Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti joined local lawmakers in announcing the creation of the Transgender Advisory Council ( TAC ), The Daily Caller reported. At a press conference, Garcetti said, "The nine members of our Transgender Advisory Council will bring a new and important perspective to City Hall that will help empower trans Angelenos to lead stigma-free, productive, and meaningful lives." According to a statement from the mayor's office, the TAC will advise "departments and other elected officials on projects and policies that address critical issues facing the trans community, such as economic development, public safety, accessibility and public awareness."
A bill that opponents said would largely limit the rights of transgender students in public schools to use the bathroom of their choice advanced in the Tennessee legislature, NewsChannel5.com reported. It's technically titled House Bill 2414; however, behind the numbers is a policy that would require students at public schools in Tennessee to use bathrooms or locker rooms that corespondent with the gender on their birth certificates. Pro-LGBT criticized the advancement. "Every student should be allowed to use the restroom in peace," Matt McTighe, executive director of Freedom for All Americans said in a statement. Sadly, House Bill 2414 specifically targets transgender students from using the restroom that matches the identity they live as every day."
The National Center for Lesbian Rights' Garden Party will honor California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and new lesbian Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski on April 2 ( during Dinah Weekend ) in Palm Springs, California, according to a press release. Newsomwho made history as San Francisco's mayor in 2004 by issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and is a staunch LGBT equality allywill receive the Champion Award. Biskupski will be honored with the Trailblazer Award for paving the way for others who would like to pursue elected office.
Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer, the highest ranking active officer to challenge the U.S. military's ban on LGBT service members, will be presented with the 2016 Leonard Matlovich Medal for Distinguished Service by American Veterans for Equal Rights ( AVER ), a press release stated. The medal will be presented to Cammermeyer at AVER's 25th-anniversary national convention to be held April 21-24 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Tom Swann, 58, and Guillermo Hernandez, 21, of Palm Springs, California, made history as the first same-sex couple to get married inside an immigration detention center, according to an Advocate.com item that cites The Desert Sun. Hernandez was brought to the United States as a child, but what led to his arrest was a string of misdemeanors; he has been in custody at the Imperial Regional Detention Facility in Calexico for the past two months. Swann is hoping their marriage will create an opportunity for Hernandez to stay in the United States, if he is deported. His next deportation hearing is scheduled for March 23.
Lambda Legal filed a petition in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit asking the court to make clear that last summer's U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which granted same-sex couples the right to marry, applies to Puerto Rico and to order the district court to enter judgment in favor of the plaintiffs, a press release stated. The First Circuit has already stated that Puerto Rico's marriage ban is unconstitutional and ordered the district court to further consider its decision in light of Obergefell. However, the district court instead issued an opinion holding that the Supreme Court decision did not apply to Puerto Rico because it is not a state.
As in other states with Republican-led legislatures, a so-called "religious-freedom bill" has passed in Georgia, CNN reported. However, Republican Gov. Nathan Deal has signaled he's not eager to sign such legislationciting his own Christian faith. Deal noted he's a Baptist, just like many of those pushing for passage of HB 757and he said, "We do not have a belief, in my way of looking at religion, that says that we have to discriminate against anybody."
In a related matter, Apple, the National Football League ( NFL ), and the Atlanta Braves, Falcons, and Hawks joined a growing list of major corporations, business leaders, and sports teams speaking out against HB 757, a Human Rights Campaign press release stated. Urging Gov. Deal to veto the discriminatory measure, Apple released a statement, saying: "Apple is proud to support jobs for 44,000 people all across Georgia. Our stores and our company are open to everyone, regardless of where they come from, what they look like, how they worship or who they love. We urge Governor Deal to veto the discriminatory legislation headed to his desk and send a clear message that Georgia's future is one of inclusion, diversity and continued prosperity."
Indiana LGBT-rights activists said that history is on their side and they will continue pressing for statewide civil-rights protections for gender identity and sexual orientation despite lawmakers' failure to come to an agreement during the recently adjourned legislative session, an Associated Press item stated. "The momentum is on our side. Public perception is on our side," said Peter Hanscom, a spokesman for Indiana Competes, a coalition of several hundred businesses and groups. Lawmakers wrapped up the 2016 session last week without advancing measures in the Senate that addressed LGBT-rights protections.
A new report released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows increasing national support for adoptions by LGBT parents, a National Center for Lesbian Rights press release stated. The National Survey on Family Growth, which studies attitudes toward a broad range of social issues, including those impacting the LGBT community, shows support for adoption by same-sex parents is up from 55 to 75 percent among women and from 47 to 68 percent among men. The report is at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr092.pdf.
