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NATIONAL Rainbow flagpole, Washington Blade, Don Lemon, Black leaders
by Andrew Davis
2022-05-08

This article shared 510 times since Sun May 8, 2022
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Four years after the Trump Administration abruptly nixed plans to bring a rainbow flag to federal land adjacent to NYC's Christopher Park, the Biden Administration is planning to install a permanent flagpole at the park, Gay City News reported. Longtime LGBTQ activist Michael Petrelis (who spearheaded the 2017 effort to bring the rainbow flag to federal land at the Stonewall National Monument) delivered a letter to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland—who has a non-binary child—asking the federal government to reclaim the land under the original flagpole and raise a permanent rainbow flag on federal property once and for all. The first Pride flagpole on federal land will be hoisted Wed., June 1; federal officials and LGBTQ+ activists are expected to attend the event, according to Petrelis.

The Washington Blade, the nation's oldest LGBTQ newspaper, released photos of its guests from the White House Correspondents Association's Dinner that took place April 30, per a press release. Guests included LGBTQ icons Judith Light and Amy Schneider, GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis, and AIDS Healthcare Foundation CEO Michael Weinstein; Washington Blade Editor Kevin Naff and White House reporter Chris Johnson were also in attendance. In 2014, the Blade became the first LGBTQ outlet to be added to the White House press pool.

Almost three years after CNN anchor Don Lemon was accused of assaulting a man in a Sag Harbor, New York, bar in 2018, the lawsuit has ended, Deadline reported. "After a lot of inner reflection and a deep dive into my memory, I have come to realize that my recollection of the events that occurred on the night in question when I first met CNN anchor Don Lemon were not what I thought they were when I filed this lawsuit," said accuser Dustin Hice. "As a result, I am dropping the case." Lemon's attorney, Caroline Polisi, said, in part, "Unfortunately, being a gay Black man in the media, he has had to deal with these sorts of attacks for quite some time."

Black religious leaders and advocates are urging church members to signal support for the LGBTQ+ community as anti-LGBTQ+ legislation numbers rise throughout the country, according to NBC News. Advocates highlighted the need to pass bipartisan federal legislation that protects religious liberty and LGBTQ rights in a recent virtual panel. One of the experts on the panel—the Rev. Cedric A. Harmon, the executive director of Many Voices, a Black church organization promoting LGBTQ+ justice—said in an interview that it's a critical time for religious leaders to speak up in support of the Equality Act, a bill that would solidify nondiscrimination protections for the LGBTQ+ community.

In Florida, West Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Scott Suskauer sentenced Alexander Jerich, 20—who burned a 15-foot-long skid mark into a gay pride memorial—to write a 25-page essay on the 2016 Pulse massacre before being sentenced June 8, USA Today noted. In addition to researching the backgrounds of the 49 people who died and the loved ones they left behind, Suskauer told Jerich to offer his own views about why such tragedies occur. Also, the judge voiced little interest in putting Jerich behind bars for a year; Assistant State Attorney Richard Clausi suggested a 30-day sentence, an option Suskauer indicated he would consider.

A bill that would permit teachers to misgender their transgender students is advancing through Tennessee's state legislature, according to NBC News. The measure, SB 2777, would allow the state's public school staff to refuse to "use a student's preferred pronoun when referring to the student if the preferred pronoun is not consistent with the student's biological sex" and protect educators from "civil liability and adverse employment action" for doing so. LGBTQ advocates have denounced the proposed legislation (which the state House passed 67 to 25), warning it could exacerbate mental health issues for transgender youths, who disproportionately suffer from depression and suicide attempts.

Equality California was among the many groups that responded negatively to news that an initial draft majority opinion overturning Roe v. Wade was written by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. Executive Director Tony Hoang, in a press release, said, "Abortion is healthcare. Abortion is essential. Abortion is a fundamental human right. There is nothing the Supreme Court can do to change that. There is nothing five or six justices can do to stop people from needing and seeking abortion care. What they can do—and what overturning Roe will do—is cost people their lives and livelihoods. Women. Transgender and non-binary people. Our mothers and sisters and friends and neighbors and colleagues. Shame on us if we let this stand. We must organize, mobilize and vote like our lives depend on it. Because they do."

