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      News — lgbt

      WOW: If Mom and Dad Won’t Attend Your Same-sex Wedding, This Woman Will Take Their Place

      WOW: If Mom and Dad Won’t Attend Your Same-sex Wedding, This Woman Will Take Their Place

      “I’ll be your biggest fan. I’ll even bring the bubbles.”

      If your biological mother is not going to attend your same-sex wedding, this Oklahoma mom wants you to contact her.

      “Call me. I’m there. I’ll be your biggest fan. I’ll even bring the bubbles,” Sara Cunningham posted to Facebook in a “public service announcement” last week.

      The mom calls herself an “accidental activist” for LGBTQ kids, according to her Twitter bio; she is also the author of “How We Sleep at Night: A Mother’s Memoir.”

      In the book, readers hear the story of a Christian mother who “comes to terms with her son being gay through a personal journey that starts with the Church and ends at the Pride Parade,” according to the description on Amazon.

      The Oklahoma woman told CBS that she has been involved with the LGBTQ community since her son, Parker, told her he was gay — and it wasn’t easy for her to accept that at first.

      “I’m a woman of faith … We live in a conservative town,” Cunningham told CBS. “It sound bad to say it, but I felt like I had to chose between my child and faith.”

      She sought out information, NBC reported, and started attending an LGBTQ-affirming church.
      “It was my first interaction with the community that I was so alienated from by my own ignorance and my own fear … And I realized this was a beautiful community,” she told the station.

      She went back to the parade in 2015, CBS reported, but this time she wore a “Free Mom Hugs” button. She told CBS she would offer anyone a hug — and she left with glitter all over her, as well as with stories about family rejection that haunt her.

      Having heard those stories, Cunningham started “Free Mom Hugs,” which is now a group of “moms who love LGBTQ+ kids,” according to the Facebook page.

      “Everyone needs their mom,” she told NBC. “To deny that on the most important day of their lives is devastating. I wanted to make the day better.”

      Parker Cunningham posted to Facebook that he is proud of his mom.

      “Love is like wildfire,” he said. “I have been overwhelmed by the support and kindness of people all over the world who are watching this unfold!”


      Oregon Becomes First State to Offer Third-Gender Driver’s Licenses

      Oregon Becomes First State to Offer Third-Gender Driver’s Licenses

      A decision by Oregon’s Transportation Commission makes it the first state to allow residents to identify as “non-binary” — a third gender option beyond male or female.

      Starting in July, Oregonians can select M, F, or X as their gender on licenses and identification cards, The Oregonian reports. Applicants who want a new ID will pay fees for replacement or renewal.

      “There are daily interactions such as checking out at a grocery store, checking in at a doctor’s appointment — and an incorrect gender marker means the potential to be misgendered and have painful and very uncomfortable experiences at all of those stages,” J. Gibbons, a 26-year-old college counselor told Oregon Public Broadcasting.

      “I’m incredibly thrilled to be an Oregonian right now,” said Gibbons, who identifies as non-binary.

      The change follows a ruling last year by an Oregon judge that allowed Jamie Shupe, an Army veteran, to legally identify as non-binary. The decision was believed to be the first of its kind in the United States.

      “I very much plan to head to the nearest DMV and ask for that ID to be corrected on July 3rd,” Shupe told Reuters. “And then I’ll no doubt stand out front of the building, or sit in the car, and cry.”

      In considering the new rule for state IDs, the DMV listened to and read comments from people for and against the change. Only 12 opposed the change, the Oregonian reported. “People didn’t share their testimony,” Tom McClellan, the division administrator for the department, told the newspaper. “They shared their stories. They told us of their struggles so we would understand the need.”

      Gay couple forced to give up seats on Alaska Airlines flight to accommodate straight couple

      Gay couple forced to give up seats on Alaska Airlines flight to accommodate straight couple

      A man and his partner say they were forced to separate on an Alaska Airlines flight in order to accommodate a straight couple who wanted to sit together.

      Restaurant owner David Cooley took to Facebook over the weekend to explain his side of the story.

      He says he and his parter were flying from New York to Los Angeles. They had purchased two premium class seats next to each other. After settling into their assigned seats, a flight attendant approached.

      Cooley writes:

      My companion was asked to move from his premium seat to coach, so a [heterosexual] couple could sit together. I explained that we were a couple and wanted to sit together. He was given a choice to either give up the premium seat and move to coach or get off the plane. We could not bear the feeling of humiliation for an entire cross-country flight and left the plane.

      Cooley says he’s “never been so discriminated against while traveling before.”

      “I cannot believe that an airline in this day and age would give a straight couple preferential treatment over a gay couple and go so far as to ask us to leave,” he writes.

      So far, Cooley’s post has received over 100 comments and nearly 800 shares.

      In a statement, Alaska Airlines acknowledges that it did take place and that it’s looking into the matter:

      When boarding flight 1407 from JFK to LAX, a couple was mistakenly assigned the same seats as another couple in Premium Class. We reseated one of the guests from Premium Class in the Main Cabin. We are deeply sorry for the situation, and are investigating the details while communicating directly with the guests involved to try and make this right. Alaska Airlines has a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination of any kind, and our employees value inclusion for our guests and each other.

