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NATIONAL Military bill, LGBTQ teen, trans deaths, Pride items, children's book
by Windy City Times staff
2021-05-09

This article shared 1164 times since Sun May 9, 2021
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New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill that directs the Department of Military and Veterans' Affairs in the Garden State to assist former Armed Forces service members who were denied an honorable discharge due to their sexual orientation or gender identity, Out In Jersey reported. DMAVA will assist veterans with completing and submitting the appropriate forms to petition the U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs to change their discharge designation to instead reflect an honorable discharge.

In Massachusetts, Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan held a press conference to provide updates in the case of 16-year-old Mikayla Miller, who was found dead in a wooded area just outside her home in Hopkinton on April 18, out.com reported. Miller's mother, Calvina Strothers, had earlier claimed her daughter was found tied to a tree and that investigators seemed little interested in solving the case because she was LGBTQ+—a charge Ryan vehemently denied. Ryan brushed away suggestions the investigation into her death was deficient as "patently false," and claimed investigators have been in near daily contact with Strothers and Miller's family, who had been vocal in recent days about the investigation.

A transgender activist was one of two women fatally stabbed by a man at a home in Boston's Dorchester neighborhood, NBC Boston reported. Jahaira DeAlto was hosting Marcus Chavis and his family when Chavis killed her and his wife. DeAlto, 42, described herself as a YouTube personality and social commentator—her channel was JahairasMission—and used the platform to discuss transgender issues and other topics.

Keri Washington, 49, of Clearwater, Florida, has also become part of the wave of violence against transgender women, The Advocate reported. Police identified a suspect—Arthur Benjamin Jr., also known as Hadeeka Shabazz—and issued a warrant for his arrest on a charge of first-degree murder. He "has an extensive criminal history and was known to the victim," says a Facebook post from the Clearwater Police Department.

A revamped Philadelphia LGBTQ Pride Festival is moving to Sept. 4 at Penn's Landing, Philadelphia Gay News reported. The festival, which has historically taken place during June's LGBTQ Pride Month, is set to take place without the normal parade lead-in. Parades are not currently allowed due to city guidelines, although Philly Pride Presents' Fran Price said the option is open if restrictions are relaxed.

The L.A. Pride parade—one of the nation's oldest and largest LGBTQ celebrations—is being canceled for the second year in a row, Deadline noted. Although the pandemic is easing in California, parade organizers said the large scale of the event made planning difficult. They vowed to return in 2022 and said they are working on that event now. Instead of the parade, producers Christopher Street West will host a concert with TikTok that will livestream on the app June 10. The Thrive with Pride show will feature Charli XCX and LGBTQ artists who have not yet been announced.

GLAAD announced the latest children's book in its series in partnership with Little Bee Books: Two Grooms on a Cake, written by Rob Sanders and illustrated by Robbie Cathro, a press release noted. The book is about Jack Baker and Michael McConnell, who were wed Sept. 3, 1971—becoming the first same-sex couple in America to be legally married. Their struggle to obtain a marriage license in Minnesota and their subsequent appeals to the Minnesota Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of the United States is an under-told story in LGBTQ history. Two Grooms on a Cake is on sale today and can be purchased on Amazon.

Legislation banning transgender athletes from girls' and women's sports died in the Kansas Senate when lawmakers fell one vote short of overriding Gov. Laura Kelly's veto, The Kansas City Star reported. Kelly vetoed the bill last month, calling it discriminatory and citing concerns over lost economic opportunities for the state. Opponents of the bill and LGBTQ advocates warned for months that the measure could lead to bullying and suicide of transgender youth; however, Senate President Ty Masterson called claims of bullying and discrimination a "distraction."

A bill to remove references to homosexuality in the state crimes code was introduced in the Pennsylvania Senate, according to NorthCentralPA.com . The two-page bill removes from Title 18 two instances of the word "homosexuality" pertaining to definitions of prostitution and obscene materials. It was referred to the Judiciary Committee on May 3. "It has come to my attention that Pennsylvania's Crimes Code still has specific references to homosexuality that are unnecessary, offensive and in need of correction," said Sen. Tim Kearney, the bill's primary sponsor.

In Arizona, a petition to undo Mesa's newly minted nondiscrimination ordinance has enough voter signatures to head to the ballot, The Arizona Republic reported. However, the referendum could still face challenges to knock it off the ballot. City and Maricopa County officials each reviewed the submitted signatures for the referendum effort and found there to be more than the roughly 9,100 needed to go to the voters. On March 1, the Mesa City Council approved an ordinance that extended protections to the LGBTQ community and others when it comes to public accommodation, employment and housing.

