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National: Clergy and Black Lives Matter; lawsuit; Grindr felony
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

This article shared 5693 times since Tue Sep 29, 2015
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LGBTQ clergy from across the nation will gather in Portland, Oregon, Oct. 15-18 to collectively create of a plan to engage hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ people from diverse spiritual traditions in the "Black Lives Matter" movement, according to a press release. The conference will be facilitated by Professor Dr. Pîr Shaykh Ibrahim Abdurrahmani Farajajé, the provost and professor of cultural studies at the Starr King School for the Ministry; The Rev. Tara Wilkins, executive director of the Community of Welcoming Congregations; and Rabbi Debra Kolodny, executive director of Nehirim, a national LGBTQ Jewish retreat and advocacy organization. For more information, go to

Lambda Legal has filed a federal lawsuit against AirEvac Lifeteam in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri on behalf of HIV-positive flight paramedic Clint Moore, reported. After he informed AirEvac of his status, the company told him he would need to file a petition with the medical board in each state the company operated in order to keep his position. Moore refused and took a lower paying job as a dispatcher with the company in order to retain his health benefits.

Four Michigan men are facing felony charges for allegedly having sexual encounters with a then-15-year-old boy they individually met on Grindr, a smartphone app geared toward gay men, The Detroit Free Press reported. The alleged encounters occurred in January and March, and were reported by a family member of the now-16-year-old complainant, who resides in the Brighton area. Two of the men—Cody Hunter Swatling, 18, and Alex Peter Benedict, 24—are each being held on a $500,000 bond; warrants have been authorized for the other two men, identified in court records as John Joseph Gasiorek III, 20, and Burhan Ahmed Mian, 27.

In response to a story about the way a transgender woman was reportedly treated by Transportation Security Administration ( TSA ) agents at an Orlando, Florida, airport, Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin sent a letter to TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger calling on the agency to "conduct a swift and thorough investigation of the incident, and take immediate action to ensure transgender travelers are treated equally and with full respect," a press release stated. Shadi Petosky live-tweeted her experience, during which she reported she was publicly humiliated and repeatedly questioned about her gender identity after clearly stating that she is a transgender woman in an encounter lasting for more than 40 minutes.

Heather Cox and Gigi Otalvaro-Hormillosa, a lesbian couple from San Francisco, are taking legal action against a Miami strip club that refused them entry during happy hour while they were vacationing in Florida, Gay Star News reported. They say they were told the gentleman's club The Dean's Gold had a policy of not admitting "single ladies" unless a man accompanied them. Therefore the two women, who have been together since 2002 and married three years ago, have filed a complaint with the Miami-Dade Commission on Human Rights.

What's likely the final development in a San Francisco transgender woman's February killing came as the medical examiner's office released its report on the suicide of the suspect in the case, The Bay Area Reporter noted. Taja Gabrielle de Jesus, 36, died Feb. 1 after being stabbed at her Bayview district home. The next day, James Hayes was found hanging in a storage unit a few blocks away from her apartment. Police have declined to say explicitly to the Bay Area Reporter that they think Hayes killed de Jesus, but his status as a suspect is confirmed in his medical examiner's report. Hayes had methamphetamine and cocaine in his system when he died.

Apple CEO Tim Cook and environment and government affairs chief Lisa Jackson joined other tech industry titans at President Barack Obama's head table for the Sept. 25 White House dinner in honor of visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping, Apple Insider noted. The two reportedly sat with President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, Xi, Madame Peng, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, among others.

A second South Texas man has pled guilty to federal hate-crime charges for the March 2012 torture of a gay African-American man in Corpus Christi, the Associated Press reported. Jimmy Garza could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison when a judge sentences him and Ramiro Serrata Jr. in Corpus Christi on Dec. 9. Serrata previously pled guilty on Sept. 15 to the same charges. They admitted in court that they lured the man to an apartment, where, for three hours, they punched, kicked and assaulted him with various weapons.

Republican presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham has said that gay people shouldn't be concerned about Kim Davis—because everyone should be working together to stop Islamic State, PinkNews reported. Asked about anti-gay Kentucky clerk Kim Davis at a recent debate, Grahm said he is more concerned about ISIS than discrimination against gay people: "Here's the one thing I want to tell you… Whether you're the wedding cake baker or the gay couple or the Baptist preacher, radical Islam would kill you all if they could."

Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson raised some eyebrows when he appeared on ABC's This Week on Sept. 27, reported. He said that Muslims seeking public office must first renounce some central tenets of Islam, adding, "But right now—when you have something that is against the rights of women, against the rights of gays, subjugates other religions, and a host of things that are not compatible with our Constitution—why, in fact, would you take that chance?" Carson is known as a staunch social conservative, opposing abortion rights and same-sex marriage—views he attributes to his personal faith as a practicing Christian.

Former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert is negotiating a possible guilty plea to charges he agreed to make $3.5 million in hush-money payments to cover up wrongdoing from decades ago, The Chicago Tribune noted. Legal experts said it wouldn't be surprising if Hastert chose to avoid a trial that almost certainly would include testimony from Individual A, the alleged hush-money recipient. Federal-law enforcement sources have told the Tribune that Hastert was paying to cover up sexual abuse of a Yorkville High School student years ago.

