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NATIONAL Chuck Schumer, anti-marriage bill, drag event back on, military doctor
by Andrew Davis
2024-02-23

This article shared 14895 times since Fri Feb 23, 2024
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U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced his support for the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA)—and, as a result, several LGBTQ+-advocacy organizations dropped their opposition to it, The Hill noted. KOSA would regulate how social-media platforms operate for young users; Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) are the lead sponsors. Seven LGBTQ+ advocacy groups—including GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign—sent a letter to Blumenthal withdrawing their opposition following updates. "The considerable changes that you have proposed to KOSA in the draft released on February 14, 2024, significantly mitigate the risk of it being misused to suppress LGBTQ+ resources or stifle young people's access to online communities," the groups wrote, in part.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed a bill allowing public officials to refuse to perform same-sex marriages, The Hill reported. The GOP-controlled legislature recently approved Tennessee House Bill 878, which states people "shall not be required to solemnize a marriage" if they refuse to do so based on their "conscience or religious beliefs." The bill does not allow officials to deny marriage licenses to couples based on their beliefs but prevents officials from being required to solemnize a marriage.

In Connecticut, a pride event in Enfield canceled over online comment concerns has been rescheduled for April 20, WFSB noted. The group Enfield Pride posted that the "Drag Story Hour" has been set for the new date at the Asnuntuck Community College. "We have received so many messages of support from the queer community and our allies; so, we are expecting a big event," organizers posted to the Enfield Pride Facebook page. The group described the event as a series of story time readings by a drag performer for children of all ages with the goals of promoting reading and diversity. The event was previously slated for January but was canceled because of social-media comments.

The chair of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee has asked the Pentagon's inspector general to investigate if the military "failed" to support alleged victims of sexual assault in the massive ongoing case of an army pain doctor charged with abuse, CBS News reported. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) made the request after hearing from advocates for alleged victims in the widening case against Army doctor Maj. Michael Stockin. Stockin has been charged by the Army with 48 counts of abusive sexual contact and five counts of indecent viewing under the military code of justice; all of the 42 alleged victims in the case are men. Stockin has been suspended from seeing patients; however, his medical license remains active, according to the Washington State Department of Health database.

Montana's Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) has a new rule that prevents transgender residents from changing the gender marker on their birth certificates to reflect their true gender identity, The Advocate reported. Gender markers on birth certificates issued in Montana can now only be changed if a person's sex was misidentified on the original document, or as the result of data-related error. The rule applies to all pending requests received by or after October 23, 2023, the effective date of S.B. 458, the new controlling state legislation.

Republican Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach told public schools they're required to tell parents their children are transgender or nonbinary even if they're not out at home—despite the fact that Kansas is not among the states with a law that explicitly says to do that, The Dallas Voice reported. Kobach's action was his latest move to restrict trans rights, following his successful efforts last year to temporarily block Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly's administration from changing the listings for sex on transgender people's birth certificates and driver's licenses to reflect their gender identities. Kobach has claimed that failing to disclose when a child is socially transitioning or identifying as nonbinary at school violates parents' rights.

Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Department of Justice's (DoJ's) Civil Rights Division and the division's LGBTQI+ working group convened a quarterly meeting with LGBTQI+ community stakeholders, per a DoJ press release. Department leadership—including representatives from the Civil Rights Division, FBI, Community Relations Service, Office of Justice Programs and Office on Violence Against Women—heard from attending organizations on topics such as anti-LGBTQI+ hate crimes; threats of violence against LGBTQI+ organizations and healthcare providers serving LGBTQI+ patients; and discrimination faced by both intersex individuals and individuals living with HIV.

A Texas Tribune article looked at the re-election chances of Texas state Rep. Shawn Thierry. Those chances got harder as the Houston Democrat voted for three anti-LGBTQ+ bills last year, which could make her more vulnerable. One of the measures she backed was Senate Bill 14, which would bar gender-transitioning care for children and teens and had universal Republican support. Children must be protected from transgender care because of its risk of harm, she said, citing state precedent for allowing only adults to get tattoos, use tanning salons and purchase tobacco products. However, Thierry's remarks ignored that treatment decisions for minors can only be made by parents or legal guardians, as well as the consensus of major medical groups that gender-transitioning care should be available to children and teens in the care of doctors.

