A Hagerstown man accused of killing the transgender sister of NBA player Reggie Bullock was acquitted by a jury of all counts Thursday afternoon, prosecutors and his defense attorney confirmed.

Shawn Oliver, 46, had been charged in 2015 with first degree murder in the July 2014 stabbing death of 26-year-old Mia Henderson in West Baltimore, after police said DNA found under Henderson's fingerprints was matched to Oliver.

But at trial, his defense attorney Isabel Lipman blasted the state's case, saying Oliver had consensual sex with Henderson, previously known as Kevin Long, the night before she was found dead and then drove back to Hagerstown. She said phone records showed Oliver's phone in Hagerstown while Henderson was still alive.

Assistant State's Attorney Charles Fitzpatrick said the time of death was unknown.

Lipman called the case a "false prosecution" and said it was "pointless" and "cruel" given the evidence.

"I don't know why this is going on," she told jurors. "I don't know why you're here, why he's here."

Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby said in a statement that her "heart goes out to the family and friends of Mia Henderson, as well as the entire lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community."

"As prosecutors, we can never guarantee the outcome of a case, but we do guarantee is to work tirelessly to bring forth the strongest case possible," she said.

Lipman confirmed the verdict but declined to comment.

Oliver will not be released from custody following his acquittal — he is serving a 10-year sentence after pleading guilty to a drug charge in Washington County in 2015.

 AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A federal judge in Texas has ordered a halt to another Obama administration effort to strengthen transgender rights, this time over health rules that social conservatives say could force doctors to violate their religious beliefs.

 

U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor on Saturday granted a temporary injunction that stops federal health officials from enforcing rules that are intended to ban discrimination by doctors and hospitals against transgender persons.

O'Connor wrote in a 46-page ruling that the rules "likely violate" the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

O'Connor is the same judge who sided with Republican-controlled states earlier this year over transgender protections in public schools sought by the Obama administration. That lawsuit centered on a federal directive requiring schools to let transgender students use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity.

The lawsuit in which O'Connor issued the injunction Saturday contends that the rules, which were finalized in May, could force doctors to help with gender transition contrary to their religious beliefs or medical judgment. Transgender rights advocates called that a far-fetched hypothetical, saying a person would not approach a doctor who lacked suitable experience and expertise.

Joining Texas in the lawsuit were Wisconsin, Kentucky, Nebraska and Kansas, along with the Christian Medical and Dental Association and Franciscan Alliance, an Indiana-based network of religious hospitals.

The Obama administration finalized the regulations around the time it issued its directive to public schools regarding transgender students. Thirteen states signed on to fight that directive, including three involved in the latest lawsuit, and won a temporary injunction in August from U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor.

North Carolina lawmakers will meet Wednesday for a special session to consider eliminating the state’s so-called “bathroom bill,” clearing the way for legislators to potentially drop a highly criticized measure that prompted lawsuits and cost the state jobs and tourism dollars.

 This announcement came not long after the city of Charlotte abandoned a nondiscrimination ordinance Monday that helped spark the controversial statewide law, which put North Carolina at the center of a heated national debate over transgender rights.

North Carolina’s governor-elect, Roy Cooper (D), said Monday that because of Charlotte’s actions, state lawmakers would call a special session to vote on repealing the measure known as House Bill 2 (or “H.B. 2″).

The bill is best-known for its provisions restricting which restrooms transgender people can use, but it also reversed local ordinances expanding protections for LGBT people and limited some minimum-wage standards. When the Justice Department and North Carolina filed dueling lawsuits over the bill earlier this year, U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said the fight was “about a great deal more than just bathrooms.”

In a video message Monday evening, Gov. Pat McCrory (R) said he would call the special session for Wednesday. McCrory, a former Charlotte mayor who conceded to Cooper this month, again criticized his opponents, who he said had fueled the entire debate.

“The sudden reversal with little notice after the gubernatorial election has ended sadly proves this entire issue originated by the political left was all about politics at the expense of Charlotte and the entire state of North Carolina,” he said.

McCrory and other elected officials in North Carolina who had backed the bill said it was needed to combat “government overreach” in Charlotte and protect women, comments they continued pressing on Monday. Opponents said H.B. 2 amounted to state-sanctioned discrimination, and it was criticized by a host of business groups as well as civil rights organizations.

[‘Not about bathrooms’: Critics decry North Carolina law’s lesser-known elements]

Cooper had said in a statement Monday morning that the Republican legislative leadership had “assured me that as a result of Charlotte’s vote, a special session will be called” to repeal H.B. 2. He praised the move to get rid of the law, which he said would “bring jobs, sports and entertainment events back and will provide the opportunity for strong LGBT protections in our state.”

The head of the Human Rights Campaign said Cooper told them he had worked out a deal with state lawmakers to scrap the bathroom bill. A spokesman for Cooper did not respond to messages seeking comment Monday.

The top Republicans in the North Carolina legislature — Sen. Phil Berger, the president pro tempore of the state Senate, and Rep. Tim Moore, speaker of the House — sharply denounced Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts and Cooper on Monday. They had particularly harsh words for Cooper, calling him “dishonest and disingenuous” in attempting “to take credit” for a possible vote on repealing the measure.

