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National roundup: #ProtectTransWomen, Black AIDS Institute, soccer incident
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2017-03-14

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A group of organizations led by trans, gender non-conforming, lesbian, gay, bisexual, two-spirit and queer ( TGNCLGBTSQ ) people of color issued a call to action to celebrate and protect trans women and femmes on March 15, one week after today's "A Day Without Women" general strike, a press release noted. The call to action comes on the heels of a deadly and terrifying first few months of 2017, with reports of at least seven trans women of color being murdered in January and February. More information about the statement and the day of action can be found online at GETEQUAL.org/take-action.html as well as the hashtag #ProtectTransWomen on Twitter and Facebook.

The Black AIDS Institute was among many groups who responded to the release of the most recent American Healthcare Act proposal. According to Black AIDS Institute President/CEO Phill Wilson, the new plan could be divided into the good ( raising the amount people and families can put into a health savings account ), the bad ( repeals Medicaid expansion in 2020 ) and the ugly ( eliminates the mandate that larger employers provide insurance to their employees or face penalties ). Wilson added that "it is critical that we are ever-vigilant about this process. We cannot allow this to happen without our full engagement."

Atlanta United responded to an incident in which some fans started a homophobic chant at a game, LGBTQ Nation noted. The Major League Soccer team played the New York Red Bulls recently, losing 2-1. Some fans of Atlanta United engaged in the "puto" chant, which originated in Mexico. ( "Puto" can be translated as "male prostitute," "male bitch" and "faggot." ) Atlanta United has condemned the chant, saying the team is "taking measures internally" to address the anti-gay chant. In a statement, the team said the chants "have no place in our matches" and they will try to remove offending fans from the stadium in the future.

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker has previously said that he won't run for president in 2020—but he didn't completely rule out a future campaign during remarks at the SXSW Conference in Austin, Texas, The Hollywood Reporter noted. "I always say I'm running from the president, not for president," he said, however, "I don't know what the future holds; right now, I want to be a truth teller." He cautioned against focusing too much on future ambitions, saying there's plenty for him to focus on now.

More than a month after he was first reported missing, gay graduate student Dakota James' body has been discovered in the Ohio River, NewNowNext.com reported. The 23-year-old student's body was spotted by a woman as she was out walking her dog along the river in Robinson Township. Local police said a wallet, cash and a phone were found with James' body, and that there were no obvious signs of an injury or suspicious activity.

Washington, D.C., police arrested a suspect who allegedly smashed through the front door, assaulted an employee and threatened to return to kill someone at Casa Ruby, an LGBT community services center, The Washington Blade reported. Acting Police Lt. Brett Parson, who oversees the department's LGBT Liaison Unit, said officers investigating the case arrested Andrew Cook in the Seventh Police District. Casa Ruby's founder and executive director, Ruby Corado, told the Washington Blade that Cook had been an occasional visitor to Casa Ruby over the past several weeks and was known to employees and some clients.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) joined the ACLU of South Dakota in criticizing South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard for signing into law Senate Bill ( SB ) 149—what the organizations called "discriminatory legislation targeting LGBTQ people and other minorities" in a press release. The new law allows state-funded adoption and foster-care agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ youth in their care and to reject potential LGBTQ adoptive or foster parents based on the agency's purported religious beliefs.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) held its annual spring Lobby Day, joining hundreds of HRC members and volunteers on Capitol Hill to meet with members of Congress and encourage support for issues critical to the LGBTQ community, from passing the Equality Act to opposing the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, a press release noted. Participants held 218 meetings with Congressional offices to discuss issues critical to the LGBTQ community.

A federal appeals court has ruled against a lesbian employee seeking relief after being harassed and forced out of her job, declining to accept arguments discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation violates existing laws against gender bias, The Washington Blade noted. In a two-to-one decision, a panel on the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not protect Jameka Evans, a security guard targeted for harassment and effectively terminated from her job at Georgia Regional Hospital for being a lesbian.

