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National roundup: N.C. law, Barney talks Bernie, Ala. governor
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2016-04-05

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Two transgender men and a lesbian professor joined the American Civil Liberties Union and Equality North Carolina seeking an injunction against House Bill 2, a law that revokes all LGBT protections in the state and forces transgender people to use public bathrooms matching the sex listed on birth certificates, among other things, Advocate.com reported. Lead plaintiff Joaquin Carcaño, 27, of Greensboro is a transgender man who works at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. He's been joined by transgender student Payton Grey McGarry, 20, of Greensboro, and lesbian professor Angela Gilmore, 52, who teaches at North Carolina Central University.

In related news, the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) and Equality NC announced that executives from Hyatt, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Northrop Grumman, Ralph Lauren, American Apparel, Qualcomm, Twilio, Udacity, Pandora Media and EMC Corporation have signed onto an open letter that now includes more than 120 leading CEOs and business leaders calling on Gov. Pat McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly to repeal House Bill 2. A few of the other CEOs who've signed onto the bill include Apple's Tim Cook, Barnes and Noble's Ron Boire, Miramax's Steve Schoch and Mitchell Gold of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams.

Also, Emily Waggoner has created a crowd-sourced map, showcasing all the businesses in North Carolina that have trans-friendly bathrooms, Marketplace.org noted. She has listed more than 80 businesses in her map, entitled "Safe Bathrooms." Waggoner is a Web designer who grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina, and her partner is trans, according to Buzzfeed.

Openly gay former Congressman Barney Frank said that supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders are unrealistic about what the independent Vermont senator can achieve if elected president, The Hill reported. "I think it is a lack of information, to be honest," he said on MSNBC Live with Jose Diaz-Balart when asked why Sanders is resonating with voters. "You have people who don't understand, frankly, the nature of the American political system."

A fired police official has exposed what has been rumored for years in Montgomery: that 73-year-old married Alabama governor Robert Bentley is having an affair with his married chief political adviser, Rebekah Caldwell Mason, Advocate.com reported. Bentley has denied the affair, saying his former employee only heard a conversation that was sexual in nature, but not indicative of a physical relationship. Bentley campaigned on a platform of supposed family values, stating on his campaign website in 2010 that, "I will ensure that Alabama does not follow the trend of allowing gay marriages or civil unions, and I will protect our state's right to define marriage as between one man and one woman."

Prosecutors have said that a Los Angeles man charged with fatally shooting his 29-year-old son for being gay had repeatedly threatened to kill him over his sexual orientation, AJC.com reported. Amir Issa, 29, was found shot to death just outside the family home. While the Los Angeles County district attorney's office charged father Shehada Issa, 69, with murder as a hate crime in the son's death, authorities were still trying to determine responsibility for a second killing. The mother, 68-year-old Rabihah Issa, had been stabbed repeatedly.

A fight involving two people at a Miami Beach fast-food restaurant may have been fueled by hate, WSVN.com reported. In mid-March, a man at a Burger King Whopper Bar verbally attacked a gay couple who were reportedly displaying affection in public—and then physically attacked one of the couple, Eric Danko, who suffered injuries to his eye and a busted lip. Investigators are still looking for the man who launched the attack, and investigators believe he may have some professional fighting training.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) hailed the news that the Mississippi Manufacturers Association ( MMA ) has joined the growing list of businesses and organizations urging Gov. Phil Bryant to veto House Bill 1523, a religious-freedom measure. "HB 1523 is bad for Mississippians, bad for businesses and bad for the state's economy. That's why a growing chorus of citizens and companies across this state are calling on Governor Bryant to veto this discriminatory and deplorable bill which would put his own constituents at risk of harassment and discrimination," said HRC President Chad Griffin. Also, artists Lance Bass and Mary Elizabeth Ellis released a video calling on their fellow Mississippians to take action against HB 1523.

