In North Dakota, the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa tribal council voted to amend the tribe’s code to effectively broaden the definition of marriage, KFYRTV.com reported. The vote changes the tribe’s definition of marriage from husband and wife to spouse. LGBTQ+-advocacy groups marched ahead of the vote, in support of expanding the language to be inclusive of same-sex couples. The vote will also allow unmarried tribal members to adopt.
The defense finally began its case concerning Andrew Vrba, a man facing murder charges after the death of a transgender teen in Texas County three years ago, KY3.com reported. Vrba, now 21, is one of four suspects charged in the death of 17-year-old Joseph Steinfeld, who came out as transgender and went by the name Ally Steinfeld before the death. Three others have pled guilty and are in prison for their roles in Steinfeld’s death.
In July alone, there were six violent deaths of trans and gender-nonconforming people across the countryall but one of them trans Black or Latinx womenmaking it the deadliest month so far for this vulnerable community, NBC News reported. Among them was Marilyn Cazares, 22, who was found dead in an abandoned building in California about a half-hour north of the Mexican border. In 2019, 27 trans people died because of violence in total; this year, the number has already reached 26, according to the Human Rights Campaign, although others say the number has been equalled.
A Black, transgender woman was murdered in Oregon as she attended a vigil for a man who had been killed several days earlier, LGBTQ Nation noted. Aja Raquell Rhone-Spears, 33, was one of 20 to 30 people who attended a vigil in Portland on July 28 for murder victim Tyrell Penney. According to police, there was a fighta “large disturbance occurred involving multiple participants”at the vigil and two people were stabbed, including Rhone-Spears.
A federal grand jury added four felony charges to the Justice Department’s case against Ed Buck, the onetime political activist accused of drugging vulnerable Black gay mentwo of whom died in his West Hollywood home, Advocate.com reported. Along with his five earlier drug and prostitution charges, jurors added a superseding indictment that included two charges of enticing individuals to travel interstate to engage in prostitution, one charge of distributing methamphetamine, and one count of “using his residence for the purpose of distributing narcotics.” Buck is scheduled to go to trial Jan. 19, 2021.
Marty Jannettya former WWE star who won 20 championshipsconfessed to murdering a gay man and disposing of the body in a river, LGBTQ Nation reported. In a post to Facebook, Jannetty, 60, wrote that he bought marijuana from a gay man at a bowling alleya man he then killed. He wrote that the “fag… put his hands on me..he dragged me around to the back of the building.” ( Jannetty was 13 at the time. ) Jannetty said that authorities should have looked for the gay man’s body in the Chattahoochee River, which runs near his hometown of Columbus, Georgia. Georgia has no statute of limitations for murder.
In Pennsylvania, a Republican lawmaker called the police on an out gay Democrat, saying the gay legislator made him fear for his family’s safety, LGBTQ Nation reported. Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Murt ( R ) said that he called the police after a tense phone call with state Rep. Brian Sims ( D ). Sims denied making threats and claims that the conversation was about Murt allegedly “killing the effort to advance LGBTQ legislation.”
The Human Rights Campaign and Showtime announced “Queer to Stay: An LGBTQ+ Business Preservation Initiative” to support and preserve businesses that serve the LGBTQ+ community with a focus on LGBTQ+ people of color, women and the transgender community. The initiative will celebrate and support the LGBTQ+ community by identifying and donating to a number of businesses, selected based on the communities they serve and how COVID-19 has affected them. “Queer to Stay” is accepting applications now and until 11:59 P.M. ET on Friday, Aug. 14. Eligible businesses can apply at hrc.im/QueerToStayApplication. ( Recipients will be notified and announced later this summer. )
LGBTQ Victory Fund-endorsed candidate Stephanie Byers won her primary for a Kansas state House seat, and is on track to become the first out trans person ever elected to public office in Kansas, a press release noted. Byers was unopposed in the primary and her Democratic-leaning district makes her the favorite to win the general election in November.
Three groups of college Democrats in Massachusetts disinvited left-wing congressional primary challenger and Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse from all future events, alleging that he showed a pattern of using “his platform and taking advantage of his position of power for romantic or sexual gain, specifically toward young students,” Politico reported. The emailsigned by College Democrats of Massachusetts, U-Mass.-Amherst Democrats and Amherst College Democratsalleged that Morse, who is challenging House Ways and Means Chairman Richie Neal, had “sexual contact” with students at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where he was a lecturer on political science. The 31-year-old politician was elected as the first openly gay mayor and youngest mayor of the small Western Massachusetts city nine years ago.