To perhaps little surprise, the Maine Republican Party adopted a platform aiming to limit teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity in schools at the party's convention, The Bangor Daily News reported. The platform, finalized just after the convention opened at the Augusta Civic Center, is only symbolic and does not amount to a complete listing of the policy areas that could decide elections this year. However, it highlights issues that have gained prominence among national and state Republican activists compared with previous election cycles.

LGBTQ+ students at the University of Maryland marched across campus in response to legislation passed in many states that bars the discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation in schools, the Los Angeles Blade reported. The "Let's Say Gay Parade" began in the Adele H. Stamp Student Union, trekked through McKeldin Mall—where many were celebrating the university's annual community outreach event, "Maryland Day"—and ended in the student union. Students, parents and members of the campus community were in attendance.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order to establish a state certification program for LGBTQ+-owned businesses at Lambertville's Union Coffee (one such business), patch.com reported. Certification, which will be free of charge, would expand access to public and private contracting opportunities and enable businesses to identify as LGBTQ+-owned in their advertising. Lambertville Mayor Andrew Nowick was on hand to support the legislation.

Members of the University of Miami community gathered in the Shalala Student Center Ballroom for the first in-person Lavender Celebration since 2019, the school news website noted. "At the start of my freshman year, I wasn't 'out' to my family or friends," undergraduate speaker Joseph Recker said. "The University of Miami was one of the first places in my life that I saw LGBTQ+ people living their true and authentic lives." Recker received the Danny Gomez Legacy Award; Brittney Davis received the Outstanding Graduate Student Award and delivered the graduate student address.

A recent rally in New Ulm, Minnesota, attracted more than a hundred people who came to support LGBTQ+ students, MPR News noted. Attendee Jerin Ostermann—who has three children who identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community—said she homeschools them because, according to her, the culture in the New Ulm school district isn't welcoming to LGBTQ+ students. The Star Tribune reported that an openly gay St. Peter basketball player accused a New Ulm player of repeatedly pinching him during games and of making homophobic comments; New Ulm Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Bertrang apologized to the St. Peter player and his family for that incident as well as a subsequent, unrelated one in which four New Ulm students allegedly shot water gel pellets at the St. Peter team bus.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) applauded Arizona's Phoenix Union High School District for passing a resolution Thursday opposing discrimination against trans children and youth, according to the organization's website. The district's action was a response to politicians' increasing attacks on transgender kids that are subjecting them to discrimination in Arizona, like Senate Bill 1165, which Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law earlier this year to prohibit trans kids from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity.

The San Francisco Bay Area Leather Alliance—the fiscal sponsor of the Queer Nightlife Fund that raised nearly $400,000 more than 2020 and 2021 for LGBTQ people thrown out of work by the COVID pandemic—may not have had its own financial house in order when it told would-be donors their financial gifts were tax-deductible, according to The Bay Area Reporter. Beth Bartlett-Downey—a member of Leather Quest, one of the leather alliance's former member organizations—said the group became concerned when requests for financial information from the leather alliance weren't being answered. San Francisco Bay Area Leather Alliance President Angel Garfold, a professional accountant, said she is trying to address the concerns related to oversight.

Arizona Diamondbacks Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer Nona Lee resigned from the organization to follow her passion to create lasting change with her work in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in the country's corporations, sports teams and organizations, per a press release. Lee has launched a consulting company, Truth DEI, for CEOs, entrepreneurs and organizational leaders who want to learn more about DEI.

A New York City couple is opening a new LGBTQ+-friendly club in Brooklyn following the success of opening a lounge during the pandemic, AMNY reported. Charles Hughes and Richard Solomon opened Lambda Lounge, a friendly space in Harlem, in 2020—and will now follow with Club Lambda, a 5,000-square-foot, two-story space in Brooklyn.

Living Out Palm Springs appointed LGBTQ+ community member Ernie Shaffer as president of the new flagship senior resort community in Palm Springs, slated to open next spring, per a press release. Shaffer was a board member of The LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert, then known as the Golden Rainbow Senior Center.

An Indiana man accused of killing his wife in March and dumping her body in a creek won his township board primary elections, USA Today noted. Andrew Wilhoite, from Lebanon, has been charged with murder in the death of his wife, Nikki Wilhoite. On May 3, he secured a spot as one of three Republican candidates in the race for a seat on the Clinton Township Board.


This article shared 510 times since Sun May 8, 2022
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