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National: Mich., N.C. laws; bar rejects trans woman; Jeb, Trump run for prez
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

This article shared 3518 times since Tue Jun 16, 2015
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The ACLU is looking at options to challenge laws, signed by Gov. Rick Snyder, that will allow faith-based adoption agencies in Michigan to refuse to serve prospective parents, like same-sex or unmarried couples, if doing so would violate the agencies' religious beliefs, The Detroit Free Press reported. Snyder's decision on faith-based adoption came as the U.S. Supreme Court is on the verge of ruling later this month on whether same-sex marriages should be legal in Michigan and several other states. Critics of the bills have derided the legislation as state-sanctioned discrimination against same-sex and unmarried couples—especially because many of the faith-based agencies receive public funding from the state.

Along a similar line, North Carolina legislators in the GOP-controlled state House approved a measure that allows some court officials to refuse to perform same-sex marriage duties because of their religious beliefs, according to Newsweek. House lawmakers agreed 69-41 to override Gov. Pat McCrory's veto of the bill, which the Senate had done previously. The bill, now a law, allows magistrates and register of deeds workers the option to stop fulfilling their duties regarding gay marriages if they have "sincerely held religious" beliefs.

In Arizona, a transgender woman ignited a social-media firestorm when she reported on Facebook that she'd been kicked out of a popular Tempe bar because of her gender identity, according to LGBTQ Nation. Briana Sandy claims she was refused service at the Tempe Tavern and asked to leave, saying the bartender told her, "We don't serve your kind." Tempe Tavern confirmed the incident on its Facebook page, but later removed the post. Subsequently, bar manager Rob Tasso said Sandy, 55, should not have been asked to leave, calling the incident a misunderstanding, added.

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter spoke at a Pentagon event commemorating LGBT Pride Month—but failed to mention transgender military service, according to a SPART*A press release. Allyson Robinson, a former Army officer and SPART*A's director of policy, said, "This is a slap in the face to those service members and their units and leaders who support them." SPART*A is a group for LGBT people who currently serve or have served in the military, and their families, and veteran and uniformed allies.

U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk ( R-Ill. ) said in an interview that he regrets referring to fellow Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham as a "bro with no ho;" however, he declined to clarify or further explain his controversial remark, Politico reported. Kirk made the remark about Graham, a presidential contender, on June 11 during a Senate Appropriations Committee markup session. "I've been joking with Lindsey," Kirk said, according to audio the Huffington Post initially posted. "Did you see that? He's going to have a rotating first lady. He's a bro with no ho." Graham, a 59-year-old South Carolina senator, has never married and has no children.

Ken Blackwell, Ohio's former secretary of state, recently compared an upcoming Supreme Court case challenging gay marriage bans in four states to 9/11, World War II and the Civil War, according to On Top Magazine. The high court's ruling, expected this month, could lead to nationwide marriage equality. Appearing at a Family Research Council ( FRC ) panel on how activists will resist the ruling, Blackwell, who now serves as FRC's senior fellow for family empowerment, said that how Americans respond to "a wrong decision in this marriage case" will be just as important as the nation's response to the aforementioned events.

Jeb Bush formally announced his presidential campaign June 15, ending months of speculation, noted. Bush formally announced his campaign this afternoon at Miami-Dade Community College, complete with a red logo proclaiming "Jeb! 2016." Bush called out Democrat front-runner Hillary Clinton for saying that when nondiscrimination law and so-called "religious freedom" collide, religious views need to change.

Olympic figure skater Michelle Kwan is joining Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, according to Time. Kwan will work on voter engagement and join the staff at campaign headquarters in Brooklyn. Previously, the Olympic medalist worked at the U.S. State Department as public diplomacy envoy while Clinton served as secretary of state. Kwan is also no stranger to political campaigns, having helped her husband, Clay Pell, in his 2014 run for Rhode Island governor.

Rupert Murdoch described as "almost fascist" Hillary Clinton's remarks in support of anti-discrimination protections for LGBT Americans during her campaign launch speech, according to Media Matters. Murdoch claimed during tweets referencing her June 13 speech that Clinton had "promise[d to] outlaw free speech about LGBT," adding, "Sounds almost fascist." Murdoch recently announced that he would step down as CEO of Fox News parent company 21st Century Fox, handing the title to his son, James.

Real-estate mogul and TV reality star Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign—ending more than two decades of persistent flirtation with the idea of running for the Oval Office, CNN reported. Trump has already billed himself as the "most successful person ever to run for the presidency, by far," pointing out even that he owns a "Gucci store that's worth more than Romney." Over the past several months, Trump has increased his political activity, making key staff hires in the early states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors passed what could be a game-changer for reducing new HIV infections in the county by passing a proposal brought by out Supervisor Sheila Kuehl to provide PrEP county-wide, Frontiers reported. Additionally, some saw the vote as a clear measure of how far the LGBT and HIV/AIDS movements have progressed whenMayor Mike Antonovich, once considered extremely homophobic, abstained instead of voting no. The next phase is to see how the proposal is developed, who gets to participate and what the plan looks like before it's brought back to the board for review in 30 days.

