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National roundup: Lesbian bishop, Equality Act, 'stealthing'
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2017-05-02

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The first openly gay bishop for the United Methodist Church could lose her title because of her sexuality, 9News.com reported. The denomination's highest court recently heard arguments, and will soon decide if it will overturn Denver-based Rev. Karen Oliveto's election. While some individual churches and pastors like Strader welcome diversity, in the 1970s the United Methodist Church added a clause to their rules stating clergy cannot be "self-avowed practicing homosexuals." Despite this rule, Oliveto became the first lesbian elected bishop last July; she oversees hundreds of churches in five states, including Colorado.

The Human Rights Campaign joined bipartisan lawmakers and an unprecedented number of businesses to announce the re-introduction of the Equality Act—federal legislation that would finally guarantee explicit, permanent protections for LGBTQ people under the nation's existing civil-rights laws, a press release noted. The announcement included unprecedented support from the business community: Ninety-two major corporations have now joined HRC's Business Coalition for the Equality Act.

The latest bedroom trend is called "stealthing"—and is documented in a report by the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, The New York Post reported. Lead author Alexandra Brodsky argues that "stealthing"—when a man secretly removes his condom in the middle of sex—is a form of sexual assault and should be treated as such. Even more troubling is the online community Brodsky uncovered, where men encourage other men to "stealth" their partners. These perpetrators—of all sexual orientations—believe it's a man's right to "spread one's seed."

On April 24, the Ackerman Institute's Gender and Family Project held "A Night of a Thousand Genders"—an evening to benefit the project's gender-affirmative services, training and research, a press release noted. This year's event honored Jill and Faith Soloway of Amazon's hit TV series Transparent, and activist Sean Coleman of the LGBT community center Destination Tomorrow, located in the South Bronx. Honorary chairs included Katie Couric, Carmen Carrera, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard, Debi Mazar and Pooya Mohseni.

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs ( NCAVP ) issued a press release mourning the death of Chay Reed, a Black transgender woman who was killed in Miami on April 21. According to media reports, she was shot while running across the street; her attacker fled the scene. This was the ninth reported killing of a transgender person of color NCAVP has responded to this year.

The son of retired NBA player Isiah Thomas opened up about being raped in two separate incidents, according to Vibe.com . "Being gay, being African-American, it's definitely something that I never imagined would happen to me," 28-year-old DJ and music producer Zeke Thomas told Good Morning America's Robin Roberts. Thomas didn't press charges in either case for fear of being labeled a "victim"—and the first incident happened when Zeke was 12. Thomas—who has collaborated with Lady Gaga, Pitbull and Diana Ross—credits music with helping in him heal.

A San Jose resident from Russia who is gay and HIV-positive has been detained at a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Florida for more than a month since returning from a trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands, CBS San Francisco reported. Denis Davydov, 30, arrived in the U.S. legally from Moscow in September 2014 and overstayed his six-month visa. He has applied for political asylum, according to Sergey Piskunov with RUSA LGBT, a group for Russian-speaking members of the LGBT community.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) issued a press release backing efforts by Prop 8 plaintiff Kris Perry to release the full record of the groundbreaking case, including videotapes, that have remained under court seal. Prop 8 was the 2008 amendment to the California Constitution that stripped the state of marriage equality and was ultimately overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case Perry v. Brown. "The lives of millions of Americans have been changed by the historic fight to secure marriage equality nationwide. The effort to keep the Proposition 8 trial proceedings hidden from the public was wrong then, and it is wrong now," said HRC President Chad Griffin.

In Kentucky, a family-court judge who sits in Barren and Metcalfe counties has announced he will no longer hear adoption cases involving "homosexual parties" because he believes allowing a gay person to adopt could never be in the child's best interest. Judge W. Mitchell Nance cited a judicial ethics rule that says a judge must disqualify himself when he has a personal bias or prejudice. Kentucky state law allows gay couples to adopt, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that all states must permit same-sex marriage.

