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    On Wednesday, April 17, the Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club held its election year endorsement meeting at the William Way Community Center. At that meeting, the LCDC voted on who to endorse in a variety of local races, including city council, city commissioner and various judgeships.
    The LCDC has spent the last several months researching the numerous candidates —a process that that included pouring over questionnaires candidates filled out delineating their positions on many of the issues important to the LGBTQ community. The last couple of weeks, the Club also hosted candidates’ nights, where the political hopefuls were invited to come and make their cases to the LCDC membership directly.
    This year, a record number of openly LGBTQ candidates are running for office, which made for some choices. While the Club perforce prioritizes openly LGBT candidates, being out does not grant a candidate a coveted LCDC endorsement automatically. The slate of issues LCDC inquires about is extensive, and one’s sexual orientation is only one factor considered. Also, prominent local politicians favored by the local Democratic Party organization are frequently passed over when the Club’s membership finds the candidate’s support of the LGBTQ community wanting.
    LCDC’s debate and voting process is private, open only to Club members, and not open to the press.
    One contest closely watched by the LGBTQ community was the battle between incumbent Councilman Kenyatta Johnson and challenger Lauren Vidas. LCDC endorsed Johnson over Vidas, in part, it was said, over concerns with the latter’s background as a paid lobbyist — a controversial decision that lead to a robust conversation among some of the Club's members.
    When asked about the controversial decision, Liberty City Co-Chair Alexander Olsen said, “Our endorsement committee puts many, many volunteer hours into choosing who they believe the best candidates are for office in the Philadelphia region, and have decades of experience with this responsibility. After reviewing the record, they chose to recommend that the general body endorse Vidas given her strong credentials and record of service to the community. But our endorsement committee does not have the final say. Given that we are a democratic organization, we make sure all endorsements are reviewed and voted upon by the membership. The membership voted three-to-one to endorse Kenyatta Johnson for the seat.”
    In the crowded City Council-at-large race, endorsements went to Deja Lynn Alvarez who got the nod over out candidate Adrian Rivera Reyes. “Adrian and Deja both have powerful life stories that would empower them to have successful careers in City Council,” said Olsen, explaining the rationale behind the decision. “That being said, Deja’s years of impassioned and effective service to the community are what pushed the endorsement committee in her direction,” she said.
     “We loved Adrian, and it was thrilling to have such a difficult decision before us, and are disappointed we did not have the ability to recommend more people. Although the organization did not endorse him, I will personally be voting for him.”
    Finally, for common please judge both out candidates, Henry Sias and Tiffany Palmer, were given endorsements — a decision that came without much controversy.

Here is the full list of Liberty City endorsements:

MAYOR: Jim Kenney

CITY COMMISSIONER: Lisa Deeley and Kahlil Williams

SHERIFF: Rochelle Bilal

COUNCIL AT LARGE: Deja Lynn Alvarez, Helen Gym, Erika Almirón, Derek Green, and Justin DiBerardinis

DISTRICT COUNCIL: Mark Squilla (1st District), Kenyatta Johnson (2nd District), and Maria D. Quiñones-Sánchez (7th District)

SUPERIOR COURT JUSTICE: Dan McCaffery

COMMON PLEAS JUDGE: Nicola Serianni, Wendi Barish, Anthony Kyriakakis, Henry Sias, and Tiffany Palmer

MUNICIPAL COURT JUDGE: David Conroy

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has approved legislation that would amend the state constitution to include specific protections for crime victims and their families.

The initiative was approved April 8 in a 190-8 vote and is headed for the state Senate Judiciary Committee, where it’s expected to receive a favorable vote. The full Senate is expected to approve the measure before it goes to voters on Nov. 5.

The amendment would enshrine within Pennsylvania’s constitution a “bill of rights” for crime victims, including the right to be notified of all court proceedings; to give input before a plea agreement is finalized; to be heard at sentencing and parole hearings; to receive financial restitution from the offender; and to regain personal belongings when they’re no longer needed as evidence.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court last week ordered the suspension of Dawn Segal’s law license for one year and a day.

Segal, an open lesbian, served as a municipal-court judge in Philadelphia for about six years until she was forced to leave the bench in 2016 due to improper conversations with another judge. The following year, she was permanently barred from holding judicial office.

Segal, 59, worked as a personal-injury attorney based in West Mount Airy after she was removed from the bench. The suspension of her law license goes into effect May 9.

Under state law, she can apply to the state Supreme Court for reinstatement. However, the reinstatement process is arduous and expensive, with no guarantee of success.

In a reversal of its decision, the Philadelphia Historical Commission voted to list a former bathhouse on the city’s Register of Historic Places.

This designation also is historic for another reason: It marks the first time that a building in Philadelphia will be listed, at least in part, because of a historical connection to the LGBTQ community.

The building once known as the Camac Baths sits on the southeast corner of Camac and Chancellor streets, between 12th and 13th streets, in the heart of the Gayborhood.

At the end of an overcast Friday afternoon, teens with rainbow stickers on their cheeks, advocate mothers with ‘X’s painted across their lips, city and state representatives filled with anger and pride, out principals and educators, and young LGBTQ student leaders gathered at the School District of Philadelphia Building for a welcoming party.

All were in attendance on North Broad’s District auditorium to usher in the long-awaited GLSEN Philly outpost (the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network), and its organization devoted to creating safe and inclusive spaces in schools for LGBTQ students. The School District of Philadelphia may have taken powerful steps to codify all the rights of gay, transgender and gender non-conforming student into official district policy; GLSEN helps ensure those steps and safeties are enacted.

A protester allegedly set off a fire alarm and evacuated a college hall as a prominent speaker was addressing the public.

University of the Arts student Joseph McAndrew organized a campus protest April 9 when Professor Camille Paglia was scheduled to speak.

McAndrew, a nonbinary film-writing and television major, said Paglia had insulted the transgender community and sexual-assault victims many times, citing a YouTube video in which Paglia questions the validity of sexual assault victims who do not report crimes immediately. Paglia is heard saying, “If a real rape was committed, go freakin’ report it to the police.”

McAndrew said, “I find that she’s been able to go about being controversial with little repercussions, especially lately.”

 A family in Southwest Philadelphia is mourning the loss of an 11-year-old who they say died by suicide after he and his brother faced constant bullying at their school.

Phillip Spruill Jr., a fifth grader at Benjamin B. Comegys Elementary, ended his life April 5 in his Bartram Village home.

Spruill’s grandmother, Linda Lash-Smith, 56, told PGN that her grandson wasn’t a model student. He was a fighter. He had been suspended 15 times between November and March because he was involved in physical altercations on school grounds — but she said he had to fight to defend himself and his younger brother, who was harassed and threatened for being too “effeminate.”

Sherrie Cohen has decided to drop out of the race for Philadelphia City Council-at-Large following a public disagreement between her campaign manager and fellow LGBTQ candidate Deja Lynn Alvarez.

On March 26, the campaign manager, Abdul-Aliy Muhammad, heckled Alvarez as she was speaking to a crowd of supporters at a Trans Day of Visibility rally at City Hall.

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.

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