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National roundup: Indiana bill; Obergefell backs Hillary; task force
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

This article shared 5003 times since Tue Nov 24, 2015
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Lambda Legal sent an open letter to Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and leaders of the Indiana House and Senate urging them to include sexual orientation and gender identity to the existing categories that enjoy protection from discrimination under Indiana law, according to a press release. The letter cautions state leaders not to pass legislation that includes carve-outs allowing service providers to refuse to serve LGBT people for religious reasons, or legislation omitting anti-discrimination protections to people who are transgender.

In a related development, Lambda Legal blasted an Indiana Senate bill that was introduced Nov. 17, according to a press release. Law and Policy Project Director said, "This bill is a wolf in sheep's clothing. This doesn't protect LGBT people—it is a road map for discrimination against LGBT people." The proposal This bill would extend state civil-rights protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity, while providing exemptions for religious institutions and some small businesses, noted.

Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the U.S. Supreme Court case that made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states last June, announced that he is endorsing Hillary Clinton for president, Gay Star News noted. "We have fought to not only change laws, but to change hearts, and now we need a president who will help us fight to eliminate the injustices that occur regularly in our community, and the best person to do that is Hillary Clinton," Obergefell said in a statement to The Washington Blade.

The Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus has announced the creation of the new Transgender Equality Task Force, to be chaired by Rep. Mike Honda ( D-Silicon Valley ), according to a National LGBTQ Task Force press release. Victoria Rodriguez-Roldan, Trans/Gender Non-Confirming Justice Project director of National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, said, "We're elated to see the formation of the Congressional Transgender Equality Task Force. We thank the LGBTQ Equality Caucus for their ongoing efforts to advance legislation that extends critical protections to LGBTQ people."

Twitter has taken a stand in support of its LGBT employees by ending on-site blood drives until the Federal Drug Administration lifts a decades-old ban that prevents healthy gay and bisexual employees from participating, reported. Since 1983, the FDA has prevented men who have had sexual relations with other men to donate blood—a policy that many see as being unnecessary and discriminatory. Twitter decided to take a stand against this policy after a gay employee was turned away from a blood drive being held at its headquarters. That employee filed a complaint with human resources and Twitter decided to no longer host blood drives onsite after April 2015.

Gay CIA contractor Brett Jones said that he and the spy agency have "resolved" their issues, four months after Jones went public with a story of harassment during a recent deployment that Jones said grew so bad he feared for his life, ABC News reported. Among other things, Jones said he attended a crucial pre-mission briefing in which someone had switched out the actual briefing slides with ones filled with offensive language, mostly extremely sexual or racist in nature. Jones also found what he called racist and homophobic images on a CIA-owned computer.

The National LGBTQ Task Force issued a press release condemning the treatment of transgender activist Jes Grobman by the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia. Grobman was arrested during a "Transgender Week of Action" protest, although charges have been dropped against her. "Last night's action, which was intended to highlight violence and discrimination experienced by transgender people, clearly demonstrated why transgender people are afraid of going to police for help. Transgender people of color are especially vulnerable—15% percent of black trans people and 9 percent of Latino/a trans people have been assaulted by police. Transgender women of color are frequent targets of police profiling," said National LGBTQ Task Force Trans/Gender Non-Conforming Justice Project Director Victoria Rodriguez-Roldan.

The last man still serving time in the 1991 gay-bashing death of a Houston banker has been granted parole, CBS News reported. Jon Buice was one of 10 teens and young men arrested in the beating and stabbing death of Paul Broussard, whose killing galvanized the gay community and prompted protests. Buice, then 17, stabbed the man to death; he pled guilty to murder and was sentenced to 45 years in prison. The victim's mother, Nancy Rodriguez, says Buice should serve at least 27 years—representing her son's age when he was killed.

