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National roundup: Michigan marriages; mayor's honor; killer found
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

This article shared 6659 times since Tue Feb 10, 2015
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Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder announced that his administration will recognize 300 same-sex marriages that took place during a 24-hour window when they were legal in Michigan last year, according to . However, that doesn't change the Republican administration's plan to defend the state's ban on same-sex marriage at the U.S. Supreme Court later this year. The case out of Michigan is one of four marriage-equality cases the nation's highest court will consider this spring, likely issuing a ruling on the legality of same-sex marriage nationwide by June.

Lesbian Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who is serving her third and last term as the city's mayor, was named one of the top 10 Mayors of the World for 2014, the Houston Business Journal noted. She ranked number seven on the Top 10 list for the international competition and was the only U.S. mayor to make it into the top 10. The 2014 World Mayor Prize went to Calgary, Canada, Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

The search to find the man responsible for killing a North Philadelphia lesbian woman in broad daylight last month has ended, Philadelphia Gay News reported. Randolph Sanders, a co-worker of Kim Jones, confessed to murdering the 56-year-old newlywed the morning of Jan. 13. Investigators say Sanders killed Jones because she was investigating his alleged theft from their workplace.

Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee has said that expecting Christians to accept same-sex marriage is "like asking someone who's Jewish to start serving bacon-wrapped shrimp in their deli," reported. He also called homosexuality part of a lifestyle, like drinking and swearing. Huckabee's comments came during an appearance on CNN's State of the Union, as he defended an excerpt from his new book in which he says he has friends and associates who are gay.

Atlanta police have arrested the domestic partner of a woman who was shot and killed, and charged her with murder, reported. Ashley Belle, 22, was shot and killed Jan. 26 in an Atlanta apartment that she shared with Laura Bozeman, also 22. "The preliminary on-scene investigation revealed that the victim and perpetrator are domestic partners, and that they had been in verbal and physical altercations for the past two days," Atlanta police spokesperson Kim Jones said.

An Arkansas man's husband has claimed he was turned away from numerous churches while trying to hold a funeral for his deceased partner, Raw Story reported. Even the local firehouse, which was built by his father, reportedly closed its doors to the grieving family, refusing to host a reception or memorial for James Stone, who died at age 32 in January. Stone struggled with Sjogren's syndrome, a rare autoimmune disorder that tennis player Venus Williams also has. However, husband Jay Hoskins said that Stone took his own life.

Niki Quasney—the Munster, Indiana, woman who, along with her wife Amy Sandler—became one of the most prominent figures in the movement last year to legalize same-sex marriage in the state, has died at age 38, the Indy Star reported. She died Feb. 5, more than five years after she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Last spring, a federal judge granted an emergency request to recognize their Massachusetts marriage, a decision that made them the first—and, for a time, only—legally married same-sex couple in the state. Same-sex marriage became legal in Indiana last October.

Gay couples began getting married in Alabama Feb. 9 after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to block a court order requiring the state to license same-sex marriages, NBC News noted. The decision came after Roy Moore, the state chief justice, had defied a federal court decision and ordered clerks not to recognize same-sex marriages on the day they were to take effect. However, at least 35 of the state's 67 counties refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, as of that same day, ABC News noted.

Virginia Coast Guardsman Adrian Loya was apprehended after he attacked a lesbian couple in their Massachusetts home, fatally shooting one woman and gravely injuring her wife because he was obsessed with one of the women, according to The New York Daily News. Coast Guard Petty Officer Lisa Trubnikova, 31, died at the scene of the rampage in Cape Cod. Her 30-year-old wife, Anna Trubnikova, also a petty officer, remains hospitalized with severe injuries. Relatives told the Boston Globe that Loya had been pursuing Lisa Trubnikova for years, beginning when all three were stationed in Alaska.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) issued a report and resource guide, "Chipping Away at Equality," that compiles more than two dozen new, sweeping and seemingly coordinated pieces of legislation in more than a dozen states across the country—all geared toward undermining LGBT equality via religious language, according to a press release. Many of the measures are modeled on a failed attempt in Arizona last year that drew condemnation from businesses, faith communities and elected officials in both parties. Some of the states with such measures, according to HRC, are Indiana, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Georgia, Michigan and Mississippi.

