Researchers at the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, Columbia University and The Fenway Institute at Fenway Health are launching a first-of-its-kind study that they expect will create a more accurate and detailed picture of the issues that transgender individuals face, according to a press release. The study has several goals, including aiming to describe basic health outcomes and health behaviors of the trans population, including general health status, mental health, smoking, history of suicide attempts, disability, quality of life and health care access ( including insurance coverage ). The researchers will use a survey of 350,000 U.S. adults that Gallup conducted, and estimate that 300-500 trans-identified individuals will participate.
Thousands of Hoosiers gathered at Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana, on March 28 to protest the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ( RFRA ), saying it would promote discrimination against individuals based on sexual orientation, and then marched to the Indiana Statehouse while chanting "No hate in our state" and "Who's state? Our state!" LGBTQ protesters and allies were joined by religious groups and public officials, including City-County Councilman Zach Adamson and Democratic state Rep. Ed Delaney, among others. Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed the bill into law March 26, unleashing a global wave of criticism; he has now said he would support legislation to "clarify the intent" of the law.
San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee, a Democrat, directed all City Departments under his authority to bar publicly funded travel to Indiana, in light of the Hoosier State's new religious-freedom law, according to Politico. The mayor did not mention in his announcement the 19 other states that currently have similar religious-freedom acts on the books. Similarly, many businesses condemned Indiana's move, including Yelp, whose CEO ( Jeremy Stoppelman ) said his company will not expand its business operations in Indiana following the law's passage.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he would sign into law a religious-protection measure that opponents have said amounts to a license to discriminate against gays and lesbians in the state, Fox News reported. The Republican governor said he supports the latest version of a bill prohibiting state and local government from infringing upon someone's religious beliefs without a "compelling government interest." The Arkansas Senate passed the bill March 27, according to a Human Rights Campaign press release.
In a related matter, both Apple CEO Tim Cook and civil-rights icon Julian Bond have criticized the Indiana and Arkansas measures, according to a Human Rights Campaign press release. Cook tweeted, "Apple is open for everyone. We are deeply disappointed in Indiana's new law and calling on Arkansas Gov. to veto the similar #HB1228." Bond released the following statement: "This legislation cloaks discrimination in the guise of religion—and it will mark people of color, LGBT Arkansans, religious minorities and women as second class citizens. Governor Hutchinson has a duty and a moral obligation to veto this legislation or the ghosts of the past will haunt his legacy."
Counsel for plaintiffs from the Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee marriage lawsuits announced that Mary L. Bonauto and Doug Hallward-Driemeier will represent the plaintiffs at the cases' scheduled April 28 arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court, according to a press release. Bonauto will present arguments for question 1: "Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?," and Hallward-Driemeier for question 2: "Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out of state?"
The American Military Partner Association ( AMPA ) joined forces with the Transgender American Veterans Association ( TAVA ) to release an unprecedented report highlighting the harm that the military's transgender ban continues to inflict on transgender service members and their families, a press release stated. This first-of-its-kind report focuses on the impact that trans-related military regulations have on the entire family, and includes personal stories from transgender service members and their families. The entire report can be read at www.MilitaryPartners.org/Transgender-Report.
Tennessee state Sen. Joseph Hensley's ( R ) ex-wife accused him of both hitting her with the door of his truck and pushing legislation based on their divorce, according to a Raw Story item. While Hensleyfamed for pushing the "Don't Say Gay" bill in Tennesseehas admitted that SB 812 ( a separate measure he introduced seven days before the alleged incident )was based on his divorce, he called his ex-wife's accusation's fabricated. In 2012, Hensley introduced the "Don't Say Gay" bill, which sought to ban elementary- and middle-school teachers from addressing issues concerning the LGBT communities.
The organizers of the 50th-anniversary celebration of the LGBT-rights movement announced that Staff Sgt. Eric Fidelis Alvathe first Marine seriously injured in the Iraq War on March 21, 2003will lead the Pledge of Allegiance at the July 4 ceremony at Independence Mall, according to a press release. Alva was in charge of 11 Marines in a supply unit when he stepped on a land mine and lost his right leg and was one of many openly gay servicemembers demanding the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell." For more information, visit www.lgbt50th.org and www.gaypioneers.com .
