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March 20, 2015

St. Paddy’s Day goes gay… a little

New York City--For the first time in its history, the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade allowed an openly gay group to march.

The first group was Out@NBCUniversal, the media company’s LGBT employee organization. Around 100 employees took part in the festivities.

The chief diversity officer of NBCUniversal, Craig Robinson, told the New York Times that they hoped more LGBT groups could march in future years.

Other gay advocates argued that the inclusion of Out@NBCUniversal was simply the result of a backroom deal between the parade organizers and the media giant, which allowed the parade the continued support of NBC, pointing to a lack of transparency in the selection process of groups that could march.

In Boston, the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade also allowed its first LGBT entrants, a contingent from OutVets, a group for LGBT military veterans.

After changing leadership last year, the council that organizes the parade voted 5 to 4 to invite OutVets to join in the parade this year, and later asked Boston Pride as well.

This will mark the first time in two decades that Boston’s mayor participated in the parade.

Swiss parliament passes protections

Zurich--The Swizz parliament voted 103-73 in favor of adding sexual orientation and gender identity to existing anti-discrimination and anti-harassment laws.

The country has had recognition for same-sex couples for eight years, but does not allow full same-sex marriage. The lower house of parliament is looking at granting marriage equality, and a recent poll showed 54 percent of the Swiss favored allowing same-sex marriage.

D&G does not approve

Rome--Proving that successful gay men can be as utterly inane as their heterosexual counterparts, fashion moguls Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana spoke out against adoption by same-sex couples and in vitro fertilization.

The comments came in an interview with Italian magazine Panorama, in which Dolce said, “I am not convince by those I call children of chemicals, synthetic children. Rented uterus, semen chosen from a catalog,” according to the New York Times.

Gabbana chimed in, “The family is not a fad. In it there is a supernatural sense of belonging.”

Dolce and Gabbana, who were in a relationship with each other for decades, are some of the most notable fashion icons in the world, and among the most noted gay men. However, their comments immediately drew the ire of two arguably more famous gay men, Elton John and Ricky Martin, both of whom are raising children.

“How dare you refer to my beautiful children as ‘synthetic,’ ” John said. “Shame on your for wagging your judgmental little fingers at IVF [in vitro fertilization].”

He went on to point out that IVF has helped countless couples, most of them heterosexual, have children.

Other celebrities like Victoria Beckahm, Courtney Love and Martina Navratilova joined John and Martin in calling for a boycott of the posh brand.

Attorney pushing anti-gay measure may be disbarred

Sacramento, Calif.--State Sen. Ricardo Lara asked the California Bar Association to investigate Matthew McLaughlin, the attorney behind a ballot initiative to require the death penalty for gay people in the state.

While the measure does not have a chance to pass, Lara, the first out person of color in the state legislature, questioned whether McLaughlin has the “good moral character” required for the bar, which includes respect for rights and the judiciary.

McLaughlin’s initiative, for which he submitted the paperwork last month, is called the Sodomite Suppression Act. McLaughlin said that it was better to kill gay people than to suffer God’s wrath on society for allowing gays to live.

It would also ban the distribution of “sodomistic propaganda” to a minor, with fines of $1 million and 10 years imprisonment pe instance.

All that is required to propose a ballot initiative is filing the text and paying $200 to the attorney general’s office. After 30 days of public review, the sponsor can then begin gathering signatures. It would take five percent of voters in the last gubernatorial election, which puts the threshold at over 350,000 people, a daunting task for a nutjob who apparently thinks he’s living in Uganda. Or Nigeria.

Nigerian president accuses opponent of being soft on gays

Lagos, Nigeria--Pres. Goodluck Jonathan’s spokesman said on March 11 that the president’s opponent in the upcoming election had promised to pass same-sex marriage laws.

The spokesman said that Muhammadu Buhari, the opposition leader in the March 28 election, had promised marriage equality legislation to four Western nations in exchange for their support in the election.

It is a typical move by politicians in the area, stoking anti-colonial sentiment by connecting their opponent to Western and European countries.

Jonathan has been touting his passage of the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act, which bars all same-sex sexual activity and carried draconian prison sentences for those convicted, similar to legislation that was struck in Uganda for being passed without a required legislative quorum.

DC police appoint trans LGBT liaison

Washington, D.C.--The capital saw its first transgender supervisor of the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit with the March 3 assumption of duties by Sgt. Jessica Hawkins.

Her ascension was first noted by DC LGBT center director David Mariner in a post on Facebook.

Hawkins was interviewed by the Washington Blade after being cleared by the Metropolitan Police Department, saying she was “very excited” and plans to build on the foundations left by her predecessors.

She pointed that she wanted to build bridges with the transgender community, work that her predecessors had begun.

Hawkins stepped into the spotlight last year at the Transgender Day of Remembrance, announcing to the crowd assembled at the Metropolitan Community Church of Washington that she had come out as transgender to the police department.

“We will make sure that when any GLLU call comes out they are going to respond to it,” Hawkins said. “They are going to make sure it’s handled whether they are at home or if they’re on a detail or on crime patrol. They are still going to handle it.”

Killer of gay mayoral candidate sentenced to life

Marks, Miss.--The man who confessed to killing a gay mayoral candidate, claiming he was acting in self-defense, was convicted of murder and sentenced to life without parole.

Marco McMillian, a candidate for mayor in Clarksdale, Mississippi, was found beatend and burned at the side of the road in February 2013.

Lawrence Reed claimed that McMillian tried to rape him and he was acting in self-defense.

Reed was arrested after he crashed McMillian’s SUV. He was hospitalized with injuries from the crash, and he confessed to a policeman guarding him after seeing a news story on TV in the hospital about McMillian.

The police officer said that Reed said he choked McMillian with his wallet chain, then held his head in a puddle to make sure he was dead.

Prosecutors said that the evidence did not indicate that McMillian had tried to rape Reed, but it was down to the jury. If they had believed Reed, he would not have been convicted of murder. In the end, however, they did not believe his claim of self-defense.

‘Utah Compromise’ passes legislature

Salt Lake City--A bill supported by both LGBT advocates and the Mormon hierarchy passed the Republican-controlled legislature on March 11.

The so-called “Utah Compromise” was praised for balancing unnecessary promises of protections of religious freedom with antidiscrimination protections for LGBT people. The bill bars discrimination in housing and employment.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, also known as the Mormon Church, opposes same-sex marriage but has long maintained that it was opposed to anti-gay discrimination. The bill is viewed as an opportunity for the church to put its money where its mouth is, although they did also put a vast amount of money into the Prop. 8 campaign to bar same-sex marriage in California.

Church apostles were present at a press conference a week before the vote to urge its passage. The bill is a fairly standard anti-discrimination law with an exemption for religious organizations and affiliates, like universities and charity groups. It also exempts the Boy Scouts.











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