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National: Seattle mayor in Israel; adoption law; mural defaced
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2015-06-23

This article shared 4116 times since Tue Jun 23, 2015
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Despite vocal efforts by supporters of the movement to boycott Israel, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray joined tens of thousands of people in Tel Aviv's annual Gay Pride Parade, according to Haaretz.com . Murray, 60, who is openly gay, also participated in an international conference organized by the local LGBT community, and met with senior Israeli and Palestinian officials. Murray expressed his objection to the boycott movement, saying it would not lead to the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He further rejected claims Israel is "pinkwashing" the oppression of the Palestinians and occupation by touting the rights LGBTs have in Israel.

A nearly four-decade-old law banning gays and lesbians from adopting children that hasn't been enforced in five years will come off Florida's books July 1, but Gov. Rick Scott still wants private, religious-based adoption agencies to be able to turn same-sex couples away, according to Jacksonville.com . Scott recently signed a bill that removes the adoption ban enacted in the days when entertainer Anita Bryant crusaded against gay people. It is part of a larger bill that promotes adoption, and striking the language simply reflects reality after a judge found the ban unconstitutional five years ago.

In San Francisco, vandals defaced a mural in San Francisco's Mission District that depicted gay, lesbian and transgender Latinos, KTVU.com reported. However, an identical mural is going up in its place. Ani Rivera—director of Galeria de la Raza, which sponsored the mural—said that, before the vandalism, the mural had sparked hate speech and threats on social media.

IBM cancelled a ribbon-cutting for its new National Service Center in Baton Rouge because of Gov. Bobby Jindal's executive order enforcing so-called "religious freedom" legislation, WAFB.com reported. The June 22 event had been reserved for months, according to several city leaders, including Davis Rhorer, executive director of the Downtown Development District. Technology giant IBM voiced "strong opposition" to Louisiana's religious-freedom legislation as far back as mid-April.

With the words, "I am gay" published in his city's newspaper, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has come out, Advocate.com noted. Pete Buttigieg, 33, told his constituents on his own terms, by writing an op-ed in the city's newspaper. Among other things, Buttigieg wrote about growing up in conservative Indiana and his duty to support city residents—from LGBT people to older conservatives—by being honest about his sexual orientation. More at www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/South-Bend-Ind-mayor-comes-out/51961.html .

In North Dakota, a Fargo lawmaker who sent a graphic photo of himself to another user of a gay dating website says he has no intention of leaving the legislature, according to KVRR.com . State Rep. Randy Boehning says he's been "getting a lot of support'' from his constituents and fellow lawmakers. The Republican, 52, has said he will finish his term, which ends in three years.

In Alabama, an investigation into a murder of transgender teen Mercedes Williamson, 17, began when the suspect—a convicted felon and longtime member of the Latin Kings street gang—told his father he had killed someone, SunHerald.com reported. Williamson was born with the name Christopher Wilkins. Josh Brandon Vallum, 28, told his father, Bobby James Vallum, June 1 that Williamson could be found in a field behind his dad's house in the community of Rocky Creek. Since her death, a Facebook page, entitled "RIP Mercedes Williamson," was started for those who knew and loved her.

A Canadian nonprofit has disinvited U.S. presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee in light of an anti-trans joke he made, Advocate.com noted. In direct response to Huckabee's remarks and the subsequent outcry among Canadian LGBT rights and Jewish advocates, the Jewish National Fund of Canada canceled a speech Huckabee was scheduled to give in October at Ottawa's Negev Dinner to benefit autism research in Israel. Huckabee stated that he wished he had been a transgender teenager so he could have sneaked into his high school's girls' locker rooms—something one petition claims he's said at least three times since 2013.

Speaking of Huckabee, he recently said the legalization of same-sex marriage would be a "very dangerous place" for the country to go and could lead to civil disobedience, according to Fox News. In a letter he sent to conservative leaders and pro-family activists, Huckabee stated he would "fight to defend religious liberty at all costs." In a phone interview, he added, "This is not just about marriage. This is about whether or not a government can begin to put limitations on the conscious and convictions of people who have faith."

GMHC ( Gay Men's Health Crisis ) issued a statement praising the New York state legislature for passing a bill that will help protect people living with HIV and AIDS from meningitis, a serious infection of the brain and spinal cord. New York now joins 28 states in requiring meningitis vaccinations for youth in public schools, in accordance with CDC recommendations. "Meningitis is a silent killer, but gratefully there is a vaccine that is safe, effective, and life-saving," said GMHC CEO Kelsey Louie.

