In response to the ongoing investigation into the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Ja'Quarius Taylor, from New Orleans, as a possible hate crime, National Black Justice Coalition Executive Director David Johns and Executive Director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Kristen Clarke issued a joint release. In part, the release stated, "The dangers faced by young, Black, LGBTQ+ people are disturbing and becoming increasingly violent and fatal. With the increase in reported hate crimes since President Trump took office, we are deeply concerned that there is not a full accounting of the violence that members of our community have faced. It is critical that the FBI support Washington Parish law enforcement by providing the resources necessary to ensure a full and fair investigation." Taylor, of Varnado, was found dead Jan. 12 in a wooded area near his home, Advocate.com noted.
In Kentucky, gay man Jimmy Ausbrooks has thrown his hat in the ring against one of Kentucky's U.S. senators: Mitch McConnell, LGBTQ Nation noted. Ausbrooks faces quite a tough battle, though, as there are nine other Democrats who are all vying for the chance to face off against McConnell. While certain areas of Kentucky have passed their own civil rights ordinances, there are no state education, employment or housing protections for LGBTQ residents.
Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren pledged to fill half of her cabinet as president with women and non-binary people, The Washington Blade noted. Among the components of Warren's vision is building a senior leadership team "that reflects the full diversity of America, including having at least 50 percent of Cabinet positions filled by women and non-binary people." Further, Warren promises to "ensure representation of LGBTQ+ people across all levels of government, including in leadership roles."
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg surged past Sen. Elizabeth Warren ( D-Massachusetts ) in the latest nationwide Hill-HarrisX poll, putting him in third place in the field of Democratic presidential candidates, The Hill reported. Former Vice President Joe Biden maintained a double-digit lead over the field, with 29 percent support; progressive rival Sen. Bernie Sanders ( I-Vermont ) dropped 2 points from the previous poll, to 17 percent.
Equality California and its Nevada-based affiliate, Silver State Equality, endorsed Mayor Pete Buttigieg for president of the United States, a press release stated. "While we did not endorse Mayor Pete simply because he's gay, the historic nature of his candidacy has already had a transformational impact on the LGBTQ community," Equality California/Silver State Equality Executive Director Rick Zbur said, in part. For the first time, California's primary will be held on Super Tuesday in March, and California voters began casting mail-in ballots Feb. 3, the same day as the Iowa caucus; the 2020 Nevada Caucus will be held Saturday, Feb. 22.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Feb. 5 that he will pardon openly gay civil-rights icon Bayard Rustin, who was arrested in in 1953 in Pasadena and convicted of "vagrancy" for violating a morality offense that was often used to discriminate against and criminalize LGBTQ+ and Black communities and has since been repealed, an Equality California press release stated. State Sen. Scott Wiener ( chair of the Senate LGBTQ caucus ) and assemblymember Shirley Weber ( chair of the Senate Black Caucus ) asked Newsom to posthumously pardon Rustin, Advocate.com reported. After serving 50 days in Los Angeles Country jail, Rustin was charged for vagrancy ( a common charge against LGBTQ people engaging in consensual sex at the time ) and forced to register as a sex offender; the conviction haunted him until he died in 1987.
Black LGBTQIA+ Migrant Project ( BLMP ) and Transgender Law Center condemned the expansion of the travel ban that targets Muslim-majority countries, and now includes four African nations: Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania and Eritrea. BLMP member Wahira said in a press release, "As a Black trans woman, who is also a refugee and Muslim, I have a hard time fitting in. I know I am everything the Trump administration hates."
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that a state park on the East River waterfront in Brooklyn will be named after pioneering transgender woman of color Marsha P. Johnson, the New York Daily News reported. The East River Park in Williamsburg will be renamed to honor the Johnson, making it the first New York state park named for an LGBTQ person. Johnson was a renowned fighter for LGBTQ civil rights and a leader of the Stonewall uprising who died in 1992.
