Narvaez sworn in for 6 year term on Dallas County Schools Board

Posted on 21 May 2015 at 5:17pm
Narvaez sworn in

Dallas School Board Trustee Omar Narvaez, left, was sworn in by Judge Ken Molberg on May 20.

Judge Ken Molberg swore in Omar Narvaez for a six-year term on the Dallas County School Board. Narvaez was appointed to fill a vacancy last year and was elected to his first full term.

Narvaez’s name was to appear on the November ballot, but he and board chair Larry Duncan were unopposed. Rather than expend almost $1 million in county schools funds, Narvaez and Duncan were declared the winners in their races. Both were sworn in at the regular monthly meeting on May 20.

POST A COMMENT »

Oregon governor signs reparative therapy ban into law

Posted on 21 May 2015 at 4:58pm
Brown.Kate

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown

Kudos to Oregon Gov. Kate Brown for signing House Bill 2307 into law, making Oregon the fourth jurisdiction — behind California, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia — to protect LGBT youth from the dangers of conversion therapy.

The ban goes into effect immediately.

The law protects LGBT youth from mental health providers attempting to change their sexual orientation or gender identity through practices that are linked to substance abuse, extreme depression and suicide.

Brown is the state’s second female governor and the country’s first out bisexual governor.

Banning “gay cures” has been gaining wider acceptance. The practice is condemned by every medical and psychological association.

In Texas, state Rep. Celia Israel introduced a similar measure that did not get out of committee.

Earlier today, we reported the Central Conference of American Rabbis condemned the practice as well.

POST A COMMENT »

BREAKING: Accord reached on Pastor Protection Act, guaranteeing religious freedom and marriage equality

Posted on 21 May 2015 at 2:33pm

Texas-CapitolA bill reaffirming the rights of clergy to refuse to perform marriages — including same-sex marriages — that violate their religious beliefs has passed in the Texas House on a bipartisan vote, after its sponsor reassured legislators clergy may only refuse to perform those marriages in their official capacity.

SB 2065 passed 141-2 after questions about whether clergy members who also serve as county clerks, justices of the peace or in other government capacities may deny licenses to same-sex couples, interfaith couples and other couples they may find objectionable.

In a moving statement before its passage, openly lesbian Rep. Mary Gonzalez, D-El Paso, commended the bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Scott Sanford, R-McKinney, for carrying it. She told the floor she believes LGBT justice and religious freedom may coexist.

Despite rumors that Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia, intended to try and attach his anti-gay HB 4105 to Sanford’s bill as an amendment, the amendment never came. HB 4105 would have withheld pay from county clerks issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. It died last week without coming to a vote.

POST A COMMENT »

UPDATE: Gates tells Boy Scouts to change policy

Posted on 21 May 2015 at 12:37pm
Gates.Robert

Boy Scouts President Robert Gates

Robert Gates, president of the Irving-based Boy Scouts of America, has called on the organization to change its policy on gay scout leaders.

“I remind you of the recent debates we have seen in places like Indiana and Arkansas over discrimination based on sexual orientation, not to mention the impending U.S. Supreme Court decision this summer on gay marriage,” he said.

He said he wasn’t asking the board to make any changes at this meeting, but said he was speaking to them as bluntly as he did when he headed the CIA and Defense Department.

“We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be. The status quo in our movement’s membership standards cannot be sustained,” he said.

Gates said more councils will contest the gay ban and the BSA could revoke their memberships. As states implement nondiscrimination policies, he said, the Boy Scouts could simply be ordered to change its employment policies.

“We must all understand that this probably will happen sooner rather than later,” he said.

Gates said it was better to act sooner and create policies that would allow church-chartered troops to set standards consistent with their religious beliefs and allow others to follow their beliefs.

Resource Center CEO Cece Cox released the following statement:

“The Center supports President Gates’ call for the Boy Scouts of America to end the ban that has forced LGBT Scout leaders to lie about who they are. It is a common-sense reflection of where the nation is on LGBT issues and involvement in everyday life.

“We urge Scouting leadership to take formal action and repeal the ban. Qualified LGBT Scout leaders should be able to participate in and contribute to an iconic American institution where honesty and trustworthiness are bedrock principles, without a dated and arcane policy standing in the way.

“The announcement from President Gates is yet another step toward comprehensive change that the Center first called for in February 2013. We would like to see the Scouts ensure open participation in all its activities by adopting a comprehensive LGBT nondiscrimination policy. The Center is hopeful that Scouting will make this positive change.”

POST A COMMENT »

Rabbinical group condemns conversion therapy

Posted on 21 May 2015 at 11:05am
Eger.Denise

Rabbi Denise Eger

In a long overdue ruling, the Central Conference of American Rabbis condemned “conversion therapy.” The CCAR is the rabbinical association of Reform rabbis.

