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National roundup: Vogue endorsement, Gwen Araujo, influential teens
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2016-10-25

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NFor the first time ever, Vogue magazine has endorsed a presidential candidate—and it's Hillary Clinton. In part, the publication stated, "We understand that Clinton has not always been a perfect candidate, yet her fierce intelligence and considerable experience are reflected in policies and positions that are clear, sound, and hopeful. ... Her years as Secretary of State have shown that she understands how to strengthen alliances abroad, respond to global crises, and continue American leadership in the world. She is forceful in her support for LGBTQ rights, including an end to discrimination against transgender people."

One of the men convicted in the brutal 2002 murder of transgender teen Gwen Araujo has been approved for parole after serving 14 years in prison, LGBTQ Nation noted, citing NBC Bay Area. Jose Merel ( sentenced to 15 years to life ) was convicted of second-degree murder in the 2002 beating death; he and another young man killed the 17-year-old after discovering she was transgender. Araujo's death led California to pass the Gwen Araujo Justice for Victims Act in 2006, which limited the use of the "gay/trans panic" defense.

Children's magazine Highlights excludes LGBTQ parents from its publication, claiming that families across the country are not ready to embrace images of loving same-sex families, according to a press release from Our Family Coalition and Family Equality. After parents Kristina Wertz and Kara Desiderio posted their concerns on the Highlights Magazine Facebook page, the magazine representatives called the same-sex family a "situation" and noted their staff still does not know how to introduce same-sex parents to an audience that is "new" to LGBTQ parents. Bowing to pressure, the magazine issued another statement that showed support for LGBTQ inclusion in their magazines, but stopped just short of confirming it.

Transgender student-rights activist Gavin Grimm, CoverGirl's first "cover boy" James Charles and bisexual The Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg have made Time magazine's annual list of "The 30 Most Influential Teens," LGBTQ Nation reported. Grimm is at the center of a battle over the rights of trans students to use the bathrooms matching their gender identity; the U.S. Supreme Court may soon hear his case against the school district blocking him from using the boys' restroom. Dancer Maddie Ziegler ( from Sia's videos ) as well as First Daughters Sasha and Malia Obama also made the list.

In Provincetown, Massachusetts, 53 couples made world history during a mass wedding ceremony, LGBTQ Nation noted. With comedian Kate Clinton officiating the ceremony, the couples gathered at a guest host in the LGBT-friendly resort town Oct. 15 for the "Bride Pride" event. Ilene Mitnick and her wife, Alli Baldwin, co-hosted the event at Roux, their inn on Bradford Street. ( While the group was trying to be listed in the Guinness Book of World Records, the noted authority only lists records for mass nuptials that includes over 100 couples. )

A leaked email from Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman—released by WikiLeaks on Oct. 18—shows that her team mentioned the names of Bill Gates, Melinda Gates, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and openly gay Apple CEO Tim Cook in the early stages of her running-mate selection process, USA Today reported. The list was sent March 17, just two days after the March 15 primaries where Clinton swept all five states, although Missouri remained too close to call until March 17. A few of the other people on the list were Elizabeth Warren, Julian Castro, Cory Booker and lesbian U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin.

One Iowa issued a press release expressing sadness over Larry Hoch's death on Oct. 21. Hoch was a middle school teacher from New York. In 2000, he came to Iowa to be with David Twombley, a music teacher. The two were one of six plaintiff couples in the Varnum v. Brien lawsuit, which established same-sex marriage in Iowa in a unanimous decision by the Iowa Supreme Court in 2009. "Larry was our friend, a kind and spirited and generous man," One Iowa Executive Director Donna Red Wing said. "He will be greatly missed by his friends at One Iowa."

Despite a hospital's reputation as one the best in the nation, the mother of a transgender teenager says her son experienced discrimination by hospital staff while he was on a 72-hour suicide watch, Courthouse News Service reported. Katharine Prescott says several staff members at San Diego's Rady Children's Hospital's Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Services unit "misgendered" her 14-year-old transgender son Kyler after admitting him April 5, 2015, referring to Kyler as "she" rather than "he." The misstep by hospital staff reportedly caused Kyler so much anxiety that his therapist and the unit's staff psychiatrist decided it was best for the teen to be removed from the in-patient unit and discharged two days early.

In a lawsuit challenging the North Carolina law banning transgender people from using restrooms that correspond to their gender identity, LGBT-rights groups asked a federal appeals court to broaden a preliminary injunction in order to protect all transgender people in the state from discrimination, according to an ACLU press release. In August, a district court issued a preliminary injunction preventing the North Carolina university system from enforcing H.B. 2 against the three individual transgender plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Carcano v. McCrory, which is scheduled for trial in May 2017. The advocates also asked the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to expedite the appeal and schedule oral argument for January.

