Appeals court upholds ban on conversion therapy torture

Posted on 11 Sep 2014 at 1:34pm

simpsonsAn appeals court upheld New Jersey’s law banning the use of “conversion therapy” on minors.

The court rejected the arguments that banning use of so-called conversion therapy violates freedom of speech or religion. The decision reaffirmed the right of the state to regulate medical professionals that they license.

Most LGBT groups have likened the practice of conversion therapy to torture.

Writing for the court, Circuit Judge D. Brooks Smith held that “over the last few decades a number of well-known, reputable professional and scientific organizations have publicly condemned the practice of [sexual orientation change efforts], expressing serious concerns about its potential to inflict harm,” and that “[m]any such organizations have also concluded that there is no credible evidence that SOCE counseling is effective.”

“The court’s decision today is a major victory for the thousands of young people who will now be protected from these dangerous and horrific practices,” said Andrea Bowen, Garden State Equality’s executive director. “No one should subject minors to conversion therapy—least of all state-licensed clinicians responsible for the care and well-being of their patients.”

New Jersey Gov. Christie noted the “critical health risks” posed by conversion therapy, including “depression, substance abuse, social withdrawal, decreased self-esteem and suicidal thoughts.”


Openly partnered priest is new rector at FW Episcopal Church

Posted on 11 Sep 2014 at 1:06pm

Karen-CalafatThe Rev. Karen Calafat is the new rector of St. Luke’s in the Meadow Episcopal Church in Fort Worth. She begins Oct. 5.

Patti Callahan, a senior warden for the church, wrote in a statement that the church has been without a rector for the past nine months. “We are eager for Mother Karen to begin her part-time parish ministry here.”

Calafat has served in a variety of ministerial roles, including as a hospice chaplain, for two parishes in Southern California and a supply priest in the Diocese of Fort Worth for the past six years. She will continue her role as a chaplain with the Visiting Nurses Association.

She lives in Grand Prairie with her daughter. Her partner, Karen, also resides in Grand Prairie.

The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth is “a welcoming and affirming group of local Christian communities in and around the Fort Worth area who are united with The Episcopal Church, a province of the worldwide Anglican Communion, and a part of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.”


13 years after 9/11 — Don’t let the terrorists win

Posted on 11 Sep 2014 at 10:29am


By Hardy Haberman, DV contributing writer

Thirteen years. Seems like a long time and yet I remember it like yesterday.

What I am about to say will undoubtedly enrage a lot of folks. But it comes from the heart, and I hope you will hear me out.

When those men hijacked the flights which later crashed into the World Trade Center Towers and The Pentagon and that lonely field in Pennsylvania, they had one intention in mind. They are called terrorists because that was their goal, to terrorize. They achieved that goal in a spectacular and outrageous fashion, and from that perspective their attacks were a success.

Americans, including me, were terrorized.

It was impossible not to feel terror as we all watched the aftermath of this despicable act. Indeed, we will never forget it, nor should we.

Now here is where I will lose friends: It’s time for us to stop being terrorized.

That terror caused us to put in place a series of laws that robbed many of the very freedoms we hold so dear.

It caused us to blindly follow a misguided president who dragged us into a war that didn’t need to happen in a country that had no part in the attacks.

It caused us to set up a secret surveillance network that rivals the old KGB but with half the efficiency.

It caused us to doubt our fellow citizens’ patriotism, simply because their religion or their manner of dress might be different than our own.

It caused us to imprison without charges hundreds of foreign nationals as “enemy combatants” with no clue as to how they would be tried or what they would be charged with.

It caused us to spend billions of dollars on half-baked security measures that do little to improve our safety and everything to reduce our privacy.

It sent us into a decade of doubt, suspicion and misdirected anger.

If that is not the result they sought, I don’t know what is. They succeeded with three of their flying bombs and the fourth was stopped only by the heroism of American citizens like you and me.

Its time we got back on track and stopped being terrorized. We need to stop behaving like scared rabbits and start behaving like those brave folks on United Flight 93. We need to stand up and realize that the world is a dangerous place, but we cannot sacrifice our freedom for security. We need to realize that each of us could be called on to defend our country at any time, but we do not need to militarize our country to do it.

We can be cautious without being paranoid. We can be vigilant without being militarized. We can reclaim our freedom and live life to the fullest without looking over our shoulder every few seconds fearing another attack.

I feel pretty sure there may be other attacks. That genii is out of the bottle. It is the world we live in today.

We cannot isolate ourselves any longer, but we can improve the quality of our lives and our freedom.

Until we do that, the terrorists win.


More gays than straights marry in Santa Fe

Posted on 11 Sep 2014 at 9:48am

The guy who started it all in New Mexico, County Clerk Lynn Ellins

Since county clerks in New Mexico took it upon themselves to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Aug. 2013, about 55 percent of all licenses issued in Santa Fe have been issued to gay and lesbian couples.

According to Human Rights Campaign, 1,388 of 2,524 licenses issued have been issued to same-sex couples. More than 400 of those were issued to Texas couples.