In New York, pro-LGBTQ+ organizations and leaders expressed outrage after Republican Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman issued an executive order barring trans athletes from playing sports in accordance with their gender identity at county-run facilities, Gay City News reported. The order states that the Nassau County Department of Parks, Recreation & Museums is barred from issuing permits in violation of that policy. Using the controversial term "biological" to refer to gender, Blakeman called out transgender girls and women in a Feb. 22 press conference, saying "there is a movement for biological males to bully their way into competing in" girls' or women's sports. However, the policy targets trans athletes regardless of gender.

After eight years of being executive director, Beverly Tillery announced that she will be leaving the New York-based Anti-Violence Project (AVP)—the nation's largest support and advocacy organization for LGBTQ+ survivors of violence, per The Washington Blade. AVP Board Chair Stephanie K. Blackwood credited Tillery with helping the group grow into "an organization that is poised for a national role," recognized for its "model support services to survivors and their families, innovative policy and advocacy work and impactful community organizing." Tillery's last day will be July 31.

Florida prosecutors dropped charges against a family accused of brutally attacking a gay man—who was left blind as a result of his injuries—because he'd been in a relationship with their son, PinkNews noted. Yevhen Makarenko, wife Inna and adult son Oleh had each been charged with attempted murder, burglary and kidnapping in relation to an August 2021 beating of a gay man in his apartment in Pompano Beach, Florida. Officials announced the charges against the Makarenko family were being dropped as the Broward County state's attorney's office had decided not to continue with the legal case, the Sun Sentinel reported. Assistant state attorney Veronica Walker wrote in a memo that, although it was "apparent that a crime was committed," there was "no likelihood of a conviction that these defendants committed such crimes."

Also in Florida, gay Tampa resident John Walter Lay was shot and killed at a dog park earlier this month—just one day after he sent a video with a friend sharing that another man was harassing him, OUTSFL reported. Lay was killed on Feb. 2 at the West Lake dog park, where he had multiple negative encounters with Gerald Declan Radford. They were previously part of the same friend group at the park; however, due to political differences, they parted ways. Equality Florida Executive Director Nadine Smith said, "It is impossible to see this senseless death outside the context of the hateful anti-LGBTQ rhetoric from the highest office in our state, and the emboldened bigotry it has inspired … We need to know this investigation is not marred by bias. Good people have to speak out on this hateful rhetoric."

Two Republican candidates in North Carolina's race for governor condemned front-runner Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson for his comments about transgender people using the restroom, NBC News noted. Robinson—the leading Republican candidate ahead of the state's primary for governor on March 5—implied at a campaign event that transgender women should be arrested if they use women's restrooms. Robinson's two Republican opponents, state Treasurer Dale Folwell and attorney Bill Graham, criticized him, with Folwell stating to NBC News, "Mark Robinson is history's latest example of someone rising to power through hate."

Candidates running in the March primary for California legislative seats support continuing to keep funds earmarked for a full-scale, freestanding LGBTQ+ history museum in the Golden State, The Bay Area Reporter noted. It's been nearly three years since San Francisco Mayor London Breed first announced she was budgeting money for the project. The San Francisco-based GLBT Historical Society has long sought a larger, permanent home for its collections, which are currently in the city's Castro neighborhood. The city has budgeted $12 million for a museum, while gay state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) secured $5.5 million in state funds for it.

The New York Archdiocese condemned the "scandalous behavior" at a funeral held at St. Patrick's Cathedral for revered transgender community activist Cecilia Gentili, The Hill noted. In a statement, Rev. Enrique Salvo said the cathedral was not aware that Gentili was reportedly an avowed atheist and that they had not known her gender identity before the service. The service attracted hundreds of attendees who, The Washington Post reported, were dressed in "bold-colored outfits." Also, a funeral organizer told the Post that someone started singing over a rendition of "Ave Maria" and dancing in the aisle, to applause from the audience. Gentili was an outspoken advocate for decriminalizing sex work and for trans rights.

President Joe Biden criticized the Alabama Supreme Court ruling that said frozen embryos are considered children in the state, calling it "outrageous and unacceptable," ABC News noted. That court ruled that "unborn children are 'children' … without exception based on developmental stage, physical location, or any other ancillary characteristics." The unprecedented decision could impact the future of in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments in the state—and several IVF providers have paused parts of their care to patients. Vice President Kamala Harris lambasted the court's decision in a post on X, stating, "This decision is outrageous—and it is already robbing women of the freedom to decide when and how to build a family."

