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National roundup: Summit canceled, GLAAD nominees, gay Iranian detained
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2017-02-01

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC ) canceled a summit dedicated to LGBT young people, Advocate.com reported. An unidentified source who spoke with Talking Points Memo said the conference, originally planned for December, was a "big deal" that would have outlined a five-year agenda "to address the health and well-being of LGBTQ youth." The date was pushed back to Jan. 12, and then fell off the calendar. Lola Russell, a CDC spokeswoman, claimed that the conference was nixed due to legal reasons.

Funders for LGBTQ Issues released a new infographic, Philanthropy OUTlook: LGBTQ Criminalization and Criminal Justice Reform ( 2017 ), a press release noted. The infographic explores the scope and character of funding to address LGBTQ criminalization and criminal justice reform. It finds that the Elton John AIDS Foundation, Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice and Arcus Foundation are among the top grantmakers addressing LGBTQ criminalization and criminal-justice reform. The report is at https://www.lgbtfunders.org/research/?philanthropy-outlook-lgbtq-criminalization-criminal-justice-reform.

GLAAD announced the nominees for the 28th Annual GLAAD Media Awards, presented by Delta Air Lines, Hilton, Ketel One Vodka, Liberty Mutual Insurance, and Wells Fargo. Nominees include Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe winner Moonlight; The Ellen DeGeneres Show; singers Elton John, Against Me! and Frank Ocean ( for his album Blonde ); the documentaries Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four and The Trans List; comic book The Woods; The New York Times; blogs Mombian and My Fabulous Disease; and news programs The Rachel Maddow Show and Anderson Cooper 360. The GLAAD Media Awards ceremonies will be held in Los Angeles on April 1 at The Beverly Hilton, and in New York on May 6 at the New York Hilton Midtown.

A gay Iranian man who has a green card and works in the San Francisco Bay area as a chemical engineer was detained by U.S. Customs agents Jan. 29 while disembarking from a cruise ship in Fort Lauderdale at the conclusion of a seven-day gay cruise, The Washington Blade reported. Maysam Sodagari, 32, who has lived in the U.S. for the past nine years, is believed to be the first known case of a cruise ship passenger getting caught up in President Donald Trump's controversial executive order on immigration issued Jan. 27. Sodagari was eventually allowed to go back home.

A Senate committee killed a bill that sought to update Virginia's laws that prohibit same-sex couples from marrying or entering a civil union, On Top Magazine noted. According to the Washington Blade, the Senate Courts of Justice Committee tabled the bill indefinitely with a 10-to-two vote. Prefiled over the summer by openly gay state Sen. Adam Ebbin of Alexandria, Senate Bill 782 sought to repeal two statutory laws.

However, a bill that seeks to protect opponents of marriage equality has cleared a major hurdle in Virginia, On Top noted. According to CBS affiliate WTKR, the General Laws Committee approved House Bill 2025; the bill, proposed by Republican Delegate Nicholas Freitas, now heads to the full House of Delegates. Freitas' bill protects individuals who refuse to participate in a marriage ceremony based on their "religious belief or moral conviction that marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman" from criminal or civil liability.

William A. Norris—a former federal appeals court judge who wrote an iconic ruling on gay-rights long before same-sex marriage entered the lexicon—has died at age 89, The L.A. Times reported. While serving on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, William Norris, who was appointed by President Carter, authored a majority decision that said gays had the same constitutional protections as racial minorities. The case, Watkins v. United States Army, overturned the mandatory discharge of Staff Sgt. Perry J. Watkins for acknowledging he was gay. Norris' ruling has been described as the first to use an equal-protection analysis in the context of gay rights.

Roxane Gay said that she has pulled a book deal with Simon & Schuster in response to the publisher's decision to work with Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, according to On Top Magazine. In a statement given to BuzzFeed, Gay said that she could not, in good conscience, work with Simon & Schuster because they had given Yiannopoulos a platform to spread his "inelegant hate." "I was supposed to turn the book in this month and I kept thinking about how egregious it is to give someone like Milo a platform for his blunt, inelegant hate and provocation," Gay said.

Openly gay actor Chris Salvatore, 31, was profiled on NBC News about his kindness toward his elderly neighbor, Out noted. The news station caught up with Salvatore, who appeared in the Eating Out films and is a model and fashion designer, and his neighbor-turned-roommate Norma Cook. Cook, 89, has been diagnosed with leukemia and requires almost around-the-clock care. He's posted pictures of the pair of them on Instagram, and Cook has appeared in several of his web videos.

A gay activist from New York has announced plans for a mass LGBT protest after being inspired by hundreds of thousands of women who marched in Washington, D.C., recently, The Independent reported. David Bruinooge, from Brooklyn, posted plans on Facebook for a march in the capital on June 11, in response to fears within the LGBT community that President Donald Trump's administration threatens equality rights. The last major LGBT protest in Washington was the National Equality March in 2009, during which hundreds of thousands of participants called for full equality for LGBT people in all 50 states.

