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National roundup: anti-HIV molecule, gay politicians, Grindr attack
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2017-05-16

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For the first time, scientists have shown that it's possible to reduce HIV reservoirs in people living with HIV, due to a tiny antiviral molecule patented by ABIVAX called "ABX464," Advocate.com reported. ABX464 was publicized as potentially inducing a functional cure in HIV-positive people. The molecule's most advanced compound recently finished Phase II clinical trials, where it was discovered to drastically reduce reservoirs acting as a storage space for HIV.

Openly gay Seattle Mayor Ed Murray ended his campaign for re-election in the face of allegations he sexually abused young men in the 1980s, The Hill reported. Murray, a former Democratic state legislator who won office in 2013, faces a lawsuit from a man who claims Murray "raped and molested" him in 1986, when he was just 15 years old. Three other men have since come forward to accuse Murray of abuse, including paying for sex with them while they were minors.

Pennsylvania's first openly gay state representative is reportedly under investigation by the state Ethics Commission for allegedly accepting prohibited honoraria, NBC Philadelphia noted. An unnamed individual filed paperwork in March flagging State. Rep Brian Sims' travel reimbursements, according to Philadelphia Gay News. Anything totaling more than $650 in travel and accommodation reimbursements must be disclosed. The complaint referenced news stories dating back to 2012 citing Sims' robust travel schedule and appearances at various universities and companies, Microsoft among them.

Four Dallas-area men, ages 18-21, are being indicted for involvement in a series of beatings and robberies of gay men they found on Grindr, according to LGBTQ Nation. The federal grand jury indictment includes 18 charges, including hate-crimes enhancements. The enhancement means that the defendants may be sentenced to life in prison.

Sixty-four percent of U.S. adults say same-sex marriages should be recognized by the law as valid, according to Gallup.com . Although not meaningfully different from the 61 percent last year, this is the highest percentage to date and continues the generally steady rise since Gallup's trend began in 1996. The latest update, from Gallup's annual Values and Beliefs poll conducted May 3-7, comes nearly two years after the Supreme Court ruled that states could not prohibit same-sex marriage.

A Mississippi man received a 49-year prison sentence for the first-ever conviction on federal hate-crime charges arising for the killing of a transgender woman, The Chicago Tribune reported. In a case watched by the LGBT community nationwide, U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola Jr. sentenced Joshua Vallum in the 2015 killing of 17-year-old Mercedes Williamson. It was the first case prosecuted under the federal Hate Crimes Prevention Act involving a victim targeted because of gender identity.

In Idaho, a man Canyon County prosecutors say was involved in the beating death of a gay man near Lake Lowell was sentenced for his involvement in the crime, Q13Fox.com reported. Defendant Kevin Tracy will return to jail for six months before serving a long-term probation sentence which, if violated, could result in a 25-year prison term. Lawyers for both the state and defense concurred Tracy had knowledge of plans to rob the victim, but was not involved in the planning or executing of the beating that ultimately caused Steven Nelson's death.

A memorial will be created at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, dedicated to the 49 LGBTA people who were killed in June 2016 in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, Reuters reported. Pulse nightclub owner Barbara Poma said details would be determined with input from the affected community in Orlando. She outlined plans for a permanent memorial and eventually a museum, plus scholarships honoring the victims.

In response to more than 50 pieces of legislation targeting the trans community across the country, Trans United Fund joined with the moms of several trans youth to ask anti-trans lawmakers to "Meet My Child," according to an organizational press release. In a short video, the fund featured three families with trans children and their mothers who highlighted some of the challenges their kids face when it comes to acceptance and support. The video is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_lGK7d5HbA&link_id=1&can_id=4e28328994cf8afdedaac5786b75ac86&source=email-one-year-later-meet-our-moms-2&email_referrer=one-year-later-meet-our-moms-2&email_subject=one-year-later-meet-our-moms.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati revived a lawsuit against Kim Davis—the Kentucky county clerk who, in 2015, refused to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples because it conflicted with her Christian beliefs, Reuters noted. The court said a lower court judge made a mistake in finding that damages claims by David Ermold and David Moore became moot, after a new state law last July excused clerks like Davis, from Rowan County, from having to sign marriage-license forms. While the couple eventually did get a license, a three-judge appeals court panel said they could sue over Davis' initial refusal to grant one, after the U.S. Supreme Court, in 2015, said the Constitution guaranteed a right to same-sex marriage.

President Trump trolled lesbian comedian Rosie O'Donnell on Twitter to justify his firing of FBI Director James Comey, retweeting her remarks from nearly six months ago calling for his dismissal, The Washington Blade noted. "We finally agree on something Rosie," Trump wrote succinctly in the subtweet. O'Donnell's tweet simply says, "Fire Comey" as part of a thread started by former Hillary Clinton campaign spokesperson Brian Fallon. On Twitter, O'Donnell responded, "u don't even realize the kind of trouble u r in - comeys people believe in him - for real - they have the proof - u r a sadistic man #USA."

