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National roundup: Guilty convictions, Puerto Rico club, restroom signs
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2017-11-07

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A North Carolina man has been convicted of beating and burning a man to death after they met at a bar, WRAL.com reported. A Guilford County jury returned the guilty verdict against 29-year-old Garry Gupton, who was charged with killing 46-year-old Stephen White at a hotel in Greensboro in 2014. Gupton testified that he met White at a gay bar and the pair agreed to have sex at the hotel. Then, Gupton said something happened during the sexual encounter and he hit, strangled and beat White before setting fire next to his unconscious body.

A man was found guilty of murdering an Iowa teenager who identified as both male and female in a case that had led U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to dispatch a federal civil-rights prosecutor, Reuters noted, citing the Des Moines Register. The jury deliberated for 90 minutes before returning the guilty verdict against Jorge Sanders-Galvez, 23, for shooting Kedarie Johnson, a 16-year-old high-school student who sometimes went by the name Kandicee, in March 2016. Sanders-Galvez, who had testified he did not kill or even know Johnson, faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole under Iowa law.

Jeffrey Neal, a 25-year-old gay man convicted of bludgeoning his roommates to death in a gay love triangle gone wrong, was sentenced to 60 years in prison, LGBTQ Nation reported. Delano Wingfield, 23, and Leon Young, 22, were killed in late May or early June, but their bodies weren't found until after Neal had fled to Florida. Neal's defense team claimed Young was involved in a relationship with Neal, but was outraged after finding out Neal was falling in love with Wingfield.

A club in Puerto Rico was the site of an "incendiary device" attack over the weekend, SDGLN.com reported. According to the Puerto Rican newspaper El Vocero, "several individuals who were dressed in black" threw the objects at San Juan's Circo Bar. Reports say the devices did not cause significant damage to the club and no injuries were reported; however, human-rights activist Pedro Julio Serrano wants the incident to be investigated as a hate crime.

Despite online backlash, a Dallas restaurant has no plans to remove the photos of Caitlyn Jenner and Bruce Jenner it uses to distinguish between the women's and men's restrooms, Page Six noted. Dodie's Place Cajun Bar & Grill first put up the signs in August, but they have only recently gone viral after Dallas Morning News digital editor Dom DiFurio shared a photo on Twitter. "First and foremost, our intention was not to make fun of or offend anyone when we installed the pictures of Bruce and Caitlyn on our bathroom doors," the restaurant explained on its Facebook page. "We believe that political correctness has done more to silence rather than encourage important discussions that our society probably needs to have."

In front of a crowd of nearly 1,000 cheering Harvard University affiliates, Elton John was named 2017 Harvard Humanitarian of the Year in recognition of his work in support of HIV/AIDS research and awareness, The Harvard Crimson reported. In a speech accepting the award, the British singer, songwriter and entertainer urged members of the crowd to advance world peace by recognizing the humanity in one another. The award—presented annually by the Harvard University Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations—highlighted John's work through the Elton John AIDS Foundation, an organization which has raised more than $385 million for HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention, and research since its inception in 1992. Formally known as the Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian Award, the award's past honorees include Rihanna, Malala Yousafzai, Ban Ki-Moon and Lionel Richie.

An online petition seeking to remove Robert Morlino as bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, has generated support from thousands of people after critics said he suggested that priests can refuse to perform funerals for gay people, NBC News reported. "[Morlino] is an open and practicing bigot whose attitudes and opinions about the LGBTQI members of his Diocese ( and our beloved families ) are nothing short of inhumane," the Change.org petition states. "He cannot be a shepherd to his flock if he does not love all his sheep equally the way Christ would have."

A Texas car dealership claimed protection under the First Amendment in a lawsuit by a former employee who says the business fired him because he's transgender, LGBTQ Nation reported. Transgender man Bradley Rudkin—the former general sales manager of Roger Beasley Mitsubishi, an Austin-based car dealership—filed a lawsuit Aug. 1, claiming wrongful termination from his job. Attorneys for the Mitsubishi dealership have argued that firing Ruskin makes a public statement and, therefore, the business was within its legal rights to do so. The dealership team, under Rudkin, posted a $750,000 upswing in revenue from the previous year.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights ( NCLR ) and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders ( GLAD ) filed a response in the Equality California case Stockman v. Trump, which challenges Trump's transgender military ban in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, a press release noted. The court filing is the first in Stockman since Judge Kollar-Kotelly's ruling last week in NCLR and GLAD's other case, Doe v. Trump, which found Trump's ban to be unconstitutional and issued a nationwide injunction against the ban.

In Virginia, police are investigating a message of hate spray painted on a car parked in Richmond's North Highland Park neighborhood, WTVR.com reported. The words "GAY MOVE DIE" were painted on the vehicle. Michael Bowman said when he walked out of his home Tuesday night and spotted the hateful message he "just broke down. This is 2017, I should not be having these issues. I should not feel unsafe in my own neighborhood."