Several members of the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City quit in disgust after the club voted to uphold its endorsement of mayoral candidate Scott Stringer, Gay City News reported. In order to rescind the endorsement, however, the club needed two-thirds of its members to agree—and the change fell short by one vote, the club acknowledged. Executive Vice President Brian Romero, who previously was the club's president, swiftly announced his departure from the club minutes after the club announced the results of the vote, tweeting, in part, "I won't enable the upholding of white cispatriarchy [that] harms so many each day." Others who left the club included District Leader John Blasco of Manhattan, City Council candidate Chris Sosa, and attorney Alejandra Caraballo; they, along with Romero, are all backing the mayoral campaign of Dianne Morales. A woman accusing Stringer of sexual assault and harassment filed a formal complaint with the office of state Attorney General Tish James, Politico reported.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed an anti-LGBTQ education bill into law that allows parents and guardians to withdraw their children from classes that feature discussion about sexual orientation and gender identity, The Daily Beast reported. SB 1229, which the state senate passed last month, stipulates that adults must be given 30 days' notice before a class featuring LGBTQ material, so they can decide if they want their children to participate in it. In a statement, Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David said, "All students deserve access to a quality academic experience, including the opportunity to learn about themselves and critically important health information as they develop. Rather than drafting and passing inflammatory bills, state lawmakers should be focused on real issues like the COVID-19 pandemic or crumbling infrastructure that are impacting Tennesseans."

LGBTQ students and alumni of Yeshiva University—a private modern Orthodox Jewish research university in New York City—sued the school, alleging the university is violating their rights under NYC's human-rights law, according to a Los Angeles Blade item that cites The Washington Post. The Post reported that suit was filed April 26 in the New York County Supreme Court on behalf of a group of students collectively as YU Pride Alliance, along with recent graduates who include openly bisexual Molly Meisels, who told the Post she had come out at a rally on campus in September 2019. The university released a statement on the lawsuit, saying, "At the heart of our Jewish values is love—love for God and love for each of His children. Our LGBTQ+ students are our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, family and friends. Our Torah-guided decision about this club in no way minimizes the care and sensitivity that we have for each of our students, nor the numerous steps the university has already taken."

The faculty of Seattle Pacific University—a Christian school associated with the Free Methodist Church—took no-confidence vote from its board of trustees after members of the board declined to change its policy prohibiting the hiring of LGBTQ people, Religion News Service reported. The vote, approved by 72% of the faculty, was the latest in a series of escalating clashes between faculty, students and the school's governing board.

As Tennessee legislators enact anti-LGBTQ laws, Metro Nashville school board members affirmed their support of all students and teachers regardless of gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation, The Tennessean reported. With all nine members wearing rainbow face masks, the school board passed a resolution pledging to support all students and staff during a board meeting—even as state lawmakers pass legislation aimed at restricting transgender and LGBTQ youth's access to sports, representation in the classroom and even use of bathrooms. The resolution, introduced by board member Emily Masters, is a formality, but the board has passed similar resolutions speaking out against standardized testing or voicing support for arts education.

NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists and the College Media Association (CMA) have formalized a partnership, a press release noted. The organizations signed a memorandum of understanding to work together to promote each organization's respective events and ensure increased access for LGBTQ student reporters and advisers. NLGJA will host its inaugural Student Conference on June 25-26; the event will also serve as the kickoff of its 2021 CONNECT: A Student Journalism Training Project. CMA will host its annual College Media Mega Workshop, presented in partnership with the Associated College Press and College Media Business & Advertising Managers, from July 19-30.

Atlanta authorities issued a warning about one and possibly up to three men using Grindr to lure gay men to a remote location where they are robbed, out.com noted. In the last four months at least eight gay men have been robbed, sometimes violently, after the conclusion of a first date with a man they met on the popular gay dating app.

A measure in Tennessee to honor Brothers Osborne singer TJ Osborne—who recently came out as gay—was blocked by Republicans in the state's House of Representatives, after it had unanimously passed the Senate, according to Variety. Rep. Jeremy Faison, chair of the House Republican Caucus, is the lawmaker responsible for blocking—and, some say, effectively killing—the measure. He cited a procedural objection, although many believe that his history of supporting anti-LGBTQ legislation is the likelier reason for him scuttling the honor. Osborne's fellow country star Kacey Musgraves was among those registering her dismay. Interestingly, the LGBT group Log Cabin Republicans of Tennessee issued a press release stating, in part, "Gay media is fainting with shock like Nathan Lane in The Bird Cage to discover that the Tennessee House did not fall over themselves to immediately pass SJR0609, honoring TJ Osborne of Brothers Osborne for coming out as gay. … Osborne being gay is honestly not that historic, and no one is even mad about it. We just like...don't care."

A Republican state lawmaker in Kansas was arrested and charged with misdemeanor battery charges for kneeing the groin of a teenaged boy who was in a class he was teaching, out.com noted. According to a report in the Kansas City Star, state Rep. Mark Samsel, 35, was caught on a series of videos recorded by students engaging in a series of sometimes homophobic rants that touched on everything from masturbation and testicular assault to teen death by suicide and the wrath of God. Parents, district officials, and fellow lawmakers were reportedly outraged by Samsel's behavior and rants.

