National News: November 2015

Two LGBT Murders Within 24 hours Leaves Community in ‘State of Emergency’

The incidents of murder among transgender women in the US continue to rise. Keisha Jenkins, 22 (left), was killed on a Philadelphia street on Oct. 6, after reportedly being assaulted by five or six men when she got out of a car. When Jenkins fell to the ground, someone fired two shots into her back. Jenkins is the 21st transgender or gender non-conforming murder victim in the US this year, and the 18th transgender woman of color to be killed.

Pedro Redding was arrested and charged with murder, conspiracy, and weapons charges, but police stopped short of calling it a hate crime, according to News One, Redding was allegedly known for committing robberies in the neighborhood where the shooting occurred.

Just one day earlier, on Oct. 5, a man was found shot dead on a street in the Palmer Park area of Detroit. The victim, Melvin 30, was wearing women’s clothing at the time of his murder, Fox News Detroit reported that he identified as a gay man who would “cross dress from time to time in order to make a living.”

So far this year, there have been 21 murders of transgender and gender non-conforming people, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP) – an advocacy group tracking such deaths. Transgender homicides have risen by 11% from the previous year.

Uniform Policy Changes Aims to Promote Acceptance
Students in Puerto Rico now have more freedom when deciding what to wear to school. As long as they are dressed in uniform, students can wear pants or skirts regardless of their gender without being punished. Education Secretary Rafael Roman said that the new regulation he recently signed is meant to be inclusive of gay, lesbian and transgender students, the Associated Press reported.

The US-territory has made significant changes within the past couple months to become more inclusive of LGBT people. In mid-July, the socially conservative island legalized same-sex marriage and Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla recently made executive orders that benefit LGBT communities, one of which allows transgender citizens the right to change the gender on their driver’s license.

HIV Vaccine Begins in Human Trials
robert_galloDr. Robert Gallo (right), the man who first proved that AIDS was triggered by the HIV virus more than 30 years ago, has a potential vaccine that began human testing in October, Science Alert reported. Gallo has been working on the vaccine for 15 years.

The first round of testing will involve 60 volunteers and only look at the safety and immune responses of the patients. Testing for effectiveness will come later.

Gay Family Featured in Soup Commercial
A new ad for Campbell Chicken Noodle Soup features two dads. In the 30-second spot, the dads are feeding their son a new Star Wars-themed soup while fighting over who gets to say Darth Vader’s famed “I am your father” line. The commercial is part of Campbell’s current “Made for Real, Real Life” campaign.

One Million Moms, a media watch group arm of the American Family Association, is calling for a boycott of the soup because the commercial “push[es] the LGBT agenda” by “glorifying this unnatural marriage.”

Man Claims He Lost Job at Catholic Home Because He’s Gay
A Virginia man says he was fired from the top job at a diocese-owned assisted living home because he’s gay and married to his partner of 30 years. John Murphy alleges the bishop of a local Catholic diocese forced his removal, and he filed a discrimination claim against the Catholic Diocese of Richmond with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission last month.

According to the Associated Press, Murphy said he had been told by the president of the home’s board of directors that his relationship wouldn’t be a problem, but he only served as executive director of the Saint Francis Home in Richmond for about a week before two deputies of Bishop Francis Xavier DiLorenzo told him that he was being fired because his marriage goes against church doctrine.

Rand Paul Says LGBT Discrimination Laws Are Unnecessary
rand-paulSen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and GOP presidential hopeful said the government shouldn’t step in to protect workers against anti-gay discrimination by their employers, arguing that such protections are unnecessary and would expose businesses to legal problems. Paul was speaking to students at Drake University in Des Moines. In 2013, Paul voted against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would make it illegal for employers to discriminate against LGBT workers.

Paul later explained his vote in a Courier-Journal op-ed, saying he did so in part to protect religious groups against “discrimination.” In the same op-ed, he said it is “offensive to compare the civil rights struggle of the 1960s to the issues associated with ENDA.”

Southern Baptist Leader Calls for Same-Sex Marriage Boycotts
Rev. Albert Mohler, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is urging Christians to not attend a same-sex wedding, even of their own child, because it signals “moral approval” of the union, in his new book.

He also contends that transgender people who are “saved” should consult with their pastors about whether to have surgery to return to their original gender.

By Rachel Roth

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