The National Transportation Board said that phone records indicate Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian was not using his cellphone for calls, texts or the Internet while he was operating a train that crashed May 12 in Philadelphia, killing eight people and injuring more than 200, CNN reported. Bostian, who's also a gay activist, told investigators last month he didn't recall anything that happened after he pulled the whistle as he drove past the North Philadelphia station. It's still unknown why the train entered a curve at 106 mph when it had a speed limit of 50 mph.

Dr. Rachel Levine, a transgender woman, has the approval of the Pennsylvania Senate to be the state's physician general in what one lawmaker called a "history-making" vote, the Associated Press reported. State Rep. Dan Frankel, who co-chairs the legislature's LGBT equality caucus, called Levine's confirmation a first for Pennsylvania because Levine is transgender. Gov. Tom Wolf's administration has called Levine an expert in pediatrics and psychiatry, and said she helped start a division at Penn State Hershey Medical Center for the care of teens with complex medical and psychosocial problems.

A mother in Wisconsin is remembering her daughter whom she says she lost because of bullying in school—but the twist is that Jill Grienke's child was transgender teacher Karis Anne Ross, 37, according to . Ross took her own life last November and Grienke, who said Ross was bullied, wants some answers. When asked if people bullied Ross, a school spokesperson would only say that Ross was a longtime member of the staff whose presence is still missed.

Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas against the Employee Retirement System of Texas ( ERS ) for allegedly violating the U.S. Constitution by denying spousal health-insurance coverage for the same-sex spouse of a University of North Texas ( UNT ) administrator, according to a press release. At the time of partner Paul Woolworth's retirement, administrator Deborah Leliaert was informed by UNT's Human Resources Department that Paula was ineligible for spousal health insurance coverage due to Texas' marriage restrictions.

A report released from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law and the True Colors Fund says that LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ youth experience many similar issues leading to homelessness; however, some of these issues are estimated, by agency staff, to be exacerbated for LGBTQ youth, according to a press release. The study, "Serving Our Youth 2015: The Needs and Experiences of LGBTQ Youth Experiencing Homelessness," reviewed responses from providers of homelessness-related services about their experiences working with LGBTQ youth. Visit .

The Dallas County clerk now says he'll issue licenses to gay and lesbian couples if the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage later this month, The Texas Observer reporter. Previously, Democratic Clerk John Warren said he was concerned about modifying marriage-license application forms, which are generated by the state and say "male" and "female." Warren, who came out in support of same-sex marriage in 2013, added that he's asked a manager to survey staff on their ability to work extended hours.

In North Carolina, two West Craven High School teens were shocked when their gay friend was refused the right to donate blood at the school's annual blood drive. Now, their Care2 petition asking the FDA to lift restrictions on donations from gay and bisexual men has gathered more than 11,000 signatures, according to a press release. The teens plan to submit the Care2 petition signatures to the FDA during its public comment period on new proposed rules regarding blood donations for gay and bisexual men.

The combined buying power of the U.S. LGBT adult population for 2014 was estimated at $884 billion, according to an updated analysis by Witeck Communications. Based on a diverse range of LGBT population estimates, and evaluations of more than 100 online population samples conducted by the expert Harris Poll over more than a decade, the 2014 estimate reflects roughly 6 to 7 percent of the adult U.S. population as willing to self-identify as LGBT ( or roughly 16 million-plus adults ) in 2014.

What is being promoted as the country's only FM radio station dedicated to the LGBT community has launched in Minneapolis, according to a press release. iHeartMedia Minneapolis-St. Paul announced the kickoff of 96.7 Pride Radio, "the pulse of LGBT Twin Cities." The station launched June 11 with 24 hours of Madonna's hits, followed by two weeks of non-stop commercial-free music. In addition to playing hits and remixes, Pride Radio will include an emphasis on local community news, plus several music and entertainment shows throughout the day.

In Maryland, a DJ in Montgomery County reportedly refused a booking of a birthday party hosted by gay men, noted. The sister of one of the hosts, Tom Tsakounis, reportedly tried to book Ultrasound Deejays for a party that her brother and his partner were throwing for their 60-year-old roommate. Dani Tsakounis told The Washington Post one of the owners of the business, Michael Lampiris, refused the booking, citing religious objections.

The American Civil Liberties Union ( ACLU ) recently expressed its appreciation for the contributions and commitment of lawyers from the Chicago office of Kirkland & Ellis in a Michigan case that overturned a state ban on government employers extending health-care coverage to gay and lesbian domestic partners, according to a press release. The ACLU, with the help of lawyers from Kirkland, prevailed in the case of Bassett v. Snyder. Kirkland & Ellis is making a contribution of $569,542—the amount of attorneys' fees awarded to the firm—to the ACLU in celebration of the victory in this case.

In Chicago, a longtime Black gay pride celebration has been rebranded. The event formerly known as Montrose Rocks—which traditionally takes place on the same day as the city's pride parade—is now Pride at Montrose. That's thanks to a mutual agreement between the Rocks Coordinating Committee and the "Step Up. Get Tested" ( SUGT ) campaign. The free event—which could see up to 20,000 people—will include two stages, a comprehensive "health village" and plenty of entertainment.