Pro-LGBT group Lambda Legal released the results of its review of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland's judicial record. The analysis read, in part, "Our review found that there have been only four cases in which Judge Garland participated ( none of which he authored an opinion in ) that involved parties who identified as gay or who were affiliated with the LGBT community. Although, in each of these four cases, he ruled against those parties, the legal issues directly presented on the appeals he participated in were general, and suggested little about his views on sexual orientation- or gender identity-related issues." The full analysis is at www.lambdalegal.org/blog/20160329_lambda-legal-analysis-merrick-garland.

The University of Michigan student who yelled anti-gay slurs at an Uber driver responded to the viral YouTube video of the incident, MLive.com reported. In a statement provided through a representative for the family, Jake Croman, a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, accused the Uber driver of making anti-Semitic comments. In the video, posted on YouTube March 23, a college-aged man can be seen yelling expletives and anti-gay slurs at an Uber driver while surrounded by other young men.

In South Carolina, a law that perhaps unintentionally failed to protect domestic-violence victims in same-sex relationships appears to be unconstitutional, and nowthe state's high court is trying to decide what to do, The Associated Press reported. The state's domestic-violence law defines "household members" as a spouse, former spouse, people with a child in common or, specifically, men and women who are or have lived together—but not unmarried same-sex couples. South Carolina Chief Justice Costa Pleicones said the handling of domestic-violence situations isn't as clear as the same-sex marriage ruling from the higher court case.

A new bill would allow counselors and therapists in Tennessee to turn patients away if it is determined that treating the patient conflicts with the counselor's religious beliefs, Opposing Views reported. House Bill 1840, which passed the state senate 27-5 in February, states that "no person providing counseling or therapy services shall be required to counsel or serve a client as to goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict with a sincerely held religious belief of the counselor or therapist," according to WVLT.

A transgender man is suing a Southern California barbershop that allegedly refused to cut his hair after the barber identified him as a woman, NBC Los Angeles reported. Rose Trevis said Hawleywood's barbershop in Long Beach refused him service, saying it did not serve women. The barbershop claimed it had a policy that did not allow for women's haircuts and said it had the right to refuse services to anyone, according to the lawsuit.

The National Black Justice Coalition ( NBJC ) joined the National Coalition for LGBT Health and other partner organizations during the 14th Annual National LGBT Health Awareness Week, March 28-April 1. In a press release, NBJC Executive Director Program Officer for LGBT Health and Wellness Initiatives Venton C. Jones Jr. said, "When one is both LGBT and a member of a racial or ethnic minority, research continues to show us that these communities often face the highest levels of health disparities. The need remains for effective interventions in order to address the health challenges LGBT communities of color face, including the HIV/AIDS epidemic which disproportionately impacts Black gay/bisexual men, and transgender women."

Lambda Legal issued a statement praising the U.S. Supreme Court's unanimous decision in Evenwel v. Abbott, the case challenging the "one person, one vote" principle that legislative districts should be based on the total number of people who live within them. Lambda Legal Legal Director and Eden/Rushing Chair Jon W. Davidson said, "Today's Supreme Court ruling is a big victory for democracy and voting rights," adding, "Much more work remains to ensure fair and inclusive representation, and to prevent cynical attempts to suppress voter participation across the country. We must restore the Voting Rights Act and fight restrictive voter ID laws, which frequently create problems for transgender voters, who often face challenges obtaining identification that matches their gender identity and expression."

Mixed martial arts ( MMA ) came under fire by legislators after a bill looking to legalize the sport hit the New York State Assembly's floor, LGBTQ Nation reported. Openly gay assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell ( D-Manhattan ) —the brother of Rosie O'Donnell—said, "I thought I should learn a little about ( MMA ). Well, I should really like it. You have two nearly naked, hot men trying to dominate each other. That's gay porn with a different ending." He ended his remarks by quipping that he'd "take a cold shower" and hopes New York remains the only state in the nation to uphold its ban on pro-MMA.

Boxer Manny Pacquiao was reportedly attacked outside a Los Angeles restaurant over his anti-gay comments, PinkNews noted. The eight-time world boxing champion sparked criticism across the world in February, after describing gay couples as "worse than animals." Pacquiao's assistant, David Sisson, claimed the attacker shouted, "F*** you. F*** you, you homophobic," as he was led away after the alleged attack.