The Fenway Institute of Fenway Health released a policy brief outlining the essential elements of a revised national health-insurance strategy to ensure that LGBT and HIV-affected people have broad access to health insurance and culturally competent care, a press release stated. The 2010 Affordable Care Act implemented broad reforms of the nation's health care system, such as prohibiting health insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing health conditions, including HIV. The brief is at http://fenwayhealth.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Fenway-ACA-PLWHA-LGBT-Policy-Brief-March-2017.pdf.

Days after the gay veterans group OutVets was told it was not welcome in Boston's St. Patricks' Day parade the ban was reversed—and the group will lead this year's parade, NECN.com reported. "It's been a long week, It's been a long struggle, but the struggle is now over as we can celebrate true inclusion and diversity in the city of Boston," OutVets CEO Brian Bishop said before the event. The initial decision not to allow the group to march was met with strong criticism. Local leaders, including Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, threatened to boycott the parade if decision was not reversed.

The Utah Legislature passed a bill repealing a state law prohibiting supportive discussions of "homosexuality" in public and charter school curricula and classrooms, LGBT Weekly reported. The legislation passed with bipartisan support by a 27-to-one vote in the Senate and a 68-to-one vote in the House. The bill now goes to Gov. Gary Herbert for his signature.

A gay couple says that a bouncer at a pizza place in Cincinnati threatened to throw them out for kissing and holding hands, LGBTQ Nation reported. Bobby Slavens and his fiancé, who is not identified in press coverage, said they were waiting in line at a Goodfellas. When they got to the bouncer to show ID to enter the restaurant, they were allegedly told to stop showing affection in public. Goodfellas manager Mike McLaren issued an apology and said someone has already been fired over the incident.

Police in Tulsa, Oklahoma, are investigating two incidents within one day at an LGBTQ center, including more than a dozen pellet rounds fired at the building's window and door, LGBTQ Nation reported. None of the pellets penetrated the reinforced window, said Toby Jenkins, the center's executive director. Jenkins said the downtown building had not been the target of a serious act of vandalism since Oklahomans for Equality moved in 12 years ago.

Following the collective uprising on International Women's Day, Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice Executive Director J. Bob Alotta issued a statement drawing attention to the alarming violence taking place against transgender women of color. In part, he said, ""We must stand together in collective resistance against the federal government's anti-LGBTQI agenda and defend the dignity, safety and survival of transgender and gender non-conforming people. These tragic events continue to underscore the importance of trans-led organizing and the need for philanthropic foundations like Astraea to resource this work. We must work together to ensure that all people are able to live free of discrimination, persecution and violence."

The National Coalition for LGBT Health—which created National LGBT Health Awareness Week in 2003—announced the theme of the 15th annual National LGBT Health Awareness Week: "ACT OUT for LGBT Health! Action on Health Access and Equity," a press release noted. During National LGBT Health Awareness Week ( March 27-31 ), the coalition will provide educational materials and a social-media toolkit for advocates and partner organizations to use throughout the week. The coalition will provide a daily guide for improving LGBT health in local communities through different actions.

New York Times best-selling author Janet Mock and nonprofit The Ally Coalition have partnered with Care2 to create #DearBetsyDevos, a campaign that enables signers to send postcards to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos demanding she protect trans students and provide a school environment in which they are not targeted in accordance with Title IX protections, a press release noted. The campaign is a response to a Feb. 22 decision by the Trump administration to rescind previous federal guidelines protecting trans students in public schools. The petition is at ThePetitionSite.com/622/646/085/.

The Leadership Conference Education Fund and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law announced the launch of Communities Against Hate, an initiative of 11 prominent national organizations working together to address the disturbing spike in hate incidents across the United States, a press release noted. As part of this initiative, the organizations are launching a database to bring visibility to hate incidents and helping victims and organizations obtain access to legal resources and social services through a resource hotline: 844-9-NO-HATE or 844-966-4283. A few of the groups involved include Transgender Law Center, Genders & Sexualities Alliance Network and the National Network for Arab American Communities.

