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Congresswoman's trans son; HRC co-founder arrested
National roundup: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2014-11-24

This article shared 5777 times since Mon Nov 24, 2014
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A Miami television station aired Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's first interview with her transgender son, The Washington Blade reported. Rodrigo Lehtinen spoke at length about his decision to tell his parents in 2007 that he is trans. Rodrigo, whose birth name is Amanda, came out as gay while in high school. "As parents, we wanted to make sure that Rigo understood that we're totally fine with it and that we wanted to make sure that he was safe," said Ros-Lehtinen. "We know Rigo as our child, whether it's Amanda or now as Rodrigo. He's our son. We're proud of him."

A prominent supporter of President Obama and co-founder of the Human Rights Campaign and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund was arrested on charges of sodomy and sexual abuse related to what authorities said was an encounter with a juvenile male, CNN reported. Terrence Bean, 66, a major Democratic donor and a celebrated gay-rights activist, was indicted on two felony charges of sodomy and a misdemeanor count of sexual abuse by a grand jury and arrested in Oregon. The charges relate to an alleged encounter Bean and his ex-boyfriend, 25-year-old Kiah Lawson ( also charged ), had with a 15-year-old boy in Oregon last year.

Seattle Pride released a press release mourning the passing of Spokane, Washington, native Brad Crelia, 29. Crelia—who was recently was named to the 2014 POZ100 list—co-founded the online magazine HIVster.com with his friend Jesse James Kendall six months after learning he was HIV-positive himself. "The Seattle HIV/AIDS community has lost a defining voice in the passing of Brad Crelia," Seattle Pride President Eric Bennett said. "Our thoughts are with Brad's family and friends during this difficult time."

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declined to stay a district court ruling that struck down South Carolina's same-sex-marriage ban, Reuters reported. South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, a Republican, said in a statement his office would ask the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the district court's ruling—but that court upheld the appeal court's decision. South Carolina is now the 34th state to allow same-sex marriage.

On Nov. 19, U.S. District Court judge Brian Morris in Great Falls ruled in favor of four Montana same-sex couples suing for the right to marry, KRTV.com stated. Morris ruled that Montana's constitutional amendment limiting marriage to between a man and a woman violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. In September, the Ninth Circuit Court ruled in a unanimous opinion that Idaho and Nevada's bans on marriage for same-sex couples are unconstitutional; Montana is part of Ninth Circuit and Judge Morris cited the Circuit Court's opinion in his ruling.

The plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit challenging Louisiana's ban on same-sex marriage filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to hear their appeal, NOLA.com reported. U.S. district court judge Martin Feldman upheld the state's ban in a ruling in September, which went against a string of court victories across the nation for LGBT activists. Plaintiffs Forum for Equality and Lambda Legal have appealed to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeal, which will hear arguments in the case Jan. 9.

A record 366 businesses earned the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index's ( CEI's ) top score of 100 percent this year, according to a press release. Those earning a perfect score include newcomers like Facebook and Yelp, as well as fixtures such as Apple, Xerox and other companies that have been leaders in LGBT equality in the workplace since the survey began in 2002. Among other findings is that one-third of Fortune 500 companies now offer trans-inclusive health care, up from zero in 2002 when the CEI was first published. In total, 781 companies were officially rated in the 2015 CEI. See the full report at www.hrc.org/cei.

On Rikers Island, trans female inmates who have not undergone genital surgery will now have the option of not being housed with the general population of men, but to be detained in a new transgender unit opening this week in the New York City jail's oldest building, Gay City News reported. The unit consists of a large dormitory-style room and a smaller room with round tables and fixed seats where inmates can watch one TV or play games as well as eat. They will also have access to recreation in the yard and physical- and mental-health services nearby.

Using a defense that appears to be growing more common in the killings of gay and transgender people, the two men who are accused of killing John Laubach may argue that the 57-year-old was accidentally choked to death during rough sex, according to Gay City News. One of the suspects, 32-year-old Edwin Faulkner, said in a heavily misspelled statement that Laubach "payed for sex. He wanted to have sex, rough sex, excelation." Faulkner and Juan Carlos Martinez-Herrera, 34, are facing murder, kidnapping, and robbery charges in the killing.

Equality Forum is seeking nominations for LGBT History Month 2015, according to a press release. Nominees may be living or deceased, recognized for their achievements in their field of endeavor; for their status as a national hero; or for their significant contribution to LGBT civil rights. Submissions are due Dec. 12. Visit www.equalityforum.com .

On the heels of the latest lawsuit challenging Texas' ban on same-sex marriage, Freedom to Marry, in partnership with Equality Texas, launched a new campaign Nov. 18 intended to galvanize support for marriage equality, The Dallas Voice reported. Texas for Marriage will coalesce the growing bipartisan support for the freedom to marry in the state, organizers said. Ward Curtin, deputy manager for all three of Houston Mayor Annise Parker's campaigns, has been tapped to lead the new marriage equality effort.

The Trevor Project will honor NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt, Yahoo! and transgender singer-songwriter Skylar Kergil at the TrevorLIVE Los Angeles Dec. 7 at the Hollywood Palladium, a press release stated. Among those slated to appear/perform are Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Kelly Osbourne, Wentworth Miller, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Alex Newell and Katherine Heigl. The Trevor Project is a national organization providing crisis-intervention and suicide-prevention services to LGBTQ people 13-24.

