The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has criticized the national law firm Foley & Lardner for making anti-LGBT arguments and lobbying for anti-LGBT legislation, according to a press release. The firm is representing the anti-gay group National Organization for Marriage (NOM). In a letter sent to Foley & Lardner chairman Jay O. Rothman, HRC President Joe Solmonese wrote, in part, "This commitment on your part marks a continued and significant reversal from Foley & Lardner's past practices of supporting LGBT equality. In a time when major corporations, including the nation's top law firms, are taking unprecedented strides in support of LGBT equality with regards to their workplace practices and business activities, your firm has regrettably taken a notable step backwards."
HRC also submitted testimony Nov. 8 to the Michigan House of Representatives Committee on Education in opposition to Senate Bill 137, a press release stated. The bill allows for bullying statements so long as the statement is "of a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction of a school employee, school volunteer, pupil, or a pupil's parent or guardian." HRC President Solmonese said, "Religion should never be used as a license to bully."
Legendary Penn State University football coach Joe Paterno has been fired in the wake of a child sex-abuse scandal, The New York Times reported. (Defensive coordinator Tom Bradley will take over as interim head coach.) The firing comes after a scandal allegedly involving one of Paterno's former top assistants, Jerry Sandusky, who has been charged with sexually abusing eight boys over a 15-year span. Sandusky is accused of forcibly sodomizing young boysand one of the situations allegedly occurred in the shower of the Penn State locker room. Graham B. Spanier, one of the longest-serving and highest-paid university presidents in the country, was also terminated.
Lou Malettawho brought gay and AIDS issues, entertainment and erotica to cable television for 20 yearsdied of liver cancer Nov. 2 at age 74, Gay City News reported. In 1981 in Woodstock, N.Y., Maletta started the Gay Cable Network (GCN) with "Men & Films," a show that "put the male body back on the map," as he said on every show. NYU's Fales Library acquired Maletta's vast Gay Cable Network archives in 2009.
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) announced the election of Chad Boettcher and Sheri Fults as co-chairs of its national board of directors, according to a press release. Most recently, Boettcher taught marketing innovation at New York University, while Fults is a literary manager, representing emerging screenwriters and directors. The board also announced new members Marci Bowers, M.D., and George Cheeks.
Barbara Grier, co-founder of the lesbian publishing company Naiad Press, has died at 78, according to the Miami Herald. Grier's life/business partner, Donna McBride, said Grier died of cancer at a Tallahassee, Fla., hospital. Grier and McBride were given the Lambda Literary Award for Publisher's Service in 1991 and the Lambda Literary Pioneer Award in 2002.
Two transgender Fort Collins, Colo., high school students said they've been banned from using student restroomswith one of them being suspended for doing so, Advocate.com reported. Transgender female Dionne Malikowski, 16, and transgender male Kurt Peters, 17, were told they had to use staff bathrooms; however, when Malikowski used a student one, she was suspended for three days. However, Peters said that when he used a student restroom, he only received a warning.
In New York, an art exhibit in the Brooklyn Museum will include a controversial AIDS-related video, Advocate.com reported. Attendees will be able to view the David Wojnarowicz film A Fire in My Belly, which Washington, D.C.'s National Portrait Gallery removed earlier this year after people protested it. The piece explores the early years of AIDS, and features ants crawling on a crucifix in one scene. Wojnarowicz died of the disease in 1992.
Iowa's Grinnell College has added a locker room to its list of gender-neutral options, which include dorms and bathrooms, according to USA Today. This adds to what some are calling a rapidly growing movement, as more than 50 colleges and universities around that nation have gender-neutral housing options. However, Catholic University in Washington, D.C., will move in the other directionback to single-sex dorms; the university's president said this development will cut down on binge drinking and casual sex.
The Clay Cane Showa program focused on the Black gay experiencehas debuted in New York City, according to PhillyMag.com . Cane, whose show is on WWRL (1600 AM) told a blog, "When you are black and gay there is a particular duality that you live in. In my case, that double consciousness has allowed me to be as open and cosmopolitan as possible." Among the guests he plans to talk with are singers Jennifer Holliday and Lalah Hathaway. The Clay Cane Show is part of the Equality Pride Radio line-up.
