Largest male escort and companion website’s headquarters raided

Posted on 25 Aug 2015 at 3:38pm

RBLogoFederal agents this morning (Tuesday, Aug. 25) raided the Manhattan headquarters of Rentboy.com and arrested seven employees, including CEO Jeffrey Hurant, alleging the world’s largest male escort site promotes prostitution and engages in money laundering.

The site, founded in 1997, bills itself as “the world’s destination to meet the perfect male escort or masseur.” Escorts and masseurs pay to advertise on the site, sometimes shelling out several hundreds of dollars to find clients. For a minimum monthly fee, users can search for escorts, masseurs and rent boys based on location, as well as rates, age, talent and physical features.

While the site posts numerous disclaimers that ads are for companionship and not sexual services, prosecutors believe the site violates federal law against sex work.

“As alleged, Rentboy.com attempted to present a veneer of legality, when in fact this internet brothel made millions of dollars from the promotion of illegal prostitution,” Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Kelly Curie said in a statement.

“The facilitation and promotion of prostitution offenses across state lines and international borders is a federal crime made even more egregious when it’s blatantly advertised by a global criminal enterprise,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Sorge of Homeland Security Investigations of New York. “HSI will use its unique authorities to disrupt and dismantle such organizations and seize the millions of dollars in illegal proceeds they generate.”

Along with seizing nearly $1.4 million from six bank accounts, the government was also taking steps to shut down the site.

Hurant is currently awaiting a court appearance in New York.

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HERO opponents air first ad, citing trans bathroom panic

Posted on 25 Aug 2015 at 2:33pm
Anti-HERO groups anti trans ad

A campaign image released by opponents of Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance reveals the group’s strategy for successful repeal.

Opponents of Houston’s Equal Rights Ordinance aired their first radio ad yesterday, the first of what they promise to be a barrage of ads ahead of the Nov. 3 ballot referendum that will decide the ordinance’s fate.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the Campaign for Houston‘s one-minute ad features a young woman concerned for her safety. She wants to get pregnant, she says, but is afraid because the ordinance “will allow men to freely go into women’s bathrooms, locker rooms and showers.

“That is filthy, that is disgusting and that is unsafe,” she states.

The nondiscrimination ordinance, which passed city council last year and has been mired in legal battles initiated by opponents since, includes protections for LGBT people, as well as other federally protected classes including sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, religion, disability, pregnancy, genetic information, family, marital or military status. Violators could be fined up to $5,000.

Opponents, including conservative Christian leaders, immediately gathered signatures for a ballot referendum. The city ultimately threw the petitions out, but opponents scored a victory earlier this month when the Texas Supreme Court forced the council to either repeal the ordinance or put it before voters on the Nov. 3 ballot.

City council members voted to put it before the voters on 12-5 vote.

Richard Carlbom, campaign manager for Houston Unites, which supports the ordinance, blasted the ad in a statement.

“The ad is grossly inaccurate. Nothing in the equal rights ordinance changes the fact that it is — and always will be — illegal to enter a restroom to harm or harass other people. The ad leaves out the fact that the law protects tens of thousands of Houstonians from job discrimination based upon their race, age, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability,” he said.

Houston Unites also plans to also broadcast media in support of the ordinance. But the campaign has not made any media buys yet, he told the Chronicle.

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Cazares-Thomas installed as pastor of Cathedral of Hope

Posted on 25 Aug 2015 at 9:59am

On Aug. 22, the Rev. Neil Cazares-Thomas was installed as the new pastor of Cathedral of Hope, the largest church in the world with a primary outreach to the LGBT community and allies. After a two-year search that began with the resignation of the previous pastor, the Rev. Jo Hudson, Cazares-Thomas was elected on April 12.

Photos of the event were taken by Barb Nunn.

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Coalition for Aging LGBT names board and committees

Posted on 24 Aug 2015 at 3:08pm
Flowers.Cannon

Cannon Flowers at Aging LGBT Summit

Coalition for Aging LGBT has named board members and set up committees. The group was formed this year to deal with issues specifically relating to the aging in the LGBT community.

The organization has begun to forge relationships with experts on LGBT aging at University of North Texas and Texas Christian University and with those at University of New Mexico with expertise on inter-generational benefits.

The organization is looking for a permanent home and, during its incubator stage, is deciding whether to file for its own nonprofit status or move under the umbrella of an existing nonprofit.

Results of a survey to measure needs and direction will be published before the end of this year.

Current plans are to establish a hotline for service referrals and to host a second summit on LGBT aging before the end of the year. The first summit, held in June, drew 120 participants.

Coalition organizer Cannon Flowers said the challenge is daunting. In Dallas County, there are more than 60,000 members of the LGBT community who are 45 or older. According to the U.S. Census, 27 percent of people older than 65 live alone. People in the LGBT community are less likely to have someone, like a child, to be there when they need care.

