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NATIONAL Va. marriage bill, AARP, online counseling, Idaho items, late activist
by Andrew Davis
2024-03-21

This article shared 8029 times since Thu Mar 21, 2024
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Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed bills protecting same-sex marriages at a state level, surprising some, WRIC reported. The bills—passed out of both chambers along mostly party lines—will require clerks to issue marriage licenses to couples regardless of each person's sex or gender. One of the bill's authors, Del. Rozia Henson (D-Prince William), is the first openly gay Black man to serve in the Virginia General Assembly. Henson said the bill's passage was critical after U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas suggested the court review its previous decisions on same-sex marriage. However, the bills include exceptions for religious organizations and members of the clergy acting in their religious capacity, who may legally refuse to perform any marriage.

A D.C. Superior Court jury found that the D.C.-based AARP Services, Inc.—an arm of the AARP that interacts with businesses supportive of the nation's seniors—illegally fired a gay manager because of his sexual orientation, The Washington Blade reported. The jury's verdict, which it said was based on a "preponderance of evidence," came six years after Richard A. 'Rick' Deus Jr.—who worked for AARP and AARP Services for 11 years—filed a lawsuit against his former employer. However, the jury also chose not to hold AARP Services responsible for paying punitive damages to Deus, whose lawsuit called for $5 million in compensatory damages and an additional $5 million in punitive damages.

Everyday Health published its list of the best online LGBTQ+ counseling options for 2024. Categories include Best for Messaging Therapy (Calmerry), Best for Couples (ReGain), Best for Convenience (BetterHelp), Best LGBTQ+ Counseling for Alcohol Use Disorder (Monument), Best for Using Insurance (Doctor on Demand), Most Affordable (Open Path Collective) and Best for LGBTQ+ People of Color (National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network). More detailed info is at www.everydayhealth.com/emotional-health/best-lgbtq-online-therapy/ .

In Idaho, LGBTQ+ community leaders and local nonprofits recently gathered on the steps of the state's Capitol Building to protest more than a dozen bills being proposed in this year's legislative session, KTVB reported. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said in a news release that the "March Forth" rally was a response to the bills that the LGBTQ+ community feels unfairly target them or would affect those within the demographic in some way. For example, HB 538 would protect teachers and public employees from legal action if they refuse to use a person's preferred pronouns; it also would keep public teachers in K-12 from using a students' preferred pronouns if it differs from their birth sex, unless a parent gives written permission.

Also in Idaho, the state House voted on party lines on a bill to prevent retribution for state employees or students for not using preferred pronouns, KTVB noted. HB 538 also bans teachers from using transgender or nonbinary students' preferred pronouns or a different name than their legal name without parental consent. Sponsor state Rep. Ted Hill, R-Eagle, said the bill is meant to prevent compelled speech, especially for teachers; he claimed people were getting bullied into being forced to use pronouns of people that are inconsistent with their biological sex.

The life and legacy of the late queer activist Amber Hollibaugh were celebrated in NYC recently, Gay City News reported. At Elebash Recital Hall at the CUNY Grad Center, her friends, colleagues and family (including wife Jennifer Levin) recalled the life, times and works of the "lesbian sex radical, ex-hooker, incest survivor gypsy child, poor-white-trash, high femme dyke" who died last October. "Some people thought of Amber as larger than life," Levin said, "but really, she was as large as life should be." Christian John Lillis and Beck-Jordan Young, who planned the event along with Debanuj Dasgupta, emceed the event, introducing the speakers and a film by Rodrigo Brandao. Chicago-based author/LGBTQ historian John D'Emilio recalled meeting Hollibaugh in San Francisco in 1979.

In Staten Island, NYC, the Department of Education is investigating after some books were thrown into the trash at an elementary school, ABC 7 NY reported. The books—which cover topics like Black history, LGBTQ+ issues and more—were found with critical notes attached to them outside PS 55. The books included a Black Panther book with a note saying "it wasn't approved," one about an immigrant on the border with the notice "our country has no room and it's not fair," and a roller derby book about a dad discussing being transgender and teenage girls having a crush on another girl.

Cincinnati's first LGBTQ+-friendly affordable senior housing community has opened its doors in the Northside neighborhood, according to Affordable Housing Finance. Developed by Northsiders Engaged in Sustainable Transformation (NEST) and Pennrose, John Arthur Flats provides 57 new homes for individuals 55 and older. "NEST is thrilled to see this project come to fruition, bringing long-awaited affordable housing to our community. Northside is a dense, vibrant neighborhood in which our newest neighbors will be able to flourish and enjoy the strong community around them," said NEST Executive Director Sarah Thomas. The three-story building includes studio, one-, and two-bedroom apartments available to residents earning between 30% and 60% of the area median income (AMI), with rents ranging from $444 to $1,212.

