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NATIONAL Sec. of state; Palm Center; judicial nominees; Detroit bar
by Andrew Davis
2022-06-19

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a roundtable with six LGBTQI reporters at the State Department, according to The Washington Blade. It was the first time a secretary of state sat down with a group of LGBTQI journalists during Pride Month. Jessica Stern, the special U.S. envoy for the promotion of LGBTQ and intersex rights abroad, and State Department spokesperson Ned Price, who is openly gay, are among those who attended the roundtable with Blinken. Among the people and issues discussed were WNBA player Brittany Griner (who is being detained in Russia) and Saudi Arabia.

On June 15, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) marked the two-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's historic ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, which cemented the legal interpretation that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In a press release, HRC Interim President Joni Madison said, "As the rights of transgender and non-binary people are under attack in states across the country, Bostock has been critical for the LGBTQ+ community. We know we have the right to be ourselves, and show up authentically, in the workplace. Today, let us take a moment to reflect on this victory and then double-down in our fight for equality in all other spaces by passing the Equality Act."

The Palm Center issued a statement about the passing of Steven Gluckstern—an entrepreneur and philanthropist as well as the Center's longtime board chair. "Steven Gluckstern's passing is a crushing loss to the Palm Center family and to the worlds of philanthropy, the arts, and business. Steven was an ardent champion of the Palm Center for two decades. He loved new ideas, was incredibly creative, and gave of his time generously," the statement read, in part. Gluckstern, a strong ally of the LGBTQ+ community, became the Palm Center's board chair in 2006 after facilitating a $1 million endowment grant from the Michael Palm Foundation.

President Joe Biden announced seven new federal judicial nominees, according to a White House press release. If confirmed, this slate would include the first Latino to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the first woman of color to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the first South Asian person to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the first openly LGBTQ+ federal district court judge in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico Court of Appeals Judge Gina R. Mendez-Miro is the wife of the first openly gay chief justice of the Supreme Court of Puerto Rico, Maite Oronoz Rodríguez, according to NBC News.

Detroit fire officials are investigating a fire that destroyed The Woodward Bar & Grill—the oldest LGBTQ bar in Detroit, Eater Detroit noted. The Freep reported that William Karagas first opened the Woodward in 1954 and that, over time, it began to attract customers from nearby Wayne State's notable gay population. Curtis Lipscomb, executive director of the nonprofit LGBT Detroit, told the paper that by the '90s, the spot had shifted to become more welcoming to the city's Black LGBTQ community.

The airline JetBlue is a longtime supporter of The Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative (SIGBI), which leverages the historic significance of the New York City LGBTQ+ landmark to help other communities that don't have the same LGBTQ+ resources or support, per Travel Agent Central. As an original SIGBI donor, JetBlue has been named the launch airline partner for the organization's Safe Spaces certification program—which identifies travel companies, entertainment venues, F&B locations, stores, businesses and other public venues that work year-round to serve as safe spaces for LGBTQ+ people. Over the years, hundreds of JetBlue crew members and senior leaders have marched in pride celebrations across the country, from New York City to West Hollywood, and will continue to do so this year.

Pennsylvania is considering a measure that involves formally discussing gender identity and sexual orientation in elementary schools, the Philly Voice reported. The "Empowering Families in Education Act" was announced on June 8 by Lancaster Sens. Ryan Aument and Scott Martin. They believe the bill is effective at providing protections for students and said it's not meant to be a version of Florida's controversial "Don't Say Gay" bill, which bans instruction of gender identity and sexual orientation in grades K-3. The bill presents a set of proposals to promote transparency and requires parental notification of information regarding their children, including what they're being taught in the classroom.

Indiana Youth Group has marked 35 years of helping LGBTQ+ youths, according to WTHR. Recognizing the need for a community organization built specifically to supporting LGBTQ+ youth in the community, Chris Gonzalez; his life partner, Jeff Werner; and a handful of other Hoosiers from across Indianapolis came together to launch the organization. In October 2020, the organization expanded services for people who lost their homes or experienced temporary homelessness. Project Prism, an organization that aids LGBTQ+ youth, is now the city's latest provider of housing for young people in the city.

