Apple CEO Tim Cook has made a "substantial" donation to help fund a gay-rights campaign in his home state of Alabama and two other Southern states, On Top Magazine reported. The Human Rights Campaign's ( HRC ) Project One America seeks to increase rights for LGBT communities in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi. Cook announced he was gay in October, reportedly making him the first openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
The Senate confirmed three Texans for lifetime judicial appointmentsincluding the first openly gay federal judge ever in Texas, according to DallasNews.com . U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman of San Antonio, the first openly gay U.S. attorney in Texas history, will be the state's first openly gay federal judge. In November, the Judiciary Committee recommended the Texas nominees by voice vote with no opposition. Pitman will hold the seat formerly held by W. Royal Furgeson Jr., dean of the University of North Texas Dallas College of Law.
The longtime boyfriend of transgender author/activist Janet Mock, New York photographer Aaron Tredwell, upstaged her debut as a host of an online show for MSNBCby proposing to her, according to Advocate.com . He popped the question, and Mock revealed the newsand showed off the ringto her fans and friends on Instagram and Twitter, declaring, "I said YES." Tredwell met Mock, the host of the online series So POPular, in 2009 at a Manhattan bar.
By a margin of three to two, the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a ruling ordering Massachusetts prison officials to provide taxpayer-funded gender-reassignment surgery for Michelle Kosilek, an inmate convicted of murder, according to WHDH.com . The court found that Kosilek failed to demonstrate that prison officials violated the Eight Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment by not providing the surgery. Kosilek is serving a life sentence for killing spouse Cheryl Kosilek in 1990.
Funders for LGBTQ Issues has released the "2013 Tracking Report: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Grantmaking by U.S. Foundations," according to a press release. This twelfth annual edition of the Tracking Report finds, among other things, that foundation funding for LGBTQ issues reached a record high of $129.1 million in 2013. The report analyzes 4,146 grants from 331 U.S.-based foundations, making it the most comprehensiveness assessment of LGBTQ funding available. The full report is at www.lgbtfunders.org .
The LGBT news site Queerty obtained Salvation Army internal documents that seem to confirm that the Christian charity discriminates against LGBT people, but it doesn't want anyone to know about it. One particular memo, "LGBT Rights," details the organization's theological views on the "homosexual orientation" ( which it calls "a matter of profound complexity" ), its position on marriage ( which it states can only happen "between one man and one woman" ) and its expectations that unmarried officers "be celibate in the expression of their sexuality." Jennifer Byrd, the director of communications for the Salvation Army, later emailed Queerty, "We realize our message of service to the LGBT community and our non-discriminatory employment practices have been overlooked, misconstrued or misunderstood in recent years, and our focus the past 12-18 months has to be [to] address these failings."
The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) responded to an announcement by Attorney General Eric Holder that the Department of Justice will no longer assert that "Title VII's prohibition against discrimination based on sex does not encompass gender identity per se ( including transgender discrimination ), according to a press release. "The decision by Attorney General Holder to fully embrace the legal standard set forth in Macy will go a long way towards advancing equality for the transgender community," said Sarah Warbelow, HRC's legal director. "Transgender people continue to face some of the highest levels of discrimination in the workplace. We are thrilled to see the Department of Justice take this important step."
Twenty-five years after the fatal stabbing of 35-year-old trans woman Carla Leigh Salazar in Santa Ana, California, authorities may have solved her murder, according to Advocate.com . Police have finally been able to link a suspect to Salazar's murder by assessing DNA evidence with new technology. On Dec. 9, officials detained 63-year-old Douglas Gutridge and charged him with the crime; his arraignment is scheduled for Jan. 2.
In Illinois, calls have been made for the resignation of Warren Township High School board member Liz Biondi after Biondi said she would not want to hire someone who is gay to replace retiring Superintendent Mary Perry Bates, the Chicago Daily Herald reported. Fifteen visitors used public comment time to criticize Biondi for her remarks and demanded her resignation, often to applause from the crowd. In addition to the public comments, the Warren District 121 board voted five to zero in favor of a public disapproval, known as a censure.
