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National roundup: Leelah Alcorn; gay nominee; Ohio and conversion therapy
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

This article shared 5221 times since Tue Dec 1, 2015
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Almost one year ago, transgender teen Leelah Alcorn took her life along a stretch of Interstate 71 near Kings Mill, Ohio. reported that a tribute went up along I-71 that aims to honor Alcorn's life. Alcorn's friends and supporters teamed up to participate in the state's Adopt-a-Highway program, placing a sign reading "In memory of Leelah Alcorn" along the Ohio highway where Alcorn's body was found.

The U.S. Senate confirmed to a senior position in the Labor Department an openly gay nominee who formerly served in Congress and sought to become governor of Maine, The Washington Blade reported. By unanimous consent as part of a group of 11 presidential appointments, Michael Michaud was confirmed as assistant secretary of labor for veterans' employment and training. In May, President Obama nominated Michaud to the position heading the Labor Department's Office of the Assistant Secretary for Veterans' Employment & Training.

The initial rush for gay couples to marry in Montana has declined after 436 couples married during the first year since the state's marriage ban ended—but couples say they're happy with the changes that have made their lives easier, according to a Flathead Beacon item. The rush began after U.S. District Judge Brian Morris ruled Montana's constitutional amendment limiting marriage to between a man and a woman violated the U.S. Constitution. State Attorney General Tim Fox originally said he would appeal the ruling to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, but he stopped his appeal pending legal challenges.

Two Ohio legislators are calling for an end to conversion therapy for minors throughout that state, reported. State Reps. Denise Driehaus ( D-Cincinnati ) and Debbie Philips ( D-Albany ) introduced HB 247, which would stop licensed professionals from practicing conversion therapy on children. Lawmakers told NBC4 there are three licensed professionals in Ohio currently practicing conversion therapy.

amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, announced the establishment of the amfAR Institute for HIV Cure Research, a collaborative enterprise based at UC San Francisco ( UCSF ), according to a press release. As the cornerstone of amfAR's $100-million cure research investment strategy, the aim of the institute will be to develop the scientific basis of a cure for HIV by the end of 2020. The program will involve collaborations with the Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology and Blood Systems Research Institute, as well as Oregon Health and Science University; University of California, Berkeley; Gilead Sciences; and the Infectious Disease Research Institute in Seattle.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that New York state will dedicate $200 million more to efforts to end the AIDS epidemic by 2020, according to the Associated Press. The new funding is on top of $2.5 billion New York is already spending to encourage testing and prevention and support for those living with the disease. Among those applauding the move was HIV/AIDS group ACRIA; Executive Director Benjamin Bashein said in a statement, "We cannot hope to truly end the epidemic without addressing the needs of these most vulnerable New Yorkers, and today's announcement places us squarely on that path."

Democratic presidential candidate Gov. Martin O'Malley unveiled a comprehensive plan to aid veterans that includes a promise to ensure service members separated under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" have honorable discharges, The Washington Blade reported. The Democratic presidential candidate's wide-ranging plan includes commitments to reach full veteran employment by 2020; ensure all veterans have access to health care and supportive services; end the homelessness epidemic among veterans; and protect men and women service members from sexual assault. Asked about same-sex marriage, Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio told Christian Broadcasting Network reporter David Brody that it "is current law, it is not settled law," according to The New Civil Rights Movement. Rubio added, "We are clearly called to adhere to our civil authorities." However, when "that conflicts with our requirement to adhere to God's rules," he concluded, "God's rules always win."

A Pentagon spokesperson said the Army is investigating an allegation by a gay soldier that a colonel in charge of an Army unit based in Arlington, Virginia, improperly directed subordinates to compile and circulate a list of soldiers who had tested positive for HIV, according to The Washington Blade. Sgt. Joseph Wittig told the Blade that his name was among those on the list circulated over the past two years at the Army Physical Disability Agency, located less than a mile from the Pentagon. Wittig, 34, has been on active duty with the Army for just more than 12 years; he's served two tours in Iraq and a tour in Haiti.

A Ku Klux Klan ( KKK ) leader has said that fliers for the group that were thrown onto properties around Jacksonville, Florida, are just the beginning of a major recruitment drive, according to . Grand Dragon Ken said that the recruitment effort is statewide. Members of the African-American, gay and Muslim communities in town were worried that they were being targeted when they saw the fliers, which were distributed with bags of rice to weigh them down. In fact, one flier stated, "Stop AIDS. Support Gay Bashing," according to the New Civil Rights Movement.

Native American reservations are not bound by the U.S. Supreme Court's marriage-equality decision, and many continue to forbid same-sex marriages and deny insurance and other benefits, the Associated Press reported. The reasons vary and to some extent depend on cultural recognition of gender identification and roles, and the influence of outside religions, legal experts say. The article profiles Cleo Pablo, who married her longtime partner in Arizona; however, the Ak-Chin community doesn't recognize same-sex marriages, resulting in Pablo giving up her tribal home and suing the tribe in tribal court to have her marriage validated.

In Atlanta, drag performers joined an overflowing crowd at Blake's for an emotional tribute to Lateasha Shuntel, a local drag performer who suddenly passed away, according to Project Q Atlanta. A GoFundMe campaign raising funds for Shuntel's funeral raised $17,070—more than twice its $7,500 goal—in fewer than 24 hours. Shuntel, 45, was discovered dead inside her Doraville home on Nov. 18.

