Check out the front page of today’s Indianapolis Star

Posted on 31 Mar 2015 at 9:43am
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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.

They 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.

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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.

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DoJ charges Oklahoma university with trans discrimination

Posted on 30 Mar 2015 at 3:47pm
DENIED  |  Rachel Tudor, an assistant professor of English at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, believes she was denied tenure because of school administrators’ bigotry against her identity as a transgender woman.

Rachel Tudor

The Department of Justice filed discrimination charges today (Monday, March 30) on behalf of Rachel Tudor against Southeastern Oklahoma State University. They charge is gender discrimination.

Tudor claims she was denied tenure because she is transgender, according to Reuters.

Tudor was an assistant professor of English at the school and was denied tenure in 2011. The school claimed she hadn’t published enough, even though she had more peer-reviewed work than her department chair. School officials also claimed they couldn’t substantiate that Tudor actually did some of the work she claimed she did on her application for tenure.

Tudor told Dallas Voice at the time that the works in question were in the school library with her name on the cover.

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Two ‘men dressed as women’ crash through NSA gate

Posted on 30 Mar 2015 at 12:35pm

NSATwo people tried to crash through a security entrance of the National Security Agency in Fort Meade, Md. One was shot dead and the other is in critical condition and not expected to survive.

The SUV they were driving was stolen and drugs and a gun were found in the car.

NBC News reports the perpetrators were “two men disguised as women,” while ABC News describes them as “two men dressed as women.”

There is no word, at this time, whether the two people involved were transgender, drag queens or connected to the LGBT community in any way.

We’ll update when their identities are released.

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Anti-gay amendment added to budget

Posted on 30 Mar 2015 at 9:43am
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Rep. Drew Springer

Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, has proposed an amendment to the budget that will hurt LGBT families.

The legislature will debate HB-1, the general appropriations bill, in the Texas House on Tuesday, March 31. The Springer Amendment stops all state funding for a school district that, in the opinion of the Texas attorney general, has taken an action in violation of the Texas Constitution. (Those are new powers that would be granted to the attorney general.)

The school district would have 60 days to come into compliance.

The amendment targets Pflugerville ISD and Austin ISD, two school districts that have instituted “plus 1” benefit programs.

Dallas County extended Family Medical Leave using the plus 1 system that will benefit the districts’ single employees, as well as married and partnered gay and lesbian employees.

The benefit programs allow an employee to name a second person who is financially interdependent with them and co-resides with them to receive benefits, and the programs were constructed to comply with guidances issued by then-AG Greg Abbott.

Although Springer believes these programs to be in violation of the state Constitution, absent additional attorney general opinions, they would not be affected by the new level of bureaucracy his amendment attempts to create.

To contact your state representative and tell him or her to oppose the Springer Amendment on page 151 of their amendment packet, click here.

 

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Angie’s List ‘delays’ plans for expansion in Indianapolis, Seattle mayor bans city employees from traveling to Indiana

Posted on 28 Mar 2015 at 4:50pm

Angie's

The fallout over Indiana’s new “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” continues, with Angie’s List CEO Bill Oesterle announcing today (Saturday, March 28) that his company is canceling plans for a $40 million expansion in Indianapolis because of the law.

According to TheNewCivilRightsMovement.org, Angie’s List has been headquartered in Indianapolis since it was founded in 1995. The corporation, worth $315 million, had planned to move its headquarters across town, adding 1,000 new jobs over five years.

In a statement released Saturday, Oesterle said the company’s expansion is “on hold until we fully understand the implications [of the RFRA] on our employees, both current and future.” Oesterle also said that the company “is open to all and discriminates against none and we are hugely disappointed in what this bill represents.”

The statement said Angie’s List will “begin reviewing alternatives,” and the IndyStar reported that the company has “hinted that moving some parts of the company out of state is ‘on the table.’”

The Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed into law Thursday, March 26, by Republican Gov. Mike Pence, prevents state and local governments from “substantially burdening” a person’s exercise of religion unless a “compelling governmental interest” can be proved.

Although Pence and other supporters insist — at least publicly — that the new law is not intended to discriminate against anyone, most opponents believe it was passed specifically in response to recent court rulings in favor of marriage equality to allow people to refuse to serve LGBT people. Others have pointed out the law could also be used to discriminate against people for a broad range of reasons, including race and religion.