      The Trump administration will financially reward countries that oppress LGBTQ people

      The Trump administration will financially reward countries that oppress LGBTQ people

      Last week’s Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom was a religious right jamboree disguised as a State Department-sponsored event.

      So it’s not surprising that the meeting, which attracted representatives from more than 40 nations, was a handy opportunity for President Trump’s officials to let the world know that not only are they encouraging other countries to oppress their LGBTQ citizens, but that they will be rewarded for doing so.

      In his address to the gathering, Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, complained about the Obama administration’s dedication to LGBTQ rights overseas.

      ““Our US taxpayer dollars are used to discourage Christian values in other democratic countries. It was stunning to me that my government under a previous administration would go to folks in sub-Saharan Africa and say, ‘We know that you have a law against abortion, but if you enforce that law, you’re not going to get any of our money,’” Mulvaney told the audience.

      “‘We know you have a law against gay marriage, but if you enforce that law, we’re not going to give you any money.’”

      In fact, Mulvaney went one step further, asserting that protecting LGBTQ people was de facto oppression of Christians (or at least as he defines them).

      “That’s a different type of religious persecution,” Mulvaney said. “That is a different type of religious persecution that I never expected to see. I never expected to see that as an American Christian.”

      Mulvaney’s comments highlights the way that the religious right, of which Mulvaney is a full-throated supporter, insists that LGBTQ rights are a violation of religious freedom. In essence, human rights are a zero sum game, and Mulvaney wants to make sure that the LGBTQ community is on the receiving end of the zero.

      As Mulvaney made clear, African nations needn’t worry about LGBTQ rights issues under the Trump administration. President Obama had personally pressured African nations to protect their LGBTQ citizens, using money as a stick. The financial penalties are now gone, so countries can do as they wish.

      Countries with a history of LGBTQ oppression were quick to jump on the change in policy. Media in Kenya declared that the Trump administration “agress with President Kenyatta’s view on gay rights.” Kenyatta has declared that LGBTQ rights are “of no importance in Kenya.”

      The country is notorious for considering implementing capital punishment for gay men and has been cheered on in its crackdowns by American religious right figures.

      The administration’s green light to attacks on LGBTQ rights is entirely in keeping with its past actions. After all, President Trump’s affinity for Russian president Vladimir Putin has been a green light for continue violence against LGBTQ people in that country and neighboring Chechnya.

      The difference between Russian and African nations is that using financial aid as a cudgel is much more effective for the latter. Now that it’s gone, you can expect the violence against LGBTQ people to increase.

      They may try to flee the country as a result of the policy change, but because of another policy change, they’re likely out of luck: the Trump administration is also no longer interested in granting LGBTQ people political asylum in the U.S. even if they’re lives are in danger.

      Hundreds showed up for the funeral of the boy tortured & killed because parents thought he was gay

      Hundreds showed up for the funeral of the boy tortured & killed because parents thought he was gay

      When Anthony Avalos died, the 10-year-old boy had endured years of physical abuse and had come out as gay just before he was killed.

      The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department responded to a 911 call at Avalos’s home and were told by his mother Heather Barron that the child had “suffered injuries from a fall.”

      He had severe head injuries and cigarette burns on his body, and his mother and her boyfriend, Kareem Leiva, had been reported numerous times for child abuse. The boy was unresponsive and taken to the hospital, where he died a day later.

      While social workers and law enforcement failed Avalos repeatedly and the boy died alone defending himself from his parents, hundred of mourners attended the child’s funeral to show respect and frustration.

      Mourners wore Superman capes and Batman t-shirts to honor the fallen superhero.

      “With everything going on, with what he was going through, he was always smiling,” his uncle, David Barron, told the Los Angeles Times. “It just shows what kind of kid he was.”

      The L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services investigated 88 claims of abuse at Avalos’ home. At least 13 calls, according to an anonymous source who spoke with the Times, were about the boy specifically, not one of his six siblings.

      A 2013 investigation also concluded that he was sexually abused by a grandparent.

      DCFS Director Bobby Cagle said that the reports included accusations that the child and his siblings were denied food and water, sexually abused, beaten, dangled upside-down from a staircase, forced to crouch for hours, locked in a small room without a bathroom, forced to fight, and told to eat from the trash.

      A makeshift memorial of stuffed animals, candles, and notes still stands outside the apartment complex where Avalos died. “A hurt child is everyone’s business! Do your job!” a poster highlighted by the Times reads.

      At Avalos’ funeral, the minister reminded mourners that people often comfort each other by saying, the deceased is “in a better place.”

      “Lancaster is a really good place to be a growing 10-year-old kid,” Rev. Fr. Leo Dechant said. “He shouldn’t have to go to heaven to be nurtured … to not be abused.”

      His mother, Heather Barron, has been arrested and charged with murder, torture, and child abuse resulting in death. Her boyfriend, Kareem Leiva, was arrested separately and is being held on $2 million bond.