In California, Greater Palm Springs Pride announced that Sochi Pride 2014 has been named the grand marshal of the 27th annual Pride Parade, according to a press release. Sochi Pride was selected to demonstrate solidarity with the LGBT community in Russia and raise awareness of the increasing anti-gay atmosphere of discrimination and harassment of the LGBT community in the Russian Federation. The 2013 Palm Springs Pride Celebration is scheduled for Nov. 1-3.
Rod Snyder, the outgoing president of the the Young Democrats of America (YDA), has come out of the closet, according to On Top Magazine. In a YDA blog post titled "Some Unfinished Business," the 33-year-old Snyder posted that he's "a Christian, an American, a West Virginian, a Young Democrat, a rural advocate, a singer-songwriter, a brother, a son, a grandson, a nephew, an uncle and a gay man." He added that growing up in a Christian family made it difficult for him to accept his sexual orientation.
MoveOn members in 27 cities across the country have launched campaigns to persuade their hometowns to sever "sister-city" relationships with cities in Russia in response to the country's new anti-gay laws and a rising tide of government-sanctioned violence and discrimination against LGBT people, according to a press release. The organizations has posted individual online petitions to cities such as Spokane, Wash.; Philadelphia; Charlotte, N.C.; Long Beach, Calif.; Appleton, Wis.; Louisville, Ky.; and Honolulu, Hawaii, among others.
In Florida, John Bostick is suing his employer, Cracker Barrel, for allegedly discriminating against him because he is gay, according to BrowardPalmBeach.com . In the lawsuit filed May 17 in a Tampa federal court, Bostick alleges that he has repeatedly experienced verbal harassment and discrimination by his superiors at the Bradenton restaurant, who were in charge of training him to be a general manager. Among other claims, associate manager Matt Donahue said that a displeased customer was "probably afraid he'll catch AIDS" from Bostick when he attempted to replace the patron's meal for free. A spokeswoman for Cracker Barrel declined to comment because of pending litigation.
The North Carolina Business Court ruled the YMCA does not misrepresent its alleged line of gay "brothels" as clubs focused on Christian family values, according to Courthouse News Service. Michael Keister and Susan Lewis-Keister claimed they signed up for YMCA gym memberships because the club espouses Christian family values. Instead, the couple allegedly found a hotbed of "cruising" activity with gay men "search[ing] in public places for a sex partner." Keister said he witnessed several same-sex acts and that one man even grabbed Keister's penis.
In fewer than two weeks, an Oregon petition drive to put the issue of same-sex marriage before voters next year has gathered more than one-third of the signatures needed to reach the ballot box, On Top Magazine reported. According to Oregon Says I Do campaign spokeswoman Amy Ruiz, the campaign has already collected 42,000 of the 116,284 signatures needed to qualify for the November 2014 ballot. If successful, the referendum would reverse the state's 2004 voter-approved constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual couplesmaking Oregon the first state to do so.
The shuttle bus company whose driver told a gay couple to sit in the back of the bus because they were holding hands has apologized to the couple, On Top Magazine noted. Ron McCoy and Chris Bowers of Portland, Ore., were in New Mexico last month for a road trip through the Southwest. They were told to move to the back of the bus when they boarded an airport shuttle bus holding hands. Standard Parking, the private company contracted to operate the shuttles, issued an apology.
In Illinois, a judge dismissed a charge against a female sailor accused of an inappropriate relationship with another servicewoman at Naval Station Great Lakes, according to the Chicago Tribune. Chief Petty Officer Sabrina Russell had been accused of having an "unduly familiar personal relationship" with Petty Officer 1st Class Jodi Geibel that violated military rules prohibiting higher-ranking enlisted personnel from having romantic or other close relationships with lower-ranking personnel within the same command. Navy prosecutors argued that the rules applied equally to homosexual and heterosexual couples, while Russell's lawyer said the charge was biased.
Chicago's archbishop has drawn a line in the sand for immigrant-rights groups supporting equal marriage in Illinois. Cardinal Francis George is defending the church's decision to pull funding from the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR) after the coalition announced support for equal marriage. In May, ICIRR announced support for equal marriage amid a push to pass same-sex marriage legislation in Illinois.
NBC News Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd went on NBC's Morning Joe, calling NBC Entertainment's plans for a Hillary Clinton miniseries "a total nightmare" for the news division, according to Deadline.com . Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus has threatened to yank primary debates from NBC after NBC Entertainment announced it had bought a Hillary Clinton miniseries. He also has made the same threat to CNN, which is planning its own Clinton documentary.
