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NATIONAL Lawsuit against ICE, election items, Rufus Gifford, Puerto Rico killings
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2019-05-04

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A coalition of LGBTQ and immigration activists filed a class-action lawsuit demanding the immediate release of all transgender detainees in Immigration and Customs Enforcement ( ICE ) detention, NBC News reported. The suit alleges that. because of the rapid spread of the coronavirus in these facilities, "ICE's failures have made detention centers death traps for transgender people in civil immigration detention." The Transgender Law Center, Ballard Spahr LLP and the Rapid Defense Network filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Challenger Charmaine McGuffey ousted Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil in a bitter, hard-fought primary in Ohio on April 28—winning with 70 percent of the vote, reported. According to the LGBTQ Victory Fund, McGuffey has an ongoing lawsuit against Neil, alleging he demoted her because she was a woman and a lesbian. Furthermore, the incumbent was seen at a Trump rally in 2016. She will be the first out LGBTQ sheriff of the county.

Indiana Democratic congressional candidate Sabrina Haake received the endorsement of Equality PAC, the political action committee formed by leaders of the Congressional LGBTQ Equality Caucus, a press release announced. Equality PAC Co-Chair and Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline said, in part, "From fighting for humane treatment of animals as a community organizer, to fighting for protection of LGBTQQ citizens in her hometown of Gary, Indiana, Sabrina Haake has dedicated her life to making a real difference in her community."

Prominent gay Democrat Rufus Gifford, an Obama campaign alum, has joined former Vice President Joe Biden's presidential campaign as his deputy campaign manager, noted, citing Bloomberg. Gifford will reportedly focus on the intersection of finance policy and political work. Previously, Gifford served as Barack Obama's finance chair in 2012 and the U.S. ambassador to Denmark during Obama's second term.

The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) Foundation responded to the recent dramatic uptick in violent killings of LGBTQ people in Puerto Rico. In a statement, HRC President Alphonso David said, "This violence must end. Each of the 10 people who have been killed had a family, friends and a community. When we lose someone, especially under violent circumstances, it leaves a long trail of unshakeable trauma." There have been at least 10 deaths of LGBTQ individuals in the past 15 months on the island—the highest number of killings that Puerto Rico has seen in a decade.

LGBTQ Victory Fund demanded the resignation of Trenton City, New Jersey, Councilwoman Robin Vaughn after she called the city's openly LGBTQ mayor, Reed Gusciora, a "pedophile" and claimed he brought "a bunch of young boys" to City Hall and that they are "sitting up there in the mayor's suite," a press release stated. The homophobic tirade by Vaughn occurred during a daily coronavirus briefing for Trenton city officials that quickly devolved into insults, according to The Trentonian. Garden State Equality, New Jersey's statewide LGBTQ advocacy group, also called on Vaughn to resign.

In Florida, LGBTQ-rights activist and human-rights champion Terry Fleming died unexpectedly, reported. Fleming, active in many social causes, was most notably a member of the Alachua County Democratic Party and co-president of the Pride Community Center of North Central Florida. Fleming is survived by his husband and mother.

The former fire chief of Byron, Georgia, said she was dismissed for being transgender—and now she's suing the town for discrimination, noted, citing the AP. Rachel Mosby was fire chief in the small central Georgia town from 2008 until 2019. She was fired last June, 18 months after she began presenting as a woman at work. Mosby's suit stated her firing was "based on her sex, gender identity, and notions of sex stereotyping." The city of Byron countered that she was let go for poor performance.

David Hawkins—an openly gay forensic scientist employed by the Philadelphia Police Department—recently filed a federal anti-bias lawsuit against the department, Philadelphia Gay News reported. "Since beginning his employment in 2008, [Hawkins], who is openly gay, has been harassed by his co-workers on a daily basis. [Hawkins] has overheard his co-workers use the term 'faggot' and has heard them say 'no homo' loud enough that he could hear it in his office area," according to the lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. The Philadelphia Police Department declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

Staunch LGBTQ opposition to the expanding alliance of Mount Sinai Beth Israel ( MSBI ) Hospital with the anti-LGBTQ Franklin Graham's Samaritan's Purse led the hospital to say that it will take down the group's tents in Central Park and not go forward with continued staffing from Samaritan's Purse at MSBI downtown, Gay City News reported. Despite being famous for anti-LGBTQ and anti-Muslim bigotry for decades, Graham was engaged by Dr. David Reich—the out gay head of a Jewish hospital—to set up a field hospital in Central Park across from Mount Sinai Hospital to assist Mount Sinai during the early catastrophic days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ziegfeld's/Secrets, a gay club that's been a hub of D.C.'s nightlife scene for 40 years, has closed its doors for good, DCist reported. Ziegfeld's closed temporarily March 16, according to its website, following Mayor Muriel Bowser's order to shutter bars, restaurants and other businesses to in-house service in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. It's not clear if the pandemic was related to Ziegfeld's permanent closure.

San Francisco International Airport ( SFO ) has resumed the opening of the next phase of Harvey Milk Terminal 1, Airport Technology noted. The airport previously postponed the opening of the terminal—named after California's first openly gay elected public official—due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As per the latest update, SFO was also set to move JetBlue to a new ticket counter and move baggage-claim locations in Harvey Milk Terminal 1.

