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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Nat'l roundup: Obama's order; LPAC backs Hillary; Repub. guv's stand
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2015-04-14

This article shared 3352 times since Tue Apr 14, 2015
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The executive order President Obama signed that prohibits federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity went into effect April 8. The chief executive signed the order last July, saying, "our government—government of the people, by the people, and for the people—will become just a little bit fairer." The document amended Executive Order 11246, which President Lyndon B. Johnson issued.

Also, President Obama has called for an end to conversion therapy, which is aimed at changing the sexual orientation or gender identity of youth. In a statement posted alongside a WhiteHouse.gov petition begun in honor of the late transgender youth Leelah Alcorn, Obama condemned the practice, which some socially conservative organizations and religious doctors support. The petition has received more than 120,000 signatures in three months. Obama is supporting the ban of the practice on the state level, but will not call for a federal law.

Using the Internet, Hillary Rodham Clinton announced she would seek the United States presidency for a second time. In 2008, she lost to President Obama during the Democratic primary."I'm running for president," she said near the end of a video. She added, "Everyday Americans need a champion. And I want to be that champion. So I'm hitting the road to earn your vote—because it's your time. And I hope you'll join me on this journey." Clinton's video ( entitled "Getting Started" ) shows profiles of various people ( including one male and one female same-sex couple ), with the candidate not appearing until about 90 seconds into the two-minute-and-18-second announcement.

The Washington Blade reported that the same-sex couple in Hillary Clinton's video announcing her presidential bid are Chicagoans Jared Milrad and Nathan Johnson. Milrad, 31, works as an attorney and social entrepreneur who founded the non-profit Civic Legal Corps, and Johnson, 30, works as a project manager for a health care consulting company that conducts clinical trials for medications. Johnson and Milrad plan to marry July 19 in Chicago in a park adjacent to Lake Michigan, then hold a reception at Center of Halsted, an LGBT community center in the city.

The campaign manager for Democrat Hillary Clinton, who announced her intent to run April 12, is an openly gay man, according to Keen News Service. Thirty-five-year-old Robby Mook is a former head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and served as campaign manager for Democrat Terry McAuliffe's gubernatorial victory in Virginia in 2013. He worked on the Democratic presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton in 2008 and Howard Dean in 2004.

LPAC, the country's only lesbian political action committee, announced its board voted to endorse Hillary Clinton and her campaign for president, according to a press release. With unanimous support from the board of directors, LPAC said it is the first national LGBT organization to endorse Clinton's campaign for the presidency. To support the campaign, LPAC is launching Lesbians 4 Hillary, a campaign that will be co-chaired by sports icon and humanitarian Billie Jean King, a longtime supporter of both LPAC and Clinton.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio told donors April 13 that he will run for president in the 2016 elections, becoming the third Republican candidate to do so. According to Mashable, Rubio has lamented America's "growing intolerance" toward those who oppose same-sex marriage; however, he also partially defended "religious freedom" laws that critics call anti-gay. Rubio said the law wouldn't allow businesses to discriminate based on sexual orientation, but that businesses shouldn't be forced to provide services for a wedding they feel violates their religious beliefs.

The White House's first gender-neutral bathroom is now open, ABC News reported. The "all-gender bathroom" was first made available April 8—the same day Obama's executive order expanding protections for federal employees against discrimination became federal law—White House spokesman Jeff Tiller said. Although the gender-neutral bathroom is located in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, anyone can use whatever bathroom they feel best fits their gender identity, Tiller added. The Eisenhower Executive Office Building is located near the West Wing of the White House and used by White House staff.

GLSEN's Executive Director, Dr. Eliza Byard, made a statement on the release of the Every Child Achieves Act of 2015, according to a press release. She said, "We will continue our work with supporters in Congress to ensure that the final bill includes language that requires all public K-12 schools to enact anti-bullying and non-discrimination policies, with protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity." The Daily Caller noted that Sens. Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray released an ambitious proposal to change the bill about two months after an initial effort by Alexander, who chairs the education committee, faltered due to its inability to garner any support from Democrats.

