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National roundup: Trans-ban responses, NYC beating, History Month Icons
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2017-08-15

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The American Military Partner Association ( AMPA ) responded to comments made by President Donald Trump regarding the service of transgender troops and his move to ban them from the military, a press release stated. Regarding his recent tweets announcing his ban, Trump said, "As you know, it's been a very complicated issue for the military. It's been a very confusing issue for the military, and I think I'm doing the military a great favor." AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack said, "President Trump's shameful comments are an absolute insult to our nation's armed forces and a slap in the face to the thousands of transgender service members who are willing to risk their lives every day for this country."

A new report co-authored by current and retired professors at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, has projected the cost of discharging the military's transgender troops at $960 million, according to a press release. The report was released in response to the recent tweet by President Trump that the military would no longer "allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military," citing what the president called the "tremendous medical costs" of providing adequate care. The report is at PalmCenter.org/publication/discharging-transgender-troops-cost-960-million/.

New York City is off the legal hook for the brutal beating of a gay Black man who was half-blinded in an attack linked to an orthodox Jewish neighborhood watch group, The New York Daily News reported. The victim, Taj Patterson, told a "troubling tale" about cozy relationships between the NYPD and Williamsburg Shomrim, Brooklyn Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis said; however, the judge added that the claim lacked specifics. Garaufis also tossed claims against two men linked to the December 2013 attack—including one who's serving prison time for his role in the assault.

Equality Forum has announced its LGBT History Month 2017 Icons, according to the organization. Some of the individuals include Major League Baseball's Billy Bean, outgoing Out & Equal CEO Selisse Berry, singer Johnny Mathis, Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza, Gay History Month founder Rodney Wilson, Japanese author Yukio Mishima, AIDS activist Peter Staley, playwright/activist Lorraine Hansberry and Olympian/activist Caitlyn Jenner. See EqualityForum.com .

Lambda Legal and co-counsel Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of three married couples against Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and the City of Houston to preserve health coverage and other benefits for the same-sex spouses of city employees, according to a Lambda Legal press release. Lambda Legal said these benefits are at risk after two taxpayers convinced the Texas Supreme Court that Texas cities could defy the marriage-equality case Obergefell v. Hodges and deny married same-sex couples the rights of marriage. The complaint is at https://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/tx_freeman_20170810_complaint.

A document that reportedly includes details of a Mormon leadership conference reveals how church leaders respond to questions about dealing with gay people, according to NewNowNext.com . MormonLeaks, which posts sensitive LDS documents to encourage more transparency within the church, leaked what it claimed was the minutes of a Utah Layton Priesthood Leadership Conference from February 2014. At one point Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve is asked "How do you help a young man or young woman who comes in and says 'I think I'm gay'?" He responded, "Give them association with manly things. Strong men that represent the ideal of relationships, a man who is vigorous and knows the power he holds."

Chelsea Manning seemed to officially kick off her new life in a profile piece for Vogue's September 125th Anniversary Collector's Edition issue, The Washington Blade noted. Manning, who served seven years in prison for leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, sported a red, one-piece swimsuit for the upcoming issue in a photo shot by Annie Leibovitz. She tweeted the photo along with the caption,"Guess this is what freedom looks like."

Radio host Charlamagne tha God has now condemned violence against transgender people, according to Rolling Stone. On July 31, RollingStone.com published "Janet Mock Speaks Out Following Charlamagne tha God's Controversial Morning Show" after Mock published a first-person piece on Allure.com that denounced remarks made on the Breakfast Club radio show by guest comedian Lil Duval about trans women as "deplorable rhetoric." Charlamagne has since issued a statement saying, in part, "We don't condone those kind of hate crimes at all. Not even a little bit." Rolling Stone retracted the story after it admitted it had mischaracterized Charlemagne's position in its original search headline, conflating comments by Lil Duval.