While Reform Judaism began welcoming gay and lesbian Jews into congregations in the 1960s and officially recognized same-sex marriage in 1997, most Orthodox still condemn gays and lesbians and have encouraged “conversion therapy.”

The Orthodox conversion therapy organization is called JONAH and has been condemned by all Jewish groups, including the Union for Reform Judaism, the organization of Reform synagogues in North America. JONAH is based in New Jersey, which has banned use of “conversion therapy” on minors. The organization was founded by Arthur Goldberg, who was an executive vice president of a Wall Street investment bank convicted for fraud.

“Reform Judaism has long recognized that the diversity of sexual orientations and gender identities is something to be celebrated and affirmed, not a condition to be treated,” said Rabbi Steven A. Fox, the Chief Executive of the CCAR. “The Reform Rabbinate has long been at the forefront of advocating for full equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender individuals and the extension of protection of individuals of all ages.”

Gay and lesbian rabbis have been ordained for decades and at least one transgender rabbi has been ordained. But it took a lesbian heading the CCAR to call attention to the issue of “conversion therapy” and condemn it.

Earlier this year, the CCAR’s 2,000 members elected Rabbi Denise Eger as its president. Eger is lesbian has been rabbi at Congregation Kol Ami, a predominantly LGBT Reform synagogue in Los Angeles since the early 1990s. She is expected to be in Dallas for the installation of her friend The Rev. Neil G. Cazares-Thomas as Cathedral of Hope’s new senior pastor.

POST A COMMENT »

Turtle Creek Chorale history added to UNT archives

Posted on 20 May 2015 at 12:32pm

The Turtle Creek Chorale donated its entire catalog of recorded music and videos to The Dallas Way at its weekly rehearsal last night (Tuesday, May 19).

The Chorale is the most recorded male chorus in history with 38 CDs and four DVDs including the Emmy-winning “After Goodbye: An AIDS Story.”

Members of The Dallas Way, the North Texas LGBT history project, and University of North Texas, the repository for items donated through The Dallas Way and other LGBT organizations and individuals, were on hand to receive the donation.

Chorale Executive Director Bruce Jaster, along with chorale President Kevin Hodges, passed a basket of the recordings to Mike Anglin. Anglin was a founder of both The Dallas Way and Turtle Creek Chorale and, as an attorney, incorporated both organizations.

Anglin told the story of another Chorale founder, John Thomas, asking him to incorporate the Chorale into a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Anglin laughed and said, “Aren’t you just going to sing?” But the Chorale grew into a million-dollar organization that has traveled around the world performing and is an anchor organization in the Dallas Arts District.

Anglin passed the collection to Dreanna Belden, UNT Libraries assistant dean for external relations, who will add it to the LGBT collection and portal to Texas history.

Jaster also announced Chorale member Tri Truong would become the organization’s new marketing director.

After the presentation, the chorale began rehearsing for its next concert, Turtle-ly 80s at 7:30 p.m. on June 12 and 13 and 2:30 p.m. on June 14 at City Performance Hall, 2520 Flora St. Tickets are available here.

POST A COMMENT »

State Department sends reps to Jamaica to discuss LGBT rights as JFLAG plans 1st Pride

Posted on 20 May 2015 at 12:08pm

Screen shot 2015-05-20 at 12.06.40 PM

Randy Berry, special envoy for the human rights of LGBT persons, and USAID Senior LGBT Coordinator Todd Larson leave for Jamaica tomorrow (Thursday, May 21), to discuss the rights of LGBT people and other marginalized groups with Jamaican leaders, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of State.

Berry and Larson will spend three days in Jamaica meeting with representatives from the Jamaican government as well as religious, business, academic and civil society organization leaders.

Homosexuality remains criminalized in Jamaica, and the Caribbean Island is well-know for homophobia and violence against LGBT people. Human Rights Watch released a report last October documenting 56 cases of violence against LGBT people.

An organization called JFLAG has announced plans to stage the island’s first LGBT Pride celebrations in August this year. The theme for the celebration is “The Pride of a People: Breaking the Rules of Oppression,” and JFLAG has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise the $10,000 needed to pay for Pride.

POST A COMMENT »

BREAKING: Bell’s HB 4105 resurrected as an amendment, to be voted on as soon as tomorrow

Posted on 20 May 2015 at 11:47am
Bell-Cecil

Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia.

Texas state Rep. Cecil Bell, R-Magnolia, intends to attach an amendment similar to his previous bill barring the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples to a bill protecting clergy from being forced to perform same-sex marriages during a House floor vote on Thursday, May 21.