Board members and committee assignments:

Cannon Flowers, chair
Robert Emery, vice-chair
Gregory S. Gunter, secretary
Kathy Bowser
Rabbi Steve Fisch, chair: Faith-based outreach and activities
Mike McKay
Leslie McMurray, chair: Marketing and public relations
Bart Poché
Shelly L. Skeen, chair: Policy and legislative advocacy
Linus “Buster” Spiller-Craft
Lee Taft
Candace M. Thompson
Samuel G. Tornabene

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Celebration Community Church in Fort Worth breaks ground on expansion

Posted on 24 Aug 2015 at 2:05pm
CCC groundbreaking 8-23-15

Members of the Celebration Community Church Board of Directors join Rev. Carol A. West to turn the first shovelful of dirt to commence construction on a new community center in Fort Worth. (Photo courtesy of Celebration Community Church.)

The largest nondenominational church catering to the LGBT community in Tarrant County broke ground on a new facility for the LGBT community yesterday (Sunday, Aug. 23).

Once completed, leaders with Celebration Community Church say the Rev. Carol A. West Community Center will create a safe and inclusive space for the LGBT community.

New features will include more meeting space, enhanced recreational facilities and community gardens and a columbarium where church members can be laid to rest.

The church’s board voted to name the new building in honor West, who celebrates her 17th anniversary at the church this month.

“Quite often Rev. West speaks to us about stepping out on groundless ground,” said Ron Hill, chair of the board of directors. “It’s appropriate for us to remember that message as we step out in faith to build a church facility that will accommodate not only our growing congregation, but also the increasing number of GLBT community groups that rely on Celebration for meeting space.”

The new addition will include a formal entry lobby on the northwest corner of the property that will lead visitors to two large meeting rooms that, when combined, will accommodate 400 people.

The new structure will be tied to the existing sanctuary via a covered walkway.

Fundraising for the facility has been underway for the past few years.

Construction is expected to be completed in spring 2016.

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Miller, Garcia named honorary co-chairs of LifeWalk

Posted on 24 Aug 2015 at 1:38pm

LifewalkFormer Dallas Mayor Laura Miller and Dallas County Commissioner Elba Garcia have been named honorary co-chairs of the 25th annual LifeWalk.

LifeWalk benefits AIDS Arms and other area LGBT and AIDS agencies. The walk takes place on Sunday, Oct. 4 and begins and ends in Brenda and Peggy Lee Park (aka just Lee Park).

Last year, LifeWalk raised more than $592,000. This year, Team Clover has already raised more than $53,000 and the top individual fundraiser is Terrence Bax with more than $25,000. To donate to a team or individual, go here. To register to participate as an individual walker, go here.

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Illinois becomes 4th state to ban ‘conversion therapy’ for teens

Posted on 21 Aug 2015 at 5:02pm
Republican candidate for governor of Illinois Rauner prepares to speak at a public forum at the University of Chicago

Illinois Gov. Brucer Rauner

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner this week signed into law the Youth Mental Health Protection Act, making Illinois the fourth state in the U.S. to be so-called “reparative” or “conversion” therapy for LGBT youth. Other states that have already outlawed such practices are New Jersey, Oregon and California.

The law, which Rauner signed Thursday, Aug. 20, prohibits any mental health provider from trying to change the sexual orientation of anyone under age 18. It also prohibits mental health providers from referring a client or patient to any one else for “conversion” therapy. Attempts to change a young person’s sexual orientation or referring a patient to someone else for such treatments will now be considered unprofessional conduct and is subject to discipline by the licensing entity or disciplinary review board with jurisdiction.

Both the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association have long since condemned “conversion” or “reparative” therapy as discredited quackery. Both associations have said that being LGBT is not an illness nor a disorder and so LGBT people have no need of being repaired nor converted.

Many experts have also said that forcing LGBT individuals, especially LGBT youth, to undergo conversion therapy can be damaging to their mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.

Brent Holman-Gomez and Bob Schwartz, organizers of the LGBT advocacy organization Gay Liberation Network, first proposed legislation banning conversion therapy to state Reps. Kelly Cassidy and Greg Harris in January 2014. This week Holman-Gomez called enactment of the ban “a great advance in the rights of youth, and for society as a whole.”

Sam Wolfe, an attorney with Southern Poverty Law Center which also advocates against conversion therapy, said that Illinois lawmakers “did the right thing by passing a law to protect LGBT youth from the harmful and fraudulent practice … . What’s new and progressive about Illinois’ law banning this ‘therapy’ is that it’s the first to include a provision that says advertising this practice amounts to consumer fraud.”

Wolfe noted that in June a New Jersey jury found that a conversion therapy provider there violated the state’s consumer fraud law by offering such services.

“It is exciting to see the SPLC’s landmark consumer fraud case against a provider of conversion therapy so quickly have an influence on lawmakers,” Wolfe said of the Illinois law’s passage. “With federal legislation to ban conversion therapy pending, we hope — and expect — to see the drumbeat continue against this unconscionable practice.

Rauner signed the Youth Mental Health Protection Act just one day shy of the 60-day deadline by which the state’s constitution requires legislation be signed or vetoed by the governor, or it goes into effect automatically.

