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National roundup: Pence in lawsuit, #BiWeek, trans murders
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

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A transgender man prohibited from changing his legal name because of his immigration classification is suing Indiana state officials, including Gov. Mike Pence, a press release stated. The lawsuit—filed Sept. 13 by MALDEF ( Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund ) and Transgender Law Center on behalf of a 31-year-old Indiana resident—alleges that a 2010 state law requiring proof of citizenship to obtain a change of legal name is unconstitutional. The plaintiff, listed as "John Doe" in the complaint, was born in Mexico and raised in Indiana, where he moved with his family when he was 6. Although born and raised as a girl, he has lived his entire adult life as a man and is recognized as a male on all official U.S. documents and his Indiana state ID.

GLAAD announced its participation in the third annual Bisexual Awareness Week ( #BiWeek ) in partnership with BiNet USA, the country's oldest advocacy organization for bisexual, pansexual, fluid, queer-identified, and unlabeled people, a press release stated. #BiWeek takes place Sept. 19-26, with Sept. 23 as the official "Celebrate Bisexuality Day." In 2014, GLAAD co-founded and co-led the first #BiWeek with BiNet USA to draw attention to the issues faced by the bi+ community ( bisexual, pansexual, fluid, queer-identified, and unlabeled people ), including erasure and visibility. #BiWeek will include bisexual community events on Capitol Hill and around Washington, D.C., for bi+ community leaders from around the country.

Police are asking residents of a northwest Baltimore neighborhood and members of the LGBTQ community for information on the fatal shooting of transgender woman Crystal Edmonds, LGBTQ Nation reported. Hers is the 21st murder of a transgender American in 2016—one short of the number of trans people killed in all of 2015. Police ( @BaltimorePolice ) tweeted a plea for help and offered a $2,000 reward for information leading to a conviction.

A court in Mississippi heard gruesome and disturbing details in the murder of 25-year-old transgender woman Dee Whigham, a registered nurse at Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg, according to LGBTQ Nation. Whigham was found stabbed to death in a Biloxi hotel on July 23. Navy seaman Dwanya Hickerson, 20, is charged with capital murder and robbery. Deputy Leo Allen of Jackson County Sheriff's Department told the court the autopsy showed Whigham was stabbed 119 times, mostly in her face; in addition, her throat was slashed three times.

Washington, D.C., police have made an arrest in the case of the July 4 murder of a young transgender woman, LGBTQ Nation reported. According to the NBC News4, police arrested 22-year-old Shareem Hall in connection with the shooting death of 22-year-old Deeniquia "DeeDee" Dodds. Interim Police Chief Peter Newsham said there's no indication that Hall and Dodds knew each other or that her killing was a hate crime.

A soldier is accused of killing a transgender woman in West Texas, and the FBI is investigating if it was a hate crime, CBS News noted. Police arrested 21-year-old Anthony Michael Bowden and charged him with the murder of Erykah Tijerina, 36. She was found dead with "obvious signs of foul play" at an apartment complex.

GLAAD launched the official countdown to Spirit Day, largest and most visible campaign in the world working to advance acceptance of LGBTQ youth, a press release stated. Spirit Day takes place Oct. 20, and inspires millions around the world to wear purple or "go purple" online in a united stand against bullying and to show their support for LGBTQ youth. To celebrate the countdown to Spirit Day, GLAAD has released anti-bullying resources for educators, parents and students. For more information, visit

Donald Trump reportedly wants openly gay billionaire/PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel as a U.S. Supreme Court justice, The Huffington Post revealed. Trump "deeply loves Peter Thiel," and people in the real-estate mogul's inner circle are talking about Thiel as a Supreme Court nominee, a source close to Trump told the Post. Thiel attended Stanford Law School and worked at Sullivan & Cromwell, a prestigious New York law firm, for seven months. If nominated and confirmed, he would be the first openly gay member of the Court.

Time reported that men in same-sex marriages tend to earn significantly more than their lesbian or heterosexual counterparts, according to new data that the U.S. Treasury Department released. Gay men had an average household income of $176,000 in 2014—$52,000 more than lesbian couples and $63,000 more than opposite-sex couples. That's in part because of the gender pay gap, according to an Upshot story in the New York Times, which affects only one half of a couple's income in a heterosexual couple.

