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Nat'l: Pastors attend wedding; pro-LGB military act; 'Black Lives' conference
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
2015-07-28


In Michigan, nearly 30 ordained United Methodist Church ( UMC ) pastors ( in addition to 100 others ) gathered for the same-sex wedding of the Rev. Benjamin Hutchison and Monty Hutchison, The South Bend Tribune reported. Hutchison said he was forced to resign from his post as pastor of Cassopolis UMC after the church's district superintendent asked if he is practicing homosexuality because he is gay. Pastor Ginny Mikita, of Rockford, Michigan— a certified candidate for ordination by UMC—performed the ceremony and was one of the two clergy who signed the marriage certificate; the Rev. Mike Tupper, of Parchment, was the other.

U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan ( D-Wis. ) and Charles Rangel ( D-N.Y. ), joined by U.S. Sens. Brian Schatz ( D-Hawaii ) and Kirsten Gillibrand ( D-N.Y. ), introduce the Restore Honor to Service Members Act, according to an OutServe-SLDN release. This legislation is being introduced to help service members discharged for no other reason than their sexual orientation correct their military record to reflect their honorable service. Among other things, this legislation opens discharge upgrades for the estimated 100,000 service members discharged for their sexual orientation prior to the implementation of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Three workshops about HIV were part of the agenda at the inaugural national convening of "The Movement for Black Lives," which took place at Cleveland State University, TheBody.com noted. The workshops were "Making All Lives Matter: Merging and Intersecting Movements to End Criminalization," "HIV Is Not a Crime or Is It? Intersecting HIV Criminalization and Race" and "Black Side of the Red Ribbon: Black Activists Share Strategies From Past and Present HIV/AIDS Activism." "We thought it was important to discuss HIV in the larger context of Black activism and social justice work," said Kenyon Farrow, the U.S. and global health policy director of the Treatment Action Group.

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The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, said it has had Louisiana shooter John Russell Houser's name in its files since 2005, when he registered at former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke's European-American Unity and Rights Organization conference, LGBTQ Nation reported. In online forums, Houser wrote of the "power of the lone wolf" and expressed interest in white power groups, anti-Semitic ideas and the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church, which protests soldiers' funerals, the center stated.

The lead plaintiff in the landmark Supreme Court case that made same-sex marriage a nationwide right has a book deal, according to a U.S. News & World Report item. Jim Obergefell is collaborating with Washington Post journalist Debbie Cenziper on 21 Years to Midnight. The book is slated to be released next June to mark the ruling's anniversary. Obergefell's involvement in what became Obergefell v. Hodges originated with his desire to have his name listed as "surviving spouse" of the late John Arthur, whom he had married in Maryland. ( Marriage equality was not legal in Obergefell's native Ohio. )

In New Jersey, nearly 70 protesters gathered near U.S. Rep. Scott Garrett's district office in Glen Rock, in a demonstration triggered by his reported objections to gay political candidates, NJHerald.com noted. Afterward, Garden State Equality's executive director and a second protester were invited into a private meeting with Garrett's district director, Rob Pettet. ( Garden State Equality organized the rally. ) Several at the rally said that, while Garrett's reported objections to gay candidates were drawing more attention, that they were equally troubled by his sponsorship of a bill that would allow individuals and businesses to deny service to same sex couples.

A lesbian soldier who was a founding member of the LGBT military group SPARTA was found dead on a North Carolina beach campground, Advocate.com reported. Army Chief Warrant Officer Tania Nichole Dunbar's body was found Sunday at Freeman Park in Carolina Beach, according to Port City Daily; she allegedly fell and hit her head on a truck-door handle. Dunbar—who had recently returned from a deployment in Kuwait and was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina—was married with two children, but was camping alone.

A federal court in Virginia heard arguments in the case of a transgender male student at Gloucester High School who seeks to use communal restrooms that match his gender identity, according to an ACLU press release. U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar signaled that he is likely to allow Gavin Grimm to proceed with discovery on his claim that the bathroom policy violates the Equal Protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. However, the plaintiff's claim of sex discrimination under Title IX was dismissed. Joshua Block—senior staff attorney in the ACLU's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Project—said, "School officials must treat all students equally and may not demean and stigmatize transgender students by relegating them to separate restrooms from their peers."

Republican presidential candidate and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said he "doesn't know" whether being gay is a choice, insisting he doesn't need to have an opinion "on every single issue out there," The Washington Times reported. "The bottom line is, I'm going to stand up and work hard for every American regardless of who they are, no matter where they come from, no matter what their background," he told CNN's Dana Bash. His comments came amid Bash's questions about his prior statement on the Boy Scouts' ban on gay leaders, in which he said the ban "protected children and advanced Scout values."

Meagan Taylor—a 22-year-old Black trans woman who spent two weeks in a segregated cell at Polk County Jail in Des Moines, Iowa—walked out of that facility, Advocate.com reported. "I'm ecstatic to be released," Taylor told the Transgender Law Center, which is currently investigating the possibility of litigation surrounding allegations that hotel workers and police profiled her as a sex worker. While she was jailed, the hashtag #FreeMeaganTaylor began trending on social-media platforms; organizers launched a fundraising campaign to pay Taylor's bail and surrounding fees that had been escalating after she failed to pay a fine on a five-year-old credit card fraud conviction.

At least nine Alabama counties are refusing to issue marriage licenses to any couples, gay or heterosexual, nearly a month after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, the Associated Press reported. Two Alabama counties ( Houston and Henry ) said they will issue wedding licenses after the Supreme Court's decision legalizing same-sex marriage. The counties that have closed marriage-license operations include Bibb, Autauga, Cleburne, Marengo, Choctaw, Clarke, Washington, Pike and Geneva.

