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NATIONAL Panic defense, VP Kamala Harris, Black LGBTQ app, crime items
by Windy City Times staff
2021-06-13

This article shared 1473 times since Sun Jun 13, 2021
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Four states and the nation's capital have taken action to ban the so-called LGBTQ "panic defense," which is a legal strategy used by defendants to cite a victim's sexual orientation or gender identity as an excuse to commit a violent crime, according to Gay City News. In recent months, Maryland, Oregon, Washington D.C., Vermont and Virginia all moved to ban the use of the panic defense. In Vermont, a state led by a Republican, Gov. Phil Scott signed the bill into law in early May and posted a YouTube video stating, "Your identity should never be an excuse for someone to cause you harm."

Vice President Kamala Harris showed her pride for the LBGTQ+ community in Washington, D.C. on June 12, as she surprised marchers by joining the Capital Pride Walk and Rally, NBC Washington reported. Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, wearing a t-shirt with rainbow lettering, joined Harris and the other marchers headed toward the Capital Pride rally at Freedom Plaza. Harris called for the passage of the Equality Act and said the Biden administration understands the importance of advancing LGBTQ+ rights.

Lavender Book—a web-based app that was created in collaboration with Out in Tech—provides a way for Black LGBTQ and same-gender-loving people to more easily find safe spaces, NBC News reported. Co-creator David Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, said Black queer and trans people have to worry about things "most people take for granted and don't have to think about, like whether or not a barber or beautician is going to say something that might be homophobic, or you're going to be denied access to a cake because a baker is going to hide their hate behind religion." The app is based on the historic Green Book, a guide for Black road-trippers published during the Jim Crow era that mapped safe spaces for Black people; people can also visit LavenderBook.org to find or add spaces.

A Texas man pled guilty to federal hate-crime charges—related to the use of a gay dating app—in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Daniel Jenkins, 22, of Dallas, pled guilty to a federal hate crime and two other charges in connection with his involvement in a scheme to target gay men for violent crimes. According to court documents filed in connection with his guilty plea, Jenkins admitted that he and his co-conspirators used Grindr to lure gay men to a vacant apartment and other areas in and around Dallas for robbery, carjacking, kidnapping and hate crimes over the course of approximately a week in December 2017.

In New York City, a transgender man and his wife were slashed on the subway after a perpetrator allegedly hurled anti-LGBTQ slurs at the couple, Gay City News noted. Khleo Finnie, 23, and his partner, who has not been named, were on a train when Troy Tyrell, 54, repeatedly called the individuals "f—-t" and said "God don't like this," according to the New York Daily News. Finnie allegedly revealed a knife to the perpetrator during the hateful rant, and a fight began over the weapon, the NYPD said. Finnie was arrested and charged with menacing in the second degree, while Tyrell has been charged with a hate crime and criminal possession of a deadly weapon.

A freshman Virginia Tech linebacker charged with murder told police he fatally beat a man—breaking every bone in his face—for catfishing him on Tinder, prosecutors said, according to the New York Post. Ismemen David Etute, 18, told cops he went to the Blacksburg apartment of 40-year-old Jerry Smith in April for oral sex after matching up with someone named "Angie" on Tinder, the Roanoke Times reported. Etute then returned to the apartment on May 31 for another meet-up, at which point he discovered the person he had matched up with this time was male, according to Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Jason Morgan. An autopsy revealed Smith, a restaurant worker, died from blunt force trauma to the head; all of the bones in his face were broken and his teeth were also missing.

D.C. police are investigating a June 6 assault and stabbing of a transgender woman at a laundromat in northeast Washington, D.C., that a police incident report lists as a suspected anti-LGBT hate crime, The Washington Blade reported. The report, which lists the incident as an assault with a dangerous weapon, said officers provided first aid to the victim until an ambulance arrived and took the victim to a local hospital for medical treatment. The report, which described three suspects, did not disclose the victim's gender identity or sexual orientation.