LGBT individuals face greater social and economic disparities in the South, Midwest and Mountain states, according to a new Williams Institute report that Credit Suisse sponsored, a press release. The report reviews social climate, demographic, economic and health indicators, and highlights disparities between the 21 states that currently have non-discrimination laws that include sexual orientation and the 29 states without such laws. The report is at http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/LGBT-divide-Dec-2014.pdf.
GLSEN Executive Director Dr. Eliza Byard praised Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray for signing into law "The Conversion Therapy for Minors Prohibition Amendment Act of 2013," a ban on "conversion therapy" for minors. In a statement, Byard said, "These actions will protect young people from a practice that studies conducted by major mental health organizations and personal testimony from youth have shown can create dangerous and even life-threatening effects, including depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse and suicidal behavior." Organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American School Counselor Association and many others reject the use of conversion therapy.
An Indiana church that saw a large number of congregants walk out in January after forcing its gay choir director to resign will close at the end of the year, Raw Story noted. David Mantor, pastor of the First United Methodist Church in Alexandria, said attendance and donations had been spiraling downward for 30 years. He insisted the Dec. 31 closure had nothing to do with the forced departure of Adam Fraley, a gay man who had attended the church for six years with his partner and was hired by the congregation to lead the choir.
The American Civil Liberties Union and National Center for Lesbian Rights have released a new "Know Your Rights" resource, according to a press release. The guide is divided into seven sections: The Prison Rape Elimination Act, Safety and Protection from Violence, Medical Care, Housing and Administrative Segregation, Searches and Privacy, Safely Preserving and Enforcing Your Rights, and Resources. The document is at https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/assets/121414-aclu-prea-kyrs-1_copy.pdf.
Lambda Legal launched a petition drive calling on the state of Texas and Texas Gov.-elect Greg Abbott to implement and abide by the Prison Rape Elimination Act ( PREA ), the federal law signed by former President George W. Bush to address the problem of prison rape across the country, a media release stated. In October, Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Passion Star, a transgender African-American woman currently incarcerated in a men's prison in Texas. Since entering Texas Department of Criminal Justice ( TDCJ ) custody in 2002, Star has been raped and beaten. TDCJ officials have reportedly ignored Star's multiple requests for protection.
Police have arrested and charged a man with involuntary manslaughter in the shooting death of 24-year-old Keymori Shatoya Johnson, a trans woman of color from Albany, Georgia, according to Advocate.com . Johnson was shot to death in her home on Dec. 6, but police have revealed little else to media about the crime. Officials arrested 25-year-old Kuyaunnis James the same day that Johnson was killed, and have also charged him with soliciting prostitution and possession of a firearm during a crime.
Two demonstrators who met while protesting in Ferguson, Missouri, following the Aug. 9 death of Michael Brown are getting married, The Huffington Post noted. Lesbian couple Alexis Templeton, 20, and Brittany Ferrell, 25two of the co-founders of Millennial Activists Unitedfirst met in August at protests for police accountability after Brown was killed by former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. The two are also both plaintiffs in a federal court case against law-enforcement agencies over their heavy-handed response to demonstrations.
Walter Williams, the former University of Southern California ( USC ) professor who helped co-found the ONE Institute and Archives at USC, has been sentenced to five years in federal prison for flying to the Philippines to have sex with minor boys he met online, according to Frontiers LA. Additionally, Williams must register as a sex offender, must pay $25,000 in restitution to seven victims, and will be under supervision for 10 years upon his release. Williams, 66, had been living in Palm Springs since his abrupt retirement in February 2011 from USC, where he taught anthropology, gender studies and history for approximately 20 years. He had been "intercepted" at Los Angeles International Airport after returning from one of his many trips to Southeast Asia, and child pornography was found.
