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Top comics at fundraiser; Rick Perry's gay jokes
NATIONAL ROUNDUP: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times.
2012-03-28

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Hal Sparks (Queer As Folk) and openly gay comedians Bruce Vilanch and Lily Tomlin will perform at an April 5 "Laughing Is Good..." fundraiser to support California State Assembly candidate Torie Osborn, according to a press release. The event, which will also feature other Queer As Folk cast members, will take place at the Directors Guild of America in Los Angeles. Osborn has been part of the Liberty Hill Foundation and the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry made fun of GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, at one point comparing his own college degree in animal husbandry to "what Rick Santorum thinks gay marriage leads to," according to Advocate.com . Regarding Romney, Perry said, "I like Mitt Romney as much as one really good-looking man can like a really good-looking man and not break Texas law." Perry—who had run for president himself before dropping out earlier this year—performed the routine at the Gridiron Club and Foundation dinner, thrown by the oldest journalists' group in Washington, D.C.

Los Angeles-based Sexual Recovery Institute (SRI) has announced the launch of an eight-week program for men struggling with gay male relationship intimacy, fidelity, sex and love addiction, Business Wire reported. Among the specific topics to be discussed are dealing with the app Grindr, the overuse of porn and what exactly a gay sex addict is.

There is a petition on Change.org to support the firing of University of Nebraska assistant football coach Ron Brown, who reportedly is using his position to spread anti-gay positions in the name of Christianity, according to Outsports.com . On March 6, Brown traveled to Omaha, Neb., to argue against an nondiscrimination measure that would protect gay individuals. Among those who have said Brown should go is Helen Carroll, who heads the National Center for Lesbian Rights' sports project.

Dharun Ravi, who was found guilty of invasion of privacy and a hate crime for spying on fellow Rutgers University roommate Tyler Clementi, has said that he is sorry and that he's not biased against gay people, according to CBS News. "I didn't act out of hate and I wasn't uncomfortable with Tyler being gay," Ravi told The Star-Ledger. He also does not regret not taking a plea because "I would have had to testify that I did what I did to intimidate Tyler and that would be a lie." Ravi will be sentenced May 21, and could get up to 10 years in prison.

Pope Benedict XVI named William E. Lori was named the next archbishop of Baltimore, according to the Huffington Post. For the past decade, Lori has led the Diocese of Bridgeport in Connecticut's Fairfield County, but in recent months he's become the public face of the fight for religious freedom. Lori has been assigned with coordinating the bishops' opposition to same-sex marriage, the White House's birth-control mandate and other issues.

GLAAD and the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) announced the upcoming national launch of the "I AM: Trans People Speak" video series and called for the public to submit their own stories, according to a press release. See a trailer video of actress Laverne Cox, model/designer Isis King and others; read more information about the campaign; and submit videos at www.glaad.org/transpeoplespeak.

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is now boycotting Starbucks because it supports marriage equality—but several LGBT-rights groups are defending the coffee chain, the Huffington Post reported. NOM President Brian Brown has announced the "Dump Starbucks" campaign, stating on the movement's website that Starbucks believes that "same-sex marriage should become equally 'normal.'" Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said in a statement, "NOM is throwing a temper tantrum and encouraging its few supporters to intentionally harm the economic well-being of Starbucks employees all over the world."

In Georgia, high school student government president Reuben Lack is suing his school after he was fired for trying to make his prom more LGBT-inclusive, Advocate.com reported. Lack pitched an idea to the Alpharetta High School student council that would change the titles of "Prom King" and "Prom Queen" to "Prom Court," to honor same-sex couples. Lack was eventually removed for "pushing personal projects." He's now suing the school district, the principal and two faculty advisors for punitive damages and reinstatement.

Miami University of Ohio student Kaeden Kass has filed a complaint after claiming he was not allowed to be a residential assistant because he's transgender, according to the New York Daily News. Kass, who was born female but identifies as male, said the university offered him the same position at an all-female dorm instead. Although the school offers gender-neutral housing, Kass said he wants to live with his peers.

