Rapid changes make keeping score difficult

In just two weeks, the number of marriage equality states jumped from 19 to 32, but Texas is not among them


GOIN’ TO THE CHAPEL | Whether it’s a wedding chapel in Vegas or a casino in Oklahoma, along the rim of Arizona’s Grand Canyon or near Old Faithful in Wyoming, gay and lesbian couples suddenly have lots of new options of where to marry. (Graphic by Erin Moore)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer

Four U.S. Courts of Appeals have yet to weigh in on marriage equality. Of the 11 districts, these remaining courts — 5th, 6th, 8th and 11th — are generally considered the most conservative.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court refused on Oct. 3 to hear appeals from five states — Oklahoma and Utah in the 10th, Wisconsin and Indiana in the 7th, and Virginia in the 4th — those states and most other states in those circuits have become marriage equality states, bringing the total from 19 to 32 in just two weeks.

Three more states should be marriage equality states soon because of positive rulings in their circuits.


5th Circuit
With two Lone Star State cases combined into one and moving through the court system, LGBT Texans are waiting now waiting to see if judges in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals will follow the lead of other circuit courts so far and rule in favor of equality, or if the 5th Circuit will become the court to issue an opposite ruling and force SCOTUS to take up the issue.

The 5th Circuit Court, with jurisdiction over Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, has agreed to expedite its hearing of cases from Texas and Louisiana after a couple from Austin filed a motion requesting they do so. One of the women involved in the Texas case is pregnant, and she’d like a quick ruling to allow her wife to adopt their new baby at birth.

The Louisiana case is one of just two in which a judge has ruled in favor of a state’s right to define marriage, even if the law discriminates. That judge dismissed the idea of animus — hatred — propelling the restriction. He also dismissed the idea of equal protection in the U.S. Constitution as relevant to the case.

The Texas Supreme Court also heard a case involving same-sex divorce.

Teena Callahan, a family court judge in Dallas, was among the first to rule the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional as part of her decision granting a same-sex couple a divorce. Texas Atty. Gen. Greg Abbott appealed the case and won in the state appellate court. That decision found the marriage was not recognized, so the dissolution of the contract between two men should be handled in a court that would handle business disputes.

That decision was then taken to the Texas Supreme Court last November, which still has not issued a ruling after almost a year.


4th Circuit
When the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal from Virginia, the 4th Circuit’s ruling on the side of marriage equality was extended to three other states in the circuit — North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia.

South Carolina has so far refused to extend marriage rights and Lambda Legal has filed a lawsuit to force the state to do so.

North Carolina and West Virginia have complied, but North Carolina has filed an appeal.

The case still pending against North Carolina is different than others around the country. Brought by United Church of Christ and the Union for Reform Judaism, instead of by one or more same-sex couples, that suit charges religious discrimination because state law prevents ministers and rabbis from conducting weddings that their denominations allow.


10th Circuit
After the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the Utah and Oklahoma cases, Colorado jumped in as the next marriage equality state.

In Kansas, a judge ordered one northeast county to begin issuing licenses. One lesbian couple got married before the state cut off marriage equality and appealed.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights filed suit when Wyoming refused to issue licenses. After a week’s delay, that state became a marriage equality state.


9th Circuit
California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii were already marriage equality states in the 9th Circuit.

When the 9th Circuit ruled against the Nevada and Idaho marriage laws, equality extended to Alaska and Arizona after brief appeals that were denied.

In Nevada — the state where prostitution has been legal since the 1800s and gambling since the 1930s — marriage has been more controversial, but the state decided not to appeal.

Claiming moral objections, some Las Vegas wedding chapels on The Strip along with some Elvis impersonators have refused to host same-sex weddings. They face misdemeanor charges of discrimination in public accommodations.

Before it became a marriage equality state, Idaho appealed briefly and lost.

Montana is the 9th Circuit’s only remaining holdout. Montana ACLU filed suit, so that state, along with South Carolina and Kansas should be the next three marriage equality states.


6th Circuit
The Sixth Circuit has heard cases from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee but has not issued a ruling. That ruling could come at any time.

One Ohio case not appealed involves recognizing spouses for the purpose of a death certificate. The state is complying with that ruling.


8th Circuit
The 8th Circuit already includes two marriage equality states — Minnesota and Iowa. A case was heard in Arkansas and, before that District Court decision was stayed, about 500 couples married.

