News Briefs for August 12, 2015

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Baltimore Police Make Arrest In Murder Of Trans Woman

The Washington Blade reports that Baltimore police made an arrest in connection with the murder of Mia Henderson last summer.

Shawn Oliver, 44 was charged with first and second-degree murder and first-degree assault in the death of Mia Henderson.

The Baltimore Sun cites documents alleging that Oliver stabbed Henderson in the chest arms and back in July of 2014, leaving her body in an alley in the 3400 block of Piedmont Avenue near Lake Ashburton.

Oliver was connected to the murder through DNA evidence found under Henderson’s fingernails, said Interim Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis in a conference. Representatives of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland and Sistas of the “T” attended the press conference alongside Davis.

Henderson’s murder comes a few weeks after the body of another trans woman, Kandy Hall, was found in a field in Northeast Baltimore. Police have not yet made any arrests in Hall’s murder.

$10,000 Cal Humanities Grant Funds Stories from WeHo's AIDS Epidemic

(EDGE) With a $10,000 Cal Humanities' Community Stories grant, matched by $10,000 from the City of West Hollywood, THE LAVENDER EFFECT® will create "YOUNG CITY AT WAR: Stories from West Hollywood During the AIDS Epidemic," a continuation of its groundbreaking Oral History Project.

Aiming to launch on December 1, National AIDS Awareness Day, THE LAVENDER EFFECT® Oral History Project will feature the dramatic and poignant story of West Hollywood's response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in its early days. Through in-depth interviews an important chapter of community history will be preserved and made available online for current residents, LGBTQ youth, and the broader public. Educational materials (standards-aligned) will be developed to support use by teachers and student organizations at LAUSD middle and high schools.

"I think it is really important for people today to hear the stories from the mid '80s, stories like mine, because first of all it's our history. And it's important to remember the holocaust that the gay community and their straight allies went through in the '80s and early '90s" -- Steve Pieters, Former Global Field Director, AIDS Ministry, Metropolitan Community Church.

THE LAVENDER EFFECT® is a 501(c)3 nonprofit project of Community Partners that is Advancing the Future of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) Heritage and Culture. Their Oral History Project captures video testimonies from members of the LGBTQ community and supportive allies who were integral participants or witnesses to a historic event or movement. These recordings are being produced at the highest standards possible (I.E. USC Shoah Foundation's guidelines).

Go to www.thelavendereffect.org/projects/ohp/ to view 15 interview segments with Southern California Pioneers and to contribute to their movement.

For more information on Cal Humanities, visit www.calhum.org.

APA Adopts Guidelines for Working with Trans People

(APA) The American Psychological Association adopted new guidelines on working with the trans community during their 123rd annual convention. In a statement, the APA announced:

The "Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming People" were drafted by an APA task force in the wake of an APA survey in 2009 that found less than 30 percent of psychologist and graduate student respondents were familiar with the issues that transgender and gender nonconforming people face.

"These guidelines are especially timely in light of the media coverage of recent completed suicides by transgender teens and murders across the country of transgender people, especially people of color,” said lore m. dickey, PhD, task force co-chair. "While these guidelines are aimed at psychologists who provide care, conduct research or engage in education or training focused on transgender and gender nonconforming people, we believe they will also be useful to any psychologist or educator."

The document lays out 16 guidelines aimed at helping professionals better understand the lifespan development, stigma, discrimination and barriers to care faced by this population, as well as the state of research surrounding transgender and gender nonconforming people.

"We hope that these guidelines provide useful information that will enable psychologists to provide competent, sensitive and well-informed care and research," said Anneliese A. Singh, PhD, the task force's other co-chair. "It is critically important that psychologists are informed about how to not only work with transgender people across the lifespan, but also understand that transgender people have existed in multiple cultures and countries around the world for hundreds of years."

A copy of the guidelines can be found at www.apa.org/practice/guidelines/transgender.pdf

Republican Nat’l Committee Nixes 2 Anti-Gay Resolutions

Members of the Republican National Committee rejected two anti-gay resolutions Wednesday, according to Time magazine.

The first resolution was intruded by the controversial Michigan national committeeman Dave Agema, who came under fire last year for making racist and anti-gay remarks on Facebook and was asked by fellow GOPers to step down from his position. Agema's resolution wants "schools that are teaching the homosexual lifestyle in their sexual education class to also include the harmful physical aspects of the lifestyle."

The second resolution was introduced by Louisiana national committeeman Ross Little Jr. and aims to encourage Congress and states to pass laws to nullify the landmark Supreme Court's June ruling that made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states.

Time magazine writes the measures "threatened to cast a shadow on the first GOP presidential debate Thursday in Cleveland, as the party looks toward expanding its base in the key swing state."

The measures gained the attention of members from the Democratic National Committee and same-sex marriage activists. The Human Rights Campaign launched an online ad campaign Wednesday to support the plaintiff in SCOTUS' marriage case, Jim Obergfell, who resides in Ohio.

Time notes the RNC's resolution committee failed to approve a counterproposal that would call for the GOP to respect differing views on the high court's ruling on the case among its presidential candidates.

