WATCH: Naked athletes frolicking. Yeah, that (NSFW)

Posted on 17 Dec 2014 at 4:22pm

The rowers for the Warwick crew team original made a naked calendar as a fundraiser. Now they do it, in part, to support gays in sports. Bully for them!

Watch the NSFW video below.

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Socially conscious shopping tips for the Dallas holiday shopper

Posted on 17 Dec 2014 at 2:18pm
Armani

While Neiman’s gets a miserable score, gay Giorgio Armani scores a shameful zero

If you’re still holiday shopping and want to make sure your LGBT dollars are going to companies with the best policies for its employees, one place to look is Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index.

It’s been out for awhile, but for the holiday shopping season, I’ve pulled out some highlights for local Dallas shoppers.

Department stores

Let’s say you’re looking for something from a local department store. That’s a no brainer, because what’s more gay than Neiman Marcus?

Well, local and gay friendly? J.C. Penney for one. Plano-based J.C. Penney gets a 95. Neiman’s scores a miserable 15. In the 1950s, Jack Evans was once fired from the store because he was gay. They couldn’t do that now or they wouldn’t have a staff, but they also offer few protections and no benefits to their LGBT employees.

So if you’re counting out Neiman’s, what about the rest of NorthPark’s anchors? Macy’s and Nordstrom get 100 percent. Dillards? Not so much. 30.

If you’re shopping at the Galleria, the new Belk gets a failing 15.

Elsewhere in NorthPark

Abercrombie, American Eagle, Gap, Nike and Tiffany rate 100

Kenneth Cole, Ralph Lauren: 90

Aeropostale: 85

H&M: 70

J. Crew: 30

Foot Locker, Donna Karan, Burberry, Guess, Urban Outfitters: 15

Ann Taylor, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Versace, Express, Skechers: These are the ExxonMobils of the mall that offer no protection and no benefits to their LGBT employees. And Versace was gay and so is Armani. I guess just because you’re gay (or built your retail empire on the reputation of someone who was) doesn’t mean you don’t say fuck you to those who work for you or your LGBT customers. If Armani just had a no-cost nondiscrimination statement that included sexual orientation and gender identity, he’d get a 15. Shame on him for not saying, “Of course we won’t fire our gay, lesbian and transgender employees.”

Local chains

What about other local chains? Pier 1 and Radio Shack are both based in Fort Worth. Radio Shack: 30. Pier 1: 15.

Do the Dallas-based The Container Store or Michaels do better? Both rate a pitiful 15.

Strip centers:

Shopping for the lesbian on your list may be easy this year. Home Depot gets a 90, but, across the street, Lowe’s only gets a 30.

Target: 100

Office Depot and Staples: 100 (Office Max: not rated)

Ross: 70

Bed, Bath and Beyond go below: 30.

Big Lots: 15

Dollar stores

Dollar stores aren’t all the same. Family Dollar and Dollar Tree rate just 30, while Dollar General gets a more respectable 70.

Drug stores

Both CVS and Walgreens rank 100.

Groceries

Safeway (which owns Tom Thumb) gets 100.

Kroger rates 85.

Whole Foods could do better with a 75.

Central Market: 40.

Trader Joe’s: 30.

Aldi, Fiesta and my favorite local supermarket Rio Grande: not rated.

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Legislators file joint adoption bills for LGBT parents

Posted on 17 Dec 2014 at 11:10am

Anchia.RafaelRep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas, and Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, filed companion bills today (Wednesday, Dec. 17) that would allow adopted children in Texas to have the names of both parents listed on their supplemental birth certificates, regardless of the parents’ gender.

HB 537 and SB 250 would amend the Texas Health and Safety Code, which requires the supplemental birth certificate of an adopted child be in the names of the adoptive parents, one female and the other male.

“Texas families come in all shapes and sizes, including those formed by adoption. An adopted child needs to have a birth certificate that accurately reflects the child’s family,“  said Anchia.  “Texas laws should protect and support the rights of children and families — not hinder them.”

Under the current law, adopted children of same-gender couples are denied accurate birth certificates, which can cause difficulty in obtaining a passport or Social Security card or in registering for school.

“This bill removes an unreasonable obstacle to some children getting the important legal documentation they need,“  Garcia said.  “A birth certificate is vital and should accurately reflect both parents.  Neither these children nor their parents should be burdened with an incomplete birth certificate that omits a loving parent.”

