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The most popular politician is…; Disney's gay president
NATIONAL ROUNDUP: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2013-02-13

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A poll by Quinnipiac University revealed that former the most popular U.S. politician is Secretary of State Hillary, surpassing fellow Democrats President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden as well as leading Republicans, according to a Chicago Tribune item. Sixty-one percent of American voters approve of Clinton, a possible U.S. presidential candidate for 2016; Obama scored 51 percent while Biden got a 46-percent approval rating.

Orlando, Fla.-based Walt Disney World has welcomed its first openly gay president, according to the Huffington Post. On Feb. 1, George Kalogridis became Disney World's fifth president, after having served as president of California's Disneyland since 2009. Kalogridis, 59, has been with the Walt Disney Company since 1971, when he landed a job bussing tables at Disney's Contemporary Resort.

As the nation prepared to mark National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day (NBHAAD) Feb. 7, the National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC) and Housing Works, with support from the Ford Foundation, released a new report titled "Mass Incarceration, Housing Instability and HIV/AIDS," according to a press release. The report analyzes the intersection between incarceration, homelessness and HIV vulnerability, especially within the African-American community. The report includes recommendations to address this cycle of vulnerability, including reforming criminal-justice and sentencing practices. The full report is at http://nmac.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Incarceration-Report-FINAL_2-6-13.pdf.

So-called "ex-gay" Christian advocate Matt Moore—who blogs on the Christian Post about how religion saved him from a life of gay-related sin—was recently discovered on the hookup app Grindr, the Huffington Post reported. Moore told writer Zinnia Jones, "Creating a grindr profile and talking to guys on it was major disobedience on my part ... disobedience to Christ. ... I won't be on Grindr again ... ever." Moore added that he told the church pastor about his Grindr activity before the news was publicized.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton mentioned marriage equality in his third State of the State address, according to the Duluth News Tribune. "I want Minnesota to be a state which affirms that freedom for one means freedom for everyone, and where no one is told that it is illegal to marry the person you love," he said. Dayton also talked about raising taxes on the rich and praised the state's agricultural efforts, among other things.

Florida's Lake County school board could create new rules that would keep a local gay-straight alliance from forming at a middle school, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The school board discussed the rules for student clubs at a workshop—with most members saying they want to limit extracurricular student groups in secondary schools. The discussion came after the American Civil Liberties Union supported 14-year-old Bayli Silberstein, who wanted to form an alliance at Carver Middle School in Leesburg. Silberstein was denied last school year but re-applied to form the group in October.

President Obama has nominated Todd M. Hughes for a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Hughes would be the first openly gay federal appellate court judge, according to a Victory Fund press release. The White House stated that Hughes is is deputy director of the commercial litigation branch of the civil division at the United States Department of Justice, a position he has held since 2007. He also has served as an adjunct lecturer-in-law with the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and as an instructor for Duke University's writing program.

The Boy Scouts of America is delaying a vote on possibly changing its policy banning gay troops and leaders until May, according to the Washington Post. The group said last month that it would reach a decision about the ban after a three-day meeting of the national executive board, but determined that the debate needed more time to play out. The delay comes seven months after the Scouts reaffirmed its stance banning gay members.

It turns out that Megan Phelps-Roper and her younger sister, Grace, left the Kansas anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church last year, according to the Huffington Post. On Feb. 6, the granddaughters of Westboro founder and pastor Fred Phelps Sr. made their decision public for the first time. In an online statement, they expressed regret for their past actions, but also admitted that it was difficult to leave the only life they had ever known behind.

Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, led a bipartisan coalition of congressional champions of immigration reform and civil rights in re-introducing the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) Feb. 5, according to a press release. UAFA would provide gays and lesbians' foreign partners with equal immigration rights. Others in the coalition include Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Richard Hanna (R-NY), Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Charlie Dent (R-PA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), John Conyers (D-MI), Jared Polis (D-CO), David Cicilline (D-RI), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), Mark Pocan (D-WI), Mark Takano (D-CA), Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY), Mike Honda (D-CA) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD).

In a related development, GOP U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio said he hopes LGBT family rights won't become "a central issue" in the nation's immigration reform plan, according to Gay Star News. The Republican senator from Florida said in an interview with Buzzfeed Brews, "The immigration issue has so many landmines and pitfalls that it's going to be hard enough to do, as is."

U.S. District Judge John Corbett O'Meara sentenced Detroit resident Everett Dwayne Avery, 26, to 18 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release after Avery pled guilty to committing a hate crime by assaulting a man because the man was gay, according to a White House press release. In 2011, Avery used anti-gay slurs and punched the victim in the face, fracturing the victim's eye socket. Avery pled guilty to violating the federal Hate Crimes Protection Act on Aug. 29, 2012.

