World-famous Dallas Zoo giraffe Kipenzi dies

Posted on 29 Jul 2015 at 9:14am

IMG_9234Kipenzi, the Dallas Zoo’s 3-month-old giraffe, died on July 28 while playing in the large mammal habitat with Kopano, his half-brother. The April birth was seen live by millions on Animal Planet.

Zoo officials are studying the accident to find out what happened, but Kipenzi died instantly from a broken neck.

Here are some pictures of Kipenzi and Kopano I took in June:





One Indiana city tries to undo the state’s LGBT image problem and fails

Posted on 28 Jul 2015 at 3:13pm

Gov. Mike Pence

Indiana’s having no luck digging itself out of the homophobic hole it dug for itself when the legislature passed the fist so-call Religious Freedom Restoration Act to protect poor churches from discrimination by the big, bad gays.

After the law passed, the state lost a ton of business. Companies halted expansions in the state. Others cancelled travel to the state. Conventions were eighty-sixed and moved elsewhere.

Rather than fix the law or provide nondiscrimination protections, Gov. Mike Pence hired a PR firm.

Nothing has worked and the state is still suffering.

The mayor of one Indiana city — Elkhart —decided to do something about it, according to the Elkhart Truth. Mayor Dick Moore proposed a city LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance that would cover employment, housing and public accommodations.

Opponents rallied, using the insidious “men dressed as women will rape your girls in restrooms” argument. Moore and the city council were barraged (well, some council members claimed as many as 10 calls a day), so the proposal was withdrawn.

Pence isn’t backing down from his support of the state law that protects discrimination as long as someone screams religion. So maybe Indiana passed exactly the law it wanted and the state is proud to discriminate — even in a city whose mayor tried to do the right thing.


India Clarke, a black transwoman, found beaten to death in Florida park

Posted on 27 Jul 2015 at 4:46pm

India Clarke

India Clarke, a 25-year-old black transwoman, was found dead July 21 in a Tampa, Fla., park.

She is believed to be the 10th transwoman murdered in 2015, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.

She was found with “obvious signs of homicidal violence to the upper body,” according to a Hillsborough County news release. Clarke was also described as a “male dressed in women’s clothing” in the report.

“I’m hurting all over right now. I love my child. This was my baby, my youngest child. I just want to know who did this. I’m praying to God every night they find the person who took part of my life away from me. My daughter did not deserve this,” Clarke’s mother, Thelma Clarke, told ABC News.

“India Clark’s death is a tragedy, which is made worse by egregious misgendering by local police and media,” said Chai Jindasurat, Co-Director of Community Organizing and Public Advocacy at New York City Anti Violence Project. “We must honor India Clarke, and all of the transgender women, especially teams women of color, killed in this epidemic by supporting the leadership of transgender women, public awareness and respect campaigns, speaking out against this violence, and protecting transgender people from harassment and discrimination.”

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs’ (NCAVP) most recent report, Hate Violence Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and HIV-Affected Communities in the United States in 2014, documented 20 anti-LGBT homicides in 2014. Of those 20 homicides, 55 percent of victims were transgender women, and half were transgender women of color.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s office is investigating it as a homicide.


Boy Scouts voting today on gay scout leader ban

Posted on 27 Jul 2015 at 11:57am

Zach Wahls

The Boy Scouts of America will vote today on a policy to repeal its current ban on having openly gay scout leader. Results will be released tonight.

The new policy was approved unanimously earlier this year by its executive committee, headed by former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who implemented the end of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  The new policy would allow local units to select their own leaders, so church-sponsored groups could continue to discriminate against gays and lesbians in leadership roles. A year ago, a similar policy change allowed gay scouts to remain active until their 18th birthdays.

Zach Wahls, a straight Eagle Scout with two moms who founded Scouts for Equality, said it would be unprecedented for a recommendation by the national executive committee to be turned down.

Still, he called this vote only a partial victory if it passes tonight.

“Any discrimination sends a harmful message to kids,” he said.


BREAKING: Texas Supreme Court halts enforcement of Houston ERO

Posted on 24 Jul 2015 at 11:08am

Houston Mayor Annise Parker

The Texas Supreme Court released an opinion today (Friday, July 24) halting enforcement of the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.

The court stated the city council overstepped its boundaries when it invalidated a petition to repeal the ordinance via ballot referendum. The city ruled petitioners did not gather enough signatures to put it on the ballot.

“Any enforcement of the ordinance shall be suspended, and the City Council shall reconsider the ordinance. If the City Council does not repeal the ordinance by Aug. 24, 2015, then by that date the City Council must order that the ordinance be put to popular vote during the Nov. 2015 election,” according to the decision.

The opinion additionally faulted city staff for not verifying differing signatories not having an appeal process when a petition is rejected.

The measure bans discrimination based not just on sexual orientation and gender identity but also numerous other classes currently protected at the state and federal levels.

The ordinance applies to businesses that serve the public, private employers, housing, city employment and city contracting. Religious institutions would be exempt. Violators could be fined up to $5,000.

The decision is just the latest hurdle facing the embattled ordinance. The Houston ordinance passed in May of last year by an 11-6 vote. After its passage opponents halted the law’s enforcement through lawsuits and appeals. It has been in a legal tug of war ever since.

You can read the full decision here.

Last year, Dallas voters added sexual orientation and gender identity and expression to the nondiscrimination clause of the city charter with 77 percent of the vote.


