News Briefs for August 19, 2015

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Palm Beach County “You’re Welcome” Campaign Launches

(PBCHRC) The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council formally launched its "Palm Beach County: You're Welcome" campaign in Palm Beach on Wednesday night.

Dozens of LGBT people and their allies - including Palm Beach County Mayor Shelley Vana, West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio and Palm Beach County's Constitutional Tax Collector Anne Gannon - attended the celebration at Meat Market in Palm Beach. The event was produced by Altima Palm Beach, a local public relations firm that donated its services to PBCHRC.

"Our 'Palm Beach County: You're Welcome!' campaign serves to encourage local municipalities to enact LGBT-inclusive civil rights laws," said Rand Hoch, PBCHRC President and Founder. "These laws will educate local residents and business owners of their civil rights and responsibilities. Moreover, these laws will help attract more jobs and revenue to Palm Beach County."

Last month, Facebook announced a $1 billion investment in a data center in Fort Worth, Texas. The project is expected to generate $21 million in taxes for the city over the next 10 years. Before committing to Fort Worth, Facebook reviewed the civil rights ordinances of all of the potential locations for the data center specifically to see if there were LGBT-inclusive civil rights ordinances. Fort Worth’s civil rights ordinance had been on the books for 15 years.

"In making relocation and expansion decisions, more and more businesses are investigating how municipalities protect their LGBT residents," said Hoch.

The Human Rights Council is a local nonprofit organization which is dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. Since 1988, the organization has worked with local public officials to enact more than 90 laws and policies which provide equal rights and benefits for the LGBT community.

AHF’s South Beach Wellness Center Moves One Block North on Alton Road

(AHF) Effective Monday August 17th, the AHF Wellness Center – South Beach operated by AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) in Miami Beach is relocating one block North from its previous Alton Road address at the AHF Out of the Closet Thrift Store to a new site at 1613 Alton Road (at 16th Street), Miami Beach FL 33139. The Wellness Center is moving to a site housing an AHF Pharmacy and the AHF Healthcare Center after the Out of the Closet closed operations August 9th. Hours at the new AHF Wellness Center location, which offers free HIV and STD testing and treatment, will remain the same: Mondays AND Thursdays, 4:00pm to 7:00pm.

AHF Wellness Centers provide access to the community for confidential and free testing for HIV and STDs including Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. The clinic also offers free treatment for STDs.

AHF WELLNESS CENTER – SOUTH BEACH
1613 Alton Road, Miami Beach, FL 33139
(inside the AHF Pharmacy and WPA Health Care Center)
1-877-295-8727
HOURS: Monday AND Thursday   4:00 pm – 7:00 pm

AHF operates Wellness Centers in California, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, Ohio, Texas and Washington, DC as well as in Mexico City. Additional location information can be found at www.freeSTDcheck.org.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) is the largest non-profit HIV/AIDS healthcare provider in the USA. AHF currently provides medical care and/or services to over 451,000 individuals in 36 countries worldwide in the US, Africa, Latin America/Caribbean, Eastern Europe, and Asia. For more information, visit www.aidshealth.org, find us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/aidshealth

Gay Couples Sue Florida over Names on Birth Certificates

(AP) The first couple issued a same-sex marriage license in Florida is suing the state, saying that its Bureau of Vital Statistics still won't allow hospitals to list both same-sex parents on birth certificates.

Cathy Pareto and Karla Arguello filed the lawsuit Thursday in federal court in Tallahassee. Pareto and Arguello recently had twins. Two other married, same-sex couples also are part of the lawsuit.

The gay-rights group Equality Florida says the lawsuit challenges Florida's refusal to issue accurate birth certificates listing both spouses as parents of their children.

The state Department of Health says it does not generally comment on pending litigation.

Florida's ban on same-sex marriage ended Jan. 6.

