Indiana Repubs admit anti-LGBT discrimination is legal

Posted on 31 Mar 2015 at 5:08pm

Despite Gov. Mike Pence’s insistence that Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act is all about protecting religious freedom and not about discriminating against folks, two Indiana lawmakers have admitted that even without the RFRA, businesses in their state can legally post “no gays allowed” signs.

Raw Story reports that Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, and House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, acknowledged that because the state has no law prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, such discrimination is legal in most parts of the state.

The admission came during the two lawmakers’ press conference  during which they said they plan to “clarify” that the RFRA doesn’t allow businesses and individuals to deny service to LGBT people on religious grounds. But one reporter pointed out glaring lack of protections:

“You guys have said repeatedly that we shouldn’t be able to discriminate against anyone, but if you just ignore the existence of this law, can’t we already do that now? Can’t so-and-so in Richmond put a sign up and say ‘No Gays Allowed?’” the reporter asked. “That’s not against the law, correct?”

Bosma admitted that unless the local community has a local ordinance protecting LGBTs such discrimination would, indeed, be allowed, and when pressed further by the reporter, he admitted that most areas of the state have no such ordinances.

The fact of the matter is, the same is true in Texas. Unless you are lucky enough to live in a town or county that has passed a non-discrimination ordinance prohibiting anti-LGBT discrimination, if you are LGBT, you have no protections because there is no statewide nondiscrimination law that includes LGBTs. AND, even worse, Republicans have introduced bills in this current legislative session to negate such local ordinances that already exist and prohibit the passage of any such local ordinances in the future.

Maybe folks need to boycott our state, too. Maybe then the Republicans will pull their heads out of their asses.

Watch the Raw Story video above.

And in more Indiana RFRA news, Duke University — whose men’s basketball team is headed to Indianapolis for the Final Four — has joined the NCAA in speaking out against the law, according to Human Rights Campaign.

Duke, the University of Kentucky, Michigan State University and the University of Wisconsin are headed to Indianapolis this weekend for the final three March Madness tournament games, including the championship game. Wisconsin and Michigan State both released statements relating to the passage of the bill but Duke is the only Final Four contender to publicly come out against RFRA.

Michael Schoenfeld , Duke’s vice president for public affairs and government relations said in a statement issued Monday (March 30), that “Duke University continues to stand alongside the LGBT community in seeking a more equal and inclusive world, and we deplore any effort to legislate bias and discrimination. We share the NCAA’s concern about the potential impact of the new law, and will be vigilant to ensure that our student-athletes, supporters, and indeed all citizens and visitors are treated fairly and with respect.”



Trans Day of Visibility is a day of celebration

Posted on 31 Mar 2015 at 4:37pm

trans flagToday (March 31) is International Transgender Day of Visibility.

Trans activist Monica Roberts writes on her TransGriot blog, “We need to remind you cispeeps that we are not only are we part of the diverse mosaic of human life, our humanity is not up for discussion. You WILL accept us as the men and women of trans experience we are, and we will not tolerate any attempts to dehumanize us or strip us of human rights coverage.

Human Rights Campaign writes on its blog, “to celebrate the courage it takes to live openly and authentically, while also recognizing the leadership of transgender and gender nonconforming trailblazers who have led the charge in the fight for equality.”

Trans Student Educational Resources celebrates the day by writing, “Unlike Transgender Day of Remembrance, this is not a day for mourning: this is a day to be empowered and get the recognition we deserve.”

Rachel Crandall, the head of Transgender Michigan, created Transgender Day of Visibility “to focus on all the good things in the trans community, instead of just remembering those who were lost,” according to TransGriot.


NASCAR condemns Indiana’s RFRA

Posted on 31 Mar 2015 at 4:10pm

In most people’s minds, “NASCAR” means “redneck.” And if that’s true, then Indiana is WAY behind the times with its Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed into law last week by Gov. Mike Pence, because even NASCAR is condemning the law.

Screen shot 2015-03-31 at 4.01.31 PMNASCAR, the second most-viewed sports franchise, next only to the NFL, today (Tuesday, March 31) issued a strongly worded statement against the law — which is “important for a sport almost synonymous with Indianapolis,” noted (Indianapolis Motor Speedway, anyone?).

Brett Jewkes, senior vice president and chief communications officer for the racing organization, said, “NASCAR is disappointed by the recent legislation passed in Indiana. We will not embrace nor participate in exclusion or intolerance. We are committed to diversity and inclusion within our sport and therefore will continue to welcome all competitors and fans at our events in the state of Indiana and anywhere else we race.

