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Ricky Martin, others in Obama ads; strip club's victory
NATIONAL ROUNDUP: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times.
2012-10-17

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Ricky Martin, Jane Lynch, Zachary Quinto and Wanda Sykes are among the LGBT celebrities starring in ads supporting President Obama's re-election campaign, On Top Magazine reported. In one of the ads, Martin says, "As a parent, I'm especially thankful that the president is working to end bullying because no one should be afraid to walk down the street holding hands with the person they love." Other celebrities participating in the ads include Billie Jean King, George Takei, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Chaz Bono.

In Florida, North Miami Beach-based gay male strip club Swinging Richards has won its battle against the city to allow its dancers to continue performing in the nude, according to the Huffington Post. North Miami Beach's city council voted unanimously to "grandfather in" nude dancing for Swinging Richard's as well as Dean's Gold and G5, two straight strip clubs. Earlier this year, Swinging Richards owner C.B. Jones criticized the city's decision to require male dancers to be at least partially clothed—primarily because an ordinance allowed nudity and alcohol in the same venue since 1994.

Pro-football player Brandon Spikes has stirred controversy with an anti-gay tweet comparing homophobia to arachnophobia, the Huffington Post noted. Spikes, who plays for the New England Patriots, posted, "I have nothing against homosexuals or spiders but I'd still scream if I found one in my bathtub!" After he received a lot of criticism, Spikes initially responded by tweeting "Bite Me" before relenting and posting, "PEOPLE !!!! It's a joke … seriously a JOKE !!! Chill out."

The top U.S. city to find a sugar daddy is New York City, according to a Huffington Post item. A SeekingArrangement.com poll of 256,000 profiles had NYC easily nabbing the top spot, followed by Chicago and Los Angeles. The average gay sugar daddy is now 39 years old, has an annual income of approximately $215,000, and has a net worth of more than $6 million.

Donald Suggs, the media consultant for the group Grassroots Leadership, passed away of a heart attack at 51, the New York Times reported. Before joining Grassroots Leadership, Suggs was a senior editor at The Village Voice, and was the former associate director of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. As a freelance writer, Suggs wrote for publications ranging from The Advocate to The New York Times.

The National Stonewall Democrats are claiming in a press release that, in an ad in the LGBT weekly The Florida Agenda, the Broward Log Cabin Republican Club of Florida attacked Democrats and President Obama using an image of the lifeless body of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens in the aftermath of the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi, Libya. National Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Jerame Davis said, in part, "It is simply unimaginable to me how any political message, let alone the muddy and ludicrous message of this ad, in any way justifies disgracing the memory of a man who gave his life in service to his country. This level of depravity and moral indifference must not be allowed to enter our political discourse."

In Washington state, Nordstrom has joined the growing list of companies backing marriage equality, the Huffington Post reported. In a company-wide memo, Representatives for the Seattle-based upscale clothing chain announced they would back Washington state's pro-LGBT Referendum 74. Nordstrom now joins other Washington state-based companies such as Starbucks, Amazon and Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI).

Dr. Angela McCaskill, the chief diversity officer at Washington, D.C.'s, Gallaudet University, was placed on paid administrative leave for signing a petition opposing same-sex marriage, the Huffington Post noted. The petition was part of an effort to overturn a Maryland law that would allow same-sex couples to marry. According to Buzzfeed.com, Gallaudet University President T. Alan Hurwitz later said in a statement that he "would like to work with ... McCaskill to enable her to return to the community."

Ryan Andresen—the California Boy Scout who was denied the chance to become an Eagle Scout and kicked out of his troop after he came out as gay—received a $20,000 check for college on the Ellen show, according to TheReporter.com . Ellen DeGeneres Andresen, 18, as a guest on her talk show Oct. 11, which was National Coming Out Day. After talking with Andresen about his experience, DeGeneres surprised him with the check provided by online photo publisher. The Boy Scouts of America has a policy banning gay members or troop leaders.

Westboro Baptist Church member Jonathan Phelps has said that gay people should be put to death, according to the Huffington Post. Appearing on The David Pakman Show, Phelps—son of the anti-gay church's founder, Fred Phelps—said he "absolutely" supported the death penalty for members of the LGBT community. When the Jewish host asked about his personal standing in God's eyes, Phelps responded, "You were born into a system of false religious teachings. ... You're not unique; you're just a rebel like the rest of them."

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is committing an additional $1 million in the four states facing marriage-related ballot measures in November—Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington. This development brings HRC's contributions to the four ballot measures to $4.4 million and $7.3 million overall during this election cycle. In a statement, HRC President Chad Griffin said, "Our movement is about loving and committed families who deserve nothing less than full equality under the law."

Also re HRC, it's launching a sweepstakes opportunity that will send a winner and a guest to California, where he or she will have dinner with Modern Family stars Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet, according to a press release. The release states that "the participation of Ferguson and Stonestreet represents one of the first times celebrities are lending their voices to raise funds for the nationwide marriage equality fight in the 2012 election cycle and beyond." See www.hrc.org/modernfamily.

