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National roundup: Trans Ariz. candidate, Kim Davis, Tinder date death
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2017-12-12

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In Arizona, transgender Peoria woman Brianna Westbrook is a Democrat running in Congressional District 8, AZCentral.com noted. However, incumbent U.S. Rep. Trent Franks is stepping down Jan. 31 after allegations of sexual harassment he said stemmed from inquiries to female staffers about becoming surrogate mothers—which may influence Westbrook's chances of becoming the first transgender member of Congress. However, Westbrook is running against Judith McHale and Hiral Tipirneni in the Democratic primary.

David Ermold returned to Kentucky's Rowan County courthouse, nearly two years after Clerk Kim Davis refused to give him a marriage license because he was gay—but this time, it was because he wants Davis' job, The Miami Herald reported. Ermold filed to run for county clerk, hoping to challenge the woman who two years ago told him "God's authority" prohibited her from complying with a U.S. Supreme Court decision that effectively legalized gay marriage nationwide. While Republican Donald Trump overwhelmingly won the county during the 2016 presidential election, nearly all of the local elected officials are Democrats and always have been.

A Nebraska woman has been found dead three weeks after disappearing following a Tinder date with another woman, NewNowNext reported. The family of Sydney Loofe last heard from the 24-year-old on Nov. 15, when she went on her second Tinder date with Bailey Boswell, 23. Authorities say Boswell admitted to being with Loofe in the hours leading up to her disappearance. She and her roommate, 51-year-old Aubrey Trail, are "persons of interest" in Loofe's death.

A panel of current and former military professors has challenged claims by the Trump administration that the Pentagon is not ready to admit transgender applicants, a Palm Center press release stated. The administration made the argument in a declaration filed in federal court seeking to delay the court's order that the Pentagon allow transgender candidates to apply for enlistment by Jan. 1, 2018. The policy memo is at PalmCenter.org/publication/dod-ready-accept-transgender-applicants/.

The U.S. Supreme Court announced it will not review the Lambda Legal case on behalf of Jameka Evans, a Savannah security guard who was harassed at work and forced from her job because she is a lesbian, according to an organizational press release. "By declining to hear this case, the Supreme Court is delaying the inevitable and leaving a split in the circuits that will cause confusion across the country," said Greg Nevins, Employment Fairness Project Director for Lambda Legal. "But this was not a "no" but a "not yet," and rest assured that Lambda Legal will continue the fight, circuit by circuit as necessary, to establish that the Civil Rights Act prohibits sexual orientation discrimination."

In San Francisco, some longtime LGBT residents were not pleased recently when they learned of the newest gay venture in the neighborhood: a queer co-working space backed by tech money and linked to Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, The Guardian noted. Thiel—a gay conservative who donated $1.25 million to Donald Trump and joined the president's transition team—is the sole investor behind Yass, described as a "headquarters and hangout for a new generation of queer people." Yass, set to open in the spring, will provide LGBTQ people who pay membership dues access to events and a co-working space and social club, according to founder/CEO Brian Tran. Yass' board includes Arielle Zuckerberg, a venture capitalist and sister of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Also in California, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon announced that Sen. Toni Atkins is the consensus pick of the Senate Democratic Caucus to succeed him as leader—making her the first LGBTQ individual and first female to hold this position, an Equality California press release noted. Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur said, "Electing role models like Senator Atkins is important to the LGBTQ community because it sends a clear message to our community across the country, particularly LGBTQ youth, that LGBTQ people can achieve anything."

Before the U.S. Senate election that took place in Alabama on Dec. 12, Nathan Mathis—Alabama farmer who lost his lesbian daughter to suicide in 1995—stood outside of Republican candidate Roy Moore's rally and spoke out against the candidate's homophobic comments, Mashable noted. "Somebody needs to speak up," Mathis said. "I was anti-gay myself. I said bad things to my daughter myself, which I regret. I can't take back what happened to my daughter."

On Jan. 25, 2018, the Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project ( BLMP ), a project of the Transgender Law Center, will host a day-long workshop and community building event for 20-25 members of this community, primarily for those based in the D.C./Maryland/Virginia area and others in surrounding cities/states, according to a press relelease. The goal of this gathering—part of the Creating Change Conference happening that week—is to build community, engage in skills-building and create a shared vision. Email ola@transgenderlawcenter.org for more information.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee—who became the city's first Asian-American mayor when he was named to serve out the remainder of Gavin Newsom's term in January 2011—has died suddenly at age 65, CBS News reported. Board of Supervisors President London Breed becomes the acting mayor, effectively immediately, according to the city charter. "We are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee," said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin in a statement. "Mayor Lee was a tireless advocate for LGBTQ equality who worked to make San Francisco a stronger, more vibrant, and inclusive community. As the first Asian-American mayor in the city's history, he was both a trailblazer and a dedicated public servant admired by millions. Our hearts go out to his family, friends and all those grieving his loss today."