North Dakota lawmakers are considering a bill that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing, government, public services and the workplace, according to TwinCities.com . The measure would amend the North Dakota Fair Housing Act and the North Dakota Human Rights Act. It is sponsored by a group of lawmakers that includes state Rep. Josh Boschee, the state's first openly gay legislator.

Also in North Dakota, Fargo lesbian couple Katy Kjelvik and Steph Rindy—who were legally married in Iowa in 2011—were denied a discounted family pass to the city's public golf courses, according to Inforum.com . The Fargo Park District said it bases its policy on state law, which defines marriage as strictly between a man and a woman. The $860 family golfing pass allows access to all of Fargo's nine-hole courses; the couple would have saved about $100 with a family pass.

In Philadelphia, local performer and LGBT advocate Nicholas Rocco DeFinis, 26, has joined Oprah Winfrey, Britney Spears and former president Bill Clinton on the "Wall of Fame" at Geno's Steaks restaurant, according to Philadelphia Gay News. In 2009, DeFinis was crowned Mr. Gay Congeniality Philadelphia and Mr. Gay Philadelphia runner-up two years later.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced Feb. 11 that the Pentagon is extending benefits to same-sex partners of military servicemembers, including the right to visit their loved ones in military hospitals, USA Today reported. Among the other benefits to be extended: participating in family groups on military bases, issuing dependent identification cards and having privileges in commissaries. The military has 60 days to determine how to extend the benefits.

In Maryland, Prince George's County Public Schools stopped using an anti-bullying curriculum that included references to "ex-gay" organizations, the Washington Blade reported. A 21-minute video the Blade obtained features four students who are assigned a project on anti-gay bullying. Both the curriculum and the website for Acception Productions, which produced it, lists Exodus International, the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality and Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays among a list of resources for "questioning and/or youth with unwanted same-sex attraction."

In California, a coalition of gay and lesbian groups lost its bid in court to force Little Saigon Tet Parade organizers to include the group in a Feb. 11 event, OCRegister.com reported. Orange County Superior Court Judge Geoffrey T. Glass declined to grant an injunction that the Partnership of Viet Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Organizations requested. Luan Tran, an attorney for the LGBT coalition, wrote in his application for a temporary restraining order that the group "seeks not only to promote justice and equity but to reduce stigma and associated mental trauma for LGBT persons."

A Florida judge has approved the adoption of a 22-month-old baby girl that will list three people as parents on her birth certificate—a married lesbian couple and a gay man, according to NBC News. The decision ends a two-year paternity fight between the couple (Maria Italiano and Cher Filippazzo) and their male friend (Massimiliano Gerina), who wanted a larger role in the baby's life. Under the judge's decision, the two women will have sole parental rights, although Gerina will be allowed to visit the child; he will not be expected to provide child support.

Citing the marriage-equality cases pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, Indiana legislators decided to delay a vote on amending the state's constitution to ban same-sex marriage until next year, according to Advocate.com . The amendment, which the legislature has approved once, would have to approved again this year or next before going to voters for final ratification in 2014. However, if the Supreme Court finds such measures violate the U.S. Constitution, that could negatively affect Indiana's process.

In Arkansas, leaders at the River Valley Equality Center in Van Buren claim a local restaurant owner discriminated against them and compared them to the Ku Klux Klan when he cancelled a reservation the group made to hold a fundraiser there, Advocate.com reported. The River Valley officials told an ABC affiliate that Richard Hodo, the owner of Sisters Gourmet Bistro, cancelled the group's reservation to host a fundraiser after he realized it was for an LGBT organization.

Chief Warrant Officer Charlie Morgan of the New Hampshire National Guard passed away, according to an OutServe-SLDN press release. Morgan came out on MSNBC on Sept. 20, 2011—the day of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal, and became a nationally recognized advocate against the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). DOMA bars her wife, Karen, from receiving military, Social Security and other benefits to help her care for their 5-year-old daughter, Casey Elena. Morgan also garnered national support in February 2012, when she visited Capitol Hill to meet with the staff of Speaker of the House John Boehner to tell her personal story.

The late Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) founder Jeanne Manford will be among those President Obama will honor with the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal Feb. 15, according to a White House press release. The medal is the country's second-highest civilian honor. Manford (who passed away in January at 92) and her husband, Jules, co-founded the organization in 1972.

