Houston, Texas, has approved an ordinance expanding anti-bias protections for its LGBT residents, The Washington Post reported. The Houston City Council voted 11 to six in favor of the ordinance May 28 after listening to more than 200 people discuss the measure. Most spoke in favor of it during a public hearing that lasted more than seven hours. Supporters of the ordinance, including lesbian Mayor Annise Parker, say it's about offering protections at the local level against all forms of discrimination.
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad signed into law Senate File 2297, bipartisan legislation that will modernize Iowa's HIV criminal-transmission statute to make the statute consistent with contemporary science, improve public health and lessen stigmatization of people with HIV, according to TheBody.com . Of the 34 U.S. states and territories with "HIV-specific" criminal laws, Iowa has now become the first to repeal its statute. Nick Rhoadesa Plainfield, Iowa, gay man who was convicted under the statute in 2008 and initially sentenced to 25 years in prison and lifetime sex-offender registrationgreeted the news with relief. The new legislation includes a clause that will retroactively remove Rhoades and others convicted under the previous statute from required sex-offender registration.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Departmental Appeals Board ( DAB ) announced it has overturned the Medicare policy of categorically excluding coverage for gender transition—related surgical procedures that are medically necessary for many transgender people, according to ThinkProgress.org . The DAB, an independent administrative entity within HHS, ruled that the ban is unreasonable and contrary to contemporary science and medical standards of care. The lifting of the coverage exclusion means that transgender Medicare beneficiaries will now be able to seek individualized review of the medical necessity of the specific procedure they need, just like anyone seeking coverage for any other medical treatment.
The nation's last unchallenged state same-sex marriage ban is about to lose that status, The Washington Post reported. "There will be a case filed challenging North Dakota's same-sex marriage ban," said Joshua Newville, a Minneapolis-based civil rights attorney who filed a suit against South Dakota's ban on behalf of same-sex couples there. Newville is in talks with advocates and attorneys in North Dakota, and confirmed that either he or another attorney will bring a lawsuit against that state's ban within six to eight weeks.
The U.S. Census Bureau is about to start categorizing same-sex married couples as families, according to The Washington Post. The 2013 American Community Survey results, which will be reported in September, will mark the first time the census integrates an estimated 180,000 same-sex married couples with statistics concerning the nation's 56 million families. Until now, they had been categorized as unmarried partners, even when couples reported themselves as spouses.
Duke University Press has released Transgender Studies Quarterly ( TSQ ), the first non-medical academic journal devoted to transgender issues, according to Advocate.com . The inaugural volume, titled "Postposttranssexual: Key Concepts for a 21st Century Transgender Studies," features a widely circulated image of transgender military whistleblower Chelsea Manning on the cover. TSQ's initial call for submissions garnered so much interest that the first volume was turned into a book-length, double issue.
The Los Angeles LGBT Center, formerly known as the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center, has launched the largest fundraising campaign in the history of the LGBT movement, Advocate.com reported. Donors have pledged $19 million toward a $25 million goal, the center said. The lion's share of that initial pledge was received from philanthropist Anita May Rosenstein, a Los Angeles native and longtime supporter of the nonprofit organization who pledged $6.5 millionthe largest amount ever given to an LGBT organization by a living person. The funds will be used to expand the center's services in Los Angeles by providing more than 100 new housing units for LGBT youth as well as low-income LGBT seniors.
Award-winning author, renowned poet and civil-rights activist Dr. Maya Angelou died at 86 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, according to MyFox8.com . Angelou had been reportedly battling health problems. She recently canceled a scheduled appearance of a special event to be held in her honor. Angelou was set to be honored with the "Beacon of Life Award" at the 2014 MLB Beacon Award Luncheon on May 30 in Houston. Born April 4, 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri, Angelou is known for her 1969 memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
The Southern Poverty Law Center threatened to file a federal lawsuit against the Georgia Department of Corrections if it does not allow a transgender inmate to receive hormone therapy, according to The Washington Blade. David Dinielli, deputy legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, wrote in a letter to Georgia Department of Corrections Commissioner Brian Owens that personnel at Valdosta State Prison where Ashley Diamond has been incarcerated since March 2012 have refused to provide her with "constitutionally-required medical treatment in the form of hormones."
The pro-LGBT Republican group GOProud is shutting down, just days after endorsing Illinois' Bruce Rauner for governor, according to Capitol Fax. Bilerico reported that the organization initially denied it was dissolving; however, the group then confirmed it plans to kill the GOProud brand and will attempt to reorganize as a grassroots online organization with a new name. An online-only grassroots group would not require any tax filings; otherwise, every Facebook group would have to file papers with the federal government.
