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Gays And Lesbians

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Some Florida schools have moved library books and debated changing textbooks in response to a law critics call “Don’t Say Gay.” Educators are cautiously making changes as they wait to see how the new law governing lessons on gender and sexual orientation will be interpreted and enforced. The law was championed by Florida’s GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis. It bans lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. It also forbids any lessons on those topics for students of any grade if they are not age-appropriate. Some worry it will stifle classroom discussion and leave LGBTQ teachers and kids feeling ostracized.

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Republican Roy Moore of Alabama has won a defamation lawsuit against a Democratic-aligned super PAC over campaign ads dating to his failed 2017 Senate bid. A jury awarded Roy Moore $8.2 million in damages Friday after finding a Democratic-aligned super PAC made false and defamatory statements with a TV ad during the U.S. Senate race in Alabama. Moore called the ruling a vindication. The Senate Majority PAC argued the ad was substantially true and planned to appeal. Moore is a former judge known for backing public display of the Ten Commandments and hardline stances against same-sex marriage. Misconduct allegations against Moore rocked his 2017 race, which was won by a Democrat.

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LGBTQ and health groups have denounced a new rule by Florida health officials set to take effect later this month to restrict Medicaid insurance coverage for gender dysphoria treatments for transgender people. Online records show the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration filed the new rule Aug. 1, and it is set to take effect Aug. 21. The state agency previously released a report stating that puberty blockers, cross-sex hormones and sex reassignment surgery have not been proven safe or effective in treating gender dysphoria. Several LGBTQ groups issued a statement Thursday saying the AHCA is ignoring thousands of public comments and expert testimony by finalizing a discriminatory and medically unsound rule.

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom has nominated Patricia Guerrero as the next chief justice of the state Supreme Court. Guerrero has been on the state Supreme Court since March as an associate justice and is its first Latina member. She would replace Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, who will step down once her term ends in January. Guerrero's nomination must first be confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments and then by voters in the November general election. If Guerrero is confirmed, Newsom said he plans to appoint Alameda County Superior Court Judge Kelli Evans to fill Guerrero's spot on the Supreme Court.

Research that analyzed social media posts finds that hateful references to gays, lesbians and other LGBTQ people surged online after Florida passed a law that bars instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. References to pedophiles and “grooming” rose by more than 400 percent in the month after Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” measure was approved, according to a report by the Human Rights Campaign and the Center for Countering Digital Hate. The authors of the report say the increased anti-LGBTQ rhetoric is inciting hatred that could lead to violence. They say social media platforms must do more to enforce their own policies on hate speech.

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The leader of the Vermont state Senate Becca Balint could become the first woman and the first openly gay person to represent the state in Congress. On Tuesday, she won the Democratic Party nomination to seek the state’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Balint easily defeated the more centrist Lt. Gov. Molly Gray. Balint was endorsed by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. Vermont's current member of the House won the Democratic Party nomination to run for the U.S. Senate seat that has been occupied by retiring Sen. Patrick Leahy since 1975. Welch had held the House seat since 2007.

A Minnesota school district is clashing with the teachers union and LGBTQ allies over a proposed policy that opponents say would undermine equity and inclusion. The proposal by three Becker school board members prohibits “political indoctrination or the teaching of inherently divisive concepts,” in the district’s schools. Those against such a policy say the district is trying to stifle free speech, suppress LGBTQ students and advocates and prohibit the accurate teaching of history and other subjects. It’s the latest instance of polarizing issues that have surfaced in school districts elsewhere; including classroom pride flags, teaching critical race theory and supporting marginalized students.

Ugandan authorities have suspended the work of a prominent LGBTQ rights group, calling it an illegal entity. Sexual Minorities Uganda has been the East African nation’s most prominent support group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people since 2004. Its leader, Frank Mugisha, said Saturday that authorities who oversee non-governmental organizations advised him to suspend activities, saying his group lacked needed documentation. “This means that the life-saving work we do is on hold," he said, adding: “The background, of course, is homophobia and transphobia.” The NGO Bureau said in a statement that the group needed to stop work “with immediate effect” because it’s neither a company nor an NGO.

