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Sen. Brown's LGBT column; gay anchor wants Trayvon tweets to end
NATIONAL ROUNDUP: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times.
2012-04-11

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U.S. Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts published a guest column in the LGBT newspaper Bay Windows in which he praised the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT), according to Advocate.com . However, Brown also wrote that he would not promise to "support everyone's pet project." Brown, who is seeking election to a full six-year term and who has the backing of Log Cabin Republicans, was one of eight Republican senators to vote for the repeal of DADT.

Out CNN anchor Don Lemon urged viewers not to send him any more controversial tweets regarding his coverage of Trayvon Martin's death, the Huffington Post reported. "Please don't send me any more tweets that by having this conversation, I'm a racist or a race-baiter," he said. "This is a conversation we all need to have, so relax on that." Martin was unarmed when neighborhood-watch volunteer George Zimmerman fatally shot him in late February.

In Ohio, Lambda Legal filed suit against Wayne Local School District on behalf of a Waynesville high school student, Maverick Couch, according to a press release. Last April, on the National Day of Silence, Couch wore a T-shirt to school that featured a rainbow sign of the fish along with the words "Jesus is not a homophobe"—and the principal ordered him to turn the shirt inside out. After more rejected requests from the school, Couch contacted Lambda Legal, who sent a letter to the school and followed with a lawsuit seeking to stop the school from prohibiting the shirt. The school will now allow Couch to wear the shirt on the National Day of Silence only.

Ex-White House adviser Van Jones doesn't see Black support for President Obama eroding even if the chief executive supports marriage equality, according to an Advocate.com item. When MSNBC anchor Alex Wagner asked about possibly losing some of the African-American vote, Jones joked, "I think if President Obama came out as gay, he wouldn't lose the Black vote," adding, "President Obama is not going to lose the Black vote no matter what he does."

Philadelphia Gay News (PGN) earned 10 awards from the Local Media Association, which serves more than 2,000 member North American newspapers, according to Marketwatch.com . This represents the largest number of awards ever given to a publication serving the LGBT community by a mainstream journalism organization. Now in its 36th year, Philadelphia Gay News received the second-highest number of awards for weekly newspapers for its circulation category.

A Elon University poll has found that six out of 10 North Carolina residents oppose a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage in the state, according to On Top Magazine. While only 38 percent of respondents said they support marriage equality, a majority (60 percent) said they are opposed to Amendment One while 32 percent said that they favor the amendment. Voters will decide on the measure during North Carolina's May 8 primary.

The Human Rights Campaign announced its involvement in a variety of activities around the 19th International AIDS Conference (known as AIDS 2012), which will be the first to be held in the United States in 22 years, according to a news release. The event is possible thanks to the end of the ban on HIV-positive visitors to the United States that was repealed in 2009. HRC will host panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, and will also hold a Congressional reception and a pre-conference faith forum. The conference will take place July 22-27 in Washington, D.C.

Hilton Hotels & Resorts has launched its "Stay Hilton. Go Out." package for LGBT travelers and their friends, according to a press release. The offer is part of a larger campaign that includes sponsorship of major LGBT events and a sweepstakes offering travelers a chance to win a VIP experience at Gay Days Orlando. The package offers reduced room rates, free high-speed Internet, and a free one-year digital subscription to OUT Magazine; see www.hilton.com/GoOut.

The White House honored Elena Chang and Suma Reddy from the Asian Pride Project (APP) as two of nine Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) leaders and organizations that are Champions of Change, according to a press release. The nine champions were chosen as part of the White House Initiative on AAPIs "What's Your Story?" video challenge, which highlighted the personal stories of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders across the country who have impacted their community through their dreams, experiences and dedication to a cause.

Tony Kushner, author of Angels in America, talked about the evolution of the AIDS epidemic as the guest of honor at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago (AFC)'s annual spring dinner—"An Angel Among Us: An Evening with Pulitzer Prize-winning Playwright Tony Kushner" March 27 at the Hilton Chicago, a press release noted. More than 450 guests attended the annual event, which raised $100,000 for HIV/AIDS awareness, education and policy programs.

In Anchorage, Alaska, voters rejected a proposal to add legal protections for LGBT individuals, according to the Huffington Post. Proposition 5 failed, 58 percent to 42 percent. The initiative had bipartisan support. as both Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Begich supported the measure. Alaska does not have a law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. However, the state's constitution bans same-sex marriage.