A survey of 780 companies by the Human Rights Campaign has found that 415 now offer gender-reassignment surgery to transgender members of staff as a potential employee benefit, Gay Star News reported. The LGBT advocacy group says that the figure has doubled since 2012, while in 2009, only 49 companies offered the benefit. Household name companies that now include the procedure among its employee benefits include Nike, Google, Gap, eBay, Dell, Wells Fargo, Boeing and CBS Corp.—with Facebook, Netflix and Tesla Motors being the newest businesses to offer the benefit.

Doritos took a cue from Skittles recently and tasted the rainbow, releasing limited-edition Doritos Rainbow chips in support of the It Gets Better campaign—but the development's taken a twist, Foodbeast noted. One of the supporters of the new colorful Doritos ( named Mike Melgaard ) created a fake Doritos Facebook account called "DoritosForHelp," put the Doritos Rainbow as the profile picture, and began trolling people who weren't too happy about Doritos' gay-friendly snack. In early August, Mike Melgaard posed as a Target representative on Facebook to confront people upset with the retail chain's decision to make its toy department signage gender-neutral, Digiday added.

An Idaho waiter got an anti-gay surprise after serving two customers, The Huffington Post noted. Britton Weaver, a server at Marie Callenders in Boise, recently attended to an ostensibly "nice middle-aged couple" during lunch—but instead of signing a name on the receipt, the customers signed it as "straight." They also left behind a religious pamphlet about hell with a 20-percent tip. "Go change your ways, God will forgive you. That is what the pamphlet says," Weaver said.

DignityUSA issued a statement mourning the passing of 90-year-old John J. McNeill, who the organization called "a seminal figure in the history of the 46-year-old organization of LGBT Catholics and allies, as well as the broader LGBT-rights movement." Among other achievements, he convened the meeting ( in 1972 ) that led to the founding of Dignity's New York City chapter. McNeill died in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in the presence of his spouse and partner of 49 years, Charles Chiarelli.

In Tennessee, Lance Sanderson—a Christian Brothers High School ( CBHS ) senior who wasn't allowed to bring his male date to the school homecoming dance—was sent home from school Sept. 28, The Memphis Flyer noted. Sanderson said he was told by an administrator that the school staff "had 890 other students to worry about and could not deal with me." Sanderson said the school isn't calling it a suspension, but they told him he was being sent home because the school was getting bad press. This past weekend, the CBHS Alumni Association held posters supporting Sanderson at the city's annual Mid-South Pride parade and festival.

GLSEN Executive Director Dr. Eliza Byard issued the following statement in recognition of today's Pink Out Day ( Sept. 29 ), launched by Planned Parenthood Federation of America in response to recent efforts to discredit and defund the organization. She said, in part, "Planned Parenthood teaches comprehensive, LGBT-inclusive sex education that is otherwise unavailable in schools and offers much-needed LGBT-inclusive health care services. The organization has also helped create a network of committed and trained educators to share practices for supporting LGBT youth in schools." In support of Pink Out Day, GLSEN is changing its Twitter profile picture in solidarity with the hashtag #StandwithPP.

Eastern Mennonite University and Goshen College are resigning from the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities ( CCCU ) to avoid splitting the organization over the issue of same-sex marriage, Inside Higher Ed reported. In July, the two schools became the first members of the CCCU to amend their policies to permit the hiring of gay and lesbian faculty members who are either married or celibate. Prior to the announcement, two other institutions—Oklahoma Wesleyan University and Union University, in Tennessee—quit the CCCU, saying that they would not remain in the group as long as some member colleges were willing to hire people in same-sex marriages as faculty members.

Mt. Erie Christian Academy in San Diego, California, informed the parents of a 5-year-old student that she was not welcomed at the school—because the parents are lesbians, Curve Magazine noted. The little girl attended preschool and summer school at the academy before school administrators made the decision to call in her mothers ( Sheena and Lashaune ). When contacted, the school director stated the school has a non-discrimination policy put in place. However, the director also said, "The Bible says homosexuality is a sin. We don't condone any sinful lifestyles."

A Roman Catholic teacher fired over her same-sex marriage said she was invited to the White House to help welcome Pope Francis, LGBTQ Nation reported. Margie Winters said she hoped the pontiff would address issues facing gay Catholics during his visit to the United States. Winters said she lost her job this year at a private Catholic grade school outside Philadelphia over her 2007 same-sex marriage.

On a related note, Republican president candidate Mike Huckabee said that gay people meeting the pope are like alcoholics at an open bar, according to LGBTQ Nation. Huckabee said to Fox News' Megyn Kelly, "Megyn, if I were hosting a group of Alcoholics Anonymous, I wouldn't set up an open bar. Bring the best and the most faithful Catholics you can. … I'm not sure that inviting people who are openly at odds with the Vatican, who have criticized the pope for his positions and the Church's positions, the doctrinal positions on abortion and euthanasia, why do you put them in the very likely position where they would be photographed with him and make it a very embarrassing moment."