North Dakota's Republican governor sent a memo to 17 government departments saying discrimination against anyone is unacceptable—just two hours before all 38 Democrats in the legislature delivered a letter calling on him to go further and issue an executive order prohibiting bias against gays and lesbians, ABC News reported. Gov. Jack Dalrymple's chief of staff sent the letter to all agency directors appointed by the governor.

In Florida, private agencies would be able to cite religious or moral grounds to turn away same-sex couples seeking to adopt children under a bill that drew comparisons to Indiana's religious-freedom law, NBC Miami reported. The bill was filed after social conservatives criticized a vote by the Republican-dominated House to strip a gay-adoption ban from state law five years after it was declared unconstitutional. Republican Rep. Jason Brodeur of Sanford claimed the bill ( HB 7111 ) would apply to only a handful of the state's 82 private adoption agencies.

Army Sgt. Shane Ortega has become the first openly transgender individual in the military, according to a Washington Post item. Ortega is a helicopter crew chief in the Army's 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii. Having him serve the rest of his career as a man would require a significant change in Pentagon rules, which require that transgender troops be discharged from military service, usually on medical grounds. An estimated 15,500 transgender people serve in the military, according to the Williams Institute, a legal think tank that studies sexual-orientation and gender-identity issues. The Pentagon will not disclose how many have been discharged.

Here Media Inc. announced the rebrand of its popular HIV Plus publication as Plus, a press release stated. The new Plus brand, which launches with the magazine's May/June 2015 issue with cover star Mel England, aims to remove the stigma that can affect people living with HIV and AIDS. HIV Plus's online content will continue to be found at HIVPlusMag.com . The brand will also continue to publish its mobile app, the HIV Plus Treatment Guide.

Lakeland Eye Clinic, a Lakeland, Florida-based organization of health care professionals, will pay $150,000 to settle one of the first two lawsuits ever filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ( EEOC ) alleging sex discrimination against a transgender individual, according to an EEOC press release. Lakeland additionally agreed to implement a new gender-discrimination policy, and to provide training to its management and employees regarding transgender/gender stereotype discrimination. The settlement was approved by the U.S. District Court in Tampa on April 9.

A former NYPD cop who received a six-figure settlement for his lawsuit alleging discrimination for being gay is suing the city again to get rehired, The New York Daily News reported. Michael Harrington claims the NYPD doesn't want him back because he complained in a 2007 state court lawsuit that anti-gay cops harassed him in Brooklyn's 75th Precinct station house and Greenwich Village's 6th Precinct. Harrington resigned from the NYPD in 2009, then sought his job back within the one-year window for reinstatement, according to court papers.

Ky Peterson—the 23-year-old transgender man at the center of The Advocate's investigative report "This Black Trans Man Is in Prison for Killing His Rapist"—was reportedly placed in protective custody just one day before his story was published, Advocate.com noted. Peterson is serving a 20-year sentence for involuntary manslaughter at Pulaski State Prison —a medium-security all-women's facility in Hawkinsville, Georgia—and was placed in "protective custody" or "lockdown," according to Peterson's partner, Pinky Shear. Several employees at Pulaski State Prison and the Georgia Department of Corrections repeatedly declined to explain how protective custody is used in their facilities and whether it involves solitary confinement.

The mayors of four West Coast cities say they're lifting bans imposed on city-funded travel to Indiana after changes were made to that state's religious objections law to make clear it can't be used to discriminate, the Associated Press reported. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Oakland, California, Mayor Libby Schaaf have rescinded their travel bans. Governors in Connecticut, New York and Washington state have also lifted bans.

The result was close ( 51 to 49 percent ) in Springfield, Missouri, but voters rejected an anti-discrimination ordinance meant to protect LGBT people, KY3.com reported. The Springfield City Council added those protections to the city's broader anti-discrimination ordinance last October. In a statement, Human Rights Campaign National Field Director Marty Rouse said, "Everyone in Springfield, including LGBT people, should be able to live, work and care for their family without fear of discrimination. While [April 7] was a difficult setback for equality in Springfield, the fight goes on and the future is bright."

