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National roundup: Tyler Clementi, Victory Fund, Republican busted
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times.
2017-11-20

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At The Tyler Clementi Foundation's Upstander Legacy Celebration, Mitchell Gold, co-founder and co-chair of Faith in America, and Jane Clementi, co-founder and co-chair of the Tyler Clementi Foundation, announced that their organizations will be joining forces to work together to end religious-based bullying, a press release noted. In part, Gold said, "Now more than ever, as anti-LGBTQ religious fundamentalists have taken over our highest political offices, we must protect LGBTQ youth from the lifetime of harm caused by faith-based discrimination and rejection from their families and faith communities."

Victory Fund ( the only national organization dedicated to electing LGBTQ leaders to public office ) endorsed three candidates in their races for governor —with the potential to triple the number of LGBTQ governors in the nation in 2018, a press release noted. The endorsees include bisexual Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, the first openly LGBTQ elected governor in U.S. history who is up for re-election; U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, who would become the first openly LGBTQ governor in Colorado; and Maryland state Sen. Rich Madaleno, who would become the first openly LGBTQ governor in his state.

Victory Fund has also endorsed nine candidates in their races for Congress—five of them non-incumbents that could move the balance of the U.S. House toward a pro-LGBTQ majority, according to a press release. Non-incumbents include Lauren Baer ( FL-18 ), Angie Craig ( MN-2 ), Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis ( NM-1 ), Gina Ortiz Jones ( TX-23 ) and Florida state Rep. David Richardson ( FL-26 ); incumbents include U.S. Reps. David Cicilline ( RI-1 ), Sean Patrick Maloney ( NY-18 ), Mark Pocan ( WI-2 ) and Mark Takano ( CA-41 ).

A married Republican lawmaker with a long history of campaigning against LGBT rights has resigned after being caught having sex with another man in his office, PinkNews reported. Wes Goodman, a congressman from Ohio, has trumpeted his support for "a committed natural marriage," which he defined as a heterosexual union. Goodman, who is also anti-abortion and pro-guns—as a member of the Buckeye Firearms Association and National Rifle Association—has admitted he had consensual sex with a man in his Ohio office.

Three gay men investigated a man who was sending racist messages on Grindr, according to an LGBTQ Nation item that cited The Washington Blade. The men found that he was a Trump supporter and an intern for U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson ( R-SC ), an extremely anti-LGBTQ lawmaker perhaps best known for shouting "You lie!" at Barack Obama during the 2009 State of the Union address.

When the two new members of the Palm Springs City Council are sworn in next month, every person on the panel will be a member of the LGBTQ community, the L.A. Times reported. Transgender woman Lisa Middleton and bisexual woman Christy Holstege each won about 30% of the citywide vote to beat four other candidates and fill two vacant seats on the council. The pair will join three gay men on the five-person body.

A California man has been convicted of torturing and killing his girlfriend's 8-year-old son, as the prosecution argued he was driven by his belief that the boy was gay, The Huffington Post noted. Isauro Aguirre was found guilty of first-degree murder in the May 2013 death of Gabriel Fernandez. A jury must now decide if Aguirre, 37, should receive the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole for murdering Fernandez.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) Foundation released "Promising Practices for Serving Transgender & Non-Binary Foster & Adoptive Parents," a new guide designed to help foster care and adoption agencies recruit, certify and support qualified transgender and non-binary adults to become resource parents for young people who need safe, welcoming homes, a press release noted. The guide offers information on inclusive policies, practices, terminology, and the current legal landscape for LGBTQ prospective parents. It also provides safe and affirming techniques for trans-inclusive data collection, recruitment, and training for agency staff and volunteers. It's release coincides with National Adoption Month, which is marked every November. See http://hrc-assets.s3-website-us-east-1.amazonaws.com//files/assets/resources/HRC_ACAF_Promising_Practices_Serving_Transgender_Non-Binary_Parents.pdf.

Equality California announced the endorsement of what it's called "four strong pro-equality candidates for statewide offices," according to a press release. They are Fiona Ma ( state treasurer ), Betty Yee ( state comptroller ), Alex Padilla ( secretary of state ) and Tony Thurmond ( superintendent of public instruction ).

National Center for Lesbian Rights ( NCLR ) Equal Justice Works Fellow Alexander Chen was named one of Forbes 30 Under 30 today for his legal work to expand the rights of transgender youth, a press release noted. At NCLR, Chen works with Legal Director Shannon Minter, one of the transgender attorneys leading the fight against Trump's trans military ban. Before his work at NCLR, Chen clerked for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and served as the first openly transgender editor of the Harvard Law Review. Chen is also a founding member and is current secretary of the National Trans Bar Association.

