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National roundup: Kerry apology, gay mayor, NASA's high score
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2017-01-10

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Secretary of State John Kerry formally apologized to State Department personnel who were fired during the so-called "lavender scare," The Washington Blade reported. "As far back as the 1940s, but continuing for decades — the Department of State was among many public and private employers that discriminated against employees and job applicants on the basis of perceived sexual orientation, forcing some employees to resign or refusing to hire certain applicants in the first place," he said in a statement. "These actions were wrong then, just as they would be wrong today." U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin ( D-Md. ) noted in a letter he sent to Kerry on Nov. 29 that "at least 1,000 people were dismissed from" the State Department "for alleged homosexuality" during the 1950s and 1960s.

Openly gay South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has joined the crowded the race for Democratic National Committee ( DNC ) chairman, The Washington Post reported. Buttigieg, who would be the youngest and the first openly gay leader of the DNC, was elected mayor at age 29; he's now 34. Buttigieg's decision brings the DNC's field to six candidates, none of whom is seen as having a clear majority of the 437 members who will pick a chair next month. The perceived front-runners, Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and Rep. Keith Ellison ( D-Minn. ), both welcomed the mayor to the race.

A new report released that the Partnership for Public Service released shows NASA to be the best place to work in the U.S. government for LGBT people, SouthFloridaGayNews.com reported. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration ( NASA ) received the top score ( 76.8 ) among large agencies. Following NASA as best places to work for LGBT people in large agencies are: Department of Transportation ( 69.0 ), Department of State ( 68.0 ) and Department of Justice ( 66.9 ).

Ahead of congressional hearings beginning on Jeff Sessions' nomination to become U.S. attorney general, Rachel B. Tiven, CEO of Lambda Legal, released a statement. "Senator Jeff Sessions has shown over and over how much he disdains LGBT people," Tiven said. "At Lambda Legal we are particularly disturbed by Senator Sessions' current co-sponsorship of the First Amendment Defense Act, a bill that should really be called the 'Fostering American Discrimination Act.' ... Sen. Sessions has failed to be a champion for all Americans by actively and intentionally working to strip human dignity from those he has sworn to serve."

One Iowa will hold an LGBTQ Day on the Hill on Jan. 12, according to a press release. The organization projects that more than 100 LGBTQ Iowans and their allies will gather to speak with legislators about the importance of full equality for their community. Among the expected speakers are Iowa state Rep. Liz Bennett and One Iowa Executive Director Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel. See OneIowa.org .

Intarcia Therapeutics, Inc. has announced it has secured $140 million in funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help in the development and advancement of an under-the-skin pump to deliver a daily dose of the HIV-prevention drug PrEP, LGBTQ Nation reported. The company unveiled the device last year, which is intended for use by those with chronic illnesses, including diabetes. The funds will come in the form of $50 million as a program-related investment, with up to $90 million in non-dilutive milestone-based grants tied to the HIV prophylactic program.

"F*ck w/out Fear" is the message of a new campaign by the Los Angeles LGBT Center to raise awareness for pre-exposure prophylaxis ( PrEP ) as a safe and effective tool to prevent HIV infection, a press release noted. PrEP involves taking a medicine once daily that, if used correctly, has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV infection by up to 99 percent. See PrEPHere.org .

Michelle Hurn, a former registered dietitian at Colorado's Boulder Community Hospital, was told to remove a rainbow flag screen saver from her computer or she would be fired—so she quit, Towleroad noted. Hurn, a lesbian, said she decided to start using the screen saver after the presidential election to show her support for the LGBTQ community, KMGH reported. A petition has been launched at the hospital by other employees to have the hospital remove the rainbow flag from its "offensive images" list.

In Washington state, 14 Republican state representatives pre-filed House Bill 1011, which would repeal anti-discrimination protections for transgender Washingtonians in cases of gender segregated facilities like locker rooms or public restrooms, The Seattle Weekly noted. HB 1011 is just the latest iteration of a long-running conservative backlash against a 2006 anti-discrimination law. The backlash started in 2015, after the state Human Rights Commission ruled that the 2006 law includes protections for trans people who use locker rooms, etc.