In a 60 Minutes profile, billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he didn't run for president because he said Republicans and Democrats would have turned off voters in both camps, The New York Post noted. "For the Republicans, I'm pro-choice, pro-gay rights, pro-immigration. That's a good start there. You'll never get their nomination," he said. "On the Democratic side, I believe in teacher evaluation. The big banks, we need to help them rather than just keep tryin‹g ‹to tear them down. Those are not particularly things that will help you get the nomination."

In Oregon, the organization that operates the only youth shelters in Jackson and Josephine counties is facing backlash after it turned down nearly $3,000 raised at a sold-out concert put on by the Portland Gay Men's Chorus, OregonLive.com reported. Hearts With a Mission already receives $50,000 a year from the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety, but after problems with the shelter arose, the organization recently requested $26,000 to finish out the fiscal year. Hearts With A Mission Executive Director Kevin Lamson said that the decision not to accept the chorus' money had to do with public perception. "By branding something with our logo, what we are essentially doing is endorsing it," Lamson said.

In Virginia, a Chesterfield County man found fatally stabbed in his apartment was an early advocate of gay and lesbian rights in Virginia and a registered lobbyist for the movement in 1981 at the state's General Assembly, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. Bruce M. Garnett, 67, had been dead for several weeks when police were called to check on his welfare and found him deceased inside his residence. Police advised Garnett's family that he had been fatally stabbed and that his pet dog—a Japanese Chin named TyTy—also was found dead, apparently from a lack of food or water for weeks.

Also in Virginia, the first television commercial to hit the airwaves in support of Democratic Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam's gubernatorial bid will feature a Norfolk couple who filed a federal lawsuit challenging Virginia's gay-marriage ban that was later overturned, The Virginian-Pilot reported. The advertising buy is set to run across the state and highlights Virginians who say Northam has helped them in a variety of ways, such as banning smoking from restaurants. Virginia and New Jersey are the only two states electing governors this year—and the Virginia race has drawn national interest for its potential to provide clues as to how the electorate will respond to Trump's victory.

In another Virginia-related development, the LGBTQ group The Victory Fund is backing Danica Roem—a transgender woman, former journalist and lifelong Prince William County resident who is currently in a four-way fight to represent the Democratic party this November against Bob Marshall, a 25-year-veteran state House Republican who has notoriously opposed LGBTQ issues, GayRVA.com noted. Marshall was co-author of Virginia's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, The Marshall-Newman Amendment. The race is for Virginia's 13th House District.

A study has revealed that far more patients than expected are willing to reveal their sexual orientation when they visit the emergency room, UPI.com reported. Nearly eight out of 10 providers surveyed nationwide thought patients would decline to reveal their sexual orientation; however, just more than 10 percent of patients said they would refuse. The study was published online April 24 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

In a four-to-three decision, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said SEPTA ( the area's mass-transit system ) isn't under the authority of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, which enforces the city's LGBT-inclusive Fair Practices Ordinance, Philadelphia Gay News reported. Since 2009, SEPTA has challenged the authority of the city's Human Relations Commission to accept and investigate anti-bias complaints involving SEPTA. In its April 26 decision, the court noted that the state's Human Relations Act doesn't specifically protect the LGBT community.

In Philadelphia, Mazzoni Center CEO Nurit Shein stepped down after the board of directors asked for her resignation, PhillyVoice.com noted. ( Board president Jimmy Ruiz also tendered his resignation. ) Shein had headed the Mazzoni Center ( an LGBTQ healthcare provider ) since 1995, but protesters recently began calling for her dismissal, alleging the Mazzoni Center has shown bias against minority employees under her watch. Dr. Tony Rodriguez was selected to serve as the interim board president.

A new study links long-term regular use of poppers with a substantial risk of certain kinds of cancers, NewNowNext.com noted. The Journal AIDS published a report that examined men who have sex with men ( MSM ) ages 50 to 70, who were regular users of poppers. The Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study ( MACS ) followed 3,223 men ( 1,563 who were HIV-positive and 1,660 who were negative ) for nearly two decades, and found an increased rate of cancers that are caused by viruses—but only among older HIV-negative subjects who were heavy users of poppers.