A St. Paul, Minnesota, couple who alleged that Nova Classical Academy failed to protect their child from persistent gender-based bullying and hostility has reached a $120,000 settlement with the St. Paul charter school, TwinCities.com . The settlement happened three months after the St. Paul Department of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity found probable cause that Nova violated the city's human rights ordinance and issued a right-to-sue letter to the couple, Hannah and David Edwards.

A lifelong Mormon who spoke out in support of the LGBTQ community in a Facebook post has been fired from her job as an adjunct professor of political science at Brigham Young University-Idaho, LGBTQ Nation reported. Ruthie Robertson posted to Facebook on June 5 in honor of Pride Month—prefacing her remarks with the disclaimer that she was not speaking on behalf of her employer or her church. She added that she never discusses the topic in her classroom, other than to say that everyone deserves respect.

A Kentucky man and his transgender wife are suing Amazon, alleging that they endured sustained discrimination and harassment during a year as co-workers at an Amazon warehouse in northern Kentucky, according to a Ledger-Enquirer item. A lawyer working with the couple said the case is notable in part because Amazon, one of the largest corporations in the nation, has a record of strongly supporting gay and transgender rights. The lawsuit—filed in U.S. District Court in Covington, Kentucky—alleges that Dane Lane and Allegra Schawe-Lane were targeted with threats, slurs and sexual harassment by numerous colleagues at their shipping facility.

An Aug. 1 Media Matters study of evening cable and broadcast news found only three significant mentions of anti-LGBTQ abuses by Chechen authorities across the six cable and broadcast networks' evening programming over a four-month period, according to a Media Matters press release. The New York Times broke the story domestically on April 1, citing independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta. From then through July 31, only two outlets—NBC Nightly News and a special evening edition of CNN's The Lead with Jake Tapper—aired full reports on the crisis.

An LGBTQ rights group has asked the Michigan Civil Rights Commission to interpret a current prohibition on sex discrimination to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. The commission sought public feedback through Aug. 15 as it prepared to deal with a request from Equality Michigan, which cited recent federal court cases that had concluded the word "sex" applies to both gender and biological differences that distinguish men from women. People who identify as LGBTQ in Michigan are currently not protected by the 1976 Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, which means they can be legally discriminated against in housing, employment and public accommodations.

President Donald Trump endorsed Alabama Sen. Luther Strange as Strange goes into a contentious GOP primary election this week, Time reported. The presidential endorsement comes as some polls have suggested that Strange is in a tight race with former state chief justice Roy Moore ( backed by actor Chuck Norris, Metro Weekly noted ) and Rep. Mo Brooks, a member of the House Freedom Caucus. Moore has been twice removed from duties as chief justice for defying courts on gay marriage and the public display of the Ten Commandments, and is particularly considered a tough competitor for Strange. The election was slated to take place Aug. 15.

Organizers of North Carolina's gay pride parade and festival have changed the event's schedule in order to accommodate the Jewish community, The Jerusalem Post noted. The N.C. Pride parade had been scheduled for Sept. 30, which this year is Yom Kippur. N.C. Pride organizers announced that it had re-branded the event as N.C. Pride @ Night, a street fair that would start in downtown Durham and in downtown Raleigh at 4 p.m. on Sept. 30 and run until 4 a.m. on Oct. 1. The Pride Parade was cancelled for this year but is scheduled to return in 2018.

The University of Pennsylvania HIV Prevention Research Division among 19 research facilities across the country holding a study on anti-HIV medication, Philadelphia Gay News noted. The division will provide participants with Truvada, a daily oral pill, and Cabotegravir, an anti-HIV drug that can be injected once every eight weeks. Currently, health organizations only recommend Truvada for PrEP ( pre-exposure prophylaxis ), which has been shown to prevent HIV transmission. The facilities aim to see if Cabotegravir works as effectively as Truvada.

In Connecticut, New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart appointed John Board, 23, to lead the city's first-ever Pride parade, which will take place in June 2018, during Gay Pride Month, TheReddingPilot.com noted. Board, a political science major at Western Connecticut State University, got to know Stewart in 2016 after he interned with her through WestConn's Career Success Center Program. He said he first thought of the idea of holding a Pride parade when he was at the New York City LGBT Pride March in June.