Iowa man Lee Stafford and his fiancé, Jared—who were turned away from a Grimes, Iowa, wedding venue because they're gay—reached a settlement two years after Stafford sued the venue for discrimination, Towleroad noted. The incident occurred two years ago when the couple approached Betty Odgaard and her husband, the owners of Gortz Haus; however, the Mennonite owners turned the couple away, citing religious beliefs. The settlement included paying $2,500 to the couple as well as agreeing to not discriminate in the future; however, the Odgaards have closed the venue to all couples.

The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries ( BOLI ) announced that the owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa violated a state nondiscrimination ordinance when they refused to sell a wedding cake to a lesbian couple, according to . The bakery may have to pay the couple as much as $150,000, although damages will be determined at a future hearing. In January 2013, Aaron and Melissa Klein, co-owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, refused to sell a wedding cake to Rachel Cryer and Laurel Bowman ( now Bowman-Cryer ) because they were a same-sex couple.

A new plaque at Minneapolis City Hall commemorates the state's first legal same-sex marriages performed there in 2013, the Associated Press noted. Sixty-seven couples were married Aug. 1 of that year after Minnesota became the 12th state in the nation to recognize same-sex unions. Mayor Betsy Hodges unveiled the new plaque at a ceremony in the City Hall rotunda; couples who were married that night at City Hall also attended.

The Florida Supreme Court has heard arguments on the definition of sexual intercourse in a test of a law requiring HIV-positive people to tell partners of their status, Raw Story reported. The case arose in Key West where Gary Debaun was charged in 2011 with falsely telling a man he did not have the virus before they engaged in sex. Monroe County Circuit Judge Wayne Miller dismissed the case, saying state law defined "sexual intercourse" as between men and women.

In Utah, a Mormon who runs a website for church members questioning their faith said he expects to be excommunicated based on the tenor of a recent disciplinary hearing—but he may not find out for days, the Associated Press reported. John Dehlin said he was told last year that his website,, and his public support of same-sex marriage were reasons he is being accused of apostasy ( repeatedly acting in clear public opposition to the church ).

ViiV Healthcare announced the launch of a four-year, $10-million initial investment to fuel a concerted community response to the HIV epidemic among Black men who have cex with men ( MSM ) in Baltimore, Maryland and Jackson, Mississippi—two U.S. cities hard hit by HIV/AIDS, according to a press release. The goal for this new initiative, named ACCELERATE!, is to help speed up community-driven solutions to increase access and engagement in supportive HIV care and services by Black MSM.

Two GOP lawmakers have signed on as co-sponsors of the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that would fully repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, LGBTQ Nation noted. U.S. Reps. Robert Dold ( R-Ill. ) and Carlos Curbelo ( R-Fla. ) joined co-sponsors Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen ( R-Fla. ) and Richard Hanna ( R-N.Y. ), raising the total to four. U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler ( D-N.Y. ) re-introduced the bill in the U.S. House Jan. 6, aimed at ensuring all legally married, same-sex couples are treated equally under federal law; U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein ( D-Calif. ) introduced the companion bill in the Senate.

In Ohio, Cincinnati Police Department LGBT Liaison Angela Vance has come under fire for a recently published, intra-office newsletter condemning social conservatives who don't support the queer community, according to Towleroad. Included within the nine-page newsletter were excerpts from a Huffington Post article written by Brynn Tannehill entitled "Not One More." ( The piece focused on the role that anti-LGBT, conservative religious culture played in the death of trans teen Leelah Alcorn. ) Cincinnati Police Chief Jeffrey Blackwell has said that the police department's newsletter will go through more careful editing and revision by more than one person.

Police in Spokane, Washington, are under investigation for their response to a vicious assault on a transgender woman at a bakery, revealed. Jacina Carla Scamahorn sustained "major damage to the left side of her face," including several broken bones, from two men who she says had been drinking at a nearby bar. When police arrived, they allegedly added insult to injury by being disrespectful and referring to her as a "man" several times, despite protests from the bakery's servers.