Campaigners have said that a week after U.S. President Donald Trump was sworn into office, the absence of gay-rights issues from the White House website was a worrying sign, Reuters reported. On the day Trump was sworn in on Jan. 20, references to the LGBT community were purged from the White House website. "It's a really bad sign," said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. "At this point we have to assume they're hostile to us." During his campaign Trump held up an LGBTQ rainbow flag during a rally, but his vice president, Mike Pence, has expressed staunch opposition to gay rights, as have some of Trump's cabinet picks.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) Foundation announced it is launching the second year of the HIV 360 Fellowship program—an intensive, capacity-building fellowship program for young leaders at the front lines of the fight to end the spread and stigma of HIV, a press release noted. The new class of fellows will receive training and mentorship, as well as coaching in communications, leadership, fundraising, and other aspects of successful nonprofit management and community mobilization—all focused on strengthening their own community organizations and initiatives. The program has been made possible by the support of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

The Texas Supreme Court has agreed to hear a Houston case challenging the legalization of same-sex marriage, The Houston Chronicle reported. A lawsuit is seeking to halt same-sex spousal benefits offered to Houston's municipal employees. The court originally refused to hear the case, but state Republican leaders pushed back, saying it could serve as a platform to help lead the way toward overturning the U.S. Supreme Court's legalization of same-sex marriage.

A tentative trial date is set for a Sioux Falls, South Dakota, man accused of murdering a transgender woman on New Year's Day, KDLT.com reported. The trial for Joshua LeClaire, 25, will start on April 1. He is accused of stabbing 28-year-old Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow to death on New Year's Day in an apartment complex.

An Idaho man has agreed to plead guilty to a federal hate crime in the death of a gay man in exchange for a chance at a 28-year sentence instead of life in prison, The New York Daily News reported. Kelly Schneider, 23, acknowledges in court documents he lured victim Steven Nelson to a remote area and used steel-toed boots to kick Nelson roughly two-dozen times while Nelson begged for his life. The plea agreement document filed in Boise's U.S. District Court outlines the details of the crime.

At Philadelphia's Temple University, a male student reported being attacked by a man who shouted an anti-gay slur at him, The Temple News reported. The student was walking with a group of friends when he said an intoxicated man walked up to the group with two women. The intoxicated man berated the student's friends, then walked over to him and pushed him from behind to the ground and kicked him in the back, yelling "f****t" at him. The student, whose name The Temple News has withheld for his protection, said he believes it's possible he was singled out by his attacker for being a bisexual man. He said he believes this because his attacker targeted him instead of his straight friends.

Ridesharing service Lyftannounced it would contribute $1 million to the ACLU in the wake of President Donald Trump's executive order aimed at blocking refugees, Syrians and citizens from seven Muslim nations, AJC.com reported. A federal judge temporarily blocked part of the executive order on immigration late Saturday night in response to a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU estimates the stay will affect 100 to 200 people detained at U.S. airports or in transit, but government lawyers could not confirm the figure.

In California, thousands have signed a petition demanding that Clovis Unified School District reinstate the production of a play at Buchanan High that students say was abruptly canceled because a main character is gay, The Fresno Bee reported. The production was of No Exit, written in the 1940s by Nobel Prize-winning playwright Jean-Paul Sartre. The play features a lesbian postal clerk who turns a woman against her husband.

Friends of Michael Alig are reportedly worried that his post-prison life is starting to mirror his "party monster" days that landed him behind bars, Page Six noted. Pals say the club promoter—who was convicted of manslaughter for the 1996 killing of Angel Melendez—has been hanging with his old crew, including DJ Keoki, who was arrested recently for drug possession. Alig, who served 17 years and was released in 2014, told Page Six he hasn't been completely sober; he said he did ketamine—a drug he's said he was on when he attacked Melendez—but claims he did it to help a friend.

On Jan. 27, long-term survivors gathered in South Florida to share their experiences and strategies, according to SouthFloridaGayNews.com . It was part of The Reunion Project—a weekend of learning, networking and socializing focused on long-term survivors who are thriving with HIV/AIDS. The Reunion Project was founded in 2015 by long-term HIV survivors Matt Sharp and Jeff Berry, who recognized that there was an entire group of individuals who had survived the epidemic, but in many ways have been left behind by the community that they helped to build.

The LGBT Health Policy & Practice graduate certificate program at The George Washington University has announced its expanded scholarship program for the 2017-18 academic year, a press release noted. For the first time, the school will offer funding for students on the two-year completion track. Last year, it awarded 15 scholarships totaling more than $77,000, including three full-tuition scholarships.

The NBA and Kaiser Permanente held the second annual Total Health Forum on Thursday, Jan. 26, a press release noted. Leaders across health, sports and community discussed a variety of health and wellness issues affecting families across the country. Among those involved in the forum were Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, NBA All-Star Chris Paul, two-time WNBA champion Sue Bird and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.


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