New York Assembly passes ban on reparative therapy ban for minors

Posted on 29 Apr 2015 at 2:31pm

NYSCapitolPanoramaThe New York Assembly passed a bill today, 94-23, (Wednesday, April 29) to ban the practice of reparative therapy on minors. It now heads to the state Senate.

Empire State Pride Agenda, the state’s LGBT advocacy organization, praised the move on Facebook, thanking the bill’s author, Deborah Glick, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, both Democrats, for its swift passage.

Conversion therapy, as it is commonly called, is most often used on LGBT minors to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Formally barring the process is nothing new. Numerous medical and mental health organizations, including the American Psychiatric Association and American Medical Association, have long denounced the practice. But the nationwide momentum to legally the bar practice is gaining steam following the December suicide of a young transwoman, Leelah Alcorn.

Earlier this month U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-California, re-introduced the Stop Harming Our Kids Resolution, which calls on states to protect minors from the practice, also known as “conversion therapy.”

President Barack Obama called for an end to the discredited practice earlier this month in response to a WhiteHouse.gov petition written by senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, and signed by more than 120,00 people calling for a ban on the practice.

Similar bills have gained steam in other states and already California, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. have enacted laws protecting LGBT youth from conversion therapy. In Texas, Rep. Celia Israel, D-Austin, introduced HB 3495 to ban conversion therapy. It is currently awaiting a committee hearing.

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DNC Memo on GOP candidates and same-sex weddings

Posted on 29 Apr 2015 at 1:40pm

I get all kinds of email from all kinds of people, ALL THE TIME.

Even when we aren’t gearing up for — or in the middle of — an election cycle, a lot of those emails are political in nature. The Democraic Party sends out its emails; the GOP does the same. There is always some political crisis at hand — some candidate needs money, some petition needs signing, some event needs me to attend. And it’s always urgent. If I don’t ACT NOW something drastic and horrible is gonna happen.

Usually, I just hit delete and move on. Regardless of what I think about a candidate or a political party or a cause, these emails usually just come off as over-blown hype.

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Mo Elleithee

This time, though, I opened the email. And it occurred to me that the “DNC Memo” had a really great point. So I decided to share this one here, in it’s entirety:

From: Mo Elleithee, DNC Communications Director
To: Interested Parties
Date: April 29, 2015
Re: The ridiculous GOP answer on same-sex weddings
It appears that the new, burning, hard-hitting question that GOP presidential hopefuls are tripping all over is whether or not they would attend a same-sex wedding of someone they personally knew and cared for.
Here’s what they’ve said.
Bush:  Sure, if I care about the person.
Rubio: Sure, but I don’t have to like it.
Kasich: Yes, but I don’t have to like it.
Perry:  Probably.
Cruz:  I haven’t been faced with that circumstance.
Santorum:  No.
Walker:  I’ve been to a reception, but not a wedding.
Jindal: Sure, if I care about the person.
Fiorina:  Yes, but only if it’s NOT in a church.
This is getting ridiculous.
Here’s the real answer:  if they had their way, NONE of these candidates would attend a same-sex wedding, because ALL of these candidates believe that same-sex marriages should be illegal.
So, you’ll forgive me for not being impressed by a Republican presidential candidate who would go to a same-sex wedding for someone they know, when they oppose weddings for people they don’t.

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Get your tickets for Bloomin Ball

Posted on 29 Apr 2015 at 9:49am

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AIDS Interfaith Network‘s largest annual fundraiser, The Bloomin’ Ball, is coming up May 9 at The Hilton Anatole Hotel. Tickets are $150 each, or $1,200 for a table of eight (available here).

The event will include the presentation of Crystal Hope Awards to Sam Bowers and Glen Romero (individuals), Dallas Light and Sound (corporate), and Auntjuan Wiley (faith community). The celebration is presented by Texas Instruments.

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Wells Fargo, AT&T top list of best companies for LGBT employees

Posted on 29 Apr 2015 at 9:00am

AT&T logoLocally based AT&T made the No. 2 spot on DiversityInc’s list of Top 10 Companies for LGBT Employees.