Local gay couple Robin Trevino and Jason Delgatto had Indiana anti-LGBT restaurant Memories Pizza unknowingly cater their same-sex wedding, according to Raw Story. Earlier this year, Memories' owners said they would never cater a wedding with a same-sex couple. Trevino—a member of the GayCo Ensemble comedy troupe, which is producing a 50 States of Gay celebration—has said he ordered two pizzas from owner Crystal O'Connor. Trevino and Delgatto exchanged vows in a celebration, and the couple served Memories Pizza to their cheering friends and family.

Six hustlers have revealed how they have been financially affected by the federal shutdown of Rentboy, a popular New York-based male-escort site that allowed potential clients to contact them directly, according to a Dailly Mail item that cites New York Magazine., which featured paid profiles of male escorts, was shut down Aug. 25 after it was declared an "Internet brothel," although similar sites exist. The escorts all revealed they have been harmed by the site's closing, including Devin, 31, a full-time hairstylist who said that he made "an extra $12,000" in supplemental income last year, using the funds to relocate from Atlanta to New York.

Anti-gay Kentucky clerk Kim Davis has switched parties, noted. For many years she had been a registered Democrat, but is now a Republican. "My husband and I had talked about it for quite a while and we came to the conclusion that the Democratic Party left us a long time ago—so why were we hanging on?" she told Reuters.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation released an issue brief, "Bisexual Visibility in the Workplace," to help employees and employers build more inclusive workplace environments for bisexual people, a press release stated. Among other things, the brief notes that the recent HRC survey Degrees of Equality shows that bisexual workers are less likely than their gay or lesbian peers to be out at work—just 59 percent, versus 79 percent of gay men and 77 percent of lesbians. Visit

A pharmaceutical company that raised the price of a drug 5,500 percent practically overnight said it will now lower its price following an intense backlash from the media, medical profession and the general public, Fortune and Time reported. Turing Pharmaceuticals founder Martin Shkreli confirmed the price cut to NBC News, but did not say how much the company would reduce the cost of Daraprim. The drug, which is generically known as pyrimethamine and was acquired by the company acquired in August, is used to treat a serious parasitic infection called toxoplasmosis, which can be life-threatening for those with compromised immune systems.

Following a historic Supreme Court decision in favor of marriage equality and as support for LGBT people continues to grow nationwide, younger gay men are increasingly longing for a stronger sense of community, according to a landmark new study by Logo TV. The finding is among the many revelations in "Gay Men in America: Community at a Crossroads," the first in a series of studies that Logo is commissioning on LGBT Americans. Among the results: 61 percent of gay men in their 20s and 30s agreed with the statement "In the past, the gay community was more united than it is today."

South Carolina is paying about $215,000 in legal fees to two couples who challenged the state's ban on same-sex marriage in the federal courts, according to LGBTQ Nation. Same-sex couples sued in federal courts in Charleston and Columbia for the right to be married or for South Carolina to recognize their marriage performed out of state.

A farmer from Georgia was upset when he learned his hometown was on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's ( USDA ) list of banned words, Gay Star News noted. Gene King, a cattle farmer from the community of Gay, Georgia, applied for a special interstate transport license with the department—but it was rejected because the computer system detected a banned word in his address. King only learned of this when he called the USDA to check on the application's status.

The Alabama Supreme Court refused to recognize an adoption by a lesbian mother of her three children granted by a Georgia court in 2007, reported. "The Alabama Supreme Court's refusal to recognize an adoption granted eight years ago harms not only these children, but all children with adoptive parents," said Cathy Sakimura, Family Law Director for The National Center for Lesbian Rights. "Children who are adopted must be able to count on their adoptions being final—allowing an adoption to be found invalid years later because there may have been a legal error in the adoption puts all adopted children at risk of losing their forever families."

On Oct. 19, SAGE ( Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders ) will hold its 20th Anniversary Awards & Gala at Gotham Hall in New York, according to a press release. With more than 600 expected attendees, this year's event will recognize SAGE's achievements throughout the country and honor five leaders committed to improving life among diverse LGBT aging populations. Among the honorees is Jim Obergefell, who will be presented with the LGBT Pioneer Award by SAGE board member emerita Edie Windsor. This will be Obergefell's first award from a national organization.

A Tennessee pastor is defending his beliefs with a shotgun after a sign outside his church was vandalized for a third time, reported. Shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage, Rev. Dr. Ed Taylor put up the controversial message reading: "no-same sex marriages, our ministers-not gay." Since putting the sign up at Gatlinburg Ministries, he's had some trouble with vandals—and didn't even bother calling Gatlinburg police for the most recent incident.

In Wichita, Kansas, more than 300 people recently gathered around the steps of the Historic County Courthouse and listened to speakers at the gay pride festival and parade, The Wichita Eagle reported. In past years, the festival and parade often drew up to 1,500 people; however, competing events on the day of the event, such as the last day of the Kansas State Fair and Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, may have pulled some supporters from the parade. Last November, 15 local same-sex couples stood on the steps of the courthouse and married.

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