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National roundup: Funeral-home suit, Stephen Colbert, another trans killing
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
2017-05-09

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Lambda Legal has joined a lawsuit against a Picayune, Mississippi, funeral home for refusing to provide any service for Robert Huskey after his death—leaving his 82-year-old husband, Jack Zawadski, desperate to make other arrangements in the hours after his spouse's passing, a Lambda Legal press release noted. The suit against Picayune Funeral Home seeks damages for breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, and the intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. A copy of the complaint is at http://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/zawadski_ms_20170502_complaint.

Late night talk-show host Stephen Colbert's controversial joke about President Trump drew the attention of the Federal Communications Commission ( FCC ), The Hill reported. The agency received "a number" of complaints about Colbert's commentary earlier in the week, the FCC's chief said. "The only thing your mouth is good at is being [Russian President] Vladimir Putin's c—k holster," he said of Trump. Colbert later defended his joke amid fierce backlash online.

In a press release, The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs ( NCAVP ) mourned the homicide of Brenda Bostick, a Black transgender woman killed in New York City. This was the 10th reported killing of a transgender person of color NCAVP has responded to in 2017. Bostick, 59, died May 4 from injuries sustained in an attack on April 25 in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. NCAVP's most recent hate violence report, "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and HIV-Affected Hate Violence in 2015," recorded 24 reported hate violence homicides of LGBTQ people—a 20-percent increase from the 20 reported anti-LGBTQ homicides in 2014.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) rejected a $325,000 donation from Bank of America, according to LGBTQ Nation. HRC also is demoting the top-ranked bank in North Carolina—five times bigger than its nearest rival and competitor for LGBTQ consumers, Wells Fargo—in its Corporate Equality Index. HRC is punishing Bank of America for its managers' role in negotiating the "repeal" of House Bill 2 with Gov. Roy Cooper and North Carolina Republicans. House Bill 142, HB2's replacement, prevents local governments from enacting LGBTQ protections for four years, essentially extending the original law until 2021.

Utah's board of education has repealed a controversial policy that prohibits discussion of anything that could be construed as "promotion" of homosexuality in classrooms, Fox13Now.com reported. ( LGBTQ-rights groups nicknamed it "No Promo Homo." ) With no discussion, the entire board voted unanimously in favor of the repeal. It follows a repeal passed earlier this year by the state legislature and backed by Gov. Gary Herbert.

An anti-gay pastor who said the victims of the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando "got what they deserved" has been sentenced to life in prison on child-molestation charges, according to LGBTQ Nation. Kenneth Adkins will be eligible for probation after 35 years, reported The Florida-Times Union—but as he is 57 years old, it is unlikely he will ever be released. He was found guilty on eight charges stemming from a sexual relationship he had with a 15 year-old boy and girl from his church.

Lambda Legal filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Oregon Supreme Court, arguing that it was unlawful for Judge Vance D. Day to devise a scheme to avoid marrying same-sex couples, a Lambda Legal press release stated. Day reportedly directed court staff to use the court record system to investigate whether couples wishing to marry were of the same sex and, if so, to represent that he was unavailable, rather than unwilling, to marry them. The case arises from proceedings before Oregon's Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability, which investigated Day and unanimously recommended that he be removed from the bench based on a variety of alleged misconduct.

Criticism is mounting against a Texas bill that would empower adoption providers to reject potential parents who conflict with their religious beliefs, The Huffington Post noted. The bill, authored by state Rep. James Frank ( R ), gives both privately funded and state-funded child welfare agencies the right to deny services on the basis of their "sincerely held religious beliefs." Critics say such a policy would entitle agencies to discriminate against same-sex couples, single parents, interfaith couples and any couples whose religions differ from that of the service provider.

Alabama recently became the latest state to protect faith-based adoption organizations that refuse to place children with gay parents or other households on religious grounds, NBC News reported. Under the legislation that Gov. Kay Ivey signed, state officials cannot withhold a license from faith-based adoption groups that refuse placements based on their religious beliefs. South Dakota, Michigan, North Dakota and Virginia have passed similar laws.

In Georgia, DeKalb County Sheriff Jeffrey Mann was arrested as he allegedly cruised for sex in Piedmont Park and exposed himself to a male Atlanta police officer, ProjectQ reported. Mann, 55, faces two misdemeanor charges for indecency and obstruction. ( He has said the situation is a misunderstanding. ) Mann, a U.S. Air Force veteran, attorney and longtime top official in the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department, was appointed as the county's 49th sheriff in 2014; in July 2014, he won a special election to the office and won re-election to a full term last November.

Capital Trans Pride will take place on Saturday, May 20, at Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C., according to a press release. This annual event brings together members of the transgender community, allies, colleagues, and friends for a day of workshops and panel discussions on a variety of issues important to the trans community. Gavin Grimm—a transgender male student at Gloucester High School who brought suit against the local Virginia school board for the right to use the bathroom of his choice—will be a guest speaker.

The Village Voice announced the launch of 'The Village Voice Pride Awards,' which recognizes local and global heroes in the LGBTQ movement, a press release noted. The Village Voice Pride Awards will be the first award show to grace the official Pride Week calendar and The Village Voice will serve as the Official Media Sponsor for NYC Pride Week 2017. Hosted by Tony Award-winning actor Alan Cumming, with a performance by Grammy-nominated artists to be announced at a later date, The Village Voice Pride Awards will take place June 21 with a VIP event at Capitale in New York City.

Tyai Green—a community activist and former leader of the organization that hosts Atlanta Black Gay Pride—is running for Atlanta City Council and campaigning to unseat a two-term incumbent, ProjectQ noted. Green, 38, is a first-time political candidate who is running for the Post 1 at-large position, hoping to replace City Council member Michael Julian Bond. Professionally, Green is an assistant regional affordable housing manager for Grail Management Group and Creative Choice. He is also executive director of Our Community Involved, a non-profit that promotes health education and social resources to LGBT people. Green is one of at least seven openly LGBTQ people running for Atlanta City Council this year.

Maryland state Sen. Richard Madaleno Jr. has said he'll run for governor of Maryland, The Baltimore Sun reported. The Montgomery County Democrat announced that he will seek the party's nomination to challenge Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in 2018. Madaleno was the first openly gay lawmaker elected to the state Senate.

Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said that, if not for a controversial letter from FBI Director James Comey and Russian meddling in the election, she would be sitting in the Oval Office right now, NPR noted. Clinton told CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour during an interview at a Women for Women International luncheon that she did take personal responsibility for her loss, because, ultimately, it was her name on the ballot. However, she added, "The reason I believe we lost was because of events of the last 10 days."


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