Cases are pending in lower courts in North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Missouri.

Although Missouri doesn’t allow same-sex marriage, it recognizes marriages from out of state and is the only non-marriage-equality state to do so.


11th Circuit
The 11th Circuit includes Florida, Georgia and Alabama. Lower court cases are pending in Georgia and Alabama. In Florida, the marriage ban has already been declared unconstitutional by several county courts as well as in U.S. District Court. Florida’s twice-divorced and three-times-married attorney general continues to defend “traditional marriage” as it’s existed since the time Florida’s “dissolution of marriage” laws were liberalized in 1971.


1st Circuit
A U.S. District judge in Puerto Rico ruled this week the territory’s marriage ban is legal. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Judge Juan M. Pérez-Giménez said lower courts are still bound by Baker v. Nelson, a 1971 case that upheld same-sex marriage bans. He said the Supreme Court can overturn itself, but so far hasn’t.

The ruling is expected to be appealed and would be heard by the 1st Circuit that includes Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island — all marriage equality states.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 24, 2014.

—  David Taffet

Trans fit

Trainer with a passion for working with trans clients says every body is different


SHAPING UP | Brenda Stowe, left, does exercise to build tissue, not mass, as she works with trainer Danielle Girdano. (David Taffet/Dallas voice)


DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer

Brenda Stowe never worked out before. “I’d sit on my tail at home,” she said.

But then came the day she was running through an airport from the car rental to the gate to catch a flight, and, “The lady at the counter asked me if I needed a wheelchair,” Stowe said.

That’s when she knew she had to do something about her weight.

Then she met Danielle Girdano in church.

Girdano is president of D’Fine Sculpting and Nutrition and is a certified master personal trainer. In 2013, she was named a Top 40 executive under 40 by the Dallas Business Journal.

Trans-fit-2As a trainer, Girdano specializes in a number of areas, including weight loss, exercising with coronary disease and exercise programming for Alzheimers. But her work with her transgender clients is her real passion.

It’s such a passion, in fact, that Resource Center’s GEAR program director, Blair High, said Girdano gave the group $8,000 in scholarship money for members to use for  professional fitness training.

Girdano said her program for trans clients came about naturally, because she approaches each person as an individual with different needs and requirements.

“There’s not a cookie-cutter approach,” Girdano said. “There are lots of body types.”

She said when she looked at how she saw trans men and women were exercising, she realized that in many cases they were working hard but getting no results.
Girdano said her philosophy is, “Work smarter, not harder. You can get more benefit with less activity.”

Smarter means understanding a person’s body and what results the person wants to achieve. Girdano said she saw trans men often doing exercises to develop their upper bodies without taking their own bodies’ systems into account. She said someone who has had a mastectomy — man or woman — who wants to build upper body strength, should build muscle from the side and not the front.

“Hormones can affect outcomes, but can’t completely change the muscular-skeletal systems,” Girdano said.

When a person transitions, their body undergoes a number of changes, Girdano explained. But some things don’t change.

As she ran through an exercise routine with Stowe, a male-to-female trans woman, Girdano explained that Stowe’s abdominal cavity is larger than that of someone born biologically female. That’s fine with Girdano: She just adjusts the number of reps or the angle at which the person does those reps or even the type of exercise to compensate.

Girdano hands Stowe an O- ring, which Stowe presses in front of her to turn the O into an oval. Girdano said she likes using this exercise with trans women because it builds tissue, not mass.

When Stowe first began working with Girdano, the issue was weight.

“I could never get below 270,” Stowe said.

“Trust me,” Girdano told her. And with a change of diet and some exercise, Stowe quickly got below 250.

“The wonderful thing about getting in shape was I dropped three major meds,” Stowe said.

As she lost weight, Stowe said she was blacking out. Girdano stopped her workout routines until she got to the doctor to check levels of her medications, including her hormones and testosterone blocker. With lower body fat and less weight, Stowe’s hormones were out of whack.

Trans-fit-3In addition to exercise, Girdano recommends healthy eating, and said it was especially important for the trans community.

“Keep good nutritional habits,” Girdano advises. “The transition will be easier.”

Although Girdano is vegan, she doesn’t recommend extreme changes for her clients. She does suggest her clients try just one day a week without meat. She prefers those who eat meat stick to chicken and fish rather than red meat that’s harder to digest.