Former GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann owes more than $1 million from her unsuccessful bid, Boston.com reported. Bachmann detailed her finances through late January in a federal campaign report filed very recently; the report had been due Feb. 20. Half of the debt is for a fundraising consultant; her campaign manager is also owed a lot of money.

In Dallas, the investigation into a brutal anti-gay hate crime has stalled because of victim inaccessibility and a lack of witnesses, according to the Dallas Voice. On March 13, five men beat two Black gay men, ages 20 and 27, until they victims lost consciousness. Authorities have visited the apartment complex of the two men, left business cards and requested to be contacted, but there's been no response.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton has added another staff member to his office: 17-year-old Caleb Laieski, according to AZCentral.com . Laieski will work as Stanton's "Youth and Diversity Liaison." Laieski—who says he was bullied at Surprise Willow Canyon High School for being gay—will focus his work on raising awareness about bullying and diversity, complementing the anti-bullying agenda of the city's first lady, Nicole France Stanton.

The OUT NYC hotel is the first boutique hotel specifically designed to cater to New York City's LGBT tourists, according to the Calgary Herald. The hotel, not far from Times Square and Broadway, also hopes to cater to the friends and families of its gay clients. Designed by architect Paul Dominguez, The OUT NYC has, among other things, a wellness center, three courtyards, a sunbathing deck, event spaces and a nightclub called XL.

In Cleveland, hundreds of same-sex couples and straight allies gathered at Willard Park, and marched pass Cleveland City Hall to Public Square, according to WKYC.com . Equality Ohio wanted to highlight the discrimination faced by same-sex couples in the state. "With recent victories in New York, Washington, and Maryland, the momentum for marriage equality has never been more powerful," said Ed Mullen of Equality Ohio. There was also a mass wedding.

The 275 members of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus (SFGMC) performed award-winning composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz's new work "Testimony"—inspired by texts from Dan Savage's "It Gets Better" project—at Davies Symphony Hall March 20-21, according to a press release. Savage worked with Schwartz as he created "Testimony." See www.sfgmc.org to see the video or purchase the song.

In California, an immigration judge delayed the deportation of undocumented Mexican immigrant Alfonso Garcia, who wed his U.S. citizen partner, Brian Willingham, in New York, where same-sex unions are recognized, according to Fox News. Garcia, 35, and Willingham, 37, said they had been together for almost a decade. The judge has scheduled a new hearing for Oct. 23, giving Garcia time to complete required immigration-related procedures.

In New Orleans, 23-year-old Jeffrey Lee attacked a gay couple, apparently for no reason, according to Fox8Live.com . A group of young men descended upon Tim Miller and his partner, David, as the couple was taking an evening stroll on Dumaine Street. Authorities—who say Lee was the main perpetrator—are seeing if they the battery charge can be elevated to that of a hate crime.

In North Carolina, Bank of America executive Cathy Bessant said that a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in the state would harm businesses and economic development, Advocate.com reported. In a video posted by the Coalition to Protect North Carolina Families, the group working to defeat Amendment One, Bessant (the global technology and operations executive for the Charlotte-based bank) said the ban would produce a "disastrous effect on our ability to attract talent and retain talent."

Televangelist Pat Robertson said on The 700 Club that homosexuality "is somehow related to demonic possession," according to Advocate.com . Robertson made the statement during a segment profiling an "ex-gay" man who once "trolled the streets, longing for cheap sex with other men," as the Robertson put it.

In Manchester Township, Penn., lesbian couple Michelle and Sandy Gladfelter were denied a family discount at a sports club because the state and facility do not recognize same-sex marriages, according to Advocate.com . The Gladfelters applied for the discount with their 5-year-old daughter at the Green Valley Swimming Pool and Sports Club. The club's owner, Russ Jacobs, said, "We don't recognize same-sex marriages," adding that it's about economics, not politics. The township does not have an antidiscrimination law.