A high school football team in Carroll, Iowa, is under investigation after some players' homophobic group chat came to light, according to a Raw Story item that cites KCCI-TV. Members of the team for Carroll High were reportedly so angry that an unidentified gay student was elected to the school's homecoming court that they wanted the student to kill himself or to "go die." Another team member allegedly threatened to drop out of school entirely if the student was allowed to remain on the court. Superintendent Rob Cordes said he hadn't determined the punishment for the players.

The National LGBTQ Task Force has issued a press release condemning the police killing of 13-year-old African-American Tyre King. Stacey Long Simmons, director of public policy and government affairs for the Task Force, said, "Yet another police killing of a young Black person. This painful spate of police-involved shootings appears to be never ending. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Tyre King. As we've said before, it's time for radical reform of our criminal justice system: from one that thinks nothing of shooting Black people to one that emphasizes non-violent solutions; from a system that routinely targets Black people to one based on the principal that Black lives really matter."

Donald Trump is scheduled to appear at all the presidential debates against his rival Hillary Clinton; however, he's not happy about one of them. Gay Times Magazine reported that the debate in question is hosted by CNN anchor Andersoon Cooper, who is currently set to become the first openly gay journalist to take on the role of moderator of a presidential debate. Trump has declared that Cooper will not be fair in his debate, and implied heavily that he and and his news agency CNN are actively bias toward Clinton.

Students at various Big 12 schools are not happy about the possible inclusion of Brigham Young University ( BYU ) and its anti-gay policies in their conference, and some of them are doing something about it, Outsports noted. Recently, the student senate at Iowa State passed a resolution 21-6 that specifically opposed the addition of BYU to the conference. ( The student president at the school disagreed with the resolution, saying the school should reject no one's religious beliefs. ) Now the student government at the University of Texas is considering a similar resolution, according to The Daily Texan.

The Atlantic Coast Conference ( ACC ) has followed the NCAA's lead and is removing all its athletic championships from North Carolina over the state law HB2, reported. The ACC Council of Presidents voted to relocate the league's championships until North Carolina repeals the law. The decision includes all championship this academic school year, which means relocating the ACC football title game that was scheduled to be played in Charlotte in December.

Pastor Cynthia Meyer has left Kansas' Edgerton United Methodist Church, several months after coming out to her congregation, according to the Kansas City Star. To avoid a church trial, Meyer and Methodist officials agreed that she would give up her duties and go on involuntary leave, with her last sermon taking place Aug. 28. She plans to work in lay ministry or for a nonprofit as she continues to hope for a policy change in the denomination's Book of Discipline so she can return to the pulpit.

John DeVito, a 25-year-old gay Democrat, said he decided to take a leave of absence as a third-year student at Washington, D.C.,'s George Washington University Law School to run for a seat in the New York State Senate in a district on Long Island, where he was born and raised, The Washington Blade reported. DeVito said he's running because he believes he can make a difference for his district and his state on the issues he cares most about, some of which are education reform, tax relief for middle-class families, environmental protection, and the curtailment of corruption and special interest influence in the state capital in Albany.

Bayna-Lekheim El-Amin—the gay man convicted of assaulting two other gay men at New York City's Dallas BBQ restaurant in May 2015—was sentenced Sept. 15 to nine years in prison and three years of supervision after his release, The Advocate reported, citing Gay City News. El-Amin had initially claimed he was defending himself in the altercation with Jonathan Snipes and Ethan York-Adams at the Chelsea restaurant ( and videotape showed Snipes started the situation ). But El-Amin, according to prosecutors, continued the fight after Snipes stopped.

In Pennsylvania, the Boy Scouts of America Cradle of Liberty Council—the target of a lawsuit eight years ago because it refused to vacate a city-owned building—now finds itself the target of three lawsuits stemming from a fatal vehicular accident, according to Philadelphia Gay News. The three lawsuits currently pending against Cradle stem from a Scouting event in Pennypack Park in October 2013, after which Scout leader Joseph F. Snyder lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a parked vehicle; one of the passengers, Christopher Alvelo, was killed, and three others were seriously injured. One of Snyder's surviving passengers, Nicholas Prendergast, filed suit in October, claiming Scout officials spent more time focusing on sexual-orientation topics than they did on safety issues.

The lawyer for a fired lesbian police chief says she should get her job back because the South Carolina town of Latta didn't follow the law, ABC News reported. Attorney Malissa Burnette sent a letter to Latta saying the town council did not vote in open session recently to fire Crystal Moore. Moore's lawyer says she was fired in retaliation for getting an outside agency to investigate a sexual-harassment complaint.

