In Philadelphia, the organizers of the 50th-anniversary celebration of the LGBT-rights movement announced that they will present Edie Windsor ( plaintiff in the historic Supreme Court marriage-equality decision in 2013 ) and Judy Shepard ( mother of Matthew Shepard, and international activist for LGBT and human rights ) with the International Role Model Awards at the Independence Visitor Center, a press release stated. Both will be participating in events throughout the celebration, including the 50th-anniversary ceremony at Independence Hall on July 4. A four-day celebration of panels, parties and other events culminates with a historic ceremony on July 4 in front of Independence Hall, followed by a street festival and parties in Philadelphia's renowned "Gayborhood" on July 5.
Lawrence Reed has been found guilty of the murder of gay Clarksdale, Mississippi, mayoral candidate Marco McMillian and sentenced to life in prison without parole, WREG.com reported. Reed confessed to the 2013 murder. He didn't dispute that he killed McMillian, but claimed he acted in self-defense after saying McMillian tried to rape him. McMillian's body was found near the Mississippi River levee in Coahoma County, after being doused with gasoline and set on fire. Authorities say the killing happened in Quitman County.
With the backing of Mormon church leaders, the Republican-dominated Utah Legislature passed a bill that would ban discrimination against LGBT people in housing and employment, while also protecting religious institutions that object to homosexuality, The New York Times reported. The legislation, known as "the Utah compromise," has been hailed by Mormon leaders and gay-rights advocates as a breakthrough in balancing rights and religious freedom, and as a model for other conservative states. The legislation passed the Utah House 65-10 after passing the Senate 23-5. Senator Jim Dabakis, a Democrat from Salt Lake City who is openly gay, said it had taken seven years and a lot of dialogue to pass the legislation.
The full South Dakota Senate opted not to take up a proposal that would void a High School Activities Association policy on transgender student participation in sports, LGBTQ Nation reported. Senators rejected an attempt to put up for discussion the bill that was rejected in committee. The policy, adopted last June, requires schools to review requests by transgender students or their guardians to decide on which team the student can participate.
The Republican-dominated Florida House voted to remove language from law that bans gay adoption, according to the Associated Press. The vote would bring adoption laws in line with current practice that allows gay and lesbian people to adopt children. A ban had been in place until 2010, when an appeals court ruled it was unconstitutional. Then-Gov. Charlie Crist chose not to appeal the decision.
BBC News reported that out gay Apple CEO Tim Cook offered a part of his liver to a dying Steve Jobswith Jobs angrily rejecting Cook's offer, according to a new book. The book, Becoming Steve Jobs, details light on life inside Apple as it grew into one of the world's most powerful technology companies. Jobs did go on to have a liver transplant, in March 2009; he resigned as Apple chief executive in August 2011 and died in October at the age of 56.
An Indiana House committee approved controversial religious-freedom legislation after those on both sides of the issue rallied in the hallways of the statehouse, IndyStar.com reported. The House Judiciary Committee voted nine to four to send the measure to the full House for consideration. Supporters say Senate Bill 101 is necessary to protect the freedom of people with strong religious beliefs, including business owners who don't want to provide services for same-sex wedding ceremonies; however, opponents say the measure would license discrimination against gays and lesbians.
A San Diego man has pled no contest to intentionally infecting his former boyfriend with HIV, the Associated Press reported. Thomas Miguel Guerra entered the plea in response to the charge of violating a state health code against someone with a communicable disease by willfully exposing others. Prosecutors say Guerra claimed to be HIV-negative and urged his boyfriend ( who tested positive in 2013 ) to have unprotected sex. At least two other men alleged last year that Guerra intentionally infected at least two dozen men in and around the San Diego area.
Boston's St. Patrick's Day parade made history March 15 as two gay and lesbian groups marched after decades of opposition that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, NBC News reported. The gay military veterans service group OutVets and the gay rights group Boston Pride were invited by the sponsoring South Boston Allied War Veterans Council to the annual celebration of military veterans and Irish heritage. The Allied War Council's current leaders voted five to four in December to welcome OutVets as one of about 100 groups in this year's parade. Boston Pride said it also recently received an acceptance letter.
Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders ( GLAD ), Justice in Aging and Foley Hoag LLP filed a class-action lawsuit, Held v. Colvin, against the Social Security Administration ( SSA ) on behalf of Supplemental Security Income ( SSI ) recipients married to someone of the same sex in or before June 2013, according to a press release. The suit charges that SSA discriminated against these individuals for months and, in some cases, more than a year after that discrimination was held unlawful by the Supreme Court when it struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act ( DOMA ) in June 2013. The complaint can be read at www.glad.org/SSI.
