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National roundup: YouTube star, Victory Fund, Hurricane Matthew
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times

This article shared 442 times since Tue Oct 11, 2016
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In California, British YouTube star Calum McSwiggan has appeared in court accused of lying to police over claims he was the victim of an anti-gay hate crime, PinkNews reported. McSwiggan's troubles began in June, when he posted a photo of himself in a hospital bed on social media, claiming that he was attacked outside a gay bar by three men in West Hollywood. However, West Hollywood police revealed the YouTuber was arrested after officers witnessed him vandalizing a car near the club, and alleged that he lied about an attack. In court, he pled not guilty to charges of filing a false police report and vandalism. He is next scheduled to appear in court Nov. 7.

Victory Fund President & CEO Aisha C. Moodie-Mills expressed concern that Mike Pence was not asked about his strong anti-LGBT record during the Oct. 4 vice presidential debate, according to a press release. "Mike Pence has made a career of singling out LGBT people for discrimination, and it is disappointing tonight's debate did not address his long record of using public office to advance his backward views," she said. It is important the Trump campaign's extremist anti-LGBT positions be exposed in future debates—along with its attacks on women, immigrants, Latinos, Muslims, and veterans recovering from war. Their entire campaign has been built on fear and bigotry, and we believe voters will reject their attempts to turn back the clock on progress."

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin called on Florida Gov. Rick Scott to extend the state's voter-registration deadline to give all Floridians impacted by Hurricane Matthew the opportunity to vote in the 2016 elections, a press release stated. Last week, Scott rejected requests to extend Florida's voter-registration deadline, and a lawsuit has been filed seeking an extension. Florida is home to 20 million voters, including at least 550,000 LGBTQ adults, and tens of thousands have been displaced due to the storm.

Hurricane Matthew prompted the postponement of Orlando's Pride parade, The Washington Blade reported. More than 100,000 people were expected to attend the parade that had been scheduled to take place Oct. 8 in downtown Orlando. Come Out with Pride Orlando, which is organizing Pride, previously cancelled two parties slated for Oct. 6-7. Also, the National LGBTQ Task Force announced its gala dinner that was to have taken place in Miami Beach on Oct. 8 has been rescheduled for Nov. 12.

Icandy, a popular gay bar in Philadelphia, is being protested by activists after video surfaced of its owner referring to its Black patrons using the N-word, reported. During a 21-second exchange filmed three years ago, proprietor Darryl DePiano is heard saying the slur while conversing with another man; DePiano has apologized, but that has not be enough to quell the anger of LGBT people of color. There has also been controversy surrounding Woody's, arguably the city's most popular gay bar; it has been criticized for its dress code, which bans patrons from wearing Timberland shoes to the club. Calling the events "offensive and appalling," the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations and the Office of LGBT Affairs will hold a meeting Oct. 25 to determine if the reports constitute racial bias.

A new national survey reveals that a growing number of Americans believe that discrimination against LGBT people in workplaces and in public accommodations is wrong, a press release noted. The new survey informed respondents that federal law prohibits discrimination in employment, public accommodations, housing and credit, on the basis of race, national origin, sex, religion or disability—but there is no federal law that protects someone who is gay or transgender from discrimination in employment, public accommodations, housing or credit. Two out of three people surveyed would support a law that would protect LGBT people in the same areas. See .

Suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has begun to challenge his ethics conviction, arguing that the state Court of the Judiciary was never empowered to rule on a key part of his case, according to a item. The court removed Moore from the bench for the remainder of his six-year term after finding that he overstepped his authority when he told judges last year that Alabama's same-sex marriage ban remained in effect, despite the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide. Moore he remains suspended without pay and will not participate in the appeal.

Harrison Browne, a rising star on the Buffalo Beauts of the National Women's Hockey League, is the first openly transgender player in U.S. professional team sports, noted. "I identify as a man," the 23-year-old said. "My family is starting to come to grips with it. Now it's my time to be known as who I am, to be authentic and to hear my name said right when I get a point, or see my name on a website." Browne, a former junior circuit player from Canada, was recruited by the University of Maine to play Division I hockey on scholarship, and graduated in 2014.