In Texas, a jury in Dallas County found gay former Navy pastry chef Daniel Willyam, 28, guilty of the 2009 murder of his roommate's girlfriend, the Dallas Voice reported. Prosecutors said that Willyam acted out of jealousy because he became obsessed with the roommate, Nathan Shuck. Willyam, who stabbed the 20-year-old Nance 42 times, could get life in prison.
The White House sent out notice Nov. 10 that it was withdrawing the nomination of openly gay attorney Edward DuMont to serve on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, at his request. Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee blocked DuMont's nomination from the start, when President Obama nominated him in April 2010. In DuMont's place, Obama has nominated an attorney with strong Republican tiesRichard Taranto, a former law clerk for failed Supreme Court nominee and right-wing conservative Robert Bork, as well as Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
Columbia Law School's Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic has won asylum in the United States for Ahmed A., a gay man who feared persecution because of his sexual orientation if he had been forced to return to his native Mauritania, according to a press release. The grant of asylum, issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, highlights the perils for gay people who live in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, a country in West Africa. In Mauritania, homosexuality is punishable by deathboth by the government and by the powerful tribal communities that regulate Mauritanian society.
Evelyn Lauder, a member of the Estee Lauder cosmetic company and the creator of the pink-ribbon symbol for breast-cancer awareness, has died at age 75, the Chicago Tribune reported. The Vienna, Austria, native (who fled Nazi-occupied Europe with her family) died from complications of ovarian cancer.
In Milwaukee, Wis., a bisexual man has been charged with suffocating his 22-month-old son with a sock, Advocate.com reported. Aaron Allen, 19, was charged with first-degree intentional homicide. When asked about the child's death, Allen reportedly said that he was struggling with his sexuality and that he wanted things to be the way they were before his son was born. Allen is slated to appear in court Nov. 21.
In a speech to the 2011 U.S. Conference on AIDS in Chicago, Dr. Julio Montaner of the British Columbia Center for Excellence on HIV/AIDS explained the science surrounding treatment as prevention, which has proven that increasing access to treatmentcombined with supportive services and counselinghas a direct and proportional relationship to reductions in new infections, a press release stated. Montaner respectfully called on President Obama to create a "second PEPFAR [President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief] for the Americas," stating that it is unacceptable that the United States can provide medications to the rest of the World, but cannot ensure access to treatment for its own citizens.
In Detroit, the body of a missing transgender teen was in a morgue for weeks and was unclaimed, according to Advocate.com . Henry Hilliard Jr., 19who went by the names "Shelly" and "Treasure"disappeared Oct. 23; the medical examiner's office identified her burned torso Nov. 10. Hilliard's mother, Lyniece Nelson, told the Detroit Free Press she is mourning and waiting for answers from the police.
Three same-sex couples from New York, Ohio and Florida were among the 11 winners of a New York City hotel's dream wedding contestbut only one of those couples will have their marriage recognized in their home state, Advocate.com reported. The weddings in the Crowne Plaza's Marry Me 11-11-11 Wedding Contest were held, but Ohio and Florida both have constitutional amendments banning same-sex unions. New York State passed a marriage-equality law this past summer.
Two relatively high-profile people are using the Penn State University child sex-abuse situation (that has so far culminated in head football coach Joe Paterno's dismissal) as a case against same-sex parenting, the Huffington Post reported. Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association has claimed, "It's a simple, stubborn fact that homosexuals molest children at much higher rates than the heterosexual population. This is one of the reasons the Boy Scouts have every right to keep homosexuals from becoming Boy Scout leaders." Family Research Council's Jerry Cox said on an NPR show that "If those are the only two choicesa child be institutionalized or in a same-sex homeI would like to challenge this and say maybe the state can do better than that." The show's host has apologized for the incident.
In Wyoming, high school football coach Pat Lynch has resigned following a scandal in which he distributed a survey to students that featured anti-gay and sexist comments, according to the Huffington Post. Lynch handed out "The Hurt Feelings Report" to football players before their first-round playoff game. The survey featured options such as "I have woman-like hormones," "I am a queer" and "My butt is easily hurt" as reasons for filing the report. Lynch issued a letter of apology, citing his "lack of judgment and the poor choice that I made from my position as head football coach for Buffalo High School."
