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National: Time to THRIVE; presidential candidates; Obama's proposal
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2015-07-07

This article shared 2648 times since Tue Jul 7, 2015
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The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) Foundation—in partnership with the National Education Association ( NEA ) and the American Counseling Association ( ACA )—announced that it will be holding its Time to THRIVE conference for educators and youth-serving professionals at the Marriott Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center outside Dallas on Feb. 12-14, 2016, according to a press release. The conference, in previous years, has featured actress Ellen Page's coming-out speech as well as special guests including Chelsea Clinton, Lance Bass, Dolores Huerta and Betty DeGeneres. In 2015, there were Time To THRIVE award-winners Michael Sam, the first openly-gay NFL football player; and actor/LGBTQ activist George Takei.

Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie opened his 2016 campaign for president June 30 by declaring he's "out to change the world," the Associated Press noted. Christie opposes same-sex marriage and as governor vetoed a bill in 2012 that would have allowed it, The New York Times added. But the next year he dropped a state challenge to a court ruling allowing same-sex marriage in New Jersey, calling it futile.

Ex-Virginia Sen. Jim Webb is running for president, joining a field of Democrats challenging Hillary Rodham Clinton for the nomination, The Chicago Tribune noted. Webb was the first Democrat to form an exploratory committee, announcing his interest in a presidential campaign last November. He faces a field dominated by Clinton that also includes Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, former Chicago mayoral candidate Willie Wilson and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee. Webb once opposed same-sex marriage, but he says his views have evolved and he now supports it, calling it "a good thing for this country," The New York Times added.

In the wake of the landmark ruling on marriage equality, President Obama expressed his desire to declare June 26 National Equality Day, according to NewNowNext.com . Calling the vote "a victory for America," Obama spoke once again to comedian Marc Maron on his famous podcast WTF with Marc Maron ( where the president previously uttered the N-word ), about why June 26 should become a federal national holiday, especially celebrating those who fight for same-sex marriage. Obama said, "These folks are heroes and deserve to be recognized for their courage and sacrifice. I can't think of anything more deserving of a national holiday than the fight for equality."

Hillary Clinton has raised more than $45 million since throwing her hat into the 2016 presidential race in April, surpassing the $42-million record held by President Obama for the first quarter after he announced his re-election bid in 2011, TheWrap reported. Clinton's campaign has focused on building a network of small donors, with donations capped at $2,700 during the primary season. Most of the donations—more than 90 percent —were $100 or less.

Speaking of Clinton, she recently sought to offer reassurance to gay youths in a posting that is drawing wide online attention, LGBTQ Nation reported. "Prediction from a grown-up: Your future is going to be amazing," Clinton wrote on the Facebook page for Humans of New York, a popular blog. "You will surprise yourself with what you're capable of and the incredible things you go on to do. Find the people who love and believe in you—there will be lots of them."

Following similar moves by the U.S. Air Force and Army in recent months, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps have elevated the level of the commander able to decide whether an active-duty service member should be discharged for being transgender, Advocate.com reported. While the change, which is effective immediately, does not rescind the military's long-standing ban on open military service by transgender Americans, it does decrease the likelihood that service members in each of these branches will be discharged solely for being transgender.

Lambda Legal and The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries have issued a joint statement in light of the burnings of Southern Black churches. In part, the statement reads, "Some members of the LGBT community, especially those LGBT people of color who simultaneously face the lived realities of both racism and discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, know all too well what it's like to live in terror in this country because of who they are. Senseless violence motivated by hate has no place in a just society and every one of us has an obligation to stand up, speak out and work to end such violence." In the two weeks since the deadly racist shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, at least six Black churches in the South have been hit by a string of raging fires, according to Slate.

In Georgia, the Ku Klux Klan distributed racist and anti-gay fliers in neighborhoods in Atlanta and Rockdale County, prompting residents and one sheriff to speak out in disgust, Project Q Atlanta reported. The propaganda includes racist rants, quips about white supremacy and urges people to take a stand against "drug-filled streets" and "rampant crime." Another flier targets gay people, calling for "gay bashing" as a way to "stop AIDS" and depicting two men having sex with a line drawn through them. "I find it very disturbing, especially in the wake of the tragedy in Charleston, that someone would distribute Ku Klux Klan propaganda in Rockdale County," Sheriff Eric Levett posted on Facebook.

The Mormon Church has made its first-ever donation ( reportedly $2,500 ) to the Utah Pride Center, a Salt Lake City organization that works with poor and LGBT young people experiencing homelessness, Business Insider reported. Relations between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the gay community were strained by Mormon support for California's 2008 initiative Proposition 8. In a letter read to Mormon congregations this weekend, top leaders of the Utah-based Church reaffirmed the belief that only heterosexual marriage is ordained by God, while urging members to love and treat all people with kindness.