Marriage equality began in New Mexico when Dona Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins in Las Cruces, N.M., issued 40 licenses to same-sex couples on Aug. 21, 2013.

“I took an oath to uphold the Constitution,” Ellins told Dallas Voice at the time.

To him, that meant issuing licenses to couples who wanted one, because the Constitution didn’t say he couldn’t. New Mexico had never passed an anti-marriage amendment and its marriage law had never specified gender.

While the 55 percent statistic is interesting, other marriage-equality states don’t have a breakdown of number of same-sex marriages. New York simply issues marriage licenses — not same-sex marriage licenses and opposite-sex licenses — and expects any company doing business in the state to honor any marriage license it issues, so the state doesn’t keep records of how many gays and lesbian couples have married in the state.

But the Santa Fe statistic is important because same-sex marriage has become a huge industry in the New Mexico state capital.

Or maybe we really are destroying heterosexual marriage. After all, if you’re a straight guy, why would you marry girl when you could marry a hot guy?


Supreme Court has 7 marriage cases to look at during its first conference

Posted on 10 Sep 2014 at 4:40pm

Supreme-Court-building-permissionSeven marriage equality cases from five states — Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Indiana and Wisconsin — were distributed to the Supreme Court justices to be discussed at their first conference on Sept. 29. The first session of the court is the first Monday in October when the justices will begin announcing which cases they will hear in the 2014-15 session, according to Freedom to Marry.

With more seven cases already heard and decided by appeals courts, it’s more likely the high court will take up one or more of them during this session.

Earlier speculation was that the court would let the marriage debate play out at the appeals level for at least another year before taking up the issue.

If the court does not announce a marriage case on its docket after the Sept. 29 conference, the cases will remain on their list of possible cases at future conferences.

I read through one of the petitions. Utah has no new arguments, just seeks to dehumanize us. But their picture of straight people isn’t too hot either.

In its cert petition, the state of Utah talks about “Those who favor redefining marriage as the union of any two or more persons …” vs. “Those who wish to retain the opposite-sex marriage model [and] believe the government has no legitimate interest in formally recognizing mere loving relationships, whether opposite-sex or same-sex.”

In other words, same-sex couples believe in polygamy while straight couples don’t necessarily love each other, but are always breeding. And gays and lesbians don’t have kids.


She’s having a baby

Posted on 10 Sep 2014 at 1:22pm
Screen shot 2014-09-10 at 1.04.53 PM

Sara Gilbert and wife Linda Perry

So, Sara Gilbert surprised her cohosts on CBS’ The Talk Tuesday by announcing that she is pregnant. Gilbert, 39, married 4 Non Blondes frontwoman and producer Linda Perry, 48, in March.

Gilbert, who has two children with her former partner, Allison Adler, but this is the first time Gilbert herself has been pregnant.

Gilbert made the announcement in explaining why she would not be taking part in the planned “Face Your Fears” segment The Talk cast members are staging this week. On Monday, cast member Sheryl Underwood faced her fear by crawling into a glass coffin full of (non-venomous) snakes. Tuesday, Gilbert was supposed to lay down on a bed of nails, let them put another bed of nails on top of her and then put a concrete cinder block on top of that and break the cinder block with a sledge hammer.

Gilbert choked up a bit in explaining to her cast mates why she wouldn’t be doing the challenge, and when she said, “I’m pregnant” they all burst into cheers and tears with her.

It’s pretty amazing. Watch the video below.


FWPD Chief Halstead gains council support despite friction

Posted on 10 Sep 2014 at 9:42am

Halstead.JeffThe Fort Worth City Council expressed confidence in Police Chief Jeff Halstead following the council’s executive session on Tuesday, Sept. 9, reaffirming that the LGBT ally isn’t going anywhere.

The Black Law Enforcement Officers’ Association recently called for Halstead’s resignation after an independent review detailed incidents of harassment and hostility within the police department. The report suggested some instances of racial bias and race-related harassment. A copy of the report is here.

After the session, Mayor Betsy Price, City Manager David Cooke and Halstead issued the 3-E Action Plan, guaranteeing “equity and equality for everyone.” The plan includes ongoing outreach efforts to minority communities and six annual meetings with both the African-American and Hispanic associations.

Cooke said his office will “be directly involved in monitoring [its] progress.”

Cooke also signaled the council’s support in a statement: “This department will see in our actions that diversity is valued; that any disparate treatment not related to merit will not be tolerated; and that any incidents of a hostile work environment will be handled quickly and appropriately.”

Check out this week’s Dallas Voice for the full story.




Two out candidates win statewide Massachusetts primaries

Posted on 10 Sep 2014 at 8:59am

Maura Healey

Maura Healey defeated Warren Tolman in the Democratic primary for attorney general in Massachusetts on Tuesday. If elected, Healey would become the first out attorney general in the country.

The Boston Globe reports that Healey is a political newcomer, while Tolman is a party insider.

Going into the fall election, Healey becomes the favorite in heavily Democratic Massachusetts.

Tolman had the support of the state’s popular governor, Deval Patrick, and Boston’s mayor.