Hawaii is preparing for civil unions. According to EDGE Boston, hundreds of LGBT couples will say "I do" on Waikiki Beach the night of Dec. 31 as fireworks ignite the sky over Honolulu. Arlei Patterson and her business partner Nancy Wilder of the event-planning business Arlei Style are among the many people preparing for the big day, as they are organizing "Union of a Lifetime. The three-day event that will begin with a sunset rehearsal dinner featuring Hawaiian barbecue and will include a New Year's Day honeymoon and a reception.
On Nov. 20, Columbia University Press is releasing The Lives of Transgender People, a new book detailing the experiences of thousands of transgender people, according to a press release. The book, by Genny Beemyn and Sue Rankin, is based on a survey of nearly 3,500 self-identified transgender individuals and follow-up interviews with more than 400 of the participants, making it one of the largest studies involving transgender people in the United States.
The ACLU of Ohio announced that it would represent the family of a Unioto High School student who was assaulted because of his sexual orientation, according to a press release. The assault occurred Oct. 17 at the school, and another student recorded the incident. The ACLU announced it was considering a wide range of legal actions to protect the victim, Zach, and other students from future instances of bullying. In addition, the ACLU sent a letter to school officials informing them of their representation of the family, and inviting them to discuss solutions before formal legal action is filed.
Also in Ohio, Delaware Christian School Principal Gordon McDonald deleted former student David Emerson from the school's website after seeing that Emerson identified as gay on his Facebook profile, according to a GetEQUAL Ohio press release. When Emerson called the school to speak with McDonald about reinstating him, McDonald reportedly said, "You are a gross and immoral representation of my school." GetEQUAL Ohio planned to hold a rally outside the school.
There's a sex-abuse scandal at another college besides Penn State: The Citadel. According to Reuters, John Rosathe president of the South Carolina schoolis "profoundly sorry" the military college failed to tell police about child sex-abuse allegations against a man who was a summer-camp counselor there. The Citadel released documents Nov. 14 linked to the 2007 internal probe of those allegations against Louis Neal "Skip" ReVille. ReVille worked at the school's camp 2001-2003, and is charged with abusing five boys.
In Michigan, a state GOP lawmaker has agreed to drop a provision in an anti-bullying measure that would exempt religion-based harassment, according to the Wisconsin Gazette. The state passed the so-called "Matt's Safe School Law," which allowed for the exemption, even though Kevin Eplingthe father of 14-year-old Matt, the bill's namesake who killed himself after being hazed in 2002hated the clause. However, the provision has been dropped from the House version of the bill.
The ACLU filed an appeal of a Montana District Court decision dismissing the same-sex domestic-partnership case Donaldson and Guggenheim v. State of Montana to the Montana Supreme Court, according to a press release. The appeal argues that the Montana Constitution guarantees fair and equal treatment to all people, including gay and lesbian couples. "This case is about treating people fairly and humanely," said plaintiff Jan Donaldson, a Helena nurse who has been with her partner, pediatric neurologist Mary Anne Guggenheim, for 27 years.
Out author/activist Dan Savage was glitter-bombed for the second time in November, according to Bilerico.com . At the University of Caliornia-Irvine (where he was continuing his MTV tour), two people threw glitter on Savage as he reportedly answered a woman's question about transgender porn with terms such as "she-male" and "freaky tranny porn." The attackers allegedly said "Transphobe!" to Savage as they glitter-bombed him. Savage laughed off the attack, saying that he loves glitter because he's gay.
The Chubb Group of Insurance Companies has extended its medical benefits to transgendered employees and dependents, according to a press release. "This is a natural evolution for Chubb, where our inclusive environment demonstrates our commitment to fair and equal treatment for all employees," said Trevor Gandy, senior vice president and chief diversity officer for Chubb. Thirty-nine percent of Fortune 500 companies offered transgender-inclusive health benefits this year, up from 1 percent in 2004.
New research has found that LGBT youth who attend middle or high schools with gay-straight alliances (GSAs) have better mental health as young adults, are less likely to drop out of high school, and are more likely to attend college, according to a press release. The study, "High School Gay—Straight Alliances (GSAs) and Young Adult Well-Being," is based on data from the Family Acceptance Project's survey of 245 LGBT young adults, ages 21 to 25. Dr. Caitlin Ryan, study co-author and director of the project, added, "This new study on the benefits of GSAs to health and education adds to our growing understanding of the importance of social environments and the need to provide institutional support for LGBT youth to promote well-being in adulthood."