Episcopalians gave their collective blessing July 1 to church weddings for same-sex couples—just days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to allow marriage equality across the nation, USA Today reported. The denomination's landmark vote took place at the Episcopal General Convention in Salt Lake City. Although same-sex weddings will be allowed after Nov. 1, clergy can refuse to perform same-sex services and bishops can prohibit the ceremonies in their dioceses. Language specific to gender will be dropped, as "the couple" will replace "husband" and "wife."

Authorities in rural Utah say a man who reported someone beat him and carved an anti-gay slur into his arm actually staged the attacks, the Associated Press reported. Millard County Sheriff Robert Dekker said that 21-year-old Rick Jones could face charges after officers found inconsistencies and the Delta man eventually acknowledged faking the harassment. Attorney Brett Tolman said the situation was a cry for help and that Jones has begun treatment.

Even though the Republican Party presidential candidates opposed the Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage, the Passaic County ( N.J. ) party leader personally celebrated the decision as he married his partner of 28 years in a Fourth of July ceremony, NorthJersey.com reported. John Traier, the openly gay chairman of the Passaic County Regular Republican Organization, married his longtime partner, Mark Peterson, at Skylands Manor in Ringwood. Traier, 58, and Peterson, 62, were introduced to each other by mutual friends in 1987.

The Department of Justice ( DoJ ) filed a statement of interest in federal court explaining that transgender students must be allowed to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity under Title IX of the U.S. Education Amendments of 1972, according to an ACLU press release. The DoJ filed the statement in G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board, a case brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Virginia on behalf of transgender male student Gavin Grimm, a junior at Gloucester High School. The filing states "There is a public interest in ensuring that all students, including transgender students, have the opportunity to learn in an environment free of sex discrimination."

Lesbians Who Tech—an organization that supports and connects LGBTQ women in the field of technology through gatherings across the country—was awarded a $165,000 grant from the Arrillaga-Andreessen Foundation, according to a press release. The grant money will be used for two innovative pilot programs. Lesbians Who Tech Founder/CEO Leanne Pittsford will be starting a mentorship program called Bring a Lesbian To Work Day, and there is a is a Coding Scholarship Fund that will subsidize tuition for women who need financial assistance to attend coding academies.

Four civil-rights groups representing Alabama same-sex couples in a federal class-action lawsuit ( The American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Southern Poverty Law Center ) asked U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade to confirm that her injunction directing all state probate judges to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples is in effect and requires immediate compliance, a press release stated. The filing asks Granade to provide guidance to some outlier counties by confirming that her order is now in effect, and requires all probate judges in the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on equal terms with opposite-sex couples. Granade later complied, issuing the order.

The entire staff of a county clerk's office in Tennessee has resigned rather than dish out marriage licenses to same-sex couples, The New York Daily News reported. The trio—Decatur County Clerk Gwen Pope and two employees, Sharon Bell and Mickey Butler—will cede control of their jobs July 14 after taking exception to the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage based on their religious beliefs. Decatur County Commissioner David Boroughs defended their choice to leave their jobs.

Two New Orleans men celebrated what apparently was the first same-sex wedding in Louisiana as the last holdout state began issuing licenses to same-sex couples after the historic U.S. Supreme Court decision, the Associated Press reported. Gay-rights advocates said Louisiana had been the last state to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses when its clerks of court got the go-ahead June 29. Gov. Bobby Jindal's executive counsel, Thomas Enright, said officials who object to same-sex marriage on religious grounds don't have to officiate at such weddings or approve the licenses; someone without religious objections can do it.

Kentucky clerk of court Casey Davis wants the state to issue marriage licenses online so he doesn't have to, the Associated Press reported. Davis showed up at Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear's office to ask him to call a special session of the state legislature to pass a law allowing people to purchase marriage licenses from the state on the Internet. A spokesman said the governor would have to evaluate the proposal from Davis, who said his Christian beliefs prohibit him from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples..

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg doesn't think the social-media giant's real-name policy is inherently discriminatory, according to Fortune. The policy—which requires users to go by their real names on the site—has been criticized by everyone from domestic-violence survivors to transgender individuals, who say the rule either discriminates against their identity or puts them at risk of physical harm. Zuckerberg, 31, said during a Facebook Q&A, "Real name does not mean your legal name. Your real name is whatever you go by and what your friends call you."

Florida photographer Clinton Brentwood Lee, owner of Brentwood Photography, had been hired to document a wedding, then promptly fired after he expressed support for the ruling on marriage equality, NewNowNext.com reported. When the couple messaged him and inquired about having their retainer sent back to them, Lee said he'd donate the $1,500 to GLAAD.

U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman complied with an order from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and issued a final judgment in favor of the plaintiffs in Robicheaux v. Caldwell, striking down Louisiana's discriminatory marriage ban, according to a Lambda Legal press release. The previous day, the Fifth Circuit reversed Feldman's earlier ruling upholding the ban and ordered him to issue the judgment by July 17. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal stated after the Supreme Court ruling that he would await the Fifth Circuit ruling in Robicheaux before ordering state agencies to comply. However, after the Fifth Circuit did rule, Jindal stated he would await Feldman's order.