Another piece of advice she offers is, “Peel it, don’t unwrap it.”

Stowe called the foods Girdano recommends “real foods.”

But even if a diet she proposes restricts calories, Girdano figures in a binge day once a week. She said there’s no reason to sneak it, and she thinks it may have a beneficial effect.

When starting a diet, the body sheds the most pounds during the first week. After a few weeks, the weight plateaus. Girdano thinks that binge day stimulates the body to return to the way it reacted the first week, shedding pounds again.

Again, she has special advice for trans men and women that applies to anyone looking for certain results from their workouts.

“Certain foods may interact with hormones,” she said.

She said soy is estrogen-based and acts against testosterone. It can affect energy levels and mood. Calcium interacts with testosterone.

Whether going through a rigorous exercise program or just staying active to maintain your health, Girdano said always drink plenty of water.

For more information on Girdano visit DfineYourHealth.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 24, 2014.


—  David Taffet

Time to destroy another landmark in Dallas

Cabana Hotel

Cabana Motor Hotel as seen from Dallas Voice office

The old Cabana Motor Hotel on Stemmons Freeway just outside of downtown Dallas is on the verge of being sold and redeveloped.

The property was purchased by Dallas County in 1985 and was used as a jail until 2009.

The property has a storied history. In 1962, Jay Sarno, who developed Ceasar’s Palace and Circus Circus in Las Vegas, built the Cabana and the hotel was owned by Doris Day.

In 1964, the Beatles stayed here on their first North American tour. During the 1960s and early ’70s, it was the place for touring rock acts to stay, including Jimi Hendrix, The Dave Clark Five, Led Zeppelin and The Monkees.

Raquel Welch worked here as a cocktail waitress while modeling for Neiman Marcus.

The hotel is not a registered landmark. The county is negotiating with Lincoln Property Company for its sale, according to the Dallas Morning News.

—  David Taffet

Biking to City Hall with the City Council

Five members of the Dallas City Council led a bike ride from Main Street Garden to Dallas City Hall this morning to highlight the city’s commitment to continuing construction of bike paths and bike lanes throughout the city.

Plans call for more than 1,000 miles of lanes and paths for bikes, with about 35 miles of that is currently under construction. Money has already been approved to extend the Trinity Strand Trail into Oak Lawn from Infomart to the Medical District.

More than 50 people rode with council members Dwaine Caraway, Jennifer Staubach Gates, Philip Kingston, Lee Kleinman and Adam Medrano. Councilman Scott Griggs — who was supposed to bring the doughnuts and coffee — joined the group for a press conference at City Hall. Thanks Scott.

Kleinman rode the farthest, coming from his Far North Dallas district. Kingston rode in a suit. Gates showed off her helmet hair and Caraway said his butt was still too big for his bike seat, but he has lost 35 pounds recently from bike riding.

—  David Taffet

BREAKING: Cowboys waive Michael Sam

michaelsam1From DallasCowboys.com:

The Cowboys have decided to waive defensive end Michael Sam.

The practice squad player who joined the team on Sept. 3, spent the first seven weeks of the season on the 10-man squad and never made it to the 53-man roster.

Sam, the first openly-gay player in the NFL, was a seventh-round draft pick of the Rams. He spent all of the offseason and training camp with the St. Louis before being released and signed to the Cowboys’ practice squad.

The move opens a spot for linebacker Troy Davis, a second-year pro from Central Florida who worked out with the team on Monday.

—  David Taffet

Once and for all, the city of Dallas is not in a state of panic and has no reason to be


Mayor Mike Rawlings, left, and County Judge Clay Jenkins

To hear Good Morning America tell it, “The city of Dallas is in a state of panic.” That piece of stupidity was how the show started one morning at the beginning of the media-driven Ebola panic and is the reason I no longer watch the show.

Here’s some of the things that went on in the city in a state of panic.

The State Fair of Texas —  which this weekend ended its run, roughly corresponding to the 21-day quarantine period for the family and neighbors of Thomas Duncan — set a record. Coupon sales were estimated at $41 million, up from last year’s $37.

Sounds like the city’s in a state of panic to me.

