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National roundup: HRC exec killed, trans service members, lesbian coach
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
2017-08-29

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Cassidy Karakorn, 38—an executive with the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC )—was killed in a traffic collision in Washington, D.C., while operating a motor scooter, The Washington Post reported. Karakorn, a George Mason University graduate, had been with HRC since 2001, according to her LinkedIn Page, and was its director of consumer marketing.

Transgender service members sent a message on the MTV Video Music Awards red carpet, People.com noted. A group of transgender military members and veterans walked the red carpet at the annual award show on Aug. 27 with leaders of GLAAD and SPARTA, an LGBTQ service members and veterans group. Airman Sterling James Crutcher, Air Force Staff Sgt. Logan Ireland, Army Capt. Jennifer Peace and Navy corpsman Akira Wyatt, and trans veterans Laila Ireland and Brynn Tannehill attended. "It doesn't matter who you are, our nation is only safe if we have the best and brightest in our country serving in the military," Peace said on the carpet.

Katie Sowers, a San Francisco 49ers assistant who became the NFL's second full-time female coach earlier this month, will also be the league's first openly gay coach, Bleacher Report noted. "No matter what you do in life, one of the most important things is to be true to who you are," Sowers told Jim Buzinski of OutSports. "There are so many people who identify as LGBT in the NFL, as in any business, that do not feel comfortable being public about their sexual orientation."

A Michigan man has been released from prison more than two decades after killing a man who admitted on The Jenny Jones Show that he was attracted to him, Inside Edition reported. Jonathan Schmitz, 47, was released from a Jackson, Michigan, prison after being sentenced in 1999, when he was convicted of second-degree murder charges. In 1995, Scott Amedure, 32, revealed that he was attracted to Schmitz, then 24; three days later, Schmitz showed up to Amedure's home with a gun and shot him in the chest.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) released a statement condemning President Donald Trump's presidential pardon of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, according to a press release. "Joe Arpaio must be held accountable for his long record of violating the civil rights of Maricopa County's Latinx population, and carrying out a hate-filled agenda through extreme racial profiling," said HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof. "During his tenure, Arpaio has attacked nearly every marginalized community, including using anti-LGBTQ schemes to humiliate inmates at his 'Tent City' prison. By pardoning Arpaio, Trump is again aligning himself with his nationalist, racist, anti-LGBTQ supporters—only two weeks after the violent extremism in Charlottesville."

Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit to compel the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice to release information about their decision to withdraw guidance detailing the protections transgender students have under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bans discrimination in education on the basis of sex, a press release noted. After the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice rescinded the guidance in February, Lambda Legal filed Freedom of Information Act ( FOIA ) requests for documents and communications on the decision to withdraw the guidance. Lambda Legal said the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice have failed to comply with the FOIA requests and have not released a single document to the organization.

In a stunning move, a Brooklyn judge has found the city liable for the brutal police beating of a man at his gay pride house party before the civil trial even started—paving the way for a potentially huge judgment, The New York Daily News noted. State Supreme Court Judge Reginald Boddie's unusual order means the jury will only consider damages in the upcoming trial involving Jabbar Campbell. The 36-year-old suffered severe neck injuries at the hands of cops who came to his Sterling Place house in Crown Heights, where he was hosting 80 friends in January 2013. He had to have a dozen surgeries and remains in pain.

The Family Equality Council has shared the New York Times piece "The Worst ( and Best ) Places to Be Gay in America," a press release noted. The release stated, "This powerful feature [written by Frank Bruni] illustrates what our families know with painful intimacy: that the quality and very safety of LGBTQ people's lives are dictated by the laws of the states, cities and towns in which they live." The article is at https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/08/25/opinion/sunday/100000005391244.mobile.html.