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Keller ISD trustee’s private meeting canceled, expresses concerns over ‘trolls’ and ‘these people’

Posted on 21 Aug 2015 at 3:44pm
Jo Lynn Haussmann

Keller ISD Trustee Jo Lynn Haussmann

A private meeting scheduled by Keller ISD trustee Jo Lynn Haussmann for Monday, Aug. 24, to discuss the district’s LGBT protections has been canceled, according to a screenshot shared with the Voice.

The meeting, originally scheduled at 7 p.m. at the Spring Creek BBQ in Keller, was described as a private gathering to discuss the proposed policy changes protecting LGBT employees and students from harassment and discrimination. But corporate concern over consequences of the event prompted its cancellation, the source said.

The Voice has left a message with Spring Creek BBQ’s corporate communications office.

On Facebook, however, Haussmann was concerned about finding a safe space for opponents of the measure to meet. Ordinance proponents were everywhere, she suggested, and could crash the event.

“We have to find a venue. Do you have any suggestions? We can’t find anywhere. The ‘trolls’ are after us and I can’t jeopardize a restauror [sic] any business with the threat of these people. It would be horrible publicity,” she wrote.

Haussmann along with her fellow trustee Brad Schofield vocally opposed the propose policy change, which was on the agenda for the board’s regularly scheduled meeting on Thursday, Aug. 13. The trustees, however, decided to postpone the vote.

Both Haussmann and Schofield rallied opponents to speak out at the packed meeting even after the district announced the delay.

Among those who spoke out against the ordinance was Haussmann’s son, Ken Romines. According to a video, seen below beginning at 2:08, he identified himself as a gay man who had been in a relationship with a man for 23 years and had owned one of the “largest gay clubs” in Colorado.

Romines recently moved back from Colorado and currently lives with Haussmann, a first-term trustee who was censured by her board last year for making inflammatory statements about Muslims.

At the meeting, Romines criticized student Casey Akers for wanting to stage a “promposal” for her female friend who did not have a date despite it going against district policy.

“Now to the two girls sitting in the lunch room,” Romines said, pointing to the crowd, “you are already equal. There was no bullying, no history of you having any issues…you simply got busted for a rule you broke.”

Akers said her issue was, however, with two administrators who initially agreed to let her ask her friend to prom but retracted permission after discovering her date-to-be was female. Administrators told her it “wasn’t appropriate” for a girl to ask another girl, she told the Dallas Voice.

Back on the Facebook forum, concerned citizens shared ideas for host locations for the “private town hall”:

“I emailed the police dept. they have a meeting room. I asked how many people it would hold,” Keller resident Kristi Dierenfeldt Lisenbee suggested.

Another poster, Lindsay Dyer French, offered her home, adding it was a “troll-free zone.”

“How many expected?” asked Kristen Magnus. “Shady Oaks has a party room. But they also have an outdoor grass area with a little stage. Perhaps you can ask them. They have musicians outside occasionally.”

But Lisenbee suggested they call it off for now. School starts Monday, after all.

“No, go ahead cancel. We don’t have time to get everything together by [Monday] and…it’s the first day of school, so I bet everyones [sic]day will be crazy. After we determine if the location works for us we can submitt [sic] a form to ask for the space,” she wrote.

After all, it is about the kids.

Video:

It was interesting to witness the wisdom of an older gay man who experienced discrimination vs a young LGBT Activist, pushing activist talking points.

Posted by Alice Linahan on Friday, August 14, 2015

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Judge grants first same-sex divorce in Tarrant County

Posted on 21 Aug 2015 at 10:54am
Harris.Bill.Tarrant County Family Justice

Tarrant County Family Court Justice William Harris

A Tarrant County judge granted the county’s first same-sex divorce yesterday (Thursday, Aug. 20).

Family Court Judge William Harris presided over the case, a year after Brooke Powell and Cori Jo Long first filed for a divorce in the state. The couple wed in New Hampshire in 2010 but filed for divorce last year.

Harris initially threw out the case since the state did not recognize same-sex marriages at the time.

The couple sought a divorce and not to void the marriage, because voiding a marriage “basically says it never existed,” Long’s attorney Sonya Carrillo told CBS 11.“Any rights and duties, responsibilities, benefits that you would have under the law from your marriage are gone. Just like it never happened.”

Texas began recognizing same-sex marriages following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision in June legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

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KNON finds new home, hopefully closer to Patti Fink

Posted on 20 Aug 2015 at 6:48pm
EBJ at KNON

Lambda Weekly co-hosts David Taffet and Patti Fink surrounded by dignitaries

KNON FM, the community radio station and host of the Lambda Weekly radio show, has found a new home.

Station manager Dave Chaos posted the news on Facebook.

“We are moving to 11311 North Central Expressway in Dallas. We searched high and low and then some more and have finally found a spot. [We discovered it] on a 110 degree afternoon at the end of a long day looking at places,” he wrote.

The station learned last month they would need to move from their current home on Maple Avenue by the end of September, but had nowhere to go.

The new location, 11311 North Central Expressway, is located southbound on Central Expressway service road between Forest and Royal.

It is the station’s third move in its 30-year history.

The current property will be razed and replaced by storage units.

Hopefully it will be close to Erin Moore and co-host Patti Fink’s home. I hear she’s often late.

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