A 14-year-old boy was killed by his own father, and people close to the victim say that the man shot the boy out of homophobia, LGBTQ Nation noted. Giovanni Melton was a student at Coronado High School in a suburb of Las Vegas. Court records show that their mother abandoned them and an allegation of child abuse had already been made against their father Wendell.

Two brothers in upstate New York have been charged with third-degree assault as a hate crime after heckling and beating a 19-year-old transgender woman, according to NewNowNext. Authorities say Oswego County residents Cody Thomas, 18, and Shane Thomas, 27, shouted slurs at the unnamed teen for weeks leading up to the assault. In addition to hate-crime assault, Cody was charged with disseminating inappropriate materials to a minor after police discovered he sent nude photos via Facebook. Both Thomas brothers have since been released from custody.

A drag queen known for opposing Republican U.S. Senate candidate and gay marriage foe Roy Moore has given Alabama's history agency the garb she wore during the fight that helped unseat Moore from the state Supreme Court last year, NBC News reported. Joined by officials from the Alabama Department of Archives and History at a news conference, Ambrosia Starling said she gave the navy-blue dress, cashmere coat, wig, heels and jewelry because October was LGBTQ History Month, not because Moore is running for the Senate.

ASOS and GLAAD have announced the retail debut of GLAAD's Together Movement, per a press release. GLAAD recently founded the Together Movement—represented by the "&"—to unify marginalized groups and accelerate acceptance for all. The eight-piece gender-inclusive collection designed by the ASOS in-house design team, features fashion apparel with colorful graphics and jewelery with the "&" symbol. The collection launched with a photo series featuring LGBTQ actor/advocate Tommy Dorfman, star of Netflix's 13 Reasons Why, modelling the collection in support of the movement and what it represents.

Reporters and editors in the combined newsroom of DNAinfo and Gothamist, celebrated victory in their vote to join a union—but now they've lost their jobs, as Joe Ricketts, the billionaire founder of TD Ameritrade who owned the sites, shut them down, The New York Times reported. DNAinfo and Gothamist—which Ricketts bought in the spring—attracted more than 9 million readers a month in New York and four other U.S. cities where they operate satellite sites. The decision puts 115 journalists out of work, both at the New York operations that unionized, and at those in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington that did not.

New York State Medicaid Special Needs Health Plans ( SNPs ) is open to all transgender individuals who qualify, regardless of their HIV status, according to a press release. Until now, New York SNPs have only enrolled eligible individuals who are HIV-positive or people who are experiencing homelessness ( regardless of HIV status ). Amida Care—the largest of the three Medicaid SNPs in New York—currently provides comprehensive health coverage and coordinated care to more than 6,000 New Yorkers, including more than 400 transgender individuals.

Ed Flanagan, a former Vermont state senator and state auditor who was in a debilitating car accident in 2005, has died at age 66, Seven Days reported. As a Democratic state senator representing Chittenden County during 2005-2011 and as state auditor during 1993-2001, Flanagan was known for his liberal views. He was the first openly gay statewide elected official in the country. He ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 2000 against then-incumbent Jim Jeffords, who was then a Republican.

Hundreds of Utah LGBTQ students are scheduled to meet up for a statewide summit in Orem next month to find solidarity and discuss issues like bullying and educational and career advancement, U.S. News & World Report noted. The event, called "Ignite," aims to bring together LGBTQ teens from Utah's rural and urban areas and those involved in gay-straight alliance organizations. Organizers of the Ignite summit, scheduled for Dec. 2 at Utah Valley University, expect about 600 students to attend.

Ronan Farrow had not anticipated the "cascade" of women from various industries coming forward, after his and the New York Times' pieces on Harvey Weinstein and sexual assault were published, Deadline noted. Farrow was Stephen Colbert's last-minute guest Nov. 3, after Late Show scrubbed a pre-taped interview with CBS primetime star Jeremy Piven, who has been accused of predatory behavior. Interviewing Farrow, Colbert said he was aware Weinstein "was known for monstrous behavior" and wondered if Farrow got warned off his reporting—to which Farrow said he'd been threatened with a lawsuit from Weinstein's lawyer, and intermediaries made a lot of "threatening and menacing" statements.

Kentucky Speaker of the House Jeff Hoover resigned from his position amid sexual harassment allegations, saying he had made "mistakes," CNN reported. Hoover—who The Courier-Journal newspaper in Louisville reported had secretly settled a sexual harassment allegation by a woman on his legislative staff—did not resign as a state representative, however, and has denied all allegations. The Republican said at a press conference, "I engaged in banter that was consensual, yet make no mistake, it was wrong on my part to do that—and, for that, I am truly sorry."


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