Multiple religious leaders met at the Joy Metropolitan Community Church in Orlando to remember the 49 people who were killed at Pulse Nightclub five years ago, ClickOrlando.com reported. Rev. Terri Steed Pierce, from Joy Church, said that the nightclub shooting is an unforgettable tragedy that brought so many people together including churches who opened their doors and created relationships with the LGBTQ community. Several events were planned last week to remember the victims and survivors of the deadly mass shooting at Pulse Nightclub on June 12, 2016, which took 49 lives.

On the first weekend of LGBTQ Pride Month, someone ripped down and burned the rainbow Pride flag flown by Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Sacramento, California, Episcopal News Service noted. The Very Rev. Matthew Woodward, dean of the cathedral, told The Sacramento Bee that he discovered the vandalism June 4, as Pride events were beginning across the city. In an email to her diocese, Northern California Bishop Megan Traquair said the Sacramento Police Department is investigating.

The United States Pentagon decided to keep in effect a ban on the flying of flags at the country's military installations—and this ban includes the LGBTQ rainbow flag, Instinct Magazine noted. The policy set by former President Trump limits the types of flags flown on bases, The Guardian reported. Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs John Kirby told reporters that the decision in "no way reflects any lack of respect or admiration for people [from] the LGBTQ+ community, the personnel in and out of uniform who serve in this department. We are proud of them."

The New York State Assembly passed the Gender Recognition Act (GRA), which had previously passed the New York State Senate, according to a Lambda Legal press release. According to UPI, the measure allows New Yorkers to identify their sex on state-issued identification with an "x" and make it easier to change government documents, among other changes to civil-rights law. The bill now moves to the desk of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is expected to sign it into law.

A Gallup poll showed that U.S. support for legal same-sex marriage continues to trend upward, now at 70%— a new high in the survey's trend since 1996, according to Gallup.com . This latest figure marks an increase of 10 percentage points since 2015, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that all states must recognize same-sex marriages. Only 27% of respondents supported legal recognition of same-sex marriages in 1996, when Gallup first asked the question. But support rose steadily over time, eventually reaching the majority level for the first time in 2011.

In celebration of Pride Month, UPS unveiled a new set of commissioned artwork for UPS Express envelopes, a press item noted. Fernando Volken Togni, an openly gay UK-based artist originally from Brazil, was commissioned to design original artwork that will be featured on UPS Express Packaging and is titled "Love Delivered." The detailed artwork is featured on UPS packaging in June, as part of the company's "Proudly Unstoppable" program—an initiative spotlighting minority-owned small and medium-sized businesses, many of which have been hard hit by the pandemic. The announcement builds upon the successful launch of artwork designed by Sophia Yeshi on UPS Express packaging to recognize Black History Month in February.

Verizon will partner with Encircle—a nonprofit that builds safe spaces by creating homes across the country for LGBTQ+ youth, young adults and families to help find support and belonging—with the goal to promote digital inclusion across the LGBTQ+ community, a press release noted. Verizon has committed $1 million to partner with Encircle to develop custom tech-inspired learning spaces within four new and existing Encircle homes with emerging technology. Additionally, Verizon has pledged $250,000 to PFLAG National—the nation's first and largest organization for the parents, families and allies of the LGBTQ+ community.

Boston-based, Black-owned business 195essential is pledging 50% of the proceeds from their limited-edition Pride shirts to BAGLY, Inc.—a pro-LGBTQ+ youth organization, a press release noted. For more than 30 years, BAGLY's weekly programming and annual social events have provided safe, supportive, non-exploitative, and culturally competent spaces where LGBTQ+ youth can access social support and services, develop leadership and build community. To purchase a 195essential Pride shirt and support BAGLY, Inc, visit www.195essential.com .

Following the lead of some other Pride organizers across the country, The Center on Colfax, which organizes Denver PrideFest, announced it would not invite police to Pride this year, according to 5280.com . Rex Fuller, CEO of the Center on Colfax, said the decision was far from simple. Community members have asked the Center to restrict police presence for years: Along with individual social media comments and letters, there was a protest at the annual parade in 2015.

