaign, launched Sept. 18 in Los Angeles, features a silhouette of a gay couple with "Grindr" over one head and "gonorrhea" over the other. The billboard also takes a swipe at Tinder by linking it to chlamydia. "Mobile dating apps are rapidly altering the sexual landscape by making casual sex as easily available as ordering a pizza," Whitney Engeran-Cordova, a senior director in AHF's public health division, said in a press release.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) Foundation announced that LGBT Catholics and allied faithful will gather in four U.S. cities to pray the rosary and hold vigils as part of a national effort to send a message of acceptance and inclusion during a bishops' meeting with Pope Francis in Rome, a press release stated. The faith sojourn, "Pray, Listen, Discern: Raising the Voices of LGBT Catholics," starts Oct. 7 in Wichita, Kansas, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, and will continue with events at the Cathedral of St. Mary in Miami on Oct. 13; the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Providence on Oct. 15; and the Basilica of the Assumption in Baltimore on Oct. 25. The cities are home to bishops who have been among the most outspoken in their rejection of LGBT Catholics, their civil rights and their place in the church.

In a video that a local political action committee posted, Republican presidential candidate Texas Sen. Cruz's father condemns Houston for having an openly lesbian mayor ( Annise Parker ), Chron.com reported. The footage was posted last week by a group called NO on Houston Prop 1 PAC—an organization in opposition of the city's controversial HERO ordinance, which among other things would extend protections to transgender people. Rafael Cruz, 76, is a Cuban immigrant and evangelical preacher who, in recent months, has hit the campaign trail in support of his son.

The Court of Appeals of Oregon has affirmed an award of $405,000 against a North Portland bar and the bar's owner, Chris Penner, for violating state public accommodations law by denying "equal accommodations" to an informal social club that included gay and transgender people, Gay City News reported. The September 23 ruling, which upheld a finding by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, rejected the owner's argument that the bar hadn't discriminated and its conduct was protected on First Amendment grounds. In 2012, Rose City T-Girls, an LGBT group, was denied the opportunity to gather at Penner's P Club in North Portland.

An Associated Press article identified the Liberty Counsel—the legal organization representing Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis—as an organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center labels as a hate group, according to a Chicago Sun-Times item. It's "a group that regularly portrays gay people as perverse, diseased pedophiles putting Western civilization at risk are way, way over the line," said Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the center. SPLC labeled the Liberty Counsel as a hate group since at least February, before the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that made same-sex marriage legal across the nation.

A leading Southern Baptist theologian spoke out against psychological counseling aimed at turning young gays straight, saying homosexuality cannot be turned off like a switch, Edge Media Network noted. The Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said that conversion or reparative therapy can't bring about redemptive change. However, Mohler believes that marriage is only between a man and a woman, and that gay people can change by accepting biblical teachings.

A Texas man pled guilty to an illegal demonstration charge for yelling anti-gay remarks in the nation's high court while justices considered their landmark same-sex marriage decision, Courthouse News Service reported. Rives Grogan, 50, caused a disturbance at the U.S. Supreme Court on April 28 by entering the courtroom during same-sex marriage arguments and "yelling statements in a very loud, forceful voice," according to the government. The Mansfield, Texas, resident continued to shout as police officers removed him from the courtroom and took him to a holding areas. All nine Supreme Court justices were present at the time of Grogan's outburst.

A second person claims he experienced inappropriate sexually charged interactions and advances from ex-Detroit City Council President Charles Pugh as an underage teen, MLive.com reported. The lawsuit was originated by a person identified in court records as "K.S.," who took a series of mandatory leadership training classes that Pugh created and led. The first person claims Pugh lavished him with gifts and sent sexually explicit emails, among other things.

The owners of a Portland-area bakery are refusing to pay $135,000 in state-ordered damages to a same-sex couple who were refused service, KOIN.com reported. Melissa and Aaron Klein, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, cited religious beliefs when they refused to bake a wedding cake for Laurel and Rachel Bowman-Cryer more than two years ago. The Kleins are claiming financial hardship, although crowdfunding efforts have brought in more than $500,000 on their behalf.

