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National roundup: Houston help, panic defense, Dan Savage
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2017-09-05

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Houston's LGBT community center launched a special relief fund to help LGBT people who are among the thousands of people in Houston and surrounding jurisdictions who lost their homes to catastrophic flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey, The Washington Blade reported. "The catastrophic and historic impact of Hurricane Harvey will be felt by the LGBTQ community of Houston, Texas, for days, months and, potentially, years to come," the Montrose Center said in a statement. Information about the Hurricane Harvey LGBTQ Disaster Relief Fund is at https://my.reason2race.com/DNicol/HurricaneHarveyLGBTQDisasterReliefFund2017/Donate.

The National LGBT Bar Association—the country's largest organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender ( LGBT ) and allied legal professionals—applauds the passage of Senate Bill 1761, Illinois' bill preventing the use of the gay and trans "panic" defenses in court, according to a press release. D'Arcy Kemnitz, executive director of the LGBT Bar, said, "To further blame a victim for the violent assault they suffered based solely on their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression is unconscionable and creates a narrative in which LGBT lives are inherently less valued. This bill will go a long way in protecting the LGBT community and creating a more just legal system." California is the only other state with such a law.

The Association of LGBTQ Journalists announced that two new inductees will be enrolled in the LGBTQ Journalists Hall of Fame on Sept. 9 at the association's annual National Convention, a press release noted: Jinx Beers and Dan Savage. Beers is the founding publisher and first managing editor of America's longest running lesbian newspaper, The Lesbian News, launched in 1975. Savage is an award-winning journalist and author, TV personality and activist best known for his political and social commentary, as well as his approach to sex, love and relationships. His sex-advice column, "Savage Love," introduced over 25 years ago, is now syndicated throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia.

A man from Memphis, Tennessee, is claiming that he was robbed at gunpoint by two men he met on Grindr—andthat they injected him with meth during the robbery, NewNowNext.com reported. According to local news station WREG-TV, the victim took a tattooed man and a second man back to his apartment in Memphis after a night of partying on Aug. 24; there, he was attacked. The victim also told the police that once they were finished robbing his apartment, the men took him to a store on Summer Avenue and forced him to buy them more than $3,900 worth of clothing.

Hundreds of Christian leaders, pastors, theologians and advocates have denounced the anti-LGBTQ manifesto "Nashville Statement" with a statement affirming the inclusion of LGBTQ and intersex people within faith communities and broader society, according to the Human Rights Campaign. The 10-point treatise, titled "Christians United," holds "that every human being is created in the image and likeness of God and that the great diversity expressed in humanity through our wide spectrum of unique sexualities and gender identities is a perfect reflection of the magnitude of God's creative work." In the first 24 hours of its release, the Christians United statement was signed by more than 1,000 Christians from around the world.

The first recognized transgender cadet to graduate from West Point was "thrilled" to learn that her name was updated in the military academy's records, The Daily Dot reported. The cadet's name now reads "Ms. Riley Dosh" on the West Point Association of Graduates website, even though she enrolled under her birth name. Dosh, 22, put in the request to administrators to have her entry reflect her lived name and gender; the site was updated within 24 hours.

The mayor of Hell, Michigan, outlawed heterosexuality in the unincorporated community of 72 people as part of his agenda, according to The Huffington Post. Daniel—a YouTube comedian best known for writing a gay-themed erotic novel about Donald Trump—spent all of two days seeking higher office somewhere so he could carry out his plan. Lest he seem bigoted, Daniel offered local heterosexuals a chance to stay in Hell for a price: Fork over $84,000, which they would get back after one year of abstinence from straight sex. Daniel meant the decree to be a prank, but was impeached shortly after he released it. "It's a great place to visit," Daniel later said. "Donald Trump should go to Hell anytime."

In North Carolina, more than 100,000 people attended Charlotte Pride Festival on Aug. 26-27, WSOCTV.com reported. It was a giant party down Tryon Street, but surrounding the parade route, and in the middle of it, were Charlotte-Mecklenburg police, and barriers noticeably protecting the crowds. People at the festivities said they were happy to see the increased security, especially after violent protests both in Charlottesville, Virginia, and across the nation. According to Charlotte Pride's website, the parade grand marshals wre transgender activist Monica Helms and state Sen. Jeff Jackson.

In response to growing local interest for Puerto Rico-specific data on the experiences of LGBTQ youth in middle and high schools, GLSEN released their new report "The Puerto Rico School Climate Survey," a press release noted. This report provides the first-ever empirical data from LGBTQ youth on their school experiences in Puerto Rico. For example, the majority of LGBTQ student respondents in Puerto Rico felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation or gender expression ( 69 percent and 57 percent, respectively ). See GLSEN.org/pr.

