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Journalist Vargas detained; Lambda Legal's call
National roundup: Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

This article shared 4835 times since Tue Jul 22, 2014
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U.S. Border Patrol agents detained the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist-turned-activist Jose Antonio Vargas in McAllen, Texas, after he told them he was in the country illegally, CNN reported. He was released on his own recognizance with a notice to appear before an immigration judge. Vargas, who's also come out as openly gay, became an outspoken advocate pushing for an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws in 2011, when he revealed he was undocumented in a column for The New York Times Magazine.

Lambda Legal called for a moratorium on all HIV-based criminal prosecutions until state legislatures take action to implement the reforms recommended in the recent Department of Justice ( DoJ ) guidance, according to a press release. The report advises states to eliminate such prosecutions absent clear evidence of an intent to harm and a significant risk of actual transmission. When the country's leading law enforcement agency—working hand-in-hand with the country's leading public health authority—reaches the conclusion that particular laws and criminal prosecutions are working at cross-purposes to our national strategy for ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic, it is time for those with the power to end these prosecutions to take immediate action," said Scott Schoettes, HIV project director for Lambda Legal.

Gay-rights ally and former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe plans to sue the organization for religious discrimination, sexual-orientation discrimination, defamation and torturous interference, The Washington Post reported. Kluwe and his lawyer, Clayton Halunen, reportedly painted the lawsuit as a means of getting the Vikings to release its investigative report that it completed after Kluwe accused the team of firing him, in part, for his gay-rights activism. Kluwe has launched a petition on calling for the release of the results of an investigation that was launched following his release from the team and his allegations of inappropriate conduct.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he doesn't think Republicans should give up the fight over same-sex marriage, The Huffington Post reported. Christie told reporters at the National Governors Association in Nashville, "Certainly I'm not going to [stop], because these are opinions that I feel strongly about." Christie, who does not support marriage equality, chose not to mount a fight against a court decision that allowed gay marriages in New Jersey in 2013.

President Obama announced he will broaden a federal nondiscrimination executive order to prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity—a move that will protect approximately 22 percent ( or 34 million ) of civilian workers in the United States, according to research by the UCLA School of Law's Williams Institute. As of May 2014, 86 percent of the top 50 federal contractors prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation, and 61 percent prohibited discrimination based on gender identity.

The Bureau of Prisons has rejected the U.S. Army's request to accept the transfer of national security leaker Pvt. Chelsea Manning from a military prison—so the military will begin treatment regarding her gender identity, according to the Associated Press. A defense official said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has approved the Army's recommendation to keep Manning in military custody and start a rudimentary level of gender treatment. The Army tried to get Manning transferred to the federal prison system, but officials said those discussions have ended.

Connecticut's highest court ruled that some legal rights of same-sex couples predate the state's approvals of civil unions in 2005 and gay marriage in 2008—a decision gay-rights supporters call the first of its kind in the country, the Associated Press noted. The state Supreme Court unanimously overturned two lower-court rulings to allow widow Charlotte Stacey to sue a doctor in a medical-malpractice case for the death of her spouse, Margaret Mueller, as well as the loss of her spouse's companionship and income.

A county circuit judge in Florida ruled against the state constitution's ban on same-sex marriage, according to . "This court concludes that a citizen's right to marry is a fundamental right that belongs to the individual," wrote Judge Luis Garcia of the Monroe County Circuit. The court's order provides that the Monroe County Clerk can begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on July 22.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed the January 2014 decision from U.S. District Judge Terence Kern in Bishop v. Smith that Oklahoma's constitutional amendment barring marriage for same-sex couples violates the U.S. Constitution. The state of Oklahoma now has the option to request an en banc appeal before the full bench of the Tenth Circuit, which decides whether or not to grant that request. Today's victory brings us ever closer to the day when all committed and loving gay and lesbian couples have the right to marry the person they love, regardless of what state they call home," said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin in a statement.

