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Va. rejects gay man as judge; 9-year-old protests hateful church
NATIONAL ROUNDUP: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy CIty Times..
2012-05-23

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Virginia's General assembly has rejected Tracy Thorne-Begland, a gay man, for a Richmond judgeship, the Washington Post reported. Conservatives contended that Thorne-Begland's support for marriage equality and other more liberal leanings made him an unfit candidate for the bench. The House of Delegates voted 33-31 against him, with 10 abstentions; the Senate did not vote on his candidacy, but decided to pass by the nomination.

In Kansas, 9-year-old Josef Miles mounted a quiet counterprotest against picketers from the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church, according to the Huffington Post. Miles and his mother, Patty Akrouche, were walking around a college campus when they saw the parishioners with their signs. Miles then took out a small sketch pad and held it out while standing across from the picket line; he had written the words "GOD HATES NO ONE." Later on Facebook, Akrouche expressed her pride in her son.

The 27th annual AIDS Walk New York, held May 20, was a success, drawing 45,000 participants and raising more than $6 million, according to a press release. A star-studded opening ceremony preceded the 10-kilometer walk, which raised millions for Gay Men's Health Crisis and more than 40 other AIDS-service organizations in the tri-state area. Actor/singer Nick Jonas, actor David Hyde Pierce, U.S. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, talk-show host Wendy Williams and Glee actress Dot-Marie Jones were among the celebrities present.

San Diego LGBT Pride has started a Diversity Task Force, according to a press release. More than 26 local diversity organizations were invited to participate; currently, 17 individuals are a part of this working group. Among some of the demographics represented are bisexual, Latino, elder, gay, lesbian, trans FTM, trans MTF and differently abled individuals.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) released a statement lauding the approval of the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act ( DPBO ) S.1910 in the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. The measure would provide benefits to domestic partners of federal employees. HRC President Joe Solmonese said, "The federal government would be wise to follow the private sector in offering equal pay for equal work. America's major corporations have discovered that equality is not only the right thing to do, but good for business."

The Best Practices Registry for Suicide Prevention has designated the Family Acceptance Project ( FAP ) at San Francisco State University's "Supportive Families, Healthy Children: Helping Families Support their LGBT Children" as the first "Best Practice" resources for suicide prevention for LGBT youth and young adults, according to a press release. The registry designates and maintains an expert-reviewed compendium of approved "best practices" to prevent suicide.

To help LGBT visitors make the most of their time in the city, the San Francisco Travel Association has launched a guide to "49 Hours of SF: Out & About" at www.sanfrancisco.travel/lgbt. A "build-your-own-itinerary" tool allows visitors to select items from each of the schedules and build their own 49-hour excursions that can be shared via Facebook, Twitter or email. Joe D'Alessandro, San Francisco Travel president and CEO, said, "A lot can happen in this city, even with just an extra hour, so we've designed six different itineraries that will give our visitors an unforgettable experience here."

Former Chicagoan Miguel A. Ayala has been hired as the deputy director of communications for the Council on Environmental Quality at the White House. The DePaul University graduate was the deputy press secretary for U.S. Debbie Stabenow, and had been communications director for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Last year, he served as a co-chair of the Gay, Lesbian & Allies Senate Staff ( GLASS ) Caucus.

The progressive L.A.-based organization the Courage Campaign released a statement saying that it's encouraged by boxer Manny Pacquiao's revision of an anti-gay statement, a press release noted. In an interview with Examiner.com, the pugilist said, "God only expects man and woman to be together and to be legally married, only if they so are in love with each other." After much criticism, Pacquiao revised his statement, saying, "I only voiced out my opinion that same-sex marriage is against the law of God. I'm not against homosexuals. I have a relative who is also gay."

The Justice Department released a final rule to prevent, detect and respond to sexual abuse in confinement facilities, in accordance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 ( PREA ) , according to a press release. This landmark rule sets national standards for four categories of facilities: adult prisons and jails, lockups, community confinement facilities and juvenile facilities. Among the many aims are establishing a zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual abuse; designating a PREA point person to coordinate compliance efforts; and disciplining staff and inmate assailants appropriately.

In Pennsylvania, Hanover Area High School student Jared Swank said he was a victim of bullying by school administrators after a video of him dancing with his transgender prom date resulted in fellow classmates ridiculing him, the Huffington Post reported. A teacher asked Swank if she could film him and his date; however, the teacher reportedly played the video to her science class, who laughed at it. Swank, who is graduating, said he hoped his case would help the school's incoming LGBT students.