Also in Illinois, a dozen same-sex couples were in line Monday, June 2, as Cook County Clerk David Orr opened his downtown vital records office on the first day of marriage equality in Illinois, according to a press release. The number of marriage licenses issued in Cook County to same-sex couples grew by 140 that day, bringing the total to nearly 1,800 since Feb. 21. More than 120 couples also took advantage of their first opportunity to convert their civil unions to marriages.
The report "A Broken Bargain: Unchecked Discrimination Against LGBT Workers" documents how LGBT workers continue to face unfair treatment, harassment and discrimination, according to LGBTMap.org . The report says that the bias occurs in recruitment and hiring; regarding on-the-job inequality and unfair firing; and through wage gaps and penalties. Developments that could help rectify the problems include an executive order, nondiscrimination laws and policies fostering inclusive workplaces.
A gay Connecticut teen made local history after being named prom queen, calling his surprise victory a statement against transphobia, The Huffington Post noted. Danbury High School students had initially wanted Nasir Fleming to serve as both prom king and queen. Still, the 17-year-old opted for the latter title and donned a rhinestone tiara at the dance, arguing, "If a person can win a title for a different gender, why can't a transgender person win that title?"
A break-in at the campaign headquarters of California Republican congressional candidate Carl DeMaio left behind a wreckage of smashed computers and cut cords only six days before the primary, according to Politico. DeMaio, who happens to be openly gay, said nothing like the intrusion had ever happened to him before in politics. On June 3, DeMaio went head-to-head against Republicans Kirk Jorgensen and Fred Simon as well as Democratic incumbent Scott Peters in a blanket primary; the top two contenders will face off again Nov. 4.
Two Republican gay-rights groups are calling out the Texas Republican Party for denying them the chance to put up booths at the upcoming state GOP convention in Fort Worth, The Huffington Post reported. The Log Cabin Republicans and Metroplex Republicans held a joint press conference denouncing the decision. State GOP chairman Steve Munisteri confirmed that groups advocating for gay rights are not allowed to put up booths at the convention, which runs June 5-7. The issue, he explained, is that their position runs counter to the current party platform, which the state GOP adopted in 2012.
GLAAD announced that Republican political commentator, author,and TV personality Meghan McCain; Hilton Worldwide's Jeff Diskin; Harvard Law School professor and venture capitalist David Hornik; and Opportunities for Women Managing Director Linda Riley will join the organization's national board of directors, according to a press release. McCain, the daughter of U.S. Sen. John McCain, may be the best-known of the new members; most recently, she signed on to co-host the late-night news program Take Part Live on Pivot.
Maine's state ethics board voted unanimously to impose a $50,250 fine on the National Organization for Marriage ( NOM )the nation's leading group against same-sex marriagea decision that could affect how nonprofit organizations attempt to influence Maine elections, according to KJOnline.com . The vote follows an investigation by the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices that found NOM concealed its operations and donors during its successful bid to repeal Maine's same-sex marriage law in 2009. The vote also means that the state will require NOM to register as a ballot question committee and disclose its donors from the campaign more than five years ago.
A new study that analyzes a range of large-scale federal agency surveys finds that men experience a high prevalence of sexual victimization, in many circumstances similar to the prevalence found among women. The study, entitled "The Sexual Victimization of Men in America: New Data Challenge Old Assumptions," shows that an estimated 1.3 million women experienced nonconsensual sex, or rape, in the previous yearnearly the same number of men who also reported nonconsensual sex. The study also included the 2012 National Crime Victimization Survey, which found that 38 percent of all rape and sexual assault incidents were committed against males. The full study is at http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2014.301946?journalCode=ajph&.
The Colorado Civil Rights Commission affirmed an administrative law judge's ruling that the owner of a Lakewood bakery discriminated against a gay couple when he refused to sell them a wedding cake, The Denver Channel reported. David Mullins and Charlie Craig went to Masterpiece Cakeshop at 3355 S. Wadsworth Boulevard, with Craig's mother, in 2012, to order a cake for their upcoming wedding reception. However, store owner Jack Phillips informed them that, because of his religious beliefs, he didn't sell wedding cakes to same-sex couples.
Rep. Charlie Dent ( R-Pa. ) came out in support of same-sex marriage, The Huffington Post reported. "Life is too short to have the force of government stand in the way of two adults whose pursuit of happiness includes marriage," Dent told The Washington Post. This is a clear departure from 1996, when Dent voted for the gay-marriage ban as a state representative.
In Illinois, HB 5707a bill aimed at curbing school bullying in the stateis now waiting for Gov. Pat Quinn's signature. The legislation, which lesbian state Rep. Kelly Cassidy sponsored, passed the Senate May 29 with 37 votes in favor after being amended, and proceeded to pass the house with 75 votes in favor of concurrence. The bill lays out a clear bullying policy for schools as well as responsive measures. It also directs that schools compile and report data on bullying incidents.
