National News

When Katie Sgarro started AsylumConnect with cofounder Sy, they were seniors at the University of Pennsylvania, it was September 2016, and Barack Obama was President.

Launched as the first online resource database for LGBTQ people seeking asylum in the United States, AsylumConnect offers a searchable catalog of necessities, from legal help to housing, food and other forms of aid for those legally unable to work in the early stages of the asylum process.

Two notorious right-wing operatives, Fox News pundit Jacob Wohl and lobbyist Jack Burkman, have been revealed as the masterminds behind a plot targeting Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg with a campaign to damage his standing in the polls.

Burkman and Wohl are alleged to have recruited gay Republican men in an effort to implicate Buttigieg of sexual assault. The plan was devised to help President Trump’s reelection campaign against the openly gay mayor of South Bend, Ind., who has become a media sensation in just a couple months. Burkman and Wohl viewed Buttigieg as a threat to Trump’s chances.

In what’s being called a major victory for LGBTQ people, Bethany Christian Services says it will comply with a legal settlement prohibiting adoption agencies with state contracts in Michigan from turning away same-sex couples.

Bethany, an international adoption and foster-care agency based in Grand Rapids, has branches in 16 cities in the state, as well as branches in 36 other states and the District of Columbia. Bethany has branches throughout Pennsylvania, including in Philadelphia.

Boy’s drag performance at Ohio bar prompts lawmaker’s action


The Toledo Blade reports the drag queen performance of a 9-year-old boy at a bar outside Ohio’s capital city has prompted a state legislator to propose a law aimed at closing what he says is a, “loophole in child exploitation laws.”

When Stormé DeLarverie died at age 93 on May 24, 2014, it was a mere month before the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion. Now the 50th approaches. The New York Times’ obituary of DeLarverie noted, she “threw the first punch” at the police who were harassing patrons of the Stonewall Inn in New York’s Greenwich Village in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, though this has not been confirmed. 

Morehouse College to take transgender students

CNN reports the country’s only all-male historically black college will begin admitting transgender men next year.

The move marks a major shift for Morehouse College at a time when higher education institutions around the nation are adopting more welcoming policies toward LGBTQ students.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, unofficially known as the Mormon Church, made an about-face on an issue concerning the children of same-sex couples: baptism, reversing a 2015 policy.

The Church announced that at the 189th Annual General Conference on April 4, first counselor in the First Presidency Dallin Oaks “outlined a new policy.”

Effective immediately, “Children of parents who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender may be baptized without First Presidency approval if the custodial parents give permission for the baptism, and understand both the doctrine that a baptized child will be taught and the covenants he or she will be expected to make.”

All charges were dropped against Jussie Smollett, the black, openly gay actor who was charged with filing a false police report about being the victim of a hate crime in January.

Yet, despite that ruling on March 29, neither outgoing Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel nor Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson is ready to let the case go.

Despite Smollett’s unwavering assertion that he was indeed attacked and did not stage the incident himself, Emanuel has spoken out repeatedly against the actor and demanded Smollett pay the city $130,000 to cover the cost of the investigation including police overtime pay.

Another hearing on the Equality Act was held April 9 on Capitol Hill before the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services. Sarah Warbelow, Legal Director of HRC testified, as did mothers of gay, lesbian and transgender children.

Warbelow identifies as bisexual and is “the proud parent of a transgender daughter.” She said she was “testifying on behalf of HRC’s three million members and supporters. The overarching message is straightforward and self-evident: discrimination shouldn’t triumph over an individual’s freedom to be themselves.”

The legal director explained the links between the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Equality Act and said, “The Equality Act builds on the legacy of the civil rights statutes that have made America a stronger nation that recognizes diversity as an asset.”

In a victory for LGBTQ employees at the U.S. Department of Justice, Attorney General William Barr ordered the FBI and the Bureau of Prisons to investigate allegations of discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer employees within the department and affiliate agencies.

Barr made the announcement in a letter released April 5. The order is an immediate response to a series of requests from an LGBT group.

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