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National roundup: Military and Pride Month, Cyndi Lauper, trans survey
Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Andrews Davis
2016-06-07

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The Navy joins the nation in recognizing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride month during the month of June. "Diversity is a source of strength for the Navy, and is [a] key component to maintaining our highest state of readiness," said a Navy spokesperson. "Diversity encompasses more than race and gender—we seek to include diversity of thought, background, language, culture and skills as well. ... We want individuals to serve who are right for the job regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation and creed. Our goal is to ensure that the mission is carried out by the best-qualified and the most capable service members." Currently, the Department of Defense is reviewing its transgender policy for the armed forces.

Weeks after his confirmation as the first-ever openly gay Army secretary, Eric Fanning has created a video celebrating June as Pride month on behalf of the U.S. Army, The Washington Blade reported. In the aftermath of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal, Fanning recalls that, just four years ago, the Pentagon hosted its first official celebration commemorating Pride for its service members and Defense Department officials. In an interview with the Washington Blade in 2013, Fanning became the first senior defense official to voice support for openly transgender service.

Trans United Fund ( TUF )—the nation's first political advocacy group and PAC for trans people—released Bernie Sanders' response to the organization's questionnaire, according to a press release. Hillary Clinton's campaign released an op-ed, while the group has received no response from Donald Trump's campaign. Clinton's op-ed is at www.cnn.com/2016/06/03/opinions/equality-in-america-clinton/index.html while Sanders' answers are at TransUnitedFund.org .

Cyndi Lauper met with LGBTQ youth at the LGBT Center of Raleigh to learn more about their lives, the challenges they face, and the damaging impact of North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory's HB2 law, according to a Human Rights Campaign/Equality North Carolina press release. "Cyndi's visit today—both contributing to Equality NC and highlighting the real problems faced by members of the transgender community—is crucial in our fight to repeal HB2," said Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality North Carolina. "We are so grateful for her work, and believe it will continue to make real progress as we defeat the worst anti LGBT bill in the nation."

This year's Democratic National Convention will likely welcome the most openly gay delegates ever, Philly.com reported. Organizers are still certifying delegates, but they say they have more lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender representatives than in the past and expect at least one LGBT delegate from each of the 50 states. In 2012, there were a record-breaking 550 openly LGBT delegates at the party's convention, an increase of 200 from 2008.

Connie Kopelov, a member of the first same-sex couple to legally marry in New York City, has died at age 90, Advocate.com reported. The New York Times noted that Kopelov was in the late stages of Alzheimer's disease. Kopelov and wife Phyllis Siegel had been already been together 23 years when they married July 24, 2011, the day New York State's marriage equality law took effect.

A group representing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender police officers has declined to serve as grand marshals of Philadelphia's LGBT Pride parade, the Assoicated Press reported. The group that runs the June 12 parade, Philly Pride, had asked the Greater Philadelphia Gay Officer Action League serve as grand marshals. However, a Change.org petition was started opposing the honor. Those opposed to the police group being grand marshals, including the Liberty City Democrats and ACT UP Philadelphia, claimed the parade grew out of riots against police.

A Missouri man who was punched and kicked in an attack says he was targeted because he is gay, Towleroad noted. Derrick Glasby says the attack started as he was leaving work on Washington Avenue in St. Louis. When Glasby said hello to a friend he saw on the street, he alleges that a man came out of nowhere and punched his friend while yelling anti-gay slurs. Glasby says that when he came to his friend's aid, four men physically attacked him. Glasby suffered a fractured jaw.

The California Assembly has approved a bill that would require the adoption of comprehensive suicide-prevention plans by local California school districts with students in grades seven through 12, according to an Equality California press release. Assembly Bill ( AB ) 2246 was authored by Assemblymember Patrick O'Donnell ( D-Long Beach ), with Equality California and The Trevor Project sponsoring it. "AB 2246 will protect every student in California, especially our vulnerable LGBTQ youth who attempt suicide at significantly higher rates," said O'Donnell, chair of the Assembly Education Committee.

Florida taxpayers are going to pay nearly $500,000 for the state's losing battle to keep intact a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, NBC Miami reported. State officials have now reached settlements with two separate groups of attorneys representing same-sex couples that challenged the state's ban. Attorney General Pam Bondi's office reached a final settlement that brought the total to $493,000.

