Under Secretary Gina Ortiz Jonesthe Air Force's second-highest ranking civilianis stepping down on March 6, after a year and a half in the position, according to military.com . Jones was appointed by President Joe Biden as the first openly lesbian woman to serve as the under secretary for any service branch, and she was officially confirmed by the Senate on July 22, 2021. Joneswho helped push a wide variety of reforms aimed at making life in uniform easier for women, minorities and parentsserved under the military's old "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
In Brooklyn, 19-year-old gay man Deandre Matthews was found shot to death with "significant" burns on Feb. 7 in a homicide case his family believes involved a hate crime, Gay City News reported. Matthews had "significant burn wounds through his body," a gunshot wound to the head, and signs of smoke inhalation, according to police. "He was harmless," the victim's mother, Danielle Matthews, said. "We know this is a hate crime. This is someone who was not happy with themselves. Some people are not as out in the open about their sexuality. [Deandre] was. Maybe it was somebody he was dealing with. You don't know."
South Dakota has become the sixth state to implement restrictions on transition-related care for trans+ minors in just the past two years, NBC News reported. Republican Gov. Kristi Noem signed the so-called "Help Not Harm" bill, which bans healthcare professionals from providing puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgery to minors as treatment for gender dysphoria. More than a dozen major medical organizationsincluding the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Associationsupport gender-affirming care for minors.
Republican Utah Gov. Spencer Cox defended a bill he signed last month that bans trans+ minors from receiving gender-affirming medical care, saying he wants to see more data on the effects of such treatments, NBC News reported. "Well, we take power away from [parents] on a lot of things involving our young people. If there is potential long-term harm for our kids, we need to find that," Cox said on the show Meet the Press. "And what Utah did was just push pause until we get better data.
Missouri is investigating a pediatric transgender center after a former case worker alleged children were being routinely prescribed puberty blockers or hormone therapy without "appropriate or accurate" mental health assessments, according to NBC News. "We have received disturbing allegations that individuals at the Transgender Center at St. Louis Children's Hospital have been harming hundreds of children each year, including by using experimental drugs on them," state Attorney General Andrew Bailey, a Republican, said in a statement. He added this controversial thought: "We are hopeful that the leaders of these institutions will choose to do the right thing for the safety of Missouri's children, as we work to root out any possibility of children being harmed by predatory adults with a radical social agenda."
More than three years since a fire forced Q Bar to close in 2019, the Castro bar is set to finally reopen this spring, according to an SFGate item that cited the Bay Area Reporter. This will primarily be seen as welcome news for the neighborhood after the recent abrupt closure of Harvey's, a nearby 27-year-old gay bar and restaurant. A four-alarm fire at 456 Castro St. on Nov. 16, 2019, injured two people and displaced 13; it closed Osaka Sushi, clothing store Body and Q Bar.
For the second time in less than five months, a federal judge rejected a lawsuit seeking to block a Florida law that restricts classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientationthe so-called "Don't Say Gay" statute, the Orlando Sentinel reported. U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor dismissed a revised lawsuit filed by students, parents and teachers, who argued the law is unconstitutional. Last September, he rejected an earlier version of the case on similar grounds but left open the possibility that the plaintiffs' attorneys could re-file the lawsuit.
Equality Forum founder and former federal prosecutor Malcolm Lazin sent a letter to the Office of Congressional Ethics asking for an immigration-fraud inquiry of Congressman George Santos, a press release noted. The inquiry is based on various aspects Lazin listed as applying to Santos' life, with Lazin stating that "in George Santos' Congressional campaigns and current Congressional information, there is no mention of his marriage or divorce." Lazin concluded by saying, "It is requested that the inquiry determine for referral to the Ethics Committee whether there is sufficient evidence that George Santos engaged in marriage fraud, a felony under 8 USC Section 1325(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and whether the immigration file contains false written and/or oral statements, a felony(ies) in violation of 18 USC Section 1001."
The archdiocese of Portland, Oregon, is another U.S. diocese issuing a document affecting the lives of young LGBTQ+ people, their families, and those who instruct and care for them, The National Catholic Reporter noted. Recently, Archbishop Alexander Sample shared "A Catholic Response to Gender Identity Theory: Catechesis and Pastoral Guidelines" with western Oregon priests; the following day it was released to principals. Among other things, the guidelines advise students to participate in sports and use names, pronouns, attire and bathrooms that correspond to their sex assigned at birth.
Hawaiʻi House Democrats joined American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaiʻi and Hawaiʻi Health & Harm Reduction Center in celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Hawaiʻi Supreme Court's decision on marriage equality, Maui Now noted. The group recognized leaders who contributed to the pursuit of marriage equality during Baehr v. Lewin. Hawai'i House Speaker Scott Saiki and Rep. David A. Tarnas presented Magistrate Judge Kevin S.C. Chang, Judge Daniel R. Foley (Ret.) and Hawaiʻi Supreme Court Justice Steven H. Levinson (Ret.) with legislative certificates, honoring them for their efforts in support of marriage equality.