A New York State judge ruled that Yeshiva University must recognize the YU Pride Alliance as an official student group, Inside Higher Ed noted. The LGBTQ+ alliance has been fighting for recognition for several years. Yeshiva argued that as a religious organization and is exempt from the New York City Human Rights Law, which bars discrimination based on sexual orientation. Judge Lynn R. Kotler ruled that Yeshiva's organizing documents do not describe a religious institution but an "educational corporation." The school plans to appeal.

ONE Archives Foundation is launching, on June 30, a new podcast project for this year's Pride season: Periodically Queer, a press release noted. The podcast will dive deep into the history and stories around LGBTQ+ print media, periodicals and organizations. On each episode of Periodically Queer, the ONE Archives Foundation team and their guests will explore the stories behind the page, and discuss topics such as queer community building, finding LGBTQ+ ancestors and more.

The declaration of June as LGBTQ+ Pride Month in Nevada City, California, was celebrated with speeches from city officials and a crowd of people gathered to watch the pride flag raised above City Hall, The Union noted. "It's also about celebration, it's about celebrating who we are and who we love, celebrating our individual journeys of becoming and also our collective journey as a people," Councilwoman Daniela Fernandez said to the crowd. Following the raising of the flag, the group participated in changing the banners hung along the downtown streets, from United States of America flags to the LGBTQ+ flag.

Michigan's Republican-led state Senate stalled action on a resolution to recognize June of this year as LGBTQ Pride Month in the state, Michigan Radio noted. The Senate's only openly gay member, Democrat Jeremy Moss, criticized the foot-dragging as an insult to LGBTQ+ Michiganders, including legislative staffers working for both parties. The resolution is non-binding and would not change any government policy or the state's civil-rights law, which does not explicitly mention LGBTQ+ rights.

A gay assemblyman from Anchorage who ran for Alaska's lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives recently received a homophobic death threat on his voicemail, Metro Weekly noted. Christopher Constant, who ran as a Democrat in a field of 48 candidates for the seat, recently told the South Florida Gay News that he received a two-minute-long message on his office voicemail. Constant said he turned over a copy of the recording to the Anchorage Police Department. Former Alaska Gov. and vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin led the top four candidates who recently advanced to a special August election to fill the House seat of the late Rep. Don Young; Constant finished eighth.

Donald Trump's endorsed candidate for Wisconsin governor is standing by his opposition to same-sex marriage, telling The Associated Press that he believes "marriage should be between a man and a woman, according to TwinCities Pioneer Press. Tim Michels, co-owner of Michels Corp. construction company, is one of four Republicans running for a chance to take on Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in November. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Wisconsin since Oct. 6, 2014, after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal of a lower court's ruling finding the state ban to be unconstitutional.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom—long a target of conservative activists—decided to jump into the lion's den and join the Donald Trump-owned Truth Social, Deadline noted. Newsom tweeted, "I just joined Trump's Truth Social. Going to be on there calling out Republican lies. This could get…interesting." His first Truth Social post contains a video in which he says he is "breaking down America's red-state murder problem." The caption on the post reads, "Here's the truth…"

A group of Proud Boys members aggressively disrupted a drag-queen event being held for children and families at the San Lorenzo Library in Alameda County, Newsweek reported. Members of the notorious right-wing white nationalist organization stormed the event being hosted by the group Drag Queen Story Hour, which organizes family-friendly readings hosted by drag queens all over the country. The members, some wearing shirts with AK-47s on them, yelled out numerous homophobic and transphobic slurs, and accused the event's hosts of being "pedophiles"—and deputies escorted the individuals out of the venue.

In Merced, California, the exhibit "Outloud: Celebrating the Colors of LGBTQIA+" is running at the Merced Multicultural Arts Center (MAC) through July 24, The Merced Sun-Star reported. The common thread tying together the diverse show is that every one of the 20-plus contributing artists are LGBTQ+ creators from the Merced area. The curators intentionally kept submission parameters as broad as possible, welcoming a range of mediums and subject matters into the exhibit. Merced is approximately 130 miles southeast of San Francisco.

Las Vegas Sands announced Sands Cares funding of more than $142,000 for The LGBTQ Center of Southern Nevada (The Center), extending the company's partnership with Southern Nevada's leading nonprofit organization serving the LGBTQ+ community, according to a company press release. The Center has been a vital part of Las Vegas for more than 25 years, offering inclusive, life-enriching programs, events, education and support groups for people who identify as LGBTQ+ and allies of the community.


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