Vermont Lt. Gov. Molly Gray and Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint are the leading candidates in a Democratic U.S. House primary that could make either of them the first female member of the state's congressional delegation. Gray has the backing of the centrist lane of the party, with endorsements from two former governors and a campaign donation from retiring U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy. Balint has been endorsed by an all-star list of progressive leaders, including the state’s other U.S. senator, Bernie Sanders, and the founders of Vermont’s famously progressive ice cream company, Ben & Jerry’s. The winner of Tuesday’s primary is expected to cruise to victory in November in deep-blue Vermont.

Nearly a half-century after arson killed 32 people in a New Orleans gay bar, the City Council has renewed the search for the remains of four victims — three of them never identified. The motion written by Council member J.P. Morrell directs the city attorney, property management director and chief administrative officer to provide “all reasonable assistance” and legal entry to the land where they were buried. The motion notes that “the City’s callous and deeply inadequate response ... rooted in pervasive anti-gay sentiment” made suffering worse for victims’ families and friends. The council issued a formal apology for that response on June 23 — one day before the fire's 49th anniversary.

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Social media users shared a range of false claims this week. Here are the facts: All ballots at a Detroit ballot counting site went through the necessary signature review process, and bags pictured on the floor of the facility contained election workers' belongings. A U.S. congressional bill would not turn current semi-automatic weapon owners into felons. Health experts and officials say monkeypox can be transmitted to anyone, not just gay and bisexual men, and immigrants are not receiving Social Security numbers at the U.S. border.

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Spain is struggling to curtail Europe's leading monkeypox outbreak since the disease spread beyond Africa. The southern European nation counts 4,942 cases and two men have died from the disease. Authorities and groups in the LGBTQ community are honing their campaigns to get vaccines to the most needy members of the most affected demographic so far. In the U.S. and Europe, the vast majority of monkeypox infections have happened in men who have sex with men. But experts warn that if the cases continue to rise they will inevitably spread to other groups like happened with AIDS/HIV. Given the dearth of vaccines, the focus is now on getting out the message that reducing sexual partners is critical.

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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is urging American conservatives to “take back the institutions,” stick to hardline stances on gay rights and immigration, and fight for the next U.S. presidential election as a pivotal moment for their beliefs. The far-right leader received loud cheers and standing ovations Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas. Orban has been criticized for undermining his country’s democratic institutions, but his invitation to the large conservative gathering demonstrated the growing embrace between the leader of an autocratic government and Republicans in the U.S. Orban told the crowd to look ahead to the 2024 election, saying they had “two years to get ready.”

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A former schoolteacher from suburban New York City has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for mailing dozens of violent threats to LGBTQ affiliated individuals, groups and businesses over several years. the 74-year-old Robert Fehring had pleaded guilty in February. Prosecutors say the Bayport, Long Island, resident threatened to blow up the Stonewall Inn, a historic Manhattan bar considered the birthplace of the gay rights movement. They say he also threatened to place explosives at 2021 New York City Pride march. A search of Fehring's home last November yielded two shotguns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition in addition to copies of letters containing threats.

A federal judge has ruled that West Virginia’s Medicaid program must provide coverage for gender-confirming care for transgender residents. The judge made the ruling Tuesday in a lawsuit filed by LGBTQ interest group Lambda Legal. The lawsuit accused the state of violating the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid law by not covering treatments for gender dysphoria. The lawsuit also named state employee health plans. Chambers said the Medicaid exclusion discriminated on the basis of sex and transgender status. Chambers certified the lawsuit as a class action, covering all transgender West Virginians who participate in Medicaid.

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A recent decision by a Wisconsin school district to ban pride flags and the use of pronouns in emails has released an avalanche of pushback from students, alumni and others while the superintendent said it’s simple reaffirming a policy that is already in place. Kettle Moraine School District Superintendent Ken Plum recently told the school board an interpretation of a policy that prohibits staff from using their positions to promote partisan politics, religious views and propaganda for personal, monetary or nonmonetary gain has changed following a legal analysis. Plum said teachers and administrators are prohibited from displaying political or religious messages in their classrooms or on their person, including Pride flags, Black Lives Matter and We Back the Badge signs.