Following other cities in North Carolina, Charlotte City Council looks poised to adopt anti-discrimination protections for the city's LGBTQ community this August, WCNC.com reported. Five years ago, Charlotte led the state in passing a non-discrimination ordinance that would protect members of the LGBTQ community from employment and housing discrimination. In a very public spat that made national headlines, state lawmakers limited the city's powers. Those limits expired six months ago.

And speaking of which, the town council of Apex, North Carolina voted to pass an LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance that protects residents from discrimination in a range of areas including sexual orientation, gender identity, and natural hairstyles, according to a joint press release from Campaign for Southern Equality and Equality NC. The ordinance ensures protections in employment and places of public accommodations, such as restaurants, businesses and hospitals.

A Virginia judge ordered a Loudoun County school to reinstate a teacher who was suspended after he spoke out against a proposed policy requiring educators to address students by the pronouns that align with their gender identity, according to NBC News. Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge James Plowman said the teacher, Byron "Tanner" Cross, was exercising his free speech and ordered the school to "immediately reinstate the plaintiff to his position as it was prior to the issuance of his suspension." Cross, a physical education specialist at Leesburg Elementary School, was placed on paid administrative leave May 27, two days after he said at a school board meeting that following the proposed policy would go against his religious beliefs.

On June 24, 6-8:30 p.m. ET, activist/actor Billy Porter (Pose)—who recently revealed his own HIV diagnosis—will join Michael Sneed, EVP of global cultural affairs for Johnson & Johnson's (which, in addition to helping the world fight COVID, is currently working on a HIV vaccine) for a free special screening of award-winning documentary 5B, a press item noted. The film chronicles the stories of the heroic nurses who risked their lives to found the world's first AIDS Ward. Immediately following the screening, Porter will participate in a fireside chat with 5B nurse Alison Moed Paolercio, RN MS; and nurse, entrepreneur, innovator and author Rebecca Love RN, MSN, FIEL. RSVP at jnjmeetings.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_zNPrkj1JRV6szhiV7AVzdw .

Lambda Legal announced the addition of three new attorneys to its legal staff: James Ferg-Cadima, as deputy legal director for legal management and operations; Sruti Swaminathan, as staff attorney for youth; and Kell Olson, as staff attorney for the Western region, a press release noted. Ferg-Cadima will be based in Lambda Legal's Washington, D.C., office, and Swaminathan in Lambda Legal's headquarters offices in New York City; Olson will be affiliated with Lambda Legal's Western Regional Office but will be based in Tucson, Arizona.

In Indiana, the First United Methodist Church of South Bend celebrated its first Pride Sunday service, WNDU.com noted. The event featured guest speaker HR Jung, the executive director of the LGBTQ Center of South Bend. "The two of us have received a lot of affirmation about doing this from members of our congregation who identify as LGBTQ and may have been harmed by church experiences in the past, so that's a reminder for me that it's still important as a pastor and people of faith to make sure that folks know they are loved, they are welcomed, they are valued just for God who created them to be," Pastor of Families Rev. Emily Trubey-Weller said.

In honor of Pride month, West Hollywood-based LGBTQ+ poetry group Pride Poets will be running a hotline to write custom poems for callers based on the topic of the caller's choice, a press release noted. Poets will interview callers June 11-13 (on 202-998-3510) about this year's themes of love and pride to write unique poems for each individual in a process that takes 10 minutes and will change your day. For every call, an anonymous donor will contribute $15 to the LA LGBT Center—up to $8,000. The hotline will be followed by an in-person installation with ONE Archives Pride Publics exhibition on Robertson on June 19, and a final sharing of poems and stories virtually with the LA County Library on June 22.

