West Palm Beach Updates Anti-Discrimination Law

(SFGN) The West Palm Beach City Commission voted unanimously to amend the city’s human rights law, to expand discrimination protections. The amendment now extends the list of “public accommodations” from restaurant bars and schools to include bakeries, hotels, theaters, spas gyms and any “establishment service, place or building which offers, sells or otherwise makes available any good, service, facility, privilege or advantage."    

The amendment follows a similar update to Palm Beach County’s human rights law.

"It's the biggest expansion in civil rights in the city and county in decades," said Rand Hoch, president of the Human Rights Council.    

The Palm Beach Post reports that Hoch along with Sen. Joe Abruzzo, D-Wellington are working to reinforce nondiscrimination laws on the state level as well. While it took eight months to update the laws on the city and county level Hoch estimates it could take three or four years to bring such changes to state law.

Walk to Cure Arthritis Comes to Miami

(Arthritis Foundation) Arthritis impacts more than 50 million adults and 300,000 children – or approximately 22 percent of the United States population. The disease costs the U.S. economy $128 billion dollars a year, and it is a more frequent cause of activity limitation than heart disease, cancer, or diabetes.

The Arthritis Foundation will host the 2015 Walk to Cure Arthritis on November 14th at 9:00am, in Amelia Earhart Park in Hialeah

“Arthritis is costly, painful and debilitating, and makes a significant impact in the lives of people in your community,” says Medical Honoree, Dr. Jaime Pachon. “By participating in and raising funds for Miami Walk to Cure Arthritis, you will help us reach our goal of raising $100,000 to remove the burden of arthritis entirely by bringing us closer to a cure.”

Register online at www.WalkToCureArthritis.org or call 954-548-3005.

High Court Won't Hear Appeal in Anti-Gay Defamation Lawsuit

(AP) The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from a former lawyer for the state of Michigan who lost a defamation lawsuit filed by a gay student at the University of Michigan.

The justices on Monday let stand a lower court ruling that upheld a $3.5 million jury award to Chris Armstrong, a former student government president.

Andrew Shirvell was fired as assistant attorney general in 2010 for waging an anti-gay campaign against Armstrong, who accused him of stalking and defaming him on an anti-gay blog and elsewhere.

A federal appeals court rejected Shirvell's request for a new trial, but reduced the jury's award by $1 million, making it $3.5 million.

Shirvell says he was exercising free speech rights and claimed his comments were protected because Armstrong is a public figure.

LGBT-Supportive Billionaire Banker Backs Rubio for Presidency

(EDGE) A leading GOP fundraiser and donor, who has used his money to urge GOP politicians and lawmakers to support LGBT-inclusive laws in the past, is ignoring Marco Rubio's HRC rating of 22 and is officially backing the Florida senator's bid for president CNN reports.

Paul Singer, who has a gay son, according to LGBTQ Nation, lauded Rubio and said he is "one of the best communicators the modern Republican Party has seen," in a letter sent out Friday to his donor network, as reported by the New York Times.

"Marco Rubio can appeal to both the head and the heart. He can lead our nation by inspiring it," Singer wrote.

According to CNN, Singer's Rubio endorsement is a "major boost for the Florida senator's campaign and is a setback for Jeb Bush, whose campaign has far out raised his rivals this year." 

But Singer's support for Rubio goes against his past LGBT support, as the presidential hopeful opposes same-sex marriage and LGBT rights. He's been against measure allowing same-sex couples adopting children because kids shouldn't "be part of a social experiment," LGBTQ Nation points out. He's also voted against ENDA. 

Singer, however, created the American Unity Fund and the American Unity PAC in 2012, which urged Republicans to support LGBT rights. In 2013, he teamed up with Democratic donor Jonathan Lewis and each of them donated $250,000 to the Americans for Workplace Opportunity, a group aiming to pass ENDA. The same year, he donated money with Daniel S. Loeb Family Foundation to the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

Foster-Care Agencies Step Up Efforts on Behalf of LGBT Youth

(AP) When she entered a foster-care group home in 2012, Delilah Ramos was, by her own description, a hard-drinking teen with a wild streak. And as a lesbian, she was unsure how her sexual orientation would be received.

Today, three years later at age 19, Ramos could leave Marian Hall, her group home in Manhattan. But she wants to stay two more years.

"I consider this building a safe place," she said. "I'm really grateful, living here."

Her positive experience reflects a profound transformation in how gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youths across the United States are treated after they enter foster care.

Historically, the experience was often grim for them: Many were rejected by their own families, then encountered prejudice, harassment and abuse when they shifted to a foster home.

Efforts to tackle such problems have gained momentum across the U.S., but with varying success. Officials in some areas say the most sweeping institutional reforms, even though desired, may only come slowly. And some new requirements, they say, could risk shrinking the already limited pool of foster parents.

New York City, meanwhile, is at the vanguard of change. Its child-welfare agency, the Administration for Children's Services, has been working for more than a decade to improve care for LGBT youth. In 2012, the agency established an Office of LGBTQ Policy & Practice (the Q stands for 'questioning'), and stipulated that LGBT-oriented training must be given to all staff at its nonprofit partner agencies who work with young people.