“For 105 years the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has engaged millions who want to celebrate the true spirit of American racing. IMS will continue to warmly welcome all who share our enthusiasm for motorsports — employees, participants and fans,” Jewkes said.

Pence — who has steadfastly maintained the law is intended to protect religious freedom and not to discriminate against anyone — today called for follow-up legislation to “clarify” the RFRA. I guess that means he wants a bill that specifically says it is alright for so-called “Christians” to discriminate against LGBTs (or anyone else who offends their religious sensibilities), but it’s not ok for anyone to use their religious beliefs to discriminate against Christians; I mean, after all, that IS what he the the Indiana lawmakers meant when they passed the RFRA, right?

Other businesses and governmental entities to come out against Indiana’s RFRA include Starbucks (which issued this statement Monday, March 30: “We join with others opposing any state or federal legislation that permits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity and encourage policymakers everywhere to embrace equality”) and Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (who on Monday signed an executive order forbidding state-funded travel to Indiana, saying his administration is “sending a message that discrimination won’t be tolerated”).

Check CNN Money for a list of other businesses, etc., who have spoken out against the bill, and what they said.



Advocates who will argue in Supreme Court marriage equality cases announced

Posted on 31 Mar 2015 at 1:32pm

Mary L. Bonauto is one of two advocates chosen to argue marriage equality cases before the Supreme Court in April.

Mary L. Bonauto and Doug Hallward-Driemeier will argue for the plaintiffs in the marriage equality cases being heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in April 28, according to Lambda Legal.

Bonauto will argue the 14th Amendment requires a state to grant marriage licenses to a same-sex couple. Hallward-Driemeier will argue the 14th Amendment requires a state to recognize a same-sex marriage performed out-of-state.

Bonauto successfully argued for marriage equality before the Massachusetts Supreme Court in 2003. Currently she serves as civil project director for Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, a LGBT group based in Boston.

Hallward-Driemeier previously served as assistant to the solicitor general in the Justice Department, and provided pro bono representation in a number of other LGBT rights cases.

“I’m humbled to be standing up for the petitioners from Kentucky and Michigan who seek the freedom to marry,” said Bonauto in a statement provided by Lambda Legal. “The road that we’ve all traveled to get here has been built by so many people who believe that marriage is a fundamental right for all people. I believe the court will give us a fair hearing, and I look forward to the day when all LGBT Americans will be able to marry the person they love.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights praised the choices in a joint statement. “Mary Bonauto crafted and argued the case that made Massachusetts the first state with full marriage equality and she won the first rulings in federal court that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. As the legal team and advocates who have brought our community and our nation to this historic moment, we are proud to stand behind Mary and Doug, with all of our clients and all of the same-sex couples in this country who seek the freedom to marry and to have their marriages respected,” according to the statement.

“It is an incredible honor to represent these devoted couples, who have already been lawfully married and established new families, in arguing to vindicate their right to have the states respect their marriages,” Hallward-Driemeier said in the Lambda Legal statement. “The plaintiffs in these cases reflect the broad array of couples, from those together for three decades to those just starting young families, and the many instances in which married couples must cross state lines to work for a new employer, give birth at the nearest hospital, or seek out new opportunities. These couples deserve the same respect and stability that states grant other married couples and their families throughout every phase of life.”

The cases before the court are Kentucky’s Bourke v Beshear and Love v Beshear, Michigan’s Deboer v Snyder, Ohio’s Henry v Hodges and Obergefell v Hodges and Tennessee’s Tanco v Haslam.


Denise Lee performs cabaret tonight; Kibbles and Cocktails serves it up

Posted on 31 Mar 2015 at 1:18pm

dogLast night, Kitchen LTO at Trinity Groves was filled with fans of Denise Lee, who got to see her perform her stylist cabaret songs while feasting on Blythe Beck’s decadent cuisine. If you missed it, you can try to recreate the experience tonight. She will perform her show Denise Lee and the Divas at Fair Park inside the Women’s Museum. Best of all: It’s free. Enter through Gate 3 and be there by 7 p.m. to hear Dee (on her birthday, no less) sing hits popularized by everyone from Bessie Smith to Whitney Houston.

If you did see Lee last night, but didn’t get enough of Trinity Groves, come back tonight for Kibbles And Cocktails, a fundraiser for the pet rescue group DFW Rescue Me. Tickets are available at the door, and you can enjoy more food and drinks from the chefs.