In Wisconsin, the Kenosha Unified School District ( KUSD ) filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court of the United States in Whitaker v. Kenosha Unified School District—a lawsuit challenging KUSD's treatment of Ash Whitaker, a transgender boy, a Transgender Law Center press release noted. The petition asks the court to review the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals' recent ruling, which affirmed a preliminary injunction permitting Whitaker to use boys' restrooms at school during his senior year of high school. The case, which also alleges that KUSD singled out Ash for discriminatory treatment in other ways, is currently moving forward in the federal district court in Milwaukee.

The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus ( SFGMC ) recently announced it will kick off its 40th season by embarking on the Lavender Pen Tour on Oct. 7-15, a press release noted. The tour will visit various cities and small towns in Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, while raising much-needed funds for local LGBTQ nonprofit organizations. Joining SFGMC for the Lavender Pen Tour is the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir ( OIGC ), a community of diverse races, cultures and faiths that aims to inspire joy and unity among all people through Black gospel and spiritual music.

A motorist drove through a crowd of demonstrators at a candlelight vigil held in the Transgender Memorial Garden in the Grove area of St. Louis to mourn a 30-year-old transgender woman who was killed by police, The Huffington Post noted. When the group stopped traffic at an intersection, one driver, driving a dark sedan, raised his middle finger raised in front of the demonstration and then drove into the group. The unidentified driver ( who caused one protester to be thrown over the hood of the car ) was taken into custody about a block from the intersection after initially refusing to stop for officers; others were hit by the car, suffering minor injuries.

GLAAD voiced outrage over President Trump's choice to defend former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio at a political rally in Phoenix, a press release noted. "By defending Joe Arpaio, President Trump sends a chilling message of support for racial profiling, inhumane inmate abuses, and unlawful defiance for the federal court system," said Monica Trasandes, director of Spanish language and Latinx media and representation. "Arpaio's discriminatory actions created a hostile environment throughout Arizona and sparked additional, anti-immigration policies across the United States."

In the wake of violence sparked by white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Virginia, several local Democratic state lawmakers and faith leaders are calling on the Pennsylvania legislature to expand the state's hate-crimes laws, Post-Gazette.com noted. "We want a comprehensive reaction to [the events in Charlottesville], and one of the ways to do that is to finally address hate crimes in Pennsylvania in a comprehensive way," said state Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Squirrel Hill, at a press event at Freedom Corner in the Hill District of Pittsburgh. Frankel and state Reps. Paul Costa, Jake Wheatley, Dan Miller and Ed Gainey attended, along with a number of religious leaders.

The Atlanta Police Department's ill-conceived raid on the Eagle gay bar in 2009 is still haunting the authorities—and taxpayers, AJC.com reported. Taxpayers got dinged for a $1.5 million settlement, and the police department was also on the hook for creating training on the proper application of search and seizure. The city, under court order, produced a video; now police are up against a deadline for having all its officers view the video and pass the quiz at the end of it.

A waiter at a Washington, D.C., restaurant insisted that a gay couple wishing to share a dessert from the same dish was inappropriate for the establishment, telling them he would give them separate dishes because "it wouldn't look right with two gentlemen eating out of the same sundae, according to an Advocate.com item that cited The Washington Post. The couple, Ron Gage, 55, and Henry McKinnon, 58, were dining at the business-casual steakhouse the Prime Rib when they asked for two spoons and one ice cream sundae but were met with what appeared to be the waiter's intolerance for the couple sharing. Prime Rib manager James MacLeod told the Post he was looking into the situation—but suggested his server's comments could be attributed to the fact that English is not his first language. The waiter has been fired, Metro Weekly noted.

MSNBC's Morning Joe aired exclusive excerpts of Hillary Clinton's upcoming book—and the former Secretary of State said that Donald Trump "was breathing down her neck" and made her skin crawl during a presidential debate, TheWrap reported. Clinton's new book, What Happened, details the presidential debate in which Trump stood closely behind his opponent when it was her turn to speak.

