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National roundup: Murderer sentenced; Eric Fanning; Montana's pro-LGBT move
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

This article shared 3341 times since Tue Jan 19, 2016
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The murderer of transgender individual Ashton O'Hara has been sentenced to 30 to 60 years for voluntary manslaughter and 10 years for tampering with evidence, according to an Equality Michigan press release. On July 14, 2015, 25-year-old O'Hara's body was found brutally murdered in a Detroit field. O'Hara, who was also known as Jessica Storm, was a Black transgender and gender-fluid individual who was using the pronouns he/him at the time of his murder. Larry B. Gaulding, 39, will serve the sentences concurrently. At the time of his death, O'Hara was the 14th confirmed murder of a trans person in 2015 and the 12th of a trans person of color.

Eric Fanning is stepping aside as acting secretary of the Army as the Senate stalls his confirmation vote, The Huffington Post reported. If approved, he would be the first openly gay Army secretary. President Obama first nominated Fanning in September. Fanning has served in senior positions in the Defense Department, including acting undersecretary of the Army, special assistant to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and undersecretary of the Air Force.

Thirteen public-interest organizations have written Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, urging her to reject a request for a waiver from the standard process for reviewing merger transactions by the nation's sixth-largest nonprofit hospital system, Providence Health & Services, and St. Joseph Health, according to a joint press release. In part, the letter says, "It behooves the Attorney General to undertake the full review process to ensure that this transaction preserves existing health care services and benefits the public interest." Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, NARAL Pro Choice Oregon and ACLU of Oregon are among the 13 organizations.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) issued a statement praising Montana Gov. Steve Bullock for signing an executive order that will prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity for state employees as well state contractors and subcontractors. Bullock marked Martin Luther King Jr. Day by noting that it is time to "recommit to King's values of compassion and equity" by expanding protections for LGBT people in Montana. HRC President Chad Griffin said, "We commend him for doing everything in his administrative power to fight for the rights of LGBT Montanans, and hope his actions encourage other government officials to make safeguarding protections for all residents and visitors a priority."

A judge dismissed, on Jan. 5, the lawsuit against Planet Fitness, Newington, New Hampshire, and a Planet Fitness franchisee related to the company's transgender locker-room policy, noted. Judge Michael J. Beale of the 42nd Circuit Court of the County of Midland dismissed the case, which was filed in March 2015 and amended in June 2015, because he said that Yvette M. Cormier, the plaintiff, did not prove her case in any of the claims she made. On Feb. 28, 2015, Cormier, a member of the Planet Fitness in Midland, Michigan, at that time, found a transgender woman, who was a guest at the gym, in the women's locker room. Cormier complained to the company about the transgender person in the locker room and was informed of the policy—and Cormier's membership was eventually revoked.

The Human Rights Campaign criticized Indiana Gov. Mike Pence for what it called his failure to clearly call for fully inclusive non-discrimination protections for LGBT residents and visitors in his State of the State address. "To no one's surprise, yet again Governor Mike Pence has failed Indiana and all Hoosiers," said JoDee Winterhof, HRC senior vice president for policy and political affairs. "The state is in urgent need of leadership by the Governor to undo the damage from last year's debacle [during which Pence signed state's new Religious Freedom Restoration Act and subsequent legislation], and Pence is clearly unwilling or incapable of doing the job."

Approximately 150 people came out to a Jan. 12 "Remove Roy Moore" rally organized by Equality Wiregrass and the Human Rights Campaign, according to . Protesters chanted, "No Moore," and "Sinners hate, God does not" in front of the Alabama Supreme Court in Montgomery. ( A counter-protest of about three dozen people formed lower on the steps. ) Recently, Moore issued an order saying that the Alabama Supreme Court's March ruling was still in effect, and that probate judges "have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary" to Alabama's constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage.

Terry Stone, the chief executive officer of CenterLink since 2006, announced that he will be leaving the organization when his current contract ends at the end of January 2017, according to a press release. CenterLink was founded in 1994 as a member-based coalition to support the development of strong, sustainable LGBT community centers. The board announced that the organization will conduct a search, beginning early 2016, to replace Stone.

The National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund was among those many organizations responding to President Obama's last State of the Union address, which took place Jan. 12. Executive Director Rea Carey said, in part, "Tonight, the president reminded all of us of our core American values of dignity and mutual respect—in what is a fiercely divisive political climate. A climate that has included an unprecedented deluge of hate speech against LGBTQ people, Muslims, undocumented immigrants and other groups. He denounced the politics of hatred and divisiveness with the evidence of his seven years in office—better access to health care, millions of new good-paying jobs, the potential of a world without AIDS, more LGBTQ equality and a pathway to equity for all."

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review the Fifth Court of Appeal's decision blocking the implementation of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents ( DAPA ) program and the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ( DACA ) program, according to a National Center for Lesbian Rights ( NCLR ) press release. In a statement, NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell said, "The U.S. Supreme Court today did the right thing in taking this case, which has far-reaching implications for millions of American families seeking a measure of freedom and for the ability of the President to effectively establish national immigration priorities—as expressly authorized by Congress. We are hopeful the Court will restore DAPA and DACA and lift the cloud of uncertainty that hangs over so many children and families."

