WARNING: This week's news contains graphic content.
Survivors of the Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs that killed five people and injured approximately 20 others joined GLAAD and other advocates in providing testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on the escalation of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, extremism and violence, a GLAAD press release stated. Michael Anderson, the only Club Q bartender to survive the shooting, said, "I encourage you all to work together to save our children and adults, and in turn, save ourselves and the soul of our nation. Hate speech turns into hate action, and actions based on hate almost took my life from me, at 25 years old. I beg you all to consider your words before you speak them, for someone may use those words to justify actionaction that may take someone's life." Video of the hearing is at https://oversight.house.gov/legislation/hearings/the-rise-of-anti-lgbtqi-extremism-and-violence-in-the-united-states.
Brittney Grinerthe two-time Olympic gold medalist and WNBA star who spent 10 months behind bars in Russia on drug chargessaid she will play in the upcoming WNBA season, Gay City News noted. She is also committing to use her platform to advocate for the release of Paul Whelan, another U.S. citizen who has been incarcerated in Russia since 2018. On Instagram, Griner thanked a long list of people including her wife, Cherelle; agents Lindsay Kagawa Colas and Casey Wasserman; the Phoenix Mercury; WNBA players; WNBA players association executive director Terri Jackson; Russian lawyers Maria Blagovolina and Alex Boykov; and former Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico.
When it came to passing the Respect for Marriage Act, a coalition of gay Republicans helped smooth the bill's passage, according to The New York Times. Behind the scenes, a group of influential Republican donors and operativesincluding some of the party's most prominent gay leadersbanded together with the bill's proponents in Congress for a coordinated, $1.7-million campaign to persuade GOP senators that backing it would give them a political edge. The push was led by Ken Mehlman, President George W. Bush's campaign manager in 2004 and a former chairman of the Republican National Committee who came out as gay in 2010 as well as Centerline Action, a centrist nonprofit funded by him and Reginald Brown, a lawyer in Bush's White House, among others.
Rainbow lights illuminated the south portico of the White House after President Joe Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act, Queerty noted. The act offers federal protections to same-sex marriages and interracial marriages. The outdoor signing ceremony was attended by around 2,000 lawmakers, LGBTQ advocates and campaigners. Sam Smith and longtime LGBTQ+ ally Cyndi Lauper performed.
On Dec. 16, a federal appeals court dismissed a challenge to Connecticut's policy of allowing transgender girls to compete in girls high school sportsrejecting arguments by four cisgender runners who said they were unfairly forced to race against transgender athletes, a Gay City News item noted. A three-judge panel said the four cisgender athletes lacked standing to suein part because their claims that they were deprived of wins, state titles and athletic scholarship opportunities were speculative.
After months of debate and hundreds of personal testimonies, Ohio's State Board of Education voted to push back against the Biden administration's plan to add LGBTQ+ protections into Title IX, The Columbus Dispatch reported. However, a lot of the resolution's originaland possibly most controversiallanguage was removed. A majority of board members removed sentences like "denying the reality of biological sex destroys foundational truths upon which education rests" and "sex is not arbitrarily assigned at birth."
Also in Ohio, a measure (House Bill 151) that would have prevented transgender girls from participating in school sports did not pass out of the General Assembly, NBC41.com reported. The Ohio House voted against passing the amended bill, which would have banned transgender girls from participating in female sports, overhaul the Department of Education and ban discrimination against students who are not vaccinated for COVID-19. While the bill was originally intended to only make changes to the Ohio Teacher Residency Program, Republican state Rep. Jena Powell introduced the amendment to the bill to ban trans athletes from women's sports.
South Florida school districts have started to roll back policies and resources that support LGBTQ+ students in the wake of the "Don't Say Gay" law, WLRN reported. Administrators at the Florida Department of Education (DOE) say the local rules may be illegal under new state laws that restrict how identity can be discussed in the classroom and require parental notification of education services.
In a TV interview, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) criticized fellow Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-Arizona), saying she's a "corporate Democrat" who "sabotaged" party priorities following her announcement that she was becoming an Independent, Yahoo! News noted. Sinema announced she was leaving the Democratic Partya move that angered many in the party and came three days after Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Georgia) was re-elected, giving Democrats a 51-49 Senate majority.
GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) filed an employment discrimination case on behalf of a transgender woman challenging her employer, Turbocam, regarding its exclusion of medical coverage for healthcare related to gender transition, a press release noted. The claim was filed at the New Hampshire Human Rights Commission under both state and federal nondiscrimination law.
The Office of the Washington State Attorney General filed a complaint before the Washington State Office of Administrative Proceedings on behalf of the state's Human Rights Commission challenging the uniform and grooming policies of Alaska Airlines for violating the Washington Law Against Discrimination, a press release noted. This filing comes nearly two years after American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Washington client Justin Wetherell filed a complaint with the commission, informing it that Alaska Airlines' policies discriminated against the airline's employees who, like Wetherell, are non-binary and genderfluid.