The Chicago Sun-Times on June 3 removed an editorial that suggested that actor Laverne Cox, who recently appeared on the cover of Time Magazine, "is not a woman." The article, published May 30 in the Sun-Times, was written by Kevin D. Williamson and originally appeared in the conservative publication National Review. Besides questioning Cox's gender identity, the piece also posited that transgender persons are living in denial of the "reality" of the gender they were assigned at birth. GLAAD, on June 3, released a statement that included an apology from Sun-Times Editorial Page Editor Tom McNamee, who said that the piece was originally selected because it seemed provocative.
The Michael Morones Foundation has been formed, named after the 11-year-old boy who attempted to commit suicide after being bullied over his fandom of the television show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, according to a press release. "Michael's Pony" is the name of the group's new campaign through the crowdfunding site Indiegogo. The campaign centers around building a life-size Pony statue that will be taken to future events and used as a sort of mascot for the organization leading the rally against bullying. Money raised through the campaign will be used to help with Morones' continued medical expenses and the foundation's anti-bullying efforts.
Nevada's chief medical officer sued the AIDS Healthcare Foundation to stop it from using a mobile lab to provide rapid HIV testing at Las Vegas nightspots, according to Courthouse News Service. Dr. Tracey Green, the state's chief medical officer, says the foundation is illegally "operating a medical laboratory in the state of Nevada without a license or registration." The foundation, based in Los Angeles, provides HIV testing, prevention and healthcare services.
GetEQUALa national grassroots social-justice organization working toward the full equality of LGBTQ ) individualslaunched an online petition demanding that President Obama create a roadmap to end legal discrimination against LGBTQ people, according to a press release. This call came after the White House announced that the Department of the Interior would hold an event May 30 at the Stonewall Innwidelyrecognized as the birthplace of the LGBTQ civil rights movementto launch a study of LGBTQ history in the United States.
A Louisiana high school teacher is accused of having sex with a male student and intentionally exposing him to HIV, according to The Huffington Post. Derrick Nesby, 37, has been charged with felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile and felony intentional exposure to the AIDS virus. Nesby was arrested last week on suspicion of sex crimes against the victim, a 16-year-old boy. If convicted, Nesby could face up to 10 years in prison on each count.
Rush Limbaugh may have thought he was bonding with a caller by referring to her as a "tranny," but instead the conservative radio host got a lesson on political correctness, according to The Wrap. A transgender woman named Tina called in to The Rush Limbaugh Show to question the host for linking same-sex marriage rights to the expansion of transgender rights earlier in the show. However, after Limbaugh said, "I've been for trannies for a long time," Tina responded, "A lot of us do find that to be rather offensive because of the way that it's been historically used. We're reclaiming that word like Black people and the N-word."
A same-sex couple says they were told not to come back to a restaurant in East Texas because Big Earl's "doesn't serve fags," according to LGBTQ Nation. Collin Dewberry and Kelly Williams said they had breakfast at Big Earl's in Pittsburg, Texas, and "everything seemed to be going fine" until after they paid their check. That's when they were approached by "Big Eaarl's" daughter and told them not to return. Owner Earl Cheney has said plenty of gay couples eat at his restaurant without hassleas long as the men act like men, and the women act like women. After the story broke on local news outlets, people began writing reviews for Big Earl's claiming the Texas restaurant is actually a gay bar, The Huffington Post noted.
Florida's attorney general says in court documents that recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states would disrupt existing marriage laws and "impose significant public harm," LGBTQ Nation noted. Eight same-sex couples and the American Civil Liberties Union sued the state in federal court in March. In a lengthy response, Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi said, among other things, that the state has a legitimate interest in defining marriage as between a man and woman.
Two upstate New York radio hosts have been fired over their on-air comments about Rochester's decision to cover gender-reassignment surgery for city employees, ABC News reported. Entercom Rochester announced the firings of Kimberly Ray and Barry Beck from WBZA, calling their comments "hateful" and saying they don't represent the station. Ray referred to someone seeking gender reassignment surgery as "a nut job," while Beck equated the issue to having the city pay for breast enhancement or liposuction for a mentally ill woman.
A transgender man who said he was harassed and then humiliated after he was booted from a male locker room at a public pool has sued New York City, according to LGBTQ Nation. Bryan Ellicott, a 24-year-old city employee, said that after he entered the Staten Island changing room last July, Parks Department workers got what he called a "complaint" about his presence and ordered him to leave and use the women's section. Ellicott said it wasn't the first time he was confronted in a men's facility, having been allegedly assaulted in a Manhattan bathroom in 2012.