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NATIONAL Altercation, mpox research, Univ. of Fla., George Santos, tech battle
by Andrew Davis
2024-03-08

This article shared 14114 times since Fri Mar 8, 2024
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Video footage uploaded to Facebook showed an altercation between a state trooper and two prominent Philadelphia LGBTQ+ leaders, the Washington Blade reported, republishing an article from Philadelphia Gay News. Celena Morrison, executive director of Philadelphia's Office of LGBT Affairs, was pulled over by a state trooper on the Vine Street Expressway on March 2 and later detained by police. Darius McClean, Morrison's husband and acting COO of William Way LGBT Community Center, was present during the incident and was also detained. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the trooper involved has been placed on restricted duty and the rollout of body cameras for troopers in Philadelphia is being expedited. State police said Morrison was pulled over for driving a gray Infiniti sedan with an expired and suspended registration, having headlights that were not illuminated in the rain, having illegally tinted windows and driving too closely to another car.

New research finds the 2022 mpox outbreak among gay and bisexual men began to slow down after just a few months—even though just 8% of high-risk people had received the mpox vaccine, per U.S. News & World Report. The results suggest that it was changes in gay and bisexual men's sexual behaviors, not the vaccine, that caused the outbreak to subside. A team led by Miguel Paredes, an epidemiologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, published its findings Feb. 29 in the journal Cell. In the analysis, Paredes' team used sophisticated computer modeling to track the origin and spread of mpox variants throughout the United States over the course of the outbreak.

The University of Florida fired an entire department dedicated to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, The Advocate noted. The move by the state's most prominent public university marks another in Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis' exorcism of such programs throughout the state's educational institutions. The Independent Florida Alligator, a student-run newspaper, first revealed that all 13 employees in the Office of the Chief Diversity Officer would be let go. The firings marked a significant shift under University of Florida President Ben Sasse, an ex-Republican U.S. senator heavily criticized for his anti-LGBTQ+ record.

Indicted and ousted former House Republican George Santos announced that he plans to run for Congress again, in the primary against Rep. Nick LaLota (R-New York) on Long Island, Politico noted. The openly gay ex-rep posted the news in the middle of President Joe Biden's State of the Union address, which he attended and then insulted. Santos posted on X, "New York hasn't had a real conservative represent them since I left office arbitrarily, thanks to RINO, empty suits like @nicklalota." LaLota responded in a statement, "To raise the standard in Congress, and to hold a pathological liar who stole an election accountable, I led the charge to expel George Santos. If finishing the job requires beating him in a primary, count me in." Santos—who is running for a seat that is farther east on Long Island than the district he represented until December—faces 23 federal fraud charges; his trial is scheduled to begin in September.

Elon Musk is suing OpenAI and its gay CEO Sam Altman, saying the company behind ChatGPT has diverged from its original, nonprofit mission by partnering with Microsoft for $13 billion and keeping its code for its newest generative AI products a secret, The Advocate noted, citing CNN. The lawsuit also cites a headline-making leadership crisis last year that led to Altman's temporary ouster from the company, apparently over concerns by several board members about the risks of artificial intelligence. Musk, who co-founded OpenAI in 2015, has since left and has formed his own AI company, xAI.

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) issued a press release mourning the death of Righteous Torrence "Chevy" Hill, a 35-year-old Black trans man from Macon, Georgia. According to the release, Hill—who founded and owned Evollusion, a beauty bar dedicated to serving the LGBTQ+/SGL community—was murdered in Atlanta on Feb. 29, 2024. "My heart breaks for Chevy and all who knew and loved him. The work he did to create a safe space for Black LGBTQ+/SGL people where they can receive affirming looks and styles without fear of harassment or judgment is incredible and will continue to impact his community and inspire the world," said NBJC Director of Public Policy and Programs Victoria Kirby York. "However, it makes you think about how much more he could have achieved had his life not ended so soon."

The Washington State LGBTQ Commission is creating a Youth Advisory Council that will advise the Office of the Governor, KHQ reported. Advisory council members will be between the ages of 13 and 25 and will be paid a stipend by the state. The commission hopes that creating relationships between state leadership and young LGBTQ+ individuals will empower disenfranchised queer people across the state, advance equity issues in policy conversations and highlight the needs of queer young people.

