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  WINDY CITY TIMES

National roundup: Sally Ride, Doug Jones' gay son, drag-queen murder
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2017-12-19

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The U.S. Postal Service announced that Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, will be honored with a postage stamp next year, according to NewNowNext.com . The commemorative Forever stamp joins a four-stamp step paying tribute to advancement in science, technology, engineering and math ( a.k.a. STEM ). Other stamps launching in 2018 includes ones celebrating Lena Horne, Illinois, bioluminescent lifeforms, Mister Rogers and John Lennon. Ride's widow, Tam O'Shaughnessy, said "it was a great pleasure" to work on the stamp.

Carson Jones—the openly gay son of newly elected U.S. senator Doug Jones—"couldn't be prouder" of his dad, who beat the anti-LGBT Republican Roy Moore in a special election on Dec. 12, The Advocate noted. "I am obviously thrilled with my dad's victory," said Carson. "We have been overwhelmed by the support of so many people that made this happen. Alabama made a really big statement that unity wins out. I couldn't be prouder of him or my home state!" Doug Jones has spoken out against President Trump's ban on trasngender troops, and is said to be a supporter of same-sex marriage.

A suspect has been arrested in the death of a popular Dallas drag queen who was fatally shot, NewNowNext.com noted. Fayaka Dunbar, 26, was charged with capital murder in connection with the death of Jason Bradley, known as drag performer Bianca Davenport Starr, at Bradley's home near Texas Christian University. Police believe the two met on social media and that the incident was a "possible robbery gone bad." Starr performed frequently at Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth, and was Miss Dallas Pride 2017 and Miss Texas State At Large 2017.

The transgender community is mourning the loss of yet another of its members after 26-year-old Brandi Seals was gunned down in Southeast Houston's Sunnyside neighborhood, Metro Weekly reported. Nationally known transgender activist and blogger Monica Roberts, who is based in Houston, reported on Seals' death on her TransGriot blog, taking issue with initial reporting that misgendered and misnamed Seals. The Human Rights Campaign noted that Seals was the 28th transgender or non-binary person killed in 2017, surpassing the number of transgender deaths for all of 2016.

Nathan Mathis, an Alabama peanut farmer who said his lesbian daughter committed suicide in 1995, told NBC News that he hopes Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Doug Jones' victory improves how politicians talk about gay Americans. Mathis stood outside a Roy Moore rally, imploring voters not to vote for the GOP candidate who has frequently espoused anti-LGBT views. Mathis said that he had struggled with his decision to protest, but ultimately credited Jones' victory to Democrats and Republicans who wrote in other candidates.

Victory Fund, which is dedicated to electing LGBTQ leaders to public office, endorsed three candidates the organizations has called historic, per a press release. Assemblyman Nelson Araujo, running for Nevada secretary of state, would become the first openly LGBTQ person to win statewide office in Nevada and one of just four openly LGBTQ statewide elected officials in the United States. New Hampshire Executive Councilor Chris Pappas, running for U.S. Congress, would become the first openly LGBTQ person elected to Congress from the state, and Judge John Arrowood would become the first openly LGBTQ person to win a statewide race in North Carolina if elected to the Court of Appeals.

A 27-year-old California man was sentenced to life in prison for murdering his wealthy older boyfriend in 2015—a crime the judge called "shockingly evil," People.com noted. David Meza was convicted in May of domestic violence resulting in murder and conspiracy to obstruct justice in the slaying of 51-year-old Texas retiree Jake Merendino, who was found stabbed 24 times with his throat slit in a ravine near Rosarito, Mexico, on May 2, 2015. At the time of the murder, authorities said Meza, an online escort and former porn actor, was living a double life that Merendino knew nothing about: Meza had a pregnant girlfriend, Taylor Langston, in San Diego whom he later enlisted to help cover up his crime.