A federal judge is refusing to make public details of what appears to be an intense legal battle between the House of Representatives and federal prosecutors pursuing former Rep. Aaron Schock ( R-Ill. ), Politico reported. In the past two months, Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Bass, House Counsel Kerry Kircher and lawyers for Schock have exchanged nearly two dozen secret legal filings in federal court in Springfield, Ill. as prosecutors press grand jury subpoenas for evidence that could be used against Schock. In response to a request from Politico to unseal the pleadings and orders, U.S. District Court Judge Sue Myerscough said she'd received "objections" to making the records public and does not plan to unseal them.

San Francisco startup Nurx has been delivering birth control directly to patients across California since January—and has just announced an expansion to provide Truvada as PrEP as well, Frontiers Media reported. People can fill out a medical survey through the app or website and a doctor will remotely review the case and, possibly, write a prescription for PrEP; Nurx will then deliver the drug. Nurx is even experimenting with sending a phlebotomist via Uber to the patient's home to draw that person's blood to be approved for a prescription.

Former Scientolgist Nora Crest alleged she was subjected to a hard labour punishment in the Rehabilitation Project Force—which former members say is the equivalent to a Scientology prison—because she kissed another woman, according to a UK Metro item. Crest said she spent three years in RPF, and claims she suffered multiple injuries, including three broken ribs while she lived in poor conditions. She told MailOnline: 'It was the most horrific time of my life. I was battered and bruised, pushed around and nearly died trying to leave the Church and all because I had the audacity to desire another woman."

In Connecticut, Hartford police are investigating a break-in at Hartford Stage offices that resulted in anti-gay graffiti, Broadway World noted. Photos from the scene show a broken table, paint all over and graffiti on a whiteboard that prompted police to consider this a possible hate crime. Authorities confirmed nothing was taken.

A man who repeatedly punched a transgender woman on a New York City street in a case that prompted protests pled guilty to manslaughter, LGBTQ Nation reported. James Dixon entered the plea in the August 2013 death of Islan Nettles, a 21-year-old assistant at a fashion company. The victim was one of three transgender women who encountered a group of about seven young men near a Harlem police station. Dixon flirted with Nettles before realizing she was transgender; he then repeatedly hit her.

Pride at Work released a statement in reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, which resulted in the justices deadlocked four to four in an issue involving unions. Pride at Work Executive Director Jerame Davis said, in part, "This ruling by the Supreme Court upholds more than four decades of precedence in labor law and we are relieved the legal attacks on labor unions have been momentarily stalled by this ruling. ... For LGBTQ public-sector working folks, this ensures that even in states without laws protecting LGBTQ people in the workplace, a strong union contract is still a viable option to gain those protections."

The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association ( NLGJA ) held its 21st annual New York Benefit: Headlines & Headliners at Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, a press release stated. The night drew a crowd of almost 300 and was closed by a performance of "Ring of Keys" by Alessandra Baldacchino, a cast member of the Tony Award-winning musical Fun Home. ABC News correspondent Gio Benitez and ESPN senior writer/ABC News contributor LZ Granderson co-hosted the night's festivities, where they presented NLGJA's Leroy F. Aarons and Kay Longcope scholarships.

SheKnows Media—a women's media company with a reach of more than 81 million unique visitors per month, and 275 million social-media fans and followers—announced the intent to acquire HelloFlo, a women's health brand that offers advice, inspiration and products for women and girls, Business Wire reported. The acquisition is expected to close in April; until then, HelloFlo Founder Naama Bloom will continue to oversee the business.

Former Stanford basketball great and current University of San Francisco coach Jennifer Azzi announced that she is married to her female assistant, The Contra Costa Times reported. Azzi made the announcement while introducing Warriors president and out gay exectuve Rick Welts at the Anti-Defamation League's Torch of Liberty Award ceremony. Azzi, 47, said she and Blair Hardiek, who also was in attendance, married last August.

In Virginia, the George Mason School of Law will be renamed in honor of the late conservative U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, who died earlier this year, The Washington Post noted. Leonard A. Leo—a member of the Federalist Society who was close with Scalia and his family—was approached by a donor who asked that the university name the law school in honor of the late justice, and offered a $20 million donation.


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