AIDS Help Seeks Memorabilia for 30th Anniversary Book

(EDGE) It started with a handful of very worried people on a back porch, convening with their own money and precious few other resources. They just wanted to help some gravely ill people in their community live to see another day.

Now, almost three decades later, AIDS Help, the only community-based HIV/AIDS service organization in Monroe County, is compiling a 30th anniversary publication about how that little Agency on a little island took on the darkness of HIV and AIDS.

And, like then, they're looking for a few locals to help shed some light.

From those early days, the goal was always the same; to help people survive, which turned into enabling people to thrive. Now, a full-length compilation of written, oral and pictorial history of the Agency and its role in the community is the personal goal of Dr. Michael Hayes, Behavioral Health Therapist with AIDS Help, to guide the narrative toward Spring 2016 publication.

"Over the past 29 years the Agency has served nearly 3,000 individuals," Hayes notes, "and this warrants recognition and preservation. From the early fundraisers, the neighbor who brought the casserole, the complicated navigation through the healthcare system, the infected and the affected; their names are the names of heroism."

"We're in need of photographs and archival materials. Clippings, diaries, notes, anything from 1985 forward that may be yellowing in a box could be very important to us in fleshing out our story," Hayes said. "Anything contributed will be returned."

Anyone with any material or willing to share a recollection is urged to contact Dr. Hayes at 305-296-6196, or e-mail him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Florida Reps File for Statewide LGBT Nondiscrimination Protections

(SFGN) Florida Legislators have refiled the Florida Competitive Workforce Act to update the state’s antidiscrimination laws to include sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression according to a report from HotSpots! magazine.

“Despite polls that show a large majority of Floridians support the idea and even think it's already the law, supporters of the measure have been unable to get a hearing in the Legislature since it was first introduced nine years ago.

But support has been growing, particularly from the business community, which has rallied behind the measure. Business leaders say a statewide law would end the patchwork of local protections and bolster the state's economy,” the report says.

The Competitive Workforce Act was refiled by State Rep. Holly Raschein (R-Key Largo) and State Sen. Joe Abruzzo (D-Boynton Beach).

"In order to remain economically competitive in a global marketplace, Florida must provide an environment that is welcoming to all. Recruiting and retaining talent regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity will only serve to enhance our reputation and augment our economic viability," Sen. Abruzzo said.

"It's good for business. It's good for recruiting the best and the brightest to Florida. We want to make sure Florida is as friendly as possible to all people, while bolstering a competitive advantage in today's evolving marketplace," said Rep. Raschein.

Florida Businesses for a Competitive Workforce is a coalition of 34 large employers, including Fortune 500 companies, and more than 400 local businesses that support the measure.

Over 60 Same-Sex Couples Married at Puerto Rico Wedding

(AP) Over 60 couples from around the region gathered in San Juan, Puerto Rico's capital, Sunday to exchange vows at a same-sex marriage ceremony while a crowd of supporters snapped photos and cheered.

The mass ceremony at a promenade in San Juan's colonial district took the same-sex couples through the traditional marriage vows and exchange of rings.

The event follows the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in late June requiring every state to recognize same-sex marriages. The U.S. Island’s governor signed an executive order soon after that ruling to comply.

Organizer Ada Conde, an attorney who filed a federal lawsuit seeking to have her same-sex marriage recognized in Puerto Rico prior to the Supreme Court decision, said Sunday's ceremony was a "celebration of the triumph of love."

Most of the couples were Puerto Ricans, but others from the Dominican Republic, Cuba and Venezuela also participated in the event.

Puerto Rico until recently prohibited same-sex marriage and the recognition of such marriages, but the government struck down those laws after the Supreme Court decision. Officials also now allow gay couples to adopt children.

In recent days, Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla also signed two executive orders that allow transgender and transsexual people to change their gender on their driver's license and protect their rights when seeking medical services.

The United States and Chile are putting the spotlight on "the barbaric treatment" of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people by the Islamic State extremist group.