Connecticut has become the seventh state to ban conversion therapy, CBS News reported. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed legislation into law, banning paid healthcare providers from engaging in the practice to change a minor's sexual orientation or gender identity. He signed the bill almost immediately after a unanimous vote in the State Senate.

An attorney for North Carolina defended a state law that lets magistrates refuse to perform same-sex marriages, telling a federal appeals court that the policy accommodates officials' religious beliefs while complying with the law on same-sex marriage, Richmond.com reported. Special Deputy Attorney General Olga Vysotskaya de Brito told a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, that lawmakers worked hard to strike a fair balance with the law by ensuring that willing magistrates from nearby communities come in to perform marriages when others refuse. At issue before the court is whether couples seeking to challenge the law have legal standing to do so.

In Ohio, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, along with Gerhardstein & Branch and the Law Office of Scott Knox, announced that they reached a settlement in Rachel Dovel v. The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, et al, a press release noted. Dovel has received insurance coverage for gender-affirming surgery, which was previously excluded under the library's employee healthcare plan. In addition to Dovel's healt care coverage, as part of the settlement the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County—where Dovel continues to work—agreed to continue to expand the ;ibrary's efforts to build an inclusive and trans-positive environment, including expanding materials on LGBT issues.

A prosecutor says the organist of a southern Indiana church was responsible for graffiti including a swastika, an anti-gay slur and the words "Heil Trump" painted on its walls in November, according to a U.S. News & World Report item. Brown County Prosecutor Ted Adams said that 26-year-old George Nathaniel Stang of Bloomington admitted responsibility for the vandalism discovered Nov. 13 at St. David's Episcopal Church in Bean Blossom, about 35 miles south of Indianapolis. Adams added that Stang has been charged with misdemeanor institutional criminal mischief.

The City of Philadelphia released a guide outlining local LGBT rights and resources, Philadelphia Gay News noted. The LGBTQ Protections Action Guide was released in a direct response to the rollback of rights at the federal level by the Trump administration, Office of LGBT Affairs Director Amber Hikes said in a statement. Readers are encouraged to share the information and to contact their local legislators to press for statewide reforms, such as the proposed LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination law.

Texas' policy that high school athletes can only compete as the gender listed on their birth certificate led to Mack Beggs, a wrestler, competing with the girls, having an undefeated season, and winning the state tournament—but now Texas is considering a bill that would allow the University Interscholastic League ( UIL ) to ban transgender people from competing in high school sports, LGBTQ Nation reported. Beggs, for his part, asked to compete with the boys. The bill ( would require student athletes to report even medically appropriate uses of steroids to the UIL ) received initial approval in the Texas Senate.

Miami Beach police officers are investigating after a man said he was beaten up and called an anti-gay slur as he walked his dog in South Beach, The Miami Herald reported. Kenneth Wilcox said two men called him "a f——-g f——t" as he and his dog went past them. He said that one of the men then grabbed him from behind and punched him in the face and all over his body. Wilcox then said he went to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was told he had some internal bleeding, fractured ribs and a concussion.

A lesbian worker alleging she faced anti-gay job discrimination at a Kentucky bank that led to her termination—including being told she was "too butch" to deal with customers—has sued in state court for compensatory and punitive damages, The Washington Blade reported. Penelope Hudson, who filed the lawsuit, worked at the Louisville-based Park Community Credit Union at various locations in Kentucky and Indiana for 15 years until she was terminated in 2016. Hudson has claimed that she was "continually subject to harassment, disparate treatment and hostile work environment due to her status as a gay women"—situation that other employees and customers at the bank allegedly witnessed.

A North Carolina high school teacher has been made to leave his school after two students tricked him into sending intimate photos over Grindr, NewNowNext.com reported. Brian Anderson and Brittney Luckenbaugh, both 16, are accused of posing as a 35-year-old man on the app, where they interacted with David Laughinghouse, a French teacher at Swansboro High School. The teens were released on $5,000 bail and must appear in District Court on June 15.

In Minnesota, an Eagan firefighter is suing the city and the fire chief, alleging that he was demoted from his position as a battalion chief because he had recently revealed he is gay, The StarTribune reported. Dan Benson, an 18-year veteran of the Eagan Fire Department, filed a civil suit in Dakota County in early April, which was then moved April 26 to federal court. Benson is seeking unspecified compensatory damages, as well as punitive damages and legal fees.

Atlanta's Out Front Theater Company faced criticism over its run of The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told—an LGBT take on the Bible, The New York Times reported. The work is an alternate version and comedic sendup of stories from the Old Testament, presented through the eyes of a gay couple named Adam and Steve as well as a lesbian couple named Jane and Mabel. It was written by Paul Rudnick and premiered off-Broadway in 1998. Out Front's production ended its run May 14.


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