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National: DADT repeal; Tim Cook; Kim Davis; gay Catholics
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2015-12-29

This article shared 6053 times since Tue Dec 29, 2015
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President Obama commemorated the fifth anniversary of the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," writing in a Facebook note that the anniversary was an opportunity to reflect on the capacity for change in the United States, The Huffington Post reported. "Today, Americans can serve the country they love no matter who they love, and openly gay, lesbian and bisexual men and women in uniform make our military stronger and America safer," Obama wrote. The president added that there was still more work to be done for LGBT residents, alluding to the lack of a federal statute that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Apple CEO Tim Cook waited until he was 54 to acknowledge publicly that he is gay because he is "a very private person," Gay Star News reported. Last year, Cook became the only CEO of a Fortune 500 company to be openly gay and he explained to 60 Minutes recently why it took him so long to come out to the world. "Honestly, I value my privacy," Cook said. "I'm a very private person. But it became increasingly clear to me that if I said something that it could help other people."

Dr. Robert L. Spitzer—who gave psychiatry its first set of rigorous standards to describe mental disorders—has died at 83, The New York Times reported. One of the first behaviors he scrutinized was homosexuality, which at the time was listed in the manual as a mental disorder. Spitzer, after meeting with gay advocates, began re-examining homosexuality based on whether it caused any measurable distress. Some have contended that marriage equality exists today, in part, because of Spitzer's research. See more at the link: www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Robert-Spitzer-dead-at-83-Helped-change-psychiatrys-view-of-homosexuality/53792.html .

Houston, Jacksonville and El Paso are among the big cities to score poorly on the Human Rights Campaign's ( HRC ) fourth annual Municipal Equality Index ( MEI ), which measures a city's support for LGBT rights, On Top Magazine reported. In releasing its report, HRC touted the increasing number of cities with a perfect score, up from 11 cities in 2012 to 47 this year. According to the MEI, the 10 least gay-friendly big cities in the United Stare are: Wichita, Kansas ( MEI score 21 ); Jacksonville, Florida ( 36 ); Oklahoma City, Oklahoma ( 29 ); Virginia Beach, Virginia ( 31 ); Tulsa, Oklahoma ( 35 ); Houston, Texas ( 48 ); Mesa, Arizona ( 50 ); El Paso, Texas, ( 51 ); Memphis, Tennessee ( 56 ); and Fresno, California ( 57 ).

Kentucky's governor has made a series of executive orders in an effort to reshape state government along conservative ideological lines, including one that removes county clerks' names from marriage licenses, according to the Associated Press. In doing so, it granted the request of Kim Davis, who drew national attention for refusing to grant licenses to same-sex couples. Davis, the county clerk of Rowan County, had asked former Gov. Steve Beshear for such a change last summer while she refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The National Catholic Reporter has named gay couple Greg Bourke and Michael DeLeon of Louisville, Kentucky, as its persons of the year "for their roles as plaintiffs in Obergefell v. Hodges and for their faithful public witness as gay Catholics." Bourke and DeLeon—who've been in a committed relationship for 33 years—had their marriage involuntarily thrust into the spotlight almost four years ago when Bourke lost his position as a Boy Scout troop leader because of his sexual orientation. Bourke's ouster was widely reported in the local media, which brought the couple to the attention of the Louisville legal team looking for plaintiffs to challenge Kentucky's marriage-equality ban.

A first-of-its kind private school in Georgia aimed at attracting LGBT youth and teachers is being established in Atlanta for students who feel bullied or not accepted in traditional schools, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Pride School Atlanta is a K-12 institution designed to be an alternative for LGBT students, though the school is open to any student who feels like they're not getting the support they need for "being different," said Pride School founder Christian Zsilavetz. Tuition to attend the school will cost around $13,000, although Zsilavetz said financial assistance is available for students who need it.

Kathryn Knott—the 25-year-old daughter of a suburban Philadelphia police chief—was found guilty of simple assault in a 2014 attack on a gay couple in Center City Philadelphia, but she may be spared jail time after a jury acquitted her of the most serious counts she faced, NBC Philadelphia reported. The jury deliberated for three days before finding Kathryn Knott, 25, guilty of four counts including simple assault, reckless endangerment and conspiracy to commit simple assault. Knott was acquitted of three other counts, including aggravated assault, a felony.

A California couple pleaded not guilty in court to charges that they lured a wealthy Texas retiree into a gay relationship—then killed the millionaire after he made his boy toy his sole heir, according to The New York Daily News. David Enrique Meza, 25, and Taylor Marie Langston, 20, were indicted in the May murder of Jake Clyde Merendino, 52. Merendino was murdered after he closed escrow on a luxury oceanfront condo in Baja California, Mexico.