National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day ( NWGHAAD ) was observed annually on March 10 to highlight the importance of women and girls taking action to protect themselves and their partners from HIV through prevention, testing and treatment, a press release noted. Sponsored by the Office on Women's Health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, this year's NWGHAAD theme was "The Best Defense is a Good Offense." The release read, in part, "Our power lies in knowing our status and taking measures to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in all community."

On March 9, the Iowa House passed HF 516, a bill that requires voters to present photo identification documents at the polls, a One Iowa press release noted. One Iowa Executive Director Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel said in a statement, "This bill disenfranchises many Iowa voters who may be members of the LGBTQ community like people of color, people with disabilities, elderly people and others in the name of solving a problem that does not exist. Transgender Iowans will face unique challenges at the polls if this bill becomes law due to how difficult obtaining identity documents that accurately reflect their gender can be."

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) hailed the Magnolia, Mississippi, aldermanic board for unanimously enacting a city-wide non-discrimination protections that include sexual orientation and gender identity in housing, public accommodations and employment. "Magnolia has sent a clear message that all people are welcome, and all people are protected from bias-driven crimes in this inclusive city," said Rob Hill, HRC Mississippi state director. "As cities like Magnolia and Jackson pass these important protections, they are showing our state legislators and our other elected officials that inclusivity and acceptance are Mississippi values, and that we don't want hate in our state."

In Colorado, Sean Crumpler is facing 50 years in prison after pleading guilty to three counts of sex trafficking, KDVR.com reported. Crumpler, 50, was originally charged with 21 counts in September 2015 after investigators discovered he was living with a dozen young men between the ages of 16 and 21 in an Aurora rental home. Prosecutors say Crumpler offered free housing to gay runways in exchange for sex, some of whom where minors.

A man yelled homophobic slurs while stabbing two other men in a restaurant in Brooklyn, according to LGBTQ Nation. The assailant flashed a "cutting instrument," and the 34-year-old victim left the restaurant, only to be followed by the assailant into the street. The victim was stabbed in the left side of his face while the assailant continued to utter anti-gay slurs. A second victim, 24, said he was trying to avoid the confrontation and enter the restaurant when he was also stabbed in the torso and in the shoulder.

Author/sex columnist Dan Savage said many liberals are giving First Lady Melania Trump because she's pretty—and that she doesn't deserve one, according to TheWrap. "God knows there's enough hate in the world and I don't want to add to the sum total, but forgive me, I have got to get this off my chest: I f—ing hate Melania Trump," Savage said at the start of his latest Savage Love podcast. "I'm not alone in loathing Donald Trump's third wife—she's married to a misogynist, after all. Odds are good her husband hates her, too," Savage continued. "But there are some folks on the left who not only don't hate her, they view her as some sort of sympathetic figure."

In the wake of the new immigration ban President Trump signed, 90 Days, 90 Voices is asking immigrants and refugees to share their stories on a new website, an organizational press release stated. Through its mix of original reporting, illustrations and photography, the website aims to offer readers a glimpse into the hardships endured by the more than 65 million refugees worldwide as well as those working to help them. See 90Days90Voices.com .

Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has nixed a political comeback and will not run for a U.S. Senate seat, Deadline reported. "I'm deeply flattered by all of the people who have approached me about running for Senate, but my mission right now is to bring sanity to Washington through redistricting reform like we passed here in California," Schwarzenegger wrote on his Facebook page. "Gerrymandering has completely broken our political system and I believe my best platform to help repair it is from the outside, by campaigning for independent redistricting commissions."

On March 11, Muslim male youth from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association ( AMYA ) USA held the inaugural "National #MeetAMuslim Day," a press release noted. AMYA USA participants from at least 50 cities and 120 locations stood in public spaces holding signs stating "I'm a Muslim, ask me anything" and "Meet a Muslim." See MeetAMuslim.us.

Gay-porn star James Seat was arrested for assaulting a police officer outside of a Cracker Barrel—while naked and high on cocaine, according to NewNowNext.com . Nashville police were called to the restaurant on Jan. 23 after patrons made complaints about the gay-for-pay actor's erratic behavior. He was convicted Jan. 31 of assaulting an officer, cocaine possession and public indecency; he served 30 days in jail.


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