Bell filed HB 4105, also known as “The Preservation and Sovereignty of Marriage Act,”  ahead of an anticipated summer Supreme Court ruling legalizing marriage equality. It would have withheld pay from county clerks issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. After its defeat last week, Bell told reporters he wasn’t giving up on it.

Though an amendment must be considered germane to a bill, Equality Texas reports that Bell intends to attach HB 4105 to SB 2065, which passed the Senate last week on a 21-10 vote with all Republicans and one Democrat voting for it.

While HB 4105 died before it could get a vote, it garnered  support from the majority of the House HOP caucus.

During the debate over SB 2065, the ACLU, Equality Texas and Texas Freedom Network advocated for language that a clergy member may only refuse to officiate marriages that violate their conscience “in that official capacity.” Despite their efforts Estes refused in both the State Affairs Committee hearing and on the Senate floor to add the language.

Without the four words, opponents argued, faith leaders may be able to refuse to perform same-sex marriage if they serve in a secular capacity, such as justice of the peace or county clerk.

Proponents, including numerous conservative faith leaders, argued the bill was necessary to protect their right to deny performing a same-sex marriage.

POST A COMMENT »

Jindal’s end run around fairness and equality

Posted on 20 May 2015 at 10:56am
Jindal.Bobby

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal

Just hours after a so-called “religious freedom” bill died in the Louisiana Legislature on Tuesday, May 19, Gov. Bobby Jindal had issued an executive order allowing businesses to discriminate based on owners’/operators’ religious beliefs on marriage.

“We are disappointed by the committee’s action to return the Louisiana Marriage and Conscience Act to the calendar,” Jindal said in a statement Tuesday afternoon, according to a New Orleans Times-Picayune report. “We will be issuing an Executive Order shortly that will … prevent the state from discriminating against persons or entities with deeply held religious beliefs that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

The Times-Picayune notes Jindal told reporters the order was issued Tuesday afternoon and went into effect immediately. The order will remain in effect until 60 days after the end of the next legislative session. The next governor, however, can repeal it upon entering office in January, if he or she chooses.

The New Orleans newspaper also quoted state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, who criticized the timing of the order, as well as Jindal’s decision to buck the will of the Legislature.

“It’s a sinful attempt to deflect from the failures of what should be the top legislative priority, what we’re dealing with every day, which is a bogus state budget,” she said from the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon.

The Washington Post today (Wednesday, May 20), noted that Jindal’s executive order nearly mirrors the content and intent of the failed “Marriage and Conscience Act,” which itself closely resembles Religious Freedom Restoration Acts like the one that was vetoed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson after an outcry from businesses, led by Wal-Mart, and the one recently enacted in Indiana, throwing that whole state into an uproar and hitting the Hoosier pocketbook hard and fast.

A similar measure died last week in the Texas Legislature.

The Post notes that one of the main reasons the Marriage and Conscience Act died in the Louisiana Legislature is because lawmakers feared it would impact the state’s economy, and would be especially harmful to tourism in a state that thrives on its visitors:

New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau Chief Executive Stephen Perry called the bill “a radioactive, poisonous message,” saying it could cost the state $65 million per year.

But Jindal, in New York Times op-ed last month, said money doesn’t matter: “As the fight for religious liberty moves to Louisiana, I have a clear message for any corporation that contemplates bullying our state: Save your breath,” he wrote.

Louisiana Democratic Party Executive Director Stephen Handwerk predicted that the executive order will substantially harm the tourism industry in the state. “Gov. Jindal’s stunt today once again underlines his disregard for Louisiana families, his disdain for the state legislature and his apparent contempt for the state’s tourism industry — the only segment of our economy his failed policies haven’t crippled,” Handwerk said.

The Post also pointed out that Jindal’s decision to stage an end run around the Legislature seems especially hypocritical, considering his attacks on President Barack Obama’s use of executive orders in connection with immigration reform.

POST A COMMENT »

LeTourneau bans dating for gay athletes, support for marriage equality

Posted on 19 May 2015 at 2:56pm

Screen shot 2015-05-19 at 2.37.51 PMLeTourneau University, an NCAA Division III school in Longview, has specifically banned any gay student-athletes attending the school from dating, and has banned vocal support among students for marriage equality. Any athlete caught engaging in such “immoral behavior” could be kicked off his or her team.

According to OutSports.com: “The school’s student-athlete handbook, complete with NCAA logo, now reads:

“Consistent with our desire to celebrate and model a Scriptural approach to sexuality, the University prohibits same-sex dating behaviors and public advocacy for the position that sex outside of a biblically-defined marriage is morally acceptable.”

LeTourneau Univ. is an inter-denominational Christian school with an enrollment of about a couple thousand students. The school has a history of being anti-gay, having once brought in “ex-gay” speaker Christopher Yuan to talk about how God can make people not be gay.

POST A COMMENT »