Transgender television news reporter Zoey Tur is featured as a special correspondent on Inside Edition during February, The Miami Herald noted. Tur was formerly known as Chopper Bob, a helicopter pilot who reported on the infamous O.J. Simpson police pursuit in 1994 and the Los Angeles riots in 1992. Tur—who told The Wrap that his "son was very understanding and daughter [NBC News Correspondent Katie Tur] took [the announcement of the transition] very hard—was also credited with saving the lives of 54 people during a freak Southern California storm in January 1988.

A bill regarding the religious rights of people has received initial approval in the Wyoming House of Representatives, LGBTQ Nation reported. The bill would allow businesses to deny services when their religion disagrees with another person's actions, including potentially allowing county clerks to deny issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The bill comes after a federal court forced Wyoming to recognize same-sex marriage.

In a statement, the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) Foundation appealed to the San Francisco Archdiocese to remove what it views as harsh anti-LGBT language from its new teachers' contract. Documents presented to teachers from the archdiocese reportedly characterized LGBT sexual relationships as "gravely evil." ( Adultery, masturbation, porn and fornication were also described this way, CBS San Francisco noted. ) Lisbeth Melendez Rivera, director of Latina/o and Catholic Initiatives for HRC Foundation's Religion and Faith Program, said, "In imposing what amounts to an anti-LGBT purity test, the archbishop is closing the door on dedicated professionals, many of them faithful Catholics, gay and straight, whose moral codes do not embrace discrimination."

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock canceled his planned address at the National LGBTQ Task Force's annual Creating Change event after a group of nearly 100 trans people and allies stormed the stage, demanding solidarity from LGBQ advocates, according to . After Task Force deputy executive director Russell Roybal and Creating Change director Sue Hyde introduced the evening's emcee, comedian Kate Clinton, a group of trans activists and allies, led by Bamby Salcedo, stormed the stage with dozens of handmade signs as the chant "Jessie Presente!" filled the ballroom. In Denver, authorities had recently killed queer teen Latina Jessie Hernandez.

In Texas, Fort Worth has now extended spousal benefits to the legal same-sex spouses of city employees, The Dallas Voice reported. The policy change was made to keep the city in compliance with IRS rulings handed down in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's June 2013 ruling in United States v. Windsor that overturned the section of the federal Defense of Marriage Act prohibiting federal government from recognizing legal same-sex marriages.

A new study has found that LGBT youth who come out at school report more positive adjustment as young adults and have significantly lower levels of depression with higher levels of self-esteem and life satisfaction, compared with LGBT youth who did not disclose or who concealed their sexual orientation or gender identity from others at school, a press release stated. Analyzing data from the Family Acceptance Project's young adult survey, researchers examined experiences related to disclosing LGBT status to others at school, school victimization and young adult psychosocial adjustment among 245 non-Latino white and Latino LGBT young adults, ages 21 to 25. For more information, visit .

The board of directors of the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance ( NQAPIA ) announced that Glenn D. Magpantay is the organization's new executive director, according to a press release. Magpantay has been with NQAPIA since the beginning, as one of the organization's founders. Since 2009, he has served as NQAPIA's co-director of development.

A watchdog group thinks there's something wrong with the Downton Abbey-inspired office decorations of U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock ( R-Ill. ), The Huffington Post reported. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics after The Washington Post reported that Annie Brahler, an Illinois-based interior decorator, designed Schock's office for free. In its complaint, CREW says that by accepting the gift, Schock violated House rules, which prohibit members from accepting gifts, including "gifts of services." ( Schock later told ABC News, regarding his decor, that he's "never been an old crusty white guy."

Friends and allies of World OutGames Miami 2017 attended the "Latina Art Showcase" fundraiser recently, when 100 guests helped raise almost $10,000, according to a press release. Dignitaries lending their cooperation included the Honorable Bruno Barreiro, Miami-Dade County Commissioner; Joe Granda, CEO of Granda Entertainment Group; Oscar Christian, CEO of ALAS Consulting Group; and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Danell Leyva.

