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Houston mayor weds partner; LGBT senior housing in Philly
National roundup: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2014-01-22

This article shared 5443 times since Wed Jan 22, 2014
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Lesbian Houston Mayor Annise Parker has married her longtime partner, according to The Houston Chronicle. Parker wed partner Kathy Hubbard on their 23rd anniversary in Palm Springs, Calif. The Rev. Paul Fromberg administered the vows. He is a friend of the couple and partner of Parker's longtime political consultant Grant Martin, formerly of Houston.

Affordable LGBT-friendly housing for senior citizens has opened in Philadelphia, according to the Associated Press. This month's opening of the John C. Anderson Apartments reportedly helped appease supporters who felt gay elders have been marginalized by youth culture, even within LGBT circles. Philadelphia now joins Los Angeles and Minneapolis as the only locations with designated gay-friendly, affordable senior housing, collectively offering about 200 units.

After "a great deal of prayer and consultation," the Archbishop of Seattle has announced that a Catholic school will not change its decision to terminate a gay vice principal, Advocate.com reported. The statement comes after weeks of protests from students and parents advocating for the reinstatement of Mark Zmuda, the former vice principal of Eastside Catholic High School in Sammammish, Wash. Zmuda was let go after administrators discovered his marriage to husband Dana Jergens.

More than 2,700 calls, emails and letters flooded Utah Gov. Gary Herbert's office in the days and weeks after a federal judge said gay couples could marry in the state, according to Huffington Post. Herbert, a Republican, has pledged to defend Utah's same-sex marriage ban after the judge overturned it Dec. 20. Since then, his office has received about 1,800 phone calls, letters and emails from same-sex marriage supporters and another 900 calls and letters from opponents. More than 1,000 gay couples married during the 17 days same-sex marriage was legal, before the U.S. Supreme Court halted the weddings Jan. 6. Utah has appealed to the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Former U.S. figure skater Johnny Weir feeels he's been caught "in a crossfire" for not backing a boycott of the Sochi Olympics in the wake of the country's anti-gay policies, according to a Huffington Post item. "I've come under so much hate and scrutiny from within my own LGBT community for my views on the Olympics," the openly gay two-time Olympian Weir told Reuters. "I would have competed there because my whole life has been about going to the Olympics. Being gay isn't something that I chose, being gay is something I was born into. But being an Olympic athlete was something that I chose and something I worked hard for and I'll see it to any necessary end."

West Hollywood, Calif.—known for its substantial gay population—no longer has a rainbow flag flying over its city hall, according to NBC Los Angeles. Resident Larry Block donated the flag to fly over City Hall in June for gay pride month. The city then kept it up to celebrate the U.S. Supreme Court striking down Proposition 8, but it was taken down last week after the City Council voted unanimously to fly only the city, state and U.S. flags on a permanent basis on city facilities. Gay Councilman John Duran said, "The city is 40 percent LGBT. I don't think anybody's worried about West Hollywood losing its gay identity."

Openly gay Virginia state Sen. Adam Ebbin ( D-Alexandria ) is among a group of lawmakers who has introduced legislation that would repeal the commonwealth's ban on gay marriage, according to NBC Washington. The Marshall-Newman amendment, approved in November 2006, defines marriage as a strictly heterosexual union. But Ebbin believes times have changed, and recent polls seem to reflect that sentiment. A survey taken in conjunction with the November 2013 governor's race found that 50 percent of registered Virginia voters supported same-sex marriage, compared to 43 percent who did not.

Utah state officials say newly married gay and lesbian couples can jointly file their taxes for 2013, according to a Washington Post item. Tax commission spokesman Charlie Roberts said the ruling also pertains to same-sex couples legally married in other states. The announcement came a week after the federal government said it would honor Utah's gay marriages, allowing couples to file federal taxes jointly.

Republican Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn confirmed he will not serve out his full Senate term and intends to step down after 2014 because of deepening health problems, Politico reported. In a statement, Coburn acknowledged that he is battling a serious recurrence of cancer and said he would continue to fight for his priorities during the remainder of his time in office. Last year, Coburn was among those instrumental in the introduction and passage of the HOPE ( HIV Organ Policy Equity ) Act, legislation that would end the federal ban on research into organ donations from HIV-positive donors to HIV-positive recipients. He has, however, performed anti-LGBT acts in the past, such as saying he would block openly lesbian attorney Alison Nathan's nomination to federal court in 2011.

