aroundtheregion

North Dakota
*Vice offers a first person, in-depth report on being gay on the Bakken oil fields:

Attitudes are shifting, but the state’s socially conservative heritage still looms large. Same-sex relationships are often intensely private—if not wholly covert—affairs, and LGBT-friendly spaces remain exasperatingly limited. Online platforms like Grindr provide a means for some gay workers in the area to connect with one another. But the sorts of fleeting and—for the most part—one-on-one interactions they enable don’t do much to break the overall sense of solitude.
The closet is still a major institution in the Bakken. Over the course of a week in North Dakota, I spoke to more than a dozen workers in a similar situation. Some are in the closet for fear of losing their jobs. Others figure the risk of creating friction at the workplace isn’t worth their peace of mind.

Iowa
*The Westboro Baptist Church has been touring Iowa with anti-LGBT and anti-America messages, but it skipped one stop on its tour. High school students demonstrated against hate anyway, the Des Moines Register reports:

Westboro Baptist Church members didn’t show up for their planned picket Monday outside East High School in Des Moines, but that didn’t stop hundreds of high school students from forming a counter-protest.
About seven members of the controversial group picketed at the Iowa State Capitol building as part of their “Iowa Flag Stomp Tour,” but none showed up for the second hour-long planned protest at the high school on East 13th Street. A Westboro representative said she didn’t know why the group called off the second protest.

*Iowa State Daily, in an editorial, called on the U.S. Supreme Court to rule in favor of marriage equality:

Those who would be allowed to marry under what will hopefully become the law of the land are not asking to be granted more rights than any other Americans or to be singled out. They are not asking to be treated differently or in higher regard than any other Americans. They are simply asking to be treated the exact same as their fellow Americans.
In this case, the best reparations for decades of intolerance based in ignorance and fear is easy enough — simply see to it that justice is served.

*A gift shop and bistro in Grimes, Iowa, was found to be in violation of the civil rights of a same-sex couples by the Iowa Civil Rights Commission after the owners refused to book a wedding for the couple. The Des Moines Register reports that the business has decided to stop allowing weddings of any kind on its property:

The Mennonite owners of a Grimes gift shop and bistro who attracted controversy for preventing a same-sex couple from holding their wedding at the venue have put an end to litigation over the issue, but will no longer hold weddings for any couples.

Lee Stafford and Jared Ellers filed a complaint with the Iowa Civil Rights Commission after the owners of the Gortz Haus Gallery, Betty and Richard Odgaard, denied the same-sex couple an opportunity to get married at the 77-year-old gallery that once housed a Lutheran church.

*One Iowa, the state’s largest LGBT advocacy organization, reports that Iowa Republicans have offered a bill to rescind marriage equality:

This afternoon, a small group of Republican Representatives in the Iowa House submitted a resolution that would ban marriage for thousands of loving and committed gay and lesbian couples in Iowa. House Joint Resolution 4 would seek to amend Iowa’s Constitution so that “marriage between one man and one woman shall be the only legal union valid or recognized in this state.”

Wisconsin
*The Associated Press reports that the Wisconsin Department of Justice did not keep track of how much it spent fighting marriage equality:

DOJ officials said Monday they typically don’t track how many hours their lawyers spend on cases and assistant attorney generals aren’t eligible for overtime.
The agency did release records that show it paid out about $4,750 in legal filing fees, shipping fees and paying an expert witness.

*The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes a spike in the number of syphilis cases among black gay men in that city:

The number of syphilis cases among young black gay men in Milwaukee has spiked at the same time that HIV cases in this group also have started another alarming upward trend. And while the numbers have increased, federal dollars have done the opposite due to a cut in funding of HIV programs.

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