A massive ( 542 pages ) higher-education reform bill proposed by House Republicans would write anti-LGBTQ discrimination into the law in the disguise of "religious freedom," according to ThinkProgress. H.R. 4508, authored by Rep. Virginia Foxx ( R-North Carolina ), contains two provisions reportedly designed to enable discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity—even if it doesn't refer to those specific terms. For example, a section called "Campus Access for Religious Groups"—in "Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform" ( the PROSPER Act )—would add a new provision to the law that would guarantee that student groups can refuse membership or leadership positions on the basis of their identities.

A gay inmate who uses a man's name but identifies as a woman has lost a summary judgment challenge in Indiana's Northern District Court, where the inmate alleged she was intentionally assigned to medical segregation as a punitive measure, The Indiana Lawyer reported. After being booked into the Lake County Jail as a pretrial detainee in September 2012, Keith McCoy—who is gay and identifies as a woman, yet claims she is not transgender—was placed in administrative segregation on the jail's medical floor. Assistant warden Jose Menchaca alleged he made the decision to place McCoy in administrative segregation as a form of protection.

A Roman Catholic priest came out to his parishioners Sunday and to the rest of the world in a first-person column in National Catholic Reporter, USA Today noted. The Rev. Gregory Greiten, of Milwaukee's St. Bernadette Catholic church, said he was breaking the silence of gay men in the clergy so he could reclaim his own voice. "I am Greg. I am a Roman Catholic priest. And, yes, I am gay!" he told churchgoers Dec. 17; he received a standing ovation.

CNN host Anderson Cooper is claiming he was hacked after his Twitter account responded to a tweet from President Trump by calling the president a "pathetic loser," The Hill reported. Trump , on Dec. 13, tweeted that GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore worked hard in the Alabama special election, but that the "deck was stacked against him." Cooper's Twitter account said in response: "Oh Really? You endorsed him you tool! Pathetic loser." Following the tweet, CNN Communications tweeted that someone had gained access to Cooper's account.

A former Oklahoma City mayor and member of the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents was criticized for comparing gay people to pedophiles and politicians who've recently resigned amid allegations of sexual misconduct, The Vindicator noted, citing the Associated Press. Kirk Humphreys made the comments during a local TV public-affairs show on KFOR-TV. An alumni group has called for his resignation, while the student-body president encouraged the campus to voice its opinion on Humphreys' "ignorant" words. University of Oklahoma President David Boren released a statement saying Humphreys was not speaking on behalf of the university and the school was committed to diversity and inclusiveness.

The White House cancelled two of President Trump's own judicial picks after senators raised questions about their fitness to serve on the federal courts, The Washington Times noted. Neither Brett Talley, who failed to disclose his ties to the White House chief counsel's office and appeared to blog in support of the Ku Klux Klan, nor Jeff Mateer, who called transgender children part of "Satan's plan," will proceed. Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said of Mateer in a press release, "Such a person is not worthy of a lifetime appointment to the federal judiciary." She also reacted to the confirmation of Don Willett, saying, "He has a clear conservative bias and a disturbing record not only on sex discrimination, but also on LGBTQ rights, voting rights, equal opportunity, and affirmative action."

The Leadership Conference Education Fund issued a paper, "Misinformation Nation: The Threat to America's Federal Data and Civil Rights," which highlights the importance of data and the present threats to civil rights-related data collection, per a press release. According to the release, "The federal government collects, analyzes, and publishes a tremendous amount of statistical information on the U.S. population on everything from population size and distribution, to wages and employment, to housing conditions and housing finance, to health and medical needs, to crime rates." The report is at http://civilrightsdocs.info/pdf/policy/Data-Policy-Brief.pdf.

The Supreme Court of Hawai'i heard oral argument in the case of C.C. v. D.D., a Lambda Legal press release noted. In the case, Lambda Legal is urging the court to uphold a lower-court ruling that—just like different-sex spouses—same-sex spouses must be treated as the presumed parents of children born during their marriage, with equal rights and equal responsibilities, including legal parentage and child support. The case involves a dispute between a married same-sex couple regarding whether the non-biological mother, C.C., is a legal parent to their child and thus responsible for paying child support.

