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NATIONAL Kavanaugh opposition, census bill, trans inmate, Miami Beach Pride
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times.
2018-08-07

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Lambda Legal and 62 national, state and local LGBTQ organizations ( including MassEquality, Equality Illinois and the National Center for Lesbian Rights ) sent a letter to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee to oppose the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, a press release noted. They asked the leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee to oppose Kavanaugh because his views on civil rights issues put the lives of LGBTQ people at risk. The letter is at https://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/dc_20180731_letter-of-opposition-lgbt-kavanaugh.

In the wake of the Trump administration's decision not to allow Americans to identify as LGBT on the U.S. Census, two Democratic senators—Kamala Harris ( D-Calif. ) and Tom Carper ( D-Del. )—have introduced legislation that would require those questions in major federal surveys, The Washington Blade reported. They introduced in the U.S. Senate the Census Equality Act, which would begin the process of adding questions allowing respondents to identify their sexual orientation and gender identity in both the decennial U.S. Census and the annual American Community Survey.

A transgender woman in Michigan said her male cellmate raped her after her request for a single cell went ignored by Allegheny County Jail officials, NewNowNext.com noted. The unnamed alleged victim told a courtroom the assault occurred on July 17, after officials assigned Taylor John Booth, 21, to her cell, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported. District Judge Mik Pappas revoked Booth's bond and upheld the charges against him: Rape, indecent assault, unlawful restraint, and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse.

The Miami Beach Gay Pride Board of Directors has unveiled a new branding initiative for the event, including a new name and graphics, a press relase noted. The new name, "Miami Beach Pride," reflects the changing landscape of the LGBTQ+ and allied communities, and better mirrors the inclusiveness of the celebration, said board chair Bruce Horwich. According to Horwich, a new website is in the works ( MiamiBeachPride.com ), as are new designs for advertising, marketing and social media. They will be unveiled in the coming weeks, leading up to the 11th anniversary celebration on April 1-7, 2019.

The ACLU of Massachusetts announced that 14 transgender asylum seekers detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement ( ICE ) at the Cibola County Correctional Center in New Mexico have been released, according to ACLUM.org . The releases follow an effort organized through the ACLU of Massachusetts' Immigrant Protection Project ( IPP ); 18 volunteer lawyers and two local law students in Western Massachusetts last month filed petitions with ICE via a New Mexico legal services organization, demanding the release of 20 transgender women who are seeking asylum and were detained by ICE at the southern U.S. border in May.

A Southern California man charged with the murder of a University of Pennsylvania student allegedly carried out the killing because the victim was gay, USA Today reported. A hate-crime sentencing enhancement was being added to a murder charge against 21-year-old Samuel Woodward in the death of 19-year-old sophomore Blaze Bernstein, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said. Woodward, who is from the upscale seaside city of Newport Beach, has pleaded not guilty to the killing; he is being held on $5 million bail and is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Aug. 22.

Speaking at the historically Black academic institution Dillard University, potential Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren delivered what she called "the hard truth about our criminal justice system: It's racist … I mean front to back," Time.com noted. The Massachusetts senator identified some of the system's failures: disproportionate arrests of African-Americans for petty drug possession; an overloaded public defender system; and state laws that keep convicted felons from voting even after their sentences are complete.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama will tour the country in September for a week of events encouraging people to vote in the midterm elections, according to a Huffington Post item. Obama announced the Sept. 22-29 "week of action" in a video, marking the 53rd anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The week of action is part of When We All Vote, a nonpartisan voter-registration initiative that Obama launched last month with a team of A-list celebrities, including actor Tom Hanks, LGBT singer/actress Janelle Monae and Hamilton creator/star Lin-Manuel Miranda.

The Human Rights Campaign has installed a rainbow flag window cling at its new DC headquarters—and it has brown and black stripes added to be more inclusive of people of color, LGBTQ Nation reported. First adopted by the city of Philadelphia, the updated flag has proven controversial, but other queer organizations around the world have now announced they will use the updated version. The new stripes are in the form of an arrow pointing right "to show forward movement," writer Daniel Quasar has noted.