In a press release, Equality Florida and Lambda Legal joined Florida child welfare advocates in applauding the Department of Children and Families ( DCF ) for adopting final rules that protect the safety and well-being of LGBTQ youth in group home care in Florida. The final rules, now in effect, prohibit harassment and discrimination on account of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, guarantee fairness in the delivery of services, and ban the debunked and dangerous practice of conversion therapy in group homes.

Lambda Legal filed a motion for preliminary injunction in federal court to immediately halt a policy passed by the Pine-Richland School District in suburban Pittsburgh, which singles out transgender students and prevents them from using restrooms that match who they are, an organizational press release stated. The school's new rule—which reversed a longstanding, effective and inclusive bathroom policy—has sparked outrage nationwide among pro-LGBT individuals and groups, and led three transgender students to file a lawsuit against the school district in federal court this month.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) Foundation, American University and Human Rights First will host Ambassador Susan Rice, President Obama's national security advisor, on Wed., Oct. 26, at American University's School of International Service for remarks on protecting and promoting LGBTQ human rights around the world, a press release noted. Over the last eight years, the Obama Administration has made advancing the human rights of LGBTQ people a central pillar of the United States' foreign policy. Following her remarks, Rice will participate in a short moderated discussion with James Goldgeier, dean of American University School of International Service.

A Utah lawsuit seeks to open up a new front in LGBT rights following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage by challenging laws they say discriminate against LGBT students by restricting talk about homosexuality in schools, according to a Cache Valley Daily item. The suit contends the law blocked teachers from helping a 7-year-old boy targeted by bullies for wearing girls' clothes because it prevented them from saying it's OK to be gay. The Board of Education and Utah Attorney General declined comment on the lawsuit, through spokespeople.

Johns Hopkins University is setting itself up to reclaim a reputation it once had as the leading academic medical institution when it comes to providing affirming care for transgender people—but it has nearly four decades of damage to repair, ThinkProgress.org noted. In 1965, Johns Hopkins made history as the first academic institution to offer gender-affirming surgical procedures. However, under the leadership of Paul McHugh, the school shut down its gender-reassignment surgery clinic in 1979.

The Washington, D.C., Board of Elections, on Sept. 12, disqualified the sole opponent of gay D.C. State Board of Education member Jack Jacobson from being placed on the ballot in the Nov. 8 election, The Washington Blade reported. The disqualification resulted from Carrie Bachner, who heads a national security consulting firm, failing ( by three names ) to obtain the required number of valid signatures on her nominating petition.

One write-in presidential hopeful who is making waves is Joe Exotic, a gay Oklahoma zookeeper who has produced some amusing campaign materials, The Huffington Post noted. Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado, was one of several candidates profiled on a recent episode of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. In a video produced in 2015, he said, "I am gay. I've had two boyfriends most of my life. I currently got legally married—thank God it's finally legal in America." He also cited his work as an animal wrangler in the video, noting that he's "built one of the biggest facilities, and the nicest facilities, for exotic animals in this country, as far as a private individual goes."

Another person has been convicted of helping an ex-lesbian mother kidnap her child in 2009 after becoming an evangelical Christian, LGBTQ Nation reported. Virginia businessman Philip Zodhiates ( who faces up to eight years in prison ) was convicted of international parental kidnapping and conspiracy for driving Lisa Miller and her then 7-year-old daughter Isabella Miller-Jenkins to Canada so they could fly to Central America. A Mennonite pastor, Kenneth Miller of Virginia ( no relation to Lisa ), is already serving a 27-month prison sentence for his role in the kidnapping after being convicted in 2012.

Log Cabin Republicans ( LCR ) California announced a changing of the guard as its chairman, John Musella, stepped down, effective immediately, according to Business Wire. Musella, in his resignation letter to the board of directors, said, "It's time for a new generation of Log Cabiners to lead the way in California. I'm pleased to be able to turn over a much stronger organization than I inherited." As chairman of Log Cabin Republicans California, Musella was the first LCR head to hold an official position on the executive committee of the California Republican Party.

Josh Moody, owner of Portland nightspot Styxx, said the 5,000-square-foot bar has become too expensive to operate and will close the bar in January, WMTW.com reported. Styxx's closure may be a sign of the times, as Moody said his usual customers now feel comfortable socializing in the dozens of bars and nightclubs around Portland that cater to all crowds.

Contrary to a recent Bloomberg report that dating apps are switching over to pay models, Jack'd, a popular hook-up app for gay urban millennials, said in a press release that it will remain free. "Our research continues to show that our targeted demographic does not pay for music, games, movies, or dating," said Phil Henricks, VP of strategy and business development at Online Buddies, the parent company of Jack'd. "They've been raised to expect that digital products are free, and they don't see any reason to start paying for them now."


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