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NATIONAL Pioneering scientist dies, flag controversy, panic defense
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

This article shared 3576 times since Tue Jul 21, 2020
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Flossie Wong-Staal—a molecular virologist most famous for co-discovering and first cloning HIV—died July 8 of complications from pneumonia in La Jolla, California, at age 73, The Scientist reported. Wong-Staal arrived at the National Cancer Institute ( NCI ) in 1973 as a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of fellow virologist Robert Gallo, where she quickly became an essential contributor to the team's work studying retroviruses. In 2019, she was named to the National Women's Hall of Fame alongside icons such as Angela Davis, Jane Fonda, Gloria Allred and others.

New guidance from Defense Secretary Mark Esper on flag displays at military installations is being hailed for prohibiting the display of Confederate flags—but the memo also bans the display of LGBTQ Pride flags, the Washington Blade reported. "The memorandum does not authorize public display of unlisted flags in the Department of Defense," Pentagon spokesperson Lisa Lawrence said in a statement. In response, Modern Military Association of America Interim Executive Director Jennifer Dane said in a separate statement, "In what universe is it OK to turn an opportunity to ban a racist symbol like the Confederate flag into an opportunity to ban the symbol of diversity? This decision sends an alarming message to LGBTQ service members, their families, and future recruits."

Colorado became the 11th U.S. state to ban the LGBTQ "panic defense," meaning defendants can no longer blame their own violent actions on a victim's sexual orientation or gender identity, The Denver Channel reported. Gov. Jared Polis—the first openly gay man in the country to be elected governor—signed the new law at the LGBTQ Center in Denver, with advocates and lawmakers who carried a bill at the statehouse this spring standing beside him. Polis also signed a handful of other LBGTQ-friendly bills into law, including one simplifying the requirements for people younger than 18 to change the gender on their birth certificates.

Gay former Trump official Richard Grenell attacked efforts to secure more LGBTQ+ representation in politics, PinkNews stated. The former ambassador to Germany and acting director of national intelligence, who departed the Trump administration in May, hit out on Twitter at Victory Fund, which supports LGBTQ+ candidates to tackle their underrepresentation in U.S. politics. After Grenell said the Victory Fund is partisan and tax-exempt, the organization responded it is not tax-exempt or bound by neutrality.

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center turned away Jesse Hammons for a medically necessary hysterectomy because he is transgender, an organizational press release stated. The hospital claims that providing Hammons with medical care would violate its religious beliefs. "The government has no business running a religious hospital," said Senior Staff Attorney Joshua Block, who's with the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project. "The Supreme Court has been clear that a government-controlled corporation like [the University of Maryland Medical System] must comply with the Constitution."

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) Foundation announced the first year of ACTIVATE—a fellowship program that is aimed at advancing the professional development of trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming Black, Latinx people or people of color, a press release noted. The HRC Foundation also launched the second year of ELEVATE—a fellowship program designed to help advance the leadership skills of Black and Latinx transgender women. After fellows for each program are selected, a virtual training will be held Aug. 28-29; see ( ELEVATE ) and ( ACTIVATE ) to apply.

Also, HRC announced the endorsement of six candidates who the organization said are crucial to establishing a pro-equality majority in the U.S. Senate, a press release stated. The candidates include Sara Gideon ( Maine ), Theresa Greenfield ( Iowa ), MJ Hegar ( Texas ), John Hickenlooper ( Colorado ), Sen. Ed Markey ( Massachusetts ) and Jon Ossoff ( Georgia ). "Despite support from 70% of the American public, Mitch McConnell has stood in the way of progress for LGBTQ people and refused to even allow a vote on the Equality Act," said HRC President Alphonso David. "[The] endorsements mark the next step of HRC's efforts to elect a pro-equality U.S. Senate and end McConnell's tenure as majority leader."

