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AIDS foundations seek to end epidemic in South The Elton John AIDS Foundation, the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, and the Aileen Getty Foundation have announced they are joining forces to award an expanded series of grants aimed at “ending the AIDS epidemic in the Southern United States.” In an April 9 statement, officials with the three foundations said they would be awarding grants for $625,000 each to 12 organizations that would seek to end, among other things, the disproportionate impact of AIDS in the South on young people and communities of color. “We’re thrilled to have the Aileen Getty Foundation join our existing partners at The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, making this one of the largest philanthropic partnerships addressing AIDS in the Southern United States,” said Elton John AIDS Foundation Chair David Furnish. “By bringing particular focus on the needs and aspirations of young people and communities of color, and by delivering support to community-rooted organizations that have been engaging the epidemic for years, this partnership has incredible potential to reduce transmissions, improve quality of life, and speed the South’s progress toward an AIDS-free generation,” Furnish said. Among the projects the grants will support, according to a statement released by the Elton John AIDS Foundation, are a “welcoming, affirming, and safe center for LGBTQ youth” in Birmingham, Ala.; “comprehensive and LGBTQ-inclusive youth wellness services” in Corpus Christie, Texas; “HIV-specific services, including pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis education” in Memphis, Tenn.; and “expanded mobilization and advocacy programs for LGBTQ youth of color” in Atlanta, Ga. “Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation is once again extremely honored and humbled to be on the forefront of a transformative HIV response in the U.S. south in concert with Elizabeth Taylor’s dear friend, Elton John, and family member, Aileen Getty,” said Joel Goldman, managing director of the Taylor Foundation. LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Pompeo grilled over anti-LGBT statements during hearing Mike Pompeo last week during his confirmation hearing to become the next secretary of state faced questions about his previous anti-LGBT statements. Pompeo reaffirmed his opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples when U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) asked about a 2015 speech in which he cited a prayer from an antigay preacher that described homosexuality as a “perversion” and an “alternative lifestyle.” Pompeo also did not directly answer Booker’s question about whether he thinks “being gay is a perversion.” “My respect for every individual, regardless of their sexual orientation, is the same,” Pompeo told Booker and other members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. President Trump last month nominated Pompeo — who is the current CIA director — to succeed then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after he fired him. Pompeo represented Kansas’ 4th Congressional District from 2011-2017. Pompeo opposed the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” He also co-sponsored a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives that would have allowed states to refuse to recognize the marriages of gays and lesbians. Pompeo also has longstanding ties to the Family Research Council, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has classified as a hate group. The Human Rights Campaign and Lambda Legal are among the dozens of LGBT and civil rights organizations that have come out against Pompeo’s nomination because of his previous statements against homosexuality, marriage rights for same-sex couples, Muslims and other issues. “We had a terrible fellow in Kansas named Fred Phelps,” Pompeo told Booker in response to a question about his previous statements against Muslims. “I called him out.” Pompeo told Booker that he treated married gay couples at the CIA “with the exact same set of rights.” Pompeo also said to U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen that he has “honored and valued every CIA officer, regardless” of their sexual orientation, race, religion, etc. “I treat each and everyone of our officers with respect,” Pompeo told Shaheen. “I promise I will do that as secretary of state.” MICHAEL K. LAVERS

David Buckel Photo Courtesy of Lambda Legal

Former Lambda Legal attorney dies after setting self on fire LGBT rights advocates are mourning the sudden death of the former director of Lambda Legal’s Marriage Project. The New York Times reported David Buckel, 60, set himself on fire in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, N.Y., early Saturday morning. Media accounts indicate Buckel, who had become an environmental activist after he left Lambda Legal in 2008, left a suicide note near the area in which his remains were found. Buckel also emailed a copy of it to the New York Times and other media outlets. “Pollution ravages our planet, oozing inhabitability via air, soil, water and weather,” wrote Buckel in his email the New York Times said it received from him. “Most humans on the planet now breathe air made unhealthy by fossil fuels, and many die early deaths as a result — my early death by fossil fuel reflects what we are doing to ourselves.” Buckel was the lawyer who represented the plaintiffs in a lawsuit that paved the way for same-sex marriage in New Jersey. He also championed the filing of a similar lawsuit in Iowa in 2005. Lambda Legal in a press release notes Buckel helped the organization “create” its focus on LGBT youth, which included its work to secure a landmark federal court ruling that said school administrators have an obligation to stop anti-gay bullying. Buckel also represented the mother of Brandon Teena, a transgender man who was murdered in Nebraska in 1993. The Nebraska Supreme Court in 2001 ruled a county sheriff did not do enough to protect Teena after he testified against the men who raped him before his death. Buckel also represented James Dale, who challenged the Boy Scouts of America’s policy of banning openly gay scouts and troop leaders. The New Jersey Supreme Court ruled in favor of Dale, but the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000 overturned the decision. The Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board in 2015 voted to end its organization’s ban on openly gay leaders. The organization two years earlier began to admit openly gay scouts. “David was an indefatigable attorney and advocate, and also a dedicated and loving friend to so many,” said Lambda Legal Director of Constitutional Litigation Camilla Taylor, who is also the organization’s acting legal director, in a statement. “He will be remembered for his kindness, devotion and vision for justice.” MICHAEL K. LAVERS

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