John Robert Hart and Dennis Jay Mayer—the gay cruise-ship passengers arrested on the Caribbean island of Dominica for indecent exposure—have owned up to having sex on the ship's balcony, according to the Huffington Post. They told Queerty, "We were f**king. There, I said it." The Palm Springs, Calif., couple ( who have been together for 17 years ) added, "The real question is not what we were doing on our balcony, but why is one of the largest promoters of gay cruises and events taking folks from the LGBT community to these countries with laws against homosexuals on their books? Why are they financially supporting these countries?"

In Georgia, Shorter University librarian Michael Wilson is leaving the school after it issued new contracts to employees that include a "lifestyle statement," according to InsideHigherEd.com . The statement reads, in part, "I reject as acceptable all sexual activity not in agreement with the Bible, including, but not limited to, premarital sex, adultery, and homosexuality." Wilson, an out gay man who is tenured, said he cannot abide by the statement and is prepared to leave the university; more than 50 other faculty and staff members have already resigned since the October 2011 announcement about the statement.

In Michigan, Ricky Davis—a gay prisoner at the Florence Crane Correctional Facility—can proceed with his case against the prison, PrideSource.com reported. Davis filed an employment discrimination case alleging that he was removed from the prison public-works program because of his sexual orientation. A federal district judge dismissed the case, but the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision. ACLU of Michigan LGBT Project staff attorney Jay Kaplan said, "This is an opportunity for the case to be briefed on its merits and to give Mr. Davis his day in court, which he deserves."

Chrissy Polis—the transgender woman who was attacked by two teens at a Maryland McDonald's restaurant last year—told the Baltimore Sun she is still afraid to go outside, according to a New York Daily News item. Polis, 24, also has rejected offers of help from strangers ( e.g., transgender-rights organizations ) who she believes want to use her for a greater cause. She added that she's living on donations from supporters as well as a non-bank loan, and claimd that she's getting a settlement from the fast-food chain.

Darnell "Dynasty" Young—the gay Indianapolis teen expelled for taking a stun gun to school to deal with bullies—was attacked at a local shopping mall where he works, according to the New York Daily News. Khyran Delay, 34, was arrested for allegedly assaulting Young, 17, after recognizing the teen from recent media coverage. Court documents said Delay admitted to mall security officers he'd seen Young in the media and wanted to confront him.

Former Rutgers student Dharun Ravi was sentenced May 21 to 30 days in jail for using a Web cam to spy on roommate Tyler Clementi, who had a tryst with another man, according to the New York Post. Days after finding out he was taped, Clementi committed suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge. Ravi also received three years probation, 300 hours of community service, a $10,000 fine and counseling on cyberbullying and "alternate lifestyles." He had convicted in March on 15 criminal counts, including bias intimidation, had could have gotten up to 10 years behind bars. Prosecutors plan to appeal the sentence.

Just days after President Obama declared his support for same-sex marriage, African Americans in North Carolina are showing a major shift in their views on the issue, according to PublicPolicyPolling.com . Fifty-five percent of African Americans believe same-sex couples should either be allowed to marry or form civil unions, up 11 points from the last statewide same-sex marriage poll conducted May 6. However, 58 percent of voters think same-sex marriage should be illegal, which is consistent with the 61-percent passage rate for the anti-gay Amendment One in the recent primary.

Thomas J. Stipanowich, the academic director of the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at Pepperdine University School of Law, said that the school has officially recognized the organization known as the LGBT Legal Society, according to Forbes.com . The society—whose mission is to discuss LGBT-related legal issues and implement networking—will officially launch when classes resume in August. Last year it was reported that the university refused to officially recognize Reach OUT, a student gay-straight alliance.

More than a week after his comments on marriage equality seemingly forced the president's hand on the issue, Vice President Joe Biden said he and President Obama are "in the same place" regarding same-sex marriage, according to the Chicago Tribune. Talking with an Ohio news station, Biden reiterated Obama's stance that it would be up to each state to "determine for themselves how they're going to treat the issue of marriage." However, Biden added that everyone is "entitled to the same exact rights."

In Idaho, Melissa Sue Robinson won the District 12 state Senate race against veteran campaigner Maria Mabbutt, according to the Idaho Press-Tribune. Robinson, 61, said the win makes her the first transgender individual to win an election in the state. She added that she will take her general-election run against attorney Todd Lakey seriously, and also will not make LGBT-related issues the core of her campaign.