South Dakota Rep. Tony Randolph, a Republican from Rapid City, introduced a bill that would prohibit the state from enforcing, endorsing or favoring policies that cover a range of activities that involve members of the LGBTQ community, KELOLand.com reported. The bill wants the state to not enforce, endorse and favor policies that allow same-sex marriage; policies that allow counties to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples; and policies that prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation. ACLU of South Dakota Policy Director Libby Skarin said, "This bill is further proof that some South Dakota legislators remain committed to discriminating against LGBTQ people and their families. South Dakota lawmakers cannot defy the U.S. Supreme Court based on their extreme personal views."
Also in South Dakota, the South Dakota House of Representatives passed a bill that would criminalize doctors who assist in the gender-reassignment process for transgender youth, pushing the state closer to becoming the first to pass such a restriction, CNN.com noted. The Republican-controlled chamber passed HB 1057, known as the Vulnerable Child Protection Act, by a vote of 46 to 23. The bill's sponsor, Republican state Rep. Fred Deutsch, told CNN o he was "grateful" the bill "passed the House with such strong support."
A measure proposed by a group of Republican lawmakers that would have amended the Iowa Civil Rights Act by removing protections against discrimination for transgender people is dead, NBC News noted. Nine Republican House members sponsoring the bill introduced it Jan. 29; however, by evening, Republican Rep. Steven Holtchairman of the House Judiciary Committee to which the bill was assignedsaid he wouldn't allow it to move forward to a subcommittee hearing.
The Office of the Los Angeles District Attorney charged a man in a series of attacks on queer people that occurred over the holidays, Queerty noted. Joshua Ebow, 30, is accused of the attacks, which began on Christmas Day 2019 and continued for the next eight days. Law-enforcement officials charged him with two felony counts each of assault with a deadly weapon and battery, two counts of exhibiting a deadly weapon and committing a hate crime. Should he be convicted, Ebow faces up to 14 years in prison.
A D.C. resident who launched a campaign denouncing a Jan. 18 circuit party catering to mostly Black gay men on grounds that it allegedly allowed participants to engage in sex has apologized for her action, The Washington Blade reported. In an email she sent to the Washington Blade on Jan. 26, Jessica Lavin said she had a change of heart after doing online research about circuit parties and after reading a detailed description of the Jan. 18 Deviant Events Circuit Party written by its lead organizer, Micah Roseboroand said she'd reach out to Roseboro to apologize. Lavin had sent an email denouncing the Deviant Events circuit party to several D.C. government regulatory agencies and to D.C. police officials asking that they investigate the event.
Four members of the Indianapolis City-County Council openly identify as members of the LGBTQ communitythe most ever for the legislative body, The Journal Gazette noted. Newly elected member Ali Brown, who is bisexual, said none of the candidates won in November for that reason. The candidates were elected as part of a Democratic wave on the council; Indiana's legislature is overwhelmingly Republican.
The LA LGBT Center entered negotiations with Los Angeles County Department of Public Health ( DPH ) in the wake of fears it would have to cease free HIV and STI testing, NewNowNext.com reported. In 2018, the Center's HIV testing and treatment program saw 30,623 clientsand all of those were free or low-cost visits. Recently, the Center reported that DPH had slashed its funding by $1 million over the last year.
The Texas attorney general declined to defend the state agency charged with disciplining judges in a lawsuit filed by a justice of the peace who was warned over her refusal to marry same-sex couples, NBC News reported. The justice, Dianne Hensley, sued the Commission on Judicial Misconduct after it issued a nonbinding warning over her years-long refusal to marry same-sex couples while continuing to marry heterosexual couples. The attorney general, a Republican named Ken Paxton, said he will not defend the commission in the lawsuit because its actions conflict with his views of the Constitution.
Wyndham Destinations became the third major company in three days to announce it will stop donating millions of dollars to Florida private-school voucher program Step Up for Students after a newspaper investigation found that some of the program's beneficiaries discriminate against LGBTQ students, CNBC.com reported. The Orlando-based hotel company's announcement comes just two days after a similar announcement by Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bank and one day after an announcement from San Francisco-based Wells Fargo.
