In Texas, transgender widow Nikki Araguz is appealing a judge's ruling that her marriage to firefighter Thomas Araguz was invalid, thus denying her his death benefits, Advocate.com reported. Judge Randy Clapp ruled in May that because Nikki wasn't born biologically male, the marriage was not valid. Thomas' family that the benefits$600,000should go to the two children he had with a previous wife.
In Vegas, Las Vegas police have arrested a Tennessee man in the killing of a bartender, Fox5Vegas.com reported. The victim, identified as Phil Wells, was shot at The Garage, a gay nightspot. Tracy Kauffman, 50, has been charged in Wells' death; friends say that the victim and accused killer were both from Knoxville, Tenn., and may have lived together.
In New York, a jury found John Katehis guilty of second-degree murder in the 2009 killing of gay journalist George Weber, according to Gay City News. Katehis, who was 16 in 2009, placed a Craigslist ad offering oral sex for money; he and Weber, 47, met several days later, with Weber seeking to be tied up and smothered. However, Katehis also stabbed Weber 50 times. He will be sentenced Dec. 7.
The Massachusetts Legislature has approved a transgender-rights measure, Boston.com reported. The Senate OK'd it Nov. 16, the day after the state House passed it 95-38. Gov. Deval Patrick said he would sign the bill, making Massachusetts the 16th state to treat transgender people as a protected class. Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese said, "The Transgender Equal Rights Bill has languished for years, but [ on Nov. 16 ] the Legislature sent a clear message of fairness and equality."
The 2.1 million-member Service Employees International Union ( SEIU ) voted to endorse President Barack Obama for re-election in 2012, a press release stated. The endorsement is part of a broader "99 percent strategy" to create good jobs now; end cuts to Medicare and Medicaid and other critical programs; require everyone to pay their fair share in taxes; and create a fair path to citizenship for immigrant workers.
A unanimous California Supreme Court told a federal appeals court Nov. 17 that California law "authorizes" the proponents of Proposition 8 to defend the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriages even though state-elected officials decided not to. The rulingwhich will almost certainly be accepted by the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel, which has an appeal from Yes on 8 officials before itmeans the three-judge panel of the federal appeals court will now rule on the merits of that appeal. Lambda Legal Director Jon Davidson said in a statement, "While a disappointing ruling, this case is now back in federal court, where we expect a quick victory. The ruling addresses only a procedural legal question."
Marcus Bachmann, husband of GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, has called undercover reporter John Beckerwho revealed that Marcus' clinic practices so-called "ex-gay" therapyto collect on unattended sessions, according to Death and Taxes. After his investigation, Becker ( who works with Truth Wins Out ) returned to Vermont and cancelled his last three sessions. However, the clinic only cancelled one, and charged him $150 for the two remaining sessions. Marcus Bachmann called Becker, leaving a message where he threatens to send the bill to collections if it's not paid.
A giant Benetton ad has generated controversy by showing world leaders kissing each other, according to Newser.com . In its "Unhate" campaign, President Obama is shown kissing Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, while another features Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The Vatican has criticized another ad that shows Pope Benedict XVI kissing a top Egyptian imam on the lips, calling it an "unacceptable" provocation; that ad has since been pulled.
LGBT-based hate crimes in California defied a national trend and increased by almost 25 percent from 2009 to 2010, according to CaliforniaWatch.org . The most significant shifts occured in two cities with large gay and lesbian populations: Palm Springs and San Francisco. The crimes reported in Palm Springs jumped from three in '09 to 14 to '10; in San Francisco, the number increased from six to 24. Rhonda Long, of the Palm Springs Police Department, said she could not explain the surge in cases without looking at them individually.
In Tennessee, transgender woman Andrea Jones was arrested for indecent exposure after removing her shirt to protest the actions of a Morristown DMV, according to the Huffington Post. The DMV refused to change her gender from male to female on Jones' drivers' license. "It's not right for the state to ask me to be both male and female," Jones said. "A choice needs to be made." The police report referred to Jones as a man.
In Iowa, Des Moines baker Victoria Childress refused to make a cake for a lesbian couple because of her religious beliefs, LezGetReal.com reported. Childress, the owner of Victoria's Cake Cottage, decided not to bake a wedding cake for Trina Vodraska and Janelle Sievers after finding out they were marrying each other. Childress said, "I was straight-forward with them and explained that I'm a Christian and that I have very strong convictions." She said that she's gotten some positive feedback, but has also received hate emails.
Former University of Michigan student body president Chris Armstrong announced a scholarship created by his family for LGBT students in a video for the "It Gets Better" project, according to a press release. Last year, Assistant State Attorney General Andrew Shirvell was fired for harassing Armstrong. Armstrong and his family are announced the scholarship in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the University of Michigan's Spectrum Centerthe first university-related safe space for LGBT students.
On Sunday, Dec. 4, The Trevor Project will honor Lady Gaga with the Trevor Hero Award and Google with the Trevor 2020 Award during "Trevor Live" at the Hollywood Palladium, according to a press release. The annual show benefits the work of The Trevor Project, a recent honoree of the White House as a Champion of Change for leadership and innovation in suicide prevention. Neil Patrick Harris, Queen Latifah, Jane Lynch, Mary J. Blige and Christina Hendricks are among those scheduled to appear during the event.