The Justice Department announced the filing of a lawsuit against Southeastern Oklahoma State University ( Southeastern ) and the Regional University System of Oklahoma ( RUSO ) for allegedly violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 by discriminating against a transgender employee on the basis of her sex and retaliating against her when she complained about the discrimination, a press release stated. The United States' complaint alleges that Southeastern discriminated against Rachel Tudor when it denied her application because of her gender identity, gender transition and non-conformance with gender stereotypes.
In Charlotte, North Carolina, friends and community members mourned the passing of a local transgender youth activist Blake Brockington, who committed suicide, QNotes reported. Brockington, 18, was a 2014 graduate of East Mecklenburg High School. Last year, he was nominated and later crowned homecoming king as an openly transgender student after winning a fundraising competition and drawing in $2,335.55 for a charity the school chose. Brockington, who came out as transgender in his sophomore year of high school, was active in the school band, where he served as drum major for two years.
Undercover FBI agents arrested Teofil Branka 26-year-old gay-porn star who performs under the name Jarec Wentworthfor extorting a man out of $500,000 and a car worth nearly $200,000, according to EDGE Boston. Brank, who has done porn for adult gay sites Sean Cody and Men.com, was arrested after he allegedly threatened to expose the unnamed victim's "sexual liaisons" by making the information public on social media. The feds set up a sting operation at a Los Angeles Starbucks, where they arrested the porn star. Authorities found a loaded .357 magnum revolver and additional ammunition inside Brank's car.
Over the next two months, the Office of National AIDS Policy ( ONAP ) will host four regional forums across the country that will inform the updated National HIV/AIDS Strategy for 2016-2020, a White House press release stated. They will take place April 22 in Los Angeles; April 24 in Nashville; May 7 in Detroit; and May 8 in Boston. Released in July 2010, the National HIV/AIDS Strategy is a comprehensive plan to reduce new HIV infections, improve health outcomes, reduce HIV-related disparities, and achieve a more coordinated national response.
The board of directors of the Victory Fund and Institute announced that Aisha C. Moodie-Mills will become the organization's next president and CEO in April, a press release stated. Moodie-Mills comes to Victory from the Center for American Progress, where, as a senior fellow, she launched the FIRE initiative, a program that explores the intersections of race, class and sexuality. Over the past decade she has served as political advisor, private-sector liaison and fundraiser for more than 40 members of Congress, including six senators and the Congressional Black Caucus. The Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund works to elect LGBT leaders to public office.
California's attorney general is doing her best to ensure a proposed ballot measure that would legalize the murder of gay people never makes it off her desk, Newser reported. Kamala Harris declared she's seeking a court order that would allow her to stop the Sodomite Suppression Act, proposed by lawyer Matthew McLaughlin, which advocates killing gays and lesbians by "bullets to the head" or "any other convenient method." Harris is asking for "declaratory relief" from her duty to give an official title and summary to the measure before the signature-gathering stage.
An alleged anti-gay hate crime in Mississippi may turn out to be something else entirely now that the suspect has come out in an interview, according to Advocate.com . James Scott admitted he attacked Devin Norman in the parking lot of a Corinth Walmart. However, Scott said he didn't attack Norman because Norman is gay; instead, he claimed he and the victim were sending photos to each other and Norman threatened to post them on Facebook. Scott told TV station WREG he was a closeted bisexual man and feared that Norman would out him.
The Oklahoma Tax Commission has denied a personalized license plate reading LGBTALY ( for "LGBT ally" ) because it says the term LGBT is too "sexual," according to Gay Star News. John Keefe, 36, said he wanted to show his support for LGBTI rights when he applied for the plate in December. Keefe has a wife and two kids, but said he has many gay friends and a lesbian sister. The doctor has hired lawyer Charles Broadway to handle his appeal, which will be heard by a judge in June.