U.S. Senate Republicans recently blocked a bill that would have required all for-profit employers to include the full range of contraceptives in their health-insurance plans—in effect, overriding the Supreme Court's recent decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., according to The Huffington Post. The Senate voted 56-43 to proceed to debate on the bill, falling short of the 60 votes needed to move forward. Three Republicans—Sens. Mark Kirk ( R-Ill. ), Lisa Murkowski ( R-Alaska ) and Susan Collins ( R-Maine )—voted with Senate Democrats to proceed.

Mayors in Arizona, Texas and New Mexico have signed onto a new partnership with The U.S. Conference of Mayors and The BULLY Project as part of a major national initiative to develop local solutions-based responses to combat the epidemic of bullying in local schools, a press release stated. The mayors of Houston, Laredo, Corpus Christi, Phoenix, Tempe, Sante Fe, and Las Cruces join more than 170 mayors from around the country who have signed on to the project, called the Mayors' Campaign to End Bullying. A list of all participating mayors and cities is at

Pro-LGBT organization Truth Wins Out ( TWO ) issued a press release urging Washington, D.C., officials to reject plans to build a National Bible Museum only blocks from the National Mall. TWO said the project, which Hobby Lobby owner Steve Green conceived, "would make a mockery of surrounding museums, which are based on research, history and scholarship." Executive Director Wayne Besen said, "A Green-funded museum would likely proselytize and promote one radical strain of Christianity, at the exclusion of more tolerant and versions of the faith."

The National Center for Lesbian Rights praised the U.S. Department of Agriculture ( USDA ) releasing a final rule that extends non-discrimination protections to transgender and gender non-conforming participants in many USDA services and programs, according to a press release. The rule amends the existing USDA non-discrimination rule, 7 C.F.R. 15( d ), to add "gender identity" as a prohibited basis for discrimination in programs or activities conducted by USDA. The regulation already includes prohibitions against discrimination based on sexual orientation and marital status.

Mia Henderson, 26—the transgender sister of NBA player Reggie Bullock—has been found dead in Baltimore, The Huffington Post reported. Henderson was allegedly found in an alley that The Baltimore Sun described as "a hot spot for prostitution" in the northeast part of the city. Bullock ( who's with the Los Angeles Clippers ) tweeted about the loss of his sibling, whom he referred to as his "brother." Authorities do not know if Henderson's murder is connected with the murder of another transgender woman who was killed in Baltimore in June.

Religious, labor and LGBT groups are speaking up in support of Voz, a Latino employment-rights organization, after a funding body of the Catholic church denied it a $75,000 grant for refusing to distance itself from organizations that support marriage equality, reported. Voz—which primarily helps Latino immigrants find work in Portland, Oregon—announced that the Catholic Campaign for Human Development ( CCHD ) threatened to deny it a grant unless it cut ties with the National Council of La Raza ( NCLR ), a leading Latino-rights group, because it supports same-sex marriage. Oregon AFL-CIO and Basic Rights Oregon, an LGBT-advocacy group, have declared their solidarity with Voz's cause.

In Austin, Texas, President Obama fist-bumped a BBQ cashier in response to the cashier's quote about gay rights, according to Gawker. When Obama approached the Franklin Barbeque counter, Daniel Rugg Webb took his moment and exclaimed, "Equal rights for gay people!" Obama then asked if Webb was gay. Webb responded, "Only when I have sex." Webb then told a media outlet, "That's when he laughed and said, 'Bump me.'"

A New Mexico mother is facing a hate-crime charge after authorities say she physically and sexually abused her daughter because the daughter is lesbian, reported. Citing a criminal complaint, The Las Cruces Sun-News reported the 17-year-old girl alleges she and her mother had been arguing about the girl's sexuality for around a week before her mother beat and abused her.

A total of only 2.3 percent of U.S. adults said they were gay, lesbian or bisexual in the largest federal government survey ever to ask about sexual orientation, according to USA Today. That number is a bit lower than the 3 percent to 4 percent found in some other recent surveys, including a Gallup Poll from 2012—but some of those studies encompassed broader groups, including trans* individuals. The survey also found that gays, lesbians and bisexuals, as a whole, are more likely than straight people to smoke and binge drink, and just as likely to exercise.

