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Ryan White's mom's campaign; HIV removed from human cells
National roundup: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2014-07-30

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Jeanne White-Ginder—mother of the late Ryan White, the Kokomo, Indiana, teenager who died from AIDS-related complications nearly 25 years ago—was in Washington, D.C., July 30 to remind Congress of the importance of funding the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, according to a press release. White-Ginder went to Washington on behalf of The AIDS Institute. The Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program provides medical care, prescription drugs, and other essential services to low-income, uninsured, and underinsured individuals with HIV/AIDS in the United States.

Researchers from the Center for Neurovirology and Comprehensive NeuroAIDS Center at Temple University have become the first to successfully remove HIV from cultured human cells, according to IDSE.net . In this National Institutes of Health-funded project, the Temple team created molecular tools designed to delete HIV-1 proviral DNA. When deployed, a combination of a DNA-snipping nuclease and a targeting strand of RNA ( guide RNA ) effectively hunt down the viral genome and excise the HIV-1 DNA. Then, the cell's gene-repair machinery takes over, connecting the loose ends of the genome to create virus-free cells.

LGBT-rights advocates and educators are seeking guidance after learning that the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights has granted religious exemptions under Title IX to Simpson University in California and Spring Arbor University in Michigan that allow the colleges to discriminate against transgender students, according to a GLSEN press release. "We are deeply concerned about the discriminatory impact of these decisions on youth seeking to improve their academic lives," said GLSEN Executive Director Dr. Eliza Byard. "Where does this decision leave transgender high school and college students? It is imperative that these students—and the institutions they attend—understand what protections they do have and how those protections will be enforced.

In Richmond, a federal appeals court panel has struck down Virginia's ban on same-sex marriage, The Roanoke Times noted. In a 2-1 decision, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges upheld U.S. Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen's ruling in February that the 2006 amendment to the state Constitution defining marriage as between a man and a woman violates the equal protection clause under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. However, this latest decision also renders unconstitutional similar marriage bans in North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia—states that are part of the 4th Circuit. The case is likely headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In a related development, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said the state would stop defending its same-sex marriage ban against legal challenges, The L.A. Times reported. Cooper said he had made the decision because the appeals court ruling "predicts our law will be struck down." Sixty-one percent of voters in the state approved the ban, known as Amendment One, in 2012.

A Miami-Dade County judge overturned the Florida ban on same-sex marriage in a ruling that applies to Miami-Dade County, Local10.com reported. Judge Sarah Zabel ordered Miami-Dade County Clerk of Courts Harvey Ruvin to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Monroe County Judge Luis M. Garcia had previously issued a similar ruling involving a Key West couple. Former Republican Gov. Jeb Bush appointed Zabel and Garcia, who were both re-elected.

Regarding this ruling, former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has applauded this development, according to On Top Magazine. Crist filed an amicus brief in support of plaintiffs in the Miami-Dade case, tweeting, "I was proud to file a brief in this case, an important step in the fight for marriage equality." He later posted, "I believe that all people should be able to marry the person they love." Crist, who previously supported the ban and is currently campaigning for his old job as a Democrat, has cited the GOP's opposition to marriage equality as chief among his reasons for leaving the Republican Party.

Lawyers will argue the constitutionality of gay-marriage bans in Indiana and Wisconsin in about a month, according to WTHItv.com . The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals announced on its online docket that it has rescheduled oral arguments for both states' appeals of federal court decisions for Aug. 26 in Chicago. Federal judges in Indiana and Wisconsin overturned each state's gay marriage ban in separate rulings. When both states appealed, the 7th Circuit Court combined the cases and set aside the previous hearing date.

The National LGBT Bar Association announced that Freedom to Marry founder Evan Wolfson will receive the organization's 2014 Dan Bradley Award. The award, presented during The Bar's Lavender Law Conference, is the highest honor it bestows. Wolfson will receive the award during the 2014 Awards Brunch, on Friday, Aug. 22, in New York City.

The Alaska Supreme Court has rejected the denial of survivor benefits to a woman whose same-sex partner was shot to death on the job in 2011, according to the Associated Press. The court ruled that the denial constituted a violation of equal protection, and sent the case back to a workers' compensation commission for further consideration. Deborah Harris and now-late partner Kerry Fadely had been in a committed relationship for years; rhe Alaska Constitution bans same-sex marriage.

