RuPaul's Drag Race alum Honey Mahoganywho currently holds a vice-chair seat in her local County Central Committeeannounced that she will be seeking the role of chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party when current Party Chair David Campos vacates the seat to pursue his new role as vice-chair of the state party, a press release noted. Mahogany (the first drag performer from San Francisco to compete on "Drag Race") would be the first Black person to lead the San Francisco Democratic Party in modern history as well as the first trans person in the United States to chair any local Democratic party.
The U.S. Supreme Court turned away a challenge by Republican-governed Texas to a law enacted by Democratic-led California that bars state-funded travel to states deemed to be hostile to the rights of LGBT people, Reuters reported. The 2016 measure was enacted in the most populous U.S. state in response to laws in conservative states that allowed certain businesses to refuse service to LGBT customers. Texas sued after California in 2017 added it to its list, now numbering 12, of states covered by the ban. Two conservative justices, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, said they would have heard the case.
Black, Puerto Rican transgender woman Natalia Smut, 24, was stabbed to death in Milpitas, California, out.com noted, citing East Bay Times. Smut, a local drag legend, is the 17th reported trans person to be violently killed so far in 2021, and the second trans victim of violence in less than a week. More than a hundred people attended a vigil in her honor on the steps of the San Jose City Hall.
A Tennessee CEO who was filmed publicly mocking a male high school senior who chose to wear a dress to prom with his boyfriend was fired, The Independent reported. In a video posted to various social media platforms, Sam Johnson, the now-former CEO of telemedicine company Visuwell, is seen ridiculing Dalton Stevens at the Harpeth Hotel in the city of Franklin. As Stevens and his boyfriend, Jacob Geittman, took pictures outside the hotel, Johnson reportedly approached and mocked him for his choice of clothinga floor-length red gown. After video of the incident was widely circulated, including by celebrities such as Billy Porter and Kathy Griffin, Visuwell announced that the company's board of directors had chosen to terminate Johnson.
Three transgender peopleChristian Pallidine, Jae Bucci and Gabriela Amaya Cruzalleged they suffered abuse at a Miami jail last year after police arrested them during Black Lives Matter protests, The Washington Blade reported. The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, in a letter it sent to Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, noted that personnel allegedly abused Pallidine because of his gender identity."They tugged at my piercings, drawing blood, and forcibly tried to remove my hair, assuming it to be a wig," said Bucci. Cruz said she suffered many of the same abuses that Bucci and Pallidine described once she arrived at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center.
A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit that sought to prevent transgender athletes from competing in girls high school sports in Connecticut, KPIC.com reported. The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, which oversees scholastic sports in the state, allows high school athletes to compete in sports according to their gender identity. The lawsuit was filed a year ago by cisgender runners who argued they were denied wins, state titles and athletic opportunities by being forced to compete against two transgender sprinters. U.S. District Court Judge Robert Chatigny dismissed the lawsuit on procedural grounds, saying there was no dispute to resolve because the two trans athletes have graduated and the plaintiffs could not identify other female transgender athletes, the Hartford Courant reported.
Legislation introduced by Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto's office would penalize anyone committing hateful criminal acts because of an individual or group's sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or disabilityfilling a gap in the commonwealth law that only defines race, color, religion or national origin, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. "Unfortunately, we are consistently reminded of the need for hate crime protections in this country, and Mayor Peduto has been clear again and again that there is no place for hate in Pittsburgh," said mayoral spokesman Timothy McNulty in an emailed statement. District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., in 2019, suggested to City Council members that they write local legislation strengthening city code on hate crimes after a transgender man was attacked at a downtown 7-11.
LGBTQ Victory Fundthe only national organization dedicated to electing LGBTQ leaders to public officeendorsed 17 LGBTQ candidates and awarded two of them Spotlight Candidate status: Mariah Moore and Chris Coburn, a press release noted. Moore, a former LGBTQ Victory Institute Empowerment Fellow, is running for New Orleans City Council and would be the first out trans person elected to public office in Louisiana and one of just three out LGBTQ elected officials in the entire state. Coburn, appointed to the Bozeman City Commission earlier this month, would be the first Black out LGBTQ person elected to the Bozeman City Council and remain the only Black out LGBTQ elected official serving in Montana, if he wins.