While debating a land-use bill at a committee meeting, Pennsylvania state Rep. Matt Bradford momentarily laid his hand on the left forearm of conservative Rep. Daryl Metcalfe—who reacted to the gesture, The Washington Post reported. "Look, I'm a heterosexual. I have a wife, I love my wife, I don't like men—as you might. But stop touching me all the time," Metcalfe told Bradford, who then began laughing. Pennsylvania's first openly gay legislator, Rep. Brian Sims, sits on the state government committee and turned to Facebook to express his anger toward Metcalfe, whom he called the Pennsylvania House Republican Caucus's "head bigot." In the wake of Metcalfe's comments, the Pennsylvania Democratic Party called for his resignation.

A cab driver kicked out a gay couple for kissing, with a ruling ordering the taxi company to pay a fine, Gay Star News reported. Mark Seaman kissed his partner on the top of the head as they departed from Philadelphia International Airport in December 2009. Seamen then recalled the driver saying, "You cannot do that in here" before pulling over and telling them to get out. Seaman filed a complaint within a week of the incident and, eight years later, the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations ordered PHL Taxi to pay Seaman $500.

Lesbians Who Tech, a global community of more than 30,000 LGBTQ women in technology and their allies, announced Sheryl Sandberg—Facebook chief operating officer and founder of Leanin.org and OptionB.org—as a keynote speaker for the 5th Annual Lesbians Who Tech + Allies Summit, a press release noted. The summit, which will run March 1-3, 2018, is expected to host more than 5,000 queer women, making it the largest LGBTQ professional conference anywhere in the world. Other notable keynote speakers include Kara Swisher, co-founder of Recode, and Bozoma Saint John, who joined Uber as chief brand officer in June 2017.

Time magazine named its Person of the Year, paying tribute to the movement started a couple months ago when members of media and entertainment sparked the #MeToo movement that's now being heard round the world, Deadline reported. In naming The Silence Breakers its Person of the Year, Time interviewed dozens of people from many industries "all of whom had summoned extraordinary personal courage to speak out about sexual harassment at their jobs" as the hashtag provides an "umbrella of solidarity for millions of people" to come forward.

Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board ( L.A. Tourism ), the official tourism marketing organization for the City of Los Angeles, announced its global partnership with the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association ( IGLTA ), a press release noted. As global partner, L.A. Tourism will directly engage with IGLTA members and LGBTQ consumers through marketing opportunities, including promotions via the IGLTA website and the IGLTA Annual Global Convention ( which Los Angeles hosted in 2015 ) as well as participate in LGBTQ market research programs.

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman released updated guidance—"Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Know Your Rights"—to inform New Yorkers about the laws that protect them from sexual harassment at work, a press release noted. The guidance provides victims of sexual harassment with information on the appropriate agencies to consult should they seek to file a complaint or take legal action, along with helplines for further support. The document is at https://ag.ny.gov/sites/default/files/sexual_harrassment_brochure.pdf.

A top-secret "roast" of Matt Lauer took place in 2008, Page Six noted. The Friars Club roast took place at the New York Hilton and was attended by everyone from future President Donald Trump to TV legend Norman Lear to a constellation of New York's media elite including Brian Williams, Diane Sawyer, Nancy O'Dell and Howard Stern. "What's with all the small-d— jokes? It was fun to look over and see Ann Curry laughing … like she doesn't know how big my d— really is," Lauer said, wrapping up an event that the Village Voice called "three hours of d— jokes."

Morning Joe's Mika Brzezinski announced that yet another contributor has been suspended over allegations of sexual harassment, according to Deadline. This time it's former Tennessee Rep. Harold Ford Jr., who has been fired from Morgan Stanley after the allegations were made. MSNBC and Ford, a frequent guest, have agreed he will be off the network pending investigation. Ford denies the charge from the reporter.

Great Autos of Yesteryear is the largest gay and lesbian car club on the West Coast, with almost 1,000 members owning more than 2,600 cars—and it is inviting new members to join, LGBTWeekly.com noted. This organization was formed in 1983 by veteran car collectors Ted Davidson and Herb Rothman who, although active in other clubs, felt the gay community should have a club all its own. See GreatAutos.org .

GayCities announced the winners for The 2017 Best of GayCities Awards, with San Francisco taking gold honors as the "Most Welcoming City" of 2017—and more than 48,000 voters participated, weighing in on 13 categories, Queerty noted. A few of the other winners included Key West, Florida ( "City That Makes You Happy" ); Provincetown, Massachusetts ( "Fun in the Sun" ); and Chicago's Boystown and West Hollywood, California ( tie for "Best Gayborhood" ).


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