Oklahoma County District Judge Lynne McGuire ruled that lesbian Kris Williams had failed to adopt her son and had forfeited her parenting rights to his sperm donor, The 19th reported. According to Williams, she and ex-partner Rebekah Wilson planned to have their son and found sperm donor Harlan Vaughn on a paternity website together; the lesbian couple married while Wilson was pregnant but after they split, Wilson moved in with Vaughn, taking the child with her. Advocates say Williams' case may test the bounds of marriage-equality laws in Oklahoma and beyond.
Republican Nikki Haleya former South Carolina governor and UN ambassador who is the daughter of Indian immigrantsannounced her run for president, Politico noted. She is former President Donald Trump's first challenger in the Republican presidential primary. The GLAAD Accountability Project has noted that Haley has said that President Joe Biden's support of transgender rights will destroy women's sports and that she opposed marriage equality as both South Carolina state representative and governor, among other anti-LGBTQ+ actions.
Out CNN anchor Don Lemon issued an apologyseeking to tamp down internal and external backlash to polarizing comments he made on CNN This Morning about when women are in their prime, Variety reported. Lemon said he regretted saying that women who are past their 40s are no longer in their primea comment that appeared to be off the cuff and inspired by coverage of Nikki Haley, who is pushing for a competency test for politicians who are 75 and older. Lemon reportedly made his apology to staffers at the behest of CNN CEO Chris Licht.
New York Times Executive Editor Joe Kahn warned the newspaper's journalists who have voiced displeasure with the outlet's coverage of transgender people and issues that such public criticism will "not be tolerated," The Hill noted. Kahn said the Times "received a letter delivered by GLAAD, an advocacy group, criticizing coverage in The Times of transgender issues." He added, "Participation in such a campaign is against the letter and spirit of our ethics policy. That policy prohibits our journalists from aligning themselves with advocacy groups and joining protest actions on matters of public policy."
U.S. President Joe Biden and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, in a joint statement, declared their support of LGBTQ and intersex rights, The Washington Blade reported. "Both leaders noted they continue to reject extremism and violence in politics, condemned hate speech, and reaffirmed their intention to build societal resilience to disinformation and agreed to work together on these issues," reads the statement, which was issued after they met at the White House. "They discussed common objectives of advancing the human rights agenda through cooperation and coordination on such issues as social inclusion and labor rights, gender equality, racial equity and justice and the protection of the rights of LGBTQI+ persons."
Florida lawmakers approved a bill that would give Gov. Ron DeSantis the ability to appoint a board to run Disney's Reedy Creek Improvement Districtthe self-governing region that encompasses the company's theme parks outside Orlando, ABC News reported. Last year, the state legislature passed a bill to eliminate the current district, which has granted Disney expansive authority over the area around its parks. The changes come after Disney publicly criticized a controversial DeSantis-backed law (the "Don't Say Gay" statute) banning discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in certain K-12 classrooms last year.
The Florida LGBTQ+ organization Safeguarding American Values for Everyone (SAVE) announced that Orlando Gonzales will leave his post as executive director, remaining in his position through the end of 2023, per a press release. "I have been so proud to serve as the Executive Director these last four years and want to express my deep gratitude to every one of you. Your trust and support of SAVE has made all the difference in our accomplishments," Gonzales said. SAVE commemorates its 30th anniversary this year, and Gonzales will celebrate the occasion during the Champions of Equality Awards Gala on May 14.
A judge ruled that the trial of a transgender woman accused of indecent exposure at a spa in Los Angeles can go forward, The Advocate noted. Darren Merager is charged with five felony counts of indecent exposure stemming from an incident in the women's section of Wi Spa in June 2021. At a pretrial hearing n Los Angeles Superior Court, witnesses testified Merager went around the spa with her genitalia exposed "with a nonchalance that they found unnerving," Los Angeles Magazine reported.
Cleveland Play House's planned production of I'm Back Now was recently canceled after allegations from the show's playwright, Charly Evon Simpson, and director, Stori Ayers, that the company's leadership mishandled a report of sexual assault perpetrated on a cast member at company-provided housing, Playbill noted. The theater acknowledged "missteps" in their response to the incident, but challenged Ayers' version of events. However, the company confirmed that Ayers should have been notified immediately of the incident, and that the victim should have been immediately moved to new housing.
NFL broadcasters Tony Dungy and James Brown withdrew from the annual Men's Advance eventhosted in Colorado by anti-gay Christian evangelist Andrew Wommack at his anti-LGBT Charis Bible College, and set to take place in March, Outsports noted. Dungy and Brown have previously appeared at multiple events that Wommack hosted. The participation by the men in past events, as well as their other appearances with Wommack, have focused on positive aspects of their Christian faith, even as Wommack and Dungy have separately made anti-LGBTQ+ claims.