Critics of California Gov. Gavin Newsom have met the state's threshold with enough validated signatures to force a recall election of the Democratic governor this yeara contest that could land on the ballot as early as this summer or as late as December, CNN.com noted. Newsom's approval ratings are still above 50% and he has put a great deal of effort into accelerating COVID-19 vaccinations to speed up the state's reopeningbut the recall has been fueled by anger over the restrictions he put in place to curb the spread of coronavirus throughout last year and during an alarming surge in cases during the winter holiday months. Republican trans figure Caitlin Jenner has already declared her gubernatorial run to replace Newsom.
And speaking of Jenner, she came out against trans girls competing against biological girls in school sports, Deadline noted. Caught in an impromptu street interview with Disclose.TV, Jenner said, "This is a question of fairness,. That's why I oppose biological boys who are trans competing in girls spots in school. It just isn't fair. And we have to protect girls sports in our schools." Jenner, a Republican gubernatorial candidate in California, is slated to sit down with Fox News' Sean Hannity for an interview that will be telecast May 5.
Both chambers of the Tennessee Legislature have passed a bill that would require businesses to post notices that say they allow transgender people to use the building's restrooms, LGBTQ Nation reported. If signed, it would make the Volunteer State the first state in the country to adopt legislation seeking to single out trans-affirming businesses for allowing trans people to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity.
Language calling homosexuality illegal and unacceptable will be struck from the state's laws on sex education under a measure signed by Gov. Kay Ivey, The Montgomery Advertiser reported. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Laura Hall, D-Huntsville, removes a paragraph dating from 1992 that requires courses on human reproduction and sexual education to emphasize that "homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public and that homosexual conduct is a criminal offense under the laws of the state." The law will go into effect July 1.
During its Annual Meeting on May 1, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) presented Equality Forum Executive Director Malcolm L. Lazin with the 2021 John Fryer Award, a press release noted. The award recognizes an individual who has contributed to or improved the mental health of sexual minorities. Equality Forum coordinates LGBT History Month and undertakes other high-impact initiatives, including the application for, and installation of, national historic markers.
Non-binary New York resident Sander Saba filed a lawsuit against Governor Andrew Cuomo and Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Commissioner Mark Shroeder last summer, claiming that the state's binary system violates their constitutional rightsand, recently, U.S. District Judge Lewis J. Liman rejected the defendants' argument and refused to dismiss the case, Gay City News reported. Liman said the dispute is not moot so long as the current application form and system remain in place, and that offering the "X" (non-binary) license without altering the DMV database means that the potential constitutional problems (such as freedom of expression) with the current system are not completely addressed.
The first queer couple was elected prom king and queen in Ohio's Kings High School, NBC News reported. Annie Wise and girlfriend Riley Loudermilk are both 18 and have known each other since third grade; they started dating six months ago. Despite some negative comments, school officials stood by the decision. "This is solely a Kings High School senior class-nominated and voted-on initiative," said Dawn Goulding, a community relations coordinator for the school district, according to WLWT5.
A bill that would add protections to members of the LGBTQ community in Vermont is awaiting the governor's signature, WCAX.com reported. Winooski Rep. Taylor Small, the state's only openly transgender legislator, introduced a bill in the Vermont House earlier this year to ban LGBTQ panic defense, and it has now passed both the House and Senate. A "panic defense" in court is a legal strategy that uses a victim's sexual orientation or gender identity as the reason for a violent crime.
The South Carolina House Judiciary Committee voted down H.4153a bill that would prohibit transgender youth in middle and high school from participating in student athletics, according to a press release from the Campaign for Southern Equality. The April 27 vote marked the third time nearly identical measures have been rejected in the 2021 legislative sessionfirst on March 16 when the House Judiciary Committee tabled H.3477 and then again when lawmakers' attempt to include an anti-transgender proviso in the South Carolina budget was defeated. SC United for Justice & Equality, a coalition of more than 30 organizations committed to LGBTQ equality in SC, is working against the bill.
