Rufus Gifford, the highest-ranking openly LGBTQ+ official at the State Department, is leaving his post as chief of protocol to become finance chair for President Joe Biden's re-election campaign, The Advocate reported. Gifford, who is married to Dr. Stephen DeVincent, has been national finance director at the Democratic National Committee and worked in Barack Obama's and Biden's presidential campaigns. He was also the U.S. ambassador to Denmark from 2013 to 2017.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state would buy students in Temecula a social studies textbook that the school board rejected because the accompanying teachers' materials mentioned gay politician Harvey Milkand that California will fine the district, The Advocate noted. "Cancel culture has gone too far in Temecula: Radicalized zealots on the school board rejected a textbook used by hundreds of thousands of students and now children will begin the school year without the tools they need to learn," Newsom said in a press release. "If the school board won't do its job by its next board meeting to ensure kids start the school year with basic materials, the state will deliver the book into the hands of children and their parentsand we'll send the district the bill and fine them for violating state law." Newsom later said the state levied a $1.5 million fine against the school district.
Nine members of a school board in a conservative part of Wisconsin voted unanimously to fire teacher Melissa Tempel, who spoke out against her district's decision to ban the song "Rainbowland"written by Dolly Parton and Miley Cyrusfrom a children's concert, per LGBTQ Nation. The board said that they fired Tempel because she spoke out publicly without first talking to her supervisors; however, Tempel said she was fired because she chose a song with the word "rainbow" in its title and a message of acceptance in its lyrics.
Also in Wisconsin, a federal judge said the Mukwonago School District can't enforce its anti-trans restroom ban, according to WISN. The ruling came after a mother and her 11-year-old trans daughter filed a civil-rights complaint against the Mukwonago Area School District. The 11-year-old began identifying as a girl and had been using the girl's bathrooms at school since the first grade. In a statement, Superintendent Dr. Joseph Koch indicated they'll continue the court fight.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld a Catholic school's firing of a guidance counselor because she's in a same-sex marriage, The Advocate reported. The court said that Indianapolis' Roncalli High School was within its rights in declining to renew Michelle "Shelly" Fitzgerald's contract in 2018 after officials found out she was married to a womansomething that goes against Catholic doctrine. Fitzgerald argued that her duties didn't involve religious instruction; however, the Seventh Circuit said she "played a crucial role on the Administrative Council, which was responsible for at least some of Roncalli's daily ministry, education and operations." Fitzgerald may appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.
And The Advocate also noted that lesbian soccer coach Kelsey Morrison was fired from her job at a Christian college in Pennsylvania after she posted stories to her private Instagram account saying queer folk are "precious gifts" to the church and that "Jesus is radically inclusive." Morrison revealed in a recent post to Facebook she was fired from her job at Geneva College, in Beaver Falls, because of the two stories even though administrators knew she was queer when they hired her in 2021. Geneva College cited the institution's "biblical views and missional commitments," which it says are based on biblical teachings, recent policies and documents adopted by the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America and others.
In North Carolina, Mount Airy Board of Education member Randy Moore defended himself after being censured for posting an anti-LGBTQ+ item on Facebook, The Advocate noted. Moore said he loves people in the LGBTQ+ community as a Christian "but not their doings." "One day, the rainbow will no longer be misused by sinners to boast in their sin," he wrote. "The rainbow will be reserved for the glory of God alone when Christ returns and makes all things new." Moore claimed that his post was protected by the First Amendment; he agreed that public figures must represent themselves respectfully "yet still not be afraid to use rightful speech."
In Texas, McLennan County Justice of the Peace Dianne Hensley is trying to use the recent anti-LGBTQ+ Supreme Court ruling in 303 Creative LLC vs. Elenis to justify her refusal to perform same-sex marriages, according to Yahoo! News. Hensley was reprimanded in 2019 for refusing to conduct same-sex marriages and has waged a public battle against the State Commission on Judicial Conduct ever since. Former Texas Solicitor General Jonathan Mitchellwho has been on a mission to oppose LGBTQ+, women's and other civil rights in the United Statesfiled the most recent brief on Hensley's behalf.
An arrest was made in the fatal stabbing of an Oregon man who was killed when he defended a co-worker from anti-LGBTQ+ abuse, according to The Advocate. U.S. Marshals arrested Rahnique Jackson, 24, on July 7 and charged him with the murder of Colin Michael Smith, 32. Smith was enjoying drinks at The High Dive bar after work with friends when Jackson allegedly began hurling anti-LGBTQ+ slurs at a non-binary friend who was also a co-worker. When Jackson reportedly touched two members of the group inappropriately, Smith stepped in and ended up being stabbed.
