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Vicious verbal attack on Dan Savage; Anderson Cooper slams TV host
National roundup: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2013-09-03

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Right-wing talk-show host Stan Solomon has said that well-known gay activist Dan Savage deserves to die "of every disease known," according to the Huffington Post. As part of a special "Race in America" program to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, Solomon called Savage a "faggot" and a "horrible, awful, terrible excuse for a human being." Solomon also slammed slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin as "a thug that deserves to be dead."

On his CNN program, out journalist Anderson Cooper went after televangelist Pat Robertson for an AIDS-related theory he proposed, the Huffington Post reported. Robertson recently said on his 700 Club show that gay people in San Francisco have deliberately spread AIDS using rings designed to cut people. Including this on his own "RidicuList," Cooper said, "Really? A ring that gives you AIDS. I've never seen that particular section of Zales. Have you?"

Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has distanced himself from anti-gay remarks made by Steve Lonegan, the Republican Senate candidate who Christie has endorsed, the Huffington Post reported. Lonegan speculated about the sexual orientation of his opponent, Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D), and implied that gay men are not real men. Christie said, "Steve Lonegan and I don't agree on every issue, and I certainly won't agree with every utterance that comes out of his mouth." Lonegan, the conservative former mayor of Bogota, N.J., is challenging Booker in the state's Oct. 16 special election to replace the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D).

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that state licensing officials may enforce a 2012 California law banning licensed therapists from attempting to change the sexual orientation or gender expression of a patient under 18 years old, according to an ACLU press release. Writing for the court, Circuit Judge Susan Graber ruled that the California law is a "regulation of professional conduct" and therefore "does not violate the free speech rights of [mental health] practitioners or minor patients, is neither vague nor overbroad, and does not violate parents' fundamental rights."

The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service announced Aug. 29 that same-sex couples, legally married in jurisdictions that recognize their marriages, will be treated as married for federal tax purposes, according to a U.S. Treasury Department release. It does not matter if the couple lives in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage or one that does not. The ruling implements federal tax aspects of the June 26 Supreme Court decision invalidating a key provision of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a memo clarifying that all beneficiaries in private Medicare plans have access to equal coverage when it comes to care in a nursing home where their spouse lives, a press release stated. This is the first guidance HHS has issued in response to the recent Supreme Court ruling that held section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. The guidance specifically clarifies that this guarantee of coverage applies equally to couples who are in a legally recognized same-sex marriage, regardless of where they live.

Kentucky's state capital, Frankfort, became the fifth city in the state to adopt an LGBT-inclusive antidiscrimination ordinance, Advocate.com reported. The Frankfort Board of Commissioners voted 3-2 to enact a "fairness" law that bans discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on someone's actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Frankfort Mayor Bill May and Commissioners Tommy Haynes and Katie Flynn Hedden voted in favor of the comprehensive anti-discrimination bill.

In California Aug. 29, U.S. District Judge Consuelo Marshall ruled that the military cannot deny spousal benefits to a lesbian veteran in a same-sex marriage because doing so does not serve any purpose for the armed forces, according to Reuters. The lawsuit centers on a law (referred to as Title 38) governing military benefits that defines spouse and surviving spouse to refer to those in opposite-sex marriages. Marshall, in her ruling, cited evidence that the purpose of the spousal benefits was, in part, to ensure that service members perform to their highest potential and to make it easier to recruit and train individuals to join the U.S. armed forces.

A North Carolina mother is facing misdemeanor child-abuse charges after she allegedly instructed her 12-year-old son to "beat the gay away" from his 15-year-old brother, according to the Huffington Post. Mary Gowans allegedly made her 15-year-old son strip down to his underpants while instructing his younger brother to strike him repeatedly with a belt. Gowans, however, denies those charges, adding that she believes her older son is gay "in some way," and that he has been visiting an older gay man who she heard had molested him.

Gay-rights group ProgressNow New Mexico wants a state senator to apologize for labeling the gay community as "whores," according to KOB.com . In a recent blog post, state Sen. Bill Sharer (R-Farmington) wrote that even though Alexander the Great was admittedly gay, he was a traditional marriage hero because he married a woman, adding that the historic figure "directed his officers to stop 'whoring' around and find a local woman to marry." Patrick Davis, executive director of ProgressNow New Mexico, said, "The threat to Senator Sharer and the Republican Party in New Mexico doesn't come from loving couples entering into committed relationships; it comes from their own failure to recognize the progress our country is making towards realizing the dream of freedom and equality for all."