The unsolved murders of two transgender women of color in Baltimore, Maryland, in recent weeks have left the city's trans residents on edge, The Washington Blade noted. Vann Michael of Black Transmen, a Dallas-based advocacy group that works in Baltimore and D.C., said that some trans women with whom he has spoken are afraid to leave their homes after police officers found Mia Henderson's body near Lake Ashburton on July 16. ( Henderson's brother is Los Angeles Clippers shooting guard Reggie Bullock. ) In addition, authorities found Kandy Hall dead in a field on June 3.

The Minneapolis attorney representing the seven same-sex couples challenging North Dakota's gay-marriage ban has asked a judge to bypass a trial and issue a ruling, according to The Bismarck Tribune. Attorney Joshua Newville filed a motion for summary judgment while also responding to the state's motion to dismiss the case. In June, Newville filed the federal lawsuit, which challenges a voter-approved 2004 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, which passed with more than 73 percent of the vote.

A Seattle man was arrested and charged with a hate crime after he allegedly harassed a gay man and a lesbian and threatened them with a knife in a QFC grocery store, Raw Story reported. The 29-year-old suspect allegedly "leered" at the lesbian and told her she was "very sexy." The woman's friend intervened, admonishing the man for being disrespectful. The suspect then became belligerent, saying he could stare at whomever he wanted. He then ran away, but was later arrested—when it was discovered he had more than one knife on his person.

The North Carolina House of Representatives approved new legislation that fails to provide protections for LGBT students at charter schools run by for-profit management companies, according to a Towleroad item. Senate Bill 793 prevents charter schools from discriminating on the basis of "ethnicity, national origin, gender or disability," but fails to provide specific protections for LGBT students. The bill—which also allows charter schools to keep employees' salaries secret—included protections for LGBT students in earlier versions.

Following a national search, veteran transgender activist Andrea "Andy" Bowen has been named the new executive director of New Jersey's Garden State Equality, according to PolitickerNJ.com . Bowen is the nation's first openly transgender executive director of a statewide organization for LGBT civil rights. She replaces Troy Stevenson, who went on to lead TEN, the Equality Network, after helping to secure marriage equality in New Jersey.

Windy City Times Publisher Tracy Baim, longtime political reporter Lisa Keen and New York Times copy editor/transgender-rights activist Donna Cartwright have been named as inductees to this year's National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association's ( NLGJA's ) LGBT Journalists Hall of Fame, according to a press release. This year's LGBT Journalists Hall of Fame inductees will be honored Aug. 23 during the NLGJA Awards Reception at Breaking Barriers, the 2014 NLGJA National Convention and 10th Annual LGBT Media Summit. For more information on the convention, visit www.nlgja.org/2014/.

Legislation that seeks to ban therapies that attempt to alter a minor's sexual orientation from gay to straight has been introduced in Michigan, according to On Top Magazine. Rep. Adam Zemke, a Democrat from Ann Arbor, is backing the measure, which would prohibit so-called conversion therapy. The proposed legislation is modeled after California's first-in-the-nation law. A similar law was approved last year in New Jersey, but efforts in Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York have been blocked or stalled.

In honor of the three-year anniversary of marriage equality in her home state of New York, Marriage Equality USA ( MEUSA ) has released the final part of Edie Windsor: In Her Own Words, a multi-part series of interviews with LGBTQ icon and longtime MEUSA member Edie Windsor, according to a press release. In the 10-minute final segment, Windsor talks about trying to protect her family through Thea's declining health, how she first met with attorney Robbie Kaplan, and how she continued to break the rules ( not surprisingly ) even on the eve of her Supreme Court victory. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rm0Ejm-ropM&feature=youtu.be.

The director of a leading Missouri gay-rights group says same-sex marriage will probably come to the state within a year, The Springfield News-Leader reported. A.J. Bockelman, director of PROMO, made the prediction in an email to supporters, adding it is possible a sexual-orientation and gender-identity non-discrimination act will become law within a year as well.

