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Philly trans march; Paul Ryan's anti-gay promise
NATIONAL ROUNDUP Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times.
2012-10-10

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As part of a transgender march Oct. 6 at Philadelphia's Love Park, attendees remembered Kyra (Kruz) Cordova, a 27-year-old trans woman who was found shot to death Sept. 3 in Frankford, Pa. No suspect has been identified and there is a $25,000 reward for information leading to the case. There was a march down the street before speakers took to the stage at the park including Cordova's mother who spoke about the tragedy.

GOP vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan has promised Focus on the Family President Jim Daly that a Romney-Ryan administration will fiercely oppose gay rights, according to LGBTQ Nation. While aspiring president Mitt Romney has moved from backing gay rights to becoming a vocal opponent, Ryan has a solidly anti-gay voting record in Congress. Among other things, Ryan told Daly that his ticket firmly opposes same-sex marriage that he was a "big supporter" of a 2006 Wisconsin amendment that defined marriage as solely between a man and a woman.

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the nation's second largest school district, will collaborate in LGBT History Month in October 2012, according to an Equality Forum press release. The educational collaboration follows the passage of last year's FAIR Education Act, making California the first state to require public schools to teach LGBT-inclusive history. The district will utilize the free LGBT History Month online educational resources.

Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) issued a release stating that it resolved a claim on behalf of a transgender woman who had been denied health-insurance coverage for gender-reassignment surgery. Ida Hammer, a 34-year-old New York City resident, applied for pre-authorization for male-to-female sex-reassignment last year; however, MVP Health Care denied her claim, saying the surgery was "cosmetic" and, therefore, was not covered under the policy. However, after TLDEF threatened to file a lawsuit, MVP reversed its position, claiming the surgery "is medically necessary."

Openly gay GOP Colorado state Senate candidate Michael Carr and his partner, Fred Bachhuber, filed a First Amendment claim in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado against the City and County of Denver, according to Carr's campaign website. The couple filed suit in response to a notice received Aug. 14 regarding violation of a provision of the zoning code that prohibits display of political signs that are more than eight square feet. Lawyers for Carr and Bachhuber say the ordinance is unconstitutional because it subjects political speech to restrictions that don't apply to certain other kinds of speech.

Gay Clarendon, Texas, couple Joshua Harrison and Jeremy Jeffers said they woke up recently to find the message "Leave or Die Fags" painted on their front porch, according to Towleroad.com . The couple added they noticed a change in the town's attitude toward them after a pastor's ad about the "homosexual movement" appeared in the local newspaper. Harrison and Jeffers now say they fear for their lives and are considering moving.

Bishop Harry Jackson Jr.—the Maryland minister who led an unsuccessful campaign to overturn Washington, D.C.'s, marriage-equality law—told an audience that he placed a curse on the LGBT newspaper the Washington Blade in 2009, according to the Blade. In what appears to be a sermon that someone recorded and posted online, Jackson said he placed his curse on the Blade two months before the publication's November 2009 shutdown following a bankruptcy filing by its former parent company, Window Media. Jackson did not mention, however, that the Blade's staff continued to publish even after Window Media's bankruptcy.

Former National Football League Commissioner Paul Tagliabue announced that he and his wife have donated $100,000 to the campaign to defend Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the Washington Blade reported. At a Marylanders for Marriage Equality fundraiser, he said, "I think this is the time to view this [donation] not as an expense, but as a capital investment in our nation's infrastructure." He and wife Chan have a gay son.

More than 75,000 people have signed a Change.org petition started by the mother of a gay scout who is being denied the Boy Scouts' highest rank, Eagle Scout, because of his sexual orientation, according to a press release. Karen Andresen started her petition after leaders in the San Francisco Bay Area's Boy Scout Troop 212 told her son Ryan that he'd be refused the rank of Eagle Scout after he came out in an effort to address bullying.

In New York City, 15-year-old student Brianna Demato—who identifies as bisexual—was sent home from school after adminstrators said her "I Enjoy Vagina" T-shirt was a distraction, LGBTQ Nation reported. Demato said she was hauled into an assistant principal's office after a dean spotted the message on her shirt during a lunch period. She was then given a choice: Change the shirt or go home. Demato said she has worn the shirt at least a dozen times previously.

In California, college student Aaron Blitzer—who claims he reversed his own homosexuality with reparative therapy—has filed a lawsuit against California for its ban on "ex-gay therapy," according to the Huffington Post. Blitzer is studying to be a reparative therapist and claims, along with two other plantiff therapists (Donald Welsch and Dr. Anthony Duk), the ban stops them from doing their job and infringes on their rights to privacy, free speech and freedom of religion.

