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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-02-22



NATIONAL Ritchie Torres, N.J. towns, Karine Jean-Pierre, Tennessee items
by Andrew Davis

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New York Congressman Ritchie Torres has talked about his own struggle with depression and the importance of mental health in the wake of U.S. Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.)'s recent hospitalization for clinical depression, The Washington Blade noted. Among other things, Torres—a Democrat who is the first openly gay Afro-Latino member of Congress—told GMA3 hosts DeMarco Morgan and Eva Pilgrim that he had "an obligation to tell" his "story in the hopes of breaking the shame and silence, and stigma that too often surrounds the subject of mental health."

New Jersey Attorney General Matt Platkin claimed that almost 30 towns—including Oceanport, Hi-Nella, Audubon, West Cape May and Farmingdale, among others—violated the state's anti-discrimination law by publishing marriage license forms that exclude some LGBTQ+ people from properly filling out the applications, The New Jersey Monitor reported. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination prohibits places of public accommodation from discriminating on the basis of real or perceived sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, and gender expression.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre—herself a member of the LGBTQ+ community—criticized comments by a conservative pundit who called for the "eradication of transgenderism" during the Conservative Political Action Conference, The Washington Post reported. She said, "I just want to take a step back a moment and really call out the shameful, hateful, and dangerous attacks that we have been seeing on the LGBTQI community," adding, "It started with a speaker at a conservative conference calling for the eradication of transgender people—language that not a single national Republican leader has condemned."

On the heels of Gov. Bill Lee enacting a pair of anti-LGBTQ+ bills, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) hosted the "Slay Hate: Fight Back Tennessee" rally at Nashville's local LGBTQ+ Tribe bar, a press release noted. The event included performances by singer-songwriter and transgender rights activist Shea Diamond as well as drag artists Vanity and Perplexity in addition to remarks by HRC President Kelley Robinson, Tennessee Equality Project Executive Director Chris Sanders, ACLU Tennessee Executive Director Kathy Sinback and National Women's Law Center Director of Federal Reproductive Rights Leila Abolfazli.

Also in Tennessee, Johnson City LGBTQ+ nightclub New Beginnings is challenging venues across Tennessee to host drag brunches for families, WBIR noted, citing WCYB. It's meant to send a message after Tennessee lawmakers banned public drag shows, starting in July. The club plans to host its drag brunch on March 26, and will donate all the money raised to combat gun violence.

And Tennessee's Republican Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, 79, apologized for routine comments he left on the suggestive Instagram posts of 20-year-old gay man Franklin McClure and other members of the LGBTQ+ community, CBS News noted. "While I see now that I should have been more careful about how my comments and activity would be perceived, my intent was always engagement and encouragement," McNally said in a statement. "I apologize for any embarrassment my postings have caused my family, friends and colleagues." According to The Advocate, McClure told New York magazine's blog The Cut, "Randy never asked me for nudes. He never asked me to date. I really don't have anything to be angry about."

The national pro-LGBTQ+ organization Lambda Legal has undergone a rebranding. According to an announcement, the new logo has new features that are very symbolic. "The three blocks of our past, present and future serve as the solid foundation of our organization," the release stated. "The plus sign at the center represents the intersection of our LGBTQ+ identities, our fight on behalf of everyone living with HIV, and the continued expansion of our communities. [And] our unique font conveys our forward momentum, always pushing us closer to the promise of full equality under the law."

President Joe Biden recently sat down with Kal Penn for The Daily Show and, among other things, the chief executive talked about Florida lawmakers' attacks on the transgender community, Deadline noted. Speaking of transgender kids, Biden said, "What's going on in Florida is, as my mother would say, close to sinful. It is just terrible what they are doing. … They are human beings. They love. They have feelings. They have inclinations that are …it just to me, is, I don't know is, it's cruel."

Former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence reportedly made homophobic remarks about current U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg at the annual Gridiron Club dinner in D.C., per The Washington Blade. Per tradition, headliners from both parties deliver remarks meant to be humorous during the dinner. During his speech at the 138th annual event, Pence said Buttigieg "took maternity leave" following the birth of his and husband Chasten's twins in 2021, adding that the country subsequently "got postpartum depression." According to the source, Pence also said his pronouns were "thou" and "thine."

New York's Yeshiva University has asked for personal information—such as tax returns and mental-health records—from plaintiffs suing the school for refusing to recognize an LGBTQ+ student club, Inside Higher Ed noted, citing NY1. Some have called this latest move in a legal situation an intimidation tactic. "Two state courts say that the club is being discriminated against, and for them to use this scare tactic against the students is simply ridiculous and outrageous, and I think they need to stop," New York State Assembly member Tony Simone said.

In California, Kern County Superior Court Judge Eric Bradshaw ruled attorneys representing Tastries Bakery owner Cathy Miller should be paid $3.62 million after she encountered a financial burden placed upon her by the government "aggressively" pursuing legal enforcement, The Bakersfield Californian reported. Lesbian couple Mireya and Eileen Rodriguez-Del Rio walked into Tastries in 2017 hoping to get a wedding cake; however, Miller denied the women, saying their wedding violated her fundamental Christian beliefs. The California Department of Civil Rights promised to appeal Bradshaw's ruling, adding it shouldn't have to pay attorneys' fees.