Equality California announced the filing of a lawsuit in United States District Court for the Central District of California seeking to block a directive by President Donald Trump barring military service and essential healthcare to transgender Americans, a press release noted. Equality California is participating in the case as an organizational plaintiff, whose more than 500,000 members in California include transgender people impacted by the ban. Latham & Watkins LLP represents Equality California pro bono along with several named and unnamed transgender plaintiffs directly affected by the ban.

In Florida, Ku Klux Klan members sneaked onto the porch of James Schnieder and his partner's house, and left a menacing note, LGBTQ Nation noted. Schneider, the city of Cape Coral's planning and zoning commissioner who is running for a seat on the city council ( District 5 ), told the local NBC station, "I kind of dropped it. I didn't know what to do with that. I was spooked by it immediately. It really shakes you to the core." The note read, "We know where you live f——t. We are going to win. Quit now," and was signed "Emperor Paul Lamonica, plamonica100@gmail.com, www.kuklosknights.com ." ( Note: The website now has the message "I. W. Paul has stepped down and passed the torch and scepter, to the new Imperial Wizard, Barney Ross." )

An attacker broke a man's jaw during a melee in Brooklyn, and police said they're looking into the attack as a possible anti-gay hate crime, The New York Daily News reported. The 27-year-old victim was trying to break up a fight when the attacker called the victim, who is gay, a slur and punched him in the face, cops said.

Washington, D.C., police are investigating an Aug. 8 incident in which two officers who were investigating the burglary of a house in Southeast Washington—but were captured on video from home security cameras joking that the resident might be gay because of name brand clothing found at the scene, The Washington Blade noted. NBC4 News reported that the owner of the burglarized home, Clarence Williams, showed the TV news station his video security footage. The video footage, which included an audio recording, shows one of two officers who entered his house while he was out of town saying, "Armani, Dolce and Gabbana—he's probably gay." "We are aware of the complaint that was filed against two Seventh District officers for their actions on the scene of a residential burglary in the 400 block of Woodcrest Drive, Southeast earlier this month," police spokesperson Aquita Brown said in a statement.

Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund secured a victory before the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ( EEOC ) on behalf of a transgender woman who endured employment discrimination at a Sam's Club store in Kannapolis, North Carolina, according to a press release. The EEOC found evidence that Charlene Bost faced discrimination and a retaliatory hostile work environment in her position as a cashier supervisor from 2013 through her firing in 2015. This discrimination violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

In California, a Bakersfield bakery is facing controversy after they reportedly refused to serve a gay couple, TurnTo23.com reported. Posts on social media have criticized Tastries Bakery for refusing to make a wedding cake for a gay couple. The owner of the bakery, Cathy Miller, has said she chose not to create the cakes because of her beliefs. Brandon Rose, the owner of Moment Portraits, offered his photography services on the couple's wedding day, free of charge.

The Ku Klux Klan ( KKK )—seemingly emboldened by the recent protest in Charlottesville and the back-and-forth support of President Trump—continue to take their cause to the next level by leaving flyers in the driveways of Louisiana homes, SDGLN.com noted. The flyers are a call to action to cause harm against gays, they read "Stop AIDS: Support Gay Bashing," and are signed by "Loyal White Knights of the KKK." Queerty reported that calling the number on the flyer serves as a recruitment plea for the North Carolina chapter; "Save our land, join the Klan, white power," says a recorded voice.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights—along with 77 civil-and human-rights groups—sent a letter to senators urging them to oppose the confirmation of Eric Dreiband to be the assistant attorney general of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice, a press release noted. ( The Senate Judiciary Committee has announced that Dreiband will have his confirmation hearing on Sept. 6. ) Among other things, the letter also outlines concerns the groups have about Dreiband's record on women's rights; fair-chance hiring; race, national origin and age discrimination; transgender discrimination; and discrimination against U.S. Muslims. Dreiband previously served as the general counsel of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The letter is at http://civilrights.org/oppose-confirmation-eric-dreiband/.

The New York Times has prevailed in defense of a defamation lawsuit brought by Sarah Palin over an editorial that mistakenly linked one of her political action committee ads to a 2011 mass shooting that severely wounded then-U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords ( D-Arizona ), The Hollywood Reporter noted. U.S. District Court judge Jed Rakoff dismissed the complaint, writing, in part, "[I]f political journalism is to achieve its constitutionally endorsed role of challenging the powerful, legal redress by a public figure must be limited to those cases where the public figure has a plausible factual basis for complaining that the mistake was made maliciously, that is, with knowledge it was false or with reckless disregard of its falsity."


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