President Obama has named a Black lesbian from Illinois to serve on the federal court, according to The Washington Blade. Obama nominated Staci Michelle Yandle for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois on Jan. 16 as part of a group of four nominees. U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin ( D-Ill. ) recommended Yandle, who will need confirmation from the U.S. Senate before she's seated on the bench.

In related news, the Senate Judiciary Committee has reported out lesbian Judith Levy, whom Obama nominated in July for a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, by voice vote as part of a group of 32 nominees, according to The Washington Blade. She currently serves as an assistant U.S. attorney in Michigan. D'Arcy Kemnitz, executive director of the LGBT Bar Association, praised the committee for moving forward with the Levy nomination and urged the full Senate to confirm her.

In Massachusetts, a federal appeals court has upheld a judge's ruling granting a taxpayer-funded gender-reassignment operation for a transgender inmate serving a life sentence for murder, according to a Westport News item. Michelle Kosilek, 64, was born male but has received hormone treatments and lives as a woman in an all-male prison. Prison officials had argued there are legitimate safety concerns over protecting her in prison if she has the surgery.

The Committee on LGBT History of the American Historical Association announced that the LGBT Religious Archives Network's Upstairs Lounge Fire Exhibit is being awarded the 2014 Allan Berube Prize for "outstanding work in public or community-based LGBT and/or queer history," according to a press release. On Pride Sunday, June 24, 1973, an arsonist's flash fire killed 32 people in a New Orleans gay bar. The Upstairs Lounge Fire online exhibit weaves artifacts from the time into a historical account of the tragedy and memorializes those who perished. Chicago's Legacy Project received an honorable mention for the Berube award, which is given every two years.

President Obama announced his intent to appoint 15 individuals to the President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans, according to a press release. Among the individuals is Sharon J. Lettman-Hicks, the executive director and CEO of the National Black Justice Coalition, an LGBT group. Lettman-Hicks also serves on the Steering Committee for the National LGBTQ Domestic Violence Capacity Building Learning Center and the National Business Inclusion Consortium for the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

The United Methodist Church has formally charged another clergyman for presiding at the same-sex wedding of his son, according to a Yahoo! News item. The Rev. Thomas Ogletree will be tried March 10 for violating church law against officiating at gay unions. Ogletree, 80, said he could not refuse his son's request to preside at the wedding, which was held in New York, where gay marriage is legally recognized. This past December, pastor Frank Schaefer of central Pennsylvania was defrocked after he officiated at his son's gay wedding. The church considers homosexuality "incompatible with Christian teaching."

The name of a new drug that United Therapeutics has approved has gotten attention for an interesting reason. According to a Forbes item, the drug Orenitram is "Martine Ro." backward. "Martine Ro." refers to Martine Rothblatt, United Therapeutics' founder and a transgender humanist. Rothblatt, a lawyer, helped create satellite radio in the late 1980s, when she was Martin Rothblatt. After undergoing gender reassignment surgery in 1994, Martine launched United Therapeutics in 1996.

A 32-year-old man accused of threatening Seattle's openly gay mayor and a socialist City Council member in Facebook postings was ordered held in jail Jan. 17 on $600,000 bail, according to a Huffington Post item. Mitchell Munro Taylor of Seattle was arrested two days after Mayor Ed Murray's staff found more than 20 threatening, anti-gay postings from the man's account on Murray's Facebook page. Taylor's attorney said his client has Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism, and was off his medications.

Writing on behalf of the Illinois Family Institute ( IFI ), Laura Higgins, the organization's cultural analyst, penned an open letter dated Jan. 13 to University of Notre Dame President The Rev. John I. Jenkins, CSC, chastising the university for official recognition of an LGBT student organization.

Expressing "disappointment," Higgins criticized the student group, which she says is for "those who affirm homosexual acts and acts related to gender confusion as normative and morally defensible."

Approximately 37,000 LGBT workers in Utah are vulnerable to employment discrimination absent state or federal legal protections, according to a new report co-authored by research associate Sarah Liebowitz; and Christy Mallory, Senior Public Policy Fellow at the UCLA School of Law's Williams Institute, a press release stated. At least 17 localities in Utah prohibit private employment discrimination against LGBT people, yet 53 percent of the workforce remains unprotected by local ordinances. See http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/UtahNDReport-Jan-2014.pdf.