Columbus, Ohio police are investigating a potential hate crime after a resident posted a video of someone urinating on a pride flag in front of their North Side home, per The Columbus Dispatch. The footage posted on Reddit shows a young man approaching the house in the 1500 block of Summit Street while another young man films on his phone from the steps leading up to the front porch. The first young man begins urinating on a flag hanging in front of the front door while holding up his middle finger and yelling, "(Expletive) the gays!" The Reddit user who posted the video commented shortly after and said two Columbus Division of Police officers, including an LGBT liaison, came to the house to take a report.

In Alabama, Amy Dozier Minton has challenged at least 30 titles at the Gadsden Public Library with LGBTQ+ characters, and she plans to challenge more, the Alabama Political Reporter noted. State Rep. Mack Butler, R-Gadsden, recently appointed Minton to the Etowah County Library Committee that provides a comparatively small revenue to the Gadsden library—a revenue that she has previously stated she would withhold if the library continued to keep such books in children's and young adult sections. "These books only confuse kids," Minton has told APR. "Some kids want to be a pirate, but do we let them poke out their eye or cut off their leg? I don't think children are ready to be exposed to that type of content."

A Florida teenager is facing felony charges for leaving tire burnout marks on a Delray Beach street intersection painted in the colors of the Progress Pride flag—marking the second time the streetscape has been deemed vandalized since it was unveiled less than three years ago, The Christian Post noted. The city released a statement announcing that Dylan Brewer, 19, of Clearwater, had been arrested for vandalizing an intersection decorated in the progress pride colors that serves "as a symbol of unity and inclusivity for the LGBTQ community." In June 2021, just days after the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Alexander Jerich, 20, was arrested for using his vehicle to perform a "burnout" on the streetscape; Jerich faced the same charges as Brewer—criminal mischief over $1,000 and reckless driving, as well as evidence of prejudice.

The New Jersey Pride Chamber of Commerce (NJPCC) appointed Noah Michael O'Hare as its new board president, per Out in Jersey. O'Hare is the vice president of retail operations for Spencer Savings Bank; he is responsible for supporting the advancement of its community reinvestment initiatives and philanthropic activities. O'Hare has helped the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce with his role as a Diverse Business Certification Site Visitor; he has also been an ambassador for the NJPCC since 2022.

Former U.S. Rep. George Santos is suing late-night host Jimmy Kimmel for "deceiving" him into creating Cameo videos and then improperly broadcasting them on his show, CNN noted. The lawsuit, filed in the Southern District of New York, alleges copyright infringement, fraudulent inducement, breach of contract and unjust enrichment. ABC, which produces Kimmel's show, and its parent company Disney are also named as defendants.

Top U.S. tennis player Taylor Fritz was called out for appearing to "like" a homophobic tweet on X (formerly Twitter), according to PinkNews. Fritz vehemently denied that he had intended to like the tweet, which was a response to a post by controversial martial artist Sean Strickland complaining about Pride Month. Nina Yamini, the cousin of Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi, responded to Strickland's tweet, saying, "if the founding fathers would wake up, they'd press the reset button"—and it was this response that Fritz "liked." Fritz later stated, "I had to of accidentally liked that while scrolling the replies but wow just want to make it clear for anyone that doesn't know me i absolutely don't stand for any of this and if u [were] to look at my likes it's either all gaming/tennis things I would NEVER do that on purpose."

To celebrate Presidents' Day, the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum unveiled three new series of Presidential Bobbleheads that include the first series of First Lady Bobbleheads featuring 15 First Ladies; a Resolute Desk Series with 11 presidents; and a White House Podium Series featuring the last seven presidents. Each bobblehead in the series will be individually numbered to 1,776 to commemorate the year of the founding of the United States.

A parody musical centered on former President Trump and some of the well-known women in his life is hitting the off-Broadway stage in New York City, The Hill noted. Five: The Parody Musical tells a story about Trump; his wife, Melania; his ex-wives, Ivana Trump and Marla Maples; his daughter, Ivanka; and Stormy Daniels, the adult film actress who was paid by Trump's former fixer, Michael Cohen, in 2016 in exchange for her silence about an alleged affair she had with the former president. The four-week run began with previews last week and will run for the public through March 10 at Theater 555, an off-Broadway theater venue.


This article shared 14895 times since Fri Feb 23, 2024
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