In New Jersey, an LGBT community center is being kicked out of its building in Ocean Grove—a religious community that is also home to a large number of gay and lesbian business owners and residents, noted. The QSpot has been a tenant at the Jersey Shore Arts Center since 2012. However, the organization may have to find a new home because the nonprofit arts center has declined to renew its lease past December. That decision has prompted the organization to question the Arts Center's motives.

Also in New Jersey, GOP Rep. Scott Garrett, who is facing the toughest re-election of his career and has been dogged by comments he made about gay rights, is now getting outside help from a super PAC that was founded in part to oppose same-sex marriage, The Huffington Post reported. The Campaign for American Principles has started running ads in support of Garrett, according to, and plans to spend $145,000. Garrett, a seven-term congressman, has been in hot water ever since Politico reported last year that he told fellow Republicans in a closed-door meeting that he wouldn't pay his dues to the National Republican Congressional Committee because the organization supported gay candidates.

A third incident in New Jersey involves a 14-year-old Williamstown student who was accepted to Camden Catholic High School and awarded scholarships earlier this year—but is not attending the school this fall, noted. Mason Catrambone is transgender, and the school refused to welcome him as a male when the student they had admitted was a female named Madelyn Catrambone, according to a petition supporting him. Michael Walsh, a spokesman for the Diocese of Camden, said the Diocese of Camden fully supports the school's decision.

Lesbian Mary Looper, who was attending a concert at Staples Center in Los Angeles, claims a security guard removed her from the women's bathroom after insisting that she was a man, Raw Story noted. According to Pink News, Looper wrote on Facebook that she was attending a Carrie Underwood concert with her aunt, and that when she went to use the bathroom a female security guard stood outside of her stall and demanded that she get out. According to Looper, she often is confused for a man but was surprised the guard couldn't tell the difference by her voice when she responded.

StartOut—a nonprofit dedicated to empowering LGBTQ entrepreneurs and business leaders—announced the recipients of its upcoming 5th Annual StartOut Awards at a ceremony featuring actor/comedian Leslie Jordan, a press release stated. Chip Conley, who founded Joie de Vivre Hospitality, will receive the 2016 Orrick Trailblazer Award while Cornerstone Capital Inc. Founder/CEO Erika Karp will receive the 2016 Wells Fargo Leadership Award. In addition, Buddy Media co-founder Jeff Ragovin will be honored with the 2016 StartOut Innovator Award, Blendoor CEO/Founder Stephanie Lampkin will receive The 2016 Kevin J. Mossier Next Generation Award and Here Media has been named the 2016 StartOut Company of The Year. The awards will take place Sept. 23 at The St. Regis Hotel.

The Out & Equal Workplace Summit will take place in Orlando, Florida from Oct. 4-7 at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort, a press release noted. The Workplace Summit will draw more than 4,000 LGBT employees, executives, CEOs, celebrities, politicians, advocates, activists and allies, including former soccer player Abby Wambach, The Pointer Sisters, Lance Bass, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, long-distance swimmer and Diana Nyad, singer Diana King, and Walt Disney World Parks & Resorts President George Kalogridis, among others.

On Sept. 19, GMHC honored Javier Munoz, who's now the lead in Hamilton: An American Musical, with the 2016 Howard Ashman Award, a press release stated. In 2002, Munoz was diagnosed with HIV and he continues to speak out about his status—particularly in the media—because of the stigma directed at people living with HIV/AIDS. The award is named after the Oscar and Grammy-winning lyricist of Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid and Aladdin; he passed away due to AIDS-related complications in 1991.

A gay Dartmouth student is turning his mourning over the Pulse nightclub massacre into inspiration by competing in the Ironman triathlon to raise money for the victims of the attack, NewNowNext reported. Phil Claudy expressed the sentiments that many members of the LGBT community felt on the morning of June 12—that the shooting felt personal. The athlete said the horrific event inspired him to take action, and he signed up for the Sept. 25 Chattanooga triathlon in order to do his part to help those affected.

Revolt Nightclub is opening in Las Vegas Sept. 23, according to Las Vegas Weekly. The new LGBT dance spot and hangout will occupy the first-floor, 325-capacity lounge/bar at the Saxe Theater, where an upstairs showroom hosts productions such as Vegas! The Show, Recycled Percussion and Nathan Burton Comedy Magic. Revolt aims to buck tradition as the first smoke-free LGBT venue in Las Vegas. Also of note: It's the lone dedicated gay club on or adjacent to the Strip.

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