A Tennessee commission in Blount County was set, as of Oct. 6, to pursue a resolution asking God to forgive its citizens and not inflict his wrath upon the county in response to the legalization of same-sex marriage, LGBTQ Nation reported. The resolution states, in part, "We adopt this resolution before God that He pass us by in His Coming Wrath and not destroy our County as He did Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighboring cities."

A transgender student who wanted to use the boy's bathroom and locker room at his school in Nevada has sparked a new round of debate among legislators over the issue, the Associated Press reported. In September, the 13-year-old transgender boy made a request to use the male-designed facilities at his middle school in Elko County. So far, three conservative state lawmakers have weighed in on the issue after criticizing a new anti-bullying law that broadly protects transgender students and others.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights ( NCLR ) has released the report "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth in the Juvenile Justice System," a press release stated. This comprehensive practice guide, written by NCLR Youth Project Director Shannan Wilber for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, provides juvenile justice agencies the tools to meet their obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of LGBT youth in their care. The guide is at http://www.nclrights.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/AECF_LGBTinJJS_FINAL2.pdf.

Lambda Legal launched the newest section of its Know Your Rights information hub, a press release noted. "Know Your Rights: HIV" provides information for people living with HIV people on topics such as disclosure and discrimination in housing, health care and employment. Launched the day after the 2015 National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, the "Know Your Rights: HIV" hub provides information about the rights of all people living with HIV, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

In Indiana, the owner of a Hamilton County Subway restaurant is facing an EEOC lawsuit alleging an employee was illegally fired over their HIV-positive status, TheIndyChannel.com reported. According to the lawsuit, the Subway franchise KAY QSRS, Inc., owned by Shalinder Kular, fired an employee of its Sheridan store after the employee disclosed to his manager he was HIV-positive. The EEOC says the firing violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Anthony Cappola—a New Jersey Assembly candidate who dropped out of the race after a book of rants he wrote about gays, breast-feeding moms and others surfaced—has also resigned from his council seat, the Associated Press reported. River Edge Mayor Sandy Moscaritolo said he worked well with Cappola and that he had contributed as a council member, even using his skills as a disc jockey to help at events. Republicans denounced Cappola's language in the book that included saying gay people should keep their "sexual preferences" ''behind doors like normal people do."

New York's worlds of LGBT media and nightlife are mourning the loss of Gary Lacinski, the former publisher of seminal gay entertainment guide HX, Edge Media Network reported. Lacinski, who died of an apparent heart attack, was 53. Lacinski came to HX Magazine in the '90s, and stayed with the publication until it was absorbed by rival gay nightlife guide Next Magazine in 2009. Lacinski is survived by his longtime partner Chris Pagoota, whom he married in 2014.

In 2010, the National Institutes of Health ( NIH ) commissioned the Institute of Medicine to assess the current state of knowledge about the health of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender ( LGBT ) people and to identify research gaps and formulate a research agenda that could guide NIH in enhancing and focusing research in this area. According to NIH.gov, the NIH 2016-2020 Strategic Plan to Advance Research on the Health and Well-being of Sexual and Gender Minorities has now been finalized—and the plan is currently out for public comment. Visit http://edi.nih.gov/sites/default/files/EDI_Public_files/sgm-strategic-plan.pdf.

One Million Kids For Equality has launched ProudYouth.com, offering LGBTQ and allied youth contributors an early introduction to journalism and an opportunity to elevate their voices around the issues that matter most in their lives, a press release stated. The publication will offer youth an opportunity to cover everything from advice columns to op-eds and anything in between—including but not limited to current events, sports, politics, art, music, movie and event reviews, exclusive stories and personal stories, as well as artistic pieces such as poetry.

Investigating whether the world of gay porn is racist, Vocativ interviewed directors, performers and producers—and they have found many actors will refuse to work with African-Americans or Asians, according to a Gay Star News item. Requests like "I'm just not into Black guys," for example, are apparently very common, and these requests are often fully accommodated. Porn performer Connor Habib says he was "probably way more sexually racist" when he started out; however, he now believes the industry should be doing more to discourage this kind of prejudice, instead of accepting it and allowing it to continue.


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