The U.S. Census Bureau announced the establishment of the National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic and Other Populations, according to PR Newswire. The committee will advise the bureau on a wide range of variables that affect the cost, accuracy and implementation of the bureau's programs and surveys, including the once-a-decade census. The committee, composed of 31 members from multiple disciplines, will advise the bureau on topics such as housing, children, youth and poverty as well as LGBT-related issues.

In Idaho, Pocatello may become the second city in the state to ban sexual orientation-based discrimination in employment and housing, Advocate.com reported. The lack of statewide protections has impacted the LGBT citizens of the mostly conservative and heavily Mormon city. The city council recently voted unanimously to draft the anti-discrimination ordinance; so far, there's been little opposition.

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) released its report "Intimate Partner Violence in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and HIV-Affected (LGBTQH) Communities in the United States in 2011," a release stated. Reflecting info collected in 22 states, NCAVP documented 19 intimate partner violence (IPV) homicides, the highest yearly total ever recorded by the coalition and more than three times the six documented homicides in 2010. The 2011 report also highlights a number of disturbing trends concerning the severity of violence experienced by LGBTQH people. The full report is at www.avp.org/ncavp.htm.

North Carolina-based gay couple Mark Little and Dustin Martin claim they were victims of a brutal hate crime that left them bruised and bloodied, the Huffington Post reported. They said two women and a man attacked them as they vacationing in Asheville. No arrests have been made.

Former U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter died Oct. 14 in Philadelphia at age 82 after battling several illnesses, including non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, the L.A. Times reported. Specter battled liberals and conservatives as a senator, killing the nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court but preserving Clarence Thomas' bid for the same judicial body. Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin, in a statement, said of Specter: "His support for repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and passage of the Matthew Shepard hate crimes law was critical, as was his willingness to change his mind and oppose the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2006 after voting for it in 2004.

The 28th annual AIDS Walk Los Angeles had 30,000 participants filling the streets of West Hollywood and Los Angeles, according to a press release. "The 30,000 participants who took to the streets today can take pride in the incredible $2,912,209 raised to fight AIDS and lift up the lives those affected by HIV," said Craig R. Miller, founder and producer of the event. Among the luminaries who attended were politicians such as U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, Howard Berman and Adam Schiff as well as actors such as Drew Carey, Andrew Rannells (TV's The New Normal), Sophia Bush and Michael Urie (Partners), Christopher Gorham (Covert Affairs), Leslie Bibb (GCB; Popular) and Dot Marie Jones (Glee).

In recognition of National Coming Out Day, three national non-profits working in education—Teach For America, The Trevor Project and the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN)—launched the S.A.F.E. Initiative, a press release stated. The initiative seeks to engage educators to prevent bullying and reduce risk by enlisting them as allies in creating safe and affirming classrooms for their students, especially those who are LGBT. By signing the pledge at www.safeclassrooms.org, teachers will gain access to resources that will help create a more welcoming environment.

Openly lesbian veteran Marie B. Tracy, 27, was one of five military personnel who took part in a 90-day bike ride—"The Long Road Home Project"—that covered 12 states and more than 4,200 miles, according to a press release. In riding across the country, Tracy hoped to highlight the diversity of people serving in the U.S. military, especially the LGBTQ community. The other veterans raised awareness regarding issues such as military sexual trauma and physical disability.

In North Carolina, Elon University's student government association has voted to get rid of a Chick-fil-A restaurant on campus because of the restaurant chain's president's position against same-sex marriage, according to a Nola.com item. The association voted 35-11 to ask its food vendor to find another restaurant to replace Chick-fil-A. The decision now goes to the executive president of Elon's Student Government Association, Darien Flowers.

New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg has given $250,000 to the effort to pass same-sex marriage in Maryland this election cycle, according to Politico.com . Bloomberg also sent out a letter explaining his support—as he attended college in the state—and also his role in passing New York's own marriage-equality law last year.

And Bloomberg's not the only one: Paul Singer, a billionaire hedge-fund manager and major Republican donor from New York, has $250,000 to the effort to uphold the new marriage-equality law in Maryland, according to Advocate.com . Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the coalition of organizations working to pass the referendum known as Question 6, announced Singer's contribution. Singer, the founder of Elliot Management, has contributed more than $10 million to marriage-equality efforts across the country; his son and son-in-law married in Massachusetts in 2009.

LGBT youth who are out to their immediate family or at school report higher levels of happiness, optimism, acceptance and support, according to a new report on LGBT youth that the Human Rights Campaign released. "Growing Up LGBT in America," released on National Coming Out Day (Oct. 11), revealed (for example) that among youth who are not out at school, the most frequent obstacle they describe is that teachers or classmates will treat them differently or judge them. The full report is at www.hrc.org/youth.

A slight majority of voters in Florida and Ohio, and nearly half in Virginia, support the right of same-sex couples to wed, the Washington Post noted. In Florida, 54 percent of voters think same-sex marriage should be legal, while 33 percent say it should be illegal. In Ohio, the respective numbers are 52 percent and 37 percent while in Virginia the numbers are 49 percent and 40 percent. The growing support is a sharp departure from just eight years ago.

