The following news stories of LGBT interest happened in the United States in the weeks leading up to our July issue.
Highest Number of Anti-Gay Murders in 2011
According to a report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 2011 ranked the highest in LGBT-related murders since the coalition began monitoring in 1998. While overall reports of anti-gay hate violence were down from 2010, the reports states that there were three more “fatally violent hate crimes” committed against LGBT victims in 2011 versus 2010. Despite the apparent drop in violence, both the FBI’s annual report on hate crimes and the authors of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs report think that hate crimes are underreported.
Unlikely Allies March in Salt Lake City’s Pride Parade
Nearly 300 Mormons marched in solidarity with LGBT Utahns during last month’s Pride festival in Salt Lake City. According to a Reuters article, members of Mormons Building Bridges—a group founded by Erika Munson, 52, a devout Mormon and mother of five—carried signs stating “God Loves His Children.”
The group is not endorsed by or directly affiliated with Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “I feel like this is the time to speak up,” Munson told Reuters. “I’ve always felt like I was supportive in my own way of the LGBT community, but I’ve had to keep that and my commitment for the church separate.”
NYPD Adds Transgender Protections
The New York City Police Department amended its Patrol Guide to include changes that call for more respectful treatment of transgender and other gender nonconforming individuals. Gay City News reported that some of the changes include requiring police officers to address individuals according to their gender identity and expression, regardless of the gender on their legal documents. Derogatory remarks regarding gender identity and expression, as well as sexual orientation, are expressly forbidden, as are personal searches aimed at determining one’s gender. Further, individuals getting searched have the right to request the gender of the officer doing so and have the right to have the incident documented if refused that request.
DOJ Celebrates Pride Month
It’s been a year of milestones for the U.S. Department of Justice. DADT was repealed, the Bureau of Prisons announced that every federal prison will soon appoint an LGBT representative to the Affirmative Employment Program, and gender identity has been added to the DOJ’s workplace non-discrimination policy. In another first, the DOJ and Department of Defense hosted events to recognize gay and lesbian troops and employees.
Minnesotan Trans Woman Sentenced to 41 Months
Chrishaun “CeCe” McDonald, a 23-year-old African-American transgender woman who survived a brutal attack outside of a South Minneapolis bar, was charged with second-degree manslaughter due to negligence. She was sentenced to 41 months in prison, with credit for 275 days served. McDonald was ordered to pay $6410.00 in restitution. In June, Gay Life reported that McDonald accepted a plea agreement for the death of her attacker. Prior to the deal, she was facing two charges of second-degree manslaughter; a charge many community leaders and LGBT advocates argued was “egregious.” The Department of Corrections has not determined where McDonald will spend the remainder of her sentence, but it is likely that she will go to one of Minnesota’s men’s prisons.
First Out Lesbian Elected to NV Legislature
Pastor Patricia Spearman has become the first openly gay woman, and the second African American, elected to the Nevada State Legislature. According to Passport Magazine, the Democrat “overwhelmingly” defeated the incumbent senator, John Lee.
Ill. State’s Attorney Calls DOMA Unconstitutional
Soon after a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston declared the 1996 marriage ban unconstitutional in May, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office in Chicago came to the same conclusion last month. According to the Chicago Tribune, this decision stems from two lawsuits that argue refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the Illinois Constitution. The Illinois Attorney General’s office has also said it plans to file a brief in support of the lawsuits, and Governor Pat Quinn has voiced his support for gay marriage. The next stop for DOMA is the Supreme Court, which has final say in deciding if any law passed by Congress is unconstitutional.
Lancaster Papers Change Announcement Policy
Lancaster Newspapers Inc. came under fire for refusing to run same-sex marriage announcements. The publisher reversed its decision when readers voiced outrage. Lancaster Online reported that the publisher’s position on LGBT engagement announcements was made public when Jeffrey Clouser and Brent A. Weaver’s announcement was denied space in the Sunday News’ Celebrations section. “We weren’t trying to be champions of equality. We were just trying to be like every other couple was allowed to be,” Clouser said.