San Diego LGBT Pride announced that, due to the success of this year's Pride event, it donated $104,182 of its proceeds back to 51 LGBT-serving organizations, a press release noted. Over the years, San Diego Pride's community contributions have exceeded $2 million, which have been distributed to dozens of organizations through Pride Community Grants, sponsorships and event support. The 2017 Pride grants help fund LGBT youth programs, sobriety services, LGBTQ arts and culture, communities of color, programs that support our transgender community, LGBTQ health and human services, and other resources.

In Maine, Bangor-area School District will pay $45,000 to settle sexual-discrimination claims by the parents of a former student who alleged district officials did nothing about the years of bullying their daughter suffered over her sexual orientation, The Morning Call noted. The lawsuit, filed in federal court in 2015 on behalf of Russell and Tammy Bittenbender, claimed their daughter was called "a lesbian" and "gay," among other terms she found offensive beginning when she was in third grade at Five Points Elementary School. The harassment continued for five years, according to the lawsuit.

E.W. Jackson, a Republican candidate for Virginia's U.S. Senate seat, expressed regret for any anti-gay rhetoric in an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch in which Jackson attempted to dispel what he feels are misconceptions about his conservative beliefs, Metro Weekly noted. Jackson previously ran for lieutenant governor in 2013, losing to Ralph Northam in the general election. During that campaign, Jackson came under intense criticism for controversial statements he made about LGBTQ rights, abortion, and a host of other social issues. Some of those statements included calling gay people "very sick" and "perverted."

A jury took less than an hour to convict former New Orleans scout leader and teacher Dennis Mischler of sexually abusing a young male family member and possessing child pornography at his home near Covington, Louisiana, according to NOLA.com . State Judge August Hand set sentencing for Feb. 22. The nine-woman, three-man jury returned its verdict in about 57 minutes, convicting Mischler of molestation of a juvenile, two counts of oral sexual battery and 54 counts of possession of child pornography.

In Ohio, Youngstown State University student Albert Maruna was caught red-handed and arrested after he allegedly attempted to have sex with a 15-year-old boy who turned out to be an undercover officer, Cleveland19.com reported. Austintown police say Maruna, 22, started chatting through an online dating app with an undercover officer; Maruna later used graphic language and sent nude photos. According to police, both agreed to get together on Tuesday, Dec. 12, and Maruna would bring lubricant, chicken Alfredo and Sprite.

A Kentucky state lawmaker has apparently committed suicide following accusations that surfaced in reports by the investigative arm of Louisville Public Media—the most serious of which was the alleged sexual assault a 17-year-old girl in the basement of the church where he served as pastor, NPR reported. Rep. Dan Johnson, 57, was found dead beside his automobile on a bridge over the Salt River in Mt. Washington. Authorities had been searching for him since a post on his Facebook page, since removed, that appeared to be a suicide note..

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Lt. Gov. Tina Smith to replace Sen. Al Franken as the state's next U.S. senator, StarTribune.com reported. Smith plans to run for the seat in a 2018 special election, the sources said. Franken announced his intention to resign after he was accused of improper conduct toward more than half a dozen women.

Omarosa Manigault—the former Apprentice contestant and one of President Donald Trump's advisers—is leaving her White House position next month, Variety noted. "Omarosa Manigault Newman resigned ... to pursue other opportunities," said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. "Her departure will not be effective until Jan. 20, 2018. We wish her the best in future endeavors and are grateful for her service." Manigault was assistant to the president and director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison.

House Speaker Paul Ryan says he's not leaving Congress anytime soon, CBS News noted. The Wisconsin Republican was asked about rumors suggesting he might leave his job soon after the GOP passes a rewrite of the U.S. tax code. Ryan spoke as other media outlets published reports speculating that he would make this term his last or even quit within weeks. Ryan took the job after former Speaker John Boehner of Ohio stepped aside abruptly in 2015.


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