It is modeled after the 22-year-old federal RFRA that the U.S. Supreme Court cited last year in a ruling allowing Hobby Lobby and other “closely held” corporations with religious objections to opt out of an Affordable Care Act requirement that they cover certain contraceptives for women.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has barred Seattle city employees from using tax dollars to pay for business trips to Indiana, following in the steps of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee. Also among those joining the growing negative response are Apple, Inc., the White House, Broadway’s Audra McDonald, $4 billion software firm Salesforce, $50 million annual gaming convention GenCon, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Fortune 500 member Cummins, Eskenazi Health, Eli Lilly and Co., Yelp, Hillary Clinton, George Takei, Pat McAfee, Jason Collins, Ashton Kutcher, Miley Cyrus, James Van Der Beek, Sophia Bush, Dustin Lance Black, Mara Wilson, Jack Antonoff, the mayor of Indianapolis, and the state of Indiana’s own tourism board.

 

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BREAKING: Rich Sheridan arrested in anti-gay graffiti case

Posted on 27 Mar 2015 at 4:24pm
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Asst. Chief Randy Blankenbaker and Det. Laura Martin

Dallas mayoral candidate Rich Sheridan has been arrested in connection with the graffiti case from June 2014. He has been charged with marking ”666″  on the Legacy of Love monument and at Cathedral of Hope.

Dallas police Asst. Chief Randy Blankenbaker said defacing a public monument and a place of worship are state jail offenses. In addition, police are filing hate crime charges against Sheridan. The graffiti charges are a third degree felony. The hate crime enhancement could increase the charge to second degree with a penalty of 5 to 20 years in prison.

In addition to the tags at the church and the monuement, the same marks were found in front of The Dallas Morning News, D Magazine and Dallas Observer. Several Dallas Voice distribution boxes were also marked, but nothing at Dallas Voice headquarters, even though the target seemed to be the LGBT community.

LGBT police liaison Officer Laura Martin was also at the press conference.

“The LGBT community was significantly alarmed and felt harassed,” Martin said. “Police used every resource to make Mr. Sheridan accountable for his actions.”

Martin said it took this long to make an arrest because of an exhaustive investigation, the length of time it took to find surveillance video and then the delay in getting the case before a grand jury.

So while California considers a ballot initiative to murder all the gays and Indiana’s governor signs an anti-LGBT discrimination law, Dallas pursues those who harass the LGBT community with hate crime charges.

Legacy graffiti

Graffiti on the Legacy of Love monument found the morning of June 29, 2014

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Join Sen. Don Huffines for his legislative town hall tomorrow

Posted on 27 Mar 2015 at 12:18pm
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Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas.

Sen. Don Huffines, a freshman Dallas Republican, hosts a town hall from 1–2 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, March 28, at the Town North Family YMCA, 4332 Northaven Road.

However much I like spending a Saturday afternoon with a right-wing Republican who looks like the plastic byproduct of a Catholic priest and a Ken Doll, the event is not open to press. Though I could go simply as a concerned Texas resident, I would probably be tossed out. Plus, I don’t even live in the guy’s district.

So hopefully you’ll go and ask questions instead.

Not sure what to ask about? I’m glad you asked! Here are some examples of what you could mention related to LGBT issues:

1) You could ask about his co-authoring SB 673, the Preservation of Sovereignty and Marriage Act. It’s the Senate companion to Magnolia Republican Rep. Cecil Bell’s HB 1745. Both would strip the responsibility of issuing marriage licenses from counties and onto the state. They were filed in response to the Travis County Clerk’s decision to issue a marriage license last month to a lesbian couple. (As if the title didn’t give the bill’s intent away already.)

2) You could also ask him about SB 343, which would align local ordinances and laws with state laws. So those nondiscrimination ordinances? Bye, Felicia.

Here’s some other fun stuff to talk about:

1) Ask Mr. Free Market himself about his blatant campaign hypocrisy. The Dallas Morning News reported in 2014 how “Texas housing developers like Huffines had won hundreds of millions of dollars in taxing authority from voters and elected officials to whom they provided homes, jobs or other benefits.”