If the lieutenant governor of Texas has his way, the state will become the latest to have its own version of North Carolina's controversial "bathroom bill" that drew the ire of the LGBT community and activist groups as well as damaged the state's economy, Vocativ noted. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick released a list of his top legislative priorities late last year. On it was passing what he calls a "women's privacy act" that would require transgender Texans to use public bathrooms that correspond with the gender listed on their birth certificates.

A Los Angeles area home owned by a gay couple was ransacked and anti-gay slurs were spray-painted on the walls, LGBTQ Nation noted. Anti-gay slurs were spray-painted on the walls and gallons of paint and bleach were spilled on the floor. The LA Times reported that walls were also kicked in and water pipes were destroyed.

Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit against St. Joseph's Healthcare in Paterson, New Jersey, after the hospital reportedly refused to allow Jionni Conforti's surgeon to perform a routine hysterectomy because Conforti is transgender, a press release stated. The lawsuit cites the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, which clearly prohibits discrimination because of sex and gender identity, and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender.

A former North Carolina inmate is suing a sheriff and his staff after saying he was brutally assaulted by another inmate because he is gay, The Fayetteville Observer reported, citing The Charlotte Observer. Arthur Blake filed a complaint against Mecklenburg County Sheriff Irwin Carmichael and his employees, saying he repeatedly warned deputies that he'd been threatened by a fellow inmate before being attacked in 2014. The lawsuit says that because Blake felt unsafe, he pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter and other charges to speed his transfer out of the jail.

Orlando City Soccer Club has found a way to honor those who lost their lives in a terrible tragedy last year, The Bleacher Report noted. At its new Orlando City Stadium, the team has included a block of 49 seats that features the colors of the rainbow flag to pay tribute to those who died last June in the mass shooting at Orlando's Pulse nightclub.

A transgender Virginia resident known to friends as India Monroe was killed on Dec. 21 in Newport News, Virginia—but was misgendered and identified by her birth name in news reports, Mic.com reported. Initial reports said Monroe, 29, was with 37-year-old Mark Gray and they were both found shot, though there was no sign of forced entry into the home. The Newport News police are reportedly investigating Monroe's death as a domestic incident, not a hate crime.

In Pennsylvania, 23-year-old transgender man Sean Hake was fatally shot, according to PGHLesbian.com . Mercer County District Attorney Miles K. Karson Jr. said initially that he could not comment on the open investigation, and that he expected to release more information at a news conference, possibly on Jan. 11. According to WPXI.com, Hake was killed in an officer-involved shooting after police responded to a domestic assault.

In Massachusetts, a Facebook post went viral as it accused a Fall River school teacher of making anti-gay remarks to a student who built a rainbow-colored gingerbread house at an annual holiday event, ABC6.com reported. Marissa Farias, writing the post, explained that her 16-year-old brother Joshua was the target of anti-gay comments made by culinary arts teacher Chef Jeffrey Coulombe, a 30-year veteran at Diman Regional Vocational Technical High School. Farias said Chef Coulombe told her brother, "If you feel the need to express yourself and your diversity, we have clubs for that."

Federal prosecutors dropped the criminal case against a man accused of issuing a Facebook threat to "exterminate" gay people in South Florida, ABC News noted. The Sun-Sentinel reports ( bit.ly/2iHCM3d ) the decision to drop the case against Craig Jungwirth comes about six weeks after prosecutors publicly acknowledged in court that the evidence against him was "weak." Jungwirth, 50, was charged with interstate transmission of a threatening communication.

The Interfaith Peace Chapel at Dallas' Cathedral of Hope was spray-painted with graffiti that includes a reference to "kitty porn," DallasNews.com noted. The graffiti—which contains numerous misspellings—also included a person's name, a reference to a brown "Chivy Suburbin" and a northern-Louisiana phone number that was not in service. Cathedral of Hope, which describes itself as a "vibrant, inclusive and progressive" church, has one of the country's largest predominantly LGBT congregations.