In New York City, lesbian chef Mirella Salemi was awarded $1.6 million after her boss repeatedly attempted to "pray away" her sexual orientation, according to Advocate.com . Salemi was a chef at the eatery Mary Ann's on West Broadway for six years. She said owner Edward Globokar would hold regular prayer meetings in the restaurant to help "convert" gay employees such as Salemi, and he allegedly told employees who didn't agree with his views that they faced eternal damnation unless they repented.

In Michigan, 35-year-old transgender woman Coko Williams was fatally shot outside a Parkhurst-area home, according to an Advocate.com item. While the area where her body was found is, according to CBS affiliate WWJ, known for sex work, there's no indication that Williams (who sometimes worked as a hair stylist) was involved in sex work at any point. Witnesses told authorities that the suspects fled the scene in a gold vehicle.

Dante Parrish has been sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of murdering openly gay teen Jason Mattison, Advocate.com reported. Three years ago, Mattison, 15, was found dead in a Baltimore house. The victim was in a closet with a pillowcase stuffed in his mouth; his throat had been cut and he had been sexually assaulted. Parrish had been sentenced to 30 years in jail in 1999 for murdering a man; however, he was released in 2009.

In California, undercover stings have resulted in the arrests of 18 men for illegal sexual activities, according to losangeles.cbslocal.com . Los Angeles County Lifeguards alerted Manhattan Beach police to activity taking place at a public restroom. In addition, lifeguards and maintenance staff found graffiti that depicted "graphic sexual images as well as holes that were drilled in the partitions of the bathroom stalls," Manhattan Beach Police Department's Stephanie Martin said.

Lambda Legal has submitted a memorandum urging New York legislators to reconsider and support the passage of bill S323/A1008 that, if enacted, would prevent police and prosecutors from using possession of condoms as evidence of prostitution and prostitution-related offenses, according to a press release. "It makes no sense that the New York City Department of Public Health has distributed over 200 million free condoms as a matter of good public health practice, and then the NYPD and prosecutors try to use them as evidence of prostitution," said Lambda Legal Deputy Legal Director Hayley Gorenberg.

In a show of support for marriage equality, and a direct challenge to the anti-gay group National Organization for Marriage (NOM), dozens of local Seattle Starbucks consumers delivered a massive "Thank You" card signed by more than 640,000 SumOfUs.org, MoveOn.org and Washington United for Marriage members to Starbucks headquarters, according to a press release. NOM has urged the public to spread boycott Starbucks because the coffee chain publicly supported gay-marriage legislation that recently passed in Washington state.

In Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh officials are not happy with the the University of Pittsburgh's new policy on the use of bathrooms by transgender students and staff, according to Advocate.com . The policy says that transgender individuals must use the bathroom for the gender on their birth certificates. Trans people in Pennsylvania cannot change their birth certificates unless they undergo gender-reassignment surgery.

In Ohio, about 300 students rallied at two universities to protest a recent attack on two gay men, Advocate.com reported. The rallies, which took place at the University of Cincinnati and Oxford's Miami University, were responses to the March 24 attacks upon Miami student Michael Bustin and Univ. of Cincinnati student Adam Voegele. No arrests have been made.

Maryland's highest court is hearing the case of a lesbian couple who wants a divorce, ABC News reported. The case involves two women who were married in California; a Maryland judge denied a divorce in 2010, saying their marriage was not valid in the state. Maryland does not allow same-sex weddings; however, lawyers for the women told the court that it would be a first for the state not to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.

In Kentucky, Lexington's Gay and Lesbian Services Organization has filed a discrimination complaint against Hands On Originals, a T-shirt company that declined to produce shirts for the city's gay-pride festival, according to The New American. "This wouldn't be acceptable to do to a Black group," Paul Brown, chairman of Lexington's Pride Festival, told a local NBC news affiliate. "This wouldn't be acceptable to do to a Jewish group, and because of the fairness ordinance, it's unacceptable to do it to a gay group."

Joseph Amodeo—a 24-year-old former member of New York Catholic Charities' junior board who recently left his position—has criticized what he perceives as Cardinal Timothy Dolan's indifference toward LGBT homeless youth, Advocate.com reported. Amodeo, who is openly gay, left the board because of several anti-gay comments from Dolan, who was elevated to cardinal in February. Dolan also recently called comments from LGBT homeless-youth advocate Carl Siciliano "not only unfair and unjust, but inflammatory."