Republican Rep. Ronny Jackson of Texas accused Democratic Rep. Katie Porter of California of having said that "pedophilia isn't a crime"but Porter did not say that, CNN noted. Jackson, like some conservative Twitter personalities, was wrongly describing Porter's remarks. A full video from a congressional hearing showed that Porter actually said that LGBTQ people are being falsely smeared on social media as being a "groomer" or "pedophile" merely because of their gender identity and sexual orientation.
Michigan resident Mark David Latunski was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after he pleaded guilty to killing and mutilating University of Michigan-Flint college student Kevin Bacon, WNEM reported. Latunski, 53, met Bacon, 25, through Grindr, PinkNews added. Shiawassee County Prosecutor Scott Koerner said, "I tried to think of a word for this murder. What came to my mind is pure evil and the ripple effect it had on the family, the friends of Kevin, the court staff, my staff, and anybody who has to read this horrific story."
Trans woman Amber McLaughlinset to be executed in Missouri for murdering a woman in 2003has asked the Republican Gov. Mike Parson to spare her, PinkNews noted. According to her clemency application, McLaughlin is set to be executed by lethal injection on Jan. 3, 2023, for the murder of Beverly Guenther. The attorneys noted that McLaughlin has "consistently diagnosed with borderline intellectual disability," and "universally diagnosed with brain damage as well as fetal alcohol syndrome."
Former President Donald Trump addressed an audience gathered at his Mar-a-Lago club and estate in Palm Beach, Florida for the Log Cabin Republicans' Spirit of Lincoln galathe conservative LGBTQ group's flagship event, The Washington Blade reported. However, the group's support of the former president, his family and his administration has not come without controversyeven among members of its own leadership, as Jerri Ann Henry resigned from her position as executive director in 2019.
Twitter's openly gay former head of trust and safety, Yoel Roth, has reportedly been forced to flee his home in the wake of intensifying threats of violence, Out noted, citing CNN. Roth came under attack after the release of the "Twitter Files," which Twitter CEO Elon Musk released through journalists like Matt Taibbi and Bari Weiss. Weiss showed screenshots showing internal company communications that included the debate on whether to suspend Donald Trump in 2021. Musk defended Roth's tweets in October, while Roth was still employed with the companybut his public support crumbled after Roth left the company in November.
The Massachusetts office of the United States Attorney said a Texas man has been indicted on a federal charge that he threatened a doctor at a clinic who works with gender non-conforming children, Click2Houston noted. Court documents say that on Aug. 31, after social-media accounts began sharing misinformation, the man from Comfort, Texas, called the Boston-based National LGBTQIA+ Health Education Center and left a profanity-filled voicemail as well as threatening comments targeting one of the center's affiliated doctors.
A man was sentenced to a year in prison for spray-painting anti-Black slurs and throwing a brick through a window at an LGBTQ+ youth center in Cleveland's Fairview Park, cleveland.com reported. Michael Freshwater also tagged the side of a strip mall in his city with a racist message less than a month before he vandalized the Colors+ Youth Center. Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court Judge Sherrie Miday told Freshwater during his sentencing hearing that his drug and alcohol addictions were no excuse for his behavior.
Purdue University Northwest Chancellor Thomas L. Keon publicly apologized after making a speech at a commencement ceremony in which he mocked Asian languages, NPR noted. "His racist imitation no doubt caused pain to the student body and faculty at Purdue University Northwest and so many more," said U.S. Rep. Grace Meng, the vice chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, in a press release after the incident. In his apology, Keon said he would head an "interdisciplinary team" to address issues important to the university's Asian American and Pacific Islander community and would meet with the student government association.
In Los Angeles, Or Bar debuted a chic renovation of the historic queer space Gold Coastcomplete with jaw-dropping prices on its cocktail menu, Out noted. Items included several typos, such as "Beleveder" in a $22 Bloody Mary as well as a "Kettle One" botanical flavor in the $24 George's Devil Juice, which is mixed with lime juice and grapefruit soda. The steep pricing was particularly painful for regulars of Gold Coast, which, after nearly 40 years shuttered in September 2020 in the midst of the COVID lockdown.
Once-revered figure-skating coach Richard Callaghan agreed to refrain from coaching minors as part of a legal settlement with one of the former students who has accused him of abuse, ESPN reported. Craig Maurizi, a skater-turned-coach, has repeatedly alleged that Callaghan sexually abused him on numerous occasions when he was a young skater in the 1970s and 1980s. He filed a lawsuit against Callaghan in 2020the latest chapter in a decades-long effort to keep Callaghan off the ice. Callaghanwho famously coached Olympic gold medalist Tara Lipinski and world champion Todd Eldredgehas faced numerous allegations of sexual, physical and emotional abuse from several former skaters he coached but has denied any wrongdoing.