In Philadelphia, St. Joe's University is being sued for alleged workplace discrimination in a lawsuit filed by Noel Koenke, a former director of music for Campus Ministry, The Hawk newspaper reporter. Koenke, who openly identifies as lesbian, claims in the lawsuit she was harassed during her time at St. Joe's because of her sexual orientation. Koenke was hired at St. Joe's in July 2010; in November 2017, she was "constructively discharged," which, in legal terms, means employment conditions were so intolerable that the employee felt compelled to resign. Koenke filed the lawsuit in October 2019.
Philadelphia's Office of LGBT Affairs is no longer vacant, as Celena Morrison has been named executive director and will begin her tenure on March 20, Philadelphia Gay News reported. Morrison, a Black trans woman, comes from William Way LGBT Community Center, where she led the charge to open the Arcila-Adams Trans Resource Center, among other initiatives, in her position as director of programs. She has also been on the Philadelphia Commission of Human Relations ( PCHR ) since 2018 and is a support specialist for Mazzoni Center's Pediatric and Adolescent Comprehensive Transgender Services program ( PACTS ).
GLAAD is working with local activists in Rye, New Yorka suburb of New York Cityafter a Drag Queen Story Hour has been indefinitely postponed following an outcry from anti-LGBTQ protesters, a press release noted. According to local advocates, after receiving "an unconfirmed number of anonymous emails and complaints including a petition," the Rye Free Reading Room decided to indefinitely postpone the upcoming Drag Queen Story Hour event.
The case of a Michigan farmer who was not allowed to sell products at a farmers' market because of his stance on same-sex marriage will head to a federal trial after he filed a lawsuit against the city, MLive.com noted. Apple orchard owner Steve Tennes sued the city of East Lansing after he was not allowed to participate at the city's farmers market because he doesn't allow same-sex couples to marry at his orchard. U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney set the trial date for Sept. 14 after issuing an order last month that partially denied and partially granted requests for summary judgement from both sides.
A YouTube video shows two trans women taking justice into their own hands after being harassed by two male customers at a restaurant, SDGLN.com reported. After the harassers questioned the women about their genitalia and call them "fa**ots," the women attack the men. In the end the men are left dazed, one on the floor and the other rubbing his head while staggering across the restaurant.
A trio of New Yorkers started a GoFundMe campaign to raise $15,000 for HousingWorks, the NYC nonprofit that offers a "healing community of people living with and affected by AIDS," The New York Post reported. If they hit the goal, they will subject themselves to watching the 2019 movie musical and box-office bomb Cats for 24 consecutive hours. The page is at GoFundMe.com/f/make-us-watch-cats.
A gay teen's family threw a "gayceanera" on his 15th birthday in celebration of his coming out, Advocate.com noted. Heidi Irene and Terry Trammell organized the event Jan. 5 at an Italian restaurant in Glenn Burnie, Maryland, for their son, Aiden. Irene was inspired to create a "gayceanera"a queer twist on the quinceanera, a traditional coming-of-age party for Latinx girls turning 15as a show of support to Aiden.
Kino Lorber announced that Emily Taguchi and Jake Lefferman's documentary After Parkland will screen in more than 100 U.S. cities Feb. 12 as part of a nationwide "Day of Conversation" to commemorate the second anniversary of the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, a press release noted. Led by social impact agency Picture Motion, a coalition of individuals and organizations have signed on to host Demand Film community screenings to create meaningful conversation that will lead to tangible change in 2020, including a voter registration drive powered by TurboVote. More information about the film and a list of the cities and screenings are at https://us.demand.film/after-parkland.
A gay Republican in Florida believes that Donald Trump is the "most pro-gay president in history," Metro Weekly noted That assertion came from Andrew R. Brett, the president of the Broward Log Cabin Republicans, in a new op-ed for the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Brett wrote this despite the Trump administration attacking LGBTQ people an estimated 136 times during his three years as president.