News Briefs: A Boyfriend for Captain America, Conversion Therapy Illegal in Vermont & More!

Check out this week's latest news from around the world!


Sports – NFL Awards Super Bowls to Three States Without 'Religious Freedom' Laws

Today, the NFL announced Super Bowl locations from 2019 through 2021 – all in states free of anti-LGBT policies such as anti-trans bathroom bills or religious freedom laws.

The Super Bowls will be held in Atlanta in 2019, Miami in 2020 and Los Angeles in 2021.  This will be the first Super Bowl in Atlanta in almost 30 years, according to SB Nation.

The NFL released a statement in March suggesting that Atlanta may jeopardize their chance in the Super Bowl if Georgia passed HB 757, an anti-LGBT bill.

“NFL policies emphasize tolerance and inclusiveness, and prohibit discrimination based on age, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other improper standard," league spokesman Brian McCarthy said in March. "Whether the laws and regulations of a state and local community are consistent with these policies would be one of many factors NFL owners may use to evaluate potential Super Bowl host sites."

The bill was later vetoed by Gov. Nathan Deal.


Politics – Trump Moves Back On Transgender Support, says ‘Let States Decide.’

A trend of Republican-backed bathroom bills aimed to stop transgender people from using their preferred bathroom have popped up all over the US.

Initially, Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump announced his stance on the issue that went against the majority of his party – that transgender individuals should be able to use the bathroom that they want.

He has since rescinded to a much more moderate position.

Appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Trump had this to say on the issue: “The party generally believes that whatever you’re born, that’s the bathroom you use. I say let the stats decide.”

When asked to elaborate on his personal stance, he said, “What I support is let the states decide, and I think hopefully the states will do hopefully the right thing.”

Trump’s response when asked what he meant by ‘the right thing?’ “I don’t know yet, I don’t know. It’s a very interesting subject.”


International – Crowd stones 15-year-old to death for being gay

Syria – ISIS has executed several dozen men for there homosexuality, releasing videos ranging from throwing men off roofs to crowds throwing stones, and even one of a man being beheaded.

Jamar Nassir al-Oujan, 15, was arrested by Islamic police on May 22 by the Islamic police. After a short trial he was convicted of sodomy and sentenced to death by stoning.

A crowd gathered to watch the boy get stoned for being a homosexual. According to an eyewitness who reported anonymously, ISIS militants led the execution.

The execution took place in a city in the eastern Dier ez-Zor province known as Mayadin.

“Some civilians were forced to participate in stoning the victim,” said the eyewitness. “The brutal scene has shocked all residents of Mayadin.”

The Islamic extremists claim that they murder homosexual men because it is the only way to “cleanse them of their sins.”


Politics – “Conversion Therapy” Made Illegal in Vermont

“It’s absurd to think that being gay or transgender is something to be cured of,” Gov. Peter Shulmin of Vermont said.

This past Wednesday Vermont joined California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington, D.C. by making conversion therapy – a practice that aims to change young people’s sexual orientation and gender identity – an illegal practice.

Earlier this year New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced regulation plans to bar insurance coverage for conversion therapy for minors.

It also seemed likely that the practice was to be made illegal in New Hampshire after both chambers passed it, but that now seems unlikely due to last-minute negotiations aimed at killing the proposition.

The ban in Vermont takes effect on July 1.


Entertainment -- #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend

Captain America fans have started using the hashtag “GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend” in response to a release image of the upcoming film “Captain America: Civil War” in which Captain America is shown kissing a female counterpart.

Fans are wishing the Captain was getting a kiss from someone else – his old friend Bucky Barnes.

Advocacy group GLAAD used this as an opportunity to communicate that audiences are ready to see LGBT main characters in their superhero movies.

This statement comes less than a month after a studio review that revealed Disney, which owns Marvel, did not include a single LGBT character in last year’s films.

The hashtag is similar to the one fans used to encourage LGBT representation in Disney’s Frozen sequel, #GiveElsaAGirlfriend.

It remains to be seen whether or not Hollywood will make moves to incorporate LGBT representation based on fan campaigns like these.


Health – California Rushed to Allow HIV-Infected Organ Transplant

California lawmakers are rushing to approve legislation Friday that would allow a man with HIV to receive part of his HIV-positive husband's liver before the surgery becomes too dangerous, possibly within weeks.

The federal government recently authorized transplants of HIV-infected organs to patients who have the disease, but it's still illegal under California law and in more than a dozen other states.

The University of California, San Francisco Medical Center is one of four U.S. hospitals authorized to transplant HIV-infected organs.