In Arkansas, Jonesboro city leaders have rejected a proposal to protect city employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, LGBTQ Nation noted. The proposed ordinance failed to get enough support to advance at a city council meeting. Arkansas is set to become the second state it the nation to bar municipalities from enacting certain anti-discrimination protections; however, that ban doesn't prevent local governments from enacting anti-discrimination policies for their own employees.

Republican Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson teased an executive order protecting LGBT state employees from discrimination—as his state has zero safeguards for bi, gay and trans residents—but he's now backing off even that modest change, according to Advocate.com . With a revised religious-freedom bill in place, Hutchinson reportedly sees no need to protect gay and trans state workers—not to mention other Arkansans, who can be tossed from their apartments and fired from their jobs for being LGBT.

The American Academy of Family Physicians ( AAFP ) recently submitted a letter of support for the Food and Drug Administration's ( FDA's ) proposed change to the blood-donor deferral period for men who have sex with men, according to a press release. AAFP Board Chair Reid Blackwelder wrote, in part, "There is a critical need for blood donations to ensure that we can continue to meet this demand. The current standards excluding men who have ever had sexual contact with another man since 1977 is not scientifically justifiable and excludes a large population of potential donors." The AAFP represents 115,900 members in 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam, as well as internationally.

According to a nationwide survey conducted by Lambda Legal, primary care for LGBT populations may be compromised by gaps in care that negatively impact clinical quality and health outcomes, Business Wire noted. More than half of all respondents reported that they have either been refused care, experienced health care professionals who refused to touch them, used excessive precautions or were blamed for their health status. Anthem, Inc. announced the launch of a new online experience, "Creating an LGBT-Friendly Practice," that reportedly addresses such gaps and offers strategies for enhancing physician-patient interactions; visit www.anthem.com/lgbt.

In Iowa, hundreds of Dowling Catholic High School students and alumni turned out for a planned class walkout to protest the school's decision to not hire a teacher who administrators found out was gay, USA Today reported. The event was organized by students in response to the school's decision to not offer a job to Tyler McCubbin, a substitute teacher who is engaged to another man. Des Moines Catholic Schools administrators said in a letter to parents that a candidate wasn't offered a full-time position recently because the applicant's personal life "was at odds with Church teaching."

The National LGBTQ Task Force is among the groups calling for a thorough probe into possible civil-rights violations by police in North Charleston, South Carolina. In a press release, National LGBTQ Task Force Deputy Executive Director Russell Roybal said, "We call for an immediate and thorough investigation into possible civil-rights violations by North Charleston police—an agency whose staff is composed of 80 percent white people in a town where nearly half of the residents are Black." The call comes following the murder charges filed against officer Michael Slager in the killing of Walter Scott, a 50-year-old Black man, during what was reportedly a routine traffic stop; Slager has been fired.

A 16-year-old transgender teen from Fallbrook, California, who spoke on YouTube about being bullied at high school has died of an apparent suicide, LGBTQ Nation reported. Family members confirmed that Taylor Alesana took her life on April 2, but details surrounding her death were not revealed. In a video posted online in November, Taylor reached out to other transgender youth to document her own experiences and encourage others like her.

The National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance ( NQAPIA ) is launching "RiseUp!," a national week of action on immigrants' rights, April 12-18, according to a press release. NQAPIA is activating more than a dozen LGBTQ Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian and Pacific Islanders organizations around the nation to highlight the needs and demands of immigrants. Cities taking part are New Orleans, Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Boston, among others.

In Pennsylvania, a Homewood man was charged with killing a man who went missing in October, working with someone else to burn his car and dumping the victim's body in a river, Post-Gazette.com reported. Hubert Wingate, 30, was already being held in the Allegheny County Jail on a gun violation when Pittsburgh police charged him with homicide and other crimes in the death of Andre Gray, 34, who was found dead in a West Virginia river last month. Gray, an openly gay male, worked with Project Silk, a program that assists African-American and Latino young men and transgender women in the Greater Pittsburgh area who are between the ages of 13-29, New Pittsburgh Courier noted.