As it stands, the requirement compels same-gender parents to carry and present documentation proving their legal parentage for medical care, school enrollment and international travel. Without a birth certificate, the child is left in legal limbo and can never have the same recognition of family status that is afforded other adopted children.

This will be the fourth consecutive legislative session that Anchia has filed this legislation. This is the first time the bill has been filed in the Senate.

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Kiesza: The gay interview

Posted on 17 Dec 2014 at 8:17am

Kiesza

Continuing our lead-up to The Hollywood Issue this week, we chat with “Hideaway” singer Kiesza, who’s long be an ally to the gay community. But is she more an Mariah or Whitney fan?  — Chris Azzopardi

Even before making the streets of New York City her own private dance floor for “Hideaway,” Kiesza was courting the queers. The lead single off the 25-year-old’s major-label debut, Sound of a Woman, has certainly boosted her appeal within the community — who could resist the sports bra and suspenders look? — but the gays and this former sniper-in-training for the Canadian Army actually go way back.

On her way to the airport, Kiesza called to chat about pretend-marrying her gay best friend, how Barbra Streisand taught her to sing and her request for the drag queens.

Dallas Voice: Have you been feeling the gay love yet?  Kiesza: I’ve been feeling it before any other love, actually. Even before “Hideaway,” when I was doing other projects, the gay community was always the community that supported me as a brand new artist. I always felt supported by the gay community before anyone else, so it’s a really special community to me.

When did you know the gay community was in love with you?  I would actually meet the people who were coming to my shows and it showed me who my audience was, and I had a very strong gay following, which is amazing. They’re so enthusiastic, and they come dressed in clothes that emulate my own style. They’re always going the extra mile.

You know you’ve made it when guys are doing you in drag.  Yeah, I saw some people doing “Hideaway” in drag, which is amazing. I wanna go to a drag show and see someone performing “Hideaway” live!

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BREAKING: Senate confirms first openly gay man as federal district judge in Texas

Posted on 16 Dec 2014 at 11:58pm
Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 11.39.24 PM

U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman

The U.S. Senate has confirmed Robert Pitman to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, making him the first openly gay federal district court judge in Texas, according to reports by LGBTQNation.com.

The Western District court had been vacant for six years. The vote to confirm Pitman came late Tuesday evening, Dec. 16.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican who has never been a friend of the LGBT community, is getting credit for Pitman being confirmed — but not because Cruz suddenly had a change of heart on LGBT issues.

In an effort to force a vote on what he called President Obama’s “illegal executive amnesty” for immigrants, Cruz and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, on Friday, Dec. 12,  scuttled a bipartisan agreement that would have prevented weekend votes in the Senate. The ban on weekend votes would have meant the Senate would have run out of time before being able to vote on confirming more than a dozen of the president’s judicial and executive nominees, including Pitman, who likely would not have been confirmed if they had been forced to wait until next year when the GOP will control the Senate.

But when Cruz and Lee sidelined the agreement, that opened the door for current Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to call the Senate back into session on Saturday and get those votes through.

Pitman, a former magistrate judge in Austin, had led the San Antonio-based federal prosecuting office since 2011 when he became the first openly gay U.S. attorney in Texas. He had also served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the same district from 1990 to 2003.

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Beware the ID thieves’ new scam

Posted on 16 Dec 2014 at 4:49pm

The Texas Attorney General’s Office today issued a warning about a new scam through which thieves are not only scamming money from their marks but stealing their identities as well.Screen shot 2014-12-16 at 4.37.57 PM

The OAG has opened a criminal investigation into the identity theft ring that rattles its victims by claiming to be either a governmental or debt collection agency and threatening the victims with arrest if they don’t pay up.

(Yeah, yeah, I know. This is not a specifically LGBT thing. But LGBT people are targeted by scammers like this, just like anybody else.  So pay attention.)

According to the OAG press released, “dozens of Texas residents” in recent months have reported getting phone calls from someone claiming to be collecting overdue payments — often overdue child support payments — on behalf of the Texas OAG. The scammers tell the victims they owe funds to the OAG and warn that an arrest warrant has been issued because of the past-due payments.

Naturally, the victims become alarmed at the prospect of pending arrest, and once that happens, the thieves move to the next step: asking the victim to “confirm” their Social Security number and other vital personal information.

Once the victim offers up the personal information, the thieves say the victim can fix the problem by “paying the debt” through a bank draft: The scammers instruct their victims to go to a nearby convenience story, buy a pre-paid debit card, load it with cash and then call the number they are given to relay the number on the back of the card.

