Top 5 Most-Read 'Only in Florida' Stories of 2015

(EDGE) A lot of crazy things happen in Florida. So much so that EDGE dedicated an entire feature to the bizarre acts people carry out in the Sunshine State. Below are the top 5 most-read "Only in Florida" stories published in 2015.

5. Woman Arrested After Allegedly Arguing Over Dildo, Shoving it in Partner's Face (July 14)

You might think this dildo belonged to Gollum: Florida police arrested a woman this summer after she allegedly shoved a dildo in her domestic partner's face during a fight over who owned the sex toy.

4. Man Shoots Sister for Making Penis Cake (March 8)

A birthday joke that involved a penis-shaped birthday cake ended in bloodshed, tears and an arrest when the 21-year-old recipient of the cake shot the baker, who is his sister, in the buttocks with a BB gun.

3. Man Steals Butt Plugs, Says He Was Embarrassed to Pay for Them

A Florida man who was arrested earlier this month for allegedly stealing butt plugs from a sex shop said he stole the items because he was too embarrassed to legally purchase them.

2. Disney World Worker Arrested for Wanking in a Wal-Mart (April 4)

An employee at Walt Disney World was arrested in April after allegedly masturbating in a Wal-Mart located in Kissimmee, Fla., about 25 miles south of Orlando, where he "flung" bodily fluids at a female shopper he followed throughout the store while listening to "audio pornography" on headphones.

1. Police on Lookout for Glory Hole Driller

Florida police are currently searching for someone who continues to drill glory holes in the men's bathroom at Treasure Shores Beach in Vero Beach, Fla.


Popular Gay & Lesbian Radio Duo Derek and Romaine Return

(EDGE) After twelve years as a popular gay/lesbian duo on satellite radio, Derek Hartley and Romaine Patterson will launch a new streaming service on Monday, January 4, 2016. DNR 2.0 will feature a live two hour broadcast each weekday at 2 p.m. PT/5 p.m. ET available by subscription through their website www.DerekAndRomaine.com. Past shows will continue to stream throughout the day and be available in a download archive on the site.

"After more than a decade together, Romaine and I are excited to launch this new adventure together," says Derek Hartley, an author and columnist who first joined Romaine Patterson on air in April 2003. "We've been together so long it feels more like a marriage than a working relationship and creating this new show has almost been like renewing our vows."

"We are doing this new show because our longtime listeners really demanded it," added Romaine Patterson, known nationally for her LGBT activism before transitioning to radio show host, "We have all become like a family over the years and we have to keep the family together!"

The new streaming service coincides with a re-launch of their website with an emphasis on building community, familiar territory for the duo. Prior to joining the world of radio, Derek Hartley developed content around online communities in the 1990s at America Online and early LGBT media venture PlanetOut, while Romaine Patterson worked for the media watchdog GLAAD. 

In addition to the new show, Derek and Romaine will continue the DNR Cruise, the successful group travel venture they launched together in 2013. Their fifth cruise leaves from Seattle for Alaska on August 28, 2016 and a sixth cruise in February 2017 will be announced next month.

Salt Lake City's 1st Openly Gay Mayor to be Sworn In Monday

(AP) Former Utah lawmaker Jackie Biskupski will be sworn in Monday as the mayor of Salt Lake City, becoming the first openly gay person to hold the office.

The 49-year-old is no stranger to making history in the state. In 1998, she became Utah's first openly gay lawmaker.

She served in the state House of Representatives until 2011. Since then, she has worked in the Salt Lake County Sheriff's office.

Biskupski defeated two-term incumbent mayor Ralph Becker in November by winning 52 percent of the vote in the state's liberal capital city.

She will take the oath of office around noon.

Ellen DeGeneres to Accept People's Choice Humanitarian Award

(AP) Ellen DeGeneres is receiving a humanitarian award, and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is reaping the benefits.

Producers of the People's Choice Awards announced Monday that DeGeneres will be recognized as the Favorite Humanitarian at Wednesday's ceremony. The honor comes with a $200,000 donation from Walgreens, which DeGeneres is directing toward the hospital.

She joked that the award "sums me up perfectly as I am both a human and an itarian."

DeGeneres is also nominated for Favorite Talk Show Host at the fan-voted People's Choice Awards, which will be presented at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles and broadcast on CBS.

More Research Needed on PrEP Use in Transgender Women

(EDGE) A policy brief released in December by the National Center for Innovation in HIV Care -- a program of The Fenway Institute, AIDS United, and ARCW -- examines questions that have been raised about the interaction between feminizing hormones used by transgender women, and the medication currently approved for use as pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV prevention (PrEP). It calls on the scientific community to conduct more research on PrEP with transgender women, and urges transgender women who are HIV-negative to discuss PrEP with their doctors as a potential option for helping them stay HIV-negative. 

Transgender women are 49 times more likely to have HIV than the general population, and approximately 20 percent of transgender women worldwide are living with HIV. Black transgender women are three times more likely than White and Latina transgender women to be living with HIV. Until an analysis of two PrEP clinical trials involving transgender women was published in The Lancet in November 2015, however, there was no data indicating efficacy of PrEP among transgender women. As a result, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has not yet issued guidance on the use of PrEP among transgender women.

