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National: GOP lawmaker outed; Clay Aiken; Leelah Alcorn
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2015-05-05

This article shared 6926 times since Tue May 5, 2015
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A 21-year-old North Dakota man said he revealed explicit messages sent to him from a Republican lawmaker on the gay dating app Grindr because the legislator had voted against expanding LGBT rights, according to Raw Story. Dustin Smith told The Forum he recognized 52-year-old Republican state Rep. Randy Boehning when he appeared in the news with other lawmakers who had voted against an anti-discrimination bill in the North Dakota House. The Forum confirmed that "Top Man!" was indeed Boehning, who said that the "1,000-pound gorilla has been lifted" from him.

On The Howard Stern Show, former American Idol finalist Clay Aiken stepped outside his clean-cut demeanor to discuss Renee Ellmers, his opponent in last year's North Carolina Congressional election, according to NewNowNext.com . Talking about The Runner Up, his new Esquire TV docuseries about his campaign, Aiken said with a giggle, "You should see the second episode, 'cause she is a bitch." He added, "We talked about that this year during my campaign, because there was concern during the debate that I would come across as condescending. If you watched the debate, [it] couldn't be further from the truth. She was a condescending old snatch."

The Ohio State Patrol completed its investigation into the Dec. 28 death of 17-year-old Union Township trans girl Leelah Alcorn, ruling it a suicide, Advocate.com noted. Although the ruling is now technically "official," Alcorn's death has already been mourned by hundreds of thousands worldwide, after her publicly posted suicide note went viral in the days following her death. In January, an online White House petition was established to call for a federal law against conversion therapy of trans and queer youth. Dubbed "Leelah's Law," the proposed legislation's petition gained 100,000 signatures within one month, prompting the White House to formally respond.

Ben Carson—the 63-year-old retired neurosurgeon turned conservative star who believes that the gay-rights movement is part of a communist conspiracy to bring about the New World Order—has confirmed that he will seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, LGBTQ Nation reported. Carson, who has never run for public office, is expected to be the only high-profile African-American to enter the GOP's presidential primary. Carson is a staunch social conservative, opposing abortion rights and same-sex marriage, views he attributes to his personal faith as a practicing Christian.

Carly Fiorina has also formally declared herself a candidate for president in an online announcement, making her the first woman to seek the Republican nomination in 2016. She simply tweeted, "I am running for President. carlyforpresident.com" Fiorina is a former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard. Fiorina, 60, has never held public office, having lost a 2010 Senate bid in California after serving as an adviser to John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign.

And Mike Huckabee has also joined the fray, announcing that he's again running for president in the GOP primary. In January, Huckabee told viewers of Huckabee that he was leaving the Fox News show after six years to consider a White House bid, On Top Magazine noted. Huckabee, an ordained minister, is an outspoken opponent of gay rights; also, Huckabee has called on Republican governors to defy rulings striking down state bans on same-sex marriage.

Also, Sen. Bernie Sanders ( I-Vt. ) announced his intention to seek the Democratic nomination for president. The self-proclaimed "Democratic Socialist" is widely considered among the most progressive elected leaders in Washington, The Daily Dot noted. Sanders is a strong proponent of gay marriage, voting against bills in 2004 and 2006 aimed at passing constitutional amendments banning gay marriage. He also voted against a 1999 bill that would have blocked gay people from adopting children in Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Supreme Court has turned away a challenge to New Jersey's ban on so-called gay conversion therapy for patients under 18 years old, the Associated Press reported. It followed similar action last year that left California's therapy ban in place. Lower courts dismissed lawsuits challenging the ban, which New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed into law in 2013.

Smith College—the 140-year-old women's college in Northampton, Massachusetts, whose alumnae include First Lady Barbara Bush, chef Julia Child and poet Sylvia Plath as well as authors Margaret Mitchell, Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem—will begin accepting transgender students who identify as women this fall, NBC News noted. The college said that, after a year of study, the board of trustees voted to "clarify" Smith's admissions policy to include people who are born male but self-identify as female.

A federal judge whose ruling striking down Kentucky's ban on same-sex marriage led to an appeal being heard in the U.S. Supreme Court has died at age 66, according to the Associated Press. U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II died at home in Louisville surrounded by family after battling cancer for several years. Last year, Heyburn struck down Kentucky's bans on gay marriage and on recognizing same-sex marriages from outside the state. The rulings were reversed on appeal, but the Supreme Court heard arguments on them April 28.