“Today Roy Cooper and Jennifer Roberts proved what we said was the case all along: their efforts to force men into women’s bathrooms and shower facilities was a political stunt to drive out-of-state money into the governor’s race,” Berger and Moore said in a joint statement.

“For months, we’ve said if Charlotte would repeal its bathroom ordinance that created the problem, we would take up the repeal” of H.B. 2, they continued. “Roy Cooper is not telling the truth about the legislature committing to call itself into session — we’ve always said that was Gov. McCrory’s decision, and if he calls us back, we will be prepared to act.”

Rep. Larry Hall, the House Democratic leader, said he believes political opposition to the bathroom bill has reached critical mass and could spur a vote to repeal it.

Hall pointed out that Democrats managed to knock off four state House Republicans, although North Carolina Republicans also defeated Democrats elsewhere and won other seats, which meant Republicans kept their supermajorities in the legislature.

“A lot of the damage has been done,” Hall said, referencing companies that opted to scrap plans to expand in the state. “We’ll never get those jobs back and those opportunities back. At least it stops the bleeding if we do this now, so that we can be competitive again.”

State lawmakers hastily passed H.B. 2 in March, following quickly on the heels of Charlotte passing its own ordinance a month earlier. The measure prompted intense anger and opposition, and businesses including PayPal and Deutsche Bank abandoned plans to expand into the state with hundreds of jobs.

Musicians including Bruce Springsteen canceled concerts, while the NBA and NCAA relocated games scheduled to be played in the state. Investors spoke out against the law, which tourism groups said was costing the state significant amounts of money. One estimate, published by Forbes, said the state lost more than $600 million in business due to the bill.

It was not immediately clear what impact the movement would have on the ongoing legal fights over the bill, although presumably a repeal would end those lawsuits. The Justice Department declined to comment about whether it would abandon its lawsuit if the bill is repealed. The American Civil Liberties Union, another group challenging the measure in federal court, said it would only know what will happen to its lawsuit once the legislature repeals H.B. 2.

[North Carolina, Justice Dept. file dueling lawsuits over transgender rights]

In a statement Monday, the city of Charlotte said its council “recognizes the ongoing negative economic impact resulting from the passage of the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance and the state’s House Bill 2.”

City officials left no doubt they were acting specifically to prompt state lawmakers to act on H.B. 2. The Charlotte City Council voted Monday morning to remove its nondiscrimination ordinancefrom the city code, and in its statement, Charlotte “urges the state to follow immediately with a repeal of House Bill 2

The council voted 10-0 to pass the resolution repealing the ordinance, with one member absent, a city spokeswoman said. However, the repeal resolution includes language stating that it will become invalid if H.B. 2 is not “repealed in its entirety by December 31, 2016.”

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts, who has previously said the city would not repeal the ordinance, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

[Federal judge says UNC can’t enforce North Carolina’s transgender bathroom restrictions]

“Governor-elect Cooper has briefed us on a deal he brokered with state lawmakers to reach a complete and total repeal” of H.B. 2, Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement. H.B. 2 “is precisely why North Carolinians went to the polls and ousted Governor McCrory last month. It’s time to chart a new course guided by the state’s values of dignity and respect, not discrimination and hate — and to ensure nondiscrimination protections exist in cities, towns and across the state of North Carolina.”

While the ACLU of North Carolina is “encouraged” that H.B. 2 could be repealed, “it never should have come at the cost of protections for LGBT people living in Charlotte,” said Sarah Gillooly, policy director for the group. Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, echoed that, calling it disappointing “that Charlotte’s commonsense ordinance was repealed to get the General Assembly to even consider a full repeal” of H.B. 2.

“Completely repealing [H.B. 2] is only the first step lawmakers must take to repair the harm they have done to their own constituents,” Keisling said in a statement. “Even after it is repealed, there will be a long way to go.”

As attorney general, Cooper was a vocal opponent of H.B. 2 and refused to defend it. The possible movement on H.B. 2 comes as Cooper and Republican lawmakers are facing off in a bitter, high-profile post-election fight over how much power he will actually get to exert when he takes the governor’s mansion.

Republicans in the state have introduced and quickly passed bills that would limit his power, including curtailing his influence in the courts and requiring state Senate approval for Cabinet picks. Cooper has blasted these moves as “unprecedented” and “ominous,” while his opponents have argued they are putting in place needed reforms meant to let them enact checks and balances. The governor-elect has threatened legal action, vowing: “They will see me in court.”

 

 

by Danielle Bergan

I’m sitting at my computer, just home from work at the restaurant, gathering my thoughts as this month of November 2016 comes to an end. Though I am tired right now, this month needs to be written about, needs to be documented. In the words of the Grateful Dead, “What a long, strange trip its been.

Ever since the election of our 45th President, Donald Trump, I have been existing in a vortex of shock, anger, compassion, realization, and fear. It reminds me of a turbulent storm that stays with you, either on top of you in fury and rage or allowing you to remain in the calm eye, just long enough to catch your breath.