A national group is dropping the University of Minnesota-Duluth ( UMD ) from its listing of top-rated gay-friendly colleges following the school's controversial firing of its long-time women's hockey coach, MPRNews.com reported. Campus Pride announced it was suspending UMD from consideration for inclusion in this year's ranking following the university's decision in December not to renew openly lesbian Shannon Miller's contract at the end of the season, as well as the contracts of her three assistants. Miller has led the university to five national titles in 15 yearsthe most of any coach.
The 126-year-old Central Conference of American Rabbis ( CCAR ) welcomed its first openly gay president March 16, The Huffington Post reported. Rabbi Denise L. Eger, CCAR's third woman leader, was inaugurated in an event celebrating the organization's 25 years of commitment to ordination for gay clergy. Eger joins a small group of openly gay leaders who have served as presidents of rabbinical associations, including Rabbi Toba Spitzer, who was president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association ( RRA ) from 2007 to 2009, and Rabbi Jason Klein, the current RRA president.
In Houston, a gay man was beaten, shot, robbed and called an anti-gay slur as he was attacked by three men while walking home from a Montrose gay bar, according to Project Q Houston. John Gaspari was attacked by robbers who took his wallet, jewelry and cell phone, beat him and shot him in the stomach. Friends rallied by launching an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to help Gaspari as he recovers. Some 63 donations helped raise $3,446 in the two weeks the John Gaspari Fund was open for donations.
D.C. Police Sgt. Jessica Hawkins began work on March 3 as the new supervisor of the Metropolitan Police Department's Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit ( GLLU ), becoming the first transgender person to hold the position, The Washington Blade reported. Hawkins replaces Sgt. Matthew Mahl, who served as acting supervisor and later supervisor of the GLLU since July 2012.
The largest tribal organization in southeast Alaska ( Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska ) announced its new policy following a unanimous vote by the council's seven-member governing board to define legal marriage without a gender requirement, according to the Associated Press. Council president Richard Peterson said the action was something the organization could do to include all tribal members. He added Tlingit-Haida's tribal courts have not performed marriages in the past, as far as he knows.
A Texas state lawmaker has introduced a bill to prohibit cities from adopting or enforcing non-discrimination ordinances that include protected classes not contained in state law, even though such ordinances protect his gay son from discrimination, LGBTQ Nation reported. The measurefrom Fort Bend County Republican Rick Millerwould undo LGBT protections passed by several Texas cities, including Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston and Plano. Miller's son, Beau Miller, 41, is an openly gay Houston attorney and LGBT-rights activist who said he was "extremely disappointed" to learn about his father's bill.
The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs ( NCAVP ) has learned of the homicide of Papi Edwardsa Louisville, Kentucky, transgender woman of colorwho was shot to death at the Fern Valley Motel on Jan. 9, according to a press release. An alleged suspect, Henry Richard Gleaves, has been arrested and charged with her murder. This is the seventh homicide of a transgender woman of color that NCAVP has responded to in 2015.
A top exec at a GOP women's club who allegedly made an anti-lesbian remark has stepped down after an outcry from members, according to Page Six. The NYC-based Women's National Republican Club was mired in drama after Irene Marmott, chair of the house committee, was accused of proclaiming lesbians were not welcome as members, saying, "Of course we don't want them [lesbians] here." Marmott had denied making the statement, but President Catherine Lenihan said, "Irene Marmott has voluntarily and graciously resigned from the Club."
Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy ( AW/NAC ) Mike Stevensthe service's top enlisted sailorhas said if transgender volunteers are deemed fit for duty by the Pentagon, the Navy should provide opportunities for them to serve and be successful, NavyTimes.com reported. The Defense Department currently bans service for transgender people, but Defense Secretary Ash Carter recently stated he would be open to lifting the ban.
In Minnesota, the Peace United Church of Christ in St. Cloud has officially installed John Fiscus as pastorand he is now reportedly the first out gay minister in the St. Cloud area, SCTimes.com noted. Fiscus was living in Texas 10 years ago when he said he felt called to ministry. He said he spent four years searching for a church after completing a master's degree in divinity in his home state of Colorado.
A gay pastor and his husband have been told their children will not be admitted to a Christian school in Nashville because of the family's "unacceptable" lifestyle, Christian Today reported. Pastor Greg Bullard of the Covenant of the Cross Church in Madison, Tennessee, has two young children with his husband, Brian Copeland, whom he wed in 2013. Copeland was scheduled to go on a tour of the Davidson Academybut the visit was cancelled after officials discovered that the children are being raised by two fathers.
