LGBT week in review: ‘Survivor’ killed, sheriff restored, marriage equality moves forward

LGBT week in review headerBY CANDY PARKER

What did you miss this week in the world of LGBT news? Check out our round-up and you’ll be ready to gather ’round the rainbow-colored water cooler to talk about five of the biggest, best and most interesting stories for June 22-28.

Former “Survivor” contestant killed

“Survivor: Blood vs. Water” contestant Caleb Bankston, 26, was killed in a railway accident on Tuesday. Bankston competed last year with fiance Colton Cumbie and was a favorite among fans and fellow contestants.

“The entire Survivor crew is together in Nicaragua,” “Survivor” host Jeff Probst told People magazine in an exclusive statement. “We are shocked and deeply saddened by the loss of Caleb. He was one of the most humble and likable contestants we have ever had the pleasure of working with on the show. A true gentleman. He will be missed by so many. We extend our most sincere condolences to his family and to his fiance, Colton.”

Bankston was a conductor on the Alabama Warrior Railway line in Birmingham, Alabama. People reported that according to the Jefferson County coroner, Bankston was standing on a small ladder on the rear car of a loaded freight train. As an engineer began to back up, the car derailed, throwing the reality star onto the tracks. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Voters restore fired lesbian sheriff

Residents of a small South Carolina town voted Tuesday to reinstate Crystal Moore, a lesbian and 22-year veteran of the department, as sheriff in Latta. Moore had been fired from her position as sheriff by allegedly homophobic Mayor Earl Bullard in April.

The 1,500-resdient town voted to strip the mayor of some of his powers, granting authority to the town council to restore Ms. Moore to her position.

The Huffington Post reports that Wil Brown, a friend of Moore’s who launched a campaign to help her get her job back, indicated that the council is likely to meet Friday or Monday to formally vote to put Moore back on the beat.

Despite the overwhelming support of the town’s residents, Moore’s fate remains undetermined as later in the week, Mayor Bullard shocked the community by announcing that he had hired a new sheriff, Freddie Davis, before his authority to do so was revoked.

Utah, Indiana record marriage equality wins

On Wednesday, same sex couples in Utah and Indiana received good news from the courts.

First, in Indiana a federal judge struck down the state’s ban on gay marriage, making Indiana the 20th state in the U.S. where same-sex couples can wed. An hour later, a three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver voted 2-1 to overturn Utah’s sate ban on same-sex marriages.

Couples in Indiana were able to begin marrying immediately, as the judge declined to issue a stay on the ruling. However, in the Utah case, the panel left Utah’s existing law in place as the appeals process continues, so same-sex couples are not yet eligible to get legally married in that state.

Bush White House employed at least 70 gay staffers

Politico published an article this week in which a gay former aide to George W. Bush estimated that there were at least 70 gay and lesbian staffers in the Bush White House.

In the piece, Steven Levine, a former White House advance aide, revealed that “one of his gay friends who had also worked in the White House sat down in front of Facebook and counted the Bush White House staffers he knew to be gay. He came up with at least 70 (only two of them women).”

The article also featured Bush’s openly gay AIDS czar, Scott Evertz was Bush’s openly gay AIDS czar who told Politico that “he was entirely unaware he had company.”

“I, of course — just by the law of statistics — knew that there were other gay people in the White House,” he says. “But not a single one of them was out to me, so I felt completely alone.”

Bush administration leaders were vocal supporters of the movement to amend the U.S. Constitution to federally ban gay marriage and public support for gay marriage dipped during the Republican president’s tenure. Under the subsequent Obama administration, public approval for same sex marriage has increased among both Democrats and Republicans.

Logo Network honors LGBT “Trailblazers”

On Friday, the one-year anniversary of DOMA’s defeat, the Logo Network aired its first “Trailblazers” special, a one-hour salute to the celebrities, politicians, activists and trendsetters actively working to effect cultural change for the betterment of the LGBT community.

Among the honorees were Edie Windsor and Roberta Kaplan, the cast of “Orange is the New Black,” and former NBA player Jason Collins.

Watch video highlights from the special below.

President Clinton salutes Edie Windsor and Roberta Kaplan

“Orange is the New Black’s” Lea Delaria’s red carpet interview

Demi Lovato talks about trailblazing gay grandfather

Lance Bass and Jason Marsden introduce “Trailblazer” Jason Collins

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