The American Military Partner Association ( AMPA ) released a statement praising the reintroduction of the Veterans Spouses Equal Treatment Act by Rep. Dina Titus ( D-NV ) in the U.S. House of Representatives. "The ability of our nation's veterans, no matter their sexual orientation, to access their earned benefits should be an issue that transcends partisan politics," said AMPA President Ashley Broadway-Mack. "This bipartisan bill would finally give all of our nation's veterans, no matter the sex of their spouse or what state they happen to live in, access to the earned benefits they need and deserve. We applaud Rep. Titus and her incredible commitment to ending this unjust discrimination."
Truth Wins Out ( TWO ) has released the second video in its "Flipping the Script on Religious Freedom" campaign, to "highlight the real-world consequences of laws that purport to protect religious liberty, when in reality they only promote exclusion," according to a press release. In TWO's latest ad, a gay man who runs a theater company forbids a Christian from buying tickets to a show after he sees a cross hanging from his neck. Citing the fictitious Church of Harvey Fierstein, he directs the Christian to go to a theater that shows Passion of the Christ. Religious-freedom bills have been introduced in Colorado, Hawaii, Indiana, Michigan, Utah, West Virginia, Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Texas and Wyoming.
Eagle Scout August Easton-Calabriaand has launched a Change.org petition asking the Boy Scouts of America ( BSA ) to end its policy that does not allow someone who is openly gay to participate in the organization once they turn 18, Gay Star News noted. August's twin brother, Liam, is gay. The twins father served as one of their assistant scoutmasters and was part of BSA all his life.
In Austin, Texas, a man claims a W Hotel employee threw him to the ground, fracturing his arm, and yelled an anti-gay slur during South by Southwest, KVUE.com reported. Bobby Beltran, 31, said the bar bouncer also dislocated two bones in his hand and possibly caused nerve damage to his thumb. The W stated, "Providing a safe environment is the essence of our business. The hotel contacted police the night of the incident and will cooperate with law enforcement in any investigation they undertake."
Leon King is vying to be Philadelphia's first out African-American Court of Common Pleas judge, according to PGN.com . The former commissioner of the Philadelphia Prison System and longtime civil-rights attorney is making his fourth attempt for a seat on the bench. He currently resides in the Mount Airy neighborhood with his partner of 29 years and their two dogs. The primary election is May 19.
A Virginia school board has voted to require transgender students to use a single stall restroom or a restroom of the student's biological sex, GayRVA.com reported. The Stafford County School Board voted six to zero in favor of the policy in response to a Hartwood Elementary School transgender student who had been allowed to use the restroom and locker room aligned with their self-identified gender. As many as 15 parents spoke out against Hartwood's trans-friendly restroom policy in what was described as a "packed meeting."
Philadelphia is seeking the postponement of a trial in Officer N. Melville Jones' anti-bias lawsuit while it appeals a lower-court ruling in the case, PGN.com reported. The non-jury trial is set to begin April 28 but the city contends that Common Pleas Judge Linda A. Carpenter issued an erroneous pre-trial ruling that should be reversed in Commonwealth Court. Jones, who is gay, filed suit against the city in 2013, alleging pervasive anti-LGBT workplace bias and harassment due to his sexual orientation.
Coventry Health Plan announced that it would dramatically reduce out-of-pocket costs for HIV medications in individual plans purchased on Health Insurance Marketplaces established under the Affordable Care Act ( ACA ), according to an AIDS Foundation of Chicago ( AFC ) press release. The change comes in response to requests from advocates, including AFC and AIDS Legal Council of Chicago ( ALCC ). Thanks to this change, instead of paying as much as $1,500 a month for medications, people with HIV will pay $5-$100 per prescription.
In Utah, a former Brigham Young University ( BYU ) student has reached a settlement with his landlord after filing a lawsuit for over $101,000 worth of emotional and property damage that occurred after his coming out, Advocate.com noted. Andrew David White was evicted Jan. 23 from The Village at South Campus, "BYU-approved" housing that enforces the Mormon school's honor code; the code bans sexual conduct before marriage and between people of the same sex. White alleged that prior to his formal eviction, his housemates forcefully ejected him from his apartment; White reportedly suffered bruised ribs in the process.