In partnership with the Equality Federation, the Movement Advancement Project ( MAP ) and Campaign for Southern Equality released "Telling a New Southern Story: LGBTQ Resilience, Resistance, and Leadership"—a new report examining the experiences and advocacy strategies of LGBTQ people in the U.S. South, a press release noted. Among the key findings are that roughly 3.6 million LGBTQ adults live in the South, including more than half a million transgender adults—more than in any other region; and more than four in 10 LGBTQ people in the South are people of color. Visit

The Modern Military Association of America ( MMAA ) released a statement condemning the Trump-Pence administration's use of unidentified federal agents dawning military uniforms in Portland. MMAA Interim Executive Director Jennifer Dane said, "Wearing unmarked military uniforms to snatch up American citizens peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights is a gross misuse of power and dishonors the service members who fought and died to protect and defend the Constitution. Congress should take immediate action to address this alarming turn of events." MMAA is the nation's largest non-profit organization for the LGBTQ military and veteran community.

GLAAD responded to what it said were "many false claims" White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany made regarding the LGBTQ community, a press release noted. Washington Blade reporter Chris Johnson asked McEnany if President Trump would lift the ban he enacted to bar transgender people from serving in the armed forces—to which she said, "I haven't talked to him about that specific policy, but this president is proud that in 2019 we launched a global initiative to end the criminalization of homosexuality throughout the world. He has a great record when it comes to the LGBT community." GLAAD responded via Twitter: "Attn @PressSec, President Trump does not have a 'great record' on LGBTQ acceptance. He has an abysmal record and GLAAD keeps track - 153 attacks and counting." The attacks are detailed on GLAAD's Trump Accountability Project ( ).

In Alaska, an ordinance that prohibits discrimination against LGBTQ individuals within Ketchikan city limits was unanimously passed, reported. The Ketchikan City Council approved the law over the objections of religious advocates. The statute covers anti-LGBTQ bias regarding employment, housing and public accommodations/businesses.

The Oregon Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a person's right to legally change their gender to nonbinary, reported. The ruling requires circuit court judges to grant nonbinary as a gender marker if a person has legally followed the process to make that gender change. Oregon birth certificates and drivers licenses already have a nonbinary option; however, those are administrative, not legal, changes.

Among its Black Lives Matter initiatives, Coolhaus Ice Cream is donating 100 percent of scoop shop proceeds from its Pride pint, EnjoyMINT for All, to The Okra Project—which provides free, healthy and culturally specific meals to Black trans people, a press release noted. Also, the company matched employees' donations by 1.5x to causes like Black Lives Matter, Justice for Breonna Taylor, The Loveland Foundation and People's City Council Freedom Fund. Lastly, Coolhous has partnered with Black Girl Ventures—an organization that provides access to social and financial capital to Black and Brown female founders—on a webinar series for entrepreneurs.

Lawyers who either identify as having disabilities or who identify as LGBTQ+ report experiencing both subtle and overt forms of discrimination at their workplaces, with common reports of subtle but unintentional biases, according to a new national study released by the American Bar Association, in collaboration with the Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University, a press release noted. The study of 3,590 lawyers from every state and the District of Columbia is among the first and largest undertaking of its kind to focus on lawyers who either identify as having disabilities or who identify as LGBTQ+ in their workplaces. See

A study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law found that the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which extended marriage equality nationwide in June 2015, had a positive impact on the happiness and life satisfaction of LGBT people, a press release noted. After the Obergefell decision 87 precent of LGBT adults who were surveyed reported feeling happy and 62 percent reported higher-than-average levels of life satisfaction; there were no significant changes in well-being among non-LGBT adults.

Pete Buttigieg is heading to the University of Notre Dame—and some are upset over him taking a position at a Catholic university, noted. Buttigieg is now a 2020-21 faculty fellow at the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study ( NDIAS ). Reaction from the right to the announcement has been predictably negative. A 1952 graduate of the Catholic university, William Dempsey, told the Church Militant that Buttigieg's appointment is "worse than the university's recognition of former President Barack Obama and Vice President Biden."

President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama's Higher Ground is launching its first Spotify podcast after striking a deal with the music-streaming service last year, Deadline noted. The Michelle Obama Podcast will launch Wed., July 29, and will feature candid and personal conversations from the former First Lady. Guests will include Marian and Craig Robinson, Conan O'Brien, Valerie Jarrett, Michele Norris and Dr. Sharon Malone MD.

