News Bites for March 18, 2015

Local, national, and international news bites...


FDA Approves ‘Functional Cure’ HIV Testing

The United States Food and Drug Administration granted approval for human testing on a functional cure strategy regarding the HIV virus. The novel therapy, scientists claim, involves the harvesting of stem cells from HIV infected patients. Using a gene editing tool, scientists at Sangamo Biosciences, Inc. are able to generate white blood cells with a mutation that is HIV resistant. This breakthrough discovery came as amFAR held its inaugural fundraising gala in Hong Kong.

IGLTA Appoints Four New Board Directors

The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association appointed new members to its board of directors who will serve the global organization for the first time in their careers. The appointments are as follows: Jody Cole, founder/owner of the tour company Wild Rainbow African Safaris; Norma Dean, director of national specialty sales at Delta Airlines; Richard Gray, managing director of the LGBT market for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau and Jon Munoz, senior director for diversity and inclusion at Hilton Worldwide. The first-time appointees join other board members at IGLTA’s 32nd Annual Global Convention, April 8-11 in Los Angeles.

Video Shows Gay Stoning

A video surfaced last week that allegedly shows the death of a gay boy on the Caribbean island of Jamaica.  The video was uploaded to YouTube and Facebook but later removed. It depicted a lifeless body of a young man lying in a pool of his own blood while being pelted with rocks and stones from his unseen executioners. Human rights activists have condemned the video and demanded a response from Jamaican authorities.


Utah Offers LGBT Protections

The State of Utah legislature passed a bill which guarantees equal protections under the law for all people, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Utah residents. The bill passed by a 65-10 vote in the Utah House of Representatives after being cleared by the Senate. It was backed by the state’s highly influential Church of Jesus of Christ Latter-day Saints and offers protections for gay people in housing and employment matters.

Point Foundation Recognizes “Looking” Star

Jonathan Groff, star of HBO’s new series “Looking,” will be honored by the Point Foundation at the educational organization’s annual gala next month in New York. Groff, 29, plays Patrick Murray a gay man living in San Francisco with an eclectic group of friends in “Looking.” Groff will receive the Point Horizon Award at the April 13 gala to be held inside the New York Public Library. The Point Foundation provides scholarships to LGBTQ students, investing 18 million since 2001. Next month's annual gala will also honor actor Jeffrey Tambor from the Amazon series “Transparent.” Tambor is slated to receive the Point Courage Award.


DWS Says No To Senate Campaign

U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) announced on CNN Tuesday that she would not being running for U.S. Senate in 2016. Wasserman Schultz, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, made the remarks to CNN anchorman Wolf Blitzer. Wasserman Schultz has been mentioned as a possible Senate candidate along with fellow Democratic colleagues Alan Grayson and Patrick Murphy. Wasserman Schultz is scheduled to speak to members of the Dolphin Democrats, Florida’s oldest LGBT political organization, April 8 at 7 p.m. at the Pride Center in Wilton Manors.


Log Cabin Republicans Support Removing Adoption Barriers

In a joint statement, the heads of Log Cabin Republicans chapters in Miami, Broward, Tampa and Northeast Florida applauded the recent decision by the Florida House of Representatives to remove a legal barrier in adoptions by same-sex couples. Swift action taken by the super majority Republican House on HB 7031 officially takes the gay adoption ban off the books for good, the statement read. “These actions by our fellow Republicans are to be commended as they have kept to their conservative principles of individual liberties and personal freedom and ensures equality for all parents throughout Florida,” Mimi Planas, spokeswoman for LCR Miami, said.

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