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  WINDY CITY TIMES

NATIONAL Lawyer rejects Trump, Pulse case, HIV+ reporter, Ft. Lauderdale
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times.
2018-03-27

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President Trump's legal team reached out in recent days to Theodore B. Olson, one of the country's most high-profile and seasoned litigators, to join forces amid mounting challenges in the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election—but Olson declined, The Washington Post reported. Olson, 77, broke his conservative typecast in 2010 when he worked to overturn California's same-sex marriage ban, known as Proposition 8. He would've been part of a revised Trump legal team that now includes Joe diGenova, a former U.S. attorney who has publicly argued Trump is the target of an elaborate FBI conspiracy.

The defense for Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen's widow, Noor Salman, filed a motion seeking to have the case dismissed or declared a mistrial becaue Mateen's father, Seddique Mateen, was once an FBI informant, NPR reported. The judge denied the motion, saying the defense was not harmed because the gunman's father was never called by the prosecution as a witness. Salman has been on trial since the beginning of the month and is accused of helping Omar Mateen plan his terror attack on the Orlando nightclub in June 2016 and of falsely denying her role afterward, NBC News noted.

An on-air reporter for ABC's Los Angeles affiliate has come out as HIV-positive, Instinct magazine noted. Karl Schmid has reported human-interest stories and Hollywood stories ( like Academy Award events and the annual Vanity Fair Oscar Party ) for ABC7 for several years. The 37-year-old Australian-born reporter came out in hopes that he could serve as inspiration and support for others with a similar status.

One man is dead and several other people are wounded after a male driver reportedly "intentionally hit" patrons outside a gay bar in the Montrose area of Houston, according to a New Civil Right Movement item that cites ABC 13 Houston. "The incident occurred outside Bayou City Bar & Grill, at Grant Street and Hyde Park Boulevard in the heart of Houston's LGBTQ neighborhood," OutSmart Magazine noted. The driver, in custody and likely to face murder charges, was reportely very angry after arguing with several people.

Fort Lauderdale beat the rest of the state's major cities to the punch by electing its first openly gay mayor, OrlandoWeekly.com reported. Attorney and City Commissioner Dean Trantalis beat Vice Mayor Bruce Roberts in the March 13 race, making history along similar lines as John Fiore, who became Broward County's first openly gay mayor in 2000.

A high school senior is organizing the first LGBTQ Pride festival in downtown Columbus, Indiana—the hometown of Vice President Mike Pence, The Huffington Post reported. "I am organizing Columbus Pride Festival because I feel it is important for members of the LGBTQ community to know that Columbus is a welcoming and diverse community," Erin Bailey, a senior at Columbus Signature Academy-New Tech, told HuffPost. The event is planned for April 14.

The Williams Institute released data about bulling after members of Congress reintroduced the Student Non-Discrimination Act ( SDNA ) to protect LGBT students from school-based harassment, bullying, violence and intimidation, according to a press release. Among the findings are that only 20 states and the District of Columbia have anti-discrimination or anti-bullying laws that explicitly protect LGBT students; and that approximately 55 percent of LGBT youth live in states that do not have laws that explicitly protect them from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Sen. Toni Atkins was sworn in as head of the California Senate—making the San Diego Democrat the first woman and first openly LGBT person to lead the upper house of the state legislature, The San Francisco Examiner reported. Atkins noted the ceiling-breaking achievements she had just ushered in, saying, "It's about time." Atkins replaces Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, who is challenging fellow Democrat U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein in next year's election.

A doctored GIF and image of bisexual Parkland shooting survivor and gun control activist Emma Gonzalez has been spreading on social media, The Washington Blade reported. In the fake gif and photo, Gonzalez is seen ripping the United States Constitution in half. The original image, which was part of an editorial for Teen Vogue, showed Gonzalez ripping up a gun-range target. The false image first appeared on Gab, a social networking site popular among the alt-right.

Jean Hodges, president of the PFLAG National Board of Directors, announced that Executive Director Jaime M. Grant, Ph.D, has departed the helm of PFLAG National, according to a press release. The board will soon engage and announce an interim executive director as well as undertake a search for a full-time executive director. PFLAG has grown to more than 200,000 members and supporters, and 400 chapters nationwide.

LGBTQ Victory Fund—the only national organization dedicated to electing LGBTQ leaders to public office—endorsed 14 more candidates from across the nation, a press release noted. Some include Texas gubernatorial candidate Lupe Valdez; David Ermold, who will face anti-LGBTQ county clerk Kim Davis of Rowan County, Kentucky; incumbent Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey; and incumbent Pennsylvania state Rep. Brian Sims.

The Pride Fund to End Gun Violence announced it has endorsed U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine ( D-Va. ) for re-election, The Washington Blade noted. Pride Fund Executive Director Jason Lindsay in a press release noted Kaine was Virginia's governor in 2007 when a gunman killed 32 people at Virginia Tech. "In the years since that tragedy, Kaine has worked tirelessly to close the loopholes that allowed the Virginia Tech shooter to purchase his weapon, and has fought to strengthen background checks to keep guns out of the hands of convicted felons," added Lindsay.

As the rest of the world contemplates if National Security Advisor John Bolton's appointment brings the world to the brink of a nuclear exchange, the Log Cabin Republicans is touting that Bolton is pro-gay, LGBTQ Nation noted. In 2013, when he was considering a presidential run ( which he did not pursue ), he came out in favor of marriage equality. However, Bolton is a warmonger who embraces confrontation, and who has called for first-strike military action against North Korea and Iran.