Courage MKE cut the ribbon on the C2 Apartments in Milwaukee's Walker's Point neighborhood on March 15, CBS 58 noted. The project is aimed at supporting young LGBTQ+ adults facing the risk of being without housing. The project overcame obstacles, such as a burglary in April 2023 that delayed its completion and cost tens of thousands of dollars. Designed for people aged 18 to 24, the project focuses on essential life skills training, with 24/7 mentorship. The C2 Apartments are the first of their kind in Wisconsin; more info about Courage MKE is at www.couragemke.org/ .

A plot of land in Kansas City, Missouri could eventually become nine new homes for members of the LGBTQ+ community who need a place to live, per Fox 4 KC. It's part of Our Spot KC's Iron House transitional and rapid rehousing program. So far, Our Spot has been using voucher programs to pay rent, and sometimes utilities, at properties around Kansas City for people who might get shut out of other community programs.

A body found dumped in a Mexican border town cemetery and showing signs of torture was confirmed to be that of Reyna Hernandez—a Washington state transgender woman who disappeared late last month, The Advocate reported. Hernandez went missing Feb. 26 after she ran an errand to her former residence, now occupied by three men, including a 61-year-old who is the prime suspect in the case that is being investigated as a homicide. The man, under arrest in Mexico on unrelated charges, is reportedly Hernandez's partner of 30 years.

In Kansas, Republican legislators are close to banning gender-affirming care for minors over Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly's expected veto after winning over previously skeptical GOP colleagues, per KAKE. The Republican-controlled state Senate was expected to approve a bill that would ban healthcare providers from treating a child's gender dysphoria with puberty blockers, hormone treatments and surgery as well as strip doctors who violate the ban of their licenses. At least 23 other states with Republican legislatures have restricted or banned gender-affirming care for minors.

The North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled that someone acting as a child's parent can't be ordered to pay child support in that state unless the person is an actual parent or has formally agreed to provide such compensation, a WRAL item noted. In a case involving an unmarried same-sex couple, a divided three-judge panel reversed a lower court that declared the ex-partner of the child's mother, who gave birth in 2016 through in vitro fertilization (IVF), as a parent within the state's child-support laws. The local judge directed Tricosa Green, who didn't give birth, to pay the biological mother about $250 per month and keep covering the child's health insurance premiums—but this ruling has been reversed. Green and E'Tonya Carter had a romantic relationship and participated in an IVF program in New York, choosing a sperm donor and with Green paying for the process, case documents stated.

Kentucky's Republican-supermajority legislature is taking steps to criminalize disruptive protests inside the Capitol, ABC News noted. The development is raising concerns among advocates that their right to challenge authority will be chilled. Teachers, union members and abortion-rights supporters have staged massive demonstrations, but it was a protest against anti-transgender legislation—which resulted in the arrests of some demonstrators last year—that prompted the Kentucky House this week to approve new criminal offenses for interfering with legislative proceedings. Republican state Rep. John Blanton said he considers protesting to be "as American as apple pie," and "part of the foundation of who we are and I'm fully supportive of that." However, he added that there should be consequences when demonstrators "cross the line" and become disruptive.

A three-judge panel ruled that 11 lawyers at major LGBTQ+-rights groups and law firms were engaged in judge-shopping to steer litigation challenging Alabama's ban on gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth away from a conservative judge, Reuters noted. U.S. District Judge Liles Burke—an appointee of Republican former President Donald Trump —unsealed the report and demanded that a group of attorneys and plaintiffs in the litigation explain why he should not sanction the lot. The lawyers include advocates such as Carl Charles, who recently left Lambda Legal to join the U.S. Department of Justice; James Esseks, of the American Civil Liberties Union; Jennifer Levi, of GLAD; and Shannon Minter and Asaf Orr, of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Former Vice President Mike Pence said he "cannot in good conscience" endorse presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump—a stunning repudiation of his former running mate and the president he served with, CNN noted. "Donald Trump is pursuing and articulating an agenda that is at odds with the conservative agenda that we governed on during our four years. That's why I cannot in good conscience endorse Donald Trump in this campaign," Pence said on Fox News. While he said he is "incredibly proud" of the record of the Trump-Pence administration, Pence argued that the former president has walked away from conservative issues.

During a recent meeting at the White House, openly gay Ireland leader Leo Varadkar (who recently announced his resignation) urged U.S. President Joe Biden to work toward an "immediate humanitarian ceasefire" in Gaza, the BBC noted. An annual St Patrick's Day tradition, the summit usually focuses on defending Northern Ireland's peace process. Taoiseach Varadkar has faced domestic political pressure to end the ongoing war in Gaza; Biden, who has publicly clashed with Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu, appeared to agree.

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) issued a press release noting the death of Diamond Brigman—a Black trans woman from Houston who was shot multiple times and killed in a drive-by shooting on March 16. "I send my prayers, condolences, and commitment to push for justice to Diamond's family, friends, and loved ones during this time of heartbreak and loss," said Director of Public Policy and Programs Victoria Kirby York. "As a community, it feels that we are constantly mourning the loss of a trans sibling, continually fighting to get the justice they deserve, and pushing for measures to ensure their safety."