Last year, ACS Commissioner Gladys Carrion went a step further, issuing a directive requiring that all newly certified foster parents pledge that they could provide an affirming, supportive home for LGBT youth. The policy also requires that veteran foster parents, when getting recertified, receive training in how to support LGBT youth.

White House Offers Support for Houston Equal Rights Measure

(AP) An ordinance that would establish nondiscrimination protections for gay and transgender people in Houston, the nation's fourth largest city, got support this week from some heavy hitters, including the White House and high tech giant Apple.

Houston residents were set to go to the polls on Tuesday to vote on the contested Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.

In a statement Thursday, the White House said it is "confident that the citizens of Houston will vote in favor of fairness and equality."

Apple says in a separate statement the ordinance "sends a clear message that Houston is focused on a future of inclusion, diversity and continued prosperity."

Jared Woodfill, a spokesman for the campaign in Houston fighting the ordinance, says the high-profile support will not help get the measure approved.

Blood Sculpture Draws Attention to FDA Ban on Gay, Bi Donors

(AP) An art installation opening in New York City draws attention to a federal ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men.

"Blood Mirror" by Jordan Eagles uses blood donated by nine gay and bisexual men. It's encased in resin.

It'll be shown at Trinity Church on Wall Street from Monday through Dec. 1, World AIDS Day.

Eagles says he wanted to create the 7-foot-tall interactive sculpture to show the blood could have been used to save lives.

The Food and Drug Administration instituted a lifetime ban on blood donations from gay men in 1983 in response to the AIDS crisis. This year, it proposed an updated policy allowing donations from gay men if they remained celibate for a year.

"Blood Mirror" was previously on view at the American University Museum in Washington, D.C.

Rentboy CEO Seeks Financial Help Via Facebook

(EDGE) The CEO of Rentboy.com is breaking his silence months after federal agents raided the gay escort website's office in New York City.

Jeffrey Hurant, who was one of many Rentboy.com employees arrested on prostitution charges in August, took to Facebook on Oct. 28, asking the public for donations to support Rentboy.com's legal team. 

I realize that I have been very quiet on Facebook since my arrest on August 25th. I have been advised by legal counsel not to make any public statements about the case. As any of you who know me can guess, this hasn't been easy for me.

This ordeal has been devastating for me, my family, my ex-employees and all the people my company has helped through the years. I am very grateful for all the support I have gotten from friends far and wide throughout the crisis. I count my blessings every day.

The brilliant team at Sher Tremonte, LLP has been working tirelessly preparing my defense. Even though I have not been proven guilty of committing any crime, the government has seized all the assets that I can use to defend myself, so I am here asking for your financial help to insure that this case has the best legal minds working on it.

Please consider donating to the 
http://www.rentboyfund.org/ Legal Defense Fund.

The website is also apparently liquidating their assets and is selling its merchandise and the content of its office via Craigslist.

Lady Gaga Gets Jazzy at AIDS Research Tribute to Ryan Murphy

(AP) Lady Gaga is continuing her jazzy period.

The entertainer performed an hour-long jazz set Thursday at the American Foundation for AIDS Research's tribute to Ryan Murphy.

"I love Ryan so much, and I'm so, so happy to be here," said Gaga, who stars on the current season of the writer-director's FX hit, "American Horror Story."

"He's really my friend and he's a wonderful person," she said.

Gaga dedicated the '60s standard "Call Me Irresponsible" to Murphy, who was the guest of honor at amfAR's Los Angeles Inspiration Gala. Murphy pledged to serve as "a lifelong ambassador" for the organization, which aims to find a cure for AIDS by 2020.

Murphy said the evening raised $3.1 million toward that goal.

Gaga contributed to the total during a live auction conducted by Sharon Stone. Gaga bid a winning $200,000 on a photograph of Elizabeth Taylor flipping the bird. Cuba Gooding, Jr. engaged in a brief bidding war with billionaire Barry Diller for a pair of platinum diamond earrings. Diller won with $60,000.

Gwyneth Paltrow hosted the fundraiser at Milk Studios, which also included appearances by Julia Roberts, Angela Bassett, Matt Bomer and Cheyenne Jackson.

Murphy may have been the guest of honor, but Gaga was the reigning diva. She wore a long dusty pink gown with floor-sweeping kimono sleeves, an intricate diamond collar, and a platinum blonde beehive.

Gaga performed "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)," which she recorded for her 2014 album with Tony Bennett, "Cheek to Cheek."

She played piano as she sang her new single, "Til it Happens to You," a song she co-wrote with Diane Warren for the 2015 documentary "The Hunting Ground." Gaga said her performance was inspired by Murphy.

For her closing number, Gaga ditched her dress for a tuxedo jacket and not much else. She sang "La Vie en Rose" - in French, bien sûr.

Ex MLB Star Lenny Dykstra Admits to Blackmailing Closeted Umps

(EDGE) What is the secret to success in Major League Baseball? In the case of former New York Mets and Philadelphia Phillies centerfielder Lenny Dykstra, it could be gay extortion. TMZ reports.