U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power and Chile's U.N. Ambassador Cristian Barros Melet have invited members of the U.N. Security Council to an open meeting on Aug. 24 to hear from an Iraqi and a Syrian who have been targeted by the militant group for being gay, the head of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission and others.

"This will be a historic meeting," Power told reporters. "It'll be the first Security Council meeting on LGBT rights."

In a note to council members obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, the two ambassadors said the objective of the meeting is to hear first-hand details of attacks against LGBT people and the threat the Islamic State extremist group poses to international peace and security "through its targeting of groups most susceptible to attack."

Power said the meeting will be open to all 193 U.N. member states because there is significant interest in the Islamic State group's brutality and "in ensuring that LGBT people are not targeted on the basis of their sexual orientation."

President Barack Obama has strongly supported LGBT rights and the decision to highlight the militant group's attacks follows the June 27 U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same sex marriages in all 50 states. Chile's President Michelle Bachelet declared in April 2013 that she supports same-sex marriage and would seek to legalize it though that hasn't happened yet.

According to a report in June by the U.N. human rights chief, at least 76 countries retain laws used to criminalize and harass people on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, including laws criminalizing consensual same-sex relationships among adults.

Australian Government Lawmaker Introduces Gay Marriage Bill

(AP) A maverick lawmaker broke from conservative government ranks on Monday to introduce legislation that would legalize gay marriage in Australia as a new opinion poll confirmed that most Australians support such a reform.

Warren Entsch, a 65-year-old former crocodile farmer who has been dubbed a progressive redneck in the media, introduced a private member's bill that would allow same-sex marriage throughout Australia.

Entsch has conceded that his bill has little chance of reaching a vote because the ruling coalition decided last week that government lawmakers should be bound by the party line opposing gay marriage.

"I certainly wouldn't have been introducing it if I didn't hope that I could have a vote on it," Entsch told reporters.

Several lawmakers in Prime Minister Tony Abbott's Liberal Party have said they would defy the government's wishes by voting for gay marriage if such a vote is allowed.

The push for gay marriage within government ranks is a leadership test for Abbott, a former Roman Catholic seminarian who has been described as Australia's most socially conservative prime minister in decades.

Military says it is committed to Fairness in Manning Case

(AP) The U.S. military said Thursday that it is committed to "a fair and equitable process" in the case of national security leaker Chelsea Manning and other prisoners accused of breaking rules at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth.

The response comes a day after Manning's lawyer disclosed that the transgender Army private faces charges at an Aug. 18 hearing for allegedly having a copy of Vanity Fair with Caitlyn Jenner on the cover and an expired tube of toothpaste, among other things. The maximum penalty is indefinite solitary confinement.

The former intelligence analyst, formerly known as Bradley Manning, was convicted in 2013 of espionage and other offenses for sending more than 700,000 classified documents to WikiLeaks while working in Iraq. She is serving a 35-year sentence for leaking reams of war logs, diplomatic cables and battlefield video to the anti-secrecy website in 2010.

In a statement issued Thursday, Army spokeswoman Tatjana Christian says Manning's case is pending before a disciplinary board, which is "a common practice in correctional systems to hold prisoners accountable to facility rules." The military released no details of the alleged conduct that led to the disciplinary report against Manning.

Manning's attorney, Nancy Hollander, said the prison charges include possession of prohibited property in the form of books and magazines while under administrative segregation; medicine misuse over the toothpaste; disorderly conduct for sweeping food onto the floor; and disrespect. All of the accusations relate to conduct on July 2 and 9.

Some military legal experts familiar with the facility expressed skepticism that Manning will actually be punished with indefinite solitary confinement.

Adoption Ban on Same Sex Couples Challenged in Mississippi

(SFGN) Civil rights lawyers filed a federal lawsuit challenging a Mississippi law that forbids adoptions by same-sex couples. The lawsuit was filed by the Campaign for Southern Equality, the Family Equality Council and four Mississippi same-sex couples, according to a report in the New York Times. (http://nyti.ms/1IYAv67)

Janet Smith, one of the plaintiffs, is trying to adopt the 8-year-old daughter Hanna, which she raises with her partner Donna Phillips.