Members of the LGBTQ+ community dwarfed a protest by Westboro Baptist Church outside the Oklahoma school where Nex Benedict—a gender non-confirming teenager who died last month—was a pupil, PinkNews noted. The church—a controversial, anti-LGBTQ+ fringe religious group known for picketing funerals with "God Hates F*gs" signs—showed up outside Owasso High School to stage a "public preaching." In response to the picketing, more than 400 members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies showed up to counter-protest—far outnumbering the dozen church members who attended.

In San Francisco, prosecutors plan to proceed with a new trial for James Rickleffs after his convictions for the 2012 murder and robbery of gay hairstylist Steven "Eriq" Escalon were overturned by an appellate court last year, The Advocate noted, citing The Bay Area Reporter. Rickleffs was sentenced to 50 years to life in prison in 2019 after a jury found him guilty of killing and robbing Escalon in his Diamond Heights apartment hours after the pair met at a bar in The Castro. (Toxicology reports showed he died from an overdose of amyl nitrates and gamma-hydroxybutyric acid, better known as poppers and GBH respectively.) However, California's fifth division of the 1st District Court of Appeal overturned those convictions last October, citing a lack of established intent to commit murder as well as questions about the laboratory's toxicology results and a supposed lack of supporting data in its report.

Voters in Huntington Beach, California passed a ballot measure that bans non-governmental flags (including Pride banners) from being flown from government buildings, per PinkNews. However, the city, county and state flag, as well as the armed forces flags and the Stars and Stripes are excluded and can be flown. The mayor is also authorized to fly the Olympic flag in the run-up to the summer games; other flags can be flown if unanimously approved by members of the Huntington Beach City Council. In May 2021, an Indiana high school ordered teachers to remove Pride flags from classrooms to "maintain viewpoint neutrality."

In South Carolina, the Beaufort School District's superintendent pulled 97 books from schools after a ban push from a few parents and residents—but all but five have been returned to the shelves, per CBS News. Two county residents—a parent and a former member of Moms for Liberty—presented the list of 97 books. The proposed bans were largely met by critics who said these books taught valuable lessons to students; some also said the mass banning of books was an attempt to erase stories about the BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities.

Opill—the first oral contraceptive approved for over-the-counter use in the United States—will be available in stores and online this month, with a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $19.99 for a one-month supply and $49.99 for a three-month supply, CNN noted. Openly gay American Medical Association President Jesse M. Ehrenfeld, M.D., MPH, said in a statement that Windy City Times obtained, "Today, finally, over-the-counter availability of oral contraception is a critically important, long-overdue reality. At a time when reproductive health care access is restricted in certain states, broader access to safe, effective oral contraception is more essential than ever to limit unintended pregnancies. With this barrier broken, the AMA continues to urge the FDA and HHS to consider a variety of oral contraceptive options for over-the-counter use. Let this be the first of several to earn FDA approval. Patients should have options when choosing which type of birth control works best for them."

In Colorado, a pro-LGBTQ+ salon with gender-affirming services was vandalized on its opening day, per NewsNation. A new Above Ground location n Denver opened recently, but hours before the party to welcome people into their new salon, owners found vandalism on the flag at their storefront. "It appeared that someone supported gay people, but not trans people and it referred to trans people on the flag, which they crossed off the trans colors and referred to trans people as pedophiles," Above Ground owner Ashe Bowen said.

Republican Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed a GOP-proposed bill to protect in vitro fertilization into law after weeks of backlash prompted by a state Supreme court ruling that embryos are considered children, NBC News noted. "IVF is a complex issue, no doubt, and I anticipate there will be more work to come, but right now, I am confident that this legislation will provide the assurances our IVF clinics need and will lead them to resume services immediately," she said in a statement. The new law will "provide civil and criminal immunity for death or damage to an embryo to any individual or entity when providing or receiving services related to in vitro fertilization."