The Weitzman Institutethe innovation and research arm of Community Health Center, Inc.is launching a national program to improve health outcomes for LGBT patients by increasing the availability of culturally responsible, comprehensive primary care, according to a press release. Providers from 10 community-health centers gathered in Washington, D.C. to initiate a learning collaborative designed to improve health outcomes for a community often facing social stigma and discrimination in health care access and delivery. The first-of-its kind national effort is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the National Association of Community Health Centers; and Fenway Health, an organization focused on national and international health issues, especially related to LGBT communities.
In New York's St. Patrick's Day Parade, a second groupthe Lavender and Green Alliancemarched in the event, ABC News reported. The group joined an LGBT contingent from parade sponsor NBCUniversal. New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio said, "Today, everyone is celebrating together. Today, the city is at peace, and the city is unified, and we all feel tremendous pride in all of the people who brought us together." This year's parade honored the centennial of Ireland's Easter Rising against British rule, and was also broadcast live in Ireland and the United Kingdom for the first time.
Cleveland Police union president Steve Loomis ( pictured below ) blamed "short staffing" for the department's failure to appropriately respond to the murder of a gay man earlier this monthclaiming police near the scene of the crime were far too busy while the murder was in progress to respond in time and potentially save the man's life, according to a NewNowNext item that cites Fox 8. Fox 8 obtained a 911 call made by the victim Christopher Hardy's boyfriend, George Rauls, as he stood over Christopher and strangled him to death with a belt, questioning the 911 operator as to why the police were taking so long to respond. In the end, police arrived nearly 12 minutes after the call was placed, four minutes longer than average, and Hardy was dead.
The Ohio Supreme Court is adopting the use of gender-neutral references in family-court cases in place of words such as "husband "and "wife" following the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling legalizing gay marriage across the country, The Associated Press reported. The Ohio order also includes "father," "mother," "parent" and "spouse" in its description of terms expressing familial relationships. This covers areas such as divorce, child support, guardianships, adoption, domestic relations and domestic violence.
A top Missouri business association is opposing legislation to create religious protections for businesses objecting to same-sex marriage, The Associated Press noted. The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the measure would hurt the state's economy. The proposal would prohibit government penalties against businesses and employees who cite religious beliefs while declining to provide wedding-related services to same-sex couples, also applying to clergy and religious organizations.
In a move praised by LGBT advocates, the Catholic Church in Michigan is making changes to its health care plan that could allow gays to get health care for their partners or spouses, The Detroit Free Press reported. In a letter sent to pastors and employees of the Catholic Church in Michigan, the Michigan Catholic Conference said it is modifying its health-care coverage to include legally domiciled adultsmeaning those who are above 18, have lived with the employee for at least six months and are financially interdependent with the employee; sexual orientation is irrelevant regarding consideration.
An Atlanta man is being charged with two counts of aggravated battery after he allegedly poured boiling water on a young gay couple taking a nap, Advocate.com reported. Authorities reported that Martin Blackwell, 48, found Anthony Gooden, 23, and Marquez Tolbert, 21, resting on a mattress in the living room of Gooden's College Park apartment. ( Gooden shares the residence with his mother, with whom Blackwell is in a relationship. ) Blackwell has said the two men had recently been inseparable and that he couldn't stand the sight of them together. The FBI has initiated a hate-crimes probe.
Advocates for Ofc. Claudia D. Carr say anti-LGBT bias within the Cherry Hill, New Jersey, police department contributed to her termination, but they're hoping she'll be able to receive a pension, Philadelphia Gay News reported. Carr, 56, has a wife and a teenage daughter, and she's counting on her pension to help her support them. The accusation that Carr threatened a coworker allegedly was an excuse to dismiss Carr because she came out as a lesbian, a complaint states.
An Iowa Republican lawmaker is threatening to subpoena a gay-rights activist who's refusing to testify before a House panel that's investigating a safe schools conference for LGBTQ youth, according to The New Civil Rights Movement. Anti-gay state Rep. Greg Heartsill, who oversees the panel, sent a letter to the attorney who represents Iowa Safe Schools Executive Director Nate Monson. Monson is refusing to testify before the panel, which is looking into allegations from Bob Vander Plaats' anti-gay Family Leader group that the 11th annual Governor's Conference on LGBTQ Youth in 2015 included sexually explicit content.
Also in Iowa, a divided Iowa Senate voted to add transgender individuals to the list of people protected under the state's hate-crimes laws, which carry enhanced punishment for convictions, The Des Moines Register reported. Senate File 2284 was approved on 27-21 vote with Sen. Charles Schneider, R-West Des Moines, joining all 26 Democrats in voting yes; Republicans cast all the no votes. The bill now goes to the Republican-controlled Iowa House.
A church in Mason City, Iowa, was the target of vandalism just after the Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus came to perform, according to The Column. The vandals used spray paint to cover the sign at First Congregational United Church of Christ that announced the Gay Men's Chorus performance. The Iowa Conference of the United Church of Christ sent the church a letter of support following the act of vandalism.