Also, the Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) Foundation has released "Coming Home to Evangelicalism and to Self," a guide for LGBTQ evangelical Christians, a press release noted. HRC worked with an advisory team of evangelical Christian scholars and advocates to develop and shape this resource. The guide is at HRC.org/resources/coming-home-to-evangelicalism-and-to-self.

Openly gay former U.S. Marine Neil Rafferty recently won his runoff contest in Alabama to become the Democratic candidate for the state House seat in District 54, Instinct Magazine noted. Rafferty narrowly missed having a runoff at all, garnering 48 percent of the primary vote in June. The political newbie is vying for the seat vacated by Democratic state Rep. Patricia Todd, who was the first openly gay legislator in Alabama.

The West Hollywood City Council unanimoously voted Aug. 6 on a proposal calling on the removal of President Trump's star from the Hollywood Walk of Fame, TheWrap noted. The resolution urged the City of Los Angeles and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which oversees the iconic landmark, to remove the star "due to [Trump's] disturbing treatment of women and other actions." The staff report also asked the city and the Chamber of Commerce to revisit qualifications for being included in the Walk of Fame, which features 2,500 stars.

Washington, D.C., police are seeking help from the public in their investigation into the July 21 murder of gay resident Michael Miller, who was found shot to death in an alley behind the 1600 block of Minnesota Avenue, S.E., and whose car was reported missing at the time of the murder, The Washington Blade noted. The police statement announcing Miller's death did not disclose that he was gay. D.C. police officials have said in the past that under a longstanding policy the department doesn't disclose the sexual orientation or gender identity of crime victims unless investigators have evidence indicating the victim was specifically targeted because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity.

Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy will be a keynote speaker at an Atlanta conference focused on equality—despite his vocal opposition to marriage equality and his company's record of pumping millions of dollars into anti-LGBTQ groups, ProjectQ.us noted. Cathy ( photo ) will be one of six keynote speakers to address the 2018 International Economic Development Council's ( IEDC ) Annual Conference, which is scheduled for Sept. 30-Oct. 3 at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. It is expected to draw around 1,500 people, according to ThinkProgress.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has offered to officiate the wedding of two gay men who were denied a marriage license by a local town clerk, LGBTQ Nation noted. Thomas Hurd and Dylan Toften from Root, New York, went to the local courthouse expecting to walk away with a marriage license; town clerk Laurel Eriksen, however, rejected their bid to wed. Eriksen "didn't process the two men's marriage license application because they failed to make an appointment with her, as everyone is required by her office to do," Town Attorney Robert Subik told the Daily Gazette. Still, he admitted that her religious beliefs also played a major role in her refusal.

Six civil-rights organizations—including the American Civil Liberties Union, American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota, Lambda Legal, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, National Center for Lesbian Rights and National LGBT Bar Association—filed an amici brief urging the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals to hear the appeal of Charles Rhines, a gay man on death row in South Dakota, according to a press release. According to the filing, new evidence "suggests that at least some members of the jury accepted the notion that life in prison without parole would be fun for a gay person—so much so that they felt it was necessary to impose the death penalty instead. In other words, significant evidence suggests that the jury may have sentenced Mr. Rhines to death based not on the facts of his case, but because he is gay." The amicus brief is at https://tinyurl.com/y8eslggc.

In Pennsylvania, lawyer Joshua Janis told one of his clients that a civil-union divorce was delayed because the judge had "something against gay people and that straight people's divorces are put first"—but it turned out the 37-year-old Chester County lawyer never even filed a divorce proceeding, Philly.com reported. In all, the Chester County District Attorney's Office said, more than 25 victims have come forward, alleging they paid Janis a total of more than $90,000 for work he did not do. Janis was charged with multiple felony counts of theft and related offenses.