A Hialeah, Florida, police sergeant, the son of a former police chief, has been suspended following allegations of sexual abuse from a young lesbian couple pulled over at a routine traffic stop, Advocate.com reported. The couple, who have asked not to be identified, say that Sgt. Jesus Menocal, Jr. pulled them over for making a U-turn near a police substation, and detained them for questioning. One teen alleged that Menocal asked her inappropriate questions, and asked her to remove her clothing and show her tattoos. The couple immediately filed a police report about the incident, and now have legal counsel.

Trans-rights activists have lashed out against Rachel Dolezal, the embattled ex-NAACP chapter president who presented herself as African-American, for bringing Caitlyn Jenner into the situation, TheWrap noted. Dolezal told NBC's Savannah Guthrie that reading about Jenner's journey "resonated" with her and made her cry. "It's very upsetting," writer and LGBT activist Danielle Moodie-Mills said. "As a Black lesbian who's spent her professional life working on advocacy and expanding the dialogue on trans issues, this is extremely offensive to me." Casey Weitzman, a licensed therapist specializing in the transgender community, added, "Being transgender is not a choice, but lying about your race is deliberate."

A Texas energy executive who allegedly attacked a gay man in Austin after hurling anti-gay slurs at him has been charged with assault, The New York Daily News reported. Anthony Fera, 51, who heads MidStar Energy in Houston, is accused of knocking out a man after calling him a "f——t" during an April 18 encounter. Victim William Smith, 47, and his husband Paul Von Wupperfeld told police they were walking on the street when Fera's truck came barreling out of a parking lot, almost striking them. Smith suffered a fractured nose, black eye, lacerations, scrapes and a shoulder injury.

The man accused of bashing a gay couple with a chair in a Chelsea barbecue restaurant has surrendered to cops—but hasn't been arrested on hate crime charges because he's gay, too, The New York Daily News reported. Bayna-Lehkiem El-Amin, 41, surrendered to NYPD hate-crime detectives at the 7th Precinct, and was charged with assault and attempted assault. El-Amin slammed a chair over the heads of Jonathan Snipes, 32, and Ethan York-Adams, 25, during a dispute inside Dallas BBQ on May 5.

Fisher-Price and Proud Parenting announced the launch of the Proud Parenting LGBT Family Photo Gallery, presented by Fisher-Price, a press release stated. The goal of the program is to increase the visibility of LGBT parents and to encourage interaction and support between LGBT parents, their friends and their allies. An estimated 3 million LGBT Americans have had a child, and as many as 6 million U.S. residents have an LGBT parent. Visit http://proudparenting.com/families.

Gay hotelier Mati Weiderpass was kicked out of a gay bar in Fire Island for his affiliation with Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, according to Gay Star News. Weiderpass and business partner Ian Reisner own the Out NYC hotel, which has been the target of protests and boycotts by its mainly gay clientele after they hosted a dinner for the anti-LGBT Texan senator at their Central Park penthouse. As Weiderpass and his friends left, the crowd reportedly cheered.

A Philadelphia judge denied Officer Michael A. Paige's request for payment from the city for his legal bills stemming from an alleged sexual assault, Philadelphia Gay News reported. Common Pleas Judge Jacqueline F. Allen said city taxpayers shouldn't be required to pay Paige's legal expenses, amounting to $189,991.55, noting that another Philadelphia judge cleared Paige of any criminal wrongdoing in 2008, but also noted that a federal jury determined that Paige violated James Harris' bodily integrity and awarded him $165,000 in damages. The fees and costs were incurred by attorney Brian M. Puricelli, who defended Paige against allegations that he sexually assaulted Harris in 2007.

The West Hollywood, California-based Foundation for a National AIDS Monument announced three new members of its board of directors: actor/activist Zachary Quinto, William Morris Endeavor Board Member Mark Itkin and marketing executive Tom Whitman, according to a press release. The Foundation for an AIDS Monument has been working with the City of West Hollywood and local community members to plan for the development of an enduring physical and interactive testament to the historic and future fight against HIV and AIDS.

A public meeting in a small North Carolina town over the reading of a story about a gay couple to third-graders was canceled, the Associated Press reported. A statement said the meeting was canceled because two appeals of an Orange County Schools review committee's upholding of the reading have been withdrawn. Efland-Cheeks Elementary School teacher Omar Currie, 25, read his students King & King, a children's story about a prince who falls in love with another prince. Currie and Meg Goodhand, the assistant principal who gave him the book, later resigned.