Former NFL player Craig James has continued to speak out against same-sex marriage, saying most recently support for such is equal to Satanism, The Huffington Post noted. "If I were a current player in that locker room and my livelihood depended on me being quiet or losing it because of my belief system, I worry, I wonder," James said on a radio program that the staunchly conservative Family Research Council aired. Jamesa running back who played for the New England Patriots in the late 1980smade the comments after the NFL franchise ( along with the MLB's the San Francisco Giants and Tampa Bay Rays ) joined 376 other businesses and companies that called upon the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down bans on same-sex marriage.
A teenager in New York state has been charged with murder after he confessed to stabbing and setting fire to a gay man that he may have met through Craigslist, the Independent reported. Kyle Box, 18, told police that he went to the house of Randy Bent, a 62-year-old gay man, and stabbed him with a knife; when Bent dropped to the floor, Box lit his body on fire. Police have not offered a motive or determined how the men knew each other, but friends of Bent said he often met people on Craigslist.
Siding with protesters of the Catholic church, the 8th Circuit struck down Missouri's restrictions on demonstrations near places of worship, according to Courthouse News Service. Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests ( SNAP ) and Call to Actiona group that wants the church to ordain women and accept gay parishioners, among other thingschallenged Missouri's law under the First Amendment. The 8th Circuit reversed a federal judge's ruling, finding that Missouri's law tramples free-speech rights.
Chick-fil-A plans to open its first New York franchise this summer, with more locations come as the once controversial fast-food chain makes good on its urban expansion plan, according to Fortune. Fast food chain Chick-fil-A found itself embroiled in controversy a few years ago after an executive made anti-gay comments. Chick-fil-Awhich now has 1,900 restaurants and hit sales of $6 billion in 2014is now the largest U.S. fast-food chicken chain, surpassing Yum Brands' KFC last year.
According to a new report released by a coalition of research and advocacy organizations, LGBT women are among the most at risk of poverty in the United States. "Paying an Unfair Price: The Financial Penalty for LGBT Women in America," a companion to the recently released report "Paying an Unfair Price: The Financial Penalty for Being LGBT in America," was co-authored by the Movement Advancement Project ( MAP ) and the Center for American Progress ( CAP ). Among other things, the report finds that LGBT women of color, older LGBT women and LGBT women raising children are particularly vulnerable. "Paying an Unfair Price: The Financial Penalty for LGBT Women in America" is available online at www.lgbtmap.org/unfair-price-lgbt-women.
An NIH press release stated that Valacyclovira drug commonly used to control the virus that causes genital herpesappears to reduce the levels of HIV in patients who do not have genital herpes, according to a study by researchers from the National Institutes of Health, Case Western Reserve University, Emory University and Lima, Peru. The study of 18 patients is the first to show that the drug does not require the presence of herpes simplex virus 2 ( HSV-2 ) to suppress HIV in patients. The researchers hope to confirm their results in a larger study.
On April 16-17, the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry ( CLGS ) at California's Pacific School of Religion will host a symposium addressing the ways in which the concept of "religious liberty" is being used to justify and further discriminatory actions, such as denying service to same-sex couples or limiting the reproductive health care benefits for employees, according to a press release. Among those slated to speak are National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Kate Kendell; College of the Holy Cross Professor in New Testament Studies Dr. Tat-siong Benny Liew, Ph.D.; and Whittier College Associate Professor of Religious Studies Rosemary P. Carbine, Ph.D.
American Judaism's Reform Movement ( the faith group's largest denomination ) has released a new version of its best-selling prayer bookand it deals with such issues as women, gay equality and doubt, according to The Washington Post. The text, overhauled for the first time in 40 years, will be used during the fall High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The new book includes gender-neutral blessings for transgender people; changing "bride and groom" to "couples" in an effort to be LGBT-friendly; and weaving Pablo Neruda, Langston Hughes and Henry David Thoreau with the Old Testament.
A Pentecostal chaplain once assigned to elite Navy SEAL units may be kicked out of the Navy for allegedly scolding sailors for homosexuality and premarital sex, MilitaryTimes.com reported. Lt. Cmdr. Wesley Modder was given a "detachment for cause" letter on Feb. 17 after his commanders concluded that he is "intolerant" and "unable to function in the diverse and pluralistic environment" of his current assignment at the Navy Nuclear Power Training Command in South Carolina. Modder has served more than 19 years; he could lose his retirement benefits if the Navy convenes a board of inquiry and officially separate him before he completes 20 years of service.