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs ( NCAVP ) has learned of the homicide of India Clarke, a Black transgender woman who was found beaten to death July 21 in a park area of the University Area Community Center in Tampa, Florida, according to a press release. Monica Roberts of TransGriot first accurately identified the victim's name and gender identity, which the press reportedly misidentified. Clarke and Kenton Haggard ( see below ) became the 10th and 11th trans woman homicides this year that NCAVP has responded to.

A religious group is threatening to sue the state of Kentucky over a year-old policy that prohibits anti-gay comments to youths at the state's juvenile-detention centers, Kentucky.com reported. The Liberty Counsel, based in Lynchburg, Virginia, says it wants the policy revoked by July 31. It also wants the Kentucky Department of Juvenile Justice to reinstate volunteer Baptist minister David Wells, who told state officials he couldn't comply with their April 2014 anti-discrimination policy requiring "fair and equal treatment without bias" for "lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and intersex juveniles."

In California, Fresno police drew criticism for referring to a person stabbed to death as a man, as local activists and one Fresno City Council member said the victim was a transgender woman, The Fresno Bee reported. The controversy stemmed from the Fresno Police Department calling the victim, 66-year-old Kenton Haggard, a man. Lt. Joe Gomez said the department refers to crime victims by their physiological sex and will only note a person's transgender status if that information will help the investigation. Rachel Bowman, a trans woman who helps organize the annual Fresno Pride Parade, said if a person was dressed in female attire, then that person should be called transgender or a woman unless it's Halloween.

A Missouri man has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for knowingly exposing a sexual partner to HIV, the Associated Press reported. David Lee Mangum, 39, of Dexter, pleaded guilty on June 2 to two counts of exposing another person to HIV. Court documents say Mangum exposed the person without their knowledge or consent in April 2013.

The U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics has announced it will include gender identity in the 2016 School Survey on Crime and Safety, a National LGBTQ Task Force press release stated. The survey will examine incidents of hate crimes and bullying based on sexual orientation and gender identity as separate biases. The decision follows the National LGBTQ Task Force's urging to examine gender identity and sexual orientation separately in hate crimes and bullying against LGBTQ students. Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey said, "The new language in the School Survey on Crime and Safety will help protect LGBTQ students from bullying and harassment and will allow us to better understand the challenges they face."

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman set a Sept. 30 hearing on how much the state will have to pay attorneys who represented the Hazel Park, Michigan, lesbian couple who successfully sued for the right to marry, according to MLive.com. Lawyers for April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse filed a motion seeking a court order for Michigan to pay at least $1.9 million to six lawyers who worked on the case, which lasted over three years before being decided by the U.S. Supreme Court last month.

In Washington state, Jasmine Kaiser's attorney, David Ward, says she was barred from donating plasma because of her sexual identity, Q13Fox.com reported. Ward says Kaiser, who was born male but identifies as female, went to CSL Plasma in Kent in June 2014—but was turned away. Ward said, "Jasmine reported when she went through the screening process that she had no had sexual contact with a man. She was turned down simply because she's a transgender person." CSL Plasma has not commented on the case.

A high-ranking California police lieutenant has been placed on leave after he sent a newspaper a letter condemning the legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide, MSNBC reported. In a letter to the editor of the Stockton Record, Stockton Police Lt. Toby Will called legal same-sex marriage "blatant debauchery." The letter, titled "Marriage ruling shuns God," was posted online July 7. Will was officially placed on paid administrative leave July 13, pending the outcome of the review.

On July 13, the Pittsburgh chapter of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network announced that its board of directors had voted to dissolve the 15-year-old chapter. However, plans for a new effort, organized by those former directors, had already begun, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. THRIVE Southwest Pennsylvania was independently announced in June; it aims to foster LGBTQ-inclusive school climates.

New York City's Ali Forney Center ( AFC ) has announced two new projects designed to meet the needs of its transgender clients, according to a press release. During this summer, it will launch a housing program designed to respond to the specialized needs of homeless transgender teens, and it will begin to offer hormone therapy at its medical clinic in the AFC drop-in center. AFC was recently awarded funding from the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development to provide a housing program for homeless transgender teens between the ages of 16 and 20.

In a recent sermon, Dr. E. Dewey Smith discussed the hypocrisy of condemning LGBT people yet allowing them to work, create art and worship in churches' congregations, according to NewNowNext.com. "We don't say nothing' about the gay choirmaster because he's good for business," preached Smith. "As long as the choir sounds good I'm not saying anything about his sexuality." Smith—a pastor with the House of Hope, Greater Travelers Rest Church in Decatur, Illinois—also called out church leaders who judge gay people but "change wives like we change underwear."

LGBT organization One Iowa has stated it was forced to shut down registration for its first LGBT senior summit nearly three weeks in advance due to high demand, according to a release. The Aug. 1 event will bring LGBT elders, allies and advocates together with providers of healthcare, housing and other services. Speakers and presenters include Sen. Matt McCoy and transgender activist Barbara Satin, who will talk about the needs of aging LGBT Iowans; make connections between individuals, communities and resources; and help LGBT seniors understand their rights.

Blogger Anthony Rebello was the organizer behind the Heterosexual Parade at Seattle's Capitol Hill on July 25, The Huffington Post reported. However, even though more than 2,000 people were invited ( and 169 said they would be there ) the only one who attended was ... Rebello. In a June 27 blog post on his website, Smile Me A River, Rebello criticized marriage equality. The post came just one day after SCOTUS' decision to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide.

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