Social media provides fuel for Jussie Smollett story

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CHICAGO (AP) | The story Jussie Smollett told police had it all: racism, homophobia, politics, celebrity — all tied up with a hangman’s noose. There was no question the news coverage was going to be massive.

In many ways, that coverage is an object lesson in the foibles of modern reporting. The story showed where news outlets teeter on the line between driving social media and being driven by it, between healthy skepticism and cautious credulity.

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Chicago police: Jussie Smollett assault case has ‘shifted’

By : wire report
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CHICAGO (AP) | Chicago police said Saturday the investigation into the assault reported by Jussie Smollett has “shifted” due to information received from two brothers questioned in the case, and attorneys for the “Empire” actor blasted reports alleging he played a role in his own attack.

Chicago police had arrested, then released the two Nigerian brothers without charges late Feb. 15 and said they were no longer suspects in the attack.

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ICE confirms 45 transgender women being held at Texas detention center

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement confirmed to the Washington Blade that it is currently housing 45 transgender women at a privately-run detention center in Texas.

Danielle Bennett on Feb. 5 said the trans women are being held at the South Texas Detention Complex in Pearsall, Texas. The GEO Group, a Florida-based company, operates the facility that is roughly 60 miles southwest of San Antonio.

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Harris takes ‘full responsibility’ for briefs against surgery for trans inmates

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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In her first news conference after announcing her 2020 presidential run, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said she takes “full responsibility” for legal briefs as California attorney general seeking to deny gender reassignment surgery for transgender inmates and called for a “better understanding” of needs — medical or otherwise— for transgender people.

Harris made the comments during a news conference Jan. 21 at Howard University in D.C. in response to a question from the Washington Blade, asking her about representing the California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation in seeking to deny gender reassignment surgery prescribed to two transgender inmates in the California state prison system.

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Warren’s newfound support for surgery for trans inmates could impact 2020 race

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Transgender advocates cheered Elizabeth Warren for coming out in favor of transgender inmates having access to gender reassignment surgery, which could potentially raise it as an issue for 2020 presidential candidates.

Warren’s new view reverses a position she stated in 2012 in opposition to access to the transition-related care for inmates. Even thought it took seven years for Warren to change her position and she only did so after she declared her intention to run for president, transgender rights supporters welcomed her evolution and newfound position.

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Three US senators seek documents in death of Roxsana Hernández

By : Michael K. Lavers OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Three U.S. senators on Dec. 5 called upon the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection to release documents related to the case of a transgender Honduran woman with HIV who died in their custody.

The letter that U.S. Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) sent to Acting ICE Director Ronald Vitiello and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan notes Roxsana Hernández, 33, died in ICE custody on Nov. 25. The letter also highlights Hernández, who was part of a 300-person caravan that traveled to the U.S. border earlier this year, was taken into custody by Border Patrol on May 9 when she asked for asylum at the San Ysidro Port of Entry south of San Diego.

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Harris, Carper introduce bill to include LGBT questions on U.S. Census

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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In the wake of the Trump administration’s decision not to allow Americans to identify as LGBT on the U.S. Census, two Democratic senators have introduced legislation that would require those questions in major federal surveys.

Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) announced on Tuesday they had introduced in the U.S. Senate the Census Equality Act, which would begin the process of adding questions allowing respondents to identify their sexual orientation and gender identity in both the decennial U.S. Census and the annual American Community Survey.

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Trump’s gay nominee Ric Grenell confirmed as ambassador to Germany

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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The U.S. Senate confirmed Richard Grenell on Thursday as U.S. ambassador to Germany, making him the most high-profile openly gay appointee in the Trump administration.

Grenell — who has faced Democratic opposition for months over mean tweets he made about the appearance of women and other comments downplaying the significance of Russia’s influence in the 2016 election — was confirmed by a largely party line vote of 56-42.

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Dems seen as caving after agreeing to end gov’t shutdown

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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ABOVE: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) was seen to cave after Senate Democrats agreed to end the U.S.
government shutdown. Washington Blade photo by Michael Key.

Democrats are widely viewed as having caved on their pledge to fight for young, undocumented immigrants to remain in the country, after agreeing to end a U.S. government shutdown shortly after supporting it.

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Senate Dems urge DOJ to reinstate trans protections under Title VII

By : Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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A group of 44 Senate Democrats led by Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.) urged the Justice Department on Thursday to reinstate its interpretation of existing civil rights law to prohibit anti-transgender discrimination.

In a letter dated Nov. 2, the Senate Democrats insist Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination in the workplace, also applies to discrimination against transgender workers.

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Clinton, Harris urge HRC supporters to ‘rise’ against Trump

By : Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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It wasn’t the Human Rights Campaign National Dinner that attendees anticipated a year ago.

Hopes were high that Hillary Clinton would be elected president and lead the way on advancing LGBT rights in the United States and around the world. Instead, Donald Trump is president and LGBT rights supporters are seeking to oppose his administration’s efforts to compromise rights for the LGBT community.

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Kamala Harris emerges as LGBT favorite for 2020 — there’s just one thing

By : Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) was likely chosen as a featured speaker at Saturday’s Human Rights Campaign National Dinner because she’s quickly becoming a favorite in the LGBT community among potential 2020 Democratic presidential contenders.

To recognize her popularity among LGBT people, just find the animated picture of Harris making the rounds on Facebook at the Senate dais brushing her hair back, clasping her hands and blinking her eyes wearily as she’s cut off during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing. Also check out the widely shared video of her exchange with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions about his Russian connections, which left the Trump official muttering he felt “nervous” under questioning from the U.S. Senate’s only black female senator.

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