"Transgender women are a priority population in HIV prevention and treatment, and need to be a priority population in PrEP research," said Sean Cahill, PhD, co-author of the issue brief and Director of Curriculum and Policy at the National Center for Innovation in HIV Care. "More research is needed to demonstrate that PrEP is effective for transgender women and to better understand any interaction between PrEP and feminizing hormones. In the meantime, PrEP is a prevention option that transgender women should consider in consultation with their medical providers."
The policy brief, "Transgender women and pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV prevention: What we know and what we still need to know" is available at http://bit.ly/1Ur4l9L . 

Anti-Gay, Racist Incidents Mar Philadelphia's Mummers Parade

(AP) Philadelphia's incoming mayor and some organizers of the city's annual New Year's Day parade called for increased sensitivity on Saturday, a day after some participants mocked Caitlyn Jenner, were accused of harassing gays and painted their faces brown to portray Mexicans.

The 116-year-old Mummers Parade - often characterized as the city's version of Mardi Gras - has faced annual criticism for its lack of diversity and racial insensitivity.

Critics found the activities of some amateur performance groups, called brigades, offensive again this year. One member dressed like Jenner, who won a 1976 Olympic gold medal in decathlon as Bruce Jenner before recently transitioning to a transgender woman. And a gay man who was out walking a dog accused the same group of assaulting him but did not file charges.

That brigade, Finnegan NYB, displayed signs of a Wheaties box picturing Bruce Jenner alongside a box of Froot Loops picturing Caitlyn Jenner. A man with that group was seen shouting expletives about gays in a video shot by New York Daily News editor Nick Kurczewski, Philly.com reported Saturday.

Michael Inemer Sr., who identified himself as a captain of the Finnegan Mummers group, refused to apologize for the Jenner display, saying it was a parody in keeping with the parade's history that includes cross-dressing. He did apologize for the marcher who shouted against gays.

Before apologizing, the Finnegan NYB group tweeted a photo of a Mummer holding a sign saying, "Mummers Lives Matter" - an apparent reference to the Black Lives Matter group that has protested the deaths of blacks at the hands of police in various parts of the country.

The incidents during this year's parade occurred even after organizers created the "Philadelphia Division," which was meant to diversify the parade with two new Hispanic performance groups, a black drill team and the LGBT Miss Fancy Brigade.

Las Vegas Celebrates Gay Marriage Milestone

(AP) Clark County partnered with the Las Vegas business community to mark a local gay marriage milestone on New Year's Eve.

According to the county, Phoenix residents Ronald Bauman and Dumitru Alexeev received the 5,000th same-sex marriage license issued in Clark County since the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the constitutionality of gay marriage in the state.

The county says the couple planned to marry Friday in Las Vegas. They were offered a number of gifts by local businesses, including a basic wedding package at Luxor Wedding Chapel, stays at Circus Circus Las Vegas and Mandalay Bay, and tickets to the "Michael Jackson One" show and the High Roller.

The Marriage License Bureau started issuing licenses to same-sex couples on Oct. 9, 2014.

Kentucky governor Removes Clerks' Names from Marriage Licenses

(SFGN) Kentucky’s new governor, Matt Bevin issued an executive order last Tuesday that removes the names of county clerks from being printed on marriage licenses, Metro Weekly reports. The decision was made in order to allow clerks who object to same sex marriage, a level of separation from issuing licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

The order fulfills one of Bevin’s campaign promises to social conservatives during his run against former Attorney General Jack Conway (D). Bevin made the promise amidst national attention from the Kim Davis debacle.

"Today, I took action to uphold several commitments I made during my campaign so that we can implement real solutions that will help the people of Kentucky," Bevin said in a statement. "...As we move into the New Year and upcoming session, I look forward to working with legislators and stakeholders to build consensus and drive policy that makes a meaningful impact on the lives of all Kentuckians."

The ACLU, which is still pursuing legal action against Davis, says Bevin’s order only "added to the cloud of uncertainty that hangs over marriage licensing in Kentucky." The group questions whether or not the new licenses can be considered legally valid, which will only cause further complications.

"The requirement that the county clerk's name appear on marriage licenses is prescribed by Kentucky law and is not subject to unilateral change by the governor - conceded by the previous administration in court filings. Today, however, a new administration claims to have that authority," said William Sharp, legal director of the ACLU of Kentucky.

"The ACLU continues to work with loving couples who hold marriage licenses of questionable validity and for those who are waiting to legalize their unions until this is resolved," Sharp said.

Caitlyn Jenner Settles Suit by Woman Injured in Deadly Crash

(AP) A woman injured in a fatal crash involving Caitlyn Jenner settled her lawsuit against the Olympic gold medalist, according to court papers.

Jessica Steindorff had sought unspecified damages against Jenner in the Feb. 7 crash that killed one woman and injured several others along the Malibu coast.

One of Jenner's lawyers stated in court papers filed Dec. 15 in Los Angeles County Superior Court that the suit had been settled and dismissed. No terms of the settlement were mentioned.