A former Richmond, California, police officer sued the police chief, claiming the man sexually harassed him and retaliated against him after he complained, Courthouse News Service noted. Thomas Hauschild sued the City of Richmond and Police Chief Christopher Magnus in federal court, claiming that when he was assigned to protect Magnus after the chief had been threatened, the chief hit on him. However, Richmond City Manager Bill Lindsay said the suit appears to have no merit, SFBay.ca noted.

In Florida, a Hungarian national is facing up to 155 years in prison after his conviction for keeping young gay men as "sex-slave" prostitutes inside a North Miami-Dade home, the Miami Herald reported. A jury convicted Andras Janos Vass, 25, of human trafficking and racketeering after deliberating for just 30 minutes. Prosecutors say Vass and two others ran a company called Never Sleep Inc., forcing the men to prostitute themselves for up to 20 hours a day.

A New York cab driver must pay a lesbian couple $10,000 for ordering them to stop kissing or get out of his taxi, SheWired.com noted. The city's Commission on Human Rights filed a complaint against the driver, Mohammed Dhabi, on behalf of Christy Spitzer and Kassie Thornton, charging that he discriminated against them during a cab ride in September 2011. When they kissed, Dhabi reportedly told them to "keep that [behavior] for the bedroom or get out of the cab," also calling them "whores" and other derogatory terms for women.

In Illinois, the Cook County Health & Hospitals System's ( CCHHS ) Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center is launching a new clinic to fight AIDS by preventing HIV infections, CookCountyHHS.org noted. The new clinic will provide an HIV-preventive medication—HIV PreExposure Prophylaxis, or PrEP—to people with a high risk of becoming infected with HIV. When taken daily, PrEP ( brand name: Truvada ), has been shown to reduce the risk of HIV transmission by up to 92 percent.

Marc Naimark, a longtime fixture and volunteer with the Federation of Gay Games ( FGG ), has died, according to Outsports. Emy Ritt, the past female president of the Federation of Gay Games, said, "Thanks to his diligence and patience, FGG and the Gay Games benefited from so many of Marc's ideas and initiatives." Naimark is survived by Jimmy, his partner of 15 years.

A lesbian couple on Guam has filed a legal challenge to the territory's marriage laws after they were barred from submitting a license to wed, ABC News noted. Loretta M. Pangelinan and Kathleen M. Aguero sued in U.S. District Court. The women, both 28, launched their legal battle after a failed attempt to file an application for a marriage license earlier this month. Their complaint says they are challenging "the discriminatory denial of their freedom to marry in the Territory of Guam."

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ( EEOC ) ruled that the Army sexually discriminated against a transgender employee when it refused to let her used the women's bathroom, The Hill reported. Tamara Lusardi, a transgender woman who works for the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center in Huntsville, Alabama, filed a complaint with the EEOC in March 2012. The EEOC originally sided with the center, but on Lusardi's appeal ruled that the Army's decision violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits workplace discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex and national origin.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence declared a public-health disaster in a small southern Indiana county that has seen a drastic increase in HIV cases tied to intravenous prescription drug abuse since December, Yahoo! News reported. He made the declaration for rural Scott County, located about 35 miles north of Louisville, Kentucky. Since December, Scott County has had 72 confirmed HIV cases and seven preliminary ones; officials fear potentially up to 100 cases could be identified. In past years, Scott County reported less than five new HIV cases each year and had just 21 residents with HIV in 2014, according to state statistics.

Speaking of Pence, he finds himself deeply damaged following the fight over Indiana's religious-freedom bill, according to a Human Rights Campaign press release. In what HRC called "a warning sign to governors in other states where similar anti-LGBT bills are pending," 75 percent of Hoosiers report that Pence's push for the bill has damaged Indiana's business climate. Moreover, an HRC poll shows that in a state that President Obama lost to Mitt Romney by 10 points in 2012, Pence is tied 47-47 in a potential matchup with Democrat John Gregg.