Rob Smith—a gay Black conservative who was heckled and called racist and homophobic slurs while attending a MAGA event last year—said he is leaving the Republican Party, Newsweek noted. Smith, a longtime conservative commentator, announced he now identifies as "politically homeless" during an episode of his podcast Can't Cancel Rob Smith titled "I Was Betrayed—Rob Smith Speaks Out." Last December, Smith shared a video on social media that he said showed him at an event in Phoenix being "confronted and surrounded by some white supremacists [who] don't like gays or Blacks in the Republican Party." He said the group hurled racist and homophobic slurs at him, and he later told CNN he was a victim of a hate crime.

In Massachusetts, the town of North Brookfield agreed to "refrain from future interference and alter permitting process" after it was sued for trying to block this year's Small Town Pride, according to NBC Boston. Two members of the select board unlawfully blocked a permit for the June 29 event because it included a drag show, the ACLU of Massachusetts said. The same board members tried to deny Rural Justice Network the right to include drag shows in its Pride event last year.

In Arizona, a drag show to raise funds and show solidarity for Palestinians was canceled after organizers experienced harsh criticism on social media, per The Jerusalem Post. The "Drag Show for Palestine" was scheduled to be held at the Palabras Bilingual Bookstore; however, head organizer and drag queen Daddy Satan said that "due to unforeseen circumstances this event has been canceled." Daddy Satan said that the online backlash was caused by the event being shared by social media accounts like Libs of TikTok.

At the Human Rights Campaign's (HRC's) Los Angeles dinner on March 23 at the Fairmont Century Plaza, actress Jean Smart will be receiving the National Equality Award while Oscar-nominated actor Sterling K. Brown (American Fiction) will receive the Ally for Equality Award, per a press release. First Lady Dr. Jill Biden will deliver the evening's keynote speech. Additional guests are slated to include Alexandra Billings, Ashlee Marie Preston, Blossom Brown, Madison Werner, Lazarus Lynch, Kevin Ninh (i.e. Kevin Flawless), Maeta, Godoy, Kerri Colby, Aura Mayari and more.

Pasco County, Florida, resident Steven Miles—described as a gay "adult film actor" and member of the far-right militant group The Proud Boys—was recently sentenced to prison for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol, WFLA noted. The FBI arrested Steven Miles in April 2022 after he was caught on camera assaulting Capitol police officers with his fellow Proud Boys during the insurrection. In a D.C. courtroom, Miles was sentenced to two years in prison and a year of supervised release, and was ordered to pay $2,000 in restitution. He was tried alongside a co-defendant, New Orleans resident Matthew Lebrun, after the FBI received a tip from a woman who posed for a photo with the two men.

Conservative transgender personality and former Olympic gold medal champion Caitlyn Jenner backs a New York county's ban on girls' and women's sports teams that include transgender athletes from using the county's public facilities, saying that trans athletes should not be able to compete in women's sports, NBC News noted. "Trans women are competing against women, taking valuable opportunities for the long protected class under Title IX and causing physical harm," Jenner said at a news conference in Mineola, New York, with Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, who signed the executive order on Feb. 22.

Republican Ohio U.S. Senate candidate Bernie Moreno—once praised for his advocacy and support within the LGBTQ+ community—now faces scrutiny over his current hardline conservative political positions and a past linked to an adult website profile, The Advocate noted. Moreno, with an endorsement from former President Donald Trump, vaulted into the top tier of contenders in the GOP primary race aiming to dethrone Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown. However, his campaign has been overshadowed by revelations regarding a 2008 profile on Adult Friend Finder seeking "Men for 1-on-1 sex," which was associated with an email account accessible to Moreno, the AP reported. Moreno, a Westlake resident, currently has a wife and four children, per his campaign website.

A Southern California elected official brawled with the manager of an LGBTQ+ club after urinating on the night spot's doors, The New York Post noted. Chris Kilpatrick resigned from his post on the Crescenta Valley Town Council after he was identified as one of two men who carried out the crime in surveillance footage shared by Precinct, a popular bar in downtown Los Angeles. When the manager attempted to stop the men (for carrying full cocktail glasses out of the bar and not for urinating), "the big one reacted by physically assaulting him, throwing him to the ground," the bar posted on Instagram. In a letter to the community, the town council stated, "While we do not condone any of the behavior we observed on social media, we appreciate his [three] years of commitment and dedication to the community while serving on the council."

Aylo (formerly MindGeek), owned by Canadian private-equity firm Ethical Capital Partners, has restricted access to its platforms—including its flagship Pornhub—in Texas after a court battle forced the state's age-verification law to take effect, per The Washington Blade. Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton had appealed a U.S. District Court decision that stopped him from enforcing House Bill 1181; recently, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals partially vacated the original injunction, ruling that the age verification requirements are constitutional. Age-verification measures were enacted in several states in 2023, including North Carolina, Montana, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Utah and Virginia.


This article shared 8029 times since Thu Mar 21, 2024
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