2nd Northern Indiana City Drops Gay Protection Proposals

(Associated Press) Officials in a second northern Indiana city have backed off expanding anti-discrimination protections to include sexual orientation and gender identity following a push by opponents against the proposals.

Goshen Mayor Allan Kauffman said he and City Council members agreed a vote wouldn't be taken on the proposed ordinance during a council meeting Tuesday night and that any action would be delayed until at least next year.

The mayor in the nearby city of Elkhart last week asked for council members there to withdraw a similar ordinance drafted following the national uproar this spring over Indiana's new religious objections law, which critics maintained was anti-gay.

Kauffman, a Democrat who has been mayor since 1997, blamed "misinformation and confusion" from opponents over the proposal's impact.

"Based on the tone of many emails and phone calls received, there is concern that public input based on misinformation will be unduly negative and paint Goshen as less welcoming than it really is," Kauffman said in a statement.

The campaign against the Goshen and Elkhart proposals was sparked a few weeks ago by Eric Miller, executive director of Indianapolis-based Advance America and a leading supporter of the religious objection law.

Miller urged those at an Elkhart church gathering last month to work against the proposals, saying their defeat would hurt a push for the General Assembly to adopt similar statewide sexual orientation protections.

S.C. State Shouldn't Pay Gay Marriage Lawyer Fees

(AP) South Carolina's chief prosecutor says the state shouldn't have to pay legal fees for a couple who challenged the state's gay marriage ban.

Attorney General Alan Wilson says in papers filed Wednesday he was merely defending the law of the land as it stood before the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling on gay marriage in late June.

Attorneys for Colleen Condon and her partner Nichols Bleckley sued last year to get a marriage license. They have asked to be reimbursed $153,000 in legal costs.

Wilson's response pertains only to Condon and Bleckley. Lawyers for another couple who sued over the ban are also seeking almost $92,000 in attorney fees and court costs.

Judges can order losing parties to pay opponents' fees, especially in civil rights cases.

Arkansas AG: Unclear Whether JPs Must Officiate Gay Weddings

(AP) It's unclear whether courts would require a justice of the peace to officiate over a same-sex wedding, even though clerks are required to issue licenses to gay couples, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said Wednesday.

The Republican attorney general said in a non-binding advisory opinion that JPs - who are elected on counties' governing boards - could use a new religious objections law as a defense if they refuse to perform gay weddings. But Rutledge said it's unclear whether courts would agree with that defense.

"The threshold question would be whether a JP in this circumstance could successfully show that requiring him or her to solemnize a same-sex marriage would be a 'substantial burden' on the JP's religious exercise," Rutledge wrote.

Under Arkansas law, justices of the peace- along with other elected officials such as judges, the governor and mayors - are allowed to officiate over weddings but it's not a required part of their official duties. Rutledge noted that JPs can decide to not perform weddings at all.

Rutledge in June told county clerks they were required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples who requested them after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide.

Arkansas lawmakers earlier this year approved a law that prevents the government from infringing on someone's religious beliefs without a compelling interest, a measure that was rewritten in the final days of the legislative session over concerns that an initial version was anti-gay.

Holly Dickson, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, said JPs who don't want to perform same-sex weddings shouldn't officiate any since it's not a required part of their job.

"But if they choose to perform marriages, they can't refuse to perform marriages for same-sex couples because it would violate equal protection," she said.

Hate Group Files Suit in Support of Ky. Clerk

(EDGE) The Kentucky County Clerk who made headlines last month for being filmed denying to allow a gay couple to file an application for a marriage license is suing Governor Steve Beshear for what she alleges is unconstitutional discrimination. The lawsuit was filed on her behalf by the Liberty Counsel, which has been designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an active anti-gay hate group.

Liberty Counsel is accusing the governor of "unlawfully picking and choosing the conscience-based exemptions to marriage that he deems acceptable."

"The plaintiffs in this case only sought licenses from Ms. Davis after learning of her religious objections to same-sex 'marriage,' and they refuse to obtain a license elsewhere," Liberty Counsel's Founder and Director Mat Staver said in a statement released by his group Monday. "Just as Justice Alito predicted in his dissent in Obergfell, secularists are trying to 'stamp out every vestige of dissent' by targeting people of faith who do not agree with same-sex 'marriage.'"

The Liberty Counsel has been designated an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In addition to fighting marriage equality and hate crime legislation, they have been active proponents of reparative therapy practices, and run the "Change is Possible" campaign with Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays who say they've changed from gay to straight.

Texas AG Faces Contempt Hearing Over Gay Marriage Rights

(AP) A federal judge has ordered Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to explain why he should not be held in contempt for enforcing state laws that impede gay marriage rights.

Paxton has been ordered to appear in a federal court Wednesday after a Houston gay man was not provided an amended death certificate for his husband.

The hearing is to determine whether Paxton and a top Texas Department of State Health Services official should be held in contempt after potentially disobeying a July 7 court order barring the state from enforcing any laws that impede the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision recognizing gay marriage.

The court order comes two days after Paxton was booked on securities fraud charges.


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