In a recent interview on "The Herd With Colin Cowherd on FS1," Dykstra admits to spending $500,000 on private investigators to spy on umpires, who he would blackmail for better calls during games. Some of the umpires under Dykstra's list were having affairs or were closeted gay men. 

"Their blood's just as red as ours," Dykstra said. "...Some of them like women, some of them like men, some of them gamble ... some of them do whatever."

Dykstra told Cowherd he would get the goods on the umps and threaten to go public with whatever info he had unless he got favorable calls. Dykstra claims the umpires would often shrink the strike zone when he was at the plate at the end of his career in the early 1990s.

If the closeted umps didn't play ball with Dykstra, he'd threaten to turn the tables and say "you're out!" to them.

"It wasn't a coincidence that I led the league in walks the next few years, was it?" 

News of Dykstra's past has Cyd Ziegler of OutSports calling for disciplinary action from MLB.

"I have no doubt Dykstra did what he is claiming. He told Cowherd that some of the explosive details will be laid out in an upcoming book," Ziegler wrote. "Frankly, Major League Baseball should take these comments and said book and give the same lifetime ban to Dykstra that they've given to Pete Rose."

Dykstra made his MLB debut in 1985 with the New York Mets and played his final game in 1996 with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Gay Conversion Therapy Organization Rebrands, Expands Mission

(EDGE) As more states debate legislation banning the practice of gay conversion therapy on minors, noted ex-gay organization International Healing Foundation (IHF) has re-branded to expand their mission to approach prevention and family counseling. Don't worry though, the organization, now named the Institute for Healthy Families (also IHF) will still pray the gay away as long as its legal.

"Moving forward, our message of healing will not change, but will only increase in scope and outreach to meet the demand of an ever hurting family and culture," wrote IHF executive director Christopher Doyle. "We are witnessing record-high numbers of divorce and infidelity among couples of faith, and more and more of our children are experiencing sex addiction, gender and sexual identity confusion, drug and alcohol abuse, and other emotional problems."

In addition to being executive director for IHF, Doyle is also head of ex-gay advocacy and civil rights groups Voice of the Voiceless and Equality and Justice for All. The annual ex-gay pride events that draw tens of participants to Washington, D.C. is his brainchild.

"We will not abandon our mission to help individuals and communities that struggle with unwanted same-sex attraction and gender identity confusion," Doyle writes. "Rather, we will be expanding our outreach to help restore hope to hurting homes ...while also focusing on a broad range of sexual and relational issues, in light of the current cultural changes and problems in our society.

The IHF is located in Maryland where a bill seeking to ban ex-gay therapy on minors was withdrawn in 2014. Currently there are bans on conversion therapy for minors in California, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington, D.C.

Russia to Double Spending on HIV Care Next Year

(AP) Russia will double its spending on HIV care and prevention next year in the face of a growing epidemic, the country's health minister announced on Friday.

Veronika Skvortsova earlier this week raised the alarm about the HIV epidemic in Russia, saying that it would spiral out of control by the end of decade if the funding for treatment is not raised. She said that with the current funding the government can provide care for less than a quarter of HIV-positive patients in Russia.

Skvortsova said on Friday that the Russian budget will allocate more than $600 million next year to double this year's spending. Some of the funding, according to Skvortsova, will go to NGOs who help to raise HIV awareness in Russia.

HIV treatment became less affordable in Russia after a number of NGOs had to suspend their operations in order to comply with a Russian law clamping down on organizations receiving foreign funding. The 2012 foreign agents law imposed severe penalties on recipients of foreign grants engaged in loosely defined political activities. Victims of the backlash were as varied as environmental activists and NGOs helping HIV patients.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev earlier this week said the number of HIV-positive Russians grows by 10 percent every year. It is expected to hit 1 million by the end of the year.

Transgender Woman Loses Legal Appeal Over Men's Prison Stint

(AP) A transgender British woman jailed in a men's prison lost an appeal of her sentence Friday, but judges urged the prison service to consider moving her to a women's facility.

Tara Hudson, who has lived as a woman all her adult life, was sentenced last week to 12 weeks in prison for head-butting a bar manager.

The 26-year-old makeup artist was sent to HMP Bristol, a men's prison in southwest England, where her lawyer, Nicholas Wragg, said she was separated from other inmates and "locked in a cell 23 hours a day."

Wragg argued she should be released to do community service.

Three judges at Bristol Crown Court rejected Hudson's appeal against the sentence, noting that she had eight previous convictions.

The judges said it was "for the prison service and not the court" to decide where the sentence should be served, but urged "sensitive consideration" of where Hudson should be held.

The Prison Service said it was "longstanding policy to place offenders according to their legally recognized gender." Hudson has had gender reassignment surgery but is still legally classified as male.

The service said its guidelines allowed "room for discretion and in such cases, medical experts will review the circumstances in order to protect the emotional well-being of the person concerned."

The Press Association news agency and other British media, citing government sources, said that following the court ruling, Hudson was being moved to a facility for women. The Prison Service said it could not comment on individual cases.

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