A GoFundMe page has been created for a gay man who was left with multiple injuries and mounting medical expenses after he was brutally attacked in Miami's Coconut Grove area by two men yelling anti-gay slurs, according to The Advocate. Greg Breidenbacha flight attendant for American Airlinesremembered being pummeled to the ground by two men yelling slurs before blacking out. The GoFundMe page has raised more than $26,000; it is at https://www.gofundme.com/f/greg-breidenbachs-road-to-recovery.
Michigan resident Jonathan Blake-Newtona transgender man who uses a motorized wheelchairsaid a laughing assailant in a car shot him several times with a pellet gun and yelled an anti-LGBTQ+ slur before driving away, per The Advocate. Blake-Newton said he was on his way to a store when an unknown assailant in a small beige four-door car "opened fire" on him and yelled "tr*nny f*gg*t" before leaving. Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard confirmed that the case is under active investigation and offered a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest of those involved in the shooting.
A former Oklahoma mayor has founded Equality South (ES), saying he wants to provide a resource for LGBTQ+ members and allies who want to be involved in local government, Fox23 News reported. Founder Adam Graham became the first openly gay mayor for the small Oklahoma County town The Village in May 2022but resigned just two months later, saying he became the target of threats and didn't feel safe. Equality South's primary focus is local elections, such as city council and school boards, and the group is concentrating its efforts on Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabamasix Southern states where some of the toughest anti-LGBTQ laws exist.
The spotlight has fallen on Joseph Zieglerthe gay IRS agent who testified before Congress about possible interference in the investigation of Hunter Biden, The Advocate noted. Ziegler (previously known as "Agent X" in the Biden probe) has worked for the IRS since 2010 and before that was an external auditor with Ernst & Young, a firm providing consulting, accounting, and other business services. Biden is expected to enter into a plea deal on misdemeanor charges of failing to pay income tax and a felony charge of illegally possessing a firearm, but he is likely to avoid jail time.
Queer|ArtNew York City's home for the creative and professional development of LGBTQ+ artistswill become trans-led for the first time as Programs and Operations Director Rio Sofia and Director of Development L Marmon become QA's interim co-directors, per a press release. After six years as QA's executive director, Travis Chamberlain has accepted a new position as director of the Washington Project for the Arts.
Also, Queer|Art announced the winner of the 2023 Barbara Hammer Lesbian Experimental Filmmaking Grant. NYC-based filmmaker Lorena Barrera Enciso will receive a $7,000 cash grant as well as studio visits with members of the adjudication panel to support her creative and professional development. Barrera Enciso was selected among 149 applicants who applied for the Hammer Grant in its sixth year. Hammer (1939-2019) began making films in the 1970s. She is best-known for making the first explicit lesbian film in 1974,Dyketactics, and for her trilogy of documentary film essays on queer history: Nitrate Kisses (1992),Tender Fictions (1995) and History Lessons (2000).
In Minnesota, members of an LGBTQ+ group are calling on Republican Owatonna Mayor Tom Kuntz to meet their demandsor resignafter he asked pastors at a church holding a Pride event if there would be stripper poles and posted a public prayer alluding to "sin and brokenness" at the event, KARE11 reported. In an open letter, Rainbowatonna organizer Nathan Black said Kuntz used his elected position to harass and intimidate people involved in the city's Pride celebration on July 8. Group members are asking Kuntz for an apology "that acknowledges the impact of his actions," along with diversity and sensitivity training for the mayor and city staff, Black later said. However, in a public response, Kuntz said to Black, "I did what I thought was the right thing to do."
President Joe Biden and Vice President Harris announced that the Biden-Harris 2024 campaign will be headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware, per a press release. Biden's family moved to Delaware from Scranton, Pennsylvania when he was 10 years old. During the 2020 campaign, Biden for President was headquartered in Philadelphia; Dr. Jill Biden grew up in Willow Grove, a suburb of Philadelphia, and President Biden established the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement at the University of Pennsylvania.
The View co-host Alyssa Farah Griffin recently said she agreed with the U.S. Supreme Court's recent ruling in favor of a website designer who refused to create LGBTQ+ wedding sites, according to The Advocate. Griffinthe former White House Director of Strategic Communications under former President Donald Trump during his time in officesaid, "Basically, what it says is, because something like creating a website would be freedom of expression or speech, this would alsolet's flip it on its headit would protect a gay web designer from having to create a bigoted, anti-LGBTQ website." Moderator Whoopi Goldberg pushed back, replying, "They [already] have the right to say that. … This is about being able to say, 'I don't want to do a gay person's website.' That's what this is about."
Portland recently hosted the world's longest continuous drag performance, at 48 hours, 11 minutes and 30 seconds, The Advocate noted. Drag-a-Thonfeaturing more than 120 queenswas held July 10-12 at the Darcelle XV Showplace nightclub, and it was certified as the longest by Guinness World Records. The previous record was 36 hours, 36 minutes and 40 seconds, set six years ago in Melbourne, Australia.