Gay rights activist accused of setting own home on fire

By : wire report
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JACKSON, Mich. | Michigan police say a transgender, gay rights activist tried to fabricate a hate crime by setting his home on fire.

Nikki Joly’s attorney, Daniel Barnett, says the evidence is circumstantial. The 54-year-old Joly was charged last year with first-degree arson in the August 2017 fire that killed five pets. The Detroit News reports that a hearing is scheduled for March 8.

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Commission poised to seek AG’s opinion on LGBT protections

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WARREN, Mich. (AP) | The Michigan Civil Rights Commission is poised to ask the new attorney general to reconsider her predecessor’s opinion that state law doesn’t protect LGBT people from discrimination.

The commission will decide Jan. 28 whether to make the request to Attorney General Dana Nessel at its scheduled meeting in the Detroit suburb of Warren.

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New Michigan, Wisconsin guvs sign orders against anti-LGBT bias

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Newly seated governors in Michigan and Wisconsin signed on Jan. 7 executive orders against anti-LGBT discrimination as among the first acts in their new roles.

In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order ED 2019-9, which bars discrimination against LGBT people in state employment, public services and state contracting.

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Murder charge filed in death of transgender woman

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DETROIT (AP) | Authorities say the transgender status of a woman played a role in her fatal shooting in Detroit.

Albert Weathers of Sterling Heights was charged Monday with murder in the death of Kelly Stough, who was found dead on a Detroit street Dec. 7.

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Gay rights lawyer, House speaker, indy candidate run for AG

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DETROIT (AP) | The three major candidates for Michigan attorney general have put criminals in prison during their law careers. But that’s where the parallels end.

Democrat Dana Nessel is best known for fighting to overturn Michigan’s ban on gay marriage. Tom Leonard, the Republican contender, is speaker of the House in Lansing. Chris Graveline is on the ballot as an independent.

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Former Michigan corrections officer sues over discrimination

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HOWELL, Mich. (AP)| A former Michigan corrections officer has sued the state Department of Corrections, alleging the agency discriminated against her based on sexual orientation and race.

Ashley Menchaca, who is Hispanic and gay, worked at Woodland Center Facility in Whitmore Lake from January 2016 until she resigned May 2017, the Livingston Daily Press & Argus reported. The original complaint was filed in March and then amended in June to list the corrections department as the sole defendant.

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Suit over Michigan gay couples denied adoptions can proceed

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DETROIT (AP) | A federal judge has declined to dismiss a lawsuit which says Michigan is illegally allowing faith-based groups to reject same-sex couples who want to adopt children or become foster parents.

U.S. District Judge Paul Borman said in an order issued Friday that the couples had successfully argued that the faith-based groups’ religious screening practices harmed them.

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Watermark’s Wedding Bells: Shiva and Randy Nataraj-Allen

By : Aaron Drake
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“I was vacationing in Trinidad [in the Caribbean],” Shiva Nataraj-Allen shares about when he first thought of marrying his now-husband Randy Nataraj-Allen. “I was having a tough time sleeping and really missed Randy. That’s when I knew he was the one. This was in October 2014; when I got back Randy said he couldn’t get me off his mind. The rest is history.”

“He was constantly on my mind, every moment of the day,” Randy says.

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Watermark’s Wedding Bells: Christopher Boldys and Kyle Rogers

By : Aaron Drake
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Sometimes you’ve got to put the “classic” into classically gay; that’s exactly what Christopher Boldys did when he proposed to his now-husband Kyle Rogers in May 2016. He popped the question at Tiffany’s in Manhattan.

Boldys and Rogers first met in June 2013 at a Starbucks in Royal Oak, Michigan. Both are from Metro Detroit and now live in their new home in Sarasota.

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Commission: Investigate LGBT complaints despite AG opinion

By : wire report
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LANSING, Mich. (AP)| The Michigan Civil Rights Commission on Monday directed an agency to continue investigating complaints of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, days after the state attorney general declared the basis for the probes to be invalid because state law does not protect LGBT people from discrimination.

The board reiterated its support for a statement, which it issued in May, interpreting the word “sex” in the state’s 1976 civil rights law to include sexual orientation and gender identity. Attorney General Bill Schuette, a Republican gubernatorial candidate, had issued an opinion Friday saying the commission overstepped.

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Fight brews with farmer who bars LGBTQ weddings at orchard

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EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A farmer wants the courts to step in after he was barred from a Michigan farmers market because he doesn’t allow gay couples to marry at his apple orchard.

The Lansing State Journal reports that a conservative Christian nonprofit is representing farmer Steve Tennes.

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Kansas governor signs ‘religious freedom’ anti-LGBTQ adoption law

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer has signed anti-LGBTQ adoption legislation making his state the latest to enact a “religious freedom” law enabling taxpayer-funded agencies to deny placement into LGBTQ homes.

Colyer signed the legislation, Senate Bill 284, into law on Friday, according to a local media report. The Washington Blade has placed a call in with Colyer’s office seeking confirmation that he signed the bill.

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