Uber has ended its partnership with the Portland Taxi Company, which recently endorsed the actions of one of its drivers who stopped in front of LGBT bar Scandal on Sept. 20 and began taunting patrons through a bullhorn, reported. In a statement, Uber said, "The actions of a Portland Taxi Company driver and the stated beliefs of the company are unacceptable and obviously completely inconsistent with Uber's strong support of the LGBT community. [W]e informed Portland Taxi Company that we are ending our affiliation with the company and have removed all of their drivers from the Uber platform."

An Oregon bake shop that made headlines for refusing service to a lesbian couple has closed, The Huffington Post noted. Sweet Cakes By Melissa was ordered to pay $135,000 to Laurel and Rachel Bowman-Cryer after refusing to bake a cake for the couple's 2013 wedding. But the right-wing media isn't blaming the couple who owned the bakery; for example, The Strident Conservative website blamed the "Gay Mafia thugs working on behalf of the LGBT radicals."

The National Center for Lesbian Rights launched a new campaign—Support the Equality Act—urging municipal and state leaders across the country to enact resolutions pressing Congress to pass the federal Equality Act, a press release noted. Introduced last year, the Equality Act would amend federal civil rights laws to reflect that federal sex discrimination laws bar anti-LGBTQ discrimination, as many courts have held, and to create nationwide protections against sex discrimination in public accommodations. "By urging our local and state leaders to press Congress to pass the Equality Act, we can help end discrimination against LGBTQ people and create an environment where all are treated with dignity and respect for who they are," said NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell.

A Minnesota elementary school teacher and his husband, who were found dead in an apparent murder-suicide in Washington state, may have sexually abused multiple underage boys, according to a People item. Aric Babbitt, 40, and Matthew Deyo, 36, were reportedly found dead on Lopez Island on Aug. 25—just two weeks after one of Babbitt's former students went to police and accused him of sexual assault. A teen allegedly provided police with Polaroid pictures of himself naked with Babbitt, who he said became his mentor after he came out as gay.

Harlem United and Fenway Health have launched a campaign to educate voters about where the presidential candidates and the political parties stand on six key health-equity issues: LGBT equality; HIV/AIDS; healthcare; substance use; mental health; and housing, a press release stated. The campaign consists of social media, a website, and an in-depth report on the candidates and party platforms; visit

Lambda Legal filed a federal-discrimination lawsuit against the Pine-Richland School District in suburban Pittsburgh for implementing a new policy on restroom and locker-room access that the organization says singles out transgender students for discriminatory treatment, according to a press release. Lambda Legal Staff Attorney Omar Gonzalez-Pagan said, "Forcing transgender students to use separate restrooms—after they had been using the appropriate facilities for years without incident—is not just unnecessary; it also harms and stigmatizes them. The Pine-Richland school board should be watching out for the safety and well-being of all its students, but through their discriminatory actions they have failed Pine-Richland's transgender students. No transgender student, anywhere, should be treated like a second-class person."

Three arrests have been made involving robberies at two Phoenix gay bars, reported. Police have identified the suspects involved in the armed robberies as 20-year-old Giovanna Lexus Leon, 18-year-old Andrew Juan Sainz and a 15-year old male. Police say due to surveillance video obtained from two locations, detectives were able to gather information leading them to the arrests.

In Alabama, a 23-year-old man is charged in the shooting and holdup of a transgender woman in an eastern Birmingham home invasion, reported. Police announced attempted murder and first-degree robbery charges against Denzell Thomas. Thomas remains a person of interest in in the shooting death of another transgender woman who was killed Sept. 23 in her motel room at the Kings Inn in Birmingham.

H&M is ready for fall with its new, LGBT-inclusive autumn collection #LadyLike commercial, The Washington Blade noted. Transgender actress Hari Nef appears in the video along with 72-year-old model Lauren Hutto, model Adwoa Aboah, businesswoman Pum Lefebure and Jillian Hervey from neo-soul duo Lion Babe. ( Hervey is the daughter of actress Vanessa Williams. ) At the end, a shot of two women kissing underwater is shown. The commercial is backed by Lion Babe's cover of "She's a Lady," by Tom Jones.

Boston's True Colors: Out Youth Theater—a program of The Theater Offensive and the country's largest and longest-running queer youth theater program—has been selected as a finalist for the 2016 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, the country's highest honor in creative youth development, according to a press release. True Colors: Out Youth Theater is the only theater program and the only LGBTQ organization among the nominees and, should the organization receive this honor, it would be the first LGBTQ organization to do so.

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