In Vermont, the country's oldest private military academy is holding its first gay-pride week, according to Boston.com . Norwich University's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, and Allies Club held its first meeting in September—hours after the end of "don't ask, don't tell.'' Now, the organization is planning a week of events highlighted by Norwich's first queer prom, where Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin will be the keynote speaker.

Chris Wayne Beers, a gay Mormon who's a missionary and former church employee, took his life on March 18 at the age of 38, according to Advocate.com . Beers had worked in the missionary and travel departments for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), according to a web posting by Affirmation, a group working for LGBT equality within the LDS church. A memorial website has been set up at ChrisBeers.blogspot.com .

In Ohio, judge Donald Cox granted a divorce to gay couple Jonathan Baize and Stephen Wissman, who married in New York last year, according to EDGE Boston. Ohio does not recognize marriage equality; voters approved an amendment that banned same-sex marriage and civil unions in the state in 2004. The anti-gay group Ohio Campaign to Protect Marriage had filed a legal brief in the case, saying that by granting a divorce, it would acknowledge the two men were legally married.

In Washington, D.C., authorities arrested a 27-year-old woman in connection with the March 11 shooting of a gay man at an IHOP restaurant, the Washington Blade reported. D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and Police Chief Cathy Lanier said that police charged LaShawn Yvonne Carson with aggravated assault while armed. Authorities had classified the shooting as a hate crime related to sexual orientation.

In Maryland, students at Towson University are criticizing a right-wing campus group called Youth for Western Civilization (YWC) that has reportedly espoused racist, homophobic and anti-immigration views, the Washington Blade reported. Matthew Heimbach, a 20-year-old junior who is the president of the Towson chapter of YWC, said that "white pride" should be as acceptable as "Black pride" and "gay pride." He also has organized a so-called "Straight Pride" event.

Californian Dennis Jay Mayer said that he and John Robert Hart were humiliated and taunted when they were arrested and jailed while on a gay cruise, according to LubbockOnline.com . The two were on a gay cruise in the Caribbean country of Dominica when they were arrested for having sex in public. Mayer, a retired deputy sheriff, said that an officer told them, "You're being arrested for being gay. We're arresting you for the crime of buggery." Mayer added that there was an interrogation that lasted nearly four hours, and that he and Hart sat for almost two hours without legal representation, despite repeatedly requesting it. The two pled guilty to indecent exposure and paid a fine of almost $900.

Compete America—a coalition of employers, universities and advocates for high skilled immigration that is dedicated to ensuring that the United States has an highly educated workforce—has endorsed the "Uniting American Families Act, according to a news release. This legislation would help employers attract and retain talented gay and lesbian employees by giving them the ability to sponsor their foreign-born, permanent partners for immigration to the United States. The act, introduced by Rep. Jerry Nadler and Sen. Patrick Leahy, has more than 130 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives and 23 co-sponsors in the Senate.

In Massachusetts, the principal of a Boston-area public high school is not backing down from his school's decision to ban a female student from wearing a T-shirt that says, "All The Cool Girls Are Lesbians," Fox News reported. Lynn English High School principal Tom Strangie said that the student was asked to cover up the shirt because it was deemed "disruptive," and not because of the student's sexual orientation. The girl complied, but later wrote a letter to Lynn mayor and school committee chairman Judith Flanagan Kennedy, saying she felt her right to free speech had been violated.

Also in Massachusetts, a federal court ruled in favor of the state's ACLU chapter when it challenged the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) over contracts with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, according to ReligionDispatches.org . ACLU first brought the case three years ago, when the HHS let the USCCB ban the referrals for sexual-assault victims to contraception and abortion services. Judge Richard Stearns said the bishops were not allowed to use taxpayer money to refuse the victims those services.


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