Out & Equal Workplace Advocates is searching for its next CEO as Selisse Berry steps out of the role, a press release noted. Reporting to the board of directors, the CEO will provide vision and strategic leadership for Out & Equal. S/he must have a passionate commitment to the mission of Out & Equal, its core values and programs. More information is at http://outandequal.org/ceosearch/.

Relationship expert/columnist Dan Savage has launched the audio series Hot Mic with Dan Savage, a press release noted. Featuring stories about casual hookups to coming out to divorce sex and more ( that Savage selects ), he concludes each story his own commentary and often a story of his own. The series has episodes available via the Audible App, and is wherever podcasts are streamed or downloaded. Among those who have all been featured as storytellers or appeared as guests are Buck Angel, Dan Bucatinsky, Kumail Nanjiani, Michael Yo and Rachel Bloom.

Simone Askew marched into history as the first Black woman to lead the Long Gray Line at the U.S. Military Academy, The Denver Post reported. After an early-morning 12-mile march back to the gray stone academic complex with 1,200 new cadets she led through the rigors of basic training at "Beast Barracks," the 20-year-old international history major from Fairfax, Virginia, assumed duties as first captain of the 4,400-member Corps of Cadets—the highest position in the cadet chain of command at West Point.

A day after Google Chief Executive Sundar Pichai canceled a staff meeting to address gender discrimination, the former employee behind a memo deriding the company's diversity efforts wrote an essay explaining why he thinks he was fired, the Los Angeles Times noted. In a column published Friday on the Wall Street Journal's website, former Google engineer James Damore blames his termination on the firm's "ideological echo chamber." Meanwhile, a graphic composed of the Twitter profiles of several Google employees who were gay, lesbian or transgender began to circulate online, assisted by conservative commentators such as former Breitbart writer Milo Yiannopoulos.

Miss'd America, the Greater Atlantic City GLBT Alliance's signature event, is returning to Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa on Oct. 7 for a sequined-filled evening of glamour, glitz and camp, a press release stated. Among other things, the contestants will take The Event Center stage with Carson Kressley, The Melanie Rice Orchestra, Miss'd America Mimi Imfurst and the Miss'd America Dancers.

Culture and history fans can celebrate the historic connection between Key West and Cuba during the LGBT Art & Cultural REvolution on Sept. 7-13, according to a press release. Key West activities are to take place Sept. 7-9 and include cigar, rum distillery and art gallery tours as well as receptions and a drag show. Subsequently, those wishing to visit Cuba can do so Sept. 10-13. See KeyWestToCubaFest.com .

A clothing company has come under fire after T-shirts appeared online featuring swastikas in a move aimed at reclaiming the symbol as one of "love," BBC News reported. Days after the design appeared, it was replaced with an "anti-swastika" print. In an interview with Dazed and Confused magazine, the company behind the campaign, KA Designs, said that it hoped to "share the beauty of this symbol detached from the hatred associated with it."

There's some "heavy drama" in New Orleans at the National Association of Black Journalists conference after organizers decided to add top Trump aide Omarosa Manigault to a panel, Page Six noted. New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones was scheduled to moderate a panel on police brutality that featured Valerie Castile, Sandra Sterling and the New Yorker's Jelani Cobb. However, with the last-minute addition of Manigault to the conference, Hannah-Jones and Cobb pulled out of the panel, and Bounce TV's Ed Gordon stepped in to moderate.

CNN severed ties with Jeffrey Lord on Thursday, hours after he ignited controversy by tweeting the words "Sieg Heil!" at a prominent liberal activist, CNNMoney reported. "Nazi salutes are indefensible," a CNN spokesperson said in a statement. "Jeffrey Lord is no longer with the network." Lord, a former Reagan administration staffer, had been one of CNN's best-known commentators. He was the first explicitly pro-Donald Trump commentator to join the network, back in August 2015.


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