Dallas County signs onto DACA amicus brief

Posted on 31 Mar 2015 at 1:05pm

Dallas County Commissioners Court

Dallas County commissioners voted today (Tuesday, March 31) to sign onto an amicus brief today supporting the U.S. government’s position on DACA, the deferred action for childhood arrivals that President Barack Obama initiated by executive order.

County Judge Clay Jenkins said Dallas County ranks as one of the top five counties nationally in number of people who may potentially benefit from the program. Taken as a whole, the DFW area ranks first in number of people who benefit compared to any county.

DACA permits undocumented immigrants who came into the U.S. as children before a certain date to stay and work in the country legally. The lawsuit was brought by Texas with support of about half the states.

Houston, El Paso and Travis County have already signed onto the brief. About 50 city and county governments including New York City have already signed onto the brief. Jenkins said he expected about 100 signatures before the brief is submitted to the court.

The motion passed by a 4-1 margin. Commissioner Mike Cantrell, the court’s only Republican member, objected at first because the commission had not seen the brief in its final form. Jenkins countered that briefs always change up until the time of their submission.

Cantrell then objected saying immigration should be debated in Congress and called DACA an “extreme overreach by the president.” He said with 254 counties in Texas, only three were signing the brief.


Check out the front page of today’s Indianapolis Star

Posted on 31 Mar 2015 at 9:43am

The front page of today’s Indianapolis Star.

The Indianapolis Star, the daily newspaper of Indianapolis, Indiana, does not like the state’s controversial new Religious Freedom Restoration Act. So much that they devoted their front page, demanding the legislature amend the bill to bar discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The newspaper is just the latest to issue a big public proclamation against the law.

According to the paper, the city’s mayor and city council in a press conference yesterday (Monday, March 30) demanded the legislature either “repeal the divisive Religious Freedom Restoration Act or add explicit protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in state law.”

Mayor Greg Ballard, a Republican, also issued an executive order that requires anyone who receives money from the city must follow its human rights ordinance, which has had such protections in place for a decade.

“Our city thrives because we have welcomed and embraced diversity. And RFRA threatens what thousands of people have spent decades building,” Ballard said. ”Discrimination is wrong. And I hope that message is being heard loud and clear at our Statehouse.”

You can see the front page to the right and check out the paper’s blistering editorial here.


Easter indulgences

Posted on 31 Mar 2015 at 9:26am

Ever since our traditional Easter celebration in Dallas was nixed over money woes, gay Dallas has been looking for some other way to spend next Sunday, April 5. How about doing something romantic for your honey-bunny … or just something indulgent for yourself?

BeekmanHandandBodyWash1. Beekman 1802 Hand and Body Wash. Those Fabulous Beekman Boys — husband-and-husband team Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge — are still at it with Beekman 1802 (you’ve probably seen them hard at work in their very own American Express commercial recently), a lifestyle brand born on their sprawling Upstate New York farm. To give your partner a skincare pick-me-up this spring, pack his basket with the delightfully perky Honeyed Grapefruit Body Wash and Honey & Orange Blossom Hand Wash. $20-$25;

2. FattyCakesNY Cookies. While you’re trying to avoid building a basket overloaded with empty calories you don’t have to shun sugar altogether. Satisfy his sweet tooth with FattyCakesNY’s Sweet n’ Salty Trio, six each of its three best-selling cookies, including Old Salt (triple chocolate with sea salt), The Norm (chocolate chip with sea salt), and PBCC (peanut butter with chocolate chips, pretzels and sea salt) … which, if it’s possible, sound just as delicious as they taste. $38;

MenageATroisVodka3. Menage A Trois Vodka. Two’s company, but three’s a night to remember with Ménage à Trois. This gluten-free vodka (it’s made from American corn) is distilled six times for a clean, smooth liquor, the high proof of which is brought down to 80 using pure mountain spring water. Flavors include original, citrus and berry, and cocktail recipes are available on the Ménage à Trois website. $22.99;

4. Elizabeth W Bath Fizz. A gift for both of you to kick back and relax (if you have a tub suited for two), Elizabeth W aromatic bath-time effervescents include six foil-wrapped tablets in assorted scents. To color coordinate with the other holiday goodies in your basket, opt for the Leaves, Rose, & Sweet Tea fizz or the special-edition fizz in the shape of festive eggs. $20;