PHOTOS: The Escobar family

Posted on 24 Jul 2015 at 10:51am

Julian Escobar sent us a number of photos to consider for our story “Physician, breed thyself.” We loved the pictures so much that we redid the cover with a picture of Paloma and Valentino. Here are more of the pictures Julian sent.


BREAKING: Boy Scouts lift ban on gay leaders

Posted on 24 Jul 2015 at 7:15am

890px-Boy_Scouts_of_America_corporate_trademark.svgThe Boy Scouts of America voted to lift the ban on gay Scout leaders. The new policy allows local troops or sponsors to decide whether or not to hire LGBT leaders. BSA will no longer ban gays or lesbians from working for the organization.

“On Monday, July 27, the National Executive Board ratified a resolution that removes the national restriction on openly gay adult leaders and employees,” the Boy Scouts said in a statement on its website. “Of those present and voting, 79 percent voted in favor of the resolution. The resolution was recommended for ratification by the Executive Committee earlier this month. The resolution is effective immediately.”

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a statement, ”Today’s vote by the Boy Scouts of America to allow gay, lesbian and bisexual adults to work and volunteer is a welcome step toward erasing a stain on this important organization. But including an exemption for troops sponsored by religious organizations undermines and diminishes the historic nature of today’s decision. Discrimination should have no place in the Boy Scouts, period.”

The Mormon Church, which sponsors more Boy Scout troops than any other religious or secular group, said it would re-evaluate its association with the Boy Scouts. Mormon Scout troops do allow gay scouts.




Business Insider highlights Dallas efforts to become ‘hot new gay destination’

Posted on 23 Jul 2015 at 3:01pm

BIGBusiness Insider published an article this week calling Dallas “one of the most gay-friendly cities in the U.S.” and promoting LGBT travel to the city. The Dallas Visitors and Convention Bureau seems to be behind the campaign to promote Dallas as LGBT-friendly.

Dallas Voice and our upcoming Wedding Party & Expo are both mentioned in the article. The Expo is presented as evidence Dallas is open for business, especially as a wedding destination.

There’s a link to the LGBT Visitor’s Guide on the CVB website. The page links to several resources, with some glaring omissions. For example, under hotels, you can choose properties by location. There’s a Market Center/Love Field selection and Downtown/Uptown, but not one for Oak Lawn, even though on the CVB page, they promote “Oak Lawn” as the LGBT neighborhood. There should be a list for Oak Lawn hotels.

The page also lists nine LGBT events, two of which are no longer in existence, one which is on hiatus and one we’ve never heard of.

We love the enthusiasm of the head of the CVB who thinks people from states all over the country that have had marriage equality — some for years — are suddenly going to think it’s a great idea to come and get married in a state whose attorney general still hasn’t clearly instructed county clerks to follow the law.


Sweeping federal nondiscrimination bill introduced in Congress

Posted on 23 Jul 2015 at 12:18pm
Out Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I.

Out Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I.

A sweeping federal nondiscrimination bill protecting LGBT people was introduced in Congress today, earning praise from some of the nation’s leading LGBT advocacy organizations and allies.

The Equality Act, sponsored by out Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., and Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., would amend federal laws to include protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, education, public accommodations, credit, jury service, federal funding, renting and home ownership.

“You can be married on Saturday, post your wedding pictures on Facebook on Sunday and be fired from your job or kicked out of your apartment on Monday,” Cicilline said in a statement.

Currently only 19 states and the District of Columbia have clear LGBT nondiscrimination protections in employment and housing. Texas is among the states without any statewide protections.

Previous attempts to pass a narrower bill, the Employment Nondiscrimination Act barring employment nondiscrimination based on social orientation and gender identity, have failed. In 2013, a bill with sweeping religious exemptions passed before losing the support of key LGBT groups.

Following the Supreme Court’s June decision constitutionalizing marriage equality, LGBT advocates announced a push for nationwide nondiscrimination laws. The Equality Act is the first attempt to address national activists’ latest push for equality.

“As a gay woman myself, I know the importance of ensuring that there are comprehensive federal nondiscrimination protections in place,” American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten said in a statement. “In the absence of these protections, same-sex couples who now have the right to marry in their home states will still be at risk of being fired from their jobs or evicted from their apartments without cause.”

Yesterday, Ted Olson and David Boies, the legal team that represented the plaintiffs in Hollingsworth v. Perry case challenging California’s same-sex marriage ban, voiced support for a comprehensive federal LGBT non-discrimination law.

The bill is also one of the latest pushes to include gender identity as a protected class.

“This is a historic moment for transgender people,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality in a statement. “This bill is especially important as it comes on the heels of unprecedented public attention on trans lives. Despite that, trans people have faced record rates of violence — just this week, we learned of the 10th trans woman of color murdered in 2015. For trans people, equality is a matter of life and death. Congress must understand this urgency as they work toward passing this landmark legislation.”

The bill faces an uncertain fate in an increasingly conservative Republican-controlled Congress.


Bea Arthur Residence breaks ground in NYC

Posted on 22 Jul 2015 at 2:59pm

Bea Arthur

The Ali Forney Center in New York has broken ground on the Bea Arthur Residence, which will provide housing for 18 homeless LGBT youth, according to The Lo-Down.

A three-story building on Manhattan’s East Village is being renovated, in part, with money left to the center by the Golden Girls actress who died in 2009.

The project should be completed by the end of 2016.