The California Senate Education Committee narrowly advanced legislation (SB 217 by Sen. Brian Dahle) that Equality California said would undermine implementation of the state's sexual health education lawthe California Healthy Youth Actdespite having narrowly rejected the bill March 10 and strong opposition voiced by LGBTQ+-rights organizations, parents and educators, an organizational press release noted. Equality California Legislative Director Tami A. Martin said, in part, "SB 217 will undermine the provision of accurate, inclusive and age-appropriate sexual health education to the students who need it most. The requirements in SB 217 impose duplicative and potentially costly mandates on even California's most under-resourced districts, forcing schools in underserved communities to scale back critical instruction on important issues like consent, puberty, bullying and healthy relationships."
In celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, a coalition of partners including the Ford and MacArthur Foundations have partnered with MTV Entertainment Studios to produce See Us Unite for Changea first-of-its-kind special hosted by Ken Jeong and featuring notable AAPI celebrities and allies, a press release noted. The event will air Friday, May 21, at 8 p.m. ET and will be simulcast nationally and worldwide across the platforms of the MTV Entertainment portfolio (MTV, Comedy Central, Paramount Network,Smithsonian Channel, Pop TV, VH1, CMT, TV Land and Logo) as well as BET and Nickelodeon and stream exclusively on Facebook Watch.
On April 21, the San Diego Unified School District received more than 2,000 age-appropriate, LGBTQ-affirming books, Variety noted. It's the largest delivery yet by Gender Nation, a nonprofit founded by actor Morgan Walsh, who plays Ginger Flynn on BET's Games People Play; and Keiko Feldman, co-owner of Juris Prods. and a former KNBC-TV producer. The idea for Gender Nation came when Walsh and her husband, Veep actor Matt Walsh, wanted to make sure their oldest son didn't feel alone because he didn't know other boys who also showed an interest in American Doll girls and fairy wings.
Texas, Florida and North Carolina are among the states that will gain congressional seats based on new population data from the U.S. censusa shift that could boost Republican chances of recapturing the U.S. House of Representatives from Democrats in next year's midterm elections, Reuters reported. The overall U.S. population stood at 331,449,281, the Census Bureau said, marking a 7.4% increase since 2010 and representing the second-slowest growth of any decade in history. U.S. House seats are reallocated every 10 years following the decennial census count.
Equality California, the nation's largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, announced an early endorsement of Sen. Alex Padilla's campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2022, a press release noted. Equality California Executive Director Rick Chavez Zbur said, in part, "Senator Padilla isn't just a passive supporter of LGBTQ+ civil rights and social justice, but a full-throated champion who takes on our struggle for full, lived equality as their own." For a complete list of Equality California's endorsements, visit eqca.org/elections.
Days after Jay-Z, Diddy and Nas publicly endorsed Ray McGuire, nearly 200 notable women pledged their early support for the New York City mayoral candidate, Essence noted. Women supporters include celebrities (Mary J. Blige, Misty Copeland, Naomi Campbell), executives and entrepreneurs (Urban Zen's Helen Aboah, Encore Strategies' Karen Boykin-Towns) and Hollywood producers (Debra Martin Chase, Tonya Lewis Lee). McGuire, 64, enters a crowded race for New York City mayoral office and he has sights on being the city's second Black mayor after David Dinkins, who led the city during 1990-93.
On his Spotify podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, Joe Rogan clarified controversial remarks he made regarding vaccination against COVID-19 that Dr. Anthony Fauci criticized, Deadline noted. "There's some legitimate science behind [these vaccines]," he told his guest, comedian Andrew Santino. "This is the thing about this whole thing, people being upset at me: I'm not an anti-vax person." Initially, Rogan had said, "If you're a healthy person, and you're exercising all the time, and you're young, and you're eating well, I don't think you need to worry about this."
The Florida Ethics Committee ruled during its April 16 meeting that Dustin Daniels, the former chief of staff for former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, violated Florida's Code of Ethics, WTXL.com reported. In 2019, Jennings Lawton DePriest, a local GOP activist, filed the complaint accusing Daniels of "misusing his public position" to secure special benefits for others. DePriest referred to a 2017 grand jury investigation into a complaint that Gillum's office had spent about $4,000 on campaign email software using taxpayer money.