Joint statement from CoH and BEB on UCC divestment resolution

Posted on 01 Jul 2015 at 5:57pm
Fisch Cazares

Rabbi Steve Fisch, left, and the Rev. Neil Cazares-Thomas

Joint Statement from Reverend Dr. Neil G. Cazares-Thomas of Cathedral of Hope (United Church of Christ) and Rabbi Steve Fisch of Congregation Beth El Binah (Union For Reform Judaism):

We are proud of the important and caring alliance that we at Congregation Beth El Binah and the Cathedral of Hope have on behalf of the LGBT and larger community in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Our respective congregations — one Protestant, one Jewish — agree completely on our philosophies and actions on behalf of all those who suffer from injustice.

However, we have deep concerns about the vote by the General Synod of the United Church of Christ on June 30 to approve Resolution No. 4 to divest from companies with business and to boycott products made in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. We believe the resolution failed to take into account the fullness of the complexity of the situation.

While we are in agreement that not all steps taken by the current Israeli government regarding the difficulties in dealing with their Palestinian neighbors have been the best decisions, the resolution appears to place the blame for problems in the region solely on Israel. Too many people continue to ignore Israel’s need to defend herself against governments united in their desire for the destruction of the Jewish State.

The United Church of Christ is progressive, open and affirming. However, from the LGBT perspective the resolution neglected to consider the treatment of LGBT folks in Palestinian-controlled territories who are refugees now in other countries because of the way the LGBT persons have been treated in Palestinian-controlled territories.

We believe these concerns make Resolution No. 4 shortsighted.

Our hope and prayers regarding the current conflict in the Middle East involve deep concern for both Israelis and Palestinians who are affected by the difficulties in this region.

While our two congregations cannot immediately create change in the Middle East, we pledge our respective efforts to help bring about peace and greater equality for all peoples, beginning here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.


2 Dallas organizations among those receiving prevention funding from CDC

Posted on 01 Jul 2015 at 2:08pm

Six community-based organizations in Texas —  including two in Dallas — are among the 90 CBOs nationwide chosen to receive a total of $216 million in new funding intended to strengthen HIV prevention efforts, according to a statement released this morning (Wednesday, July 1) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Kirk Myers, Abounding Prosperity

Dallas CBOs receiving funds are Abounding Prosperity Inc. and AIDS Arms Inc. Other Texas CBOs on the list are AIDS Foundation Houston Inc., BEAT AIDS Coalition Trust in San Antonio, Change Happens in Houston and St. Hope Foundation in Houston.

According to a statement from the CDC, “The selected CBOs have demonstrated experience and on-the-ground expertise serving populations most affected by the epidemic, including African-Americans, men who have sex with men, transgender individuals and people who inject drugs.

“Consistent with CDC’s high-impact prevention approach, CBOs will invest the new funding in cost-effective and scalable interventions, targeted to the populations that need them most,” the statement continued. “These include HIV testing, condom distribution, improving adherence to treatment among people with HIV, and ensuring access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) for people at high risk of infection.”

These funds are “one critical piece” of the nearly $700 million the CDC invests annually in HIV prevention efforts across the country, the statement said.


Dr. John Carlo, AIDS Arms

Dr. Eugene McCray, director of CDC’s Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, said the funding includes, for the first time, a component allowing organization to pool their expertise and resource into “prevention partnerships.” Of the 90 organizations receiving funds, 30 will serve as the lead of a partnership comprised of several organizations, giving 47 additional organizations the chance to contribute their expertise to help deliver more comprehensive prevention services.

“It’s clear that we need to focus our limited resources on strategies that can have the greatest possible impact,” McCray said. “This funding targets local communities to help maximize the impact of every federal prevention dollar. By delivering powerful prevention tools where they’re needed most, we can have a transformative impact on the epidemic.”

The funded organizations are in the 50 geographic areas that reported the highest number of HIV diagnoses in 2011. Of the 90 directly-funded CBOs, 67 (74.4 percent) primarily serve African-Americans and 15 (16.7 percent) primarily serve Hispanics; 64 (71.1 percent) primarily serve MSM.



Alabama hasn’t been happy this week

Posted on 01 Jul 2015 at 12:25pm
U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade

U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade

Alabama hasn’t been happy this week and its Supreme Court chief justice seems to think U.S. Supreme court rulings can be appealed. They can’t. Or don’t apply to him. They do.

U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade, the judge that declared Alabama’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, issued an order today directing all Alabama probate judges to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The order requires immediate compliance.

A violation of Granade’s order could result in a county probate judge being held liable for contempt of court, attorneys’ fees, financial penalties and any other remedies the court deems proper.

In today’s order, Judge Granade stated:

Although most of Alabama’s county probate judges are issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, some are not. The National Center for Lesbian Rights. ACLU of Alabama, Southern Poverty Law Center and Americans United who represented plaintiffs in the original case asked the judge to confirm that her order is now in effect.


What a difference a week makes

Posted on 01 Jul 2015 at 12:09pm

Hanson.BridgetLast week, we reported Bridget Hanson applied for her Texas driver’s license in Rockwall and was turned down when she showed her marriage license as her proof of name change. When Rockwall wouldn’t issue her license in her legal name, she tried another office in Garland.

She had been using her married name for five years.

What a difference a week makes.

On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling on marriage equality. Today Hanson returned to the DMV and she was issued a temporary license in her legal name with no questions asked. Her permanent Texas license should be issued by mid-August. Everything went without a hitch. Funny how something so easy can be made so easy.