Charges against a Hasidic man accused with four others of beating a gay African-American man in New York City were dismissed, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency ( citing The New York Daily News ) reported. Joseph Fried, 27, is the second member of the group to have charges dropped in the 2013 assault in Brooklyn of college student Taj Patterson. Patterson, 24, lost vision in his right eye as a result of his injuries, which included a fractured eye socket and torn retina. Patterson was attacked by a group of haredi Orthodox men—some of them members of the Shomrim volunteer security patrol—while walking intoxicated through a predominantly Hasidic section of Williamsburg.

A gay Los Angeles County jail inmate has said he was held in a mop closet with no toilet for his "own protection" and called a "fucking faggot" by a deputy who also assaulted him when he asked for a chair, Courthouse News reported. Plaintiff Anthony Oliver adds in his federal civil-rights complaint that straight inmates are placed in cells with toilets, televisions, phones and newspapers. According to Oliver's complaint, the jails and court lock-ups house gay, bisexual and transgender inmates, called "K6G," in separate facilities. Oliver is gay, disabled and wears a back brace.

An alleged homeless prostitute was charged with strangling a prominent Pennsylvania psychiatrist found dead in a hotel room, The New York Daily News reported. Philadelphia police arrested Manuel Baez, 27, who was seen walking out of Dr. Howard Baker's hotel room, with the psychiatrist's wallet and backpack. Baker was found dead in a Rodeway Inn room, lying on the floor face up, naked with a belt wrapped around his neck.

Paul Liller—the former Baltimore Pride coordinator and deputy director and acting executive director of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland—has been charged with theft and theft-scheme, according to The Washington Blade. Information that the Blade obtained indicates that the amount allegedly stolen was valued at $8,156.76, including various art supplies, crafting supplies, office supplies, transactions related to the Halloween fundraiser OutRageous and unauthorized payment of wages to Liller. The trial is set for Jan. 29, 2016, at Baltimore District Court.

Martin Shkreli resigned as the CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals amid allegations of securities fraud, Gay Star News noted. Shkreli became "the most hated man on the Internet" in September when he acquired the rights to decades-old AIDS drug Daraprim and unapologetically hiked the price from $13.50 to $750 a pill overnight. Shkreli has pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released on a $5 million bond.

A federal lawsuit claims that a North Carolina law that allows government officials to refuse to perform same-sex marriages if they cite religious objections is unconstitutional and should be struck down, Reuters reported. The six plaintiffs, who include same-sex couples, argue the legislation allows officials who perform marriages to put their personal beliefs before their sworn constitutional duty. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Asheville.

A federal judge has ruled that lawyers representing several same-sex couples who challenged Arizona's ban on marriage equality will receive $300,000 from the state to cover attorney fees and other costs, the Associated Press reported. The plaintiffs include national gay-rights organization Lambda Legal, which filed a lawsuit in March 2014 on behalf of seven couples and two surviving spouses. The ban violated the couples' rights to equal protection and due process under the U.S Constitution, attorneys had argued at the time.

In related news, Idaho's losing legal battle to defend the state's ban on same-sex marriage has cost taxpayers roughly $715,000, the Associated Press noted. Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and other top elected officials unanimously approved paying $34,000 from the state's Constitutional Defense Fund to cover the remaining attorney fees and court costs. The state has already paid $628,000 to attorneys representing the four lesbian couples who sued Idaho over the state's same-sex marriage ban, plus another $53,000 to a private law firm.

Cabell County Circuit Court has asked the West Virginia Supreme Court to determine if a former Marshall University football player can be charged with violating a person's civil rights regarding sexual orientation, The Herald-Dispatch reported. Former Herd running back Steward Butler, 24, is accused of making a homophobic slur and striking both Zackary Johnson and Casey Williams in the face moments after they kissed in Huntington; Butler has pled not guilty. The county wants the court to decide if state code protects an individual's civil rights if the volatile act is based solely upon said person's sexual orientation.

A Republican running for Missouri attorney general says he wants lawmakers to exempt religious groups and businesses from participating in marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples, according to an LGBTQ Nation item that cites the Associated Press. Josh Hawle, an associate professor at the University of Missouri School of Law, told the Columbia Daily Tribune that he recently urged legislative leaders to take action on the issue in the 2016 session, which begins Jan. 6. Hawley's push is part of a larger response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June that legalized same-sex marriage.