A group launched in September is working to "change the hearts and minds of evangelical Christians on the issue of marriage equality," according to On Top Magazine. Evangelicals for Marriage Equality ( EME ) was co-founded by Josh Dickson, a former deputy director of faith outreach at the Democratic National Committee ( DNC ), and Michael Saltsman, a vice president at a communications firm, and is based in Washington, D.C. At its launch, EME attempted to run ads in three prominent Christian publications: Christianity Today, Relevant and World Magazine. All three rejected the ad.
Michael Martin, an all-state soccer goalie for Musselman High School in West Virginia, came out of the closet to his classmates at their homecoming dance by dancing with another guyhis boyfriend, Jemwho also happened to be the homecoming king from another school, Towleroad noted. Previously, they had done the same thing at Jem's school. Martin said in Outsports that he was inspired by L.A. Galaxy star Robbie Rogers; Martin graduates next spring.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Virginia filed an administrative complaint with the Department of Justice and Department of Education against Gloucester County Public Schools ( GCPS ) for adopting a bathroom policy that segregates transgender students from using the same restrooms and locker rooms as their peers, according to a press release. The school board adopted the policy by a vote of 6-1 on Dec. 9, despite warnings from the ACLU and the ACLU of Virginia that the policy violates federal law prohibiting sex discrimination by schools. The complaint was filed on behalf of ACLU client Gavin Grimm, a 10th-grade boy who is transgender and diagnosed with gender dysphoria.
A professor at Milwaukee's Marquette University was suspended after he publicly chastised a teaching assistant on his blog for discouraging a discussion in her classroom regarding gay rights, Reuters reported. Political science professor John McAdams was suspended with pay from his faculty and teaching duties at the Catholic university and barred from being on campus during the school's investigation. The controversy began Nov. 9, when McAdams criticized philosophy class instructor Cheryl Abbate on his blog.
The marketing-communications brand JWT used the Norman Rockwell painting "Freedom from Want" as a springboard to examine the modern U.S. family in its spot for Tylenol launching the brand's "For What Matters Most" campaign, according to MediaBistro.com . Manoj Raghunandanan, senior director on the Tylenol business, told AdAge the campaign "reflects serving our consumers and how unique and diverse they are," and that he didn't worry about a conservative backlash over the ad's depiction of a blended family that includes a lesbian couple.
A controversial billboard in Richmond, Virginia, that says "Nobody is born gay" will remain in place, according to ThinkProgress.org . The ad in question was paid for by PFOX ( Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays ), a group that advocates on behalf of ex-gay therapy and those who have supposedly benefited from it. The ad quickly become a laughingstock because the model featured in the ad, Kyle Roux, is not only not a twin, but is "an out and proud gay man." Lamar Advertising, which owns and manages the billboard, has kept the ad in place.
A United Methodist minister accused of violating church doctrine by performing a same-sex marriage met with the bishop of the Iowa Conference, but no decisions were made about possible disciplinary action against him, KCCI.com noted. The Reverend Larry Sonner, of Urbandale, is the retired Methodist minister who performed the ceremony. Recently, the bishop's cabinet accused Sonner of violating church law, which does not allow pastors to perform same-sex marriages.
In Indiana, Gaylard Williamsthe pastor at the Praise Cathedral Church of God in Seymourhas been accused of making sexual advances on a man and been charged with battery, Towleroad noted. The 59-year-old pastor allegedly approached a 27-year-old man at his vehicle parked at a lake, grabbed and squeezed his genitals and requested that he perform oral sex. Williams allegedly left the scene after the victim acted like he was reaching for a gun; police later found gay pornography in the pastor's car. The church's website labels homosexuality as a sin.
The Alabama Department of Revenue said it will recall a personalized license plate with a gay slur, the Charleston Daily Mail reported. Revenue Department spokeswoman Amanda Collier said the license plate with the saying "NOHOMO" slipped past its three-member review panel. She said the state prohibits personalized tags with profane or vulgar messages. The department became aware of the plate after a photograph of it on a black Mustang began circulating on social media; Collier said that the car owner can appeal the decision.