The Boston newspaper credits Healey’s win on LGBT support as well as support from women and reports that Human Rights Campaign ran phone banks for her from its D.C. offices.

Steve Kerrigan, also openly gay, won the Massachusetts primary for lieutenant governor in a three-way race, according to the Boston Herald. Kerrigan is a former aide to Sen. Ted Kennedy.


This week in marriage equality: Republicans are all over the place

Posted on 09 Sep 2014 at 12:08pm

Marriage-Equality-Bumper-Sticker-(7423)A Republican Senate candidate in Oregon supports marriage equality, Georgia’s Republican attorney general wants to avoid it while Indiana’s Attorney General wants it figured out already.


Oregon Republican Senate Candidate Monica Wehby released a TV ad declaring her support for marriage equality. She is the only Republican Senate candidate this cycle to declare her support for marriage equality. She is running against the pro-LGBT equality incumbent Sen. Jeff Merkley (D). Should she be elected to the Senate, she would join four other Republicans senators in supporting marriage equality. The incumbent has consistently lead Wehby in the polls. Watch the video here.


Down south, Georgia’s Attorney General Sam Olen has asked that Inniss v. Aderhold, which challenges Georgia’s ban on marriage equality, be dismissed. Lambda Legal, which brought the suit, responded in a brief: “Our democracy functions and prevails because we promise liberty and equality for all. Our judiciary exists to enforce that promise. Plaintiffs turn to this Court to vindicate their families’ rights to liberty and equality.” Read the whole response here.


Indiana’s Attorney General Greg Zoeller is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the state’s marriage equality ban, Baskin v. Bogan, also filed by Lambda Legal.“Only the highest court in the country can provide the secure relief that same-sex couples and their children need, and it’s extremely important that these families are able to count on the protections of marriage as soon as possible,” said Paul Castillo, Staff Attorney for Lambda Legal.


20 years after the Violence Against Women Act, how far have we come?

Posted on 09 Sep 2014 at 11:46am


President Barack Obama issued a proclamation today recognizing the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act and calling “upon men and women of all ages, communities, organizations and all levels of government to work in collaboration to end violence against women.”

The proclamation comes a day after released video footage of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking his then-girlfriend/now-wife Janay Palmer out cold in an elevator — video footage that prompted the Ravens to terminate Rice’s and prompted the NFL to suspend him indefinitely. That sounds reasonable, except that the incident back in March and in July NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell only suspended Rice for two games. (Rice was originally charged with felony assault but the charges were dropped when Palmer refused to testify against him.)

Originally, the only video footage made public showed the moments after the elevator doors opened and Rice dragged the unconscious Palmer part of the way out of the elevator and then left her laying in a heap on the floor. The video released this week by TMZ, taken by a camera inside the elevator, shows the brutal punch to the face that knocked her out.

As President Obama said in his proclamation today, it was 20 years ago that “our nation came together to declare our commitment to end violence against women.” The VAWA “created a vital network of services for victims,” expanded the number of shelters and rape crisis centers across the country, and established a national hotline, the proclamation says. The VAWA also “imrpoved our criminal justice system and provided specialized training to law enforcement … . It spurred new state laws and protections and changed the way people think about domestic abuse … .”

But watching that video of Ray Rice punching Janay Palmer and considering the NFL’s initial lackluster response, it doesn’t seem like we’ve made much progress toward that goal.

Add in some statistical information, and it’s even more discouraging.

According to, the website for the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, a global review of available data conducted in 2013 (World Health Organization, Global and Regional Estimates of Violence against Women) shows that 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence . But some national studies show that up to 70 percent of women have experience sexual or physical violence from an intimate partner.

The UNWomen website goes on to cite The World Health Organization’s World Report on Violence and Health, which says that in Australia, Canada, Israel, South Africa and the United States, intimate partner violence accounts for between 40 and 70 per cent of female murder victims.

President Obama says that he was “proud to renew our pledge to our mothers and daughters by reauthorizing VAWA and extending its protections” last year. And while the VAWA has “provided hope, safety and a new chance at life for women and children across our nation,” the president acknowledges “we still have more work to do.”

“Too many women continue to live in fear in their own homes, too many victims still know the pain of abuse, and too many families have had to mourn the loss of their loved ones. It has to end — because even one is too many.”

Absolutely. But in the LGBT community we have to take it a step forward and remember that women are not the only victims of domestic violence, and men are not the only abusers.

According to a “fact sheet” published online by the Center for American Progress, 1 out of 4 to 1 out of 3 same-sex relationships has experienced domestic violence. And domestic abuse violence victims in same-sex relationships face threats that their abuser will “out” them at work or to family, some face the threat of having their children taken away, and some are even afraid of doing damage to the LGBT rights movement by admitting that domestic violence happens in our community.

These and other reasons make LGBT domestic violence victims more reluctant to report such violence to police, and leaves them feeling isolated, alone and helpless.

President Obama is right. We’ve got a long way to go. We in the LGBT community have to make sure we are part of the effort against domestic violence, not just in the country as a whole, but in our own community — our own homes — too.