Gay Men's Chorus of Washington, D.C. will commemorate its 40th anniversary with a virtual celebration, "GMCW Turns 40," that is available to stream June 5-20, a press release announced. Songs will include "From Now On" (from The Greatest Showman); Andra Day's "Rise Up;" "Make Them Hear You" (from Ragtime); and "Truly Brave," a mashup of Cyndi Lauper's 'True Colors" and Sara Bareilles' "Brave." Also during the 75-minute retrospective, audiences can reminisce fondly with archival footage of favorite performances throughout the Chorus' storied past. Tickets are $25 each; visit https://www.gmcw.org/gmcw-turns-40.

Facebook's oversight board said the company was justified in its decision to suspend former President Donald Trump after the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, NPR reported. That means the company does not have to reinstate Trump's access to Facebook and Instagram immediately. However, the panel said the company was wrong to impose an indefinite ban and said Facebook has six months to either restore Trump's account, make his suspension permanent, or suspend him for a specific period of time. In a statement, GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said, "The Oversight Board's recommendation to uphold Facebook's restrictions on the former president's account must now lead to permanent removal, and set a precedent for strong action from Facebook and all platforms when posts and content lead to violence and real world harm."

To help combat cyberbullying and drive mental-health boosting positivity on social media, Bliss and The Trevor Project are launching a TikTok campaign right where it all goes down—in the comments section, a press release announced. PepTok will tap influencers to rally their communities to collectively infiltrate and brighten comment sections with "Brighter Words," uplifting messages filled with positivity. For every positive comment posted tagging @bliss, the brand will donate $1 to The Trevor Project up to $100,000. Also, Bliss and The Trevor Project hosted their first-ever TikTok Live in an effort to kick off an open and honest conversation about mental health; social media and its impact on that; and avoiding cyberbullying.

For a second consecutive year, the popular candy brand Skittles is releasing limited-edition Skittles Pride Packs, which feature all gray packaging and all gray candies inside, out.com noted. One dollar per pack purchased will then be donated by Skittles to GLAAD.While all the candies are gray, they feature the five original Skittles flavors: orange, grape, green apple and lemon. People can purchase the special Pride Packs at Target and Walmart, as well as Target.com and Walmart.com, and at select Kroger's, Albertson's and other retail locations across the country.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms will not seek a second term—an election-year surprise that marks a sharp turnaround for the city's second Black woman executive, USA Today reported, citing The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Bottoms—the second Black woman ever elected mayor in the city, after Shirley Franklin, who served two terms during 2002-2010—had previously announced she would be running for a second term, holding a fundraising event with President Joe Biden. According to WSBRadio.com, she has accepted a position with Walgreen's.

A politician seeking the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor of Virginia has filed a defamation suit over being called "a gay Democrat" in an anonymous text message, The Advocate noted. Glenn Davis, currently a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, filed the suit in Norfolk Circuit Court, asking for $450,000 in damages, The Washington Post reported; "Jane Doe" is named as defendant. The text message (which included a photo of Davis at an LGBTQ+ event) was sent to multiple recipients, and promoted one of Davis' rivals for the nomination—former Del. Timothy D. Hugo—as "the only conservative running for Lt. Governor."

On The View, Meghan McCain slammed Republicans working to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) from her House GOP leadership position, promising "consequences one way or another" if she is forced out of her post, The Hill reported. "I feel very defensive of Liz Cheney and if you do this, which it looks like they're gonna do, I promise you there will be consequences, one way or another there's going to be consequences," McCain said. McCain's comments come after House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-Louisiana) joined other allies of former President Trump in pushing to remove Cheney from her post as House Republican conference chair. Scalise said he backed Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-New York), a staunch supporter of Trump, for the position.

Susan Wright—the widow of the Republican congressman whose death prompted a special election in Texas on May 1—made the runoff after reporting to law enforcement a bizarre robocall in which she was accused of murdering her husband by contracting COVID-19, The Guardian reported. Endorsed by former President Donald Trump, Wright led with 19% of the vote. Another Republican, Jake Ellzey, edged Democrat Jana Lynne Sanchez for second place and a spot in the runoff.

Bill and Melinda Gates are ending their marriage after 27 years, the pair announced in a statement on their verified Twitter accounts, CNN.com noted. The couple founded their philanthropic organization, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, together in 2000. Bill Gates is one of the richest people in the world; his net worth was $137 billion as of February, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index ranking. According to Business Insider (citing The Daily Beast), a meeting between Bill and Melinda Gates and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in 2013 left her upset at the relationship between her husband and the financier. Gates' ties to Epstein were first reported by The New York Times in late 2019 following Epstein's death by suicide in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York, where he was being held pre-trial on multiple counts related to the sex trafficking of underage women.


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