A fire destroyed a gay nightclub in Nebraska's capital city on Jan. 31, The Washington Blade reported. A fire broke out at the Karma Nightclub and Cabaret in downtown Lincoln. The blaze that grew to four alarms gutted the building and caused its roof to collapse. Two people were inside the building when the fire began, but they were able to escape uninjured.

A gay teenage vlogger ( video blogger ) claims he was forced to leave his high school due to his sexual orientation, according to . Austin Wallis, 17, posted a video on his YouTube channel that revealed how his principal reportedly called him into his office after the administration discovered that Wallis was out regarding his orientation. The principal allegedly told Wallis that he "had to go back in the closet, which means I had to delete all my social media including YouTube," Wallis recounts in the video.

Dean Smith—the coach who won two national championships at the University of North Carolina; won an Olympic gold medal in 1976; and was inducted into basketball's Hall of Fame more than a decade before he left the bench—has died at 83, noted. A Yahoo! Sports op-ed commented on the fact that Smith was a devout Democrat who supported many causes over the decades, ranging from desegregation to LGBT rights.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation ( AHF ) commemorated National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and officially announced its Black AIDS Crisis Taskforce ( ABACT ) at a private champagne brunch and celebrity media event Feb. 7 at H.O.M.E. Beverly Hills, according to Business Wire. Among those who attended were actor Jussie Smollett ( of the Fox show Empire ), Grammy-nominated singer Ledisi, gospel singer Yolanda Adams and activist Hydeia Broadbent.

A tapestry resembling uniforms worn by Nazi concentration camp prisoners is drawing outrage from the Anti-Defamation League, The New York Daily News reported. The striped tapestry sold by Urban Outfitters features upside-down pink triangles that are "eerily reminiscent" of those used to identify gay male prisoners in the camps, the organization said. Just months earlier, the company released a "vintage" Kent State University sweatshirt that appeared splattered with fake blood.

The National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association ( NLGJA ) announced that daytime talk-show host Meredith Vieira will host its 20th annual New York Benefit: Headlines & Headliners on Thursday, April 16, according to a press release. More than 300 journalists, news executives, dignitaries and allies attend this event every year. At the event, Vieira will present NLGJA's 10th Leroy F. Aarons Scholarship and the fifth Kay Longcope Scholarship.

The National LGBT Bar Association unveiled a new online campaign to provide students preparing for the February bar examination with tools, resources and advice for managing stress while preparing for their exam, a press release stated. The #BarLove campaign, online at, includes an online "Valentine's Card" for students, outlining steps students can take to find help.

Two male nurses who were caught on video engaging in a sex act with each other while caring for a 99-year-old stroke victim pled guilty to a felony charge of inflicting mental suffering on an elder, reported. Russel Torralba, 42, and Alfredo V. Ruiz, 43, will be sentenced March 30. Judge Lorna Alksne called the behavior by the defendants "shocking," but dismissed a count of lewd and lascivious behavior.

In New York City, the former home of Chelsea's iconic gay bar Rawhide will soon become a high-end lingerie and sex-toy shop, DNAinfo reported. Miki Ohana, the manager at neighboring sex shop The Blue Store, beat out several other gay bars that were competing for the space, where he hopes to open up the "intimate store" by Valentine's Day. Rawhide closed down after 33 years on Eighth Avenue in 2013, when the bar's landlord increased the rent from $15,000 to $27,000 a month.

Twenty-four-year-old Matt Green, a second-year rabbinical student at New York City's Hebrew Union College, is making a name for himself as the "Grindr Rebbe," The Daily Beast noted. Having returned to the United States this summer after his first year of rabbinical school in Israel, Green quirkily decided to indicate that fact in his personal Grindr profile—and said the response was overwhelming. "Grindr is an untapped place for outreach potential," said Green, who submitted a grant proposal that called for using Grindr as a way to locate and gather curious or unaffiliated Jews in a certain area to bring them a Jewish experience to which they could relate.

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