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Delaware passes marriage equality; Smith College looking at trans policies
NATIONAL ROUNDUP: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2013-05-08

This article shared 4472 times since Wed May 8, 2013
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Delaware became the 11th U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage, with Gov. Jack Markell signing the legislation into law immediately following a 12-9 vote. Prior to signing HB 75, Markell took to Twitter, congratulating those who fought for marriage equality in his state. The first same-sex couples will reportedly be allowed to marry July 1.

Following criticism that it was hostile to a prospective transgender student, Massachusetts' Smith College will form a committee to revise its policies on trans women, according to Advocate.com . More than 4,000 signatures from a Change.org petition were recently delivered to Smith officials, criticizing the school for refusing to consider Calliope Wong, a trans woman, for admssion. The committee will begin meeting in September; in the interim, Smith will stop denying admissions to trans girls and women listed as male on their Free Application for Federal Student Aid forms, which is what happened to Wong.

In Arkansas, a graduate of one of the local high schools claims the school canceled his appearance as this year's graduation speaker because his is gay, the Huffington Post reported. Bryant Huddleston, a 1990 graduate of Sloan-Hendrix High School, said he was slated to speak to this year's graduating class, which included his younger sister. Huddleston said his father, Steve Huddleston, and Superintendent Mitch Walton had worked out an informal agreement some months ago; however, Walton later said Arkansas State Police director Col. Stan Witt would be invited to speak at the ceremony. Huddleston and Walton later gave conflicting reasons for Huddleston not being the speaker.

Carla Hale—the Ohio high school physical-education teacher fighting her dismissal because the name of her lesbian partner appeared in Hale's mother's obituary—lost a request to be reinstated, according to Gay Star News. Hale, who taught at Columbus' Bishop Watterson High School, has garnered plenty of support, including an online petition with more than 60,000 signatures.

The Medical College of Wisconsin's (MCW) Center for AIDS Intervention Research (CAIR) will present a one-day conference, "Fronteras y Barreras/Borders and Barriers: Addressing Latino Immigrant Experiences with Health, Healthcare, and HIV in the United States," Monday, May 13, at the Italian Conference Center in Milwaukee, according to a press release. Nationally recognized experts will present recent research on issues facing Latino immigrants, and provide opportunities for attendees to discuss best practices for addressing these barriers.

Several students and parents in Indiana are campaigning to have a local high school throw a "traditional prom" that bans gays and lesbians from attending, according to the New York Daily News. The group, which also includes a teacher, met at the Sullivan First Christian Church recently to discuss why Sullivan High School in Sullivan, Ind., should bar out gay people from its annual event. Sullivan High School principal David Springer said the school is not affiliated with the "traditional prom" plans in any way.

U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals judge Harry Pregerson recently ruled that Oregon's ban on gay marriage violates the U.S. Constitution, according to On Top Magazine. In 2004, voters approved Measure 36, which amended the Oregon Constitution to define marriage as a heterosexual union. "Under rational basis review, Measure 36 does not pass constitutional muster," wrote Pregerson, who also ruled the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. "Here, Oregon does not state any reason for preventing same-sex couples from marrying."

A merger of Chicago Black Prides will combine Chicago Windy City Black Pride, Windy City Black Pride and United Black Pride, according to a press release. Collectively, the two organizations produced more than 20 years of Black Pride Week activities in Chicago. The two organizations will now dissolve as a result of the merger, and United Black Pride (UBP) will continue to honor the legacy of Black Pride Week and the history of the Black LGBT experience in Chicago. The new website is www.UBPride.com .

Lesbian Georgia couple Kacey Frierson and Chwanda Nixon had a civil union in Illinois earlier this year—but decided to get all of their kids in a van and hit the road for an "I Do" Marathon: nine marriages in eight cities in 10 days, according to Out.com . In an interview, they said that their favorite place was New York City and that there were nine of them in a seven-passenger van—but that they'd do it all over again.

Journalist and feminist Mary Thom, a former executive editor of Ms. magazine, was killed Friday in a motorcycle accident in Yonkers, N.Y., according to NPR.org . She was 68. Thom, who was editor-in-chief of the nonprofit Women's Media Center, wrote Inside Ms.: 25 Years of the Magazine and the Feminist Movement, and co-edited an oral history of former congresswoman and feminist Bella Abzug.

GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, announced Governor Wallace Rider Farrington High School of Honolulu will receive the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) of the Year award at GLSEN's Respect Award in New York on May 20, according to a press release. Farrington was Honolulu's first public high school in the state to have a GSA. Writer and prominent transgender advocate Janet Mock graduated from Farrington High School in 2001; she will be present at the GLSEN Respect Awards to celebrate with her alma mater.

Seeking to make history, transgender woman Jamie Shiner is running for second vice chair of the Democratic Party in the state, according to the Wisconsin Gazette. Shiner is already the first out trans person elected from Wisconsin to the Democratic National Convention. She is the second vice chair of the Democratic Party of Brown County; a member of the resolution and platform committee in the 8th Congressional District; vice chair of the state party's LGBT caucus; and a member of Equality Wisconsin's endorsement board.