President Donald Trump's probable pick to lead the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC ) is facing significant criticism because of a 20-year-old controversy over shoddy HIV research, the U.S. News & World Report reported. The Army in 1994 acknowledged accuracy issues with HIV vaccine research led by Dr. Robert Redfield ( an HIV/AIDS expert at the University of Maryland School of Medicine ), who is expected to head the CDC, but concluded at the time that the data errors did not constitute misconduct. Redfield was principal investigator over clinical trials of a treatment vaccine at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. The research was conducted at a time when there was intense pressure to come up with a treatment for HIV/AIDS, which often killed patients within a matter of months.

The LGBT Bar has been named as an organizational plaintiff in Marouf v. Azar, a lawsuit filed by Lambda Legal and Hogan Lovells US LLP against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ( HHS ) and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops ( USCCB ), an organizational press release noted. In late February, Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit against HHS and the USCCB on behalf of Fatma Marouf and Bryn Esplin, a married lesbian couple who were denied the opportunity even to apply to serve as foster parents by a USCCB affiliate, on religious grounds.

Yesenia Collazo—an attorney representing the families of two Cuban businessmen and life partners killed in a bridge collapse near Florida International University—said she would be filing a wrongful-death lawsuit on their behalf, the Miami Herald reported. Alberto Arias, 53, and Osvaldo González, 57, had been in a romantic relationship for more than 20 years; they died inside their white Chevy truck while they drove underneath a pedestrian bridge meant to connect FIU's Modesto A. Maidique campus to the city of Sweetwater.

The city of Philadelphia is taking action against two foster care agencies with policies against placing kids with same-sex couples, WHYY.org noted. The city has stopped placing children with Catholic Social Services and Bethany Christian Services—and Mayor Jim Kenney promised an investigation into whether they have violated city contracting laws. Catholic archdiocese spokesman Ken Gavin said the Catholic Social Services policy, based on church teaching, should not surprise anyone.

Fortune published an article concerning five things to know about Dow's new openly gay CEO, 56-year-old Jim Fitterling. The news came after Dow and Dupont completed their $130-billion merger in 2017, amid pressure from activist investors including Nelson Peltz and Third Point's Dan Loeb to merge and break into smaller pieces. Among the info is that, according to the most recent data from the Securities and Exchange Commission, Fitterling made about $10.1 million in 2016, nearly half of which came from stock awards; that made him the second-highest earning executive at Dow that year behind CEO Andrew Liveris, who received $23 million.

Grindr announced a new feature update that builds on Grindr for Equality's efforts to raise sexual health awareness among the app's users, a press release noted. Grindr users will be able to opt-in to easily and discreetly receive automatic reminders to get tested for HIV every three to six months. The new testing reminder feature was developed with guidance from Building Healthy Online Communities.

Kathy Griffin tweeted that she will attend the White House Correspondents Dinner on April 28 as the guest of the Washington Blade and the Los Angeles Blade, The Washington Blade noted. This will be the comedian's first time attending the event. President Donald Trump skipped the 2017 White House Correspondents Dinner but told reporters at the time, "I would come next year, absolutely." However, the White House has not said if he will attend this year. Griffin's career suffered a setback in the wake of her controversial photo shoot posing with a replica of Trump's severed head.

SAGE has condemned what it, in a press release, calls the Trump administration's efforts to "make LGBT people invisible." The release states, in part, "The administration has erased the lesbian and bisexual women's health pages from the website of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ( HHS ). Just this past year, the same agency sought to erase LGBT elders from a critical aging survey. ... SAGE and the older women for whom we advocate refuse to be invisible."

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson defended his agency's delay in instituting regulations to protect transgender individuals in homeless shelters because "there are some women who said they were not comfortable with being in a shelter" with "somebody who had a very different anatomy," CNN reported. Carson was questioned at a House subcommittee hearing by Illinois Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley about the removal of HUD training materials to prevent LGBT discrimination in homeless shelters. Carson said the agency's general counsel, who was confirmed in December, would be involved in negotiating the protections. He added that he would be willing to sit down with Quigley and members of the LGBT community to discuss them.

The National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals' ( NAGLREP ) second annual LGBT Housing Policy Summit will take place at the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) Equality Center on April 18 in Washington, D.C., a press release noted. United States Congressman Ted Deutch ( D-Florida ) will provide the keynote address; he was elected to Congress in 2010 and serves as a Vice Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. NAGLREP, with nearly 2,000 members, has become one of the largest LGBTA trade associations in the nation.

MSNBC anchor Joy Reid criticized Fox News' coverage of the Black Lives Matter movement, accusing the rival network of vilifying activists and "ginning up" anger against them, TheWrap noted. "[Fox News'] purpose is to reframe the news from the perspective of white conservatives. It's not really a neutral arbiter. It's there really to do constituent services for white conservative Republicans," Reid ( who hosts the MSNBC weekend show AM Joy ) told TheWrap.

Craigslist has deleted its personal section because Congress has passed the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act, meant to crack down on sex trafficking of children, NPR reported. It was approved by a landslide in the Senate, but has been met with criticism by free speech advocates and sex workers. As Craigslist wrote, the law seeks "to subject websites to criminal and civil liability when third parties [users] misuse online personals unlawfully."


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