Rosie O'Donnell criticized the show Morning Joe for allowing Donald Trump a platform to attack her in 2007, calling out co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Willie Geist by name, TheWrap noted. During an appearance on MSNBC with anchor Ari Melber, the former daytime host accused MSNBC and the mainstream media of providing him a regular platform early on and not standing up to his falsehoods. Although O'Donnell has said she barely knows Trump, the feud between the two is legendary, stretching back more than a decade to their days as television hosts

The Georgia Log Cabin Republicans voiced support for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, with the group members saying they "believe marriage equality is here to stay," Project Q Atlanta noted. The Human Rights Campaign said Kavanaugh "would undermine LGBTQ equality," including blocking transgender troops from serving and allowing anti-LGBTQ discrimination.

More than a dozen gay men were reportedly smeared and possibly outed after being arrested at an adult entertainment store in Florida, PinkNews reported. The 13 men were charged with public exposure and lascivious acts for engaging in sexual activity at the back of the Pleasure Emporium store in Hollywood, Florida, despite the acts being consensual and taking place in private rooms. Police say two undercover officers entered the adult store after receiving tip offs about sex acts in the store.

San Diego State University graduate Robert DeKoven has donated $1 million to the school's LGBT programs, The San Diego Union Tribune reported. The money from DeKoven, a legal research and writing professor at California Western School of Law, will go to SDSU's Pride Center and its LGBT Studies Program. He graduated from the campus in 1980 and later helped write the city's Human Dignity Ordinance, which bans discrimination based on sexual orientation regarding employment, housing and lending.

Air Force Academy football player Bradley Kim is joining the growing ranks of openly gay academy and college athletes, according to an Instinct Magazine item that cites Outsports. Kim is a safety for the Air Force football team who's recently come out as gay. After telling friends and family, Kim decided to come out publicly through an Instagram post. After he graduates, he'll move on to serve the military; once his service is done, he hopes to pursue a career in music.

Alaska Airlines apologized after a flight attendant asked a gay man to give up his seat next to his partner so a straight couple could sit together—an exchange that put the airline on the defensive as it rebutted claims of discrimination, The New York Times noted. David Cooley, the owner of a West Hollywood gay bar The Abbey, wrote on Facebook that he and his partner had boarded a flight to Los Angeles from New York when a flight attendant asked if Mr. Cooley's partner would move from his seat "so a couple could sit together." However, even though the company apologized, it also said what happened was a "seating error" and called itself a "zero-tolerance company that does not support discrimination of any kind."

Former club-kid ringleader and founder Michael Alig has said times are hard for him since being released from prison, Instinct Magazine noted. Alig, 52—who spent 17 years in jail for murdering fellow Club Kid Andre "Angel" Melendez in a confrontation over a delinquent drug debt—revealed that he's homeless after experiencing a major fallout with the owners of an art factory in Patterson, New Jersey. Alig spoke about his ordeal on an episode of Ernie Glam's web series Peeew!, where he's discussed the usage of hotels as his temporary home of sorts.

A white police officer in Michigan who says he was taunted by fellow officers when he told them that he was part Black will receive a $65,000 settlement, CNN noted. Sgt. Cleon Brown—a 19-year veteran with the police department in Hastings, Michigan—said a series of taunts began in 2016 when he took a genetic test through Ancestry.com and learned that he is 18-percent African. His colleagues at the police department were whispering "Black Lives Matter" while pumping their fists as they walked past him and his police chief referred to him as "Kunta"—a reference to a character in Alex Haley's novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family and in the Roots TV miniseries.

Reactions were mixed following last month's news that Town House—a 40-year-old St. Paul, Minnesota, LGBTQ+ bar and an all-around institution—would reopen as a soccer bar, CityPages.com noted. Enter R Lounge, a new "lounge-style" gay bar that's headed for downtown St. Paul sometime this year. Bar Zia co-owner Travis Phillips is behind the new place, a small spot that will have room for between 60 and 80, the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal reported.

Special to the online edition of Windy City Times


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