A team at Weber State University is working on new sexual violence prevention training with the help of a $50,000 grant from the Utah Department of Health, The Salt Lake Tribune noted. Funding was awarded to the Safe@Weber program, a division of the university's Women's Center, to develop a violence prevention curriculum aimed at LGBT individuals. Women's Center Director Stephanie McClure said LGBT individuals are at higher risk for experiencing sexual and domestic violence.

Forbes released its annual "30 under 30" list of young entrepreneurs, innovators and game changers, including HRC National Press Secretary Sarah McBride, according to a press release. McBride made history last year when she became the first openly transgender person to address a major party convention. Other noted LGBTQ people on the list include actors Elliot Fletcher and Evan Rachel Wood; YouTube Star Tyler Oakley; musicians Troye Sivan, Frank Ocean and Charlie Puth; and James Charles ( @JamesCharles ), who became CoverGirl's first male ambassador last year.

Philip Anschutz, owner of AEG, the company that puts on the annual Coachella festival, has given money to anti-LGBTQ organizations for years—and a recent backlash has forced an official response, LGBTQ Nation reported. Teen Vogue and Afropunk both reported that between 2010 and 2013, the Anschutz Foundation gave a combined $190,000 to Alliance Defending Freedom, the National Christian Foundation, and the Family Research Council. Anschutz denies being homophobic, saying, "Recent claims published in the media that I am anti-LGBTQ are nothing more than fake news—it is all garbage. I unequivocally support the rights of all people without regard to sexual orientation."

Lambda Literary has joined the chorus of those condemning the Threshold Editions book deal with controversial gay conservative Milo Yiannopolous. In a press release, the organization stated, in part, "While publishers undeniably have the right to acquire and profit from any book they wish, they also bear an essential responsibility to promote civil discourse and reject hate speech that is often a precursor to violence." Lambda Literary is calling on readers and reviewers to ignore Yiannopolous' forthcoming book.

Apple Inc. said Chief Executive Tim Cook and other leaders received less total compensation in 2016, as the company missed its revenue and profit goals for the year, MarketWatch reported. In all, Cook received $8.75 million in total 2016 compensation, down from $10.28 million in 2015. Other executives also received lower pay.

A new study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior that examined the porn-viewing habits of 821 gay, straight and bisexual men from around the country, found a number of unexpected results—including that 55 percent of gay men watch straight porn, and 21 percent of straight men watch gay porn, The Advocate noted. Also, bisexual men displayed porn-viewing habits that were quite distinct from those of their homo and hetero peers. Bi men reported watching guy-on-guy porn just as much as gay men do, and they consumed heterosexual porn ( one male/one female ) almost as much as heterosexual men.

IBM has introduced a new, rainbow take on its logo in a sign of its continued support for the LGBTQ community, LGBTQ Nation noted. "I am proud to introduce a new symbol that will represent IBM's ongoing push for diversity, acceptance, inclusion and equal opportunity — a rainbow version of our iconic 8-bar logo," wrote Lindsay-Rae McIntyre, Chief Diversity Officer at IBM, in a statement. IBM has been named the most LGBT-inclusive employer by Amsterdam-based Workplace Pride Foundation for the past three consecutive years.

Makeup artist and social-media personality Manny Gutierez is the first male ambassador for Maybelline, NBC News noted. Gutierrez's tutorials have cultivated a large following on Instagram and YouTube, with more than 3 million followers and 2 million subscribers on each respective platform. A few months ago, CoverGirl signed its first male cover boy, James Charles, People stated.

Fiat heir Lapo Elkann—who allegedly faked his own kidnapping for ransom money after a drug binge with a transgender escort in November—is in rehab, according to a Page Six item that cites Italian publications. Elkann is reportedly staying at the center until his court appearance on Jan. 25, to help with his defense.

Legendary college-football coach Bobby Bowden said that young males need fathers to "make them a man," and not having one will lead them to do strange things—like wear an earring, NewNowNext.com noted. The 87-year-old ex-coach of Florida State University ( 1976-2009 ) added that young men need male role models "to discipline them and make them be a man."


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