John Dunleavy, the chairman of the New York City St. Patrick's Day parade, is reportedly shopping the parade broadcast rights to other local networks because NBC insisted on the inclusion of a gay marching group in this year's event, Irish Central noted. The local NBC affiliate, Channel 4, has aired the Fifth Avenue parade live for several years, but was prepared to end its coverage in 2015 if organizers failed to include a gay marching unit. Also, speaking at a parade lunch in April, Dunleavy said gay groups would "have a problem" securing a slot in next year's line of march.

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh signed an executive order establishing gender-neutral bathrooms in City Hall, The Huffington Post reported. The availability of gender-neutral bathrooms has become a priority for LGBR-rights advocates, who say that transgender people often face hardship when having to choose a bathroom option that may not match their gender identity. Other cities that have taken steps mandating the availability of gender-neutral bathrooms include Philadelphia; Los Angeles; Washington, D.C.; and Austin, Texas.

In a development in the two-month-old brouhaha over two gay Manhattan hoteliers' meeting with anti-gay Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz, the activist group Queer Nation launched a beachfront fly-over of a banner urging a boycott of one of the men's Fire Island Pines commercial properties, Gay City News reported. For 40 minutes mid-afternoon on June 7, the group funded a plane to fly back and forth between the Pines and neighboring Cherry Grove, both popular gay and lesbian weekend communities, trailing a banner reading, "Boycott Hi/ Lo Tea! Fight For Full LGBT Rights!" The protest was aimed at Ian Reisner and Mati Weiderpass, owners of the West 42nd Street Out Hotel, who hosted an April 20 dinner and "fireside chat" for the Republican presidential candidate at the Central Park South penthouse that the business partners and former lovers jointly own.

Christian conservative Franklin Graham says he's boycotting Wells Fargo not because it's a gay-friendly bank—but because it advocates for gay rights, On Top Magazine reported. Graham, the son of evangelist Billy Graham and head of the Billy Graham Evangelist Association, vowed in a Facebook post to avoid certain businesses, and called on his followers to "fight the tide of moral decay that is being crammed down our throats by big business, the media and the gay and lesbian community." Graham said that he was particularly offended by a Wells Fargo ad that shows a lesbian couple adopting a deaf child, later revealing that he had moved his accounts to "a good bank."

On June 12, the Department of State and the Council for Global Equality screened the award-winning documentary Matt Shepard Is a Friend of Mine, according to a press release. Special Envoy for the Human Rights of LGBTI Persons Randy Berry provided opening remarks. The film was followed by a Q&A session with the film's director Michele Josue, and with Matthew's parents, Dennis and Judy Shepard.

Maxwell Barrett—an 18-year-old who recently graduated from Raritan High School in Hazlet, New Jersey—came out in a way that millions of people have viewed, the UK Metro reported. Under his yearbook photo, Barrett used the quote "'Of course I dress well; I didn't spend all that time in the closet for nothing.' — Unknown." although most people already knew that he was gay, Maxwell had never officially come out to his parents, who reportedly loved the quote.

In California, a Crafton Hills College student and her parents have complained to college administrators that graphic novels taught in an English course are pornographic and violent, according to Redlands Daily Facts. Tara Shultz, 20, of Yucaipa, her parents and several friends protested outside the campus administration building. Among the novels they consider controversial are Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel; Y: The Last Man, Vol. 1, by Brian Vaughan; The Sandman, Vol. 2: The Doll's House, by Neil Gaiman; and Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi.

Disney and Out & Equal will host an LGBT Equality Institute workshop at the Walt Disney World Resort on Thursday, July 23, a press release stated. Out & Equal will convene world experts, diversity trainers and HR professionals who will share their experiences, best practices and tips for achieving workplace equality. For more information on the daylong event, visit

amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, announced the release of a limited-edition beach towel designed by British-born, New York-based visual artist Shantell Martin to raise awareness and funds to help find a cure for HIV/AIDS, according to a press release. Launching exclusively at Scoop NYC stores for a limited time, the towel features Martin's trademark black-and-white illustrations and includes an inscription that reads, "Be Epic, Cure AIDS"—a nod to amfAR's "Countdown to Cure AIDS" initiative that aims to build the scientific basis of a cure for AIDS by 2020.

On Friday, June 26, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Mayor Edwin M. Lee, and U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi will join the Bay Area in marking the 70th anniversary of the signing of the United Nations Charter with commemorative events in San Francisco, including City Hall and the Fairmont Hotel, according to a press release. These include the presentation of the Harvey Milk Medal to Ban for the creation of the Free & Equal Campaign.

In celebration of LGBT Pride Month, Allstate is launching its "Out Holding Hands" program, according to a press release. The program encourages the LGBT community and its supporters to spread love by holding hands publicly. For the second year, YouTube star Eli Lieb is partnering with Allstate for the campaign. Lieb will help kick off the chain by asking fans to virtually take his hand and spread the love.

This article shared 3518 times since Tue Jun 16, 2015
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