News Bites for January 13, 2016

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender news bites for this week.



Lesbian Pioneer Jeanne Cordova Dead at 67

(EDGE) Lesbian feminist activist Jeanne Cordova died at 4:30 a.m. on Monday, January 11 in her Los Angeles home. According to Frontiers, her spouse, Lynn Ballen and friend Jenny Pizer, Doreena Wong and Dina Evans from Arizona were with her when she passed.

"She was home with loved ones, and her close friend Dina Evans, who some people might remember here at Dina Bachelor Evans, was on the phone with her. She is a spiritual teacher and therapist and helped Jeanne during the dying process friend," said Jenny Pizer.

Last September, Cordova sent an open letter to the community telling them that she was dying of metastasized brain cancer in her cerebellum. She bequeathed $2M to the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, and sent her thanks to those who loved and moved her. 

In the letter, Cordova wrote, "Being an organizer and journalist in the lesbian, gay, feminist, and women of color communities -- and loving it -- has been the focal point, of my life. It has been a wild joyous ride. I feel more than adequately thanked by the many awards I have received from all the queer communities, and through all the descriptions and quotes in history books that have documented my role as an organizer, publisher, speaker, and author. Thanks to all of you who have given me a place in our history."

Cordova was a founder of the West Coast LGBTQ movement, and [a] Lammy Award-winning author of her memoir, "When We Were Outlaws: A Memoir of Love and Revolution." She organized four key lesbian conferences in the '70s, and was a delegate to the first National Women's Conference, helped [found] the Gay and Lesbian Caucus of the Democratic Party, and published the Community Yellow Pages in the '80s and '90s. More recently, she organized and chaired the West Coast Butch Voices Los Angeles 2010 Conference.


Army Acting Secretary Steps Aside; Waits Senate Confirmation

(AP) Acting Army Secretary Eric Fanning is stepping aside, at least temporarily, because Senate hasn't confirmed his nomination, officials said Monday.

The Army's undersecretary, Patrick Murphy, was confirmed last week, so he will oversee the Army. Fanning is expected to step down and move into another Pentagon post for now. He would return to the Army leadership position if his nomination is approved.

President Barack Obama nominated Fanning in September. If confirmed by the Senate, he would be the nation's first openly gay leader of a military service.

In early November, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., placed a hold on Fanning's nomination as a protest over Obama's ongoing campaign to close the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility and transfer detainees to the United States. The move was part of an effort to prevent the White House from taking executive action to close the facility.

The White House had hinted that the president might use his executive authority to shut it down and move the detainees to the U.S.

Law currently bans detainees from being transferred to U.S. soil, but a Pentagon team has looked at facilities in Kansas, South Carolina and Colorado as possible alternative detention sites.

Officials weren't authorized to discuss the matter publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity.

Fanning had been serving as acting undersecretary of the Army since June. The previous Army secretary, John McHugh, stepped down late last fall, and Fanning had been serving as acting secretary since then.

Pentagon press secretary Peter Cook said in a written statement that Fanning agreed to step aside "as a show of comity" with the Senate and "to focus on achieving confirmation in the near future."

Prior to that he served as special assistant to Defense Secretary Ash Carter and held senior positions in the Air Force, including undersecretary from 2013 to 2015.


'Hunger Games' star uses coming out as bisexual to promote #BlackGirlMagic

(CNN) You might remember actress Amandla Stenberg from her ill-fated role in the first "Hunger Games" film as Jennifer Lawrence's endearing sidekick, Rue.

The 17-year is stepping out of the franchise's shadow and using her star power to inspire other black women to embrace their identity.

Stenberg came out as bisexual in a Thursday Snapchat video for Teen Vogue. Stenberg is the subject of the magazine's February cover story, written by entertainer Solange Knowles about her budding career in social justice activism. A sneak peek on Teen Vogue's website is titled "How Our February Cover Star Amandla Stenberg Learned to Love Her Blackness."

"It's a really, really hard thing to be silenced, and it's deeply bruising to fight against your identity and to mold yourself into shapes that you just shouldn't be in. As someone who identifies as a black bisexual woman, I've been through it and it hurts and it's awkward and it's uncomfortable," Stenberg said, gazing into the camera

"Then I realized because of Solange and (director) Ava DuVernay and Willow (Smith) and all the black girls watching this right now, that there's absolutely nothing to change. We cannot be suppressed. We are meant to express our joy and our love and our tears and be big and bold and definitely not easy to swallow."

Her revelation comes at a moment when messages of black female empowerment are permeating pop culture. Essence magazine this week released three covers for the February issue celebrating #BlackGirlMagic, the term used on social media to celebrate black women's achievements. The different covers feature "Chi-raq" actress Teyonah Parris, Yara Shahidi of the ABC sitcom "black-ish" and social justice activist Johnetta "Netta" Elzie as part of the magazine's focus on emerging stars "shaping our future."


New England Sports Teams Support Transgender Protections in MA

(FreedomMassachusetts) New England’s professional sports teams announced their support for legislation currently before the state legislature that would provide explicit protections from discrimination in public places for transgender people in Massachusetts. The New England Patriots, New England Revolution, Boston Celtics, Boston Bruins, and TD Garden join the Boston Red Sox which announced its support of the bill in November. In all, nearly 200 businesses and organizations across Massachusetts now stand in support of the legislation. 

“The ever expanding support of these major business and cultural institutions signals how mainstream and widely accepted the need for this critical legislation has become,”said Kasey Suffredini, Co-Chair of the Freedom Massachusetts Coalition. “Nearly 200 local businesses now agree, there is no place in our great Commonwealth for discrimination, and our legislature must act now to make that aspiration a reality.” 

“We have worked hard since the legislature broke for recess in November to keep our momentum toward our goal strong,” said Mason Dunn, Co-Chair of the Freedom Massachusetts Coalition. “Today’s announcement shows that the calls to pass this legislation have not gone quiet and that the time for action is now.”

Currently, there is no explicit prohibition on discrimination against transgender people in public places in the Commonwealth. This includes parks, medical offices, restaurants and retail establishments. Equal treatment in employment, housing, K-12 education and credit has been law since 2012. Fourteen Mayors and town leaders from across the Commonwealth – including Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh and Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll - have called on the legislation to be passed. 

State Representatives Byron Rushing and Denise Provost and Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz are lead sponsors of the bill (House Bill 1577/Senate Bill 735). 

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