Texas Rep. Bill Flores made what some have called a strange link between same-sex marriage rights and the current turmoil in Baltimore, Maryland, arguing that "breakdown of the family" has contributed to income disparity across the country, The Huffington Post reported. The Republican congressman made the controversial claim in an April 28 "Washington Watch" interview with Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, saying, "Look at what is going on in Baltimore today. You see the issues that are raised there. Healthy marriages are the ones between a man and a woman because they can have a healthy family and they can raise children in a way that's best for their future, not only socially but psychologically, economically, from a health perspective."

The U.S. Supreme Court is now to determine the fate of Nebraska's gay-marriage ban after the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals decided to postpone a May 12 hearing scheduled to consider the constitutionality of Nebraska and three other states' gay-marriage bans, State Column reported. The appellate court said they were holding off on "any further consideration" in the cases in anticipation of a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court thus waiting until the appeals court is allowed to potentially rule on any matters not addressed by the nation's highest court.

A new poll has found that a majority of Republicans would attend the same-sex wedding of a loved one, On Top Magazine reported. According to a Reuters/Ipsos online poll of 1,752 adults conducted between April 23-27, 56 percent of Republicans said they would attend such a wedding. Greater support was found among Democrats ( 80 percent ) and independents ( 70 percent ). Overall, 68 percent of Americans said they would attend the wedding of a loved one who is gay, while 19 percent said they would not and 13 percent refused to answer.

A printing company has apologized for the owner of its franchise in Suwanee, Georgia, who refused to print wedding invitations for a lesbian couple, Raw Story reported. Alan Akins, the owner of a local Alpha Graphics franchise, told the couple the he could not do the job because his religious beliefs did not allow him to support same-sex marriage. Like almost two dozen states, Georgia has a religious-freedom measure pending. Georgia's bill claims to exempt businesses and organizations from providing their employees health-care services and procedures, such as abortion and contraception, which are mandated by Obamacare.

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has signed into law a bill that allows ministers to refuse to perform same-sex marriages if such marriages conflict with their religious beliefs, the Associated Press noted. Fallin said that the law will protect the constitutional and religious rights of Oklahomans. The law says no licensed, ordained or authorized official of a religious organization can be required to solemnize or recognize a marriage that violates that official's conscience or religious belief. Troy Stevenson of pro-LGBT group Freedom Oklahoma has said he believes the bill is unnecessary but that he supports the spirit of the law.

Iowa Western Community College will offer LGBT students a new community housing option this fall, the Daily Nonpareil reported. The Pride Q*mmunity—a cluster of 40 suite-style apartments—will serve students who identify as transgender or intersex, as well as lesbian, gay or bisexual students and allies of all those and similar groups, such as gender non-conforming students. Liz Luiken, director of resident life at the college, said about 40 students have already expressed an interest, with about 11 students saying they required placement in the new program.

Legislation changing a marriage license in the state of Alabama to a legal contract received approval in that state's Senate Judiciary Committee, AL.com reported. "The purpose of Senate Bill 377 is to bring order out of chaos," bill sponsor state Sen. Greg Albritton said, alluding to confusion surrounding same-sex marriage when it was temporarily legalized in Alabama in February. Albritton's bill would require couples wanting to be married to enter into a properly executed contract witnessed by two adults. The contract would then be filed in the probate's office. If passed, he said the marriage contract process wouldn't change if same-sex marriage became legal again after a Supreme Court decision.

The home-furnishings company Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams has joined Interfaith Alliance's "Everyone Only" anti-discrimination campaign, a press release stated. Interfaith Alliance and its network of activists across the country are working to get businesses and community centers to hang the "Everyone Only" sign to demonstrate that, no matter what legal rights may be granted them, these businesses will remain open to all. Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams is the first national chain to hang these signs, which are available to download for free at www.everyone-only.org .

The Oregon Senate Committee on Human Services and Early Childhood heard testimony on House Bill 2307 aimed at ending conversion therapy for minors, OregonLive.com reported. Conversion, or reparative, therapy is a practice that aims to change a person's sexual orientation or gender identity. The Oregon House passed the bill, 41-18, in March, and President Barack Obama has called for an end to the therapy for young people. California, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., have passed bills banning the practice therapy.