“We’ve had no problem, but I am in the military, so I could be called or activated at any time, and we are concerned about the legal aspects for Jan if something happened,” said Ms. Phillips, who is a captain in the Mississippi Air National Guard.

Wells Fargo and NGLCC Award $50,000 to LGBT Chambers of Commerce

(NGLCC) The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce awarded 11 grants to local affiliate LGBT chambers of commerce on Thursday, August 13 at the 2015 International Business & Leadership Conference in Fort Lauderdale. Funded by the Wells Fargo Foundation, these grants are targeted towards programs that foster the development, growth, and sustainability of certified LGBT businesses enterprises (LGBTBEs®).

NGLCC affiliate chambers applied for available grants in funding levels from $2,500 – $10,000 to expand capacity and technical assistance of an existing program benefitting LGBTBEs. Applications were judged based on overall chamber strength, growth in members and community presence, engagement with NGLCC and the LGBT Supplier Diversity Initiative, strength of the program and outlined goals and metrics.

NGLCC awarded 11 grants to the following NGLCC Affiliate Chambers for their innovative programming:

Austin Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
Central Pennsylvania Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
Golden Gate Business Association
Greater San Diego Business Association
Greater Seattle Business Association
Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce
North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce
Quorum
Rainbow Chamber of Commerce Silicon Valley
Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce

Michael Sam Leaves CFL's Alouettes

(AP) Michael Sam is stepping away from pro football.

Sam, the first openly gay player drafted by the NFL, has told the Canadian Football League's Montreal Alouettes that he is leaving the team.

"The last 12 months have been very difficult for me, to the point where I became concerned with my mental health," Sam tweeted Friday. "Because of this I am going to step away from the game at this time."

The Alouettes confirmed in a release that Sam has left the club for "personal reasons" and that he has been added to the team's suspended list.

He did not play in Montreal's home loss to Edmonton on Thursday night, with the team citing a sore back. He made his CFL debut the previous week.

The 25-year-old defensive end, the 2013 Southeastern Conference defensive player of the year at Missouri, failed to record a tackle in Montreal's loss to Ottawa.

Sam agreed to a two-year deal with the Alouettes this summer. He left training camp June 12, citing personal reasons, and sat out the team's first five games.

Sam was selected in the seventh round of the 2014 NFL draft by the Rams, did not make the team, and spent some time on the Cowboys' practice squad before being released.

NBJC Honors the Life and Legacy of Julian Bond

(NBJC) The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) joins the nation in honoring the life and legacy of Julian Bond (1940-2015). A son of the South, Bond dedicated his entire life advocating for freedom and justice for all.

“The NBJC family is deeply saddened by the passing of Julian Bond, who will be remembered as one of the fiercest fighters for justice and equality that the world has ever seen. Coming of age as an influential leader in the Civil Rights Movement, his early and vocal support for LGBT rights has been a source of hope and inspiration to so many—especially to those within the Black LGBT community,” said Sharon Lettman-Hicks, NBJC Executive Director & CEO. “I am a better activist and champion of civil rights because I was blessed to have known Julian Bond and saw him as my role model in being a frontline social justice warrior for racial justice and LGBT equality. The world has lost a hero, but we have gained a true example of how one life can make the world a more welcoming and inclusive place for all people. We must never forget what he stood for and build upon his legacy as we continue the fight for justice.”

NBJC honors the life of Julian Bond, a vocal and relentless advocate for the advancement of all people—especially those of marginalized and disenfranchised communities. We remember and take heed to his inspiring words: “The humanity of all Americans is diminished when any group is denied rights granted to others.”

The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a national civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. NBJC's mission is to end racism and homophobia.


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