A Virginia teen who was brutally beaten and left with a traumatic brain injury following a school melee in September was found guilty on one count of simple assault, LGBTQ Nation noted. The 14-year-old, a former student at Highland Springs High School in Henrico, was charged with two counts of assault but said it was bullying that started it all. The teen—who was hospitalized for nine days following the attack—was left with a traumatic brain injury and now faces a long medical road ahead.

In Texas, an anti-gay note at the top of a restaurant receipt has a teen speaking out about it and how his manager reacted, ABC13.com reported. Blake Butler, 19, was a server at Kelley's Country Cookin' in Meadows Place up until recently, when he says a fellow server got a note on the top of the receipt from two customers; it was about him and read, "Don't want to listen to a [expletive] through my whole meal." Butler—who came out to his parents the same day he spoke with the news station—claims his then-employer just said of the note, "Oh. It's OK. I'm sorry."

Pride at Work Chicago, a coalition of LGBTQ persons in labor seeking to build LGBTQ worker power, called on the state legislature to take immediate action and vote to raise the minimum wage during this year's legislative veto session, according to a press release. The group stated, in part, "LGBTQ persons exist in every type of job and every level of education, income, and opportunity. There are both wealthy and poor LGBTQ people, and they live their lives with varying levels of visibility, or being out.' Yet LGBTQ persons have higher rates of poverty and unemployment than non-LGBTQ people. That rate is even higher for LGBTQ persons of color. Transgender people suffer the most, with rates of poverty four times higher than the general population."

EDGE Boston noted that the National Organization for Marriage ( NOM )—which promised to never ever give up defending same-sex marriage bans across the country—is $2.5 million in debt, according to the group's 2013 tax filing documents. NOM raised $5.1 million in 2013, which was a 50-percent drop from 2012.

Journalist Luis Pabon has written an article for ThoughtCatalog.com about negative aspects of being gay that is entitled "Why I no longer want to be gay," Gay Star News reported. Pabon describes the experiences and people he has met that has drawn him to the conclusion that he doesn't want to be gay. "Initially I came to this community searching for love, intimacy and brotherhood. In return, I got shade, infidelity, loneliness and disunity," he wrote. "The self-loathing in this community forces you to encounter a series of broken men who are self-destructive, hurtful, cruel and vindictive toward one another."

Friends of a transgender woman who died from an aneurysm say they were shocked when family members presented her as a man for her open casket funeral, LGBTQ Nation reported. Jennifer Gable, 32, who worked for Wells Fargo in Meridian, Idaho, had been living as female for the past few years. However, friends who attended her open-casket funeral say they were disgusted to find that she had been presented as a man—dressed in a suit, with her long hair cut off. Even Gable's obituary erased all evidence of her gender identity, and referred to her using only her birth name and male pronouns.

A Philadelphia woman claims she was forced to give up her passion for teaching after suffering from debilitating mental and physical health issues as a result of pervasive workplace discrimination, according to Philadelphia Gay News. Roseann Vennera filed a lawsuit against the School District of Philadelphia in September 2011, alleging the district created a hostile work environment because of her sexual orientation, which she said made it unable to safely continue working in Philadelphia schools. Vennera says a parent-volunteer harassed her; then, Vennera said she told then-principal Marguerite Holliday, who later testified in court that she doesn't "support the gay lifestyle." Vennera and her partner have since relocated to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

Apple is glowing ( RED ) for the holidays. USA Today reported that the Cupertino, California-based tech giant has launched an unprecedented two-week campaign that involves its app store, retail locations and online store—yet another example of out gay CEO Tim Cook's push to boost the company's corporate image. ( RED ), the charity started in 2006 by singer Bono with a mission to rid the world of HIV/AIDS, will turn the campaign's proceeds over to The Global Fund for use in providing antiretroviral treatment to AIDS sufferers primarily in Africa.

Outsports recently profiled Tina Hillman, who hurls the shot put for Iowa State University. Hillman is out as pansexual, and differentiated her orientation from bisexuality: "I think of it as being gender-blind. Gender doesn't really factor into who I'm attracted to. For me, gender doesn't matter. It's like eye color. It just doesn't play a huge defining role in whether I'll date someone." The 6'2" Hillman is the defending NCAA champion in shot put—both indoor and outdoor.

Notorious "party monster" Michael Alig—who served 17 years in jail for killing drug dealer Andre "Angel" Melendez—recently requested a daytime tour of Space Ibiza New York because he has a curfew as part of his parole, Page Six noted. Alig, 48, is keeping himself busy post-prison with three screenplay projects, an autobiography and a line of clothes co-designed with famed Sex and the City costume designer Patricia Field.

Finnish textile company Finlayson est. 1820 expands its distribution into the United States with the launch of an exclusive Tom of Finland Collection, according to a press release. The collection will debut on Finlayson's international online store ( www.finlaysonshop.com ) and may be available in leading department stores in the future. The first release of Tom of Finland X Finlayson includes two designs titled "Fellows" and "Face to Face," featuring works by Tom; the collection includes satin sheets in king, queen and twin sizes, duvet covers, hand and bath towels and a textile tote bag.


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