Alexander Broughton, the University of Tennessee student accused of "butt-chugging," wants everyone to know he's not gay and that the accusations are lies, Gather.com noted. Broughton maintains he is a devout Christian, and the very idea of an alcohol enema is the grossest idea he's ever heard. He also complained that now people might mistake him for a gay man. Authorities said that Broughton was hospitalized last Sept. 22 with a .448 blood-alcohol level—six times the legal limit for driving, according to JacksonSun.com . "It is believed that members of the fraternity were utilizing rubber tubing inserted into their rectums as a conduit for alcohol," a police report stated.

In Georgia, state Rep. Rick Crawford of Cedartown has decided to switch to the GOP over the issue of marriage equality, according to TheGaVoice.com . Crawford said if he wins re-election in November he will switch parties because he doesn't believe in same-sex marriage. Crawford is also a political science professor at Shorter University, which stirred controversy when school administrators forced staff to sign a "Personality Lifestyle Statement" that includes this: "I reject as acceptable all sexual activity not in agreement with the Bible, including, but not limited to, premarital sex, adultery and homosexuality."

In Missouri, teen Mercedes Ayers pleaded guilty to a hate crime months after she and her friends severely beat her lesbian neighbor, according to the New York Daily News. Ayers was charged with third-degree assault motivated by discrimination for physically attacking Jeana Terry, 41, outside her Cape Girardeau home. In the months after the attack, Ayers denied targeting Terry because of her sexual orientation; she will be sentenced next month.

In New York, a Manhattan jury heard gruesome details about how Portuguese underwear model Renato Seabra, 22, allegedly killed and castrated his older lover, 65-year-old Portuguese fashion writer Carlos Castro, at the InterContinental hotel in NYC two years ago, the New York Post reported. Seabra then supposedly slit his own wrists applied Castro's testicles to his bleeding arms so he could "harness their power." Prosecutor Maxine Rosenthal said Seabra attacked Castro because the older man was going to cease spending money on him.

The parents of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi—who, in 2010, committed suicide after roommate Dharun Ravi used a webcam to spy on him and a male lover—have decided not to sue anyone, according to the Chicago Tribune. Joseph and Jane Clementi will instead focus their attention on the Tyler Clementi Foundation. Previously, they had indicated they would sue the university for failing to try to stop the suicide.

Seattle, Wash., twins Lance and Oren Myers have filed a lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America, claiming they were sexually abused by a scoutmaster at a time when the organization was keeping secret "perversion files" on suspected and confirmed abusers, the New York Daily News reported. The twins, 41, say they kept quiet about the molestation for 25 years. The Scouts tracked pedophiles for almost a century, keeping their names locked in so-called "perversion files." The release of the files is expected to happen this month.

The Department of Defense announced Oct. 3, that three soldiers—including Sgt. Donna R. Johnson—were killed "supporting Operation Enduring Freedom" in Afghanistan, according to FrontiersLA.com . However, it was not until The American Military Partner Association posted a notice on their Facebook page that Sgt. Johnson was identified as a lesbian. The notice read, in part, "In memory of Army Staff Sgt. Donna R. Johnson who gave the ultimate sacrifice to our nation in a suicide bomber attack while on patrol in Afghanistan, on Monday, Oct. 1, 2012. Staff Sgt Johnson is survived by her wife, Tracy Dice."

The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) released a series of public service announcements outlining how transgender Americans can keep their right to vote this election day, according to a press release. The PSAs—part of NCTE's "Voting While Trans" public awareness campaign—aim to educate and prepare transgender people to vote in their state; they feature NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling, writer and advocate Janet Mock, actress Laverne Cox, performance artist Ignacio Rivera, Charles Meins and poet Kit Yan. They are available at www.votingwhiletrans.org .

NCTE has also launched the Transgender On-campus Nondiscrimination Information (TONI) Project, the nation's first online hub for trans students to share trans-affirmative college policies and practices, and exchange ideas for organizing and action, according to a press release. Key features of the site include a searchable database of campus profiles that document areas such as housing, records and documentation, healthcare, safety and curricula. See www.transstudents.org .

On Oct. 26, New York City's Ali Forney Center (AFC)—the nation's largest services and advocacy organization working with LGBTQ runaway and homeless youth—will hold its annual A Place at the Table benefit dinner at Capitale, according to a press release. This year's honorees include author/activist David Mixner; Chris Salgardo, president of Kiehl's Since 1851; Time Warner Cable; and recent graduate of AFC's programming Chris Bilal. Out MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts will host the event.

