GLAAD announced the launch of its Biden Equality Accountability Trackera real-time record of the Biden administration's executive orders, announcements, legislative support and speeches that impact LGBTQ people and rights, a press release noted. GLAAD has tracked at least 24 pro-equality moves in the first 50 days, as well as noted LGBTQ Cabinet and staff appointments in the first days of the administration. GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis introduced the tracker in her op-ed in Reuters, and in the statement. See https://www.glaad.org/biden-harris.
The National LGBTQ Task Force announced the addition of two new staff members and the consolidation of two departments as part of the organization's growth and restructure under the leadership of recently named Executive Director Kierra Johnson, a press release noted. Former Creating Change Conference Director Andy Garcia will now head a combined department of conference, policy and advocacy staff as director of the Advocacy and Action Department. Also, Ashawnda Fleming joins the Task Force Development Department and Leadership Team as the new chief development officer and Desiree Luckey has been appointed senior policy counsel, focusing on the organization's democracy work.
Trans sports journalist Christina Kahrla longtime ESPN senior editor and co-founder of both the Baseball Prospectus think tank and the Baseball Writers' Association of Americaannounced on Twitter that she will be the next sports editor of the legendary San Francisco Chronicle newspaper, Outsports noted. She will become the first out transgender editor of a major, metropolitan mainstream media outlet in the country when she takes the reins of sports coverage of the largest newspaper in Northern California. The Chronicle is the state's second major newspaper after the Los Angeles Times. In a message to Outsports, Kahrl said she recognizes the importance of her platform.
Many of New York's LGBTQ lawmakers are echoing growing calls for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign in response to numerous disturbing allegations of inappropriate behavior and sexual harassment, Gay City News reported. U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, became the highest-ranking LGBTQ elected official in the state to call on Cuomo to step down when he issued a statement on March 12the same day that new allegations surfaced. Congressmen Mondaire Jones and Ritchie Torres have also asked for the governor to step down.
Researchers at UCLA partnered with a researcher at West Virginia University (WVU) to publish a report addressing discrimination against the LGBT community in West Virginia, WDTV.com reported. Some of the key findings were that LGBT people in West Virginia experience discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. For example, data show 39% of LGBT adults in West Virginia reported having a household income below $24,000, compared to 26% of non-LGBT adults.
A Houston bakery is facing two separate lawsuits from former employees alleging they were fired due to anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination, out.com noted. Gilbert Johnson and Katherine Phillips told OutSmart the Dessert Gallery Bakery & Cafe fired them because Johnson is gay and Phillips is a lesbian. Johnson further alleged he was fired in part for hiring a transgender employee. "We take seriously any allegations like those outlined in these complaints but stand firm that these allegations are simply not true," Dessert Gallery said in a statement. "We believe the proper place to disclose the facts of this case is in the courtroom and look forward to that opportunity."
A bill to strengthen the sexually transmitted disease public-health infrastructure of California is better than a similar effort that had initially been introduced last year, a principal co-author of the legislation told the Bay Area Reporter. Gay state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) co-authored Senate Bill 306 with Sen. Dr. Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), who introduced it Feb. 4. According to a news release from Wiener's office, the legislation will "permit the Family [Planning Access Care Treatment] program to offer covered benefits to income-eligible patients, even if contraception is not discussed during the patient encounter; update California's [Expedited Partner Therapy] statute to include provider liability protections used in other states; permit HIV counselors to administer rapid STD tests; update state law to require congenital syphilis testing during the third trimester of pregnancy; [and] require coverage of home STD tests by public and private insurers."
Former First Lady Michelle Obama spoke candidly in a People Magazine interview about her struggles with low-grade depression during the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges of 2020, encouraging people to speak more openly about their mental health, CNN.com noted. Obama told People magazine that she "needed to acknowledge what I was going through, because a lot of times we feel like we have to cover that part of ourselves up, that we always have to rise above and look as if we're not paddling hard underneath the water." She added, "We had the continued killing of Black men at the hands of police. Just seeing the video of George Floyd, experiencing that eight minutes. That's a lot to take on, not to mention being in the middle of a quarantine."
Thousands of Texans are slated to lose their healthcare provider after Travis County Civil District Court Judge Lora Livingston allowed the state to remove Planned Parenthood from its Medicaid program, CNN.com reported. Texas has long sought to ban Planned Parenthood, which provides abortions in Texas, from Medicaid. Medicaid funding does not cover abortions except in cases of rape or incest or when the woman's life is at risk, due to the Hyde Amendment, dating back to 1976. In 2019, Planned Parenthood provided health care to more than 8,000 Medicaid recipients in Texas.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem signed Senate Bill 124, a religious refusal bill that could grant a license to discriminate against LGBTQ people across a wide range of goods and services in the state, a Human Rights Campaign (HRC) statement noted. HRC President Alphonso David said, "While she may see discrimination as a path to the national far right spotlight, she should understand the damage she is doing to the state of South Dakota and LGBTQ people who are simply looking to live their lives free of fear and exclusion." Noem also signed legislation that would bar transgender girls and women from participating in female sports leagues.