CNN's Anderson Cooper is the proud father of a newborn baby boy, WGN-TV noted. Wyatt Morgan Cooper was born on April 27, weighing seven pounds and two ounces. Cooper, 52, shared photos of Wyatt at the end of the April 30 televised weekly global town hall on the coronavirus pandemic. On Instagram, he shared, "As a gay kid, I never thought it would be possible to have a child, and I am so grateful for all those who have paved the way, and for the doctors and nurses and everyone involved in my son's birth."

The embattled police chief of Beverly Hills, Sandra Spagnoli, suddenly announced her retirement recently—capping off a four-year tenure that saw the city pay out millions in legal judgements and settlements related to allegations of misconduct, LA Magazine noted. Spagnoli was pressured to retire after she was told that she had until Friday, April 24, to resign or face possible termination, according to NBC. More than 21 current and former employees—nearly 10 percent of the department's workforce—filed lawsuits or complaints, accusing the chief of anti-Semitism, homophobia and affairs with subordinates.

Texas state Rep. Jeff Leach ( R ) was talking with the anti-LGBTQ organization Texas Values when he praised Gov. Greg Abbott's ( R ) attempt to use the coronavirus pandemic to ban abortion in the state, LGBTQ Nation noted. "Thank God we've got a pro-life governor, a pro-life attorney general, and many pro-life warriors across the state like judges who have upheld the rule of law," Leach said.

On May 1, Joe Biden denied former senate staffer Tara Reade's accusation of sexual assault and called on the National Archives to release any record of a 1993 complaint that Reade has said she filed related to her encounters with the then-senator, TheWrap reported. "No, it is not true. I'm saying unequivocally that it never, ever happened," the former vice president and Democratic presidential candidate told Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC's Morning Joe.

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, from Michigan, launched an exploratory committee for a possible Libertarian presidential campaign, Bloomberg reported. Amash, a conservative member of Congress and vocal opponent of President Donald Trump, left the Republican Party and became an independent in 2019. And Forbes noted that Amash has vowed to support the rights of the LGBTQ community, in particular transgender Americans. Although it might be unusual for a Republican to stake such a claim, his endorsement of trans rights as well as marriage equality are in line with well-established Libertarian platform positions.

The American Medical Association ( AMA ) announced a new online resource hub aimed at shining a light on structural issues contributing to and exacerbating health inequities amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a press release noted. These resources, assembled by the AMA Center for Health Equity, build upon ongoing AMA efforts to ensure physicians have the support and tools necessary to navigate the changing landscape posed by the COVID-19 pandemic while providing critical care for patients. See https://www.ama-assn.org/delivering-care/health-equity/covid-19-health-equity-resources.

Judge R. Gary Klausner, of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, upended the U.S. women's national team's ( USWNT's ) fight for equal pay, Forbes reported. Led by Alex Morgan, the players alleged that the U.S. Soccer Federation discriminated against its female players by paying them less than male players on the men's national team and subjected them to unequal working conditions. Under the Equal Pay Act, the players had the burden of showing they performed substantially equal work as the male players, under similar working conditions and that the male payers were paid more; Klausner said they didn't meet the burden. A USWNT spokeswoman said the team plans to appeal the ruling.

Joined by U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren at an online rally, hundreds of restaurant workers demanded life-saving protections during the COVID-19 crisis, including paid sick leave and adequate Personal Protective Equipment ( PPE ), according to a Restaurant Opportunities Centers ( ROC ) United press release. In late March, ROC United launched ApplebeesIsRotten.com—a website that enables worker advocacy directly with Dine Brands, the parent company of Applebee's and IHOP. Warren said, "Eight million restaurant workers have been laid off or furloughed as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. Now more than ever we need to do more to provide health care and economic relief to take care of these workers and their families."

While Maryland remains under strict stay-at-home orders, the Baltimore Eagle Night Club and Bar has been offering curbside pick-up for poppers, with prices ranging from $15 to $20, LGBTQ Nation noted. Besides cocktail kits, sparkling wine, and flavored rum and vodka, the Eagle is offering items from its leather shop for those spending more time at home. The list includes lube, sex toys, cigars, books, kilts and hankies. Also popular is a line of LGBTQ-made face masks featuring images seemingly inspired by the Village People.

Barefoot launched the limited-edition Barefoot Pride Packaging Collection featuring four unique designs that honor the strength and resilience of LGBTQ+ people everywhere, a press release noted. A portion of the proceeds—up to $60,000—will benefit Free Mom Hugs, a non-profit organization comprised of parents and allies working toward full affirmation and equality for all. See and TheBarrelRoom.com/wines.

Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was released from federal prison three years early because of COVID-19, . Federal Public Defender Claude Kelly, who handled Nagin's appeals of his 2014 corruption conviction and 10-year prison sentence, said he confirmed Nagin's release from Nagin's trial attorney, Robert Jenkins. Nagin was convicted on 20 counts of corruption, bribery and fraud in February 2014; he reported to a low-security prison in Texarkana, Texas, for a 10-year sentence later that year.


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