Gay U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., criticized former House speaker and current GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich after Gingrich said Frank should be in jail for the economic crisis, the Huffington Post reported. Gingrich suggested in October that Frank and former Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn.the two top Democrats behind Wall Street reform legislationshould be jailed for missing the financial crisis. Frank told the Boston Globe, "He's a man with no ethical core whatsoever. There are a number of conservatives whom I respect. ... Newt's just never had any principles, so no I'm not surprised about this at all."
Baylor University caused a storm of controversy that it reportedly offered a sociology course titled "Homosexuality as a Gateway Drug," the Huffington Post reported. The Waco, Texas-based Baptist institution changed the course's name to "Special Topics in Sociology," and said it had been intended as an independent study. Earlier this year, Baylor allegedly denied a charter to the Sexual Identity Forum, a student group "promoting discussion of homosexuality."
Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis issued a statement to commemorate the Transgender Day of Remembrance ( Nov. 20 ) , according to a press statement. "What began as an online project in 1999 to memorialize the murder of a transgender person will this year include hundreds of vigils and events throughout the country and around the world," Solis said. "I hope that this year's commemoration will serve as an opportunity to shine a brighter light on both progress made and the challenges ahead. ... On this day of remembrance, as we pause to reflect on the lives that have been lost, we renew our commitment to an America that celebrates and values every person."
LGBT anti-violence advocates met with Obama Administration officials Nov. 16 to offer strategies for addressing the epidemic of violence against transgender people, according to a press release from the National Center for Transgender Equality ( NCTE ) . Topics covered included crime-data collection; cultural competency for law enforcement; and funding issues, including insuring that federal and federally funded anti-violence programs and processes are transgender-inclusive.
U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan became the first sitting cabinet secretary to announce support for same-sex marriage, saying Nov. 15 that he ''absolutely'' supports marriage equality in an interview with Metro Weekly. Asked about the recent passage of marriage equality in New York, Donovan said, ''I was enormously proud to be a New Yorker on the day that it passed." Earlier on Nov. 15, Donovan addressed the eighth anniversary National Center for Transgender Equality awards ceremony, held at the Mayflower Renaissance in Washington, D.C.
Independent senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Republican Susan Collins of Maine introduced Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act in the U.S. Senate Nov. 18, according to Advocate.com . If passed, the measure would provide domestic-partner benefits for federal government employees, according to Advocate.com . Democrat Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, who is one of the four openly gay members of the House, and Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida introduced it in that chamber. "The federal government must set an example as an equal opportunity employer," Baldwin said in a press release. "If we are to treat all federal employees fairly and recruit the best and the brightest to serve in government, we need this legislation."
Yvonne "Miss Dixie" Fasnachtthe fun-loving lesbian owner of two New Orleans gay barsdied recently in her Metairie, La., home at the age of 101, according to Advocate.com . Dixie's Bar of Music, which opened in 1939 and eventually was in the French Quarter, became a place where LGBT individuals mingled with luminaries ranging from actress Helen Hayes to famed news anchor Walter Cronkite. When police raided the bars, Fasnacht would reportedly bail out the gay and transgender patrons who were arrested, using money from the cash register at the bar.
A Pepperdine University has shown that adolescents with little sexual experience are more likely to practice safer sex when TV shows portray the negative consequences associated with risky sexual behavior, according to a press release. The author, Dr. Keli Finnerty-Myers, found that not only did negative physical consequences ( such as unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases ) affect inexperienced viewers attitudes but negative emotional consequences ( embarrassment, regret, social discomfort ) also influenced their decisions to abstain from casual sex.
St. Paul, Minn., resident Demetrius Jermaine Miller has been sentenced to 27 years in prison for raping and robbing a transgender man, according to Advocate.com . Ramsey County judge Rosanne Nathanson sentenced Miller, and also ordered he register as a predatory offender for the rest of his life. Miller argued that the sex was consensual, and that he went along in order to rob the victim.
The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center's 40th-anniversary gala and auctiona star-studded celebration hosted by Leslie Jordan Nov. 12helped raise more than $680,000, according to the Huffington Post. Among the celebrities who attended were Jane Lynch ( who is also a board member ) , Chaz Bono, David Arquette, and Neil Patrick Harris and partner David Burtka. Harris and Burtka received the Rand Schrader Distinguished Achievement Award while Bono was honored with the Board of Directors Award.
A new Williams Institute study finds there are an estimated 28,500 binational same-sex couples in which one partner is a U.S. citizen and one is not, and nearly 11,500 same-sex couples in which neither partner is a U.S. citizen, a press release stated. Under U.S. immigration policy, a citizen may obtain permanent residence for a non-citizen, different-sex spouse, and expedited citizenship for a resident, different-sex spouse. However, same-sex couples cannot, even if they are married or are in civil unions or registered domestic partnerships.
The National Minority AIDS Council has issued a statement expressing its disappointment that the so-called congressional "supercommittee" could not agree on a deficit-reduction plan, according to a press release. The council said, " [ The supercommittee's ] inability to achieve consensus will result in automatic cuts of approximately $50 billion in non-defense discretionary spending each year from 2013 through 2021. Significant portions of HIV/AIDS programs and funding, including the Ryan White CARE Act, fall into this category."
In California, Brandon McInerney, 17, avoided a retrial by agreeing to a plea deal of 21 years in prison for shooting gay classmate Larry King in 2008, according to the Washington Post. McInerney pled guilty to second-degee murder, voluntary manslaughter and use of a firearm; he is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 19. McInerney, in a fit of rage, killed King at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard because he didn't like King's attire and the victim's attention to him.