Gene L. Dickerson—a transgender state inmate in Dallas, Pa.—has filed a lawsuit in federal court, citing unsafe living conditions relating to her transgender status, according to Philadelphia Gay News. She alleges harassment and discrimination by state Department of Correction (DOC) officials because she's transgender. She also alleges that DOC officials failed to properly screen her cellmates for transphobia, thus exposing her to dangerous situations. Dickerson claims that all five cellmates she's had so far have either assaulted her, sexually harassed her or threatened bodily harm.

Liz Cheney—a Republican running for the U.S. Senate in Wyoming and the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney—has declared that she is "not pro-gay marriage," according to the Daily Caller. "I am strongly pro-life and I am not pro-gay marriage," Cheney said in a statement released by her campaign. "I believe the issue of marriage must be decided by the states, and by the people in the states, not by judges and not even by legislators, but by the people themselves." Liz Cheney is also the sister of Mary Cheney, an out lesbian who backs marriage equality. After Liz's declaration, Mary posted on Facebook that Liz "is dead wrong on the issue of marriage."

U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and John McCain (R-Ariz.)—all members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—sent a letter to President Obama urging him to use his upcoming trip to the G-20 Leaders' Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, as an opportunity to call attention to the Russian government's ongoing crackdown on human rights and civil society, according to a release from Boxer's office. (The summit begins Sept. 5.) "The United States must not give President Putin a free pass on repression," the Senators wrote. "We hope we can count on you to prioritize advancing human rights as a central objective of U.S. relations with Russia."

In South Carolina, a lesbian couple is challenging the state's marriage-equality ban, according to ABC Columbia. Tammie Goodwin and her wife, whose identity is being concealed, were married in the District of Columbia more than a year ago; however, South Carolina doesn't recognize the marriage. Goodwin said, "I know it won't be easy. We expect bumps along the way. ... We want to put our children on my wife's insurance but have been unable to do so. I haven't changed my name, even though I'm married. I need a court order to do that."

Digital-rights group the the Electronic Frontier Foundation has said that blogger Chris Vizzini's release of his claim to the word "gaymer" is a "big win" for gay video-game enthusiasts and free-speech rights, according to Courthouse News Service. Vizzini had registered "gaymer" as a mark for his website, Gaymer.org, in 2008 and claimed that his use of the term for computer-related services dates back to 2005. In August 2012, he sent a cease-and-desist letter to Reddit over its operation of the Gaymers subreddit (a subforum on Reddit, the community-focused content aggregator), which reportedly represents a community of "more than 21,000" LGBT video-game enthusiasts. The Patent and Trademark Office canceled the mark recently, noting that Vizzini had surrendered it voluntarily in July.

Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie says it's likely there will be a special session of the state legislature in the fall to address same-sex marriage, according to NewNowNext.com . "I think we can put together something that can achieve a solid majority, that will give us the opportunity to establish marriage equality in the state of Hawaii commensurate with the recent Supreme Court decisions, and will satisfy and resolve the issues that are presently before the appeals court on the mainland," Abercrombie said. Hawaii was the first state to consider marriage equality back in 1991; voters eventually passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in 1998.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg recently became the first Supreme Court Justice to officiate a same-sex wedding, the Huffington Post reported. Ginsburg officiated the Aug. 31 wedding of Kennedy Center President Michael M. Kaiser and economist John Roberts at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Ginsburg's act came just two months after the Supreme Court ruled that part of the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. Ginsburg and Kaiser are close friends, as she is perhaps the Supreme Court's most fervent supporter of the fine arts, especially opera, according to the Washington Post.

A gay veteran of the Iraq war who fought against "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" has died in a car accident in Rochester, N.Y., the Washington Blade reported. Darren Manzella, who came out as gay in 2007 while serving in the Army during an interview on CBS' 60 Minutes, died Aug. 29, said Steve Ralls, the former spokesperson for Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. Manzella served as an Army medic in Kuwait and Iraq and earned a Combat Medical Badge for treating his fellow soldiers. His 60 Minutes interview was filmed, in secret, in Kuwait City while he was still a staff sergeant in the Army. Manzella was 36 at the time of his death.

The University Committee on Sexual Orientation (UCOSO) at Western Illinois University has changed its name to the University Committee on Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity and Expression (UCOSOGIE), according to a press release. UCOSO (originally called the President's Task Force to End Homophobia) was established in 1987 to raise awareness and provide support services for the lesbian and gay population on Western's campuses. Policies and issues on UCOSOGIE's agenda during the 2013-14 year include the use of inclusive vendors; inclusion within Greek organizations; a new sexuality minor; the university's stance on same sex marriage; and how students, faculty and staff can self-identify when joining the WIU campus.