An assistant federal public defender and her wife are entitled to federal health benefits despite state and federal laws banning same-sex marriage, a 9th Circuit judge ruled, according to Courthouse News. Alison Clark—who works for the federal public defender's office in Portland, Ore.—sued the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts after it denied her request for spousal health benefits last July. Clark and her partner, Anna Campbell, were married in British Columbia in June 2012; their marriage is not recognized by the state of Oregon or the federal government.

Idaho GOP politician Walter Steed has been censured by members of his party for voting in support of an antidiscrimination law through his job as a city council member, according to Advocate.com . Members of the party voted 7-6 to censure Steed for voting in favor of a law that would make it a misdemeanor offense to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The city council unanimously passed the law April 1.

In Ohio, a body found in a pond near Cleveland was identified as that of a transgender woman who was reported missing a month ago, according to Advocate.com . Cemia Acoff, 20, had been stabbed to death, and there was a rope around her waist that was tied to a concrete block and a steel pipe. Activists have objected to the way Cleveland media reported the story, with references to Acoff's body being "oddly dressed" (in a tank top and bra); describing her as a man even after the discovery of her name and the fact that she identified as female; and discussion of her police record.

Las Vegas drag queen Kenny Kerr, known for his over-the-top impersonations of celebrities like Barbra Streisand and Cher, died at age 60, according to 8NewsNow.com . His very first show in town was at the Silver Slipper. In 1999, Kerr became the first female impersonator to be inducted into the Tropicana's Hall of Fame.

U.S. Senate Republicans have said that a gay-inclusive version of the immigration-reform bill will probably not pass, according to Politico.com . "It will virtually guarantee that it won't pass," Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a member of the Gang of Eight negotiating group, said. "This issue is a difficult enough issue as it is. I respect everyone's views on it. But ultimately, if [the issue of allowing gay Americans to sponsor their foreign-born partners for green cards] is injected into this bill, the bill will fail and the coalition that helped put it together will fall apart."

Boeing announced that it will extend its pension value plan and BSS retirement plan to same-sex spouses and domestic partners as beneficiaries for pension survivor benefits, according to a release from Congressman Adam Smith. "I commend Boeing for providing equal pension survivor benefits for same-sex spouses and domestic partners," said Smith. "LGBT workers are a critical part of a skilled labor force and equal treatment of their employees has led to Boeing's success and global leadership in aerospace, science, and technology."

Just one day after 14-year-old Bayli Silberstein filed suit against the Lake County (Fla.) School Board to enforce her constitutionally protected right to establish a gay-straight alliance (GSA) at her school, the board will allow the club to meet, according to an ACLU press release. The ACLU stated that the school board had, over months, repeatedly delayed and thwarted the establishment of the GSA at Carver Middle School.

Beth Meyerson, health policy expert at the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington, said the new screening guidelines by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force represent an important shift in HIV testing and will result in more HIV screenings because they will now be reimbursable, according to a news release. However, she added that the availability of the tests remains a big unknown. "If we are going to meet the National HIV/AIDS Strategy goals of reducing annual HIV infections by 25 percent and increasing the number of people who know their status to 90 percent by 2015, we are going to need to expand nonclinical options for HIV testing nationwide," she said.

Scholarship applications for the National AIDS Memorial Grove's Young Leaders Scholarship Program will be accepted through Sept. 30, according to Business Wire. The program will award scholarships from $1,000 to $2,500. Applications will be accepted from both college-bound high-school seniors and college undergraduates, and will be announced on World AIDS Day, Sunday, Dec. 1. Visit www.aidsmemorial.org .

In Pennsylvania, trans teen Issak Wolfe and his girlfriend were allowed to attend the prom at York County's Red Lion Area High School after an initial dust-up, according to EPGN.com . Wolfe initially was involved in controversy when the school's principal, Mark Shue, placed Wolfe's name in the prom queen column because he wasn't comfortable with the student running for prom king. After Wolfe's girlfriend publicly criticized Wolfe, the couple was banned from the prom, but that decision was reversed. Wolfe did not get to run for prom king.

In Chicago, attorney Yao Dinizulu of the Dinizulu Law Group, Ltd. filed a hate crime complaint May 1 on behalf of Falon Carter, 30, who alleges that an apartment security guard beat her with a steel flashlight and used derogatory terms to her relating to her sexual orientation, according to a press release. Guard Stanton Robinson allegedly has a history of violence and excessive force; he was previously a Cook County Department of Corrections officer, and was reportedly discharged for using excessive force on inmates.

Evangelicals have reportedly threatened to withdraw support for comprehensive immigration reform legislation if it includes a provision that recognizes same-sex binational couples, according to a news release. In response, National Center for Lesbian Rights, GLAAD, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, United We Dream and Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project issued a joint statement that said, "We do not believe that our friends in the evangelical faith community or conservative Republicans would allow the entire immigration reform bill to fail simply because it affords 28,500 same-sex couples equal immigration rights. This take-it-or-leave-it stance with regard to same-sex binational couples is not helpful when we all share the same goal of passing comprehensive immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship."

A New York gay couple attacked near Madison Square Garden believes they were targeted because of their sexual orientation, according to the Huffington Post. Nick Porto and Kevin Atkins told DNA Info's Mathew Katz they were knocked to the ground by four men emerging from Madison Square Garden following Sunday's Knicks playoff game against the Indiana Pacers. The alleged culprits reportedly shouted anti-gay slurs at the pair.


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