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  WINDY CITY TIMES

National roundup: Rainbow flag, gay Vegas connections, HIV-exposure law
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2017-10-10

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The rainbow flag—the international symbol of LGBT liberation and pride—was unveiled in a special ceremony on Wed., Oct. 11, at the historic Stonewall National Monument, where, because of the efforts of activists, it will claim a permanent home, a press release noted. This historic event marked the first time that the LGBT flag will wave over federally funded land, under the permanent stewardship of the National Park Service. Stonewall National Monument is located in Christopher Street Park in New York's Greenwich Village. The flag, which was originally designed by the late artist and activist Gilbert Baker, consists of six stripes: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet.

A gay City of Las Vegas employee was among those shot and killed at the Route 91 Harvest country-music festival, according to a JoeMyGod.com item that cites the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Cameron Robinson, 28, was attending the festival with his boyfriend when he was shot in the neck, his sister Meghan Ervin said. Robinson—who commuted to work from St. George, Utah—worked as a legal records specialist for the city, according to TransparentNevada.com .

Two lesbian mothers have credited military training with helping them survive the shooting in Las Vegas earlier this month, PinkNews reported. Allison Gardner was at the concert with wife Jacqulyn Lopez, and told NBC News about how they escaped the tragedy to go home unharmed to their two sons. Gardner said her training as an active shooter during her time in the Navy helped save her and her wife, as she pulled her through to safety. Lopez said, "My wife and I served four years and seven and a half years in the United States Navy, and not once experienced something as traumatic as that evening."

California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation that reduces the penalty for intentionally exposing some to HIV, CBS Sacramento reported. Previously, intentionally exposing someone to HIV was a felony; SB239 reduces the crime to a misdemeanor, treating HIV like other communicable diseases. Democratic Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco has said the harsher penalties for HIV discourage people from getting tested for the disease and stigmatize those who have it.

The Trump administration reversed a mandate in President Obama's Affordable Care Act ( ACA ) which required employers and insurers under the ACA to provide health insurance that allowed affordable opportunities to acquire birth control and contraception access, LGBT Weekly reported. Instead, employers can now claim so-called "religious exemptions" as an excuse to deny healthcare to approximately 55 million women and an untold number of transgender and nonconforming people who rely on no-copay contraception benefit provided by the ACA.

A new children's book shares the history of pioneering lesbian activists Phyllis Martin and Del Lyon, NewNowNext.com noted. When You Look Out the Window: How Phyllis Martin and Del Lyon Built a Community, sees Martin and Lyon pointing out landmarks through San Francisco, each of which illuminates part of their story as a couple and two of the LGBT right's movement's greatest advocates. Among other things, the couple formed the Daughters of Bilitis, the first political organization for lesbians in the United States, and were editors of its magazine, The Ladder, for many years.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights ( NCLR ) won an appeal on behalf of Kathleen M., a lesbian mother in Missouri who has been allowed to seek shared custody or visitation with her son, according to an NCLR press release. In the case K.M.M. v. K.E.W., the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District ruled that a non-biological parent who raised a child from birth can seek custody or visitation. Kathleen M. and Kate W. were in a committed same-sex relationship and had a child through assisted reproduction using an anonymous sperm donor in 2011. The parties separated in 2015, and Kate stopped Kathleen from seeing their child. Kathleen sought custody and visitation in 2015, which the trial court denied.

New court action created a slight delay ( until Oct. 10 ) for a Mississippi law that, barring an intervention from the U.S. Supreme Court, will let government workers and business people cite their own religious objections to refuse services to gay couples, Fox News noted. Republican Gov. Phil Bryant signed the law in 2016.

In Florida, Miami-Dade commissioners, by a vote of seven to four, have rejected a ban on gay-conversion therapy for minors, LGBT Weekly noted. Supporters wanted Miami-Dade to join a list of local governments banning the discredited practice of trying to change a child's sexual orientation; however, critics saw the ordinance as so broadly worded that it could ensnare a pastor's sermon or a parent expressing concerns about a child's choices on sexual activity

GLAAD released background information on Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback's anti-LGBTQ record after President Donald Trump announced his nomination for ambassador at large for international religious freedoms at the U.S. State Department, according to a press release. Among other things, GLAAD stated that Brownback has said marriage equality is "harmful to the future of the Republic," and that he voted against LGBTQ hate-crimes legislation, saying, "This is something we have got to fight against—that somehow that the thought is what the crime is, and that being moved into an agenda not allowing people to speak their beliefs about homosexuality."

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that creates a "bill of rights" for LGBTQ seniors in long-term care, an Equality California press release noted. Senate Bill ( SB ) 219—authored by Senator Scott Wiener ( D-San Francisco ) and sponsored by Equality California—will help protect seniors from discrimination or mistreatment in long-term care facilities. SB 219 strengthens protections for LGBTQ seniors living in long-term care facilities against discrimination, such as refusing to use a resident's preferred name or pronoun, or denying admission to a long-term care facility, among other things.