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz criticized the Obama administration's expressed support for allowing transgender teenagers regarding restroom access, according to Metro Weekly. "Look these guys are so nutty that the federal government is going after school districts, trying to force them to let boys shower with little girls," Cruz said. "This is lunacy." In response, GLSEN Executive Director Dr. Eliza Byard said in a statement, "Sen. Cruz makes loud, thoughtless pronouncements to shill for votes at the expense of young people's well-being. For him to make these statements on the eve of Transgender Day of Remembrance, when we mourn the loss of far too many to transphobic hate, is particularly shameful."

Tucson, Arizona, announced the city's new police chief, Christopher Magnus, who is openly gay, according to . Magnus, who recently married his partner, was the first openly gay police chief to marry. He previously served at the police chief in Richmond, California. Tucson received a 100 on the Human Rights Campaign's Municipal Equality Index.

Democratic state Sen. Anthony Williams is calling on Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin and other officials to resign for their roles in the "porngate" email scandal, reported. Williams met with a group of community and religious leaders, including Philadelphia NAACP head Rodney Muhammed, where he showed them 10 of the emails traded among prosecutors, public defenders, judges and other members of the state judicial system. One features an audio clip called "Ned calls the gay and lesbian channel." "I mean, we all know gay men are very promiscuous," the man tells a customer service representative.

In Texas, a man has been charged with the murder of a gay man who was found inside a burned pick-up truck, and his family says that the alleged culprit is an acquaintance, LGBTQ Nation reported. David James Brown, 22, has been charged with the murder of 28-year-old Marc Pourner. Brown was apprehended in Lafayette, Indiana.

A California man was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for killing his boyfriend, cutting him up into pieces, and burying his body parts in plastic bags behind the iconic Hollywood sign in Los Angeles, according to LGBTQ Nation. Gabriel Campos-Martinez, 38, was found guilty of murdering 66-year-old boyfriend Hervey Medellin four years ago. Detectives were unable to locate the actual tools Campos-Martinez used to dismember Medellin, and the man's torso has yet to be found.

Joseph Boeckmann, an Arkansas judge, has been accused of engaging in sex with young male offenders in exchange for drastically reduced sentences, according to LGBTQ Nation. According to an ethics complaint, Boeckman made offenders perform "substituionary sentences," asking them to "contact him to present their 'trash pick up' requirements at either his office or his home." reports that Boeckmann can't be removed from office, despite the severity of the accusations.

A Kansas legislative committee's chairman has raised questions about whether gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve as foster parents for abused and neglected children, according to the Associated Press. Sen. Forrest Knox had the Special Committee on Foster Care Adequacy hear testimony on "family structure considerations" in placing children in foster care. Equality Kansas Executive Director Tom Witt called the hearing "reprehensible."

CEO Martin Shkreli earned the world's wrath when his company, Turing Pharmaceuticals, purchased the rights to AIDS drug Daraprim and raised the price by more than 5,000 percent—and now Turing has reported a $14.6 million net loss in its third quarter, LGBTQ Nation reported. The company justified the losses by saying it's spending 60 percent of its revenue on drug research. The drug is used to fight the Toxoplasma gondii parasite, which more than 60 million U.S. residents carry.

While speaking at the National Religious Liberties Conference, Pastor Kevin Swanson told the crowd that he was "not kidding" when he said he'd smear feces all over himself if his son were ever to marry another man, LGBTQ Nation reported. "There are families, we're talking Christian families, pastors' families, elders' families from good, godly churches," he preached. "Their sons are rebelling! Hanging out with homosexuals and getting married!" With tears running down his cheeks, he added, "I'm grieving! I'm mourning! I'm pointing out the problem!"

There's been yet another attack in Dallas's gayborhood of Oak Lawn—this one leaving the victim hospitalized with a skull fracture, reported. Geoffrey Hubbard, a gay man who works as a bartender at the Cedar Springs Tap House, was attacked by an unidentified man who started going through his pockets. Hubbard had a temporal bone fracture and required stitches to his head. The heavily gay area, with nightlife centered on Cedar Springs Road, has been the site of about a dozen attacks on gay men in the past three months.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal ended his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, saying on Fox News that "it's not my time," according to USA Today. While Jindal's campaign showed some progress in Iowa—site of the Feb. 1 caucuses that open the Republican nomination contest—he had trouble gaining traction in other states. Jindal was known for his anti-LGBT views.

