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NATIONAL Marriage bill, drag queen dies, Dutch queen visits, university sued
by Andrew Davis
2022-09-18

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A bipartisan group of senators trying to pass same-sex marriage protection legislation pushed a vote until after the November election—a move the officials say increases their chances of success but avoids forcing the GOP on record before the midterms, Politico reported. The bill's chief sponsor, Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin), said, "I'm still very confident that the bill will pass, but we will be taking the bill up later, after the election." In a statement, PFLAG National Executive Director Brian K. Bond said, "A vote for the Respect for Marriage Act is not about politics; it's about our families and our values as a community and as a nation. Especially at this moment, it is disheartening that some senators held back a vote because they are unwilling to publicly support something as fundamental as love."

A Philadelphia drag queen is dead after she collapsed onstage during a performance at a bar, USA Today noted. Valencia Prime, a 25-year-old transgender woman who dubbed herself "Philadelphia's Plus Size Dancing Diva" on Instagram, died Sept. 12. "Today we mourn the loss of a very bright and rising star in the performance community and a person who was always full of love and positivity," the bar said in a social media statement. "We say goodbye to Valencia Prime but we will not forget the light you brought to the stage."

Queen Maxima of the Netherlands visited San Francisco and met with members of the LGBTQ+ community as part of a royal visit to California, WFMZ. The queen met with San Francisco Mayor London Breed at City Hall before they visited the city's Castro District, long known for its gay community. The queen, married to King Willem-Alexander, and her delegation stopped by the GLBT Historical Society Museum and Castro Theater before meeting with community members at the Twin Peaks Tavern. She also met with California Gov. Gavin Newsom, among others.

Students and staff at Seattle Pacific University, a private Christian liberal-arts school, are suing members of the university's board of trustees for refusing to hire individuals in same-sex relationships, NPR reported. The lawsuit claims the six defendants use their position of power to "advance the interests of a religious denomination at the expense of the students, alumni, staff, and faculty of the university." Seattle Pacific University Interim President Pete Menjares, one of the six leaders being sued, said in a July 28 statement that the university was asking a federal court to defend its right to make hiring decisions based on religion.

A California man pled guilty on Sept. 8in federal court in Springfield, Massachusetts to making threats to commit anti-LGBTQ violence against Springfield-based Merriam-Webster, Inc. and others, according to a U.S. Department of Justice press release. Jeremy David Hanson, 34, of Rossmoor, California, pled guilty to one count of interstate communication of threatening communications to commit violence against the employees of Merriam-Webster, and to another count charging the same offense, initially filed in the Eastern District of Texas, targeting the president of the University of North Texas. Hanson also admitted that he frequently selected the object of his threatening communications because of the gender, gender identity and/or sexual orientation of various persons.

Police were called to the scene of a stabbing outside popular Long Beach, California gay bar Mineshaft, LGBTQ Nation noted. Two men were attacked, and one (Christopher Finley, 28) died. The bar's co-owner, Jeff Darling, said that two patrons were standing outside the bar when an unidentified individual rode up on a bicycle. According to witnesses, an argument ensued. The incident escalated with the rider pulling a knife and stabbing both patrons in the chest, and the attacker fled the scene.

The Washington State Commission on Human Rights issued a reasonable-cause finding of discrimination against Alaska Airlines over the company's enforcement of a uniform policy that requires flight attendants to conform to a set of gendered dress and grooming standards, per an ACLU press release. "The illegal and discriminatory uniform policy maintained by Alaska Airlines forces employees like me to dress and groom in a manner inconsistent with our gender identities and gender expressions," said Justin Wetherell, a non-binary flight attendant and flight-attendant instructor for Alaska Airlines, based in Seattle. The uniform policy at Alaska Airlines comprehensively regulates every aspect of flight attendants' appearance by requiring them to wear either the "masculine" or "feminine" uniform. The statement is at https://www.aclu.org/press-releases/alaska-airliness-gendered-dress-codes-are-likely-discriminatory-says-wa-state.