LFHRSRF13006ScentSpringBreakLasVegas015. aussieBum Swimwear. Heat waves are on the horizon, and that can only mean one thing: Time to hit the beach. You’ll want him to look his best when he’s sopping wet with surf and sweat — and aussieBum’s got what he needs. Its Las Vegas short-leg boardie covers the junk but shows just enough leg to keep you excited, while the Speedo-style Superhero collection makes no bones about taking you up, up and away. $28.40-$31.95;

6. Illinois Nut & Candy. Illinois Nut & Candy offers a bevy of sweet selections (and plenty of nuts, too), but he’ll go gaga for its LGBT-friendly personalized chocolate options, available in dipped pretzels rods and peppermint patties. Other put-it-in-my-mouth confections include taffy apples, popcorn balls, English toffee and Jordan almonds. From $1.75;

7. The Way He Looks DVD. End Easter on a high note with an LGBT DVD and a cuddle sesh. A new release of note, The Way He Looks  from Wolfe Video, is a coming-of-age story about friendship and young love set to the music of Belle and Sebastian. Plus, the boys are cute. Do you need a better description? $19.95;

 — Mikey Rox


Twitter joins rising chorus of business voices against RFRA, other anti-gay legislation

Posted on 30 Mar 2015 at 9:24pm

In an “@Policy” Tweet today (Monday, March 30) hailed by Human Rights Campaign as a “bold move,” Twitter today declared its disappointment not just with Indiana’s newly-passed Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 9.21.42 PMwith the flood of similar bills and other anti-LGBT legislation being considered across the country.

The Tweet read: “We’re disappointed to see state bills that enshrine discrimination. These bills are unjust and bad for business. We support #EqualityForAll.”

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s decision to sign into law last week his state’s RFRA was the spark that lit a flame of outrage among some of the country’s leading businesses, including Apple, PayPal, Wal Mart, Yelp, Salesforce and Indiana’s own Angie’s List, officials of which last Friday (March 27) — the day after Pence signed the RFRA — announced they had decided to at least delay, if not cancel, plans for a $40 million expansion of its Indianapolis headquarters.

But in applauding Twitter’s tweeted statement today, HRC pointed out that Indiana’s RFRA is just one of more than 85 anti-LGBT bills under consideration in 28 legislatures, including Texas’, and in Arkansas a measure very similar to Indiana’s awaits Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s signature.

To see HRC’s list of pending LGBT legislation, go here. The bills fall largely into four categories: religious refusal bills, bills promoting conversion therapy, anti-transgender bills and bills nullifying local nondiscrimination statutes.

Texas lawmakers have introduced bills in three of those four categories: religious refusal bills, anti-transgender bills and bills to nullify local nondiscrimination ordinances. To see Equality Texas’ list of legislative alerts, go here.


The tribulations of shopping for Passover in Dallas

Posted on 30 Mar 2015 at 3:56pm

Yehuda organic whole wheat matzo

I normally wait until the day before Passover to buy any Passover foods. By then, everyone is sold out. This year I did my Passover shopping early — and still there wasn’t much to choose from.

Passover, or Pesach, is the Jewish holiday that celebrates the Exodus from Egypt. Next to the High Holidays — Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur — Passover is the most important holiday on the Jewish calendar.

Because the Jews in Egypt had no time to prepare for leaving which meant they had no time to let their bread rise, Jews today commemorate the week by eating unleavened bread or matzoh. On the first two nights of Passover, we gather with family and friends for a Seder to retell the story of the Exodus and eat a meal that includes lots of matzoh, which ensures Jews remain constipated throughout the week.

We eat foods, like gefilte fish, that we wouldn’t consider eating any other time of year, but scarf up on Passover as if we like it. We eat matzoh ball soup, because although we didn’t have time to let the bread rise, we apparently had plenty of time to roll the crumbled matzoh into perfect balls, set in the refrigerator for 15 minutes and them pop into a pot of boiling broth to rise just perfectly. One of the biggest sins any Jew can commit on Passover is to serve matzoh balls that aren’t fluffy.

And we drink plenty of really crappy sweet wine, because rushing out of Egypt, we didn’t have time to let the booze age.

During Passover, all the food we eat is supposed to be marked “Kosher for Passover,” and in Dallas that presents a problem because of limited availability. My usual supermercados — Rio Grande and Fiesta — carry none. Even the stores that carry a line of Passover foods are usually pretty low by the time Passover comes around and I remember to buy any. So this year, I’m planning to be prepared and buy in advance.

Here are my Passover shopping tips.