A photo of two gay fathers and their daughters has gone viral on the Internet. According to NBC Chicago, the photo, posted on the Instagram account KordalenKaleb, shows two African-American men doing their daughters' hair and getting them ready for school. The photo has more than 14,000 likes on Instagram, but has reportedly sparked a social-media debate, with people asking where the children's mother was and making disparaging remarks about gay couples in general and African-American gay couples, specifically.

The pro-LGBT organization American Military Partner Association ( AMPA ) released a statement in response to a letter from a group of seven senators urging Attorney General Eric Holder to end discriminatory practices by the Department of Veterans Affairs ( VA ) on same-sex couple benefits. Stephen Peters, president of AMPA, said, "No veteran should be treated differently by the federal government just because he or she is married to someone of the same-gender or lives in a state that does not value the diversity of his or her family." The senators sending the letter were Mark Udall, Tammy Baldwin, Barbara Boxer, Jeff Merkley, Jeanee Shaheen, Richard Blumenthal and Chris Coons.

Thousands of schools across the country celebrated the 10th anniversary of GLSEN's No Name-Calling Week Jan. 20-24, according to a press release. The annual event has educators emphasizing kindness and compassion as a means to eliminate name-calling and bullying of all types. According to "From Teasing to Torment: School Climate in America," a 2005 Harris Interactive report commissioned by GLSEN, 47 percent of middle and high school students identified bullying, name-calling or harassment as a somewhat or very serious problem at their school.

A new international study ranks the Chicago Public Library ( CPL )—headed by openly gay commissioner Brian Bannon—number one in the United States and number three in the world, ahead of Shanghai ( 5th ), Singapore ( 7th ), New York ( 9th ), Beijing ( 13th ), Hong Kong ( 17th ) and London ( 30th ), according to a press release. The empirical study ranked the core services of public libraries across the globe and was released by the Information Science Department of the Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf in Germany.

Six same-sex couples and Equality Florida Institute filed a lawsuit Jan. 21 in Florida state court in Miami seeking the freedom to marry, according to a press release. The lawsuit argues that Florida's laws barring same-sex couples from marriage violate the United States Constitution by denying them the legal protections and equal dignity that having the freedom to marry provides. The couples are from Miami and the surrounding area; four of the couples are raising children, and another couple has an adult child and two grandchildren.

RUSA LGBT, an association of Russian-speaking LGBTQ Americans, announced a positive response to its campaign to pressure the international furniture and design store IKEA to speak up against Russia's new "anti-homosexual propaganda" bill, according to a press release. Following the delivery of an online petition with more than 45,000 signatures to IKEA's headquarters in Conshohocken, Pa., IKEA Policy & Compliance Manager Greg Priest posted a public response reading. The reading states, in part, "We are guided by our vision—to help create a better everyday life for the many people. ... [E]very co-worker can expect fair treatment and equal opportunities whatever their ethnicity, religion, gender, physical ability, sexual orientation or age."

State investigators now say the Oregon bakery Sweet Cakes by Melissa violated the law when it refused to do a wedding cake for a lesbian couple, but would meanwhile bake cakes for pagan ceremonies, human cloning or divorces, Advocate.com noted. Last year, the bakery's owner refused service last year to a lesbian couple—Rachel Cryer and Laurel Bowman—who say they were called "abominations to the Lord." Although it's not yet legal to marry in Oregon, The Oregon Equality Act that was passed in 2007 ensures that no customer can be discriminated against because of sexual orientation.

The American Civil Liberties Union has sued the state of Utah over the issue of same-sex marriage, saying the official decision to stop granting benefits for newly married gay and lesbian couples has created uncertainty, according to USA Today. The lawsuit says the state has put hundreds of gay and lesbian couples in legal limbo and prevented them from getting key protections for themselves and their children.

In Florida, 18-year-old high school senior Robert Marucci—who was at the center of a dispute over his appearance on a gay pornography website—returned to Cocoa High School after being expelled, USA Today reported. Marucci believes he was kicked out of class because of his after-school job as a porn model, which he said he took to pay bills for his family. He added that other students found out about his work and he became a target for bullies.


This article shared 5443 times since Wed Jan 22, 2014
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