American Indian and Alaskan Native transgender and gender non-conforming people face some of the highest levels of discrimination of all transgender people, according to the report "Injustice at Every Turn: A Look at American Indian and Alaskan Native Respondents in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey," a press release stated. For example, harassment was so severe that 19 percent of the respondents had to leave school. The full report is at www.thetaskforce.org/reports_and_research/ntds_nativeamerican_respondents.

The pro-LGBT group Truth Wins Out (TWO) has issued a release condemning Twin Cities Catholic Archbishop John Nienstedt for a letter in which he told a mother with a gay son that her "eternal salvation" may depend on her embracing the anti-gay teachings of the Catholic Church. TWO Director of Communications & Development John Becker said that the letter "is spiritual bullying of the highest order and utterly reprehensible."

Following a recent attack on two gay men in Austin, Texas, dozens marched Oct. 6 to protest hate crimes, according to Advocate.com . Andrew Oppleman and Nick Soret, who were beaten in downtown Austin by an unknown man in late September, were part of the protest. The protest included a march from City Hall to the state Capitol. Speaking to the crowd assembled at the Capitol, Soret said to his attacker, "I promise you, they will find you."

Eagle Scout Matthew Kimball and Scouts for Equality founder Zach Wahls have started a nationwide movement of Boy Scouts willing to give up their Eagle Scout pins in support of an ousted Boy Scout from California, according to a Change.org press release. Ryan Andresen was told just days before his 18th birthday that he'd be denied his Eagle Scout status because he came out as openly gay during efforts to fight bullying. Now, Eagle Scouts are submitting their Eagle pins to the organization Scouts for Equality.

In Dallas, clubgoer Cory Weddington III, 19, was arrested for public intoxication and assaulting an officer after squeezing the officer's testicles during an arrest, according to the Dallas Voice. Weddington was allegedly kicked out of the Havana Lounge when he was caught drinking, but would not leave without his credit card (which was found in his pocket). When an officer tried to take Weddington into custody, he became combative.

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo met and thanked supporters of the state's marriage-equality law, according to the Washington Blade. Ten winners were chosen in a raffle for the chance to meet O'Malley and Ayanbadejo in a small group setting at Mother's bar in Federal Hill, an area of Baltimore. Ayanbadejo, who has garnered national attention for his marriage support later told the Blade he was tentatively headed to California later this month to appear on Ellen DeGeneres' talk show.

Michigan state rep Tom McMillin—who had previously compared being gay to smoking cigarettes—has said that being gay is a choice for those "who have come out the lifestyle," Advocate.com reported. When a resident confronted McMillin and asked him if he still believed being gay was a choice, the politician responded, "Well, I think that the thousands of people that have been in that lifestyle and come out would say that it was their choice when they were in and came out of the lifestyle."

Former Penn State University assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was sentenced Oct. 9 to at least 30 years in prison in the child sexual-abuse scandal that brought shame to the school and led to legendary coach Joe Paterno's downfall, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. The term is essentially a life sentence for Sandusky, who's 68. In June, he was found guilty of 45 counts of child sexual abuse, having molested 10 boys over 15 years.

A group of 63 former Catholic priests are declaring their support for Referendum 74, which would make Washington the seventh state to back same-sex marriage, according to SeattlePI.com . They will take issue with the state's four Roman Catholic bishops, who are campaigning against marriage equality with letters, policy statements and videos. The former priests are all married, and belong to three Seattle parishes.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) student leader Eric Kamler's decision to veto two pro-gay bills has left other student leaders puzzled, according to JournalStar.com . Recently, the Association of Students of the University of Nebraska voted to override vetoes by Kamler, the UNL student senate's president. Kamler vetoed a bill that expressed support for extending benefits to spouses of gay employees and others, as well as a measure supporting Lincoln's fairness ordinance.

David Siegel, the founder and CEO of giant timeshare company Westgate Resorts, has threatened company layoffs if President Obama is re-elected, according to the Huffington Post. In an email to employees Siegel stated, "If any new taxes are levied on me, or my company, as our current President plans, I will have no choice but to reduce the size of this company." Siegel and wife Jackie are the subjects of the documentary The Queen of Versailles, about the couple's efforts to build a 90,000-square-foot home.

An uptick in underwear sales apparently has signaled improvement in the U.S. economy, according to the Huffington Post. The NPD Group, Inc., a leading market research company, has shown an increase in sales of men's underwear over the past year, seeing a 6-percent jump from August 2011 to August 2012. Of former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan's theory that the sales of men's underpants can gauge how the economy is doing, NPR's Robert Krulwich said, "On those few occasions where [sales dip], that means that men are so pinched that they are deciding not to replace underpants—and [Greenspan] said, 'That is almost always a prescient, forward impression that here comes trouble.'"


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