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Houston mayor on prize list; pol comes out; Orman backs Warren
National roundup:
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

This article shared 5009 times since Tue Sep 30, 2014
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Houston Mayor Annise Parker has made the official short list for the 2014 World Mayor Prize, an international contest for the best mayor in the world, LGBTQ Nation reported. Parker has been elected Houston's mayor three times and garnered national attention for being the first openly gay mayor of a major U.S. city. She is just one of three United States mayors ( along with Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson ) to make the cut. City Mayors Foundation, an international think tank based in London, sponsors the award.

A Pennsylvania press conference against LGBT hate crimes turned personal when a state senator announced he is gay, The Huffington Post reported. "I'm gay. Get over it. I love it," Democratic state Sen. Jim Ferlo said. Ferlo is the sponsor of a bill that would expand the state's hate crimes law to cover LGBT individuals. At the microphone, Ferlo said he's been "a practicing homosexual" since his mid-20s.

At Politico's "Solving for Y: Exploring Opportunities for the Next Generation" event, CNBC TV host and finance expert Suze Orman said she would vote for U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren over Hillary Clinton for president in 2016, ABC News reported. ( The event featured both Orman and Warren, D-Mass, as they spoke on student debt. ) Although Orman said she thinks Clinton would make an excellent candidate for the Oval Office, the financial guru said she'd vote for Warren because she identifies with the struggle Warren is taking on. Back in May, Orman also told Larry King that she'd vote for Warren for president "hands down."

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan has officiated a same-sex wedding for the first time in her law career, reported. The event was held Sept. 21, and the couple she married was Mitchell Reich, her former law clerk, and his husband, Patrick Pearsall of Chevy Chase, Maryland. Other Supreme Court justices who have officiated at the weddings of gay and lesbian couples include Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.

The Human Rights Campaign announced that former President Bill Clinton will deliver the keynote address at the 18th Annual HRC National Dinner to be held on Saturday, Oct. 25, in Washington, D.C., according to a press release. The national dinner, which is sold out and expected to draw over 3,000 guests, will be held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. More information is at .

Retired Congressman Barney Frank has attacked the head of the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) for apologizing to trans groups, and claimed trans people are only excluded from rights legislation because they wouldn't help lobby for it, according to Pink News. The openly gay Democrat told GaVoice, "[HRC President] Chad Griffin's one of those people whose political judgement seems to be off. The transgender community had this mistaken view [in 2007] that if Nancy Pelosi waved a magic wand, transgender would be included. And we were insisting to them, 'Look we don't have the votes—help us lobby.' Instead of trying to put pressure on the people who were against them, they thought they could just insist that we do it."

Two men and a woman were being charged in the beating of a gay couple during a late-night encounter on a Philadelphia street, The Huffington Post reported. The case gained attention when police posted a video of the well-dressed suspects out on the town that night, and online sleuths used social-media sites to help identify them. District Attorney Seth Williams said that charges have been approved for three of them—24-year-olds Philip Williams and Katherine Knott ( daughter of Chalfont Borough Police Chief Karl Knott, Queerty noted ) and 26-year-old Kevin Harrigan. Later, more than 200 people advocated for changes to the state's hate-crimes law in the wake of the beating, LGBTQ Nation noted.

Transgender Californians will have the right to have their gender identity properly recognized on death certificates under legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, LGBTQ Nation reported. The governor announced he signed AB1577, the "Respect After Death Act," which Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins introduced. Starting in January, the legislation requires the person who fills out a death certificate for a transgender person to record the sex that reflects his or her gender identity.

In related news, Gov. Brown has also signed into law AB 2501, legislation that prohibits the use of "gay panic" and "transgender panic" defenses to reduce murder charges to manslaughter in criminal trials, according to a Williams Institute press release. In using the panic defenses, defendants have argued that their violent behavior was a rational response to discovering their victims were LGBT. AB 2501 ensures that defendants cannot use gay- and transgender-panic defenses in an attempt to lower a charge from murder to manslaughter, or to escape conviction in California.

And in another development, Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a historic bill that will result in new opportunities for certified LGBT-owned businesses—a law that came about through testimony and advocacy by the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, according to a press release. Brown's action means public utilities in the state will be required, starting in 2015, to extend existing provisions ethnic minority-, women- and disable veteran-owned business enterprises have to LGBT-certified business owners. Assemblyman Rich Gordon and Sen. Mark Leno served as lead sponsors of the bill, which is believed to be the first of its kind in the country.

Among gay and bisexual men in the United States who have been diagnosed with HIV, only half are receiving care and treatment for their infection, according to a new analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, just 42 percent have achieved viral suppression—meaning their virus is under control at a level that helps keep them healthy and also greatly reduces their risk of transmitting HIV to others.

In Illinois, a statewide coalition of HIV/AIDS organizations, most of whom primarily serve persons of color, is continuing with its efforts to receive allocations they had been awarded through the state's appropriation process. The Service Provider Improvement Network ( SPIN ) recently issued a press release that outlined its purpose. According to its statement, "Community-based organizations and advocates from across Illinois have come together to ask the legislature to fix this devastating funding mishap related to the African American ( HIV/ )AIDS Response Act."

San Francisco City Councilman Scott Wiener announced in a statement last week that he takes the pre-exposure prophylactic drug Truvada, according to . "After consulting with my physician, I went on PrEP to further protect and take personal responsibility for my health. I'm HIV-negative, and I want to remain that way," Wiener said on The Huffington Post. According to one research study, Truvada, when taken correctly, has an efficacy rate of 99 percent at preventing HIV infection, although this figure has been disputed.