Over objections from Democrats, Georgia House Republicans passed a sweeping elections bill that would enact more restrictions on absentee voting and cut back on weekend early voting hours favored by larger counties, among other changes, NPR reported. The bill's sponsorGOP Rep. Barry Fleming, who chairs the House Special Committee on Election Integritysaid the 66-page measure "is designed to begin to bring back the confidence of our voters back into our election system" after Republicans lost confidence in the GOP-backed voting system following Democrats' victories in the November presidential contest and both of Georgia's U.S. Senate races.
The National AIDS Memorial announced Isabel Fatima (Ima) Diawara, of Los Angeles, as the first recipient of the Mary Bowman Arts in Activism Award, a press release noted. The newly created and inspiring program, funded through a multi-year grant from ViiV Healthcare, offers support to artist-activists who are working and committed to making a difference in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The Mary Bowman Arts in Activism Award honors the life of Mary Bowmana poet, advocate, author, singer and young person living with AIDS who passed away in early 2019 at age 30.
A statue of late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was erected in her hometown of Brooklyn on March 12three days before her 88th birthday, USA Today noted. The unveiling also comes in the middle of Women's History Month as another way to honor Ginsburg's legacy and her fight for women's rights. The statue is part of a larger series called Statues for Equality, which has worked to increase the representation of women in public sculptures around New York City and beyond.
LGBTQ-rights advocates are uniting to support Noel Koenke, a former employee at St. Joseph's University who's appealing the dismissal of her LGBT-related anti-bias case against the university before it could reach a jury, Philadelphia Gay News reported. Koenke worked as an assistant director of music and worship at the university; however, pressure to stay in the closet eventually caused her to attempt suicide and resulted in the dissolution of her marriagešand she resigned in November 2017. Koenke filed suit in October 2019, claiming the university violated Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in educational programs receiving federal funds.
New York-based fashion designer Alexander Wang responded, again, to a growing number of sexual assault and harassment allegations, out.com reported. Wang had previously called the initial allegations "baseless," and said they were "fabricated"but now, his tenor has changed starkly. On Instagram, he posted, "It was not easy for [the alleged victims] to share their stories, and I regret acting in a way that caused them pain. While we disagree with some of the details of these personal interactions, I will set a better example and use my visibility and influence to encourage others to recognize harmful behaviors. Life is about learning and growth, and now that I know better, I will do better." Attorney Lisa Bloomwho reportedly is representing 11 of those who have allegations against Wangresponded on Twitter, "We have met with Alexander Wang and his team. My clients had the opportunity to speak their truth to him and expressed their pain and hurt. We acknowledge Mr. Wang's apology and we are moving forward. We have no further comment on this matter."
Fox personality Geraldo Rivera posted a tweet announcing that he was pondering running for the seat that will be left vacant by retiring Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, who will not be seeking re-election in 2022, Yahoo! noted. Riverawho regularly butts heads with Sean Hannity and Fox News contributor Dan Bongino for his moderate stances on things like immigrationsaid he would have run as a moderate Republican. But his political ambitions didn't last long as he posted another tweet less than 24 hours after the first one, saying that the run is not going to happen.
Lawyers for former U.S. Rep. Katie Hill and her ex-husband, Kenneth Heslep, told a Los Angeles judge that they remain hopeful of settling her allegations of harassment and years of abusebut they still asked that the groundwork be laid for a possible trial of whether Hill's stay-away order should be extended, the Los Angeles Daily News reported. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Lawrence Riff ordered both sides to prepare lists of witnesses and exhibits they would use during the trial and submit them a week in advance of April 8, when a trial-setting hearing is scheduled. The judge said he was extending the temporary restraining order Judge Anne Richardson granted Hill on Dec. 8 until April 30. Heslep has denied allegations of abusing Hill, who resigned her seat in 2019 after nude photos of her were published and news emerged that she had a three-way relationship with her husband and a female campaign staffer.
On March 8, the Cambridge (Massachusetts) City Council passed a historic domestic partnership ordinance aimed at recognizing and protecting polyamorous and other multi-partner families and relationships, according to an item from the Polyamory Legal Advocacy Coalition (PLAC). The ordinance was developed with detailed input from the PLAC, and is the first of what advocates hope will be a wave of legal recognition for polyamorous families and relationships in 2021. Last year, Somerville (also in Massachusetts) became the first U.S. city to allow domestic partnerships of three or more partners.
In California, the second annual "Pride Ride" returns to Homewood Mountain Resort March 25-28, The Bay Area Reporter noted. Along with skiing and riding, there will be a variety of mini-events on and off the mountain, including a dual slalom drag race, ski parade down Rainbow Ridge, virtual scavenger hunt and more. See www.skihomewood.com/pride-ride-at-homewood-mountain-resort/.