Jeffrey Dahmer's killer said prison guards at the Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage, Wisconsin, allowed them to be alone together in a bathroom, knowing full well what would happen, The Daily Caller reported. In an exclusive story published in the New York Post, Christopher Scarver laid out why he felt he had to kill the serial killer in 1994. Scarver said that corrections officers who allegedly knew how much Scarver detested Dahmer left them unguarded. Dahmer murdered 17 boys between 1978 and 1991; he cut his victims up into pieces and ate some of them.

Fox News contributor Guy Benson, who is the political editor at Townhall.com, has come out of the closet, according to BuzzFeed. In his forthcoming book, Benson writes, "So, I'm gay." This is not the main point of the book, however. Benson's sexual orientation is given little fanfare—"a footnote in a 316-page book," as he puts it—in End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free ( and Fun ), which Benson co-authored with Mary Katharine Ham, a fellow Fox contributor.

The pro-LGBT American Military Partner Association ( AMPA ) announced that U.S. Rep. Dina Titus ( D-NV ) will be honored at the 2nd Annual AMPA National Gala on May 9 at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill, a press release stated. Kristin Beck, a retired transgender U.S. Navy SEAL, will also be honored. Brett Jones, the nation's first openly gay U.S. Navy SEAL, will be a featured speaker.

Two gay high school seniors in a small town in West Virginia attended prom together, The Washington Blade noted. Michael Martin is a senior at Musselman High School in Inwood while his boyfriend of four months, Logan Westrope, is a senior at Hedgesville High School, another school also in the state's Berkeley County. They went to Musselman's prom, and both said the evening went beautifully—with no negative comments.

A Florida man admitted that he "couldn't help himself" from sexually assaulting an unconscious married man who passed out during a booze-fueled pool party at a Las Vegas hotel last August, according to Edge Media Network. Gustavo Banegas, 22, pleaded guilty to two felony charges connected from the attack, which took place at the MGM Grand Hotel on the Las Vegas Strip. Banegas acknowledged to police what he did was wrong but said he was "turned on" by the "attractive" victim and "couldn't help himself."

Andrew Caldwell—who once declared "I don't like mens no more!" before a congregation at the Church of God in Christ in St. Louis, but then admitted he still had same-sex "desires"—has now claimed a hateful FroYo employee threw a bowl of frozen yogurt right at his face, NewNowNext.com noted. Caldwell maintained FroYo cashier Stephanie Diaz chucked the cold mess at his face because she recognized him from the viral video and is likely homophobic. Diaz refuted his claims, however, stating she's a lesbian herself, saying, "Anyone who works here knows I'm gay."

Airbnb has removed a Texas bed-and-breakfast from its listings after its host reportedly kicked out a gay couple, The Huffington Post noted. Jonathan Wang told KTRK-TV that he and his partner, Brent, booked two nights at the home in Galveston for a friend's wedding. The home's owner, identified in media reports simply as Heather, confronted Wang when he returned after the reception. The couple, who were forced to find a hotel for the night at the last minute, said they later discovered that Heather had described her property as "straight-friendly" at the bottom of the listing.

GoFundMe has shut down the crowdfunding page of an anti-gay bakery after it raised nearly $110,000 in donations, Gay Star News reported. After nearly two years in court, an Oregon judge recommended that the Christian owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa be fined $135,000 for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple. Aaron and Melissa Klein then launched a campaign on GoFundMe that quickly reached $109,000 before it was taken offline. However, the money raised will still be made available for withdrawal.

The Boy Scouts of America stands to gain more than $53,000 if the organization drops its ban on gay adult leaders and staff members, Gay Star News noted. Scouts for Equality used the crowdfunding site Challeng.org to raise the money. Former Eagle Scout Zach Wahls, whose two moms are lesbian, is leading the effort as executive director of Scouts for Equality. The group has directed the challenge to Boy Scouts of America President Bob Gates, who was U.S. secretary of defense under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

A gay man charged with exposing a sex partner to HIV says he did disclose his status and that it's being "blown out of proportion" by small town authorities inexperienced with HIV criminalization cases, Project Q Atlanta reported. Tyler Orr was arrested at his home in Walhalla, South Carolina, on Feb. 19 and charged with two counts of exposing another person to HIV, which is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and up to 10 years in prison. He said he spent four or five days in the Oconee County Detention Center before being released on bond.