A packed college auditorium roared with applause when former President Jimmy Carter took a stand for gay rights, The Huffington Post reported. When asked about his views on human rights and the LGBT community, Carter, 89, schooled the crowd at Michigan's Grand Rapids Community College with some of his Christian theology. "I never knew of any word or action of Jesus Christ that discriminated against anyone," said Carter, who also compared discrimination based on sexual orientation to prejudice against a person's skin color, economic class, and "whether they're living in a foreign country or our country."

The director who planned to stage a Pennsylvania high-school production of the Tony Award-winning musical Spamalot, which was canceled earlier this summer after school officials objected to "homosexual themes" in the script, has been fired, Playbill noted. Spamalot director Dawn Burch, who was not a full-time faculty member at South Williamsport Junior Senior High School, confirmed that she received an email from District Superintendant Mark Stamm informing her that her contract had been terminated due to "job performance."

Archbishop John Nienstedt has asked the music director of a parish in Victoria, Minnesota, to resign after learning that the man married his long-time male partner, according to . "Our beloved Director of Music, Jamie Moore, married his long-time partner, Garrett," the Rev. Bob White, of St. Victoria Catholic Church, wrote in a letter to parishioners. "Since Jamie's marriage conflicts with official Church teaching, Archbishop Nienstedt asked for Jamie's resignation." Nienstedt, who is known nationally for his opposition to same-sex marriage, has argued that "homosexual inclination is a result of some psychological trauma" that occurs before the age of 3.

Duke University researchers have made a breakthrough for a possible HIV vaccination for infants—using data that's been around for years, reported. Dr. Genevieve Fouda headed the team that re-evaluated findings from multiple 1990s pediatric HIV-vaccine clinical trials. The research team found that key antibodies that protect children from the transmission of HIV through breast-feeding had been overlooked in previous studies.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ( EEOC ) has filed two historic lawsuits challenging cases of discrimination against two transgender people in two states, according to an HRC press release. The EEOC filed the complaints in federal courts in Florida and Michigan against two separate companies accused of discriminating against transgender employees, Amiee Stephens of Michigan and Brandi Branson of Florida. This is the first time the EEOC has used the protections of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to bring lawsuits challenging gender identity-based discrimination.

A gay man who has been studying for the Roman Catholic priesthood has left the church in protest of recent firings of LGBT employees at Catholic institutions and has written an open letter to Pope Francis on the matter, according to . "As an openly gay man, I've spent the past 10 years pursuing the priesthood in the Society of Jesus ( the Jesuits )," writes Benjamin Brenkert in the letter. "Today, I can no longer justly or freely pursue ordination to the priesthood as a gay man in a Church where gay men and lesbian women are being fired from their jobs."

A school board member in downstate Delaware is opposed to a new health curriculum that includes definitions for terms including "gay," "lesbian," "bisexual" and "transgender," NBC Philadelphia noted. Indian River School District Board of Education member Shaun Fink said at a meeting that schools in the district should not be teaching "anything that discusses gender identity, homosexuality," adding it's not the place of schools to teach whether being gay is "normal." Some teachers pushed back against Fink's concerns, saying that some students aren't learning at home about transgender people or other topics related to sexual orientation.

Gay Men's Health Crisis ( GMHC ) has launched a new media initiative, "Your Realness," which will broaden outreach to the New York City house and ball community, according to a press release. The initiative targets LGBT youth of color, specifically African-American and Latino men ages 14-29, by utilizing multiple social-media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and mobile dating apps.

A gay South Dakota teen who was allegedly forced to wear a homophobic name tag while working at a restaurant is raising awareness about discrimination and harassment in the workplace, according to Opposing Views. Tyler Brandt, 16, filed a discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Taco John's in Yankton, where he worked. He claims the manager had been looking for reasons to fire him based on his sexual orientation and that he was forced to wear a name tag reading "gaytard" in front of customers.

Twenty-five young gay men get real about HIV as part of #SpeakOutHIV, a campaign from Greater Than AIDS, according to a press release. The group is encouraging people to break the silence around HIV on social media in the two weeks between National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day ( Sept. 27 ) and National Coming Out Day ( Oct. 11 ). Anchored by a series of personal videos recorded by men who are 25 or younger, #SpeakOutHIV challenges people to post their own stories about HIV on YouTube and share through Twitter, Facebook and other social-media platforms. To view the #SpeakOutHIV videos, visit

There are currently no publicly gay CEOs at any Fortune 500 companies, according to a Business Insider item. ( Despite reports, Apple CEO Tim Cook has never actually come out of the closet. ) Billionaire PayPaul founder Peter Thiel, who is openly gay, has theorized that one of the main reasons for the lack of gay CEOs—at least in public—could be a "perception of discrimination." Thiel also said it could be a generational issue, since a lot of the CEOs at Fortune 500 companies are older, and that we'll see more of them come out in the next decade or two.

Beginning this year, applicants to Northwestern University's graduate school will be asked about their sexual orientation, according to a Chicago Tribune item. The aim of the question, the school stated, is to gain a better understanding of the school's community to better serve all in the school. Among other schools that ask this particular question of students are the University of Iowa, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Illinois' Elmhurst College.

A public school district in Massachusetts cut ties with Gordon College following the private Christian institution's request for the legal ability to discriminate against LGBT community, according to The Huffington Post. Gordon President D. Michael Lindsay signed onto a letter asking the Obama administration for an exemption from an executive order barring federal contractors from discriminating against gay employees. In response, Lynn public school district ended a partnership that sent Gordon student volunteers into the city's schools as mentors and tutors.

This article shared 5009 times since Tue Sep 30, 2014
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