A southern Minnesota law-enforcement officer says he was evicted from his Bird Island apartment in 2014 because he is gay, TwinCities.com reported. Renville County sheriff's Sgt. Sam Olson is now suing the apartment complex, Island Estates of Bird Island, on grounds of discrimination. The Minnesota Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on personal characteristics such as race, religion, national origin, sex, disability, age and sexual orientation. Housing is protected under the act.
Family Research Council ( FRC ) president Tony Perkins has been elected as a delegate and a member of the platform committee for the Republican Party, Advocate.com shared. Perkins announced his selection in a press release on the website for Family Research Council Action, the FRC's lobbying arm. Perkins was also a delegate from his home state of Louisiana and a member of the platform committee in 2012, when the party amped up the platform language opposing marriage equality.
After publicly sharing the details of an alleged attack motivated by her sexual orientation in August, a lesbian Central Michigan University instructor was sentenced ( to $225 in fines and six months probation ) for filing a false police report regarding the assault, Morning Sun News reported. While attending a Toby Keith concert at the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort on Aug. 19, a man insulted Mari Poindexter, calling her a "cross-dressing fag," among other things. Later that night, Poindexter said that same man attacked her in the parking lot of the Cabin Bar, punching her in the eye and spitting on her.
Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) and Equality North Carolina criticized the leaders of the North Carolina legislature for calling a special session ( for March 23 ) to undermine Charlotte's recently passed non-discrimination ordinance. In a press release, Equality North Carolina Executive Director Chris Sgro said, "Speaker Moore and Senator Berger have said that they will come back into session later this week to consider legislation which would overturn non-discrimination protections across the state. This special session will cost $42,000 per daymore than the average starting salary for a teacher in North Carolina."
Utah state Sen. Jim Dabakis staged a "mini-filibuster" to prevent an anti-LGBT proposal from the extremely homophobic GOP Rep. Lavar Christensen, according to a NewNowNext.com item that cites The New Civil Rights Movement. When the clerk called the name of Democratic Sen. Jim Dabakis, the only openly gay member of the legislature, he stalled by clearing his throat and sneezing, then seemed to fumble his words and ponder his vote.
Tennessee state Rep. John Ray Clemmons withdrew a resolution honoring the Bingham Cup, an international gay rugby tournament planned for Nashville on May 22-29, according to NashvillePublicRadio.org . The resolution described the biennial tournament, which will take place in May, as a "prestigious event" that's expected to bring 1,500 players and guests to the city. Opponents believed the resolution was designed to trick them into voting for an LGBT event.
In Pennsylvania, Conestoga High School football coach John Vogan is stepping down from his post in the wake of charges against three of his players for hazing and assaulting a 14-year-old freshman teammate, PA Prep Live reported. The alleged assault occurred as part of what prosecutors said was known as "No Gay Thursday." Among the charges against the three juvenilesall 17 years oldare assault, conspiracy, terroristic threats, and unlawful restraint.
One gay man claims that his relationship of six years ended because his boyfriend could no longer handle his vehement support of Donald Trump, NewNowNext.com noted. Tee Lee took to Twitter to air his grievances about the breakup, posting, "#TrumpRally My partner for 6 years has just broken up with me, just because I support Donald Trump and his ideas. #gaysfortrump #gay #sad." It turns out that Lee also lives at Trump Tower.
The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) has joined New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in urging the NFL to explain and address what the HRC calls "deeply disturbing reports that some prospective players are being asked inappropriate questions about their sexual orientation," according to a press release. ESPN reported recently that one player attending the NFL Scouting Combine was asked by a coach from the Atlanta Falcons if he was gay. "Neither the NFL nor any employer should ever ask the sexual orientation or gender identity of prospective candidates for the purposes of making personnel decisions," said HRC President Chad Griffin.
PFLAG National will honor Emmy- and Tony-winning actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth, speaker/author Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry and Wells Fargo at the 8th Annual Straight for Equality Awards Gala, a press release stated. Chenoweth will receive the Straight for Equality in Entertainment award, Harris-Perry will receive the inaugural Straight for Equality in Media award and Wells Fargo will receive the Straight for Equality in the Workplace honors on Monday, April 4, at the Marriott Marquis New York in Times Square. PFLAG National also announced that actor/comedian Alec Mapa will return as host for the evening.
In Ohio, Dayton Public Schools held another contentious meeting, as school board members argued over a resolution about hate groups, and security guards stepped in to calm shouting audience members, according to MyDaytonDailyNews.com . The tension dates back to March 1, when the board approved a one-sentence resolution targeting two local organizationsthe Dayton New Black Panther Party and the Nation of Islamsaying the the Southern Poverty Law Center and other groups recognize the two as hate groups. Board member Joe Lacey said he introduced the resolution ( which passed four to one ) because he had been the victim years earlier of anti-gay attacks, strengthening his resolve against hate.