Science, the academic journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, recently put an image of transgender female sex workers on its cover, according to . However, on the cover of the issue—which focuses HIV/AIDS prevention—the women's heads were cut out of the frame, leaving only their bodies. Some criticized the cover, saying that depicting women in tight clothing without their heads is dehumanizing and objectifying.

Charles Sargent has been ruled competent to stand trial for the murder of transgender woman Diamond Williams, according to . In 2013, Williams was brutally dismembered in the Strawberry Mansion section of Philadelphia. Prior to this pivotal court hearing, Sargent had refused to complete a psych exam.

A former St. Louis police officer has pleaded guilty of harassing a transgender man by yelling slurs and posting a picture of his home and a gay-pride flag on the Internet, according to CBS St. Louis. Jeffrey Michael Leveque, 45, will serve a year of probation as part of a six-month suspended sentence; he also must take anger-management classes and stay away from the victim. Leveque was a St. Louis police officer during 2001-04.

A man suspected of killing two young gay men in Seattle's Leschi neighborhood last month was arrested in New Jersey, according to . Detectives and members of a homicide task force arrested Ali Muhammad Brown in West Orange, New Jersey. Brown allegedly killed Ahmed Said, 27, and Dwone Anderson-Young, 23, shortly after midnight June 1; the case is being investigated as a possible hate crime.

A Pennsylvania pastor who's a married father of five, published author of an "ex-gay" handbook and registered sex offender is facing criminal charges for molesting a teenager who came to him for counseling over the course of almost three years, EDGE Boston reported. An unidentified 21-year-old victim is accusing Duane Youngblood, pastor of the Higher Call World Outreach Church in the suburban Pittsburgh town of Homestead, of molesting him multiple times over a two-and-a-half year period while he was a teenager. In 2001, Youngblood was arrested for indecent exposure when Pittsburgh police found him and a 19-year-old in a car with their pants down.

A Washington state history teacher fired in 1972 for being gay has received an apology from the local school board, according to ABC News. Jim Gaylord, a history teacher at Wilson High School in Tacoma, was fired 42 years ago after a student speculated that he was gay and reported it to the vice principal. Current Tacoma School Board President Kurt Miller said the school records showed that Gaylord was an excellent teacher and there was "no other reason to fire him." Seth Kirby, executive director at the Oasis Youth Center, approached Miller about the idea of an apology.

An Indiana anti-gay activist has complained that people wouldn't "applaud" him marrying his toaster like they do same-sex marriage, Pink News noted. Micah Clark, the head of the American Family Association of Indiana, was complaining that the Tipton County Tribune had published a wedding announcement for a same-sex couple. Recently, the American Family Association refused a $10 donation because it was sent in an envelope with a commemorative Harvey Milk stamp on it.

The mayor of a small city on the Mississippi Gulf Coast has become the first mayor in the state to publicly support marriage rights for same-sex couples, The Washington Blade noted. "I understand that the strength and health of our cities are enhanced when all families are protected and supported," said Waveland Mayor David Garcia in a press release that Freedom to Marry issued. A law that Mississippi advocates maintain allows business owners to deny services to LGBT people based on their religious beliefs took effect on July 1.

A woman fired by a Catholic-run food pantry in Kansas City, Missouri, because she is a lesbian, has filed suit against the Kansas City-St. Joseph Roman Catholic diocese and its bishop, reported. Colleen Simon claims that when she was hired last year to run the food pantry at St. Francis Xavier Church, with the title of director of social ministries, she told informed priests that she was a lesbian and they told her it would be no problem. However, she was let go shortly after a news article mentioned her marriage to a woman.

In Michigan, defense attorney Elbert Hatchett called his client, Donovan Lamar Haynes, "deranged" just before a judge sentenced the man to prison for biting and beating his 2-year-old daughter to death in what officials said was an attempt to make her gay, reported. Genesee Circuit Judge Joseph J. Farah—who called the allegations "astonishing"—sentenced Haynes to 18 years and nine months to 40 years in prison after Haynes pled no contest to second-degree murder for the beating death of his daughter, Ti'Airra Woodward. Farah also sentenced him to serve a concurrent five to 15 years in prison for first-degree child abuse.

This article shared 4835 times since Tue Jul 22, 2014
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