Investor/Democratic activist Sean Eldridge has filed paperwork establishing a 2014 campaign for Congress in New York's Hudson Valley, according to Bloomberg.com . Eldridge is the president and founder of Hudson River Ventures LLC and a senior adviser to Freedom to Marry, which advocates for same-sex marriage. Also, he's married to Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook and the publisher of The New Republic magazine.

Puerto Rican officials announced the murder of gay hairstylist Milton Medina Morales was a hate crime, the Washington Blade reported. Media outlets reported that Richard Soto Velez, 20, confessed to killing Morales Feb. 3 after he said they went fishing in three local rivers on the island's west coast. Soto reportedly told investigators he became angry after the two men were unable to catch anything, and attacked Medina with a machete.

In Ohio, Mike Moroski, assistant principal at Cincinnati's Purcell Marian High School, has been placed on administrative leave for expressing support for same-sex marriage, according to On Top Magazine. Moroski said the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, which operates the school, plans on firing him over a statement he posted on his blog. Moroski said that he does not feel he violated his contract because he was following his conscience.

LGBT online dating site OneGoodLove.com ( www.onegoodlove.com ) named President Barack Obama its 2013 Honorary Gay Valentine, a press release stated. The relationship-focused site chose Obama "for his ongoing efforts to speak out about full equality for gay and lesbian citizens, helping to set the stage for the day lesbian and gay couples secure equal federal marriage rights."

The 2013 OutServe-SLDN National Dinner will take place at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, March 9, according to a press release. The organization's executive director, Army veteran Allyson Robinson, will deliver her first "State of LGBT Military Service" address at the event, which is expected to draw more than 1,000 service members, veterans, families and allies. The March 9 dinner is the first national event for OutServe-SLDN, formed last year by the combination of OutServe and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is criticizing the efforts of a small group in Indiana working to ban gay and lesbian students from attending the Sullivan High School prom this year, according to an HRC press release. One student who supports the ban told a local NBC affiliate: "We want to make the public see that we love the homosexuals, but we don't think it's right nor should it be accepted." A Facebook page set up by those backing attempts to ban LGBT students from the prom is now defunct; however, a page to support all Sullivan High School students—regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity—has attracted nearly 5,000 likes.

Denver Nuggets star Kenneth Faried has become the first NBA player to join Athlete Ally, an organization devoted to fighting homophobia in sports, according to the Huffington Post. Faried—nicknamed the "Manimal" for his ferocity on the court—was raised in New Jersey by two mothers, who married in 2007. Faried recently appeared with his mothers in a video for the advocacy group OneColorado in order to encourage Colorado to legalize civil unions.

The Senate voted 78-22 to renew the Violence Against Women Act with new assurances that the gay community, immigrants and Native American women will have equal access to the act's anti-domestic violence programs, according to USA Today. The act expired in 2011, putting efforts to improve its many federal programs on hold. This year House Republicans—cognizant of their lackluster showing among women voters in the November election—have vowed to move on the issue.

Christopher Dorner, the Los Angeles ex-cop who was accused of being on a recent killing spree, included thoughts on gay and lesbian celebrities as well as LGBT equality in a lengthy Facebook commentary, Advocate.com reported. Anderson Cooper and Ellen DeGeneres were among those he praised; Cooper revealed that Dormer sent him a package earlier this month that included a note, DVD and a coin with bullet holes. Dorner also called for equal benefits for military spouses and urged LGBT activists to stop targeting Chick-fil-A.

Out Apple CEO Tim Cook was among those seated in First Lady Michelle Obama's box during President Obama's State of the Union address that was delivered Feb. 12, according to a White House release. Advisor Valerie Jarrett and Nathaniel and Cleopatra Pendleton, the parents of slain Chicago teen Hadiya Pendleton, were in the box as well, among several others.

The Associated Press (AP) has decreed that it won't refer to members of married same-sex couples as husbands or wives, according to Advocate.com . Media blogger Jim Romenesko published an internal AP memo saying that "husband" or "wife," in reference to same-sex couples, "may be used in AP stories with attribution," adding, "Generally, AP uses 'couples' or 'partners' to describe people in civil unions or same-sex marriages."

Floyd Lee Corkins II has pled guilty to shooting and wounding a security guard at the headquarters of the anti-gay Family Research Council in Washington, D.C., in August 2012, Advocate.com reported. In a plea agreement, Corkins pleaded guilty to three counts: interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition, assault with intent to kill while armed, and an act of terrorism while armed. He will be sentenced April 29, and could receive up to 15 years in prison for each count.


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