An alleged U.S. recruit for al Nusra was desperate to leave the country because the Supreme Court passed marriage equality, according to The Daily Beast. Authorities said a 22-year-old Bay Area man, Adam Shafi, planned a trip overseas to join al Qaeda's Syrian branch; he is accused of purchasing tickets to Istanbul from San Francisco after he backed out of joining ISIS last year. Shafi allegedly wanted to live in a country under Muslim values, but ISIS was reportedly too brutal for him.

Jose Crespo-Cagnant, a Mexican immigrant deported after illegally crossing the border, is now back in the United States and on his way to becoming a permanent resident after winning a long legal battle in Miami federal court, The Miami Herald reported. Crespo-Cagnant, 36, won the case because attorney Rebeca Sanchez-Roig demonstrated that immigration officials had failed to consider her client's plea not to be returned to Mexico for fear of persecution because he is gay.

Police in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, are searching for a gunman who fired shots in a gay club, wounding one patron, Advocate.com noted. Witnesses told the Sun-Sentinel that gunman began shooting inside Boardwalk, a club featuring male strippers. The wounded patron did not suffer life-threatening injuries.

A recent graduate of Louisiana's McNeese State University claims that members of his fraternity harassed and threatened him because he is gay, The Washington Blade reported. Jonathan Hensley said that members of the Kappa Sigma chapter at the university began harassing him in the fall of 2014, using anti-gay slurs and profanities in voicemail messages. Candace Townsend, a spokesperson for McNeese State, confirmed that Hensley filed complaints over the alleged harassment. She declined to comment further, citing "active investigations."

Tennessee state Rep. Mark Pody said recently that he introduced a bill that seeks to void marriage equality because God tasked him with warning the "wicked" that their "sin" will lead to death, according to On Top Magazine. Pody's bill, the Tennessee Natural Marriage Defense Act, would void the U.S. Supreme Court's June finding in Obergefell v. Hodges that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.

A profile in All Things Considered says that Tennessee farmer Hector Black, 90—whose wife, Susie, passed away this summer—has lived with burden for most of his life: He was gay, according to NewNowNext.com . "I felt like nobody in the whole dang world was a weirdo like me," he recalls of his first inkling about his sexuality. He tried treatment to "cure" his homosexuality, including taking estrogen treatments—until the hormones made him start growing breasts.

Gay San Francisco poet/writer Justin Chin was taken off life support after suffering a massive stroke, SFWeekly.com reported. Born in Malaysia and raised in Singapore, Chin came to San Francisco. He's written works such as Gutted, which won a Thom Gunn Award for Poetry in 2007 and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. Chin also published Mongrel: Essays, Diatribes & Pranks with St. Martin's press in 1999 and a quasi-memoir, Burden of Ashes, with Alyson Publications in 2002. A neighbor discovered Chin unconscious Dec. 18 after hearing a loud sound from Chin's apartment.

In California, U.S. District Judge Dean Pregerson ruled that Pepperdine University must answer claims brought by two female basketball players who say coaches harassed them about their sexual orientation in violation of Title IX rules, according to Courthouse News. Haley Videckis and Layana White sued coach Ryan Weisenberg and the Malibu-based university for violating their civil right to privacy, as well as violations of California education code and Title IX of the federal Education Amendments Act of 1972. Pepperdine's request to dismiss the student's Title IX discrimination claim was granted earlier this year after it was determined that Title IX did not include sexual orientation discrimination.

In NFL-related news, Carolina Panthers coach Ron Rivera said he will no longer allow his team to bring baseball bats onto the field before games and denied reports that his players directed homophobic slurs at New York Giants star Odell Beckham Jr. before a Dec. 20 game the Panthers eventually won, ABC News noted. Rivera said that practice-squad player Marcus Ball denied using any slurs toward Beckham, and stated that he believed his player, with the coach adding that he considers homophobic slurs "an important social issue."

In Washington, D.C., the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum features a display on the "emergence of the gay community" in that district, according to The Washington Blade. The display, part of the new exhibit "Twelve Years That Shook and Shaped Washington: 1963-1975," traces the gay community's establishment in society, especially in D.C. public life. It makes mention of key turning points in gay D.C. history such as D.C becoming the first city to have its school board ban sexual-orientation discrimination in 1972. Also, The Washington Blade, originally titled "The Gay Blade," is featured in the display, with a newspaper distribution box and copies of the very first issue of the Blade on display.


This article shared 6053 times since Tue Dec 29, 2015
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