Shop early. Dallas supermarkets are always surprised there are Jews in Dallas. Hello? Ever hear of the Neimans? The Marcuses? Laura Miller? There are Jews in Dallas and have been ever since there was a Dallas. In fact David Kaufman, who was Jewish, was not only the first person to represent Dallas in Congress when he was elected in 1846, but was the first Jewish person to serve in Congress from any state.

But I digress.

Shame on Fiesta, which has the best international food aisles of any supermarket in the area and is partially Jewish-owned, for not bothering to carry at least a couple of crappy boxes of matzoh. And by crappy, I mean Manischewitz, a division of Bain Capital (Mitt Romney’s old company).

Kroger on Maple Avenue doesn’t carry a single box of Passover matzoh despite the four hospitals and a medical school located across the street. Hello! Has anyone at Kroger ever heard of Jewish doctors?

Kroger on Cedar Springs Road usually carries some Passover foods, but every year I’ve caught them mixing their kosher for Passover food with their non-Passover foods. So if it makes a difference to you, look at the labels on each and every item you pick up in their Passover section.

The area’s largest selections are probably at Kosher Thumb on Preston Road at Forest Lane and Central Market on Greenville Avenue.

Whole Foods carries several brands not owned by Bain Capital in their stores throughout the city. None of them at the Lemmon Avenue store were just plain matzoh, but they’re just what you’d expect from Whole Foods. I bought some organic whole wheat matzoh. Because if you’re eating something made of nothing more than flour and water, you might as well use the whole wheat and not just half the wheat.

Whole Foods also carries Yehuda gluten-free matzot. I know. What the hell is that? Why pay Whole Foods prices for flour and water without the flour? It’s just a glass of glass of water. However, on the gluten-free matzoh label, it says: “gluten-free matzoh style squares not for sacramental use.” OK, so not really matzoh, but if you can’t eat gluten, better than eating Mrs. Baird’s white bread all week.

Again, at Whole Foods check the labels. I found their Streit’s not-for-Passover-use matzoh mixed in the with boxes marked kosher for Passover at the Lemmon Avenue store. I mentioned it at check out, but haven’t been back to see if they sorted them.

And what makes matzoh not kosher for Passover? On Passover we eat matzoh made only with flour and water. On all other nights, they make matzoh with things like canola oil, flour and water. Canola oil? Canolas don’t grow in the desert.

For Passover wine, I usually go to Sigel’s for several reasons. For years, I lived in Oak Cliff, which was dry until recently, and Sigel’s is the nicest liquor store just over the bridge on Industrial Boulevard. Yes, Industrial Boulevard. I can’t see any damn river from Riverfront Boulevard, so I still go to Sigel’s on Industrial Boulevard.

But again, I digress. I tend to do that when I’m ranting.

Sigel’s always carries a variety of Passover wines from around the world. Since I’m never looking for Mogen David Concord Grape or Manischewitz Extra Extra Extra Sweet Swill, a division of Bain Capital, I usually ask one of the Sigel’s Passover wine specialists for help.

“Hello, I’m looking for a Passover wine that doesn’t taste like crap,” I asked the first clerk I saw at Sigel’s last year.

He turned to the woman at the next register he thought might be more proficient in the fine Passover wines the store stocked.

“This gentleman is looking for a Passover wine that doesn’t taste like crap,” the clerk said.

“Let me ask,” she said and picked up the intercom. “I need help with a Passover wine that doesn’t taste like crap.”

She pointed me toward the store manager who was standing in the aisle with Passover wines.

They actually had a good variety of wines from around the world. In addition to California and New York wines, they had bottles from Australia, South Africa and Israel. What I got wasn’t sticky sweet, but quite good.

What makes wine kosher for Passover? In addition to the rabbinical supervision and bribes taken to get the kosher certification, the mold used in fermenting kosher for Passover wine must not come from bread. Common preservatives like potassium sorbate can’t be added either. That’s because in the laws of kosher, as written in Leviticus, one line is rarely translated in its entirety. That line says, “you shall not eat the meat from a cloven hoofed animal, such as a pig or a camel, or eat food preserved with potassium sorbate on Passover, even if that does jack the price way the hell up.”

Really. It says that.

But if tradition dictates that you buy a fine Mansichewitz, a division of Bain Capital, look for a vintage older than the previous Thursday to make sure your wine had those extra days to age to perfection. And since we drink four glasses of wine each at the Seder, Manischewitz, a division of Bain Capital, might be the more convenient choice since it not only comes in the traditional square stackable bottle, but also is available in gallon jugs.

Happy Pesach.