AIDS activist Sean Sasser has died at age 44, Queerty.com noted. Sasser entered the American consciousness as Pedro Zamora's boyfriend on MTV's The Real World: San Francisco in the early 1990s. Sasser's life partner, Michael Kaplan, said Sasser died of mesothelioma, a rare cancer of the lungs that has been linked to a weakened immune system in some people with AIDS.
In Philadelphia, N.Y., Lambda Legal and the Indian River Central School District announced the settlement of a lawsuit filed on behalf of former student Charles Pratt and his younger sister, Ashley Petranchuk. Pratt claimed he was subjected to anti-gay harassment and that chool officials' responses did not satisfy federal and state law. Also, Pratt and Petranchuk alleged that school officials violated their rights by denying their requests to form a gay-straight alliance at the high school. Among other things, the district will provide staff and student training regarding LGBT student harassment, and will annually administer anti-harassment surveys of students.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first rapid HIV test for the simultaneous detection of HIV-1 p24 antigen as well as antibodies to both HIV-1 and HIV-2 in human serum, plasma, and venous or fingerstick whole blood specimens, according to a press release. The test does not distinguish between antibodies to HIV-1 and HIV-2, and is not intended to be used for screening of blood donors.
In California, parents and physicians filed an update to lawsuit against Clovis Unified School District, seeking permission from the court to add new information about how the district's revised sex education is still out of compliance with state law, according to an ACLU press release. A lawsuit claims, among other things, that sex education in Clovis violates the law by promoting gender bias and stereotypes.
President Barack Obama named 16 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, according to a press release. African-American civil-rights activist Bayard Rustin and astronaut Sally Ride are members of the LGBT community who are being honored posthumously. Among other honorees are former U.S. President Bill Clinton, talk-show queen Oprah Winfrey, activist Gloria Steinem, U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye (posthumously), singer Loretta Lynn and judge Patricia Wald. The awards will be presented at the White House later this year.
Gilbert Baker, the creator of the rainbow flag and a member of the activist group Queer Nation, responded to New York Times columnist Frank Bruni writing about the flags and the upcoming Winter Olympics, according to a press release. In an Aug. 5 op-ed opposing a boycott of the Olympics, Bruni imagined athletes waving rainbow flags "no bigger than a handkerchief" during the event's opening ceremony in Russia. Baker said, "Olympic flag-waving gave a stamp of approval to Nazi atrocities in 1936. Please don't use the Rainbow Flag to cover up Russian atrocities in 2014. The Rainbow Flag is the international symbol of LGBT freedomit is not an endorsement of repression."
In Grimes, Iowa, the owners at The Gortz Haus refused to serve as the venue for a gay couple's wedding, citing their religious beliefs, according to Advocate.com . Lee Stafford and his fiance, Jared, were trying to find a venue to host their wedding after the Hotel Patee closed, and located The Gortz Haus. Co-owner Betty Odgaard said her Mennonite beliefs preclude her and her husband, Dick, from serving same-sex couples.
A mother is now being questioned about her account of how an unidentified man ripped the headband off the child's head, smacked him, and then called the toddler a faggot, Advocate.com reported. The womanwho posted the item under the pseudonym Katie Vyktoriah, but has since been revealed to be a woman named Kathleen Carpenterreportedly told police officers who were investigating the alleged incident in Polk County, Fla., "that the attention obtained by her story and the negative comments and communications to her had become too much stress and she could not handle the situation … anymore," and was thinking of killing herself, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Police officials confirmed that Carpenter had received more than 11,000 emails in response to her blog post.
Funders for LGBTQ Issues released a new report that explores how such funding has grown over the past 10 years and offers some strategies for further expanding LGBTQ philanthropy, according to a press release. (Organization president Ben Francisco Maulbeck authored the report, The Physics of LGBTQ Funding.) Among other things, the report indicates that LGBTQ funding has grown exponentially in the past decadefrom $32 million in 2002 to $123 million in 2011. However, that $123 million reportedly only represents 0.25 percent of all philanthropic givingand that 43 percent of that money comes from LGBTQ foundations. The full report is at www.lgbtfunders.org .
A new study by UCLA's Williams Institute reveals that Los Angeles-area gay, bisexual and questioning male and transgender youth of color face individual, organizational and structural barriers to educational, health and social services, according to a press release. The study, "Provider Perspectives on the Needs of Gay and Bisexual Male and Transgender Youth of Color," sheds light on the needs and resources available to this population. More on the study is at http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/ACCESS-final-rev-aug-2013.pdf.