Wells Fargo, which has offices in Dallas, was named top employer. That company released a new ad this week about a lesbian couple learning sign language as they prepare to welcome their new hearing-impaired daughter into their lives.

DiversityInc is looking for best practices that create an inclusive workplace including:

• Whether the company has an active LGBT employee resource group
• Percentage of philanthropic endeavors aimed at LGBT nonprofits
• Whether the company attempts to track the number of LGBT people in the workplace, including voluntary disclosure
• Whether the corporate website features images and text of LGBT employees, customers or vendors
• Whether the company certifies LGBT vendors with the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce
• Percentage of procurement spent with certified LGBT vendors

The top 10:

1. Wells Fargo
2. AT&T
3. Time Warner
4. Marriott International
5. EY
6. Eli Lilly and Company
7. KPMG
8. Accenture
9. MassMutual Financial Group
10. PricewaterhouseCoopers

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Another anti-gay-voting Republican is outed, and he’s ok with that

Posted on 28 Apr 2015 at 5:22pm
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State Rep. Randy Boehning

Another Republican lawmaker with a record of anti-gay votes has been outed by someone he sent photos of his junk to on Grindr. But in a refreshing change of pace, this guy isn’t trying to convince anyone he really isn’t gay.

According to InForum.com, North Dakota state Rep. Randy Boehning of Fargo says his exchange on Grindr, complete with a photo of his penis, was made public in retaliation for his vote against SB 2279, which would have protected LGBT North Dakotans from discrimination. Boehning didn’t say who he thought was behind the outing, just that he had been warned by a Capitol employee that another legislator was going to out him if he didn’t stop voting against gay rights bills.

InForum reports: “The exchange came to light when Dustin Smith, a 21-year-old Bismarck man with no known connections to the Capitol, contacted The Forum earlier this month, saying he recognized Boehning from a gay dating smartphone app called Grindr. Chatting under the user name Top Man!, Boehning sent Smith sexually suggestive messages and, in the early morning hours of March 12, an unsolicited photo of his penis, according to exchanges reviewed by The Forum.”

When first asked about the Grindr messages two weeks ago, Boehning declined to comment. But on Saturday, April 25, the lawmaker confirmed that he is Top Man!, and said that sending the photo was not a lapse in judgment on his part because, well duh! That’s what gay guys on Grindr do!

He told The Forum: “That’s what gay guys do on gay sites, don’t they? That’s how things happen on Grindr. It’s a gay chat site. It’s not the first thing you do on that site. That’s what we do, exchange pics on the site.”

Boehning also said that he is attracted to women as well as to men, and that he is relieved that his secret is out: “The 1,000-pound gorilla has been lifted. I have to confront it at some point.”

He also said that he voted against the anti-discrimination bill because he is representing the interests of his constituents, and that’s the way they wanted him to vote.

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LGBT advocates gather following SCOTUS marriage hearing

Posted on 28 Apr 2015 at 4:59pm

Local LGBT advocates and allies held a press conference outside of the Dallas County Records Building this afternoon (Tuesday, April 28, to show their support for marriage equality following a historic Supreme Court hearing held earlier today that could result in the legalization of marriage equality nationwide.

The combined cases, Obergefell v. Hodges and DeBoer et al v. Snyder, were heard over two-and-a-half hours.

Among the speakers outside the Records Building in Dallas were a broad coalition of faith and policy leaders and advocates, including Resource Center’s CEO Cece Cox, Omar Narvaez, community educator for Lambda Legal’s South Central Regional Office and Dallas County Schools board member, the Rev. Colleen Darraugh of MCC Greater Dallas and the Rev. Eric Folkerth, Northaven United Methodist Church. Two couples — Northaven congregants Jack Evans and George Harris of Dallas and Isabel Marquez and Victoria Estrada of Lewisville — also participated.

Each laid out the legal and theological justifications for marriage equality and shared personal experiences.