Peter Thielthe gay tech billionaire and Republican activist who spoke at the 2016 GOP conventiongave almost $1 million to the campaign of anti-LGBTQ former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach for the GOP primary for U.S. Senate, LGBTQ Nation noted. ( Kobach lost to Roger Marshall in the GOP primary Aug. 4, NPR noted. ) Kobach also ran for governor in 2018 and lost to a Democratpartly because several prominent Republicans in the state defected and supported his Democratic opponent, current Gov. Laura Kelly, because of his extreme views.
Democrat Albert Chestera candidate in Florida’s 5th congressional district primary racewas criticized after numerous anti-LGBTQ posts on social media were unearthed by local progressive activists, LGBTQ Nation reported. The Facebook posts have been deleted and Chester ( who Florida for Bernie, a group of progressive Bernie Sanders supporters, endorsed ) apologized for the offensebut it may be too late. “My past is not an indication of who I am today,” Chester said. “Since that time, I have become more knowledgeable about the issues you face. The primary takes place Tuesday, Aug. 18.
A former D.C. politico crossed a major hurdle in his effort to become Michigan’s first openly gay member of Congress after cinching the Democratic nomination in the primary for the state’s 6th congressional district, The Washington Blade noted. State Rep. Jon Hoadley ( D-Kalamazoo ), who was president for the now-defunct National Stonewall Democrats, won the contested primary. Hoadley will advance to the general election, where he’ll face Rep. Fred Upton ( R-Michigan ), who has a reputation as a moderate in the solidly Republican district.
Fausto Fernandeza physician who practiced family medicine in the Northern Virginia area for more than 30 years and who became known as an advocate and champion for the LGBTQ Latino communitydied July 18 at the Virginia Hospital in Arlington from complications associated with heart disease and non-COVID pneumonia, The Washington Blade reported. Hermon Balbuena the administrator at the Falls Church, Virginia-based Dr. Fernandez Family Clinicsaid that for the past decade or longer Fernandez, 80, served a mostly low-income, uninsured patient population, many of whom were immigrants.
On June 29, COVID-19 claimed the life of Staten Island LGBTQ-rights advocate Jim Smith, NY1.com reported. Smith helped organize Staten Island’s first pride parade in 2005, and served as its grand marshal. In 2008, Smith ( a Coast Guard veteran and an addiction counselor ) helped establish the borough’s Pride Center, and helped develop programming for the borough’s LGBT youth.
Two transgender teens sued Arizona’s Medicaid agency, alleging their civil rights are being violated by the state health insurance program’s ban on gender-affirming surgeries, NBC News reported. The suit seeks to establish a class action on behalf of the teensknown only as John Doe, 15, and D.H., 17, and other transgender Arizonan Medicaid recipients under age 21 who seek chest reconstruction as treatment for a diagnosis of gender dysphoria. The claims say the state’s 1982 ban on “gender reassignment surgeries” violates the Affordable Care Act’s anti-discrimination provisions, the Medicaid Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit has thrown out two Catholic LGBTQ groups: Dignity Detroit and Fortunate Families Detroit, The Detroit Free Press reported. Both groups and clergy received letters earlier this year from Auxiliary Bishop Gerard Battersby warning them they are no longer welcome in the Archdiocese because they advocate policies that he said clash with church doctrine on sexuality. In June, the Archdiocese of Detroit fired a music director at an Auburn Hills church who is a lesbian and had married another woman.
Smyrna adopted a comprehensive nondiscrimination ordinance, becoming the latest city in Georgiaand the first in Cobb Countyto protect LGBTQ people in private employment, housing and public accommodations, Project Q Atlanta noted. The City Council approved the measure in a six-to-one vote that came after a public hearing last month to fine-tune an ordinance that’s been under consideration for months. The lone vote against the nondiscrimination ordinance came from Ward 4 Councilmember Charles A. “Corkey” Welch, who has opposed LGBTQ initiatives for years.
Therapya popular bar in the Hell’s Kitchen area of New York Citymay never reopen, Gay City News reported. The bar first closed in mid-March when it noted in a March 15 Facebook post that the establishment would be shuttered “until further notice.” The bar first closed in mid-March when it noted in a March 15 Facebook post that the establishment would be shuttered “until further notice.” The two-story bar has been known for its ties to RuPaul’s Drag Race, often hosting contestants, but it was also a space for queer New Yorkers to simply grab drinks and socialize.
San Francisco city supervisors voted unanimously July 28 to lift restrictions on bathhouses once the coronavirus pandemic subsides, according to Gay City News. The bathhouses were first shut down in 1984, when the San Francisco Health Department intervened and encouraged courts to step in and place significant limitations on bathhouses, requiring them to ban the rental of private rooms and require monitors on site, among other regulations.