2) Oh Hell, y’all are smart and have 24 hours to dig through the bills he’s authored and co-authored here.

If you want to check out his campaign finance reports, go here. Click the bubble next to By Filer Name. Type Huffines in the Last/Entity Name text box.  Your search will bring up only the senator’s name. Click 00069651 on the far left.

Remember folks, your elected officials may not represent your views, but they still represent you.

Get out there tomorrow and make sure he hears from you.

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Michael Sam said he’s standing up for the kids in speech at Holocaust Museum

Posted on 27 Mar 2015 at 11:09am

Michael Sam spoke to a sold-out crowd Thursday night, March 26, as part of the Dallas Holocaust Museum’s Upstander speakers series.Sam.edit

WFAA sportscaster Dale Hansen introduced Sam. He noted not a word has been mentioned about new Cowboys player Greg Hardy and his history of domestic abuse, but some players continue to say how uncomfortable they’d be playing with a gay teammate.

Sam spoke about coming out, how he met his fiance, Vito Cammisano, and Dancing with the Stars.

He said when he came out to his team, the reaction was, “So, we already knew.” Other players realized they had never seen him with a woman.

When Sam first met Cammisano, they were freshmen. Cammisano was drunk at a party and dressed as a Playboy bunny. Sam said he looked like he needed some help, but Sam said Cammisano told him, “Get the ‘f’ away from me.”

Over the next two years, Sam said he ran into Cammisano, who was on the Missouri State swim team, a number of times and he remembers commenting, “I hate that guy.”

Finally they got together, but Cammisano said he couldn’t date someone who was hiding who he was. They broke up and got back together after Sam came out.

When he came out, his college teammates “stood up for me when the media ran outlandish stories about my showering habits.”

Sam talked about his difficult relationship with his family. Two brothers are in jail. Two siblings have died. His mother is a Jehovah’s Witness, so he wasn’t allowed to play football.

“What my father said to me [when I came out] was unforgivable,” he said.

Sam’s father said he loved him but disowned him. He said he still loves his father, but hasn’t spoken to him since then.

He spoke about his current appearance on Dancing with the Stars. When he first stepped into the ballroom, he said, he had never been so nervous in his life — even more nervous than the first time he stepped on the field in a preseason game.

He said his dance partner is working him hard, and because he missed a day of practice to appear in Dallas to speak, she was doubling up his rehearsals when he gets back. On Monday, March 30, he said to expect to see him salsa.

Sam said he didn’t blame homophobia on his current situation.

He said after he came out, he heard from a number — a large number — of players in the NFL who were gay but not out.

One teammate of his had a cousin who tried to commit suicide because she is lesbian. He said he spoke to her, probably saved her life and is still in touch with her. He said saving young people’s lives was more important than appearing in the NFL again.

“I’m doing this for the kids,” he said. “I have to stand up for others.”

The community reaction in the largely straight audience was overwhelmingly positive.

Max Glauben, a Holocaust survivor who was placed in a concentration camp as a teenager after fighting in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, said of Sam’s coming out, “How brave an act this was. Thank God we live in a country where you can do that. I’m real proud that I live in a country that allows freedom of speech, assembly and religion and you can do what you have to do to survive.”

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Black Tie Dinner 2015 Preview Party in Fort Worth

Posted on 27 Mar 2015 at 10:14am

Black Tie Dinner officials on Thursday announced the theme for the 2015 dinner, set for Nov. 14, and the 15 organizations chosen to share in proceeds from this year’s event. Dinner co-chairs Debra Davis and John Lawrimore made the announcements during a kickoff event held at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden.

The 2015 local beneficiaries are AIDS Interfaith Network, AIDS Outreach Center, AIDS Services of Dallas, Cathedral of Hope, Celebration Community Church, Congregation Beth El Binah, Equality Texas Foundation, Lambda Legal, Legacy Counseling Center, Legal Hospice of Texas, Northaven United Methodist Church, Resource Center, Turtle Creek Chorale, The Women’s Chorus of Dallas and Uptown Players.

The dinner’s national beneficiary is the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

Check out the full story in this week’s edition of the Dallas Voice.

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