A Georgia school superintendent has confirmed he is gay after reports surfaced in local media that he had used the gay dating app Grindr, according to LGBTQ Nation. Anthony Packthe superintendent of Monroe County Schools in Forsyth since 2008released a statement through his attorney, David Doer. In the statement, Doer and Pack accused a local reporter, Will Davis of the Monroe County Reporter, of bullying Pack into coming out. In part, Pack said, "I have been forced by a journalist that prefers to report on gossip as opposed to news, and to reveal some facts about myself that I otherwise would hold privately between me, my wife and my children."
Bob Jones IIIthe controversial evangelical preacher and chancellor of Bob Jones Universityhas apologized for saying that gays should be stoned to death during comments made at the White House 35 years ago, The Huffington Post noted. Jones, who was the university's president at the time, was delivering a petition to then-U.S. President Jimmy Carter against extending Civil Rights Act protections to gay people. The apology came after a three-year-old petition calling on Jones to apologize for his comments began getting more attention in recent weeks.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid won't run for re-election in 2016, ending a lengthy career that culminated in 10 years of leadership of the Democratic Party in the Senate, NBC News reported. Reid announced the decision in a Youtube video, saying "We've got to be more concerned about the country, the Senate, the state of Nevada than about ourselves. And as a result of that I'm not going to run for re-election." Reid, who was injured in a New Years Day exercising accident, said the decision had "nothing to do" with his health or his ability to be re-elected.
An Ohio videographer rejected a lesbian couple seeking to have their wedding filmed, SheWired.com noted. After reaching out to Next Door Stories ( in Bexley, Ohio ), Jenn Moffitt and Jerra Kincely were told, "Unfortunately, at this time I do not offer services for same-sex weddings, but thank you for your inquiry!" The couple filed a complaint against the business through the Bexley Area Chamber of Commerce via Facebook; after a discussion with the organization and its board, the chamber came to the conclusion that the discrimination policy needs to be rewritten.
Things haven't gone too well for the former CFO who criticized Chick-fil-A in a video he posted on YouTube, USA Today noted. Unable to find lasting work, 37-year-old Adam Smith is living on food stamps with his wife and four kids in the RV they call home, he told ABC News. Back in the summer of 2012, mith rolled into a Chick-fil-A drive-thru for a free glass of water and slammed the female attendant, saying, "Chick-fil-A is a hateful corporation" in an exchange he filmed. He later lost his $200,000-a-year job at a medical manufacturer that also offered $1 million in stock options.
The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce ( NGLCC ) announced that Suze Orman will be a keynote speaker at the 2015 International Business & Leadership Conference, a press release stated. Orman, an out lesbian, is a two-time Emmy-winning television host, the author of nine consecutive New York Times best-sellers, a magazine and online columnist, writer/producer and a renowned motivational speaker. The 2015 NGLCC Conference will take place Aug. 11-14 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Incidentally, Orman ended her 13-year run as a TV host on CNBC on March 28, USA Today noted.
HIV positive patients may be living longer, but they may also be aging faster than expected, according to an HIVPlusMag.com item. A new study published in PLOS One shows that HIV-positive people are at an increased risk of age-related diseases such as some cancers, frailty, osteoporosis, kidney disease and neurocognitive disease. Researchers think that it is the HIV itself that accelerates the aging process by 14 years, rather than medications used to treat it.
Following a decades-long fight for marriage equality, Replacements, Ltd. Founder and CEO Bob Page married longtime partner Dale Frederiksen in a private family ceremony at Replacements in Greensboro, North Carolina, according to Business Wire. With their twin 15-year old sons serving as witnesses, the marriage coincided with the couple's 26th anniversary. A longtime activist for LGBT rights, the 69-year-old CEO gained national prominence pushing for the defeat of North Carolina's Amendment One, a state marriage ban found unconstitutional last October.
In New York state, a large blaze broke out this morning in the popular LGBT-resort town of Cherry Grove Fire Island, OUT Traveler noted. Many buildings in the commercial area around Holly Walk and Bayview Walk were affected with at least two buildingsthe Holly House apartment complex and the Grove Hotel, home to the Miss Fire Island pageanthaving been completely destroyed. Three firefighters suffered minor injuries.