Lambda Legal filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against a Boulder County property owner who allegedly violated the federal Fair Housing Act and the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act by refusing to rent a housing unit she owns in Gold Hill, Colorado, to a same-sex couple—one of whom is transgender, according to a media release. Deepika Avanti allegedly refused to rent to Tonya and Rachel Smith because she worried the couple's "uniqueness" would jeopardize her standing in the community. The lawsuit is at

A Seattle doctor has suggested an overdose of cough syrup caused him to murder his boyfriend and their 2-year-old son, Gay News Network reported. Louis Chen, 43, is alleged to have stabbed his partner Eric Cooper, 29, 100 times, then slit the throat of their two year old, Cooper Chen, at their apartment in Seattle in August 2011 after suffering from a cough-syrup-induced psychosis. Chen is slated to be on trial in April.

The U.S. National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study ( NLLFS ) released its results on its 24-year long study on families with lesbian parents—finding that not one of the 78 adolescents in the study had reported being sexually or physically abused by their parents, according to, citing The Huffington Post. This compares to 26 percent of U.S. adolescents overall who report parent or caregiver physical abuse; 8.3 percent report sexual abuse. Additionally, only 2.8 percent of the adolescents in the study identified themselves as gay.

The National LGBTQ Task Force has announced that U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez will be speaking at the annual Creating Change conference in Chicago on Friday, Jan. 22, according to a press release. Close to 5,000 LGBTQ community leaders and activists from across the country are expected to attend the conference, considered to be the nation's largest gathering of LGBTQ activists and allies.

In New Jersey, the Cherry Hill Board of Education is expected to adopt a policy to allow transgender students to use facilities, including restroom and locker rooms, based on whether they identify as male or female, reported. Parents or guardians are required to provide a letter confirming a student is "gender nonconforming," according to the proposed policy. If the parents or guardians do not consent, the policy calls for a meeting between schools officials "to determine how the student's gender identity shall be addressed by the school district."

Some conservatives are upset about a book discussion being held at the University of California-Santa Barbara on Jan. 20 on "the anti-fat stigma that persists in American culture," according to LGBTQ Nation. It will feature Dr. Jason Whitesel, whose book—Fat, Gay Men: Mirth, Girth, and the Politics of Stigma—explores the impact of fat-shaming the gay community. When UCSB student and anti-gay activist Carlos Flores found out about the event, he immediately alerted conservative blogs in an email titled "Another day, another degenerate email from the UCSB LGBT Center."

A conservative group is angered by an Allstate video showing two gay men discussing their new baby, The Chicago Tribune noted. The Tupelo, Mississippi-based American Family Association is calling on consumers to sign a petition expressing their displeasure to the Northbrook, Illinois-based home and auto insurer. The AFA is urging visitors to its website to sign a petition to urge "Allstate to stop its promotion of normalizing homosexual parenting when children's welfare is at stake."

Peter LaBarbera, president of the Illinois-basedAmericans For Truth About Homosexuality, has warned the biggest danger facing the country is "gayria law," according to Gay Star News. LaBarbera made the comments on a Christian radio show in response to a New Jersey judge's recent order to shut down an ex-gay group. "This effort to squelch dissent is just extraordinary, and I think it is really unique to the homosexual movement," LaBarbera said.

In Tennessee, members of historic First Baptist Church of Memphis approved a resolution that would allow same-sex marriage and ordination, The Commercial Appeal reported. Two years ago, the congregation voted overwhelmingly to ordain its first gay deacons.

KNKI—a social-networking app by and for the BDSM, fetish, poly and kink communities—has launched on iTunes App store and Google Play, according to a press release. Unlike most GPS-based dating apps, KNKI is adding features normally associated with social media, like photo feeds, hashtag searches and the ability to build followers. KNKI plans to work with local community groups on push notifications for events and parties, and will work to help organizations build audiences. See .

SheKnows Media has opened a call for entries for "#TheFWord," a short-form video contest ( deadline: Feb. 19 ) designed to explore the zeitgeist around feminism, according to Business Wire. #TheFWord invites individuals of all genders, ethnicities and points of view living in the United States and Canada to submit brief, two- to three-minute videos describing what feminism means to them. Among those on the panel are Connie Britton and Laura Benanti; Jamia Wilson, executive director at Women, Action and the Media; and Michael Skolnik, civil-rights activist and former president of Russell Simmons' . See

Al Jazeera America, the American cable news outlet owned by Qatar-based Al Jazeera, plans to shut down less than three years after its launch, citing low ratings, operational problems and a lack of advertisers, according to USA Today. The cable news network will be phased out by April 30.

San Francisco's Gangway—which has been a gay bar since at least 1961 and has been a bar for 106 years—is likely to close soon, according to . Along with The Cinch, The Gangway's the last of two gay bars in the Polk Gulch environs, which was home to about a half dozen as recently as the last decade. The Gangway has held numerous benefits, fundraisers and holiday parties for San Francisco General Hospital's Ward 5B—the first inpatient AIDS unit in the United States, noted.

Gay-porn site Titan Men is apparently spoofing former U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock by releasing the X-rated film Cauke for President, which features Matthew Bosch as "family values" senator Mike Cauke, TheWrap reported. Cauke is a hunky, anti-gay politician who has a secret hookup that sets off a chain reaction of political intrigue and sex. In addition, the porn company Photoshopped its fictional senator into an office reminiscent of Schock's "Downton Abbey"-inspired digs in Washington, D.C. Titan Men's fictional character has been trying to draw attention to himself by trolling Schock on Twitter.

This article shared 3341 times since Tue Jan 19, 2016
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