U.S. Marine charged with murder of transwoman in Philippines

Posted on 15 Dec 2014 at 11:12am

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Prosecutors in the Phillipine Islands today (Monday, Dec. 15) charged a U.S. Marine in the October murder of a transwoman.

According to the Associated Press, Prosecutor Emilie de los Santos found “probable cause” that Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton attacked Jennifer Laude after learning she was trans. He has been in custody since shortly after the October incident.

“It’s murder,” de los Santos said after filing the charge against the 19-year-old Pemberton. “It was aggravated by treachery, abuse of superior strength and cruelty.”

Pemberton will not be allowed to post bail, she said. Murder is punishable by up to 40 years in jail, reported The Guardian.

“This is not an ordinary murder. This is heinous because she was beaten up,” the Laude family lawyer, Harry Roque, told reporters.

Pemberton and friends met Laude and other woman the night of the murder. According to witnesses, Pemberton and Laude checked into a motel, and Pemberton fled after he killed Laude.

Marine Lance Corporal Jairn Michael Rose was among those with Pemberton that night. He told prosecutors Pemberton admitted to the murder back at their ship.

“I think I killed a he/she,” Pemberton said, according to Rose.

The incident reignited a debate between the Philippines and the United States regarding custody of U.S. military personnel accused of crimes in the Phillipines. U.S. officials evenutally agreed to move Pemberton from custody aboard a U.S. Navy vessel into the custody of Phillipino officials.

The case is a haunting reminder to transgender activists of the case of  U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith, who was sentenced to 40 years in jail in 2006 after being found guilty of raping a transwoman. He was, however, acquitted in 2009 after his accuser recanted her statement.


Christmas Stocking Auction raises funds for Legacy Founders Cottage

Posted on 15 Dec 2014 at 10:59am

The annual Christmas Stocking Auction at the Round-Up Saloon on Sunday, Dec. 14 raised $19,000 for Legacy Counseling Center’s Legacy Founders Cottage. Founders Cottage provides hospice and rehabilitative care for people living with HIV.


UPDATE: South Carolina’s continued fight against marriage equality may bite it in the ass

Posted on 15 Dec 2014 at 10:56am

S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson


Attorneys for the Kleckley/Condon case in Charleston, S.C. filed for reimbursement of $151,709 in legal fees. Those representing Bradacs and Goodwin have not yet filed for reimbursement of legal fees.


Attorneys in Wisconsin have filed for reimbursement of $1.2 million in legal fees after successfully challenging that state’s marriage ban. Plaintiffs claim the large fee is due to the state’s vigorous defense of the law that discriminates against gay and lesbian couples.


South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announced he will continue to fight marriage equality in the state, so the winning side is requesting the state pay its legal fees.

The case was filed by Katherine Bradacs and Tracie Goodwin, who were married in Washington, D.C. Bradacs is a South Carolina Highway Patrol trooper and Goodwin is an Air Force veteran. They have three children. They won their case by summary judgement and Wilson’s request for a stay was denied.

South Carolina is in the 4th Circuit where Wilson remains the only attorney general continuing to fight marriage equality. Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina — all also in the 4th Circuit — all became marriage equality states after the Supreme Court rejected a Virginia appeal in October.

Now, the attorneys for Bradacs and Goodwin have filed a petition in federal court seeking $152,709 in compensation for legal fees. The attorneys said that, if successful, the money will go to Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and the South Carolina Equality Coalition.

Should the marriage equality attorneys prevail, defending discrimination could become expensive for Wilson and the defenders of bigotry because the attorney general continues to defend other marriage equality suits as well.

Federal law informally refers to lawyers acting in the public interest as private attorneys general. When defending basic constitutional rights, the law allows the winning plaintiffs to seek compensation from the losing defendant because citizens must hire their own attorneys to defend their basic rights.

No word on plaintiffs in other states also seeking compensation.


BREAKING: Judge won’t lift stay in Texas gay marriage case

Posted on 12 Dec 2014 at 11:02am

GayTexasFlagA federal judge has declined to allow Texas same-sex couples to marry before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals can rule on the case.

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia in San Antonio declared Texas’ same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional in February. But he stayed the ruling anticipating an appeal by Texas officials. Then–Attorney General and now Governor-elect Greg Abbott, a Republican, filed an appeal.

The Fifth Circuit has scheduled a hearing for Jan. 9 for the Texas case as well as for Mississippi and Louisiana.