Leonard-Litz Foundation, a private foundation in Connecticut, and Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, a nonprofit organization in Pennsylvania, are partnering to increase the capacity of LGBTQ centers to host COVID-19 vaccination clinics, a press release noted. Five LGBTQ community centers in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic have been selected to receive a grant from the Leonard-Litz Foundation and technical assistance from Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center. They include The Frederick Center (Frederick, Maryland); The Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition (Lancaster, Pennsylvania); LGBT Center of Greater Reading (Reading, Pennsylvania); The LOFT LGBTQ+ Community Center (White Plains, New York); and Pride Center of Vermont (Burlington, Vermont). The five participating centers are organizing leading-edge vaccine promotion strategies, even adding incentives such as drag performances and additional health services to the vaccine sites.

The first LGBTQ+ wellness center is coming to the Upstate area of South Carolina this fall, WYFF4.com reported. The Queer Wellness Center will be centered around providing easier access to health care and resources for the LGBTQ+ community. The center is a joint partnership between Amaryllis Counseling, 864Pride and Pride Link, with the organizations saying the center will help reach the more than 130,000 members of the LGBTQ+ community in the area on a new level. The exact location of the center will be released in the coming months.

Celebrating pride this month and throughout the year, Miami Beach is hosting an array of events, including the Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade and Pride Bar Crawl, along with virtual networking events, a press release announced. Some of the upcoming events include a LGBTQ+ Chamber Cross Country Pride Event (June 15), a Pride Bar Crawl (June 16) and the Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade and Festival (Sept. 10-19).

Organizers of Portland Pride, Maine's largest LGBTQ Pride celebration, announced that for the second year in a row, the parade, festival and other in-person events would not be held, citing continuing high levels of COVID-19 cases in southern Maine, Bangor Daily News noted. That's despite the fact that Gov. Janet Mills announced that all capacity limits on both indoor and outdoor gatherings have been lifted, and physical distancing requirements are also lifted except in indoor eating and drinking establishments. Organizers in Portland said they would plan to offer some virtual events as part of the Pride Across Maine initiative, which was held last year as all large gatherings were canceled because of the pandemic.

In Iowa, Capital City Pride is ready to celebrate the month as safely as possible, WeAreIowa.com noted. The LGBTQ organization is switching from its normal three-day festival to a month-long celebration to keep folks safe as the COVID-19 pandemic dwindles. "30 Days of Pride" will showcase more than 30 events over the month across Des Moines. Events will vary between in-person and virtual, and several, like the Pet Parade and Pride Parade, will still be held. See www.capitalcitypride.org/2021-pride-fest .

In Michigan, this summer marks the fifth year that Battle Creek Pride Co-President Deana Spencer and County Commissioner Jake Smith have been working to change Calhoun County's equal employment opportunity policy to add specific language protecting LGBTQ individuals, the Battle Creek Enquirer reported. The county's employment policy only applies to people working for the county, but because Calhoun County is one of the larger employers in the area, Smith said he feels adding the language is the right thing to do.

Fleischer Studios and brand-licensing agency Global Icons have announced the launch of a limited-edition Betty Boop Pride T-shirt in partnership with retailer Fred Segal, according to a press item. All profits from sales of the T-shirt—which features Boop in rainbow biker chic surrounded by the words "Proud to Be Me"—will go to GLAAD. The T-shirt will be available in-store at all Fred Segal retailers, online at www.fredsegal.com and on www.talkshop.live throughout June.

Longtime LGBTQ community advocate Sheila Alexander-Reid—who has served since 2015 as director of Mayor Muriel Bowser's Office of LGBTQ Affairs—is stepping down from her city job in mid-July, The Washington Blade reported. Alexander-Reid told the Blade she will take a few weeks of accumulated leave beginning June 15 to recuperate from follow-up knee surgery before officially leaving her current job to take on a new role as a private sector consultant in the area of workplace bias and diversity training.

In Texas, the owners of Lufkin bakery Confections said they received significant backlash after posting a photo of heart-shaped, rainbow-iced cookies in honor of Pride Month, WGNTV.com noted. Said backlash included lost social media followers and cancelled business. However, when news of the incident spread, Confections was met with yet another surprise: overwhelming support. The next day, the small bakery had a big line extending around the block. The unexpected outpouring was so great, the owners were forced to close early in order to meet demand.