The former organist of a southern Indiana church claims fear and depression led him to spray paint a swastika, an anti-gay slur and the words "Heil Trump" on its walls last fall, U.S. News & World Report noted. The vandalism to St. David's Episcopal Church in the Brown County community of Bean Blossom was found Nov. 13, just days after Donald Trump won the presidential election. George Nathaniel Stang, 27, told The Herald-Times that he's gay and wanted others to see how he imagined his fear of the future. Stang is facing a misdemeanor charge of institutional criminal mischief.

In Detroit, Katoi restaurant announced that it's changing its name before it reopened on Aug. 28 following a February fire, Detroit Metro Times noted. The move came after a Metro Times article pointed out that members of the Thai, Southeast Asian and LGBT communities found the name offensive, and called on Katoi to change it. The term "kathoey" ( a more common spelling than katoi ) is considered derogatory and offensive in most contexts in Thailand, although the publication stated the transgender community there appears to be in the process of reclaiming it. Metro Times also noted that some had problems with straight white people in Detroit in 2017 profiting while using a term for an oppressed, marginalized Thai transgender group.

President Trump is seriously considering ending DACA ( Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ), the Obama-era policy that shields some illegal immigrants from deportation, before conservative state attorneys general file a court challenge to the program, according to Axios.com . Trump reportedly has made no final decision, and the White House continues to receive advice from the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice. Jeff Sessions strongly believes Trump should end DACA; DHS, however, has a more nuanced position, and Trump himself has said he's sympathetic to the children helped by the program.

As part of its commitment to creating a lasting tribute to the families whose lives have been forever changed by AIDS/HIV, the San Diego AIDS Memorial Task Force held a public meeting on Aug. 28 to provide a status update on the project and call on members of the public to submit design ideas for a memorial in a new Bankers Hill park, SDGLN.com noted. The task force was created in 2015 with a mission to plan and raise funds for the creation of a permanent AIDS memorial in San Diego. More than 8,000 people from across San Diego County have died from AIDS.

A Catholic parish in New York City that contains the one of the first public memorials to HIV/AIDS victims is being closed, and there are questions about what will happen to the church building that contains this memorial as well as other historic artifacts, according to a New Ways Ministry blog that cites America magazine. St. Veronica's Church in Greenwich Village is scheduled to close this year. Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation, said St. Veronica's location on Christopher Street positioned it at "the center of the LGBT community in New York," and therefore it was "impacted quite heavily by the AIDS crisis."

In what the organizers are calling "our coming-out story," the Charlotte, North Carolina, club Boulevard 1820 has become a drag queen-themed restaurant, with servers and performers in drag, The Charlotte Observer noted. While similar restaurant concepts exist in New York, Atlanta, Orlando and other cities, including the national chain Hamburger Mary's and the Atlanta restaurant Lips, Boulevard 1820 will be the first of its kind in Charlotte.

PinkNews listed what it considers the 11 best U.S. destinations for LGBT travelers. San Francisco topped the list, with the website stating, "As well as an abundance of bars and shops, this area is home to the GLBT History Museum and Rainbow Honor Walk, which pays tribute to famous [LGBT] people." Some of the other places on the list include New York City, Los Angeles/Hollywood, Chicago and Palm Springs.

Academy award-winning actress/humanitarian Patricia Arquette will receive the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award for Lifetime Achievement and Her Royal Highness ( HRH ) Princess Dr. Nisreen El-Hashemite will be honored as Humanitarian of the Year at the Fifth Annual Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards, taking place at the Marriott Louisville Downtown Sept. 23, a press release noted. Also, actress/activist Ashley Judd will receive the Muhammad Ali Kentucky Humanitarian Award; Paige Elenson will receive the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award for Global Citizenship; and actor/author Hill Harper will be the Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award for Education honoree.

The Village Voice, New York City's iconic alternative weekly, announced that its free weekly print edition is discontinued, Variety reported. The paper was founded in 1955 by Dan Wolf, Ed Fancher and Norman Mailer, and is credited as being the country's first alt weekly. Over the past 60 years, the paper has served as a keystone in New York City life and culture. The paper started being distributed for free starting in 1996.


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