A Leon County, Florida, school district transferred a fifth-grade teacher from working with children into a classroom with adults after the educator requested to be addressed with gender-neutral pronouns, The Washington Post reported. The teacher's preferences—using the prefix Mx. and the pronouns "they, them, their instead of he, his, she, hers"—had been met with support from some Canopy Oaks Elementary parents and complaints from others.

Conde Nast announced the launch of them, a next-generation community platform that "chronicles and celebrates the stories, people and voices that are emerging and inspiring all of us, ranging in topics from pop culture and style to politics and news, all through the lens of today's LGBTQ community," according to a press release. Burberry, Google, Lyft and GLAAD are among the launch partners of them, which goes live Oct. 26. See CondeNast.com .

A psychiatrist considered a trailblazer in the gay-rights movement for appearing in a mask before his colleagues at a 1972 convention to announce his homosexuality was honored in Philadelphia, NBC News noted. Dr. John E. Fryer's actions are credited with paving the way for the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders a year after his speech. On Oct. 3, a historical marker about Fryer was unveiled in the Gayborhood—Philadelphia's main social hub for LGBTQ residents—and across the street from the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, which houses Fryer's archives.

In Philadelphia, Nation of Islam minister and controversial Bllack intellectual Dr. Wesley Muhammad was uninvited to speak at a conference being held at Universal Audenried Charter High School, Philadelphia Weekly noted. A promotional flier circulated rapidly around Philly social media advertising Muhammad's lecture, "How to Make A Homosexual: The Scientific Assault on Black America." Muhammad—who shared the flier with more than 30,000 followers on social media—is known for espousing a range of anti-LBGTQ conspiracy theories, most prominently that the U.S. government is engaged in a ploy to turn Black men gay through potent marijuana.

In Florida, Billy Lee Wilkerson told police his suicidal husband shot and killed himself—but the body of Bernard Cornelius Gay apparently told a different story, the SunSentinel reported. One of Gay's fingers was in the handgun's trigger guard, which was suspicious for a self-inflicted wound, the medical examiner's office found. Wilkerson was arrested Oct. 5 and prosecutors charged him with murder in the second degree, without premeditation.

A group of transgender students and their supporters in Frederick County, Maryland, have emerged as the leading force in defense of a policy approved by the county's board of education to protect transgender students from discrimination in the public schools, The Washington Blade noted. The policy, among other things, allows students to choose which bathroom or school locker room to use based on the gender with which they identify. Policy foes claim the policy would violate student privacy and lead to sexual assaults in girls' bathrooms and locker rooms.

A text message sent in January to U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy ( R-Pennsylvania ) by a woman with whom he had an extramarital relationship took him to task for a pro-life statement posted on Facebook from his office's public account, The Huffington Post noted. "And you have zero issue posting your pro-life stance all over the place when you had no issue asking me to abort our unborn child just last week when we thought that was one of the options," forensic psychologist Shannon Edwards wrote in the midst of an unfounded pregnancy scare. Murphy has now said he will not run for re-election.

James Harbaugh Jr.—son of Michigan head football coach ( and onetime Chicago Bears quarterback ) Jim Harbaugh—is opening up about being the gay son of a famous football dad, Outsports noted. "I can kind of credit my dad for getting me into theater a little bit, oddly enough," James told Two Outs podcast, saying that, in 2005 ( when Jim coached at Stanford University ), he took the family to see Wicked in San Francisco. James has followed that passion to the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance, where he is currently earning a BFA in directing.

A 91-year-old Native Hawaiian multimillionaire heiress has married her longtime partner, MSN.com noted. Retired Hawaii Supreme Court Justice Steven Levinson said he presided over the wedding of Abigail Kawananakoa ( considered a princess because she's a descendant of Prince David Kawananakoa ) and Veronica Gail Worth during a ceremony at his Honolulu home. The marriage comes amid a court battle over control of her trust worth $215 million.

The Knot named WNBA player Elena Delle Donne and her fiancee, Amanda Clifton, as its 2017 Dream Wedding Couple, according to NewNowNext.com . For the past five years, The Knot has chosen an engaged couple to help throw a ceremony, taking care of everything from the dresses and flowers to the wedding cake. Delle Donne and Clifton's ceremony marks the first time the site has selected a same-sex couple. In lieu of gifts, the couple are asking for donations to the Elena Delle Donne Foundation, which benefits people with special needs and those suffering from Lyme Disease.

Gay social network Hornet announced the launch of Hornet Version 4.0, which will bring native editorial content into the Hornet app—a first to market feature for an LGBTQ social network, a press release stated. Hornet will rebrand two editorial websites, Unicorn Booty and Vespa, and fold them into the newly redesigned Hornet. The content will be found natively within the app under the "Hornet Stories" and "Hornet Places" tabs.

Politicians are running away from now-fired producer—and big Democrat donor—Harvey Weinstein, Page Six noted. U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand and Cory Booker said they are giving donations their campaigns received from Weinstein to charitable groups, after the movie exec was accused of harassing young female employees for decades. Before Weinstein's firing, attorney Lisa Bloom resigned as his adviser, TheWrap noted.


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