The Manhattan-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the appeal of a fired account clerk who lost his job in 2018 for refusing to attend a mandatory workplace LGBTQ+ training session that he said conflicted with his religious beliefs, The Buffalo News reported. Raymond Zdunski sued the Erie 2-Chautauqua-Cattaraugus BOCES (Board of Cooperative Educational Services) seeking reinstatement, back pay and $10 million in damages, but a district court dismissed his lawsuit a year ago; the appellate court backed the lower court's decision.

Congressional Republicans are the closest they've ever been to passing legislation that would ban trans women and girls from playing on sports teams that match their gender identity, Politico reported. The bill—H.R. 734 (118), the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act of 2023—has been introduced by Rep. Greg Steube (R-Florida) several times, but was taken up by the House Education and Workforce Committee for the first time recently. The measure was recommended by the committee in a vote along party lines and is now primed for a vote on the House floor.

Speaking of anti-trans measures, various celebrities spoke out against them while attending Elton John's 31st annual AIDS Foundation Academy Awards Viewing Party, Out noted. Laith Ashley—a trans personality who recently starred as Taylor Swift's love interest in her "Lavender Haze" music video—said, "I'm here to advocate for myself and my community, especially with what's going on politically right now. It's very important that we're here and that we're loud about things." Drag queen Manila Luzon advised, "Just keep putting yourself out there because, honestly, that's how we're going to change people. Putting a face to our community and letting people get to know us as more than just fabulous drag queens, but as people."

A group of Florida parents is challenging, in federal court, a new rule banning medical treatments for transgender youth with gender dysphoria, according to a joint release from GLAD (GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders), Human Rights Campaign, The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and Southern Legal Counsel, Inc.—all of which are representing the plaintiffs. "The cruel and unnecessary actions taken by the Florida Boards of Medicine harm transgender children in Florida and strip parents like myself of our right to ensure our children receive appropriate, evidence-based medical care," said a Florida mother who is joining the lawsuit on behalf of herself and her 14-year-old son.

Hundreds of armed far-right extremists—including neo-Nazis, Proud Boys and Blood Tribe (a neo-Nazi movement led by former Marine Chris Pohlhaus, who was armed), among others—converged on an Ohio park outside Akron where parents and children had gathered to enjoy a drag-queen story event, The Advocate reported. At Wadsworth Memorial Park, the Rock-n-Roll Humanist Drag Queen Story Hour ended in chaos as tensions raged between activists and protesters. Recently, Tennessee became the first state in the nation to ban drag in public where kids might be able to see a drag queen.

Republican West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey asked the U.S. Supreme Court to allow the state to enforce a ban on transgender athletes' participating in girls' sports, NBC News reported. If his request is granted, the state would be able to enforce a law enacted in 2021 called the Save Women's Sports Act. The law was challenged by a trans girl—Becky Pepper-Jackson, then 11—who wanted to try out for the cross country and track teams in middle school. She is backed by the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda Legal.

Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin seemingly dodged a question from a 17-year-old transgender boy named Niko at a CNN-hosted town hall, where the Republican governor rumored as a 2024 presidential candidate stood by restrictions he imposed against trans students, The Independent noted. Niko asked "Do you really think that the girls in my high school would feel comfortable sharing a restroom with me?" Youngkin, without replying yes or no, instead invoked his "parents' rights" agenda, adding that he supported gender-neutral facilities "so people can use the bathroom that they, in fact, are comfortable with." However, Youngkin—who has four children of his own—defended his anti-trans sports measures regarding school-age youth.

At least five of the eight former members of the Casa Ruby board of directors who are named in a civil complaint charging them with failing to adequately oversee the organization's finances by former director Ruby Corado have filed court papers disputing the allegations against them, The Washington Blade reported. The Wanda Alston Foundation—the court-appointed receiver of the now-defunct Casa Ruby LGBTQ community services center—filed its complaint on Dec. 23, 2022, several months after the Office of the D.C. Attorney General filed its own civil complaint against Casa Ruby and Corado. The Alston Foundation complaint, which also names Corado as a defendant, identifies each of the eight former board members as defendants.

In response to a Mother Jones article that exposed leaked emails detailing how religious-right groups targeted transgender healthcare, the Los Angeles LGBT Center issued a statement. In part, Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Joe Hollendoner said, "The far right is intentionally scapegoating the transgender community with bigotry-emboldened political tactics. We need our local community and all of us across the country to understand we will win this fight, and no amount of legislation will undermine our richness and resilience. We must take action now to oppose these proposed laws and challenge the ones that have already passed." Columbia University research shows that gender-affirming care—a medical and psychosocial health care designed to affirm individuals' gender identities—greatly improves the mental health and overall well-being of gender diverse, transgender, and non-binary children and adolescents.

Registration is open for Camp Pride, a LGBTQ+ leadership academy for college students, according to a Campus Pride press release. After three years of being held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event will be held in person in Charlotte, North Carolina, on July 12-16. An early registration discount of $250 (from $1,395 to $1,145) is available through April 15; Campus Pride offers a limited number of full and partial scholarships that support the aim of drawing a diverse cohort of student leaders and advisors. See .

George Santos (who has filed paperwork to run again in 2024) is in the news again—and, this time, he's accused of masterminding a credit-card skimming operation in which he schemed to steal information from ATM and credit cards, The Hill noted, citing Politico. A declaration from Gustavo Ribeiro Trelha—who said he met Santos when he rented a room in a Florida apartment from the now-congressman (and knew Santos as Anthony Devolder)—stated he was accused of a federal crime of credit card fraud in 2017 and pled guilty. Trelha, who is from Brazil, served seven months in prison and was then deported.

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