In Texas, former Roman Catholic priest John Fiala has been convicted of trying to hire a hit man to kill a boy who accused Fiala of sexual abuse, according to the Dallas News. Fiala, who was convicted by a Dallas County jury, also faces sex-assault charges in Edwards County. Fiala had claimed he told a purported hit man ( actually, an undercover police officer ) to kill the teen because Fiala thought his own life was in danger.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People ( NAACP ) released a resolution supporting marriage equality, according to an organizational press release. At a meeting of the 103-year-old civil-rights group's board of directors, the organization voted to back marriage equality as a continuation of its historic commitment to equal protection under the law.

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn married her longtime partner, attorney Kim Catullo, May 19, the New York Daily News reported. The couple exchanged vows in Manhattan in front of about 275 guests, including dozens of city and state officials. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly, Rep. Charlie Rangel, and U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer were among those attending. Mayoral hopeful Quinn wore a full-length, cream-colored gown designed by Carolina Herrera; Catullo donned a cream silk suit that Ralph Lauren made.

New Hampshire Episcopalians elected the Rev. A. Robert Hirschfeld to replace Bishop V. Gene Robinson, the first out gay bishop in the history of the Anglican Communion, and who is scheduled to retire in January, according to Boston.com . Hirschfeld is rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst, Mass. The other two nominees were the Rev. William W. Rich, a senior associate rector at Trinity Church in Boston and a married gay man; and the Rev. Penelope Maud Bridges, rector of St. Francis Episcopal Church in Great Falls, Va.

According to a new study from the Williams Institute, gay men face higher rates of hate-motivated physical violence than lesbians, bisexuals or other federally protected groups with high rates of hate crimes, a press release noted. Among the research findings, 26 in 100,000 gay men reported being victims of hate-motivated crimes against persons, compared to 10 in 100,000 lesbians, five in 100,000 African Americans and five in 100,000 Jewish Americans. Gay men also face the second highest risk of being victims of hate-motivated property crime. The full report is at http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/research/violence-crime/comparison-hate-crime-rates-update.

In Maryland, the Court of Appeals has ruled that the state should recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, according to the Baltimore Sun. The case arose after Jessica Port and Virginia Anne Cowan, who were married in California, appealed the denial of their uncontested divorce. ( Maryland does not itself allow same-sex marriage. ) "To treat families differently under the law because they happen to be led by gay or lesbian couples is not right or just," Gov. Martin O'Malley said in a statement. " [ The ] decision is another step forward in our efforts to ensure that every child is protected equally under the law."

In Ohio, a school is now allowing gay high-school student Maverick Couch to wear a T-shirt promoting tolerance of gays whenever he wants, according to the Huffington Post. A judgment in federal court allows Couch to wear the "Jesus Is Not A Homophobe" T-shirt at any time; in addition, the district must pay $20,000 in court costs and damages. The school had repeatedly denied Couch the opportunity to wear the T-shirt.

Bobby Khamvongsa, a gay makeup artist, was found dead of multiple stab wounds in West Hollywood, Calif., Advocate.com reported. Police arrested Richard Herrera, 29, who also went to Kaimuki High School with Khamvongsa, 27, in Hawaii. Khamvongsa's family does not know what kind of relationship the two men had.

Gay Republican presidential candidate Fred Karger has again challenged the National Organization for Marriage ( NOM ) after the group allegedly failed to report $345,000 in Prop 8-related contributions from 11 donors, according to Advocate.com . Karger's complaint claims that NOM did not publicly report the donors, who may include presumptive GOP candidate Mitt Romney. Three years ago, Karger challenged NOM over possible ethics violations in Iowa and Maine.

New Hampshire resident Mike Raven has launched a campaign to get dictionaries to print a more inclusive definition of the word "marriage," the Huffington Post reported. Raven was inspired to start a petition on Change.org after seeing how upset his lesbian twin sister was in response to North Carolina's passage of Amendment One, which bans same-sex marriage. "If this whole argument comes down to an intangible definition of marriage, then it's time for that definition to change," he wrote on his petition.

A 1978 audio track from a North Carolina pastor who, this year, called for the deaths of LGBT people has been making the rounds, the Huffington Post reported. Pastor Charles L. Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church said in a clip reportedly filmed May 13, 2012, that gays and lesbians should be put in an electrified pen and eventually killed. Since that footage was found, Good as You blogger Jeremy Hooper has unearthed a '70s audio that has Worley saying, " [ I ] t saddens my heart to think homosexuals can go around, bless God, and get the applause of a lot of people."


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