In West Virginia, Marshall University football player Steward Butler no longer faces hate-crime charges for allegedly attacking a gay couple last year, ABC News reported. That's partly because West Virginia, like 19 other states, does not have a hate crime law that protects people targeted specifically because of their sexual orientation, according to the Human Rights Campaign. The ruling leaves two options for West Virginia prosecutors: hope for a favorable upcoming appeal with the state Supreme Court, or ( should they lose ) lobby for changes to state law with a legislature that typically hasn't added LGBT protections.

A Vermont transgender man died from injuries suffered in a beating that was initially investigated as a possible bias incident, CNN reported. Amos Beede, described by police as transient, was attacked in a homeless encampment near Pine Street Barge Canal in Burlington, which is where police found him the morning of May 22. Beede suffered multiple blunt force injuries to his face and head, causing internal bleeding, and numerous broken ribs. Four people arrested in connection with Beede's death—Erik Averill, Jordan Paul, Myia Barber and Allison Gee—have been extradited back to Vermont; a hearing has been set for June 27, MyChamplainValley.com noted.

The Kentucky Commissioner of Corrections has said that a minimum and medium security prison in West Liberty can no longer enforce a mail policy that prohibited prisoners from receiving books and magazines that "promote homosexuality," according to an ACLU press release. ACLU of Kentucky Legal Director William Sharp said, "The outdated mail policies that prompted our investigation barred prisoners from receiving mail that 'promotes homosexuality,' but such policies single out pro-LGBT messages for unfavorable treatment. And that type of viewpoint discrimination by the government is precisely what the First Amendment is designed to prevent."

The DJ responsible for playing a recording of a woman singing instead of what was supposed to be a recording of the San Diego Gay Men's Chorus singing the national anthem at a Pride-themed San Diego Padres baseball game has been rehired after an investigation revealed he made a simple mistake, according to an Advocate.com item that cites The San Diego Union Tribune. Initially, The San Diego Gay Men's Chorus called for an investigation of the incident, concerned about homophobia. Major League Baseball investigated the incident and discovered that the issue was caused by human error.

A partnership between the Dallas Police Department and anti-LGBT Southern Baptist megachurch Pastor Robert Jeffress is raising questions about whether homophobia in law enforcement is contributing to a string of unsolved anti-gay hate crimes in the city's Oak Lawn neighborhood, The New Civil Rights Movement reported. Several local LGBT groups called on the police to end its partnership with Jeffress and his First Baptist Church of Dallas after he recently compared pro-LGBT businesses to the terror group ISIS during a radio interview.

The Colin Higgins Foundation announced its 16th Annual Youth Courage Award winners, whom it will recognize for extraordinary leadership and advocacy on behalf of LGBTQ youth. The 2016 winners are Andrew O'Donnell, 18, of Omaha, Nebraska; Landyn Pan, 20, of Orange, California; and Pablo Rodriguez, 20, of San Francisco. Each winner will receive a $10,000 award as well as an all-expenses-paid trip to Los Angeles for the Christopher Street West/L.A. Pride parade and festival; also, they will attend the National LGBTQ Task Force's Creating Change conference in Philadelphia in 2017.

Stephanie White, the head coach of the WNBA's Indiana Fever, was hired as head coach of Vanderbilt University's women's basketball team, Outsports reported. White is married to a woman, Michelle Fletcher, and has three children. White once told the Indianapolis Business Journal, "I am the same Stephanie White the person who was married to a man as the Stephanie White the person that is married to a woman. If you can get people who may not know or don't know they know someone in a same-sex relationship to have an appreciation for a person versus the type of relationship they're in, I think it hits home."

In California, Oakland University swimmer Ayrton Kasemets received the school athletic department's Courage Award at its end-of-year awards program, Outsports noted. Kasemets won the award for coming out to his teammates and then publicly on Outsports, becoming an inspiration to other athletes to be themselves. Kasemets just finished his sophomore year in college. Oakland is a dynasty in the Horizon League, where the men's swimming and diving team has won 38 consecutive league championships.

The Trevor Project announced that Twitter and LGBTQ youth advocate Cole Ray Davis will be honored at TrevorLIVE New York on June 13 with previously announced longtime supporters and Trevor Heroes, Jordan Roth and Richie Jackson, a press release stated. Twitter will be honored with The Trevor Project's 20/20 Visionary Award, while Davis will be recognized as a Trevor Youth Innovator. The Trevor Project's event will include special performances by Grammy and Tony Award winner Billy Porter as well as Grammy Award nominated and multi-platinum R&B recording artist Deborah Cox.


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