Businessman Ian Reisner has claimed that gay men are "cheap" and "entitled," Gay Star News reported. Reisner, one of New York's most prominent gay businessmen, caused controversy recently when he and Mati Weiderpass hosted an evening event for a dozen guests and Republican Presidentual hopeful Ted Cruz at a Central Park South penthouse. Reisner told New York Magazine, "[Y]ou don't make money when you let drag queens in on Tuesday night and 30 people drink at $10 a drink and you have to pay five people to watch over the place. ... Gays are cheap. They're frugal; gays are frugal. Let me retract that. Gays are entitled."

The City of Philadelphia and the Mural Arts Program will honor the former LGBT Affairs director Gloria Casarez with a mural later this year, Philadelphia Gay News reported. Several people in the LGBTQA community, including William Way LGBT Community Center Executive Director Chris Bartlett and Casarez's personal friends, are working out the details this spring. Mayor Michael Nutter announced the mural plans April 22 during the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations' PCHR Awards.

Florida's Second District Court of Appeals has ruled that a Florida lesbian cannot use the Sunshine State's law banning same-sex marriage to prevent her wife from divorcing her, Courthouse News Service reported. Danielle and Krista Brandon-Thomas were married in Massachusetts in 2012, but their relationship "soured" upon their move to Florida, and Danielle filed for divorce a year later. Krista argued that, because Florida does not recognize same-sex marriages, the Lee County trial court had no jurisdiction to dissolve her marriage. Although the Lee County trial court sided with Krista, the Second District unanimously reversed that decision.

Gay-porn star Rylan Knox has died in apparent suicide, Edge reported. Knox "died after hanging himself in his boyfriend's apartment" on April 29. The announcement of his death was reportedly first revealed by Knox's friend, gay porn star Nick Cross, who posted a number of tweets asking his followers to "cherish [their] lives." Str8UpGay porn called Knox, who is said to reside in Florida, a "newcomer" to the gay-porn industry but noted he performed in several scenes for GayCastings, Falcon, NakedSword and Hot House over the last year.

The sentencing for a gay-porn star, who was found guilty on three felony charges in a child sex case, has been delayed after he fired his lawyer, according to an Edge Media Network item. Chris Steele, 34, who is HIV-positive and performed in bareback films under the name Mike Dozer, was arrested in December 2013 in Delaware. He was charged with statutory rape, involuntary deviant sexual intercourse and aggravated assault for allegedly sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy he met in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, via the gay hookup app Jack'd. Str8UpGayPorn noted Steele will serve a minimum of 25 years in prison but faces a lifetime sentence.

In Illinois, Round Lake High School student Jonas Valentine—who came out as transgender earlier this year—has lobbied for more gender-neutral accommodations at the school, The Chicago Tribune reported. "What happened was, when I came out [as male], they pretty much isolated me off to the teachers' locker room to get changed for gym and to use the restroom. It's just for the girls—the girl teachers," Valentine said. "Right now, they have two [gender-neutral bathrooms] right by the cafeteria, and they're working on two more." Valentine went public with his story by announcing an online petition drive at www.care2.com, a social-networking site that promotes activism. See more at www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Trans-student-petitions-for-gender-neutral-accommodations/51394.html .

Moments of the annual "Washington: A Man of Prayer" event took on a decidedly anti-marriage equality tone this year, The Huffington Post reported. Rep. Randy Forbes ( R-Virginia ) reiterated his opposition to marriage equality in his speech, describing the U.S. as a "troubled nation." Held in the U.S. Capitol's Statuary Hall, the two-hour prayer service commemorates the anniversary of George Washington's first presidential inauguration on April 29.

A popular gay-porn star spoke at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, urging the 100 or so students in the audience to explore their sexuality and push their sexual boundaries, that "choosing desire where desire is prohibited is really important," The College Fix reported. Conner Habib was at the public university for its annual "Sexual Health Week," and during his one-hour speech he frequently connected sexuality and pornography, even launching his talk by declaring "everything I've learned about sex is from porn." Prior to the speech, students were given condoms, lube and candy.


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