A 26-year-old lesbian with little financial backing won Oklahoma's Senate District 37, Tulsa World reported. Allison Ikley-Freeman's victory over Republican Brian O'Hara continued a string of Democratic special-election upsets over the past two years. ( Incumbent Republican Dan Newberry left office. ) It gives Democrats three special-election victories in predominantly Republican districts in the Tulsa area in the past two years, including two this year.

A 19-year-old Washington, D.C., man charged with intentionally hitting a transgender woman with the stolen car he was driving on July 5 pled guilty in D.C. Superior Court to a charge of aggravated assault while armed in connection with the incident, The Washington Blade reported. Police and prosecutors said Startwaune Anderson, who was 18 at the time of the incident, allegedly hit Boo Boo Washington, 26, with a 2014 Ford Focus hatchback vehicle he stole earlier that day. Washington suffered critical injuries including bleeding on the brain, multiple rib fractures, a lacerated spleen and a punctured lung. Anderson agreed, under advice from his attorney, to accept prosecutors' request for a sentence of between 60 to 72 months in prison.

Robert "Bob" Bonitati—a longtime government-affairs specialist in Washington, D.C., who worked as White House special assistant to President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s and served as a behind-the-scenes adviser to Log Cabin Republicans in the 1990s—died Oct. 31 in Tampa, Florida, at age 79, The Washington Blade reported. A write-up about his career prepared by friends Phil Sparrow and Robert Kabel said, among other things, that Bonitati was with President Reagan at a speaking event just moments before the chief executive was shot in 1981.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) has issued a release aiming a bright spotlight on five federal judicial nominees—Jeff Mateer, Damien Schiff, Leonard Steven Grasz, Mark Norris and Stephen Schwartz—who "could seriously threaten the future of LGBTQ equality in America." For example, in a 2015 speech titled "The Church and Homosexuality," Mateer objected to a transgender student using a restroom consistent with her gender identity, saying, "I mean it just really shows you how Satan's plan is working and the destruction that's going on."

Anti-gay protesters on University of Delaware's campus were met with a crowd of students-protesting them, DelawareOnline.com noted. Campus and Newark police secured the seven protesters in an square with metal barriers to ensure their safety, while students and LGBT-rights advocates circled the protesters with gay pride flags and chants.

In Philadelphia, after a lengthy court battle, convicted gay-basher Kathryn Knott and her anti-gay friends have finally settled a civil suit filed against them by the gay couple they brutally attacked three years ago, Queerty reported. Victims Andrew Haught and Zachary Hesse were seeking more than $500,000 from a total of 10 counts of assault and battery against Knott as well as cohorts Kevin Harrigan and Philip Williams, according to the Philly Voice.

Family Acceptance Project ( FAP )—the world's first research, intervention, education and policy initiative that helps diverse families learn to support their LGBTQ children to prevent serious health risks and promote well-being—is marking its 15th anniversary, a press release noted. Dr. Caitlin Ryan and Dr. Rafael Diaz of San Francisco State University founded FAP in 2002. For more info, visit familyproject.sfsu.edu .

Philadelphia Gay News ( PGN ) Editor Jen Colletta is stepping down, the publication noted. After 10 years with PGN, she will leave next month to work as the Montgomery County government's digital content manager. Colletta started at PGN as a staff writer in 2007 and was promoted to editor in 2012; publisher Mark Segal called her a "delight."

A TV host and sports broadcaster accused Sen. Al Franken ( D-Minn. ) of kissing and groping her without her consent in 2006—and provided a photo as evidence, The Hill reported. Leeann Tweeden accused Franken of groping her, without her consent, while she was asleep. The incident happened in December 2006, she said, when she and Franken, then a comedian, were on a USO Tour to "entertain our troops." Franken has apologized, according to TheWrap; he stated, "As to the photo, it was clearly intended to be funny but wasn't. I shouldn't have done it." However, a second woman has come forward with accusations against Franken.

The company that makes Cards Against Humanity is trying to prevent President Trump's proposed border wall from being built by purchasing a plot of vacant land along the country's border, The Hill reported. "Donald Trump is a preposterous golem who is afraid of Mexicans. He is so afraid that he wants to build a twenty-billion dollar wall that everyone knows will accomplish nothing," a statement said on the website Cards Against Humanity Saves America.


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