Organizers behind Give OUT Day—the first and only national LGBTQ day of giving, as well as the only national cross-organizational day of giving dedicated to a specific minority group—announced the success of its fifth annual event, a press release noted. This year's Give OUT Day, held on April 20, raised more than $700,000 for more than 300 organizations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. In total, this makes for a 30-percent increase over last year's fundraising total. See https://www.giveoutday.org/c/GO/p/Media/.

A new report, "Safe Havens: Closing the Gap Between Recommend Practice and Reality for Transgender and Gender-Expansive Youth in Out-of-Home Care," offers the first comprehensive analysis of the lack of explicit laws and policies in most states to protect transgender, gender-expansive and gender non-conforming ( TGNC ) youth in the child welfare, juvenile justice, and runaway and homeless youth systems, a press release stated. The report ( which counts Lambda Legal, Children's Rights and the Center for the Study of Social Policy as its authors ) is at http://www.lambdalegal.org/sites/default/files/tgnc-policy-report_2017_final-web_v2.pdf.

Although Wall Street isn't necessarily known for its gay-friendly stance, Goldman Sachs is now asking prospective employees to come out as LGBT right when they apply for the job, according to Fortune magazine. "We ask for this data because we want to keep ourselves accountable," said Anilu Vazquez-Ubarri, Goldman's chief diversity officer and global head of talent. In other words, she says, the bank wants to make sure it is not unfairly discriminating against LGBT applicants. Goldman—whose benefits package covers sex reassignment surgery—decided to start measuring its own LGBT inclusivity roughly a year ago.

The African American Mayors Association ( AAMA ) swore in its first woman president ( New Haven, Connecticut, Mayor Toni N. Harp ), with the swearing-in taking place at its annual conference in Washington, D.C. April 26-28, a press release stated. Former U.S. Transportation Secretary and former Charlotte, North Carolina Mayor Anthony Foxx; U.S. Sen. Tim Scott ( R-South Carolina ); and Congressional Black Caucus Chair, U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond ( D-Louisiana ) were among the policymakers and leaders slated to participate in the conference this year.

A report stated that the late football player Aaron Hernandez once asked prison authorities to let him shack up with his alleged jailhouse lover in his cell, The New York Post noted. But officials turned down the former NFL star's request to share his two-person cell at the maximum-security Souza-Baranowski Corrections Center with 22-year-old Kyle Kennedy. Hernandez's lawyer, Jose Baez, has stressed, "Rumors of a letter to a gay lover, in or out of prison, are false."

The latest attempt by a major beverage company to wade into the turbulent sociopolitical climate through advertising is being met with significantly more praise than Pepsi's recent botched attempt with Kendall Jenner, Vox noted. Heineken's new "Worlds Apart" ad, released April 20, brings several pairs of complete strangers together and has them follow instructions to build a bar while talking to each other about themselves. Among them are a transphobic patriot and a transgender former soldier, who seem to resolve things by the ad's conclusion.

Ann Coulter canceled her controversial planned speech at the University of California-Berkeley, Politico noted. "There will be no speech," the conservative commentator emailed to Reuters. "I looked over my shoulder and my allies had joined the other team." Two conservative groups on campus had invited Coulter to speak April 27; Young America's Foundation, however, said April 25 that it couldn't risk the safety of staff and students, and Berkeley's College Republicans also backed out of supporting the event. The ACLU was among those saying that Coulter had a right to speak at the school, Yahoo! News noted.

Tina Nguyen of Vanity Fair reported that gay, far-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos told her that he is "launching a new media venture in the coming weeks with what he says is a $12 million investment from backers whose identities he is protecting," New York Magazine reported. The business—which will be called Milo Inc.—will be dedicated to "making the lives of journalists, professors, politicians, feminists, Black Lives Matter activists, and other professional victims a living hell," according to Yiannopoulos.


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