Chicago chef Art Smith and husband Jesus Salgueiro made local history when their four children were part of the first baptism with same-sex parents that Pope Francis blessed and that was performed at Holy Name Cathedral, according to Chicago NOW. Each of the couple's four children—Brando Arthur, Angel Jesus, Zumy Iris and Zuky Francis Smith-Salgueiro—received engraved plaques with apostolic blessings from the pope. Monsignor Dan Mayall baptized the children into the Catholic faith. A reception followed at Smith's restaurant Table 52 for family and friends.

The Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals has upheld a conviction for "deviate sexual intercourse"—a charge once aimed at banning gay sex—even though the same court last year found the law was unconstitutional, AL.com reported. The court upheld the sexual misconduct charge against Joshua Wesson, 28, for engaging in "deviate" sex with a female partner, despite the fact Wesson says it was consensual. The definition of deviate sexual intercourse, according to the court ruling last year, is anal or oral sex involving unmarried persons.

On July 1, Dong-Pyou Han, a former biomedical scientist at Iowa State University, was sentenced to 57 months for fabricating and falsifying data in HIV vaccine trials, Nature reported. In order to reportedly cover up a sample mix-up, the scientist spiked rabbit blood samples with human HIV antibodies so that the vaccine appeared to have caused the animals to develop immunity to the virus. He has also been fined $7.2 million and will be subject to three years of supervised release after he leaves prison.

Brett Bigham—a gay man who was named Oregon's Teacher of the Year for 2014—has settled with the Portland-area Multnomah Education Service District for about $140,000, ending the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries' investigation, Advocate.com reported. Bigham filed his first complaint last November, saying district officials were restricting what speaking engagements he could accept and what he could say. He also accused his co-workers of harassing him, with actions such as dismantling his desk while he was away.

Gay state workers in Michigan who married in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage have 31 days to enroll their spouse for state benefits, The Detroit News reported. State employees with a same-sex spouse from a marriage in another jurisdiction entered before June 26—the date of the high court's ruling—are also eligible for a special enrollment period through July 27, according to Gov. Rick Snyder's office.

Richard Keiper, 69, has been found guilty of shooting and killing Alfred Barnes in 1968 after Barnes tried to pick him up for a gay liaison in his Ford Thunderbird, Gay Star News noted. Keiper had been identified by an associate in 1971, who said he had told him about shooting a gay man who had tried to pick him up in the Poconos region of Pennsylvania before stealing his car. In 1971, authorities had been unable to locate Keiper to act on the tip but he was discovered to be living in Boyd, Texas, in 2013.

An East Tennessee hardware store owner decided to express his beliefs following the Supreme Court's ruling allowing same-sex marriage by putting up a sign that reads, "No Gays Allowed," USA Today reported. Jeff Amyx, a Baptist minister who owns Amyx Hardware & Roofing Supplies in Grainger County, added the sign June 29 because same-sex couples are against his religion. He later replaced it with a sign that reads, "We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone who would violate our rights of freedom of speech & freedom of religion."

The nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute has put together a new analysis on where U.S. residents stand on nondiscrimination laws compared to where they stand on same-sex marriage, according to a press release. Nondiscrimination laws aimed at protecting LGBT Americans have the support of almost 7-in-10 Americans, including nearly one-quarter of Americans who are opposed to same-sex marriage. The report is at http://publicreligion.org/2015/07/nearly-one-quarter-of-americans-oppose-same-sex-marriage-while-supporting-nondiscrimination-laws/.

After an online uproar over the name of an upcoming Northalsted Market Days weekend party in Chicago, event organizers quickly acknowledged the mistake, apologized and immediately announced it would be changing the name of the party on Friday, Aug. 7, to "Origins." Neverland Productions, which ran three well-attended events/parties over Pride weekend in Chicago, announced its Market Days party theme would be "Savages"—and the initial ad to promote the event featured a man wearing face paint and a Native American headdress. Facebook responses immediately blasted the party's name.

Pennsylvania newspaper The Patriot-News announced that in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling striking down marriage-equality bans, it would no longer accept editorials critical of same-sex marriage, Mediaite noted. However ( in a move that may lead to some confusion ), the paper will still accept "letters and op-eds critical of the high court's decision and its legal merits."

Openly gay pundit/activist Dan Savage and journalist Geraldo Rivera have engaged in a verbal battle over Bristol Palin in the wake that she's pregnant with her second child, according to SeattlePI.com . Savage stated, "If Bristol Palin's last name was 'Obama,' the whole Hee-Haw gang at Fox News would spend half of every day for the next nine months telling us 'Bristol Obama' has terrible parents ... and the other half of the day pretending to fret over the terrible example that 'Bristol Obama' was setting for other African-American women and girls." The punditry was picked up on Mediaite, to which Rivera replied on Twitter: "F— you, jerk off. Fox News doesn't have a reaction to anyone's pregnancy."


This article shared 2648 times since Tue Jul 7, 2015
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