Equality Virginia announced it will track if school boards have implemented the Virginia Department of Education's (VDOE's) guidelines for transgender and non-binary students, The Washington Blade reported. Equality Virginia Executive Director Narissa S. Rahaman, in a press release, noted that "almost half of Virginia's K-12 students attend schools in divisions that have fully adopted VDOE's model policies for the treatment of transgender students" since their issuance in 2020. The organization further noted the School Board Policy and Meeting Tracker will "provide parents, advocates and students information on local school board meetings, potential agenda items and opportunity for public comment, and whether the school district has adopted" the guidelines.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene announced 50,000 additional monkeypox vaccine appointments, shortened the wait time between first and second doses, and reduced the minimum age requirement to include those under 18, Gay City News reported. Individuals seeking their second shot of the two-dose Jynneos vaccine now only need to wait at least 28 days between shots, while minors seeking the vaccine must receive consent from a guardian, parent, or legal custodian. Consent for those who are 16 or 17 can be via phone or in person at the time of the appointment, but those 15 or under require a caregiver to accompany them.

CNN is shaking up its morning show and its primetime lineup in CEO Chris Licht's first programming shake-up since taking over the channel in May, according to The Hollywood Reporter. CNN plans to launch a new morning show later this year, anchored by Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlan Collins. Lemon will step aside from his 10 p.m. program to lead the new show, which will have a new name, format and set.

A high-ranking Michigan GOP official called openly gay Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg a "weak little girl," per LGBTQ Nation. Buttigieg was talking about California's ban on selling gasoline-fueled cars—which will go into effect in 2035—on Fox 11 Los Angeles's The Issue Is show. Michigan Republican Party co-chair Meshawn Maddock saw the clip and posted, "We're so blessed this weak little girl moved to Michigan! Looks like he's bringing all his California Dreaming here with him." Earlier this year, Buttigieg and husband Chasten Buttigieg moved near Chasten's hometown of Traverse City, Michigan to be closer to his parents as they raise their children.

Mackinac Island, Michigan, is set to host its first Pride Festival celebrating the LGBTQ+ community, according to MLive. Scheduled to take place Sept. 22-25, the weekend's festivities include drag-queen bingo, brunch, hayride, queer prom dance, vendor market, bike ride and a cruise on a local charter boat. The celebration is being organized by Straits Pride, a non-profit that aims to promote visibility and awareness for the LGBTQ+ population in the Straits of Mackinac through events such as bar crawls, bike rides and a biweekly coffee hour to support networking and conversations.

The Los Angeles LGBT Center announced that Phillip Picardi is the organization's chief marketing and communications officer, per a press release. Picardi comes to the nonprofit world after his graduation from Harvard Divinity School, where he was a part of the inaugural cohort of the Masters of Religion and Public Life program. Before that, he was best known for his role in the media industry, such as being the chief content officer of Teen Vogue.

The Meta-owned company Instagram confirmed to TechCrunch that it's testing a repost feature that'll allow users to share others' content to their feeds, per Mashable. It's a very similar feature to Twitter's retweets (rolled out as a button back in 2009) or the reblogs and shares seen on Tumblr, Facebook, and TikTok. As of now, Instagram confirmed that the test feature is only available to a small number of users.

Nearly half of the country's governors signed a letter to President Joe Biden asking him to withdraw his student loan forgiveness plan that would cancel up to $20,000 for federal aid borrowers, NPR reported. The governors, all Republicans, argue that the lowest income Americans will be paying the debts of doctors, lawyers and professors "with the most debt, such as $50,000 or more."

Ken Starr, who led the Whitewater investigation into former President Bill Clinton, has died of surgical complications at age 76, CNBC reported. Starr was nominated by former President Ronald Reagan for a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Washington, D.C., circuit, and he served as U.S. solicitor general under then-President George H.W. Bush. He was also dean of the Pepperdine University School of Law and president of Baylor University—a tenure that ended in 2016 after an investigation into the school's mishandling of sexual-assault cases.


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