A Jersey City, New Jersey, man made his first court appearance on charges including bias intimidation after allegedly calling a man anti-gay slurs more than 100 times over the past two years, NJ.com reported. Steven Rodriquez, 25, was out on bail when he made his first court appearance on the charges in Central Judicial Processing court in Jersey City. He is charged with "purposely and knowingly intimidating and threatening the victim" by calling him a 'f——t' and 'f-g," a criminal complaint says.

Jeremy Bernard, the first man to hold the job of White House social secretary, is stepping down, CNN noted. Bernard, a popular member of the White House staff, also happens to be the first openly gay man to serve in the role. Bernard will return to his native California following the state dinner with Japanese Prime Minister Abe in late April, and has no set plans after his departure.

Police arrested five volunteer firefighters in Waxahachie, Texas, were arrested by police this week after allegedly bending a trainee over and sodomizing him with a chorizo sausage, Gawker.com reported. The firefighters—identified as Lt. Alec Chase Miller, 28, Lt. Keith Edward Wisakowsky, 26; Casey Joe Stafford, 30; Preston Thomas Peyrot, 19; and Blake Jerold Tucker, 19—allegedly sodomized a trainee, identified in the arrest affidavit as "John Doe #72," with a chorizo sausage as part of a hazing ritual. The five were charged with aggravated sexual assault; a sixth person, Brittany Leanne Parten, 23, was also arrested by police and charged with improper photography or visual recording.

Transgender author and advocate Janet Mock will be among those honored at the Ms. Foundation for Women's Gloria Awards on May 11 at New York City's Pierre Hotel, according to a press release. Mock first told her story of growing up as a trans girl in 2011 in Marie Claire—a magazine for which she now works, writing articles about pop culture, gender, race and representation. Mock will receive the Marie C. Wilson Emerging Leader Award.

Just days after Kate Kendell and the organization she leads, the National Center for Lesbian Rights ( NCLR ), removed their signature from Equality Michigan's Michfest petition, another big league LGBT organization is following suit. National LGBTQ Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey has withdrawn her support for the petition. "Last year, the National LGBTQ Task Force signed onto a petition organized by Equality Michigan which called upon the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival ( Michfest ) to fully welcome and include transgender women, as women, at the festival," Carey wrote. "From ... conversations, I have gleaned shared values, differing opinions, and have come to a view that in order to move forward in any type of dialogue we must move beyond the petition."

A northern Indiana pizzeria that closed after its owner said his religious beliefs wouldn't allow him to cater a gay wedding opened to a full house of friends, regulars and people wanting to show their support, The Huffington Post noted. Kevin O'Connor closed Memories Pizza for eight days after comments by him and his daughter, Crystal, to a local television station supporting a new religious-objections law. A crowdfunding campaign started by supporters raised more than $842,000, with donations from 29,160 contributors in 48 hours.

Motivated by the success of the Memories Pizza fundraising campaign, a suburban Chicago sausage stand has launched its own online push to raise money and to make a point about bigotry in the wake of Indiana's Religious Freedom Act, Eater Chicago reported. Big Guys Sausage Stand owner Brendan O'Connor said he doesn't want people think he's exploiting the situation just to raise money for his business. He pledges to donate any money received to charity, while hoping to attract business, including the chance to cater gay weddings.

A Washington state great-grandmother—who was ordered to pay $1,001 to the state for refusing to create a flower arrangement for a long-time customer's same-sex wedding—has raised more than $100,000 from supporters, Baptist Press noted. Barronelle Stutzman reportedly raised the funds in a crowdfunding campaign through gofundme.com that was set up by a friend in February. The court has yet to impose an award for the gay couple who was refused.

The Puerto Vallarta Tourism Board has partnered with the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) as the organization's first national travel partner, according to a press release. During the partnership, Puerto Vallarta will promote its adventure, gastronomy, cultural, nightlife, romance and family offerings in HRC conferences, dinners and events in 20 cities, including San Francisco, Los Angles, Minneapolis, New York and Chicago.


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