Helen LaFave, the lesbian half-sister of U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, has spoken out about the politician's anti-gay views, Gay Star News stated. Despite meeting LaFave's partner of 25 years, Bachmann has repeatedly called gays and lesbians sick—which led LaFave to tell the New York Times, "It felt so divorced from having known me, from having known somebody who's gay. I was just stunned." LaFave also called Bachmann's push for a anti-marriage-equality amendment in Minnesota part of a "very, very sad legacy."

The National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) marked National Latino AIDS Awareness Day on Oct. 15. In a statement NMAC Deputy Executive Director Daniel C. Montoya said, "Despite making up just 17 percent of the population, Latinos account for 20 percent of all new HIV infections in the United States. The epidemic is even more severe among gay and bisexual Latinos. ... It is critical that we do more to address the needs of this community."

Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit in New York on behalf of Joseph Teevan against the Westchester County Department of Public Safety and related officials, a press release stated. Against court orders, the police department released sealed information—including name, photo, town and charges—about Teevan and at least 12 other men who had been arrested weeks before in a sex-sting operation in Westchester's Saxon Woods Park (without saying that most of the criminal charges had been dropped). Lambda Legal said the reveal ended up "harming [Teevan's] reputation, causing adverse employment consequences and causing him even to contemplate suicide."

N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the appointment of Gay Men's Health Crisis' CEO Marjorie J. Hill, Ph.D., as chair of the New York State AIDS Advisory Council, according to a press release. The council was created in 1983 by Public Health Law, Article 27-E, Section 2778, and is responsible for advising the commissioner of health and the NYS AIDS Institute as well as making recommendations regarding the state's response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Worried that recent tight polling numbers might lead to four more states rejecting equal marriage or adopting a constitutional ban—and disappointed with the the President's silence—gay Obama supporters with the website LegalizeLove.com are urging the Obama to directly speak out on Nov. 6 marriage votes in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington, according to a press release. Activists are hoping that a TV spot featuring gay and lesbian couples in wedding dresses and tuxedos, speaking in unison with Obama speech quotes, might sway voters.

Olympic gold medalist and Minnesota Lynx star Seimone Augustus is speaking out against the proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in her adopted home state, according to an Advocate.com item. She told the Associated Press, "I never understood the whole point of opposing or hating someone else's happiness." Augustus is an out lesbian, currently engaged to marry longtime girlfriend LaTaya Varner; they are considering marrying in Iowa.

A Chick-fil-A franchise in the Atlanta area is defending flyers for party trays that use the term "fruitcake," saying the term was not meant to mock gay people, according to Advocate.com . The ad claims, "Only a fruitcake wouldn't love our party trays." Steve Robinson, the company's executive vice president and chief marketing officer, said in a statement, "It was simply a play on words referring to the traditional holiday food, and the restaurant had no intention of offending anyone whatsoever. We regret the flyer may have been taken out of context."

In Kentucky, An incarcerated gay man sued a southern Kentucky jail and a fellow inmate, claiming that prisoner bit off part of his nose after days of harassment., according to wflx.com . Brandon Milam claimed he was disfigured, lost his sense of smell and was still in pain from the July attack in the Warren County Regional Jail. Milam claims Timothy Schwartz and other inmates used gay slurs and threatened him for about a week before Schwartz bit off part of his nose.

CNN's Carol Costello abruptly ended an interview with American Family Association spokesperson Bryan Fischer after the guest continuously spoke anti-gay rhetoric, the Huffington Post reported. Fischer was elaborating on comments he made in 2010 when Costello said, "That, by many people's standards, would be hate speech." However, after Fischer said homosexuality has "known health risks," the CNN host halted the interview, saying, "I'm sorry, that's just not true. Mr. Fischer, thanks for sharing your views, I guess."

Two University of Texas at Austin students—Taylor McCormick and Bobbi Duncan—were outed as gay to their fundamentalist fathers as a result of a privacy loophole on Facebook, according to the Wall Street Journal. One evening last fall, the president of the Queer Chorus, a choir group both had recently joined, inadvertently exposed their sexuality. The president didn't know the software would automatically tell their Facebook friends that they were now members of the chorus.

Gay-porn model Andre Barnett is running for president, according to On Top Magazine. Barnett, 36, won the Reform Party's nomination during its national convention held in August in Philadelphia. A former member of the U.S. Armed Forces, Barnett is probably best known for his soft-core porn work, having modeled for the gay website MuscleGallery.com . He has also appeared in various fitness magazines.

In Nevada, a man allegedly battered a woman on the street and stabbed her male friend who intervened because she is gay, according to RGJ.com . According to a police report, the suspect began yelling slurs at the woman after she walked by him; he then reportedly started to strangle her. The woman's male friend soon tackled the suspect, but the suspect stabbed the man in the leg.


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