Once the scammers have the number off the back of the prepaid debit card, they can drain off the cash the victim has loaded onto it AND they already have the personal data they need to steal the victim’s identity.

Over the past couple of years, while working at the Cleburne Times-Review, I heard numerous reports from folks who were targeted in a scams that used the pre-paid debit card model. In many of those, however, the scammers tended to target older individuals, often calling up and claiming to be a grandchild, telling Grammy or Grampy they had been arrested in Mexico because of something someone else did. They would beg the grandparents, “Don’t tell anybody, like my parents or sibling, because I am embarrassed for them to find out.”

As the OAH noted, the “we’ve issued a warrant for your arrest” ploy is especially effective because it encourages victims to act quickly out of fear, without stopping to question the flimsy premise (just like a grandparent would jump to help a stranded grandchild). Remember, OAG officials said, “The OAG typically only pursues arrest warrants against individuals who are wanted for contempt of court because of their failure to make regular child support payments.”

The lesson here, really, is DON’T GIVE YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION OUT TO SOMEONE YOU DON’T KNOW — not over the phone, not in an email, not ever.

The OAG offered this advice:

• Stop to verify the request. Do that by directly contacting the governmental agency allegedly seeking to collect the funds through a telephone number you find on your own, not by calling the phone number the called has provided.

• Take proactive steps to prevent ID theft. If you believe you have been a victim of this scam — or any scam — file a consumer complaint with the OAH online at TexasAttorneyGeneral.gov. If you believe you are at risk for identity theft because you have been targeted by scammers, visit TexasFightsIDTheft.gov to get a copy of the OAG’s Identity Theft Kit AND file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commision.

• Pay attention to the red flags. Pre-paid debit cards are the scammers payment form of choice because they are more convenient than a wire transfer and just as untraceable.

You can go to the FBI website for information on other common fraud schemes and more information on identity theft.

And above all else people, USE SOME COMMON SENSE, dammit! I mean, your mother probably didn’t got to Madrid without telling you, so that email from her claiming someone stole her wallet while she was there probably isn’t authentic. And as much as you want it to be true, you don’t have some long-lost relative in Nigeria who just died and left you millions, if you will just send their “lawyer” $1,500 to send the millions to you.

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First Circuit denies gender reassignment surgery to transgender inmate

Posted on 16 Dec 2014 at 3:17pm

michelle-kosilek1The full First Circuit Court of Appeals today (Tuesday, Dec. 16) reversed an earlier ruling that Massachusetts must provide Michelle Kosilek, an incarcerated transgender woman, medically-necessary gender reassignment surgery.

Jennifer Levi, director of the Transgender Rights Project of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, said, “I am appalled by this decision, which means that Michelle Kosilek will continue to be denied the life-saving medical care she needs and has been seeking for years.  It is difficult or impossible to imagine a decision like this one – that second-guesses every factual determination made by the trial court – in the context of any other prisoner health care case.  This decision is a testament to how much work remains to be done to get transgender people’s health care needs on par with others in the general public. ”

A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals issued an initial ruling Jan. 17, upholding the finding of District Court Judge Mark L. Wolf that the Massachusetts Department of Corrections engaged in a pattern of “pretense, pretext and prevarication” to deny Kosilek treatment, in violation of her 8th Amendment right to freedom from cruel and unusual punishment. The commonwealth requested and was granted a rehearing of the case before the full bench. Oral arguments took place on May 8.

Kosilek was denied gender reassignment surgery by the department against the recommendations of multiple doctors.

“There is no scientific or medical basis for denying transgender people their health care needs,” Levi said. “The consensus position of the medical community is that surgery may sometimes be essential treatment.”

Kosilek is serving a lifetime sentence for the 1990 murder of her wife, Cheryl McCaul.

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Jeb Bush considering presidential run because the world needs more shrubs in office

Posted on 16 Dec 2014 at 11:52am

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, son of a former president, brother to a war criminal who lied about torturing people another and father to my neighbor who never welcomed me to the neighborhood Land Commissioner-elect George P. Bush of Fort Worth, announced this morning (Tuesday, Dec. 16) he’s exploring a run for president on the Republican ticket.

He announced his plans in a Facebook post.

Here are my feelings (h/t BuzzFeed):

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This Week in Marriage Equality

Posted on 16 Dec 2014 at 11:51am

Marriage_Equality_Map11-26Tennessee

Tennessee, a state where first cousins can marry, filed a brief asking the Supreme Court not to take a case filed by plaintiffs challenging that state’s marriage law.