Zach Wahls—the Iowa resident whose personal testimony in support of marriage equality went viral last year—is partnering with One Iowa, the state's largest LGBT-rights group, to spread the message of equality for all families, according to TheGazette.com . In January 2011, Wahls talked before the Iowa House of Representatives about growing up with two mothers; the video garnered more than 2 million views on YouTube. He will tour Iowa in August and September.

In New York City, authorities have found gay hook-up websites on the laptop of Richard Descoings, 53, a French scholar who was found murdered in a Manhattan hotel room, according to the New York Post. Descoings, director of the prestigious Paris Institute of Political Studies—and a friend of French President Nicolas Sarkozy (who later paid homage to Descoings)—was "really into men," his widow reportedly told cops. The victim's room had not been broken into, and prescription drugs and alcohol were found there.

In Massachusetts, the Salem Superior Court will hear a case about Justin Goodwin, a 37-year-old gay man who committed suicide after he was verbally and physically assaulted outside a bar in 2009, EDGE Boston reported. Lawyers contend that Goodwin took his own life last year because of the brutal incident, which occurred in Gloucester. In March 2011, Goodwin died from a fatal dose of prescription drugs.

Revered journalist Mike Wallace has died at the age of 93. Wallace was known for his confrontational style—a format that worked well on 60 Minutes, the TV show where he was a regular correspondent from 1968 to 2006. (He also won 21 Emmys during his career.) In 1967, Wallace did a controversial report entitled "The Homosexuals," according to MagneticFire.com . The segment covers the Mattachine Society, one of the earliest organizations that focused on the gay-rights movement. The program also looks at the medical, legal and social aspects of homosexuality.

In Texas, a 71-year-old Richland Hills woman is facing a hate-crime charge after allegedly attacking her 25-year-old neighbor with a cane, according to dfw.cbslocal.com . The woman, Wanda Derby, also choked and scratched Lloyd Guerrero, an openly gay man. Derby repeatedly used a gay slur and told police that he "has AIDS and is going to kill my son." Guerrero has known Derby's son since childhood. Derby faces charges of assault and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon enhanced as a hate crime, KPRC Houston reported.

Magic Johnson Enterprises has partnered with Simply Healthcare Plans (SHP) to launch the Clear Health Alliance (CHA) plan for Floridians with HIV/AIDS, according to TheBody.com . Johnson is hopeful the partnership will forge "health care programs focused on the needs of individuals in underserved communities," according to a prepared statement. CHA will be a subsidiary of the Miami-based SHP made available through Medicaid.

In California, Fullerton Union High School student Kearian Giertz was disqualified from the Mr. Fullerton pageant for providing a remark regarding marriage equality, according to MSNBC. When Giertz was asked, "Where do you see yourself in 10 years from now?," he ended his reply by saying he hoped that 10 years from now, same-sex marriage will be legal in California. District officials said that Giertz's answer did not violate school rules, and Vice Principal Joe Abell apologized for disqualifying him.

In Florida, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is claiming that George Elia, 67, used "affinity fraud" to trick gay investors in an $11-million Ponzi scheme, Courthouse News Service reported. The 19-page complaint says that "Elia's scheme was, in part, an affinity fraud: a number of the investors were members of the gay community in Wilton Manors, Florida." The SEC is suing Elia and his company as well as 212 Entertainment Club and Elia Realty as relief defendants.

In Riviera Beach, Fla., Luis De Los Santos has been arrested on suspicion of shooting and robbing several transgender sex workers, Advocate.com reported. De Los Santos is thought to be behind the March 24 double-shooting that killed Tyrell Jackson, 23, and Michael Hunter, 20. While being pulled over during a routing traffic stop, police noticed De Los Santos was driving the same make of car the killer had: a 2003 silver Buick Rendezvous.

Police and officials at Colorado State University (CSU) are investigating a situation that resulted in four freshmen being hospitalized after confronting college football players, according to the Huffington Post. After leaving a party, CSU students J.D. Haley and Donny Gocha said that students in an SUV starting yelling gay slurs. When Gocha yelled back, the occupants got out of the vehicle, and started kicking and punching Gocha in the head. Gocha later posted on Facebook that "a bunch of football players just [came] to my room and apologized for what [happened]."

Former Library of Congress staff member Peter TerVeer has filed a discrimination complaint, claiming a supervisor harassed and humiliated him before firing TerVeer for being gay, the Huffington Post reported. TerVeer, who worked as a management analyst at the Library of Congress's Office of the Inspector General, said he had to take disability leave twice in the past year after supervisor John R. Mech created a hostile work environment, even quoting Biblical verses that supposedly condemn homosexuality.


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