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Jim Obergefell is hoping that Democrats can win back seats at the Ohio Statehouse and beyond this fall with a message grounded in his landmark U.S. Supreme Court fight for same-sex marriage. The celebrity plaintiff-turned-Ohio House candidate says the party can win by driving home that it will fight for everyone to be included in “We the People.” His pitch comes as stark political divisions played out in Tuesday's legislative primaries. Rescheduled amid a partisan mapmaking fight, a combined 43 Republican and Democratic primaries pit incumbents against rivals to the right or left, and key constituencies against one another.

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President Joe Biden is set to name top officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to serve as the White House coordinators to combat the growing monkeypox outbreak. The White House says Biden will announce Tuesday that he has tapped Robert Fenton, who helped lead FEMA’s mass vaccination effort for COVID-19 when Biden first took office, as the White House coordinator. Dr. Demetre Daskalakis of the CDC will be named his deputy. Daskalakis, the director of the agency’s HIV prevention division and a national expert on issues affecting the LGBTQ community, previously helped lead New York City’s COVID-19 response.

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Florida is advising school districts to ignore protections for LGBTQ students that President Joe Biden’s administration is trying to implement. In a letter to the districts sent Thursday, Florida Education Secretary Manny Diaz said the proposed anti-discrimination language is not binding law and following the guidance could result in breaking state law. He said school districts could harm students and break Florida law if it follows proposed new rules under Title IX that would extend sexual discrimination protections to students based on their gender identity or sexual orientation. Last year, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill banning people assigned male at birth from participating in female sports.

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Neil Patrick Harris has played an impressive number of what he calls “extreme characters.” He says that makes his role in the comedy “Uncoupled” especially appealing. Harris says he was attracted to the part's “normalcy” and nuance. He plays a suddenly single New Yorker, dumped by his partner of 17 years, who stumbles into an unfamiliar dating world. The eight-episode “Uncoupled” is out now on Netflix. It represents a still relatively rare Hollywood commodity: a rom-com with a gay character as the lovable hero of the story. The show is from writer-producers Darren Star of “Sex and the City” and Jeffrey Richman of “Modern Family.”

The Respect for Marriage Act would ensure that same-sex marriages are recognized nationwide. The House-passed legislation has some Republican support and is expected to come up for a vote in the Senate in September. It is part of an effort by Democrats to protect various rights in the wake of the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide. While the Senate is not expected to approve separate House efforts to legalize abortion or protect contraception rights, the same-sex marriage bill has a real shot at passage after a handful of Republicans indicated they would vote for it.

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The school board for Florida’s largest district is rescinding a decision made last week that rejected new sex education textbooks for middle and high school students. The debate over the sex education materials in Miami takes place as school districts and boards navigate a new landscape in Florida classrooms over what officials deem appropriate content. Miami-Dade County has 334,000 students and is the nation’s fourth-largest public school system. Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed new laws this year that prevent teachers from talking about gender identity and sexual orientation to third graders and younger and limiting how race can be discussed.

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The mayor of San Francisco announced a state of emergency Thursday over the growing number of monkeypox cases. The declaration allows officials to mobilize personnel and cut through red tape to get ahead of a public health crisis reminiscent of the AIDS epidemic that devastated San Francisco in the 1980s. Gay advocates had grown increasingly frustrated by what they called San Francisco’s lackluster response. The virus has so far largely affected men who have sex with men but can infect anyone. San Francisco has nearly a third of California's 800 cases. The emergency declaration takes effect Monday.

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The Michigan Supreme Court says the state’s anti-discrimination law covers sexual orientation, a victory for LGBTQ residents. The court says the word “sex” in Michigan’s key civil rights law applies to sexual orientation and not just gender. In 2019, Rouch World, an event center in Sturgis, declined to host a same-sex wedding, saying it conflicted with the owner’s religious beliefs. That same year, a hair-removal business declined to serve a transgender woman. Courts for years had said they were bound by past decisions that found sexual orientation wasn’t covered by the civil rights law.

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Former state House Minority Leader Themis Klarides was viewed by many Republican Party leaders as the GOP's best chance in years to defeat Democratic U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal in November. But since her endorsement at the state convention in May, she has come under fire from the conservative wing of her party, especially from Leora Levy, one of two primary challengers in the upcoming Aug. 9 primary election. That was evident during Tuesday nights' debate, where Levy said Klarides was better suited to run the Democratic primary rather than the Republican primary given her support for abortion rights. Klarides countered that she's the better candidate to defeat Blumenthal.

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