Also in Georgia, a gay physician was beaten and killed during an altercation outside his DeKalb County home, and a neighbor discovered his partially clothed body in the street, Project Q Atlanta noted. Travis Keith Roth, 45, was found on Bowling Green Way outside his midcentury ranch home on Nov. 4. Funeral services for Roth were held Nov. 10 in Great Bend, Kansas.

The Greenville Baptist Association and the larger South Carolina Baptist Convention voted to sever ties with Augusta Heights Baptist Church after its pastor officiated an Oct. 10 same-sex wedding ( outside the church ), demanding repentance in exchange for reunion, according to Greenville Online. The church's pastor, Greg Dover, told The Greenville News that he received permission from his deacons to perform the wedding, and that the church itself took no position and has no intention of conducting a formal vote.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ( EEOC ) issued two documents addressing workplace rights for individuals with HIV infection under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ( ADA ), including the right to be free from employment discrimination and harassment, and the right to reasonable accommodations in the workplace, according to a press release. The documents are "Living With HIV Infection: Your Legal Rights in the Workplace Under the ADA" ( ) and "Helping Patients with HIV Infection Who Need Accommodations at Work" ( ).

The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association has received a grant renewable for up to five years from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC ) to deliver journalism training that will enhance strategies and skills in covering HIV/AIDS, a press release stated. The grant is part of CDC's Partnering and Communicating Together to Act Against AIDS program, administered by its Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention's Prevention Communication Branch. Other grantees include organizations addressing media or health issues and/or focused on serving the African-American, Latino and LGBT communities.

Nearly 200 businesses have signed up for the Kentucky Competitive Workforce Coalition, reported. The group is joining the debate on long-stalled legislation aimed at protecting LGBT Kentuckians from discrimination in the workplace, housing and public places. Eight cities in Kentucky have passed local ordinances banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. Those cities range from the state's two largest—Louisville and Lexington—to the tiny Appalachian town of Vicco.

Republican Sen. Bob Dixon is ending his campaign for governor of Missouri, the News-Leader reported. In 1992, Dixon's mother told the News-Leader she had been vehemently opposed to a 1989 play at Missouri State University that explored the topics of homosexuality and AIDS in part because her son had been gay while he was a teenager. Dixon released a statement that said his "teenage confusion" was the result of child abuse.

A newspaper in Missouri is refusing to run the wedding announcement for a gay couple—and not even giving the newlyweds a reason, according to . Shaun Murphy and Aaron Lopez tied the knot in September and contacted newspapers in Aaron's small Michigan hometown and the city in Iowa where Murphy lived until he was 10—and both were happy to run an announcement of their recent nuptials. Murphy then called the Lake Gazette in Monroe City, Missouri, where he'd lived for the remainder of his childhood—and was ( eventually ) told that the publication would not run the announcement.

In Pennsylvania, a Lehigh University student and two other men are charged with a hate crime for saying an anti-gay slur and pushing another student to the ground, the Associated Press reported. The three men were charged with ethnic intimidation and harassment. Ethnic intimidation is considered a hate crime.

A judge ruled that the anti-gay tweets of a Pennsylvania woman can be used as evidence against her in her upcoming trial for allegedly joining two men in attacking a gay couple in Philadelphia, according to an item that cites the Philadelphia Inquirer. Kathryn Knott— the daughter of Bucks County police chief Karl Knott—is charged with conspiracy, two counts of aggravated assault and related offenses in the Sept. 11 attack on a gay couple in the Center City section. Knott refused a plea deal, although her accomplices, Kevin Harrigan and Philip Williams, pled guilty to assault and conspiracy in exchange for no jail time.

The American Civil Liberties Union says a Kentucky county clerk's office should reissue altered marriage licenses even though the governor has promised to recognize them as valid, the Associated Press reported. After the situation with Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis, Gov. Steve Beshear said that the altered licenses do not comply with state law but that he would recognize them anyway. Lawyers for the couples said in a court filing the altered licenses could later be ruled invalid.

After decades of strife, the University of Minnesota recently honored the country's first same-sex couple to apply for a marriage license, reported. At an event, the university celebrated Michael McConnell and Jack Baker's donation of their personal documents, which includes love letters and court documents. Minnesota's marriage law did not mention gender when McConnell and Baker applied for marriage in 1970 in Hennepin County, but the two were denied a marriage license. The university had once offered McConnell a job, but the school rescinded the offer after learning of his sexual orientation.

About 50 residents of Wasilla, Alaska, went to a City Council meeting to air concerns about the presence of a volume called This Book Is Gay being in the children's section of the public library—with some of them calling the volume pornographic and librarians pedophiles, according to . The book, by U.K. author James Dawson, became a subject of controversy after a 10-year-old perused it in September and his mother complained about its content. The city of Wasilla first came into the national spotlight as it was the place where Sarah Palin was once mayor.

Gay Men's Health Crisis ( GMHC ) will honor Tom Viola, executive director of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS ( BC/EFA ), with the 2015 Howard Ashman Award, for his leadership, activism, and advocacy in the fight against HIV and AIDS, a press release stated. Award-winning actor Judith Light will present Viola with the award Nov. 30 at New York City's Joe's Pub.

This article shared 5221 times since Tue Dec 1, 2015
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