Transplant surgeon Dr. Peter Stock says he hopes to perform the operation quickly, but he'll need time to do tests and preparation on the patients after getting the green light from lawmakers.

There are 65 HIV-positive patients waiting for kidney or liver transplants at the hospital.


Politics – Alabama Supreme Court Annuls its Ruling on Lesbian Adoption

The Alabama Supreme Court has voided its earlier decision not to recognize a lesbian couple's adoption that was carried out in another state.

The opinion announced Friday falls into line with a U.S. Supreme Court ruling issued in March that said the Alabama court erred in declaring the adoption held in Georgia invalid.

One woman bore three children, and her partner adopted them - not in Alabama, but in Georgia - where they believed their chances at adoption would be better.

Alabama courts got involved when the couple broke up after roughly 16 years, and the birth mother tried preventing her former partner from having regular visits with the children.

The Alabama Supreme Court refused to recognize the other woman as a parent, and ruled the couple's adoption invalid under Georgia law. Alabama justices ruled that the Georgia adoption law didn't allow a "non-spouse to adopt a child without first terminating the parental rights of the current parents." The woman appealed to the nation's high court.

On March 7, U.S. Supreme Court justices said in an unsigned opinion that "the Alabama Supreme Court erred in refusing to grant that judgment full faith and credit."

The case illustrated legal challenges facing gay and lesbian parents even after the Supreme Court issued a ruling last June that effectively legalized same-sex marriages nationwide. Not participating in the court's decision was Chief Justice Roy Moore, who was suspended while he faces a judicial ethics hearing linked to his public opposition to same-sex marriage.



Politics – Key House Spending Bill Falls Over LGBT Controversy

In an embarrassing blow for the Speaker Paul Ryan, the House failed to pass its annual spending bill funding water and energy programs.

The bill failed because of a bipartisan amendment to protect federal workers from being fired on the basis of sexual discrimination or gender identity was attached to the bill.

The controversial social debate could jeopardize future efforts to pass spending bills.

House Republicans had scrambled last week to defeat a Democratic proposal to protect federal workers from being fired on the basis of sexual discrimination or gender identity, but Democrats brought the proposal back late Wednesday night and the measure passed.

The vote was 223-195 with 43 Republicans voting for the amendment. It will be attached to an annual spending bill for energy and water programs. A final vote on the broader funding bill is slated for Thursday.

Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney introduced his proposal, which he said was "to redo a mistake" last week on a proposal "to end discrimination in federal contracting."

During last Thursday's vote, the House floor erupted in jeers from Democrats after the vote board showed the LGBT amendment had the votes to pass, but GOP leaders kept the vote open and convinced several members to switch their votes to defeat the proposal. Republicans argued they didn't want it to pass because it was an amendment to the annual military construction and veterans spending bill, and could have jeopardized support for that legislation.

On Wednesday night, Republicans added language to Maloney's proposal that required that federal contractors must comply with several sections of the U.S. Constitution. But Maloney shrugged off the change and again argued the substance of his plan remained the same and the second vote on Wednesday was to show Congress' views on LGBT rights.

"The American people want to know that their government is on the level," Maloney said on the House floor.


Legal – Ex-Glee Star Indicted on Child Porn Charges

Mark Salling, who played Noah “Puck” Puckerman on Fox’s “Glee,” was charged with receiving and possessing child pornography charges on Friday.

The actor was arrested last December in his home in Shadow Hills after Los Angeles police officers and federal agents found a laptop, hard drive and flash drive they claimed contained child pornography.

Salling has been charged with two counts, and federal officials claim he has agreed to surrender next Friday, at which time he is also expected to be brought before federal court.

The first count charged was for using the Internet to obtain a pornographic image and video of young girls and the second count was for possessing two other child porn videos, also featuring young girls.

“Those who download and possess child pornography create a market that causes more children to be harmed,” U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker said in a statement announcing the indictments. “Young victims are harmed every time an image is generated, every time it is distributed and every time it is viewed.”

If he is convicted, Salling could face up to 20 years in prison for the charges.


Sports – Vanderbilt hires openly lesbian coach for women’s basketball team

Stephanie White was hired as head coach of Vanderbilt University women’s basketball team. She is married to a woman and the couple has three children.

She is currently the head coach of the WNBA’s Indiana Fever and will continue to coach the Fever through the season and will take over the Vanderbilt program in the fall.

White is an outspoken advocate for same-sex marriage.

“I consider myself an advocate because I have a platform to influence people,” White said. 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.”

White, who turns 39 in June, joins Jennifer Azzi of the University of San Francisco as the only two openly gay head coaches in women's college basketball.

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