The one shred of normalcy that I have been clinging to is my sobriety and my gratitude. I made 15 years clean and sober on the 12th, no small feat for this drunk and drug addict like me. My tribe in recovery has allowed me sanity in a sea of insanity; given me strength and courage to stand up to the fear and oppression which encompasses my LGBTQ community across our nation. It has provided a base of normalcy in a world gone mad with white power, hatred of immigrants (especially Muslims), people of color and of course, women. Without it I’d be finished, done, gone never to return. But, I am not!!!

I am grateful for the thousands of strong, men , women and children who are transgender, gay , lesbian or gender non-conformant. We have gained so much in the past 10 years and will fight to keep the rights we have. In the face of virtually every appointment by President-elect Trump is a person with an anti-LBGTQ agenda. They would just see us dead and gone rather than deal with us. But Honey, I can assure you, we will not go quietly into the night!

We are preparing, day by day, to stand up in the face of any oppression this new Administration might throw at us. We will also stand with all the women of the country who face the possible reversal of Roe vs Wade. We hold firm with people of color because Black lives do matter, women’s lives matter, LGBTQ lives matter and immigrants’ lives matter! We will support our Muslim brothers and sisters at every turn, because they are citizens of the U.S. like us, with the same inalienable rights any citizen has. They may try to force them on to a list but liberal bastions of freedom from New York to L.A., San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, and Chicago will be safe havens for all our groups.

Yes God, I am grateful. Grateful to be a nicotine free, clean and sober transgender woman, in her 60s, ready to stand and fight for all I believe that is right and kind and good with this great Nation and this world.

So be on notice President-elect Trump, Vice President-elect Pense, Treasury Sec Steve Munchkin, Transportation Sec Elaine Chao, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Education Secretary Betsy DeVOs, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, Secretary of Housing and Human Development, Ben Carson, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, National Security adviser Michael Flynn, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Chief Strategist Steve, Alt right, Bannon and whoever else is named. Together our minorities are a large part of this country and we are already lined up for a fight.

Just wait to all those working folks who voted for Trump to realize they have been had. There will not be full employment for you, there will not be health insurance for you and there will not be lower taxes either. The orange faced guy has gas lighted you.

So, going into this December, I am likely more alive spiritually, and soulfully than I have ever been in my 63 years on the planet. While the horizon to many in this great Nation seems dark and obscure, in a way, perhaps Donald Trump has made America great again. I believe he has awakened the spirit of freedom of oppression that our founding fathers fought for some 250 years ago. Different time but the same scenario. Bring it on Donald! We are ready!

This semester, Binghamton University introduced the LGBTQ Center on campus, providing an educational and social resource for those within the community, as well as their allies. According to Kelly Clark, the LGBTQ Center director, “the purpose is to support LGBTQ students, faculty and staff in their success on campus.”

Besides providing a safe space and relevant programming, the Center is also a resource for those dealing with domestic violence.

It has been found that domestic violence occurs in the same rates in same-sex relationships as it does in straight relationships.

Domestic violence in same-sex relationships seems to stem from the relationship models that are common in U.S. culture.

“I think that part of the reason we see same-sex domestic violence is because the relationships that we know and are aware of tend to be male-female with a dominating male,” Clark said. “Other relationships may tend to mimic that kind of relationship because that is what we know.”

However, the ways that individuals dictate the power and control in their LGBTQ relationship are different than those in a straight relationship. A unique threat present in same-sex relationships is that of being outed by an abusive partner.

“Imagine a young person gets to college and develops a relationship with someone they meet and all of a sudden, in an abusive cycle, the person says, ‘If you don’t do what I say, I’m going to call home and tell your mom that you’re gay and I’m your boyfriend,’” Clark said. “If you have not come out to your family, this would be scary and make you feel forced to stay in the relationship.”

For individuals who are transgender, one partner may withhold hormones from the other, disrupting their routine in order to maintain control. Alternately, if someone identifies as a transgender woman, their partner may withhold their razor to keep them from shaving their facial hair.

“Because of this othering in society, when people are made to feel less than, broken, psychotic — ‘There is something wrong with you,’ ‘We need to pray away the gay’ [or] ‘We need to send you to counseling,’ abusers play into that as well,” Clark said. “They feed into insecurities.”

Although the ways in which a partner is abusive in LGBTQ relationships are different from those in heterosexual relationships, the abuse revolves around the same central theme.

“[It] is still definitely based on power and control,” Clark said. “I always try to tell people love is an action verb, not a feeling. It is a behavior.”

The LGBTQ Center is a safe space for students to disclose information. Clark says the Center is a place of support for any student who wants to come in and discuss what is going on and what support is available for them.

“It is so hard to get up the courage to come in, but the research is pretty clear,” Clark said. “Violence on its own doesn’t get better. It typically gets worse. We know that there is a cycle of abuse, then a make-up period, then abuse again. What we see is that over time it becomes more intense. We are here to support you to help you overcome this.”

The LGBTQ Center on campus is located LS-G549, in the ground floor of Bartle Library. Its hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday. For immediate help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

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