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NATIONAL Dr. Rachel Levine, World AIDS Day, trans deaths, Philly bar art
by Andrew Davis
2023-12-08

This article shared 3976 times since Fri Dec 8, 2023
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United States District Court for the Northern District of Alabama Liles C. Burke ruled that emails and other records from U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health Dr. Rachel Levine are relevant to a lawsuit challenging Alabama's ban on transgender medical care for minors, Yahoo! News noted. The case is Boe v. Marshall, initiated by five parents against the Vulnerable Child Compassion and Protection Act, per AL.com . The legislation, signed by Republican Gov. Kay Ivey in 2022, bars puberty blockers, hormone therapy and gender-affirming surgeries for minors, with serious penalties for healthcare providers.

Also regarding Levine, she released a statement for World AIDS Day (Dec. 1). In addition to praising the work of the Biden-Harris administration, including the continuance of the U.S. President's Plan for Emergency AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), Levine said, "This World AIDS Day, as I join people and communities across the nation and around the globe in remembering those we have lost to AIDS-related illnesses and recognizing those with and experiencing risk for HIV, I recommit to accelerating our work to end the HIV epidemic."

Dr. David J. Johns—executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), a Black LGBTQ+-rights organization—commemorated World AIDS Day by issuing a statement. In part, he said, "World AIDS Day serves as a poignant reminder of the intersectional challenges faced by the Black community. Stigma, discrimination, and systemic barriers compound the vulnerability Black people experience, impeding our access to crucial education, prevention, and care resources. As we reflect on the advancements made in the fight against HIV/AIDS, it is vital to acknowledge that the battle is far from over." The NBJC called on supporters to use their Digital Advocacy and Action Hub (at nbjc.org/nbjc-action-hub/&; to reach out to their members of Congress and demand they reauthorize PEPFAR before heading home for the holidays.

Black transgender woman Rita Hester was killed in Boston in 1998—and, 25 years later, the Boston Police Department continues asking for the public's help, according to MassLive. "Rita's murder shook the LGBTQ+ community and the Brighton neighborhood she resided in," Boston police said in a statement. "Rita's legacy has forged several initiatives including the Transgender Day of Remembrance." The day, marked on Nov. 20 every year, was founded by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith in 1999, according to GLAAD, to honor Hester's memory.

In South Carolina, authorities said three persons of interest were identified in connection with trans woman Shandon Floyd's death, WIS-TV reported. Floyd, 20, was found dead in a car in Columbia on Nov. 15—almost a week after she was reported missing. The Richland County Coroner's Office is also investigating and scheduled an autopsy to determine the cause of death, but those results haven't been released yet.

Artist Inhwan Oh has memorialized Philadelphia's history of queer bars in an installation, Billy Penn noted. Titled "Where He Meets Him in Philadelphia," the site-specific work is part of the featured exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, "The Shape of Time: Korean Art after 1989." It features the names of 36 queer bars and clubs that have existed in the city—including The Bridge Tavern, Gatsby's, Rainbow, Mystique and Hepburn's (now Franky Bradley's), among others—and the names are layered atop one another on the floor in powder incense. The exhibit is slated to run through Feb. 11, 2024.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced the members of a new commission designed to advise the governor and others on LGBTQ+ affairs, The Advocate noted. Whitmer created the LGBTQ+ Commission in June via Executive Order 2023-5 as an advisory board with the Department of Labor and Education Opportunity. The order requires that membership on the commission (to be headed by academic/activist Raul Hernandez Guzman) "should reflect the socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, cultural, gender identity, sexual orientation, occupational, political, and geographic diversity of Michigan to the extent possible."

In California, openly gay Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Cupertino) is vying to become the Bay Area's first LGBTQ+ and first Chinese American elected to Congress, and he officially launched his campaign to succeed Congressmember Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto), per The Bay Area Reporter. In a statement released to media outlets, he said he wants to "usher in a new era of courageous leadership for Silicon Valley" via his House candidacy. He told the publication, "I am not naive about the divisions of Washington. Most would recognize the Republican Party absolutely has become the party of Trump. We have the most homophobic speaker of the House in generations. The best counter for that is to send openly LGBTQ people to Congress."

Dr. Anthony Fauci said that he's concerned about the resurgence of extreme conservatism, per The Advocate. He said, "I'm very, very concerned about the resurgence of the anti-LGBTQ+ movement in this country. It's reverting back to the way it was 40 years ago, which is terrible. We certainly have got to do something about that and push back against that." Referring to the LGBTQ+ organizations of the '80s, Fauci added, "They organized. They were very vocal. We've got to get back to that. We can't let the insidious resurgence of anti-LGBTQ+ feelings in this country go without pushing back very aggressively against it."

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul recently signed a bill aimed at preventing discrimination against LGBTQ+ people and people living with HIV who reside in long-term care facilities, Gay City News reported. The legislation, the "LGBTQ+ Long-term Care Facility Residents' Bill of Rights," was introduced by out gay state Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal and Assemblymember Harry Bronson. Legislators approved the measure in June.

Some advocates say that a new bill in the Ohio House aiming to punish sexual grooming may have sufficiently vague language that it harms LGBTQ+ youth, the Ohio Capital Journal reported. Republican state Reps. Bill Seitz (Cincinnati) and Cindy Abrams (Harrison) introduced House Bill 322. The bill creates the offense of grooming, barring an adult from engaging in a "pattern of conduct" with a minor that would cause a "reasonable adult" to believe that the adult has a "purpose to entice, coerce, solicit, or prepare the minor to engage in "sexual activity." People such as Kaleidoscope Youth Center Executive Director Erin Upchuch worry that because there is no definition of a "reasonable person," anti-LGBTQ+ groups could claim that informing teens how sex works—thus "preparing them for sex"—could be weaponized.

Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville of Alabama said he is releasing most of his holds for Senate votes to confirm military promotions, CNN reported. He faced bipartisan pressure to cease his blanket hold on military promotions over a Defense Department reproductive-rights policy. Tuberville's hold started in March and delayed the confirmations of more than 450 top military nominees. Asked what his message was to military families affected by his holds, Tuberville said, "Thank you for your service."

In the wake of certain personal revelations, the Florida Democratic Party, led by Chair Nikki Fried, has called for the immediate resignation of Christian Ziegler, who chairs the Florida Republican Party, and his wife, Bridget Ziegler, a member of the Sarasota County School Board, per The Advocate. Christian Ziegler is under criminal investigation for rape and sexual battery—and the controversy is further intensified by reports of a consensual three-way relationship involving both Zieglers, with the specific incident in question allegedly occurring in Bridget Ziegler's absence. Given the couple's positions regarding family values, the revelations have sparked talk of hypocrisy.

The Iowa Supreme Court affirmed the hate-crime conviction of Robert Clark Geddes, who posted handwritten notes at homes with rainbow flags and emblems, urging people to "burn that gay flag," Iowa Public Radio noted. The majority rejected Geddes' claim that his conviction for trespassing as a hate crime violated his free-speech rights. In 2021, notes were taped to the front doors of five renters and homeowners in the town of Boone who displayed rainbow flags or decals; all the notes read, "burn that gay flag."

Florida's Alachua County Public School District reversed itself and said it was putting back into a high school's library an LGBTQ+ book that had been challenged under Florida law over graphic references to masturbation and sex, per the Citrus County Chronicle. The district in progressive Alachua County had removed its only copy of Maia Kobabe's Gender Queer: A Memoir from Eastside High because of sexually explicit content. However, district media specialist Patty Duval said it was returning the book.

The Fourth Circuit heard arguments over whether Maryland parents, on behalf of their elementary school children, can opt out of reading their kids assigned books that include LGBTQ+ characters, Courthouse News Service noted. Montgomery County School Board introduced the Pride Storybooks, a collection that some parents argue is aimed at indoctrinating elementary school children into views that contradict the parents' religious beliefs. The parents challenging the law, along with parents' rights organization Kids First, appealed after a federal court in Maryland denied their motion of preliminary injunction allowing them to opt out of reading the storybooks to their children.

A year after a targeted attack on an electrical substation left Moore County, North Carolina, in the dark for days, no arrests have been made and little information has come forward, Axios reported. The attack had a chilling effect on the county's LGBTQ+ community, which was hosting a drag show in Southern Pines when the attack on the substation happened, WUNC noted. (While no connection has been made by law enforcement, the group Sandhills PRIDE had received threats before the event and believes it is connected.) In addition, the incident resulted in the death of an 87-year-old woman.

Under a new bill pre-filed for the upcoming Alabama legislative session, the membership of the Board of Trustees of the Department of Archives and History would shrink, and new members would be appointed, AL.com noted. Senate Bill 5 comes after a summertime conflict between the Department of Archives and History and several lawmakers—including bill sponsor state Sen. Chris Elliott, R-Josephine—over a lunchtime lecture on the history of LGBTQ+ people in the state. Elliott and others questioned the appropriateness of the event, saying that state agencies shouldn't be talking about anyone's sexuality or orientation.

The Endocrine Society—the world's oldest and largest organization dedicated to the clinical practice of endocrinology—released a statement correcting misinformation about gender-affirming healthcare that was spread at the fourth Republican presidential primary debate in Alabama, The Washington Blade noted. The group said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' comments that characterized care for transgender and gender-diverse youth as child abuse and genital mutilation "do not reflect the health care landscape" and contradict "mainstream medical practice and scientific evidence."

In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, anti-LGBTQ+ former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-California, is resigning from Congress early and will not run for re-election next year, USA Today reported. The announcement signified an end to a historic Capitol Hill career after 15 rounds of voting to become speaker in January and getting ousted in October by a conservative rebellion. Although McCarthy's next steps are uncertain, he has promised to stay involved in GOP politics.

The meteoric rise and web of lies involving now-former openly gay U.S. Rep. George Santos are getting the film treatment, according to Deadline. HBO Films has optioned the rights to Mark Chiusano's book The Fabulist: The Lying, Hustling, Grifting, Stealing and Very American Legend of George Santos, which was published on Nov. 28. Santos was voted out of Congress for alleged ethics violations, including donor funds spent on the website OnlyFans and Botox treatments. He has denied the charges and has vowed to fight back.

Also regarding George Santos, he recently said he opposes same-sex marriage (and all marriages)—despite being in one himself, Business Insider revealed. "I was an opposer of gay marriage," Santos said in response to a question about his relationships with more conservative House Republicans—on the two-year anniversary of his own marriage to his husband, Matt. Santos said that he entered into such a marriage "because that was the option," but did not believe it should be called "marriage" (wanting the term "civil union" instead) and that the government should not be involved in the institution.

The Greater Miami LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce (MDGLCC) has launched the pro-LGBTQ+ Pink Flamingo Hospitality Certification Program, per Miami's Community News. The program includes training on gender identity and sexual orientation for hospitality service professionals, providing them with the tools to respond appropriately to all people, an essential element for creating an environment wherein all visitors are welcome. The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, Miami Beach Visitor & Convention Authority, The Confidante Miami Beach and the Carillon Miami Wellness Resort are sponsoring the initiative.


This article shared 3976 times since Fri Dec 8, 2023
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