LEAGUE at AT&T, the resource group for AT&T's LGBT and allied employees, recently released an "It Gets Better" video, a press release stated. The video (at www.youtube.com/watch; encourages LGBT youth to come out to their parents, stresses the importance having open and honest dialogues about sexual identity, and features a testimonial from an AT&T executive about his relationship with his gay son. LEAGUE states it is the oldest LGBTA employee resource group in the United States.
Donnie McClurkina Christian gospel singer who controversially claims that Jesus helped him eliminate his attractions to other menwas booted from an Aug. 10 celebration of the life of Martin Luther King Jr., according to Advocate.com . The night before the event, representatives from Mayor Vincent Gray's office said McClurkin should not attend because more than a dozen people had complained about the singer's past anti-gay messages. McClurkin believes he "turned" gay because he was molested as a child, but was able to reverse his orientation through will and prayer.
In Minnesota, wheelchair-bound Lonny Lloyd Roseland, 45, was charged with third-degree damage to property and disorderly conduct after vandalizing a pro-gay church with eggs, crayons and markers, according to SouthFloridaGayNews.com . The vandalism started around June 2, when the Pilgrims United Church was egged and the building's entrance was vandalized with the words "Church of Sodom" and "Church of Gomorrah Lev 18:2" with a black marker. After subsequent incidents, the church installed a camera; surveillance footage caught Roseland.
The U.S. Social Security Administration has begun "processing some retirement spouse claims for same-sex couples and paying benefits where they are due," according to a press release. Carolyn W. Colvin, acting commissioner of Social Security, said that the development has occurred primarily because of the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision rendering Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. She added that "in the coming weeks and months, we will develop and implement additional policy and processing instructions." The payments are limited to couples residing in states that recognize full marriage equality for same-sex couples.
In Iowa, a state panel agreed to investigate allegations that the National Organization for Marriage violated state law by not disclosing donors who contributed to campaigns opposing the retention of Iowa Supreme Court justices involved in the 2009 marriage-equality decision, according to the Quad-City Times. Fred Karger, an openly gay man and former GOP presidential candidate, contended the National Organization for Marriage spent $635,000 in 2010 and nearly $100,000 in 2012 to try to defeat four of the justices who were part of a unanimous 2009 decision that led to same-sex marriage in Iowa. The probe could result in civil disciplinary action such as a public reprimand or fines of up to $2,000 per violation if the panel decides that the conservative organization failed to follow state campaign laws.
In Kentucky, a judge will decide if a lesbian couple joined in a 2004 civil union in Vermont will be granted spousal privilege when one of the women faces trial for murder, according to Advocate.com . Bobbie Jo Clary is accused of beating George Murphy to death with a hammer two years ago; she claims she was defending herself from Murphy, who sexually assaulted her. Kentucky prosecutors want Clary's partner, Geneva Case, to testify against Clary; prosecutors say Clary confessed to Case and the latter woman viewed incriminating evidence. If convicted, Clary could face the death penalty.
The Susan G. Komen Foundation held its last annual 3-Day for the Cure in seven sites across the nation this year, according to CBS News. (The program will end in Arizona, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Tampa Bay, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.) The announcement came after a backlash developed over the foundation's decision Komen's support has been declining after it came out in early 2012 that the organization had stopped awarding grants to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screening, although the foundation later said it would support Planned Parenthood. The Komen Race for the Cure, a different event, is not cancelled.
Transgender Law Center, GSA Network, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Equality California and ACLU of California issued a joint statement praising California Gov. Jerry Brown for signing the School Success and Opportunity Act into law, ensuring transgender youth have the opportunity to fully participate and succeed in schools across the state. Assembly Bill 1266which goes into effect on January 1, 2014was authored by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, and passed the California state Senate and Assembly earlier this summer. Masen Davis, executive director of Transgender Law Center, said, "Now, every transgender student in California will be able to get up in the morning knowing that when they go to school as their authentic self they will have the same fair chance at success as their classmates."
Conservative commentator Pat Buchanan added his voice to the right-wing defenders of Russia's crackdown on gays and their supporters, writing that international criticism of Russia shows people can no longer distinguish between "good and evil," according to Media Matters for America. In his Aug. 13 syndicated column, Buchanan took the United States' "moral and cultural elites" to task for opposing Russian laws banning the positive depiction of homosexuality and the adoption of Russian children by any foreign couples from countries with marriage equality.
The American Bar Association (ABA) adopted policies relating to the "gay panic" and "trans panic" defenses when the association's policymaking body met during the 2013 ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco, a press release stated. The House of Delegates approved six recommendations sponsored by the Criminal Justice Section regarding the "gay panic" defense, including the ABA urging "federal, state, local and territorial governments to take legislative action to curtail the availability and effectiveness of the 'gay panic' and 'trans panic' defenses."