In Wyoming, a state judge declined to either summarily rule on the constitutionality of a state law that specifies marriage is limited to one man and one woman, or to suspend a lawsuit challenging the law, the Associated Press reported. Laramie County District Court Judge Thomas Campbell said at a hearing that he will consider any additional facts and, in November, either rule on the law or allow the case to go ahead. Four same-sex couples and the gay-rights advocacy group Wyoming Equality sued Gov. Matt Mead, Laramie County Clerk Debbye Lathrop, and other state and local officials in March.

A Little Rock native who has worked for several nonprofits will be the first Arkansas director for the nation's largest LGBT-rights group, according to the Associated Press. Human Rights Campaign announced it had hired Kendra Johnson as its state director as part of its $8.5 million Project One America campaign to promote LGBT equality in three Southern states ( Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas ).

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation—in partnership with the National Education Association and the American Counseling Association—is holding its nationally acclaimed Time to THRIVE conference in Portland, Oregon, Feb. 13-15, 2015, according to a press release. Last year's inaugural Time to THRIVE conference, held in Las Vegas, featured Chelsea Clinton, Lance Bass, Betty DeGeneres and Magic Johnson's son EJ. In addition, actress Ellen Page moved came out in a speech that quickly went viral. Visit www.TimeToThrive.org .

A memorial for the late gay author/speechwriter Frank Robinson will take place Friday, Aug. 8, at the San Francisco Women's Building Auditorium. Robinson was a former Chicagoan who moved to San Francisco and later became a speechwriter for gay politician Harvey Milk. Several of Robinson's novels have been adapted for television and for feature films, including 1974's Hollywood blockbuster The Towering Inferno, based partly on The Glass Inferno, a novel which he and Thomas M. Scortia co-authored.

A new report from the Out2Enroll campaign—a collaborative LGBT outreach and enrollment initiative from the Center for American Progress, the Sellers Dorsey Foundation and the Federal Agencies Project—analyzes stakeholder interviews to look in depth at LGBT-oriented community engagement efforts over the first open enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act, according to a press release. Among the findings was that LGBT outreach was complicated in many states by uncertainty surrounding policy issues related to relationship recognition for same-sex couples, transgender coverage exclusions, HIV coverage and plan transparency.

The family of a Georgia man who was shot and killed by an Essex County deputy sheriff during a 2010 sex sting in a Newark park settled their civil-rights lawsuit against the county and the sheriff's office for $1.5 million, according to Gay City News. The deputy sheriff, Edward Esposito ( who was then 29 ), claimed that DeFarra Gaymon ( 48 ) approached him in the park with his penis out of his pants. When he tried to arrest the older man, Esposito said Gaymon grew aggressive. Two-thirds of the settlement will be divided among Gaymon's widow, Mellanie, and his four children.

The board of directors of the National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender ( LGBT ) Veteran's Memorial project has announced the design of the monument to be placed in the memorial garden at Historic Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C., according to a press release. Three pillars will each display two of the six service emblems ( Army and Air Force, Navy and Marines, and the Coast Guard and Merchant Marines ). The pillars will be placed in a triangle, allowing space for visitors to walk inside. To make a donation or to purchase pavers, visit www.nlgbtvm.org .

Sarah Palin has announced the formation of her own Internet television news channel, Politico reported. In a Facebook post, the former Alaska governor and 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee announced the Sarah Palin Channel, an interactive, online network designed as an alternative to mainstream news media. The network will cost $9.95 per month or $99.95 annually for subscribers.

The Cape Henlopen School Board—which represents students living in the LGBT-friendly resort towns of Rehoboth Beach, Lewes and Milton, Delaware—abolished a recommended summer reading list after a controversy over a lesbian-themed book, The Washington Blade noted. The board in June removed that book—The Miseducation of Cameron Post, by Emily Danforth—which tells the story of a teenage girl from Montana who loses her parents in an auto accident and moves in with an "old-fashioned" grandmother and conservative aunt. When they learn she is a lesbian, they send her to a religious conversion camp.

Cosmopolitan.com has published a list of sex tips specifically for women who have sex with other women, according to The Huffington Post. Titled "28 Mind-Blowing Lesbian Sex Positions," the article walks readers through a number of new positions, including "The Laconic Lounger, "The Rocket" and "Defying Gravity"—and they're all accompanied by illustrations. Last December the magazine published a piece titled "14 Things You Should Never Say To A Gay Man" and, more recently, "8 Things Not To Say To A Transgender Person."


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