Black Tie Dinner distribution party

Posted on 12 Dec 2014 at 9:41am

Black Tie Dinner distributed $1 million on Dec. 11 at the Renaissance Hotel.


Dallas Voice investigation lands National Family Coalition in hot water

Posted on 11 Dec 2014 at 5:24pm

AFC Side 1The group behind an anti-LGBT mailer in the Senate District 10 race is now subject to a campaign finance complaint in Colorado.

The complaint against the National Family Coalition and other groups was filed Dec. 9 by Mario Nicolais and Lang Sias, two former Republican candidates for the Colorado Senate.

I first broke the story about an anti-LGBT mailer sent by the Virginia-based National Family Coalition to residents of the state’s only competitive senate seat, Senate District 10, a week before the Nov. 4 elections. A follow-up investigative piece published Nov. 3 revealed the murky origins of the group, which is connected to many hard-right operatives in Colorado and Virginia.

Check out the complaints against the National Family Coalition, Christian Coalition of Colorado, Colorado for Family Values and Colorado Citizens for Right to Work here. Check out the separate complaint against Colorado Campaign for life here.



Fort Worth ‘pastor’ threatens ‘faggots’ with death

Posted on 11 Dec 2014 at 12:17pm
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“Pastor” Donnie Romero

As marriage equality spreads and cities like Plano pass nondiscrimination ordinances, LGBT bigots are becoming more venomous.

Pastor Donnie Romero of Stedfast Baptist Church in Fort Worth is preaching that gays should be put to death.

The website for the church does not list an address, so it’s unknown whether this is a real congregation. In a video the church released, Romero is posed at a podium against a blank wall.

“I’m not going to let these dirty faggots in my church,” he says on a video he released. “They’re all pedophiles.”

The only voices in the background is a baby’s cry and the voice of one man. Those sounds may have been added to this manufactured piece.

However, the “pastor” does seem to be threatening the lives of people and Fort Worth police have been contacted.


Same-sex couples half as likely to divorce as straights

Posted on 11 Dec 2014 at 11:20am

Williams-Institute-Logo copyA new study by the Williams Institute found that gay and lesbian couples who marry are half as likely to divorce as straight couples.

The study found that 1.1 percent of same-sex couples dissolve their relationships each year while 2 percent of opposite-sex couples divorce.

While same-sex marriage is new in most states, the statistics include 13 years of data from domestic partnerships in California and almost 10 years of data from civil unions in New Jersey.

The study also found female couples are more likely than male couples to formalize their relationships. Also, even in states that already had marriage equality, same-sex couples were more likely to marry after the Windsor decision that struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act.


Olgin murder trial update

Posted on 10 Dec 2014 at 2:06pm
David Strickland

David Strickland

David Strickland appeared for a status hearing in November in a case in which he pleaded not guilty to multiple charges, including murder, in connection with a 2012 attack on lesbian couple Mollie Olgin and Kristene Chapa in Portland, Texas.

Demonstrators outside the courtroom demanded the defendant be charged with a hate crime as well as for sexually assaulting both women, shooting both and killing one. Although detectives never ruled out hate as a motive, prosecutors said there was no evidence the attack was a hate crime.

The attack took place in a park about midnight on a Saturday night in June 2012. Both Chapa and Olgin were shot. Chapa survived.

Vigils were held in both Dallas and Fort Worth at the time of the murder and more than $2,000 was raised in the area to help Crime Stoppers find the murderer.

The trial will take place in the San Patricio County Courthouse in Sinton, north of Corpus Christi.

Strickland’s wife was also arrested in June. She was suspected of tampering with evidence, but that charge has been dropped.

Strickland appeared in court wearing a bullet-proof vest and defense attorneys may ask for a change of venue. The next hearing is set for Feb. 6.


Fayetteville repeals nondiscrimination ordinance

Posted on 10 Dec 2014 at 11:48am

map_of_fayetteville_arVoters in Fayetteville, Ark., repealed a nondiscrimination ordinance passed by the city council in August. The special election was held on Tuesday, Dec. 9.

According to the Fayetteville Flyer, the vote was 7,523 votes for repeal and 7,040 against.

The ordinance prohibited landlords from evicting someone or businesses from firing someone because of sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic background, marital status or veteran status.

Voters in Fayetteville repealed a similar law in 1998, according to the city’s newspaper.

So it’s now legal once again to fire someone because he’s a veteran or deny housing to a couple who was legally married in Arkansas earlier this year.