Darraugh said a ruling for marriage equality would “mean liberty and justice for all.” She added she married her partner in Canada and has recently wed couples in Oklahoma, where same-sex marriage is legal.

Narvaez said the fight for LGBT equality does not end with marriage.

“Same-sex marriage doesn’t end discrimination,” he said. “There is a lot of work to do.”

Resource Center’s Rafael McDonnell, who introduced the speakers, said the location of the conference was symbolic because the district clerk’s office, which is on the second floor of the building, is responsible for issuing marriage licenses.

“When the Supreme Court ruling comes in favor of marriage equality, LGBT couples will come to this office,” he said.

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Phariss and Holmes get Capitol flag

Posted on 28 Apr 2015 at 3:51pm
Mark Phariss, left, and Vic Holmes

Mark Phariss, left, and Vic Holmes

How cool is this.

Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes, the Texas marriage equality plaintiffs from Plano, met with Tyler Moran, an aide to Sen. Harry Reid.  Phariss asked Moran if they could get the flag that would fly over the Capitol today, the day of the SCOTUS hearing.

Each day different flags are flown over the Capitol and they’re given to people to commemorate special events.

Phariss and Holmes just got word they’re getting the flag.

They’re flying back to Dallas tonight and they’ll be our guests on Lambda Weekly at 1 p.m. on Sunday on 89.3 KNON-fm.

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Local attorney comments on Supreme Court hearing he attended

Posted on 28 Apr 2015 at 2:56pm
Rudner.Steve

Steve Rudner outside the U.S. Supreme Court

Steve Rudner, a local attorney and president of the Equality Texas Foundation board, was in the Supreme Court this morning (Tuesday, April 28) during oral arguments on marriage equality. He was admitted as a Supreme Court bar member, rather than having to stand in line as a member of the general public.

Rudner said watching Justice Anthony Kennedy was fascinating. Kennedy, who wrote the Windsor v. U.S. and Lawrence v. Texas opinions for the court, is widely expected to write the decision in this case as well.

Kennedy began his questioning by asking about changing the constitutional definition of marriage as a right two people have. He was worried about how fast change is made in social issues in the country.

Rudner said his believes the turning point was when Kennedy said the amount of time between Brown v. Board of Education case and Loving v. Virginia was the same amount of time as between Lawrence and this case. He said he thinks Kennedy answered his own question and he believes the right amount of time has passed.

Chief Justice Roberts may vote along with the majority, Rudner said, although the chief justice didn’t ask enough questions for Rudner to get a good sense of where he stood.

He thought one of the best comments was made by Justice Kagan who said the court defines constitutional rights and doesn’t decide who gets to exercise those rights.

Rudner said he despite the protesters outside the court, about 90 percent of those at the court building favored same-sex marriage and as many as 95 percent inside the court were on the side of equality.

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Please, Texas Legislature, please literally get out of my private life

Posted on 28 Apr 2015 at 1:48pm

11053437_10203727216931427_7578301496571722454_oAllow me to vent.

Oh my God, y’all.

I can’t stand it anymore.

The Texas Legislature won’t get out of my private life.

No, really.

I mean, I can’t get away from them.

Just a few weeks ago I went into the fucking grocery store and thought I saw Sen. Don Huffines. I get back to my apartment and see the damned Huffines car dealership logo on every other neighbor’s car.

When trying to escape the freshman senator’s clutches I drive past the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine and the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth and think about Rep. J.D. Sheffield., an osteopath. As I crack open a beer, hoping to escape the freshman Dallas senator’s clutches, I then swear I see Sen. Bob Hall! (Well, OK, I’m bound to see him if I’m watching The Walking Dead.) Just last week, I said “Jane Nelson Mandela” instead of “Nelson Mandela.” Those two are NOT the same, folks. I see Dennis Bonnen in the wildest of places – well, ok, I really don’t have a problem with that.

Sometimes in all my insomnia and delirium, I ask myself “what would Lois Kolkhorst do?”

To which I imagine she’ll say, “Have a life.”

Sine die, folks.

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