During the last three weeks, Southwest Airlines increased the number of cities it flies to from Love Field by 15 and increased daily flights to the city by 30. At the same time, Virgin America began flying from both coasts to Love Field.

That’s what happens during a panic — businesses expand and travel to the city increases.

Another good thing that happened over the past three weeks was just as an Ebola case was reported in Dallas, Gov. Rick Perry left the country. He spent the “Ebola crisis” in Europe, but that’s good news. Instead of having to deal with stupidity coming from the governor’s mansion, Mayor Mike Rawlings, County Judge Clay Jenkins and Dallas County HHS Director Zach Thompson only had to deal with stupidity and misquotes coming from national and local broadcast media.

The Dallas Morning News has done a good job covering Ebola. They’ve devoted quite a bit of space to getting out actual facts. Jacquielynn Floyd’s column on Ebolaphobia is brilliant.

But here’s something they did that seemed, well, peculiar: “Dr. Seema Yasmin answers Ebola questions on Twitter.”

If people have questions about Ebola — how you can catch it, how to prevent it, what precautions to take, why we should or shouldn’t panic while taking this dangerous and deadly virus seriously — how can anyone answer in 140 characters? If pages of articles don’t answer the questions, a tweet certainly won’t.

But I guess her column served a purpose. If people won’t read an article, maybe at least they’ll read a tweet — like this one: Hey, @MarkDavis, a travel ban won’t work. Happy to explain to you in person why it won’t work & how bad it would be for public health.

I guess her tweets do serve a good purpose — she’s using them to call out stupid. (Mark Davis is a local right-wing shock jock).

Here’s Rawlings’ message telling the rest of the world Dallas in not in a state of panic.

—  David Taffet

Equality comes to the Equality State tomorrow

safe_imageEquality comes to Wyoming, whose nickname is The Equality State, on Tuesday, Oct. 21.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights brought suit against Wyoming to come into line with the rest of the Tenth Circuit after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear appeals from Utah and Oklahoma, also in that circuit.

The state announced that it would not appeal, clearing the way for marriages to begin at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.

Wyoming becomes marriage equality state No. 32 after AK, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, HI, ID, IA, IL, IN, ME, MD, MA, MN, NC, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OK, OR, PA, RI, UT, VA, VT, WA, WV and WI, plus DC.

—  David Taffet

London deals with Ugandan regime


Yoweri Museveni

Ugandan dictator Yoweri Museveni was in London for an economic summit. While his reservations were not canceled as they were in Dallas, his regime is not receiving a warm welcome in the British capital.

In Dallas, Museveni was turned away from the Four Seasons Hotel in Irving, the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine and the Irving Convention Center and instead had to pay $70,000 to rent a ranch in Collin County for the weekend.

In London, while Museveni’s reservations weren’t canceled because his event included other foreign heads of state, his homophobic Parliament speaker Rebecca Kadaga was turned away recently at another investment forum in London.

The level of stupidity and inappropriate garbage coming out of Museveni’s mouth included these latest comments reported by Pink News:

There were “more terrible things” than homosexuality in the West — like oral sex.

He said: “Oral sex! The mouth is for eating, it’s not for that purpose.”

So maybe that’s what Museveni was actually doing in Dallas.

—  David Taffet

Movies on the lawn at Lee Park

Arlington HallThe Lee Park and Arlington Hall Conservancy presents movies on the lawn as part of its celebration of the 75th anniversary of Arlington Hall.

On Tuesday, Oct. 21, Gone With the Wind will be shown at 7 p.m. and on Wednesday, Oct. 22, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington will be shown at 7 p.m.

Bring lawn chairs or blankets to this free event.

Ruthie’s Rolling Food Truck will be parked on Hall Street and beer and wine will be available for sale.

For members of the Lee Park Conservancy, there’s a VIP reception each night at 6 p.m.

—  David Taffet

Emerson Collins’ TV show is back for a second season


Emerson Collins

One of our favorite Texas Voices is Emerson Collins. This week he wrote Broadcast News for us.

Emerson will be spending time in Dallas working on Del Shores’ Sordid Lives sequel.

But Emerson can be seen on Bravo’s show The People’s Couch. He’s one of the couch potatoes who comments on Bravo shows as well as some of the network hits. At least Bravo understands that its other shows are crap and lets Emerson and friends rip into them. Here’s a clip from the new season.

—  David Taffet