Justin R. Garcia was named executive director of the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, effective July 1, a press release noted. Garcia had served as acting executive director of the institute since July 2019, and prior to that was its research director. The Ruth N. Halls Associate Professor of Gender Studies and a Bicentennial Professor at IU, Garcia also is a scientific advisor for the world's largest relationship company, Match.

For the first time in its 33-year history, the Creating Change Conference will be a completely virtual event, a press release noted. Given the ongoing public health crisis and current safety regulations, we will be unable to host Creating Change as an in-person convening in Washington, D.C., in January 2021. Tentatively planned is a Queering Racial Justice Institute on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020; the multi-day conference will be held Jan. 27-31, 2021. See .

Woodbridge, Virginia, resident Joshua M. Hunter, 22—one of two men charged with first-degree murder in the July 8 shooting death of a gay man in Sterling, Virginia—has reportedly worked for at least two years as a male escort who promoted his services on the gay male meeting site Rent.Men, according to The Washington Blade. A former customer contacted the Washington Blade anonymously and provided a link to Hunter's page on the Rent.Men website, that had Hunter using the name Anthony Adams. Hunter and Gavin C. Collins, 21, also of Sterling, were arrested in connection with the murder of gay Winchester, Virginia, resident Jose I. Escobar Menendez, 24.

A man allegedly brutally attacked a gay man and knocked out his two front teeth—because he put a rainbow flag on his property, LGBTQ Nation reported. Tom Anderson said that he displayed a rainbow flag outside of his home in Taunton, Massachusetts, in late June to celebrate Pride Month. Anderson said that, just an hour later, a man stopped his car and attacked.

Personal-injury lawyers Mark and Patricia McCloskey—the white couple who became national pariahs after brandishing guns at peaceful protestors walking past their home in St. Louis, Missouri, last month—has a history that includes suing their home association for allowing same-sex couples to live in the gated community, LGBTQ Nation reported. Mark insisted he wasn't anti-gay because straight unmarried couples would also be banned, but same-sex marriage was still illegal in Missouri at the time. Patricia was impeached as a trustee in 1992 when she opposed changing the measure; former neighbors and trustees gave her the boot over her blatant homophobia.

The City of Philadelphia is prohibiting any large public events for the next several months as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, with Mayor Jim Kenney saying that the moratorium will be in effect through Feb. 28, 2021, reported. The city's order applies to special events or gatherings of 50 people or more on public property—which means events such as festivals, parades, concerts, carnivals, fairs and flea markets will be prohibited in the city.

Alyssa Nakken made Major League Baseball history by coaching first base for the San Francisco Giants during an exhibition game, reported. Nakken entered during the late innings of a July 20 exhibition game between the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A's to coach first base. The Giants announced the hiring of Nakken on Jan. 16 as an assistant coach as part of Gabe Kapler's staff.

An appellate court ruled that Joy Reid—the new host at MSNBC—should again face a defamation lawsuit over Roslyn La Liberte's claim that, in Reid's social-media posts, she falsely accused La Liberte of making racist remarks at a 2018 Simi Valley, California, city council meeting, Deadline reported. La Liberte contends that in one of Reid's social-media posts on Instagram, she defamed her by attributing racist remarks to her. The appellate ruling overturns a district judge's decision that the case should be dismissed.

A coalition of grassroots organizations will sponsor the Training to Win 2020 During the Pandemic Conference on Saturday, Aug. 1, with keynote speaker Congressman Adam Schiff, according to a press release. The conference will feature a series of training seminars, modules and discussions focused on best practices for virtual campaigning. Admission is free; reserve a place at

At his first presidential campaign rally, in South Carolina, Kanye West ripped Harriet Tubman, saying she "didn't free the slaves, she had them go work for other white people," Yahoo! News noted. West also said that wife Kim Kardashian brought their daughter North into the world "even when I didn't want to" in reference to her having an abortion. He said that abortion was OK in 2020, and people should get $1 million to have children.

Jeff Sessions was handily defeated by President Trump-backed former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville in the Alabama Senate primary, The New York Post noted. Sessions had been seeking to regain the U.S. Senate seat he held before resigning in 2017 to become Trump's attorney general. Tuberville will now face Democratic incumbent Doug Jones in November.

This article shared 3576 times since Tue Jul 21, 2020
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