A new brief released by the Movement Advancement Project ( MAP ) reports that transgender people are often denied access to essential identity documents, exposing them to a range of discrimination and harms, including harassment, denial of employment and more. "LGBT Policy Spotlight: Identity Documents Laws and Policies" examines the state laws and policies that govern the processes by which people who are transgender are able to correct the name and gender marker on their identity documents so that those documents match the gender the person lives every day. Visit

In Virginia, anti-gay Sterling Supervisor Eugene Delgaudio—who is also part of the group Public Advocate of the United States—lost his race for re-election, according to Right Wing Watch. Through Public Advocate, Delgaudio has been a constant source of extremist statements, including "My health is suffering under the strain of fighting the radical Homosexual Lobby with limited help. I can't eat, I can't sleep and I am sick with worry." Delgaudio lost to Koran Saines 3,251 votes to 3,037, according to the Loudoun Times-Mirror.

After a 30-year ban, San Francisco may see its historic bathhouses reopened, LGBTQ Nation reported. In 1984, during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, a San Francisco Superior Court judge effectively banned bathhouses by ordering them to remove all doors from private rooms so that staff could make sure patrons were practicing safe sex. Now, Mayor Ed Lee has told the Bay Area Reporter that he is "open" to the idea of doing away with that rule and allowing bathhouses to once again operate within city limits—but public health officials must be on board, as well.

In Virginia, Richmond City police officer Centell Colonzo McNeil is claiming that gay-porn actor Juan Davila ( of Fort Lauderdale, Florida ) harassed him after the officer allegedly inadvertently contacted him on FaceTime, according to Courthouse News. McNeil claims he later received several harassing phone calls from Davila at a blocked number, as well as text messages propositioning him for oral sex. McNeil claims it all started when he accidentally contacted Davila while seeking technical advice on a carbine assault rifle he'd just purchased.

A charter school in North Carolina suspended all-after school clubs after being faced with complaints about its new LGBT student group, noted. Layne Long, a teacher at the Lake Lure Classical Academy, allowed a student to hold the inaugural meeting for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Club in her classroom. However, after some complaints, a statement on the school website read, "Out of prudence, the board has temporarily suspended all club activities and has tasked the Policy Committee to obtain legal guidance and to bring a recommended approach to the board."

In Florida, Orange County is ending its domestic-partner benefits program next year now that same-sex couples can legally marry in the state, according to . The change will take effect Jan. 1, 2016. The county says the existing 11 Orange County employees who currently take advantage of the program with medical or dental or vision coverage will be provided with a grace period until the end of 2016 to continue coverage using the domestic-partner eligibility requirements.

A 24-year-old man descended from a Hasidic "dynasty" is transitioning into a woman, enraging members of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community she left behind, The New York Post reported. Srully Stein, who now goes by Abby, recently came out as a woman and said she's finally living as her true self—something she said was impossible to do growing up in her restrictive household in Brooklyn. Stein—who some say has "royal blood" coursing through her veins because of her grandfather, the prominent Rabbi Mordechai Stein—began hormone replacement therapy Sept. 4.

Starbucks has announced that it will brand 97 of its coffee shops in Seattle as safe havens for LGBT victims of hate crimes, Gay Times Magazine reported. Seattle Police Department's Safe Place program was started in May, and has seen 650 business around the city join in by placing rainbow-colored sticker sin their shop windows to indicate safe spaces.

Wisconsin-based retailer Kohl's is earning plaudits for its holiday commercial, according to The Huffington Post. Posted as part of Kohl's #AllTogetherNow campaign, the ad shows a diverse family preparing a holiday meal together in a bustling kitchen. As they sit down to dinner, a gay couple shares a toast that, from the looks of it, might mark an engagement. The new clip is the first of eight that will feature personal stories from each of the family members.

This article shared 5003 times since Tue Nov 24, 2015
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