Glen Maxey’s Rainbow Report: about 200 counties issuing marriage licenses

Posted on 01 Jul 2015 at 11:14am
Glen Maxey

Glen Maxey

Just found this the Facebook page of Glen Maxey, the first openly-LGBT person elected to the Texas House of Representatives who now works in Austin as a lobbyist. It appears to have been posted Tuesday evening, June 30:

“So we had a great 48 hours here across Texas. Close to 200 counties issuing marriage licenses. About another 50 mumbling about forms (you can download them) or programming systems, but they are trying mighty hard to be ready if any queers show up.

“We have three ‘hell no, I’m with Jesus’ counties left: Kimble (Junction), Libscombe (on the top edge of Texas mostly in Okahoma) and Hardin in deep East Texas. If you happen to want to get married, and want to do something for the cause, plan a day trip to any of these hell holes and apply for a license so we can sue them. Plaintiffs needed, please.

“Bell had refused Monday, but folded when lawsuit was suggested. Then we found Jon and Jason going to San Saba this morning. Clerk folded. Last thing today found plaintiffs to sue the hateful clerk in Hood County. And now she’s folded. Will issue licenses in the morning. Our lawyers are getting frustrated that nobody has the guts to claim religious exemption when they are personally gonna get their butt sued and have to pay lawyers fee in the thousands when we win.”


Eddie Bernice Johnson congratulates the community on marriage equality

Posted on 01 Jul 2015 at 10:17am
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, who represents most of Oak Lawn, sent the following statement in recognition of the recent ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States regarding marriage equality:

Equality for all Americans is of the utmost importance, and after a long fought battle across the nation and throughout the federal judicial system, the Supreme Court of the United States has affirmed that committed couples, regardless of sexual orientation, have a Constitutional right to marry.

As we celebrate this great victory during LGBT Pride Month, we also remember that LGBT Americans have fought for the equality of all Americans, and each year during the month of June, we recognize their contributions and accomplishments in the fight for full equality.

On Friday, our nation made history with this ruling. But, there is still much to be done as we continue the fight for the extension of full protection under the law to every American, including those in the LGBT community. Moving forward, I will continue my commitment to fight against discriminatory laws and practices that impede an individual’s freedom.


Teachers Retirement System joins other state agencies in extending partner benefits

Posted on 01 Jul 2015 at 10:13am

The Teachers Retirement System of Texas, which provides benefits to the state’s retired public school employees, announced late yesterday (Tuesday, June 30) it extend benefits to the spouses of employees in same-sex marriages effective immediately.

The University of Texas System, Texas A&M University System and the Employee Retirement System of Texas also extended the same benefits this week.

The decision comes following Friday’s historic U.S. Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality.



Sen. Rodney Ellis asks DOJ to monitor Texas marriage equality

Posted on 01 Jul 2015 at 6:55am

EllisTexas state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston,  wrote a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and asked her to monitor implementation of marriage equality in the state.

Ellis cited state Attorney General Ken Paxton’s guidance to county clerks, justices of the peace and judges “advising them that they can refuse to follow the recent Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodge.”

He requested the Department of Justice prevent civil rights violations to “ensure loving, committed couples are able to formally celebrate their union.”

He said religion must not be used as an excuse to discriminate.


BREAKING: Hood County Clerk reverses decision on marriage licenses

Posted on 30 Jun 2015 at 7:28pm

Hood County Clerk Katie LangHood County Clerk Katie Lang has reversed her previous decision to not allow anyone in her office issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, although she is claiming that we all just simply misconstrued what she said earlier about not allowing anyone in her office to issue those licenses.

I am pretty sure I did not “misconstrue” what the woman in Lang’s office told me earlier today when she said NO ONE in that office would issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple. I called and asked specifically.

This is the statement now posted on Lang’s Hood County Clerk website:

“The religious doctrines to which I adhere compel me to personally refrain from issuing same-sex marriage licenses. Nonetheless, in addition to the county clerk offices in the several surrounding counties, as soon as the appropriate forms have been printed and supplied to my office, the County Clerk’s Office of Hood County will have staff available and ready to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

“Because some have misreported and misconstrued my prior statements, I want to make clear that the County Clerk’s Office of Hood County will comply with the recent decision of the Supreme Court of the United States.

“I am grateful that the First Amendment continues to protect the sincerely held religious beliefs of public servants like me. That has not changed since last Friday. As Justice Kennedy stated, ‘it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned.’”


What the hell is going on in Mississippi? Marriage

Posted on 30 Jun 2015 at 4:17pm

Haven’t heard much about what’s going on in Mississippi? That’s because nothing much is going on in Mississippi, except marriage.


Marriage equality plaintiff Jim Obergefell

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood ordered licenses to be issued on Monday, June 29, and clerks around the state began issuing licenses.

WAPT, a Jackson TV station, held a poll: “Do you support same-sex marriage in Mississippi.” The result? 57 percent are in favor… Of same-sex marriage… In Mississippi!

The state waited until Monday, because the stay issued by the district judge in the Mississippi marriage case had not been lifted. On Monday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals lifted the stay and the attorney general issued his orders to begin issuing licenses.

In Texas, the district judge in San Antonio that ruled on the case stayed his own ruling. He lifted that stay on Friday, June 26, immediately after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled.

Unlike Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Hood didn’t encourage clerks to invoke religious beliefs and promise to find them pro bono counsel, according to the Jackson Clarion Ledger.

Instead, in his opinion, Hood wrote, “a clerk who refuses to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple could be sued by the denied couple and may face liability.”

And what did the governor have to say about same-sex marriage?

“I think this matter has been settled by the Supreme Court,” Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant said.

New Dallas Voice poll: Is this the first time you’ve ever said, “I wish we had Mississippi’s governor.”