It turns out that Arizona public schools are not implementing a new conversion-therapy program for gay students this fall, AZCentral.com reported. A fictional article posted by the staff of the political satire website National Report has gone viral, leaving Gov. Jan Brewer and the Arizona Department of Education going the extra mile to assure parents that the information is inaccurate.

In Pennsylvania, a court has to decide Sept. 4 whether D. Bruce Hanes, Montgomery County's register of wills, has singlehandedly added Pennsylvania to the growing list of states that formally sanction same-sex marriages or if he has been acting illegally and must be stopped, according to KHQ.com . Hanes began giving marriage licenses to gay couples in late July, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Pennsylvania is the only northeastern state that has neither same-sex marriage nor civil unions; however, the legality of the more than 150 such licenses Hanes has issued remains an open question.

The Alabama Republican Party voted against a proposed rule that would have removed a junior member from its steering committee because of her support of marriage equality, according to a Talking Points item. The measure was aimed at Stephanie Petelos, the chairwoman of the Alabama College Republicans, who had made public comments in support of the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. Bonnie Sachs, an executive committee member who proposed the rule change, told the AP that steering committee members need to serve "in such a way that we don't go to the media with an agenda that we may have."

The board of the National LGBT Veterans Memorial (NLGBTVM) has announced a public competition to design of a monument to honor LGBT veterans who have served in the U.S. armed forces, according to a press release. While the site will serve individuals, it will also serve as a national place of honor, retaining the dignity of a memorial garden. The deadline for design submission is Oct. 15; visit www.nlgbtvm.org or email Chair@NLGBTVM.org .

An online petition on Change.org asking members of the U.S. Olympic team to wear rainbow pins on their uniforms has received more than 29,000 signatures. "This isn't about politics—it's about human rights. By taking a highly-visible stand in support of human rights, Olympic athletes can send a strong message to the Russian government that their current policies of discrimination are not acceptable to the rest of the world," said activist Laurence Hewitt, who started the campaign, in a statement. Similar campaigns have also been started in the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and Canada.

A new book from ABA Publishing written by a transgender attorney offers a comprehensive state-by-state look at the legal landscape and practical hurdles of how to change one's sex, according to a press release. Ally Windsor Howell has written Transgender Persons and the Law, which covers changing birth certificates; how landmark court decisions are affecting housing, military service and veterans benefits; and other topics.

Members of Texas' military forces were not eligible for spouse and family benefits that federal military forces could access as of Sept. 2, according to the Dallas Voice. The adjutant general's office said the federal guidelines conflict with the Texas Constitution, and encouraged gay and lesbian military to enroll for benefits on a federal base. Texas Military Forces spokeswoman Laura Lopez emailed the Voice that "any federal benefit already provided heterosexual military spouses will also be offered to same-sex military spouses. Additionally, the Texas Military Forces' remain committed to ensuring military personnel and their families receive the benefits to which they are entitled. As such, we fully support same-sex families enrolling for benefits at the nearest federal installation."

In Cleveland, a group of approximately 20 men attacked a gay man who once lived in suburban Chicago in what authorities are calling a hate crime, according to Advocate.com . Jared Fox—a former Windy City Times 30 Under 30 honoree who now resides in New York City—was walking into the Cleveland gay bar Cocktails when 20 men surrounded him and began to shout anti-gay epithets. After asking if Fox had any money or valuables on his person, the group began to throw punches at the 26-year-old man before knocking him to the ground. Fox, who was bruised and suffered a ruptured eardrum, said the men knew he was gay because they recognized the bar.

Jerome has become the second city in Arizona (after Bisbee) to approve an ordinance recognizing gay and lesbian couples with civil unions, according to On Top Magazine. Mayor Nikki Check sponsored the measure. The town's code now states that it is "the right of every person to enter into a lasting and meaningful personal relationship with the partner of his or her choice, regardless of the gender or sexual orientation of the parties of that relationship." As of the 2010 census, Jerome's population was 444.

The Gresham, Ore., bakery whose owners refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple has closed, On Top Magazine noted. Sweet Cakes by Melissa announced on Facebook that it was closing, recently posting, "This will be our last weekend at the shop we are moving our business to an in home bakery [sic]. I will post our new number soon." Aaron Klein, who owns the shop with his wife Melissa Klein, declined to make a cake for a lesbian couple in 2007, citing religious beliefs.


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