Burger King trolled fellow fast-food chain Chick-fil-A by offering a new chicken sandwich during Pride Month that comes with a donation to the Human Rights Campaign—and it's even available on Sundays, when Chick-fil-A isn't open, out.com noted. "The #ChKing says LGBTQ+ rights!" the burger giant tweeted out last week about its new chicken sandwich. "During #Pride month (even on Sundays) your chicken sandwich craving can do good! We are making a donation to @HRC for every Ch'King sold." Burger King will donate 40 cents for every Ch'King sandwich sold during June, up to a maximum of $250,000.

Democratic Rep. Val Demings officially announced she's running for the U.S. Senate in 2022 as the party looks to unseat incumbent GOP Sen. Marco Rubio in a pivotal race, CNN.com reported. If she prevails in the primary, Demings would face a tough general election fight against Rubio, given that Florida Republicans have dominated statewide races for more than a decade. The last time a Democrat won a Senate seat in Florida was in 2012.

A group of people who claim they were formerly gay held a sparsely attended rally in the front of the Washington Monument, out.com noted. The Changed Movement group organized the "Freedom to March" event, which they used to advocate for (what they call) ex-gay rights and against the Equality Act, among other things. The group also supports conversion therapy—the name given to any set of methods or practices that seek to alter a person's gender identity and/or sexuality.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis vetoed two support programs for the LGBTQ+ community in Orlando, the Orlando Weekly reported. Using his line-item veto authority on the state's budget—which allows him to nix individual appropriations in the state's $100-billion budget for the upcoming fiscal year—DeSantis axed $150,000 in funding for The LGBT+ Center in Orlando. That money would have gone toward mental health and counseling services for Pulse shooting survivors. Additionally, DeSantis vetoed state funding for the Zebra Coalition, which plans to convert a portion of an unused hotel owned by Park Lake Presbyterian Church into housing for homeless LGBTQ+ youth.

Two former Michigan football players (Dan Kwiatkowski and Gilvanni Johnson) said they believe they could have been spared from sexual assaults if their coach, Bo Schembechler, had addressed complaints about former team doctor Robert Anderson made by Schembechler's son, Matt, ESPN.com reported. Both players said they also tried to warn Bo Schembechler about Anderson's abusive treatment and were ignored. More than 800 former patients have made legal claims that Anderson sexually assaulted them during physical exams and other routine medical appointments.

The Pulitzer Prize Board started its annual announcements for outstanding journalism by issuing a special citation to Darnella Frazier—the Minneapolis teenager whose viral video of George Floyd's arrest and death played a key role in now former officer Derek Chauvin's prosecution and shook the nation's consciousness about policing in the United States, StarTribune.com reported. Frazier was 17 years old when on May 25, 2020, she happened upon Floyd's arrest, took out her cellphone and documented for more than nine minutes Floyd's death under the knee of Chauvin. Her viral video was a key piece of evidence during Chauvin's trial, which ended with his conviction April 20 on murder and manslaughter counts; sentencing is June 25.

President Joe Biden's Justice Department made the surprising decision to continue the previous administration's efforts to defend Donald Trump against a defamation suit brought by woman he'd accused of lying about being raped by him, HuffPost reported. As a presidential candidate, Biden had criticized the agency's involvement in the case. Jean Carroll wrote in a June 2019 New York Magazine article and reiterated in her lawsuit that Trump raped her in a Manhattan department store's dressing room in the 1990s. Carroll is one of about two dozen women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct, harassment or assault.

Jeffrey Toobin returned to CNN on June 10—his first appearance since the revelation in October that he was caught masturbating on a Zoom call meeting with other staffers of the New Yorker, Deadline reported. Toobin said that his behavior was "deeply moronic and indefensible," and that "I didn't think I was on the call. I didn't think other people could see me."


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