The 6th Circuit was the first appeals court to support a state’s right to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples in offering marriage and the benefits it provides. Other states in the 6th Circuit — Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky — have asked the Supreme Court to hear their cases.

Florida

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who believes in traditional marriage so much she’s been married three times, filed a 40-page emergency petition with the U.S. Supreme Court asking for a stay to prevent same-sex couples from marrying. Clarence Thomas, who is in charge of the 11th Circuit, is likely to stay the decisions that declared the state’s marriage law unconstitutional. The current stay expires in January and the lower court said it will not renew.

Scotland

Ten months after the Scottish Parliament approved marriage equality, the law has come into effect. Couples may file a “notice of intention” and then hold marriage ceremonies 15 days later. Those who already have civil partnerships may upgrade to marriage without the wait time.

Northern Ireland is now the only part of the United Kingdom without marriage equality.

Kansas

Marriage but not marriage equality has come to Kansas. Counties are issuing marriage licenses, but the state is not recognizing them. A recent report from TV station KAKE in Wichita says:

“They’re trying to get on their husbands’ or wives’ insurance. They’re trying to update their drivers’ licenses,” said Thomas Witt, the executive director of LGBT advocate group Equality Kansas. “There is one couple that applied for a mortgage. The mortgage was approved but the mortgage company would not allow them to apply as married, even though they had a valid, legal marriage license from the state of Kansas.”

Finland

The Finnish Parliament voted in favor of marriage equality on Monday, Dec. 15. The proposal went to the country’s president for signature.

Finland is the last remaining Scandinavian country without marriage equality.

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Jeffrey Tambor of ‘Transparent:’ The gay interview

Posted on 16 Dec 2014 at 8:17am

Our Hollywood Issue comes out Friday, so we thought we’d do a lead-up with celebrity interviews from the world of entertainment. Kicking everything off? Our Chris Azzopardi‘s piece on the controversial new streaming series Transparent, where he talks to star Jeffrey Tambor and associate producer Zackary Drucker (herself MTF). 

When a show makes its mark on society, it’s more than just TV — it’s history.

In 2014, we met Maura, the protagonist of the brazen, boundary-breaking Transparent, a dramedy centered on a 70-something male-to-female’s journey in coming out to her family. Written by Jill Soloway (Six Feet Under) and produced by Amazon with a standout lead performance from Jeffrey Tambor, the show is being heralded as an Emmy contender for its authentic look at trans life.

Dallas Voice: Jeffrey, what drew you to the Maura character?  Jeffrey Tambor: I was coming into Los Angeles from my home in New York, and I was doing a talk show and my representatives, who are tremendous, are always on the lookout for really good things. They sent me this script by Jill Soloway, and I got off the plane — I had about a 15-minute drive to my hotel — and by the time I got to the hotel, I had read this. I called them and I said, “I’m in, I’m in, I’m in. Let me meet Jill.”

Jill and I met the next day — we had a great meeting — and then that afternoon I saw her movie Afternoon Delight, and I called her again. You know, in the pilot, I don’t have that big of a role, but you could just see how beautiful that family and their dynamic was. You could see that Jill was after big themes, but the people were so real, so authentic and so accessible, and so I just said, “I’m in.”

Even though your role is slight during the pilot, your presence is massive.  Tambor: Thank you. The key scene, I think, in that pilot is around that table. That barbecue scene — I could watch that on a loop for the rest of my life. I remember when we were filming that and every face I looked into was just filled with genius and light and quicksilver moods. It’s really a real coup of casting.

With so few representations of transgender people in the media, and trans visibility being at the forefront culturally, what kind of responsibility did you feel to Maura and to the trans community?  Tambor: A huge responsibility. I had nervous self-tappings on my shoulder the whole time. I don’t think I have been as nervous as when I did the scene when I had to come out to my daughter Sarah [Amy Landecker]. I was shaking, and not because I was nervous about being good, or nervous about being talented, or nervous about learning the lines — I wanted to do it right. I turned to Jill many times during the making of this, and to Zackary and [co-producer] Rhys Ernst many times, and said, “This is big. This is huge.” You would feel it at times and think, “This is so much more than all of us put together. This is a big movement.”

Zackary Drucker: Jeffrey brings a tremendous amount of humanity to this role, and from a very internal place without falling into stereotypes or tropes of other representations of trans people that we’ve seen. I think that this show is a huge step in the right direction, and as a trans person, I have a lot of hope, actually, that there are many more to come. This is one big step for bringing trans people into pop culture and into television and film.

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