Jenner, 66, was hauling an off-road vehicle behind a Cadillac Escalade when she steered to avoid cars slowing for a traffic light on Pacific Coast Highway.

Jenner rear-ended two cars - a Lexus driven by Kim Howe and a Prius driven by Steindorff. Howe, 69, was killed when her car was pushed into the path of an oncoming Hummer.

Sheriff's investigators determined Jenner was traveling at an unsafe speed for traffic conditions.

Prosecutors declined to file a vehicular manslaughter charge against Jenner, who won a 1976 Olympic gold medal in decathlon as Bruce Jenner before recently transitioning to a transgender woman.

Howe's stepchildren are suing Jenner for wrongful death and a family traveling in the Hummer also sued for damages.

Philip Boesch Jr., one of the Jenner's lawyers, said in an email that the Steindorff case had been dismissed, but he would not comment further.

An attorney for Steindorff did not immediately return calls or a message seeking comment.

Head of Ex-Gay Support Group Blames Holiday Family Fights on the Gays

(EDGE) With parents and friends like these, who needs enemies?

If there was any unpleasantness around your holiday table this year, Regina Griggs, head of the Ex-Gay "support group" Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX), is putting the the blame squarely where she believes it belongs - on gay or transgender family members.

"The holidays can be a difficult time for families, especially if sons or daughters declare that they are homosexual or transgender," writes an end of the year money begging email from PFOX. "As a result, stress, sadness or even anger may surface at holiday dinners or New Year's celebrations."

The email, which is filled with Griggs' signature blame-placing and self-denying rhetoric, encourages parents to tell their LGBT child that they're thinking things over before loving or accepting them. 

"Parents need to ask their child for time to think through their feelings, just as they did, and then set aside a time after the holidays when the family can discuss how to keep the family together and respect and allow for differences of opinion," she writes.

"The holidays are also a time when homosexual children may want to bring home a partner, and many choose the holidays as a time to come out, knowing that their families may postpone a conversation to keep peace," Griggs added. "Parents should be prepared to set boundaries-the same as they do for single, heterosexual children. Plan events that your child enjoyed when growing up, involve your child in activities, and agree to discuss your feelings about their declaration after you've had time to think things through."

Mich. Elections Board to Consider Gay Rights Petition

(AP) Supporters of amending Michigan's constitution to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity are hoping to clear an initial procedural step.

The Fair Michigan ballot committee's petition form will be considered Tuesday by the Board of State Canvassers. The group must gather roughly 315,000 valid voter signatures to put the measure on the November 2016 statewide ballot.

The state constitution bars discrimination because of religion, race, color or national origin. The amendment would add gender, gender identity, sex and sexual orientation protections.

The Republican-controlled Legislature has blocked bills to protect gay and transgender residents by updating Michigan's civil rights law. Gay rights advocates are divided over whether a ballot proposal should be initiated, however.


ISIS Reportedly Kills Teen for Being Gay; Spares Victim's Rapist

(EDGE) Members of the Islamic militant group ISIS accused a young teen of being gay and reportedly killed him by throwing him off the roof of a building, but spared the life of a commander who allegedly raped the victim, according to a report by ARA News, a Syr­ian independent press agency.

The 15-year-old boy was sentenced to death by being pushed off a high building in Deir Ezzor province in Syria. The report claims the ISIS commander who allegedly raped the victim is believed to be Abu Zaid al-Jazrawi, who has appeared in a propaganda video showing child soldiers executing prisoners in a demented version of hide-and-seek. al-Jazrawi was spared the death sentence, but was punished by being flogged and sent to Iraq to fight on the front line.

A witness told ARA News the execution of the teen took place in public and in front of a large gathering of local civilians. The footage of the incident has yet to make it online, however. 

"The boy was accused of being engaged in a homosexual relation with the prominent ISIS officer Abu Zaid al-Jazrawi," media activist Sarai al-Din told ARA News. "Abu Zaid was forced to leave Syria and join the fighting fronts in northwestern Iraq. The decision has been taken by the ISIS leadership."

ARA News reports a source claimed the boy was arrested "in the house of an ISIS leader" last Thursday. 

Though the story has been picked up by a number of media outlets, the Daily Mail writes it could not "independently verify these claims." Nevertheless, this isn't the first time ISIS was reported to kill men accused of being gay by throwing them off the roofs of buildings. Similar incidents have been occurring for some time now.

Legal Confusion As Estonian Gay Partnership Law Enters Force

(AP) A law allowing gay partnerships took effect in Estonia on Friday, but same-sex couples are being advised to hold off on getting hitched until a series of legal issues have been worked out.

Estonia in 2014 became the first former Soviet republic to approve gay civil unions, but Parliament has not yet adopted laws required to implement that decision.

While couples can enter into unions, the Estonian Chamber of Notaries says there are legal uncertainties related to divorce, inheritance and other practical matters.

For that reason, the chamber has advised same-sex couples to consider waiting until the rules become clearer.

Estonia, which like Baltic neighbors Latvia and Lithuania was occupied by the Soviet Union for almost five decades, is considered the most Western-oriented of the former Soviet republics.