California state Sen. Scott Wiener has come under fire by right-wing trolls, who have flooded his inbox with death threats and anti-Semitic messagesbecause he has sponsored a new bill to protect queer teens in the criminal-justice system, Queerty noted. Under current California law, a judge has the right to block a teenager from having to register as a sex offender under certain circumstances; however, the current statue applies only to vaginal sex, not oral or anal intercourse, thus making it discriminatory to LGBTQ teens. Wiener’s new bill would extend the statute to include all forms of sex, thus granting equal protection to queer teenagers.
True You Tennessee aims to open the first LGBTQ-specific group home in the state, WSMV.com reported. The organization also plans to do outreach for LGBTQ youth who don’t want to go into the system as well as eventually create a transitional home for youth outgrowing the foster care system. A study from True Colors United shows 40% of youth experiencing homeless identify as LGBTQ even though only 7% of the general youth population in the US identify as LGBTQ.
On Aug. 4, Cori Bush, a progressive activist and veteran of the racial justice protest movement, defeated 20-year incumbent Missouri Rep. William Lacy Clay in a Democratic primarya stunning victory for the party’s insurgent left, CNN.com announced. The U.S. House seat, based in St. Louis, has been held by Clay and his father, former Rep. William Clay Sr.one of the founders of the Congressional Black Caucussince 1969. Bush, who challenged Clay in 2018 and lost, was the first candidate launched by Justice Democrats, a progressive group dedicated to toppling moderate Democratic congressional incumbents. The district is very liberal, so it’s likely Bush will win November’s general election, NPR noted.
New York Attorney General Letitia James announced she will attempt to dissolve the National Rifle Association, accusing its senior leadership of violating laws governing non-profit groups and using millions from the organization’s reserves for personal use and tax fraud, CNN.com reported. James alleged that current and former NRA leadership “instituted a culture of self-dealing mismanagement” benefiting themselves, family, friends and favored vendors, leading the organization to lose more than $63 million in three years.
The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) celebrated the one-year anniversary of Alphonso David being appointed president of the organization. In a statement, David said, “We have fought for LGBTQ rights in a myriad of venues in state legislatures, Congress, courtrooms and around the world. We are reaffirming that Black Lives Matter. We are aggressively fighting for justice for transgender people, and for all those who are targeted because of who they are or whom they love. … Now, the most important thing we must focus on is defeating Donald Trump and Mike Pence this fall. As I look back on the past year, one thing is clear: Nothing is certain.”
President Trump participated in a swearing-in ceremony for the U.S. military’s first African American service chief, Gen. Charles “C.Q.” Brown, who will serve as Air Force chief of staff, The Hill reported. Brown said he was honored to have the opportunity and expressed gratitude to administration officials, military leaders and his family.
Producer Ariana Pekary recently resigned from MSNBC with an open letter accusing the news network of predicating its editorial process on ratings and alleging that its model “blocks diversity of thought and content because the networks have incentive to amplify fringe voices and events,” according to The Hill. “I don’t know what I’m going to do next exactly but I simply couldn’t stay there anymore,” Pekarya producer for MSNBC’s second-most-watched program, The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnellwrote on her website.
Texas Tech University’s women’s basketball team has described a toxic atmosphere of “fear, anxiety and depression” since coach Marlene Stollings took over the program two years ago, USA Today and The Intercollegiate reported. Twelve of 21 players have left the programseven of whom were recruited under Stollings. Among other things, three players alleged Stollings retaliated by holding tougher practices after they brought abuse claims to school officials.
Players on the WNBA team co-owned by Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler and other WNBA teams were seen wearing “Vote Warnock” shirts in support of her Senate challenger before their games Aug. 4, CNN.com reported. Loeffler slammed the WNBA for participating in what she called “cancel culture,” pointing to her prior opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr. agreed to take “an indefinite leave of absence” from his role as president of Liberty University after the release of a viral photo that showed him vacationing on a yacht with his pants unzipped, holding a beverage and with his arm around a woman, Politico reported. The decision came a day after a top House Republican ( Rep. Mark Walker ) called on Falwell, who is a leading evangelical supporter of President Donald Trump, to resign as president of the large Christian school.
In Arizona, former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, 88, lost his bid to return to the officelosing to former right-hand man Jerry Sheridan, Fox10Phoenix.com noted. Arpaio was ousted by voters as sheriff in 2016; also, state figures show he came in third, behind Martha McSally and Kelli Ward, in the 2018 GOP Senate primary. Among other things, Arpaio was accused of racially profiling Hispanics during immigration raids while he was sheriff; he was eventually pardoned by President Trump after being arrested for criminal contempt of court.
In Wisconsin, two months after Fox Valley Technical College’s leader called for unity and emphasized the organization’s commitment to equality, the college’s longtime spokesperson, Chris Jossart, published social-media posts calling for the elimination of Black Lives Matter and warning of Islam infiltrating every nation, PostCrescent.com noted. College President Susan May said she is aware of the social media posts, and that the college is investigating.