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff and Republican former baseball star Steve Garvey will face off in November for the U.S. Senate seat long held by the late Dianne Feinstein, per the AP. Schiff's victory party was marred by protesters who shouted "Free Palestine" and "Cease-fire now," forcing the congressman to attempt to speak over them. Schiff—who has been outspoken in support of Israel's right to self-defense—recently changed directions and endorsed the Biden administration's call for a Gaza cease-fire as part of a broader agreement that would include the release of hostages.

Vermont's largest city has elected its first woman mayor in state Rep. Emma Mulvaney-Stanak—and she also happens to be the city's first out queer mayor, per The Advocate. Mulvaney-Stanak, a progressive, made history in the city of Burlington when she won her election on March 5 against Democratic City Councilor Joan Shannon. "This is a historic day because we finally have a woman mayor. I am pretty darn sure that I'm the first out queer mayor in the state of Vermont," Mulvaney-Stanak said during her victory speech, according to VTDigger. She replaces Miro Weinberger, who has been the city's mayor for the past 12 years and who hoped a woman or person of color would succeed him.

The D.C.-based Capital Pride Alliance announced this year's Pride theme is "totally radical," per The Washington Blade. "Capital Pride's 2024 theme celebrates the courageous spirit and unwavering strength and resilience that defined the LGBTQ+ community during the transformative decades of the 1980s and '90s," said Capital Pride Alliance Executive Director Ryan Bos. "It's about embracing our authenticity, pushing boundaries and advocating for a world where everyone can live their truth without fear or discrimination." The Pride parade will take place June 8.

One Institute announced the return of Circa—the first and only queer histories festival in the country, per a press release. The 2024 festival will take place during LGBTQ+ History Month (Oct. 1-31) at venues across Los Angeles County. The theme for this year's call for proposals is "LOVE and (R)EVOLUTION," bringing renewed focus to landmark moments in the history of LGBTQ+ political organizing as well as the behind-the-scenes stories of community care that have sustained movements for queer and trans liberation for decades. Submissions to this year's call for program proposals are open through April 14. More info is at CircaFestival.org .

GLAAD announced that LGBTQ+ allies Kate Hudson and Chloe (formerly Chloe Bailey) will perform at the 35th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles on March 14, per a press release. As previously announced, Oprah Winfrey will receive the Vanguard Award for her decades-long commitment to allyship and Emmy-winning actress and producer Niecy Nash-Betts will receive the Stephen F. Kolzak Award. Special guests are slated to include Billie Joe Armstrong, Billy Harris, Chrishell Stause & G Flip, Alexandra Shipp, Hannah Waddingham, Da Brat & Judy, Daniel Franzese, Sydney Sweeney, Jonathan Bailey, ALOK and many others; Wayne Brady is scheduled to host the event.

In a post on X (formerly Twitter) from Log Cabin Republicans of Tennessee (a branch of the national LGBTQ+ GOP group) that has generated controversy, a same-sex couple was married at the Mar-a-Lago Club—the official home of former U.S. President Donald Trump. John Sullivan and Dan Medora recently married at the Palm Beach, Florida, spot. According to the club's website, amenities include European indoor and terrace dining, an oceanfront swimming pool and Beach Club, the Mar-a-Lago Spa, six tennis courts, a chip-and-putt golf course, a fitness center, and event spaces such as the Donald J. Trump Grand Ballroom. Sullivan is the vice chairman and treasurer of the Log Cabin Republicans of Tennessee, per LGBTQ Nation, and he reportedly thanked Trump specifically for "giving us the green light to have our wedding at the beautiful Mar-a-Lago club."

Ini Rhode Island, the Mega-Plex—a club that "caters its business to members of the LGBTQ community" in Providence has sued the city in federal court, alleging that the establishment and its customers have been "unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of sexual orientation by Providence police," per GoLocalProv. The club's owners claim, "Upon information and belief, the PPD [Providence Police Department] is engaged in a policy and practice of the City related to targeted enforcement at the Mega-Plex property and surrounding vicinity, and this area is specifically called out in police officer training of the PPD." The city had not responded to a request for comment.


This article shared 14114 times since Fri Mar 8, 2024
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