Don Lemon's attempt at addressing the debate surrounding Barack Obama's use of the N-word by holding up a sign with the slur emblazoned in capital letters across it has been met by outrage on social media, The Independent reported. Obama used the word to challenge claims racism has been defeated in the United States during a Marc Maron WTF podcast. Lemon responded to the ensuing controversy surrounding the use of the word by arguing people should be able to say it if it is used in context when reporting on a news story. Within hours, Lemon was sharply criticized and parodied in a series of "Does this offend you?" memes on Twitter.

A Maryland woman has launched a fundraising campaign after an Overlea neighbor left a hateful message on her front door, CBS Baltimore reported. Maeve Brigid, a friend of the Maryland homeowner, created a post on the ordeal, stating her friend made rainbow-colored solar lamps for her garden hoping to bring cheer, but instead she got an hateful note calling her yard "relentlessly gay." Julie Baker, the mother of four who lives at the home, launched a GoFundMe page to create even more rainbow solar lamps.

Freedom Indiana—the grassroots organization that is pushing for statewide anti-discrimination protections for LGBT Hoosiers—issued s statement in response to Gov. Mike Pence's comments at the Indiana Republican Party Spring Dinner regarding the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ( RFRA ). Pence formally announced he is running for re-election in 2016, adding that he is open to continuing the conversation about updating state laws to prohibit discrimination based on orientation and gender identity, according to Freedom Indiana's press release. Freedom Indiana campaign manager Katie Blair said, "It's encouraging that Governor Pence is willing to have a continued conversation about this issue and the fallout from RFRA, but it's clear that a majority of Hoosiers already support updating our laws to protect Hoosiers from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity."

A study has found significant evidence that men and women who were relatively heavier than their same-sex partners were at particular risk for engaging in all facets of restrained eating that they studied, according to a press release. ( Restrained eating is defined as the deliberate, long-term restriction of food intake in order to lose, maintain, or avoid gaining weight. ) Charlotte Markey, a professor of psychology at Rutgers University—Camden, teamed with Villanova University researcher Patrick Markey; fellow Rutgers—Camden faculty researchers Kristin August and Christopher Nave; and Lindzee Bailey, a recent graduate of Rutgers—Camden's master of arts in psychology program, on the study, titled "Understanding same-sex male and female partners' restrained eating in the context of their relationships," in the June issue of Journal of Health Psychology.

Another study, fom the University of Colorado-Denver, finds that there has already been scientific consensus on same-sex parenting for decades, a press release stated. By assessing a compilation of all of the available studies that have examined same-sex parenting and studying the trends and shifts between them, the researchers were able to determine when the scientific community started to agree that there were no differences in children raised by same-sex couples and different-sex couples. According to the study, there was already a developing consensus affirming same-sex parenting among social scientists by 1990.

In Philadelphia, an openly gay man has been elected to head the Temple University Beasley School of Law Alumni Association for the first time, Philadelphia Gay News noted. Larry Felzer, 53, was elected to the position June 8 during the association's annual meeting after serving as the president-elect of the organization's executive board for the past two years. Prior to that position, Felzer sat on the executive committee board for 13 years.

Congresswoman Linda Sanchez ( D-Calif. ), chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, introduced legislation to recognize June as Immigrant Heritage Month, along with 59 original co-sponsors, a press release stated. The resolution acknowledges the United States' migrant history and the impact immigrants have had. The full text of H.Res.325 is at https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-resolution/325.

In Florida, Broward County jurors took fewer than four hours to find Jeffery London—a church youth pastor, charter school disciplinarian and unofficial foster parent—guilty of a federal sex-abuse charge, SouthFloridaGayNews.com reported. London, 51, faces 10 years to life in federal prison when he's sentenced in August for using a cellphone to lure an underage boy into sexual activity. London was youth pastor at the Bible Church of God in Fort Lauderdale, and was dean of students at Eagle Academy charter school in Lauderdale Lakes.

A Bismarck, North Dakota, brewery has launched a new beer in honor of North Dakota Capital Pride, according to NewNowNext.com . Laughing Sun Brewing Co. brewed 120 gallons of Black Cherry Fairy Ale, created especially to celebrate the Peace Garden State's LGBT community. A local LGBT group, Dakota OutRight, helped come up with the name. "It was just to have something fun to do," said board member Erin Pringle.


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